Steps have been taken to convene a small team of sector- and regional-specific experts to form a NAN Child and Family Services Emergency Preparedness Team (“CFS EPT”). This small team is tasked with producing an Emergency Preparedness Report with recommendations tailored to the three NAN agencies in the context of a pandemic. The proposed deadline for this Report is Tuesday, April 14, 2020, with the CFS EPT having discretion to issue interim recommendations at any point prior to that.
COMPOSITION OF TEAM
The CFS EPT team will be composed of sector-specific, regional-specific experts:
- A CFS expert. This individual will be intimately familiar with the mandate and operations of CFS agencies, and have a solid understanding of unique considerations relating to the provision of services to children and families in remote and northern communities.
- Kenn Richard, founder and former Executive Director of Native Child and Family Services Toronto, will take on this role and lead the team. He has a wealth of knowledge in Indigenous child and family services, and has proven himself to be a visionary leader. His recent consulting projects include work with Treaty Three’s Weechi-it-te-win Child and Family Services, and work for the Sixties Scoop Foundation that took him across the country interviewing survivors;
- A Disease Control expert. This individual will have medical training, including specifically in the area of public health ad infectious disease control.
- Efforts to secure a candidate continue.
- A Crisis Management expert. This individual will have senior experience in crisis management. Finding someone with a police background would be useful, given the crisis background of police officers and the important interplay between agencies and police services. Good communication and effective partnership between agencies and police is critical for achieving positive outcomes in protecting children, particularly during these difficult times.
- NAPS has agreed to assign Detective Inspector Brad Duce and Detective Sergeant Jason Gatto as alternates to fill this role on the team. Det. Sgt. Gatto will be most directly involved, and has on-the-ground experience with child welfare matters. Additionally, NAPS Deputy Chief Darryl Snider will participate in the consultation session with the NAN agencies. Having NAPS partner on this team is a logical step in strengthening the relationship between the agencies and NAPS at a time when communication is of the utmost importance.
- Elder Advisor
- Helen Cromarty has agreed to provide Elder support on the CFS EPT
CONSULTATION WITH AGENCIES: MARCH 26, 2020
On Thursday, March 26, from 9am to 1pm EST, the CFS EPT convened via conference call with senior representatives from the three NAN Child and Family Service Agencies with support from NAN Social Service technicians and legal support.
The NAN agency representatives were engaged in a facilitated discussion aimed at identifying their challenges and needs in various areas of their operations, and potential solutions, in a pandemic context. The discussions focused on specific areas of service provided by CFS agencies, strategies developed thus far, as well as potential scenarios developed by the agency reps and CFS EPT team.
- Agencies are still confident overall in their ability to conduct urgent safety checks if/when required
- NAPS and the Agencies are committed to taking a collaborative approach to ensuring child safety, and to improving and building on existing communication channels and protocols, particularly in this pandemic context
- Access to Personal Protective Equipment was identified as a priority area of concern, as this is needed to ensure that agency staff can continue to fulfil their mandate to protect children, in a safe way
- The need for a Child and Family Service worker to be able to enter First Nations if/when an urgent safety check has to be done was also identified as an area of future concern
The CFS EPT will meet regularly while consulting the NAN CFS agencies as needed. Interim recommendations will be sent to the agencies to assist their work during the pandemic. The CFS EPT will assist with drafting child welfare/ police protocols. A final Emergency Preparedness report will be written and submitted to the chiefs and NAN Child and Family Service Agencies.