Manitoba

Manitoba CFS agency now run by communities, not province

A group of Manitoba First Nations now have more control over children in the care of Child and Family Services in their communities.

Changes see Southeast Child and Family Services run by new board of community members

A group of Manitoba First Nations now have more control over children in the care of Child and Family Services in their communities.

Changes took effect last Friday that gave the Southeast Child and Family Services (SECFS) agency more power to make front-line decisions. 

SECFS works with nine First Nations communities on the east side of Lake Winnipeg, including Berens River, Bloodvein, Brokenhead, Buffalo Point, Hollow Water, Black River, Little Grand Rapids, Pauingassi and Poplar River.

SECFS is now governed by its own board of directors.

"I believe that any first nation agency should be overseen by the communities it represents versus one individual overseeing the agency," said Rhonda Kelly, acting executive director for Southeast Child and Family Services.

"It's just a sign that the communities and that the First Nations leadership want to take ownership of taking care of our children ourselves," said Kelly.

Kelly said they were ready when the province turned over control and believes the transition will be smooth.  She told CBC the agency had been working towards this change since late 2014. That was her mandate upon being appointed the acting administrator.

Kelly said the focus is now on improving the quality of life of the children and their families.

Southeast Child and Family Services currently has about 1,100 children in its care. That figure, Kelly notes, also includes some youth over the age of 18.

"We all want to work together and it's for the betterment of the children and the families," she said.   

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