Quebec youth protection dealing with increased reports, staffing shortages – Montreal | Globalnews.ca

The number of reports to Quebec youth protection departments continues to rise.

Over the last year – there were at least 135,000 reports handled by the  Directeur de la protection de la jeunesse (DPJ).

That means almost one out of every 10 young people, aged 0 to 17, were the subject of a report.

There was a significant increase in Montreal, with more than 19,000 reports made compared to 17,000 last year – a jump of about 12 per cent.

“We also have a lot of families who are in distress financially with regards to housing, jobs,” said Linda See, the youth protection director of the CIUSSS de L’Ouest-de-L’île-de-Montréal. “We see an increase in domestic violence also as well.”

See says there was also an eight per cent increase in reports made to Batshaw Youth and Family Centres last year.

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But the good news, she says is that many reports are ultimately not retained after the file is analyzed.

“For us, 64 per cent of the reports coming in, we don’t retain,” she said. “But that also speaks to the fact that there is a need for services for these families in another context, in the community and first-line services because that’s where there’s some lacking in resources.

But for reports that are being evaluated at Batshaw, there is a serious backlog. Over the last six months, the centre has been working with only half of its 39 employees. That’s causing a buildup in wait times.

There are currently 288 cases waiting to be evaluated with an average wait time of about 100 days.

Despite those worrying numbers, the agency says the situation has improved. At this time last year, there were nearly 600 cases waiting for evaluation.

“Psychologically, it has a toll on the personnel,” said Alexandra Boisrond, a Batshaw workers union spokesperson. “And they take it back home when they go home. It’s not a job you can easily shut off because you know how many kids are waiting, and you know what is waiting for you the next day.”

Batshaw says it continues to have trouble recruiting bilingual workers and has started to recruit professionals from outside the province.

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