The Manitoba government is investing $400,000 to launch Granny’s House, a one-year pilot project to provide short-term, culturally safe and community-led care to children and families who could otherwise be at risk of becoming involved in the child welfare system.
“Our government is committed to keeping families together,” said Families Minister Heather Stefanson. “Granny’s House will provide temporary respite care for children, so their parents can deal with whatever challenges and stresses they’re facing in their daily lives. By providing trusted temporary support, Granny’s House will help reduce the number of children who become involved with the child welfare system.”
Granny’s House will be operated by Gwekaanimad, a partnership of five community organizations in the north end of Winnipeg. Blue Thunderbird Family Care Inc. will operate Granny’s House, which will provide 24/7 access to temporary, out-of-home respite care. Staff for the home will be hired from the community and will include a full-time granny (housemother) and several aunties (support workers) to help the housemother in providing care for the children, as well as a case manager who will work with community partners and help connect families to other needed resources.
“We are thrilled to offer this program for children and families,” said Josie Hill, executive director, Blue Thunderbird. “It recognizes the practical need for parents to have a break to do normal everyday activities while their children are cared for in the community, by the community.”
Wahbung Abinoonjiiag Inc., Andrews Street Family Centre and Mount Carmel Clinic will refer families to Granny’s House as part of the overall service plan for the family. The Winnipeg Boldness Project will support co-ordination and evaluation of the pilot project. Partners estimate that Granny’s House will respond to referrals of more than 100 families every month.
“Gwekaanimad, the collective made up of the five organizations supporting this initiative, is grateful to the province for the opportunity to provide a culturally safe space for children in our community to thrive,” said Dana Riccio-Arabe, executive director, Wahbung Abinoonjiiag. “We acknowledge the dedication and hard work of our grannies and our aunties, and together we are determined to reclaim the village that it takes to support happy, healthy children while walking with families to build a stronger and healthier community, uninvolved in the child welfare system.”
The minister noted the launch of Granny’s House supports a number of government priorities, including transforming the child welfare system by focusing on prevention at the community level and community-led solutions, with the goal of reducing the number of children in care.
“Our government is proud to support community leaders who have developed an innovative solution to a challenge faced by many families,” said Indigenous and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke. “Granny’s House builds on the traditional concept of community care. Parents can feel secure knowing their children are in a culturally safe and supportive environment.”
Granny’s House expects to start receiving referrals for care this week.
Granny’s House is also supported by the Grandmothers Council, an advisory group responsible for providing advice to the minister on Indigenous issues.
“This is our time to take back the true spirit of Indigenous ways of taking care of and healing our children,” said Mae Louise Campbell, elder and member of the Grandmothers Council.
Funding for Granny’s House is part of the government’s broader commitment to address mental health and addictions issues. Other recently announced initiatives valued at more than $25 million include a request for proposals to add 100 supportive recovery-housing beds, recruiting new community helpers, investing in a collaboration between StreetReach Winnipeg and the Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre, and expanding the distribution of Thrival Kits.