The Alberta government continues to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in child intervention through policies and practices to prioritize children being connected to their culture, their families and their communities.
The 26 recommendations from the all-party Ministerial Panel on Child Intervention continue to drive policy and practice improvements.
The enactment of Canada’s An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families (Federal), has altered the landscape for child and family services in Alberta.
Recommendations are categorized as follows:
- Completed – the intent of the recommendation has been met by the actions taken (recommendation has become part of normal government business)
- In Progress – steps are being taken to achieve the recommendation
Twenty four recommendations have been completed and 2 are in progress.
- Ensure Children’s Services applies specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely criteria to all the panel recommendations within six weeks and send revised recommendations to the expert panel members for review, final ratification and public release.
- Ensure meaningful participation of Indigenous Peoples – First Nation, Métis and Inuit, leaders and experts in the development and implementation of a thorough, detailed and measurable action plan related to the panel’s recommendations by June 30, 2018.
- Support development of partnerships and formal agreements to take action on the recommendations of the:
- Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decisions on First Nations child welfare
- calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People
- recommendations of the Child and Youth Advocate of Alberta
- Ensure First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples and communities have opportunity and adequate resources for meaningful participation in developing culturally relevant policy and legislation to serve and care for their children.
- Collaborate with and invest in communities to enhance the capacity to self-determine the creation and implementation of programs and services.
- Fully implement Jordan’s Principle to resolve jurisdictional disputes between Alberta and the federal government regarding payment for services to First Nations children – services that are otherwise available to all other children in the province.
- Work with Indigenous communities to provide community-based historic trauma healing services, which include access to ceremony and cultural healing.
- The Government of Alberta, in collaboration with its service delivery partners, continue to take action on addressing root causes for child intervention involvement, including: direct, long-term poverty reduction strategies, family violence prevention, and access to meaningful, culturally congruent family supports.
- Mental health and addiction services must have specific responsive, culturally appropriate, accessible services for children, youth and families in the child intervention system, with a focus on expanding access (including for Albertans living in remote communities, rural areas, on- and off-reserve) to preventative mental health and addictions services and treatment, including secure services. The Government of Alberta should prioritize implementation of recommendations of the Valuing Mental Health report to improve services for children and families before, during, and after their involvement in the child intervention system.
- Achieve equity in services to support the health and well-being of children receiving child intervention services regardless of where they live in Alberta, including children with disabilities and complex needs. Strategies to encourage recruitment and retention of staff in rural and remote regions should be pursued. This would include equity of services between Child Intervention families and those receiving Family Supports for Children with Disabilities (FSCD).
- In cases when it is not possible for a child to be cared for by family, extended family or by community; ensure children are provided with opportunities for meaningful and demonstrable cultural and kinship connections and enduring relationships in stable, permanent homes.
- Require contracted agencies to provide services that respect and reflect the culture, language and spirituality of the people they serve.
- Adopt a methodology of restorative practice to promote family participation in decisions that affect them, including family assessment, case planning and child placement.
- Strengthen kinship care assessment and ensure that appropriate training and supports are in place for kinship care providers. Prioritize kinship placements, in line with best practice to support both safety and well-being.
- Use diverse, culturally relevant collection methods to understand the experiences of all children, youth and families served to directly inform improvements to the quality of the child intervention system.
- Take action to ensure the workforce in Children’s Services, including frontline, management and contracted agencies reflects the population served by the Ministry. Recruit, train and retain staff with a culturally appropriate methodology.
- Undertake a formal review of the child intervention workplace with consultants chosen by management, employees, and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, and examine the need for more peer support opportunities.
- Support Albertans, through training, education and communication, to be more knowledgeable about:
- Indigenous Peoples, their history, and current realities of racism and discrimination
- the lasting effects of colonization on Indigenous families and its relationship to overrepresentation in the child intervention system
- Update the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act to ensure the Act:
- includes a broad inclusive understanding of family
- links the safety and well-being of children to cultural connectedness and diversity of child-rearing practices
- removes contradictions and ensures consistency throughout the Act
- clarifies the role of band designate
- Increase the post-secondary application, admissions and completion rate of Indigenous students in social work and related disciplines by working with Indigenous peoples, communities and post-secondary institutions to increase child intervention program capacity and improve program delivery.
- End the disparity in child protection and early intervention services for First Nations children living on-reserve in Alberta by:
- enhancing access to provincially funded, culturally relevant prevention and early intervention services
- advocating for funding equity from the federal government to adhere to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and fully implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations related to improving the health and welfare of children, youth and families
- in the absence of federal funding for equity in child protection, end the disparity with provincial funding
- The Government of Alberta will collaborate with Indigenous peoples and communities on Indigenous-led, collaborative research in alignment with First Nation Principles of OCAP (Ownership, Control, Access and Possession) by Indigenous communities. This research will include evaluating and informing child intervention policies and practices. Research funders will be encouraged to offer grants to prioritized projects in support of this recommendation.
- The Government of Alberta will support and use research on emerging practice and policy to:
- determine the relative merit and impact of interventions over time
- identify future directions and alternative approaches
- Conduct and use longitudinal research on short and long-term outcomes associated with children who come to the attention of the child intervention system to inform decisions and improve future outcomes for children, youth and families.
- Improve transitional supports for youth in care to adult supports, and post-secondary opportunities that will help them succeed in life. This would expand upon supports already in place.
- Ensure policies and practices for family assessment, case planning and child placement are culturally relevant to families, and serve to strengthen connection to families, kinship and community. Where changes are required, policies and practices must:
- be reframed to reflect an Indigenous worldview
- include opportunities for children to learn language and cultural practices
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