“As Albertans, we all feel the overwhelming loss of these three young people, and the pain of their siblings, families and caregivers. We know that Indigenous children and youth experience trauma and loss in their lives far too often.
“In response to the profound legacy of residential schools in Indigenous families and communities, governments across Canada have been working to reunify families whenever possible. In examining these cases, it is clear that we need to do a better job of working with families to ensure complex needs are acknowledged, the right supports are in place and that children are kept safe.
“A number of initiatives are underway to help address these issues, including enhanced funding to reduce caseloads, strategies to help caseworkers improve safety when considering a placement for a child and a program in four of our seven regions, which requires ongoing supports for 12 months prior to ending a permanent guardianship. We will be working towards expanding this program throughout the province. Children’s Services is also undertaking an internal review into cases involving tragedies at the time of reunification.
“The safety and well-being of children and families have been at the heart of the work of the Ministerial Panel on Child Intervention since the start of Phase 2 of their work, and we anticipate that they will continue to deliberate on these important issues as they go forward.
“Two of these cases involved children being served by on-reserve Delegated First Nation Agencies. We thank the Advocate for highlighting the ongoing disparity for services for Indigenous children and families. While we continue to work with the federal government and First Nations on this critical issue, it is clear that there is an urgent need for all governments to work together to improve services for Indigenous children.
“We would like to thank the Child and Youth Advocate for this report. We accept the recommendations and will work closely with his office to implement them and ensure the safety and well-being of Alberta’s vulnerable children.”