Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Case Work 'Inconsistent' in Child Protection Services: Children's Advocate

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Case Work 'Inconsistent' in Child Protection Services: Children's Advocate

Article excerpt

Case work 'inconsistent': children's advocate

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REGINA - Saskatchewan's children's advocate says he's concerned about the quality of case work in child protection services and says inconsistency is especially problematic.

Bob Pringle commented Monday on the outcome of a coroner's inquest that finished last week in the death of Lee Bonneau, who was killed by an older child on a reserve.

Six-year-old Lee Bonneau was found with head injuries in a wooded area on the Kahkewistahaw reserve in 2013. He had last been seen walking with an older boy outside a recreation complex while his foster mother was playing bingo.

On Friday, the jury released 19 recommendations, which ranged from improving mental health supports to funding a facility for children under 12 with complex needs.

Pringle determined in a report last year that the 10-year-old boy who killed Lee had behavioural issues and probably should not have been in the community unsupervised. Because he was under 12, he could not be charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Pringle said the inquest made it clear that agencies need to communicate better with each other and social workers are struggling under heavy work loads.

"We know that the (Ministry of Social Services) is in a situation where, when they take a child into care, they are not able to keep up with their case planning and their contact standards," he said.

The jury's recommendations were mainly directed towards the Ministry of Social Services and the Yorkton Tribal Council Child and Family Services. They included addressing communication shortfalls and revising the size of service centres for rural offices.

The jury also recommended that fetal alcohol syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and mental health issues should be addressed as soon as they are identified in children.

Pringle said several witnesses who testified appeared to be absolving themselves of responsibility for children's welfare. …

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