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Edmonton Toddler Dies in Foster Care

January 30, 2009 permalink

A three-year-old girl in the custody of the Metis Child and Family Services Society of Edmonton has died. They are blaming the foster mother, who was also the girl's aunt. Like the Alberta Kafka case, the names of the dead girl and her foster mother are suppressed. In case of more news we will call this case Edmonton Toddler.



Grandmother shocked

'My granddaughter is dead and my daughter is charged'


The grandmother of a slain four-year-old says she's devastated the child's aunt has been charged with second-degree murder.

"I don't know what to think," said the grandmother, whose name cannot be published to avoid identifying the child, who was a ward of the province. "It's just not right.

"Look what happened: my granddaughter is dead and my daughter is charged."

The girl was discovered dead Jan. 13 inside a west Edmonton home she shared with five siblings and her aunt, who was caring for the children.

Yesterday, police confirmed her 24-year-old caregiver had been charged with second-degree murder. An autopsy determined the girl died from head trauma.

Police spokesman Karen Carlson said she could not elaborate on the extent of the injuries, except to say they were "quite complex."

The aunt was also charged with criminal negligence causing death, and failing to provide the necessities of life.

Sometimes whispering in angst, sometimes raising her voice in anger, the grandmother said the aunt should never have been caring for the children.

She was only recently granted temporary custody of the youngsters through a children's service authority, the grandmother said.

"I told (child services) from the very beginning she couldn't handle six kids," the grandmother said. "We expressed our concerns right from the beginning."

The aunt took custody of the children when her brother was unable to provide for them. The remaining youngsters - all younger than seven - are now living in a group home, the grandmother said.

She said she's now fighting for custody of the children - a battle she began to wage before her granddaughter's death.

"Why didn't they help her?" she said. "Nobody did."

After the girl's death, her aunt - alongside her boyfriend - turned to the Metis Child and Family Services Society of Edmonton for help coping.

"They were crying," said executive director Donald Langford. "They were devastated when it happened."

But he said the couple was never fit to care for the children.

"I do have some grave concerns about that," he said. "There are several tragedies.

"The first tragedy is the little girl. The other tragedy was placing six children without guidance and without ensuring these (guardians) were properly trained and supported."

But a spokesman for Alberta Children and Youth Services of Edmonton said numerous steps - including criminal background and reference checks - are in place to prevent children from being placed in unfit homes.

"There are a variety of checks in place to ensure the safety of children who are being placed outside of their home," Sharon Lopatka said, adding privacy legislation prevented her from speaking about this case specifically.

Once placed, foster-parent support workers and case workers keep close tabs on youngsters to ensure they're being treated properly, she added.

But still, a grandmother is left to remember the child she lost.

"(My daughter) was a protector," she said. "She was just a protector of her children.

"She liked to sing to all of them."

The acccused's first court appearance is scheduled for this morning.

Police would not say whether more people could be charged, saying only that the "investigation is ongoing."

Source: Edmonton Sun