FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate has released a report entitled Behind Closed Doors: A Story of Neglect.

The report stems from the review of a severe case of child neglect involving a family of five young children.

In February 2018, the advocate’s office gave the Department of Social Development formal notice of investigation of this case.

The advocate’s review found violations of the children’s rights to:

  • be protected from all forms of violence including neglect,
  • a decent standard of living,
  • health services,
  • rest, leisure and engage in play, and
  • parental and state supports in their child-rearing, prior to their placement in care.

“This investigation and report were not prepared in an attempt to find fault or to assign blame, but, rather, the report is written as a testament to what happened and, ultimately, to develop solutions to address failings or gaps in a very complex child welfare system in New Brunswick and make recommendations to benefit children under protective services,” said Child and Youth Advocate Norman Bossé.

During the investigation, the advocate’s office looked for answers to the following questions:

  • Was the Department of Social Development aware of the risks to which the children were exposed?
  • Did the department protect the children from the negative consequences of chronic neglect?
  • Did the department meet its own practice standards to protect the children?
  • Was every effort made by social workers to see the children?

The findings of the investigation prompted the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate to make four recommendations to the government:

  • Urge the Department of Social Development and other departments and stakeholders, in consultation with the advocate’s office, to design an approach to integrated service delivery in early childhood.
  • Ensure that transition to Child Protection from Family Enhancement Services results in an increased use of authority.
  • Support Child Protection social workers by ensuring that all training is completed prior to working with clients; review workloads so that social workers have the time necessary to work effectively with their clients.
  • Make sure social workers understand the legislative authority allowing them to enter any premises to remove a child whose security or development may reasonably be believed to be in danger.

“For all children receiving child protection services, there is an expectation that they will be safe and protected,” said Bossé. “I trust that this report and the recommendations which emerge from it will improve the safety of all vulnerable children.”