Darlene MacDonald was appointed to the position of Children’s Advocate on April 11th 2011, and reappointed for her second term as of April 2014.
Darlene has worked in the field of child welfare in Winnipeg for more than 25 years. For 15 of those years, she was in senior management positions. Before joining the Office of the Children’s Advocate, she was the Chief Executive Officer of Winnipeg Child and Family Services. It was her leadership in this position that guided the creation of the agency’s Newcomers Unit to provide services relevant to new Canadians and their cultural needs.
Darlene has a master’s degree in social work from Dalhousie University. She recently held the role of president of the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) and of the International Federation of Social Workers (North American Region).
Her national experience includes participation in a project on child welfare social work practice. The project was based on the awareness that social work practice in child welfare is increasingly complex and demanding and that outside factors affect good practice. The project came about as part of a plan to advocate for environments that support good social work practice in child welfare.
The project resulted in a report called, “Canadian Association of Social Workers Child Welfare Project: Creating Conditions for Good Practice”. This report used results from a survey of social workers who described their experiences working in child welfare.
The project also resulted in the creation of the “CASW National Children’s Issues Interest Group” chaired by Darlene. This group includes representatives from all CASW member organizations across the country. Its purpose is to identify issues for policy, practice, education and research and to lead projects of interest to social work in child welfare and children’s issues. Darlene was also the founding chair for the Provincial Children’s Issues Committee.
Led by the General Authority in partnership with CASW, Darlene was also instrumental in piloting a project called, “Empowering Social Workers in the Workplace: A Strength Based Strategy”, for Winnipeg Child and Family Services.
In 2016, Darlene was awarded the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) Distinguished Service Award for Manitoba.
Darlene is married and she and her husband Jim have a daughter Emma and a handsome Havenese dog named Winston. Jim has worked in the field of social work for more than 35 years. Emma is enrolled in the 2-year after degree social work program at Booth University College and was recently named Swim Manitoba’s “Grassroots Coach of the Year”.
Darlene welcomes the opportunity to apply her years of child welfare experience and passionate interest in the rights of children to her role as Manitoba’s Children’s Advocate.