Aboriginal Children in Care Report to Canada’s Premiers 2015
Aboriginal children are over-represented in child welfare systems across Canada. In August 2014, Canada’s
Premiers directed provinces and territories (PTs) to work with Aboriginal communities in their respective
jurisdictions to share information on local solutions; and acknowledged the need for governments and Aboriginal
communities to work collectively to address this Canada-wide problem. Although Premiers also requested that the
federal government be engaged in this work, neither the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
Canada, nor the Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada responded to invitations to participate.
Premiers also agreed to ask their appropriate Ministers to engage National Aboriginal Organizations in reviewing
issues and best practices for reducing the number of Aboriginal children in care and improve the quality of care.
This report to Canada’s Premiers provides examples of existing programs and services that have been shown to
reduce the number of Aboriginal children in child welfare systems and/or improve outcomes for Aboriginal children
in care. The report highlights a number of issues and challenges, and profiles some best and promising practices
along three strategic child welfare themes: root causes of abuse and neglect; prevention and early intervention
strategies for Aboriginal families; and better supporting the capacity of the child welfare workforce.
There are many programs and services in place to address issues related to Aboriginal child welfare. Those
profiled in this report are only a small selection of existing efforts to support Aboriginal children and families. In
spite of existing programming, Aboriginal children still vastly outnumber non-Aboriginal children in care on a
proportional basis. These statistics underscore the need to continue to work together to support vulnerable
Aboriginal families and children to change the outcomes for future generations.
This work has been accomplished within the context of a broader dialogue about Aboriginal issues in Canada. The
significance of these broader issues is acknowledged and woven throughout the discussion. Many of the factors
that lead to children being placed in child welfare systems are rooted in events that have a harmful and enduring
impact on Aboriginal families, communities and individuals, including an ongoing cycle of poverty and social
challenges for Aboriginal people.
Root Causes: Research demonstrates that addressing several key social determinants of health (the conditions in
which people are born, grow, live and work) is fundamental and essential in promoting the health and well-being of
Aboriginal children and families. Programs and services that strengthen broader social determinants assist in
lessening family distress and support the building of healthy, empowered communities. Children who live in
situations where families are vulnerable are at higher risk of being removed from their homes. As a result, by
providing supports that address the social and economic factors (root causes) affecting Aboriginal peoples, it is
expected that the number of Aboriginal children in care would be reduced over time and their overall outcomes
would be improved.
Analysis of PT programs which target root causes at the family and community level highlight several common
themes and areas of focus. These include poverty reduction strategies, measures to strengthen food security,
stable and secure housing, improved mental health and addictions supports, and programs aimed at reducing
family violence, supporting youth, and improving education and employment opportunities.
Read more: http://www.canadaspremiers.ca/phocadownload/publications/aboriginal_children_in_care_report_july2015.pdf