Three First Nations children who spent most of their lives in foster care but died after returning to their parents’ care were failed by the Alberta government, according to the province’s child and youth advocate.
The Globe and Mail Posted: Jul. 18, 2017
Del Graff’s 61-page investigative report details the lives and deaths of the three children. The report argues the cases highlight the shortcomings in Alberta’s child-welfare system, leaving parents with histories of domestic violence, substance abuse and other problems, without support when they are reunited with their kids.
Sarah was five when she died from damage to internal organs, a head injury and multiple bruising. Anthony was two when he died after a cardiac arrest and unexplained brain and spine injuries. Mikwan was one he died of complications tied to acute blunt head trauma. The children spent the majority of their lives in Alberta’s foster-care system before being reunited with members of their biological families. All three of their respective mothers were subsequently charged in their deaths.
Alberta’s Office of the Child and Youth Advocate (OCYA) argued “systemic issues” contributed to the trio’s experiences and that the government inadequately supports parents before and after their children return to their care. Biological family members may check the necessary boxes – completing parenting classes, securing housing, and staying sober, for example – to qualify for reunification, but are unable to provide continued stability when their children come home. And kids will remain in danger unless the government addresses this social shortcoming, the OCYA said.