Southeast Child and Family Services serves eight First Nations in the southeast region of Manitoba: Brokenhead Ojibway Nation; Black River First Nation; Hollow Water First Nation; Bloodvein First Nation; Berens River First Nation; Poplar River First Nation; Little Grand Rapids First Nation; and, Pauingassi First Nation. Of these, Poplar River, Pauingassi, and Little Grand Rapids are remote communities and are accessible by plane except for a brief period when there is winter road access. Buffalo Point First Nation, which falls under the SECFS mandate, is served by Animikii Osozon Child and Family Services under a sub-agreement since 2008.

The Agency is provincially and federally funded, based on a 60/40 split, and is mandated under Manitoba's The Child and Family Services Act. The Agency services requires a comprehensive plan that takes into account the geographical complexities and high costs to deliver services and goods to the eight communities, and we have a large off-reserve clientele base. One of the ongoing challenges faced by our community staff is the limited internet connectivity. In addition, the funding models fail to recognize our extra-large size; the remoteness; the chronic housing shortages; and, the limited human resources available on some communities.

Service Delivery Model

SECFS is unique in its service delivery model. The units are set up based on the First Nation affiliation. The on- and off-reserve staff for the First Nation teams are overseen by a Director of Services along with a community and city supervisor. Together, they oversee the Direct Service Workers who provide services to the children in care and family protection cases.

The Director of Services is responsible to establish and maintain relationships with the respective First Nation's Chief and Council and community resources so they can collaborate in providing prevention and intervention services. The allocation of the federal prevention funds (family enhancement) is distributed to the community based on the on-reserve population size and use of the funds is determined by the community staff in conjunction with the local community resource team and Chief and Council. This offers the community the opportunity to have their prevention services defined by their own needs and priorities.

Prevention funds for the provincially funded children, youth and families are allocated based on requests for events, emergency foods, or prevention/cultural programming. The Directors of Services coordinate regular case reviews with their city and community staff to keep apprised of case plans involving the children and their families. City staff are encouraged to attend community events and consult with the community staff to identify potential family members for children who require placements.

A restructuring of the Alternative Care Department provided for one or more Alt. Care Workers to be assigned to a specific unit. This move increases the capacity of the unit with finding family placements as the Alt. Care Worker will be more focused on learning and finding family connections for their assigned unit.

It is also worth noting that the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs First Nation Family Advocate Office and the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre Family Group Conferencing staff have worked in partnership with our Agency to support families to be reunified with their children in care and advocate for stronger relationships between the children and their families and communities.

Governance

The Agency's bylaws were amended in December 2019 to allow Southeast Chiefs and Councils to represent their respective community on the SECFS Board of Directors. As such, there were a number of changes to our Board Members including the appointments of Chief Vera Mitchell as the Poplar River representative, Councillor Geoff Bushie as the Hollow Water representative, Councillor Tracy Berens as the Berens River representative, Councillor Clinton Keeper as the Little Grand Rapids representative, and Councillor Mildred Cook as the Black River representative. Lisa Young, representing Bloodvein First Nation, remained as the Board Chair. Hazel Kent, representing Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, was appointed as the Vice-Chair and Edna Keeper remained as the representative for Pauingassi First Nation.

Unite Interactive