Saskatchewan tables legislation to improve child welfare services

The proposed law seeks to amend the Child and Family Services Act

Saskatchewan tables legislation to improve child welfare services

The Saskatchewan government has tabled legislation to improve child welfare services for children, youth, and families across the province.

Bill 101 proposes several changes to Saskatchewan’s current child welfare legislation − the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA). According to the Ministry of Social Services, the bill contains changes that focus on three main areas:

  • Raising the age of the child entitled to receive protective services up to 18 years of age;
  • Increasing the flexibility of information-sharing, disclosure, and confidentiality in the best interests of the child or former child in care who is now an adult;
  • Strengthening language in the CFSA to enhance family, community, and cultural connections for children and youth.

“Renewing our province’s child welfare legislation will strengthen and better recognize the importance of family, cultural, and community connections for children and youth in care,” Saskatchewan Social Services Minister Gene Makowsky said. “I am proud to say that, in addition to sector partners, several youth with lived experience engaged with us on the proposed amendments.”

In particular, the bill enhances services that allow youth to be supported through either voluntary or protective pathways based on their individual needs until they are 18. Moreover, it expands (a) the scope of disclosure to children or former children in care to include family name information, reasons for removal, time in care, and relevant court matters; and (b) the information disclosure regarding deceased individuals.

“Expanding information-sharing and disclosure will ensure the child’s right to know their identity and familial background and will allow the child or former child in care to identify and establish familial and community connections if they wish,” Makowsky said. “The ministry recognizes the importance of this information to support family and personal healing.”

The bill modifies the best-interests-of-the-child provision under the CFSA to recognize the unique cultural aspects of Indigenous children and requires the preservation of the child’s Indigenous identity, experience, and connections in case planning. It also clarifies several factors related to working with Indigenous children and families, including broadening information-sharing to Indigenous governing bodies and expanding notice to First Nations child and family services agencies.

The ministry confirmed that once the bill receives royal assent, the province will continue to engage with the Advocate for Children and Youth, youth advisory teams, and Indigenous and child welfare sector partners to update relevant regulations and standards.

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