Ministry responds to DCFS stories

  • Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs (Photograph supplied)

    Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs (Photograph supplied)

The Ministry of Legal Affairs wishes to provide the community with accurate information regarding the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS).

The stories published in The Royal Gazette as it relates to old Psycho-Ed and Residential Treatment Services cases are looking at a situation in isolation, without looking at the full perspective.

The Department of Child and Family Services is legislatively responsible for responding to reports of child abuse and neglect on the island. The Department responds by investigating and providing intervention services. The Department is also responsible, upon court order for providing custody and access recommendations to the courts.

In 2018, the Department received 1142 new referrals for concerns about child abuse and neglect. Referrals were received from the community at large and mandated reporters (the Bermuda Police Services, the Department of Education/schools, the Department of Health, Child and Adolescent Services, the KEMH, and third sector child and family agencies, to name a few).

Of the 1142 new referrals, 225 were screened out as they did not meet the threshold for a child protection investigation.

The Department of Child and Family Services investigation department conducted investigations on all cases that were screened. There were:

• 474 Neglect investigations

• 180 Physical Abuse investigations

• 260 Sexual Abuse investigations

• 83 Emotional Abuse investigations

• 7 Children in Care of Relatives requiring support

• 99 Behaviour Problems (including substance use and behaviour beyond parental control)

• 38 Other services requested (including court-ordered investigations into the welfare of a child, Hague Convention and overseas jurisdiction requests)

• 1 Suicidal Ideation or attempted suicide referral

On completion of the above investigations, decisions were made regarding referring the families on to internal services for further child protection family support and intervention OR referral to external child and family agencies for services for family support.

In 2018 the Department of Child and Family Services’ ongoing child protection involved:

• 151 families consisting of 238 children supported by the Department’s Family Preservation team, supporting families with their children remaining in their care;

• 105 children and 82 parents receiving counselling services through the Department’s Counselling and Life Skills team;

• 88 children in foster care placements supported by the Department’s Foster Care team. It is noted that 30 per cent of the children in Foster Care placements are supported in Kinship/Family placements as opposed to traditional foster care. This is always the Department’s preferred placement option in order to keep the children with family when the courts deem placement with the parents to be unsafe.

• 20 adolescents in the Department’s male and female Residential Care homes.

• 42 children receiving daycare services at the Department’s Happy Valley Child Care Centre. 60% at risk/agency referred children and 40% open applications from the community.

• 44 new referrals for court-ordered assessment regarding child access matters that are in dispute

• 20 children receiving services from the Department’s PsychoEd section in overseas placements.

To date this year, there have been 18 children receiving services from PsychoEd with 9 children currently overseas in placements.

Recommendations for referral overseas via the PsychoEd programme are made after all other resources locally are exhausted.

Local resources are family, counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists, other family intervention programs and outreach services.

The Department does not wish to negate or take away from the perceptions of those who choose to take their stories to the media, however, wish to highlight that the decision regarding overseas referral is not one that is taken lightly.

The Department also wishes to highlight that year over year; there have been improvements in the processes of the Psycho Ed programme.

All sections in the Department are continually assessing and reassessing processes and making improvements for the betterment of the clients that we serve. Psycho Ed is no different.

Based on experiences, procedures have been reviewed and adjusted to keep up with best-practice standards and budgetary constraints.

Where we are today is light years from where we were in the early to mid-2000.

*Press release from the Ministry of Legal Affairs.

Update: This press release has been corrected at the request of the Ministry of Legal Affairs. It incorrectly referred to the year 2006 in the last line. It should have read 2000.

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Published Dec 10, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 10, 2019 at 4:06 pm)

Ministry responds to DCFS stories

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