Organizers are hoping to get the word out about a federal funding program in place to help Indigenous children access services.
About 140 people attended an information session on the initiative, known as Jordan's Principle, Thursday in North Battleford. The Jordan's Principle program helps ensure First Nations children have better access to health care and other services. Event facilitator Sherry Jimmy said the information session was meant to raise awareness about the initiative.
"The Jordan's Principle initiative is designed to ensure First Nation children don't experience gaps in health, education or social areas," Jimmy said. "It's to create substantive equality with non-First Nation children."
According to Jordan's Principle, First Nations children often wait for services they urgently require or are denied services available to other children, including mental health, speech therapy, healthcare, and education.
Jordan’s Principle is based upon a case involving an Indigenous child named Jordan who couldn't obtain the care he required. He died in hospital because of the challenges in determining who would cover his needs. The Jordan's Principle initiative aims to prevent that from ever happening again.
Over three years a total of $382-million has been committed to Jordan’s Principle federally. The current initiative started in 2016 and will expire March 31, 2019, though the program may be extended.
The services the Jordan’s Principle program supports includes funding for counselling services, educational assistants, help for children with disabilities, as well as for parents to purchase baby formula or even home modifications costs.
"The objective here is to get information out because the applications have been slow coming in to access funding and services under Jordan’s Principle," Jimmy said.
"We're hoping to get feedback from people about what's working for them, and what isn't working for them ... Our goal is to write a report that combines the information from all these sessions, in terms of how Jordan's Principle can be improved as we go forward."
Battle River Treaty 6 Health Centre Early Childhood Director Pamela Peterson said parents, caregivers, educators, health professionals and band chiefs and councillors attended the session.
"I think it's an indication of the help that our people need for their children," she said of the large turnout.
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