Mi’kmaw Family and Children’s Services (MFCS) is mandated as a Child Protection Agency under the provincial Children’s and Family Services Act.
What does this mean?
The purpose of the Agency is to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our Mi’kmaw children living in First Nation communities are upheld and protected. While MFCS continues to be committed to promoting and enhancing family strengths through the collaboration and partnerships with families, communities and service providers, the Agency is ultimately responsible for identifying and addressing risk of harm and/or potential risk of harm to children.
What does child protection services do?
Child Protection Services is about protecting children under the age of 16 years from abuse and/or neglect while making every effort to keep families together.
What happens if you call the Agency with a concern about a child?
When you call MFCS, you will be directed to speak with an intake/investigative social worker. The intake social worker will gather all relevant and detailed information regarding the incident or condition of concern. The intake worker is then responsible to check Provincial databases to determine if there is any previous contact with the family in question.
If it is determined that an investigation is warranted, then the role of the intake/investigative social worker is to gather information to assess safety of the child(ren), as well as, assess the risk of future harm. Gathering information can include talking to the other children in the family and home, the parents and other people who may be able to provide information (such as a teacher, family doctor, other family members). The investigation may be completed with the police if there is an indication that a criminal offense against a child has occurred. The child may also be examined by a doctor during the investigative process.
Once the information has been gathered, the Agency will make a decision as to whether there is evidence that the child has been, or is at risk of being, abused, neglected or harmed.
If at the conclusion of the investigation it has been determined that the child has not been abused, neglected or harmed, and is not at risk of being abused, neglected or harmed in the future, the file will be closed.
If it has been determined that the child has been abused, neglected or harmed, or is at significant risk of being abused neglected or harmed, the Agency will open the family’s file to provide ongoing services. The family’s file moves from Intake/Investigation team to the Long Term Team. As such, the development of a case plan and the coordinating of services will be done by the Long Term social worker. The purpose of a case plan is to help address the presenting problems identified through the investigative process. Services that may be offered to you are:
- Family Support
- Treatment for drug and alcohol addiction
Within Child Protection Services at MFCS, there is an Intake Team, Long Term Team and a Temporary care and Custody Team. The Long Term social worker ultimately works with the parents. However, should a child come into the care of the Agency then that child is assigned a social worker who is responsible for ensuring that the child’s needs are met.
There is an excellent pamphlet (pdf) available from Courts of Nova Scotia website about - "... when Child Protection takes your children into care" http://www.courts.ns.ca/Child_Protection_Videos/documents/ChildProtectionBooklet_EN_09_17.pdf
What You Need to Know When Child Protection Takes Your Children into Care.
Mi'kmaq Version: http://www.courts.ns.ca/Child_Protection_Videos/CP_videos_Mkq.htm
The Court offers a video which is intended to help you understand what happens when the Child Protection Agency becomes involved in your family life. The video and the booklet that comes with it will answer some of your questions. What has happened? Where are your children? When can you see them? What can you do to make sure your family stays together? If your children have been taken into care, what do you need to do to have them returned to you?
View the video:
The videos were produced with the collaboration of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court Family Division, Executive Office of the Nova Scotia Judiciary, Nova Scotia Legal Aid, Nova Scotia Department of Community Services, Nova Scotia Department of Justice, with funding from The Law Foundation of Ontario. While financially supported by The Law Foundation of Ontario, the views expressed in this video production do not necessarily reflect the views of The Foundation.