A new report by Saskatchewan's children's advocate says while progress is being made in some areas there's a concern about the increasing number of young people entering correctional facilities.
On Thursday, Bob Pringle released his 2012 Annual Report in the legislature.
The report discusses the increasing rate of young offenders in Saskatchewan. Pringle said about nine more youth were taken into custody per day in 2012 compared to 2011.
"Saskatchewan has on any given day…more people locked up in closed custody than Alberta and B.C.," said Pringle.
The incarceration rate of young people in the province is three times the national average, and third in the country behind the Northwest Territories and Manitoba.
"That is completely unacceptable and this goes back to prevention work, this goes back to catching things upstream to make sure children don't end up in correctional facilities," said Danielle Chartier, a member of the legislative assembly with the NDP.
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However, the province said in the past five years, the overall rate of youth in custody has actually dropped.
"Our young people in our facilities has dropped since 2008 and from that stand point seeing a drop in our numbers, we are very pleased albeit we still have more work to do," said Christine Tell, provincial minister of corrections and policing.
Pringle also expressed worry about the shift from prevention and rehabilitation of young offenders to a model that promotes more and longer custodial sentences.
He is also concerned about youth placement in facilities far from family and support systems that has a negative impact on young people in jail.
Pringle said the province should invest more money in rehabilitation programming such as mental health and addictions services.
Both Tell and Pringle said "The Hub" in Prince Albert, Sask., is a model for how to drop the number of youth custody.
It combines police, social services and teachers among others to identify youth that may need intervention and help.
Both said more initiatives like that are needed to help youth stay in the classroom and out of the correctional system.
Broaden children and youth agenda
The report also provides some advice to the province on the Saskatchewan Children and Youth Agenda -- a government initiative to address problems facing children and families at risk, such as lower education levels, unemployment and substance abuse.
"This year, I shared with the Cabinet Committee on Children and Youth our concerns that while incremental progress was being made in several areas, the Agenda is losing momentum and not realizing its full potential to affect fundamental change for children and youth in Saskatchewan," said Pringle.
"The intentions of government to create a collaborative agenda for children appears highly positive, yet it will only take root and grow through youth engagement, public awareness and the support of communities."
Pringle also said the government needs to broaden the agenda's scope to include ways to reduce poverty and the drivers of child neglect. He said it must also improve mental health and addictions services for children, youth and their families, and measure the impact of the Agenda on young people.