Single-Envelope Funding: A new child and family services (CFS) funding model for Manitoba

The single-envelope child and family services funding model is central to Manitoba’s commitment to reforming child welfare.

It will support better outcomes for children, youth and families by providing Manitoba’s four CFS authorities with:

  • autonomy in the management and distribution of child maintenance funding to their agencies
  • flexibility in directing resources towards the best interests and needs of children, youth and families
  • a means to shift focus from taking children and youth into care to preventing the need for apprehensions and encouraging the reunification of families
  • predictable and sustainable funding based on results and outcomes

Single-envelope funding will provide each CFS authority with child maintenance funding up front in a ‘single envelope’, rather than making payments based on a child or youth in care.

The single-envelope funding model builds on engagement and feedback from many community partners in child welfare including Manitoba Keewatinowi, Okimakanak (MKO), Southern Chiefs’ Organization and Manitoba Metis Federation, child and family service authorities and agencies. 

In February 2019, the Manitoba government announced the implementation of single-envelope funding. 

Single-Envelope Funding Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the structure of the child welfare system in Manitoba?

Manitoba child and family service agencies (CFS) provide services to children, youth and families.

In 2003, The Child and Family Services Authorities Act was enacted. Four authorities were created to provide overall leadership and management of child and family service agencies, including responsibility for allocating the funds provided by government.

2. How does Manitoba fund the child welfare system? What approach has been used to allocate child welfare funding since the enactment of The Child and Family Services Authorities Act?

The Manitoba government establishes an annual budget for child welfare.

After The Child and Family Services Authorities Act was enacted, government allocated two streams of child welfare funding for each authority to manage. One was for operational funding and one for staff funding.

A third stream of funding for protection and services for children, youth and families, called child maintenance funding, remained the responsibility of government. This funding stream resulted in a pay-as-you-go model. Manitoba CFS agencies paid for the services for children and youth in care and then invoiced the government for reimbursement.

3. What were the limitations of Manitoba’s previous child welfare funding approach?

The previous funding approach for protection and services to children in Manitoba focused on children entering into care.

Under this approach, agencies invoiced the government for all child maintenance expenses, independent from their authority and their budget. This approach placed administrative burdens on the agencies, with no control over the budget for services to children, youth and families.

Funding for prevention was provided at a lesser rate than funding for protection needs, and it was also capped on a per-family basis. This limited the authorities’ ability to plan in connection with their service delivery needs and to invest in services where they were needed the most, such as in front-end, preventative and reunification services.

In some cases, this system resulted in a parent voluntarily placing a child in care so they could access needed supports. It also deterred some families from asking for help, because they were afraid their child would be apprehended. 

4. What is single-envelope funding (previously known as block funding)? Why was this model implemented?

Single-envelope funding gives Manitoba authorities control over the distribution of funding. This strengthens their ability to deliver culturally appropriate supports and services, as intended under The Child and Family Services Authorities Act.

The upfront, annual allocation of funds to the authorities, under a multi-year, single-envelope approach, offers a more efficient, predictable funding system, with improved policies and clarity in direction. It shifts the focus to prevention and reunification, because it gives authorities the flexibility they need to proactively direct resources toward the best interests and needs of children, youth and families.

5. What has supported the change to the single-envelope funding model?

The single-envelope funding approach builds on:

  • engagement sessions held by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, Southern Chiefs’ Organization and Manitoba Metis Federation
  • ongoing dialogue with child welfare authorities
  • broader child welfare reform
  • legislative review consultations
  • research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy on First Nations child and family services system funding
  • the results of the block funding pilot project in eight Manitoba communities in 2017 and 2018

6. What are the responsibilities of the Manitoba government (Department of Families) under the single-envelope funding model?

Government establishes the overall policy direction and budget for child welfare in Manitoba, and provides other services and supports for children, youth and families. The responsibilities of the Minister of Families, as set out in The Child and Family Services Act, remain in force.

Under the single-envelope funding model, government determines the overall annual budget for child and family services and continues to have system-wide oversight and accountability. The annual envelope amount for each authority includes support for authority and agency operations, staffing, and funding for family support (prevention and early intervention) and protection and services to children (child maintenance). It shifts current government practice from processing invoices to functions supporting the authorities’ and agencies’ efforts to align services with their shared objectives of prevention, intervention and reunification. It is also more responsive to local and cultural needs.

By focusing on accountability, financial oversight, provincial policies, guidelines and other broader initiatives, government will help authorities deliver better results and report on outcomes.

7. What are the responsibilities of the authorities under the single-envelope funding model?

The single-envelope funding model fulfils the intent of The Child and Family Services Authorities Act. Under this model, authorities are responsible for managing and distributing the funds they receive from government to their agencies. Authorities are accountable for day-to-day service delivery, quality assurance, and reporting on outcomes. This includes regular reporting to the Department of Families on actions taken and progress achieved.

Predictable funding, with flexibility and regular agency reviews, will help authorities to create efficiencies and direct funding when and where it is most needed. It will also reduce red tape and other administrative burdens, and support a closer relationship between the authorities, agencies and the communities they serve.

8. What are the responsibilities of the agencies under the single-envelope funding model?

Agencies are responsible for managing the funds allocated to their organization, and they are allowed to retain any savings for reinvestment in prevention. Under the single-envelope funding model, agencies benefit from the ability to align decisions on case planning and service delivery more closely with their budget and the funding provided to them from their authority.

Predictable funding from authorities, in comparison to receiving funds from the province on a remittance basis, reduces red tape and administrative burdens, and enables agencies to invest in front-line services that meet the needs of children, youth and families. Single-envelope funding enables a closer relationship with authorities and their communities, and helps to shift the focus of agencies to the outcomes of keeping children out of care and toward the reunification with family, extended family and community.

9. How will funding allocations be determined under the single-envelope funding model?

The government (Department of Families) provides authorities with funding allocations through its annual budget. Initial allocations reflect:

  • prior year expenditures in the system
  • average days spent in the care of an agency
  • anticipated additional costs

Agency allocations are determined by authorities, as required by legislation.

10. Will we see changes in the availability of services such as respite, therapy or home visits under single-envelope funding?

Under the single-envelope funding model, government standards and policies for the provision of services remain unchanged. Single-envelope funding provides the flexibility for agencies to ensure services are aligned to the needs of children, youth and families. The decision to offer services such as respite, therapy and home visits is based on the needs of the child or youth in care. For more information on CFS standards visit:

Under single-envelope funding, Child and Family Services authorities have responsibility for the oversight and management of respite and the development of culturally appropriate service provision policies across their agencies. This includes the responsibility to ensure that agency case planning is appropriate and also helps to ensure that services do not remain static and adjust as needs change over time. Strengthening a child’s connection with their family, through activities like home visits, supports reunification and creates positive outcomes for children, youth and families.

11. What are the outcomes targeted under single-envelope funding?

Targeted outcomes include a shift in focus to:

  • more preventative, less intrusive, culturally appropriate services
  • an increase in the reunification of families
  • a decrease in the number of children in care

12. What other funding is available to support families involved with child and family services?

Under the single-envelope funding model, authorities and their agencies have autonomy and flexibility in the management of their costs within their funding allocation.

In preparation for the implementation of single-envelope funding, the Manitoba government announced that agencies would be allowed to retain the Children’s Special Allowance (CSA) as of April 1, 2019. Children’s Special Allowances are child-specific payments to agencies which, according to the federal Children’s Special Allowances Act, “shall be applied exclusively toward the care, maintenance, education, training or advancement of the child in respect of whom [they are] paid.” With the retention of the CSA, the combined result of changes in the funding approach will see $435 million in financial resources available to CFS authorities and their mandated agencies in 2019-20.

CFS agencies in Manitoba also have the added ability to obtain financial supports through other sources, such as federal child tax benefits, fundraising and partnerships with communities. 

13. What changes can children, youth and families expect with the implementation of single-envelope funding?

A move to single-envelope funding will improve access to support and services from Manitoba Child and Family Services (CFS) agencies across the province. With a shift to accessible and culturally appropriate prevention services, such as respite, family supports and financial assistance for household, health and wellness expenses, vulnerable children, youth and families will have resources directed to help maintain stability, family unity and support for their needs as they change over time. 

Reports and Research: