August 20, 2012 - Curtis Daniels stands at the edge of the Kinsmen Park playground, watching as his five-year-old daughter Tayci plays on the swing set. Like most of the other kids in the park on this sunny Saturday afternoon, Tayci is laughing and smiling. The only real difference is she and her father are homeless.
"She's five so she doesn't know how bad it is. But she has nowhere to live," Daniels said.
Daniels and his daughter have been without a home since last January, when Daniels left his apartment after a disagreement with his landlord. He makes sure his daughter always has a place to sleep - whether with family members or with her mother back on a reserve near Duck Lake.
But there are nights when Daniels sleeps in his car or in a tent.
He said he has done his best to protect his daughter from the realities of not having a permanent home.
"She's in good hands for sure. I feed her every day. She's happy. At her age right now I'm glad she doesn't fully realize the predicament we are in," he said.
Daniels has been working since May for the City of Saskatoon at the Woodlawn Cemetery, trying to save money to start renting a place. It's only seasonal work and he will have to start looking for a new job in October.
Tayci will start kindergarten at Bishop Roborecki in September. But for now, without qualifying for social assistance, they are in limbo, unsure of what will happen next.
In Saskatoon, there are shelters - like the Crisis Shelter at the YMCA and Mumford House - that specialize in helping single mothers and their children get back on their feet. Currently, there are no emergency shelters that focus on single fathers and their children. Daniels cannot stay at places such as the Salvation Army men's shelter without leaving his daughter behind.
"I've just been applying all over the city for residence. The references aren't panning out, or the rent is too high or the damage deposit is too high," Daniels said. "It's a serious problem. I don't know if people see or realize it. But there are other single fathers in my situation."
Because of privacy concerns, Social Services is unable to comment on specific cases, but an official said there should be help for people like Daniels.
"For specifically single fathers, I'm not aware of (a shelter) that addresses that specifically in Saskatoon," said Jeff Redekop, executive director of income assistance service delivery with Social Services. "I can tell you that there are quite a few programs out there for people who require help in meeting their basic needs like food, clothing and shelter."
Social Services doesn't administer the shelters directly; instead the department pays a per diem cost for people signed up for assistance. If someone needs temporary shelter, Social Services can pay for a hotel room.
Redekop said there are programs for people like Daniels who are not receiving assistance.
"For individuals who are earning some income, but are having some difficulty with the cost of their rent, we do have other supplement programs," Redekop said.
Daniels said he is in the process of finding out what his options are. After his seasonal work is over, he won't have a enough hours to go on employment insurance. For now, he is at a loss not knowing what the colder months will bring.
"If only there was a place for us to go, just like this place," Daniels said, gesturing to the YMCA women's shelter across the park. "It doesn't have to be that big - as long as there is something out there for single dads."