The Indigenous Infant/Family Advocate Program is a unique, one of a kind, joint initiative between the Niagara Chapter-Native Woman Inc., and Family and Children’s Services Niagara, funded by the then Ontario Ministry of Child and Youth Services, now called the MCCS, or Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services.
The initiative began in late 2008-09 year and has been successfully continued until present. The political will of the Province of Ontario has grown to ensure that Indigenous children and families are aware of their rights, offered their opportunity to ensure they have they rights and has generally grown to understand the unique relationship that Indigenous people have the Canadian Government.
The establishment of the program came about due to the high numbers of Indigenous children who are in contact with FACS Niagara and indeed, in contact with Children’s Aid Societies right across this nation. The forward thinking and progressive attitude prevalent at FACS Niagara coupled with our NCNW history of working together for the common good, enabled us to create this unique partnership and opportunity to assist Indigenous families and children through the hiring of an actual worker. The worker is funded by the Ministry through a service contract with the Chapter. The worker is an employee of the Chapter and has the opportunity to spend about half time at the FACS Niagara offices where they have their own working office space, working with either FACS workers or Indigenous children, youth, families, as well as agency and community workers. Half of the time the worker is at the Chapter offices and working in the community.
The Overall Program Goal:
To increase culturally appropriately services to First Nations children and families who come into contact with FACS Niagara.
Specific Objectives of the Program Strive to:
- To increase the number of First Nations placement options i.e., Kinship, Customary Care and Indigenous Foster Homes;
- To increase cultural awareness for FACS staff and to improve the delivery of culturally appropriate services;
- To promote liaison services for children and youth who are in the care of Family and Children’s Services Niagara (FACS) with Indigenous communities to promote cultural integrity, collaboration and connection for children and their families;
In 2010, Changes to the Ontario Child and Family Service Act (FCFSA) enabled the Indigenous community, together with FACS Niagara to plan and create programs to ensure that Child Protection Procedures in Niagara included consultation with the Indigenous Community. From there the Indigenous Child/Family Advocate program was created.
The Indigenous Infant/Family Advocate Program is intended to provide supports to First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and Indigenous families who identify themselves and who wish to receive extra supports. The advocate is not a child protection worker.
The role of the Indigenous Infant/Family Advocate is to assist the family in navigating the Child Protection Process and speak to the specific needs of Indigenous children and families in the Niagara Region.
The Advocate carries an extensive background in Indigenous Child and Family Advocacy, a thorough understanding of Intergenerational Trauma among First Nations People and is familiar with programs and services beneficial to Indigenous families in the Niagara Region.
For more information please contact us at 905-871-8770