Fos­ter boy’s death a ‘fail­ure’ of sys­tem

National Post (National Edition) - - CANADA - The Cana­dian Press


and left him wear­ing only a di­a­per in an un­heated garage.

The re­port said the Indige­nous boy had de­vel­op­men­tal prob­lems and may have suf­fered from fe­tal al­co­hol syn­drome.

LeRev­erend said Choy, a sin­gle par­ent with two chil­dren of her own and three other fos­ter chil­dren, was not qual­i­fied to care for Potts.

When ev­i­dence of abuse came to light, no one re­ported it to the child ad­vo­cate or po­lice, she said.

“Ev­i­dence of abuse was present. It was known to five dif­fer­ent case work­ers in­volved in Lily Choy’s home. None of the work­ers ad­dressed their minds to what needed to be done to save Kawliga Potts.”

LeRev­erend rec­om­mends the prov­ince dis­close the names of chil­dren who die in care and es­tab­lish a com­mit­tee to in­ves­ti­gate the deaths of all such chil­dren.

She also rec­om­mends the prov­ince ex­pand the man­date of the child and youth ad­vo­cate to act on be­half of fam­i­lies in the child-wel­fare sys­tem.

LeRev­erend said po­lice should be no­ti­fied im­me­di­ately when staff sus­pect crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity and the govern­ment should pro­vide whistle­blower pro­tec­tion for fam­i­lies and of­fi­cials.

The judge said her rec­om­men­da­tions are based on com­ments made by Tim Richter, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the Cana­dian Al­liance to End Home­less­ness, about the need to re­form child wel­fare.

“When a child is taken into care, Al­ber­tans be­come that child’s de facto par­ents,” her re­port said.

“We have to pres­sure govern­ment to act ur­gently to elim­i­nate pre­ventable in­jury or death in our child­wel­fare sys­tem and to make im­prov­ing that sys­tem a pri­or­ity.

“We have to do bet­ter. And we have to do it now.”

Health Min­is­ter Sarah Hoff­man said the govern­ment is re­view­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions.

She said the sys­tem has sub­stan­tially im­proved since Potts’ death.

Hoff­man said the govern­ment has bol­stered how fos­ter par­ents are trained, mon­i­tored and screened.

“As Judge LeRev­erend notes, while the rules and pro­ce­dures nec­es­sary to en­sure ap­pro­pri­ate fos­ter care were in place, they were not fol­lowed.

“This is un­ac­cept­able,” she said in an email.

“When our child pro­tec­tion sys­tem falls short, we need to ask our­selves why, and take ac­tion to pre­vent tragedies from hap­pen­ing again.”

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