The Manitoba government is implementing a new funding approach as part of its plan to reform the child welfare system and provide stronger supports to children and families, Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced Monday.
“Block funding will fund authorities and agencies upfront to improve outcomes for children and families, not by the size of their caseloads or the length of a child’s stay in care,” said Stefanson. “We want to give agencies the freedom to devote more money to prevention, early intervention, community and kinship involvement, and other positive supports. As well, the new model helps reduce their administrative burdens and improves autonomy and accountability.”
In 2017, the province commenced a block funding pilot project with eight agencies. Preliminary results support a shift to block funding, as agencies reduced their average per diem costs and the number of children entering into care and increased investments in prevention activities to support families. Agencies also reported value in consistent and timely funding.
The new funding approach builds on engagement sessions held by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, Southern Chiefs’ Organization and Manitoba Metis Federation, ongoing dialogue with child welfare authorities, broader child welfare reform legislative review consultations, and the results of the block funding pilot project.
As of April 1, the province will provide funding upfront to Manitoba’s four child and family services authorities. The authorities will distribute funds to their agencies based on a three-year agreement. The province will continue to engage and collaborate with authorities and agencies as it fully implements this plan to ensure the model works. Manitoba’s 24 agencies will be fully responsible to manage the funds allocated to them by their authorities.
The minister also noted a change in how the federal Children’s Special Allowance (CSA) will be handled under the block-funding model.
“We have reviewed the practice put in place by the former government, which had the effect of reducing provincial funding by the amount of the CSA,” said Stefanson. “We want to recognize the greater decision-making powers of child welfare agencies and provide them with the flexibility to direct resources toward the best interests and needs of children, youth and families under block funding. As a result, the new model recognizes the CSA will be retained by agencies to fund services and supports for children in care.”
Child welfare agencies will retain the CSA as of April 1. The combined result of the changes in the approach to funding will see over $435 million in financial resources available to CFS authorities and their mandated agencies in 2019-20, the minister noted.
The Manitoba government committed to reforming the child welfare system in October 2017 with a focus on community-based prevention, life-long connections through reunification and permanence, funding for results and legislative reform. For more information please click here.