June 1, 2010
MONCTON (CNB) - The provincial government will work with the First Nations to improve their child welfare services, Premier Shawn Graham said today.
"The provincial government is ready and willing to help solve this problem," said Graham. "We support making significant changes to the First Nations child welfare system in New Brunswick if the process is embraced by First Nations and the final result leads to better, prevention-focused services for children and their families."
Graham spoke at the First Nation National Child Welfare Conference.
He added that the Hand-in-Hand report recently released by the child and youth advocate paints a grim picture of First Nations child welfare system. First Nations children in the province are six times more likely than other children to be taken from their homes and placed in foster care. They are four to five times more likely to be charged as young offenders and they may be at greater risk for health issues such as obesity and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
"New Brunswick is anxious to come to the table with First Nations and the federal government to reach a new, tripartite agreement for First Nations child welfare based on an enhanced prevention approach," Graham said. "We also wish to develop a tripartite plan for addressing the underlying causes that contribute to poor child welfare outcomes for First Nations children in New Brunswick. The particular focus of this plan should be addictions, housing and poverty."
He said the province will implement 10 other recommendations of the child and youth advocate including:
Graham also reaffirmed New Brunswick's commitment to reaching an agreement on Jordan's Principle.
"I have asked our provincial liaison group and the provincial negotiator to focus on necessary, public services such as health, child welfare and those education services related to special education plans," he said.
MEDIA CONTACT: Tracey Burkhardt, communications, Department of Social Development, 506-444-2614.