Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut November 06, 2018 - 8:12 am

Report finds disconnect between Nunavut departments, front-line staff who aid children

“We are concerned that no tangible improvements have been made to address this major barrier”

Nunavut’s Representative for Children and Youth, Sherry McNeil-Mulak, says the GN isn’t getting any better at co-ordinating services for children. (FILE PHOTO)
Nunavut’s Representative for Children and Youth, Sherry McNeil-Mulak, says the GN isn’t getting any better at co-ordinating services for children. (FILE PHOTO)

The Government of Nunavut continues to be disorganized when it comes to streamlining front-line services for children, according to the territory’s children and youth advocacy office.

In an annual report tabled on Oct. 26 in the Nunavut legislature, the Representative for Children and Youth, Sherry McNeil-Mulak, states that poor co-ordination between government departments and service providers is causing headaches for children and their families.

And it’s a problem that isn’t getting any better.

“The lack of coordination of services between GN departments and staff continues to be one of the major barriers to young Nunavummiut and their families accessing services,” the 2017-18 annual report states. “Since opening, our office has worked on 200 individual advocacy cases, and we are concerned that no tangible improvements have been made to address this major barrier.”

In 2017-18, the office opened 83 cases for individual youth and continued to work on 58 cases from previous years. The office resolved 92 cases by the end of March 2018. More than half of last year’s cases (two out of three) required more than basic advocacy support. More than half of the cases handled in 2017-18 were reported in communities outside Iqaluit.

The Representative for Children and Youth deals mostly with cases related to the departments of family services, health and education.

Poor co-ordination sometimes happens when service staff are “overwhelmed with managing crises” and do not have time for long-term planning of support and prevention services for children and families, the report said.

As well, sometimes service providers who work for the GN are unaware of additional services offered in their own departments that may also help a young client. This kind of “poor service coordination” means youth see delays in service, are provided with the wrong service or don’t get any help at all, the report said.

“We know that inadequate service co-ordination has a negative impact on outcomes for children, youth, and their families,” the report said. “With fewer services available in Nunavut than in most other Canadian jurisdictions, it becomes even more important to ensure that the services that are available are well-coordinated.”

Last year, the office reported that GN employees often reported problems they saw with their own departments—especially in departments that deal often with children, like health, education and family services.

That remained true this year, as over half of reported cases to the youth office came from GN service providers.

“Year after year, front-line government employees, while responsible for supporting the needs of young Nunavummiut, continue to share with our office their frustrations with Nunavut’s child and youth serving systems,” the report said.

“This frustration often stems from a lack of information; poor communication; and poor coordination, which causes delays, gaps, and sometimes the denial of services for young Nunavummiut.”

This year, a quarter of reported cases came from parents and family members, which is a “notable” increase over previous years.

The Representative for Children and Youth’s Office opened in Nunavut in 2015.

The office is currently working on a review of systemic struggles children face within Nunavut’s government. The office is also working to monitor legalization of cannabis in the territory, and assess what impacts this could have on youth.

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(7) Comments:

#1. Posted by Captain Obvious on November 06, 2018

Sherry, you’re the first person to ever say this. Thanks tips.

#2. Posted by Northern Guy on November 06, 2018

Poor coordination of services for children and youth is a chronic issue across every jurisdiction in Canada and almost every bureaucratic remedy has been attempted from amalgamating ministries and creating separate service delivery agencies to developing public/private partnerships aimed at creating more efficient “one-window” access. If the Representative for Children and Youth can come with a viable solution to this issue, she should be nominated for a Nobel prize.

#3. Posted by Special Needs Children on November 06, 2018

You really have no idea how bad the problem is.  As a Foster Parent or Adoptive Parent if you mention any issues with Family Services they start talking about removing the children to another home or cutting services. 

And because of either fear of repercussions or violating confidentially parents stay silent. This is not a front line staff issue, this is a management issue. 

The front line staff who we have dealt with are amazing, once you get up to Director or the so called Assistant Director that’s where the issues either get covered up, re-assigned, or bullied into silence. If NN wants a real story that’s where they should start.

#4. Posted by Oscare on November 06, 2018

Every front line worker in every GN department knows what to do and knows what’s going on. It’s the Sr. Management who sit in their comfy office chairs who are so tied up with red tape BS and outdated policies, that nothing gets done effectively.

#5. Posted by Nunavimmuit on November 06, 2018

Hope this lady will not get fired for tabling the annual report and for telling the truth , like the other ladies ,  how disfunctional the Nunavut sr management of Health, family services in providing services to Nunavimmuit. But our politicians will not take any actions .where to go for help. What a messed up Government.
We see a lot going on in the departments but can’t really say because I might be next to loose my job and have small kids to feed. The fear to speak up is over whelming at times.

#6. Posted by Frontline Worker on November 07, 2018

Thank you! We have been saying this forever. Maybe now somebody will listen.

#7. Posted by Chaos on November 07, 2018

Poor, overworked Social Service Workers, expected to be on call all night and at their desks by 8:30 the next morning.
Who can work like that?
The suppression of information and actual squelching of newsworthy items seems to run in their genes over at Family Services’ senior management.
They want and desperately need Foster Parents, then these Parents get it figured out that they do not want advocacy on behalf of the child.
They barely return phone calls and offer no training and support to Foster Parents.  It is a disgrace.

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