|Posted by Val Fox on April 10, 2012 at 5:00 PM|
For children in the Canadian foster care systems it is about the welfare of kids, yes, but it's also about money and politics - how much a service will cost and who, if anyone, will pay for it. From a caregiver's perspective, the needs of the child appear to be at the bottom sometimes, especially when dealing with First Nations children in care. Their needs sometimes become inadvertently ignored.
I've worked with Child Protection Services both in the city and on a First Nations reserve and I've noticed some marked differences between the two. But in the end we fail ANY child that goes without services due to lack of funding. They can "fall through the cracks." It has been frustrating to see some children give up on school, end up in jail, on the streets or having children of their own before they're ready. I believe the lack of services on many reservations contributes to children not getting their needs met.
Here in Alberta, Child Protection workers on reserves endeavor to follow the Child Welfare Act, using provincial practices and standards as their model. When I worked in Calgary, a city of one million people, there were more agencies with services designed to assist young people and their families.
Agencies secure funding each year through the province and other means by maintaining a strict level of professionalism and standards. Agencies also conducted their own fundraising efforts throughout the year and are able to provide teachers, therapists and trained staff to work with youth - the goal being reunification whenever possible. Case conferences are held consistently with representation from the school, mental health professionals, parents and caregivers, program staff and Child Welfare workers. Each meeting addresses the educational, health and psycho/social needs of the child.
On a reserve it is sometimes different. I have seen what a lack of or missing funding can do: programs and staff cuts, a steady turnover of child welfare workers and kids who will not get the assistance available to others. A child with behavioral difficulties could be a child with learning difficulties. A child could be diagnosed by a pediatrician through information from caregivers and observations during appointments. I've seen it happen where a child with a diagnosis CANNOT receive services from a specialized clinic because there is a waiting list of other kids needing assessment who are not diagnosed yet. A proper diagnoses takes time, interviews, testing and money. Without the money, no testing, no services, no help for a child who could fall further behind and feel more isolated each year.
The Child Welfare systems are imperfect, we know that. But there are many dedicated, caring workers who leave their jobs, frustrated and burned out. There is also a lack homes available to place children in care, many who have special needs. Therapists can only do so much too as they also work within systems with specific mandates and regulations. If it's not a fit, no services.
In October, 2011, local tribal members voted on this First Nations reserve. The goal of Chief and Council was to have the tribe assume full responsibility for everything to do with its own Child Welfare and Family Services. The tribe would continue to get global funding from the federal government. The people voted and the agreement did NOT pass.
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Tags: foster children, Alberta, First Nations, learning disabilities, advocacy, Canadian government, child victims, education, high-risk kids
Categories: Children As Teachers