Wildrose Calls for Emergency Debate on Children in Care

Wildrose News Release bannerEDMONTON, AB: (Monday), Wildrose called for an emergency debate in the legislature on the state of Alberta’s child welfare program following disturbing reports of the death of a child in care released by the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate.

The report showed systemic problems within the kinship care placement program that led to the death of a girl named Serenity in 2014.

A report from Edmonton Journal columnist Paula Simons shows incredibly cruel abuse of a 4-year old girl who weighed 18 pounds when she arrived at a hospital in central Alberta on Sept. 18, 2014.

Medical records showed bruises across her body, signs of sexual abuse and extreme malnourishment. Alberta Justice has failed to explain when or if the medical examiner’s report has been completed or will be released. An investigation into the death remains open.

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said this incident shows a stunning failure in the system that Alberta needs to address immediately.

“Our child welfare system failed Serenity and Albertans are demanding that significant action and steps are taken so this type of tragedy doesn’t happen again,” Jean said. “These shocking details laid out for Albertans require action and a debate in the legislature in order to lift the curtain of secrecy surrounding this case and recognize the demand for justice.”

The Child and Youth Advocate’s report found a kinship care program that failed to do proper screening, training or inspection in homes. In the case of Serenity, the guardians entrusted with her care did not go through the suggested voluntary training and went through no background checks. Tips had been sent to police raising concerns about their level of care that were never followed up on. Serenity’s birth-mother also raised significant concerns with Child Intervention Services.

“It looked like the department was putting ideology above what was best for a vulnerable child in care,” Wildrose Shadow Human Services Minister Angela Pitt said. “Albertans need full assurance that right now, today, that children in care are being kept safe. We cannot afford to maintain this status quo that failed this innocent victim so horribly.”