Manitoba Auditor General Carol Bellringer
Credits: BRIAN DONOGH/QMI AGENCY
Carol Bellringer said in a new report that 14 of the 29 recommendations made by the auditor's 2006 report haven't been implemented.
"Unfortunately, progress has been slow in some areas," she said.
To date, the provincial child abuse registry -- used to track child abuse convicts when screening foster parents -- isn't complete or being updated promptly, she said.
However, part of the blame for that falls to the Crown attorneys office and the courts, Bellringer said.
"At the time of our audit, the department had developed a form for use by the public prosecution branch and the courts branch for reporting child abuse convictions to the child abuse registry," Bellringer said. "We were told that challenges continue regarding the proper completion and submission of the form."
Outstanding issues also remain with how CFS cases are electronically managed and tracked.
Bellringer also said the Department of Family Services and Labour has yet to amend CFS-related regulations to require periodic updates of criminal, medical, child abuse registry and prior contact records for people who have access to foster kids. The government told Bellringer it will consider altering the regulations in a planned review of the CFS Act.
Meanwhile, the number of kids in the province's child welfare system care jumped by 312 to 9,432 in 2010-11, according to the report.
While all four authorities saw an increase in the number of children in care, CFS agencies under the umbrella of the First Nations of Northern Manitoba Authority saw the most dramatic increase to 2,594 in 2010-11, up from 2,451 children the prior year -- a jump of 1,143 more kids.
Those agencies handle cases in some of Manitoba's poorest and remote areas.
Despite the negatives, Bellringer said recommendations in other areas -- including those surrounding the development of a more transparent and streamlined government funding model -- are now implemented.
The province spent more than $333 million on child welfare in 2010-11, up from just under $287 million the prior year, the report said.
Bellringer said she was releasing her audit report so the ongoing public inquiry into the murder of five-year-old Phoenix Sinclair could have it.
The inquiry's first phase will examine the services Phoenix did or didn't receive from CFS, other circumstances directly related to her murder in 2005 at her Fisher River First Nation home, and why it went undiscovered for months. She was a ward of Child and Family Services for much of her short life, but was not in care when she died.