When Child protection agency removed parents from the home, instead of kids, locals applauded innovative decision.
When children are at risk in their homes, within the Misipawistik First Nation, their parents will be removed rather than the children. In most jurisdictions, children are the ones who are removed from homes when there are serious concerns about possible abuse or neglect. They are usually then placed in foster homes.
Uprooting children already coping with trauma or neglect adds an additional level of stress to their lives. The Misipawistik resolution, which was passed in March 2015, stated, “The disruption and trauma felt by children who may be removed from their homes, separated from their siblings or removed from the community altogether is not an acceptable practice, when the child has done nothing wrong.”
The Cree Nation, located approximately 430 kilometres north of Winnipeg Manitoba, has come up with an innovative solution. The Child and Family Service agency for the band will have the authority to ask parents to leave the home, and keep the children in place. Then, a care worker would reside with the children and the parents would work towards meeting the criteria for their return- for example, to take counselling, attend a drug or alcohol treatment program, and the like.
Misipawistik First Nation band councillor Heidi Cook noted that they try not to blame parents. “We’re living with the intergenerational impacts of residential schools and Manitoba Hydro (development).”
The program was designed after the community had difficulty finding alternate housing that met minimum housing standards for children in care. In Manitoba, some First Nations have resorted to housing teenage foster children in hotels. That has created other safety concerns for them.
On April 1, 2015, a 15 year old girl was sexually and physically assault while being housed by Child Services at a Winnipeg hotel. The following day, a 15 year old teenage boy, also in foster care at the hotel, was arrested for the assault. The girl is listed as being in critical condition.
After learning about the assault on the teenager, Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross vowed to end the practice of placing children in care in hotels by June 1, 2015.
The 2011 Census revealed that, of the roughly 30,000 children aged 14 and under in Canada who were in foster care, nearly half (48.1%) were Aboriginal children.
In British Columbia, children in care of the Ministry for Children and Families may be placed with “kith and kin”, foster families, or group homes. Attempts are made to provide services to the parents, however, it is the children who are removed (if necessary) while the parents remain in their homes.
Further information about B.C.s Child Protection system can be obtained by visiting the Ministry’s for Children and Family’s booklet on Responding to Child Welfare Concerns.
Jayne Embree, M.A.
Jayne holds a Masters in Psychology and is a highly experienced Divorce Coach and Child Specialist. She is currently working with the Administrative and Human Resources Departments of Butterfield Law.