SASKATOON – The death of a young boy while in foster care on the Kahkewistahaw First Nation last week has stirred up painful memories for a Saskatoon man who spent several years of his childhood in the Saskatchewan foster care system.
“When I hear politicians speak about things we need to do better and change – nothing’s changed. In 30 years nothing has changed. We’ve learned nothing. If we have learned anything, we don’t implement anything or create a better situation,” said Corey Loroff.
The Saskatoon man was thrust into the foster care system with his younger brother when he was just seven years old. Their mother had passed away and their father was an alcoholic.
According to Loroff, he was moved a total of five times in the span of just six years while in foster care. His brother was moved seven times.
He described his experience as one that exposed him to violence and drug use at a very young age.
While Loroff has been able to live a life of relative normalcy in his adulthood, his younger brother has been in and out of jail – a lifestyle he believes was largely the result of living in foster care.
“Being old enough at the time, I would phone my dad because I was scared – and he’s my father. Over the course of the week, social services removed us from that home and put us back with our father,” said Loroff.
While the death of Lee Bonneau has been deemed a homicide at the hands of another child, Loroff still questions how well the boy was being supervised the night he was killed.
Between January 2010 and September 2013, 23 children under the age of 18 died while under the care of the Ministry of Social Services – not counting the death of Bonneau.
Eleven died as a result of natural causes, five died accidentally, two were listed as homicides, another two as a result of suicide, there were two cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and one death was ruled undetermined.
“We have made a commitment along with the Ministry of Social Services to put in place whatever supports are needed for foster parents. Are there always areas we can improve in? Absolutely. But I think we also have to look at the positives,” said Deb Davies with Saskatchewan Foster Families Association.
Davies said that while the Bonneau case brings one situation to light, there are many more foster parents in the province making a positive contribution to the lives of children.
She said prospective foster parents are subject to a series of checks and balances. Annual reviews are also conducted to ensure foster parents continually meet the requirements put forward by the ministry.