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Do-Nothing Children's Minister

February 13, 2009 permalink

Has Saskatchewan social services minister Donna Harpauer heard rumors that the Saskatoon office is dysfunctional? Yes. Can she do anything to correct it? No.



‘Whisper campaign' warned of dysfunctional foster care office

Canadian Press, February 12, 2009 at 3:39 PM EST

REGINA — The minister responsible for the care of children in Saskatchewan admits there have long been “whispers” about problems at a Child and Family Services office where two managers were recently suspended.

Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer said Thursday that she heard reports that the Saskatoon office was “dysfunctional.”

“You hear rumours, you hear people saying there are problems, but you can't act on someone saying that someone said that someone said,” Ms. Harpauer said.

She described what she called a “whisper campaign” that talked about “a number of concerns,” including communication problems, a lack of support for front-line workers and overcrowding in foster homes.

“The capacity (problem) is definitely provincial-wide, specifically far more to the two major cities of Regina and Saskatoon,” she said.

“The actual dysfunctional workplace ... I would say is isolated to Saskatoon, but should we not address it and have initiatives to correct it, I think it could happen elsewhere as well.”

Ms. Harpauer's comments came after two managers were sent home with pay last week. Deputy social services minister Allan Hansen authorized the suspensions.

Ms. Harpauer wouldn't confirm media reports that the men were suspended because they allegedly shuffled children around so that foster homes wouldn't appear too full.

“What I can say is a clear direction I've given the ministry is that we make decisions ... based on what's in the best interests of the child. The deputy minister understands that is the direction and he also understands that if someone does not want to comply with that direction, then there have to be consequences.”

The guideline is four children per foster home. However, there are policies that allow that number to be exceeded in emergency situations and to keep siblings together.

There were 770 foster homes in Saskatchewan in December. Of those, 136 had more than four children. The average was six or seven children, according to numbers provided by the government.

Overcrowding in foster homes is expected to be the key concern in a report by Saskatchewan's children's advocate to be made public Feb. 25.

Source: Globe and Mail