CFS hotel housing ban could leave kids stranded, Winnipeg professor says

With less than a week to go before the province ends its practice of housing kids under its care in hotels, a Winnipeg sociology professor says she's concerned about whether the new rule could leave some youth in need without a place to stay.

Manitoba government creating more specialized foster, emergency shelter options for kids in its care

Starting June 1, Manitoba Child and Family Services will no longer be temporarily housing kids in its care in hotels. (CBC)

With less than a week to go before the province ends its practice of housing kids under its care in hotels, a Winnipeg sociology professor says she's concerned about whether the new rule could leave some youth in need without a place to stay.

The serious physical and sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl April 1, who was staying in a hotel at the time, prompted Manitoba's Child and Family Services (CFS) Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross to promise all kids in CFS care would be out of temporary hotel housing by June 1.

The girl's family said they blamed CFS for not watching her more closely.

Cathy Rocke used to work for CFS and worries what may happen to children who need emergency care, particularly in remote communities, with the hotel ban in place.

"I wonder, are they going to stop bringing kids into care? Are we going to have some kids coming in and staying in jail cells? Are we going to have ... kids staying in, you know, agency offices?"

Rocke said children end up in hotels because of a lack of emergency placements. She isn't confident eliminating the hotel option will result in the creation of more safe emergency care options.

"We need a safe place for them to be," said Rocke, who is also a professor of social work at the University of Manitoba. 

"We have them, you know, in the local jails until such time as we figure out some of the resources. I mean, I think that's a worse response than actually staying [in] hotels."

Eliminating need for hotels

The province said it is eliminating the need for hotels by increasing the number of specialized foster beds and increasing the number of shelter beds for children in care.

Since November of 2014, 61 new emergency foster home beds have been put in place with 10 more being finalized. Another 29 foster beds have been in the works since the beginning of April.

Currently there are no children in care staying in hotels in Manitoba, the province said.


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