Manitoba Government News Release–The Manitoba government and the General Child and Family Services Authority are introducing the new Supported Guardianship Program to ensure that children grow up with their family members, Families Minister Rochelle Squires announced today.
“Our government recognizes that connections to family, community and culture are vital to the identity, sense of belonging and well-being of children and youth in care,” said Squires. “Enabling Child and Family Services authorities to create supported guardianship programs will encourage families or adults considered to be family members of children and youth in care to make a life-long commitment to provide the stability needed for protection and better outcomes for kids.”
The Supported Guardianship Program is for children who are permanent wards or in cases where a Child and Family Services (CFS) agency intends to seek a permanent order. Supported guardianship will have to be approved by the child’s culturally appropriate authority, the minister said.
Supported guardianship can be offered to a family member who has been caring for a child for at least six continuous months. If a placement with a family member is not possible or in the child’s best interest, another adult who is viewed by the child and family as family, who has been caring for the child for at least 24 continuous months and who has developed a significant emotional relationship with the child or the child’s family may be offered supported guardianship.
“Children should be with family,” said Jay Rodgers, chief executive officer, General CFS Authority. “We know that when children grow up in stable, loving homes with family members, they are much more likely to have positive life outcomes and thrive as adults. This new program will help ensure that happens for more children in our care.”
Guardians are responsible for ensuring a child’s physical, social, emotional, spiritual and cultural needs are met at all times, and are legally responsible for the health and well-being of the child. Acting as parents, they make decisions about key aspects of the child’s life including where to go to school, participation in recreational activities, medical treatment and day-to-day living. The Supported Guardianship Program will provide financial and other support to assist guardians in meeting the needs of the child.
The minister noted Manitoba CFS authorities and agencies now have the freedom to devote funding to community and kinship involvement and other positive supports under the province’s new single-envelope funding model, which is central to the government’s commitment to reforming child welfare.
“I would like to provide enthusiastic support for the new guardianship program being introduced in Manitoba,” said Kevin Campbell, an internationally recognized innovator in the field of child and family services and founder of the U.S.-based Center for Family Finding and Youth Connectedness. “This program will allow children who cannot be reunified with their parents to achieve permanency and grow up in safe and loving family homes.”
Full implementation of the Supported Guardianship Program at the General Authority is expected in the early fall of 2021, and will be beneficial to other Manitoba CFS authorities considering similar programs, the minister said.
The Manitoba government committed to reforming the province’s 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, visit www.gov.mb.ca/fs/child_welfare_reform/.