At the Edge of Canada: Indigenous Research presents interviews with researchers about their work with Aboriginal peoples. The objective is to assist people in better understanding Indigenous people, our issues and the often asked Google term “what is aboriginal.” It is originally produced as a radio broadcast on UMFM 101.5 FM in Winnipeg Manitoba and hosted by Dr Robert-Falcon Ouellette while working at University of Manitoba. He is now an Member of Parliament in Ottawa. Ekosani.
Investigating the Child and Family Services of Manitoba: A History of State Parenting
Manitoba Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard came to the University of Manitoba on Oct 17, 2013
to speak about his new report on the child welfare system in
Manitoba. While speaking to the teacher candidates in the
Aboriginal education class he talked about his long journey in gaining greater
knowledge of many of the faults of system in Manitoba. It seems that while
there are many caring individuals within the system the state as the
final decision maker within our institution makes for a very poor parent. It seems that state can never be a loving or caring parent to the actual parents. The current CFS system is quick on the gun not taking due process to assess families and simply just removes the child. It is a poor parent indeed.
listening to Jon Gerrard presentation I was struck by the number of children
currently in care. There are very few in Manitoba who will not say the child
and family services model is broken. When a child is taking into custody they
could be moved 15 times in a 7 year period. While this is certainly due to a
number of reasons some being the child was returned to the parents a number of
times and the placements in foster families was of a short duration. Other
nations have similar problems, but they are experimenting. England is doing
something completely different in the providing of services to families and
ensuring the protection of children.
English Child and Family workers instead of having large case loads will only
be assigned a few families. The working day will often begin at 7 AM when they
arrive at a family’s home and consist of getting the children out of bed and
packing them off to school. The workers must be tough because some parents will
tell them to f*&^* off. They will also video tape the going on in the home
and replay what transpired to the parents in order to find better actions to
different circumstances such as when kids are screaming and parents are having
trouble coping. We need a Grandmother program here in Manitoba someone to
demonstrate good parenting and help keep people on track at home and in looking
for working and education. Manitoba currently has over 9 700 children in
custody. They have become an industry in and of themselves. These children have
been removed either voluntary or forcibly from the custody of parents who are
unable to ensure the basic needs of their children. The great majority of
children move from short term to short term placements. The system has become a
self-perpetuating machine that is unable to innovate or change.
many cases the removal of children from biological parents care may be the best
course of action for the long term interests of the child. This is especially
true if they can be placed in caring foster families on a long term basis. The
province though is a poor substitute for the love of a parent. Due to the
nature of bureaucracy little long-term human love is given these children and
the provinces becomes like a cold parent or worse a dead-beat parent.
People need to learn how to be a parent from a Grandmother. Manitoba
should institute a similar program as found in England and as talked about in
your presentation theNisichawayasihk Cree Nation. Families should not be forced into the program, but many who are
eligible will surely gladly sign-up for the extra help in the fight to keep
their children. Families should sign a contract about certain behaviors. The
English experience finds that only 15% of families will break the contract
forcing the government to proceed with the removal of the children. This is a
stark improvement over current rates. Too often families will meet with
bureaucrats a few times in a year as we are learning in the Sinclair enquiry.
We need programs that develop a sense of relationship with not multiple
agencies, but one individual who allows them to better understand what actions
they need to take in order to keep their children.
continue to maintain a system which creates a class of people that are locked
into perpetual poverty and dependence upon the state, many are asking for a
different way of managing child and family services. The role of the province
in the daily lives of people should only be in extreme circumstances, but their
role should be insuring that people have the tools and are able to get back on
track. As the families are better able to perform in their personal and social
responsibilities they gradually should see less of the provincial grandmother,
but some parents need the chance to learn those parenting skills and the role
of the state is to provide the tools so the individual can create the life that
all human being deserve.
principal problem is that often statistics are difficult to find and to compare
between jurisdictions. It is quite easy to find the information for countries
such as England. When a child has been in care of the state they are 50 times
more likely to not finish school. Children are also likely to repeat the same
patterns of behavior with their own off spring. They are 66 times more likely
to see their children taken into custody. The cost for each child in custody is
67 777$. I suspect the statistics are the same here in Manitoba, but that is
difficult to ascertain. There is an enormous amount of money being spent by
CFS. Sometimes you ask would be better off cutting a check to each parent in
order to vanquish the poverty of the family.