Last month, Alberta Children’s Services released updated data on the number of children and youth receiving child intervention services. This new data includes information for the 2021–2022 budget year.
The data is broken down both by placement type and whether the children and youth were Indigenous.
Before we look at this data, I want to point out that according to the 2021 federal census, Indigenous people living in Alberta make up just 6.81% of the total population of the province. I’m going to show you what percentage of all children and youth who have received child intervention were Indigenous.
Let’s start with foster care.
Over the last 10 years, Indigenous children and youth have become an increasing larger percentage of the total of those in foster care. They already made up over 72% of those in care back in 2012–2013, but over the last 10 years, that number has increased to over 77%. In fact, over the last two years of this period, the rise in percentage rose dramatically, more than 2 full percentage points in 2020–2021 and more than 1.6 points in the final year. In no other year over the last decade did the percentage increase by more than 1 point.
Next, let’s look at at-home care. This is when children and youth under intervention are in parental care, with relatives or community members but are not in government care.
Here we see another increase. This time, Indigenous youth and children in at-home care rose by more than 15 percentage points. Not only that, but last year was the first time Indigenous children and youth made up the majority of those in at-home care. Even then, Indigenous youth and children were still overrepresented at the start of the reporting period.
Third is campus-based care. This is when children and youth are in therapeutic campus-based treatment, including in a facility that provides intensive and therapeutic treatment care for those with complex emotional and behavioral needs. Such facilities have an onsite campus for educational purposes.
Unlike the previous two charts, Indigenous children and youth made up a smaller proportion of those in campus-based care last year than they did at the beginning of the reporting period. The percentage was dropping for the first 5 years of this period, but then shot up nearly 10 percentage points over the next 3 years before dropping again over the last two. They still make up the majority of children and youth in campus-based care though.
Next is group care, which is when children and youth are in community group care, such as in a staffed home-like setting, otherwise known as a group home.
Well, that was short-lived. We’re back at increases again. Over the last 10 years, Indigenous children and youth in community group care jumped from 67.47% of all those in care to 75.12%, an increase of over 7.5 percentage points. In 2021–2022, 3 out of every 4 children and youth in community group care was Indigenous.
The fifth group I’m going to look at is independent living, which is when children and youth live away from the care of their guardians but still receive some form of government intervention.
The percentage of children and youth in independent living who are Indigenous jumped significantly over the last two years, after being roughly 50% over the previous 3 years. At 56.51% and 55.88%, however, the last two years were still lower than the peak in 2013–2014. Even then, it’s still more than half of all children and youth in independent living. And remember, Indigenous people make up just over 6% of the general population living within the province.
Next up: kinship care. That’s when children and youth are placed with a formalized home-based caregiver who they have a family relationship or other close tie to.
Here, we can see a 6-year trend of an increasing representation of Indigenous children and youth in kinship care, rising from 65.04% in 2015–2016 to 69% last year. In other words, 2 out of every 3 children and youth in kinship care in Alberta are Indigenous.
The second-to-last group we’re looking at is permanency placements. This is when children and youth receive services in their permanent home prior to the granting of an adoption.
This is the first chart showing Indigenous children and youth making up a minority of those in care last year. It seems as though Indigenous children and youth are less likely to be in a permanent home awaiting adoption than those who aren’t Indigenous. not only that, but the percentage has been trending down over the last 3 years.
Finally, the last group we’re looking at is personalized community care, which is when children and youth are placed with a provider that tailors their programme to the needs of particular individuals. These specialized services are required when the child or youth’s needs cannot be met in traditional or group-based settings.
As with most of the other groups, the Indigenous children and youth in this group make up the majority in the programmer, but interestingly, that representation has dropped by almost 25 percentage points over the last 6 years. In 2015–2016, Indigenous children and youth made up nearly 82% of those in this programme.