Indigenous Child and Family Services: An in-depth review
Garcha, Amanjit Kaur
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A history of colonization and cultural oppression has led to intergenerational poverty and trauma for Indigenous peoples. As such, Indigenous people in Canada experience representation in child welfare agencies at rates that are disproportionately high. Existing literature and data on child and family services across Canada and internationally was reviewed specific to Indigenous communities. The extent of the review was limited to factors influencing child welfare, including variables such as poverty, health, history, family and community structures. It was found that there was inadequate information on the outcomes of child and family services specific to Indigenous communities. Where data was available, it was evident that Indigenous children are overrepresented within Canada’s child welfare sector at higher rates than the rest of the Canadian population. The disproportionately higher rates of children in care within Indigenous communities and the lack of structures to address the issue further disadvantage Indigenous communities. Current initiatives that are in place to address the lack of services available to Indigenous children and communities are analyzed. A discussion of the various initiatives found that government funding, lack of education and data collections were central issues. As such, recommendations regarding improvements to data collection, education and the funding for service providers are proposed to tackle the prevalence of Indigenous children in child welfare agencies. The recommendations address the root causes of the increased use of child welfare services within Indigenous communities that are embedded in the structural underpinnings of the Indigenous populations. Too often the voices of Indigenous communities are being addressed by policy makers who are far removed from the realities of Indigenous peoples, and who base well-intended policies on perceived stereotypes of Indigenous communities. Accordingly, the predominant focus of the paper remains the need to address the child and family services issues from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and to return governance to Indigenous communities.