Child Welfare (1-5): Background Content

Child and Youth Advocate Recommendations

The Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates (CCCYA) is an association of children’s advocates from across Canada who have mandates to advance the rights of children and youth and to promote their voice.

Although the names of the offices and their legislative mandates vary, the advocates are all independent officers of the legislature in their respective jurisdictions. Through the Council, they identify areas of mutual concern, and work to develop ways to address issues at a national level.

April 27, 2021


Advocate for Child and Youth Annual Report

Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth: 2020 Annual Report
Reconciliation is also a stated priority for my office as part of our commitment and support to Indigenous children, families, and communities . We developed an Elder Advisory Council to advance reconciliation through their knowledge, wisdom, and guidance and to influence systems to embrace the principles of reconciliation for better outcomes for Indigenous children and youth – and to work in accordance with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Calls to Justice and in support of An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children, youth and families.

The Reconciliation section of the Strategic Plan 2020 – 2024 includes:

  • Strengthen relationships with First Nations and Métis communities
  • Seek and include Elder guidance and cultural knowledge
  • Influence systems to embrace reconciliation for better outcomes for Indigenous children

Recommendations Monitoring Update

Update to five investigations since 2016 that rendered recommendations to the appropriate entities, including

  • Shhh… Listen!! We Have Something to Say!” in 2017, which encompassed six youth calls-to-action and five Advocate calls-to-action, and
  • When Every Second Matters” in 2018 with 11 recommendations directed to the Ministry of Education, school division and school

September 4, 2019


Child Protection Services to Inuit Children


Inuit children are struggling in the child protection system. When we began this Independent Review, there were 1,005 children in care in Newfoundland andLabrador. There were 345 Indigenous children, and 150 of these children. We began this Independent Review after receiving a formal request from Nunatsiavut Government to investigate Inuit children’s experiences in the child protection system. We reviewed the following programs:

  • In Care
  • Protective Intervention
  • Placement Resources/Foster Homes
  • Youth Services, and
  • Kinship Care

We also conducted a literature review involving provincial, national and international content.ere Inuit. In our discussions, young people in care told us they miss home terribly, and fear losing their cultural connections and sense of Inuit identity. We repeatedly heard the significance of culture. This involves the importance of cultural continuity for the children, recognizes the value of traditional healing and treatment approaches, requires an understanding of Inuit ways of parenting, families and community, and speaks to cultural education being necessary for professionals.

Fundamental systemic change is needed in order to have better outcomes for Inuit children and their families. The good news is that many Inuit still believe that change is possible and that things can look and work differently if Inuit values, beliefs, and knowledge inform a new way of keeping children safe.

The Report presents 33 recommendations.

On June 2021 the Advocate issued the “Status Report on Recommendations: 2019-2020” including updates on the governments actions on implementing the recommendations from “A Long Wait for Change“:

  • Implemented: 0
  • Partially Implemented: 30

Not Implemented: 3

April 1, 2019


Children and Youth in Yukon Group Care

“Empty Spaces – Caring Connections – The Experiences of Children and Youth in Yukon Group Care
This Review highlights the views and rights of 94 children and youth who lived in Group Care from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2018.
Government of Yukon legislation, policies and strategies mandate the importance of cultural development for children and youth and meaningful participation from First Nations governments. The TRC Calls to Action and UNDRIP further direct the importance of culture for Indigenous children and youth.Throughout the review we acknowledge the traumatic history of the Yukon, which impacted all 14 First Nations, their citizens and their communities. The legacy of colonialism, manifested in Residential Schools and the 60’s Scoop harmfully impacted parenting capacity. Outcomes include substance misuse, loss of identity and difficulty forming meaningful relations due to lack of attachments to biological family and traumas experienced in Residential School and in the child welfare system.
Of the 94 children that lived in Group Care during the Review Period, 59 (63%) had files at the YCAO, 69 (79%) children were identified as Indigenous, and 53 (61%) children were citizens or eligible to be citizens of a Yukon First Nation.This Review explores numerous areas of Group Care. Four key themes emerged during this review, and the findings in this document all relate in some way to one of these themes:

  • Relationships: Safety, Loss and Caring Connections
  • Cultural Identity
  • Case Planning
  • Leaving Group Care

The 31 recommendations are presented in the following categories:

  • Stepping Stones for Change (1-2)
  • Caring Connections and Community Anchors (3-7)
  • Cultural Identity (8-15)
  • Caring Connections and Community Anchors (16-26)
  • Group Care through a Child Rights Lens

July 23, 2020


Critical Injuries and deaths of Métis children

Nation Talk – Representative for Children and Youth Jennifer Charlesworth today released a report examining critical injuries and deaths of Métis children and youth. “Invisible Children: A Descriptive Analysis of Injury and Death Reports for Métis Children and Youth in British Columbia, 2015 to 2017” recognizes that Métis children and youth and their data have historically been categorized as “Indigenous” and actively aims to redress that practice with targeted research into Métis-specific data. The shift in approach to a more collaborative practice follows the principle of “nothing about us, without us.”

Among others, RCY consulted extensively with Métis Nation BC (MNBC), the Métis Commission for Children and Families of BC and Métis-specific Delegated Aboriginal Agencies both to share the data and hear their ideas for analysis that would make it useful to them.

October 15, 2018


Documenting The Decline: The Dangerous Space Between Good Intentions and Meaningful Interventions

The first publicly released child death investigation since the proclamation of The Advocate for Children and Youth Act in March 2018, shares the story of an Indigenous youth who died tragically in a vehicle accident in a rural community. The report investigated and analyzed services that were provided to the youth by education, mental health, addictions, youth justice, and child and family services. The Advocate’s investigation reveals that while there were good intentions from service providers, those services did not provide the meaningful interventions he needed and missed countless opportunities to help him change the course of his life.
In the final five years of his life, Circling Star received services from education, mental health, addiction, youth justice, and CFS systems. However, instead of coordinating their interventions in the small region in which Circling Star lived and attended school, these public systems worked in isolation from each other and, as such, delivered disjointed services to Circling Star and his family. Services were ill-coordinated and sometimes even worked at cross purposes.
For a list of findings and recommendations see:

July 26, 2019


Government Response to Children and Youth in Yukon Group Care

Response to Yukon Child and Youth Advocate Office Systemic Review and Recommendations.
This spring the Yukon Child and Youth Advocate’s Office completed a review of Yukon’s system for children and youth in care. The report, Empty Spaces – Caring Connections: The Experiences of Child and Youth in Yukon Group Care, included 30 recommendations for the Government of Yukon.
The report has been reviewed in detail and the Government of Yukon is accepting 27 of the recommendations, one of which is accepted with modifications. Three of the recommendations will not be accepted, as they are addressed in other areas by the Department of Health and Social Services. The Child and Youth Advocate has been provided with clear rationale in relation to them. Work is underway to address the 27 accepted recommendations.

The Yukon Child and Youth Advocate Office’s (YCAO) review grouped the 30 recommendations thematically. The recommendations within the report pertained to three main areas:

  • policy procedure, and legislation;
  • case management; and
  • training.

September 1, 2021


Investigative Review into deaths of 9 young people

The investigative review covers the deaths of nine young people who died over a 14-month period in 2018–2019, seven of whom were Indigenous, “highlighting the disproportionate number of Indigenous young people who come to the attention of child-serving systems… Over the past 25 years, there have been many recommendations made through legal or political actions or commissions to various levels of government to address the inequities experienced by Indigenous people.3 Yet, there has been limited progress. In this time of renewed awareness of Indigenous experiences resulting from colonization, it is critical that progress is made towards meaningful reconciliation.”

Since 2015, the OCYA has made:

  • 27 recommendations to Child Intervention Services to build capacity in their workforce so the needs of young people and their families are adequately assessed and supported.
  • 9 recommendations to address gaps in information-sharing and collaboration among service providers
  • 17 requests for internal reviews were made to address gaps in service delivery related to these concerns.

Actions have been taken to address these recommendations through policy and procedure changes, and implementation of practice tools and models, yet these challenges continue. Systemic and Mandatory reporting increases accountability and transparency for government systems, builds public confidence through identifying gaps, barriers and opportunities in systems that serve Albertans.

March 12, 2019


Recommendations from Death of Tina Fontaine

A Place Where it Feels Like Home: The Story of Tina Fontaine (1999-2014)

This report is structured in two main parts. The first large part is the chronology of Tina’s life, which includes the time before she was born to the time after she died. This section, which is standard in all of our child death investigations, is an accurate and chronological summary that reflects countless sources of information. The chronology focuses on which public services were active during Tina’s life and we seek to identify where gaps in services existed or where there were opportunities for better interventions and supports. While not all systems within my scope were relevant to Tina’s story, the services my team and I are empowered to formally review include: child and family services, adoption, disabilities, education, youth justice, mental health, addictions, and victim supports.
The second large section of this report is focused on our analysis. In addition to the requirements laid out in my legislation, and based on the detailed and accurate chronology of events, we analyse the information and interactions to look for information such as:

  • What were Tina’s needs and those of her family?
  • What interventions and supports were offered and when?
  • What is the family perspective on the services they received?
  • What needs to be improved?
  • What do the experts say needs to happen?
  • What do the Elders say we need to remember?
  • What do youth say they need to feel supported? And,
  • How can tragedies like Tina’s death be prevented in the future?

The report concludes with 5 recommendations.

December 5, 2017


Special report on Youth Suicide in Northern Saskatchewan

Regrettably, the staggering rate of suicide amongst Indigenous children and youth in Saskatchewan is one indication that change is needed. This picture is appalling, showing that suicide rates in our province are:

  • 6 times higher for First Nations boys than non-First Nations boys aged 10 to 19, and
  • 26 times higher for First Nations girls than non-First Nations girls of the same age.

A cluster of suicides of six young girls in northern Saskatchewan in October 2016 is further evidence that immediate action is required. Our office is raising alarm bells regarding this situation. Our children deserve better. This project had two objectives.

The first objective was to engage with Indigenous youth in northern Saskatchewan to better understand youth suicide from their perspective and to honour and reflect their voice as part of this understanding
The second objective of this report is to be a platform for the voices of these young people to be heard. Children and youth have a right to express their views in all matters that affect them and for their opinions to be taken seriously.

  • Youth Calls to Action:
  • Stop the Bullying
  • Increase positive emotional support in the community
  • Address drugs and alcohol in our communities
  • Keep us safe
  • Provide meaningful and diverse activities for youth
  • Help us?

November 20, 2018


Status of the Child Report 2018 Recommendations

State of the Child Report 2018, November 2018. New Brunswick – Office of the Child and Youth Advocate
Specifically, this year I am calling on government and all of society to do more to provide an equal playing field to Indigenous children in our Province and also for refugee and immigrant children who are newly among us, in both francophone and anglophone communities. Norman Bossé. Child and Youth Advocate.

Recommendation One

Government should support publicly available comprehensive data on children and youth

This is essential in order to understand the challenges facing NB’s young people, and to make informed plans to address these challenges. Government should invest in improved child rights data monitoring. The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate, the NB Institute for Research, Data and Training and the NB Community College have partnered to plan an online version of the Child Rights Indicators Framework. The funding for this initiative should flow through government’s Interdepartmental Working Group on Children and Youth.

Recommendation Two

Government should act immediately in consultation with First Nations governments and other Indigenous stakeholders to preserve and promote Indigenous languages native to our Province.
An immediate plan should be in place within six months. A long-term plan should be in place within one year. Mi’kmaq and Maliseet should be the language of instruction in schools for First Nations students. It should also be available as optional-language instruction for non-Indigenous students. Mi’kmaq and Maliseet language status should be protected in New Brunswick legislation.

Recommendation Three

Government should expand the opportunities for immigrant and visible minority and refugee youth to participate meaningfully in community life.
Leadership programs and opportunities, such as Imagine NB, for development should be publicly supported on an on-going basis. Language training, including peer-to-peer mentoring, in schools for newcomer students should be much more widely available.

The 64-million-dollar question that this data raises is if we can achieve such relative success for children and youth in immigrant and official language minority contexts, why are indigenous children so seriously disadvantaged? What success stories can we take from the policy arena in regard to other minorities and develop with Mi’kmaq and Maliseet communities, in culturally safe and culturally based ways, similar programs and policy supports to level the playing field for indigenous children in our Province?

According to UNESCO there are four levels of endangerment among indigenous languages:

  1. vulnerable languages
  2. those that are definitely endangered
  3. severely endangered or
  4. critically endangered.

Mi’kmaq is considered vulnerable, but is still spoken by roughly 8,000 native speakers. The Maliseet language has been considered a definitely endangered language for several years already, but despite tremendous efforts in language documentation and preservation, the language is now in a complete crisis of survival. Statistics Canada Census data depicts the rapid decline of native speakers of this rich linguistic tradition in North America over the past four census periods. Today there are only 360 Canadians who report Maliseet as their mother tongue. Less than half the number reported 15 years earlier.

November 24, 2016


Still Waiting: Child Maltreatment after the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry

A Special Report by the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth, 2021 REPORT

The Office of the Children’s Advocate (now the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth) released a status update report on the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry recommendations titled So Much Left To Do: Status Report on the 62 Recommendations from the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry. That update, two and a half years after the release of the report “The Legacy of Phoenix Sinclair, Achieving the Best for All Our Children (Hughes, 2014)“, found that 18 of the 62 recommendations had been completed (29%). This current report reviews compliance with the remaining 44 recommendations made by the Honourable Ted Hughes in the 2014 inquiry report. The objective of our office’s assessment here is to evaluate the degree of compliance of reported activities with the intent of recommendations made in the inquiry, in honour of Phoenix Sinclair. The following analysis was completed between December 2020 and February 2021, and is based on updates and other evidence submitted by the Manitoba government to our office in response to a formal request sent by our office in 2020.
As of February 2021, 55% of the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry recommendations have been completed.
At this rate of completion, it will be 2028 before all recommendations are completed.
Completed recommendations to date are largely due to the enactment of The Advocate for Children and Youth Act, which addressed 11 recommendations at the same time. Progress is noted on recommendations made to increase quality assurance and some aspects of the social work profession.
Recommendations made to improve service integration, service improvements, children’s rights, and funding for early intervention and prevention have received low average compliance assessments.
Principles of Assessment.

The following principles guide assessments of recommendations:

  • Fairness, consistency, and transparency
  • Effective communication
  • Principle of proportionality
  • Independence
  • Child-centred

The report also focuss on the deaths of 19 other children and youth, 11 of whom were First Nations and Métis (58%)

November 24, 2016


Update on Progress implementing Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry Recommendations


Office of the Children’s Advocate: Nov. 24, 2016 (29% of recommendations are completed)

On March 25, 2011, Manitoba’s Attorney General Andrew Swan announced that the Honourable Ted Hughes would conduct an Inquiry to examine the circumstances surrounding the death of Phoenix Sinclair (Manitoba, 2011b). The scope of the Inquiry was to examine the circumstances surrounding the death of Phoenix Sinclair and, in particular, to inquire into:

  • the child welfare services provided or not provided to Phoenix Sinclair and her family under The Child and Family Services Act;
  • any other circumstances, apart from the delivery of child welfare services, directly related to the death of Phoenix Sinclair; and
  • why the death of Phoenix Sinclair remained undiscovered for several months.

Commissioner Hughes was also directed to consider the findings and recommendations of six previous reports and investigations that had emerged following the death of Phoenix Sinclair, including:

  • Strengthen the Commitment: An External Review of the Child Welfare System (Hardy, Schibler, & Hamilton, 2006),
  • Audit of the Child and Family Services Division, Pre-devolution Child in Care Processes and Practices (Manitoba Auditor General, 2006),
  • “Honouring Their Spirits” The Child Death Review (Office of the Children’s Advocate, 2006a), and
  • “Strengthening Our Youth” The Journey to Competence and Independence (Office of the Children’s Advocate, 2006b).

The additional two reports, completed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Office of the Children’s Advocate respectively, were specific to the services provided to Phoenix Sinclair and her family, and were not publicly released.

It is concerning that, based on submitted and verified information, only 29% of the recommendations of the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry were found to be complete or complete and ongoing as of September 30, 2016. Interestingly, eight of the completed recommendations appear to have been addressed through a review of existing policies and standards, and confirming that these already addressed the recommendations.

November 4, 2020


Updates on Previous Investigations

“are they listening? Summary of Government Compliance with Recommendations Issued under The Advocate for Children and Youth Act”

The 23 recommendations summarized here were contained inside the first four special reports released to the public. These include:

  1. Documenting the Decline: The Dangerous Space Between Good Intentions and Meaningful Interventions (Manitoba Advocate, 2018b)
  2. In Need of Protection: Angel’s Story (Manitoba Advocate, 2018c)
  3. Learning from Nelson Mandela: A Report on the Use of Solitary Confinement and Pepper Spray in Manitoba Youth Custody Facilities (Manitoba Advocate, 2019a), and
  4. A Place Where it Feels Like Home: The Story of Tina Fontaine (Manitoba Advocate, 2019b)

“I have identified three critical barriers to the implementation of recommendations that, if addressed, can greatly improve compliance and ultimately, services for children, youth, young adults, and families. To this end, I urge the government of Manitoba to:

  1. Publicly release and take action on existing reviews into child serving systems, including the youth justice system review and the Kindergarten to Grade 12 education review
  2. Release an action plan with timelines to implement the youth-specific recommendations issued in the government’s 2018 Improving Access and Coordination of Mental Health and Addiction Services: A Provincial Strategy for all Manitobans (also known as the Virgo Report). In addition to an action plan and timelines, the government of Manitoba needs to commit appropriate resources to eliminate service barriers and improve mental health outcomes for children and youth, and
  3. Ensure that the four child and family services authorities and the Department of Families engage their respective legislated roles and responsibilities to ensure that training for workers and supervisors is adequately resourced, accessible, and monitored. Further, they must ensure that minimum service standards are clarified and effective, and that a quality assurance framework is developed and used to verify that all families receive the standards of service to which they are entitled. This is of particular importance during a time of significant transition with the coming- into-force of federal CFS legislation.

Other Background Content By Theme

Child Welfare Reports

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Coroner Reports

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