May 15 2015 Press Release

Press Release May 15, 2015

Mi’kmaw Chiefs Reaffirm the Importance of Protecting Vulnerable Children from Abuse and Neglect

The Mi’kmaw Family and Children’s Services (MFCS) met today for its Executive Tripartite Committee meeting in Eskasoni. The Committee, comprised of 6 Nova Scotia Chiefs, along with officials from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) and the provincial Department of Community Services (DCS) met to discuss a number of important issues relating to MFCS. Officials also toured the offices of MFCS in Eskasoni. Arlene Johnson, Executive Director of the Agency noted that “the Agency which started in 1985 is very fortunate to have such a dedicated staff and foster parents. They work very hard to ensure children are protected from abuse and neglect. They are also excited about the increased focus the Agency has been able to place on prevention work such as Family Group Conferencing and parenting support.”

The Board and staff of MFCS with the assistance of George Savoury of Savoury Consulting Ltd. have successfully implemented many of the recommendations outlined in the 2013 Cooney Report. The Agency now has new by-laws, a board governance manual and human resources manual. Staff have received additional training and it is now mandatory for all staff to receive training on First Nations culture as part of their orientation. The Agency, with additional funding from AANDC, has been able to hire the additional social workers required to meet provincial standards.

The Agency has recently been informed by AANDC that they will be allocated an additional one (1) million for prevention services. This funding will have a positive impact on the continued development of child welfare prevention services in Nova Scotia First Nation communities.

The Agency is currently developing a Strategic Program Initiative that will focus on four (4) core areas:

(1) Expanding culturally based prevention programing and community connection to MFCS. A third office in the Southwest Nova Scotia area, as recommended in the Cooney is crucial to the achievement of this goal;
(2) To improve outcomes including school performance and capacity for independence for youth in care;
(3) Improved permanency and cultural attachment for children in care of the agency and;
(4) Enhanced quality of care and services to families and children at risk.

MFCS will be hosting its Annual General Meeting on June 17, 2015 at Bear River First Nation.

AANDC, DCS and MFCS will continue to collaborate to improve the services and outcomes for children, youth and families served by the Agency.

Chief Sidney Peters, Board Treasurer stated that “Nova Scotia Chiefs have shown tremendous leadership by creating a very unique Agency in Canada. Nova Scotia has one overall Agency that delivers child protection and prevention services whereas most jurisdictions have multiple agencies which can make governance, management and coordination of services more difficult.” He also noted that “the Agency is overseen by a very capable Board of Directors made of Nova Scotia’s 13 Chiefs and the Grand Chief. The Chiefs and staff of MFCS should be very proud of the work they have done in addressing the recommendations of the Cooney Report and providing a better future for Mi’kmaq families in Nova Scotia.”

Please contact Chief Sidney Peters at 1 902 790 6168 or 902 684 9788 Ext.222 or Arlene Johnson, Executive Director of MFCS at 902-379-2433 for further information.