In response to concerns highlighted in the media this week about young people frequenting a known drug house in Prince George, the Ministry of Children and Family Development wants to assure the community that it continues to work closely with local RCMP, including the high-risk youth section, to ensure vulnerable youth in the area are connected to supportive community services and safe home environments.
While the ministry is aware of each of the youth known to have been frequenting the home in question, not all are currently receiving ministry services – in fact, only one of the youth is in ministry care. Many of these youth are, however, known to the RCMP and the ministry as being involved in high-risk behaviour.
The ministry works closely with service providers in the community to offer support for these high-risk youth through temporary living arrangements, life-skills counselling, and child and youth mental-health resources. When it comes to those children and youth who are in ministry care, social workers in Prince George have secured safe and approved placements that meet each young person’s needs.
Any time a young person is known to be frequenting a home where drugs are being used, and that young person is the subject of a protection concern, reports are assessed and appropriate action is taken. This can include working with the family to help the youth, securing a safe family placement, or taking the youth into ministry care.
For youth struggling with addiction, the ministry works to connect them with interventions such as detox, residential treatment, outpatient addictions and/or mental-health counselling to help address their substance misuse issues, which are often concurrent with mental-health problems.
Going beyond these options to bring in a model of secure care treatment, like some advocates have called for, would require the enactment of new legislation authorizing the involuntary detainment of youth. This would also require the creation of specialized services and programs. The potential costs and benefits of such an approach must be carefully considered and broad public consultation would be necessary.
- The RCMP High-Risk Youth Section is a joint effort with MCFD, consisting of a civilian youth coordinator and one regular RCMP member who work closely with ministry personnel and social workers.
- The section is focused on youth in high-risk situations who have experienced a difficult or disrupted home life – whether or not they are in ministry care – and who are starting a path of criminal activity and behaviour.
- The section works closely with residential resources in the community to ensure the safety of AWOL and missing youth and has a focus on restorative justice.
- The section was created three years ago and has been working collaboratively in the community ever since.