B.C.’s auditor general has found the province has struggled to match specific needs of individual children and youth to appropriate contracted service providers.
Carol Bellringer released her report on contracted residential services for children and youth in care, saying the children and family development ministry has not been providing effective oversight.
“Children and youth in care may not be receiving services that meet their needs because the ministry hasn’t set sufficient quality standards for contracted residential services and doesn’t adequately monitor the quality of care that contractors provide,” Bellringer said in a written statement.
Contracted residential services include housing, food and other supports for what the province says are “some of the most vulnerable children and youth in care, including those with highly complex needs.”
An example provided in the report says Indigenous youth are found in placements without an Indigenous cultural component and Bellringer says the ministry had not assessed the need for placements in contracted residential services.
She added plans have not been created to provide the right amount and type of services.
“The office found that contracted residential services have evolved on an ad-hoc basis to respond to individual and emergency situations, as opposed to the ministry defining what they should look like or when to use the services,” Bellringer said.
The audit makes four recommendations that include the ministry coming up with a strategy for contracted residential services, clarify roles and responsibilities with Delegated Aboriginal Agencies, establishing a quality assurance framework and improve contract management and oversight.
Bellringer says the ministry has accepted all recommendations and has started to take action to improve oversight with contracted residential services.
The province says more than 1,100 children and youth in care spent time in contracted residential services last year.