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Culturally-based, community-operated, multi-service hubs for Aboriginal children and families Pauline Janyst, MA Jessica Ball, MPH, PhD Presentation at.

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Presentation on theme: "Culturally-based, community-operated, multi-service hubs for Aboriginal children and families Pauline Janyst, MA Jessica Ball, MPH, PhD Presentation at."— Presentation transcript:

1 Culturally-based, community-operated, multi-service hubs for Aboriginal children and families Pauline Janyst, MA Jessica Ball, MPH, PhD Presentation at the 4 th International Meeting on Indigenous Child Health Securing Our Future: Advancing Circles of Caring

2 The presenters gratefully acknowledge the encouragement and leadership of Audrey Wilson, a co-founder and current Executive Director of Laichwiltach Family Life Society. We thank members of the community that participates in the Laichwiltach Family Life Society who shared their experiences with us for this documentation project. We also thank Lara Di Tomasso for her role in gathering information about the history, impacts, and operating principles of the Society. The community-university research for this presentation is supported by grants from the Queen Alexandra Foundation and the University of Victoria Centre for Early Childhood Research and Policy.

3 Presentation objectives Rationale for multi-service hubs Opportunities and challenges for multi-service hubs Aboriginal approaches to child health and development – Holism – Circles of caring and learning Laichwiltach Family Life Society as one promising example – Inspiration 1992 – Creating the circle: Community development processes – Enlarging the circle Testimonials Challenges Learning points Discussion


5 Circles are symbols of caring, sharing, and life journeys. In the Circle, there is strength, support, experience and learning. Given the opportunity, everyone in the Circle can assist with journeys of healing and wellness.

6 Laichwiltach Family Life Society has worked in a caring, collaborative, culturally guided way to create a safe environment and circles of care, healing and wellness for families in the northern region of Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

7 Rationale for multi-service hubs Research shows that living conditions in childhood contributes to adult health – Family income, education, parenting style – Community cohesion, safety, inclusion – Social policy – access to quality care Building community capacity & developing community- based programs to support health in early years is a top priority for many Aboriginal communities... all with the objective of complementing the familys role in nurturing young children. (RCAP 96)


9 Individual client focused, fragmented model

10 Unsafe, hit and miss approach to targeting child health services delivery

11 Indigenous approaches to child health Indigenous knowledge can be seen as an original population health conceptual framework. Holism Ecological contextualization Community-specificity, place-based, wise practices (vs. universal, best practices) Circles of caring and learning Continuity of engagement in a continuum of care

12 Ecological contextualization of health Three determinants of health are important, and all negatively affected by socio-historical interventions: – Environment and loss of land – Social support and family connections – Culture and language Our children need to be understood as part of a whole that includes their family, community, culture, and the natural environment First Nation Elder

13 Moving towards integration Across Canada, some First Nations communities are taking steps via their ECD program to coordinate services & to increase service awareness, access & utilization via their ECD program Developmental perspective: – Conceptual planning: Vision / commitment – Community well-being: cohesion, cooperation, stability, leadership – Resources: Local capacity, Bridges with external service providers & bureaucrats, funding Community focused perspective: – Community-fitting practices - no best practices – Community development & service delivery models must be custom-built for the culture, strengths & needs, geographies, size and resources of specific communities.

14 Laichwiltach Family Life Society (LFLS) One promising, place-based example Inspiration! 1991: Four First Nations women Goal: A safe place for urban and on-reserve women with young children who were experiencing domestic violence to get help and support

15 Multi-culturalism in Aboriginal Head Start: Four Aboriginal groups

16 Creating the circle: Collaborative community development Campbell River Indian Band Cape Mudge Band Comox Indian Band. Contributed the funds they had for family violence programs to the family intervention program operated by the Laichwiltach group.

17 Creating a formal structure for an ongoing, community-driven process 1994: Four First Nations women created the Laichwiltach Family Life Society Goal: To access provincial and federal funds to consolidate and expand services. 2003: LFLS became a charitable organization to enable further fund raising. Fund-raising is a core endeavour of LFLS

18 Consolidating a good way Starting from a single program 19 years ago, LFLS has continuously grown in Scope Scale Geographic reach Now serves children and families on reserves including (not limited to): Wei Wai Kum First Nation We Wai Kai First Nation Nuchahnulth Komoks Band Homalco Band Klahoose Mamaleqala Kwaikiah Also provides services to people living off reserves including transient and resident urban Aboriginal children and families.

19 LFLS multi-service hub

20 Early Years Programs Aboriginal Head Start ( since 1996 : 35 children) Half-day kindergarten (20 children) Aboriginal Infant Development Aboriginal Child Care and Development (Little Fry :20 children) Supported Child Development Parent & Tot (20 dyads)

21 Youth programs After-school care Blade Runner At-Risk Youth Outreach Youth counselling Field trips Summer programs for school-aged children.

22 Parent programs Education Support Health literacy & promotion Life skills Family therapy Referrals Special events

23 Mental health & addictions recovery Crisis intervention Counselling Referrals to treatment Accompaniment/navigation Ongoing support

24 Elders programs Rekindling the Spirit Luncheons Involvement in programs

25 Community wide events Health Fair (75 families/4 hours) Luncheons Dinners Celebrations (e.g., Aboriginal Day) Involvement in many programs A community member described the Executive Directors approach as: Feed them and create interest !!

26 Accompaniment Navigation and support for families involved with child protection services Navigation and support for families involved with acute health care services When a family comes to the Centre, they dont usually just come for one thing. They may have a child needing an ECE program, another child needing an after-school program, and a family member needing an addictions program. Its all there and the staff help to get everyone in the family connected.

27 Community development processes Three key dimensions of community-driven organizational development highlighted by the interviews to date. 1.Community engagement & collaboration 2.Aboriginal multi-cultural base 3.Capacity development

28 Community engagement/ collaboration Within LFLS (e.g., between programs and among staff) Within LFLS (e.g., among the First Nations who contribute & are served) Between LFLS and the broader system of public services community in Campbell River (e.g., school district, Campbell River Family Services) Between LFLS and the broader context of service agencies on Vancouver Island (e.g., Vancouver Island Health Authority), in BC (e.g., Ministry for Child and Family Development) and federally (e.g., Public Health Agency of Canada).

29 Aboriginal multi-cultural base Programs are grounded in Aboriginal concepts of wellness and are inclusive of multiple First Nations and Métis cultures.

30 Capacity development LFLS has developed its capacity over the past two decades to meet an increasingly broad scope of needs and pursue an increasingly broad scope of goals

31 Enlarging the circle Expanding into delegated child welfare program Many Nations Child & Family Service Program Partnering with Sasamans Society on a Nation to Nation based approach for building capacity and programs to prevent children from going into care. Partnerships with universities for research... Partnerships with other agencies and sectors (e.g., needs assessment for improved cultural safety in health sector).


33 In the words of parents.... They just look after the community from babies right up to Elders here. Ive been coming to Laichwiltach since I was a little kid.

34 In the words of staff.... The hub model works well within the community because it goes with the flow of how people access services. Clients have fluid contact with a variety of staff. As the staff see needs, they answer needs. LFLS offers programs that complement one another and the team works like a well-oiled unit. The programs make up a spider web – every part of the web is connected and they all make up the whole.

35 In the words of external service providers.... LFLS is like a garden where cultural seeds are planted, from 0 to Elderhood. There is cultural programming that helps bring people home to who they really are. There are so many barriers to services in the area, if it wasnt for LFLS, people would just fall through the cracks.

36 Early childhood programs at the centre Programs for children and youth are a magnet in the community, bringing people together, cultural events, information, education, social support, health fairs, health services, speech-language services, community kitchens. delivery. Our child care is a holistic model, and feels natural to us as Aboriginal people, where we have always seen children and the community as one.

37 One stop service delivery / Two-way learning ECD as Hub model provides ready mutual access between community members & professional services. Site for itinerant professionals to build relationships with a stable core of staff, become culturally literate, & follow-up large numbers attending regular programs. Site for community staff to learn from professionals & take on some continuous service delivery (e.g., speech- language repetition, OT exercises, dental hygiene) Site for community staff to monitor services delivered to members, mediate, & explain services to parents.

38 Continuity of care Bringing a child to a program can be an entry point (hook) for introducing parents and grandparents to an array of information, support, & intervention. Staff can identify developmental needs or periods of family stress & move assessment or extra supports quickly into place without high drama / disruption / costs /waiting time. Children at risk or designated in need of protection are more likely to be retained in community with laddered services readily available.

39 Capacity development Gather & retain a qualified pool of professionals & para-professionals who become familiar with a variety of services across the inter-sectoral spectrum Service memory & continuity - when one staff leaves, a core of familiar, competent staff remain

40 Leadership development Mentorship, support networks & continuous cross- disciplinary, professional development Well suited to rural & remote communities where staff often feel huge burden of responsibility & social isolation As staff develop a holistic view of community needs & goals, they initiate new outreach & programs approaches Leadership development sustainable programs


42 Challenges Unstable funding (e.g., year to year) creates challenges for program planning, staff development and retention, and community confidence in the sustained availability of preferred community-operated programs. Lack of funding for continued programming (e.g., Bladerunner), especially for the 18-30 year olds. Lack of funding for expansion of early childhood programs in high demand (e.g., Little Fry, AHS).

43 Challenges Inadequate funding for staff development. Difficulty recruiting credentialed Aboriginal staff. Diversity of First Nations cultures and languages in the population base who participate in LFLS programs (a strength & challenge)

44 Challenges Surrounding service agencies and institutions draw upon LFLS resources Tends to be more one-way than bilateral/mutually beneficial relationship. Some mainstream service practitioners encourage Aboriginal participation in mainstream programs rather than in programs offered by LFLS. Funding for mainstream programs can eclipse the needs for and successes of the services offered by an Aboriginal-run service (e.g., full-day kindergarten and Aboriginal Head Start).


46 Learning points 1. Coordinated services are better for everyone – Children – Families – Staff – Funders – Other child and family serving agencies in the community

47 Learning points 2. Processes to develop and sustain a successful hub must be guided by cultural protocols. 3. Programs must be infused with cultural knowledge and practices. 4. Fund-raising is a core aspect of creating, sustaining and expanding community-operated services.

48 Learning points 5.The larger ecology of service systems and service funding agencies need to respond with sustained support for community-operated multi-service hubs that are demonstrating positive impacts.

49 Find out more..... Visit &

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