Albertans have the opportunity to help keep children and youth safe and families together as the province reviews its child intervention system.
Last month, Alberta Children and Youth Services released a public discussion guide to solicit opinions and ideas.
This week, Peter Dudding, co-chair of the review panel, said even though the system doesn’t impact most families, the public still has high expectations.
“Canadians care deeply and passionately about kids and they’re horrified when they read about child abuse and neglect. And they’re further horrified if they read the system hasn’t served the need of those kids well,” said Dudding, who is also the executive director of the Child Welfare League of Canada.
In Alberta, about 13,000 children and youth are involved in the system each month and 8,700 kids are in public care at any time.
Dudding said the number of families involved in the system is decreasing while the number of kids in care is increasing, which speaks to the severity of the situations for kids.
The largest portion of kids in the system are either under four years old or over 12.
“Alberta, by virtue of being what it is — pretty high growth, high mobility kind of place — I think has had lots of challenges,” Dudding said.
Earlier this month, the review panel started meeting with representatives from organizations like the RCMP, Child and Family Service Authorities, Alberta Public Service Union, foster parents and more.
The discussion guide includes a history of child intervention in Alberta and how the system operates.
People can provide input by completing a survey or commenting online at www.child.alberta.ca/cisreview. Feedback should be provided before Nov. 30.
The review panel’s report and recommendations will go to Children and Services Minister Janis Tarchuk in the spring.