For the first time since 2003, the number of children in care in Manitoba is down – but more needs to be done according to one grand chief.
The province released a snapshot of its year-end report.
According to the report there were 10,328 children in care as of March 31 – down by three per cent from 2017.
87 per cent of these children are Indigenous.
“We’re cautiously optimistic about these numbers,” said Heather Stefanson, minister of families.
“It’s the first time in 15 years where the number of kids in care has declined. So we’re showing a positive trend here.”
Stefanson said the numbers are down because there has been a decrease in apprehensions – and more children have been reunited with their families.
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said the news numbers are encouraging.
But only if children are going home.
“It’s important that we actually have a full understanding as the exactly how you’ve decreased the number of children in care,” said Dumas. “Hopefully it’s not merely creative counting and hopefully not redefining whether someone is truly in care or not.”
Dumas emphasized the need for the province to return jurisdiction of child welfar to First Nations.
And he criticized the government for not working with Manitoba chiefs and the First Nations family advocate office.
“Heavy handed changes from the provincial government on this file are not conducive to working with us,” he said.
“We can’t have them on their own making these changes that are going to impact the lives and livelihood of our children.”
The province said the full report will be released at the end of the week.