Number of Manitoba kids in CFS care down 4 per cent from last year
As of March 31, 2020, the number of kids in care was 9,849, compared to 10,258 last year
The Manitoba government says the number of children in the care of Child and Family Services has dropped since 2019.
The province is reporting 9,849 kids in care as of March 31, 2020, compared to 10,258 at the same time last year.
That's a four per cent drop from 2019, according to the Manitoba Families annual report released this week.
Numbers not included in this year's tally are 527 children in what are called "own home placements," which means they are living with their parent, guardian or a lifelong family member.
An additional 19 children are in supervised adoption placements, considered non-paid care, which means they do not get financial support from the government.
- Province changes how it counts kids in care, reports lower number than Manitoba child welfare agencies
- Métis leader says children in care left out of Manitoba's pandemic response
The Manitoba government changed the way it defined "children in care" in 2017, by removing the category called "non-paid care" from its final tally. The province said the changes were made to be more transparent.
Of the 9,849 children in care in 2020, 70 per cent are permanent wards, while three per cent are under a voluntary placement agreement.
The report says the remaining 27 per cent are children in care under a temporary legal status, where reunification with families is the primary goal.
Indigenous children make up 90 per cent of those in Manitoba CFS.
Of all the authorities in Manitoba, the Southern First Nations Network of Care reported the highest number of children in care, with 4,772.
Kids returning home still need support: advocate
Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth Daphne Penrose says the drop in the number of kids in care is a positive trend, but more needs to be done to help young people with mental health and addictions issues when they are returning home.
"What's most important is that we need to see appropriate resources being provided in the community to support children, youth and families when they are returning home," said Penrose in an email to CBC.
"I have brought this up with the government repeatedly since October 2018 and have seen little action taken."
- Children's advocate concerned about trauma kids could have from COVID-19 pandemic
- Province reports 1st decrease in child welfare numbers in 15 years
Penrose adds she'd like to see more support for families to be able to address issues that led to apprehensions in the first place.
"Our government is committed to keeping families together, which is why we continue to invest in community-based prevention supports to reduce the number of children in CFS care," said a provincial spokesperson for Families Minister Heather Stefanson.
The province said this is the third consecutive year that there's been a decline in the number of children in care. It attributes that to a new "single-envelope" funding model, or block funding of Child and Family Services authorities instead of making per-child payments.
That allows authorities and agencies to focus on prevention, the province said.
"As of July of this year, our government has also ended the practice of birth alerts and has developed a new focus on preventing infant apprehensions instead," the spokesperson said.
With files from Aidan Geary