Report Outlines Foster Home Overcrowding “Crisis”

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 15:39



Saskatchewan’s Children’s Advocate says foster home overcrowding in Saskatoon is a “crisis in need of immediate action”.


In a report tabled in the Legislature today, Marvin Bernstein documents “numerous graphic, repugnant and disturbing cases of children placed in overcrowded foster homes being harmed physically, sexually, emotionally and psychologically, as well as being subjected to both child-on-child and caregiver-on-child violence”.


Bernstein notes that up to 21 children have been placed in one foster home in the Saskatoon area — a number that isn’t rivalled anywhere in Canada.


He also says the numbers “constitute the institutionalizing of family-based foster care to a degree never previously seen in this country”.


Saskatchewan Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer says she finds the report’s findings “disturbing”.


As a result, the government says it will adopt the Children’s Advocate’s “Children and Youth First Principles”.


The province also hopes to provide more homes for foster children by recruiting more First Nations and Metis foster families.


The government will increase the money foster families receive by three per cent, starting April 1st.


Harpauer says the ministry wants to recruit more foster families by the end of June in order to relieve overcrowded foster homes.


But she concedes that won’t be an easy goal to reach.


Meanwhile, the provincial government and a Metis group in Saskatoon have reached a deal to provide 21 group home spaces for older foster youth.