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Health

More than half of NWT child protection improvements complete


The Northwest Territories government says its Child and Family Services division has made progress on improving services for children in care.

In a Tuesday news release, the division – giving its latest update since a scathing independent audit in 2018 – said more than half of the actions outlined in a 2019 quality improvement plan are now complete. 

That includes providing funding to the Foster Family Coalition of the NWT for a pilot program, developing training videos for staff, and updating documentation standards, tools and forms. 

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According to the territory’s progress tracker, 38 action items have been completed, 29 are on track, and three are on hold. 

The Auditor General of Canada’s 2018 report concluded many of the division’s services had deteriorated in quality since its previous report in 2014. 

In January 2020, the Foster Family Coalition of the NWT released a letter outlining complaints from foster parents. The letter alleged an “unmanageable” number of children were being placed in homes, caregivers weren’t being given enough support, and child protection workers had verbally abused and lied to foster parents. 

Tammy Roberts, executive director of the coalition, told Cabin Radio in June the division had since changed for the better. 

In October, health and social services minister Julie Green told the NWT legislature the division was “on the right track” as she released its annual report.

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That report said the division had increased both the number of child protection staff available and the training they receive.

The report also noted, however, the division still faces challenges – including interviewing caregivers and children in a timely manner. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the division said it has continued to implement a respite program for foster caregivers, provided short-term financial support to purchase necessities, and extended support services to people ageing out of the foster care system.

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