VICTORIA - The Ministry of Children and Family Development is strengthening how it delivers front-line services by adding 200 new child welfare workers by 2016, accelerating additional hiring and restructuring ministry functions to allow social workers to concentrate more on direct services to children and families and less on administration.
These changes come as a result of extensive staff engagement throughout the province, collaboration with the BC Government Employees Union (BCGEU) and feedback from clients.
The Ministry will also increase the use of the Provincial Mobile Response Unit’s roster of social workers and administrative staff to meet the needs of clients in rural/remote areas where staff recruitment is difficult. As important as the investment in staff is a redesign of procedures across all of the ministry’s service lines. Changes are designed to:
- Reduce administrative backlogs by freeing social workers from functions like payment transactions, data entry, and handling non-urgent inquiries - this will allow staff to spend more time with clients and in communities.
- Allow front-line staff to focus on functions that require their child protection expertise, including face-to-face work with the children and families they serve, thereby increasing the time they spend on urgent and acute cases.
- Ensure clients see professional front-line staff as early as possible so that individuals who need immediate service are handled with appropriate urgency.
As well, the ministry is continuing to move forward with the final phase of the Integrated Case Management (ICM) system - a child protection upgrade - which will make the system more responsive and user-friendly for social workers. To date, feedback from staff using the system has been positive. The launch of the final phase is scheduled to be complete by the end of the year.
Stephanie Cadieux , Minister of Children and Family Development -
“We've heard what our dedicated staff and the employees union have said about workload challenges and the ability for staff to fulfil the needs of ministry clients, and we are listening. I am confident these changes will make a significant difference in the daily work of our staff and in-turn our ability to deliver the much needed services B.C.'s vulnerable children and families need.”
Ministry of Children and Family Development: www.gov.bc.ca/mcf/index.html
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Children and Family Development
Business redesign: What it means for clients
As the need for access to government services continues to increase, the Ministry of Children and Family Development is reviewing and updating its child welfare business processes to better position itself to provide the most streamlined and effective service delivery to B.C. children and families.
Changing office hours - By identifying ministry offices that will benefit from a more standardized set of operating hours, ministry clients will be better able to plan their visits by assuring a full staff compliment during set hours. As well, by allocating time at the beginning and end of the day to manage office tasks, front-line staff will be able to spend more face time with clients and focus on urgent and acute cases requiring immediate attention. Changes to office hours in specific locations are expected to be completed by March 2015.
Provincial Mobile Response Unit - Ensuring a compliment of qualified staff that are able to travel to hard-to-recruit and rural/remote communities means clients will be able to access the professional support they need without leaving their community. In addition to the unit’s current complement of five social workers, the ministry will be adding five more social workers, as well as administrative support. A volunteer roster will also be developed to enable staff to visit these areas and provide necessary supports without having to relocate permanently. The roster is expected to be fully implemented by March 2015.
Centralized screening and intake for child protection - The centralization of child protection intake and screening processes will reposition these functions out of regional offices and allow social workers to focus on face-to-face services with their clients. This shift will change our current after hours service to a 24/7 intake and screening service. Research and design are planned to take place in the coming months, with implementation happening in fiscal 2015-16.
Redesign of transactional services - In an effort to support front-line staff to focus on priority tasks, the ministry will review the feasibility of moving transactional services to a central telephone and online service. This shift would ensure these services are expedited quickly to allow staff to focus on critical cases that require immediate action. Planning and design for this new model will take place over the next 14 months, with planned implementation by March 2016. We have already looked at one such transactional process, the extended family program, and designed a new centralized approach. We know that moving transactions out of the regional offices and to a more centralized approach will ensure that applications are addressed more efficiently.
Creation of an online service portal - A new online portal will provide 24/7 access for clients needing to find, access and submit a variety of MCFD service applications. The portal will provide information for clients on where to find services, which application(s) they require, and the processes involved in submitting an application. Along with other planned business process improvements, this online resource will help front-line staff provide services more efficiently.
Review of the children and youth special needs service line - In an effort to streamline all ministry service lines and provide the best support to all clients, the ministry will review its children and youth special needs business area. This will help the ministry determine what opportunities are available to increase service performance and ensure children and youth with special needs and their families receive the most streamlined, helpful support available.
Ministry of Children and Family Development