Saskatchewan

Foster children still in hotels despite ministry claim the problem fixed

The Ministry of Social Services has acknowledged that foster children, including infants, are still being housed in a Regina hotel.

82 children have been housed in hotels since May

A ministry spokesperson says 82 children have been housed in Regina hotels since May 23. (Sara Calnek/CBC)

The Ministry of Social Services has acknowledged that foster children, including infants, are still being housed in a Regina hotel, despite the ministry's claim in June that the problem had been solved.

As of Thursday morning there were a dozen children being cared for in a downtown hotel.

In June, CBC's iTeam revealed that the ministry was regularly placing children in hotels because there was nowhere else for them to go.

Following that report the ministry announced it was launching an emergency plan to get children out of foster homes.

The executive director of child and family programs with Social Services, Garry Prediger, admits the ministry has continued housing children in hotels on most days since that announcement.

"Between May 23 and today there have been 82 distinct children that have been cared for in hotels. The length of stay ranges from one day to 21 days."

The NDP's Social Services Critic, David Forbes learned of the problem from CBC's iTeam.

"We're really frustrated to hear that," Forbes said.

He said it's surprising that the ministry would publicly claim the problem was solved when in fact it has continued.

"I think fundamentally what it says is that 'we're not prepared.'"

Prediger said the ministry has been forced to place children in hotels because a growing number of kids are coming into care at a time when the number of foster homes continues to shrink.

In addition, he says many children are staying longer in the ministry's emergency homes.

"Many of the children that have come in at that time, we're still working hard to build plans and safety plans to return them home," Prediger explained.

He said the ministry is working on launching a new program in September aimed at addressing this problem.

"We're looking at partnering with a community based partner in Regina to provide an intensive residential support program for Regina-area families that will allow the children that are in care to return home safely to families."

He said those supports could including help with parenting and housing.

Prediger said the ministry doesn't want to keep relying on hotels.

"Is it ideal? Absolutely not. And I think we need to work our way through this as we have in the past trying to continue to provide better resources and better plans for children and families."

About the Author

Geoff Leo

Senior Investigative Journalist

Geoff Leo has been a reporter for CBC News in Saskatchewan since 2001. His work as an investigative journalist and documentary producer has earned numerous national and regional awards.

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