The government is ending the use of birth alerts, effective immediately, and will provide expectant families with additional support to help access the programs and services they need.
This change follows a recommendation of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and supports efforts to strengthen family supports within communities across the province.
“I recognize the troubling concerns with birth alerts and how they have a disproportionate effect on African Nova Scotian and Indigenous families and other marginalized women,” said Karla MacFarlane, Minister of Community Services. “Going forward, we will have a stronger focus on connecting expectant parents and families with supports to ensure the best possible start for children.”
Birth alerts are written notifications by child welfare agencies to hospital staff regarding an expectant parent when significant risk issues are present during the pregnancy.
As the use of birth alerts ends, the Department has created a Family Connections Co-ordinator position to support expectant families who are struggling or have multiple needs that place them at risk. This new role is part of the move to a more preventative child welfare system that places a stronger focus on supporting families as early as possible and in their respective communities.
Participation in Family Connections is voluntary, and some expectant parents may choose not to access services through this support. If there are needs after a child is born, the Department will continue to work with families to mitigate risk and ensure the safety and well-being of children.
The government is making additional investments in community-based child, youth and family-centred prevention and early intervention programs. The increase, which started in 2020-21, is expected to be $7.7 million by 2022-23.
“As a community and a society we need to get back to where we used to be in the sense of ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ We, as the village, need to look out for each other, including expectant parents and especially those who may be struggling. When we love and care for one another, we lift each other up and we strengthen each other. There have been many hurts over the years, some of which we may never be able to get past. However, with the right supports in our communities and from our communities, there can be real and meaningful change.”
– Trina Fraser, Executive Director, East Preston Day Care and Family Resource Centre
— Nova Scotia issued 80 birth alerts in 2020-21
— the Family Connections Co-ordinator will work with expectant parents and families to identify their needs and address barriers to accessing supports and services
— supports and services that may be provided in the community could include counselling, parenting programs, prenatal supports, food, housing supports and connection to medical services