Pallister government announces plan to overhaul child welfare system
Published Thursday, October 12, 2017 5:48PM CST
Apprehended by child welfare officials at the age of five, Frances McCarthy was in and out of foster care until age 12. She says being away from her family still haunts her to this day.
"I want to try and get close to people, but at the same time what the system did to me, I'm ashamed of it, and it hurts," said McCarthy.
There are currently 11,000 children in care in Manitoba and counting. Sixty per cent of those are permanent wards of the system and close to 90 per cent are Indigenous.
Now the Pallister government says it has a plan to overhaul the system and reverse the trend.
"The number has been going in the wrong direction for a long time, so we want to change that direction, changing that direction is the key," said Premier Brian Pallister.
The province is pledging to reduce the amount of apprehensions by eliminating strings attached to funding, so agencies can better focus on prevention.
"We want to be funding for results. Right now, the way the system works in terms of the amount of funding agencies get, it's based on the amount of kids in care and the days in care," said Scott Fielding, minister of families.
The law will also be reviewed to make sure children are only seized when necessary, while allowing for community involvement when making critical decisions about a child's placement.
"We've got kids at home, we looked at the situation, does that kid really need to be in care?" said Richard De La Ronde, executive director, Sandy Bay Child and Family Services.
In cases where kids can't go home, subsidies will be provided for permanent guardians. The goal is to make sure more children have consistent care until age 18.
"When children grow up in care their life outcomes are poorer than ones who grow up with their parents or caregivers," said Pallister.
Frances McCarthy is optimistic the changes will help the next generation.
"This has to stop, what the system is doing is tearing families apart not keeping them together," said McCarthy
A legislative review is expected to be complete next spring.