Manitoba

Indigenous practice from New Zealand aims to reunite kids in care with families

A delegation from New Zealand is in Winnipeg to share an approach they believe could reduce the number of children in foster care.

Delegation in Winnipeg to help Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre Inc. keep kids in their own families

A delegation from New Zealand is in Winnipeg to share an approach they believe could reduce the number of children in foster care.

It's called Family Group Conferencing (FGC) and it's based on the practices of New Zealand's indigenous Maori people.

Katie Murray is the CEO of a social service agency on the North Island of New Zealand and she is here to liaise with Winnipeg's Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre Inc.

'Too man' kids in care, Murray says

"It's too many. It's too many for your province," Murray said of the approximately 11,000 youths in foster care in Manitoba. "The FGC process will stop a lot of that and hopefully ... start working with some of those 11,000 children to reunite them with their families."
New Zealander Katie Murray is in Winnipeg to share knowledge about a promising approach that aims to keep children at risk of being apprehended by foster care in their own extended families. (Provided by Katie Murray.)

In New Zealand, when a child is at risk of being taken into care, FGC has members of the child's extended family and support network work to come up with a plan to try and keep the child with kin. The resource is available to every child who lives in New Zealand.

Murray estimates the program saves the government of New Zealand hundreds of thousands of dollars because the government isn't paying out as much to have children go to foster homes.

FGC in WPG

Here in Winnipeg, Ma Mawi has been using the approach in one of its programs. Last year it helped them reunite 49 kids with their families.

Now they want to expand the program and they've brought Murray and three other experts in from New Zealand to help the process along.

"We're here to support them, to change the statistic," Murray said.

Murray and the delegation from New Zealand are here for two weeks and will take part in a conference at CanadInns Garden City on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

now