Most southern First Nation parents are unaware of their rights when dealing with Child and Family Services (CFS). The child welfare system can be overwhelming and intimidating to navigate, and the lack of awareness of parent’s rights further compounds these issues.
In order to directly address this problem, the Chiefs’ Standing Committee on Child Welfare issued a Directive to the Southern First Nation Network of Care that requires their child and family service workers to verbally inform First Nation parents of their rights when workers attend to child protection matters.
Making it mandatory for social workers to read the Bill of Rights will ensure that parents are aware, and will empower them to assert their rights when working with an agency.
Currently, there are more than 10,000 children in care in Manitoba, 90% are Indigenous, and more than half of the children in care are members of southern First Nations. SCO believes that once parents are aware of, and encouraged to assert their rights, fewer children will be apprehended and family placements will be prioritized. This will support better outcomes for southern First Nation children.
Southern First Nations parents who are working with child welfare agencies are invited to contact the CFS System Navigator at the Southern Chiefs’ Organization for guidance and assistance at 204-946-1869 or by email at Candace.Campbell@scoinc.mb.ca.
SCO continues to advocate for substantive changes to the child welfare system in Manitoba to support the preservation of southern First Nation families. To learn more about other Directives and issues of importance, visit our Child and Family Services page.