Abuse of authority in Social Services: fired advisor
REGINA - A bureaucrat who was fired from Saskatchewan's Ministry of Social Services has written a scathing report about a system that he says hurts children and families.
Tim Korol says children are being seized and families are being broken up without explanation. He also accuses some social workers of abusing their authority and that brutality is "rampant throughout the system."
"My overriding message is that the social workers are unaccountable," Korol said at a news conference Wednesday.
"They're doing illegal acts. They are not accountable to anyone. And unless we have accountability, we can have all the whistles and bells you want, if we have this machine driving on the wrong side of the road, people are going to get killed. And that's what happening."
Korol was special adviser to the deputy minister of social services and assistant deputy minister before he was fired in June 2009. Korol, who was also a police officer for 16 years, insisted his firing did not prompt his report.
The 49-page report contains stories from people who have dealt with the system.
Korol wrote that there were social workers with as many as 42 case files. He said children are treated as a commodity and shuffled from place to place.
"The results of such high and unreasonable caseloads are substantial. Important details are lost about the needs of the family and child," he wrote.
Korol said social workers, support staff, parents and foster parents fear retaliation should they speak out.
He makes 11 recommendations, including placing a cap on the number of files that social workers deal with and spending more money on parenting programs instead of moving children to foster care right away.
Social Services Minister June Draude, who was appointed after Korol left, said the province is already taking action to improve the system. But she didn't outright dismiss Korol's concerns.
"I haven't read the report so I don't even know what concerns they are. But if he's talking about making sure that there is something more in place for our children, I will look at it and so will the ministry," she said.
"We've got case workers out here dealing with our children that take their work to bed with them at night because it means a lot to them. So if there are new ideas he has, I'll listen to them. But you know what, I don't think it would be any new ideas that I haven't already heard from the workers and from the submissions that were given to us as the child and youth agenda was brought forward."
Draude said the government is spending $34 million to tackle issues facing children, youth and families such as lower education levels, unemployment and substance abuse.
She also said that Social Services over the last couple of years has hired more case workers.