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Saskatchewan Foster Family Association responds to call for more support

Deb Davies of the Saskatchewan Foster Families Association speaks to Global News.
Deb Davies of the Saskatchewan Foster Families Association speaks to Global News. Global News

The Saskatchewan Foster Family Association (SFFA) has responded to a letter criticizing the level of support for foster children in the province.

“We have an in-home support program. We have different educational opportunities for foster parents,” SFFA Executive Director Deb Davies said Friday. “And, we have foster families that reach out and say ‘you know what, we need extra training on maybe a certain attachment disorder, or FASD,’ and we have very strong partnerships within our community that are experts in those fields.”

On Tuesday, Saskatoon foster parent and police officer Matt Ingrouille penned a letter calling more support for foster children living with conditions like Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD).

The letter was written in response to the recent death of Isaiah Brunton. The 17-year-old Saskatoon boy died on Monday from a gunshot wound suffered last Saturday.

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READ MORE: Teen who died identified in Saskatoon’s 2nd homicide of 2020

Ingrouille wrote that foster parents don’t receive enough supports to properly help children with severe trauma or FASD.

“It’s rare to read about a child in care with autism, Down syndrome or other similar disabilities dying. Yet FASD and trauma survivors are suffering from addiction, overdoses, jail, and suicide at an alarming rate,” the letter reads.

“Enough with kids like Isaiah dying. Enough with families like mine who try to help, being left completely alone.”

The letter describes Ingrouille’s experience with his own adopted child who has FASD. It discusses his success with a program called Circles of Care, a pilot run by the Saskatoon-based Eagle’s Nest.

READ MORE: ‘Their life is tough’: mom of 2 kids with FASD shares their struggles

Saskatoon Police are investigating the death, which they have deemed a homicide, and say an autopsy has been ordered.

Though it is an independent organization, Davies said the SFFA works closely with the Ministry of Social Services and frequently meets with Social Services Minister Paul Merriman.

Davies said that though she was concerned by Ingrouille’s letter, the SFFA doesn’t have plans to reach out directly to him. She said the organization’s partnership with the province as a means of determining the needs of foster families in Saskatchewan.

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“We’re always working in collaboration and looking for different ways to support families. So it is a very close relationship.”

READ MORE: Report calls for B.C. plan to end youth homelessness, informed by youth themselves

She said “Trauma Competent Caregiver Training” is one of five mandatory training courses potential foster families must complete. She says the training can be taken in-classroom or via videoconference.

The five courses also include FASD training and are part of a larger program that totals 30 hours.

“To my knowledge there is no other jurisdiction that has the training we do,” Davies commented.

According to Davies, there are just under 500 active foster families in Saskatchewan, and that there have been 159 inquiries about fostering since Jan. 1. She said the SFFA has not experienced any backlogs when it comes to providing support for families.

We typically respond within 36-48 hours to what the need is. Depending on what the urgency is we’ve been able to respond with-in hours,” she said. 

When it comes to the SFFA’s philosophy,

READ MORE: U.S. woman fosters more than 600 children she loved ‘like they were my own’

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Ingrouille declined a formal interview request. A post written Friday on the Facebook page of his “Say Know” podcast called for the conversation to continue on ways to better serve all families.

“The goal is not to find blame as to why things are the way they are. These are big systems that evolve overtime,” the post reads. “Look to the future and keep progressing every day.”