Foster families in the Northwest Territories may be breathing a little easier now that they have the ear of the territory’s health and social services minister.
It comes after foster parents told the territorial government earlier this month that foster children’s well being was being jeopardized by some uncaring and unprofessional bureaucrats.
They added they simply were not getting the support they need from the government.
According to a news release from the GNWT, there was recently a “productive” meeting between the board of the Foster Family Coalition of the NWT, Health and Social Services Minister Diane Thom and officials from the Department of Health and Social Services, and the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority.
All sides have agreed to find new ways to collaborate for addressing the on-the-ground and in-the-home needs of caregivers, and for addressing challenges within the child and family services system.
At the heart of these discussions is the shared understanding that the safety and wellbeing of children is paramount and that caregivers, frontline workers and officials all want to see improved outcomes for children, families and youth, the government stated.
Discussion on the importance of strong relationships and partnerships at all levels resulted in agreement to:
- Revisit, strengthen and refresh existing forums for working together,
- Look at ways to improve communication from the top down and from the bottom up, and
- Collaborate on ways to address challenges being experienced on the frontlines and in the homes of caregivers and to make system improvements.
Participants agreed that child protection and community social workers are a valued and essential part of the child and family services system.
They also agreed that and that their voices should be heard in order for the best outcomes for children and youth.
Minister Thom is to hear from frontline child and family services workers later today and has directed that officials focus on collaborating with the Foster Family Coalition of the NWT and with caregivers to improve communication throughout the system and to find solutions together.
Thom thanked the board of the Foster Family Coalition of the NWT for hosting the government and sharing with her, and officials, the frustrations and challenges they are seeing and experiencing first-hand.
“Our discussions were very positive and I know that we are more committed than ever before to work together to make things better for children, families and youth,” the minister stated. “I look forward to seeing the results we can achieve by working together”
Dawn Pottinger, board president of the Foster family Coalition of the NWT, agreed it was a productive meeting.
“Today was an important step in the right direction for improving things for foster families and children and youth in care,” Pottinger stated. “Foster caregivers want what is best for children in care, and today was a positive step towards finding better ways to communicate and collaborate so that critical information is getting to officials at all levels and to our frontlines and in our foster homes.”