(Ottawa, ON) – National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) welcomes today’s release of a study by the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy (IFSD) that outlines an effective and fair bottom-up approach to funding First Nations child and family services.
“How First Nations child and family services are funded will have a direct effect on Canada’s promise to bring change to the tragedy faced by tens of thousands of First Nations children in government care and their families. This report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy outlines a bottom-up approach towards understanding the needs of First Nations children and families, and how to fund the services that support them, that puts the well-being of the child at the forefront,” National Chief Bellegarde said. “This study will form the baseline of the AFN’s advocacy to Ministers when it comes to improving child and family well-being and affirming First Nations authority over the social programs that support their families.”
A requisite of An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families (the Act) is to determine funding alternatives that address long term positive outcomes and substantive equality for First Nations children and families. In alignment with the Act, the new IFSD model also encourages First Nations child and family services agencies to focus on early intervention and prevention services.
As an expert on government funding and policies, the IFSD was asked by the AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society to define a new funding approach and implementation plan for First Nations child and family services. The IFSD released Phase 1 of its research in 2019, identifying the real needs that First Nations child and family services agencies have and analyzing the costs of addressing these needs.
The IFSD’s research highlights that increased support in prevention services will not only reduce the number of First Nations children in care now, but will support long-term positive life outcomes of First Nations, including improving education and employment outcomes. The IFSD’s model measures what First Nations children, families and communities need to thrive, including connection to culture, community engagement and education. This is a marked shift from the current practice based on the number of children in care, which incentivizes the placement of children into care.
AFN Regional Chief for Manitoba, Kevin Hart, said the proposed funding approach also addresses the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s orders on long term reform and the need for a funding model that replaces Indigenous Services Canada’s (ISC) discriminatory funding practices.
“Today’s report is the culmination of decades of work of Elders, experts and First Nations leadership who have pushed for better futures for our children,” said Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart, who holds the Social Development portfolio at the AFN. “First Nations children have been subjected to a discriminatory child and family services system for generations. I look forward to taking this report to Canada as the pathway to supporting First Nations children and families to thrive.”