A provincial minister is voicing her concerns over a former Kelowna social worker who had worked for the province, but according to media reports, allegedly didn’t have a social work degree.
“I can’t tell you how disturbed I am by this information. To think that anyone who intends to work with vulnerable people might lie about their qualifications is deeply upsetting,” said Minister of Children and Family Development Katrine Conroy.
Lawsuits have been piling up against Robert Riley Saunders, a former Kelowna social worker who was employed by the ministry.
Four new civil lawsuits that were filed in March were similar to previous allegations against Robert Riley Saunders regarding stealing money from youth that were in his care when he was a social worker.
One of the new civil suits alleges Saunders lied about paying a teenager’s rent after being put into an independent living situation after foster care. The teen was then forced into a life of homelessness and turned to drug use, the teen said in court documents.
None of these allegations are proven in court.
The ministry said in a statement that background checks when hiring include reference checks, a criminal record check, a mandatory screening, a statement confirming the accuracy of information provided and local hiring managers may verify an applicant’s degree by requesting an original or certified copy of the certificate.
“Moving forward, the PSA is working with the ministry to develop a screening guide for hiring managers for child protection workers. This process will include validation of an applicant’s credentials,” the ministry said in a statement.