Mediate BC Blog

Request for Expressions of Interest - Project Evaluator

Posted by mbcstaff

Evaluator for racialized justice in child welfare project

Background

This project seeks to address the need for process information and guidance amongst families engaged in child protection matters in BC in order to make informed decisions regarding effective use of collaborative decision-making processes. The project has two parts: (i) development of written and video resources, and (ii) process navigation services for families and professionals seeking to better understand collaborative process options.

There are over 6,000 BC children in care. Families engaged in child protection matters experience traumatic and disempowering encounters with the legal system. The removal (or threat of removal) of children and youth from families creates an overwhelming power imbalance.

The child welfare system poses even greater potential for trauma and disempowerment where racialized families are concerned. Indigenous families are both grossly over-represented in and disproportionately impacted by interactions with social workers and the legal system as a result of historic abuses specifically affecting children (including residential schools, the Sixties Scoop, and continuing removals and placements outside communities). 

Immigrant and refugee families may also be disproportionately impacted by interactions with the child protection system due to lack of process knowledge, difficulty accessing support and advice due to language and cultural barriers, and cultural biases held by individual justice system actors and embedded in Canadian child protection systems. 

Families engaged in the child protection system are often better served when they engage in Collaborative Decision-Making (CDM) processes, including mediation. Such processes are designed specifically to increase active participation and voice in decision-making at all stages of child protection. While the inherent power imbalance between government authorities and individuals cannot be removed, studies have demonstrated that CDM processes give families greater voice in decision-making, improve relationships with social workers making ongoing planning more effective, and can lead to better outcomes. 

However, lack of CDM process information reduces families’ ability to make requests for services like mediation which can reduce the impacts of power imbalances or for traditional decision-making processes which may be culturally appropriate and empowering. 

As Indigenous governing bodies in BC take on jurisdiction for children and family services under An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, the range of potential CDM processes and their interactions with legal processes will expand for Indigenous families. Inevitably, even greater gaps in information and advice regarding process selection will arise. 

Evaluation Deliverables

Evaluation will be iterative throughout the project with interim findings supporting improvements in program delivery. The Evaluator will provide five key deliverables:   

  • Evaluation Framework including data collection protocols  (October 2022)
  • Interim Report after Year 1  (2022-23)
  • Interim Report after Year 2   (2023-24)
  • Interim Report after Year 3   (2024-25)
  • Final Report during Year 4   (2025-26)

The Evaluator may also express interest in conducting a preliminary Needs Assessment including GBA+ described in a separate Expression of Interest.

Evaluation of both components of the project will include:  

  • Collection of disaggregated data in accordance with JPIP template  
  • Voluntary survey and questionnaire feedback from clients  
  • Qualitative data collected from justice system actors and community partners during community consultations and through focus groups and surveys  

As well, clients will be invited to participate in interviews with evaluators. Such interviews will be strictly voluntary, and we will require ethical review of plans to ensure client safety.

Evaluator Qualifications

  • Expertise in Indigenous research approaches including respect for Traditional Knowledge, decolonizing methodologies, and community-based research  
  • Understanding of trauma-informed research practice  
  • Experience in intersectional analysis  
  • Demonstrated ability to engage in relational research with racialized communities
  • Knowledge and understanding of the historic and ongoing legacies of colonization especially in the child welfare context.
  • Demonstrated skill in summarizing and writing up research findings for community partners’ needs

Submission of Expression of Interest

Prospective Evaluators are invited to submit a brief Expression of Interest by August 15, 2022 to sharon.sutherland@mediatebc.com.  Expressions of Interest should be under two pages in length and should clearly identify the Evaluator’s knowledge and experience as it relates to the proposed research and the identified Evaluator Qualifications.

MBC will invite up to three applicants to a 30-minute videoconference conversation regarding the project and evaluator’s proposed approach. Following those conversations, MBC will invite one Evaluator to contract for the full project.

Fees

Approximately $55,000 is available for Needs Assessment, Evaluation, and reporting over the full project length. MBC will work with the selected Evaluator (and Needs Assessor) to reach an agreed upon fee structure for the project.

For questions or any additional information, please email sharon.sutherland@mediatebc.com.

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