Huu-ay-aht program will improve lives of children in care

In 20 years, our children will grow up safe, healthy, connected to the community and exemplify Huu-ay-aht values. Huu-ay-aht First Nations wants to take the fate of the next generation into its own hands.

The Nation is working on a Child and Family Services program that will eventually lead to a “made-by-Huu-ay-aht” system to support its children. The goal is to offer a full range of services to families in order to provide support, education and services for raising healthy children. This will be a preventative model that will have the goal on ensuring children and families do not become involved with the child protection system.

“We know the foster system is broken,” explains Kathy Waddell, Director of Community Services. “This is an opportunity to do something about it and have a lasting effect on our children.”

She explains that by creating a foster care system of its own, Huu-ay-aht can help families and improve their lives, especially the ones at risk of entering the system.

“We can offer families the support they need early on so that their children don’t end up in care,” she says. “Instead of putting out fires, we will be putting in preventative measures like education and support services building resiliency and skills in families. The Huu-ay-aht system will also ensure that the children who do need to be in care will not fall through the cracks.”

The program is being funded in part by a multi-year Generations Fund that was made possible by an initial unconditional contribution from Steelhead LNG. This funding will support the early stages of development for the program.

Through community consultation, led by the Huu-ay-aht government, citizens have identified that the health and wellness of Huu-ay-aht children, and providing them with safe, nurturing environments in which they will thrive is of utmost importance.

In 2014, the Nation hired a Children and Family Services Coordinator to help offer more in-person support to families. The coordinator will continue to work in this way through the expanded program, with the goal of promoting the health of the Huu-ay-aht community and assisting in the implementation its own foster care system.

“We want to work hard with families to get children back into their own parents’ care or make sure if they go into provincial care they remain connected to Huu-ay-aht First Nations and have all they need,” Waddell says. “We want to make sure they grow up having a connection to their families, culture, and community. They will grow up knowing Huu-ay-aht values and expectations.”

The program is still in the preliminary phase, but it is a top priority for the Nation this year. Much of the work will begin in the next couple of months. The first phase will involve a lot of planning, and then a social worker and legal team will be hired. Once some of the logistics of the program are in place, the community services team will start spreading the word and offering more details on what is involved and required to make the program a success.

If you are a family or parent in need of support or struggling in any way, call the Community Services Department at 778-421-1022 and talk with the Child and Family Services Coordinator.

 

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