Gerry Rogers Question Period (05.23.2012)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s Centre.

MS ROGERS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services.

Hundreds of children have been apprehended and placed in hotels in alternative living arrangements for the past five years. The department is finally trying to recruit more foster parents, but they are also proposing a so-called framework for staffed residential facilities.

So, I ask the minister: What are staffed residential facilities, and how and who will operate them?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: First of all, before I give a definition of the staffed residential facilities, Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct her misinformation.

We have not had a child in a hotel for the last year and half, at least, Mr. Speaker, so where she is throwing out information of hundreds of children is totally incorrect, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to clarify that to the public, because I think that is the right thing to do.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JOHNSON: In terms of staffed residential facilities, they would be things like Waypoint and groups like that where there are staff that actually work in the homes where the children that are in our care. The definition is clear.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s Centre.

MS ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, research tells us that taking kids away from their families is the most radical, surgical process and should be the last resort. The minister has promised more support for children at risk. We see that there will be more supports for foster parents.

Will the minister tell us: What additional services will be provided for families to prevent apprehensions and help families stay together in the long term?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to make it quite clear, Mr. Speaker, that our first and primary focus in the department is to keep a child with their family. Absolutely, that is where we want the children to be, but when the situation arises that a child needs to be removed for their safety then it is incumbent upon us to do that. It is difficult but it is necessary, Mr. Speaker.

In the Budget this year we announced over $18 million for the next two years for a new continuum of care strategy. We will get to debate it in the House today, and I certainly hope that the member supports us on that strategy today.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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