Reports of mistreatment in Alberta child welfare system

Reports of mistreatment in Alberta child welfare system

Post by tdhssp on Mar 30, 2009 at 3:39pm

Reports of mistreatment in Alberta child welfare system misleading: minister
Last Updated: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 | 4:53 PM ET Recommended44CBC News
Alberta’s Minister of Children and Youth Services Janis Tarchuk addresses reporters in Edmonton Tuesday. (CBC) Alberta’s minister of children and youth services said Tuesday that quarterly reports from the province’s child and youth advocate don’t paint a true picture of Alberta’s child welfare system.

“In their raw form, they are very troublesome, but, it’s important to note, can also be very misleading,” Janis Tarchuk said.

On Monday, NDP MLA Rachel Notley released information from the quarterly reports obtained through a freedom of information request.

According to the reports, children were kept in unsafe or inappropriate foster homes because there was nowhere else to place them, and alleged sexual abuse victims were left in homes with their alleged attackers.

There were also examples of the use of face-down restraints, a practice that has been banned.

Tarchuk insisted the reports paint an incomplete picture, because they only report complaints the advocate has received, without discussing what followup actions were taken.

“Once again, there are hundreds and hundreds of complaints that have come forward that have not been substantiated in that report,” she said. “They are afterwards. But they are not in that report.”

The NDP also noted Monday that Tarchuk tabled three years’ worth of annual reports from the Child and Youth Advocate on Oct. 14, the day of the federal election, an attempt, Notley believes, to hide the information from the public.

Tarchuk said the date was chosen because it was the first day of the fall session of the Alberta legislature. There was a backlog in the annual reports, and she said she tabled them “at the first opportune moment” after receiving them in September.

Tarchuk said she spoke to the advocate, John Mould, about the backlog as soon as she became aware of the situation.

“I have asked the advocate in the past year if he could get caught up. Not only get caught up, but also ask for a commitment in the future that we have more timely submissions of the annual report,” Tarchuk said. “He has given me those assurances.”

Mould did not attend the Tuesday news conference because he was on vacation.

NDP calls for Tarchuk’s resignation
Notley said Tarchuk’s answers weren’t good enough, particularly since the quarterly reports reveal the same problems keep showing up.

She said Tarchuk needs to be more accountable.

“I think the minister has to take responsibility for not fully keeping the advocate accountable, for keeping her ministry accountable, and for keeping the children of Alberta who are in the government’s care safe,” Notley said.

Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason called for Tarchuk to step down.

“It is our view that she should resign immediately from her position as children’s minister, and if she doesn’t resign immediately, the premier should fire her,” Mason said.

‘Very few resources,’ workers say
People who work with children in care said they aren’t surprised by the revelations.

“We’re putting our children at risk in this province every single day. It’s outrageous. It’s absolutely outrageous, but it’s so normal. I can’t go to a courtroom a single day and not have something like this happening,” said Pat Yuzwenko, a lawyer with the youth criminal defence office.

“I don’t know how the public is supposed to respond anymore because … I don’t understand why something hasn’t been done before,” she said.

Maureen Braun, a union representative for front-line social workers, said the public should not be angry at the people who are trying to help.

“There are very few resources. There’s a high turnover of front-line staff and children are coming into the system with very complex issues,” she said.

Notley said the child and youth advocate should report to the legislature instead of the minister.

 
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Post by tdhssp on Mar 30, 2009 at 3:40pm

www.edmontonsun.com/News/Alberta/2008/10/22/7160791-sun.html

Foster care battle gets nasty

Premier vows probe after shocking allegations in children’s advocate reports

By ANDREW HANON, SUN MEDIA

Children’s Services Minister Janis Tarchuk says she won’t resign over allegations children received poor government care. (DAVID BLOOM/Sun Media)

Premier Ed Stelmach vowed yesterday to ensure all allegations of abuse, neglect and mistreatment of children in government care are investigated and “rectified.”

The promise was greeted with a rueful laugh by one 16-year-old ward of the Crown, who on Friday was taken from her unauthorized foster home by her social worker and dropped off at an inner-city youth homeless shelter.

She ran away after a day and is now “couch-surfing” at friends’ homes.

“It’s about time,” the teen said. “The system is totally f–ed up.”

Stelmach was responding to Monday’s release by NDP MLA Rachel Notley of the provincial children’s advocate’s internal quarterly reports.

The reports detail a litany of complaints, including illegal restraint techniques that leave children injured, kids sexually abusing other kids, and children being placed in inappropriate or unsafe homes because nothing better was available.

Ensuring that all the complaints in the quarterly reports are investigated, Stelmach said, “that, to me, requires additional focus.”

Earlier in the day, opposition politicians called on Children’s Services Minister Janis Tarchuk to resign because she has no control over the ministry.

“The minister has to take responsibility,” Notley said.

But Tarchuk dismissed accusations that she had no control as “nonsense” and said she was “not prepared to resign,” arguing that she’s only held the portfolio since December 2006, and that she’s working to improve the system.

Tarchuk acknowledged that some of the allegations are “very troubling,” but argued that they are “raw” and not proven.

“This is not to say we don’t have all kinds of issues. We do,” she said.

Complaints in the reports are investigated, Tarchuk said, after the quarterly reports are submitted.

However, she said that children’s advocate John Mould hadn’t filed an annual report in three years, until they were all filed at once last week.

But Notley said the annual reports are irrelevant because Tarchuk was getting the quarterly reports and could have acted on them.

Mould is out of town attending to personal matters and was unavailable for comment.

Stelmach gave Tarchuk a strong endorsement yesterday, telling the legislature that there are few people in Alberta who have her level of compassion regarding children’s issues.

On Friday, a teen who has been a ward of the Crown since she was 13, was given five minutes by her social worker to pack her belongings before being dropped off at a shelter.

The woman she had been living with had an eight-year-old criminal record, including convictions for drug possession, uttering threats and cheque forging.

She was not an approved foster parent and received no funding for giving the girl a home, but when her past came to light in early September the teen was told the home was unfit and she’d be placed somewhere else.

“A month later, she was still with me,” the woman, who also cannot be identified, said. “If I was so unfit, why did they leave her here?”

The woman said Children’s Services did nothing to place the teen until she contacted Sun Media.

But less than an hour after a reporter called Children’s Services on Friday, the social worker was on their doorstep to take the girl away.

“I had a home,” the teen said. “Then they decided it wasn’t fit so they dropped me off at a shelter.”

 
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Post by tdhssp on Mar 30, 2009 at 3:42pm

www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/story.html?id=df96bc7c-52e6-400c-aaa9-a0ae732a86af

Sunday » November 9 » 2008

No concerns about foster mom, case worker tells Edmonton murder trial

Florence Loyie
edmontonjournal.com

Friday, November 07, 2008

EDMONTON – An Edmonton social worker says she never had any concerns that a foster mother accused of murdering a three-year-old boy had any difficulty caring for the child.

Edele Kaffo told a jury trial Friday that she would have removed the boy from the home immediately had she any indications the foster mother was abusive towards the child.

Based on her telephone conversations with the foster mother and home visits between Dec. 6, 2006, and Jan. 26, 2007, the foster mother appeared to be doing her upmost to better the boy’s situation, Kaffo said.

The woman purchased winter clothing with her own money, took the boy to see her family doctor for a physical assessment, took him to the dentist and acted as an advocate to get him various services because she suspected the child had fetal alcohol syndrome, Kaffo said.

She also spent numerous hours trying to rid the boy of head lice because she had been asked not to cut his long hair in keeping with his aboriginal culture, Kaffo said under questioning from defence lawyer Brian Beresh.

“She was a model foster parent, right?,” Beresh asked.

“Based on my visits and phone calls, I didn’t have any concerns,” Kaffo said.

The foster mother was charged with second-degree murder in the boy’s death in January 2007. The jury will have to decide if the boy’s fatal head injuries were self-inflicted or the result of an assault. The woman cannot be named to protect the identity of the child.

floyie@thejournal.canwest.com

© Edmonton Journal 2008

 
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Post by tdhssp on Mar 30, 2009 at 3:48pm

Alberta youth worker faces more child porn charges
Canwest News Service
Published: Tuesday, January 13, 2009

www.nationalpost.com:80/news/canada/story.html?id=1173644

EDMONTON — Police have laid two more charges against a youth worker who is accused of making and distributing sexually explicit videos involving northern Alberta teens.

Jason Keough, 34, of Athabasca, Alta., was dismissed from his job as a child protection worker with Alberta Children and Youth Services after he was charged last September with making and possessing child pornography.

He had also worked as a high-school guidance counsellor in the northern Alberta community, located about 140 kilometres north of Edmonton.

Keough was first charged with possession of child pornography on Sept. 5, and RCMP added charges of making and distributing child pornography in late October.

On Jan. 6, he was charged with two more counts of possessing and publishing child pornography. He now faces a total of six charges.

Keough came to Alberta from Nova Scotia in 2004 to work as youth co-ordinator for the Athabasca Native Friendship Centre, executive director Penny Van Vliet said.

He left the centre to become the native liaison co-ordinator at the local high school, then went to work as a child protection worker for Alberta social services.

The allegations stem from incidents between Jan. 1, 2005, and fall of 2008, during which he was working as a child protection worker for Alberta Children and Youth Services.

He is expected to make his next court appearance on Jan. 26.

Edmonton Journal

 
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Post by tdhssp on Mar 30, 2009 at 3:59pm

www.thefreelibrary.com/Will+a+foster+child+fatality+impact+the+system%3F-a0190463101

Will a foster child fatality impact the system?

After a six-week trial, a foster mom, who can’t be identified to protect the identity of the child, has been found guilty of manslaughter. Initially, the charge was second-degree murder, but that was reduced.

It was January 2007, when paramedics were called to an Edmonton west end home to help revive a three-year-old boy who suffered severe head trauma. The foster mom claimed that the boy woke up in a fright and struggled out of her arms, only to fall and hit his head on the toilet. It has been argued, however, that the damage suffered could not have been from one fall.

Eventually, testimony surfaced from the nanny of the accused that the foster mom was in fact abusive to the child, and forced the child to sleep in the garage as a punishment for bed wetting problems. The nanny also testified that she heard screams and loud bangs the night the child died.

The defense argued that the boy was extremely troubled and suffered from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, among other disorders. It was also argued that the boy sustained self-inflicted injuries and had a massive phobia of the toilet.

Although the mom was found guilty, some professionals insist on looking past the foster mom and into the foster care system in an attempt to see what went wrong.

“From a child welfare worker’s viewpoint, you’re supposed to pick up these things, you’re supposed to visit, you’re supposed to know all these things,” said a former child welfare worker/foster parent who wanted to remain anonymous. (She will be referred to as Mary) “Because workers are so busy, you find that they will miss things like this,” said Mary.

During the trial, many reports on the foster care system have surfaced which claim that the system is overused, stressful, and consists of the youngest workforces in Alberta. Even the support system put in place is no longer adequate to meet the needs of its workers.

“With all the people that should have been aware of what was happening in their home, I can still see how it gets missed because the system is overworked, the support workers are overworked, (and) social workers are overworked,” expressed Mary.

Mary mused that perhaps some parents get into foster care for the wrong reason, and the results are often tragic. Apparently, some individuals get into foster care for the money, or as secondary income, and their heart may not be in the right place.

“They pay big. Good pay, I mean really good pay. But it’s not just about the money. It has to have a special person who is going to be there for the child because you’re with that child 24/7.”

Unfortunately, being with a foster child 24/7 is not like being with one’s own children, as a foster child usually comes with mental or emotional baggage. Mary once had a foster child who held up her birth children at knifepoint. She expressed that even with all the proper credentials, the job is not for everyone.

“The kids who are coming into foster care have really challenging problems. And so you have to look at it from the skill level or the emotional level or the commitment of the foster parent and the training that they get. But it’s not just about the training alone, it’s about the commitment and their own personal issues,” said Mary.

“I’ve fostered a fetal alcohol child. It was hard work because fetal alcohol kids don’t learn accumulatively, so every day is like a new day,” explained Mary.

Mary also believes that more emphasis needs to be put on the placement committee in order to ensure that foster parent/child relationship has a good foundation on which to build.

“Sometimes, it’s an unfortunate match where they don’t really know some of the challenging behaviors of the kids and they think, because the foster parent has the nursing background, or teaching background, or a social work background that they are equipped to deal with the challenging behaviors of the kids.”

Mary has also run into situations where the supports have minimized her troubles despite her pleas that she was having difficulty coping with this particular child or this particular behavior.

“They’ll say that because of my expertise in the field that I should be able to handle it, but it is totally different. I’m living with this child. When you have to live with a foster child where you have to lock your door because you don’t trust this kid–how do you feel as a foster parent?”

Then there’s the other side of the coin, where the foster parent is the problem. Mary said she has trouble dealing with a child who runs into even more danger in a house that’s supposed to be safe, nurturing, and contrary to their prior surroundings.

With a high percentage of foster children being represented by Aboriginal children, Mary finds that even more troubling when abuse continues there. Especially, since there’s a push to find homes that are culturally appropriate.

“When it’s an Aboriginal home with an Aboriginal child and the abuse still occurs, it’s really quite devastating.”

In this particular case in Edmonton, something happened that might change the foster care system for the better. It may be the only silver lining in a very dark cloud.

“I think it’s going to impact the foster care system because it’s probably going to impact on reporting. How things are reported, how quickly things are responded to and probably, hopefully the matching process,” said Mary.

As for the woman accused of manslaughter, Mary said, “I feel very sorry for her. This is a woman who I think the system failed.”

“I think she failed the child, and the system failed the child, and the system failed the woman because if they did not see that she was out of her depth, if they did not see that she did not have the skills to be caring for this child, then the system failed,” argued Mary. “I think rather than crucify her, look at the system and say where did we go wrong.”

No one was available to speak from the Alberta Foster Parents Association.

Sentencing for the Edmonton foster mom will take place in January.

BY THOMAS J BRUNER

Sweetgrass Staff Writer

EDMONTON

 
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Post by tdhssp on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:00pm

As hi-lighted in red, the truth in that simple statement by the writer of the article, is frightening in clarity!

skippervigil.blogspot.com/2009/03/canada-bad-news-from-alberta-foster.html

Thursday, March 05, 2009
Canada: Bad News from Alberta Foster Care
The Edmonton Sun reports that a child in foster care was suspected to have inflicted head injuries, and the prognosis is not good.

The story includes on an exchange of views in the provincial legislature about the safety of the province’s foster care program. It’s probably not a good sign that the person in charge seems to consider this as a matter of routine: “Whenever we have a serious incident like this we always do a special case review…”Hopefully, the inquiry will look into the circumstances that led to the injury and make some recommendations for change. One obvious question to ask is whether foster caregivers who care for infants have received training about the causes, consequences and prevention of SBS in young children and how they can cope…

It’s not the first time this has happened in foster care, but effective recommendations for prevention training could be the beginning of the end.

Alberta has some excellent SBS education resources (Health in Action coordinates the Alberta SBS Prevention Campaign) , but they won’t help if the caregivers don’t get some effective training.

Alberta baby seriously injured in government care
NDP says foster home over-crowded
By Jim Macdonald, THE CANADIAN PRESS

EDMONTON — Police are investigating after a baby in foster care was seriously injured Monday in a quiet community just east of Calgary.
Children’s Services Minister Janice Tarchuk confirmed in the legislature Thursday that the 14-month-old boy was gravely injured while in the province’s care.
“We do have a small boy that is in our care that has been taken to hospital with serious injuries,” Tarchuk later told reporters.

However, New Democrat Rachel Notley got a tip and told the legislature Thursday that she’d heard the baby’s injuries were life-threatening.
She also said a reliable source said the boy was in an over-crowded foster home.
“Will the minister admit that this very recent tragedy occurred in a government-approved foster home that had been allowed to exceed the maximum number of children in care?” Notley asked Tarchuk in assembly.
The minister would not confirm the overcrowding. But Tarchuk said this incident will be reviewed.
“Whenever we have a serious incident like this we always do a special case review,” she said. “I think at this point, we’ll let the police proceed with their investigation.”
Notley said her “third-hand” source told her the baby had been shaken to the point of being seriously injured and at one point the infant had been placed in life support.
Notley said this incident raises serious questions about the state of foster care in Alberta given that a young boy died just two years ago after being abused while in care.
In early 2007, a three-year-old Edmonton boy died while in foster care and the foster mom was later convicted of manslaughter.
“And we knew it was because there were too many kids in that foster home,” said Notley, who challenged the minister on a government review into the toddler’s death.
“The recommendations were made a year ago and they should have acted on them by now,” said Notley. “It’s unforgivable.”
“They’re studying while people are dying and that’s all we’ll ever get from this minister,” she said. “That’s why we need a public inquiry run by someone who doesn’t answer to this minister.”
Tarchuk said she could not speak about any of the specific details of the case. But she said the province’s review of foster care was very extensive and found the system in good shape.
The recommended changes, which will be fully implement by summer, include six-month interim licences for new foster parents and tighter controls on how many children are allowed in each home, she said.
But Notley slammed the review, saying it appeared to have been orchestrated by the government as a public relations exercise.
“We’ve had nothing but smoke-and-mirror type reviews that were staffed by hand-picked, government-friendly officials,” she said. “It is time for us to look into how we are treating our children in care and to get it right.”
“We can’t afford to have kids who are in our care dying and being injured. It’s outrageous.”

 
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Post by tdhssp on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:01pm

www.edmontonsun.com/Comment/2009/03/21/pf-8835856.html

March 21, 2009

Lawyer battles an atrocious Alberta legacy

By ANDREW HANON

Muriel Stanley Venne of the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal women calls Robert Lee “the most courageous lawyer in Alberta.”

Lee prefers to think of himself simply as a lawyer trying to do the right thing for the most vulnerable people in Alberta. But he admitted it is gratifying to “be given such wonderful recognition by the people I represent.”

On Friday, the institute presented Lee with its Social Justice Award for his work on behalf of kids who suffered abuse in foster care.

Lee is spearheading a 400-name class action lawsuit against the Alberta government, which he says is ultimately responsible for the physical, sexual and emotional abuse they were subjected to while in the care of the Crown.

Aboriginal leaders have condemned Alberta’s child welfare system as the next generation of residential schools, where for a century native children were taken from their families and raised in boarding schools.

Although aboriginals make up just 9% of Alberta’s total population, they make up 59% of the kids in care. Last year the IAAW distributed an English study examining child-welfare data in 24 jurisdictions around the world. It found Alberta children were placed in care more commonly that most of the industrialized world.

In 2004, 8,500 kids were in care, or 111 out of every 10,000 children under 18. Ontario’s rate was only 64 per 10,000, while the lowest was Japan’s at 17.

In preparation for the lawsuit, Lee hired a U.S. expert to study Alberta’s system. She concluded that it “fails to meet the most basic safety, permanency and well-being needs of children in foster care.”

Lee argues that the system is understaffed, poorly equipped and often places children in worse situations than the ones they were rescued from.

“Honestly,” Lee said prior to the award ceremony at the Canadian Native Friendship Centre, “I thought this was going to be pretty easy. I was really surprised to learn that trying to protect kids has not been something that everyone supports.”

Lee was shocked to learn some of his clients, even those with criminally convicted abusers, were never told there’s a compensation fund for victims.

“You assume your guardian (the government) would do everything to protect your legal rights, but nobody told the foster kids about the fund and nobody applied for them,” he said. “So when I tried to help them apply, sometimes years after the fact, we were told it’s too late, they should have applied sooner.”

Lee says he’s managed to get some of his clients compensation, but it’s been a long, drawn out fight.

“These are people who are already badly damaged, scarred from their childhoods. And here they are just being re-victimized again by the same government that was supposed to protect them in the first place.”

Past Social Justice Award recipients include Edmonton police Det. Freeman Taylor, who solved a 10-year-old murder of an aboriginal woman, and author Warren Goulding, who wrote Just Another Indian — a Serial Killer and Canada’s Indifference.

“In recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, we have dedicated this year’s event to protecting our children,” said Stanley Venne. “Far too often, our children are left vulnerable.”

Presenting Lee’s award was NDP MLA Rachel Notley, who wants an independent inquiry into the foster care system, following the deaths of two toddlers in care in less than two years.

ANDREW.HANON@SUNMEDIA.CA

 
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Post by tdhssp on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:09pm

WHY are the lives – and deaths – of children not being taken seriously? PLEASE tell me, please!

Silencing of individuals only feeds unaccountable practice!

—————
www.cbc.ca/canada/edmonton/story/2009/03/05/edm-child-foster-injury.html

Child seriously injured while in foster care

Last Updated: Thursday, March 5, 2009 | 4:42 PM MT Recommended11
CBC News
A 15-month-old boy who was in a southern Alberta foster home is in hospital with serious injuries.

Janis Tarchuk, the minister of children’s services, confirmed Thursday the case is serious.

“I do understand we have a tragic event, we do have a small boy that is in our care that has been taken to hospital with serious injuries and the police are now investigating, and I’m sure we’ll know more within hours, or days,” Tarchuk said.

The Childrens’ Services Minister wouldn’t say how many children were in the foster home when the boy was injured.

Rachel Notley, New Democrat MLA, said she’s been told there were too many foster children in the residence and that the child was injured as a result of being shaken.

“This is the third time in just over two years that a child apprehended by government has suffered life-threatening injuries in care,” Notley said.

“Two previous incidents resulted in fatalities.”

Notley called for an independent and public inquiry into Alberta’s foster care system.

Tarchuk said there is no need for a public inquiry at this time.

 
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Post by tdhssp on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:10pm

Alberta baby seriously injured in gov’t care; NDP says foster home over-crowded

EDMONTON – Police are investigating after a baby in foster care was seriously injured Monday in a quiet community just east of Calgary.

05/03/2009 11:49:00 PM

news.sympatico.msn.cbc.ca/Canada/ContentPosting?newsitemid=0525670022&feedname=CP-NATIONAL&show=False&number=0&showbyline=True&subtitle=&detect=&abc=abc&date=True

Jim Macdonald, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Children’s Services Minister Janice Tarchuk confirmed in the legislature Thursday that the 14-month-old boy was gravely injured while in the province’s care.

“We do have a small boy that is in our care that has been taken to hospital with serious injuries,” Tarchuk later told reporters.

But the minister offered few details and police were also guarded in what they could say about this case. RCMP spokesman Wayne Oakes would only confirm that police are examining the incident.

“Privacy laws greatly restrict the amount of information that we’re able to disclose,” said Oakes. “But we are involved in an investigation related to this matter.”

Calgary police told The Canadian Press that the baby was injured Monday night in Strathmore, just a few minutes east of Calgary.

However, New Democrat Rachel Notley got a tip and told the legislature Thursday that she’d heard the baby’s injuries were life-threatening.

She also said a reliable source said the boy was in an over-crowded foster home.

“Will the minister admit that this very recent tragedy occurred in a government-approved foster home that had been allowed to exceed the maximum number of children in care?” Notley asked Tarchuk in assembly.

The minister would not confirm the overcrowding. But Tarchuk said this incident will be reviewed.

“Whenever we have a serious incident like this we always do a special case review,” she said. “I think at this point, we’ll let the police proceed with their investigation.”

Notley said her “third-hand” source told her the baby had been shaken to the point of being seriously injured and at one point the infant had been placed in life support.

Calgary hospitals were not able to provide any information on the child’s condition because the name of the child has not been made public.

Notley said this incident raises serious questions about the state of foster care in Alberta given that a young boy died just two years ago after being abused while in care.

In early 2007, a three-year-old Edmonton boy died while in foster care and the foster mom was later convicted of manslaughter.

“And we knew it was because there were too many kids in that foster home,” said Notley, who challenged the minister on a government review into the toddler’s death.

“The recommendations were made a year ago and they should have acted on them by now,” said Notley. “It’s unforgivable.”

“They’re studying while people are dying and that’s all we’ll ever get from this minister,” she said. “That’s why we need a public inquiry run by someone who doesn’t answer to this minister.”

Tarchuk said she could not speak about any of the specific details of the case. But she said the province’s review of foster care was very extensive and found the system in good shape.

The recommended changes, which will be fully implement by summer, include six-month interim licences for new foster parents and tighter controls on how many children are allowed in each home, she said.

But Notley slammed the review, saying it appeared to have been orchestrated by the government as a public relations exercise.

“We’ve had nothing but smoke-and-mirror type reviews that were staffed by hand-picked, government-friendly officials,” she said. “It is time for us to look into how we are treating our children in care and to get it right.”

“We can’t afford to have kids who are in our care dying and being injured. It’s outrageous.”

 
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Post by tdhssp on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:11pm

www.edmontonjournal.com/news/Police+investigate+foster+child+injuries/1358369/story.html

Police investigate foster child’s injuries

By Jason Fekete, Stephane Massinon and Deborah Tetley, Canwest News ServiceMarch 5, 2009

CALGARY — Southern Alberta RCMP are investigating after a 15-month-old boy was sent to a Calgary hospital this week with serious injuries suffered while in provincial foster care in the Strathmore area — the third similar incident in about two years.

Children and Youth Services Minister Janis Tarchuk confirmed the case Thursday in the legislature, but only after questioning by the NDP, which had been tipped off about the matter.

“I do understand that we have a tragic event,” Tarchuk later told reporters. “We have a small boy that was in our care that was taken to hospital with serious injuries and police are investigating.”

The minister wouldn’t say how many children were in the foster home when the boy was hurt or discuss the extent of his injuries.

However, NDP MLA Rachel Notley, who raised the issue in question period, said she was told by a source familiar with the investigation that too many foster children were in the residence and the boy was hurt after being shaken.

“It is time for us to look into how we are treating our children in care and get it right because we can’t afford to have kids who are in our care dying and being seriously injured,” Notley said. “It’s outrageous.”

She believes the child is from the Tsuu T’ina reserve on the southwest edge of Calgary, but couldn’t confirm it. A Tsuu T’ina spokesman declined to comment on the case citing privacy concerns.

It’s the third time in just over two years that a child in provincial care has been either killed or seriously injured, something Notley called “unforgivable.”

The province’s record demands an independent public inquiry into Alberta’s foster care system, she said.

“They’re studying (foster care) while people are dying,” Notley said.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Wayne Oakes confirmed RCMP are investigating a case involving an injured child in southern Alberta, but said it would be “inappropriate” to disclose details.

In January, a four-year-old Metis girl in the care of children services was found dead in an Edmonton home from a head injury, which sparked concern about why the child and her five siblings were given to a 24-year-old aunt and her common-law boyfriend.

The aunt has since been charged with second-degree murder, criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessities of life.

In January 2007, a three-year-old boy in foster care in Edmonton died after suffering from severe head trauma. A 32-year-old single mother was charged in the incident.

The Alberta government pledged last June it would change the way it assesses and approves would-be foster parents, following a panel’s special review of the system.

Tarchuk said at the time the government would immediately implement the committee’s recommendations, promising to create an interim classification for the first six months of a foster home’s operation and reassess the home at the end of that probationary period.

Calgary Herald with a file from the Edmonton Journal

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

 
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Post by tdhssp on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:12pm

calgary.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20090306/CGY_abuse_foster_090306/20090306/?hub=CalgaryHome

More allegations of foster care abuse

Updated: Fri Mar. 06 2009 17:24:09

ctvcalgary.ca

A Calgary parent says his daughter was injured and neglected in foster care and is accusing the province of ignoring the warning signs of abuse.

The baby girl was in foster care for three weeks before she was returned to her biological parents.

Her father, who can’t be named to protect the child’s identity, says he noticed signs of neglect like dry skin, bags under his daughter’s eyes, and a diaper rash.

He says he tried to raise concerns about his daughter’s care but his questions were ignored.

“They don’t answer questions when she is in care. They don’t answer questions when she is not in care and they don’t give you the peace of mind that nobody will have to go through it again.”

He says an independent inquiry is the least the province can do to get to the bottom of alleged abuses happening in the foster care system.

 
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Post by tdhssp on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:13pm

My God…

www.edmontonsun.com/News/Alberta/2009/03/07/8662776-sun.html

Injured foster kid to be taken off life support

Call for public inquiry of Alberta foster care

By DAVE DORMER AND KERRY DIOTTE, SUN MEDIA

The mother of a toddler who suffered life-threatening injuries while in foster care this week said doctors are expected to begin removing the boy from life support, possibly as early as today.

“If his heart stops then that’s God’s will, I’m just going to let it be,” the boy’s 21-year-old mother said yesterday at Alberta Children’s hospital, where she has been holding a bedside vigil for the past five days. “I don’t want to make him suffer.”

Doctors gave the boy – who cannot be identified – an MRI yesterday, which the mother said should show how badly his brain is damaged.

“The left side of his brain is dead, a little bit of the right, front brain is dead too,” said the mother. “If he does survive, he won’t be normal, he’s going to have some severe cerebral palsy.”

The one-year-old boy was rushed to hospital on Monday after suffering massive head injuries while in foster care near Strathmore.

RCMP confirmed on Thursday they are investigating the incident, the same day the issue was raised in the provincial legislature by NDP MLA Rachel Notley.
The boy and his now two-year-old sister were temporarily removed from their mother’s care in June 2008 by the ministry of Children and Youth Services, said their mother, who wasn’t told anything about how the boy was injured.

Notley has called for a public inquiry into Alberta’s foster care system, something the boy’s mother said she would also like to see.

“I just want to find out what happened to my son,” said the mother. “I trusted (Children and Youth Services) to look after him.”

Notley said yesterday the provincial government must be more open and transparent when a foster child in its care dies or is badly injured.

She said provincial officials have insisted it’s enough to detail serious incidents involving foster kids in annual reports but such reports have been tabled three years late.

DAVE.DORMER@SUNMEDIA.CA

KERRY.DIOTTE@SUNMEDIA.CA

 
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Post by tdhssp on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:13pm

www.cbc.ca/canada/calgary/story/2009/03/06/foster-child.html

Last Updated: Friday, March 6, 2009 | 4:20 PM MT

Alberta mother prays for baby son injured in foster care

CBC News
The mother of a 15-month-old Alberta boy who was seriously hurt at his Strathmore foster home this week says doctors have told her he may die from his injuries.

“They say if he does make it, he won’t be the same — he’ll have cerebral palsy because he has so much trauma to the head,” the mother told the media Friday outside Calgary’s Alberta Children’s Hospital, where her baby remained in critical condition.

“All we are doing right now is praying for him,” she said.

The mother, who is from the Tsuu T’ina First Nation, said her only other child, a daughter, had been in the same foster home but was removed after her son was admitted to hospital Monday.

The mother and her child can’t be identified under Alberta child welfare legislation.

The mother said while her children were at the foster home, she tried to keep in contact with them and their social worker. When she last asked to see her kids, only the girl was brought to the visit, she said.

No details given
“They told me that the foster parents told them that he [her son] was throwing up and had diarrhea,” she said.

“I tried to talk to my social worker about it and she wouldn’t give me any details. She just said ‘Yes, he’ll be there at the next visit.’ ”

Not being able to get a more detailed answer about her son left her with a bad feeling, she said.

This is the third serious injury or death of a child in the province’s care in the last two years.

The province conducted an internal review of its foster-care system after the death of a boy in Edmonton in 2007. It is still implementing many of the recommendations.

Jake Kuiken, a former president of the Alberta College of Social Workers, said this latest case is another illustration of a system that is broken.

The province should hold a public inquiry into the entire foster-care system and give it a major overhaul, he said.

 
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Post by tdhssp on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:14pm

calgary.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20090306/CGY_foster_child_090506/20090306/?hub=CalgaryHome

Foster child investigation continues

Updated: Fri Mar. 06 2009 17:03:52

ctvcalgary.ca

The biological mother of a toddler injured in a foster home is supporting calls for a review of the foster care system in Alberta.

She also tells CTV News that her son is not likely to survive and never got the chance to enjoy his life.

“The doctors say they don’t think he is going to make it but what we’re doing right now is praying for a miracle for him because if he does make it, he’ll never be the same.”

The boy has been seen by a neurosurgeon who says the injuries are equivalent to being in a car crash.

Family members are upset they were told about his injuries more than 12 hours after the boy was taken to hospital.

The toddler has been in care for eight months in a home east of Calgary. His biological mother, who can’t be named to protect the identity of the child, last saw him just over a month ago and says her son was sick.

The boy has a sister in the same foster home. The girl has been removed from the home until an investigation is complete.

Both police and the province are looking into the child’s life-threatening injuries.

The case is raising more questions about the safety of children in Alberta’s foster care system.

It is the third time in the last two years that the department of Children’s Service has come under scrutiny.

In 2007, an Edmonton toddler was killed while in foster care.

Just this past January a four-year-old also died in protective care in Edmonton.

On Thursday, NDP MLA Rachel Notley brought the matter up in the Legislature.

Last year, an internal review into the foster program led to eight recommendations, including reducing the number of children allowed in a single home.

The NDP believes overcrowding could be partly to blame in this most recent incident and is calling for an independent public inquiry into Alberta’s foster care system.

 
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Post by tdhssp on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:15pm

Mother watches over Alta. boy badly hurt in foster care

www.canada.com/Life/Mother+watches+over+Alta+badly+hurt+foster+care/1363062/story.html

By Jamie Komarnicki, Deborah Tetley and Renata D’Aliesio, Canwest News ServiceMarch 6, 2009
StoryPhotos ( 1 )

The mother of a 15 month old boy fighting for his life holds her rosary beads at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary Friday March 6 after she and her family prayed for his recovery. The mom can’t be identified because the boy is in a foster home which is where his injuries are alleged to have occured.
Photograph by: Ted Rhodes, Calgary HeraldCALGARY — A mother’s kisses and quiet prayers mark the bedside vigil for a 15-month-old boy hospitalized this week with serious injuries suffered while in foster care.

Hooked up to machines to help him breathe, the thin, unresponsive child is a shadow of the chubby baby boy his biological mother saw two months ago.

“I talk to him, he doesn’t respond to me in any way. He just lays there. He knows I’m there, I know that for a fact,” said the 21-year-old mother, who is from the Tsuu T’ina Nation.

As the mother agonizes over the possibility she may have to make a life-and-death decision about his future, she questions how a provincial agency handled his past.

Eight months ago, the boy and his two-and-a-half-year-old sister were put in foster care.

This week, RCMP and provincial government representatives confirmed an investigation is underway after the boy was sent to hospital with severe head trauma.

Children and Youth Services Minister Janis Tarchuk wasn’t available to comment Friday.

The incident comes as a provincial report shows local agencies are struggling to find new foster recruits, placing an unprecedented strain on the system.

Opposition parties say the system “isn’t working,” and are calling for a public inquiry into this case.

The 15-month-old tot’s mother, though, is simply praying for a miracle.

“He’s so innocent. He never did anything wrong to anybody, and it had to happen to him.”

Doctors have told her the left side of her boy’s brain is “gone”; if he survives the next few days, he’ll be severely brain damaged and will likely suffer from cerebral palsy.

Little is publicly known about the foster parents responsible for the boy’s care, except that they live in the Calgary area.

NDP MLA Rachel Notley, who raised the issue in the legislature Thursday, said a source familiar with the investigation told her the foster home had more children than typically allowed.

Notley and Liberal MLA Harry Chase want the province to hold a public inquiry, noting this is the third serious foster-care incident in about two years.

The boy’s mother has been advised by legal counsel not to describe the circumstances of her children’s placement in provincial care, but said she was “dealing with life” when her children were put in foster homes in June 2008.

A few months later, she was given another chance, and the children returned to live with her. In January, they were taken away again.

She said she had never visited the foster home, and doesn’t know where it is, or the caregivers’ identities.

The mother said she visited her children at a neutral location every two or three weeks.

She became suspicious about three weeks ago after arranging a meeting, but only her daughter showed up with a provincial agent.

“I asked where my son was, and they told me he was sick and vomiting,” she said. “I told them that he needs to go to the doctor and that I would take him,” she said. “I felt like something wasn’t right.”

Because of that missed visit with her son, the last time she saw her boy before the alleged assault was Jan. 5, the day the children were taken away for the second time.

A recent report shows that, with the number of foster homes dwindling, Alberta’s foster-care system is under severe strain.

“For whatever reasons, there has been a net decrease in the number of foster homes in Alberta,” Child and Youth Advocate John Mould states in his 2007-08 report. “At the same time, Alberta’s booming economy has resulted in an exodus of staff from contracted group-care resources to other employment opportunities with better pay. All of this results in decreased placement resources for children and youth in care.”

Richard Ouellet, the province’s director of the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, said the department has begun reviewing the case, and evaluating what support was provided to the foster parents.

A broader internal review of the case is planned.

According to provincial government statistics, there are about 4,600 children in foster care in Alberta, which licenses about 2,300 foster homes. More than half the children — 2,950 — are aboriginal, despite aboriginals making up less than six per cent of Alberta’s population.

Calgary Herald

 
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Post by tdhssp on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:16pm

alberta.ca/home/NewsFrame.cfm?ReleaseID=/acn/200903/25444ECAAA3C8-E188-E089-011053D6EDDEAB26.html

Strong Communities
March 9, 2009

Minister calls special case review following injury of a child in foster care

Panel to include external expertise and its findings to be made public

Edmonton… Children and Youth Services Minister Janis Tarchuk has called a special case review following the recent serious injury of a one-and-a-half-year-old child in a foster home placement. The review will be co-chaired by an expert external to government and its findings will be publicly released.

“Caring for vulnerable children and youth is the most important responsibility that our ministry has and when a child in our care is seriously injured, it is understandable that the public wants to know what happened,” said Tarchuk.

“I’m committed to finding answers and sharing as much as we are legally able to with the public,” she said. “That’s why the findings of the special case review into the serious injury of this child will be made public.”

Details of the special case review, such as the membership and terms of reference of the review panel, will be announced shortly.

A special case review examines a specific case to determine whether ministry practices or processes were followed and if there is any need for improvement.

In June 2008, Tarchuk publicly released the results of a review of the foster care system in the province. On March 9, the Minister tabled a status report in the Legislature showing that all eight recommendations from the provincial foster care review are either implemented or will be ready for implementation next month. A copy of the tabled document can be found at www.child.alberta.ca/home/1145.cfm.

“Approximately 9,000 children and youth are currently in provincial government care in Alberta and they receive outstanding care from dedicated staff and foster parents every day,” said Tarchuk.

“While we know that even the most stringent checks, monitoring, and continuous improvement practices cannot absolutely prevent tragedies in even the best designed systems, we are committed to continuing to make improvements to our system and doing everything we possibly can to prevent the serious injury or death of a child in our care. Anything less is unacceptable.”

-30-
Backgrounder: Quick facts on Alberta’s foster care system

Media inquiries may be directed to:
Trevor Coulombe
Communications
Children and Youth Services
780-427-4801

To call toll free within Alberta dial 310-0000.

March 9, 2009
Quick facts – Alberta’s foster care system

Approximately 4,600 children and youth in provincial government care live in foster homes across Alberta.About 2,300 foster homes care for these children.
Screening

All potential foster parents must be screened before children or youth can be placed in their home. A home study, criminal records check, child intervention system check, personal references, medical references, environmental safety check, and health and safety check are completed before a potential foster parent is permitted to accept children into their home.
Training

Everyone interested in becoming a foster parent must attend caregiver orientation training, which consists of eight three-hour sessions that cover such topics as child development, special needs of children in care, and duties and responsibilities of a foster parent.
All Level 1 foster parents must complete an additional nine hours of training each year.
Foster parents must complete 12 hours of additional supplementary training each year to become Level 2. Level 2 foster parents typically care for children or youth with higher needs, such as disabilities or addictions and behavioural issues.
Placement Policies

The number of foster children permitted in a foster home is governed by policy.
Level 1 foster homes may have up to two children. No more than two children are allowed during the first year of a new foster home, without exception.
Level 2 foster homes may have up to four children. Exceptions allowing more than four children are considered based on specific circumstances, such as keeping sibling groups together or so a child returning to the foster care system can be placed in a home they are familiar with and foster parents with whom they already have a relationship.
Foster Care Review

A review to identify practices to strengthen the foster care system in the province was completed in 2008, led by a review board of members internal and external to the Government of Alberta. External members were Peter Dudding, Executive Director, Child Welfare League of Canada; Dr. Lionel Dibden, Medical Director, Child and Adolescent Protection Centre, Stollery Children’s Hospital; and Linda Hughes, Executive Director, McMan Youth, Family & Community Services Association, Calgary Region.
The review committee found that the foster care system in the province was already strong, but made eight recommendations on how processes and practices could be continually improved. The government accepted all eight recommendations and they are being implemented.
The review report can be found at www.child.alberta.ca/home/1145.cfm.
Children receiving child protective services who suffer injury or death

Approximately 9,000 children and youth are in provincial government care in Alberta. Over the last four years, the percentage of children in care who suffer a serious injury resulting in hospitalization or death is 0.1 per cent, approximately four-and-a-half times lower than in the general child population in Alberta (Alberta Health and Wellness, Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research, Injury Database).
The following chart shows the percentage of children receiving child intervention services who have suffered injury resulting in hospitalization or death from 2004-05 to 2007-08.

 
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Post by tdhssp on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:19pm

ALBERTA’S LOST CHILDREN

www.vancouversun.com/Life/Alta+foster+care+tragedies+dominated+native+children/1390979/story.html

Of the 5,970 children in foster or kinship care, 63 per cent are native — drastically disproportionate to their 4 per cent share of Alberta’s population

By Renata D’Aliesio, Calgary Herald March 16, 2009

The mother of a 15-month-old boy fighting for his life holds her rosary beads and bows her head at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary. The boy was in foster care.Photograph by: Ted Rhodes, The Calgary HeraldCALGARY — Nearly all of them are faceless and nameless.

They are the 51 Alberta children who have died in the province’s care over the past decade, some at the hands of government-approved caregivers.

Their deaths happened in all sorts of manners: in freak car crashes and suicides, in accidental falls and at the hands of violent shaking.

Most of these children, though, have one thing in common. Two-thirds of them were native.

Indeed, this is true of the three youngsters killed in foster care since 2005.

Now, another aboriginal foster child is struggling with severe brain damage in a Calgary hospital. Mounties are investigating how the 15-month-old was so badly injured and whether his perilous state is the result of an accident or a criminal act.

Alberta laws governing children in care, prevent the publishing of his name or the names of other children who’ve died in government care.

The toddler’s 21-year-old mother, a member of the Calgary-area Tsuu T’ina First Nation says she’s frustrated with the whole child-welfare system.

She said she wishes her son and daughter had been placed in a home on the reserve, but was told no aboriginal family was available to take the pair.

“Their excuse is that there wasn’t enough foster parents on the reserve,” said the young mother, who also can’t be identified under provincial laws. “Even so, they should have put him with a native family in the city.”

As she and the public wait for the outcome of the police probe, the reality is several more aboriginal children have been placed in Alberta government care since the boy’s injuries were reported March 2.

Of the 5,970 children currently in foster or kinship care, 3,760, or 63 per cent, are native — drastically disproportionate to their four per cent share of Alberta’s population.

The rate of serious injury and death in government care, at 0.1 per cent, is lower than in the general population, the province’s figures show. However the sheer volume of native youngsters in child welfare, most of them from First Nations communities, underscore the complex social problems that cross decades and generations.

Funding inequities are also at play, the federal auditor general reported last May.

In its first examination of child and family services on First Nations, the auditor general found Ottawa’s two-decades-old funding model was broken.

Federal dollars have been based on an assumption that six per cent of on-reserve children require government care, when in reality the figure ranged as high as 28 per cent in 2007.

Moreover, these dollars kicked in when children were taken from their families, while few funds were put toward prevention efforts.

As a result of the “outdated” formula, the auditor general said, some aboriginal children and families didn’t get the services they needed.

Inadequate funding also hampered the communities’ ability to attract and retain child-welfare workers, who can generally make more money doing the same job off-reserve.

“The use of this funding formula has led to inequities,” said Jerome Berthelette, who was on the federal audit team.

The auditor general concluded the federal department can’t properly answer a fundamental question: Are aboriginal children in government care better off?

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada accepted all of the auditor general’s recommendations.

The year before, it already began moving toward a new funding model, signing an agreement with the Alberta government and the province’s First Nations in June 2007.

The five-year, $98-million pledge will boost funding for child-welfare operations and prevention programs by 74 per cent. Ottawa hopes to ink similar deals with the other provinces and territories by 2012.

“It’s more of a prevention-focused approach,” said Indian and Northern Affairs spokeswoman Patricia Valladao.

Reaction to the federal change has been largely positive.

Provincial minister Gene Zwozdesky, who oversees aboriginal relations, said the new model will better help families struggling to care for their children.

Zwozdesky said the shift toward early intervention should lead to fewer aboriginal youngsters in government care.

“Another initiative coming out of these funds will be more mentorship programs and also those that deal with social-related issues, like suicide prevention, family-violence prevention,” he added.

Chief Morris Monias of Heart Lake First Nation, northeast of Lac La Biche, believes the extra dollars will help alleviate some of the frustration felt by child-welfare workers in his community.

“A lot of the programs we wanted to fund we just couldn’t afford in the past, so a lot of children fall through the gaps,” Monias said.

Meanwhile, the assembly and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada have filed a joint human rights complaint, accusing the federal government of racially discriminating against aboriginal children by underfunding them. A tribunal has been ordered.

“The critical area of underfunding is services to keep children safely in their homes,” said Cindy Blackstock, executive director of First Nations child society.

“That drives unbelievable removal rates. We have three times the number of First Nations kids in child welfare care today than we did at the height of residential schools.”

Recently, the province has made a greater effort to place native foster children with relatives in a program called kinship care, which has seen the number of placements grow 97 per cent in the past three years.

The Alberta government has also launched an aggressive drive to recruit foster parents, particularly from aboriginal communities. The number of foster parents overall has decreased 15 per cent since 2005.

Still, the latest Children and Youth Services annual report shows that only 38.5 per cent of native children in foster and kinship care are being placed with native families.

Siksika Nation Chief Leroy Good Eagle, who himself was a foster child, said it’s crucial to ensure aboriginal foster children don’t lose ties to their culture.

Unlike foster care homes, kinship placements are not licensed and there are no limits on the number of youngsters, although provincial figures show only seven of the 780 kinship homes have more than four foster children. (Five per cent of Alberta’s 2,300 foster homes have more than four children.)

Kinship caregivers must complete the same initial training as foster parents and are subject to a home assessment, a criminal record check and a child welfare intervention history.

Of the three youngsters killed in foster care since 2005, two were in the kinship program and the third was under the care of a registered nurse.

In January, a four-year-old Metis girl died of head injuries in Edmonton.

Her 24-year-old aunt, who was also looking after the girl’s five siblings, has been charged with murder, criminal negligence causing death, and failing to provide the necessities of life.

Neither the RCMP or Alberta Children and Youth Services will disclose any information about the foster parents who were caring for the 15-month-old boy in Calgary hospital.

The toddler was moved out of the intensive care unit last week, his grandmother said Saturday.

A team of brain injury experts at the Children’s Hospital is working with him. Doctors have told the family the toddler has severe cerebral palsy and will have to stay in the hospital for months.

But at least he’s finally awake and breathing on his own.

“He’s yawning, he’s moving a bit,” his grandmother said. “It’s still a long road ahead.”

With files from Jamie Komarnicki and Jason Fekete, Calgary Herald

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

 
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Post by tdhssp on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:22pm

mybirdie.ca/files/f70eb29042a108ac903f5e8813da1ea1-4358.php

Subject: St. City News – Alberta – Online:

mybirdie.ca/

Where Is The Concern For The Children?

12/03/2009 04:47
What is it going to take to end the evil that is being inflicted upon innocent children?

We are not speaking about failings of a Ministry who – through ignorance – may be ‘out of touch’ on dire issues plaguing children in Alberta’s foster care system. Rather, of bureaucrats which has been educated on issues and are well-aware; yet refuses to be accountable so that positive change might occur!

Increasing numbers of persons are stepping forward with their personal stories. On a daily basis, within the Province!

Does the Public feel that any child deserves this? Is this considered acceptable care?

(Again, I must submit the message anonymously – as legislation dictates – entrusting it to the media until one day when I hope and pray this particular horrible and tragic story may be openly discussed in its entirety!)

No Name Please

SINC SAYS:

The wheels of govenment are slow to change, but I read than an inquiry has been lauched in the latest case. Take heart that this may be a long awaited start for advocates like yourself.

 
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Post by tdhssp on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:26pm

www.calgaryherald.com/Kids+safety+trial/1364681/story.html

Kids’ safety on trial

Calgary HeraldMarch 7, 2009

How many children must be abused or killed in foster care before the Alberta government fixes the broken child welfare system?The latest case, involving a 15-month-old boy hospitalized for his injuries, only came to light thanks to NDP MLA Rachel Notley.

Children and Youth Services Minister Janice Tarchuk is saying little, refusing to discuss the circumstances or extent of the toddler’s injuries. Rather than silence, action is required.

This makes three serious incidents in two years, including two deaths. Shortages of foster homes and other challenges aside, the welfare of these vulnerable youngsters needs to be made more of a priority. Through no fault of their own, these kids are at the mercy of the province for protection. We can’t keep letting them down.

It’s baffling why the government has failed to fully implement the recommendations made last spring, from a special committee assessing how to improve the system.

Notley, the NDP child and youth services critic, deserves credit for her dogged singlemindedness in exposing the flaws of Alberta foster care. She’s asking good questions, and last fall obtained disturbing internal reports from the provincial child and youth advocate. They showed the government is knowingly leaving children in unsafe situations.

No more excuses. Tarchuk and her staff know the issues, they just need to act before another child is violated by the very system entrusted to keep them safe.

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Read more: http://fostercare.proboards.com/thread/188/reports-mistreatment-alberta?ixzz31FJjQCaI=undefined#ixzz32enVrdqQ

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