A Stronger, Safer Tomorrow – Update
created: Dec 21, 2018
PUBLIC ACTION PLAN UPDATE / DECEMBER 2018
Message from the Minister of Children’s Services
This fall, we have taken important steps to better protect children and support families – all part of our public action plan, A Stronger, Safer Tomorrow. I want to update you on this work, and what it means for you.
I am proud to have passed new legislation this month making important updates to the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act(CYFEA). An Act For Strong Families Building Stronger Communities will increase fairness for Indigenous peoples and improve supports for children, in and out of care.
I was honoured to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Government of Canada and First Nations Health Consortium tohelp implement Jordan’s Principle in Alberta. Alberta is the first province to sign onto Jordan’s Principle, which will help First Nation children and youth get the supports they need, when they need them.
On December 12, I met with many First Nation Chiefs to continue the conversation on making meaningful change to the child intervention system. I thank the Chiefs for their time and contributions to the discussion, and I look forward to continue engaging with our Indigenous partners and others as we move forward.
In the coming weeks, we will also begin piloting a new kinship caregiver assessment program tool and the Indigenous Advisory Body will join the Elder’s Wisdom Circle and Grandmother’s Circle to help shape our work and ensure it is meeting local needs.
I am proud to say that all 16 immediate actions in A Stronger, Safer Tomorrow are on track to be completed by April.
In the coming weeks and months, we will continue our collective work to implement our public action plan, strengthen the child intervention system and improve supports for families.
Minister of Children’s Services
Standing up for Indigenous families
On December 5, the Government of Alberta passed An Act for Strong Families Building Stronger Communities, which will makeimportant updates to the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act(CYFEA). These changes will come into force on February 28, 2019.
Under the new legislation, First Nations will now be formally notified about all private guardianship applications involving children who are members or believed to be from a particular First Nation.
All guardianship applications for children in care will be made under CYFEA. Applications will no longer be allowed under the Family Law Act. This will ensure every child benefits from a mandatory home study and a cultural connection plan.
Financial supports for permanency will also follow the child, not guardian, so these important supports will not be disrupted if the guardian changes.
This is the first in a three-phase review of CYFEA. Learn more about all the changes and what they mean for you.
Implementing Jordan’s Principle
The Alberta government has signed a landmark agreement with the Government of Canada and the First Nations Health Consortium – made up of 11 First Nations in Alberta – to improve services for First Nations children.
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Jordan’s Principle is the first in Canada between a provincial government, the Government of Canada and First Nations partners. It formallycreates a First Nations-driven process where the consortium and the federal and provincial governments work together to coordinate services in Alberta, address gaps and share information, so that when a child needs support there are no unnecessary delays.
The all-party Ministerial Panel on Child Intervention identified full implementation of Jordan’s Principle in Alberta as one of its 26 recommendations. Signing the MOU also addresses one of 16 immediate actions set out in the public action plan.
Ultimately, this will help ensure that First Nations children, youth and families can access the supports and services they need, when they need them.
Other recent actions
- The Indigenous Grandmothers Circle has been established and begun providing advice to Children’s Services from a grandmother’s perspective and based on lived experiences.
- More than 700 youth have been approved to receive funding and other supports through the Advancing Futures Program. In 2018-19, the program expects a 12% increase in enrolment compared to last year.
- The Indigenous Cultural Understanding Framework is being implemented for Children’s Services staff across Alberta.
- Children’s Services is working with cross-ministry and service delivery partners to help implement the Valuing Mental Health report. This will include working with Indigenous communities to assess readiness and their support needs.
- A new Peer Support Program has been established to further strengthen Children’s Services’ workplace culture and support staff in assisting children, youth and families.
- A new kinship caregiver assessment tool will be piloted early in 2019. This holistic, in-depth tool has been designed to help caregivers support the safety and well-being of children placed in their care.
- A new client feedback, monitoring and reporting system will be piloted to help empower the voices of children, youth and families receiving services.
- A new Youth Advisory Committee will be established soon to help identify concrete activities to better support youth receiving services.
- A new Well-being and Resiliency Framework is being developed to guide Children’s Services in enhancing and increasing prevention and early intervention services and supports for infants, children, youth and families in Alberta.
- New prevention and early intervention programs will be developed with Indigenous communities, increasing access to prevention and early intervention programs. More information will be announced in 2019.
These are only a few of the exciting initiatives being implemented in the coming months. Visit the Children’s Services website to stay informed.