Newborn apprehensions fall but work remains: advocates



Manitoba has seen a drastic drop in the number of newborns placed in foster care, according to recently obtained data. However, Indigenous advocates say more needs to be done to permanently end the discriminatory practice of birth alerts.

For years, Manitoba led the country in the proportion of children in care, who are still predominantly aboriginal. This stems in part from decades of child welfare agencies using birth alerts – a form they would fax to Manitoba Health, requesting an automated alert when a pregnant woman they deem to be at high risk enters a maternity.



Child protection workers used criteria that often included any prior involvement in foster care or even access to social support during pregnancy.

For hundreds of women a year, this meant their children were cared for by government agents directly from the delivery room.

“Going out for help shouldn’t cause you to lose your child forever or for any period of time,” said Diane Redsky, director of the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata center.

“Going out for help shouldn’t cause you to lose your child forever or for any period of time. —Diane Redsky

The Progressive Conservative government officially ended the practice of birth alerts on July 1, 2020. Existing laws would still allow newborn babies to be apprehended when they cannot be brought home safely with their parents, but the government has promised more prenatal programs so that more families can be kept. together.

In the fiscal year ending March 2018, Manitoba issued 558 birth alerts, of which about half (282 newborns) were placed in foster care within their first four days of life.



This number has gradually decreased, with 186 newborns placed in the fiscal year ending March 2020.

The new data obtained by the Free press show that Manitoba is on track to have fewer than 100 newborns in care this fiscal year.

In the fiscal year ending March 2021, 101 newborns were placed in the foster system. Between April 1 and December 31, 2021, 59 newborns were taken care of.

In the fiscal year ending March 2021, 101 newborns were placed in the foster system.

In an interview, Families Minister Rochelle Squires attributed the decline to a reform that detached child protection funding amounts from the number of children in care.

The idea is to strengthen prevention programs, reduce trauma and additional taxpayer expenses associated with placing children in new homes. Advocates generally support changing the funding model, but warned that the new formula – dubbed single envelope or block funding – results in agencies receiving less money overall.

“Ending the practice of issuing birth alerts does not mean the end of all newborn apprehension, but what it does do is end this discriminatory practice that was not serving communities at all. and families,” Squires said.



<p>RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS KITS</p>
<p> Diane Redsky, director of the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, says her staff finds Child and Family Services officers more receptive during prenatal visits with expectant mothers.” width=”1024″ height=”683 ” srcset=”https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/400*400/NEP92326_web_190318-Diane-Redsky-5-.jpg 400w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/600*600/NEP92326_web_190318- Diane-Redsky-5-.jpg 600w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/700*700/NEP92326_web_190318-Diane-Redsky-5-.jpg 700w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/ 800*800/NEP92326_web_190318-Diane-Redsky-5-.jpg 800w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/900*900/NEP92326_web_190318-Diane-Redsky-5-.jpg 900w,https://media. winnipegfreepress.com/images/1000*1000/NEP92326_web_190318-Diane-Redsky-5-.jpg 1000w”/>				</a><figcaption>
<p>RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS KITS </p>
<p>Diane Redsky, director of the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata center, says her staff find child and family services workers more receptive during prenatal meetings with expectant mothers.</figcaption></figure>
<p>“In fact, it probably stigmatized them more and in many cases prevented mothers from reaching out, getting the support and help she needed to successfully raise her children.”			</p>
<p>Redsky said it looks like the system is gradually improving.			</p>
<p>Her staff at Ma Mawi in Winnipeg find that Child and Family Services officers are more receptive during prenatal visits with expectant mothers.			</p>
<p>Native Outreach Center staff help mothers develop a plan to show that they have enough support from parents and community groups to be a successful parent.  Officers review this plan and suggest other services that might help.			</p>
<p>“They have more meaningful conversations with CFS agencies when there’s a concern about a mother bringing her baby home from the hospital,” Redsky said.			</p>
<p>Far fewer mothers end up having their child taken away, but Redsky said it’s unclear whether that’s due to the province’s incremental reforms or the COVID-19 pandemic changing how families operate. homepage.			</p>
<p>Squires says her government is making progress by funding prevention work through at-risk community organizations that at-risk mothers will feel comfortable accessing, which can range from eliminating an addiction to simply looking for childcare.			</p>
<figure class= 

<p>MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p>
<p> Families Minister Rochelle Squires attributed the drop in the number of newborns in foster care to a reform that deducted child protection funding from the number of children in care.” width =”1024″ height=”683″ srcset=”https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/400*400/NEP92326_web_211119-Warming-space-00016.jpg 400w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images /600*600/NEP92326_web_211119-Warming-space-00016.jpg 600w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/700*700/NEP92326_web_211119-Warming-space-00016.jpg 700w,https://media.winnipegfreepress .com/images/800*800/NEP92326_web_211119-Warming-space-00016.jpg 800w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/900*900/NEP92326_web_211119-Warming-space-00016.jpg 900w,https:/ /media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/1000*1000/NEP92326_web_211119-Warming-space-00016.jpg 1000w”/>				</a><figcaption>
<p>MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS KITS</p>
<p>Families Minister Rochelle Squires attributed the decline in the number of newborns in foster care to a reform that detached child protection funding amounts from the number of children in care .</figcaption></figure>
<p>For example, the Mothering Project at the Mount Carmel Clinic in Winnipeg offers nutritional counselling, a prenatal clinic, daycare and Aboriginal ceremonies.  Another project in the north of the city, Granny’s House, offers temporary care for native children so parents can run errands or take a break.			</p>
<p>“What we really need to do is put more emphasis on some of the prevention initiatives that we’re already starting to see really good results from,” Squires said.			</p>
<p>Redsky said these changes are a palliative to real reform, where Indigenous governments have autonomy over child welfare.			</p>
<p>“Until they have full control, we will always be in a system designed to make us fail,” she said.			</p>
<p>Redsky herself was in foster care as a child and may have been the subject of a birth scare two decades ago at HSC Women’s Hospital.			</p>
<p>“There were social workers sniffling around the hospital when I (gave birth to) my son in 1998,” she said.  “As an Indigenous person, I’m sure there’s also racial profiling that has contributed to this.”			</p>
<blockquote class=

“There were social workers sniffling around the hospital when I (gave birth to) my son in 1998.” —Diane Redsky

Redsky was part of a 2018 legislative review commissioned by PCs, which argued that Manitoba’s social systems use criteria that run counter to First Nations and Métis.

“Until we change the rules, regulations and standards, we will still have a system that will work against Indigenous families.”

To that end, some Indigenous governments want to take control of child welfare through a bill the federal Liberals passed in 2019.

Squires said the pandemic has delayed talks between Ottawa and Manitoba aimed at breaking down barriers for that process to take effect, such as determining funding formulas and who would have access to child predator registries.

But she said both governments are committed to decentralization.

“Child protection jurisdiction will certainly enable many indigenous governing bodies to repatriate their children, and these will, I believe, be tremendous results throughout this transition,” she said.



<p>TIMOTHY D EASLEY / ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES</p>
<p> Internal data shows a downward trend in the number of foster children across all age categories.” width=”1024″ height=”617″ srcset=”https://media.winnipegfreepress. com/images/400*400/NEP92326_web_Overcoming-Opioids-Treating-Newborns.jpg 400w,https://media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/600*600/NEP92326_web_Overcoming-Opioids-Treating-Newborns.jpg 600w,https:// media.winnipegfreepress.com/images/700*700/NEP92326_web_Overcoming-Opioids-Treating-Newborns.jpg 700w”/>				</a><figcaption>
<p>TIMOTHY D EASLEY / RELATED PRESS KITS</p>
<p>Internal data shows a downward trend in the number of foster children across all age categories.</figcaption></figure>
<p>Internal data shows a downward trend in the number of foster children across all age categories.  But Squires said his job isn’t done until the newborns are all kept with their families.			</p>
<p>“Because we still see apprehensions of newborns, we still have a long way to go,” she said.			</p>
<p>“We must continue until all families are supported enough to stay together.”			</p>
<p>dylan.robertson@freepress.mb.ca			</p>
<div class=

Dylan Robertson

Dylan Robertson
Head of the Parliamentary Office

In Ottawa, Dylan likes to snoop around access to information requests and ask politicians, “What about Manitoba?

Maria D. Ervin