featured Inclusion Media release

Media release: Concerned social workers campaign to see change to NS Department of Community Services



January 22nd, 2018

KJIPUKTUK (HALIFAX, NS)- Concerned social workers in Nova Scotia have launched a social media campaign to engage Nova Scotians and bring awareness to the significant stressors that the province’s child protective system is facing.

Campaign organizers wrote an open letter to the Minister of Community Services, the Honourable Kelly Regan, and encourage all Nova Scotians to share the message. The letter and campaign can be found on the website www.ChangeDCS.org.

Jackie Barkley a Registered Social Worker (RSW) and one of the campaign organizers sees the daily impact of the current system on families. “The current system is being stretched so thin and children are falling through the cracks,” explains Barkley. “Child protection social workers continue to see high caseloads that are increasingly complex. This challenges the quality of case management and increases the risk to vulnerable children and families.”

Lana MacLean a RSW and private practitioner, also sees the harm firsthand. “There continues to be a lack of departmental direction to improve culturally competent DCS services to clients of African Nova Scotian descent,” says MacLean. “We recently witnessed with the experiences of Abdul Abdi, that there is a lack of leadership when it comes to understanding the unique cultural needs of our diverse population.” MacLean states “the African Nova Scotian Community is still looking forward to the restorative inquiry into the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children and its insight on the potential impact to the delivery of the Child and Family Services Act.

Barkley, MacLean and the campaign supporters believe that the recent changes to the Child and Family Services Act are the root of the problem.

“These changes were supposedly intended to improve the departments capacity to provide earlier intervention in an attempt to mitigate more intensive actions,” says Barkley. “However, current experience shows that the process excluded early consultation with African Nova Scotians and Indigenous populations, did not address the preexisting problems in the department and as a result has led to chaos affecting frontline staff and powerless clients.”

MacLean echo’s this concern. “What is equally concerning is that without the proper tools to keep children in their homes, frontline social workers find themselves as resource organizers rather than social workers which leaves them with fewer options to keep children safe in their homes.”

Nova Scotians can help share their message and be part of the campaign by:

  • Sharing the website changedcs.org and the open letter with your contacts
  • Sign up on the website to receive updates about the campaign
  • Using the hashtag #ChangeDCS on your social media platforms to talk about the current system’s impacts on vulnerable Nova Scotians.

About us:

Jackie Barkely:

Jackie has been a Registered Social Worker for over 40 years. She has worked in the areas of child welfare, the NS Hospital short stay mental health unit, the IWK mental health crisis team and Choices adolescent treatment program. Jackie have over 15 years of counselling work experience with child welfare clients, victims’ services and has completed family court custody access assessments. She holds a post graduate certificate in advanced child welfare practice and is the winner of the Nova Scotia College of Social Worker’s Ron Stratford memorial award. Jackie is also specialized in cultural competence.

Lana MacLean:

Lana is a registered practicing clinical social worker with 30 years of experience. Lana has worked in the fields of addiction, mental health and acute care working with various client populations. Lana has a spent the majority of her career working in the ABC communities. In 2017 Lana was qualified by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court (Trial Division) as an expert witness in the area of race and cultural issues as they relate to sentencing of African Nova Scotians. Lana has conducted cultural impact assessments (CIA) on matters related to sentencing, custody access and child welfare. Lana has also written multiple clinical cultural opinion letters for YCJ, Provincial and Supreme Courts. Lana recently presented to the Provincial and Family Court judges on the utilization of CIA.

Lana was instrumental board member, who aided in the development of the Nova Scotia Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Strategy- Together We Can. Lana presently is the Chair of the Social Action Committee of the African United Baptist Association. She is a member of the National Organization of Forensic Social Workers (NOFSW), HAAC and ABSW.

For more information and media inquiries please contact:

Jackie Barkley