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B.C.'s representative for children and youth says the province is "faltering" in its efforts to find permanent homes for the kids in its care.
According to a report released Wednesday, 84 B.C. children and youth in care were adopted during the first six months of this fiscal year.
Though Indigenous youth represent 64 per cent of all children and youth in care in B.C., only 16 of those adoptions involved them.
The report also said that despite increased funding to the Ministry of Children and Family Development, adoptions numbers are lagging behind those recorded in the two previous fiscal years.
In 2015, 55 Indigenous youth were adopted in the first six months of the fiscal year. In 2016, that number was 40.
"These statistics are very disappointing because they are not just numbers. These are children and youth, waiting for a family to nurture them and provide them with a sense of belonging," said representative Bernard Richard in a statement.
"Government must keep its commitment to B.C.'s most vulnerable children. It must do a better job of finding them families – whether it's through adoption, transfer of custody or custom adoption for Indigenous children."
Increase in complex cases
Richard did point to one possible cause for a change in adoption numbers — an increase in children that may be more difficult to place.
"A number of kids in care have been through a great deal of trauma ... they may be suffering from FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder)," he said.
Karen Madeiros is the executive director of the Adoptive Families Association and says there is a higher number of children needing to be adopted that are older or that come with significant challenges.
Madeiros does not believe there's been a decrease in those wanting to adopt.
"If you look at the report, the number of families that are stepping forward into adoption are still strong," she told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn
In a 2014 report titled "Finding Forever Families: A Review of the Provincial Adoption System," the representative found that there were 1,000 children in the care of the provincial government, waiting for adoption.
In a statement, Children and Family Development Minister Katrine Conroy said progress has been made since the report was released.
"The challenge now is that, having arranged successful adoptive placements for so many children and youth since the representative's initial report, a significant number of those still waiting for a permanent home have complex placement needs," it read in part.
"We also know from previous years that many placements get finalized in the spring, and we're pushing hard to match the kids in our care with placements in families and homes that meet their best interests – whether that's through adoption, transfer of custody to a family member or other person known to the child or other forms of permanent loving relationships."
Conroy also said she is committed to working with Indigenous families and communities to better understand their needs and to respect traditional practices.
By Michelle Ghoussoub
13 December 2017