The B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) says it has done a thorough review following the death of a foster child in the small community of Lake Errock.
Two foster parents were given 10 years for manslaughter and six years for aggravated assault, served concurrently, after a sentencing hearing at the Chilliwack Law Courts last week. Between December 2020 and February 2021 they inflicted severe physical and psychological abuse on two young children, one of whom died in their care.
“As minister and a social worker I am horrified by what these children went through and I extend our deepest apologies and condolences to the family, friends and communities that have been impacted by this tragedy,” said MCFD Minister Mitzi Dean. “Children must always be safe and supported by the adults in their lives and it is clear that these children were failed at every level. The provincial director of child welfare has assured me that changes have been fully implemented at the local office involved to ensure that ministry policies and practice for the protection of children are being followed and we will take all steps to prevent such a tragedy happening again.”
At the sentencing hearing, it was revealed that the child who died had medical issues and had been pulled out school within weeks of arriving at the foster home. It was also revealed that the last in-person visit to the home by a MCFD staffer was months before the child died.
The children and the foster parents cannot be named due to a court-imposed publication ban.
In a response emailed to The Progress, the ministry acknowledged that the children “were failed by the system.”
“While MCFD does have a robust set of practices and policies that should be followed in all cases to keep children safe, in the specific situation of these children, not all policies were followed,” the ministry noted. “In response, the ministry conducted a thorough review of MCFD’s involvement with these children. As a result of this review, the ministry has made changes at the office that was involved to ensure that existing ministry practices are followed.”
That includes the following:
- Review all placement decisions for children placed outside their parental home to ensure the care providers have been assessed appropriately.
- Review the thorough and timely completion of child protection incidents with the involved staff.
- Ensure the involved staff would also receive training about guardianship responsibilities, including regular in-person, private meetings with children-in-care, updating care plans, completing cultural plans for Indigenous children-in-care, and ensuring children access appropriate medical care and support services.
- Review of the involved team’s cases would be completed, focusing on family service, child service and resource standards.
“While we understand that these changes cannot reverse this tragedy, we want to affirm to the public that the changes outlined above have been fully implemented at the office that was involved in the circumstances for these children,” the ministry said.