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Children’s aid agency fails audit

<p>The Kings County children’s aid office made “alarming errors” and“serious breaches” when investigating referrals and failed to meetprovincial standards meant to protect children, a recent audit found. <br /></p>The provincial audit, released by the Community ServicesDepartment yesterday, noted poor record-keeping, inappropriateassessment and inadequate response times were rampant in the agencyoverseen by a volunteer board.

The Kings County children’s aid office made “alarming errors” and “serious breaches” when investigating referrals and failed to meet provincial standards meant to protect children, a recent audit found.

The provincial audit, released by the Community Services Department yesterday, noted poor record-keeping, inappropriate assessment and inadequate response times were rampant in the agency overseen by a volunteer board.

There was one example where a parent designated as “high-risk” and who required third-party access supervision resumed a care-giving role unsupervised without any formal consideration.

A reported case of a five-year-old found alone in front of a hospital also went uninvestigated. The decision not to investigate was based on past involvement with the family and the fact that it happened a few weeks ago.

“Overall the auditors noted significant and pervasive concerns with respect to poor file organization; errors in judgment…and a general under-response to situations of risk to children,” the audit concluded.

Despite the findings, Community Services Minister Judy Streatch said no children were left in unsafe situations as a result of improper procedures and practices.

“This is very serious, and the risk of children being in harm’s way, we take very seriously,” Streatch said.

At the request of the agency’s board of directors, the province has taken over the office — as other agencies in the province, including Halifax, have already done.

Leonard Doiron, the province’s former acting director of child welfare, has stepped in to manage the office and address the issues outlined in the audit.

Board of directors president Mark Mander said that while the volunteer board wasn’t dealing with individual cases or staff training, it was ultimately accountable.

“This has to be rectified and fixed. At the heart of our focus is children and families,” said Mander, who’s also the Kentville police chief.

-lindsay.jones@metronews.ca


 
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