Feb. 11, 2009
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Earlier detection and intervention, increased community supports and the development of an integrated child- and youth-centred approach to service and program delivery are the key elements of the government's plan to improve services for children- and youth-at-risk, children and youth with complex needs and youth involved in the youth criminal justice system.
Released today, the plan, entitled Reducing the risk, addressing the need: Being responsive to at-risk and highly complex children and youth, details the government's progress in addressing recommendations made by Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate Bernard Richard in two 2008 reports: Connecting the Dots: A report on the condition of youth-at-risk and youth with very complex needs in New Brunswick; and Ashley Smith: A report of the New Brunswick Ombudsman and Child and Youth Advocate on the services provided to a youth involved in the youth criminal justice system.
Reducing the risk, addressing the need also outlines government's plans and priorities in addressing four key areas: earlier detection and intervention; better co-ordination; the decriminalization of mental health disorders; and better training.
"The child and youth advocate's work was an urgent call to action for the government," said Education Minister Kelly Lamrock, minister responsible for a government-wide committee tasked with reviewing the systemic issues raised by the child and youth advocate and preparing the government's response. "Almost immediately, departments put in place a complex case protocol to make sure decision-makers talked to each other across departments so that vulnerable young people don't fall through the cracks."
Central to the government's response is the adoption of an integrated service delivery model that builds on the already-established complex case protocol. This model aims to provide a full continuum of services and programs to children, youth and their families and address a broad range of client needs.
Once fully implemented, the minister noted, this model will permit better co-ordination among treatment providers and social service agencies, resulting in less duplication of services and programs and better case follow-up.
"While I anticipate there will be challenges ahead, the plans and priorities set out in this report are all steps in the right direction," Lamrock said. "The progress we have made as a government on this issue comes as a result of having clearly assigned ministerial accountability."
Lamrock noted the committee structure established to respond to the child and youth advocate's recommendations will remain in place to help ensure continued leadership and progress in implementing the new service model.
"I wish to thank all of the public servants, front-line professionals and stakeholder groups who have contributed to advancing this important file over the past year," Lamrock said.
Reducing the risk, addressing the need may be viewed at http://www.gnb.ca/cnb/promos/risk/index-e.asp
EDITOR'S NOTE: Education Minister Kelly Lamrock will be available to respond to media questions today, Wednesday, Feb. 11, at 1 p.m. in the Department of Education boardroom, 4th floor, Place 2000, 250 King St., Fredericton. MEDIA CONTACT: Hillary Casey, communications, Department of Education, 506-444-4714.