Two children in the care of Child and Family Services were moved from placement to placement more than 100 times in one year.
A new report from Manitoba’s Children’s Advocate reveals almost 300 children in care were moved at least seven times between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015.
The report looks at the feelings of loss and grief experienced by kids apprehended by CFS.
“Loss and grief are normal experiences for everyone. Children in care, however, often experience loss upon loss with little opportunity to understand and manage the feelings of grief that follow,” it says.
It says those feelings are often unaddressed and made more difficult when children and youth are bounced around.
The reasons for shifting placements vary – families stop fostering, placements aren’t working for the child, reunification of siblings, caregivers fall ill, etc.
But the constant moves still have an impact. The Office of the Children’s Advocate also identified placement change as the most common risk factor between 50 youth who died by suicide.
The report says of significant concern is the indignity of garbage bags.
“Children and youth in care still often have little notice they are to be moved and frequently their belongings are tossed into garbage bags by workers. It is understandable that youth feel disrespected by this ongoing practice and continue to tell us that it makes them feel ‘like garbage’.”
It says all those involved in caring for children who have been apprehended – elected officials, authorities, agencies, case managers and care providers – need to help address and mitigate feelings of loss and grief.
“If it is necessary to remove a child, it must be done with an understanding of the trauma and losses the child will experience. Supportive measures cannot wait for the child or youth to request the help,” it says.
It recommends that CFS CEOs invite someone talk to them about planned and thoughtful placement changes for kids.
It also is calling on the department of Family Services to provide grant funding for mandatory training about loss and grief for workers in the CFS system.