News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

February 18, 2022

Province Invests $8 Million in Pilot Bridge Program Serving Families Eligible for Children's Disability Services

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Pilot Addresses the Manitoba Advocate for Child and Youth's Recommendations, Supports Government's Objective of Reducing the Number of Children in CFS Care: Squires

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The Manitoba government is investing $8 million in the development of a two-year pilot bridge program to serve families eligible for Children’s Disability Services who are no longer able to provide care, but do not want to place their children in Child and Family Services (CFS) care, Families Minister Rochelle Squires announced today.

“Out-of-home residential supports and in-home family supports enhance the crucial services available to families of children with disabilities outside of the child welfare system,” said Squires. “This pilot project will provide the right level of support to families experiencing caregiver fatigue and ensure their children are safely supported in fostering arrangements, with access to specialized services. These arrangements will include family involvement, which will reduce the need for Child and Family Services care.”

The Bridge Program for Children and Youth with Disabilities Pilot Project will support families who are no longer able to provide care because of the ongoing complexity of their children’s care requirements. The pilot bridge program will be established for two years, with dedicated funding of $4 million per year, for a total project cost of $8 million. The program aims to support approximately 20 families per year with flexible service options, the minister noted.

Children’s Disability Services (CDS) currently provides a range of services and supports to approximately 6,000 families caring for children with developmental disabilities. CDS allocates family supports, like respite, according to families’ assessed needs and the availability of resources. Services are intended to strengthen and support families, so more costly, out-of-home placements within the CFS system are avoided, delayed or shortened.

In August 2021, the department announced the development of a two-year out-of-home respite initiative. The initiative, through a partnership with St.Amant, aims to develop two homes (one in Winnipeg and one in Brandon) to serve as out-of-home respite settings for stays of up to one week per month for children with disabilities, to help avoid or delay placement in the CFS system. This important new resource will be available early in 2022 and provides shift-staffed, short-term residential respite supports, the minister added.

“While these out-of-home respite supports will be a critical new resource for children with disabilities and their families, there remains a gap in service for longer-term residential supports,” said Squires. “The Bridge Program for Children and Youth with Disabilities pilot will help to address this gap and establish a continuum of serviced options outside of CFS for children with complex needs.”

Details of the longer-term service models will be developed together with the disability services agency selected to implement the pilot, but will be targeted to families requiring out-of-home supports longer than one week per stay, up to but not including full-time care. Manitoba Families will issue an expression of interest to existing sector participants to identify partnering agencies for the pilot.

The pilot bridge program addresses the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth’s recommendation that Manitoba Families create and resource a strategy for alternative care outside the home and supports government’s objective of reducing the number of children in CFS care.


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