The legislative review committee on child welfare submitted its final report and recommendations to the government Wednesday.
“This is the first critical review in 15 years and we commend the committee for undertaking its intensive, four-month consultation with more than 1,500 people, agencies, authorities and other stakeholders across Manitoba,” said Families Minister Heather Stefanson. “We are reviewing the valuable advice compiled into this report to inform new legislation and policies. We’re grateful for the children, parents, grandmothers, elders, researchers, community leaders and service providers who took the time to share their thoughts and stories on how to better serve children and families.”
Many recommendations focus on safely and successfully reuniting families when possible and finding community-based solutions when it is not possible. Recommendations include:
• reforming the definition of ‘child in need of protection’ in a way that distinguishes between safety and risk;
• intervening differently to cases with an immediate safety threat versus cases that require prevention and support to improve a child’s well-being;
• focusing on protective services when a threat to child safety exists;
• engaging families and communities when protective services are required, and empowering family- and community-based solutions and networks of care in cases of heightened risk;
• transferring responsibility for prevention and early-intervention services to non-governmental, community-based organizations with proven track records and expertise in these areas;
• integrating culturally safe practice, assessments and decision-making into the system;
• establishing early, proactive planning for young people leaving the child welfare system and better supports for their transition to independence; and
• ending birth alerts for girls and young women who are pregnant, replacing this system with community-based and culturally appropriate services to better support mothers and their babies.