Manitoba Government Press Release–Manitoba’s first social impact bond (SIB) will launch this fall, Families Minister Heather Stefanson and Tara Petti, chief executive officer, Southern First Nations Network of Care (SFNNC), announced Monday. SFNNC has successfully raised the more than $2.6 million required from private investors to deliver Restoring the Sacred Bond – a project designed to connect at-risk Indigenous mothers with doulas, also known as birth helpers.
“This strategic partnership is taking the next step forward on a path we believe will result in fewer Indigenous children spending time in the child welfare system,” said Stefanson. “More importantly, Restoring the Sacred Bond will help support a strong connection between mothers, babies and their communities. Our government will continue to support innovative solutions, such as this social impact bond, as a means to create meaningful change in the lives of Manitobans.”
Restoring the Sacred Bond is a two-year pilot project that will match birth helpers with up to 200 Indigenous mothers who might otherwise be at risk of having their infant apprehended into the child welfare system. SFNNC and Wiijii’idiwag Ikwewag, an Indigenous doula service provider, will identify and connect expectant mothers with a birth helper who will provide support through a traditional cultural lens the mother can learn and incorporate into her approach to parenting.
“We are extremely pleased with the response we have received to this historic initiative,” said Petti. “We believe this will help us re-focus on the traditions we know keep us strong as a people.”
With funding secured from eight investors, including local investment, Restoring the Sacred Bond expects to begin accepting expectant mothers in September 2019. While some investors wish to remain anonymous, the province is pleased to recognize The Winnipeg Foundation as one of the leading investors, with a $1-million contribution. Other investors include the McConnell Foundation, C.P. Loewen Family Foundation, Lawson Foundation, Inspirit Foundation and Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada.
SIBs rely on private investors, with a government commitment to repay them if the project meets validated targets. The province has budgeted up to $3 million for investor repayment if the SIB reaches success on its key metrics, which will include fewer days in care for infants in the child welfare system.
“I’d like to acknowledge and thank the MaRS Centre for Impact investing and non-profit group, Until the Last Child, for their expertise and the support they provided to the Southern First Nation network of care in developing the SIB,” added Stefanson.
The MaRS Centre for Impact Investing also worked with SFNNC and Wiijii’idiwag Ikwewag to secure investment for the pilot project.