The Saskatchewan Children’s Advocate has made several recommendations to the Saskatoon Tribal Council following the death of a three month old boy.
In his final report as advocate, Bob Pringle notes the boy was one of nine children born to parents who had issues with substance abuse and domestic violence.
The family has been in contact with the Saskatoon Tribal Council and Family Services Inc. since 2003.
The boy, referred to by his pseudonym Aiden, and his twin sister were born prematurely in August 2015 and were home for about a month and a half before he died from acute bronchopneumonia in October 2015.
The report goes on to say it’s impossible to know whether Aiden would be alive if he and his family had received better services, given the unpredictable nature of the infection, but Pringle suggests more could have been done by the Saskatoon Tribal Council.
“During his short life, Adian’s family needed significant support themselves as parents in their own struggles, and they needed support to recognize his unique vulnerabilities and meet his particular medical needs. The family did not receive the level of support and monitor required,” said Pringle.
The Advocate made a total of five recommendations from the report, calling for a better understanding of risk assessments, documentation and the steps to make sure proper action is taken for a child’s safety.
Pringle also noted the Saskatoon Tribal Council’s reluctance to cooperate during the special investigation.
This summer the Ministry of Social Services took over responsibility for children in the Saskatoon Tribal Council’s care after the agency refused to release documents to the ministry and were taken to court.
Following the release of the report, Pringle went on to say the Ministry of Social Services has a lot of work to do surrounding child welfare services. He says any improvements to services have come to a standstill over the past year and a half.
“Our focus is around working closely with the 16 First Nations agencies and the delivery of child welfare on and off reserves to ensure continuous improvement,” said Natalie Huber, Executive Director with Child and Family Services.
The Saskatchewan NDP call the boy’s death a ‘clear example of families falling through the cracks of our systems’.
“We’re going to see more and more situations like this because families need these services,” said Nicole Rancourt, social services critic for the NDP.