Given the unique history and culture of the Aboriginal heritage, research evidence and evidence-based practice guidelines/recommendation derive from the general population are not sufficient in informing the practices of Child Protective Services’ caseworkers who are caring for Aboriginal youth in the child welfare system. Special attention should also be given to best-practice materials developed with special consideration of the Aboriginal context. The current study describes caseworkers’ utilization of Aboriginal child welfare best-practice materials hosted at the MAP-KT portal during its pilot testing period between October 1st 2007 and September 31st 2008. The objective of the current study is to assess the knowledge consumption behavior of caseworkers who were not employed by Aboriginal child protective agency but nonetheless had Aboriginal Child Welfare youth under they care. The MAP-KT portal is a web-based knowledge tool that brings to the point of practice (of CPS caseworker) child welfare knowledge distilled through the ‘knowledge filter” of the Knowledge to Action framework. Given the proportion of Aboriginal youth under the care of participating agencies, the utilization statistics of Aboriginal content hosted on the MAP-KT portal indicated that they might be under-utilized compared to other content areas. According to the Knowledge to Action framework, a number of ways to improve utilization have been proposed. Future research may focus on adapting the MAP-KT portal to user knowledge preferences on format, content and linkage to frequently utilized sites, as well as tailored marketing to users in First Nations child welfare services and those who provide services to children with First Peoples’ heritage.
Since 1997, certain schools within Calgary have adopted the MacPhail Aboriginal Pride Program. This pilot program intends “to increase graduation rates among Aboriginal students, which historically have been lower than that of their non-Aboriginal peers. Its approach is based on the premise that students who bond and relate to their school environment are more likely to stay in school and succeed academically” (Calgary United Way, 2010). The Aboriginal population has been growing quickly, and Aboriginal children account for a growing proportion of all of the children in Canada (O’Donnel, 2006, p. 65). However, despite growing numbers, many Aboriginal children who live off reserve are being raised in communities where Aboriginal people represent only a small minority. In these communities, it is difficult to maintain ties to Aboriginal traditions and cultures. The MacPhail Aboriginal Pride Program attempts to help Aboriginal children and youth maintain these cultural ties and helps by infusing Aboriginal history and culture in the curriculum and by encouraging activities such as field trips and presentations. The MacPhail Aboriginal Pride Programs in Calgary strive to “achieve higher graduation rates, have consistent attendance rates, and experience a sense of pride in their culture and a willingness to share their culture with non-aboriginal peers and families.”
Family & Community Support Services (FCSS) in Calgary is a joint municipal and provincial funding program. The program is designed to develop, support, and fund preventive social services. FCSS Calgary has a number of benefits and truly makes a difference in the community. At-risk youth and vulnerable senior citizens have avenues for positive community involvement, family violence victims are safer, newcomers are welcomed and can feel at home in Calgary, citizens have access to information about the community and crisis services, and urban Aboriginal people are able to develop leadership skills within the community. FCSS programs and agencies align with at least one of the funding priorities (Strengthening Neighbourhoods and Increasing Social Inclusion, outlined in the Social Sustainability Framework). Increasing Social Inclusion concentrates on five populations: families, children and youth, seniors, immigrants, and Aboriginal people (City of Calgary, Social Sustainability, 2010). The new Social Sustainability Framework helps the community in a number of ways. It guides funding decisions by providing FCSS Calgary with clear and consistent principles. By aligning funded programs with identified objectives and outcomes, it helps FCSS account for and communicate its impact on the community. There is an abundance of statistics that support the need for culturally appropriate programs for urban Aboriginal peoples. Research demonstrates urgency for these programs and the current social landscape of urban Aboriginal children, youth, and families. For example, between 1996 and 2006, the Aboriginal population across Canada grew by 45% to reach close to 1.2 million persons, representing 3.8% of the Canadian population. (Statistics Canada, 2008, Canadian Demographics at a Glance, p. 34).Two examples of urban Aboriginal programs from Metis Calgary Family Services (MCFS) is presented within FCSS’s Sustainability Framework; Native Network, and Little Dancing Buffalo.
Child welfare stifles change and innovation in a system that desperately needs it by promoting conformity and awarding subordination to bad ideas (Blackstock, 2009). If neglect means not doing the right thing for children even when you know better and can do better, and have the resources to do it, then too often child protection neglects First Nations children and their families. This essay explores whether emancipating moral courage in child protection is the key to ensuring good research translates into real benefits for First Nations families. This paper begins with a description of moral courage in child protection across the decades before drawing on my own experiences with moral courage in the child welfare field. It concludes with stories of how moral cowardice diminishes children and how moral courage uplifts them. Implications for research, policy and practice are discussed.