Tuesday 17 May 1994

Children at risk

Better Beginnings, Better Futures

Jassy Narayen, project coordinator, Guelph

Gary Zuber, volunteer

Nancy Beauchamp, part-time community visitor

Andrea Robinson, volunteer and in-home visitor

Clara Akinsemoyin, volunteer and in-home visitor

Brenda Lee Lowes, volunteer

Lisa MacLean, volunteer

Moe Brubacher, executive director, Wellington County Family and Children's Services

Suzanne Flanagan, project coordinator, Kingston

Leslie McDiarmid, project coordinator, Ottawa

Dilico Ojibway Child and Family Services

Wally McKay, consultant

Institute for the Prevention of Child Abuse

Anne Telford, director, prevention and information services


*Chair / Président: Beer, Charles (York-Mackenzie L)

*Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Eddy, Ron (Brant-Haldimand L)

*Carter, Jenny (Peterborough ND)

Cunningham, Dianne (London North/-Nord PC)

*Hope, Randy R. (Chatham-Kent ND)

*Martin, Tony (Sault Ste Marie ND)

McGuinty, Dalton (Ottawa South/-Sud L)

*O'Connor, Larry (Durham-York ND)

*O'Neill, Yvonne (Ottawa-Rideau L)

Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre ND)

Rizzo, Tony (Oakwood ND)

Wilson, Jim (Simcoe West/-Ouest PC)

*In attendance / présents

Clerk / Greffier: Arnott, Doug

Staff / Personnel: Boucher, Joanne, research officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1541 in room 151.


Consideration of a matter designated pursuant to standing order 125 relating to children "at risk."


The Vice-Chair (Mr Ron Eddy): Good afternoon. Welcome to the standing committee on social development, which is now holding hearings on standing order 125, the designated matter being children "at risk."

Our first presenters are representatives of Better Beginnings, Better Futures. Welcome and please proceed, introducing yourselves as you begin to speak for Hansard. Please begin.

Ms Jassy Narayen: Good afternoon, Mr Chairman and committee members. My name is Jassy Narayen and I'm the project coordinator for the Onward Willow Better Beginnings, Better Futures project in Guelph. On behalf of the Ottawa, Kingston and Guelph projects that are here today and the other nine projects we are representing, we wish to thank the committee for this opportunity to speak to you about primary prevention and reducing risks for young children.

Better Beginnings, Better Futures is an exciting and exhilarating adventure which is all about children, increasing the protective and nurturing supports which they need within their families, in their neighbourhoods and in the wider community in order to grow and to thrive.

Our presentation today will demonstrate the working partnership among community members, integrating agencies and staff. Each member of our group will speak about a different aspect of the project. The six community members here today will tell you how positive changes are happening in their neighbourhoods and about the benefits of better beginnings to parents as well as children. An agency partner will talk about the benefits of integration of services, and colleagues will show slides and activities and also summarize.

I will frame our presentation using two overheads which guide our work. We think that primary prevention is based on some key values. I will briefly review four of those values with you on the overhead.

In Better Beginnings, Better Futures we have a holistic vision of children, where the child is not divided into parts to match the way we divide services. Rather services must be integrated to meet the needs of children. In Better Beginnings, schools, recreation agencies and communities are beginning to work together in the best interests of children.

Our second value is that we believe the policy framework for children's services must reflect the continuum of services, which begin with promotion and include primary prevention, intervention and treatment. Traditionally in Ontario primary prevention has been funded by demonstration grants which begin and end just when they're beginning to work. Primary prevention has to be recognized as an effective program component in the service continuum and resourced by ongoing funding and research.

We see the informal system as a key partner in the helping network. Better Beginnings, Better Futures has created healthy, informal networks in all the communities where they are located. Neighbourhood groups, parent peer support groups, teen drop-in programs, after-school recreation, play groups for little children and peer home visiting are some key ingredients of the informal network. The informal network is the primary buffer for families experiencing stress and distress.

Our fourth value is that the community must be recognized as a source of strength and wisdom for families rather than as a social problem. The community is never apathetic but always ready to become engaged in activities for change. You will hear this commitment and passion at first hand through the community members who are here today. Their testimonials and stories are multiplied 100 times in the communities in which they live.

In Guelph in the past six months community members have contributed in excess of 17,000 hours of volunteer work in their community's best interests. Community members have collected over $30,000 in gifts in kind, such as food, bicycles, clothing, furniture and countless other goods, and they have distributed these without any intake process to families in their communities.

This community capacity we're talking about today exists throughout our province and our country and is the most underutilized resource that we have.

My second overhead you will see three times today or you will hear it referenced three times today. At the heart of Better Beginnings, Better Futures is the child, and we see these circles are nests that protect children. Our agency partner will reference these circles after.

The child is protected by the family. Families are supported to protect their children, the neighbourhood is resourced to protect families and agencies are engaged as the buffer with services that are sensitive and responsive.

I would like to turn my piece over now to Gary Zuber, community member.

Mr Gary Zuber: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for allowing me to speak here today. As Jassy said, my name is Gary Zuber, and I'm dreadfully sorry that I have to read off this piece of paper, but believe me, this thing is attached to my heart in about 45 different places.

In 1988, even earlier, when we moved into the neighbourhood in which we now live, I brought with me a family. I had very little hope, very little future and almost no self-esteem. When I found out about Better Beginnings, Better Futures and Onward Willow and became involved with them as an active volunteer, many things changed in my life, and I would like to reflect upon them now.

I had been witness to many dramatic changes in my neighbourhood, among my neighbours, my family and in my personal life. All of these changes have been for the better, and in many instances, they are still taking place, as we see these changes as a positive influence in everyone's life.

At a time when family values have taken a turn for the worse, I can see positive proof that our project is working and having a profound and far-reaching effect on many residents of what I consider our great community.

Through the hard work and dedication of the countless volunteers with Onward Willow, a great number of people have taken an active role in their own destiny. Just one of these activities is a safety committee, which was instrumental in having overhead lights installed at a dangerous school crossing. We worked hard on a project to have traffic lights put in at a very bad intersection. They're in now and our friends and family and children can cross with as much safety as can be expected at cross-lights.

We also succeeded in convincing Wellington and Guelph Housing Authority to install lights at both housing complexes, which house about 100 families, to install lighting at a cost of $86,000, which was no mean feat, because of safety. They did this even though they had budget restrictions, and it has paid dividends through much more bonding of our community with the housing authority and with the safety for our families.

All of these actions show that we can have a say in the way in which we live and that we can get our message to those who need to listen the most, and I don't need to reiterate who that would be. Many volunteers stood on every team, every committee, every special group involved in our project. Their input is invaluable to the huge success of this project and many creative ideas have been implemented to make our neighbourhood a better place to live.

We have spoken before ad hoc committees on Bill C-69 -- a real piece of cake; a jewel if there ever was one -- spoken at great halls of learning, hobnobbed with heads of state, spreading the philosophy of prevention as the answer to the dilemma of family breakdown. Our philosophy is reality. It works.


We have spoken at all these aforementioned institutions about people trying to escape the web of despair and hopelessness of the social service system. We have petitioned city hall many times and have been to many other functions too numerous to list. As Jassy said, and I broke it down even more, it has been conservatively estimated that volunteers spend as much as 1,200 hours a month at both centres. Figure that out at whatever you think would be a fair wage and it's staggering.

A lot of us like to put things back into the community. Because we can't work doesn't mean we can't participate. My hands do not tremble when I get my cheque at the end of the month. We have sat at home also planning fund-raisers or events, writing letters, phoning for information and distributing food throughout our community. We now reach a network of 120 to 150 families that share daily in leftover food from storage that otherwise would have gone in the garbage.

Many of my peers are actively involved in the workforce once again and many more are actively seeking employment now that their self-esteem has been raised to the level where they think they can participate. Very few of these jobs, however, are much above the minimum wage, mostly in the $6 to $8 range, but it gives us a sense of pride, of achievement, something that is sadly lacking these days. You know what the most amazing thing is? All of this stuff that I have mentioned is cost-effective. That's the key word: "cost-effective." It works; it continues to work; it will work for ever.

These actions are all cost-effective, as I said, and we are not all losers; we are not all users; we are not all abusers. Most of us care deeply about our future, our families, our province and our country and are trying to put something back into our system. Many more good things can happen; they will happen if we are allowed to continue.

We have just scratched the surface. We're learning how to walk and sometimes we stumble, but we are trying to take those first giant steps to self-esteem and dignity. We must persevere. We cannot let this opportunity knock and not be home. We are the way and we are the light at the end of the long, bureaucratic tunnel.

Frankly, we can be the salvation of a society falling into that despair. We have given ourselves a first taste of this self-esteem. We like it and we want more of it and we demand more of it. Please help us to carry the torch to future generations. As partners, nothing is impossible. As people reaching out to people, anything is possible. As partners, our project has embraced many diverse cultures of many different backgrounds and we have learned how to integrate a community into one loving place where people go to meet and greet and share that nurturing care.

Here is my hand, which represents many other hands. Reach out and grasp it and show everyone that all is not lost, that we have not become a society of non-caring people. Show us you care. You'll never regret it. Utilize the greatest asset you have: us. Use us. Show us how to do the things we need to do. Give us the support we need. I know little about politics and a hell of a lot less about policies, but you can mark this on whatever you have handy in front of you: The next party in Ontario that wakes up and smells the roses, realizing that an opportunity has been put right in its lap, will be the one that will lead us out of this wilderness and into a more prosperous future. It is time, boys and girls, to stand up and be counted. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to speak.

Ms Nancy Beauchamp: I guess it's my turn. My name is Nancy Beauchamp and I'm visiting from Ottawa. I live and work with the Better Beginnings, Better Futures program. I live in the Better Beginnings area, which is a subsidized housing area. I've lived there for 20 years and I've also raised my family of six children there.

I must say, when I first heard about the Better Beginnings, Better Futures program, I went to scout it out. I learned and I watched. Play group was up and running, so I checked it out; it looked good. I thought: "My kids would have liked this when they were little, but now they're all grown up. But that's okay, we'll keep this going." Also, I heard about the family visitors program. They would offer support and advocate on the family's behalf, inform, cut through red tape. I thought, "Okay, this could work." I was sold.

The community house is a safe haven, an oasis of safety and security, a real caring atmosphere that feels good. To gain the trust of the community, staff worked hard at this. Not just another agency out to tell people how to live their lives, they went out into the community, did door-to-door. They were out in the community being seen, they had an open-door policy and never gave up.

People in the Better Beginnings neighbourhood used the play group, which is an excellent program. There are lots of kids, moms and dads and care givers who attend every morning. Also, there was a need for a park. Staff and community people talked Ottawa housing into funding and buying equipment. Now we needed to build it; no money to do this. Community people came out and volunteered their time. It was a great atmosphere and it brought the community together.

The community gives input on what they see would be beneficial for their neighbourhood. The biggest change in the community is trust. The staff at Better Beginnings not only work there but are part of the community. Whether the staff live in the community or not, they have become part of the neighbourhood. Need to talk? You will find a good, caring, listening person at the Better Beginnings house, and children of course are always welcome.

We created a women's group. Women got together and decided they needed a safe place to share their feelings. Many of these women were living in violent situations. Women who became part of this program became proactive, wanted to change things. They found their voice, they took power, left abusive relationships. Also, with this program we've included child care, which is very important, and transportation, to make sure the women can get there and back.

We created Women for Change, a popular theatre group. They perform skits on community or domestic violence, and this is to sensitize the public. They have performed for the children's aid workers, council members, teachers, social workers, Kiwanis Club and many more.

The newsletter is another way the community people can share their feelings and express themselves. Communities know more about one another and the fear has diminished.

Power has stayed with the community. Better Beginnings, Better Futures has not taken over. That is an important concept. They offer support, but they do not try to tell the community. They try to gain the trust, empower. They give power back to the community, and I think that's one of the most important things.

Also, there's no long waiting list to get our services, which you see in many, many agencies. When you're in crisis you need the service right away, and whether you're in crisis or not, if you wait until you're in crisis, then it becomes worse.

I think Better Beginnings, Better Futures has proven itself and I would like to see this program, because it took a lot to convince me and I am not easily convinced. I hope it will continue for a long time. Thank you. I will turn you over to Andrea.


Ms Andrea Robinson: Thanks, Nancy. Good afternoon. It's a pleasure to be able to speak here this afternoon.

In addition to being a home visitor for Onward Willow Better Beginnings, Better Futures, I am a volunteer and a participant. Better Beginnings, Better Futures has made a big difference to me and my family.

Upon the breakup of my marriage, I spent a lot of time sleeping. I was too depressed to function. With the help of staff, I was able to come to terms with my situation. Even though I was no longer living in my beautiful house and was unable to socialize in the same circles I was accustomed to, I still had my children, the most important part.

As a home visitor, I provide support to families in four areas: play for children, nutrition, health and recreation. With children, I promote activities that stimulate normal growth and development. To promote healthy eating, I bring nutritional snacks to families. In the area of health, I will assist in the decision of whether the aid of a doctor is needed, or in some cases I can provide information on things to try at home. For recreation, I can enable families to access baseball, volleyball and swimming.

A large part of my work is to encourage families to participate in programs which are held at our centre. However, for some there is a reluctance to participate. Society has told them that they are no-good, beer-drinking losers who do nothing but sit back and smoke away the money they receive from social assistance. They have been mistreated and degraded by bank clerks, welfare and UI workers, grocery clerks, landlords, agencies which assist with food supplements and health service providers. Given these experiences, they have little or no self-esteem and definitely no self-worth.

Through in-home support, I acknowledge the skills they already have and help them acquire new ones. Even though in the wider community, being on social assistance is seen as less than respectable, these families are now proud of what they have achieved. No longer are they embarrassed by the actions of their children in public places. By developing trust through community involvement, consistent visits and peer support, these families are able to accept themselves.

I think home visiting is one of the many important pieces in our project. For people who know what their concerns are and how they could best benefit, our programs are wonderful. For others, we need to dig a little deeper and let them know that they are okay and we care.

Our outreach to new Canadians has resulted in many of these families becoming involved. This is the first time they've been integrated into community activities. This has been good for them as well as those of us born here in Canada. It has taught us all to be more inclusive.

Through this process, many parents have reaped multitudes of benefits, such as returning to school, including university; returning to the workforce, such as Clara and myself; becoming community leaders, such as Gary; becoming more community-focused. Parents who have received this assistance are now role models for parents who need similar support. To view others going through this process has an empowering effect.

We are pleased today to share this with you. Prevention works, and we would like to see it developed in all communities.

We will now pass the chair over to our -- what's the word? -- cohorts.

Ms Clara Akinsemoyin: My name is Clara Akinsemoyin. I'm a volunteer and a home visitor working on the project.

As shown on our overhead, the child is the centre of all our activities. Our major task is to protect them by working towards removing or reducing any element of risk they may be exposed to.

As you are aware, our mandate is to ensure that the child is allowed his full rights to be a child or is empowered to exercise his right to play or his right to be nurtured and his right to be protected within a safe environment. We try to protect these rights through our various in-home and planned centre-based programs, which range from emergency food and clothing supplies to planned activities for different age groups of children.

In Guelph, we have expanded our focus to cover not only children of ages one to four, but those aged zero to 16 years. At present, about 200 children participate in activities on a weekly basis. Seventy children under five are involved in our home-visiting programs.

Some of the activities offered are in-home parent relief for overstressed moms, child care for infants and toddlers in our drop-ins, parent-take-a-break and infant-and-mom groups. There are also preschool activities for children of new Canadians attending ESL classes. In addition, we offer seasonal camps during the March break, summer and at Christmastime for the benefit of older children. There are also drama groups, and the teen and junior rap for the older children. These activities help to provide extramural opportunity for children sometimes overburdened early with too much responsibility at home.

There are numerous benefits that our programs give to our children, and these are obvious to everyone on a daily basis. They help create a safe environment for our children, who are learning through exploration and experimentation during playtime. They provide our children a space of their own and give them a sense of belonging. They give them a chance to feel loved and maybe -- what would you say? -- a focus of attention. They encourage the development of language and social skills and they help our children gain competence that enhances their feeling of self-worth. They give an opportunity to model good behaviour as parents watch. They provide an opportunity for regular healthy snacks. They give our new Canadian children a feeling of belonging to the group, thereby being less timid and learning to speak English faster. They also encourage the understanding of and respect for differences in other children, while teaching them to appreciate the world around them.

Our prevention program is cost-effective because it embraces a cross-section of our community children and facilitates their smooth transition into day care centres and kindergarten.

Fifty per cent of enrolment in our Willowdale day care centre is from the neighbourhood. It is also cost-effective because it helps detect early developmental delays by referring to appropriate services, and it gives a more extensive group experience than our project can provide. It is cost-effective because it supports parents to make informed choices when finding quality day care. It is cost-effective because it helps parents recognize illness early in their children, by maybe calling the doctor when a child rubs his ear, which is a sign of an ear infection: You call a doctor rather than take your child to the hospital emergency department.

We believe that prevention works because we see its positive effects on a daily basis. We know our parents need the continued support and encouragement of government funding for preventive programs like ours. If we all agree that our children are our number one resource in this country, then it surely is much more cost-effective to assist the parents of those young children who may decide either to stay home and nurture those children or opt to go out to work.


Ms Brenda Lee Lowes: My name is Brenda Lee Lowes. I am a member of the community and want to tell you more about Better Beginnings and my family.

I became involved with Better Beginnings when I first became pregnant. My doctor recommended prenatal classes to get myself ready for giving birth. The prenatal classes were very informal and I met a lot of new mothers there. Better Beginnings has benefited me by helping me to get involved with the community and with other mothers. I have participated in the parent visitor program and have benefited from this program with a local mother who has helped me with common problems and everyday questions.

My children have participated in the parent relief and child care programs. I know my three-year-old daughter has enjoyed the other children and playtime; my younger son gets a break from me and I also get an hour or two of relaxation. I am also participating in the read-write II program because I asked for some help to get my grade 12 diploma. Now I work at the centre and use parent relief and the care givers watch my son three days a week.

Another program I enjoy is Nobody's Perfect. Because some of the community moms join in, we can all talk and learn new things and get great ideas about how to enjoy being a parent and not to feel bad for making little mistakes. I enjoy the baby-and-parent drop-in program the most because I'm able to ask questions of local moms and answer their questions as well.

I'm also a member of the community action group. We have two meetings a month to discuss concerns of the community, with efforts to improve the streets, garbage pickup and getting crossing guards. We also try to get more mothers involved with the activities of Better Beginnings.

Thank you for your time.

Ms Lisa MacLean: My name is Lisa MacLean, and although I do not have children within the mandated age, I'm very actively involved in Better Beginnings for Kingston Children. In my opinion, Better Beginnings has offered parents an understanding of parenthood and the importance of a healthy, stimulating environment to the growth and development of children.

Programs are conducted in a manner that is neither accusatory nor condescending and in the language that each individual can understand: no $40-textbook words. It is amazing what can happen when you take away blame and replace it with empowerment. For the children, Better Beginnings has provided a safe and friendly environment where kids are able to learn to interact with other kids in a positive manner as opposed to the survivalist tactics many of these children are forced to learn on the playgrounds.

One of the benefits of the Kingston site is accessibility to the programs. The sites are strategically set within the boundaries, providing access through taxi and bus chits when necessary, as well as being within walking distance to the site in one's neighbourhood. I do not believe any person within our boundaries wishing to participate in the programs would not be able to participate on the basis of access.

All of the special events provided by the Kingston sites in the past have concentrated on the ability of people to participate through the hiring of chartered buses and such things. I believe this to be one of the reasons we have been so successful. One of the first concerns expressed by community members was the ability to get to these functions. The same applies to committee meetings. Getting there was a major concern, as was child care during meeting times.

I had the opportunity to be one of the community members involved in the hiring process. Having never done this before, it was quite a learning experience for me and afforded me new insight into my community and the people living both within and outside the boundaries of the project.

The greatest percentage of staff hired for the Kingston project came from within the designated boundaries of the project. Great care and much consideration were given in the choosing of the staff, and my opinion as a community member was always valued and respected. Hiring people from within the community was important to us, because people who do not live within the area and experience the struggles of everyday life in the north end, although they may have a very good understanding of what we go through, could not possibly have the compassion or drive to work wholeheartedly at making things change. You cannot judge another until you've walked a mile in their shoes. Life in general is hard, but life in the north end, as a single parent on benefits living in subsidized housing, is a daily fight. I'm speaking from experience.

Better Beginnings is a worthwhile project. In a society where help generally comes in the form of intervention after the fact, when it is often too late to set things right, it's nice to see a project concentrating on prevention. I'm a firm believer that children develop their personalities by the age of three or four, and with positive parental influence, good nutritional values and a stimulating environment, kids don't have to grow up to be survivalists. Instead, they can learn that life may not always be easy, but it will never be more than what they make of it.

Mr Moe Brubacher: My name is Moe Brubacher. I'm the executive director of the Family and Children's Services of Guelph and Wellington County, the children's aid society in Guelph and Wellington. I've been involved with the Better Beginnings, Better Futures project since we first started to dream about it over four years ago, and I've continued to sit on the management board for the project and be quite closely involved with some of the people who are here today.

Certainly, in my capacity within the children's aid society, I have a great concern for children at risk, for child abuse and for child protection issues. I have to say that the things you're hearing today are some of the most exciting things I've experienced in my work in our community. The Better Beginnings, Better Futures experience is exciting because of our joint, integrated focus on children. It compares quite significantly with what we tend to have in communities: a focus on organizations, a focus on systems. What we're seeing within Better Beginnings, Better Futures is a real focus on children, where the diagram that's up on the screen here shows how the child is in the centre and we together, as agencies, as the project, as neighbours and parents, are working together for the best for children.

The project brings together parents, agencies, schools and health organizations in an integrated way. One of the most exciting things is that we make decisions by consensus, and to see agencies and organizations that are typically fraught with turf issues and boundary issues being able to come together to work in a neighbourhood like this is really quite dramatic.

Finally, the project has made a real difference for children and families, and the people who have spoken so far can attest to that much better than I can. But it has made a difference in terms of child protection, in terms of child health, in terms of child care quality, educational potential for young people and personal and family development. Moreover, the project has begun to have some significant impact on changes in our local system.

The project has shown that integration is possible. Integration among a neighbourhood, parents, schools and agencies is possible, it's practical, and, as people have already said today, it's effective and cost-effective. One of the things that is perhaps unique within our community is a developing commitment to this continuum, and I think you have seen something like this earlier with what Jassy presented: a continuum of service that links together care and treatment/prevention programs across a spectrum. Through some of the leadership provided by Better Beginnings, Better Futures, we've been able to develop a community commitment to this kind of continuum, which is a really central part of our system as it's beginning to develop.

When it comes right down to it, children who need care and treatment, children who are in families where crisis intervention is needed and children where prevention programs can be effective are probably the same children. So it's really critical that we be able to serve those children in an integrated way rather than carving children into pieces, be it in education, health, child protection etc.


I've listed a number of the organizations that have been involved with the Better Beginnings, Better Futures program in our community. This isn't a comprehensive list, because I couldn't get them all on the overhead here, but these are some of the organizations that have been involved in an integrated way with the project.

The Willowdale Municipal Daycare Centre, as was mentioned, has provided some child care spaces for children in the project. The Wellington and Guelph Housing Authority provides us with an office program facility within the housing project. They provide summer recreation programs. The police have been involved in developing a Neighbourhood Watch program.

The Guelph Community Health Centre provides onsite medical services. You'd have to be there to appreciate the context, where we have medical services provided in a building that used to be an auto body shop that's been renovated. So medical services are available onsite, rather than people having to pack up the family and truck downtown, which is several miles away.

The boards of education have been involved with us in the ESL classes, continuing education programs, and a stay-in-school program, and we're beginning to do some more effective problem-solving together with the boards of ed around particular children.

The Community Mental Health Clinic provides youth and parent programs, again onsite. The Community Mental Health Clinic is halfway across town and very difficult for people to access. Onsite programs have been a major benefit.

The Rotary Club has provided some play equipment, the city of Guelph, as Gary mentioned, has provided the crosswalk and the stoplight as well as some recreation programs, and finally, family and children's services is involved in providing administrative support to the program. But together as well we're working on a community child protection program. From our perspective, that's one of the most exciting things: to see the community taking an active role in providing for protection for children. It's not only a job for family and children's services, but the community has taken an active part in that.

I'll put up a graph that shows some of the impact on family and children's services' work in the community. First, follow the larger bars, those being the number of case openings we have experienced in the neighbourhood over the last four years. You can see that the number of cases we've been involved with has actually increased somewhat. On the other hand, our case loads have declined. What this says to me is that we are now able to intervene earlier in families with problems and we need to stay involved for a shorter period of time, because there are more family supports and neighbourhood supports, a network of supports in the neighbourhood, which means that our involvement doesn't need to continue, aside from the community involvement being, I'm convinced, much more effective than our case work involvement could be.

Finally, I want to point out some of the impact that the project has had on our system. Outside of the neighbourhood, the project has also had a significant impact on how our system of services for children is evolving. First of all, the whole idea of a holistic vision is that we're able to look beyond each individual agency's mandate and our own little boxes that we have traditionally been in. Through our experience together in the Willow Road area, we are starting to really live out a holistic vision.

We've seen that partnerships work and partnerships are effective: partnerships among parents, agencies and schools as well as partnerships among ministries. I think that's really critical for you. This project represents a real success, a successful partnership among the ministries involved.

You've heard today about the wealth of informal resources in communities. I would stress again that as we face this time when our financial resources are really limited, we have virtually an unlimited set of resources in communities in the informal sector.

Finally, as you've heard, prevention is cost-effective, and prevention makes a difference if we can turn responsibility for children back to our communities as much as possible.

In conclusion, I would appeal to you to seriously consider establishing a long-term commitment to prevention in terms of funding, legislation and policy; to look to develop legislation and policy to support prevention, to support a holistic vision to link together prevention, child protection, education, health and other services for children; to look to more interministerial collaboration for children, such as what has made Better Beginnings, Better Futures possible, because today's children really are the framework of tomorrow.

I'll turn it over now to our remaining two presenters.

The Chair (Mr Charles Beer): When we get to the question period, we'll try to bring everybody back up to the table, because I suspect there are a variety of people. I apologize; I can't always see everybody back there, but you're welcome to the committee. Would you both introduce yourselves and then please start on your part of the presentation.

Ms Suzanne Flanagan: My name is Suzanne Flanagan. I'm the project coordinator in Kingston.

Ms Leslie McDiarmid: My name is Leslie McDiarmid and I'm the project coordinator in Ottawa. I'm going to spend a couple of minutes trying to put a few more faces and programs to the project. The slides are from Better Beginnings in Ottawa. Some of the programs are similar in some of the other sites, but there are other programs that won't be represented in these slides.

The first slide is of the Better Beginnings community house. All of the projects are neighbourhood-based so that they exist within a neighbourhood and become part of a neighbourhood. Better Beginnings is really all about trying to create opportunities for children to develop to their optimal potential but also about strengthening neighbourhoods so that they're healthy places for families and kids. The community houses and office spaces tend to be central so that people can access them. It's a place where people can drop in and just be comfortable and relax. Here you'll have volunteers, you'll have staff and you'll have community residents.

Because access is such an issue, many of the services we offer have to go into the community and into people's homes. Often you have toy-lending services that people have to get to. We've changed that a little bit and we have a toy-lending service that goes out. If you have a preschooler and a baby, it's very difficult to get very far and get a very large toy, so parents and kids can pick a different toy each month and it's delivered to their door.

This next slide is just to remind me to mention the options that people are offered. This is a parenting group that gets together weekly, and we try to offer programs so that people have choices. You may choose to go to a parenting group in the morning; you may choose to go in the evening, where there's child care and a meal; you may prefer to have one-to-one support through a family visitor. So there are a lot of options for people to use.

This is an empty room. I'm showing it because there's very limited space in our neighbourhoods. We have very, very limited space, so we have to be pretty creative and innovative to come up with a way of using that space the best way we can.

This is a space that we create into a play space for parents and kids each day. I just want to take you quickly through what that process is, because I think the commitment to quality is really important and is one of the cornerstones of Better Beginnings.

We start with an empty space and open a cupboard. I know it looks like a mess in there, but that's strategically placed or the cupboard doors don't close. Then we begin the process of taking everything out. We hang sails on the ceilings -- actually, those sails were donated by a fellow here in Toronto -- and begin to pull everything out of the cupboard to create really quite a precious space for kids to play. I can't go through the intricacies of this play space because it would require a few hours' lesson on child development here, but there are many, many opportunities for children from zero to five to learn, and of course children learn through play.

That's a sensory table where they learn about weight and measure; an infant area where everything is low for moms and babes; a science area, depending on the season. There's a fish tank underneath there and lots of places to be creative. That just gives you a sense of people coming together in a play space that's created daily.


This is the community nurse. We have a community nurse who is provided to us from our local health centre. The community nurse is able to provide well-baby clinics, weigh babies, talk about nutrition and provide health information to adults and to parents.

This is our bus, which was donated to us, and this is a picture of the children painting their faces and putting their handprints on it so that they own it, so that we decrease the chances of vandalism on the bus. There's a big difference between transportation that exists and transportation that is arranged. Transportation that exists is a part of the neighbourhood and provides much better access than transportation that continually has to be arranged.

This is Zahra, one of our family visitors. The family visitors provide information and education to parents. It could be on pregnancy, nutrition, childbirth, child development, games you can play with your child. They also provide social support and link people to other services within Better Beginnings and within the larger community. This is a picture of Zahra, who has brought somebody to play group and is sort of amusing the babe while the mom is off meeting other parents in the play space.

This is another picture of family visiting. Mohammed is a family visitor. He works a lot with new Canadian families, a lot around settlement issues, immigration issues and housing issues. We are able to service families in the language they know: We have family visitors who are able to speak French, English, Somali, Arabic, Italian and Swahili. It's important for people, in terms of access, to have someone who knows their language and culture.

This is Pauline, who is working with Lilly around budgeting and menu planning. So it's quite a holistic look at supporting parents and families.

Within Better Beginnings, we work really hard to strengthen neighbourhoods. This is a picture of a community potluck, where people come together to learn about each others' cultures but also to create space and time for people to talk about neighbourhood issues and what they want to change in their neighbourhood to make it better for themselves and their kids.

This is a picture of teenagers, because you cannot exist, neighbourhood-based, without involving everybody. There's a fairly high crime rate, or at least there was, in our neighbourhood. It was important for these fellows not to rip us off, so they needed to become a part of the neighbourhood. So "neighbourhood-based" really means having a broad enough focus that you involve everyone and everybody feels committed to making life better for little kids.

This is just showing a magic show. It's saying that those 10-, 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds are important, and involving them within the community life.

We work with a number of organizations in different ways. This is a program that the young people have called Kids in the Hood. The police department in Ottawa provides us with a police officer one night a week, and we look at issues around policing and learn about policing. The hope is that these are the role models for the preschoolers. We want to change what the preschoolers are seeing and reduce the crime and vandalism in the neighbourhood.

The next couple of slides again just look at strengthening neighbourhoods. Better Beginnings and community associations and community residents have worked together to create space within the community to play. That's a basketball court. We've tried to create programs that don't simply focus on people's ability to parent, but allow them to network in different ways and build other skills. We have sewing; we have cooking; we have crafts.

Nancy mentioned the parent theatre group, which gives parents living on low income a voice to talk about some of the issues and to talk to service providers about what their experience has been like using service and what they would like it to be like.

The last few pictures here are about building a park. Again, Better Beginnings is about working with neighbourhoods to make things better for families and little kids. Nancy talked about starting with nothing and people voluntarily putting the park together. The fellow who is driving that whatever you call that digger is the next-door neighbour to the community house. All these people volunteered. We didn't really know what we were doing, and what would have taken someone two weeks took us three months, but in the end it did come together. People donated things, and parents and kids got together to talk about what they wanted in the park. It created a time when people really had to depend on each other. No matter who they were, they had to depend on each other to pull this off. It was really an exciting thing for the neighbourhood to go through the process of building a park. What they ended up with was really an exceptional park, one of the nicest parks for its size in the city.

Then we were able to celebrate, and so we held a large community celebration so that people could come out and really appreciate what they had done with really very little money but an awful lot of effort.

I'm going to leave you now with the faces of some of the men and women and boys and girls of various ages and different cultures, with very many life experiences, but all of these parents and children and care givers were able to find a place to participate in Better Beginnings, not because they were somebody in need of a service but because they were someone who was part of a neighbourhood.

Ms Flanagan: In all our presentations today, one of the things we haven't said very much about is the research part of Better Beginnings. In all Better Beginnings sites, research is currently being conducted. Each site has a site researcher, and approximately 33 people have been employed by the research arm of Better Beginnings. The research groups are looking at how communities come together to put projects like these in communities, how agencies integrate their services to make the projects work, as well as how programs are developed and implemented in these communities. This information being gathered by qualified researchers will be invaluable to future generations who wish to implement the Better Beginnings prevention model.

More exciting, however, is the longitudinal study presently beginning with the families of children born in 1994 and of four-year-olds that will follow the lives of these children for the next 25 years to see if the prevention model has made a difference in their lives. Research over the past couple of years has been conducted with families of four-year-olds in all the Better Beginnings sites before the Better Beginnings programs were started so that a comparison can be done. The research is being conducted in a different way and directed by qualified social scientists.

Each Better Beginnings site has a research advisory group made up of community residents and agency representatives. This is in keeping with the prevention model of involving community residents in the planning, decision-making and implementing of the project plans.

Ms McDiarmid: I would like to conclude our presentation verbally and then Suzanne will draw more of a visual image of the way of working with Better Beginnings.

I'd like to frame our conclusion in our experience and what that experience has shown us. Because each community is different and may be diverse within itself, I will limit our experience and our lessons learned to process and not address specific programs within specific sites or outcomes.

Our experience has shown that prevention programs can work in at-risk communities when services work in partnership with communities so that decisions, planning, program development, implementation and evaluation are a shared responsibility between service providers, service users and concerned community residents.

We have learned that to be neighbourhood-based means not spreading ourselves too thin geographically. Neighbourhood-based is a reality when staff who live both within and outside the neighbourhood know people by name, by conversation and by mutual experience.

We have learned the value of time and consistency in building trust. Trust is the cornerstone of risk, of involvement and of participation.

We have experienced a different way of working, one that is inclusive, flexible, participatory and responsive. Often this means broadening our vision, our objectives and our programs. It means recognizing the holistic life of a child and supporting not only the individual life of that child but the lives of his or her brothers, sisters, parents and neighbours, the collective life of a community.

We have learned the meaning of access as defined by a neighbourhood, where accessibility is possible by walking with a stroller and two preschoolers, where you know the staff -- some of them are your neighbours -- where someone speaks your language and knows your culture, where no one tells you what to do and where you feel safe, safe enough to ask for help when you need it, safe enough to offer it when you can give it.


Our experience has shown us that we limit the meaning and potential of integration by focusing on formal systems and not on less formal things like community associations, groups of concerned people, individuals. Integration, participation, shared goals and commitment are important at all levels. We have learned that one aspect of integration is when the givers of work, the doers of work and the users of that work share their visions, time, experience, expertise and decisions.

Finally, we have been reminded over and over again of the uniqueness of each of the Better Beginnings, Better Futures communities, and the struggle, strength, knowledge and potential for change that exist within each one.

Suzanne is going to do a visual image of the way of working.

Ms Flanagan: I just wanted to tell you that all the Better Beginnings, Better Futures sites are very environmentally friendly.

I want to show you how we see the Better Beginnings prevention model put together and how it works. We compare it to a bicycle. The frame of the bicycle is the government, which has provided us with the prevention model; the wheels of the bicycle are the agencies that keep the project rolling in the communities; the handlebars of the bicycle are the community which is steering it; the seat of the bicycle is the staff, which keeps it balanced; the pedals of the bike are the steering committees or action groups in each of the communities that give the bike energy; and the mirror on the bike is the research that helps us to reflect on what we're doing.

On behalf of my colleagues and community of people, I'd like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to speak with you today.

The Chair: Thank you very much. I realize that to be involved in Better Beginnings you also have to be an artist, so that's another quality.

I'd ask everyone to come back to the table -- is it 10 people who have presented? -- because I think there'll be some questions. I'm not saying everyone will be able to answer every question, but we have a few minutes, given the amount of issues you've covered, to allow for questions. I regret that we won't have an inordinate amount of time, but we will have some, and I think we want to make some for questions.

I apologize that I wasn't here at the beginning of the presentation, but as somebody who four years ago was involved at the beginning of Better Beginnings, Better Futures, it really is exciting to see what some of the things actually are. I had the pleasure of being in Ottawa, I think before the program actually started, but you were planning. We were at a centre, I think, Yvonne, and there was a lot of excitement, and now, two and a half years later, we see what has emerged. It's nice to see that something that began as an idea has worked its way through.

I'm assuming, Randy, that there's going to be some kind of document that will note the various projects that have gone, where we can share this kind of information.

Mr Randy R. Hope (Chatham-Kent): My understanding when we kicked this whole thing off -- I remember up in the caucus room when we announced who was actually getting what projects and getting this going -- was that we would be updating ourselves on a more frequent basis as the operation continues so we can develop possibly more programs.

The Chair: Just sitting here today and listening to what you are doing has been useful not only for us but, because this is all taped and your words are taken down for posterity, a useful vehicle for other people to get a sense of what different communities are doing. For a number of reasons, it's great that you could come.

Mrs Yvonne O'Neill (Ottawa-Rideau): I want to thank each of you. I really thought I knew quite a bit about Better Beginnings, Better Futures, and I've tried to keep in touch with the program, but you have almost overwhelmed me today with possibilities that I didn't realize. You have done very well to balance your presentation; to encapsulate this program in one hour is certainly a tribute to each of you and the roles you play.

In the Ottawa scene, which I know just a little better, I think there was only one thing that was missed. You did talk about informal networks, but even business communities get involved with your groups. I'm sure many of you know that you can bring out the best in so many people, including businesses, including neighbours of the various centres where the projects happen.

I only have one question. As I say, I'm almost overwhelmed by the presentation. I didn't realize that you involved teenagers. I had this as a preschool, school-aged support kind of focus. Could you tell us a little about how you do that in a community, or some of the things you're doing with the teenagers? I think we're dwelling a lot on kind of the negative sides of teens around here lately, and you seem to have some very positive interventions or focuses, and that would be helpful to us if you could tell us. If you want to talk about those young people who might be on social assistance or young moms, I don't care which direction you take the question.

Ms McDiarmid: I can start. Our focus group is children aged zero to four, so most of our time and energy is spent working with families that have a preschooler. However, we work in a neighbourhood where you can't start segmenting it. When we said to parents, "What is one of your big concerns in the neighbourhood?" they were saying it's the 10-to-14-year-olds who are bored, who are breaking windows and in the park with the little kids, being poor role models. It was important for us to say, what is that we could do for that age group?

We spent some time trying to work with funding sources and community associations to build basketball courts, and we spent some time creating what's called Kids in the Hood, which was an interesting community development experience, because community members invited the police services board to lunch to tell them what their definition of community policing was. They had the mayor and the city councillor and the other three members of the board hear what community policing was as defined by a community as opposed to a police department. It was a real learning experience for everyone in terms of how to get this police officer in our neighbourhood one night a week, but that's worked really well and it's included the group that has been very difficult within the neighbourhood.

It's important to include everyone in the concept that we're trying to make this a good place for little kids. We have a number of computers in our community house because of a research project, and when I first went to the neighbourhood I asked my neighbours, "Tell me who the five worst kids in the neighbourhood are who might rip me off," and the same five names came up over and over again. I went to those kids -- I won't mention their names on the tape -- and said: "This is who I am; this is what we're trying to do. I need you to help me. I need you not to rip me off because I can't do this if I'm worried about you ripping me off," and I said to them, "And let your friends know." Touch wood, they've never ripped me off. It's important in some way to make everybody believe and feel good about what you're doing, and that requires a lot of walking around, a lot of talking, a lot of broadening your goals and objectives.


Ms Narayen: I'm Jassy Narayen, the project coordinator for Guelph. The process in Guelph started similarly, where the older children and their parents were simply there, but the teenage involvement came through the community health centre wanting to engage teenagers, the group of children that parents had identified as the most stressful part of parenting. That organization came along and started a teen drop-in program.

My first day at work, the parents said to me, "What are we going to do for my children who are older than five?" I said, "What would you like us to do for those children?" It started as an after-school activity program with funds that came to the project through our partners, the city and housing, so we brought in additional partners to assist with the programs for children older than five.

Leslie is right that the community felt divided. The children older than five simply are in families and they come along with their parents, and you can't divide them. The teenagers have a profound sense of pride in the words "Onward Willow." Gary's daughter has been a public speaker for her project. We have not had the resources as consistent and predictable as the Better Beginnings resources, but we have not given up. We haven't given up on alternative sources.

Mr Zuber: I'm Gary Zuber, a volunteer neighbourhood person and the proud father of two teenagers who live in the complex. I have a 16-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter who have taken enormous strides in the last three or four years, they say because of me, and that makes me extremely proud.

My daughter, for example, now has aspirations of going through as far as she can to work with child studies, something she can help her fellow person, as it were, in life. She has a boyfriend who, two years ago -- and he told me I could say this whenever I wanted to -- was headed for disaster. He was on probation. He went back to school and he's getting straight As, he's a role model in the community. And there are other teens in our community who are also role models who go by our place every day.

Unfortunately, when we were mandated four years ago with Better Beginnings, Better Futures, 85% of all the money we spend has to go between zero and four. You wouldn't believe what we've done with 15%, because we divided it 16 different ways to try and keep programs alive. There is a profound sense of loss in our community because we no longer can access enough funds to keep these teen programs going. We need to take a real serious look at how we're going to do that in the near future. I'll tell you, there are some powerfully strong, smart young adults out there who could help us to turn the problem around in our community. How else can their brothers and sisters learn, unless they learn first? This is why I say we really must look at this hard and long, involving teens.

The Chair: I regret very much that we're running into a time problem. I have both Mr Martin and Mr O'Connor, so I am going to go next to Mr Martin.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I am very envious of what you've accomplished, because before I came here I was involved in putting together a proposal for Better Beginnings, Better Futures, and we didn't win the lottery. We saw it very much as that.

It's an excellent program, obviously, and it worked out like so many of us had hoped it would, but our failure to not really be able to motivate the community to actually take it on by itself is what I'd like to focus on.

This program represents what could be done. It would be fairly expensive if we were to put it into every neighbourhood in Ontario at the cost we're incurring here. I'm wondering what success you had in involving the community that's already there in picking up the pieces and working with you and perhaps then sharing it with their neighbours so that it could begin to happen in significant ways that wouldn't be expensive.

In my experience, it seems to me that as we get into the question of community mental health, often the piece that's left out is the community itself. We bring in the experts and expect they will fix everything, when in fact they can't. It's just not possible.

The neighbourhood, the parents, the agencies -- did you involve anybody else? The churches?

Ms Narayen: There's a large network of agencies now for which the ministry's collecting statistics on gifts in kind. Carol Russell can arrange for you to hear what the collective contribution is of agencies, churches, other ministries to the process. The contributions are astronomical.

I don't agree with you that Better Beginnings is expensive. One young person going through the young offender system costs in excess of $100,000 a year and in mental health it's about the same. We think prevention is cheap. There are over 200 children in this little community of Guelph. It doesn't even look at Ottawa and Kingston. In terms of contribution, the parents are already contributing in excess of what they had envisioned themselves doing. Andrea works half-time and contributes the other half-time in volunteer work.

I'm suggesting that we look at cost-benefit analysis within a different framework. The traditional framework is going to not get us very far in reassessing resources. There are other people here who could speak to the same issue. Churches are involved in what in Guelph we are calling the spinoff community. Two other neighbourhoods in Guelph came to the Better Beginnings neighbourhood and said, "How can we get started?" and two churches just assisted.

We are counting those resources. Those are going to be available for you through the ministry staff, in terms of what the collective contribution is.

Mr Larry O'Connor (Durham-York): I appreciate you coming here from all your communities. I agree that prevention and promotion is probably a huge savings to us and to the taxpayers who might be following this today.

There's one area that piqued my interest. I can see that probably a number of you have grown quite a bit with your involvement in the community, and I know that the more active people become in the community, the more they grow, and the community actually gains from it.

Was it Nancy who commented on the peer home visits? I was wondering if you could comment a little more on the peer home visiting and how that works, some of that process. Andrea might have mentioned it as well.

Ms Beauchamp: In our community they're known as family visitors. How it works is that Better Beginnings does not force this on people; it is a voluntary thing. If a family wants to access a family visitor, that is done. Then it proceeds that once a week, family visitors will go into their homes and will do whatever the family wishes.

We serve a lot of single parents, so many times it's support. The person needs to speak, needs somebody to listen to them. Isolation often is a very big thing, even though it seems strange to say "isolation" when you live in a community that's sort of on top of each other. But that is one of the big things, because there's not a lot of money, there's not a lot of resources, they can't get out of the community, and they often feel isolated and alone with nobody to help.

Also, they've been involved with many other agencies that have led their lives, told them what to do. They know what they need: They just need some support to find the resources, the information, as I said previously, cutting through the red tape, finding what programs are offered for their children; for themselves, some may want to go back to school, and how to access day care could be very confusing for somebody. It's just leading the way, not doing for them, but showing.

We deal with children four and under -- that's our program -- so it's also modelling, going in and not saying: "This is what you're going to do to make your child listen to you. This is how you feed your child when it's first born. Yes, you must breast-feed." It's by modelling, it's suggesting, it's offering parenting courses if they wish to go. If not, then we will bring the information to them, we will bring videos. We will let them choose; we will not take over their lives. We will listen to what their needs are, what they want.


To me, that's very important, because as a parent who has raised six children, I must admit I've had a number of different agencies in my life since they were born. Now my youngest is 18, but I remember at one time I think I had at least a dozen people from different agencies telling me what to do, how to live my life -- "This is the best way" -- which way to go, which way to turn. It got to a point where I was so confused and thinking I was such a terrible mother, I didn't know how to take care of my kids. I remember being involved with the children's aid, myself going there, accessing the service and their telling me they weren't a babysitting service when I was just asking for support. That's what family visitors offer. No, we're not a babysitting service, but we will certainly access the services and try to give them to the families who wish it.

I think that's the greatest thing about it, that it's volunteer, it's not essential, it's supportive and it's caring.

The Chair: Thank you. I'm really sorry that I have to be the heavy as the Chair, but I'm afraid we have several more presenters this afternoon. I do want to thank all of you very much again for coming before the committee. When we were originally trying to figure out how we could get more people into these hearings, we were hoping that, as all of you were involved in a Better Beginnings project, you might perhaps even know one another and, if not, it might also be good for you to get together in a collaborative approach. This has been extremely helpful to the committee. Again, thank you all for being here today.

Mr Zuber: Just before we go, I'd like to give you this button on behalf of Onward Willow. It represents what we're all about. Every time you look at it, I hope you think about us and see what you can do to help us out.

The Chair: Fine, thank you very much.


The Chair: Members of the committee, the cooperative spirit lives on in terms of our witnesses. I want to thank Ms Anne Telford who was going to be our next presenter, but we're going to switch the next two because Mr McKay, who is here from the Dilico Ojibway Child and Family Services, has to catch a plane back up to Thunder Bay.

Wally, we're delighted that you could be here today with us. If you would come forward, we'll just take a minute to get ourselves reorganized. Everyone just take a breath. I notice people were just having a last word with some of the individuals.

We move to our next presenter, Mr Wally McKay, who is the consultant with the Dilico Ojibway Child and Family Services. It's been a long time, but it's good to see you. Welcome to the committee. We're delighted that you are able to join us from Thunder Bay. Please go ahead with your presentation.

Mr Wally McKay: Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. It's good to see you again. It's been quite some time.

Dilico Child and Family Services is an approved agency under the auspices of the Child and Family Services Act. At this time its responsibilities include the delivery of prevention programs. It has functions to provide counselling and to deliver a wide variety of family support services.

Dilico has been organizing and has been undergoing a process of preparation for undertaking a mandate as a children's aid. With this process Dilico has been examining options on mandates. Presently, Dilico Child and Family Services provides services to 12 first nations within the territorial catchment area of the Thunder Bay Children's Aid Society. Another first nation that is presently serviced by Algoma Children's Aid Society has made application to become part of Dilico. This first nation is within the recognized treaty region with the other Dilico first nations.

This presentation is in response to your invitation for Dilico Child and Family Services to address the committee's task on the fundamental issue of protecting children at risk. This presentation will address the matter from the first nations' concern on the legal requirements as outlined in the CFSA and its impacts on first nations.

Secondly, we will present briefly how the same act works contrary to the first nations we serve, under the title "Child T."

Lastly, we will present an option that our first nations are pursuing by which our peoples will be empowered not only to resolve the present matter before the committee, but which will also remedy the present inadequate and inappropriate child care regimes that are there.

Prior to presenting the specifics of issues on children at risk, the committee members must realize and understand that our views are presented from the realities of our first nations. These realities include peoples who, since European contact, have been subjected to an assault on their traditions and cultures. These peoples have endured the ravages of an era whereby assimilation policies were deemed the only answer in the federal and provincial government policies for first nations peoples.

In the majority of the communities, these peoples have 90% unemployment. This is not an occasional statistic but a year-round reality. These peoples in most cases live in conditions which could be justifiably termed as Third World conditions. The homes are in many cases inadequate, with no proper water and sewage infrastructures, which are taken for granted in many urban settings.

These peoples are constantly required to conform to legislative requirements which are in many instances very humiliating to them. I have seen middle-aged first nations peoples who have hunted and trapped as a vocation all their lives be subjected to study and write exams so they can have a hunting permit. The humiliation is that they are treated in the same context as a non-Indian youth of 17 years who has not had any experience with outdoor life. This is an example whereby Ontario legislative measures in many cases are not appropriate and only create exasperation and frustration.

These peoples have lost a large population of their children, stemming from the efforts of another society to help. Instead, our children and families have been dislocated. We have lost many of our children due to the fact that the outside society did not understand; neither did it take into consideration that we are different and that we have our own standards. Instead, we lost our children, based upon another society's standard. Today we are in the midst of repatriating, reorienting and reintegrating our children who were taken away back into our families and into our communities.

The members may say to themselves that what is being presented is something that they have heard before and these statements are not pleasant to hear. The presentation of these facts gives us no enjoyment, but they have to be stated. Before the committee members decide to legislate changes, remember what we, as first nations, have gone through. Before any plan is instituted, it will be most wise to inquire and see if we have truly put our minds together.

The committee members will have been thoroughly briefed on the various sections of the Child and Family Services Act dealing with the protection measures and what constitutes children at risk. The first nations which are within the catchment region of Dilico Ojibway Child and Family Services have the same priority agenda in their plans. As we review the approaches utilized by other institutions, we, as first nations, must also contend with families that are at risk. If a child is at risk, then the family is at risk. Valiant efforts have been made to use an isolated approach whereby a child is removed from the present dangerous environment. Is removal of a child the answer? The members must understand that usual measures of child removal within your society are not necessarily the appropriate measure within a collective society of first nations.

Under the legislation, the removal of children from a family must undergo certain degrees of application based upon a service plan which is presented to the court. If there is no progress with the family, eventually the agency will ask the court to terminate parental responsibility. The executive director has the responsibility to seek such an order. The executive director is viewed as a person who is sanctioning such action and therefore is the individual who has the responsibility to direct that the parental responsibility be terminated. This measure is an affront to our tradition. In our culture, only the Creator has the right to terminate parental responsibility. In our effort to protect our children who are at risk, we assume responsibilities and mandates of your government, which in turn creates offensive actions on our culture and beliefs.

In the Child and Family Services Act, it recognizes that customary care is an option whereby agencies may utilize to provide services to first nations families. The inclusion of this responsibility in the Child and Family Services Act was heralded as a major recognition of aboriginal family practices. Instead, customary care has now become a major preoccupation of service providers as to what it is and how much it is going to cost. Customary care has become a secondary service process. It is tried when all else has failed just to satisfy the requirements.


Above all, we have seen customary care being the subject of legal argument between the lawyers representing agencies, children and families. We have witnessed non-aboriginal lawyers and judges make final decisions on customary care. What do they know about customary care other than what is explained to them? They have never experienced the true spirit of first nations customary care.

Given the economic status of our communities, then it would be fair to state that the majority of our first nations children are at risk. If we use every criteria established by mandated agencies for placing children, then most of our families are automatically disqualified. Then we will continue to lose our children. Our families will continue to be dislocated. The cost will continue to escalate.

Prevention is the key element within our first nations in order to reduce the risk level of our children. Prevention must be viewed from a holistic approach. Our children are very vulnerable to being abused physically, mentally and sexually. Of all families within the Canadian society, our children are more apt to be abused due to factors outlined at the outset of this presentation.

On May 28, 1993, Catherine Beamish, a solicitor from Sioux Lookout, handed in her decision as the director in the matter of a director's review pursuant to section 144 of the Child and Family Services Act. The director's review undertook the matter of the handling of the case and placement of child T. In this particular review, child T is an Ojibway child, a member of Long Lake No. 58 First Nation. Child T was under the care of non-native care givers.

The director was appointed on January 1, 1992. The review held 44 days of hearings from March 1992 to April 1993. There were five lawyers representing the five parties that were given standing. The conservative cost estimate is near $500,000 for the review. Dilico Child and Family Services was given a standing to this hearing since they were involved with Thunder Bay child and family services with this particular child.

The director decided that in "the decision not to place child T with the T family" -- which is an Ojibway family -- "the Thunder Bay Children's Aid Society erred in its assessment of his best interests." She goes on to state, "Should it be necessary for me to find that CAS made a jurisdictional error, then I find that their failure to give sufficient weight to the legislative provisions with respect to preserving the child's culture was such an error. I therefore rescind the decision of the CAS refusing to place child T with the T family for the purposes of adoption."

Then she goes on to make a second decision after she has weighed all factors: "That in the best interests of child T, he should remain in the C home" -- which is not aboriginal -- "and I place him there for the purpose of adoption. I recommend that any further period of adoption probation be dispensed with, and that the adoption be finalized as soon as possible."

The community and Dilico Child and Family Services lost another child. The cost to participate is high. The results of such decisions are devastating. Is child T at risk? We believe child T is at greater risk than he was before. The legal process is adversarial. It promotes winners and losers. This process is alien to our culture. Although it is clearly spelled out in the CFSA that aboriginal children are not to be adopted out to non-aboriginal families, there is a recognized legal process whereby the law can be circumvented to a purpose. Our confidence in the law and the purpose of law is fading.

It is our belief that Dilico Child and Family Services will not be dragged into another director's review pursuant to the Child and Family Services Act. This past review has demonstrated that although the law is explicit, the intent of law and how it is carried out is not always what is expected.

Presenting a change: need for first nations jurisdiction on families: Dilico Child and Family Services is presently examining options whereby it will assume the mandate for the total responsibility for children and families. The present options available through the CFSA do not meet the needs of the Dilico first nations. Discussions and preparations are being carried on at the community level to address the most favoured option. The first nations must have the right to have total jurisdiction over their children and families. Our first nations want and will exercise their right to reassert their standards and laws as they affect their children and families. The time is upon us whereby the Ontario government must realize that the first nations have the capacity and the knowledge to undertake the basic human right of looking after its own and preserving its children, its future, in a healthy atmosphere.

The present option whereby a first nation agency must embrace a legislative process for a mandate is unacceptable. The examination of the results from such endeavours reflect high costs, high intake services and, above all, that the legislation at times requires first nations to carry out decisions which are contrary to certain first nations fundamental principles.

During the International Year of the Family, it would be appropriate that the Ontario government begin a system whereby Ontario would engage in a process of vacating its jurisdictional field under child and family services and to enter discussions whereby Dilico Child and Family Services first nations would occupy the jurisdiction. In the end the first nations must have total responsibility for their children and families.

In conclusion, we have put forth the following recommendations for the committee's consideration:

(1) That the first nations have the opportunity to define the terms and conditions on what "child at risk" would constitute. This definition would set out certain standards that would be utilized in order to assume the child is at risk at a first nations community.

(2) That prevention is the key element to reducing the level of risk to children within first nations territories. Additional cultural programming on prevention is essential in order that major inroads are made to stabilize families.

(3) That children are not viewed from an isolation view but that our family concept be reinforced in the planning and in services with first nations.

(4) That customary care practices and procedures be clearly established and enunciated by first nations within their territories. These practices and procedures will be guidelines that the legal and judiciary will reference if required.

(5) That if a director's review is required, the Minister of Community and Social Services be permitted to intervene together with the impacted first nation on the matter. Thereby such action could resolve a potential adversarial situation.

(6) That the Ontario government enter into discussions with Dilico Child and Family Services first nations on jurisdictional matters on families to coincide with the International Year of the Family.

Thank you very much.

The Chair: Thank you very much for the recommendations. Just before opening it to questions, can I just ask you, in addition to Dilico, Weechi-It-E-Win and Payakotayno both operate child and family service organizations, if I recall. Are there others now from the native community that operate their own child and family services?

Mr McKay: Yes, there is Payakotayno in James Bay and Weechi-It-E-Win in the Fort Frances area, and of course there is the Ojibway Tribal and Family Services in Kenora. The first one I was instrumental in is Tikinagan child and family services. We have a number of other agencies in Ontario that are being established in the North Shore, Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie areas.

The Chair: And those are formed through an agreement between yourself or that particular organization and Community and Social Services?

Mr McKay: Yes, each of those areas have entered into agreements with Community and Social Services for the establishment of those services.


Ms Jenny Carter (Peterborough): I think you've expressed the problems very clearly and what you have to contend with and how you're losing children. I was just wondering if you could explain a little more what customary care practices and procedures are in effect; in other words, what the alternatives are, how the community would cope with this problem of children at risk.

Mr McKay: In terms of the customary care practices of first nations, you must look at the fact that we have a number of tribes or nations in Ontario: the Cree, the Ojibway, the Ojicree, the Mohawks and so forth. Each of these nations has a way of how they handle family problems. The Cree have their own systems. For instance, during the early times we never really had unwed mothers, but if it happened, it would be dealt with under the traditions of the Cree people. The way the Cree people handled that was different from how the Ojibway handled it. Each of these nations had their own ways of how they handled these things.

And that is not only in that particular area, but in all areas of child rearing. Each of the children were given responsibilities at a very young age in terms of what they can look forward to in life. It's unfortunate that we look at customary care from the aspect that where there are problems, we must have customary care. There's also a positive side that we're not looking at, and that's going to be the reinforcing factor to have stabilized strong families within each of the nations. In the act, it appears that, "If there are problems, let's try customary care." I think if there are no problems, we should still use customary care.

Ms Carter: You're saying that if customary care were in being, in other words, if the community were functioning in a traditional way, a lot of the problems would never happen.

Mr McKay: In the act it's called upon to be used when you have problems. If it were looked upon from the positive aspect and financed, with resources made available to Indian communities -- customary care is so needed now in a positive sense, especially after we have a generation that has gone to residential school systems.

I'm a product of that residential school system. I did not know how to relate to my wife or to my children, because I was taken when I was only six years of age and the system of residential schools was very militaristic; we were given orders and everything was done by bells. I never knew how to relate to my children. Instead of talking to them, I was giving orders.

That's where customary care would be really great at this particular time, to be able to capture that generation. Customary care is a positive way of dealing with teaching that generation how to be parents and how to be good fathers and mothers.

Ms Carter: But the tradition is still alive with the older generation?

Mr McKay: Yes, the customary care procedures and practices are very much alive. The problem we're having is that there are certain procedures and requirements under CFSA that we have to put in place to carry those things out, and then when we try to implement the positive parts of the customary care, they start to clash.

Mrs O'Neill: Mr McKay, thank you very much for coming, because you definitely bring a very different perspective. I want to use my time to speak to your actual presentation. I wonder if you can tell me a little more about both recommendations 2 and 5. What do you feel we as government legislators could either know or help give a way to in terms of prevention that would fit your concept? I'm very happy you brought the adoption issue forward, because it's one that I know has caused much grief. Could you say a little about what you think legislators could do to help your communities in the area of prevention?

Mr McKay: In the area of prevention, the time has never been more required that prevention has to be the key element in addressing the issues. We have communities in a state of Third World conditions, but on top of that, individuals have gone through a process where they have been dislocated by other systems.

When we look at prevention, we look at it from the sense that we need programs where you have to key in on certain families or certain groups of families. We're finding that we have people who, because of drug and alcohol programs, because of their traditions returning, are leaving drinking and alcoholism behind. We're having the greatest recoveries of people from alcoholism, but what's happening is that they're going to another form of activities yet still neglecting children. We have to develop prevention programs that will look at parenting responsibilities, look at cultural responsibilities.

The other aspect we're having problems with is that in any program we do, there has to be separation between the church and government programming, that you can't include these two together. We're having a real problem with that, because in the first nations, you cannot separate those two. You have to include those two. We believe, because of our relationship with the land, we are very spiritual people in that regard.

That is something in terms of the prevention programs. There has to be an increase, and each of the first nations in the areas have to define those things.

Looking at number 5, the cost is high. It alienates the first nations. We would prefer political intervention between the minister and the government, to save the government a lot of money in the end.

What we see happening with child T whom I mentioned there is that he's going to come back and then the healing will begin within that community, because that child will never ignore his roots. It might be all right now that he is in a home until he gets to age 8 or 9, but then one day he's going to ask where he comes from.

We're looking at things in a different way, but right now we can't get around it, because that's what the law requires. We would rather have approaches that are more appropriate and less costly. The figure I mentioned, the conservative cost estimate, was $500,000, but did we really solve the problem?

The Chair: I regret that we're out of time, but I know the committee wants to thank you for coming down. We wish you a safe flight home.



The Chair: I call on Ms Anne Telford. Thank you for allowing us to shift you around on our schedule.

Ms Anne Telford: You're quite welcome. I'd hate to see somebody miss his plane.

I should ask that you not be alarmed by the quantity of the material. In fact, the brief itself is very brief. It was one way of supplying some information to the committee on the institute and giving you an overview of the work that's undertaken there.

It was useful for me to be here and hear some of the presentations on Better Futures, because what the people involved in the Better Futures programs are describing is what appears to be, at this point in time, a successful implementation of real prevention at a community level, and that's very encouraging. The other advantage in that is that because those programs, for the most part, have evaluation built in at the outset, we may have a real opportunity, maybe for the first time, to have some kind of understanding of the effectiveness of prevention programs.

The reality is that we don't have a very good overview of the effectiveness of intervention programs. Indeed, we don't have a very good overview of the incidence of children who are at risk, indeed children who are abused in this province or in this country. We're hoping we will have some better information very shortly, with the release of the Ontario incidence study in mid-June. We will for the first time have some baseline data, which won't really become information for us until we've been able to replicate the study, maybe a couple of years down the road, but it is the first baseline we've had. We've had to borrow, in the interim, from our neighbours to the south and extrapolate from their data, and I expect we will see a slightly different picture in Canada.

The brief is indeed brief. What I attempted to do was identify some of the key pieces of information that are baseline information, things some of you may already be aware of, but that would support a rethinking of the way in which we currently supply services and the way in which services are accessed.

Each year in Canada, 225,000 children are abused. This is not a new number. Indeed, that may be an underestimation. We also know that for most of those children the incidence of physical abuse, neglect or sexual abuses occur while they are in the care of their parents or other caretakers, so we're talking about the younger end of the age spectrum of the child population.

Over 50 child deaths each year are known to be the result of child abuse. Again I would stress that that's known to be the result but that the number may be higher than that. As a country, we have a very bad record among industrialized nations for child deaths as a result of accidents. We do not have a good report card in that regard.

The documented consequences of abuse include cognitive and language disorders, low self-esteem, lack of trust, low frustration tolerance, poor social relationships, difficulties in school, learning disorders, and self-destructive behaviours, including substance abuse, suicide attempts and self-mutilation.

Costs of our intervention services have increased steadily and noticeably over the last decade. What tends to happen with the increased costs of those services, and then inability to supply the funds for mandated organizations to realize their mandates, is that the definition of what constitutes abuse or that which requires service becomes narrowed and organizations then are in fact serving a smaller percentage or the most extreme cases in the population.

Given all the consequences of abuse, one of the things we must do as a province, indeed as a country, is to consider the cost to us in the long term and the cost to the workplace in lost productivity. We can estimate that that's likely in the millions of dollars. The Americans have done some evaluation of that, and they calculate that they lose $1.3 billion annually as a result of child abuse. Now, it's rather risky to bandy a number like that about, because one would have to look at what exactly they were measuring there. It could include the costs of intervention as well as the cost of supplying education to people who have been damaged, special education services, health services, and then loss of time in the workforce.

But the message there that's pertinent to all of us is that there is an economy in considering other approaches, and that very much will affect the future of all of us. If we are heading for a workforce that is damaged, or if a large percentage of that workforce has experienced damage, then our country ultimately is not economically viable, nor are those of us who are not children likely to be particularly well supported and cared for in our old age. That may be another fact to hang on to.

The Ontario government has very good data on poverty and we have good data on that nationally, so the following information is a somewhat random selection. One in nine families with children were categorized as poor; that was three years ago. One in six Canadian children is categorized as being poor. We know that over 50% of the total workforce includes families in which both parents work, and for single parents that figure is a lot higher. There's a shortage of day care spaces to accommodate the needs of children of working parents. Day care spaces represent a form of stability for children in families that is terribly important in children realizing their developmental capabilities.

I mention the Children First document here. Although it's three and a half years old, there were indeed recommendations contained in that document that are pertinent today, perhaps most saliently the recommendation that there be a clear focus on children as a political agenda in this province and that it be a child-centred approach taken respecting children's entitlements, that that would be central to an agenda that would be a public one and a publicly supported but government-driven one.

Actually enacting that form of recommendation has the risk of turning social policy on its ear. In fact, we would almost be forced to rethink the way we develop and implement our social policies. If they were truly child-focused and centred on children's entitlements with an eye to our future, we would be engaged in a very different process.

The recommendations included in the brief are at the beginning, the primary one being that there be a public child-focused agenda incorporating a shared vision of the entitlements of children and clearly establishing children as the priority in the formulation of social policy and program development. We really haven't had that, or we haven't had that in an integrated way. It has been the focus of some specific services, of some specific ministries, but there hasn't been a broader-based agenda that's been child-focused in the past.

We also would recommend that an Ontario child and youth authority be established. This is a recommendation that evolved from some work that has been done collaboratively with the Institute for the Prevention of Child Abuse and the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies. Again, the thinking there is that we need to be investing our money in a different place on the spectrum, ie, at the prevention end of services, in a way that empowers children, families and communities to realize some of the goals that were being described under the Better Futures programs, that form of empowerment and that form of catalyzing communities as a natural resource.

The concept here is that the authority would work with other ministries -- and I do realize that goes on already -- to address the barriers that inhibit and prevent collaboration or integration of services between ministries. The authority would ensure that resources are equitably allocated and available to all children and youth in Ontario who require them. The provincial authority would mandate and fund local authorities to bring communities and agencies together to meet the needs of children and youth in Ontario.


There would also be local authorities that would involve children and youth along with community leaders, community agencies and consumers of service in the planning, development and evaluation of services to all children and youth, and we would see those operating throughout the province.

We also recommend that a plan to end the ravages of child poverty be articulated with a timetable for realization by the end of this decade, which also fits in with this country's responsibility in our ratification of the United Nations charter of rights for children.

It's also recommended that prenatal services be expanded. We've done a great deal to develop our prenatal services, well-baby clinics, services to pregnant women, but they still tend to be a bit erratically available and are not always accessible to the people who need them. I'd like to see those expanded to reduce the risk during pregnancy, those risks that have long-term negative effects on the developmental capacity of children.

Also, it's recommended that direct supports be supplied to families, particularly new parents, to promote the wellbeing of and reduce the risk of abuse to children. One of the programs or services that was mentioned here was that of home visitation. There are certainly experiences in other parts of the world of the effectiveness of home visitation programs. Hawaii, of all places, actually has an extremely effective program, and it was sort of a pilot. It's one of the states that implemented that program. One of the effects they were able to measure was a 30% reduction in the incidence of child abuse, and that's notable and certainly worth paying attention to. It means involving at the outset young parents, new parents and parents who might be more at risk, to ensure that you are in touch with that segment of the population that may have some greater needs for support.

Also, it's recommended that a plan be developed and implemented to ensure that the preschool population has access to high-quality day care; a great deal of work has gone on in this province and I'm optimistic that this continues.

Also recommended is that a promotion-prevention fund be created to facilitate the development of strategies aimed at reducing the insupportable costs of intervention as they are today, and enhancing the health and wellbeing of our child population through primary prevention and early intervention programs.

It no longer makes any sense for us to continue as we have for the past several decades, actually; I've been around long enough to remember that. There is certainly a rethinking going on. We've begun as a population to share a concept of what prevention means and what that actually looks like when it's put into practice, and we now have some good examples in our midst.

It is recommended that it's time this is happening in the population. Government is currently in a position of knowledge, at least, about the needs of this population to take a proactive stand in redirecting some of our energies to prevention services in communities. I'd like to make myself available for questions.

The Chair: Thank you very much for all the material you provided, and also for the eight recommendations you've made. At the outset, I'd ask you a question on the recommendations. These are from the institute itself, not just yours?

Ms Telford: They're from the institute. I should add that some of them actually have been developed with other organizations over a period of time.

The Chair: You made reference to Children First, and last week we had the Premier's Council here. In what you've said, what's in Children First, what the Premier's Council report says, there's certainly a lot of similarity. Do you see the Ontario child and youth authority, that you have set out here, as being a non-governmental agency, or how is that constituted? What is its relationship with government?

Ms Telford: We would see it as a way to reallocate some of the current resources. There would be a central body, a government body, within the civil branch, and the development of local authorities as well. The central body would probably have the function of facilitating resourcing the local groups, but those local groups would also have to have representation from all segments of their community, the sort of representation we heard described here in the Better Futures programs, so they have some consumer-driven element.

The Chair: Who would name the people to this authority you're proposing? Would that be done by the government of the day or would it be like a district health council?

Ms Telford: As in an appointment? I think what would be most delightful is if that were occurring within communities, because of the differences from one community to another. Certainly within this province there are cultural differences within communities. You would want to ensure that there was a very strong community involvement in that kind of decision-making.

Mr Ron Eddy (Brant-Haldimand): Thank you for your presentation on this important matter. Following up on local authorities, a few years ago there were a number of children's services committees established across the province as pilot projects with the view that then all municipalities would have them. You'd be aware of them. Is that the way you see that? Would that work and is that the way to go?

Could you also comment on the matter of the children's and family service bureaus. It's been mentioned on occasion that community and social services departments and CASs should be combined in some way so that the segment serving youth would be together, because there are on occasion some problems, as I understand it, between the CASs and local social services.

Ms Telford: You're talking about the relationship between child welfare organizations in the community and the ministry body that interacts with them?

Mr Eddy: Yes.

Ms Telford: Well, I think that's the nature of life.

Actually, you asked me two questions. The first one was about the children's committees in communities. I was involved in those a few years ago when they were being formed. I think the intent of the process was honourable and good, and in some communities it worked well and in others it didn't. There's probably well-documented history of that experience.

Something that hadn't occurred perhaps quite so clearly at that time was the beginning of a shift in thinking about how services might be provided and what was needed. In the last few years we've moved towards more holistic approaches -- to use the language of the last presenter -- and paid more attention to real involvement from the community. Rather than simply a shifting of responsibilities among the service delivery agencies, we've looked to create real connections with people who receive services so they do have an active voice in that. That's occurred fairly dramatically and has continued, so the model of children's services committees as it was attempted to be implemented a number of years ago would not happen in quite the same way, but you would certainly want representation of children's services providers.

Your other question was about strain in relationships between child welfare services and government.

Mr Eddy: And municipalities.


Ms Telford: That may be a trickier question. When you talk about child welfare services, you're talking about services that have been around for 100 years and more. They are well established, the services that probably have the most financial support in this province, probably in this country. They have the mandate to intervene where other services don't.

I think the nature of the strain is that there's a boundary there where there will always be some kind of conflict. I wouldn't suggest that is going to disappear overnight -- some of it's very healthy -- but we certainly need, together with child protection or child welfare services, to rethink the effectiveness of the way in which we spend our money. If you're asking if I believe those organizations should be divested to the community, I would say no.

Mr Eddy: Conversely, should the CASs have the mandate to administer welfare funds for children and families? Should it go the other way? Should the children and family services' mandate be broadened and include the financial support that is supplied by community and social services in municipalities?

Ms Telford: Quite frankly, I would be concerned about locating a lot of power and financial influence within one agency.

Mr Hope: I like your idea. Some people refer to it as the human services board rather the child and youth authority. One question I must ask is, how do we break down all these walls? You're talking about different agencies, you're talking about boards of directors, and during the good economic times we were all sitting here saying: "What problem can we discover today? What money can we go after from the government, to receive funds to run a program to help these people in our community?" Now we have walls established and nobody wants to move and nobody wants to give up turf. You've come up with a great idea, but I'm speaking from experience. Trying to get some of those walls down is darned difficult.

Ms Telford: Yes, so am I. I have a lot of bumps on my head. I've been in this business a long time.

You're describing also an inevitability of organizational life. However, the reason I say the timing now is better than it ever has been -- or certainly better than it has been for the last 25 years, because money has been available -- is that people have experienced a lot of pain in attempting to provide their services and in attempting to sustain their organizations and, maybe most of all, in maintaining their sense of integrity in what it is they're doing, their integrity about themselves in delivering their work.

I agree that yes, there are walls, there are certainly turf wars that will be inevitable. But communities are asking to be involved. I think we see more real cooperation than ever before and we certainly have a very different piece in the scene when we have families and children having a voice. That's why I think it's critical that the first aspect of the recommendations must be realized. That's very much something that government is empowered to do, to have a children's agenda that is very clearly articulated and that will drive some of the other activity.

Mr Hope: But how do you establish a clear children's agenda when different communities have different priorities to deal with? Listen, I wholeheartedly support what you're saying about authorities. Every time I mention it the agencies get all worked up and say, "Uh oh, here comes Randy." The bells go off and the contentious issue sheets come up to Toronto and Randy's created another war with all the agencies. I'm looking at $1.3 billion as being allocated between children's welfare, children and family intervention, children's treatment, young offenders, children's development, community supports and child care, and that's all talking about children and youth in those areas. Kent county is a little different from Metro, but --

Ms Telford: It's also talking about intervention. What you're describing are intervention services. All those services are intervention; they're not prevention services.

Mr Hope: But in order for us to get to prevention, we must know what intervention is all about in order to establish prevention. That's why with local authorities the prevention aspect's going to change year to year.

Ms Telford: I think some of it is public awareness activity, and that's something government's in a position to do pretty effectively; and identifying the costs of intervention, which are phenomenal, and we heard some figures cited here today. To keep a kid in residential care in this province is around $90,000, and for a kid in a young offenders' facility it's much higher, and there's no benefit. I shouldn't say there's no benefit, but the percentage of benefit may be fairly small.

There are various activities that have to go on at the same time. One can envision that there would be an education component there, the formulation of social policy that redirects some thinking and some funds. There's certainly the voice of communities that cannot be denied at this point. Communities are anxious about the inability, often, of child welfare organizations to meet their mandates. Child welfare organizations are also saying that. They may be singing from different sides of the song sheet, but there's a message there that can be coordinated and heard. I think you have to maintain your idealistic position and go on fighting the fight.

The Chair: Thank you. We are about to be called to the House for a vote. I apologize to Mr Martin, who wanted to ask a question, but to make sure we can get there, we're going to have to bring this to a close.

Thank you very much for coming before the committee, for your presentation and also for the material you brought. I also wish you all the best in the fund-raising initiative the institute is in the middle of, or at the beginning of. We're very much aware of how important the work of the institute is in this province. Thank you again.

Ms Telford: Thank you for inviting us.

The Chair: Members of the committee, as you know, next week the Legislature isn't sitting, so we will reconvene in two weeks' time, on May 30 at 3:30. The committee stands adjourned until that time.

The committee adjourned at 1757.