Saskatchewan First Nations Prevention Services Model and Accountability Framework Agreement - October 2007
It is anticipated the opportunity to create a Saskatchewan First Nation Child and Family Services Framework will address the gaps in services that currently exist between on and off reserve. The development of the Saskatchewan FNCFS Prevention Framework is an opportunity to create a preventative services and a funding model to address the unique needs of First Nations children, families and communities and has been carefully designed to build upon the values, cultures and perspective the First Nations people.
The organizational history, agency capacity and collaborative projects demonstrate a strong partnership between the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Saskatchewan's Department of Community Resources and the Saskatchewan First Nation Child and Family Agencies. This history and relationship is briefly outlined below.
The First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) Technical Advisory Group (comprised of the Executive Directors of the 18 First Nations Child and Family Service Agencies as per the January 31, 2007 motion from the HSDC Chiefs) passed a DRAFT Resolution supported and ratified by the Health and Social Development Commission Chiefs, which provides support for the process of developing a draft Saskatchewan First Nations Prevention Framework Agreement and Funding Model.
The "Saskatchewan Regional Table Submission to the National Advisory Committee and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, September 15, 2005" was collaboratively prepared by the Saskatchewan Child and Family Service Agencies, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, Saskatchewan Region of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, and Saskatchewan Community Resources, to ensure that the views and circumstances of Saskatchewan First Nations Child and Family Service Agencies were available to Indian and Northern Affairs when they were preparing to seek new Treasury Board Authorities regarding the funding of First Nations Child and Family Service Agencies.
Since that collaborative submission, there is a renewed sense of optimism. That by working together with a common focus of building on the strengths of First Nations families and communities through the expanded use of least intrusive and preventive measures, both within the home, within the extended family, and within the community, together we can work towards reducing the gaps in community well-being.
Saskatchewan First Nations recognize the work of the National Advisory Committee, the National Policy Review of June 2000 which included 17 Recommendations, and the research reports, "Wen: de We are Coming to the Light of Day" (2005) and, "Wen: de The Journey Continues" (2005).
Currently, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada Program Directive 20-1 does not provide sufficient funding for Saskatchewan FNCFS to deliver seamless child welfare services for all children in Saskatchewan. It is anticipated that the Saskatchewan First Nation Prevention Framework Agreement will address this matter.
The parties strongly believe that a collaborative strategy is required to reduce the number of First Nation children in care. This strategy requires an investment in building family and community capacity to care for children, youth, and people with disabilities built on the strengths of First Nation values, beliefs, and customs.
The Saskatchewan First Nations Prevention Framework Agreement is prepared in recognition that First Nations children, families, and communities, have a right to access a seamless range of services based on their cultures, languages, values, beliefs, and customs; and to access adequate family and community supports to achieve well-being on and off-reserve.
The disproportionate number of Status Indian children in care bodes of a silent exponential trauma to the family relationships, loss of identity, culture and language. These point to the increase in the liability governments and agencies attract when they place children away from the care of their families, and away from a feeling of belonging to a place and a community. The number of children in care is also an indicator or symptom of broader social and economic conditions that contribute to the incidence of abuse and neglect, and is an expression of family and community capacity to care for children safely.
Risks of maltreatment are greatly influenced by social and economic conditions in which children and families live. There are great inconsistencies in social and economic conditions among First Nations and between First Nations and non-First Nation communities. In 2005, The Saskatchewan Child and Family Services Regional Table recommended that new child welfare authorities must allow for responsive adjustments in funding policy in order to provide a seamless range of services.
Program Authorities and policy must be flexible to allow for changes in legislation, standards and community needs. We now have the opportunity to do this and are in the process of ensuring these objectives are met by the development of the Saskatchewan First Nations Prevention and Funding Model. The spirit of "Jordan's Principle" guides the Parties towards a collaborative, cooperative and partnering approach towards the development of the First Nations Prevention Model. The parties view this understanding as a pre-requisite to create opportunities to enhance programs and services for First Nations children on reserve.
Saskatchewan Community Resources, through the province is currently engaged in implementing program and service enhancements. To avoid a further widening of the existing gap between on and off-reserve services the First Nation Child and Family Services must follow suit.
The parties affirm the need to strengthen the family and community capacity to be the most important determinate in designing a new prevention model. Policy must also allow for the time and resources required to transform, from the current focus on children in care (protection), to a broader focus of developing family and community to support family reunification, least intrusive measures (prevention).
There are 18 First Nations Child and Family Service (FNCFS) Agencies in Saskatchewan that serve on reserve children and families. The Saskatchewan FNCFS Agencies report to their Boards, and the Boards report to the community leadership.
Until 1993, all child welfare services were provided by the Province of Saskatchewan. In 1990 the FSIN Child Welfare and Family Support Act was drafted and ratified by Chiefs Legislative Assembly.
Throughout the early 1990's there were many discussions between the federal, provincial and First Nations governments with respect to both self government and jurisdiction on a number of topics one of which was Child and Family Services. Eventually these matters were dealt with through a series of bilateral agreements between First Nations leaders and the Province of Saskatchewan, setting the stage for the future development and growth of Saskatchewan FNCFS agencies.
In 1993, Minister Pat Atkinson provided a 'Letter of Equivalency' recognizing the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Indian Child Welfare and Family Support Act as being equivalent or better than the Provincial Legislation.
In 1994 the FSIN Child Welfare and Family Support Act was amended by the Saskatchewan Chiefs-in-Assembly to include First Nations standards and to prioritize placement in regards to placement of children with extended family resources. The Province then changed their legislation by adding in Section 61 to facilitate delegation of authorities to the Indian Child and Family Services (ICFS) agreements by virtue of the 1993 "Letter of Equivalency".
It was during this time that a relationship between Saskatchewan First Nations and the Province of Saskatchewan developed and from this grew the First Nation Child and Family Services (FNCFS) Agencies.
The FNCFS Agencies have full delegated authority under section 61 of The Child and Family Services Act and Article 3 and Section 5 and 6 of the FSIN Indian Child Welfare and Family Support Act to develop a full range of child welfare services on reserve for their membership and reads:
Delegation of Authority:
Indian Nations have the right to delegate and assign their authority respecting Indian child welfare and family support services to duly constituted government agencies at the inter-Band, district, regional or national levels.
Preventative Family Services:
- First Nations child and family services in the Saskatchewan region will emphasize a holistic approach to individual, family, and community wellness that is based on First Nations' culture and traditions.
- A Comprehensive program of preventative family support services will be developed by each FNCFS Agency. This program may include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following services:
- Family counseling;
- Community education and awareness;
- Parent aides;
- Alcohol and drug education and counseling;
- Elder – youth interaction;
- Parenting classes;
- Single parent self-help groups;
- Women's support groups;
- Educational programs on sexuality and family planning;
- Programs to deal with gambling addiction;
- Youth programs to raise self esteem;
- Anger control programs;
- Community healing;
- Suicide prevention;
- Guidance counseling;
- Community healing programs to deal with the effects of residential schools; and
- Other programs as identified by First Nations and FNCFS Agencies.
- Preventative services will be based on the guidance and involvement of Elders, the support of family and community members and on traditional spiritual and cultural values.
Under the Agreements, FNCFS Agencies follow provincial standards and policy until such time that First Nations standards and policies are fully developed. It has always been a concern in Saskatchewan that FNCFS Agencies did not have the capacity to fully implement sections 5 (a) (b) and 14(1) of The Child & Family Services Act. Section 5 (a) and (b) reads:
Subject to this Act and the regulations, the minister may:
- establish, operate and maintain family services;
- provide family services to or for the benefit of a parent or a child where the minister considers them essential to enable the parent to care for the child;
Section 14(1) reads;
Where, on investigation, an officer concludes that a child is in need of protection, the officer shall:
- notify the parent in writing of the officer's conclusion; and
- offer family services to the parent
The FNCFS Agencies in Saskatchewan can be characterized as being in a developmental phase. Saskatchewan's oldest FNCFS Agency has been operational since 1993 and the newest agency has been operational since 2005. FNCFS Agencies in the province service 68 of the 70 First Nations in the province and provide services to 98% of the 0-18 age group on-reserve. The development of FNCFS Agencies in the province has lead to a corresponding increase in Operational and Maintenance funding as well as an increase in the number of children in care.
INAC, departmental data indicates that over the past 5 years the number of children in care has stabilized with year over year growth averaging 2.5%. As of March 31, 2006 there were 1,159 children in care of FNCFS Agencies. Operations funding for fiscal year 2006/2007 for the 18 ICFS Agencies in the province was $26.2 million. Maintenance funding for fiscal year 2006/2007 was $28.2 million. The vast majority of children in care (954) are in foster homes with maintenance expenditures of $7.5 million. The remaining 205 children in care were placed in high cost institutions with maintenance expenditures of $20.7 million. While the number of children has increased over time, the FNCFS Agencies have endeavored to provide preventative services within their limited operational resources and do not receive additional funding for this work above. The FNCFS Agencies in the province have long advocated that without proper resources for prevention services the number of children in care and corresponding maintenance costs will continue to grow.
The Province of Saskatchewan through Community Resources provides services in kind with a staff compliment of nine (9) in the amount of $1.744 million per year, and to the FNCFS Agencies in areas such as:
- Central Office support in daily operations and case management
- Core training for agency frontline staff and supervisors in case management practice and file reviews to guide case management practices
- IT training and on site support to input and maintain data and automated interface using the Automated Client Index System
- One time cost to purchase and install equipment at 18 agency offices
- Financial support to the Saskatchewan First Nations Family and Community Institute for development and ongoing operations
The Saskatchewan First Nations leaders and the FNCFS Boards and Directors, with funding from the Province of Saskatchewan, have created the newly organized Saskatchewan First Nations Family and Community Institute.
The Saskatchewan First Nations Family and Community Institute Inc. is a new Organization established to provide support to the First Nations Child and Family Service Agencies in Saskatchewan. The functions of the Institute include research, policy analysis and development, training, and standards development. The Institute, therefore, has the potential to provide significant support to the further development and implementation of the Saskatchewan First Nations Prevention Model.
Saskatchewan First Nations and their Child and Family Service Agencies are also working to establish a partnership in collaboration with Saskatchewan Community Resources and Saskatchewan Region of Indian Northern Affairs Canada to Champion the rights, safety and well-being of Saskatchewan First Nations Children and their families.
The parties have a tri-partite Regional Child and Family Services Forum which meets to discuss common issues related to child and family services. In 2005, the parties started work on a Saskatchewan Blueprint for Child Welfare which generally spoke to the need to develop prevention services in a seamless fashion in the Saskatchewan region. It was also intended to support the INAC submission for increased authorities for First Nations child welfare to Treasury Board prior to the last federal election. The opportunity to develop a Prevention Framework fits well into this initial work and the parties are anxious to move forward to achieving the goal of seamless services on and off reserve.
We are living with a social disaster affecting the most financially and socially vulnerable people in Canadian society – Status Indian children. Year end date collected by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (2003) indicates a 70% increase since 1995 in the number of children in care across the country. The Saskatchewan Department of Community Resources reports an increase to the number of First Nations children in care off-reserve. The disproportionate representation of Status Indian children in care reflects the disproportionate link to inadequate federal and provincial funding in the area of prevention services.
"Governments working together in Saskatchewan to ensure the well-being of First Nations children, families and communities"
- Children are gifts of the Creator
- The parties will work together in the best interest of the child
- Culture must be considered when determining the best interests of the child
- The best place for children to live is with their family
- Children have a right to be nurtured and protected from harm
- It takes a community to raise a child
- Children and families are best served by those who share values, beliefs, language, traditions, and community knowledge
- Community and collective responsibility for care and safety of children is paramount to First Nations.
- Self- Determination recognizes First Nations are in the best position to make decisions for First Nation children and families.
- Identity and sense of belonging is shaped by respecting First Nations Culture, Customs, Language and Traditions is necessary for a First Nations Preventative Approach to ensure child and family wellness and safety.
- Decisions made respecting the intergenerational relationships of children and families over a lifespan will be done in a holistic manner.
- The understanding that impacts to child well-being include larger issues such as, but not limited to, poverty, poor housing and substance abuse; which require collaborative and coordinated efforts to improve overall community well-being thus ensuring child safety.
- The parties will endeavor to work in collaboration and partnership to ensure a preventative approach and that services are provided to First Nations communities and the most vulnerable of our society.
- Provide coordinated enhanced prevention services to on-reserve children and families.
- Build on existing strengths of First Nation communities to improve cultural and community environment that respects and acknowledges the value of children as gifts from the Creator.
- Prevent First Nations children from being removed from family, community and culture.
- Increase capacity of First Nation agencies to effectively implement the Saskatchewan First Nation Prevention Model.
- To successfully prepare youth to adulthood and independence.
Saskatchewan First Nation Prevention Model
The Saskatchewan First Nation Prevention Model will be holistic, culturally and linguistically appropriate. Strategies will consider child-focused outcomes through family-centered practices. The model will support families and improve parenting skills, where children are at risk. Thus while we consider child focused outcomes such as safety and nurtured children, the activities to prevent children from being apprehended will emphasize family centered practices such as providing supports including training and counseling services to parents and families. Our First Nation family centered practice and activities will engage preventative and intervention approaches that will reduce the number of children taken into protective custody.
In an effort to improve access to community-based supports, the Saskatchewan Prevention Model will work within a seamless continuum of services. Enhanced prevention services along with collaboration, partnership and coordination with other programs and services will maximize supports and positive outcomes. Through the Saskatchewan Prevention Model families will receive supports they need to positively parent, nurture and support their children, before they reach crisis.
Children in Care benefit from permanent homes sooner by involving families in planning alternative care options. Services and supports will be coordinated in the way that best helps the family. The FNCFS Agency will provide support and help to prepare youth for adulthood and independence including preparation for becoming parents, to prevent intergenerational needs for child protection, and intervention services.
The Treaty 2, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10 First Nations Child and Family Service (FNCFS) Agencies' Framework Agreement is aligned with and supports a number of Saskatchewan FNCFS business plan goals, priorities and challenges and plays a key role the well-being and self-reliance of First Nation children, youth, families and communities which will be promoted and supported by a seamless range of services on and off-reserve. The FNCFS Agencies are committed to contributing to the achievement of reducing the number of First Nations children placed in "out of home care".
Saskatchewan FNCFS Agencies may opt into this Framework Agreement. The Saskatchewan First Nations Framework Agreement includes five key goals and strategies under each of three Core Businesses:
- Core Business One: Promoting the development and well-being of First Nations children, youth and families.
- Core Business Two: Keeping First Nations Children, youth and families safe and protected.
- Core Business Three: Promoting healthy communities for First Nations children, youth and families.
The FNCFS Agencies which choose to opt into the Framework Agreement will prepare a Business Plan based on the goals and recommended Performance Measures. There are five (5) key goals identified. Each of these goals relate to the Objectives and to the Core Business Lines above. Performance Measures and outcomes will be identified as well as a number of sample strategies to deliver services.
First Nations Child and Family Service Agencies will be accountable to their respective First Nation Communities within their respective catchment areas and will develop a five (5) year Business Plan that includes the goals and performance measures outlined in this document. Strategies will be unique to each First Nation, recognizing the diversity of First Nations Child and Family Agency delivering services to children and families. First Nations Child and Family Agencies will provide annual results based reporting to their respective communities, INAC, and Saskatchewan Community Resources. The parties agree to meet regularly to discuss progress toward achieving results which are consistent with the goals identified in the First Nations Child and Family Agencies respective business plan.
Performance Measures and Outcomes
The on-going review of performance measures and targets is intended to assist the First Nation agencies to determine the success of the prevention model as it relates to the CFS agency five year business plan. The parties will continue to work collaboratively to review and address emerging trends in programs and service delivery [i.e. Federal, Provincial, and Saskatchewan First Nations (CFS Agencies)]. It is anticipated that this could be a field that the CFS Institute could also provide assistance in.
INAC provides funding on to FNCFS Agencies on a three year basis for agencies to have in depth evaluations to identify strengths and weaknesses and potential corrective action.
Core Business Three: Promoting healthy communities for First Nations children, youth and families.
Core Objective One:
Provide coordinated enhanced prevention services to on-reserve children and families
Enhance child and family well-being
What it means:
To promote collective responsibility for the care and safety of children. Promoting the rights, safety, well-being, and re-integration of culturally relevant Saskatchewan First Nations Child, Family, and Community cultural practices.
- Evaluate current community and agency partnerships to ensure they are helping to meet the needs of children
- Increased parental responsibilities, skills, and empowerment
- Reduction of children in care
- Develop and/or coordinate enhanced prevention services
- Define early intervention strategy
- Support parents through parent education, supports systems, referrals, and early learning information
|Program Delivery tracked by:
||100% Children from 0–21 on Reserve||N/A||N/A|
Core Business Two: Keeping First Nations Children, youth and families safe and protected.
Core Objective Two:
Build on existing strengths of First Nation communities to improve cultural and community environment that respects and acknowledges the value of children as gifts from the Creator.
To ensure that children and families live in stable and safe environments
What it means:
First Nations Child and Family Services will work to promote community based strategies that will ensure children and families live in stable and safe environment. Services and supports will be available to children and families to have positive impact on the family and community.
- Strengthened families
- Strengthen community supports through better coordinated community based programs and services
- Improved environment for personal and community responsibility for the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being, and security of First Nations children
- Development and implementation of a continuum of services from least intrusive to protection services.
- Promote partnership building amongst community based programs and services with an emphasis on community strengths and local grassroots leadership, to encourage an open dialogue and communication with high need families and children.
- Focus on strengthening empowerment and accessibility for youth and women at the community level through the establishment of an open door, long term relationship oriented service delivery approach that is not deterred by end mandates.
- Promote the development of long term planning strategies, such at Extended Family, Kinship Care, Re-unification, Repatriation, and Adoption.
- Increased training opportunities for existing alternative caregivers.
|Number of children that are placed in alternative placements, such as, extended family, kinship care, reunification, repatriation, and adoption services||Baseline to be determined||Equal or greater than baseline||Equal or greater than baseline|
|Number of moves per child within one year||Baseline to be determined||Equal or less than baseline||Equal or less than baseline|
|Percentage of community stakeholders reporting on increase in the community ability to meet the needs of children, youth, and families||100% Children from 0–21 on Reserve||N/A||N/A|
Core Business One: Promoting the development and well-being of First Nations children, youth and families.
Core Objective Three:
Prevent First Nations children from being removed from family, community and culture.
Improve Family and Community Support structures which builds on existing programs and services
What it means:
Developing culturally appropriate programs and services to improve and enhance family supports and parental capacity.
- Strengthen community capacity to care for children and families
- Development of holistic approaches through a continuum of services
- Increase alternative placement options on reserve
|Percentage of children and families who receive Prevention services and did not require protective services||100% Children from 0–21 on Reserve||N/A||N/A|
Core Business Three: Promoting healthy communities for First Nations children, youth and families.
Core Objective Four:
Increase capacity of First Nation agencies to effectively coordinate services to implement the Saskatchewan First Nation Prevention Model.
To build capacity at the Agency Level to promote best practices and community driven services
What it means:
Agencies will have the resources to effectively implement the Saskatchewan First Nations Prevention Model
- Well-trained and prepared staff
- Improved programming within the agency
- Inter-agency collaboration within the community in example National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program (NNADAP), Health, Education, Schools, Social Services, Chief and Council Leadership and Elders
- Improved training for ICFS staff and administration, improving accreditation standards
- Improved casework practice model with improved case tracking system
- Increasing accountability and capacity of ICFS Agencies
- Revised and improved standards and protocols which prioritize family health and supports to at-risk families long before apprehension of child is contemplated
- Accessing supports provided by the First Nations Family and Community Institute to the FNCFS Agencies
|Number of Training, Support Activities, Coaching, and Mentoring Activities accessed by FNCFS Agencies||Baseline to be determined||Equal or greater than baseline||Equal or greater than baseline|
|Number of community partnerships/partnership protocols||Baseline to be determined||Equal or greater than baseline||Equal or greater than baseline|
Core Business One: Promoting the development and well-being of First Nations children, youth and families.
Core Objective Five:
To promote the restoration of youth to adulthood and independence
To enhance planning options for youth to successfully achieve independence as adults. As well, enhance prevention services to young adults who request support services.
What it means:
Restore youth by referring them to other programs and services
- Youth in the community successfully restored to independence as young adults
- Work with key partners and key service providers to ensure youth in care and those who recently left care are provided access to community resources
- Work with key partners to ensure youth who have disabilities receive the services they need in order to achieve their developmental milestones and successfully transition to adulthood
- Development of restoration planning for all youth including cultural connections and a sense of belonging/identity to family and communities of origin
- Improve access to mentoring programs
|Percentage of 16–21 year old youth attending vocational or educational studies||Baseline to be determined||Equal or greater than baseline||Equal or greater than baseline|
|Number of youth requesting Preventative Services||100% Children from 0–21 on Reserve||N/A||N/A|
|Number of families with disabilities receiving preventative services||100% Children from 0–21 on Reserve||N/A||N/A|
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