Saskatchewan’s Children’s Advocate says he’s still concerned by the number of youth who continue to be locked up.
Bob Pringle outlined that and many other concerns in his 2011 annual report, which he tabled in the province’s legislative assembly today.
As in past years, he says outcomes for Aboriginal children simply have to improve and struggling families need to be offered supports before problems become a crisis.
In particular, he says the province’s Child and Youth Agenda should include a sharper focus on providing kids with services for mental health and addictions:
“We need to really have a serious talk and a serious look at what we’re doing by incarcerating so many young people in Saskatchewan. Too many young people are caught up in the correctional system, the youth criminal justice system, that actually have health concerns — and that needs to be addressed.”
Pringle also wants the root causes behind child welfare and criminal justice systems to be looked at more thoroughly.
His report also says his office has recommended that Social Services policy be changed to ensure that all allegations of abuse or neglect undergo the same investigation process regardless of whether the claims are made about a biological or natural home.
A former resident of Uranium City, he acknowledges it can be tougher for northern communities to find the services needed to ensure success.
That is why the two levels of government have to step up to the plate with funding.
Pringle says poverty-related conditions are at the heart of challenges affecting children, youth and their families.
Investigators with the advocate’s office closed 36 death files and 37 critical injury files in 2011.
Over 80% involved an Aboriginal child or youth.