New Democrats say child protection and foster care system must be fixed

Opposition wants more child protection workers, better supports for foster families and a legislative oversight committee

The Sask. Party government claimed it had stopped housing vulnerable foster children in hotels, but it turns out that wasn't true and they're still doing it. Over the summer, at least 82 children have been housed in hotel rooms.

The Opposition New Democrats want that practice to stop and they want the child protection and foster care system fixed.

"Vulnerable kids should be in loving, caring foster homes, not put away in hotel rooms," said NDP Social Services critic David Forbes. "It's clear that Saskatchewan people can no longer trust the Sask. Party government because they lied when they said they had stopped housing foster kids in hotels. We need a government that tells the truth, takes this issue seriously and fixes our child protection and foster care system."

Between 2010 and 2014, 97 children in the care of Social Services died from unnatural causes, nearly double the number of deaths which occurred in the previous five years. Since 2010, 250 foster families have quit the foster care system.

Forbes said the Opposition New Democrats are proposing several items, including:

  • Hiring more front-line child protection workers to reduce caseload pressures;
  • Requiring child protection workers to be social workers, licensed by the Saskatchewan Association of Social Workers;
  • Recruiting more foster families and ensuring that foster homes are licensed and given appropriate training and proper supports, including improved respite care; and
  • Establishing a Legislative Standing Committee on Children and Youth to provide oversight and hold the government accountable for its policies and actions which affect children and youth, including the child protection and foster care system.

Forbes noted that the recommendation for a legislative oversight committee is modelled after a similar committee in British Columbia's Legislature, which was established in 2006 based on a report by Ted Hughes, a former judge with the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench.

"When hundreds of foster families are leaving the system out of exhaustion and frustration, when there is an increasing number kids in the government's care that are dying from unnatural causes, and when the government is housing at least 82 vulnerable foster kids in hotel rooms but lying about it, then it's clear that this government cannot be trusted to get the job done," said Forbes. "Our plan will better protect vulnerable children, put more child protection workers on the front lines, provide proper supports for foster families, and establish a legislative oversight committee to ensure accountability."