About once a week staff at Denisiqi Services Society hear through the grapevine the society is getting money and not doing anything.
However, staff at the helm in Williams Lake say those allegations are not true.
Executive director Dwayne Emerson and voluntary services supervisor Nadine Adam said the society is very busy servicing Tsilhqot’in and Ulkatcho communities.
“We have 10 program streams that are contracted through the Ministry of Children and Family Development,” Emerson said.
If the society wasn’t providing services they would have lost all contracts a long time ago, Adam added.
Criticisms about the society emerged in November after the Representative for Children And Youth released a report titled When Talk Trumped Service: A Decade of Lost Opportunity for Aboriginal Children and Youth in B.C.
In the 85-page report, Denisiqi was listed as a Delegated Aboriginal Agency that received $975,807 in 2012/13 but had not opened any files.
Delegated means an Aboriginal agency can deliver child welfare services to First Nations children, youth and families.
“The report compiled the information in March 2013 and released it in November,” Emerson said. “We were not a delegated agency until April 2013, so we wouldn’t have been anything but zero.”
Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said since she released the report, Denisiqi has put a lot more focus in recent months on having a delegation agreement, on how it delivers services, and on its relationship with the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
For some years Denisiqi was delegated and then it wasn’t, Turpel-Lafond said.
“You have to be an organization that has a delegation agreement with the ministry and the federal government and meet certain standards before you can take a file and open that file.”
Turpel-Lafond investigated Denisiqi for an interval of 10 years and found there was an interval, about five years, where the agency was delegated to do work, but had no files and there was no record of what was done.
That doesn’t mean they weren’t doing other things, Turpel-Lafond explained.
In response to the report, MCFD said it has created an Aboriginal Service Innovations program.
The new program invites Aboriginal services providers to apply for funding by submitting business plans clearly outlining measurable targets for providing services to children.
“We’re currently engaged with our Aboriginal partners on developing an Aboriginal Practice Framework to help guide policy and practice in Aboriginal service regardless if they are provided through the ministry or a delegated Aboriginal agency,” the MCFD said in an e-mailed response.
Turpel-Lafond, however, said what work will be done for children is still unknown.
“They have retooled it a bit,” she said. “I’m glad they have and I’m monitoring that very closely.”
Agencies will have to apply, say what they are going to do, fill out paper work, file back and the work will have to be consistent with what the ministry is supposed to be doing, she continued.
“People won’t be able to get money to just have meetings and talk. From my view as the representative, it’s only progress when programs are in place.”
Emerson said 100 per cent of the funds identified in the report were used for prevention and support programs on and off reserve.
For example, Denisiqi delivers an Aboriginal Family Group Conferencing (AFGC) program and contractually has to resolve 24 family group conferences in a year.
Those conferences take anywhere from three to five days with active participation from families that are involved and the numbers are 16 to 20 people sometimes.
One community of the seven, had 65 people participate in the AFGCs from July last year until today, Emerson said.
Two clinicians work for the society, funded through Child Youth and Mental Health, with one contract worth 1.5 full time equivalents to provide service to a the entire region.
One of the clinicians is dedicated to one-on-one clinical work and the other does more capacity building and community development work so most of her work is with groups.
“She does the assist suicide intervention training, she does the schizophrenia workshop, she does the circle of courage event with families,” Emerson said. of the second clinician.