Child Welfare Unit for Newcomers Unexpectedly Shut Down in Manitoba

By Malone, Kelly Geraldine | The Canadian Press, April 2, 2019 | Go to article overview

Child Welfare Unit for Newcomers Unexpectedly Shut Down in Manitoba


Malone, Kelly Geraldine, The Canadian Press


Manitoba closes child welfare unit for newcomers

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WINNIPEG - A specialized child-welfare unit that helps families new to Canada has unexpectedly closed in Manitoba and agencies that work with newcomers worry their clients won't receive enough support.

The Winnipeg Child and Family Services Newcomer Unit was created in 2009 to help families that had been in the country less than five years navigate the legal and child-welfare systems.

"The newcomer unit was extremely important to our clients," said Felicien Rubayita, who works with Welcome Place.

The General Child and Services Authority said the unit is no longer needed because culturally sensitive services are being provided in a different way.

"Winnipeg Child and Family Services will provide service to newcomer families across ten family service teams," the authority said Tuesday in an emailed statement.

The authority said as of Monday that all six staff members in the unit were reassigned and community partners were notified.

Most workers in the unit speak several languages, says an article on the General Child and Services Authority website from July 2018. Social workers are also trained to deal with complex problems related to families new to Canada.

Often the families are large, have different ideas of parenting than what is acceptable in Canada and have dealt with war and refugee camps.

Workers in the unit may also have had to deal with issues outside of child welfare, such as immigration court, connecting with interpreters, finding halal food, or calling other countries for birth certificate information.

NDP legislature member Bernadette Smith said she is concerned agencies are being put in a position where they have to make difficult choices in anticipation of changes in how child welfare is funded.

Starting in April, the Manitoba government provided block funding to the province's four regional authorities that oversee 24 child-welfare agencies. …

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