Child Welfare (1-5): Current Problems

NL


June 24, 2021


Child and Youth Advocate Reports

Unacceptable Delay in Establishing Inquiry for Innu Children

The Honourable John G. Abbott, Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development, in collaboration with the Honourable Lisa Dempster, Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation and Labrador Affairs tabled the “Report on Child Welfare Services to Indigenous Children, Youth and Families 2019-20”. This report is in response to Recommendation 33 of the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate’s report “A Long Wait for Change: Independent Review of Child Welfare Services to Inuit Children in Newfoundland and Labrador (2019)”. As the first comprehensive public reporting of information about child welfare services to Indigenous children, youth and families, it sets the baseline from which the Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development and Indigenous Governments and Organizations will continue working together to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous children and youth in care.

Among other findings, the report details an overrepresentation of Indigenous children and youth in care, at 36 per cent, when the Indigenous population is 12 per cent. It also notes that while 70 per cent of Indigenous children and youth entering care were placed within their communities or culture, 30 per cent were not. Collectively, actions are being taken to improve these findings. Early positive results show a 42 per cent reduction in the number of Indigenous children and youth coming into care since 2018. The Report provides information to aid in understanding Indigenous client demographics and reasons for child welfare involvement.

https://www.assembly.nl.ca/business/electronicdocuments/ReportOnChildWelfareServicesToIndigenousChildrenYouthAndFamilies2019-20.pdf

https://www.childandyouthadvocate.nl.ca/files/InuitReviewExecutiveSummaryEnglish.pdf


June 10, 2021


Child and Youth Advocate Reports

Unacceptable Delay in Establishing Inquiry for Innu Children

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Innu Nation today announced the appointment of retired Provincial Court Judge James Igloliorte as Chief Commissioner for the Commission of Inquiry into the Treatment, Experiences and Outcomes of Innu in the Child Protection System. The Chief Commissioner will be joined by Anastasia Qupee of Sheshatshiu, former Grand Chief of the Innu Nation, and Dr. Mike Devine, retired Associate Professor of the School of Social Work, Memorial University, who are appointed as Commissioners of the Inquiry.

The Commission of Inquiry is guided by a shared commitment of the Innu Nation, the Mushuau Innu First Nation, the Sheshatshiu First Nation, and the Provincial Government to ensure the safety and well-being of, and to act in the best interests of, Innu children and youth. The Inquiry will involve a range of processes, including: reviewing relevant documents and records, considering the need for specialized research, and conducting community sessions and hearings. The Provincial Government allocated $4.2 million in Budget 2021 to establish the Commission of Inquiry into the Treatment, Experiences and Outcomes of Innu in the Child Protection System this year.


June 15, 2020


Child and Youth Advocate Reports

Unacceptable Delay in Establishing Inquiry for Innu Children

Office of the Child and Youth Advocate Newfoundland and Labrador – issued a Statement of Concern – “Unacceptable Delay in Establishing Inquiry for Innu Children in the Child Protection System”. The Innu are still waiting three years after the Provincial Government made a commitment to establish a formal Inquiry into the treatment of Innu children in the child welfare system.

The report contained 33 recommendations and was entitled ‘A Long Wait for Change.’ The title was carefully chosen and reflected the extraordinary and unacceptable amount of time for changes to be made for these vulnerable children. In part, the report documented decades of work to identify issues and recommendations for Indigenous children and their families and communities, and which included various Inquiries, Commissions, legislation, and reviews. It is troubling that many of my findings were neither new nor unique to this province. However, it put many issues in one place, and in a local context.


April 29, 2022


Child and Youth Advocate Reports

Unacceptable Delay in Establishing Inquiry for Innu Children: Inquiry officially launched

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Innu Nation today announced the launch of the Inquiry into the Treatment, Experiences and Outcomes of Innu in the Child Protection System.

The Commission of Inquiry has been ordered as a Part II Inquiry under the Public Inquiries Act, 2006. The Provincial Government and the Innu have agreed on a Terms of Reference for the Inquiry, which can be found online here. The mandate of the Commission is to examine the treatment, experiences and outcomes of Innu children, youth and families in the child protection system, and to identify recommendations for change. The Inquiry will also include investigations into the particular circumstances leading up to the deaths of three youths.

Commissioners of the Inquiry are retired Provincial Court Judge James Igloliorte, who is Chief Commissioner, and Anastasia Qupee of Sheshatshiu, former Grand Chief of the Innu Nation, and Dr. Mike Devine, retired Associate Professor of the School of Social Work, Memorial University.

The Commission of Inquiry is guided by a shared commitment of the Innu Nation, the Mushuau Innu First Nation, the Sheshatshiu First Nation, and the Provincial Government to ensure the safety and well-being of, and to act in the best interests of, Innu children and youth.

The Provincial Government allocated $4 million in Budget 2022 to establish the Commission of Inquiry into the Treatment, Experiences and Outcomes of Innu in the Child Protection System.

“With the release of the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry into the treatment of Innu children and youth in care, we can now consider that this long-awaited Inquiry has officially begun. It is an important undertaking to understand the scope of impact that the child welfare system has had on Innu people. We are hopeful that this process will continue a path towards healing and that it will inform how we can best move forward in the future to avoid repeating mistakes of the past. Innu Nation fully supports this independent Inquiry and will work with all involved throughout the process.”

Grand Chief Etienne Rich
Innu Nation


March 21, 2019


Bill C-92

Yellowhead Institue Critique of Bill C-92

“Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Métis and Inuit children, youth and families” was graded as follows by the Yellowhead Institute of Ryerson University based on analysis by five Indigenous legal scholars. (See also First Nations Child and Family Caring Society Information Brief in C2A # 4)

GRADES:
National Standards: …………………… C
Funding: ……………………………………..F
Accountability: ……………………………D
Jurisdiction: ……………………………….D
Data Collection and Reporting: …..D

Yellowhead Institute Recommendations

National Standards

  • Ensure that standards exist in law so that Indigenous children do not automatically become government wards without significant efforts are made to maintain familial and community care.
  • Require ongoing legal relationships, or at the least, access to children’s family of origin.
    Include strong, mandatory language around BIOC to address judicial bias and overtake any binding precedents in this area.
  • Include “active efforts” or “maximum contact” clauses in relation to Indigenous child welfare with First Nations have not taken over full jurisdiction.
  • A requirement of written documentation of active efforts to find placements according to the priority set out or affidavit evidence from the Indigenous group that there is no available placement.
  • And/or a presumption that an access order with some family or community member and a long-term funding commitment for regular travel back to the community is included as a term of any permanency order.

Funding

  • Attach clear federal funding commitments for First Nations pursuing child welfare jurisdiction.
  • Ensure funding reflects the principle of substantive equality and which also meets the needs and circumstances of children on reserve
  • Ensure off-reserve, Métis, non-status and Inuit children and families are included in budgets, distinct from non-Indigenous children and families.
  • Compel coordination between federal and provincial governments regarding incentives to cooperate and adequately fund Indigenous governing bodies to implement Jordan’s Principle.

Accountability

  • Establish a dispute resolution mechanism to deal with situations where Indigenous groups experience challenges in entering collaboration agreements with Canada and the provinces, in the cases they are required.
  • Create an independent body to hear disputes and make binding decisions on all parties.

Jurisdiction

  • Recognize jurisdiction as a right to self- determination under UNDRIP rather than a s. 35 right.
    Set a clear path out of the existing jurisdictional squabbling between the provincial and federal governments.
  • Revise paramountcy rules so they are clear enough for, and accessible to community members, so that can understand in time sensitive or emergency circumstances.
  • Contain clear conflict of laws principles and processes that give real weight to Indigenous law-making authority and jurisdiction.
  • Address the long-standing issue of services to First Nations children who are residing off-reserve, as well as non-status, Métis and Inuit children.
  • Provide clarity and direction on how the “Best Interests Of the Child” (BIOC) standard will be defined regarding the applicability of laws. At minimum this should clarify a standard for best interests of the Indigenous child— determined by Indigenous legal and community standards—and dictate the application of federal and provincial laws to Indigenous children.
  • Clearly and openly resolve the lack of funding for Indigenous law-making, administration and enforcement as well as funding for the preventative of child and family health.

Data Collecting and Reporting

  • Mandate collection and publication of data along the lines of TRC Call to Action #2
  • Address privacy issues by anonymized and displaying data in aggregate.