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New/Changes to Child-Family Services' Program and Jordan's Principle



March 9, 2022

Indigenous Services Canada is writing to share important steps taken to address and prevent discrimination against First Nations children, youth and families in the First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) Program and Jordan’s Principle.

On January 4, 2022, the parties to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal proceedings regarding the FNCFS Program and Jordan’s Principle announced they had reached an Agreement-in-Principle for long term reform of the FNCFS program, initial steps towards long-term reform of Jordan’s Principle and targeted action to prevent the recurrence of discrimination within ISC. This agreement sets a framework for a final agreement to be submitted to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to determine if it satisfies orders for Canada to cease discriminatory conduct and prevent its recurrence.

The Agreement-in-Principle is based on principles led by First Nations, including:

  1. Culturally-based safety and wellbeing of First Nations children, youth, young adults, and families is paramount.
  2. The distinct cultures, languages and historical and current realities of First Nations must be recognized.
  3. Canada is responsible for ending discriminatory funding and structures within the FNCFS program and Jordan’s Principle, including policies, procedures and agreements, and is responsible to prevent the recurrence of discrimination.
  4. Funding levels, policies and structures uphold substantive equality.
  5. Reform to the FNCFS program and Jordan’s Principle will not limit First Nations’ inherent right to self-determination.
  6. Reform to the FNCFS program and Jordan’s Principle will be based on First Nations-led and/or approved evidence and solutions.
  7. The voices of First Nations youth will be included during the reform of the FNCFS program and Jordan’s Principle.

 

More information on this approach is included in the Executive Summary of the Agreement-in-Principle https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1644518166138/1644518227229.

It is important to note that the long-term reform Agreement-in-Principle confirms that funding for First Nations affirming their jurisdiction under the framework provided in An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families will not be less than they would have received under the reformed approach. These First Nations will be provided funding through the grant mechanisms established under the Act.

First Steps – Transition Year 2022-23

Recognizing the challenging times in which we are living, 2022-23 is a transition year. The first steps that will be taken in 2022-23 are:

  • Implementing the amended capital order (2021 CHRT 41) as noted in our letter to you dated February 2, 2022. The letter is attached for your reference.  We take this opportunity to remind you that requests for capital funding, including reimbursement of capital costs, can be sent to  chrt41-tcdp41@sac-isc.gc.ca.
  • Providing prevention, in a per capita amount of $2,500 based on a First Nation’s on-reserve and on crown land population, or in the Yukon, based on the total First Nation population. The $2,500 per capita amount is derived from research done by the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy in collaboration with the National Advisory Committee on First Nations Child and Family Services and the parties. To determine the population that would be multiplied by $2,500 to arrive at the total prevention funding per First Nation, ISC is using the registered on-reserve or crown land information from the Indian Registry System (IRS) as of December 31, 2021. This new prevention funding approach will replace prevention funding based on actuals for FNCFS agencies, Community Based Prevention and funding provided under the Community Well-Being Jurisdiction initiative to First Nations in Ontario. ISC is committing to prevent the disruption of services by working with agencies and First Nations to support this transition.
  • Funding for First Nations Representative Services (formerly Band Representative Services) nationally to assist families who encounter the child welfare system.  The new funding will be provided in all provinces and in the Yukon. In Ontario, ISC will provide funding in the amount of $332.9 million (exclusive of capital) over a period of five years beginning April 1, 2022, to First Nations in Ontario to support the delivery and operation of First Nation Representative Services. This funding will be allocated for a 5-year period and ISC will support First Nations (service providers) to develop a five year plan. 
  • Funding for post-majority care will be provided to young adults aging out of care and formerly in care up to the time they turn 26 years of age to support their transition to adulthood. Services, products, and support can include, but are not limited to, life skills training and assistance, housing assistance, education, drivers’ training/permits, community and cultural (re)connection, food security, transportation, health and wellness and financial management. This funding will be provided at actual cost to delegated agencies and First Nations. This funding will be accessed by submitting claims for actual costs during the 2022-23 transition year.

All other areas of funding will remain unchanged, including operations and access to the claims process for actuals on intake and investigations, legal services and building repairs for FNCFS agencies and Band Representative Services in Ontario.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy is continuing its research and modelling work on the long-term funding approach. All parties to the Agreement-in-Principle will review this work and recognize that funding adjustments may be required.

Our goal is to ensure non-discrimination in child and family services, reduce administrative burden, and increase funding stability and flexibility. We will be inviting all service providers and communities who are not currently receiving multi-year, flexible or block funding to prepare for this change in their agreement. ISC commits to ensuring that all funding recipients have the flexibility they need to provide culturally appropriate and substantively equal programs and services that meet the actual needs of children and families, are in the best interests of children, and are reflective of distinct community circumstances. Unexpended funds can be carried forward to future years.

We will be working with the parties and the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy to continue the development, modelling and testing of a reformed funding approach. For more information on this research and on how your agency or community can participate please contact info@ifsd.ca.

 

Implementing Long Term Reform – Beginning in 2023-24

ISC is committed to an evidence informed funding approach to long term reform. Starting April 1, 2023, ISC will begin to make available the full funding under the reformed approach. ISC regional offices will involve you directly and work with regional and tripartite tables to plan for the implementation. ISC will also continue to work with agencies, service providers or communities that have an interest in a block funding agreement.

The goal of the reformed approach is to provide funding based on the actual needs of children, youth, and families. To this end, we encourage you to direct funding to address the root causes of the over-representation of First Nations children and youth in care, including in areas related to poverty, poor housing, substance misuse, multi-generational trauma, and domestic violence. Funding will support capacity for policy, standards, and research. Funding will not be fixed, but rather, it will be responsive to data and research findings as they become available, ensuring that funding responds to the needs and outcomes of First Nations children, youth, and families over time, and provides for culturally appropriate services in distinct First Nations circumstances.

We understand that capacity can be stretched to implement these changes.  ISC will support First Nations and FNCFS service providers experiencing exceptional circumstances and/or requiring a longer transition to the reformed funding approach. We will be planning regional sessions and [regional liaison officer] will also reach out to meet with you directly to take you through these changes.

We are hopeful that this is a turning point in the history of the FNCFS Program and that, in responding to the longstanding injustices, we will see First Nations children, youth and families thrive in their communities.