TORONTO, July 23, 2015 /CNW/ - Last week, the Council of the Federation met and considered a report examining the issue of over-representation of indigenous children in child welfare care. The report has since been released to the public.
The Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates (CCCYA) welcome the Premiers' interest in the well-being of indigenous children. We believe that all governments must take a deeper look at the causes of this over-representation and conduct a thorough examination of opportunities to address the issue. We believe that the federal government does not bear sole responsibility for tackling this problem in a comprehensive manner – provincial/territorial governments must also play a significant role. All Premiers have ample reason and responsibility to act.
We are disappointed, however, that the Premiers of Canada have not found a way to address concerns for which they have jurisdiction and on which they must and should act.
We call on both the Premiers and the federal government to take concrete actions. We understand that the challenge is great and that where we are today as a country is a legacy of colonization, residential schools, racism and extreme poverty.
We also understand that children cannot wait. We all know the legacy that results from the status quo. Small steps can be taken while the bigger challenges are being tackled. Steps to reducing the need for child welfare include poverty reduction, housing programs, child care, etc. These are considered preventative initiatives.
In the system itself, Aboriginal competency training could be immediately provided for all child welfare staff across Canada. Options outside of foster care for Aboriginal children could be fully considered, promoted and funded, both on- and off-reserve, including kinship placements and custom adoption immediately in every province. Children and youth could be immediately engaged in the dialogue about their future and their needs. The Premiers could and should take these steps and many others tomorrow.
In August and November of 2014, the CCCYA urged the federal, provincial and territorial governments to take "immediate action" to reduce the number of Aboriginal children in care across Canada. Among the actions that the CCCYA called for were a national initiative to measure and report on child welfare, education and health outcomes for Aboriginal children and youth; the creation of a national Aboriginal children and youth participation initiative, with training on child and youth rights, leadership, voice, and civic participation; the creation of a special conference of Federal/Provincial/Territorial First Ministers, with Aboriginal leaders and child and youth delegates; and the creation of an independent National Children's Commissioner with particular emphasis on Aboriginal children and youth.
We urge the Council of the Federation to reconsider the possibilities and opportunities before them to change the history of the country.
About the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates
The Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates is an association of government-appointed children's advocates from the nine provinces and two territories of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Québec, Saskatchewan, and Yukon. Advocates are independent officers of the legislatures in their respective jurisdictions.
SOURCE Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates
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