Minister's Advisory Committee Report on Children and Family Services Act and Adoption Information Act
The Advisory Committee to the Minister on the Children and Family Services Act/Adoption Information Act has submitted their 2008 Annual Report.
In receiving the report, the Honourable Judy Streatch, Minister of Community Services commended the committee on their efforts. "I would like to thank the Chair and Members of the Advisory Committee on the tremendous work they have undertaken over the last two years, resulting in their submission of a thorough report."
The Committee met for 27 full days over a two-year period and received 51 submissions from individuals and groups. The Committee tabled 30 recommendations spanning a broad range of subjects, including child protection, services to youth, prevention services and disclosure of adoption information.
The Minister has forwarded the report to senior officials and their staff within Community Services to study each recommendation in detail before providing a detailed response on specific issues.
The Department is still studying the recommendations in depth; however, the following general comments on recommendations can be made:
The Department recognizes mediation as a valuable service, which can be utilized in a number of child welfare contexts, both within and outside of court. The Department currently has 31 mediators registered who are available to assist social workers.
Services to Persons 16 to 18 years old
Child welfare provides support to several hundred youth over the age of 16 and has recently introduced new initiatives, such as extended support for post-secondary education for young people up to the age of 24 years.
Additionally, supports for youth is a major program focus for the Department’s new Family and Youth Services program.
The Department is working collaboratively with other key departments to strengthen services to youth and young adults and is a key partner in the Province’s Child and Youth Strategy, entitled “Our Kids Are Worth It.”
In 2007 the Minister of Community Services assumed the role as lead Minister for the Province’s Child and Youth Strategy. As part of the strategy, Community Services created a new Family and Youth Services program.
The mandate of Family and Youth Services is to develop a continuum of services for vulnerable children, youth and families. An additional investment of $500,000 was committed to establish nine new positions and four new program areas: Prevention Services; Youth Services and Supports; Policy, Planning and Evaluation; and Volunteer Initiatives.
Family and Youth Services is strongly focused on programs that have a basis in prevention, intervention and support. It currently funds approximately 175 community based agencies which deliver a range of services to vulnerable children, youth and families.
Child welfare budgets have steadily increased since the introduction of the Children and Family Services Act. Many new programs have been implemented, such as the creation of Family Support Workers in each agency, and the hiring of Family Therapists to expand voluntary services to families seeking counselling support. Approximately 100 new social work positions have been established to support the provision of the Act. Transition House employees have received salary increases in the last three years, to maintain levels with Nova Scotia Government Employees Union employees.
Access to Birth Information
Consistent with the Convention of the United Nations, Committee on the Rights of the Child, information regarding date and place of birth is preserved and is available to adopted persons upon request. Information on biological parents is preserved and is shared in a non-identifying manner, unless there is consent to release identifying information.
Timely Disclosure of Adoption Information, and Reported Failure to Search Outside Nova Scotia
The Adoption Disclosure Program responds quickly to requests for searches. It searches world wide and frequently locates individuals in such places as the United States, Great Britain, and Europe.