First Nations Child and Family Services

Indigenous Services Canada's First Nations Child and Family Services program funds prevention and protection services to support the safety and well-being of First Nations children and families living on reserve.

2021 CHRT 41: Update

To learn more about how to apply for capital funding to support the delivery of child and family services (2021 CHRT 41), visit Funding for capital assets: Jordan's Principle and First Nations child and family services.


As of April 2021, the Community Well-Being and Jurisdiction Initiatives funding stream, introduced in 2018 as part of FNCFS, has become its own standalone program.

To learn more about the latest federal court decision on child and family services and Jordan's Principle, or about other related decisions, consult:

Program reform

On January 4, 2022, Canada announced that it had reached an Agreement-in-Principle with the Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, the Chiefs of Ontario and the Anishnawbe Aski Nation on the long-term reform of the First Nations Child and Family Services Program to:

  • better support First Nations and First Nations child and family services agencies in providing culturally-based and substantially equal family supports
  • reduce the number of Indigenous children in care and keep children with their families, where they belong

The total FNCFS program funding for 2021 to 2022 is over $1.6 billion dollars. This excludes the Community Well-Being and Jurisdiction Initiatives program, which is a separate program as of 2021 to 2022.

Use the First Nations Child and Family Services interactive map to find a service provider.

On this page

About the program

ISC provides funding to First Nations child and family services agencies, which are established, managed and controlled by First Nations and delegated by provincial authorities to provide prevention and protection services. In areas where these agencies do not exist, ISC funds services provided by the provinces and Yukon but does not deliver child and family services. These services are provided in accordance with the legislation and standards of the province or territory of residence. As of January 1, 2020, service providers delivering child and family services to Indigenous children must comply with the national principles and minimum standards set in An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families.

Funding for child and family services in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories is provided by the Department of Finance Canada through transfer payment agreements with the territorial governments, which make up a portion of their annual budgets. These governments decide how and where to spend the funds.

ISC uses a prevention-based funding model to support early intervention and alternatives to traditional institutional care and foster care, such as the placement of children with family members in a community setting.

The program provides 3 streams of funding:

To better support First Nations children's access to the support services they need to transition to adulthood, the program now provides funding to extend services for up to an additional 2 years after the youth:

As a result of the agreement-in-principle on long-term reform, on April 1, 2022, these supports will be made available until the youth turns 26 years of age.

In January 2016, in response to a 2007 complaint by the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found the FNCFS program to be flawed, inequitable and discriminatory under the Canadian Human Rights Act. The tribunal ordered the department to cease its discriminatory practices and to reform the program and the1965 Agreement in Ontario (PDF, 1.37 MB, 182 pages) to reflect the findings in their decision.

Further orders were made in:

The Government of Canada has accepted the rulings and is working to fully implement the orders. In response to the February 2018 ruling, Canada immediately began to cover the actual costs of prevention, intake and assessment, legal fees, building repairs, child service purchase and small agency costs (in all areas), as well as actual costs of band representatives and mental health for First Nations youth, in Ontario, retroactively to January 26, 2016, and going forward until an alternate funding system is in place. ISC will continue to work closely with the Consultation Committee on Child Welfare to fully implement the orders.

ISC is also:

Tripartite tables, technical working groups and regional advisory committees comprised of representatives from First Nations, ISC, all provinces and Yukon are in place:

Program expenditures and statistics

Table 1 shows the national expenditures for the First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) program since 2006-2007. The total may not balance due to rounding.

Table 1. First Nations Child and Family Services national expenditures (2006-2007 to 2020-2021)
Fiscal year FNCFS national expenditures (in millions) Funding increase from previous year
2006-2007 $449.5 N/A
2007-2008 $489.9 8.99%
2008-2009 $523.1 6.77%
2009-2010 $549.6 5.08%
2010-2011 $579.1 5.35%
2011-2012 $618.6 6.84%
2012-2013 $627.4 1.41%
2013-2014 $637.8 1.66%
2014-2015 $647.5 1.52%
2015-2016 $676.8 4.67%
2016-2017 $763.0 12.74%
2017-2018 $837.6 9.78%
2018-2019 $1,243.6 48.47%
2019-2020 $1,470.3 18.23%
2020-2021 $1,489.2 1.3%
  Total increase since 2006: 231.3%

First Nations Child and Family Services program statistics of First Nations children living in care on reserve: National picture

Table 2 depicts the national percentage of First Nations children in care on reserve by placement type.

Table 2. Percentage of First Nations children in care by placement type
Year Foster care Group home Institution Kinship
2006 to 2007 89.67% 4.44% 5.89% 0%
2007 to 2008 90.24% 4.34% 5.30% 0.12%
2008 to 2009 81.07% 4.88% 5.53% 8.52%
2009 to 2010 82.42% 3.89% 3.59% 10.10%
2010 to 2011 81.72% 4.00% 3.66% 10.62%
2011 to 2012 79.96% 4.81% 3.33% 11.90%
2012 to 2013 78.55% 4.31% 3.79% 13.35%
2013 to 2014 74.90% 4.65% 2.69% 17.84%
2014 to 2015 76.07% 5.25% 2.65% 16.12%
2015 to 2016 76.97% 4.51% 2.41% 16.20%
2016 to 2017 75.23% 4.40% 2.31% 18.12%
2017 to 2018 72.73% 4.67% 2.19% 20.53%
2018 to 2019 69.73% 4.94% 2.06% 23.39%
2019 to 2020 67.94% 4.89% 2.17% 25.12%

Recipients and the regions continue to review child maintenance data for historical fiscal years. As a result, the child maintenance data for a specific fiscal year may require revisions.

Since 2007, when INAC began shifting the program towards prevention-based funding, child placement trends have shown a gradual decrease in foster care and institutional care and an increase in kinship care.

For 2014 to 2015 and 2015 to 2016, a portion of kinship placements are reflected in foster care due to coding changes (following legislative changes in Quebec).

Children in care counts are based on a point in time, typically the last day of the fiscal year (March 31). It is important to note that this number does not include the number of Indigenous children in care from provincially funded agencies. As well, a point in time count is not a measure of every First Nations child who experiences care in a community over time. By focusing on a single day, the count will not include some people who cycle in and out of care but it does provide an estimate of how many First Nations children are in care on a given day.

Ontario: Before fiscal year 2018 to 2019, kinship placements were reported under foster care.

Manitoba: Kinship care placements are reported under foster care.

Yukon: Before fiscal year 2015 to 2016, kinship placements were reported under foster care.

The figures in Table 3 represent total program expenditures for maintenance, operations and prevention funding (Vote 10, grants and contributions). They do not include internal ISC or other funding.

Table 3. Number of First Nations children in care, average maintenance costs per child, total expenditures for maintenance, and total expenditures for FNCFS
Year Children in careFootnote 1 Average maintenance costs
per childFootnote 2
Total maintenance costs
(in millions)Footnote 3
Total actual FNCFS expenditures
(in millions)
1998 to 1999 7,220 $19,806.09 $143.0 $239.0
1999 to 2000 7,762 $20,690.54 $160.6 $260.3
2000 to 2001 8,791 $19,519.96 $171.6 $311.5
2001 to 2002 8,074 $25,997.03 $209.9 $341.3
2002 to 2003 8,225 $22,528.88 $185.3 $336.3
2003 to 2004 8,846 $23,829.98 $210.8 $365.0
2004 to 2005 8,776 $26,675.02 $234.1 $385.0
2005 to 2006 8,907 $28,550.58 $254.3 $416.7
2006 to 2007 7,859 $34,253.72 $269.2 $449.5
2007 to 2008 8,596 $34,108.89 $293.2 $489.9
2008 to 2009 8,806 $34,873.95 $307.1 $523.1
2009 to 2010 8,686 $36,959.35 $321.0 $549.6
2010 to 2011 9,241 $36,799.88 $340.1 $579.1
2011 to 2012 9,423 $38,532.95 $363.1 $618.6
2012 to 2013 9,482 $35,980.41 $341.2 $627.4
2013 to 2014 8,673 $38,567.97 $334.5 $637.8
2014 to 2015 8,425 $40,154.30 $338.3 $647.5
2015 to 2016 8,544 $41,982.68 $358.7 $676.8
2016 to 2017 9,083 $41,329.96 $375.4 $762.6
2017 to 2018 9,249 $43,583.09 $403.1 $837.6
2018 to 2019 9,317 $46,023.40 $428.8 $1,243.6
2019 to 2020 9,330 $56,094.11 $523.4 $1,470.3
Source: Comparison of number of First Nations children in care and maintenance costs per child from 1998-1999 to 2019-2020.

Who is eligible

Please refer to the FNCFS Transitional Terms and Conditions: Contributions to provide children, youth, young adults, families and communities, with prevention and protection services for details on eligible recipients.

How to apply

Applications are not required for this program. Funding is provided through agreements between Canada and the recipient.

Questions relating to child and family services and funding provided for Inuit and Métis children and First Nations children living off reserve should be directed to the appropriate provincial or territorial ministry.

Audits and evaluations

Archived internal audits and evaluations reports for the FNCFS Program can be found among the Pre-Transformation Reports of the former Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Audit and Evaluation Sector.

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