March 26, 2009
FREDERICTON (CNB) - The recommendations made by the child death review committee, which reviewed the case of a child who was receiving services from a First Nations child and family service agency, have been released by Social Development Minister Mary Schryer.
The committee was established to investigate the deaths of children younger than 19, who were in the legal care of the minister, or whose families were in contact with the child protection system within 12 months prior to their death.
"I will issue a full response to the committee's recommendations within 45 days of making them public," said Schryer. "I would like to thank the child death review committee for its review of this case and their recommendations. Our government will work collaboratively with our partners to consider all recommendations that improve our child welfare system."
The minister of social development designates child and family service agencies to deliver child welfare services within First Nations communities. First Nations communities deliver child and family services based on provincial legislation and standards.
The committee made three recommendations.
Since kinship placement is still the expectation of community members and band government in First Nations communities, the committee recommends that written guidelines be established to clarify kinship placement practices, with specific emphasis on the use of criminal record checks in all instances; the need to ensure PRIDE (Parents' Resources for Information, Development and Education) training be made available, with emphasis on the role and importance of both parents in fostering children, even when one is clearly less engaged in day-to-day care of the child(ren).
The committee recommends that a training module be developed to address the challenges of working with dual relationships, and that all social workers in First Nations child and family services agencies be provided with this training.
The committee recommends that a clinical audit be carried out to assess the effectiveness of social work practice in First Nations child and family services agencies, with a view to identifying best practices and areas of limitations, and providing necessary training to address these limitations.
The committee recommends that the Department of Social Development give priority to assessing if there is a need to increase resources for monitoring and support of quality child welfare practices in First Nations child and family services. There should be a review of reporting mechanisms between the agencies and the provincial government. The standards should continue to be sensitive to cultural differences and needs of First Nations communities, while ensuring the safety and quality of care of its children.
MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon Hagerman, communications, Social Development, 506-444-2416.