The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) is making 85 recommendation to change BC’s Indigenous child welfare system.
It’ll now focus improving family life by bettering family support services, legal help, early intervention services, and funding.
Grand Chief Edward John has been a special advisor with Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux on indigenous children in care, permanency and early years since September 2015. He says one of the report’s main priorities is returning child welfare responsibilities to indigenous communities.
“To me, a major part of the solution is right there. The children are never the problem. It’s everything else that’s around them and how do we do that and how do we bring them home? The essence of the report is to do that.”
Other central focuses from the report include reducing the need for indigenous children and youth going into care, bettering support services, legal aid, equitable funding formulas between the provincial and the federal government, and easier access to early intervention services. There will also be more Ministry of Children and Family Development staff with First Nations communities.
40 recommendations are already in the works or are being included in future plans. These include a commitment to regular regional meetings with Metis and First Nations leaders, a stronger Indigenous voice within the Youth Advisory Council, more Indigenous social workers within MCFD, and more education on services.
Putting the remain recommendations into effect will take a little bit more work. The ministry says addressing the remaining ones will require a “significant injection of funding – often in co-ordination with the federal government. Alterations will also need to be made to existing legislation.”