Back in January 2013, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services announced a plan to work with First Nations, Métis, Inuit and urban Aboriginal peoples to transform services to better meet the needs of Aboriginal children and youth.
Minister Tracy MacCharles’ September 2014 mandate letter from the Premier states that Ontario remains committed to implementing the strategy that will “build community-driven, integrated and culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal children and youth.”
The strategy development process focuses on three primary goals:
- Better access to the services they need
- More culturally appropriate services throughout the service system
- More community-based solutions.
Development of the strategy will be based on input from First Nations Aboriginal partners, and the work of the Aboriginal Advisor. Community consultation with frontline/agencies is now happening across the Province. Engagement with local Aboriginal agencies and mainstream organizations serving Aboriginal children, youth and families occurred on Friday, November 28th at the Quinte Mohawk School in Tyendinaga. Approximately 35 participants attended.
In spite of low attendance as a result of timing, input around service gaps, access barriers and needs was based on the knowledge and experience of a broad range of individuals working with Aboriginal children, youth and families.
A common theme identified by agencies is that service providers from all sectors working with Aboriginal children, youth and families need to be culturally competent/trained. Another is that programming needs to focus on prevention. Flexibility around design is also important because a one-size-fits-all approach will not work for all people in all communities.
Input will be summarized and shared with participants. An opportunity to contribute will be provided through survey monkey to those unable to attend the consultation. I will keep you posted. And because youth were unable to participate as a result of timing, an engagement session is being looked into by Tyendinaga service providers to enable youth to contribute prior to the mid-December due date.
Throughout the Winter of 2015, MCYS will develop a proposal based on feedback from partners and agencies. A strategy proposal for government decision-making will be available in Spring 2015.
The Children and Youth Services Network is in an excellent position to support and move forward a priority vision that strives to keep Aboriginal children and youth “safe, healthy and supported, and proud of themselves and their cultures.” We are all part of the solution.