What is Government Care?

Government care is the term we use to describe any young person under the care of the Government. In Saskatchewan, government care specifically refers to either foster care or youth custody involvement.  

Foster Care

Below is some basic information that you should know if you are involved with the Child Welfare System of Saskatchewan:

Here is a link for the PDF of our  Rights and Responsibilities: A Handbook for Youth in Care (The newly revised Handbook is in the final stages of updating)

Every situation is unique and there is no right or wrong way to feel about being in care. As a young person in care, we encourage you to talk with your worker about your own personal situation, your desires, and your needs.

What does it mean to be “in care”?

Being in care means you are living away from home in a place arranged by your social worker, under some kind of agreement with the Ministry of Social Services. In care generally refers to child welfare services for young people in need of protection. These young persons are in the care of the Minister of Social Services and have been placed in an out-of-home care resource as authorized by the Child and Family Services Act of Saskatchewan. 

To enter into care, your worker and either your parents or a judge determined that you needed to live apart from your parents/caregivers for a period of time. You will see the word “worker” frequently in this handbook. When a young person is in the care of the Minister, the Ministry of Social Services is responsible for the young person’s basic, developmental and special needs. This responsibility includes not only meeting immediate needs such as safety, food, clothing and a safe place to live, but also planning for your future. 

Every effort should be made to involve you and anyone who has a significant role in your life in planning for your time in care. Think of your worker as the Ministry staff person assigned to work with you and who is responsible for carrying out these many tasks and activities.

Being in care can mean living many different kinds of situations. This could include: a foster home, a therapeutic group or foster home, with a family friend or other family member (kinship care),  or in a peer home.


What is "legal status"? 

Being in care is one of the many services provided to a young person by the Ministry of Social Services, usually having to do with your legal status.  When you are in care you may hear the term “legal status,” this is the authority under which you are in care—your legal status can change. There are several different kinds of legal status. The Child and Family Services Act is the legislation under which children and young people come into care in Saskatchewan.

How do I find out what my legal status is?

Your worker can explain what your legal status is and what it means to you. If you want more information about what your legal status means, contact SYICCN.

Who makes the decisions about my legal status?

For a young person and family to receive help from the Ministry of Social Services, a child must first be identified as in need of protection as defined by The Child and Family Services Act. Sometimes young people are “apprehended”.  This means that you have been temporarily removed from the care of your parents, because of concerns for your safety. 

If there continues to be a concern for your safety and you must remain in care the worker may sign an agreement with your parents, where they can consent to you remaining in the care of the Ministry for a longer time (up to one year); if your parents do not agree your worker would then apply to Court for an order.  This agreement, or order, describes your legal status. There are several different agreements or orders that can be put in place depending on the needs of yourself and your family:

  • Emergency placement (this describes the period of time when you are first apprehended from your home)
  • Short-term 
  • Long-term
  • Permanent wardship
  • PSI
  • Adoption
  • Voluntary agreements--Sections 10 and 56)

In those situations, when your worker applies to Court, legal status is decided in a Family Court hearing. Your worker can explain what a Family Court hearing is and how the decision about your status is made. A judge will decide whether you should be in care or not, and under what legal status.

Your worker and your parents may make an agreement for you to be in care under Section 9 of The Child and Family Services Act. If they do, your status is called “Section 9.” If you are 12 or older, you should be asked to sign the Section 9 agreement, along with your parents. If you are at least 16 years of age, you may have signed an agreement called a “Section 10” agreement.

Do I get a chance to say what I think should happen to me? 

You can expect to have your wishes listened to and any planning that affects you heard and considered by those making the decisions.  If you want to tell the judge what you think would be best for you, tell your worker you want to have the opportunity to speak in Court.


What kinds of decisions can the judge make about me?

Although a judge has many legal options, there are four different Orders that the judge can make. They are temporary wardship, permanent wardship, long-term wardship, and person of sufficient interest.  

Temporary wardship is when the Family Court judge decides that a child or youth needs to live away from home for up to six months. Temporary wardship can be extended. However, your worker does need to know that this is in your best interest. You need to know where you are going to be living and with whom you are going to be living permanently. Although your worker has the responsibility to plan for your immediate needs, your worker should also be planning for your permanency needs if you are still in temporary care after 12 months.

Permanent wardship is when the judge decides that the parent connection should be ended because the parent is unwilling or unable to care for a child or youth. This order is usually made for children 12 years of age and under. Young children are usually registered for adoption, but there are situations when older youth want to be adopted, especially if it is by someone they know or already have a connection with.

Long-term wardship may be ordered when a parent is able to remain involved in some ways in planning for their child’s future, but is not able to provide the care and supervision needed. The young person is cared for by the Ministry of Social Services but the parent is still very involved. Young people in care through a long-term wardship order cannot be registered for adoption. They are often over 12 years of age.

A PSI order is a custody order.  A judge can make an order placing you in the legal custody and home of an individual who has a sufficient interest in your well-being.  This may include a grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend, etc.  Once a PSI order is granted, you are no longer considered to be in the care of the Ministry, meaning you no longer have a legal status.  You are not considered adopted by your PSI caregiver and the parental rights of your parents have not been severed. 

Voluntary Agreements are Section 10 (sometimes called the 15/16 Year Program) and Section 56 (an Extension of Supports).


Where will I live while in care?

There are several places where children or young people in care might live. Your worker will discuss with you, and possibly with your family, what type of home is best for you.

You may want to discuss the possibility of living with other people who are important to you, such as extended family or friends of your family. If you are First Nations, there may be someone of importance to you from your Band/Home Community.

As you near 16 years of age, you may want to consider other kinds of living arrangements. Discuss this with your worker, since they can tell you what all the options are.


Some of the places where you may live, while in care:

A foster home is an approved family home in the community that provides care for children and youth who must be away from their own families.

A group home is a home where several children and/or young people live together with group home staff who provide supervision, guidance and care.

Depending on where you live in Saskatchewan, there are peer homes, where young people have some input into the rules, and are supported and guided by a mentor in the home.


How long will I be in care?

How long you remain in care depends upon the circumstances in your family and the reason you are in care.

Your worker is the best person to explain the situation and how it is likely to affect you. Being in long-term or permanent care can mean that you are in care until you are either 18 years old, adopted, or until a Family Court judge orders differently.

If you are attending school beyond the age of 18, or are in need of and/or want training, support and the assistance from the Ministry of Social Services, you can sign a voluntary agreement called a Section 56. A Section 56 agreement, commonly referred to as an “extension of support services,” is available to you between the ages of 18 to 21. All youth in long-term or permanent care that approach their 18th birthday should be informed, in writing, of this extended care agreement.

A Section 56 can help support you to complete high school, attend university or trade school, receive supports to take courses for entering into the workforce, assist with bills and rent, etc. Make sure to talk to your worker to find out what can be covered and what is available under a Section 56 agreement. You will be required to develop a plan to achieve the goals you set out to accomplish while on a Section 56. This agreement does not mean you are in care, but will allow the Ministry to continue to provide services until you turn 21 years old.


Can I talk to my parents? How about my brothers and sisters?

Contact with all your family members is encouraged unless there is reason why not to have contact. This generally has to do with your safety. If you are not being allowed contact with your family, talk to your worker or call the office of the Advocate for Children and Youth.

What if calling my family is long distance?

The Ministry of Social Services will pay for some long-distance calls. Ask your worker how often you can phone your family. If your parents agree to pay for the calls, check with them to find out the best time to call. 


Do I have to have contact with my family?

No. If you don’t want to have contact with your family be sure to tell your worker. Your wishes will be respected. If you change your mind later, contact can begin at that time. Generally, contact with family members is important so that you can see how everyone is doing, and to let your family know how you’re doing. Even if you are feeling angry with your parents, or with brothers and sisters, it’s good to keep in touch — they are your family and will always be a part of your life, even if you do not return home to live.

Visits with family members are a chance for you to see what changes your parents and others are making, as well as to talk about and demonstrate the changes you have made for yourself.


What about contact with other relatives and friends?

Contact with friends and other family members is okay unless there is a reason not to have contact with a certain person. Talk with your worker about the people you want to have contact with, and make a list of them.

If you want to tell the judge what you think would be best for you, tell your worker you want to have the opportunity to speak in Court.  Your worker may make a referral or the judge may appoint a lawyer to you through the Counsel for Children Program.



What is a plan of care, or Case Plan?

Shortly after, or just before you come into the care of the Ministry of Social Services, you, your parents, your worker, and other people important in your life will meet to discuss a plan of care. If your worker does not bring up this topic soon after you come into care, feel free to ask about it.

The plan of care should include what is expected of everyone important in your life. It should also include some time to make any changes that might be necessary. In other words, “Who is going to do what,” and “When do they have to do it by(a date),” and “What are the signs that the changes have been made?”


What is in my file?

There is information in your file about you and your family. You can ask your worker to go over your file with you and give you personal information about yourself. You are entitled to access to your own information.

When you reach the age of 18, you can request a copy of your file.


What if I think something in my file is wrong?

There are usually two sides to every story. Tell your worker that you do not agree with the information in your file. You can ask your worker to put a note you have written in your file describing what you do not agree with and why you disagree.


What kinds of things can I discuss with my worker?

If you have questions about any of the following topics, talk with your worker. He/she/they/them can help:

• sexuality

• pregnancy/family planning

• drugs and alcohol

• spending money

• privacy

• school

• special activities (hockey, music, gymnastics, etc.)

• getting a driver’s license

• getting a part-time job

• getting a social insurance number

• any special needs

• mental health, prescriptions

• transitioning out of care

• planning for the future

• any issues where you are living

• education

• getting to know my culture

Don't be afraid to ask. Your worker is there to support you and make sure that your time in care is successful.