Open Protection Reports

The Government of B.C.'s top priority for the Ministry of Children and Family Development is the protection of vulnerable children and youth. Staff are constantly working to make the system better – and invest the resources available for the best possible result.

The reality is that protecting children may be the most challenging work in government. The ministry's obligation to protect children from abuse or neglect demands continual review of what is done, its implementation, and continual improvement to build the most effective child protection approach possible.

Professional ministry social workers are well trained to ensure protection situations are appropriately addressed. The Ministry of Children and Family Development receives 30,000 calls per year and a child protection report is developed when the ministry is advised or receives an initial call that the safety or well-being of a child may be at risk. The issue is then assessed by ministry staff. If the first indication is that they are at risk, action takes place immediately – as assessed by Ministry child protection social workers, supported by experienced supervisors. A response to a child protection report may include: a referral to a community agency; a referral to a family development response service; a child protection investigation.

A protection report should not be confused with an investigation which is opened when a social worker has established a child’s safety or health may be in immediate danger or may be vulnerable to serious harm.

Investigations today are more complex, but ministry staff continue to focus on making children safe. The Ministry is working with staff to prioritize workload and administration issues – we are constantly working to make the system better.

The directors are aware of the administrative issues about these open files and taking steps to address them. But the important thing is that we are confident that risks to the children have been addressed.

The 30-day standard is there to guide ministry work – but protection of children is a top priority – not paperwork.

An intake file cannot be closed until the ministry is sure staff have done all that is needed. It’s better to miss an administrative deadline than focus on paperwork and take shortcuts; that would put kids at risk.

Some files will be closed the same day but the complexities involved mean not every case will meet the timelines; often it can be as simple as the front-line workers have difficulty in contacting a family member.

As well, the practice standards include supervision and discussion with case managers and regular meetings among front-line staff to address those concerns – all in aid of best practice.