Gateway Gazette

Child and Youth Advocate Releases Two Investigative Reviews Involving Two Deaths

The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate has completed two Investigative Reviews involving the deaths of two young children and is publicly releasing the results of the reviews as outlined under the Child and Youth Advocate Act.

Sharon was nine months old when she passed away from undetermined causes. She and her five older siblings had recently been returned to their parents’ care, and she died while in their care. Sharon and her family lived on their First Nation. The Advocate was notified of her death because she had received child intervention services approximately two months prior to her passing.

“Sharon’s death is tragic and reminds us that the well-being of children must be at the centre of decision-making,” said Provincial Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff. “When children are returned to their parents’ care, supports must be in place to meet their children’s needs.”

Marie who was of Indigenous heritage was four-years old when she died from physical injuries. Marie and her two older siblings were living in kinship care when Marie was injured. The children were apprehended within one day of Marie’s injuries, and she died in hospital about one week later. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) has not released Marie’s cause of death, and a police investigation is ongoing. Child Intervention Services’ involvement had ended almost one year prior to her injuries.

“Children are entitled to a safe home and caregivers need to be equipped with the necessary skills and supports to provide this,” said Graff. “Marie’s story reminds us of the importance of continually assessing the needs of children and kinship caregivers and the importance of ensuring the necessary supports are always in place.”

It is critical that the recommendations for Sharon and Marie are acted upon so that the experiences of young people, their families and communities, in circumstances similar to those of Sharon’s and Marie’s, are improved.

The intent of an Investigative Review is not to find fault with specific individuals, but to identify and advocate for system improvements that will help enhance the overall safety and well-being of children and young people who are receiving designated services.

A copy of both Investigative Reviews and recommendations are available on our website: http://www.ocya.alberta.ca/adult/publications/investigative-review/.

The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate is an independent office of the Legislature, representing the rights, interests and viewpoints of children and young people receiving designated government services.

Minister of Human Services Responds to OCYA Reports
Minister of Human Services Irfan Sabir issued the following statement in response to the Child and Youth Advocate’s Investigative Reviews titled 9-Month-Old Sharon and 4-Year-Old Marie:

“Our hearts break whenever a child is lost. Our thoughts are with those who loved these young people.

“Our government takes the safety of every child extremely seriously. We accept the Advocate’s recommendations and will work quickly to make the improvements necessary to prevent future tragedies.

“We have already taken action to strengthen a number of areas the Advocate highlighted. Work is underway on assessment tools that meet the unique needs of kinship caregivers, a support program to help caregivers and staff better understand how trauma affects child development, and approaches to family reunification that put children first.

“Creating culturally appropriate supports for Indigenous children and families must be done in collaboration with Indigenous partners. We will continue to listen to Indigenous leaders and families to ensure our practices support their needs.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply