Sunchild First Nation is taking over local child and family services programs in a “historic step.”
Previously, Sunchild received services from the Alberta Child and Family Services Authority, mostly out of its Rocky Mountain House and Drayton Valley. However, under a new Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Agreement, Sunchild will have what is called a Delegated First Nations Agency (DFNA) on the reserve to oversee programs.
“Our Nation has taken a historic step forward on our path towards self-reliance and greater, local control over service delivery for our members,” said Chief Jonathan Frencheater in a statement.
“Under our new agreement, and with the support of enhanced federal funding, Sunchild First Nation is now positioned to deliver enhanced, culturally appropriate and community-driven services for our children, youth, and families.”
As a DFNA, the Sunchild First Nation Child and Family Services Society will provide prevention and child intervention child and family services locally. The society has already offered new preventative services including successful cultural camps for Sunchild First Nation children and youth.
In the coming months, the society expects to boost its programs to provide support for youth wellness, recreational wellness, mental health and addictions, grief and loss support, and much more.
Sunchild First Nation has more than 140 children — a disproportionately high number — in Child and Family Services (CFS) care.
Under the new agreement, Sunchild representatives say they will now be positioned to provide better supports from within their Nation. By offering local programs, they expect to be able to do more to prevent children from having to enter into CFS care. As well, they plan to ensure that protection and intervention services — when absolutely necessary — better reflect the Nation’s culture, values, heritage, languages, experiences, and unique ways of life.
“Guided by the vision and direction of chief and council, and supported by our enthusiastic team of staff and technical advisors, we have made tremendous progress this past year putting into place promising new prevention services, as well as a foundation to ensure that protective CFS services are delivered only as a last resort and delivered right here in the community,” said Tobias Mwandala, Sunchild First Nation Child and Family Services Society executive director.
Sunchild has used $6.9 million in federal funding to take on a number of projects to support its new role, including the opening of temporary office space, making improvements to the local community centre and the construction of a reunification home for at-risk children and youth.
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