04/22/2015 12:05 EDT | Updated 06/22/2015 01:12 EDT

Manitoba minister warned CFS kids staying in jail due to lack of foster spots

WINNIPEG - Manitoba's family services minister says she was warned a while ago that kids in care were being kept in jail longer than necessary because of a shortage of appropriate foster care spots.But in an interview with The Canadian Press, Kerri Irvin-Ross says there is no quick fix to the problem.She says the kids who end up in police custody have complex needs and often can't simply be released into any foster home.Irvin-Ross says both the Children's Advocate and aboriginal leaders have raised concerns with her in the past about how much time kids in the care of Child and Family Services are spending in jail.Children's Advocate Darlene MacDonald says she receives calls from judges who want to release youths from police custody, but can't because there is nowhere for them to go.Irvin-Ross refuses to say if keeping kids in jail longer than necessary violates their charter rights as some have alleged."When we're talking about moving a child from the youth centre back into the community, we need to take a lot of care and attention," she said."When a child is ready to be released, there needs to be a plan in place. If that plan is not in place — and I'm not pointing fingers — the time needs to be made to ensure that plan is developed and implemented. That's our responsibility."Manitoba has more than 10,000 children in care. The vast majority are aboriginal.A chronic shortage of foster-care spaces has forced the province to use hotels to house children — a practice which has been criticized for more than a decade.