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Ian's Contemplations
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
  Are We Failing The Children
I’m sure most citizens of PEI are unaware of this province’s law that is supposed to protect children from abuse and neglect. I have been told that the new law was drafted after consultation. The legislation passed through the provincial legislation without too many of our politicians even asking a single question about the new statute.
With change we hope there will be improvements to follow. The Child Protection Act has some very powerful measures that social worker’s can weal. Was there any critical analysis by the media or the political opposition? No!! Any discussion occurred in reference to a highly publicized court case of a zealous religious commune. Which is irrelevant to how the law will be applied on a daily basis with hundreds of families in the province.
What I think was missed was how will this new law will effect children whom might be maltreated or families that may be need some help in a difficult time in their lives. One of the outcomes of the new law is that the professional helpers employed by the province can help fewer children, youth and families. This is because the new law has drawn in it’s boundaries to the point of being so narrow that there is no way in intervening unless a child has actually been maltreated or is at “substantial” risk of harm.
We now have a situation were some families cannot receive any help in times of crisis, until that crisis hits a critical mass of children being in imminent risk or in harms way. We have moved from being able to help children and families that were at risk, to where children are actually in need of being protected by the state.
PEI now has a worsening homeless youth situation. Before we may have been able to assist them up to the age of eighteen, but now that ends at the age of sixteen. I don’t know too many sixteen year olds who can make arrangements to find an appropriate and safe place to live, and enter into an agreement with a government agency to provide services to them. Lord knows I couldn’t even imagine such a responsibility when I was that age. We now are no longer involving ourselves in situations where children have left home because of conflict with their parents for whatever reason and are doing the couch surfing thing for weeks on end and getting caught up with all sorts of characters of questionable repute.
I guess these are just a few thoughts I have had recently. I went into social work to help people and I’m afraid that were turning more people away because “that’s not what we do anymore” than those than we can actually help now.
 
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