Children only come into care as a last resort if they are unsafe at home. Those in need of protection may be experiencing complex issues such as physical or sexual violence, or a parent experiencing an addiction or mental health crisis.
If a child is found to be in need of protection, we first look at supports we can connect the family with for the child to remain safely at home. These supports may include services and tools on parenting, counselling, domestic violence prevention and addictions treatment. At any given time, more than 2,000 children live safely at home with their families while they receive ongoing child protection services. When a child does have to come into care, our goal then becomes reunification.
We are strengthening the system to improve outcomes for children in care by addressing these critical areas:
- Collaborating with Indigenous and community partners to provide prevention services that keep children safe.
- Engaging with youth in care to ensure their perspective on programs and services is integrated.
- Investing in services that:
- keep children with family whenever possible;
- expand intensive residential and supportive living for high needs families;
- strengthen support for extended family caregivers;
- support specialized training for foster parents; and
- improve supports for children and youth within community-based care.
Provincial Child Welfare Statistics - 3rd Quarter
The total number of children in out-of-home care statistics are divided into two streams:
- Children in Care: this number includes those children who are wards (considered to be in care of the Minister), those with apprehended status and those under voluntary agreement.
- Person of Sufficient Interest (PSI) Legal Status: this number includes children who are not in care but are placed by court order in the custody of a trusted family connection, such as a family member, close friend, Band, etc. PSIs are sometimes referred to as non-wards.
1 This number includes wards and those children with apprehended status.
2 This number includes children/youth who are placed by court order in the custody of a designated Person of Sufficient Interest caregiver.
The ministry prioritizes family-based care as the best option for children and youth who cannot remain safely at home. Every effort is made to first place children with extended family, whenever possible, to help keep them connected to their family, culture and community. Seventy-four per cent (74%) of children in out-of-home care live in family-based care, with nearly 60% living with extended family and 16% living in foster homes. As of December 31, 2023, there were 444 approved foster homes in the province.
1 Children in Out-of-Home Care includes children in care and non-wards.
2 Counts and proportions of placement types do not include children who have been transferred to a First Nations Child and Family Services Agency.
3 Group Home placement types include: CFS CBO Group Home, CLD CBO Group Home, CLD Approved Service Home, First Nations Approved Group Home, MSS Fee for Service Contract, and Stabilization Care Linkin placement services.
4 Other placement types include: Not Indicated, Absent from Care, Addiction Treatment Facility, Rehabilitation Facility, Courtesy Interprovincial, First Nation Approved Caregiver – No Transfer, Hospital, Independent Living, Non-Removal Parent, Out of Province Care, Room & Board, Trial Home Placement, Unauthorized Living Arrangement and Young Offender Facility.
Indigenous Children in Out-of-Home Care
We recognize Saskatchewan’s long and painful history of residential schools and the 60s Scoop, and the impact these policies have had on Indigenous families.
The percentage of children and youth in out-of-home care in Saskatchewan who are Indigenous is disproportionately high – as is the case across Canada.
This is a very complex situation, and there are many reasons why we are seeing a disproportionately large number of Indigenous children coming into care despite the significant strides we have made with our partners to strengthen and support vulnerable families experiencing crisis.
One of the main reasons why we have seen an increase in the numbers of children and youth in care identified as Indigenous comes from our efforts over the past few years to ensure Indigenous children and youth are identified as such. Properly identifying children in care who are eligible for Indigenous registration ensures they receive appropriate cultural support and are connected to their communities, bands, and to First Nations Child and Family Services agencies.
The work to renew the child welfare system will continue with our First Nations, Métis and Inuit partners, so Indigenous children and families will be supported by their communities, within their own customs and cultural traditions.
NOTE: For children listed as ‘To Be Assessed,’ a review to determine whether they are Indigenous or Non-Indigenous has yet to be completed.
Critical Injuries and Deaths
In the past several years, we have had a number of children and youth either in care, or who have received services within 12 months, experience either a critical injury or pass away each year.
We work with very vulnerable children and youth. Sadly, some situations are not preventable, such as the death of a medically fragile child.
In 2022-2023, we experienced a smaller number of critical injuries, and a higher than usual number of deaths.
We conduct a thorough review when a child who was in our care, in receipt of services, or was in receipt of services within the previous 12 months from our ministry or a First Nations Child and Family Services agency experiences a critical injury or passes away.
- We complete these reviews as a mechanism of continuous improvement to determine if the death or injury could have been prevented and aiding us in improving our policies, practices and training.
- These internal reviews are shared with the Advocate for Child and Youth and the Coroner’s Service.
1 The statistics for child deaths and critical incidents/injuries are reflective of children/youth who were in the care of the Minister 12 months prior to the occurrence, and children/youth in receipt of services pursuant to The Child and Family Services Act at the time of the occurrence or in the 12 months prior to the occurrence.