On November 2, 2016, in Montreal, the Cree School Board and the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay (CBHSSJB) signed an important partnership agreement for the benefit of Eeyou and Eenou children and youth in the Youth Protection system. The agreement provides a protocol for engagement between Youth Protection and the Cree School Board, to make it easier for them to work together for the benefit of the youth.
In Eeyou Istchee, children and youth who are in need of protection are either living in their home environment or sometimes taken into temporary placement such as a foster family, a group home in the community or the Reception Centre in Mistissini, depending on the situation. Their care is overseen by the Director of Youth Protection of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay, in close cooperation with the Department of Youth Healing Services, which provides culturally adapted care and support for healing.
The young people continue to attend school throughout these transitions. Because of the need for confidentiality in such cases, the Cree School Board and the Department of Youth Protection were limited in their ability to share information and discuss with each other the educational needs of the youth in care.
The agreement signed on November 2, 2016 by the Chairperson of the Cree School Board, Kathleen Wootton, and CSB Director General Abraham Jolly, and the Chairperson of the CBHSSJB, Bella M. Petawabano, and CBHSSJB interim Executive Director Daniel St-Amour, will provide a legally sound protocol for information sharing between educators and social workers, opening the door to collaboration on individualized psychosocial and educational plans to support the parents in helping the youth succeed. The agreement is about improving services on both ends and also includes mechanisms for regular stakeholders’ meetings between the two regional Cree entities.
The next steps will involve the stakeholders’ meeting twice a year, and putting the new collaborative approach into practice, so that the children and youth in need of protection have every chance to succeed in their education.