The NWT’s Minister of Health and Social Services issued a statement this afternoon, 24 hours after a dismal report from Canada’s Auditor General regarding children in care.
Minister Glen Abernethy acknowledged the findings of the report, that show little to no improvement for protecting children in care, or in foster homes since 2014.
“My Department and I have reviewed and accepted, without question, all 11 recommendations in the report. We take these findings and recommendations very seriously and have already begun to fix the issues identified in the audit and our own internal audit,” wrote Abernethy.
The report also says the GNWT isn’t meeting key responsibilities to protect children in care and the situation is actually getting worse. There was even one case where the department was unable to protect a child from being assaulted by a foster parent.
“We determined that many of the services provided to children and families in the Northwest Territories that we examined were in fact worse than when we examined them in 2014”, said Mr. Glenn Wheeler, principal director on the audit, speaking in Yellowknife on behalf of the Auditor General.
The auditor reports the department of health and social services hasn’t assessed what the territory’s needs are and what it would take to meet them.
The report, tabled earlier this week in the N.W.T. legislature, compares results from the previous audit to the current situation. It said there has been little improvement for the roughly 1,000 children involved with child and family services.
Social workers continued to fail to check on children in care at least every two months in 59 per cent of cases. By 2018, that had risen to a staggering 88 per cent.
The previous audit found 69 per cent of foster care homes didn’t receive basic screening, such as criminal record checks. That level remains at 66 per cent — with the additional warning that 89 per cent of foster homes didn’t get an annual review, making it worse than in 2014 report.