The AMC Remains Concerned with Outcomes of Youth Aging out of Care
October 28, 2021
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – As the First Nations Family Advocate Office (FNFAO) hosts the Telling Our Truth Event from October 26th to the 28th, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) remains concerned regarding the continued lack of supports in place to ensure that youth in care successfully transition after aging out of the Child Welfare system in Manitoba.
AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas states, “Far too many of our youth fail to receive proper supports while aging out of care of the child welfare system. It is well known that First Nations children and youth make up approximately 80% of the number of children in care in this province. With the lack of existing supports, the reality is that many First Nations children aging out of care will become homeless and/or become involved with the justice system. This is documented in several studies, most recently, the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP) report, The Overlap Between the Child Welfare and Youth Criminal Justice Systems: Documenting “Cross-Over Kids” in Manitoba, which found significant evidence that involvement in the CFS system is a strong risk factor for contact with the youth criminal justice system.”
The report found that more than one-third of youth in care were charged with at least one crime and by age 21, almost one-half had been charged with a criminal offence. The study also found that First Nations children and youth were greatly over-represented in both the CFS and criminal justice systems. Additionally, according to the 2018 Winnipeg Street census, at least 50 per cent of homeless people surveyed were involved in the CFS system with two-thirds of those having become homeless within the first year of aging out of care.
Young women who have aged out of care are also identified as being more vulnerable to being assaulted, murdered, or going missing. In 2018, First Nations Family Advocate Cora Morgan testified to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and said, “I think it’s really critical for us to be able to have that voice recognized – that there is a direct link between MMIWG and the child welfare system.” Morgan also stated that, “We have some mothers here that have nearly lost their lives as children in care because they were put in such dangerous situations as children.”
“The Province further failed First Nations children and youth by capturing their Children’s Special Allowance (CSA), intended to ensure they were afforded the same opportunities as the rest of the general population. Between 2005-2019, it’s estimated that the province stole $338 million of CSA from First Nations children in care off-reserve. To add insult to injury, the Province passed an omnibus bill, the Budget Implementation and Tax Statues Amendment Act, or BITSA, amidst a pandemic to immunize itself from any legal action taken against them, denying First Nations children the right and access to justice,” stated Cora Morgan, First Nations Family Advocate.
The AMC filed a Notice of Application in November 2020 to challenge the claw back, and failure of the Province to provide adequate supports to First Nations children in care under the CSA Act. This hearing is in front of the Queen’s Bench this week as part of the court challenge against section 231 of BITSA, which is the section of the Bill that is possibly illegal and that immunizes the provincial government from accountability.