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Newfoundland and Labrador child advocate report says government still has work to do

Newfoundland and Labrador Child and Youth Advocate Jacqueline Lake Kavanagh speaks with reporters at Confederation Building after an announcement of proposed legislative amendments.
Newfoundland and Labrador Child and Youth Advocate Jacqueline Lake Kavanagh. - Ashley Fitzpatrick/Telegram File Photo

‘Not There Yet’ report reveals some recommendations need to be completed

There was some good news and bad news in the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate’s (OCYA) 2016 annual report for this province.

The good news is the government has successfully implemented 90 per cent of the office’s recommendations and 74 per cent of the Child Death Review Committee’s recommendations.

“This is good, and the efforts of the individuals and the departments involved to make this happen is appreciated,” Child Youth Advocate Jacqueline Lake Kavanagh stated.

“But numbers also tell another story.”

The report, “Not There Yet,” released Wednesday, states there are still several recommendations, many of them old, which have still not been completed — three per cent of the OCYA recommendations and 16 per cent of the Child Death Review Committee’s recommendations.

“This work must be concluded in order for children and youth to experience the benefits of the recommended changes,” Lake Kavanagh said. “These need to be concluded, and without further delay.”

The OCYA made 190 recommendations to various government departments and agencies up to Dec. 31, 2016, according to the report.

Of the 10 per cent outstanding OCYA recommendations, seven per cent are no longer applicable.

Two per cent of the recommendations have been partially implemented.

Two recommendations not implemented yet by government are from the “Tragedy Waiting to Happen” investigation.

The first deals with information sharing among service providers — CSSD, the Department of Health and Community Services and the Department of Justice and Public Safety — by developing a multidisciplinary committee in communities throughout the province.

The other recommendation is that the Department of Health and Community Services and CSSD, in collaboration with local governments and other service providers, complete comprehensive needs assessments of the services being provided in every remote and isolated communities in the province to identify existing deficiencies, and develop and implement strategies to address the identified deficiencies in a timely manner.

The report states that while an interdepartmental committee was established to address these recommendations, thus far, it “has not reported on substantive actual changes to improve (the issues).”

The OCYA also monitors and reports on progress for the Child Death Review Committee (CDRC) recommendations — reviewing deaths of children under 19 years of age referred by the chief medical examiner.

Between October 2014 and December 2016, the CDRC made 31 recommendations.

Of the 74 per cent of those recommendations that have been implemented, six per cent have been partially implemented, 10 per cent have not been implemented and 10 per cent are no longer applicable.

The three recommendations not yet implemented all deal with recommendations to Labrador-Grenfell Health: that it establish an assertive community treatment team for youth with serious mental health problems and those at high risk for suicide, that it meet with Innu health and social service officials to review services to youth at risk for suicide and strengthen community responses; and that it, in consultation with appropriate Innu officials, create a mental-health service that can be accessed in communities in Labrador.

Lake Kavanagh said her office is following all recommendations until they’re addressed.

“The 2017 review process will also assess all previously concluded recommendations to ensure there has been no slippage,” she said. “The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate is committed to ensuring that valuable progress in responding to children and youth is not lost or reversed.”

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