It is with pride in the work we do but a realization that there can be gaps in how we support families that I pen this communication. In December 2022 Paul Dubé, Ombudsman of Ontario, released A Voice Unheard: Brandon’s Story. A Voice Unheard: Brandon’s Story – Ontario Ombudsman
This report chronicled significant events that occurred in the life of Brandon between 2015 and 2018. The findings and summary of the Ombudsman illustrate a young person being exposed to significant neglect including neglect of medical needs. There were community partners, including education and police, that had interactions with Brandon, yet the young person remained in unacceptable conditions and received unacceptable care. Police services eventually made a complaint to the Ombudsman and prompted the investigation.
The report shows that the local children’s aid society had a number of referrals, investigations, family service involvement and Court orders involving the family. The report found there were a number of service responses that “were contrary to law, unreasonable and wrong.” The experiences noted in Brandon’s story are unacceptable and intolerable. The families of Grey and Bruce should expect that the service we provide is of the highest quality and that we have rigorous processes to support such service. These supports include:
- A culture of compliance and commitment to the Ontario Child Protection Standards
- Training for new staff through the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (“OACAS”)
- A computer dashboard with in-time compliance information available to staff
- Following provincial recommendation if Child Protection Standards are missed
- Escalating approaches to see children privately where needed
- Continued and ongoing use of the provincial Quality Improvement Plan
Situations such as Brandon’s are never acceptable. BGCFS has examined this report in detail and will use the learnings from the Ombudsman report in our service planning. It remains the commitment of BGCFS to continue being a compliance-based organization that consistently monitors and improves quality processes. As the Executive Director of BGCFS it is my responsibility to ensure that the staff, leadership, board and communities of Grey and Bruce counties have confidence in the credibility of the services we provide. You have my ongoing commitment that we will continue to be a leader in compliance and quality service.