Emergency care costly for youth with complex needs

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Andrew Robinson
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Government contracts secure 100 placements; still looking for new foster homes

When the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services (CYFS) is faced with an emergency involving a child or youth with complex emotional, medical or behavioural needs who requires 24-hour supervision, care and housing for that person does not come cheaply.

Paul Davis. — Telegram file photo

Last November, CYFS awarded a contract without going to tender to Key Assets for an amount of $412,479 to provide such care for a person. According to a Government Purchasing Agency document detailing such contracts reported by government-funded bodies, action was urgently required to ensure the safety of that child or youth.

On March 24, CYFS announced details of an arrangement made with four companies and non-profit groups capable of providing Level 4 foster care.

The negotiated contracts with Key Assets, Blue Sky, Waypoints and Shalom totalled $36 million and provide 101 residential placements for children and youth. Some of those contracts are for three years.

Level 1 foster care allows a child or youth to stay with a relative or someone close to the family. Level 2 is what people would consider to be a typical foster home. Level 3 is more specialized, requiring the foster parents to undergo training to accommodate the needs of the child or youth.

Level 4 care is the type covered by the contract awarded without a tender invitation last November and those announced last month.

“Level 4 is for the most complex cases — for children and youth that have quite often the most complex needs,” said Davis.

Group homes operated by outside agencies, individual living arrangements (ILA) for those with extraordinary needs, and emergency placement homes offering a quick and immediate solution on a short-term basis are the three living arrangements level four cases make use of.

The situation dealt with last November was an ILA, according to Davis.

The new contracts announced last month will help with such emergency cases, though the minster added it’s still possible the need to reach out to other organizations may arise if CYFS resources are all in use.

“We don’t have an unlimited supply of ILA opportunities, so we could have a situation where we have a demand for several ILAs at the one time, or more than we have the supply, and we may have to reach out to a service provider in a similar type of circumstance as we did here. Sometimes we can’t foresee these circumstances that we’re going to have to deal with. So we have a choice then. We have to have properties and staff and a provider ready, sitting and waiting with space to be utilized. ... We do have ILA placements available throughout the province, but it’s not an endless supply.”

A request for proposals concerning the recently awarded contracts first went out in the winter of 2013.

The department was initially looking for 125 placements. Davis said no proposals were received for 11 placements in Labrador. Ten Level 2 foster homes have since been deemed appropriate for such placements, and no contracts were awarded with respect to three placements.

CYFS is now moving some of the children and youth currently in its care into new living arrangements through the contracts awarded last month — Davis cautions that none of those cases will see children or youth move to a new community. That process will play out over a 60-day period.

He said 57 of those children and youth will remain with their current service provider for now.

According to Davis, the department will be rolling out its plans for Level 3 training in a few weeks. He said there remains a need to find more Level 2 foster homes.

“We try to find the best opportunities for children that we can, and foster care is a big piece of work for us. We need all those foster homes that we can get.”

The province’s “Foster a Future” campaign has created more than 80 new foster homes and at least 135 new residential placements since it was launched two years ago.

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: Government Purchasing Agency

Geographic location: Blue Sky, Labrador

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