A youth program in Regina is working to help the city’s youngest at-risk kids.
The initiative is called the 11-and-under-initiative or 11-U-I. It teams up schools, social workers, police, counsellors and families to help a child showing risky behaviour before it escalates.
“What we’re trying to do is get to kids early in their life, when they’re showing some difficulties,” said Const. Russ Hodgins, an early intervention officer with the program.
'We’d like to have these kids doing other things instead of us coming to their house to arrest them.' - Const. Russ Hodgins
In a report released Wednesday, the children’s advocate, Bob Pringle, identified several lapses in policy that could have prevented the death of six-year-old Lee Bonneau, allegedly at the hands of a 10-year-old child.
The report says the 10-year-old had a history of violence and was flagged by the school and the RCMP for being a potential danger to other kids.
These are the tragedies 11-U-I hope to prevent.
All of the involved partners, from teachers to police, work together to support the child and the families of the at-risk kids, identifying issues and possible solutions.
For example, a teacher could notice a child’s behaviour problems ease during art class. Social services and counsellors can then work together to enroll the child in an art camp.
“We’d like to have these kids doing other things instead of us coming to their house to arrest them,” Hodgins said.
“For the police point of view, in the past we didn’t have anything for the kids under the age of 12. So we waited until they were 12 and that’s the age where you can be brought before the courts, but obviously that’s not working,” he added.
Currently the program is supporting 40 families with young children.