Many of the problems related to child neglect and abuse in communities emerge from the experiences directly associated with colonization. Until recently, when apologists began to defend the removal of the indigenous child welfare policies, aboriginal children have faced constant maltreatment under such policies. These policies have shown that the rights of Indigenous children as children are abused. This paper provides a review of these Indigenous child welfare policies in three countries: Canada, the United States, and Australia. The method used for this study was the systematic referral to kinds of literature published and review and assessment of the existing child welfare organizations and systems. Over six months, the research took place to address the broad area of Indigenous Child Welfare policies that currently lack research. Country comparison of the application of existing systems included. Results from the data collected show that there is a need to monitor to address the economic and social causes of child abuse and neglect in indigenous children and the impact this has on their families. There are significant differences in these policies in the United States, Canada, and Australia, and they fit the criteria for inequality, which can be avoided and unjust.
Keywords: Australia, Canada, United States, Aboriginal/ Indigenous, Policies.
Removing children from their caregivers by child welfare authorities due to concerns of abuse and even neglect is not only traumatizing for the children but also families and community at large. When these children are taken from agencies and admitted to the care homes, it affects their future outcomes negatively because of the maltreatment and abuse that they go through. However, in some cases, placing the children in care homes is the best option in ensuring their safety, an unfortunate reality. In most cases, Indigenous children and their families faced with the challenge of placing these children in the welfare systems discriminated against, and their needs downplayed, which is harmful to them. Over the years, Indigenous families have brought up concerns about their children being over-represented in these systems and their lack of trust in the provision of services. Recently, researchers have generated reports regarding the over-representation of these children in the welfare systems (Tilbury, 2009).
An overview of the problem of child abuse in the Indigenous communities of Australia is presented by Tomison and Pocock in the “Clearing House Issues Paper 19.” The current reactions to the exploitation of the children in Indigenous communities have shown a failure. Therefore, an urgent response action needs to be taken to address these needs and how they can be effectively treated. While there are different experiences of Indigenous people depending on their countries, most of the challenges that they face are similar. Some of these challenges include intergenerational trauma, dislocation of the communities, mental health problems that emerge from child removal effects, being denied access to essential social services such as education, health services, and housing. These communities also experience power loss due to the experiences of colonization that still affect them.
Due to the effects it has on them, most of the individuals from these communities show high levels of violence in families, alcohol and substance abuse, and economic poverty hat directly impacts the well-being of their children.
This paper looks into the attempts that have been made by Australia, Canada, and the United States in meeting the needs of the Indigenous children. Many of the policies and programs implemented are responses to everyday challenges that children and communities face. Some authors have advocated for a holistic approach in looking at these problems, without considering the differences in these communities. In the Australian context, it has been established that the international laws and reports that are generated on service delivery to Indigenous children from an individualistic approach seem not to be productive for the children, communities, and the families. Researchers have reported a gap in knowledge on the provision of services to Indigenous children, primarily focusing on welfare organizations. However, this information has looked at possible limits.
This paper put focuses policies implementation, Existing laws and changes made over time for the protection to kid’s rights, harmonizing approaches taken by the government to work with families ,colonization has affected and is still affecting the future generations. A look into what researchers can do in the future to amend these inappropriate policies has an outline.
The adoption of Aboriginal children dates back to the 1950s. It has begun with the Indian Adoption Project. In Canada, Indigenous children have a history of being forcibly removed from their communities as well as families. Most of the children placed in systems known as “residential schools.” After their closure, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal services started, and this was the beginning of the removal of Indigenous children. Two reviews on child welfare began in 1978 and 1980, and an agreement reached, which increased the Fist Nation Bands. Initiation favored these communities, and they gained control for a while. This project was, however, disrupted due to a lack of funds that resulted in constrains in sticking to the agreement. Therefore, this saw the control shift from the people to the government organizations’ child welfare systems. Negotiations to transfer these services have been futile. Despite these, the “First Nation Communities” continue to innovate new ways and projects that are culturally appropriate to provide their service models.
In many places, these communities have been established and provide a wide range of child and family services. For instance, some give the functions in full, which includes protective responsibility while some work collaboratively with the authorities in various departments. People have been trying to join forces to come up with national acts such as the “Indian Child Welfare Act” of 1978, to offer a platform whereby the First nation members can join forces and work while considering differences in their cultures (Auger, 2012).
In most departments, especially in Canada and Australia, Indigenous children continue to be over-presented. Problems linked to colonial experiences continue to exist that have distorted their history to date have underpinned their over-representation. Removing the Indigenous children forcibly and unjustly from their families is one of the policies that has had a traumatic effect on Indigenous people and is very important in child welfare departments today. This policy, and other procedures, has dramatically affected the view of the Indigenous communities and the treatment of their children in the welfare systems.
Sexual abuse, violence, and substance abuse are some of the traumatic experiences left with the Indigenous children when enrolled in the systems. In recent years, the public has brought forth the sexual abuse that children face in Aboriginal communities. One specific instance is that of Nanette Rogers, a public prosecutor, whose revelations of these experiences came as a surprise to many people. With time, other issues have come up from indigenous communities, but the responses to such actions seem not to be active and bring minimal change.
With a particular focus on Australia, the children there are more likely to face neglect and abuse. Negligence is directly related to poverty, and this can be attributed to history and mark let behind by colonization. For the child protection laws to be helpful, they must include sections containing policies that investigate the reasons for the over-representation of Indigenous children in the Child welfare systems.
Australia has come up with some laws and policies that take into consideration the need to recognize Indigenous children’s identities. As such, there is a nation-wide principle that Indigenous children, who require care out of home, be placed with their community, other indigenous families, or directly to their extended family where practical. In various policies, some laws require the head of the child welfare department to communicate with the Indigenous communities to come up with measures that allow them to determine themselves s much as possible. Indigenous people have a right to look into the well-being of their children in ways that are considered viable by communities that are not Indigenous (Frenza, 1993).
Presently, laws that offer the inclusion of cultural activities and projects for Indigenous children have reformed. People are starting to consider the need for coming up with permanent plans that will impact the children positively. Some organizations have suggested that Indigenous children should reunite with their families. In cases that are possible, placing children under the care of a non-indigenous caregiver is recommended by the Indigenous organizations.
In the United States, ‘Native American Children” were removed from their families forcibly, and some sent to boarding schools. This policy is recently known as “assimilation and cultural genocide” (Hunter, 2008). These children were subjected to abuse and neglect while at the schools. Several jurisdictions and laws passed by the Supreme Court, the Indigenous communities were recognized under the “Indian Nations and Indian treaty rights.” Cases are supporting legislation to look into the welfare of Indigenous children states example, Georgia.
The “Indian Child Welfare Act” can be traced from the Fisher case, which recognizes the main principles outlined in the act, that is including the acknowledgment of the respect of the rights of children tribally excluded and all the other members of the tribes. Consideration is for the interests of the individual communities taking control of the provision of services to their children. However, some disparities came up in the cases primarily if one member or both of the members did not reside within the reserve. Discrepancies brought about controversies as removing Indigenous children from families seemed inappropriate, therefore passing the “Indian Child Welfare Act,” 1978, United States.
This act focused on taking into consideration the limited control of tribes and the needs of their children that were being taken care of under worrying conditions. However, there is an exception for children who do not live within the reserve. In such cases, court proceedings determine if the parent can ask for circumstances transfer.
Parents of children under custody are also given a right in the hearings. Anyone seeking to put a child under foster care and remove all parental rights of taking care of the kid must provide evidence on actions that led to the breakdown.
Every parent that undergoes involuntary proceedings has a right to get a lawyer while the court is allowed to get a representative for the child. There is an order that must be followed by the courts of the state before placement takes place when one seeks to adopt a child or foster them. This placement case in the United States is similar to that of Australia regarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The child can either be placed with an extended family, a member of the child’s tribe, or an Indian family, and all the cases are impossible. The child can always fit into a family that is not Indian.
The cases here are almost similar in all of the countries, and, for instance, in Australia, the Indigenous members of the child’s community can be involved in decision making. However, the laws and policies set up in the government regarding the protection of these children do not matter. What matters most is meeting their needs and provision, and for their well-being, a lot of resources must e used in the process as well as appropriate services delivered effectively.
Study/ Project Design
We wrote to the Children Aids Societies due to a lack of data that monitored the Indigenous child welfare system’s activities such as admission into care and the type of services they received. It allowed us to collect the data on the Indigenous children and their families, their first enrollments into the system, their progress through it until their transition out of the system. We used qualitative and quantitative data during decision making. We wanted to know whether Indigenous children were over-presented after admission into the care systems, and as such, we used two sets of data. One regarding the number of children admitted into the care system and the total population of children in the catchment areas. We also collaborated with the National Hold Survey in Canada to find out the number of Indigenous kids aged between 0-15. We also engaged the families, children, and communities of Indigenous origin both in Canada and the United States.
The data collected were qualitatively analyzed to determine whether the children were over-presented, and we came up with the “disproportionality indicator.” The data collected showed that about 30% of children in the care systems are Indigenous children, and they are over-represented at all decision making levels. The participants involved also indicated that the number of admissions could be higher than recorded and that these families did not care to know the population regarding their history of child maltreatment and some placed in residentials. They also put concerns about the economic and social issues of children placed under care. Their main concern was being empowered and involved in the collection, analyzing, and reporting on data regarding their children.
The research indicated that the findings generated could have been contributed to by various factors, including extreme poverty, inter-generational trauma, and biases at the agencies. For instance, in Canada, the history of racism and discrimination among these kids could have accounted for discrimination within the care systems. The quantitative data analysis faced several limitations, including inconsistency, in how the Indigenous identities of the children were determined and put into the system. Some of the children in the care system were beyond the age of 0-15.
|June 2019- June 2019||Reading period
Defining the thesis, reading existing literature and finding out the relevant sources
|July 2019- August 2019||Revisiting the thesis topic and finding more relevant primary sources|
|September 2019||We are working on the structure of the topics.
|October 2019||Drafting the chapters|
|November 2019||I am writing a conclusion, revision, and submission.|
Since most of the models and policies that applied concerning providing treatment and services to the indigenous children are not culturally right for their nature and communal identity, expectations are that the agencies and welfare systems adopt culturally competent policies and practices. These include acknowledging the importance o ceremonies, engaging the community in the shared responsibility of caring for the children, and finding ways to connect them to their land. Moreover, restoring balance in programs to give them a real-life, showing a caring attitude, recognizing the place of women in the communities, and adopting justice systems that emphasize forgiveness rather than punishment.
The government expects to work collaboratively with the Indigenous child welfare organizations to ensure that their communities are empowered, and appropriate strategies for taking care of the kids implemented. The indigenous workers should also be involved in decision making, and the agencies should train them and ensure that they are not under-staffed. Lastly, from expectations, the Indigenous communities will be included in taking care of the children through a system and programs that engage them at the social, economic, physical, and political levels (McKenzie, 2008).
In conclusion, this paper looks at the policies that govern the treatment and placement of Indigenous children in care systems. It outlines these policies in the Canadian, Australian, and the United States context. The literature review of this paper looks at a holistic approach to the needs of the children and making them feel safe through the use of culture. Many of the challenges faced by the children in these systems are due to existing policies from colonization. Most of the issues apply in all three contexts, and more research on these policies and the well-being of the children developed and implemented locally.
Auger, A. (2012). Moving toward reconciliation in indigenous child welfare. Child welfare,
Frenza, L. (1993). An early intervention approach to ending child abuse and neglect: Hana
Like Home Visitor Program. Journal of Psychohistory, 21, 29-29.
Hunter, S. V. (2008). Child maltreatment in remote Aboriginal communities and the
Northern Territory Emergency Response: A complex issue. Australian Social Work,
McKenzie, B. (1997). Connecting policy and practice in First Nations child and family
services: A Manitoba case study. Child and family policies: Struggles, strategies, and
options. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing.
Tilbury, C. (2009). The over‐representation of indigenous children in the Australian child
welfare system. International Journal of Social Welfare, 18(1), 57-64.
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