Advancing First Nations control & jurisdiction over social development for the wellbeing of First Nations.

Our Work Advocacy grounded in First Nations determination and jurisdiction over child, family and community wellbeing.

At the direction of the First Nations-in-Assembly by way of resolutions, the AFN Social Development Sector has been mandated to advance First Nations control and jurisdiction over social development programs and services as the foundation for the wellbeing of First Nations children, families and communities. The AFN Social Development Sector is at the forefront of advocating for the long-term reform of key programs that promote First Nations social development, including the First Nations Child and Family Services Program, Jordan’s Principle, the On-Reserve Income Assistance Program, Poverty Reduction, Social Programs and Early Learning and Child Care.

In 2019, there were over 45,000 First Nations children in care in Canada, making up over 15% of all children in care.

First Nations children are disproportionately more likely to be the subject of investigations, recipients of ongoing services, and transferred to out of home care.

First Nations experience poverty at a higher rate than non-Indigenous people in Canada.

Over half (53%) of First Nations children on-reserve live in poverty – roughly 3 times the national rate.

Since July 2016, Jordan's Principle has approved over 2.56 million products, services and supports for First Nations children.

The AFN advocates for the full and proper implementation of Jordan's Principle to ensure that First Nations children face no gaps, delays or denials in accessing the services and supports they need.

Initiatives & Priorities Advocating for meaningful policy change for First Nations children, families and communities.

First Nations Child and Family Service & Bill C-92

The First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) Program provides services for First Nations children and families on-reserve and in the Yukon. First Nations children and families are disproportionately involved in child and family services, with more than 40,000 First Nations children in care. The AFN advocates for the rights, needs and priorities of First Nations children involved with FNCFS and for meaningful policy change to reduce the number of First Nations children in care, including increased investments, funding reform and program reform.

In 2019, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families (the Act) received royal assent, and came into force on January 1, 2020. The Act affirms the rights of First Nations and Indigenous Governing Bodies to enact their own child and family services laws, recognizing the jurisdiction and inherent rights of First Nations to care for their children and families. The AFN advocates for the full and proper implementation of the Act, and provides advice through the Chiefs Committee on Child and Family Services and Self-Determination on its implementation.

In 2021, the AFN hosted a series of virtual gatherings to provide information and resources to First Nations leadership about the Act and its implementation. To learn more, including access resources and videos by presenters, visit virtual leadership gathering on first nations child and family services and self-determination.

Jordan's Principle

Jordan’s Principle is a child-first principle that aims to eliminate service inequities and delays for First Nations children. Jordan’s Principle intends to ensure that any public service ordinarily available to all other children must be made available to First Nations children without delay or denial. Jordan’s Principle also recognizes that First Nations children may require additional services and supports that aren’t ordinarily available to other children, ensuring that First Nations’ rights to substantive equality are upheld.

Jordan’s Principle is named in honour of Jordan River Anderson, a young First Nations boy from Norway House Cree Nation in northern Manitoba, who spent his entire life in hospital while caught in a jurisdictional dispute between the governments of Canada and Manitoba, which both refused to pay for the in-home medical care necessary for Jordan to live in his home and community. The AFN advocates for greater First Nations control and determination over Jordan’s Principle as part of the long-term approach to implementing Jordan’s Principle.

Since July 2016, Jordan’s Principle has approved over 1.89 million products, services and supports for First Nations children.

Learn more about Jordan’s Principle

Compensation and Long-Term Reform

In 2007, the AFN filed a complaint at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) for Canada’s discrimination against First Nations children and families involved in the First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) Program and Jordan’s Principle. In a historic decision in 2016, the CHRT found that Canada was discriminating against First Nations children and families, and ordered Canada to completely overhaul the FNCFS Program and properly implement Jordan’s Principle. The AFN has advocated at the CHRT for over 15 years for the full implementation of its orders and to hold Canada accountable for this discrimination.

In 2020, the AFN filed a class action lawsuit seeking compensation and long-term reform of the FNCFS Program and Jordan’s Principle. On December 31, 2021, the AFN, Canada and other parties signed two Agreements-in-Principle outlining a framework towards reaching a settlement to end discrimination in the FNCFS Program, in an agreement worth $40 billion. In April 2023, the AFN, Canada and other Parties reached a Final Settlement Agreement on compensation for those who faced discrimination in the FNCFS Program and Jordan’s Principle. The AFN continues to work with Canada and the other parties towards a final agreement on long-term reform.

The AFN has established a website and an Information Desk to provide updates to First Nations about the class action. Visit our website for information about the class action, eligibility and resources at, or call 1-888-718-6496.

Income Assistance, Social Programs & Poverty Reduction

The AFN advocates for greater First Nations control and determination over the programs serving their citizens, including the On-Reserve Income Assistance (IA) Program, social programs such as Assisted Living, Family Violence Prevention Program (FVPP), and poverty reduction.

The AFN is mandated to pursue reform of the IA Program, including greater First Nations control, to ensure that the Program is meeting the needs of First Nations IA clients, including immediate and ongoing relief measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the rapid rise in inflation, and the growing First Nations population. The AFN has been developing policy recommendations for the reform of the IA Program that address the specific needs of First Nations with disabilities, First Nations in northern and remote communities, and to address the extensive gaps in resources for First Nations to administer the IA Program.

Documents The latest resources on this topic.

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These are our latest reports, resolutions and other documents on the subject of Children & Families. To see more documents on this topic, and all other public AFN documents, visit the Document Library.

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