FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following statement was issued today by Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard regarding ongoing improvements to New Brunswick’s child welfare system:

One year ago today, I was pleased to accept, on behalf of the government, the report by George Savoury entitled Review of the Effectiveness of New Brunswick’s Child Protection System. At that time, I committed to updating New Brunswickers on the progress we make regarding these recommendations.

Shortly after, I also agreed to review and implement the nine recommendations from the Child and Youth Advocate’s report Behind Closed Doors: A Story of Neglect.

I am pleased to report that 26 of the 116 recommendations have been completed, which represents 22 per cent. Work is underway on an additional 23 recommendations.

Highlights of what has been accomplished include:

  • Amendments have been introduced to the Family Services Act to allow the development of a new Children’s Services and Resources Regulation. This regulation will support new services and resources, such as kinship care and the transfer of guardianship, and strengthen approaches that enable children to safely remain within their extended family network.
  • Intake services for child protection have been moved back into the province’s eight regions, rather than having them centralized. This is intended to help social workers respond to concerns in a more focused and time-sensitive manner.
  • Social workers now have access to cell phones with data plans, which help them better support and remain in contact with their clients, supervisors and other social workers.
  • Consultations have been launched regarding the development of new child welfare legislation to better protect children and promote healthy families.

These projects represent priorities that were selected a year ago because they would have an immediate and significant impact on the lives of social workers and the children they serve. A list of completed projects is available online.

As I have said before, we know that working through the report recommendations will take time and a lot of work. However, we are making progress and remain committed to improving our programs and services in order to improve the quality of life for children and families.

I look forward to providing further updates on our progress in the future.