Over the past 2 years, local parents and community helpers have been working on building our system literacy and have since developed 2 lists of recommendations. One set for our parents locally and one for the Manitoba provincial government that is in charge of child welfare in the province.
1. Increase access to safe social opportunities (alone, with kids and family, with friends, government support).Create a Mentorship/Sponsor program for community members; Increase parent access to safe helpers
2. Support where you can community involved in a temporary drop off point for parents(including government support)
3. Attend necessary training programs or education programs to get kids back;Advocacy training for parents, Help parents understand legislation; Continue attending Fearless R2W meetings
4. Take steps to improve your own (parents) communication skills. Learn how to communicate and use Strength based approaches; LEARN How to ask constructive questions;Learn how to ask for help
5. Build your own system literacy; Familiarize parents with RISK ASSESSMENTS that are done when workers come in to investigate
6. Learn to be good tenants – communicate with landlords etc
7. Research other jurisdictions and their best practices when it comes to CFS Advocacy/improvements
8. Connect with all child welfare groups in the area; Invite other CFS Advocacy groups to participate and share their solutions; Invite the Office of the Children’s Advocate to come and present to our group
9. SHARE: Success stories of families that have broken the cycle of CFS, or families that have been able to avoid having CFS Apprehensions in their kids
10. Develop Parent Networking Supports: Help parents who are new to the community demonstrate positive and supportive relationships and help people network to gain access to additional supports
1. Increase access to local addiction programming (including child care without CFS/justice penalty for seeking help)
2. Support Safe Spaces for parents and their kids/Temporary drop off point. This includes sustainable funding for 24/7 Community Centres in R2W
3. More Cultural Opportunities (as a replacement to negative activity) aka Support Thunderbird House
4. R2W parents increased Access to Manitoba Housing. If kids in care, families should remain with their home intact (social assistance) (As long as it’s temporary). Develop a Mutual Family Housing Policy as well.
5. Supportive transition to independence (MB Housing – example in Lord Selkirk Park). Supports like: Someone to help with spring cleaning, Respite for Parents (help with childcare from person of parents choosing)
6. Create local employment (i.e. Building Construction Mentorship Program) including pathways to employment (Training / School, info on how to be good tenants, etc)
7. TRAINING: Traditional Family Parenting Orientation available to R2W families, as well as foster parents [mandatory]. Additional Trainings To be made available to natural families, foster parents and children in/exiting care such as: Domestic Violence Prevention or Healthy Relationships, Advocacy training for Parents and Public. Establish R2W Parent Advocacy Centre – Strength Based Always. In the interim, provide bus tickets and food for FEARLESS R2W meetings
8. COMMUNICATION: We recommend increased communication from the provincial government to families, as well as support for: Indigenous Language Immersion; Education supports to help parents understand legislation; increased access to safe helpers; Support for increased parent communication skills; Increase social workers communication skills;
9. Re-assess the risk assessments (family vs child vs agency risk); Are they strength based? Include Family Group Conferencing part at CFS First Response.
10. Increase Parent Networking Supports: Help parents who are new to the community demonstrate positive and supportive relationships. Help people network to gain access to additional supports.
Beyond our own group's recommendations, many others have been making demands for change to child welfare internationally and locally. Here you can read up on many of these documents to get familiar with the bigger picture of child welfare and what people are pushing for.