Nova Scotia College of Social Workers highlights crucial gaps in places of safety following Auditor General’s report

May 7, 2024

KJIPUKTUK (HALIFAX, NS) – In light of the Auditor General’s new report concerning places of safety in Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers (NSCSW) calls attention to the significant gaps in the report regarding its understanding of service users’ needs, the realities of social workers, and how these factors contribute to the reported challenges in the delivery of places of safety.

“The Auditor General’s report recognizes that conditions are severe but fails to capture why. Case load standards at DCS are outdated and don’t match the complexities of modern families. Limited access to social determinants of health impact child and family well-being. Inadequate housing and income support lead many into poverty, further increasing the need for intervention,” said Alec Stratford, Executive Director/Registrar of the NSCSW.

The inadequate grasp of child welfare services by the Auditor General’s office has resulted in recommendations that reinforce existing challenges, such as increasing administration, standardization, and management. Most of these suggestions are likely to result in social workers spending more time at their desks or in transit, and less time engaging with families and children.

“Many children and youth in places of safety deal with complex issues including disability, mental health challenges, violence, and safety concerns,” noted Lynn Brogan, President of NSCSW. “The solutions will require a whole-of-government approach.”

In response, the NSCSW is advocating for the application of its Social Policy Framework to the challenges with temporary emergency shelters. The Social Policy Framework was developed in collaboration with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Nova Scotia Office in 2020. The framework’s 10 guiding principles are designed from an intersectional lens, focusing on evidence-based practices; applying them would address the systemic challenges observed and experienced by those in places of safety.

Key recommendations include immediate poverty alleviation efforts, prioritization of family and community connections, cultural caregiving practices, quality childcare, and mental health services provision. Additionally, professionalization and support for workers in places of safety, expanding the roles of not-for-profit organizations in providing care, implementing strategic investments in public and non-profit sectors, and stringent accountability and transparency measures are highlighted as essential steps forward.

Through strategic leveraging of the proposed Social Policy Framework, NSCSW aims to ensure that the profession of social work effectively serves and protects the interests and welfare of all Nova Scotians.


About us:

The Nova Scotia College of Social Workers serves and protects Nova Scotians by effectively regulating the profession of social work. We work in solidarity with Nova Scotians to advocate for policies that improve social conditions, challenge injustice and value diversity.

For more information or to arrange interviews with NSCSW spokespersons, contact: Rebecca Faria, communication coordinator for NSCSW (902-429-7799 ext. 227,