Saskatchewan’s Minister of Social Services says the government has no plans to licence foster homes in spite of repeated calls from the Children’s Advocate that the province do so.
Children’s Advocate Bob Pringle is once again raising the point following his report, No Time For Mark: The Gap Between Policy And Practice, into the death of a 22-month-old toddler who died in foster care five years ago.
The child is not named in the report but the details fit the case of Evander Lee Daniels of Sturgeon Lake First Nation who drowned in the bathtub of a foster home in 2010.
Pringle says licensing foster homes, as is the case in Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario, would bring more accountability to the system.
“If licensing foster homes brings a higher level of accountability and some liabilities to the province, you know what, if our policies are so good embed them in legislation and let’s see how good they are,” he says.
Evander Lee Daniels’ foster parents had been licenced to foster two children in Alberta but at the time of his death they were caring for five foster children in a small home in Aberdeen.
However, Minister of Social Services Donna Harpauer says the government does not believe licensing foster homes in Saskatchewan would result in significant improvements.
“The evidence isn’t there in these provinces that do licence,” she says. “The evidence is not there for the improved outcomes for the children, there is no evidence.”
Harpauer also says social services has added an additional 93 frontline staff in foster care since Daniels’ death.
Evander Lee Daniels’ biological father Chris Martell was also on hand Wednesday to weigh in on the Children’s Advocate report and the province’s reaction to it.
Martell says he does not believe his family received proper supports from the government both before and after his son died.
He says he is still looking for closure and hopes changes are made so no one else has to experience the pain his family has gone through over the past five years.
“I just don’t want another tragedy like this to ever happen again to anybody,” he says.
The report makes a number of other recommendations including the ministry ensure staff are properly trained to supervise foster home investigations, a review be completed to determine reasons why there has been a rapid decline in foster homes and a plan to address this decline and a letter of apology be issued to Evander Lee Daniels’ parents.
The government says it is currently acting or has already acted upon a number of these recommendations.
Daniels’ foster mother, Eunice Wudrich, was initially charged with criminal negligence causing death in 2010.
However, a judge acquitted her of these charges in 2013.