VICTORIA — British Columbia's child and youth representative says the government needs to devote more effort to finding permanent adoption families for young people in care because this year's preliminary numbers are disappointing.
Bernard Richard says for the first six months of this fiscal year, 84 children and youth in care were adopted. Of those, only 16 were Indigenous young people.
Current adoption rates are well behind those for 2015 and 2016, where the number of adoptions were 362 and 284 children and youth, respectively, he said in a report on Wednesday.
The report is the fourth update of a 2014 review of the province's adoption system that said on any day in B.C., more than 1,000 children in government care are waiting to be adopted.
The Children and Family Development Ministry promised to increase funding to its adoption programs and seek to reduce the numbers of children waiting for permanent homes after the report came out.
Bernard said this year's numbers indicate the government is faltering in its attempts to find permanent homes for children in its care.
"I think that maybe they've lost a bit of the focus on adoptions and we would encourage them to pick up their game because permanency is absolutely essential for kids in care," he said at a news conference.
Children's Minister Katrine Conroy said the government is committed to pursuing adoptions and other forms of permanent placements through family connections.
The government has been successful with adoptions over the past two years, but the challenge now involves finding permanent homes for young people with complex needs, she said in a statement.
"We also know from previous years that many placements get finalized in the spring, and we're pushing hard to match the kids in our care with placements in families and homes that meet their best interests, whether that's through adoption, transfer of custody to a family member or other person known to the child, or other forms of permanent loving relationships."