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One day in the life of a Quebec youth protection social worker

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MONTREAL -

Most days, Zoe Hurtado is in her car more than she's at her desk.

As a social worker in Quebec's overburdened youth protection system, she's often driving her young clients to and from appointments to visit family, to the hospital or to court.

“Often we'll get our biggest disclosures and most important discussions in these car rides,” she said.

Building trust is a key part of her job, but finding the time necessary to do so isn't always easy. Hence, the importance of the car rides, not to mention of flexibility.

“I could have everything scheduled and I go to the first meeting and there's a crisis,” she said. “Well, my day just went out the window and then I need to reorganize.”

When she isn't on the road, Hurtado works out of her office at Batshaw Youth and Family Services, which primarily serves Montreal's English-speaking community. She works for the Evaluation and Orientation department, which is responsible for investigations after a call is placed to report a child who could be at risk.

“Anyone who has concerns for a child's safety and wellbeing can call us,” she said. “It could be a family friend or a neighbour.”

Calls also come in from mandatory reporters such as teachers who suspect a child is being mistreated or neglected.

Hurtado and others like her handle situations that fall under Quebec's Youth Protection Act, such as neglect, physical, psychological or sexual abuse or abandonment.

The system has been under scrutinty since the death of a seven-year-old girl in Granby in 2019.

To find out what a day in the life of a social worker in Quebec's youth protection system is like, watch Angela Mackenzie's report above.  

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