I spoke with Bob Pringle on the phone today from Saskatoon. He’s the former NDP Social Services minister that the Saskatchewan government appointed late last year to head a review of child welfare policies in the province. Since April 1, he noted, they’ve had an on-line consultation process operating where people can go to offer feedback on six questions related to the well-being of children who have come under the jurisdiction of the province because of problems in the family home.
As well, he and fellow committee members Howard Cameron, April Durocher and Carol Skelton have been conducting public meetings in different locales to gather more input. Because many of the estimated 5000 children who are under the umbrella of Social Services are of First Nations or Metis ancestry Pringle and his committee have made a special commitment to consult with First Nations and Metis groups across Saskatchewan.
Pringle said his committee is to present an interim report to Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer by the end of June, and a final report by the end of September. While the review process is still on-going, Pringle said that one thing that has quickly become apparent is that at present the system operates in a reactive, crisis-driven mode, and that to truly improve the welfare of children in the province greater effort must be made to address root causes of poverty and family dysfunction.
If you’re interested in learning more about the initiative, or perhaps in participating in the e-consultation, here’s a link to the website.