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Foster care boost

Kent Driscoll
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (July 11/05) - Nunavut now leads Canada in payments to foster parents.

The new base rates, announced on June 27, range from $43 per child per day to $50, depending on which region the child lives in. They take effect this month.

Nunavut social workers Romi Nychka, left, and Adam Kilukishak look over the new rates for foster care in the territory. The new rates are the highest in Canada.

The NWT base rate is $22 per day, Ontario pays $32.20 and Nova Scotia pays out between $13.77 and $20.02, depending on the age of the child.

There are 295 foster homes in Nunavut, caring for an average of 325 children a month.

Health and social services minister Leona Aglukkaq announced an additional $1 million in foster care funding to accommodate the new system.

"The rate increase is one way the government of Nunavut is supporting the healthy development of children and youth," Aglukkaq said.

Norm Murray, director of child and family services, designed the new system, assigning points to special needs children on top of the base rate.

It is a simple system: one point is worth one dollar a day.

"We looked at the GNWT system for most of the headings, but the point structure is home grown," Murray said.

The previous rates ranged from $35 to $100 daily, depending on the region.

After Nunavut became a territory, regional health boards were put in place and determined their own rate for foster care, without accounting for special needs children

"Whatever the social worker was used to paying, that's what was paid. There was no rationale behind it. That's why we tried to make a standard," said Murray.

With no special rates for special needs children, it was difficult to place these children, he said.

"If I can take a stable child at the same rate, why would I take a special needs child," Murray explained.

Social worker Adam Kilukishak is responsible for 20 of 100 foster children in Iqaluit.

"Each child is different, so I think the new system will work out well," said Kilukishak.

He will be sitting down with the foster parents in July to determine their new pay rate.

There are five social workers in Iqaluit and their days are full.

Each visit to a child is generally followed by two hours of paperwork.

"We try to see the children twice a month. If they are getting into trouble, it is more," Kilukishak said.

Base rates

New base rates for Nunavut foster parents, per child per day:

  • $43 in Rankin Inlet, Cambridge Bay, Panniqtuuq, Sanikiluaq, Iqaluit, Kimmirut, Whale Cove, Arviat, Cape Dorset and Kugluktuk.
  • $45 in Qikiqtarjuaq, Hall Beach, Repulse Bay, Chesterfield Inlet, Clyde River, Iglulik, Baker Lake and Coral Harbour.
  • $47 for Pond Inlet, Arctic Bay and Resolute.
  • $50 for Taloyoak, Gjoa Haven, Grise Fiord and Kugaaruk.