First Nations Child and Family Services

First Nations children and families are disproportionately involved in the child and family services (CFS) system, with more than 40,000 First Nations children in care.

About

First Nations children and families are disproportionately involved in the child and family services (CFS) system, with more than 40,000 First Nations children in care. The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) continues to advocate for the rights and needs of First Nations children and families in contact with the CFS system.

The AFN is actively advocating by way of the National Advisory Committee on Child and Family Services (NAC) and its Action Tables for improved services, First Nations control, and increased funding for CFS. The AFN continues to hold Canada accountable for its actions by filing non-compliance orders with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) following inaction on the CHRT’s landmark case on discrimination against First Nations children in care.

Committees

National Advisory on First Nations Child and Family Services Program Reform (NAC)

On February 23, 2007, the AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society filed a Canadian Human Rights complaint alleging Canada is discriminating against First Nations children in the provision of on‑reserve child welfare. On January 26, 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) confirmed that the federal government is discriminating against First Nations children. AFN Resolution 62/2016 mandated the AFN to re-establish the NAC with the goal of advising on the reform of, previously named, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada’s (INAC) child welfare program.

The NAC is a joint advisory body consisting of regional First Nations child welfare experts, the AFN, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, and the Federal Government. The NAC is chaired by Grand Chief Ed John. For background information on the Tribunal rulings and the NAC please refer to the sections below.

The NAC and AFN have worked with the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Democracy (IFSD) at the University of Ottawa to conduct research on First Nations Child and Family Services Agencies programs, needs, and funding. Read more about this research here.

Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Case Timeline

On February 23, 2007, the AFN and First Nations Child and Family Caring Society filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission which alleged that Canada racially discriminates against First Nations children in their inequitable funding of child and family services on-reserve.

On January 26, 2016, the Tribunal ruled in favour of First Nations children (2016 CHRT 2), finding that Canada, indeed, funds the on-reserve child and family services program inequitably.

The Tribunal released an initial compliance ruling on immediate relief (2016 CHRT 10) on April 26, 2016, related to the First Nations child and family services program, the 1965 Agreement, Jordan’s Principle, and other issues.

The Tribunal issued a second compliance ruling on September 14, 2016 (2016 CHRT 16), on additional immediate relief measures and reporting on progress towards implementation of the Orders.

The Tribunal issued a third compliance ruling on May 26, 2017 (2017 CHRT 14), that expanded the definition of Jordan’s Principle, made orders on the tracking and processing of Jordan’s Principle cases, and called for publicizing of clear information on Jordan’s Principle.

The Tribunal has issued a fourth compliance ruling on February 1, 2018 (2018 CHRT 4), ordering Canada to analyze the agencies’ needs assessments previously completed, to remove factors of the funding formula that incentivize the apprehension of children pending a new funding formula, and to fully fund agency costs at actuals.

A full and comprehensive timeline of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal case is available through the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada’s website.

CHRT Consultation Protocol

Pursuant to the February 1, 2018, ruling of the CHRT, Canada has entered into a Consultation Protocol with the Parties of the CHRT—the AFN, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Chiefs of Ontario, and the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

The Consultation Protocol governs the direct consultation that Canada has been ordered to partake in with the Parties; the Consultation Protocol ensures that these consultations are carried out consistent with the honour of the Crown to eliminate the discrimination founded by the CHRT in its rulings. As per the CHRT, consultation shall pertain to the three phases of implementation of the rulings: immediate relief, mid- to long-term relief, and compensation.

The Consultation Protocol further establishes a Consultation Committee to oversee the relief ordered by the CHRT, with representatives of the Parties sitting on the Consultation Committee to guide this work.

The full text of the CHRT Consultation Protocol between Canada and the Parties can be found here.

News

On January 25-26, 2018, Canada hosted an Emergency Meeting on Indigenous Child and Family Services, bringing together over 300 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis child and family services technicians, experts, Chiefs, provincial and territorial Ministers in the realms of child and social services and policy representatives, and federal representatives from various departments.

At the Emergency Meeting, Minister Jane Philpott announced Canada’s Commitment to six points of action to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in care:

  1. Continuing to implement the CHRT orders, including Jordan’s Principle, and reforming child and family services funding to a flexible funding model.
  2. Work with partners to shift program focus to culturally-appropriate prevention, early intervention, and family reunification.
  3. Work with partners to support communities to “draw down” jurisdiction over child and family services (including exploring the possibility to co-develop federal legislation).
  4. Participate and accelerate work of tripartite and technical tables.
  5. Support Inuit and Métis leadership to advance reform on child and family services.
  6. Create a data strategy with provinces/territories and Indigenous partners.

Recent Resolutions

AFN Resolution 85/2018,
Financial Compensation for Victims of Discrimination in the Child Welfare System

AFN Resolution 53/2018,
Federal Legislation on First Nations Child Welfare Jurisdiction

AFN Resolution 11/2018,
Federal Legislation on First Nations Child Welfare Jurisdiction

AFN Resolution 92/2017
Support the Spirit Bear Plan to End Inequities in all Federally Funded Public Services for First Nations Children, Youth and Families

AFN Resolution 40/2017,
Call on Canada to Comply with the 2016 Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Orders

AFN Resolution 83/2016,
National Advisory Committee on INAC’s Child Welfare Reform Engagement Strategy

AFN Resolution 62/2016,
Full and Proper Implementation of the historic Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decisions in the provision of child welfare services and Jordan’s

AFN Resolution 42/2016,
International Child Custody

Contact Social Development Staff

Jonathan Thompson
Director


Stephanie Wellman
Senior Policy Analyst


Pamela Corkum
Administrative Assistant


Martin Orr
Senior Policy Analyst


Lorna Martin
Administrative Assistant


Kara Kennedy
Policy Analyst


Kanatase Horn
Policy Analyst


Jessica Quinn
Policy Analyst


Sid LeeFirst Nations Child and Family Services
Assembly of First Nations
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