(YELLOWKNIFE) Tuesday, March 29, 2022 – Today, the Standing Committee on Social Development, chaired by Caitlin Cleveland, read its report titled “Lifting Children, Youth and Families: An All of Territory Approach to Keeping Families Together” in the Legislative Assembly.
The Committee undertook this work because they are required by law to review the Child and Family Services Act every five years. This review in particular examined what prevention activities exist within Child and Family Services, and whether or not other legislative changes are needed.
The report makes 19 recommendations to the Government of the Northwest Territories:
- declare the overrepresentation of Indigenous children and youth in care a crisis and develop a whole of government response in partnership with Indigenous governments
- provide birthing support that is holistic, client-centered and culturally safe with a doula and midwife services staffed in each regional center
- establish a territorial treatment addictions recovery program or treatment supports specifically for youth so that they can remain in the territory and maintain their support systems
- expand housing options for youth by collaborating with communities and non-governmental organizations to find safe places for youth to stay
- tailor the Healthy Family Program for vulnerable families and expand it to all 33 communities
- provide additional funding for recreational facilities and programming so that families have increased access to these spaces and add funding for children and youth in care to participate in extracurricular activities
- establish family mentorship pilot projects that pair vulnerable parents with grandparents or elders
- provide more funding towards addictions recovery on the land healing options for youth
- establish culturally safe and gender-inclusive family violence shelters in every community
- deliver and make mandatory culturally safe and trauma-informed training for foster families
- establish a recruitment strategy to increase the number of Indigenous foster families
- develop an evaluation and monitoring framework for Child and Family Services, including a data profile on those in care
- establish an Indigenous Advisory Body sub-committee for Child and Family Services
- increase online resources for Child and Family Services ensuring they are easily accessible and culturally safe
- provide legal services to parents as early as the plan of care stage with Child and Family Services
- change the Child and Family Services Act to support the readiness of Indigenous governments to draw down jurisdiction for child welfare, use trauma-informed language and ensure culture continuity
- establish a spectrum of service available to people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and their families/caregivers
- report progress annually on the Committee’s recommendations
The Government of the Northwest Territories will have 120 days to respond to the Committee’s recommendations.
To read the report in full to learn about the engagement process and read the recommendations in detail, go to ntassembly.ca/keepingfamiliestogether.
“It was important to us to do things differently for this review. First, we wanted to create safe spaces so NWT residents would feel comfortable sharing their stories- especially youth currently in care. The youth we spoke to were courageous, and we are thankful as we learned so much from them. We hope that all residents who gave their time, lived experience, and insight see their words reflected in these recommendations and that this work creates a brighter future for NWT children, youth and families.”
Caitlin Cleveland, Chair of the Standing Committee on Social Development
Attachment: Visual Summary of “Lifting Children, Youth and Families: An All of Territory Approach to Keeping Families Together”