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”
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 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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