The Ministry of Children and Family Development’s latest report on the placement of children and youth in hotels shows that policy and practice directives are being followed. Due to enhanced reporting and monitoring, the report includes more detailed information than ever before on the reasons for each hotel placement.
From Jan. 13, 2016, until April 30, 2016, there were 13 instances of a child or sibling group being placed in a hotel with a qualified caregiver. When each child is counted individually, this accounts for a total of 25 placements, with one child having been placed in a hotel on two separate occasions. A foster parent, ministry social worker or contracted caregiver who has been trained and vetted to the higher standard required of foster parents was staying with the child or children in every instance. Every placement was documented and approved by a local designated director and reported to the provincial director of child welfare.
Seventeen of the 25 placements occurred in instances where a sibling group needed to be placed together. Eight of the placements were for one night only. The representative for children and youth (RCY) was notified of every placement that lasted three or more nights. The longest placements were for 18 nights, because a pair of siblings had been placed with relatives who were staying at a hotel while awaiting access to a new home they had purchased.
The other circumstances that led to hotel placements include:
- Displacement due to a fire in the residential resource where the child had been staying (one child).
- Removal in emergency circumstances from a home in a remote location and no local foster home was immediately available (two children).
- Foster parent’s flight to pick-up sibling group was delayed due to bad weather (four children).
- Child presented a danger to others in the foster home and had to be removed (one child).
- Foster parents’ safety was threatened by an adult not known to the children, so the foster parents stayed with the children in a hotel (two children).
- Children’s safety at foster home was threatened by an adult outside the home (four children).
- Placement breakdown where no foster parents were immediately available (one child).
- Large sibling group removed; no foster home immediately available to provide care for all children at once (five children).
- No foster home was equipped to manage the children’s behaviour so specialized resources needed to be developed (three children).
Hotels continue to be used on occasion in cases where there are no suitable existing resources and a resource must be developed especially for a particular child. The ministry has established a provincial working group to address this challenge and help ensure children are matched with residential placements that meet their needs. The task of the working group is to assess and track what types of resources are required in various areas of the province to support better planning for the unique needs of young people in care.
On Jan. 13, 2016, the ministry committed to full public reporting every six months and issued a new practice directive and policy to reduce the use of hotel placements, barring exceptional circumstances.
Prior to the implementation of the practice directive, the ministry had manually tracked 143 placements dating back to October 2014.
The new practice directive formalizes the social work standard of only placing children and youth in care in hotels when no other option is available. It sets out standard operating procedures on the use of hotels, the approval process, tracking, monitoring and oversight of hotel stays. The directive also stipulates the required supports provided to the child in the hotel, the qualifications of the individuals caring for the child and the reporting process to the RCY. The directives were released in conjunction with a joint special report by the ministry and RCY on the Placement of Children and Youth in Care in Hotels in British Columbia.
View the latest report on hotel placements at: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/family-and-social-supports/services-supports-for-parents-with-young-children/reporting-monitoring/00-public-ministry-reports/special_report_children_and_youth_in_care_hotel_placements.pdf
Subsequent data on hotel placements will be included in the ministry’s performance management report, which is posted twice per year.