Media release Poverty Racism

Media release: New community-based group advocates for child welfare

Monday, September 13th, 2021

KJIPUKTUK (HALIFAX, NS) – Child welfare in Nova Scotia is in a state of crisis. The crisis is rooted in the colonial policies that sought to separate Indigenous children from their families, to control and surveil Black families and the legacy of intergenerational trauma and poverty. Anti-black racism, colonialism, trauma and poverty continue to impact children and families today.

The Child Welfare Advocacy Coalition (CWAC) is a new, community-based organization committed to advocating loudly and independently to the public and government for a radical, progressive approach to child welfare.

“It is clear that current fiscal and social policy has failed to address structural inequalities that undermine the well-being of families,” says CWAC spokesperson Haley Heist “We must do much better for children in this province.”

It is CWAC’s position that the scale of this crisis is too great to be addressed merely through internal review or even reform. A radical new model for child welfare services is the only chance to halt the crisis and build a new hope for children and families in our province.

Part of the problem is that Nova Scotia’s policies and programs that directly serve children and youth have continuously lacked their voices. As a result, programs and services have fallen short of their intended outcomes. The changes to the Child and Family Services Act i 2017 have led to a more intrusive system embedded in social control and surveillance rather than a commitment to eradicating child and family poverty, providing culturally relevant trauma focused mental health and substance use services and robust disability supports. This has negatively impacted the well-being of Nova Scotia’s most vulnerable population.

One of CWAC’s first acts will be to formally request a meeting with the newly appointed Minister of Community Services to discuss the urgent need to implement all provincial recommendations involving child welfare from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, to ensure that when a child is brought into care the family doesn’t lose the Canada Child Tax Benefit, and to follow through with the recommendations from the Inquiry into Home for Coloured Children to create a Child and Youth Advocate Office.

“With a government who is focused on health care and mental health, we need to ensure that vulnerable children and youth have the support to lead a quality life. Adverse Childhood Experiences like those experienced by children involved in the child welfare system are as statistically relevant to developing a complex mental health issues as smoking is to cancer ” says CWAC spokesperson Haley Hiest.

CWAC is guided by a Coordinating Committee, which is comprised of stakeholders from various professional disciplines, services and supports that impact child protection.

Members of this committee include but are not limited to:

  • Liz Wilson
  • Haley Heist
  • Jackie Barkley
  • Peter Duke

Membership to CWAC’s larger membership group is open to the public and should reflect the intersecting identities, and various professional disciplines, services and supports that impact child welfare. Members may participate in the Coalition as individuals or on behalf of another organization.

To learn more about CWAC, please visit or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.