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Greetings,

Today, I am writing to share some great news with you. As many of you may know, for over a year now the General CFS Authority (GA) has been working on the development of a new supported guardianship program. The Minister of Families and I publicly announced this new program at a media event in June 2021. At the media event, I indicated that the GA’s supported guardianship program would be available in the fall of 2021 pending the completion of key documents and the delivery of training for staff. Due primarily to the increased pressure on agencies related to the pandemic such as the emergence of the new variant and work required for testing, the decision was made to delay implementation of the supported guardianship program until early 2022. Here is the great news I referred to earlier:

Manitoba’s first supported guardianship program will be available as of March 22, 2022.

After this date, GA agencies can begin offering guardianship supports to assist eligible caregivers to become the legal guardian of a child currently in the care of a GA agency.

We embarked on this journey as an Authority because of emerging research which shows that children who grow up with lifelong family connections experience positive health and mental health outcomes as adults.

Beginning in 2020, a small team at the GA conducted a survey of similar programs in other jurisdictions across Canada and the United States. This showed that Manitoba is the only province west of Quebec that does not offer supports for caregivers to become guardians of children in care. Studies show that supported guardianship results in an overall reduction in days care and that there are very low rates of maltreatment recurrence for children in a supported guardianship arrangement. The research also shows that very few of these children return to care. The evidence is clear that permanency results in positive, lifelong connections for these children.

Following the research stage, a GA Supported Guardianship Policy was developed and approved by our Directors’ Leadership Table and then my Board of Directors. The policy enables GA agencies to offer supports to encourage family members (or adult caregivers considered to be like family) to obtain guardianship of children in care. The policy describes the eligibility criteria for both children and caregivers, the expectations of the agency, the financial and other supports available through the program, and post-guardianship contact, among other items.

Consistent with the new federal legislation, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, the GA policy also ensures that any guardianship plans for Indigenous children have the written support of their culturally appropriate agency and Indigenous Governing Body.

We will be offering virtual training in the form of interactive webinars for staff at GA agencies starting on March 17, 2022. In addition to the policy and the training, the GA has developed a “how to” guide and checklist to assist staff. These documents and related forms will all be available on the GA intranet site.

This is a major initiative, which is a first in Manitoba. This program will increase lifelong connections for children and families across the GA, and the policy embraces Manitoba’s definition of permanency and recognizes that the agency and the guardian share responsibility for ensuring that the child grows up in a loving, caring and stable family environment. We anticipate positive results, including increased permanency rates, a reduction in days care and improved life outcomes for children.

I will be sending a copy of the GA’s final Supported Guardianship Policy to members of the Directors’ Leadership Table to distribute at each agency. Thank you.

Best regards,

Jay Rodgers
Chief Executive Officer
General CFS Authority