Foster parents decry lack of government checks
Family told children would be dropped off in less than two hours
Mathew and Carol Bird told CBC News Wednesday that they had applied to the province in the spring of 2010 to adopt a child. However, on June 2 the couple were contacted at their home in Rosetown by a social worker from the Ministry of Social Services saying the family's home was needed for an urgent foster-care placement.
"It was an emergency because they needed to be dropped off within the next hour or two," Matthew Bird told CBC News.
Bird said the couple was not prepared to handle three children and space in their home was not adequate. For one thing, he said, they were in the middle of renovations.
"There was two extra rooms we had in the building," Bird said. "One of the rooms didn't have any windows and one of the rooms was cluttered. It was almost like a storage room, you could say. There was stuff everywhere."
Bird said the couple agreed to take the children and the three siblings arrived in less than an hour. He did not disclose the children's age or gender. The couple also told CBC News they did not feel forced to take the children and were happy to help out.
"They didn't do any criminal record checks, background checks, [or] house inspection," Bird said. "This is what I guess really shocked me. I thought that, being they were the government, that they would kind of go a little deeper in terms of checking out who we were."
Bird said he was able to complete a criminal record check a week after the children arrived and his wife had hers done within four weeks. After two months, he said, the ministry took the children to a different foster home.
Senior officials in the ministry told CBC News they were unaware of the case. One official insisted the ministry follows strict protocols before approving a foster home.
"In the foster family there is an application process where we do go and look at all manner of things," Wayne Phaneuf, the executive director of family and community services, told CBC News. "We look at everything from who is in the home to making sure there's a criminal record check."
Social Services Minister June Draude said she did not know anything about the case and added she wants to confirm that the children were in a safe place.
"The most important thing is the safety of the children," Draude told CBC News Wednesday.
Rosetown is about 120 kilometres southwest of Saskatoon. Warman is a bedroom community about 25 kilometres north of Saskatoon.