A provincial panel examining Alberta’s child death review and intervention system has added a local First Nations health leader to its ranks.
The all-party panel was launched in February to streamline Alberta’s child death review process and find ways to improve the child intervention system, following a scathing report last year from the auditor general.
In July 2016, Merwan Saher reported that only 16 per cent of Alberta’s child welfare case workers are complying with provincial rules that require them to make personal contact on a regular basis with the foster children they supervise. Also, Saher and youth advocate Del Graff both released reports showing a vast over-representation of indigenous kids in the system.
With the panel wrapping up work on the child death review and turning its attention to child intervention, it decided it needed aboriginal expertise.
“It’s a tragic reality that indigenous children are overrepresented in Alberta’s child intervention system. We can and must do better,” said Danielle Larivee, minister of Children’s Services. “We have heard from leaders and community members that we need to bolster First Nations perspectives on the panel.”
White has more than 19 years experience in First Nations health care, including as co-chair of the Joint Action Health Plan and as a member of the Alberta Mental Health Review Panel.
The Ministerial Panel on Child Intervention will review legislation, policies, data and past recommendations, including those from the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate and the Auditor General of Alberta. It’s expected to make recommendations later this year.