September 28, 2011
"Social workers struggle every day to find the time to provide the care and support that vulnerable children and their families need," according to SGEU President Bob Bymoen.
"Staff in the Ministry of Social Services have faced unmanageable workloads for a long time. We have been warning governments about this problem for years," Bymoen says.
"It is frankly disturbing that Minister June Draude and the Sask Party caucus would suggest that the problem has been fixed," he adds.
Children's Advocate Bob Pringle, in the release of his August 2011 Progress Report II on Foster Home Overcrowding in Saskatchewan, says that as of December 2010, there were still 483 children living in overcrowded foster homes.
In an August 18, 2011 news release, Pringle said that his office continues to receive requests for advocacy for children and youth in foster homes.
He reports that “Ministry of Social Services managers and front-line staff in Saskatoon and other regions continue to report caseload pressures that prevent them from meeting case planning or contact standards in even the most overcrowded of foster homes.”
Front-line staff also recognize the need for prevention programs to support at-risk families as a way of reducing the number of children taken into care. However, ministry prevention programs have been cut in recent years.
- Family Builders, Family Preservation, and Family Reunification programs
- Saskatoon Family Support Centre
- Teen and Young Parent Program
- Domestic Abuse Outreach Program
- Sexual Abuse Treatment Program
"In addition to cuts to prevention programs, 74.7 jobs have been eliminated from Social Services in the past two years," said Bymoen.
The government is also carrying out its plan to cut 15 per cent of the public service by 2014, so there will, no doubt, be further job losses, leading to greater workload pressures and program cuts in the Ministry of Social Services in the near future," he adds.
The Sask Party claims that SGEU's view that the Ministry of Social Services is underfunded is false.
"Clearly, there is an alarming disconnect between Sask Party officials and what is really happening to vulnerable children and families," Bymoen says.