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Group home’s staff endangered youth: report

Wrongdoing occurred in the treatment of a young person by the staff of a Whitehorse group home, concludes a report released Wednesday.

By Whitehorse Star on April 18, 2019

Wrongdoing occurred in the treatment of a young person by the staff of a Whitehorse group home, concludes a report released Wednesday.

Diane McLeod-McKay, the Yukon Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner, issued a Special Investigation Report into disclosures that alleged wrongdoing by employees of the Department of Health and Social Services in the delivery of group home care to children and youth.

“A 24-page portion of the report was tabled by the Speaker of the Yukon Legislative Assembly (Wednesday),” McLeod-McKay said in a statement.

“This is the only portion of the report that’ll be made public. I’ve sent the longer version to the department, but it needs to be kept confidential because I have to protect the confidentiality of the children involved.”

McLeod-McKay provided the entire 151-page report to Stephen Samis, the department’s deputy minister, on April 10.

It included a number of recommendations and observations.

In May 2018, McLeod-McKay’s office received disclosures from Yukon government employees regarding the treatment of seven children and youth.

Six allegations were made under the Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act (PIDWA), which is relatively new legislation in the Yukon.

Its purpose is to provide a tool for employees of Yukon public entities to disclose potential wrongdoings, while protecting them from possible reprisal for doing so.

McLeod-McKay’s investigation found wrongdoing arising from one of the allegations.

“When department employees evicted a youth-in-care from a group home without being provided with suitable alternative accommodation, they contravened provisions of the Child and Family Services Act, SY 2008, c.1, as well as created a substantial and specific danger to the health or safety of the youth,” her statement said.

The allegations were first reported by CBC North in the spring of 2018.

McLeod-McKay made eight recommendations to the department about the wrongdoing.

One stated that the department should thoroughly investigate the underlying cause of the wrongdoing and detail its findings in a report, including the steps it will take to ensure that wrongdoings of this nature do not recur.

As well, she recommended that the department review its transition and discharge planning policies and ensure that employees are clear on the rules – including not being able to discharge a child-in-care from a group home without first having other suitable accommodation available.

McLeod-McKay also recommended that the department evaluate whether it’s necessary to establish a plan to accommodate children in an alternate location that ensures their safety and well-being when there is a group home bed shortage.

The investigation found no wrongdoing arising from the other five allegations, but it prompted McLeod-McKay to make a number of observations.

Among them, she suggested that the department consider evaluating and/or improving some of its policies and procedures, and that staff receive training on any changes made.

She also suggested that the department consider working with her office on developing proper procedures to manage disclosures under PIDWA.

“Disclosure procedures ensure confidentiality and anonymity for employees who make disclosures, which is critically important for reprisal protection,” said McLeod-McKay.

“A disclosing employee who doesn’t follow proper procedures may not be protected under PIDWA. In my view, that’s very serious.”

She acknowledged in the report that the Public Service Commission has recently developed guidelines to assist Yukon government employees understand how to make a disclosure of wrongdoing internally, as well as ensuring that employees who receive disclosures also understand their role and responsibilities.

The commissioner is an independent officer of the legislative assembly.

Comments (25)

Up 2 Down 0

The YG Hustle on Apr 25, 2019 at 12:30 am

How did the group-home staff endanger youth? Do they not have policy and procedure to follow or is this another YG case of no real policy so let’s pin the tail on scapegoat-donkey?

Up 2 Down 0

Josey Wales on Apr 24, 2019 at 9:20 pm

Gee other Wilf...that is quite the solid argument you presented.
Josey sucks, is not a argument, a debate, or even a fact.
I may be a pain in your arse, and others with stellar debating savvy as you other Wilf.
Enjoy being a sycophant of mob justice, social justice or whatever you stand for.
If one chooses not to take a stand, one will fall for anything...LPC counts on
cognitive dissonance.
Seems you enjoy being Wilf...fully ignorant...see what I did there other Wilf.

...and ewe BnR, if no nuts are present then you are either a ewe...or a beta.
Proud alpha, pigment challenged alleged European Invader...OJW.

Up 13 Down 2

yukonmax on Apr 24, 2019 at 8:31 am

The rules are that "managers" don't get fired. Period. They have to find ways to part with them without affecting the "windfalls" of being fired without cause. Remember...they were hired because they are friends.

Up 12 Down 0

Chic on Apr 23, 2019 at 6:08 pm

I don’t think terminations are nearly enough. I’d like to see a criminal investigation and have people charged.
How do those people even sleep at night knowing what they have done?

Up 21 Down 1

Fiona Bell on Apr 23, 2019 at 9:26 am

Oh, did we need to keep records on these kids???? Come on who is running this sh*t show? We are talking about a persons life. We are talking about a person who may only have the state to care for and about them. Unacceptable.

Up 16 Down 12

Arnold on Apr 23, 2019 at 12:52 am

If an unruly youth who may be on some substance or another shows up at the group home and is intent on creating havoc what would you do? My suggestion is that there be a shed on the property with minimal amenities and a remote control lock from inside the group home. Failing that the youth could be sent to the regular jail for a lock-up room until the estrangement has passed. One punk shouldn't be allowed to disrupt the peace of the group home and can't have rule of the roost.

Up 7 Down 8

Wilf on Apr 23, 2019 at 12:46 am

@ol Josi: Jose, buddy you seem to feel you have all the answers for everything.
Straighten us out, open the eyes that are closed to that which is so simple for you. Yes, I am suggesting that you run for political office otherwise your just another sound in the night.

Up 20 Down 3

Lost In the Yukon on Apr 22, 2019 at 7:35 pm

HSS needs a complete overhaul starting with a new Minister and Deputy Minister. The Premier needs to engage an outside "body" to take a long hard look at the culture within HSS and make serious and meaningful recommendations and a pathway forward for changing it.

Up 15 Down 0

Darrel on Apr 22, 2019 at 5:35 pm

This is the same Director for all of it - denials, plumbing gate at ISSY, Wann road and still she is Director. Break the law - keep your job and promote those who supported the lies and also broke the law.

Report concerns about harm to youth that you are suppose to protect and get fired. Come and work for YG - you can break the law and you will not be fired. In fact we will promote u. That is quite the recruitment and retention strategy.

Up 21 Down 2

Groucho d'North on Apr 22, 2019 at 8:08 am

This would be a great opportunity for this government to demonstrate how they perform accountability. This may only mean a spoken apology in the Legislature or by cleaning out the managment problems within the department- we wait and watch.

Up 9 Down 22

BnR on Apr 21, 2019 at 7:06 pm

The Star comments section needs to come with a warning.
Caution, contains nuts.

Up 18 Down 2

Josey Wales on Apr 20, 2019 at 9:17 pm

Folks...I am of the opinion that these “state actors” like virtually each and every one of them, will get only accolades and bigger T4s.
The very word responsible is certainly a hate word, legislated into the abyss.

Despite all we have learned through history with PATTERNS as this, as a polite society we Canuks let these things play out...foolishly.
To the state actors, we are just rats in a cage fed to the machine.
Good folks in systems broken that do try and fix/help?
They get the pitch fork, tar and feathered and booted from the fiefdom.
Kinda like cops, of course there are very many good ones.
But the “machine” feeds on dysfunction and floundering souls, not in any state actors interests to starve the machine of its prey.

Hence my bleating of white collar crime and the epic costs to “a” community. One need not be a banker baron to steal, wages paid when not earned? Lives destroyed, complicated by incompetence and willful ignorance are the currency they use.
This community as I bleat perhaps too often, is rife with the above...and believe me we all do pay a very heavy price for fools in positions of power.
Stay tuned for the same tale, only the names may change as the cancer is proliferating.

Impress us “machine”, discard those worn bushings and offer some lubricity via TRANSPARENCY or things will only get further worn.
Or is that a hate word too in these Liberal times...rhetorical!
OJW haters can hate, argue the above.

Up 23 Down 4

Xenophile on Apr 20, 2019 at 6:23 pm

First she cheers for cabinet confidence then she throws the little people under the bus. Do I smell a Liberal?

Up 23 Down 2

Benjamin on Apr 20, 2019 at 5:51 pm

Clearly the "resignation" of the ADM after the Constanzo report (which no one saw) was an attempt to deflect attention from the real culprits. It is and was ALWAYS the responsibility of the Director of FCS and the Manger of TSS. These two should be publicly accountable or their responsibility removed ASAP. That is accountability not opening 2 million dollar group homes......action and accountability for once hold the right people accountable.

Up 23 Down 2

Tom Greggs on Apr 20, 2019 at 5:36 pm

"Under no circumstances would that child be turned away — we have a duty to care for that child," Stephen Samis said ... well now...

Up 22 Down 3

Elaine S on Apr 20, 2019 at 3:53 pm

I have been watching this "story" unfold for months. In my opinion, there was never any doubt who was in the wrong and who was telling the truth. For clarity; the Director and the TSS Manager were clearly in the wrong and instead of owning it and correcting it. They called those who reported it liars, called children at risk liars and spent a great deal of time and public money deflecting and denying. The managers whom one of which I know personally (JB) demonstrated integrity and risked everything to do what was right. When she was manager this would have been properly investigated and corrected immediately. There would have been no denial and no resistance to an investigation.
These people missed the part that this is the PUBLIC SERVICE. This has been a shameful display of corruption and a lack of ethics. As a member of the public I would like to see the redacted (to protect the identity of youth) 151 page report. I suspect that if this level of wrongdoing was found in one of the allegations that the extent of wrongdoing although not to the threshold of the Wrongdoing Act - danger to life, health and safety is extensive and the public has a right to know. This Director and the former Manager of TSS should be held publicly accountable as this responsibility that was bestowed upon them has been egregiously violated. There is no question that both of these individuals need to answer for this and the PUBLIC should decide if they deserve the privilege to continue in their respective roles as the "protector and caregiver" of children and youth. In my opinion without reading the 151 page report this finding should relieve them of this privilege.

Up 25 Down 3

Jenny B on Apr 20, 2019 at 3:42 pm

Director was told by staff about this stuff (and MORE) and she said staff could find a new job if staff did not like it - you are replaceable was the idea she came across with. EVERYONE knew this was happening and it is somehow acceptable apparently because she is still at her job. It is true that Jane and Jarrett were incredible at standing up to this bully advocating for me and you. They paid a high price doing the right thing. Thanks for your integrity and showing us that there are leaders out there we can trust to hear the most vulnerable among us and stand up for us regardless of the cost.

Up 24 Down 5

Stacey George on Apr 20, 2019 at 6:05 am

The Liberals have embarrassed us all by failing to protect youth in their care. They knew it was happening and allowed those in leadership to continue failing staff, kids, families and our community. This is a dark moment for us all. We want to hear from the child and family management team publicly about why they allowed this to happen. Clearly those who saw bad things and spoke out were punished - this should never ever happen when our kids are involved. Accountability now!

Up 25 Down 1

YG Wacka Mole on Apr 19, 2019 at 9:37 pm

Seriously - Guidelines for disclosing wrongdoing? One wrong step in the disclosure process and you’re fired. This is certainly one way to keep the commoners in line.
Why do they need guidelines? So the outcomes can be controlled. The advancement of form over content so the politicos can control and manipulate through the abuses of power.

Where stupidity reigns ignorance is a formidable weapon.

Up 27 Down 3

max justice on Apr 19, 2019 at 5:49 pm

How much did all of this cost? How much time and public money did YG spend not cooperating, not being transparent what did they have to hide. Protect their legal rights? Last time I checked they are public servants I think they were trying to drag this out so they don't get sued by some youth and staff. The fact that harm was found and in one instance it posed a threat to life and safety. I should think the Director should be packing a box. The other cost was human, the youth that were hurt, the staff that left or the ones who had no choice but to stay. This Director and her manager should have to publicly account for all of this. That is accountability and transparency.
To those who reported sorry for our loss, if nothing else you have been totally exonerated. As a taxpayer I would love to see the final bill; lawyers, staff loss, Wann road etc. This all could have been avoided if the Director and her managers would have believed what was reported investigated properly and rectified the mistake. This cost the public millions and now we are part of your attempted cover up... thanks for consulting the taxpayer who pays the bills. My vote is time for you and your manager to go.

Up 26 Down 1

Brenda on Apr 19, 2019 at 4:56 pm

So now that the truth has finally been revealed will the Director be held accountable along with her former TSS Manager, now the Manager of the empty Wann road group home? I suspect not. I think it should be pointed out that of the 6 reported allegations - three of them, she found harm came to the youth but only one of the three met the very high standard of "danger to life, health and safety".
The fact that even one of those allegations met that standard should mean accountability but the fact that allegation 1 and 3 (which involved several youth) found that harm was done to them but it did not endanger their lives??? Hello ?? I should think that this would warrant a significant response (termination) of the Director and Former Manager of TSS on the "special project". And where are these two who have "remained silent" and have NEVER answered a question or taken any RESPONSIBILITY. The fact that they basically never cooperated with any of it should also tell everyone that there was something to hide.
The question still remains did they ever really get all the information or did the Director and her legal team change or withhold information. I think it is clear based on the resistance that there was a lot more that probably got "vetted" before it was provided. Thank you to the two managers who were brave enough to stand up, this completely and totally vindicates you and proves that integrity and ethics left the building when you did.

Up 39 Down 2

Pam Becker on Apr 19, 2019 at 9:57 am

Failure to provide by the Director of Child And Family Services Yukon - very serious. Action please.

Up 46 Down 2

Herman Paul on Apr 19, 2019 at 7:02 am

I looked it up and Geraldine Macdonald is the Director of Family Services and she has been there through this whole debacle!! Never mind that manager who said it NEVER happened and must have known. This is some next level s..t that they still have jobs!

Up 43 Down 4

Martin Hoomak on Apr 19, 2019 at 6:13 am

Is there an apology and restitution coming for the 2 brave managers who told us about this, advocated for these youth and were let go for doing so? Where is the integrity in YG? Who is this Director? I want her held to account for this.

Up 45 Down 2

Jack Gilley on Apr 19, 2019 at 6:09 am

Will anyone be held accountable? The Director is named as fully responsible for all of this. Is she still the Director today? Nothing can change until the government shows by action that people who did these things, knew about them and did nothing or covered them up, can not continue to be employed by YG.

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