Dad’s efforts to regain custody of children paying off
- Andréa Ledding | August 12, 2020
For the past year, John Straightnose has been working through stages to regain custody of his three kids.
The children, now 12, 10 and nine, have been in foster care since about 2018.
Straightnose celebrated one year of sobriety on August 7. After being arrested in Yorkton, he was accepted into the Regina Drug Treatment program last year.
“I’ve been able to change my life around. I came into the program, went to 12-step programs, and the worker asked me if I wanted to work to get my children back. I didn’t even know that was a possibility. That was even more of a motivation to succeed,” he said.
He began with phone calls with the kids, then progressed to supervised and then unsupervised visits. By Christmas of 2019 he was able to have the children with him for several hours for a potluck supper.
COVID slowed things down a bit in the spring and they had to dial back to video calls for a while, but once restrictions were lifted, he began having the children for several hours at a time.
In May, Social Services put the kids under his name so he was eligible for additional benefits and could afford a one-year lease on a three-bedroom townhouse, which opened the way for weekend visits.
Originally, the kids were to rejoin him July 29, but with his programming they decided to put it off one more month. Now the plan is to have the children come for a visit the weekend of August 24, and as of August 26, Straightnose understands they will be released into his care for good.
“There were many steps I had to take, I’m proud of myself that I was able to take them,” he said. “This is something that I’ve wanted since I cleaned up here, coming into this program not knowing if I was ever going to see them again, but getting in touch with their worker and hearing that if I worked toward it, it could be a reality. They are going to be coming back into my care here and I’m really excited to see that happen.”
The worker helped him obtain bunk beds, dressers, blankets and sufficient groceries for visits.
“I’m not doing it alone, there’s a lot of support, I’m doing the steps I need to do but there’s a lot of help along the way that I’ve been given, and I’m really grateful for where I’m at and finally being able to work towards reunification,” he said. “I never saw this coming a year ago, never would have thought in August 2020 they’d be in my care — but with all these supports helping me, that day is coming and I’m excited for it.”
August 10 - 14 is officially proclaimed by Saskatchewan as Child and Youth in Care week for the seventh year, ending with a socially distant vehicle parade and presentation in Regina on the 14th.
The Government also announced this week it will provide $182,952 for 2020-21 to the Saskatchewan Youth in Care and Custody Network, a non-profit community based organization that supports and improves the lives of youth 14 and 24 who have experienced foster care or custody.