Canada's New Government, Treaty 6, Treaty 7 and Treaty 8 First Nations and Alberta embark on new approach to child welfare on reserve



    CALGARY, April 27 /CNW Telbec/ - A partnership with Canada's New
Government, the Province of Alberta and Alberta's First Nations was announced
today that will see significant improvements in child and family services for
First Nations in Alberta.
    The partnership, based on the Alberta Response Model and Alberta's Child,
Youth and Family Enhancement Act, was announced by the Honourable Jim
Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal
Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, the Honourable Janis Tarchuk,
Minister of Alberta Children's Services and representatives of Alberta's three
Treaty areas: Spokesperson Chief Eddy Makokis on behalf of the Confederacy of
Treaty 6 First Nations; Spokesperson Chief Charles Weasel Head of the Treaty 7
First Nations Chiefs Association; and Grand Chief Arthur Noskey of Treaty 8
First Nations of Alberta.
    The Alberta Response Model, recognized as an innovative approach to child
welfare, has proven that early intervention, prevention and permanent
placement provide concrete results.
    Since the introduction of the Alberta Response Model and the Child, Youth
and Family Enhancement Act, child intervention caseloads have decreased by
22 per cent. In First Nations Child and Family Service agencies without early
intervention and prevention services, caseloads have increased by four per
cent over the same period.
    "I am encouraged that through this partnership we are addressing the
critical child and family services issues facing First Nations children on
reserves in Alberta," said Minister Prentice. "We want all children in need to
be placed in safe and nurturing homes, and this new approach to child welfare
in First Nation communities will provide families living on reserve with
better access to community resources to help them before a crisis occurs."
    Canada's New Government will immediately provide $15.3 million for the
first year of implementation in Alberta.
    "This is a historic step forward and will fundamentally change the way
child welfare services are delivered on reserve," said Minister Tarchuk.
"Working together, all three parties have built on the proven success of the
Alberta Response Model and our provincial Child, Youth and Family Enhancement
Act."
    The First Nations of Treaty 6, Treaty 7 and Treaty 8 acknowledge that a
new arrangement is long overdue. The family enhancement approach fits within
the Treaty 6, 7 and 8 tradition of taking care of their own children. It
provides First Nations agencies with new resources needed to identify a
family's need before the situation requires a child to be removed from the
family home. First Nations hold that the family is a core traditional unit and
First Nations children will continue the legacy of their people.
    "I congratulate Alberta First Nations for their work in creating a better
approach to child welfare that focuses on prevention and collaboration," said
National Chief, Phil Fontaine. "Today's announcement shows Minister Prentice
has recognized the urgency of closing the gap in funding received by First
Nations Child Welfare Agencies compared to provincial child welfare agencies.
This needs to be implemented in all regions. The Assembly of First Nations is
prepared to work jointly to achieve this goal."
    Provincial ministers have indicated that they are supportive of the
partnership with Alberta and expressed interest in a similar approach.
    The Honourable Judy Streatch, Nova Scotia's Minister of Community
Services, Minister responsible for the Disabled Persons Commission Act, said:
"I support improving First Nations Child and Family Services and am very
interested in continuing the discussions currently underway with our Mi'kmaq
and federal partners in strengthening prevention services for children and
families in Nova Scotia."

    This release is also available on the Internet at www.inac.gc.ca




For further information:

For further information: Deirdra McCracken, Minister's Office, Press
Secretary, Office of the Honourable Jim Prentice, (819) 997-0002; Chief
Charles Weasel Head, Treaty 7 First Nations Chiefs Association, (403)
315-4711; Media Relations, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, (819) 953-1160;
Grand Chief Arthur Noskey, Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta, (780) 649-4053;
Lisa Nisbet, Communications, Alberta Children's Services, (780) 427-4801,
cell: (780) 686-6455; Chief Eddy Makokis, Confederacy of Treaty 6 First
Nations, (780) 689-8791

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