Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, expert advisor EvidenceNetwork.ca
Marni Brownell is an expert advisor with EvidenceNetwork.ca, a Senior Research Scientist with the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP) and Associate Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, College of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba.
Each one of us knows a child or a teen who is struggling with either depression, anxiety, an addiction or a behavioural disorder like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Mental illness not only causes high levels of distress in children, but can also interfere in significant and real ways with their lives.
What happens to kids who authorities determine can't live safely with their own parents or caregivers? Thousands of Canadian children are in this situation right now. Many go into foster homes, while others go into other types of out-of-home care on behalf of child welfare agencies. But we don't know how many, nor do we know how well they are doing.
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs called for the dismantling of the current child welfare system and the development of a completely new system. While this idea may seem radical, child welfare as it exists now in Manitoba is failing our children and our families, particularly our Indigenous children and families. What if we separated prevention and care services so that they are not delivered by the same agencies? This would encourage families in need to seek support services without worrying that admitting their challenges will result in their children being taken away from them.