[Coast Salish Territory] Indigenous Child and Family service providers wholeheartedly endorse the 7 recommendations outlined in the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY) report A Parent’s Duty: Government’s Obligation to Youth Transitioning into Adulthood.
A Parent’s Duty is the 6th report issued in the last 10 years addressing the poor outcomes for youth transitioning out of care. The report points to structural and policy factors contributing to these outcomes rather than the personal characteristics of youth transitioning out of care.
“We need to look at the fact that Indigenous kids are 17x more likely to enter the child welfare system and two thirds of the youth whose experiences are centred in this report are Indigenous, said Mary Teegee, Chair of the Directors Forum, “The concept of aging out of care at 19 is not consistent with our teachings and laws. These are our kids we are talking about, we know what needs to be done.”
A Parent’s Duty identifies four B.C. based best practices or ‘bright spots’ in service delivery, three of which were developed by Indigenous service providers. The report points out that, with no additional funding, Indigenous Child and Family service providers are already enacting community and culturally-based supports for youth aging out of care.
Surrounded by Cedar Child and Family Services Society’s Nest to Wings program starts transition planning at age 16. The approach includes strong community connections, Indigenous coming of age ceremonies and a focus on helping youth establish a network of enduring and supportive relationships. When parents or extended family are not involved in a child’s life, the role of the Indigenous community becomes even more important. Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family and Community Services Kikékyelc program houses youth alongside Elders, fostering intergenerational supports and connection. The report explicitly calls for the provision of culturally appropriate mental health and substance use services for young people transitioning from care into adulthood. The report emphasizes that culturally informed supports are paramount.
“Delegated Aboriginal Agencies develop relationships with youth in care that need to be meaningfully supported beyond their 19th birthday. In actuality many Delegated Aboriginal Agencies continue to provide social and emotional supports to young Indigenous adults with limited or no government funding,” stated Yvonne Hare, Executive Director of Secwepemc Child & Family Services Agency in Kamloops. “Referring youth to government based young adult services is not acceptable. Our efforts to support youth need to be resourced. Enacting the policy measures called for in this report requires cooperation and investment from both the federal and provincial governments.”
The report, released yesterday, was dedicated to the late Katherine McParland a former youth in care who herself experienced homeless after aging out of care. Katherine was a fierce advocate and champion committed to addressing youth homelessness.
Mary Teegee (Maaxw Gibuu), IMBA
Chair, Directors Forum
Delegated Aboriginal Agencies
About the Directors Forum
The Directors Forum, a coalition of executives responsible for managing the 24 delegated Aboriginal Agencies in BC, agencies representing 60% of First Nations in the province. As a collective and expert voice on child welfare matters, the Directors Forum bring decades of frontline experience working with Indigenous children and families.