The Manitoba government will partner with the Metis Child and Family Services (CFS) Authority on a new pilot project that will provide mental health and addictions services to families at risk of child apprehension, Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced today.
“By providing supports to families when they need it most, we are taking steps to support good mental health and address addictions to reduce the number of children who are taken into care,” said Stefanson. “We are implementing this pilot program with the Metis CFS Authority to make a real difference for families at risk and to ensure a better start in life for these children.”
The three-year pilot project with the Metis CFS Authority will see $1.9 million invested into project. A team, including a caseworker, a family mentor, and addictions and mental health workers, will provide support for families with parental substance use and child abuse or neglect problems. Families will be able to access services quickly, as well as referrals to various community resources. The program, known as Community Healing and Recovering Together (CHART), will also include connections to cultural programming.
The pilot program is based on successful, evidence-based models used in other jurisdictions, Stefanson said, adding it will adapted by the Metis CFS Authority to develop a made-in-Manitoba model.
The pilot program will provide services to approximately 60 families in Winnipeg and Dauphin. The program will run for three years, and will then be evaluated to determine if the program will continue after the pilot period.
“Family addictions and substance use issues are one of the most significant factors affecting the safety of children today. This funding will allow us to help families receive the services they need to address their struggles with mental health and addictions,” said Billie Schibler, chief executive officer, Metis Child and Family Services Authority. “We look forward to beginning this important work in what we believe will become a leading practice in family preservation in Manitoba. Rather then sending parents off to treatment and sending children into foster care, this allows us to support families to remain together and heal together wherever possible.”
The pilot project is expected to be in place by February 2020, following the recruitment and training for mentors and to develop links with mental health and addictions workers, Stefanson said.
The project implementation is in line with recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which called for the provision of Indigenous-led, culturally safe services as well as increased supports for Indigenous-led agencies and families with children in the home. The program also fulfils two recommendations made in the VIRGO report including:
• accelerate services and supports to family members and other loved ones including increased support for family navigator services, and
• immediate funding priority to the expansion of services for children/youth.
The minister noted the initiative announcement follows recently announced initiatives to continue improving mental health and addictions services in Manitoba including expanded distribution of Thrival Kits, increased support for the NorWest Youth Hub and an investment to expand Project 11.
“We are excited that these projects are moving forward and even more initiatives will be publicly announced in the coming weeks,” said Stefanson. “These initiatives also support our commitment to implement our Safer Streets, Safer Lives Action Plan to ensure a safer province for all Manitobans.”
Stefanson noted these initiatives are based on recommendations made in a variety of reports, such as VIRGO, the Illicit Drug Task Force, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report and the Community Wellness and Public Safety Alliance. Funding for this initiative is being provided under the Canada-Manitoba Home and Community Care and Mental Health and Addictions Services Funding Agreement.
– 30 –