Father of child who died in Sask. foster home calls for system overhaul

Chris Martell said the balloon release was meant to honour every child who has died while in provincial foster care.

Martell's 22-month-old son, Evander, died while in an Aberdeen foster home in 2010

Martell says he and his family (Martell's son Cody pictured) suffer from post traumatic stress syndrome after the death of his 22-month-old son Evander Daniels in June 2010. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC)

Chris Martell's 22-month-old son, Evander Daniels, drowned in a bathtub while he was in provincial foster care seven years ago.

Daniels died on Jun. 8, 2010, while in an Aberdeen, Sask., foster home which Martell said was overcrowded with children and farm animals. 

"I really believe that this foster care system must be overhauled," Martell said.

"The system that's going on right now is just not working." 

Martell is calling for an overhaul of the provincial foster care system. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC)

Martell released balloons in Saskatoon on Tuesday evening which were meant to honour the children who have died while in Saskatchewan's foster care system.

Martell said he and other members of his family have suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome since the death of Evander. 

"I'm just here to make sure that he didn't die in vain and that a better outcome comes out of this," Martell said of the balloon release. 

At the time of Daniels' death, the boy was in a home with four other children.

Eunice Wudrich was charged with criminal negligence causing death but was found not guilty in February 2013. She died less than a year later.

Provincial changes made

Though the Ministry of Social Services could not make any specific comment, due to section 74 of the Child and Family Services Act, a spokesperson did say the ministry has made steps toward providing better services for any families which may need its services.

"Please know that in the past number of years, we have made sweeping changes — from how we work with vulnerable families to keep children from coming into care, a greater focus on extended family care, better supports and oversight for care providers and a focus on reducing the numbers of children in foster homes and the moves of children while outside the home," the spokesperson said in an email.

"Every instance where a child passes away, or experiences a critical incident, is deeply tragic. The majority of these instances relate back to medical fragility. Regardless, we undertake stringent, comprehensive accountability measures so we can learn everything we can to prevent similar situations from occurring again."

With files from Christy Climenhaga