Today’s InFocus was the last in a three-part series putting the child welfare system under the microscope.
Natasha Reimer spent her entire life bounced from foster home to foster home when she was apprehended as a young girl from an unsafe home.
While the system kept her separated from a mother who couldn’t parent, it also robbed her of a relationship with her seven younger siblings, who were also raised in care.
“It’s very lonely,” Reimer told InFocus Host. “You have no sense of stability, you have no foundation.
“You learn to not get attached to places, people, things, schools, environments – anything.”
Reimer, a fourth-year criminal justice student who plans to go to law school, helped create Foster Up, a support group at the University of Winnipeg.
Its goal is to create a community for aged-out foster kids who are trying to find their feet as young adult university students.
Katelyn Roberts is the executive director of Sanctum 1.5, a four-month-old facility that aims to help high-risk pregnant moms avoid losing their babies to birth apprehensions in the hospital.
So far seven babies and their moms were spared that trauma and are ready to transition back out on their own, thanks to the programming at Sanctum 1.5.
“It’s demonstrated in a very short period of time that working preventatively with people who have the co-occurrence of trauma and addictions and mental illness, that with the right supports in place we can keep children out of care,” Roberts said.
She said the program could be used as a template in any community.
Since APTN News did a story about the facility, people in other jurisdictions have contact Sanctum 1.5, interested in creating their own.
And rounding out the guests on Wednesday’s InFocus was Warren Vandall, who was a social worker for five years in Manitoba and said he was fired for going against rules, and helping children and families stay together or be reunited.
“A lot of times the apprehensions don’t need to happen,” Vandall said. “They could be placing the child with the immediate family until we figure things out.” He said there’s too much emphasis on seizing kids and keeping them in care for as long as possible by foot-dragging case workers or using courts to prolong delays.
If you missed any of the three-part series you can download as a podcast here.