A Better Service Model
Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin is the Tikinagan service model. In Ojibway/Oji-Cree, Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin means, "Everybody working together to raise our children." It is a system of protecting and caring for children and supporting families that has been designed and is delivered by First Nations people.
History of Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin
Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin represents the culmination of almost 30 years of work to develop a culturally appropriate response to children and families who are in need of help in the First Nation communities. In developing Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin, we have sought to be true to the original vision that the Chiefs and Elders had when Tikinagan was created.
The service model is now described in detail in a set of comprehensive service manuals, including service standards and policies, and case management procedures and forms.
Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin is designed to respect the inherent authority of First Nations to care for our own children. It acknowledges that our First Nation mandate supersedes provincial legislation and that our ultimate goal is the pursuit of complete First Nation jurisdiction over our own child welfare services. Until this goal can be achieved, Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin is designed to ensure that Tikinagan provides services in accordance with provincial legislation, regulations and standards.
How our Model is different
Our service model promotes the delivery of services at the community level by community-based workers. Tikinagan hires and trains local First Nation members to be frontline workers, supervisors and senior managers within the agency. We are working to develop as many resources as possible at the community level, including community offices with supervisors and front line staff; training opportunities for staff and foster parents; regular, specialized and treatment foster homes; and, agency-operated homes and Youth Healing Centres for children in care. Services are culturally responsive and supportive of traditional values and customs.
Within all aspects of service delivery, workers are expected to consult with the Elders for their wisdom, guidance, teachings and direction. Since a core value of our model is accountability to the First Nations, Tikinagan workers are required to consult with the First Nations on all case management decisions. First Nations are involved in all child welfare cases and work with Tikinagan to develop service plans for families and placement options and plans of care for children in care.
Customary care is an integral element of Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin. Within the customary care system, the First Nation Chief and Council have the authority to declare children to be placed in Tikinagan care when removal from their home is required. The First Nation, parents, Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin caregivers and children in care sign a Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin Care Agreement for children coming into the agency's care. Mamow Obiki-ahwahsoowin care presents a viable alternative to the mainstream Court system. However, Tikinagan retains the authority to apprehend children and to use the Court system as a last resort to ensure that children are protected.
The relationship between the First Nations and Tikinagan is spelled out in protocols that are being developed in unique ways with each First Nation.
Wee-chee-way-win Circle of Care
Tikinagan shares the sacred responsibility held by parents, extended family and community members to care for children.
When a child comes into care, it is important for each child to be part of a network of caring people. Every person who has an interest in the care of a child is asked to become a member of the Wee-chee-way-win Circle for the child. The Child Care Worker co-ordinates the efforts of these people to work in a child's best interests. The Wee-chee-way-win Circle (also known as a Family Services Committee) may make important recommendations concerning the plan for a child.
The Wee-chee-way-win Circle may include the child's parents and siblings, extended family members, the First Nation Chief and Council, Elders, the school principal and teachers, workers from other community resources, and other caregivers, Tikinagan workers and supervisors.
When a child is in care, Foster Parents also function as part of the Circle, working together with Tikinagan staff and others in the Circle.
Although each has a different role in the Circle, the success of a child's emotional security depends on teamwork. By working together in mutual cooperation and respect, a circle of healing will surround the child.