REGINA – Saskatchewan’s Advocate for Children and Youth says two young children fell through the cracks of the social services system and it had fatal consequences.
The ten-year-old boy accused of killing Lee Boneau, 6, on the Kahkewistahaw First Nation, 150 kilometres from Regina last August, is described as a child with an escalating history of trouble. Last March, he was diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
The Yorkton Tribal Council (YTC) Child and Family Services was responsible for the boy. But a report released on Wednesday, says he was only interviewed once in the four-and-a-half years the agency was involved.
Bob Pringle, Saskatchewan’s advocate for children, says all of the warning signs were there, but no one seemed to respond: “These children didn’t get the services that they needed nor did the families and we can say when that happens catastrophic things occur.”
At the time of his death, Lee was in foster care and the report says his mother should have had more help from social services.
“The report identifies many gaps in the services that were provided to the children and their families by different organizations,” said June Draude, social services minister. “I accept these findings.”
The report is critical of the care the YTC Child and Family Services was suppose to be providing the accused.
The RCMP and the school that the accused attended, contacted the agency on numerous occasions over the years.But Pringle says case workers barely followed up.
However, the director of YTC Child and Family Services suggests otherwise.
“We’re going to have to see what information we gave to the child advocate’s office and to see if it was identified in the report,” said Raymond Shingoose. “Our tribal chief mentioned an independent review of our own. We’re going to be looking at all the information that we provided and actually look at those gaps and see if the information is accurate.”
The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) says instead of pointing fingers it’s working closely with the social services ministry to make changes.
“We will work together, not against each other, because our babies are deserving of that and nothing less,” said Kimberly Jonathon, FSIN First Vice Chief.
The suspect is under the age of twelve, therefore he’s too young to be charged with a criminal offence and remains in care.
Lee was not a member of the First Nation and was visiting the reserve with his foster mother, who had gone to play bingo.
With files from the Canadian Press.