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Moving Forward: Implementing the 'Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children'

Touchstones of Hope Initiative, Canada

Focus 10: Supporting appropriate traditional care responses

The Touchstones of Hope initiative is a grassroots movement for reconciliation in Aboriginal child welfare systems. The Touchstones of Hope are guiding principles, interpreted by Aboriginal communities to respect the diversity of cultures and contexts. They are the foundation for a reconciliation movement that aims to strengthen relationships among individuals, with a focus on child welfare. The overall goal is to identify gaps in services and policies, define what is needed for improvements and implement next steps for a healthier population. The movement aims to remodel child welfare systems so that they foster Aboriginal cultures and values in order to ensure the success of all Aboriginal children, youth and families.

As part of the process of developing this initiative, a participatory evaluation was conducted to provide their insights into the cultural understandings that constitute Aboriginal communities’ experiences with child welfare services. This helped increase collaboration among groups working in child welfare, support more respectful practice by child welfare staff members, and supported families to learn new coping skills, which enabled them to be reunited with their children as a result. Participants emphasised the self-determination as crucial to realising a better future for Aboriginal children and youth. Gains have been made by professionals, community members and leaders as a result of sharing knowledge with one another. Child welfare staff members reported more collaborative interactions with Aboriginal families and improved outcomes for children and youth as a result of their involvement with the Touchstones of Hope initiative. Participants also expressed their enthusiasm for and deep engagement in the reconciliation process, while recognising the challenge of keeping key people actively involved over the long-term.

For more information see: Reconciliation in Child Welfare: Touchstones of Hope for Indigenous Children, Youth, and Families

International Social Service, Oak Foundation, SOS Children's Villages International, unicef, ATD Fourth World, Better Care Network, Family for every child, ngo group for the crc, PEPFAR, RELAF, Save the Children, USAID