The issue of child welfare is quite complicated especially when it is placed within the context of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child. Canada is one of the countries in the world in which a large number of cases of inequality in terms of child treatment are witnessed. This comes from the child welfare reports that denote that children from the aboriginal communities face a higher number of risks compared to children from other communities in the country. Most of the questions that are raised over the issue of equality in child treatment in Canada revolve around the prevailing inequalities in social welfare, like healthcare and education. In the paper, it is argued that a lot of gaps in child welfare in Canada are still prevalent, irrespective of the fact that a substantial number of social policies have been developed to help tackle inequality in terms of child treatment in Canada.
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This paper explores the issue of inequality in terms of the embrace of child welfare in Canada. Of greater focus in the paper is a deeper look into the issue of the welfare of aboriginal children in Canada. The paper focuses on the rights of the aboriginal children in accessing education and health and social protection. The paper begins by presenting a historical overview of the quest for equality of aboriginal children in Canada. This is followed by an exploration of a social policy; that is, child care policy as related to addressing issues of health, education and social protection of the aboriginal children in Canada. The interplay of the stakeholders at different levels of government when it comes to enforcement of child rights protection is discussed.
Historical overview of the maltreatment of the aboriginal children in Canada
It is critical to note that the issue of maltreatment of the aboriginal population in Canada has prevailed for a long period. Therefore, the maltreatment of the aboriginal children is considered to be an extension of the problem of balancing between the rights of all children in Canada. The convention that oversees the rights of children in the entire world emphasizes on equality in terms of discharging social services to all children. However, the question of ethnicity in Canada is the main source from which the differences in child treatment in the country arise. The question that ought to be answered at this juncture concerns the developments and factors that have supported maltreatment of aboriginal children in Canada. According to National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health (1), a substantial number of amendments have been made to the provincial and federal policies of Canada as a way of ensuring that equality is attained in treatment of children across the races that prevail in the country.
Towards the last quarter of the 20th century, a lot of inequalities still prevailed in terms of social access for children across the races in Canada. These inequalities were enhanced by lack of commitment at the state and provincial levels. The state and the provincial administration did not provide adequate support as far as enforcement and implementation of reforms were concerned. Therefore, aboriginal families in Canada began formulating their own welfare to cater for the social needs and rights of the aboriginal children, which according to them had been neglected by the main stakeholders. However, it is vital to note that the aboriginal communities in the country suffer greatly from lack of economic capacity due to the long standoff between them and the government of Canada, resulting in their marginalization (Trocmé, Knoke and Blackstock 582). This is backed by statistics in researches that were conducted in the recent times. These studies show a wide variation in terms of the economic welfare status of the whites and other races in Canada.
The aboriginal children embrace the traditional cultural systems. There have been tremendous efforts by the Canadian government to suppress the traditional cultures of the aboriginal communities on the one hand, and the pressure by the communities to continue holding to the traditional culture on the other hand. The neglect of the social welfare of the aboriginal children by the state and provincial governments depicts an extension of the standoff between the government of Canada and the aboriginal communities in the country over the nature of culture that is embraced by the aborigines. According to social perspectives, the aboriginal children are mere victims of the traditional practices and cultures that are embraced in the community in which they originate. Contemporary developments in child welfare in Canada denote an increase in the number of interventions that have seen the development of child welfare models that are aimed at increasing the social welfare status of the aboriginal children in Canada (National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health 1-2).
The mainstream child social services is an area that is being given a considerable level of attention as a diverse set of players work towards ensuring that equality prevails in terms of discharging essential social services to all children across Canada. It is apparent that a substantial number of aboriginal children in Canada still get their social services from the provincial child welfare schemes. The provincial child welfare schemes are charged with the task of making laws and regulating the operations and activities of the agencies that are charged with the task of providing social welfare services to the aboriginal children. The weakness of the mainstream services is the reason why there has been a push for the development of policies that support the establishment of delegated models of providing social welfare services to the aboriginal children in the country. Under the delegate models, the federal government grants a precedent amount of authority to the agencies that are involved in the discharge of social welfare services to the aboriginal children (National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health 2-3).
It can, thus, be argued that the efforts to provide an inclusive environment in terms of providence of social welfare services for all children in Canada is something that can be realized as more agencies, both local and international, show commitment to bridging the gap that has prevailed for a long period (Trocmé, Knoke and Blackstock. 582). According to Sinha and Kozlowski (6), a lot has be done by stakeholders in order to address the structural issues that are eminent in the culture and traditions of the aborigines to pave way for effective enforcement of changes that will fully enable implementation of social welfare schemes for the aboriginal children.
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The child care policy and the protection of the welfare of the aboriginal children
The target group
Research shows that the aboriginal children in Canada form 6 percent of the child population in Canada. It can be argued that this is a minute population compared to the population of white children in the country. However, the scale of ignorance and segregation against the aboriginal population in the country is quite high, raising questions about the basis on which child welfare services are discharged in the country (Sinha and Kozlowski 6). At this level, it is vital to bring in the issue of human rights and the rights of children as brought out in the United Nations Charter, specifically the declaration of the rights of children. The high level at which the rights of the aboriginal children are overlooked by the government of Canada raises a lot of questions on the commitment of the state government in enforcing the internationally accepted laws on catering for the rights and needs of all children in a country. It can be argued that this began with the long held battle between the government and the aboriginal communities over what the government sees as the embrace of an undesirable culture by the aboriginal communities in the country. The other important thing to note is that culture has been the main basis on which segregation advances are made against the aboriginal communities in the country. Therefore, development of a policy that ensures the creation of a level playing ground in terms of discharge of social welfare services for all Canadian children is one sure way of ensuring that Canadian children realize the benefits of social services in the country (Sinha and Kozlowski 6).
The other basis on which the development and need for improving the child care policy in Canada is based is the fact that the socioeconomic status of the aboriginal communities in Canada is still far much lower, thereby becoming a factor that incapacitates the communities themselves from catering for the welfare of their children (Blackstock, Trocmé, and Bennett 901 902). Therefore, the failure of the government to embrace social equality in terms of discharge of services to children in the country is a factor that compounds the problem of child care amongst the aboriginal populations in the country. Incidences of child maltreatment in the country, according to a substantial number of researches in the country, denote a higher rate of maltreatment among the aboriginal children compared to children from other communities. This is depicted in the rate of out-of-home care programs among the communities, as well as the scale of neglect of children in the same communities. It is imperative to say that the social state of the aboriginal children is quite low and its rate is further promoted by failure of the state government to enforce laws that can assure the aboriginal children of care and social security. Therefore, as far as the childcare policy in Canada is concerned, the policy needs to focus on aspects of policy development and enforcement that favour the aboriginal population.
According to the argument that has been presented in this section, it is imperative to note that the main target group as far as the development of the child care policy in Canada is concerned is the aboriginal children population. The rationale behind the observation is that there are a lot of statistical indicators that point to the fact that the rates of care and the enforcement of child care laws among the aboriginal communities are quite low. This is why most researchers are interested in ascertaining the balance in social welfare across the country. In addition, the historical antecedents in the country concerning the issue of socioeconomic equality have shown an equally lower level of socioeconomic developments among the aboriginal populations in Canada (Blackstock, Trocmé, and Bennett 903). This is one of pillar bases on which the justification of maltreatment and exposure of the aboriginal children to poor social conditions is done. The child care policy needs to be revitalized in order to address the problem through establishment of schemes that can ensure that the welfare needs and rights of the aboriginal children in Canada are catered for.
The players in the development and enforcement of the child care policy in Canada
The state government and the provincial governments are the key players that have to oversee the development of an effective child care policy and the subsequent implementation of the policy. As observed earlier in the paper, the provincial government in the earlier years was the main body that was charged with overseeing the implementation of the child care programs. Therefore, child care programs and all agencies that are responsible for discharging healthcare services were channelled to the target groups through the directives of the provincial governments. However, the fact that there was a lot of mainstreaming in terms of operations of the provincial government meant that it was quite daunting to meet the goals of such programs. This paved way for other models of discharging child care services in the country. The most outstanding model among the new models that have been developed is the delegated model that is overseen by the state government. The implication of this model is that the outright role of providing childcare services remains to be a responsibility of the state and provincial governments. However, there is increased delegation of roles and functions to the specific agencies that do most of the work. State and provincial governments are only left with the task of overseeing and offering logistical and legal support to the child care agencies (National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health 2).
The state and the provincial governments work hand in hand with most of the law enforcers of the child welfare that is developed by the state government enshrined in the provincial laws. The role of state is quite elusive when it comes to ensuring that the rights of all people in the country are catered for. Therefore, the child care policy is one of the policy frameworks that are developed by the Canadian government as it forges its way towards ensuring that all people meet their needs, besides enjoying their rights. The executive role of developing and ensuring the implementation of the child care policy in Canada is with the state government. The overall policy is developed by the state government, after which the provincial governments develop supportive sub-policies and legislations in order to provide a supportive background on which the child care policy is implemented.
The rationale for funding the full implementation of the policy
Funding of programs that are run by the respective agencies in child care programs in the country also needs to be addressed. As observed earlier, the government is the main body that is responsible for ensuring that the rights of children are promoted across the entire Canadian population. As such, the first source of funding for the implementation of the child care policy is the state government. One of the approaches that can be used in raising funds to support the program is through appeal of the government for funding from the corporate sector in the country. The government has to do this by showing its commitment in dealing with the issue of inequality and unfairness in terms of provision of social services to Canadian children. One way of showing commitment to such programs is the government ensuring that that it brings on board representatives from the aboriginal community, who can then help in bringing out the critical concerns about the welfare of the aboriginal children in the country. The other way of ensuring that enough funds are gathered for implementation of the policy is by passing of legislation at the state level to help compel the federal government and the provincial governments to set aside a certain amount of money in their budgets.
Opinions about the policy
The democrat socialists view the policy as a propelling force toward the development of an inclusive environment as far as the social welfare of all children in Canada is concerned. According to social democrats, there has been the need to strike a balance in terms of provision of social welfare services for children in the country. On the other hand, there is a section of the conservatives in the country who have been behind the policies that have promoted the gap in discharge of social services to children across ethnicities in Canada. Therefore, the conservative minds are bound to be hindrances in the implementation of the policy. It is also worthwhile to note that conservatives are also among the aboriginal populations who want to maintain the traditions of the aborigines, irrespective of the fact that it supports the redundant policies. The liberals do not have a radical view on the policy; however, they back the attributes of the policy that are geared toward promoting an environment that caters for the social welfare of all children across the ethnic divide in the country.
Child welfare in Canada is an issue that is historical in nature, particularly the concern about maltreatment of the aboriginal children in the country. The segregation policies in the country concerning equality in the treatment of the population can be redressed through adoption of a clear child policy that can then act as a foundation on which total elimination of the antecedents of segregation of the aboriginal population in the country can be achieved. Maltreatment of aboriginal children in Canada is a pointer to a weak social policy arising from institutional weaknesses or malfunctions in the country. From the discussion conducted in the paper, it is justifiable to say that the child care policy is a desired framework on which maltreatment and segregation of the aboriginal children in social welfare programs can be contained. The policy has to be developed and overseen by the government for it to be effective. Proper planning, commitment of the government, involvement of the affected parties and the entire public are vital if the policy has to be fully enforced.
Blackstock, Cindy, Nico Trocmé, and Marlyn Bennett. “Child Maltreatment Investigations among Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Families in Canada.” Violence against Women 10.8 (2004): 901-916. Print.
National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health. Child Welfare Services in Canada: Aboriginal & Mainstream. 2010. Web.
Sinha, Vandna, and Anna Kozlowski. “The Structure of Aboriginal Child Welfare in Canada.” The International Indigenous Policy Journal 4.2 (2013): 5-13. Print.
Trocmé, Nico, Della Knoke, and Cindy Blackstock. “Pathways to the Overrepresentation of Aboriginal Children in Canada’s Child Welfare System.” Social Service Review 78.4 (2004): 577-600. Print.