Quebec's youth protections services have seen a jump in daily cases reported on average, according to an annual report.
Youth protection, also known as the Directeur de la protection de la jeunesse (DPJ), received 132,632 reports during 2021-2022, compared to 117,904 in the previous year — a 12.5 per cent increase.
The rise translates to an average of 363 reports about Quebec children submitted per day or an increase of 40 cases daily since 2020-2021.
These findings come a year after the release of a provincially commissioned report on the DPJ, which showed it failed to provide vulnerable children with a healthy and safe environment.
"It's clear that it's a worrisome increase," said Assunta Gallo, director of the DPJ for the CIUSSS Centre-Sud-de-l'île de Montréal, who presented the findings at a news conference Tuesday, alongside DPJ director Linda See of the CIUSSS de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal.
"Every day, more and more children and teenagers show signs of anxiety disorders or major adaptation difficulties …. But the services they need are not always available in a timely manner."
The DPJ for the Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal received 12,967 reports, up 8.22 per cent from 2021, See said, and Batshaw Youth and Family Centres on the West Island saw a 16.5 per cent increase with 4,645 cases.
"Our intervention must once again become an exceptional measure," she said.
More than half of Quebec children (53.7 per cent) under youth protection care come from a family environment, the report found.
The most recurrent types of cases being retained at Batshaw, See added, are negligence, psychological abuse and physical abuse.
"Over the years, we continue to have coming to our department reports with regard to conjugal violence, which causes distress for everybody in the family," she said.
She noted that it was "particularly a phenomenon within the English community," which she says reported "a large number of situations" related to conjugal violence.
Workers of public organizations once again represent the majority of people alerting youth protection services to potential cases (34 per cent).
Fewer cases retained
In spite of the increase in reports, the DPJ saw the number of cases it retained this year dip by 2.3 per cent with the current number at 43,688, reducing the retention rate from 37.9 per cent last year to 33 per cent.
See says the directors "were not surprised" by the influx of reports throughout the pandemic, but the slight drop in cases kept suggests the population might not know what other services are available to meet their needs.
"We're getting the sense that maybe youth protection is becoming the front door for a lot of people to receive services," she said.
She added that the DPJ has signed agreements with several community organizations so families can receive support from both services at the same time with the aim of having them be in a position to "leave youth protection faster," and not be followed long-term.