Manitoba youth in care facility Brightscape Endeavours to close after financial review

Brightscape Endeavours

A photo from the website of Brightscape Endeavours which will close in June.

The Manitoba government is ending its support of Brightscape Endeavours, a Brandon based care facility for youth with complex needs.

The decision will see 27 youth moved and over 200 staff unsure of what is coming next.

Brightscape Endeavours Inc. will see its doors close June 18.

While disappointed in the decision, Brightscape Enveavours CEO Jesse Dourado said the staff’s focus over the next few months is getting the kids ready to move to another home.

Dourado said Brightscape was unique in that it offered a unique service to kids that few other agencies to manage.

“Other agencies all over the province were sending their kids to us because we created an exceptional custom designed wrap-around care program for each and every youth. We are often the last resort for those youth,” Dourado said in an emailed statement to APTN News.

The company currently has 27 youth in care through 14 different homes. Of those youth currently in care, 21 are Indigenous.

The staff employed at Brightscape Endeavours include 34 Indigenous members and 115 black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC).

The decision by the Manitoba government comes after a third party conducted a financial management review of Brightscape.

The province says the review found deficiencies within the company’s financial management including a lack of fiscal prudence when disbursing allowances and incentive to children in care.

Other deficiencies include a lack of supporting documents for purchases and cash disbursement and lack of oversight over the segregation of duties.

“As a result, Manitoba families is no longer confident the organization can deliver services in a financially efficient and effective manner,” Manitoba Families said in an emailed statement.

In the statement, Dourado said they accept the government’s decision but were willing to address any needs to keep operating.

“If there were issues with any of our performances, processes, or paper work we were prepared to address them but it appears that is not an option currently,” Dourado said.

The province did say that the decision was not related to any allegations of abuse or mistreatment. Manitoba Families added they will work to ensure as many staff are relocated to new positions as possible.

“Given the challenges of COVID-19, there is an increased demand for trained, qualified and experienced staff who can provide support for vulnerable Manitobans. The sector is recruiting on an ongoing basis, and the goal will be to keep as many staff as possible working in Brandon and the surrounding communities,” the statement said.

Dourado added said one youth had went through numerous homes before landing at Brightscape Endeavours.

“We had one 12-year-old youth who spent his young life in 53 different homes and institutions before being placed with us where he stayed and had stability over a year – for the first time in his life,” the statement from Dourado said.

The Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth (MACY), which represents the rights, interests and viewpoints of children, youth, and young adults throughout Manitoba, said they will also be monitoring and helping everyone ensure the youth get the appropriate care they need.

“Our focus is going to be making sure that the voices of the young people are being heard by the adults that are making decisions about their placements in care. We’re going to be actively involved in governments process for developing individual plans to make sure that those plans are appropriate and that they are attending to all of the support needs that these young people have,” said MACY acting advocate Ainsley Krone.

Bernadette Smith is an NDP MLA in Manitoba. She wants to see the province release the review to allow the public to make their own decision about whether Brightscape should be shut down.

“We want to ensure that this province, that this government is transparent in releasing this report to the public so the public can make, you know their own decision on whether Brightscape should get any more funding in the future,” Smith said in a Thursday press conference.

The notice was given now to allow everyone adequate time to ensure a plan is enabled for a smooth transition for the youth.

Reporter / Winnipeg

Darrell is a proud member of Peguis First Nation in Manitoba. He is a graduate of the television program from Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton. He is returning to APTN after having completed an internship with us in 2018 and a brief stop as a reporter in B.C. in 2019.