Culturally-based, community-operated, multi-service hubs for

Culturally-based, community-operated,
multi-service hubs for Aboriginal
children and families
Pauline Janyst, MA
Jessica Ball, MPH, PhD
Presentation at the 4th International Meeting on Indigenous Child Health
Securing Our Future: Advancing Circles of Caring
• 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
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
Learning points
• Circles are symbols of caring, sharing, and life
• In the Circle, there is strength, support,
experience and learning.
• Given the opportunity, everyone in the Circle
can assist with journeys of healing and
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
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 communitybased programs to support health in early years is a top
priority for many Aboriginal communities
♥“. . . all with the objective of complementing the family’s
role in nurturing young children.” (RCAP ‘96)
Individual client focused, fragmented model
Unsafe, hit and miss approach to targeting child
health services delivery
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
Ecological contextualization of health
Three determinants of health are important,
and all negatively affected by socio-historical
– 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
First Nation Elder
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,
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.
Laichwiltach Family Life Society (LFLS)
One promising, place-based example
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
Multi-culturalism in Aboriginal Head Start: Four Aboriginal groups
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.
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
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
• Nu’chah’nulth
• K’omoks Band
• Homalco Band
• Klahoose
• Mamaleqala
• Kwaikiah
Also provides services to people living off reserves including transient and resident
urban Aboriginal children and families.
LFLS multi-service hub
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)
Youth programs
After-school care
“Blade Runner”
At-Risk Youth Outreach
Youth counselling
Field trips
Summer programs for school-aged children.
Parent programs
Health literacy & promotion
Life skills
Family therapy
Special events
Mental health & addictions recovery
Crisis intervention
Referrals to treatment
Ongoing support
Elders programs
• Rekindling the Spirit
• Luncheons
• Involvement in programs
Community wide events
Health Fair (75 families/4 hours)
Celebrations (e.g., Aboriginal Day)
Involvement in many programs
A community member described the
Executive Directors’ approach as:
“Feed them and create interest” !!
• 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 don’t
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. It’s all
there and the staff help to get everyone in the
family connected.”
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
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).
Aboriginal multi-cultural base
Programs are grounded in Aboriginal concepts
of wellness and are inclusive of multiple First
Nations and Métis cultures.
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
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).
In the words of parents. . . .
“They just look after the community from babies
right up to Elders here.
“I’ve been coming to Laichwiltach since I was a
little kid.”
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.”
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 wasn’t for LFLS, “people would just
fall through the cracks.”
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.”
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., speechlanguage repetition, OT exercises, dental hygiene)
Site for community staff to monitor services delivered to
members, mediate, & explain services to parents.
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.
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
Leadership development
• Mentorship, support networks & continuous crossdisciplinary, 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
• 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).
• Inadequate funding for staff development.
• Difficulty recruiting credentialed Aboriginal
• Diversity of First Nations cultures and
languages in the population base who
participate in LFLS programs (a strength &
• 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
Learning points
1. Coordinated services are better for everyone
– Children
– Families
– Staff
– Funders
– Other child and family serving agencies in the
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
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.
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