Demand for child protection services is on the rise in Montreal

Back head of an unidentified child. Demand for youth protection services is on the rise in Montreal. Tuesday, June 18, 2024. Global News/file

There has been an alarming increase in the number of cases youth protective services is forced to deal with on the Island of Montreal.

Requests have spiked by 114 per cent in the last 10 years according to Linda See at the Batshaw Youth and Family Centre.

And the the number of children under the care of Batshaw services in the West Island has increased by almost eight per cent in one year.

Many of the cases are related to conjugal violence or negligence.

“We’re very concerned about it,” said Linda See, Batshaw’s director-general.

The findings are part of the annual review of youth protection services that are published on an annual basis.

Lee says youth protection services are often used as a first resort when there are problems in the household and that can put a strain on case workers.

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“Youth protection can’t say no. If you come knocking at our door we’re going to respond where a community organization may not have the choice but to say no because they don’t have the resources,” Lee said.

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In addition to the increase in caseloads, there’s a lack of staff.

There are currently 26 vacancies at Batshaw and Lee says the labour shortage takes a toll on workers who are trying to help families, but filling the positions is difficult.

“A large part of our shortage is due to the fact that we have an issue with the English situation, being able to hire intervenors that are bilingual,” Lee said.

Reports of conjugal violence are also on the rise according to Guylaine Simard, the director of the West Island Women’s Shelter.

Simard says she often has to turn victims of abuse away because her shelter is full.

Simard says children also suffer emotionally and mentally when living in a home where conjugal violence is present.

“They don’t understand what, they live at home so they (the children) really need support,” Simard said.

Both Simard and Lee say more resources are needed to help families and especially those who suffer the most, the children.

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Click to play video: 'New study reveals the plight of children under Quebec’s youth protection care'
New study reveals the plight of children under Quebec’s youth protection care

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