Julie Green: Voluntary Supports for Children and Families

Ministers' Statements and Speeches

Yellowknife — March 9, 2023

Check against delivery

Mr. Speaker, I would like to share information about the voluntary supports available for Northwest Territories children, youth, and families through the health and social services system. There are several voluntary support services in place that are based on the prevention of negative outcomes. Community Social Workers are available to assist individuals and families in accessing them.

Through a Voluntary Support Services Agreement, children, youth, and their caregivers can receive help without parents giving up their legal rights and responsibilities for their child. Services and supports can include referrals for counseling, respite, parenting programs, alcohol and/or drug treatment, mental health services and support to improve a family’s financial situation. Voluntary Support Services Agreements allow families to remain together through challenging situations. 

Support Services Agreements are also available for youth between the ages of 16-18 years old who have no legal guardian able or available to support them.  Through these agreements, youth can get assistance with education, room and board, counseling, respite, young parenting programs, alcohol and/or drug treatment, and mental health. The goal is to help the young person to live independently and achieve their goals as they transition into adulthood.

For young adults aging out of the permanent custody of the Director of Child and Family Services when they turn 19, Extended Support Services Agreements are available until they reach 23 years of age.  These agreements meet the needs of the young adult on a case-by-case basis. 

Mr. Speaker, the Health and Social Service Authorities also deliver the Healthy Families and the Family Preservation Programs. 

The Healthy Families Program is culture-based and provides parents with skills and community engagement, to ensure they have the tools and knowledge to help their children thrive.  The program is open to all families with children prenatal to 6 years of age.  They can either refer themselves or by a professional. All engagement is voluntary.  The Healthy Family Program is offered in most NWT communities.

The Family Preservation Program provides supports to families with complex needs so that children can remain within their family, community, and culture. The goal of this program is to preserve the family unit and give parents, children, and others the tools they need to be successful. These services are available to families with children up to 23 years of age. Youth up to the age of 23 can also access these services themselves. Again, this program is voluntary, and referral based. 

Mr. Speaker, we understand the impact and trauma from the legacy of child and family services.  We are working to reduce barriers and ensure that these services are provided in a culturally safe and respectful manner. We are committed to safeguarding the wellbeing and connection of all children and youth to their families, cultures and communities.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.