First Nations Child and Family Services

Indigenous Services Canada's First Nations Child and Family Services program funds prevention and protection services to support the safety and well-being of First Nations children and families living on reserve.

Program reform

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is working with partners to reform the First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) program and reduce the number of Indigenous children in care. The reform includes fully implementing the orders of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal by:

  • funding the actual costs of First Nations child and family services agencies
  • working to make the system truly child centered, community directed and focused on prevention and early intervention

The total FNCFS program funding for 2018-2019 is over $1.1 billion dollars.

Use the First Nations Child and Family Services interactive map to find a service provider.

Budget 2018 commits to invest new funding of $1.4 billion in the FNCFS program over 6 years starting in 2017-2018 to ensure the safety, security and well-being of Indigenous children.

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About the program

ISC provides funding to First Nations child and family services agencies, which are established, managed and controlled by First Nations and delegated by provincial authorities to provide prevention and protection services. In areas where these agencies do not exist, ISC funds services provided by the provinces and Yukon but does not deliver child and family services. These services are provided in accordance with the legislation and standards of the province or territory of residence. Funding for child and family services in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories is provided by the Department of Finance Canada through transfer payment agreements with the territorial governments, which make up a portion of their annual budgets. These governments decide how and where to spend the funds.

ISC uses a prevention-based funding model to support early intervention and alternatives to traditional institutional care and foster care, such as the placement of children with family members in a community setting.

The program provides 4 streams of funding:

In January 2016, in response to a 2007 complaint by the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found the FNCFS program to be flawed, inequitable and discriminatory under the Canadian Human Rights Act. The tribunal ordered the department to cease its discriminatory practices and to reform the program and the1965 Agreement in Ontario (PDF, 1.37 MB, 182 pages) to reflect the findings in their decision.

Further orders were made in:

The Government of Canada has accepted the rulings and is working to fully implement the orders. In response to the February 2018 ruling, Canada immediately began to cover the actual costs of prevention, intake and assessment, legal fees, building repairs, child service purchase and small agency costs (in all areas), as well as actual costs of band representatives and mental health for First Nations youth, in Ontario, retroactively to January 26, 2016, and going forward until an alternate funding system is in place. ISC will continue to work closely with the Consultation Committee on Child Welfare to fully implement the orders and is updating existing program terms and conditions to increase flexibility and improve response regarding prevention.

ISC is also:

Tripartite tables, technical working groups and regional advisory committees comprised of representatives from First Nations, ISC, all provinces and Yukon are in place:

Program expenditures and statistics

First Nations Child and Family Services national expenditures (2006-2007 to 2016-2017)
Description of the First Nations Child and Family Services national expenditures (2006-2007 to 2016-2017)

This image visually describes INAC's First Nations Child and Family Services national expenditures growth trend from 2006-2007 to 2016-2017.

  • For 2006-2007 the total national expenditures were $449.5M
  • For 2007-2008 the total national expenditures were $489.9M
  • For 2008-2009 the total national expenditures were $523.1M
  • For 2009-2010 the total national expenditures were $549.6M
  • For 2010-2011 the total national expenditures were $579.1M
  • For 2011-2012 the total national expenditures were $618.6M
  • For 2012-2013 the total national expenditures were $627.4M
  • For 2013-2014 the total national expenditures were $637.8M
  • For 2014-2015 the total national expenditures were $647.5M
  • For 2015-2016 the total national expenditures were $676.8M
  • For 2016-2017 the total national expenditures were $763M

Since 2006, program expenditures have increased by 69.7%.

The total may not balance due to rounding.

The actual program expenditures for 2016-2017 were $768 million. This includes:

Budget investments

Budget 2016 invested $634.8 million over 5 years, with $176.8 million in ongoing funding after year 5. These new investments are over and above the program's annual budget of $676.8 million in 2015-2016.

In millions
2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020 2020-2021 Total
71.1$ 98.6$ 126.3$ 162.0$ 176.8$ 634.8$

Budget 2018 invested an additional $1.4 billion over 6 years, starting in 2017-2018, to address funding pressures facing First Nations child and family service agencies, while also increasing prevention resources for communities so that children are safe and families can stay together.

The total FNCFS program funding for 2018-2019 is over $1.1 billion dollars.

First Nations Child and Family Services program statistics of First Nations children living in care on reserve: National picture

Percentage of First Nations children in care by placement type
Text description of the percentage of First Nations children in care by placement type

This chart depicts the national percentage of First Nations children in care on reserve by placement type.

First Nations Child and Family Services program: Statistics of First Nations children in care on reserve
Year Foster care Group home Institution Kinship
2006-2007 89.67% 4.44% 5.89% 0%
2007-2008 90.24% 4.34% 5.30% 0.12%
2008-2009 81.07% 4.88% 5.53% 8.52%
2009-2010 82.42% 3.89% 3.59% 10.10%
2010-2011 81.72% 4.00% 3.66% 10.62%
2011-2012 79.96% 4.81% 3.33% 11.90%
2012-2013 78.55% 4.31% 3.79% 13.35%
2013-2014 74.90% 4.65% 2.69% 17.83%
2014-2015 76.07% 5.24% 2.65% 16.12%
2015-2016 77.19% 4.54% 2.43% 15.94%
2016-2017 75.25% 4.40% 2.31% 18.11%

Since 2007, when INAC began shifting the program towards prevention-based funding, child placement trends have shown a gradual decrease in foster care and institutional care and an increase in kinship care.

For 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, a portion of kinship placements are reflected in foster care due to coding changes (following legislative changes in Quebec).

Children in care counts are based on a point in time, typically the last day of the fiscal year (March 31). It is important to note that this number does not include the number of Indigenous children in care from provincially funded agencies. As well, a point in time count is not a measure of every First Nations child who experiences care in a community over time. By focusing on a single day, the count will not include some people who cycle in and out of care but it does provide an estimate of how many First Nations children are in care on a given day.

Number of First Nations children in care, average maintenance costs per child, total expenditures for maintenance, and total expenditures for FNCFS
Year Children in careFootnote 1 Average maintenance costs
per childFootnote 2
Total maintenance costs
(in millions)Footnote 3
Total actual FNCFS expenditures
(in millions)
1998-1999 7,220 $19,806.09 $143.0 $239.0
1999-2000 7,762 $20,690.54 $160.6 $260.3
2000-2001 8,791 $19,519.96 $171.6 $311.5
2001-2002 8,074 $25,997.03 $209.9 $341.3
2002-2003 8,225 $22,528.88 $185.3 $336.3
2003-2004 8,846 $23,829.98 $210.8 $365.0
2004-2005 8,776 $26,675.02 $234.1 $385.0
2005-2006 8,907 $28,550.58 $254.3 $416.7
2006-2007 7,859 $34,253.72 $269.2 $449.5
2007-2008 8,596 $34,108.89 $293.2 $489.9
2008-2009 8,806 $34,873.95 $307.1 $523.1
2009-2010 8,686 $36,959.35 $321.0 $549.6
2010-2011 9,241 $36,799.88 $340.1 $579.1
2011-2012 9,423 $38,532.95 $363.1 $618.6
2012-2013 9,482 $35,980.41 $341.2 $627.4
2013-2014 8,675 $38,558.60 $334.5 $637.8
2014-2015 8,428 $40,142.79 $338.3 $647.5
2015-2016 8,488 $42,262.78 $358.7 $676.8
2016-2017 9,078 $41,353.10 $375.4 $762.6
Source: Comparison of number of First Nations children in care and maintenance costs per child from 1998-1999 to 2016-2017.

This represents total program expenditures for maintenance, operations and prevention funding (Vote 10, grants and contributions). It does not include internal ISC or other funding.

Who can apply?

There is no application process. The following service delivery providers are eligible to receive funding through this program:

Eligible recipients FNCFS – agencies FNCFS – CWJI
FNCFS agencies or societiesFootnote 4, other delegated or designated providers of child and family services, including provincially delegated or designated agencies and societies, provinces and Yukon Yes No
Chiefs and councils of First Nations bands recognized by the Minister of Indigenous Services, tribal councils, First Nations and First Nations organizations Yes Yes
First Nations communities, First Nations authority, board, committee or other entity created by chief and council for purposes such as providing social services or health care No Yes

How to apply?

Applications are not required for this program. Funding is provided through agreements signed directly with:

Questions relating to child and family services and funding provided for Inuit and Métis children and First Nations children living off reserve should be directed to the appropriate provincial or territorial ministry.

Audits and evaluations

Related links

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