Province proclaims Protection of Children (Information Sharing Act)

- by Allison Dunfield

Families Minister Scott Fielding announced the proclamation of The Protecting Children (Information Sharing) Act and its regulation on Sept. 15.

This new legislation allows provincial government departments, organizations and others who provide services to at-risk and vulnerable children to collect, use and share personal information (including personal health information) about supported children, their parents and legal guardians.

“Every second counts when a child’s health or safety is at risk, and that’s why our government is following through on our commitment to remove barriers to share information,” Fielding said during an event at Specialized Services for Children and Youth on Notre Dame Avenue on Sept. 15. “Service providers can now share critical information and speak openly so vulnerable children receive the help they need in a timely, co-ordinated manner.”

Fielding noted the act covers government departments, provincially funded organizations and others that are approved to provide services to at-risk and supported children. All are authorized to share information, including personal health information. The minister noted personal information can only be shared without consent when it is in the child’s best interests.

“Many supported children face complex challenges and struggle with more than one issue,” said Fielding. “This initiative will allow providers to collaborate and create a comprehensive plan to address the varied needs of each child, whether it involve treatment for substance abuse, protection from domestic violence or a targeted education plan while in foster care.”

The term “supported children” is defined under the legislation as children who in the care of, or connected with:
• child and family services,
• youth justice,
• mental health and addictions services,
• disability services,
• individual education plans in the school system, and
• victim support and family conciliation services.

“We are very supportive of this new act and are confident it will help us, as agencies, ensure children are receiving what they need to keep them safe and to help them thrive,” said John Leggat, president and CEO, St.Amant. “For too long, privacy regulations have prevented organizations from sharing information in the best interests of the children we are protecting. This act is going to help us do our jobs better and is ultimately a win for the children we support.”

Fielding noted the act helps create an environment where service providers are able to collaborate and better share critical information to protect the safety and well-being of children. The authority to share information is in addition to terms under The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and The Personal Health Information Act.

The Manitoba government introduced the act in June 2016 in response to a key recommendation made by commissioner Ted Hughes in the inquiry report on the death of Phoenix Sinclair.

The province has developed a new public website to support service providers and trustees, who will have new authority under this act, as well as information for parents and legal guardians of supported children and can be found at www.manitoba.ca/informationsharingact.


 

How technology can streamline child welfare, better serve youth

- by Allison Dunfield

Over the past 18 months, four foster care “hackathons” have explored how technology could be optimized to streamline child welfare systems and better serve youth and families, says the Chronicle of Social Change.

During that time, events in Washington, D.C., New York City, the Silicon Valley and Los Angeles have been instrumental in spurring changes to the child welfare systems there.

The hackathon series kicked off in May 2016 at the first-ever White House Foster Care and Technology Hackathon in Washington, D.C. Hosted by the White House, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and foster care non-profit Think of Us, the two-day event brought together child welfare leaders, nonprofit organizations, philanthropies, foster youth and leaders from the technology sector to “hack” the foster care system’s most pressing challenges.

Hackathons – like the foster youth policy and technology hackathons – have spurred a new wave of civic engagement, and these collaborations between the technology and public sector can move the dial on social issues. In an article featured in the Review of Policy Research journal, authors Peter Johnson and Pamela Robinson examine how hackathons, by working with open data and examining government services, can act as a form of civic engagement to spur change.

Please visit the Chronicle of Change website to read the rest of the article.


 

Thirty per cent of U.S. foster children being raised by grandparents

- by Allison Dunfield

A new report by Generations United in the United States found that "grandparents and other relatives who step in to care for children play an important role in mitigating trauma, which children in the child welfare system experience at starkly higher rates than the general population."

In all, there has been a six per cent increase in the number of foster children being cared for by grandparents in the United States since 2008.


Please read the rest of the report here.

 

Former foster youth develops online course to help foster children

- by Allison Dunfield

A former foster youth has created an innovative tool for professionals in the child welfare system through his online course, Fostering Resilience.

Michael Place, now an international public speaker and child rights activist, recently launched Fostering Resilience to help professionals identify and foster resilient behaviors in children.

Read the rest of the story here.


 

Local organization helps fill backpacks for children in care

- by Allison Dunfield

Read on about local efforts in Pembina Valley to bring comfort kits to children in care. Other organizations also help with comfort kits for children in care, such as the Ted and Loretta Rogers Foster Care Transition Program.

 

Ideas for change from 12 former foster youths

- by Allison Dunfield

This year's set of policy recommendations from 12 young people in the Foster Youth Internship Program operated by the U.S.-based Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute focuses on several themes, including improvements to educational opportunities for foster youth, empowerment, well-being and better access to information.

Read more on what the young people had to say in the Chronicle of Social Change article.

 

New research looks at how toxic stress can affect children`s health

- by Allison Dunfield

Research has increasingly shown how ongoing stress during early childhood — from grinding poverty, neglect, parents' substance abuse and other adversity — can smoulder beneath the skin, harming kids' brains and other body systems.

But many mental health experts are making an effort to help children cope with stress before it reaches the toxic level and are increasingly adopting what is called "trauma-informed" care.

Read the rest of the article here.

 

New shelter opens for women and children in Selkirk

- by Allison Dunfield

A new emergency shelter for women and children has been opened in Selkirk. The shelter has 22 beds and four apartments to accommodate more women and children leaving domestic violence situations in the Interlake and North Eastman regions.

To read more please visit the province's media release.

 

Wendy's Wonderful Kids aims to expand to every state by 2028

- by Allison Dunfield

Great news from the Chronicle of Social Change:

In February of 2016, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (DTFA) found out it was in line to become part of one of the biggest philanthropic investments in the history of youth services.

The foundation is one of four U.S.-based recipients of the a large investment--up to $200 million over the next decade--from Blue Meridian Partners.

After more than a year of planning, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is poised to begin what it hopes will be a national expansion of its adoptive parent recruitment program.

Dave Thomas, center, founder of Wendy's, and The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Photo: The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

DTFA Wendy's Wonderful Kids (WWK), a public-private partnership aimed at finding permanency for those foster youth who are statistically the hardest to connect with adoptive parents, already has some presence in each of the 50 states.

Read the rest of the story here:


 

Ontario passes new child welfare legislation

- by Allison Dunfield

Ontario recently passed the Child, Youth and Family Services Act which raises the age of protection from 16 to 18 "to increase protection services for more vulnerable youth in unsafe living conditions, to support their education and to reduce homelessness and human trafficking," along with other changes.

Read about the changes to legislation here.

 

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