Sask. children’s advocate supports First Nation controlled child welfare system

Saskatchewan’s children and youth advocate supports First Nations in the province having control over their own child welfare system.

Corey O’Soup, who is Indigenous, said he has full confidence 17 First Nations child and family services agencies in the province are able to care for Indigenous children.

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“I believe that we as First Nations people have the education, knowledge, skills and abilities to love, care for, and teach our own children and youth, but most importantly I believe that we have the inherent right to be in complete control of our own child welfare system,” O’Soup said in a statement.

O’Soup’s remarks come after the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) issued a statement earlier in the week calling for the end of removing Indigenous children from their homes.

The FSIN also called for further jurisdiction for First Nations when it comes to handling child welfare policy.

O’Soup has publicly stated his opinion since being name to his position two years ago.

He said his mandate is to ensure the safety of all children in Saskatchewan who are in care or receiving services.

“This is a responsibility that I take very seriously, and whether those children live on or off reserve, they deserve to have an independent voice speaking up for them as decisions are being made about them and their future,” he said.

“We have had far too many instances in the past of our most vulnerable children ending up in overcrowded foster homes, hotels and other unsafe situations, and ensuring that both systems are prepared and resourced to take on this crucial responsibility is my duty to all the children of Saskatchewan.”

Saskatchewan has a record number of kids in out-of-home care, 5,227 – about 70 per cent who are Indigenous .

Sixty-one per cent are in ministry care in facilities like foster homes, and the remaining 39 per cent are under the care of a legal guardian.

An additional 2,700 children are with their families, while they receive in-home services to keep them together.

The province has agreements with 17 First Nations based child and family service organizations, helping deal with cases in 60 First Nations communities.

O’Soup said he will continue to work with First Nations and the province to find safe and caring homes for all children in care.

“We have had far too many instances in the past of our most vulnerable children ending up in overcrowded foster homes, hotels and other unsafe situations, and ensuring that both systems are prepared and resourced to take on this crucial responsibility is my duty to all the children of Saskatchewan,” O’Soup stated.

“It is my mandate and responsibility to ensure the safety of all children in Saskatchewan who are in care or receiving services under the provincial government.”

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