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Six Nations Moves Toward Own Child Protection
February 7, 2012 permalink
Six Nations is sufficiently disgusted with Brant CAS taking their children that they are starting the process of organizing their own child protection service.
Six Nations child agency explored
Seventeen years after discussions first began about Six Nations taking over its own child protection agency, the reserve is getting serious about the move.
A series of nine community meetings have been scheduled to gather input from Six Nations members over the next few weeks.
"A number of focus group meetings will be held throughout February to measure community interest in seeking Child Welfare designation," said band communications officer Karen Best.
In response to a fair bit of agitation from the community in the form of marches, petitions and protests against the Brant Children's Aid Society, the elected band has opted to get community input toward the idea of setting up an agency dedicated to protecting Six Nations children.
Currently, the CAS has a Six Nations office, staffed mainly with aboriginal workers, who respond to native cases.
But community members marched again in early December to the CAS offices protesting what they said are a high rate of incidents where native children are placed in non-native foster homes rather than with extended family on the reserve.
The group says hundreds of complaints have been lodged against the CAS.
In response, the CAS says it's very supportive of Six Nations taking over responsibility for child protection and has been offering to help in the transition.
It says children are always placed within native families if possible but there aren't enough foster homes on the reserve.
According to the discussion paper posted on the Six Nations website, the number of children who have been taken into care from the reserve has soared by about 300%.
The paper said in the mid-90s, an average of 25 children were taken into care while more recently the average is 106.
Last summer, CAS executive director Andy Koster said there were 65 Six Nations children in care.
Staffing at the agency, said the paper, has grown by 400%.
At the same time, the budget for the band's Child and Family Services Prevention Program hasn't kept pace with inflation.
For Six Nations to officially get a child protection designation, it has to go through a consultation process where the community learns what's involved in taking over those responsibilities and where the band learns the level of interest, readiness and support there is in the community.
To assist with gathering community input, the band has posted a discussion paper on its website, www.sixnations.ca.
The band is encouraging people to read the material and then attend one of the community meetings to provide their input.
The following meetings are being held at the Six Nations Child and Family Services gym, 15 Sunrise Crt. in Ohsweken: Feb. 10 from 1:30-3:30 p.m.; Feb. 16 from 4-6 p.m.; Feb. 17 from 1:30-3:30 p.m.; Feb. 22 from 2-4 p.m.; and Feb. 23 from 7-9 p.m.
The following meetings will be at the Stoneridge Children's Centre, 18 Stoneridge Cir. in Oshweken: Feb. 8 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.; and Feb. 22 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Source: Brantford Expositor