According to the Minister of Health and Social Services (HSS), there’s been a shift in clientele accessing Child and Family Services (CFS) in the territory.
Minister Glen Abernethy said the number of children in permanent care has been going down but overall there are more children and families accessing CFS.
He made the comments during the announcement of a new campaign aiming to recruit more foster families in the territory.
The initiative is a joint project led by the Foster Family Coalition (FFC) of the NWT and HSS.
“There isn’t a bunch of kids waiting but it’s nice when we have homes that come forward, we can see what their strengths are and you can properly match kids with a caregiver that meets their needs,” said Tammy Roberts, executive director of the FFC.
As of November 1, 2018, there were 136 children and youth in foster care, and 114 homes.
The majority of children in the territory’s foster care system are Indigenous. CKLB asked Roberts if the campaign was hoping to get more Indigenous foster parents.
“We target anybody that would come forward,” she said. “Of course, it’s best for the children to stay in their community and stay within their culture. Right now, we’ve never really had an issue with recruiting homes and more than half of our foster homes have at least one Indigenous caregiver.”
Neither Roberts nor Abernethy said there was a specific target for the number of new families, but recognized certain communities struggled for foster parents.
Last October, the Auditor General of Canada released a report with severe criticism for the territory’s CFS system. One of the areas highlighted by the report was the lack of training and background checks for foster parents.
While the campaign isn’t officially part of the response to the report, “it fits nicely,” said Abernethy.
The campaign includes a promotional video, posters and a flyers sent to residents.