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Inquest for Matthew Reid

January 25, 2007 permalink

There will be an inquest into the death of Matthew Reid. In the past, all inquests into deaths in CAS cases have recommended more money and power for children's aid societies.



Inquest Announced In The Death Of Welland Child

ST. CATHARINES, ON, Jan. 24 /CNW/ - Dr. David Eden, Regional Supervising Coroner for Niagara, today announced that an inquest will be held in the December 15, 2005, death of a 3-year-old child in Welland.

The child was found dead in a bedroom of the foster home in which he resided. A 15-year-old has admitted to purposely suffocating the child.

The inquest jury will determine the facts surrounding the child's death and will examine the role of child protective services in this case. The inquest jury may make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths in similar circumstances.

The date, location, presiding coroner and counsel to the coroner have not yet been determined.

For further information: Contact: Dr. David Eden, Regional Supervising Coroner for Niagara, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, (905) 682-9209

Source: press release from Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services

Addendum: The Globe and Mail interviewed Ontario's Deputy Chief Coroner Jim Cairns. He said Ontario has about 80 deaths a year of children with open CAS files. That includes deaths in foster care and in-home deaths of children under watch.



January 25, 2007

CAS role in boy's death to be probed

Coroner says public airing needed in case where teen smothered another foster child


A coroner's inquest into the death of a toddler in foster care last December will probe serious concerns about the actions of children's aid societies, one of Ontario's top coroners says.

"There's a need to air this publicly," deputy chief coroner Jim Cairns said in an interview yesterday.

A girl, now 15, pleaded guilty on Monday to suffocating the three-year-old boy on Dec. 15, 2005. The incident occurred less than a day after she was removed from a youth-detention facility and delivered to the foster home in Welland, Ont.

The inquest announced yesterday will focus mainly on "the placement of the 14-year-old in that home and the suitability of that," Dr. Cairns said.

His office is doing the first-ever statistical analysis looking at links between the approximately 80 children who die with open CAS files every year. The aim of that analysis, the results of which will be released in June, is to make recommendations that will prevent deaths in similar circumstances.

The inquest, which is expected to begin before summer, was welcomed yesterday by the slain toddler's 24-year-old mother, who has said she blames case workers for putting her son in harm's way. "I think it needed to be done," she said from her home in Tillsonburg, Ont.

The teenage girl is a ward of Family and Children's Services Niagara, and officials issued a statement saying they were happy to have the opportunity to provide transparency for the public.

"If there is anything that can be found, anything that can be learned that would help prevent a future tragedy of this nature -- we want to know," executive director Bill Charron said in the statement.

Dr. Cairns says the inquest will also focus on communication gaps between two children's aid societies. The boy had been a ward of Children's Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk since he was 10 months old; the teen had been a ward of Family and Children's Services Niagara since infancy.

Her lawyer said she suffered from fetal-alcohol effects and had been removed from an adoptive home for assaulting her younger sister.

She will undergo an assessment before being sentenced for second-degree murder in April. The Crown is asking for an adult sentence.

More than 30,000 children get support from a children's aid society every year, whether in short or long term, according to the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, the umbrella organization for the province's 53 provincially funded agencies.

Most of the 80 child deaths are not preventable -- for example, resulting from accidents or illness, Dr. Cairns said. But he said the report -- funded with a $100,000 provincial grant and conducted by the pediatric death review committee made up of 14 experts, lawyers, police officers and doctors -- should highlight trends and problems if they exist.

"We are going to do this report and take away a lot of the secrecy that's involved," said Dr. Cairns, the committee chair. "We think we can show the public a more in-depth look at what happens to children when they're looked after by CAS."

Source: Globe and Mail