Aboriginal agency defends its spending against scathing report

VICTORIA - A B.C. aboriginal agency charged with delivering child welfare services to First Nations youth is defending its work despite a damning report by the children's watchdog that it has received millions in funding but has nothing to show for it.

B.C. Child and Youth Representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has slammed the province for handing $90 million each year to 23 delegated aboriginal agencies responsible for child welfare programs but with little accountability for how the money is spent.

Turpel-Lafond's report says some agencies, such as the Denisiqi Services Society, has received nearly $5 million over the last few years, but has yet to open a single file to account for a child being served.

Leslie Stump, with the society's board of directors, takes exception to the report, saying the organization does a lot of hands-on work to keep children and parents together.

The Ministry of Children and Family Development says funding for delegated aboriginal agencies is not always associated directly with files, and that the Denisiqi Services Society provides many services such as early childhood development programs and child and youth mental health services.

The Denisiqi Services Society, based in Williams Lake in the province's Central Interior, serves seven communities that Turpel-Lafond says are in dire need of mental health services for children.


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