June 15, 2010
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Mike Doolan, world-renowned child welfare expert, will be working with New Brunswick child welfare professionals for three days this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, June 16-18. Consultation sessions will give participants the chance to learn from Doolan's experiences with family group conferences and kinship care.
"Our department has been very fortunate to collaborate with Mr. Doolan on our New Directions initiative, and we are pleased to welcome him back to New Brunswick," said Social Development Minister Kelly Lamrock. "This is a wonderful opportunity for staff to learn directly from his expertise and wealth of knowledge."
Known for his expertise in family group conferencing, Doolan is a former senior fellow at the School of Social Work and Human Services at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. He is also the former chief Social worker for the New Zealand statutory child welfare agency.
"I am thrilled to be in New Brunswick again to meet and work directly with staff and officials over the coming days," said Doolan. "This is an exciting time as no other jurisdiction at the moment has undertaken such comprehensive improvements to its child protection services as New Brunswick."
While in New Brunswick, Doolan will also meet with the Department of Pediatrics at the Saint John Regional Hospital to discuss family group conferencing and the importance of collaboration between government and community agencies in protecting children. His presentation will be available to physicians across the province through video conferencing.
The provincial government has been working with Doolan since shortly after it launched the New Directions in Child Protection initiative to reform child protection services in 2006.
Phase I of New Directions involved an intensive review into how child protection practices could be more collaborative. This resulted in the design of child protection mediation; family group conferences and immediate response conferences; and family enhancement services.
Since the provincial government implemented these reforms, family group conferencing has received more than 300 referrals and has received positive feedback from participants at all levels. Ninety-seven per cent of conferences resulted in the development of a plan for the care of a child. The number of children in care since the implementation of Phase I has decreased by an average of 18 per cent.
Phase II will involve the development and implementation of a prevention-based multiple response model of service delivery. To be implemented in April 2011, Phase II will place added focus on early intervention and prevention in child protection services.
Both phases will be supported by a kinship care model that will allow children to be cared for by extended family and other community members with whom the child has a significant relationship. This model was partially implemented in June 2009; full implementation is expected late this fall.
Since 1999, Doolan has assisted with family group conference and kinship care developments in the United States, Canada, England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and The Netherlands.
He is the co-author of two books: Growing up in the care of Relatives and Friends (2004) and Lives Cut Short (2007). He has published in the fields of family group conferences; kinship care; violence in society; child homicide and youth justice. He was made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2001.
MEDIA CONTACT: Tracey Burkhardt, communications, Department of Social Development, 506-444-2416.