Saskatchewan

Foster parent worried current system can damage kids

A Saskatchewan foster parent says big changes to the fostering system are needed to prevent damage to kids.

Lack of resources and overcrowded homes a problem, parent says

Constance Perras, a foster parent, is hoping the government invests more resources into Saskatchewan's foster care system. (Dann McKenzie/CBC)

A Saskatchewan foster parent is speaking out about a fostering system she says can cause damage to some children.

Constance Perras has been fostering children for 11 years and has had about 40 kids come into her home under the program.

Now, she wants changes to a system she said takes too long to put research recommendations in place, lacks resources, and doesn't ensure kids have a safe support system outside foster care. 

Constance Perras has fostered children for more than a decade, and sees some holes in the system. (Dann McKenzie/CBC)

"We've had so many reports coming out and so many recommendations. Ten years later, it's still the same. So something's not happening," she said.

Perras said more needs to be done to relieve foster homes from being overloaded. With a shortage of homes in the province, Perras said parents are often getting more children than the maximum allowed number of four per home.

"We're more overloaded than we ever were."

Rise in reliance on hotels and group homes

Garry Prediger is with the child and family programs section of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Social Services. He admits the ministry has seen some unprecedented issues this past summer.

One issue he's dealing with is the number of kids staying in hotels and group homes when there isn't a foster home for them.

As of one week ago, Prediger said there were 15 children in hotel spaces in Regina and five in hotels in Prince Albert.

Garry Prediger, Ministry of Social Services, said there's been an increase in reliance on emergency housing options in the province this summer. (CBC News)

"I've been in this role for probably about ten years now and we haven't seen this kind of trend occurring in at least ten years," Prediger said.  

Other children are being placed in group homes that are managed by external organizations and are supposed to be another temporary housing option.

The three group homes in Regina that hold 5-8 children are rapidly utilized, according to Prediger.

Prediger said the high volume of temporary housing in use right now is due to a number of factors, including fewer foster homes throughout the province and a higher call volume to child protection services.

Funding still primary issue

Perras said it boils down to there not being enough money for foster care and support workers.

That's causing a slowing of resources to help kids, she said, which means they stay in care longer than they should.

Perras wants to see action when recommendations are made, rather than letting that information slide without change.

"Two, three years later, you're doing the same thing again. If it was working, we would have less children in foster care."  

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