Public Guardian and Trustee releases first annual report on child and youth guardianship services



    
    Key findings outline the challenges and opportunities associated with
    delivering child guardianship services in British Columbia
    

    VANCOUVER, June 29 /CNW/ - The Public Guardian Trustee of British
Columbia (PGT) today released the first annual report on its child and youth
Guardian of Estate services, which details specific challenges and offers key
recommendations for improvements to BC's child protection and guardianship
systems.
    The release of the Child and Youth Guardianship Report 2008/2009 fulfills
a commitment made by the PGT to report on Guardian of Estate services. As
Guardian of Estate, the PGT is responsible for overseeing the legal and
financial interests of children who have been placed in the custody of the
Province through a court order. These children are orphans, children going
through adoption, or children in continuing care as a result of child
protection concerns. The PGT services come in many forms, including going to
court on a child's behalf, tracking down financial benefits for the child and
managing investments.
    "Protecting these vulnerable children is a role that the PGT takes very
seriously," said Jay Chalke, QC, Public Guardian and Trustee. "Our hope is
that this report will serve to better tell the collective story of the young
people under our guardianship and offer proposals to improve the services to
them."
    The report includes several recommendations for service improvements. One
proposal is for a study to determine who should be the legal guardian of
children in intermediate forms of provincial care. The goal is to ensure that
children in these alternative care arrangements provided by the Province
receive the protection of a guardian where that assistance is needed.
    "The new ways in which support is provided to children in provincial care
create a more flexible and responsive system - and that's a good thing," said
Chalke. "However, we must also ensure that children in these intermediate
forms of care don't fall through the cracks."
    The PGT has also recommended improving financial literacy support for
children and youth in care - including a basic understanding of the banking
system, credit cards, and managing investments - in preparation for when they
turn 19 and become responsible for managing their own finances.
    "Understanding how to properly manage money is a key skill to ensuring
that our young people successfully transition to making their own financial
decisions," said Chalke. "We look forward to working together with our partner
agencies to develop better programs that teach these skills. This will give
children in care a stronger start as they become productive and successful
adults."
    The report contains a summary of 624 critical incident reports received
from the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) and Delegated
Aboriginal Agencies during 2008/09 for 463 children, reflecting approximately
7 per cent of the over 6,000 children in continuing care during the year. No
conclusions should be drawn from the information contained in the reports at
this time. The PGT reviews each report and determines whether further action
is required to protect the legal or financial interests of the child. Such
reviews, and legal proceedings if any, can take considerable time.
    In total, the report makes seven recommendations to further improve
services for children and youth, including:

    
    -   continuing consultations between the PGT, MCFD and Delegated Agencies
        on creating opportunities to streamline the exchange of information
    -   developing a PGT outreach program to ensure that service partners
        understand their relationship with the PGT
    -   through the Children's Forum, continuing to encourage child serving
        agencies to work together effectively, avoiding duplication of
        services, and having appropriate information sharing protocols in
        place
    -   reviewing the possibility of the PGT providing Guardian of Estate
        services from regional offices, with particular emphasis on
        relationships with Delegated Agencies
    -   in partnership with MCFD and Delegated Agencies, taking further steps
        to ensure that youth in care become more financially literate as they
        approach the age of majority
    -   continuing to work with the government to modernize the legal
        definition of guardian to clarify the roles of guardians
    -   urging the government to carry out a review of legal guardianship
        roles for children receiving services under alternative care
        arrangements

    A copy of the Child and Youth Guardianship Services Report 2008/2009 is
available at
(<a href="http://www.trustee.bc.ca/pdfs/CYS/(Secured)%20PGT%20Child%20and%20Youth%20Guardianship%20Services%202008-09%20Report.pdf">http://www.trustee.bc.ca/pdfs/CYS/(Secured)%20PGT%20Child%20and%20Youth%20Gua
rdianship%20Services%202008-09%20Report.pdf</a>).

    About the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia

    The PGT is an independent Provincial corporation with a mandate to protect
the financial and legal interests of British Columbians who cannot look after
themselves. Specifically, the PGT activities are to:

    -   Protect the legal and financial interests of children and youth under
        the age of 19.
    -   Protect the legal rights, financial interests and personal care
        interests of adults who need assistance in decision making.
    -   Administer the estates of the deceased when there is no one willing
        or able to take on this duty, the estates of missing persons, and
        personal trusts.
    

    The PGT has a staff of 234 and a budget of approximately $22 million.
Close to 60% of revenues are fees for service, while the remainder is funding
from the Province.
    The PGT currently serves about 33,000 clients and manages almost $790
million of client assets. Approximately 22,000 of the clients are children and
their assets are valued at $181 million.





For further information:

For further information: For media inquiries, please contact: Indiana
Matters, (604) 660-4484, IMatters@Trustee.bc.ca

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