Saskatoon cop calls on province for better supports for at-risk youth in foster care
SASKATOON -- A Saskatoon police officer is calling for more supports for at-risk youth in the foster care system following the death of his son’s friend.
Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Brunton was shot and killed over the weekend and his death prompted an emotional response from Const. Matt Ingrouille.
A day after Brunton died, Ingrouille posted an open letter to his MLA, Gordon Wyant, on the Facebook page for Say Know Drug Education Project. The program was founded by Ingrouille, who is also a drug education advocate.
In it, he calls for more support for kids in the foster care system struggling with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and other severe traumas.
Ingrouille said his adopted son Tyson, who has FASD, was close friends with Brunton.
He said his son would be dead if it weren’t for the Circles of Care program run by Eagles Nest, a centre for at-risk youth.
“The only different between Isaiah and Tyson, was that Isaiah had no one with the support needed to succeed,” Ingrouille wrote.
The Circles of Care program started in August and its goal is to support the transition of young people residing at Eagles Nest back to a family-based care setting, whether it’s with their biological parents, extended family, adopted parents or foster parents, according to Eagles Nest executive director Susan Luedtke.
“The program is based on the development of a trusting relationship with the youths and their families,” she said in an emailed statement to CTV News.
Luedtke said 12 families are involved in the program.
Ingrouille is calling on the province to expand the Circles of Care program and others like it.
“Enough with kids like Isaiah dying. Enough with families like mine who try to help, being left completely alone,” he wrote.
The Ministry of Social Services calls the situation tragic and said its thoughts are with Brunton’s loved ones, family and friends.
In a statement to CTV News it said it “recognizes the complex needs of children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or severe trauma history. We have an array of services to support children and youth in care, including contracts with community organizations to provide specialized care for children with unique needs.”
The Saskatchewan Foster Families Association (SFFA) works closely with the ministry.
Executive director Deb Davies said she was concerned when she read Ingrouille’s letter.
“I just don’t feel that the proper information has been reported, that this gentleman is understanding what our role is and what the government’s role is,” she said.
Davies said while more work could always be done, SFFA does provide training and support for foster families.
“We’re always looking for ways to support and better equipped families that are taking in some of the most vulnerable children in our province,” she said.
Friday afternoon, another post was made on the Say Know Facebook page saying the point of Ingrouille’s letter was not to place blame, but to encourage the ministry to listen to front line workers and families with first hand experience.
In a news release on Feb. 18, Saskatoon Police said they are still investigating the homicide.