Monthly Updates


January 2020


IFSD is pleased to provide the fifth monthly update to its stakeholders on the progress of the First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) Project – Phase 2.

Download the January 2020 update


Principal Updates
  • IFSD is continuing its work on refining the results framework in collaboration with agencies and experts.  A roundtable is scheduled for February 2020.   
  • As the work on data structures and alignment to results is pursued, work is underway on the structure of a funding approach to meet the goal of thriving First Nations children, families and communities.  Cases such as Tennessee are being explored to learn from their experience.
  • Overall participation in the questionnaire has increased to 45%.  To get to at least a 50% participation for all provinces, we need five more agencies from Alberta, and two more agencies each from Saskatchewan and Ontario.  We’re almost there.  Please help us achieve at least 50% participation from each province/region to ensure agencies are represented.  IFSD wishes to thank all those agencies that have participated and is asking that all agencies who have not yet participated to download and return the completed questionnaire as soon as possible.
  • IFSD is continuing to working with an Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) team tasked with delivery of the data consistent with the project’s requirements.
  • IFSD welcomes your feedback throughout this work.

Are you an agency that hasn’t yet participated in the questionnaire?

Connect with IFSD or download the questionnaire


Money as a tool for change

At its core, performance budgeting is about aligning spending to desired results.  Money can be used as a tool to incentive an outcome.  In our case, we want money to be a tool for agencies to support the development of thriving First Nations children, families and communities. 

In a perfect world, both the amount of funding and the way the funding flows to recipients, would support desired outcomes.  The current First Nations child and family services (FNCFS) system incentivizes the placement of children in care to unlock funding.  While funding for prevention-focused programming and services exists and has been bolstered by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) rulings, the structure of the funding system has yet to catch up to the need for a prevention-based approach to funding FNCFS. 

Agencies and stakholders made it clear that agency leadership spend time trying to find ways of working around the current funding system, rather than having a system that works for them.  IFSD recognizes the importance of a funding approach that enables agencies to act in the best interest of children and families.  By looking to the experiences of other jurisdictions, IFSD will leverage their lessons and best practices to inform an alternative funding approach for FNCFS in Canada.

In child and family services, notably in the United States, various budgeting models have been adopted to promote permanent placements for children in care.  In jurisdictions such as Tennessee, performance-based contracting has shifted the focus of service providers from system processes (how things are done) toward improved outcomes for children (an accountability for results). 

IFSD had the opportunity to learn about Tennessee’s model from those that developed it for the state.  The State of Tennessee’s approach to child welfare is premised on the goal of timely permanency for children (either through family reunification or adoption).  By reducing the length of stay of a child in care, there are improved outcomes for the child and lower associated costs.

To achieve the goal of permanency, Tennessee adopted a performance-based contracting (PBC) model.  In this model, providers are financially incented to promote the permanent placement of children and are benchmarked against their own performance.  The state pays for a result and bills providers that do not meet their agreed targets.  

There are three core components to the PBC model:

  1. Reduce the length of stay of a child in care;
  2. Increase rates of permanency;
  3. Reduce rates of re-entry of children into the protection system.  

Since its initial implementation in 2006, Tennessee’s PBC model has proven to be cost-neutral for the state and has promoted a reduction in the number of children in care. 

Tennessee’s child welfare system is comprised of state-run apprehension services supplemented by a network of providers.  The providers undertake all maintenance, placement, family-support and care services post-apprehension or contact with the child welfare system.

The program’s financial information suggests that PBC is incentivizing better program practices and more stability for children by focusing on Tennessee’s continuum of care.  Since the start of PBC, Tennessee has been paying out more in reinvestment dollars (to providers meeting their targets), than it has required payment in penalties for not meeting them.  When the model was paired with an increase in prevention-focused funding, the number of children in care dropped (it rose again when those prevention investments were eliminated due to state spending changes).   

IFSD recognizes that there is no single model that be transposed for the unique contexts of FNCFS agencies and the communities that they serve.  There is no plan to adopt Tennessee’s PBC model for Canada.  However, Tennessee offers three useful lessons for consideration as funding approaches are being considered. 

First, Tennessee implemented a significant shift in its child welfare system that went from “buying beds, to buying results.”  We can learn from Tennessee’s experience with transition by encouraging those providers ready to adapt and providing resources and support for those needing more time to adjust to the new system. 

Second, Tennessee benchmarks its services provides against themselves.  Comparing the activities of service providers to their own context and their own practices can be a useful point of departure when introducing a new system.  Providers in Tennessee were only asked to do better than themselves; no one else.  This approach helps to recognize diverse contexts and practices to child and family services. 

Third, Tennessee successfully used money to change outcomes.  Even though a reduction in the number of children in care is not the same goal as enabling First Nations children to thrive, that Tennessee encouraged behavioural changes in its service providers is a helpful lesson for other jurisdictions grappling with change.

IFSD will continue to build assessments of comparative cases that have altered their funding approaches to achieve different results, e.g. West Region Child and Family Services’ block funding experience from the 2000s. 


Participation gaps – questionnaire

We are close to achieving our goal of at least 50% participation in each province/region.  To reach the targeted threshold, we require five more agencies from Alberta, and two more agencies each from Saskatchewan and Ontario to complete the survey.  Several provinces have made very good progress in the last month, most especially, Saskatchewan. 

The information from the questionnaire will help IFSD to ensure alignment to need as a funding approach is developed and more accurately cluster agencies to model the effects of transition. 

By sharing your experience, you’re making this work more representative and reflective of your agency’s reality. 


Next steps
  1. Continue to build comparative assessments of results-focused funding approaches.
  2. Prepare for stakeholder and expert roundtable to finalize the performance framework and data collection strategies.
  3. Finalize FNCFS agency participation to complete the questionnaire and analyze data provided through the questionnaire.
  4. Continue to work with ISC to complete the data request.

Contact information

IFSD is pleased to respond to requests for further information or to provide individual briefings on the project and its project. For questions about the project or to participate, please contact:

Dr. Helaina Gaspard, Director, Governance and Institutions
Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy
helaina.gaspard@ifsd.ca
1 (613) 983-8461

December 2019


IFSD is pleased to provide monthly updates to its stakeholders on the progress of the First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) Project – Phase 2.

Download the December 2019 update


Principal Updates
  • Following the update on the results framework, this update will focus on the related necessary data.
  • Relevant, available, comparable, and consistenly captured data is necessary to give life to a results framework. 
  • IFSD has prepared a draft alignment of necessary data and data gaps in the current universe of available information.  Consult the full update for details.
  • Overall participation in the questionnaire has increased to 42%.  Saskatchewan’s participation has improved significantly to 37% (over double its previous rate).  Important gaps remain however, for Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan.  The goal is to achieve at least 50% participation from each province/region to ensure agencies are represented.  IFSD wishes to thank all those agencies that have participated and is asking that all agencies who have not yet participated to download and return the completed questionnaire as soon as possible.
  • IFSD is now working with an Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) team tasked with delivery of the data consistent with the project’s requirements.
  • IFSD welcomes your feedback throughout this work.

Are you an agency that hasn’t yet participated in the questionnaire?

Connect with IFSD or download the questionnaire


Data alignment and data gaps

There are a variety of indicators proposed in the performance framework to capture progress across the four sub-strategic outcomes defined in Phase 1 – Enabling First Nations Children to Thrive.  The table below summarizes the linkage between sub-strategic objective, measure and indicators, and includes the feasibility of accessing the data required. 

Green

Feasible

Green means feasibly accessible because the data is already being captured or an agency could easily collect the data. 

Yellow

Somewhat feasible

Yellow implies somewhat feasibly accessible.  While the data may not exist publicly, nor is it likely being captured by agencies, the request falls within the agency’s mandate and the data could be feasibly collected by an agency.

Red

Difficult

Red indicates some challenge in accessing the data as it falls outside of a typical agency’s mandate, and may require collaboration with a third party to capture the information.

Sub-objective

Performance Area

Measure

Indicators

Safety

Protection

Protection from all forms of maltreatment

Recurrence of maltreatment

Serious injuries/deaths

Recurrence of child protection concerns after ongoing protection services

Non-accidental child injury

Child sexual abuse

Permanency

Permanency status

Out of home placement rate

Number of moves in care

Timeliness of family reunification

Timeliness of adoptions

Out of home care

Percentage of children placed with kin and/or Indigenous families within their community

Quality of caregiver and youth relationship

Child well-being

Cognitive development

School readiness

Percentage of 3 and 4-year-olds participating in funded early years education

Basic literacy score

Basic numeracy score

Advanced literacy score

Interest in literacy/numeracy and memory score

Educational attainment

Literacy and numeracy test scores (middle childhood)

Positive attitude towards school/learning

Youth who intend on going to full-time post-secondary (e.g. college, trade school, university)

Social relationships

Social support and belonging

Youth who report positive relations with their parents or caregiver

Youth with 5 or more close friends

Youth who report positive relations with siblings and extended family

Youth who report positive relations with non-family adults

Youth who report strong ties with elders in the community

Social engagement

Youth who report some involvement, participation or contribution within the community

Youth who participate in extracurricular activities

Psychological and emotional well-being

Child behaviour

Anxious and fearful behaviour

Aggressive behaviour

Hyperactivity and inattentive behaviour

Social competence

Communication skills

Prosocial and helping behaviour

Social intelligence (e.g. cooperation, conflict resolution, trust, intimacy)

Subjective well-being

Self-reported happiness/life satisfaction

Self-reported mental health

Esteem

Sense of purpose

Optimism and hope

Resilience

Confidence

Agency

Cultural and spiritual well-being

Spirituality

Sense of belonging to cultural group

Pride in Indigenous identity

Sense of connection to the land

Participation in spiritual practice/knowledge/ceremony

Tradition

Speaks traditional language

Eats traditional foods

Physical health and well-being

Overall physical health

Low birth weight

Breastfed for at least 6 months

Children living with a disability or chronic illness

Healthy habits

Eating habits

Level of physical activity

Sleep habits

Risk management

Teenage birth rate

Percentage who report using illicit drugs in the past month

Percentage who report binge drinking in the last month

Smoking in the last month

Family well-being

Self-sufficiency

Secure parental employment and parental participation in the labour force

Labour force status

Job tenure/permanency

Ability to meet basic needs

Household income sufficient to meet basic needs for transportation, housing and utilities, food, clothing, childcare and other necessary expenses

Family health and protective factors

Physical health status of parents or caregivers

Chronic conditions

Eating habits

Drug use (alcohol, smoking, illicit drugs, prescription medication)

Mental health status of parents and caregivers

Self-reported mental health

Symptoms of anxiety and depression

Thoughts of suicide/self-harm

Family protective factors

Parental resilience

Social connections

Knowledge of parent and child development

Concrete support in times of need

Developmental parenting and attachment

Community well-being

Access to basic needs

Access to potable water

Number of long-term drinking water advisories affecting FN water systems

Access to suitable housing

Percentage of homes that are suitable

Percentage of homes in need of major repairs

Access to broadband connectivity

Percentage of homes with internet connectivity

Community infrastructure

Presence of point of community assembly, health centre, elementary school, recreational space or facility

Overall poverty level

Median household income compared to provincial or national poverty line

Mental health and counselling services

Child and family services/social services

Health and medical services

Respite care

Transportation and accommodation (medical and non-medical appointments)

Public safety and community health

Health and safety

Rates of reported suicide attempts

Rates of reported heavy drinking

Rates of reported drug use

BMI rates

Rates of chronic health conditions

Rates of violent crime

Educational attainment

High school graduation rate

Rate of post-secondary education

IFSD welcomes your feedback on the alignment of data and indicators.  IFSD looks forward to continuing to refine this framework with its stakeholders.   

Beyond the availability of data, there are considerations relative to its accessibility and its sufficient detail for analytic use. Publicly accessible data tends to be available (e.g. housing, access to potable water) but aggregated, which limits its applicability for decision-support in specific domains. Granular data may be available at the level of the individual agency or First Nation, but is not always readily available, comparable or consistently captured (i.e. loss of time series).

The draft diagram below plots the indicators from the performance framework based on their current-state accessibility and granularity.  A significant majority of indicators are accessible but insufficiently granular (bottom right quandrant).  This suggests that while there is aggregate data at the level of a First Nation, a province or region, the data may not have the necessary detail to measure the indicator defined in the performance framework.  For instance, there may be data at the level of the First Nation on alcohol and drug misuse (for assessment of the risk management indicator), but that data may not be available for the individual child.  Even though individual data will not be shared, it is a useful internal metric for agency decision-support and planning for the child and family.  The mismatch between accessibility and granularity is not insurmountable.  It will require agency action with requisite resources. 

The upper right quadrant is both accessible and sufficiently granular.  Most of this data relates to child safety, as it is expected that agencies already collect this information at the level of the individual child for their case files.  It is anticipated that while this data will not be made public at the level of the individual, the aggregated data can be a reliable source of information to asses overall outcomes for children and families in a community.  Some community level data is also included, as it can be accessed from public sources at the level of the First Nation.  Such data includes housing suitability and access to potable water to fulfill certain indicators.  The two community well-being indicators related to infrastructure and health and social services in the bottom left corner are deemed both insufficiently granular and insufficiently accessible because the data does not tend to exist.  It would be up to individual communities or agencies to collect or produce this data.    

To help to close the data gaps and ensure data is relevant for the proposed results framework, a mix of existing and new data will have to be collected and analysed.

This is an opportunity for agencies to standardize the capture of relevant data to support planning, decision-making, and the alignment of activities and resources for the well-being of children, families and communities.

In the coming months, IFSD looks forward to sharing a data framework that agencies may wish to leverage to capture their own information.


Participation gaps – questionnaire

Manitoba and British Columbia have reached the 50% participation threshold, and the Atlantic region has surpassed it at 55%.  Saskatchewan has more than doubled its participation rate in less than four weeks.  IFSD is grateful for this effort.  To reach the 50% target participation rate per region, we are asking agencies in Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec to continue to complete the questionnaire if they have not already done so.     

The information from the questionnaire will help IFSD to ensure alignment to need as a funding approach is developed and more accurately cluster agencies to model the effects of transition. 

By sharing your experience, you’re making this work more representative and reflective of your agency’s reality. 


Next steps
  1. Present a full draft results framework and data alignment to working group members, including case study agencies and experts (scheduled to meet in February 2020).
  2. Continue to build comparative assessments of results-focused funding approaches.
  3. Finalize FNCFS agency participation to complete the questionnaire and analyze data provided through the questionnaire.
  4. Continue to work with ISC to complete the data request.

Contact information

IFSD is pleased to respond to requests for further information or to provide individual briefings on the project and its project. For questions about the project or to participate, please contact:

Dr. Helaina Gaspard, Director, Governance and Institutions
Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy
helaina.gaspard@ifsd.ca
1 (613) 983-8461

November 2019


IFSD is pleased to provide monthly updates to its stakeholders on the progress of the First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) Project – Phase 2

Download the November 2019 update


Principal Updates
  • At this time 37% of FNCFS agencies have completed the questionnaire.  There are significant participation gaps in Saskatchewan, Ontario and Alberta.  The goal is to achieve at least 50% participation from each province/region to ensure agencies are represented.  IFSD wishes to thank all those agencies that have participated and is asking that all agencies who have not yet participated to download and return the completed questionnaire as soon as possible.
  • A draft results framework is available in the full update, which builds from the goal of enabling First Nations children to thrive defined in Phase 1.  This framework will serve as the point of departure for the funding approach.  IFSD welcomes feedback from agencies on this work.
  • IFSD is continuing to work with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) to complete its August 2019 data request on departmental spending.
  • IFSD is grateful to all of the agencies who have come forward to serve as case studies and regular collaborators for this project.  We look forward to visiting and learning from you.
  • IFSD welcomes your feedback throughout this work.

Are you an agency that hasn’t yet participated in the questionnaire?

Connect with IFSD or download the questionnaire


Participation gaps – questionnaire

The short (7-question) questionnaire is designed to capture basic information on funding (e.g. total expenditures, CHRT funding requested) and performance practices among FNCFS agencies.  Most of the questionnaire can be completed by checking boxes. 

The information from the questionnaire will help IFSD to ensure alignment to need as a funding approach is developed and more accurately cluster agencies to model the effects of transition. 


In Phase 1, the participation rate for 100+ question survey was 76%.  The overall participation rate for the Phase 2, 7-question questionnaire, is currently 37%.  IFSD is targeting at least 50% participation from each province/region for representivity.  By sharing your experience, you’re making this work more representative and reflective of your agency’s reality.  We encourage all agencies to complete the survey.


Results framework

The results framework is designed to ‘flip the current structure on its head’ by defining the end goal (thriving First Nations children) and building out a funding approach that aligns to that outcome.   

The table below is a high-level overview of the overall goal, the means through which it can be achieved and the way in which progress can be monitored by agencies.   

IFSD encourages you to share your input and ideas to enhance the framework.

Strategic Outcome: Thriving First Nations Children

The overarching goal, to which all activities contribute.

Sub-Strategic Outcomes

Areas of focus to achieve the strategic outcome.

Safety

Children are protected from harm and achieve permanency in their living situation.

Child well-being

Children reach their full developmental potential and have hope, belonging, purpose and meaning.

Family well-being

Families enjoy a safe, stable environment in which to foster healthy relationships.

Community well-being

Communities have adequate infrastructure, services, resiliency and belonging to ensure collective safety, stability and well-being.

Performance Areas

The lenses through which progress on sub-strategic outcomes can be understood.

  • Protection
  • Permanency
  • Cognitive development
  • Social relationships
  • Psychological and emotional development
  • Cultural and spiritual development
  • Physical well-being
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Family health and protective factors
  • Access to basic needs
  • Gaps in services to community
  • Public safety and community health

Measures

Means of assessing progress in performance areas.

  • Protection from all forms of maltreatment
  • Emergency mental health
  • Permanency status
  • Out-of-home care
  • Educational attainment
  • Social support and engagement
  • Child behaviour, mental and social well-being
  • Spirituality and tradition
  • Overall physical health, healthy habits and risk management
  • Parental employment
  • Ability to meet basic needs
  • Physical and mental health of caregivers
  • Family protective factors
  • Access to potable water, housing, broadband and community infrastructure
  • Poverty level
  • Gaps in health and social services
  • Overall community mental and physical health status

Examples of key performance indicators

The variable measured.

  • Recurrence of maltreatment
  • Number of moves in care
  • Sense of belonging to cultural group
  • Literacy and numeracy scores
  • Youth who report positive relations with parents, friends and elders
  • Parental job tenure and permanency
  • Self-reported physical and mental health
  • Developmental parenting and attachment
  • Number of boil water advisories
  • Median household income
  • Rates of suicide attempts


Next steps
  1. Finalize FNCFS agency participation to complete the questionnaire and analyze data provided through the questionnaire.
  2. Continue to identify and acquire federal spending data required to establish a clear portrait of allocations and spending.
  3. Continue to refine the results framework and comparative assessments of results-focused funding approaches.
  4. Continue to work with ISC to complete the data request.

Contact information

IFSD is pleased to respond to requests for further information or to provide individual briefings on the project and its project. For questions about the project or to participate, please contact:

Dr. Helaina Gaspard, Director, Governance and Institutions
Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy
helaina.gaspard@ifsd.ca
1 (613) 983-8461

October 2019


IFSD is pleased to provide monthly updates to its stakeholders on the progress of the First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) Project – Phase 2.

Download the October 2019 update


Principal Updates
  • IFSD has extended the questionnaire deadline to November 6, 2019.  FNCFS gencies are encouraged to complete the short questionnaire and return it via email to IFSD, if they haven’t already done so.
  • Some basic data on FNCFS program spending was shared by ISC pursuant to IFSD’s August 2019 request for required data.  The balance of the request is in-progress.  
  • IFSD is seeking other FNCFS agencies to join those which have already agreed to serve as case studies and regular collaborators for this project.  This will be a unique opportunity to share your experiences and have them inform this work on funding approach development.Are you an agency that hasn’t yet participated in the questionnaire, or would like to inquire about being a case study agency?

Connect with IFSD


Current state spending by Indigenous Services Canada (ISC)

IFSD submitted a request for data in August 2019 to ISC.  Some basic elements of the request have been fulfilled (and others are in progress).  The data delivered by ISC suggests that:

  • FNCFS program spending has trended upward since 2014-15, with an important increase between 2017-18 and 2018-19.

  • Over time, Manitoba, Ontario and Alberta have received the largest total FNCFS program transfers.

  • Ontario-based agencies have received the highest amount of CHRT-mandated supplementary funding.

  • Agencies serving at least one community inaccessible by year-round receive larger transfers than those serving communities accessible by year-round round (using only identifiable agencies in ISC’s data).

Would your agency like to be considered as a case study agency?

In addition to the questionnaire, IFSD is seeking in-depth engagement from approximately 12 FNCFS agencies and two communities not served by a FNCFS agency. These agencies, all with different characteristics (e.g. geographic location, size, etc.), will be selected to serve as representative cases for the project. These agencies/communities will work closely with IFSD to evaluate and test models and frameworks throughout the project.

Are you an agency that hasn’t yet participated in the questionnaire, or would like to inquire about being a case study agency?

Connect with IFSD


Next steps
  1. Finalize FNCFS agency participation to complete the questionnaire.
  2. Compile and analyze data provided through the questionnaire, once at least a 30% participation rate is achieved.
  3. Continue to identify and acquire federal spending data required to establish a clear portrait of allocations and spending.
  4. Finalize the complement of case study agencies who will work closely with IFSD throughout this phase of work.
  5. Leverage experiences from experts and jurisdictions in the United States, e.g. State of Tennessee, Chapin Hall (University of Chicago), to identify lessons and practices for a holistic approach to child welfare.  There is no wholesale transfer of any model, but we can learn from what worked and what did not in other jurisdictions.  Any approach will have to be informed by cultural practices and the goal of holistic well-being.  
  6. Continue to refine the performance architecture and comparative assessments of results-focused funding approaches.

Contact information

IFSD is pleased to respond to requests for further information or to provide individual briefings on the project and its project. For questions about the project or to participate, please contact:

Dr. Helaina Gaspard, Director, Governance and Institutions
Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy
helaina.gaspard@ifsd.ca
1 (613) 983-8461