Family well-being

Family well-being

Advancing child and family well-being

All children, youth, families, communities, and Indigenous Peoples are entitled to live and thrive according to their own wholistic understanding of well-being.

At West Coast LEAF, we aim to uplift and amplify the wisdom and expertise of Indigenous leaders, families, Elders, and child and family well-being advocates to reclaim and transform the family policing system.

A baby wearing a fuzzy white sweater is laying down and holds the finger of an adult.
Pexels / William Fortunato

Naming the family policing system

We are working to shift this system of colonial intervention to one of child and family well-being, where all children, families and communities can thrive.

In taking up work in the area of law known as “child welfare” or “child protection” we have been privileged to learn from families, Nations, and advocates in BC and beyond who have generously shared their wisdom with us. As part of our learning journey, we reflected on the power of language to name and describe the laws, policies, and actions that together regulate and impact family relationships.

Scholar and advocate Dorothy Roberts challenges us to question whether our framing and use of language accurately reflects the impacts of these systems on the well-being of children and their families. Through this learning and reflection, we have adopted Roberts’ more appropriate term to describe this system: family policing.

The family policing system maintains power and control over the lives of families and children—most often Indigenous families and children—through surveillance, regulation, and punishment. Families who are struggling under the weight of systemic injustices like racism and poverty need supports, such as adequate housing, livable income and disability rates, and mental health services. Instead of recognizing these injustices as the systemic barriers they are, the system sees family struggles as individual failings.

Supporting children and families to thrive

We strive for a child and family well-being system in place of the family policing system. A child and family well-being system involves resourcing and supporting children, youth, families, communities, and First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Peoples to thrive according to their own wholistic understanding of well-being, without interference from the family policing system. This encompasses different frameworks, such as social determinants of health and Indigenous determinants of health

Our advocacy for child and family well-being spans several projects including:

Explore our work

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Child Welfare Advocacy Communities of Practice

This project focused on building spaces for advocacy to improve outcomes for families engaged in the family policing system, as well as those who support them…

A large group of adults and children have their backs to the camera watching the sunset on a beach.

Pathways in a Forest: Indigenous guidance on prevention-based child welfare

The report highlights efforts by Indigenous families, communities, and Nations to revitalize…

R.R. v Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society [2020]

This is a complaint before the BC Human Rights Tribunal about discrimination in the child protection system…

What is the Family Policing System?: An Interview with Parents Advocating Collectively for Kin (PACK)

I sat down with PACK to hear more about their reflections about the family policing system…