Written by Ingrid Palmer, a member of the Children In Limbo Task Force
Rosemary, Sue, Sandy, Brenda, Janet, Sharon, Peggy, Beverly, Jennifer, Suzanne, Lynn, Jen, Erika, Thelma, Katherine, Karen, Catherine, Susan, Magi, Angela, Debra, Holly, Honore, Wanda, Justine…..
These are the staff whose names I can remember from my time in a girls group home in Parkdale. The list of names would be even longer if I could remember all of their names,and if I included the names of board members, students, volunteers, or the relief and casual staff that passed through, not to mention the bevy of social workers, lawyers, and other professionals that a child or youth in care may have to deal with.
More than 30 years since I moved out, the instability of staff retention in group homes remains largely unchanged.
Although there are many factors at play, the root of the issue is systemic. Ontario has no legislation governing the educational requirements of staff working with vulnerable youth in group homes.
Young people in the child welfare system have often led lives characterized with some form of instability. it is a prolific failure therefore, that it remain a prominent feature in a system that should be counteracting the negative affects of their pasts experiences, not reinforcing them.
Can you imagine a daycare functioning effectively with similar staff turnover rates? Of course not. It would be devastating, and unacceptable.
The chronic complacency of our government on legislating mandatory educational requirements for front line staff is appalling, and goes against the very idea of a progressive and advanced society.
High turnover rates result in inadequate and inconsistent service delivery. It is crucial that post secondary courses in social work contain mandatory training in the child welfare system n order to ameliorate staff competency,and retention. This simple change will go a long way to adding stability into the lives of foster kids.