Manitoba Government Press Release–The Manitoba government is investing nearly $400,000 to double the capacity of the Mothering Project (Manito Ikwe Kagiikwe), ensuring better health and family outcomes for at-risk women and their children as part of a commitment to end the use of birth alerts on June 30, Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced today.
“The Mothering Project helps keep families together by supporting vulnerable mothers when they need help,” said Stefanson. “Our government is committed to preventative programs that help to reduce the number of children in care by building partnerships with organizations like Mount Carmel Clinic. This new funding will ensure more families can stay together safely with the help of community-based supports they know and trust.”
The Mothering Project at Mount Carmel Clinic helps connect vulnerable mothers with services and programs to support health and wellness for themselves and their children. Culturally safe supports are available during pregnancy and throughout their children’s early years including pre-natal care, health services, drop-in programs, healthy meals and nutritional learning, parenting groups, child development supports and child-care services, access to Indigenous ceremonies and teachings, and support to address needs such as housing, mental health and addictions, counselling and system navigation.
This investment will allow Mount Carmel Clinic to serve up to 200 families by adding four new staff.
“This expansion will allow us to build even more positive relationships with mothers,” said Bobbette Shoffner, executive director, Mount Carmel Clinic. “We are creating a circle of care to ensure a healthier pregnancy and more positive outcomes for mom, baby and the entire family in the longer term. An investment today creates a lifetime of benefits for all of our participating families.”
Eligible women are either pregnant or have had a child in the past year and are considered vulnerable because they struggle with substance use and addictions, are homeless or at risk of homelessness, are involved with the child welfare system or at high risk to have a child taken into care, or are not connected with community supports.
The minister noted this investment supports Manitoba’s plan to replace the use of birth alerts with preventative and community-based supports for families. Over the past year, the province has worked very closely with child welfare authorities and agencies to help ensure at-risk mothers and families are connected with resources, information and supports, while limiting the use of birth alerts to the greatest extent possible. Four birth alerts were issued in May 2020, compared with 38 in May 2019.
Manitoba Child and Family Services (CFS) agencies will be able to refer more women to this program, which further supports the shift away from the practice of birth alerts. The program will include a CFS liaison who will create strong partnerships with the CFS system to reinforce this change in practice. Expanding this program also supports the province’s plan to transform the child welfare system and aligns with recommendations from the Child Welfare Legislative Review Committee.
A 2015 evaluation found the Mothering Project had reduced the number of children entering care, increased access to health-care services and reduced substance use.
Funding for these initiatives is being provided under the Canada-Manitoba Home and Community Care and Mental Health and Addictions Services Funding Agreement. In the past eight months, the Manitoba government has committed $38.2 million toward 21 initiatives to improve mental health and addictions services throughout the province.
The province will commit $350,000 annually to Mount Carmel Clinic, beginning in 2021-22 to ensure that expanded services continue.
Mount Carmel Clinic is a community-based not-for-profit organization that provides primary health and community services, as well as early learning supports, primarily to residents of Winnipeg’s north end. For more information, visit www.mountcarmel.ca/.