In Manitoba, the Child and Youth Services (CYS) Division of the Department of Family Services oversees family supports and protection services to children delivered under the mandate of The Child and Family Services Act (1985), The Child and Family Services Authorities Act (2003) and The Adoption Act (1999). Within the CYS division, the Child Protection Branch provides programs and services including Centralized Services, Provincial Investigations, Risk Assessment, Quality Assurance, Intersectoral Activities and Community Supports, Adoption and Post-Adoption Services, Provincial Licensing, and Core Competency-Based and Information System Training.
The current structure of the child welfare system in Manitoba emerged from the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry (The Aboriginal Justice Implementation Commission, 1999)) and is referred to as the ‘devolution’ of child welfare within Manitoba. In 2003 The Child and Family Services Authorities Act came into force, creating four authorities (First Nations Authority of Northern Manitoba, First Nations Authority of Southern Manitoba, Metis Authority and General Authority). The Authorities oversee services, disperse funds, and ensure that culturally appropriate services are delivered by their respective agencies consistent with The Child and Family Services Act (1985) and The Adoption Act (1999). The Authorities are empowered to mandate agencies to exercise the powers and duties of The Child and Family Services and other Acts. The Authorities have mandated 28 legally distinct agencies, of which 18 are First Nations child welfare agencies; eight are non-Indigenous, private child welfare agencies; and two are Métis child welfare agencies (Government of Manitoba, 2022).
Child welfare agencies within 14 regions have been named as Designated Intake Agencies (DIAs), which function as central intake services (Government of Manitoba, n.d.). DIAs conduct initial intakes/brief investigations and then transfer cases that will remain open to receive ongoing services. A unique feature of child and family services (CFS) in Manitoba is that families may decide from which authority they wish to receive services regardless of the region in which they reside, which is intended to ensure that families have access to the programs and services that reflect their values, beliefs, customs, and ethnic, spiritual, linguistic, familial, and cultural factors. Families may also request a change of Authority unless an abuse investigation or adoption is in process.
To determine the most culturally appropriate Authority to provide services to a family, a worker of a DIA and the family complete an Authority Determination Protocol (ADP), which considers whether the family is Indigenous, their Indigenous status and their community of residence. Children over the age of 12 must be consulted by the worker and their views documented. Once a decision has been made about the type of service required and the appropriate Authority, the file is then transferred for ongoing services (Child and Family Services Standing Committee, 2017).
Rural and Northern Child and Family Services (RNCFS)
The RNCFS branch provides a comprehensive continuum of child protection, early intervention and family support services in accordance with The Child and Family Services Act and The Adoption Act from 15 locations across rural Manitoba (Manitoba Minister of Families, 2022). The branch is the Designated Intake Agency in several areas of the province, providing first point of contact for child and family services matters, including After Hours emergency response. RNCFS provides protection services to children at risk of abuse or neglect and works with community partners to support children remaining safely with their families (Manitoba Minister of Families, 2022).
Services to children in care include reunification supports, kinship care, foster care, and specialized placement services. The branch partners with community groups to provide supports to prevent children coming into care and to assist youth living independently. The branch provides adoption and post-adoption services to children, and guardianship responsibilities to children, youth, and families when reunification is no longer an option (Manitoba Minister of Families, 2022).
Indigenous Child and Family Services
In 2019, Bill C-92 was passed: An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Children, Youth and Families, which “affirms the rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis in relation to child and family services and establishes national principles to help guide the provision of child and family services in relation to Indigenous children” (Government of Canada, 2019). Peguis Child and Family Services in Winnipeg, Manitoba carries out their inherent right to self-governance as they maintain jurisdiction in relation to child and family services. Several notices of intention to exercise legislative authority and requests for coordination agreements have been received by the government, the updated list for which can be found here (Government of Canada; Indigenous Services Canada, 2022). For more information on First Nations child welfare in Manitoba, see the information sheet “First Nations Child Welfare in Manitoba” (Kozlowski, et al., 2011).
For more information, please see the information sheet on Manitoba's Child Welfare System | Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal (cwrp.ca)