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Today, First Nations children are the fastest growing segment of the Canadian population. Historically there has been no federal child welfare legislation. As a result, the Government of Canada, through Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), formed agreements with many provincial governments to deliver child welfare services on-reserve. INAC would then reimburse the provinces for services which were provided.
The goal of INAC’s First Nations Child and Family Services (CFS) program is to support First Nations communities in providing culturally sensitive child welfare services comparable to those available to other provincial residents in similar circumstances. The First Nations CFS program is one of many INAC programs and services dedicated to individual and family well-being.
Since the creation of this program, there has been a significant increase in the number of First Nations CFS agencies from 34 in 1989 to 108 in 2007. In 2006-07, INAC funded 108 First Nations child and family service agencies across the country. INAC provided $450 million in funding to support 8,262 children in care (in foster homes, group homes and institutions.) In Budget 2008, the federal government committed $43 million over two years for prevention-based models of CFS on reserve.
The Province of Nova Scotia has been delivering an enhanced prevention-focused approach since 1991. The framework endorsed by First Nations, INAC and Nova Scotia outlines a broad set of provincially comparable goals and objectives.
The enhanced prevention approach will support:
There are 13 First Nations communities in Nova Scotia. On March 31, 2007 there were 152 First Nations children in the care of Mi'kmaw Family and Children's Services of Nova Scotia. There is one First Nations CFS agency in Nova Scotia that delivers services to families living on reserve and is delegated by the province. This agency receives funding from INAC.