Parents want children back
Dozens of parents gathered in Saskatoon on Thursday to talk about getting their children out of government care and back into their own homes.
Welfare officials are quick to remove children from troubled homes but reluctant to return them when circumstances improve, the parents said.
"It broke my heart seeing my little boy saying that he wanted to come home," Linda Ngo told CBC News, referring to a supervised visit with her children.
She said her boys have been wards of the government for several years.
"He wanted to come home … he wanted to come home and be with his mommy."
Participants at the meeting had a long list of beefs with the Social Services Ministry and its policies on children.
Some people with first-hand experience of the foster care system felt social workers paid little attention to their concerns.
"If we'd asked to go home for visits they would turn us down," Shannon Fisher, who spent part of her childhood in foster care, told CBC News.
Social workers could be rigid with their policies, she said.
"Like ... 'it's our way or the highway.' And they'd slam the door in our face kind of. We wouldn't have a voice."
The meeting, called "Don't Take Our Children," was organized by the Aboriginal Affairs Coalition of Saskatchewan, a Saskatoon-based advocacy agency.
According to recent reports, aboriginal children make up 65 per cent of those in foster care.
Sharon Lewis, the coalition's social development officer, said government should do more to help families before a crisis develops.
"You need more services for addictions, parenting, gambling, drugs, alcohol," Lewis said.
"You need to disassemble the foster care system. There's more kids in care today that are aboriginal than there (were) in the residential school era."
The meeting caught the attention of the Social Services Ministry. Officials said they are reviewing current policies.