Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced Monday that the Department of Families has officially entered into a partnership with the Southern First Nations Network of Care, who will deliver Manitoba’s first Social Impact Bond (SIB) in child welfare.

Under this two-year pilot, expectant mothers who are at risk of coming into contact with the child welfare system will be paired with an Indigenous doula. The doula will work with the mother for up to twelve months to provide various services, including education of pregnancy and parenting, referral to community resources, supports with labour and pain management, as well as emotional and culturally appropriate supports.

The ultimate aim of this program is to prevent the need for an apprehension or, when an infant does need to come into care for reasons of safety, to reduce the time spent in care by supporting an early reunification.

The goal is to support 200 mothers and refer them to an organization called Wiijii’idiwag Ikwewag (formerly Manitoba Indigenous Doula Initiative) that will be responsible for recruiting and training Indigenous doulas and providing the appropriate services. This program is similar to the doula pilot that the Winnipeg Boldness Project had incubated and that Wiijii’idiwag Ikwewag had delivered earlier in 2017 in the Winnipeg North End.

This program will be independently validated in year three and the evaluation outcomes will be used to determine the extent to which government will repay investors.

With the help of its partners, Southern First Nations Network of Care is now entering into a new development phase that includes investor recruitment to secure enough funds to be able to deliver the pilot in spring/summer 2019.

To learn more about Social Impact bonds, please visit the government’s home page on this innovative approach to social investment.