Part Of The Solution Or The Problem? BC Children’s Ministry Calls Missing Children “A Nuisance”

sitting on a wall, only the lower half of a young girl's body is visible

According to a new report by Jennifer Charlesworth, B.C.’s representative for children and youth, the poor handling of children who go missing in British Columbia can be partly blamed on prejudice embedded in the missing child policy of the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD). Calls to the MCFD “identifying late-returning home youth as ‘a missing person’ place an unnecessary and unmanageable burden on both MCFD/centralized screening staff and police/RCMP resources,” it says.

Charlesworth’s report includes information about young people who were reported missing from the child welfare system over a three year period (April 2015 to March 2018). The majority were between 14 and 18 years of age, 65% were Indigenous and 40% were Indigenous girls.

Beyond expressing inconvenience and exasperation, how did the MCFD manage the disappearance of these children, most of whom were one way or another under MCFD charge? Charlesworth reports there was no formalized process for identifying and tracking some 12,000 reports the Ministry received over the same year from a grab-bag of reporting agencies and individuals.

Charlesworth’s report notes that others have labeled B.C.’s social welfare system a pipeline to child exploitation and sex trafficking1.

Read more about British Columbia’s apparently broken system of monitoring child welfare and child abuse for those children who, in many cases, the MCFD is directly responsible for,  at the CBC: Why are kids in government care running away? New report from B.C.’s children, youth rep sheds some light

. . . and the Vancouver Sun: Daphne Bramham: Why are so many kids in B.C. government care going missing?

The report itself is available here.


  1. Pam Palmater, “From Foster Care to Missing or Murdered: Canada’s Other Tragic Pipeline,” Macleans Magazine, April 12, 2017