Ottawa’s child welfare reform could mean cuts to Indigenous services, agencies warn


Some Indigenous-run child welfare agencies are warning that Ottawa’s deliberate overhaul of the Indigenous child welfare system could go away hundreds of children and households with out providers.

The federal authorities is planning to redirect funding from Indigenous child and household providers agencies to communities as a part of a $20 billion reform bundle now being negotiated by Ottawa and First Nations leaders.

That sum quantities to half of Ottawa’s historic $40 billion settlement settlement on child welfare. The different $20 billion has been put aside for particular person compensation.

Some observers say the proposed reform of the child welfare system could lead to deep funding cuts for some non-government child welfare agencies, such because the Native Child and Family Services of Toronto.

The company’s government director Jeffrey Schiffer mentioned it faces a $10.5 million reduce — 20 per cent of its finances — by the tip of the present fiscal 12 months. He mentioned that reduce could have a direct impression on prevention packages.

“What we’re actually fearful about is that this leading to a large spike in children coming into the child welfare system, which I believe is the other way that we would like to go and the other way that each one of those reforms are meant to obtain,” Schiffer mentioned.

Jeffrey Schiffer‏, government director of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, mentioned he fears city First Nations kids are being forgotten in discussions about long-term reform of child welfare. ( Joe Fiorino/CBC)

“Some agencies could be drastically affected,” mentioned Michael Miller, government director of the Association of Native Child and Family Service Agencies of Ontario.

Federal officers say no child shall be left behind by the deliberate adjustments — however they’ve but to reveal how providers shall be delivered below the brand new framework.

The uncertainty is creating stress for individuals who rely upon non-public agencies for providers.

“It’s very disheartening,” mentioned Chantel Pinacie, a mom who discovered housing by way of Native Child and Family Services below a program that is now vulnerable to being cancelled.

“Single moms want entry to this funding.”

System reform nonetheless being negotiated

Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu mentioned the adjustments to the First Nations child welfare system will make it extra responsive to the wants of households and communities.

“Indigenous-led techniques are going to be stronger within the strategy to understanding how greatest to look after households and for kids,” she mentioned. 

“Will it’s seamless? I hope will probably be as seamless as potential. But in fact, we’re at all times all for how higher we are able to help that work and it’s in its early levels.”

Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu mentioned the adjustments to the First Nations child welfare system will make it extra responsive to the wants of households and communities. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Valerie Gideon, affiliate deputy minister of Indigenous Services Canada, informed CBC News that remaining choices about funding for Indigenous child and household providers within the coming fiscal 12 months will rely upon two components.

The federal authorities wants first to attain a remaining settlement on long-term child welfare system reforms by December 31, she mentioned. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal should additionally endorse the separate $20 billion compensation bundle for people below its discrimination rulings and orders.

“The child that’s receiving providers would proceed to accomplish that, however below a unique service supply association,” Gideon mentioned.

Indigenous Services Canada has to this point obtained 64 notices and requests from 58 Indigenous governing our bodies that need to assume management of foster care providers, mentioned Gideon.

Gideon mentioned her division met the demand by rising funding to First Nations for prevention providers by 270 per cent as of April 1.

“It is about totally different service supply preparations or partnerships with First Nations to have the ability to help their aspirations of larger management and larger involvement within the supply of service,” she mentioned.

The NDP’s Crown-Indigenous affairs critic Charlie Angus, MP for Timmins–James Bay, mentioned that whereas his social gathering helps the proper of First Nations to management their very own techniques, the switch of providers to them should occur with out a hitch.

Charlie Angus, NDP MP for Timmins–James Bay, is looking on the federal authorities to guarantee kids do not lose out within the overhaul of the First Nations child welfare system. (Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press)

“The federal authorities desires to obtain all their obligations,” Angus mentioned.

“But in the event that they obtain it with out correct funding, kids are going to get damage and First Nations communities are going to be blamed.”

Miller informed CBC News it is going to take time to construct up capability on the neighborhood stage.

“I do see the alternatives however I do see the issues,” Miller mentioned earlier than he obtained straight concerned within the federal-First Nations negotiations on child welfare reform.

“How will we transition with out a huge effect and even, worst case state of affairs, a lack of providers to people?”

Native Child and Family Services estimates that greater than 3,598 Indigenous kids and younger folks vulnerable to being drawn into the child welfare system could be left with out enough entry to prevention help, mentioned Schiffer. That could lead to 1,000 kids and youth ending up again within the system, he added.

Schiffer mentioned he fears the deliberate reforms could go away behind Indigenous kids and households dwelling in city settings.

“We want to ask ourselves, if we’re reforming the system for First Nations children, [then] who counts as a First Nations child?” Schiffer mentioned.

“Is it solely First Nations children who dwell on-reserve, or who’ve authorized standing below the Indian Act? Or is it additionally First Nations children who’re related to their house neighborhood however live within the metropolis of Toronto for a time?”


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