Saskatchewan’s Children’s Advocate says he is not confident about the safety of children in the care of government agencies.

Bob Pringle made the comments after releasing his annual report.

He says social workers are carrying too many caseloads and in cases where children end up with extended family or in group homes there is not enough follow up and monitoring.

Last year there were 2,900 children, mostly Aboriginal, who were wards of the province.

There were also 32 deaths and 25 critical injuries of children and youth in the care of government departments; again the vast majority were aboriginal.

Bob Pringle says an underlying theme is poverty and the problems associated with it.

“There needs to be greater addiction services, there needs to be better mental health services and we need to have a poverty reduction strategy.  Poverty and all of the related issues to that drive the child welfare system, they drive the youth criminal justice system and the over representation of First Nation and Metis children is an example of that.”

Saskatchewan’s youth incarceration rate is three times the national average and the second highest in Canada.

Pringle says the province is making progress in several areas but the child welfare agenda is losing momentum and it needs to be stepped up.