CHILDREN'S RIGHTS IN CANADA:
A REVIEW OF PROVINCIAL POLICIES
Richard Volpe, Ph.D.
Professor and Director
Susan Cox, M.A.
Lisa Goddard, D.C.S.
Kate Tilleczek, M.A.
The Dr. R.G.N. Laidlaw Research Centre
Institute of Child Study
OISE/University of Toronto
This report reviews policy and practice in Canadian children's services. Specifically, the survey examines exemplary efforts to coordinate education, health and social services for children. The integration of children's services, either intended or unintended, directly reflects the goals of the 1990 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The essential aim of the UN Convention is to recognize children as persons entitled to respect and protection. The major concerns of the Convention are protecting the dignity of the child, raising the child to full membership in the community, and establishing the child's status as a person rather than a possession. Unfortunately, a large gap exists between the ideals of the Convention and concrete action.
If current trends continue, the situation of underprivileged children in rich countries will resemble more closely than not the plight of children in poor countries. Toronto claims the distinction of being the largest city in Canada's wealthiest province. It also holds the distinction of having more poor children than any province. The poverty rate for children residing in Toronto is 30 to 40 percent. The national rate is estimated to be between one in four and one in five Canadian children (Campaign 2000, 1996).
Canada, as a signatory of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and a world champion of human rights, has been criticized by a number of groups that have coalesced around attempts to improve the state of Canada's children through adopting a "rights" perspective. In 1995 they approached the international committee monitoring the effects of the Convention to ask that both Canada and the Province of Ontario be considered in violation of the Convention due to their lack of attention to the plight of poor children.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted in 1989. In September of that year, The World Summit for Children took place at the United Nations in New York to mobilize global efforts to improve the lives of children by endorsing, at the highest political level, goals and strategies which would promote child survival, protection and development. These goals and strategies have been set out in a Plan of Action that urges donors and agencies to undertake policy and program initiatives favouring an increased allocation of resources for children in all countries. Canada signed the Convention in May 1990.
Canada's Action Plan for Children was published in May 1992, and introduced policy and program initiatives benefiting children. The Brighter Futures Initiative, one of the programs it outlined, included The Partners for Children's Fund (PCF) which was established to encourage innovative international partnerships that promote the well-being of children. The PCF was founded on the principles that no single group has all the answers, that children in Canada are facing problems similar to those of children around the world, and that collectively we can build effective partnerships to creatively address problems (Capture the Learning, 1996).
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is the culmination of a long process that began decades before the Convention was signed in 1990. This process took place against the background of two developments: the progressive consolidation of international human rights law; and the evolution of attitudes towards, and perceptions of, children and children's rights.
The year 1924 marks the first time children are mentioned in an internationally recognized text when the Assembly of the League of Nations passed a resolution endorsing the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. This document reflected a recognition of needs of children due to the devastation of war and emphasized children's material needs (Freeman, 1992). In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in Geneva by the General Assembly of the newly-constituted United Nations. The primary aim of texts passed by the Assembly of the League of Nations before 1948 had been to affect acts (e.g., forced labour, genocide). However, in the more than sixty human rights treaties and declarations adopted by the UN since 1948, the focus has shifted towards the provision of special rights, over and above those set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to specific population groups identified either by their temporary status (e.g., refugees, prisoners) or by their essentially permanent condition (e.g., women, disabled persons) (Detrick, 1992). These developments undoubtedly lent support, albeit passive, to efforts to ensure that special attention be given to children as one such group.
In 1959 the United Nations adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child which was based on the premise that "mankind owes to children the best it has to give" (Freeman and Veerman, 1992). The text implicitly emphasized duties to children but the document did not mention children's liberties.
A "children's rights movement" has existed in various forms for well over a century. Early concerns for children and their rights were voiced by "child savers" who were instrumental in establishing separate institutions for children, such as juvenile courts, distinct penal systems and a system of compulsory education. While concerns about children's health, education and general welfare still exist, many of the institutions established in the past to deal with such issues are seen as problematic today.
The period between 1959 (the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child) and 1989 added substantial momentum to the children's rights movement. The 1960s' civil rights movement in the United States, for example, emphasized equal rights for all people: blacks and whites, women and men, and children and adults. A group of child advocates emerged during this decade to challenge those who claimed the status of children could be advanced exclusively by conferring increased protection. The liberationist movement, which the child advocates helped mobilize, emphasized autonomy, self determination, and justice for children rather than protection, nurturance and welfare.
This period was also marked by a growing awareness within societies of the plight of children in both the developed and underdeveloped countries and of the importance that vesting children with rights might have in solving some of these problems. For example, in Canada, as in other industrialized countries, while the "social problem" of child abuse existed in 1959, it was not publicly condemned. However, through a growing public awareness of the issue over the next two decades, there was a gradual change in attitude which led to a public condemnation of child abuse.
UNICEF brought world attention to the plight of children in underdeveloped countries with its publication, Adjustment with a human face: Protecting the vulnerable and Promoting Growth (Cornia, 1992). The report outlined the hardships provoked by the implementation of neo-conservative politics in underdeveloped countries through structural adjustment packages (e.g., currency devaluation; reduction of public expenditure, especially civil service; improving efficiency in public sector enterprises by introducing user fees), and their impact on children.
The adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was the culmination of the following factors: a growing public awareness of issues such as child abuse in developed countries; a strong civil rights movement in the United States; the worsening conditions of children in underdeveloped countries; and developments in international human rights law that ensured special attention be given to children.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 and the World Summit of 1990 are considered watersheds in the history of child welfare and advocacy. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is based on the philosophy that children are equal to and have the same value as adults, while recognizing at the same time they are vulnerable because of their age and are subject to the decisions and behaviour of adults. The rights set out in the Convention can be grouped into three broad categories:
Protection: children have a right to protection from cruelty, abuse, neglect and exploitation
Participation: children have a right to play an active role in society and to have a say in their own lives
Provision: children have the right to have their basic needs met.
The ideological conflict between those who see children's rights in welfare terms and those who wish to promote a child's self determination is still present in the Convention. For example, Michael Freeman, a child advocate who supports the "child empowerment" school of thought, feels that the most significant article in the Convention is Article 12 which states: "Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child". But, as Freeman points out, the Convention's Preamble may undermine not just a child's autonomy but his or her welfare as well, for the text acknowledges that "due account" should be taken of "the importance of the traditions and cultural values of each people for the protection and harmonious development of the child". Freeman argues that the Convention glosses over the issue that "traditions and cultural values", in certain situations, may undermine the child's life chances (Freeman and Veerman, 1992).
Although the ratification in 1990 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child was important for children around the world, little systematic attention has been given to documenting its role in formulating policies in the North American context.
Because of the conceptually rich framework provided by the Convention, it is important that this review be guided by a model or rationale. In essence, the view adopted here is that both child and national policy development can best be judged in terms of the level of social consciousness attained and that social progress can be meaningfully measured in terms of life chances. Unlike social consciousness, life chances are not individual attributes. An individual may be said to have life chances in society and self-concept is a response to these chances. Life chances are opportunities for emancipation or constriction, growth or resistance, and development or decline. Life chances involve more than alternatives for the choosing; rather, life chances are a function of options, reasons and needs for choice, and the social relations that define a person's social interests and position. Thus, life chances are opportunities for individual action arising from the interrelation of options and social relations (Volpe, 1993). The UN Convention is about increasing the life chances of the world's children.
Although the ratification in 1990 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child was important for children around the world, little systematic attention has been given to documenting its role in formulating policies in the North American context. The social policies described in this report provide an opportunity to understand the nature of life chances enhancement through the development of working partnerships between children and adults, service providers and researchers, non giovermantal organizations, and policy makers. Because of the comprehensive nature of the Convention allows for consideration of consideration of protection, welfare, and the differential power relationship between children as a class and adults, this survey asked provincial governments to consider the following Convention Articles in providing information on children services policies and practices they wished to have included as exemplary practices.
Article 6: Survival and Development
Every child has the inherent right to life. State parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.
Article 18: Parents' and States' Responsibility/Child Care
Parents or legal guardians have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child. States shall assist parents and legal guardians and shall ensure the development of institutions, facilities and services for the care of children. State parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that children of working parents have the right to benefit from child care services and facilities.
Article 24: Access to Health Care
The rights of the child to the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. State parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to health care services.
State parties shall pursue full implementation of this right and shall take appropriate measures to:
(a) diminish infant and child mortality
(b) ensure the provision of necessary medical assistance and health care to all children with emphasis on the development of primary health care;
(c) combat disease and malnutrition through the application of available technology and through the provision of adequate foods and clean drinking water, taking into consideration the dangers and risks of environmental pollution;
(d) ensure appropriate prenatal and postnatal health care for mothers;
(e) ensure that all segments of society, in particular parents and children, are informed, have access to education and are supported in the use of basic knowledge of child health and nutrition, etc.;
(f) develop preventative health care, guidance for parents and family planning education and services.
Article 27: An Adequate Standard of Living
The right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.
State parties (in accordance with national conditions) shall take appropriate measures to assist parents and others responsible for the child to implement this right and shall in case of need provide material assistance and support programmes, particularly with regard to nutrition, clothing and housing.
Articles 28/29: Quality Education
The right of the child to quality education with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity.
State parties shall:
(a) make primary education compulsory and available free to all;
(b) encourage the development of different forms of secondary education, make them available and accessible to every child
(c) make higher education accessible to all;
(d) make educational and vocational information and guidance available and accessible to all children;
(e) take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of dropout rates.
Education of the child shall be directed to:
(a) the development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential
(b) the development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;
(c) the development of respect for the child's parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values
(d) the preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of the sexes, and friendships among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin;
(e) the development of respect for the natural environment.
Article 31: Play, Rest, Leisure, and Recreation
The right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.
State parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.
Article 32: Protection from Economic Exploitation
The right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.
State parties shall take legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to ensure the implementation of this article and shall provide for:
(a) a minimum age or minimum ages for admission to employment;
(b) appropriate regulation of the hours and conditions of employment;
(c) appropriate penalties or other sanctions to ensure the effective enforcement of the present article.
An organizing assumption of this survey was that the Convention as represented in these articles implies integration and coordination of social, health, and educational services that are responsive to both the dependence and independence needs of children.
A further assumption associated with this survey is that a public policy can be taken as an expression of a collective belief system that contains both explicit and implicit images of children, their needs and rights. Although the relationship between policy and practice is complex, this inquiry also assumes that these images can, in turn, inform and structure both individual and collective practice (Volpe, 1980). That is, collective belief systems are linked to service outcomes and the rationale associated with the Convention can help articulate an effective relationship between usually independent services providers.
The following specific questions are addressed in this review of policies and practices:
1. What are the images of children's rights contained in policy documents and reports pertaining to the coordination and integration of children's services?
2. How are these images manifest in service provider's understanding of what is going on in children's services?
3. How does the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child play a part in shaping the practices of service providers?
Answers to these questions were inferred from a snapshot of existing services for Canadian children created through a collaborative identification of provincial programs and policies obtained by contacting national key informants (project directors and program officers). Documents examination and key informant interviews were used to gather the latest information pertaining to children's services that upheld the aims of the UN Convention. The Key Informant technique traditionally refers to the intense interviewing of knowledgeable community members to obtain various forms of information (Tremblay, 1982). In this survey the interviews were largely semi-structured telephone interviews designed to elicit program nominations, descriptions, and consent to supply policy, program, and evaluation reports. After interviewing key informants, exemplary practice nominations were selected. Selection criteria included the following: credibility of source; reputation; frequency of referral; region; and clarity of policy articulation. Once selected the provincial informants were asked to provide policy, implementation and evaluation documentation, and, where available, project descriptions, year-end reports, and video coverage. All provinces willingly participated in this survey and complied with requests for documentation. The policy and program descriptions that follow are made on the basis of these interviews and careful examinations of submitted documents. Thus, the aim of this survey was to identify and describe provincially based "best practice" programs that in some way uphold and promote the rights of children.
Eighty-five telephone interviews were conducted with provincial project directors and government officials responsible for the generation and implementation of children's services policies. They were asked the following questions:
1. To what extent do your various ministries (health, social service, and education) working on behalf of children and families collaborate? To what extent can they be said to be integrated?
2. Has the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child played a role in the formulation of policy and practice in your province?
3. What are some of your of best examples of practices that illustrate your government's work in the these areas.
What follows a description of the Canadian context is a series of program and policy summaries that resulted from this survey for each province.
According to the 1991 Census, the population of Canada was 27,296,855, an increase of 7.9% from 1986. Canada's total fertility rate was 1.83, the highest level in 14 years. Canada recorded its highest ever median age of 33.5 years, up from 31.6 in 1986. The proportion of the population under the age of 15 years dropped from 23% to 21% between 1986 and 1991, while the proportion of the population aged 65 and over increased from 10 to 12%. The total number of children aged 0-14 was 5,692,555 of which 1,058,873 were under school age (0-4). The total number of families was 7,355,730 with an average household size of 3.1 persons. Of this total, 6,402,090 or 87% were husband-wife families, of which 9.9% lived in common-law unions; 788,395 or 10.7% were female lone-parent families, and 165,240 or 2.3% were male lone-parent families. The average income for all families was $51,342; the average income for husband-wife families was $54,667; for female lone-parent families, $26,550; and for male lone-parent families it was $40,792. The female labour force participation rate rose to 59.7% in 1991 from 55.4% in 1986. The male participation rate in 1991 was 76.5, dropping slightly from the 1986 rate of 77.0. The 1991 Census reported 4,342,890 persons foreign born, or 16.09 percent of the population. The predominant places of birth reported were Europe, Asia, the USA, Caribbean, Africa, South America and the Middle East. A total of 230,825 children aged 0-14 were born abroad. (Canadian national and provincial profiles extracted from the Inventory of Family-Supportive Policies and Programs in Federal, Provincial and Territorial Jurisdictions / Repertoire des Politiques et Programmes d'Aide la Famille dans les Jurisdictions Fdrale, Provinciales et Territoriales published by The Vanier Institute of the Family, 1993).
Although Canada retains pride in its diversity and ethic of social responsibility the tangle of interests that are competing as a result of a profound economic readjustment has made necessary new political trade-offs and cost effective social, educational, and health service strategies.
Of the close to 30 million people that now live in Canada, more than 7.5 million (25%) are children under nineteen (OECD, 1994). Although Canada is the second largest nation in the world by land mass, most of its population is concentrated in several major urban centres. As a result, this land, with all of its enormous natural riches, is undergoing the same economic restructuring that all other developed countries are experiencing. Job loss, insecurity, and poverty are visibly part of Canadian life.
Canada's economic growth began to slacken in 1989. Sales abroad began to slow and the first merchandise trade deficit in 14 years occurred. By 1990 Canada had slipped into recession (two quarters of declining output by the national economy). The gross domestic product fell by .4 percent. This downturn was the first in seven years of uninterrupted growth. As economic growth stalled, weakness spread from one sector of the economy to another. Both domestic and foreign demand for goods and services fell. Unemployment rose from 7.6 percent in 1989 to 9.1 percent of the labour force in 1990. Unemployment reached 11 percent by 1993 (1.6 million Canadians). This figure fell to 10 percent in 1994 and to 9.4 percent in 1995. The rate for 1997 is 9.5 percent.
With inflation coming under control during this period, the federal government began an unprecedented cut in spending to reduce the deficit. The end of the Canada Assistance Plan and the implementation of the Canada Health and Social Transfer have facilitated the devolution of social responsibility to the provinces. Over-all expenditures were reduced to $158.6 billion in 1996-97 from $162.9 billion in 1994-1995. This translated, over this period, into an 8.8 percent fall in program spending. The government cut $7 billion from transfers to the provinces for social programs [implemented to 1998], and lumped together grants for health, welfare, and education. This left the provinces free to spend remaining monies according to their own priorities. These cuts fell heavily on public services that will be reduced by 19 percent or 45,000 jobs by 1998.
Declining revenues, increasing debt, and seemingly intransigent deficits have resulted in restructuring efforts aimed at restraint and contraction of government. Moreover, globalization and increased work competitiveness have contributed to an accelerated need to bring about change and reform. The interdependence of markets, reliance on foreign trade and sensitivity to happenings in the US are all sources of vulnerability and considerations that must be taken into account in efforts to restructure governments. The forces of change unleashed by these processes are mirrored in the realignment and restructuring of provincial/municipal government relationships. Alongside these pressures are demographic changes that have coincided with increased organizational effectiveness of special interest groups for both the young and old. Given the complexity and rapidity of change, the public is less trusting and confident that governments or their leaders can solve current social and economic problems.
Declarations of the rights of children such as the Convention all assert that governments must give the needs and protection of children a high priority. If these public affirmations are criteria on which a society's commitment to children can be judged, Canada has done little more than pay lip service to the welfare of children. Many of the problems facing children can be linked to the failure of our economy to sustain families, the inability of our institutions to support their caregivers, and a failure of opportunity structures to prepare and receive those making the transition to work and parenting.
Each year UNICEF reports the latest statistics recording national achievements in child survival, health, nutrition, education, family planning, and progress for women. The Progress of Nations report reveals that Canada could not have been chosen twice by the UN as the best country on earth in which to live because of its treatment of children. Although better than expected progress has been made on decreasing mortality for the under-five age group, six other countries have fewer infants per thousand dying in their first year. Moreover, there is a worse than expected performance on the percentage of children who reach grade five. In part this is due to the finding that 4% of Canadian girls fail to complete primary school. Fourteen other industrialized countries rank better than Canada on this statistic (UNICEF, 1996).
Child poverty is an important aspect of these findings. After the UK, USA, and France, Canada has the highest child poverty rate among the eight richest countries in the world (Conway, 1993). Hewlett (1993) has described this devaluing of children by industrialized nations as institutional neglect. She writes, "Never before has one generation of children been less healthy, less cared for or less prepared than their parents were at the same age."
The current economic situation of Canadian families is manifested in the growth of food banks, the increasing number of homeless people, overcrowded hostels, school food programs, and the growing pressure on social assistance programs. Less obvious is the emotional impact of this situation on families, the related stress on relationships, the consequences of divorce and abandonment, and the exploitation, abuse, and neglect of children (Volpe, 1989; Volpe, 1994). The Social Assistance Review Committee in their major report Transitions (1988) brought attention to the impact of poverty on the lives of Ontario families and the fact that the burden of economic impoverishment was being borne primarily by women and children. They recommended sweeping reforms that would have required a coordinated and integrated approach to service delivery.
There has been an important but not well known shift from the old being at risk for real poverty to the young. In 1969 families with heads over 65 had a poverty rate of 42%. In 1986 the rate was 10%. The rate for families headed by someone under 25 in 1972 was 16%. By 1986 this figure jumped to over 30%. In Canada less than 5% of the federal budget is spent on programs that support families with children, while 25% of federal resources is spent on persons over the age of 65. Per capita spending on senior citizens was 2.7 times greater than that allocated for children. Politically sophisticated seniors have been effective in using Canadian government policies to solve what was once a poverty problem among the elderly. The implications of this lack of support for children are magnified by the increased number of women who need to work to survive. The demands on time, energy, and emotional resources that this situation places on caregivers are transferred to their children (Volpe, 1989).
Diversity is another characterization that applies to the current situation of children. On a per capita basis, no other country in the world receives immigrants on the scale of Canada. The United Nations has declared Toronto to be the most culturally diverse city in the world. About 20% of immigrants to Canada are children under nineteen. Slightly less than 50% of all new immigrants speak either English or French (Maloney, 1990). Teachers in Toronto schools sometimes have to cope with as many as fifty different first languages and dialects in a single school. The developmental implications for children immigrating to Canada under these circumstances are unknown. We do know, however, that traditional settlement, social, educational, and health services have been challenged and often overwhelmed by children and families uprooted from their traditions and communities (Volpe, 1994).
Statistics Canada estimates that Canada's total population in 1993 was 28,753 million, with 84% of those individuals living in 7.5 million families of some sort. Sixty-five percent of Canadian families have children living at home. Sixty-one percent of Canadians are married or living with a common- law spouse. Only a small portion are separated or divorced. The median length of marriage in 1986 was 9.1 years. In 1990, one couple divorced for every 2.4 marriages. The impact of the introduction of no fault divorce in 1968 and the growth in number of marriages can be seen in the increased number of divorces granted, from 11,000 in 1968 to 78,000 in 1990. In that year over 34,000 children were involved in custody decisions. Mothers won custody in eight out of ten cases. Almost one million children live in lone parent families; that is, one in five children. The majority of one parent families (82%) are led by single mothers. Among the outcomes of divorce for children are usually increased economic insecurity and less availability of both resident and non-resident parents. Although divorced women earn more than married women, they are significantly behind married or divorced men (Glossop and Mason,1994).
The rate of labour force participation for women in 1992 was 57.6% and for men 73.8%. In 1911, it was 16.2% for women and 89.7% for men. Most women remain in the labour force after marriage. Seven in ten married women work, and six in ten single mothers work. Canadianwomen, relative to other women from industrialized countries, rank fifth in labour force participation. The rate of change in labour force participation by Canadian women in the 1980s was exceeded only by New Zealand and the Netherlands. In 1990, 75% of women of child bearing age were working. The rate of participation by married women with children under three was 50% higher than that of single mothers. Traditional two parent families, with dad working and mom at home, have been replaced by dual earning families. In 1988, both parents worked full time in two-thirds of the two-parent families. (Statistics Canada, 1992; OECD, 1994). In spite of labour force participation by women, many families have inadequate incomes.
The current poverty line, the percentage of income spent on necessities for individuals and families, is 52.5%. In 1989 the poverty rate among families was 13.6%. This figure represents 800,000 families and includes 863,000 children under the age of 16 (a poverty rate of 15%). The number of poor children in Canada increased by 62,000 between 1980 and 1988. The risk of poverty is greatest for single women with children. For families led by single mothers with children under seven, the poverty rate is 76.3%. For all single mothers, including the working poor and those in receipt of social benefits, the poverty rate exceeds 50%.
Related to this is the tremendous increase in the number of Canadians receiving social benefits. Almost three million Canadians, one in nine, receive social assistance. In the 1950s, the lowest income group received 29% of its income from social benefits. In the 1980s this number almost doubled to become 57%. Nearly 40% of all welfare recipients are dependent children.
Poor children have diminished long-term life chances, and it must be emphasized that in their present situations they have more health, educational, and social problems (Volpe, 1989). These problems have profound moral and ethical implications for all Canadians.
Disadvantage appears greatest when economic impoverishment is intermeshed with social impoverishment. Caregiver and community interest in the welfare of children needs to be seen not only in the quality of their care, but in the opportunities and power relations that exist in their communities.
The Constitution Act 1867 (The new name for the 1867 British North America Act) which laid the foundation for the relations between the provinces and the federal government, has been interpreted in such a way that the provinces are given responsibility for health, education and social welfare. As a consequence, Canada does not have a national policy specifically for children and families. National policies have been issue- oriented and concerned with areas such as family violence, multiculturalism, or crime.
Amid these disquieting developments, there are hopeful signs. There is a widespread belief among government officials, business leaders, academics, child advocates, researchers, and private citizens that something must be done for children who are disadvantaged and excluded because of economic and social changes. Moreover, there is agreement that it is both morally right and economically sensible to support and strengthen the ability of children and youth to adapt to rapidly changing economic circumstances and social expectations.
In the pre-Confederation period the Canadian family was viewed as a sacred enclave and children were regarded as part of family property (Sutherland, 1976). Children, like farm animals, were important assets in a largely agrarian economy. Fathers owned the farm and all of its resources. In the post-Confederation period, the late nineteenth century to the Second World War, child saving policies became evident as the state took on the role of child protection and child welfare. Children were seen as vulnerable and in need of protection. After the Second World War, children were seen as in need of special forms of nurturance. In the post Second World War era children were defined by social and behavioural sciences as vulnerable only to the extent that they experienced deprivation in early life. In order to prevent this from happening, the State was seen as a proper protector of the vulnerable. These views are intertwined and provide the foundation for the modern belief system of most present day parents and law makers regarding children. The family is seen as the basic unit of society. As such, it is generally regarded as sacred. Because the family has the basic responsibility for children, it should be accorded privacy and respect. Although benevolent and humane, this perspective has actually impeded the development of a concept of the child in Canada as a citizen with inherent rights.
The prevailing relevant legal principle at the turn of the last century was patria potestas or power of the father. The authority of the family was vested in the father who was its leader. The expectation was that paternal rule would be kind and just. Child abuse and exploitation were not seen as issues for state intervention and were considered largely matters of family responsibility and paternal protection.
In the late nineteenth century children were increasingly seen less as property as the principle of parens patria (state substitute) began to be applied by Canadian courts. Although parents (fathers) still had primary responsibility for children, the state was able to act as a substitute for them under special circumstances. Although the state was not to be fully trusted under this doctrine, it was seen as a vehicle that could be used to help children realize their potential (public education) and to provide protection (child welfare) when the family system became corrupted. Numerous advocacy organizations were developed to promote scientifically based child care, eugenics, and child protection. As professionalization of child saving grew in momentum and magnitude, father no longer could claim to know best. The state was increasingly seen as a reluctant parental substitute, intervener in family life, and limiter of parental power.
Since World War II the principle of "best interests" has arisen as a help to rationalize the power of the state. Under this rule, the state acts in the public interest to ensure the well-being of future generations of citizens and workers. Although parental rights are upheld, this principle asserts that under special circumstances the state can override parental rights. In Canada, the provinces are given most of the authority associated with family matters. The paternalism of state is evident in provincial legislation dealing with education, child care, custody, guardianship, and adoption. Separate federal legislation exists for divorce and areas involving criminal law such as sexual abuse and juvenile justice. These dual codes have contributed to the great variation in laws pertaining to children and the lack of national policies.
More recently, Canada has adopted a clear human rights position both nationally and internationally. The 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms became an important element in Canadian identity and a major step in shifting policy to consider children as bearers of rights. In 1959 Canada signed the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child, and then in 1990 became a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Although rights legislation provides against discrimination on the basis of age and provided a general commitment to children having rights, child protection and family autonomy have remained enshrined in case law, court decisions, and professional practice discretion.
The tensions that these long standing principles have created are well illustrated in efforts to change Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada. This section provides parents and teachers a defence if charged with child abuse. It permits parents or those acting in loco parentis the right to use force by way of correction against a child if it can be proven that it was applied in a wise and judicious manner.
Another area where this tension manifests controversies is associated with the implementation of the Young Offenders Act. This act represents an evolved effort to extend more rights and responsibilities to youth. That is, an attempt has been made in this legislation to couple rights with mechanisms such as alternative measures that hold youth more directly accountable for their actions. Currently debate centres on whether this legislation has improved the operation of criminal justice or has corrupted efforts to use criminalization as a way of containing or reducing juvenile delinquency.
On a national level several important initiatives on behalf of children's rights are under way. UNICEF Canada has used its offices during and after the signing of the Convention primarily for public education. They have developed several teaching and workshop guides. They have undertaken little or no role in advocacy on behalf of Canadian children. More visibly active has been Save the Children Canada. In addition to educating the public, they have been increasing their allocation for Canadian programs that reflect a commitment to children's rights that is an integral part of their mandate.
The establishment of the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of the Child (CCRC) in 1989 was an attempt to provide a voice for child advocacy groups that see in the Convention an opportunity to collectively assert the aims of the Convention on a national level. The CCRC is comprised of approximately 28 official members who volunteer time and resources to the activities of the Coalition and its committees. The mandate of the CCRC following its inception was "to ensure a collective voice for Canadian organizations concerned with the rights of children and youth as outlined in the Convention and the World Summit for Children Declaration, on both national and international matters as well as to provide a forum for discussion and action" (CCRC documentation). Some of the activities carried out by the CCRC include :
(a) ensuring that Canada ratified the Convention;
(b) fostering education and awareness, particularly among youth, surrounding the rights of children;
(c) acting as an informal information network in Canada for matters related to the Convention;
(d) lobbying for representation by a Canadian on the UN Committee on the Rights of Children;
(e) monitoring and analyzing the periodic reports submitted by Canada to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Children (Wolcomb, 1996).
The Canadian branch of Defense Children International plays a role in linking the Coalition to the international community and has assisted in the monitoring of the implementation of the Convention (see the First Report of Canada on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, May, 1994). Although not a children's rights organization per se, the Laidlaw Foundation and its Child at Risk Project has supported a number of important programs across Canada. Perhaps most significant has been their development of Campaign 2000 as a national anti-poverty coalition. The BC Coalition for Children and Youth is a provincial group that has committed itself to the promotion of children's rights, begging to take a national leadership role in the area. The Canadian Child Welfare Association, although relatively new, is a potentially important facilitator in mobilizing the child welfare community on issues of national importance.
Reflecting an attempt to use the Convention in a programmatic way, the Canadian government's Action Plan for Children through the Children's Bureau has fostered the use of the Convention in its child development initiative, Brighter Futures. Funding from this program has supported a number of prevention, promotion, protection, and community action programs that use the Convention as a tool in their planning and program implementation. The Brighter Futures Initiative is the Canadian government's response to the 1990 UN World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children and Plan of Action which proposed to set in place a plan that would nurture and protect children and encourage their participation in decisions affecting them. The Partners for Children Fund is one of the Brighter Futures initiatives. It has allocated resources to 21 organizations across the country to encourage innovative international partnerships that promote the survival, protection and development of children and the participation of children. The Community Action Program for Children (CAPC) is another component of the Brighter Futures program that aims to help young children through special right start, community action, and outreach efforts.
Through a variety of connections and partnerships each of these groups has struggled with the management of the complexities of government relations, rapid social change, economic readjustments, political uncertainty, and globalization.
The following province by province review of nominated exemplary policies and practices reflects much of Canada's response to the challenge of the World Summit on Children and Canada's commitment to turn the Convention into actions.
According to the 1991 Census, the population of Alberta was 2,545,550, representing 9.33% of the total Canadian population. The total fertility rate was 1.98. The median age in Alberta was of 31.3; 9% of the population was over the age of 65. The total number of children aged 0-14 was 601,105 of which 207,585 were under school age (0-4). The total number of families in the province was 667,910 with an average household size of 3.1 persons. Of this total, 584,985 or 87.6% were husband-wife families, of which 9% lived in common-law unions. Female lone-parent families accounted for 68,595 or 10.2% and 14,335 or 2.2% were male lone-parent families. The average income for all families was $52,346; for husband-wife families the average income was $55,825; for female lone-parent families, $25,407; and for male lone-parent families it was $39,257. The female labour force participation rate rose to 65.8 in 1991 from 62 in 1986. The male participation rate in 1991 was 81.6, dropping from the 1986 rate of 82.1. The 1991 Census reported 381,515 persons foreign born, or 15.14 percent of the population. The predominant places of birth reported were Europe, Asia, Africa, and the USA. A total of 21,540 children aged 0-14 were born abroad.
In the province of Alberta, five main sources of information were: the Office of the Children's Advocate, which is part of the Department of Family and Social Services; the Office of the Commissioner of Services for Children, created by the Alberta government. The Ministry of Education provided a document published by Community Services Consulting Ltd.; an interim evaluation of coordinated services was made available by the Ministries of Education, Family Service and Social Justice; and a joint review of legislation in relation to child's rights was obtained from the Premier's Council and Alberta Justice Department. Also reviewed are the program bulletin from CAPC and the Partners for Kids and Youth Program.
In conjunction with the Alberta Justice Department, the Premier's Council reviewed current legislation and laws in Alberta in relation to parents' and children's rights and responsibilities. This information was compiled to form a comprehensive document entitled Coming of Age in Alberta: An overview of parents' and children's rights and responsibilities. It serves to assess the level of protection which is presently offered to families (parents and children) in Alberta by reviewing current laws and legislation. This report was produced in response to a concern that the authority of parents, in relation to their children, has eroded over the recent years.
It is maintained that legislation and laws relating to the promotion of children's rights take into consideration that it is the responsibility of society to promote the rights and entitlement of children and that children have needs and interests as separate individuals which may come into conflict with the needs of their parents, other adults, and the state.
The Children's Advocate of Alberta states that their program objectives are to promote the rights of the child and the child's well-being and to provide general information about the child welfare system. In essence, this involves "identifying issues and providing information and advice with respect to the nature, adequacy, availability, accessibility, effectiveness and appropriateness of services which are offered to children" (Information package, p.1). It explains that the Children's Advocate reports to the Minister of Social and Family Services. Furthermore, it stresses that the group promotes advocacy and does not attempt to gain decision-making power, yet it attempts to ensure that decisions consider the child's viewpoint and promotes the child's right to be heard and right to decide. The document gives the Children's Advocate program statistics for 1993-94 as well as an overview of the systemic activities which it has promoted in advocacy of the Albertan child (i.e., publishing of papers, promoting public awareness, etc.). It also describes how the Children's Advocate fits into the Child Welfare Act of Alberta.
Over all, the information from the Office of the Children's Advocate is very much concerned with the promotion of children's rights. In fact, the promotion of the rights of the child is the chief mandate of the Children's Advocate Office. However, the promotion of children's rights is primarily considered in the context of the laws and legislation of Alberta and how the laws and legislature promote rights.
Two reports were published in November 1994 by the Commissioner of Services for Children, who was appointed by the Government of Alberta to implement change and create a new approach to children's services in Alberta.
The major implication of Finding a Better Way: The Consultations and Research Leading to the Redesign of Children's Services in Alberta is that children's services must move beyond coordination towards complete integration. In order to arrive at this conclusion, the Commissioner obtained viewpoints from 3,300 Albertans in 65 different communities. As well as consulting with Albertans, the Commissioner studied service models which are presently working in other jurisdictions in Canada and internationally, in addition to examining past reports, programs, and funding allocations. The report also cites several examples of Alberta communities and local agencies that have developed or are in the process of developing much needed children's services for their local populations. Some of these initiatives include founding community agencies which operate on the principle of voluntarism and provide one-to-one friendship and support services for children; organize support groups for parents who are not eligible for subsidized services; provide services to children with disabilities within their home communities, needed because of their previous exclusion from other community programs, or to help reduce the need to travel to urban centres.
The over-all findings of this report conclude that there is a strong need for service integration which will eliminate the present gaps in service and fragmentation and provide more accessible "one window" service models. Services should also be community managed and provide more prevention focused and early intervention services for children with the aim of eventually reducing the number of children requiring care. Children's services also need to reflect the fact of cultural diversity in Alberta, given that 50% of children under the care of Child Welfare are aboriginal. The provincial aboriginal population shares in the desire for integration of children's services and supports the move to make them more community based. In addition, they would like to exercise greater aboriginal control over services for aboriginal children.
Focus on children: A plan for effective, integrated community services for children and their families, a report published by the Commissioner of Services for Children, is an implementation plan for children's services in Alberta based upon the research and information which the Commissioner obtained in Finding Our Own Way . It summarizes the conclusions of Finding Our Own Way and outlines an Action Plan for the development and implementation of a new direction in children's services in Alberta. The action plan indicates that changes which will occur will be very gradual, beginning in December 1994 and continuing through until 1996.
The over-all themes of the proposed changes in services are as follows:
1. Services will become completely integrated. It is not sufficient simply to coordinate services; organizations must learn to work under one plan and a uniform set of goals.
2. The community will become more responsible for the development, organization, and implementation of children's services. This change will be gradual, but eventually the responsibility of children's services will be handed over to the Local Working Groups, which will consist of community leaders, service providers, parents, youth, and citizens at large (these working groups will be established by communities with the assistance of the Office of the Commissioner). By April of 1996, the responsibility will have been transferred from the Local Working Group to the Local Authority Group which will consist of many groups and individuals within the local community. The Local Authorities will be appointed by the Local Working Group and will be accountable to the Government of Alberta.
3. Aboriginal Services to children will be improved.
4. Early intervention will become a goal.
The final report examined from the province of Alberta is Co-ordination of services for children: a new spirit of hope, an interim evaluation of an initiative to coordinate children's services developed and implemented by the Alberta Ministry of Education, Family and Social Services, and the Ministry of Justice. This project was designed to have government departments work together in five communities to improve the services for children. It is intended as a "co-ordination" of children's services not integration; however, some aspects seem to forecast the plan to integrate services. It illustrates the findings of a survey which was conducted randomly in the five communities and evaluates and examines the process for the delivery of services, how the projects are working, how different communities are responding, and how effectively the different government departments are operating.
Twelve different themes emerged from this report; however, the information most pertinent to our area of interest is the over-all consensus that the coordination of services was essential in order to reduce duplication and gaps and to eliminate barriers and the fragmentation of services. Most of the information obtained from the province of Alberta strongly focused on the need and plan for integration of children's services.
Program Bulletin for Community Action Program for Children (CAPC) - Funding from the CAPC will be allocated amongst 27 projects operating in Alberta over the next three to four years which contain components from such categories as community development, parenting, headstart, pregnant and parenting teens, rural outreach and urban outreach. CAPC is designed to help children under the age of six in high risk communities (health, intellectual, emotional, and developmental problems). All projects involve the integration of children's services; for example, the Dr. Clara Learning Centre, a CAPC funded initiative, allows teen mothers and pregnant teens to remain in school to continue their high school education while learning parenting skills. This program, which provides on-site child care, assistance of social workers, and parent education courses, illustrates the service integration aspect in this program. Over all, the program descriptions of the CAPC initiative in Alberta suggest policies that should contribute a high level of service integration.
Partners for Kids and Youth - works with at-risk families in Edmonton to ensure safe and healthy kids by providing programs intended to prevent abuse and neglect, connecting families with community resources and promoting the development of needed resources if not available. Program partners include Public Health, the Children's Health Centre, public and separate schools, police, Edmonton Social Services, Child Welfare, Income Support, Justice, children's mental health agencies, the YMCA and Catholic Social Services, who work together to develop and monitor individualized program plans for children and their families. Outcomes, including improved school attendance and decreases in youth crime are in the process of being measured.
According to the 1991 Census, the population of the Northwest Territories was 57,650, representing 0.21% of the total Canadian population. The total fertility rate for the territories was 3.15. The median age in the Northwest Territories was 24.8; 3% of the population was over the age of 65. The total number of children aged 0-14 was 18,895 of which 7,360 were under school age (0-4). The total number of families in the province was 12,725 with an average household size of 3.7 persons. Of this total, 10,675 or 83.9% were husband-wife families, of which 22.2% lived in common-law unions. Female lone-parent families accounted for 1,530 or 12% and 520 or 4.1% were male lone-parent families. The average income for all families was $55,795; for husband-wife families the average income was $60,998; for female lone-parent families, $26,317; and for male lone-parent families it was $35,564. The female labour force participation rate rose to 67.3 in 1991 from 61.6 in 1986. The male participation rate in 1991 was 78.9, increasing from the 1986 rate of 76.4. The 1991 Census reported 2,795 persons foreign born, or 4.87 percent of the population. The predominant places of birth reported were Europe, Asia, Africa, and the USA. A total of 140 children aged 0-14 were born abroad.
In the Northwest Territories/Alberta region, much of the information was gathered from the federal government's Brighter Futures project by means of newsletters and documents published by the Premier's Council in Support of Alberta Families.
The Brighter Futures Newsletter (Alta/NWT) explains what the mandate for Brighter Futures is and that it is a direct outcome of The Convention on The Rights of The Child (1989). It describes two of its initiatives: the Canadian Action Plan for Children (CAPC) and the Child Development Initiative. The Child Development Initiative addresses the conditions of risk for the child in the earliest stages of life and operates on four guiding principles: prevention, promotion, protection and partnership. The programs developed under this initiative are designed to enable the community to offer integrated programs to promote the healthy development of children. The collaboration of governments, parents, professionals, and community groups is an important requirement to promote these programs.
CAPC funds a small number of significant, larger projects designed to have maximum impact on high risk children and their families. The First Nations/Inuit Component of CAPC for Alberta/NWT was developed cooperatively involving aboriginal groups and the government working together to improve the physical, mental and social well-being of aboriginal children. The newsletter outlines the program principles, goals, and desired outcomes, with the primary goal being "to encourage and support the well being of children through a community-determined approach" (Brighter Futures newsletter).The program outlines do not directly refer to the
promotion of children's rights, but the development of the program was a direct outcome of, and is based upon, the UN Convention.
The document, Overview of Effective Approaches in Working with Families at Risk (Brighter Futures), states that Canada's commitment to the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children and Plan of Action is evident in Brighter Futures, Canadian Action Plan for Children (federal-provincial partnership).
In order to ensure that programs are implemented in Alberta which meet the needs of Albertan children at risk some preparatory work is needed. This report serves as a background document which includes a review of literature and an outline of the present service provision in Alberta. The literature review draws on information obtained from The Premier's Council in Support of Alberta Families' Library, the Department of Family and Social Services Library, the Alberta Health Libraries, and the University of Alberta Libraries.
Some topics which are examined include the following:
1. Intervention from prenatal to age six should be family centred, individualized, build on strengths and support empowerment, coordinate services that are closer to home, and be culturally sensitive. The staff implementing the programs should be well-trained and knowledgeable in the field of child development.
2. Partnership is important not only between community institutions and family but also between work and family.
3. Evaluation is an important aspect and programs should be constantly assessed and examined.
The second component of this report reviews the programs which were being offered in Alberta as well as throughout Canada and the United States. These services range from health, social and recreation to intervention and protection. The programs seem quite extensive; however, they are for the most part categorically based programs where service integration does not come into play.
The report, Overview of Risk Factors and Services in Alberta (Brighter Futures), serves as a background document to review risk factors and present programs in Alberta which is part of the preparatory work required to develop and implement appropriate programs for at-risk populations. This document examines each region in order to determine which areas require what types of services and programs. The conclusion of this report indicates that regions which are identified as having high risk factors and service limitations should be considered for Brighter Futures funding. The type of service required should be non-threatening, generic, and based in neighbourhoods and local communities.
Schools and The Community: A Necessary Partnership, A Guide to Interagency Collaboration serves as a resource guide, published by the Alberta Education Response Centre, that suggests what can be done to meet the challenges of social and economic conditions by schools and communities collaborating and integration services. It offers guidelines in the establishment of partnerships and provides a model for inter-agency cooperation. This document illustrates the need for the integration of children's services as different agencies and governments come together in schools to promote the well-being of the child and the well-being of the community in which the child lives.
The Early Intervention Coordinator Project - originally a joint initiative of the Northwest Territories Counsellors Chapter of the Canadian Guidance and Counselling Association and the Student Support Division of the North West Territories Department of Education, Culture and Employment. The project has expanded to include partners at the regional and community levels: Ministries of Health and Social Services, Justice, Education, Culture and Employment and the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation. Through this initiative, a coordinator works with the territory school boards and other interested agencies to advance early intervention initiatives, providing support to early intervention programs in design implementation, evaluation and accessing funding; ensuring the availability of staff development opportunities; promoting culturally appropriate early childhood programs; supporting the Aboriginal Headstart Committees in developing and implementing the program in the territories; and documenting long-term impact of the programs.
The Small Steps Program - is sponsored by the Shared Care Day Care Society and provides support to children and families enrolled in child intervention, parent/child programs and family support programs in the town of Arviat. The program is intended to assist children up to the age of six who are deemed by the referring agency to be "at risk" of experiencing oral language deficits, hearing/speech/visual impairments, gross/fine motor delays, physical/emotional/psychosocial developmental delays, family problems which interfere with adequate parenting or other factors which may limit the child's ability to cope successfully in the community. The Small Step project worker along with staff from other partnering agencies, develops and monitors a program plan for the child and family. When the child enters the school system, the student support team from the school follows up on the plan.
Children are monitored on a client-by-client basis, and individual case files show improvements among participating children. The program is reported to have had a positive impact on child development.
According to the 1991 Census, the population of British Columbia was 3,282,060, representing 12% of the total Canadian population. The total fertility rate for the province was 1.81. The median age in British Columbia was 34.7; 13% of the population was over the age of 65. The total number of children aged 0-14 was 662,250 of which 220,830 were under school age (0-4). The total number of families in the province was 887,510 with an average household size of 3.0 persons. Of this total, 780,495 or 88% were husband-wife families, of which 9.7% lived in common-law unions. Female lone-parent families accounted for 88,185 or 9.9% and 18,830 or 2.2% were male lone-parent families. The average income for all families was $52,403; for husband-wife families the average income was $55,527; for female lone-parent families, $26,801; and for male lone-parent families it was $42,832. The female labour force participation rate rose to 59.7 in 1991 from 55.0 in 1986. The male participation rate in 1991 was 75.6, not changing from the 1986 rate.The 1991 Census reported 723,170 persons foreign born, or 22.27 percent of the population. The predominant places of birth reported were Europe, Asia, Africa, and the USA. A total of 33,125 children aged 0-14 were born abroad.
In the province of British Columbia much of the information that was reviewed was not very current. There are two main sources, one published by the Child and Youth Secretariat, and the other a public report.
The document, Continuum of Care, reports a model of care developed by the Child and Youth Secretariat in British Columbia which relates the activities and programs delivered by different ministries, agencies and communities.Such a model serves to provide a common language for service providers and it facilitates communication with the public about community and public services. The model lists the following categories of service which are presently available in British Columbia:
1. Prevention/Early Identification/ Early Intervention
3. Specialized Instructional Support/Educational Support/Day Programs
4. Home-based/Personal Support Services
5. Residential Services
6. Hospital Based Services
7. Institutional Services
8. Income Assistance.
The other source of information was Public Services to Children, Youth and Their Families in B.C: The Need for Integration. Although this report is five years old, it serves to identify the advantages of and the great need for service integration. The report states that nine provincial authorities share responsibility for the administration of child, youth and family programs and that these nine authorities should be collaborating and integrating their services in order to offer maximum effectiveness to the child. Many problems which children face are inter-related and require special services from several different groups (child abuse, family violence, family dysfunction, mental, emotional and behavioural disorders, physical, developmental and learning disabilities, juvenile delinquency, alcohol and drug abuse, parental disputes about child custody, access and maintenance). The report refers to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and states that Canada needs to address the rights/needs of the Native children in Canada and those living on the streets. Over all, this report does not describe or evaluate services, but it does argue a strong case for service integration and makes a number of recommendations.
The World Around Us: A Thematic Primary-Level Curriculum For Children's Rights Education is an overview of a curriculum project at the University of Victoria which is designed to teach young children about the Convention and Children's Rights. The curriculum design is intended to raise an awareness of rights and foster a sense of respect and responsibility. The activities are child-centred strategies which develop the child's caring, decision making, and acting. The program encourages children to take responsibility for their own decisions and also emphasizes an acceptance of responsibility which children share with their families and communities for respect of rights.
According to the 1991 Census, the population of Manitoba was 1,091,945 representing 4% of the total Canadian population. The total fertility rate for the province was 1.99. The median age in Manitoba was 33; 13% of the population was over the age of 65. The total number of children aged 0-14 was 239,725 of which 82,135 were under school age (0-4). The total number of families in the province was 285,895 with an average household size of 3.1 persons. Of this total, 248,550 or 86.9% were husband-wife families, of which 7.5% lived in common-law unions. Female lone-parent families accounted for 30,445 or 10.8% and 6,905 or 2.3% were male lone-parent families. The average income for all families was $46,091; for husband-wife families the average income was $49,001; for female lone-parent families, $24,579; and for male lone- parent families it was $36,181. The female labour force participation rate rose to 59.6 in 1991 from 55.6 in 1986. The male participation rate in 1991 was 75.8, dropping from the 1986 rate of 76.9. The 1991 Census reported 138,595 persons foreign born, or 12.84 percent of the population. The predominant places of birth reported were Europe, Asia, and the USA. A total of 7,655 children aged 0-14 were born abroad.
In Manitoba the information that was gathered came from a number of different sources, including various governmental departments, Manitoba Health and the Office of the Children's Advocate.
Information Sheet: Establishment of Manitoba's Children and Youth Secretariat was published by the secretariat in response to the present fragmentation of services which leaves gaps in the system and fails to meet the needs of the whole child. The main objective of the secretariat is to initiate a coordinated and integrated system of services for children, youth, and their families. The secretariat consists of the integration of the departments of Education and Training, Family Services, and Health and Justice. This system deals with children who require service from more than one of the above departments.
The Health of Manitoba's Children is a rather recent and extensive report about the state of the health of Manitoba's children. It serves to identify the present state of Manitoba's services for children as it relates to children's health, and it identifies the problems which currently exist and need change. The report strongly recommends the integration of several government departments (Health, Education and Training, Northern Affairs, Justice, Family Services, Culture, Heritage and Citizenship) in order to meet the needs of Manitoba's children. The report also states that the present system in place in Manitoba is too fragmented and, as a result, it fails to completely meet the needs of Manitoba's children and fully promote their rights as they relate to health.
Although the health of Manitoba's children compares well with the rest of Canada and internationally, the health of the aboriginal children and children living in poverty in Manitoba is far below an acceptable level. One example of service integration is the implementation of community schools which would result in the school becoming a primary site of contact for health promotion, education and services. It is also stated that over one-third of the 115 recommendations in this report are already in the process of being met. Over all, the report recommends a highly integrated community-based system of children's services in Manitoba which reflects the UN Convention by ensuring that all the children in Manitoba are receiving optimal health care.
The Children's Advocate Office is a new part of the Manitoba's child welfare system which works to ensure that children are involved in the decisions which affect their lives. It is accountable to the Department of Family Services, but still remains a separate office. The office works to represent the rights, interests, and viewpoints of children receiving services under The Child and Family Services Act. The office wants to be more than just an office of complaint, but instead wants to work to empower children and represent their rights. The Children's Advocate is not responsible for developing and implementing children's services, but rather act as advocates for children and intervene when necessary.
The report, Taking Up Their Cause: First Annual Report of the Children's Advocate 1993-1994, serves to explain what the office is all about and explains what it has done during the 1993-1994 year. This report lists recommendations for changes in the delivery of children's services and Manitoba's legislation in order to ensure that the rights, needs and viewpoints of children are being taken into consideration. Over all, the literature from the Children's Advocate's Office is chiefly about the promotion of children's rights in Manitoba, using the Convention as a basis of comparison. The literature does not directly refer to a need for the integration of services in Manitoba; however, some of the Office's recommendations refer to service integration.
Thereport of the First Nations Child and Family Task Force, Children First: Our Responsibility, serves to inform us of the present state and problems which the aboriginal population of Manitoba face in the area of children's services. It identifies the needs of the different aboriginal communities in Manitoba and makes recommendations on what changes need to be implemented in order to benefit the aboriginal child and his family.
The over-all consensus of this report seems to be not to encourage further service integration, but to make aboriginal children's services the complete jurisdiction of a First Nations Child and Family Services Directorate (which would be established). The report argues that putting the welfare of aboriginal children into the hands of too many organizations and government agencies is ineffective.
The Multi-Agency Preventative Program for High Risk Youth (MAPP) - operates in Brandon as a systemic, information-based process for ensuring effective planning on behalf of the small population of highest-risk youth in the community. The MAPP model emphasizes coordination and information-sharing among the youth justice system and youth social service agencies to aid in (a) early identification of the seriously high-risk adolescent; (b) development of an inter-agency plan for intervention; and (c) timely implementation of appropriate consequences for unacceptable/illegal activity. The MAPP initiative is based on the principle that a more systematic approach to information-gathering and dissemination, analysis, planning and integration of agency activity will increase the effectiveness of the network of community resources in dealing with youth crime in the community.
According to the 1991 Census, the population of New Brunswick was 723,900, representing 2.65% of the total Canadian population. The total fertility rate for the province was 1.65. The median age in New Brunswick was 33.2; 12% of the population was over the age of 65. The total number of children aged 0-14 was 151,220 of which 47,370 were under school age (0-4). The total number of families in the province was 198,015 with an average household size of 3.1 persons. Of this total, 171,510 or 86.6% were husband-wife families, of which 8% lived in common-law unions. Female lone-parent families accounted for 21,995 or 11.1% and 4,505 or 2.3% were male lone-parent families. The average income for all families was $42,148; for husband-wife families the average income was $45,079; for female lone-parent families, $21,214; and for male lone-parent families it was $32,785. The female labour force participation rate rose to 54.7 in 1991 from 50.0 in 1986. The male participation rate in 1991 was 72.1, increasing slightly from the 1986 rate of 71.9. The 1991 Census reported 23,975 persons foreign born, or 3.35 percent of the population. The predominant places of birth reported were the USA, Europe and Asia. A total of 1,245 children aged 0-14 were born abroad.
Amongst the Maritime provinces, New Brunswick has been the forerunner in publishing a number of informative and comprehensive documents in the area of children's services. The reports, for the most part, have been a result of collaboration between different departments, primarily the Departments of Education and Health and Community Services.
Early Childhood Initiatives: Building a Strong Foundation, published by the Department of Health and Community Services - was collaboratively developed by the Public Health and Medical Services Division and the Family and Social Services Division. This early childhood program seeks to bring children to the kindergarten door who are as healthy as possible and ready to start learning. Through the integration of services this program offers the following:
1. Enhanced prenatal screening and intervention, including a Nutrition Intervention and Supplement Program to increase healthy pregnancy outcomes.
2. Enhanced postnatal screening and intervention to foster healthy growth and development, including a nutrition supplement program.
3. Re-targeted preschool health clinics (children 3 and a half years of age) to foster healthy growth and development of preschool children.
4. Home based early intervention services to improve childhood outcomes and enhance family self-sufficiency among high priority families.
5. Integrated day care services to encourage the full participation of the high priority child in developmentally appropriate child care services improving childhood outcomes among high priority (high risk) children.
6. Social work prevention services whose primary goal is the prevention of the abuse and neglect of high risk children.
Another report, Children and Youth with Severe Behaviour Disorders, published by the Department of Education, was founded upon the belief that in order to meet the needs of students with severe behavioral disorders, it is essential for educators to work collaboratively with government organizations and non-government agencies to ensure that services and programs for these children meet all his/her needs.
This report states that the Department of Education, the Department of Advanced Education and Labour, Department of Health and Community Services, The Mental Health Commission of New Brunswick, The Human Resources Development Department and The Department of the Solicitor General have all agreed to work collaboratively in order to develop programs and services in the best interests of the student with severe behavioral problems. Therefore, this report is about the integration of services within the educational forum in order to meet the needs of the child with severe behaviour disorders.
Preferred Practices: Speech Pathology Services - Support Services to Education and Community Based Services For Children with Special Needs, published by The Department of Health and Family and Community Social Services, outlines the optimum ways in which children requiring the service of speech pathology should be served. Since the report recommends that this service should be offered within the schools, it can be said that this report promotes the integration of services for children (health, education, and social services). Service delivery should be academically and socially relevant and there should be a shared responsibility for decisions regarding speech and language services.
The goal of this report is to provide provincial guidelines for the management/delivery of speech/language services and to establish guidelines for setting priorities for service delivery which ensure that consistent speech and language pathology services are available to children in need province-wide.
In 1988 the Department of Health and Community Services and the Department of Education developed a service program which would be provided for students in schools. The goal of this program, which involved service integration, was to help students function better in the school environment. The plan was for the program to be implemented for five years and then evaluated at the end of the five year period. The result was three documents under the title of Support Services to Education (SSE), published by the Department of Health and Community Services, which serve to describe and evaluate the program. The groups of professionals who are involved in this program include nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists, social workers, and speech language pathologists. This Support Services to Education program attempts to prevent, identify and alleviate language/learning,
psychological/social, and physical/health problems which may affect the students' performance at school.
The results of this study reveal that the Support Services to Education Program is highly effective in addressing the problems which the program intends to target. Over all, this example of integration of children's services which has been in place for the past five years has been effective in the promotion of the child's well-being.
According to the 1991 Census, the population of Newfoundland and Labrador was 568,475, representing 2.08% of the total Canadian population. The total fertility rate for the province was 1.55. The median age in Newfoundland and Labrador was 30.8; 10% of the population was over the age of 65. The total number of children aged 0-14 was 127,920 of which 37,240 were under school age (0-4). The total number of families in the province was 150,710, with an average household size of 3.3 persons. Of this total, 132,835 or 88.1% were husband-wife families, of which 6.6% lived in common-law unions. Female lone-parent families accounted for 14,670 or 9.6% and 3,205 or 2.3% were male lone-parent families. The average income for all families was $40,942; for husband-wife families the average income was $43,246; for female lone-parent families, $21,804; and for male lone-parent families it was $33,010. The female labour force participation rate rose to 54.3 in 1991 from 48.9 in 1986. The male participation rate in 1991 was 69.6, declining from the 1986 rate of 70.7. The 1991 Census reported 8,460 persons foreign born, or 1.5 percent of the population. The predominant places of birth reported were the USA, Europe and Asia. Of children aged 0-14, 455 were born abroad.
Model for the Coordination of Services to Children and Youth and Profiling the Needs of Children and Youth - This model was committed to by the Departments of Education, Health, Justice and Social Services of Newfoundland and Labrador in June 1995 to ensure that a program planning process is put in place for children/youth with special needs and to ensure service coordination when more than one agency is providing service.
According to the 1991 Census, the population of Nova Scotia was 899,940, representing 3.30% of the total Canadian population. The total fertility rate for the province was 1.72. The median age in Nova Scotia was 33.4; 13% of the population was over the age of 65. The total number of children aged 0-14 was 184,355 of which 60,960 were under school age (0-4). The total number of families in the province was 244,630 with an average household size of 3.1 persons. Of this total, 211,510 or 86.4% were husband-wife families, of which 8.2% lived in common-law unions. Female lone-parent families accounted for 27,690 or 11.3% and 5,430 or 2.2% were male lone-parent families. The average income for all families was $44,001; for husband-wife families the average income was $47,087; for female lone-parent families, $22,395; and for male lone-parent families it was $33,959. The female labour force participation rate rose to 54.7 in 1991 from 50.1 in 1986. The male participation rate in 1991 was 72.9, declining from the 1986 rate of 73.6. The 1991 Census reported 39,110 persons foreign born, or 4.4 percent of the population. The predominant places of birth reported were the USA, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. A total of 1,775 children aged 0-14 were born abroad.
Children and youth at risk: Nova Scotia's underfunded welfare system was published by the Nova Scotia Coalition for Children and Youth, founded in 1992. The goal of the coalition is to advocate with governments to make children and youth a priority. That is, to ensure that the provincial and federal governments fully implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and that the Government of Nova Scotia fully implement the Children and Family Services Act.
This report outlines and discusses the issues surrounding the well-being of children and youth and examines the drawbacks of the present underfunded service system in Nova Scotia. It also lists recommendations for the Nova Scotia Government relating to services and legislation.
Although the recommendations do not directly refer to the integration of services, it could be assumed that service integration would be a way in which to fulfil the recommendations.
The Canadian Action Plan for Children - Newsletter for Nova Scotia (December 1994) is an update of what is happening in Nova Scotia in relation to the CAPC projects. It lists and briefly describes the many different projects which are being implemented in the region. All the programs involve the integration of services, are community developed and community based, and are especially designed to meet the specific needs of each community. It could also be said that the CAPC programs in Nova Scotia work to promote the rights of the child as stated in the UN Convention.
According to the 1991 Census, the population of Ontario was 10,084,885, representing 36.95% of the total Canadian population. The total fertility rate for the province was 1.82. The median age in Ontario was 33.6; 12% of the population was over the age of 65. The total number of children aged 0-14 was 2,055,240 of which 707,595 were under school age (0-4). The total number of families in the province was 2,726,620 with an average household size of 3.1 persons. Of this total, 2,384,325 or 87.4% were husband-wife families, of which 6.7% lived in common-law unions. Female lone-parent families accounted for 284,595 or 10.4% and 57,700 or 2.1% were male lone-parent families. The average income for all families was $57,227; for husband-wife families the average income was $60,846; for female lone-parent families, $29,437; and for male lone-parent families it was $44,741. The female labour force participation rate rose to 61.9 in 1991 from 58.7 in 1986. The male participation rate in 1991 was 77.7, dropping from the 1986 rate of 78.9. The 1991 Census reported 2,369,170 persons foreign born, or 23.75 percent of the population. The predominant places of birth reported were Europe, Asia, South America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the USA. A total of 123,350 children aged 0-14 were born abroad.
Inventory of Integration/Coordination Projects - simply lists the integrated services offered in Ontario in May 1993. It is an effort by the provincial government to keep tabs on the existing programs and services that are being offered. It gives the title of the program, informs us of what departments/organizations are integrated and briefly describes each project
Exploring Opportunities: Feasibility Study of the Amalgamation of Children's Services in Haliburton County - is a report published by the Social Action Committee which is an alliance of organizations and individuals in Haliburton county concerned with social problems and community service needs. It presents an amalgamated model of community based services in Haliburton county as a way to avoid service fragmentation and gaps in services for children.
The Ontario Standing Committee on Social Development compiled a report on Children's mental health services in Ontario. - The objective of the school which offers integrated services to children would be to create conditions facilitating the child's over-all healthy development. The following issues/services would be addressed in an integrated school: health education, diet and nutrition, dental health, screening and follow-up, nursing services, psychosocial services, mental health, use of psychotropic drugs, sexuality, immunization and vaccinations, health and safety and first aid.
Better Beginnings, Better Futures- Focusing on children 0-8 years at risk for emotional, behavioural, social, physical and cognitive problems, as well as families living in economically disadvantaged neighbourhoods with multiple high risks for poor child development, this service model has been established in eight communities. Two types of models have been established: a prenatal/infant development program integrates with a preschool or a preschool integrates with an elementary school (primary division). Other features may include drop-in centres, recreation programs, breakfast/lunch programs, parent training and single mother support groups. There is significant involvement of families and community leaders. Co-funders have agreed to three main goals: prevent emotional, behavioral, social, cognitive and physical health problems in children; promote healthy child development; and enhance the abilities of socio-economically disadvantaged families and communities to provide for their children.
KIDS COUNT, Partners for Children's Health and Learning- serves the city of London. The goal is to coordinate the efforts and resources of child-serving organizations - and their ministries - at the local level to improve health and learning opportunities for children.
According to the 1991 Census, the population of Prince Edward Island was 129,765, representing 0.48% of the total Canadian population. The total fertility rate for the province was 1.92. The median age in Prince Edward Island was 32.8; 13% of the population was over the age of 65. The total number of children aged 0-14 was 29,360 of which 9,500 were under school age (0-4). The total number of families in the province was 33,900 with an average household size of 3.2 persons. Of this total, 29,520 or 87.1% were husband-wife families, of which 6.0% lived in common-law unions. Female lone-parent families accounted for 3,670 or 10.7% and 705 or 2.2% were male lone-parent families. The average income for all families was $43,295; for husband-wife families the average income was $45,765; for female lone-parent families, $24,965; and for male lone-parent families it was $35,295. The female labour force participation rate rose to 62.1 in 1991 from 56.1 in 1986. The male participation rate in 1991 was 76.6, registering a slight increase from the 1986 rate of 75.8. The 1991 Census reported 4,110 persons foreign born, or 3.2 percent of the population. The predominant places of birth reported were the USA, Europe and Asia. A total of 180 children aged 0-14 were born abroad.
Youth Families and Communities: A New Paradigm For Action - identifies the problems with the present service system in Prince Edward Island such as service fragmentation and an overwhelming demand on services due to an increasingly difficult set of problems. It suggests a shift to a new paradigm for children's services which would empower children and their families, promote wellness and strength, support the family, be community-based, consider all population groups, and be sensitive to all needs. The main recommendation of this report is the promotion of service integration and coordination to prevent service fragmentation and gaps in delivery and implementation. Other issues which the report lists along with the promotion of service integration are family strengthening, peer helping and mutual aid, access to information and support, lifestyle and health issues, residential and programming requirements, gender and culture and consumer advocacy. The report also recommends an implementation plan for the new paradigm.
Community Action Program For Children - PEI report - simply lists an inventory of the services available to children in Prince Edward Island and is designed to be a resource for those involved in social service delivery. The programs listed and briefly described in this report directly relate to infants and young children, parenting and preparation for parenthood. They indicate the integration of health, social services, and education. One of the main initiatives is the development of a volunteer "policing" committee to patrol the community and act as the eyes of the program.
East Prince Youth Development Centre- operates in Summerside and offers services to youth and young adults aged 16-29 years in the East Prince community. The goal is to improve service coordination by providing an easily-accessed gateway to information, programming, needs assessment and comprehensive case management and follow-up. The program incorporates three major components:
1. Academic including academic upgrading, academic assistance, literacy and numeracy enhancement and vocational skills development.
2. Employment Support focuses on employment enhancement and personal effectiveness addressing such areas as self-esteem and self-confidence, managing anger and other emotions, stress management, time management, setting goals and positive communications skills. (A second feature of Employment Support focuses on employment assistance and vocational planning, including skills identification, creative job search techniques, voluntarism and career development and work experience programs.)
3. Youth Wellness, including services like adolescent addictions programs that incorporates student assistance, outpatient detoxification, a five-week family program and one-on-one and group counselling.
According to the 1991 Census, the population of Quebec amounted to 6 895 965, representing 25.26 % of the population of Canada. The total fertility rate for the province was 1.72. The median age in Quebec was 34.2 years and 11 percent of the population was more than 65 years old. The number of children 0-14 years totalled 1, 378,175, which 445,340 were preschool age (0 to 4 years). The total number of families in the province was 1,883, 140 with an average household size of 3.0 persons. Of this total, 1,614,285 or 85.7% were husband wife families, of which lived 16.3 % lived in common-law unions. Female lone-parent families accounted for 21,110 or 11.7 % and 47, 645 or 2.6 % were male lone-parent families. The average income for all families was $46,593, for husband-wife families the average income was $49,745; and for female lone parent families, $25,141. The average income for male lone male haded families was $39,398. The female labour force participation rate rose from 50.7% in 1986 to 55.7%. The male participation rate was the same in 1991 as it was in 1986, 74.6%. The 1991 Census reported that 591,205 persons foreign born, or 8.7% of the population. The predominant place of birth was Europe, Asia, Africa, Caribbean, and the Middle-Orient. A total of 38,815 aged children aged 0-14 years were born abroad.
Health and Social Services in Schools: A Guide to ensure concerted action between CLSCs and School Boards - identifies the need for service integration to occur within the school, thereby integrating the departments of education, health, and social services. The objective of the school which offers integrated services to children would be to create conditions facilitating the child's over-all healthy development. Some of the issues/services that would be addressed according to the various fields of activity in an integrated school include: health education, diet and nutrition, nursing services, psychosocial services, mental health, and immunization of young people with disabilities, allergies, or temporary chronic illness requiring periodic or temporary care.
The guide proposes the implementation of a joint action plan which would determine the order of priority of these fields and to propose the means of providing these services.
1, 2, 3 GO! - is an experimental project operating in five neighbourhoods and one village of the Greater Montreal area and invites community residents, agencies and local organizations to invest their resources (material, intellectual, social and political) in the well being and development of children aged 0-3 years.
According to the 1991 Census, the population of Saskatchewan was 988,930, representing 3.62% of the total Canadian population. The total fertility rate for the province was 2.11. The median age in Saskatchewan was 32.6; 14% of the population was over the age of 65. The total number of children aged 0-14 was 237,460 of which 78,170 were under school age (0-4). The total number of families in the province was 257,580 with an average household size of 3.2 persons. Of this total, 227,330 or 88.3% were husband-wife families, of which 6.9% lived in common-law unions. Female lone-parent families accounted for 24,980 or 9.7% and 5,260 or 2.1% were male lone-parent families. The average income for ll families was $44,174; for husband-wife families the average income was $46,759; for female lone-parent families, $22,983; and for male lone-parent families it was $33,086. The female labour force participation rate rose to 59.6 in 1991 from 54.5 in 1986. The male participation rate in 1991 was 76.9, dropping from the 1986 rate of 78. The 1991 Census reported 57,815 persons foreign born, or 5.92 percent of the population. The predominant places of birth reported were Europe, Asia, and the USA. A total of 2,460 children aged 0-14 were born abroad.
For the most part, the information obtained from the province of Saskatchewan was from the Department of Education, Training and Employment and the Council on Social Development Regina Inc.
The State of Regina's Children: Report From the Community is the report on the community research portion of the State of Regina's Children Project (SRC) which provides important information on the status of children in Regina and acts as a starting point for future advocacy and community development work.
The State of Regina's Children Project started with the principle that children in Regina have rights which can be measured using the UN Convention on the Rights of The Child as a standard. This document reports the findings of research conducted in Regina which investigated what types of services/programs are needed for the promotion of the child's well-being and rights. By collecting perspectives on children's rights from youths, families and service providers, the report serves to present information about Regina's hopes for its children, serves as a model for other communities, involves children directly, identifies issues of children in the communities they live in and also identifies issues specific to aboriginal, immigrant and disabled communities.
Part III of this report examines the impact which the State of Regina's Children has had on the children of Regina. The following initiatives are listed:
1. Task Force on Child and Youth Advocacy which was established in June 1992 to explore processes for child and youth advocacy in the Province of Saskatchewan.
2. Saskatchewan Action Plan for Children is a collaboration of government departments seeking a common approach to children's issues. The action plan is founded on the principle that "children will grow in environments that support their well-being and enable them to reach their potential" (p. 64). Under the action plan the following are a few of the governmental initiatives that have been undertaken to promote the wellbeing of children; the Child Care Review by governments on day care legislation; the Family Connections Program to link permanent wards of the Minister of Social Services with secure lifetime families through adoption or return to their family of origin; government support to the development of Indian Child and Family Services Agencies and The Saskatchewan Suicide Prevention Program; and Peer Support Programming on the prevention of alcohol and drug abuse.
3. The Youth Forum on Racism: The Colours of Youth involved a planning group of 25 students from Regina's fourteen high schools who worked from December 1992 to April 1993 to develop a conference theme, define and carry out organizational tasks and host a two-day conference. At the conference, which over 200 youth attended, the participants learned effective ways in which to implement social change and ways to promote a non-racist ethic.
4. Voices of the Children: Teaching About the Rights of the Child, developed by the Common Ground Learner Centre in cooperation with the State of Regina's Children Project, is a kit of activities to teach children about the meaning of the UN Convention on The Rights of The Child. The goal is to enable children to examine issues in their community and to make links nationally and internationally. This initiative serves to promote the child's right to be heard by giving Regina's children a voice.
Over all, this document reports the findings of the action research which was conducted by the SRC. The report also indicates what initiatives have occurred as a result of the SRC project. It provides an excellent example of how a community used the UN Convention as a basis or a standard upon which they developed their own legislation and programs. The methodology of action research in itself is an example of promoting children's rights as it serves to give children a voice and become a participatory factor in the development of social programs and legislation which affects their lives. Although the integration of services is not referred to directly, it is evident in this report that service integration is essential in order to most efficiently and economically promote the well-being and rights of the child.
In June of 1993, the Saskatchewan government launched the Saskatchewan Action Plan to encourage the promotion of the child's well-being in Saskatchewan. The primary focus of Children First: An Invitation to Work Together: Creating Saskatchewan's Action Plan for Children is the need to further integrate services in Saskatchewan in order to eliminate the present fragmentation and gaps which exist in children's services. The report states that although much money has been spent and many different government agencies are working in the best interest of the child, they are all working separately and, consequently, ineffectively. The Saskatchewan Action Plan for Children calls for the integration of the Department of Social Services, Health, Education, Training and Employment, and Justice to work together in the best interest of the child by sharing resources, information, skills and knowledge.
The document lists a three-stage proposal for the development of the Action Plan:
1. Building agreement between eight government departments to develop a common approach to promote the well-being of children.
2. Encouraging public participation and involvement- the action plan will invite and encourage governments, organizations, businesses, community groups, individuals and children and families to participate.
3. Defining partners and their roles in collaboratively implementing the action plan.
The report also goes on to list the beliefs and objectives upon which the action plan is developed. The goals of the action plan are that children will be valued, recognized as having individual rights, equal rights and protection under the law; safe, secure, healthy, culturally connected; socially responsible; knowledgeable and skilled. Over-all, this report states the need for the integration of children's services in Saskatchewan with one of the main desired goals of the program being to promote children's rights.
Working Together to Address Barriers to Learning: Integrated School Linked Services for Children and Youth at Risk (Policy Framework) published by the Department of Education, Training and Employment describes the Integrated School-Linked Service initiative in Saskatchewan which is a major activity under Saskatchewan's Action Plan for Children. This report serves to demonstrate the benefits of integrating children's services within the community school in order to prevent service fragmentation and to promote the efficient use of government and community resources. Furthermore, since all children attend school, the needs of the 30 to 40% of Saskatchewan children who are considered to be "at risk" will be addressed and met. The types of services which an "integrated school" would offer are identification, prevention and promotion, early intervention, and treatment and rehabilitation programs, the implementation of which would involve the integration of health, education and social services for children.
This report also gives several examples of existing Integrated School-linked Projects in Saskatchewan:
West Flat Citizens' Group (Prince Albert, SK) - developed out of community concern over policing, housing, recreation and education. The Department of Education, Training and Employment, the Separate School Division and the City of Prince Albert came together to turn a school into a community centre. These governmental organizations along with volunteers from the citizens' group worked together to solve community problems by implementing the following initiatives: development of a volunteer "policing" committee to patrol the community and act as the eyes and ears of the community (the crime rate has dropped since the implementation of this plan); the housing dilemma was addressed by collaboratively planning seniors' and family housing as well as repairing damages to seniors' homes; recreational programs for people of all ages were implemented; as well, educational programs such as a preschool support pilot project, adolescent day program, and book exchanges were implemented.
Children's Service Integration Project (CSIP) developed by the Saskatoon Interagency Planning Committee on Children and Youth. This project was developed to target at risk populations of children aged 6-12 to improve services for these children and their families. This integration of services project should help to eliminate difficulties which children have in obtaining the services they require due to gaps and fragmentation.
Princess Alexandra Community School/ Riversdale Community and School Association is a community school, established in 1981, which has grown into one of the most active and strongest community associations in Saskatoon which has identified and addressed the needs of its children and their families. Its success is dependent upon the school board, provincial government departments, the Community and School Association, the city of Saskatoon and many local community groups.
Preschool Support Pilot Projects is a program based on the principle that preventative and early intervention programs promote the proper development of health and social skills which increases the child's potential to do well at school. Communities which have high unemployment rates and high populations of children in elementary school were selected to implement this project. It is designed to develop language skills, fine and gross motor skills, social, cognitive and coping skills and self-esteem. The project also offers immunization and nutrition services to promote the over-all health of children, while encouraging parent involvement and emphasizing family literacy, parent education, home visits, culture and pride of heritage.Consequently, this program integrates education, health and social services in order to meet the needs of the child.
Accompanying this report was an Implementation Guide which is designed as an information source and a "how-to" guide for communities who are interested in implementing school linked services to benefit the children and youth at risk in their community.
According to the 1991 Census, the population of the Yukon Territory was 27,795, representing 0.10% of the total Canadian population. The total fertility rate for the territory was 2.29. The median age in the Yukon Territory was 31; 4% of the population was over the age of 65. The total number of children aged 0-14 was 6.840 of which 2,415 were under school age (0-4). The total number of families in the territory was 7,105 with an average household size of 3.1 persons. Of this total, 6,065 or 84.1% were husband-wife families, of which 19.9% lived in common-law unions. Female lone-parent families accounted for 835 or 11.3% and 3.3% were male lone-parent families. The average income for all families was $56,034; for husband-wife families the average income was $60,055; and for female lone-parent families, $31,378. The female labour force participation rate rose to 78.1 in 1991 from 72.9 in 1986. The male participation rate in 1991 was 86.2, up from the 1986 rate of 85.9. The 1991 Census reported 2,965 persons foreign born, or 10.72 percent of the population. The predominant places of birth reported were Europe, Asia, and the USA. A total of 100 children aged 0-14 were born abroad.
Detection and Follow up of Youth for Yukon Communities through the integration and collaboration of services - Over all, this report illustrates the effectiveness of integrated services for at risk children in the Yukon. Although this report does not directly refer to the promotion of children's rights, the CAPC programs which have been implemented and plan to be implemented serve to promote several rights and also the well-being of the child.
Keeping Kids Safe: A Victim-Centred Approach for Managing Child Sexual Offenders is adocument prepared by the Yukon Working Committee on Comprehensive Services for Sexual Offenders which sets up a framework for the development and implementation of services to child sexual offenders. The over-all realization and conclusion of the committee is that a treatment program for child sexual offenders cannot exist in isolation; it requires a comprehensive response which involves all Yukoners (including non-profit, corporate and public sectors). It should respond to the needs of everyone who is affected by sexual abuse (victims, non-offending family members, the offenders and the community at large), coordinate all service providers, and provide a range of services including prevention, public education, and professional training, crisis and longer-term intervention, and evaluation. This report calls for the integration of services in order to be most effective and to be "victim-centred".
Child Development Centre Infant and Early Intervention Project - is Yukon-wide and specializes in early intervention services, from birth to school-age. Evaluations indicated that the staff of the Dawson City Infant and Early Intervention program have most successfully enhanced and expanded services by providing early assessment, therapy and support for preschool children identified as being at risk, their families, caregivers and existing resource persons.
It would have been unrealistic to expect the policy and practice images of the child that exist in Canada to be univocal. Canada has no national child and family policy. Each province has evolved policies that reflect their unique circumstances and needs. The rights of children and the need to coordinate services emerge along side one another in often contradictory ways.
The Children's Rights Movement that began in 450 BC (Radbill, 1968) may be seen rather optimistically as having come of age with the UN Convention on the Rights of Children. However, despite sustained efforts since, the situation of children has likely worsened. The catastrophe of urban street wars, famine and starvation, and levels of economic impoverishment in industrialized countries have spread consequent risks to all parts of the world (Volpe, 1995).
One way of understanding what is happening with children's rights is to view them as part of the social movement associated with child welfare and protection. This perspective allows rights policies and programs to be viewed as products of political or power transactions between interest groups. It also enables their symbolic dimensions to be seen as projections of personal and social needs and aspirations (Blumer, 1971). Children's rights is explicitly referred to by activists as a movement. The mobilization effort, particularly evident in Canada during the ratification push led by the NGO Save the Children and the establishment of the Canadian Coalition on Children's Rights, constitute by every criteria products of a movement. To the point that the children's rights movement was successful in moving Canada to adoption of the Convention in 1990, the movement has been successful. Unfortunately, if the effectiveness of a movement is determined by its ability to propel an interest through increasing levels of public awareness, from a social concern, through a social problem, to a burning social issue requiring action, the Children's Rights movement must be seen as stalled. Unlike other movements on behalf of women, seniors, or native self rule, children's rights has not reached a large audience and have not created a great deal of public, professional and government concern. While racism and sexual abuse have arrived on the public agenda, children's rights has not been able to both capture and sustain even a small wave of public attention. Little government or professional activity has been generated. Ombudsman's offices and rights coalitions have not been viable in relation to children's rights in the way human rights activists have succeeded with the more general issue. Relative to these successful areas, children's rights advocates have had little or no visible impact on the school and court system.
Unlike these notable social movements, no new occupational categories were created in the name of children's rights. Consider how few professionals in social work, law, medicine, psychiatry, psychology, and medicine think of themselves child sexual abuse specialists. Moreover, consider how successful movements have been able to evoke strong sentiments and symbols associated with protection, rescue, care, nurturance and comfort. Even though these movements have experienced considerable backlash and setbacks, they have achieved a critical mass that remains steadfast with careers and personal interests closely tied to their movement's ideological base. Children's rights, on the other hand, has remained a distant and perhaps cold area that is somewhat obscure and destined for endless ivory tower debate. Children's rights has not been able to evoke a symbolic basis that tears at the heart and purse strings of the general public. Moreover, the rights of children have not achieved codification as laws in such a way that their existence comes close to reflecting an understanding of the UN Convention.
In an important review of Canadian laws affecting children, Wilson (1978) observes that he would like to have written about the "law of children". He instead has had to settle for a survey of laws relating to their "powerless and repressed status". He amplifies this assertion by noting that the primary assumption on which laws affecting children are based is that the child is part of a family unit and not an independent legal entity; that is, the rights of the family unit (parents) generally override those of the individual child. Eight years later Wilson (1986) wrote:
Laws that affect children reflect a compromise of competing political or economic interests that find their political validity in the test of what is in the child's best interests as opposed to what the particular constituency itself is demanding. This difference is due to the dependent and immature state of the child which compels adults in a democratic society to legislate for those children those rights which children would pursue for themselves if they were capable by this approach [however] the legislation and its methods of implementation may more reflect the interests of every other constituency but children. It is the rare elected body of bureaucracy that acts in the interests of an economically powerless, non-voting, and essentially silent constituency. Further, even if the motivation is pure, the assumption underlying "best interests" may unconsciously have more to do with an adults biases, prejudices and myths about childhood than with any objective, empirical evidence. Even with respect to the latter, there seldom exists a consensus among professionals who study children as to their nature, capacity and needs The laws in North American society are unabashedly discriminatory in that they limit of withhold from persons under a particular age, usually 16, 18 or 19 years in Canada, those fundamental rights and freedoms which are integral to every person over that age living in a "free and democratic society". The laws are based on the premise that, until the person reaches an age representative of competency, the parent of whoever has legal custody of the person will stand in his stead with resect for determining his best interests subject to the type of self imposed limitations noted above and subject to the courts acting as the arbiter of "best interests" when the state suspects that a child is at risk.
The pace of change in the policy arena is as rapid as the debate it creates is heated. A review such as this helps to contextualize the current situation of children and youth in Canada and provides a basis for the elaboration of a framework dealing with using the Convention as a tool for integrating services for children and examining issues that can be used in evaluating some of the hard choices facing provincial policy makers.
Although the issue of children's rights has been employed as a policy rationale by some provincial governments in their efforts to coordinate services, its use has generally been uneven and superficial. Integration remains high on the policy agenda, not as a response to rights issues or as a way to increase the effectiveness of services, but as a means...of amalgamating services for the sake of cost efficiency, affordability, and accountability. This has made for complexity and confusion in current policy debates. Consequently, regardless of what rationale is employed, services coordination and integration has a sinister meaning for many resistant service providers.
Nevertheless, shrinking revenue, the need to be more efficient and cost conscious, and increased competitiveness are operating alongside an expansion of human rights, the global broadening of democracy, and increased emphasis on inclusion, justice, and individual empowerment. These appear to be contradictory forces. The first trend has traditionally led to increased bureaucracy and centralization, developments which would hamper increased citizen participation and involvement. Developing the rights of children may be a valid concept that must wait for the right conditions and time to flourish.
Canada, in its utilization of the Convention, lies somewhere in the middle of an adoption continuum. A consequence of Canada's long tradition with liberal democracy is that issues of minorities silenced by age or status often go unnoticed until something major occurs that causes them to stand out. Canada has found a middle ground in the meaning it attaches to the Convention. Although the Convention has some applicability to special needs, abused, poor and minority children, most of its application is to children overseas or in underdeveloped countries. Attention is riveted and rights may be considered when a young child is abused or found addicted to drugs. Moreover, we take for granted the physical security of groups engaged in the human rights advocacy. To some extent the freedom from the threat may take the edge off efforts to work with so disenfranchised a group as children. Illustrative has been the slowness of recognition and then the genuine shock of many Canadians when they became aware of economic and social plight of so many Canadian children. Elsewhere Volpe (1989) has commented on Canada's "clean poverty" made less visible by our safety net or system of public services. This invisibility helps account for a lack of vigilance and an idealization of existing democratic processes. Illustrative was the handling and passage into oblivion of the commissioned claim to give children first call on resources by merely proclaiming their entitlement (Maloney, 1990). In this context Maloney (1990) declared the concept of rights to have an adversarial tone that "obscured more constructive collaboration to break down the barriers to social justice for all people, including children." This sort of reasoning diminishes the effectiveness of efforts to secure rights, and allows them to remain legally declared in substance without any legal procedures that will enable their attainment. A clear lesson for Canada is the importance of not remaining complacent about establishing legal mechanisms that specify the means by which the aims of the Convention can be attained. The discussion of rights without specification of procedures for securing them contributes to relegating the Convention to fall short of its potential by becoming a limited rhetorical tool.
Abbott, A. (1988). The system of professions: An essay on the division of expert labour. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
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