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Alberta Death

March 4, 2010 permalink

A foster child has died in Alberta, the second in a week. In future references we will use the alias "Morinville girl" (Morninville in the article is a typo).



Foster child dies in Edmonton hospital

The Stollery Children's Hospital
The Stollery Children's Hospital.

CTV News has learned an 18-month-old child passed away at the Stollery Children's Hospital Wednesday, two days after an alleged incident at her foster home in Morinville. The child's biological family says it may be a case of shaken baby syndrome.

The biological family tells CTV News the toddler had only been in foster care for about two months. They say the little girl suffered severe brain damage, and that doctors told them the toddler may have been shaken to death.

The toddler was rushed to hospital less than two days ago, and on Wednesday, family and friends confirmed the foster child died because her brain damage was too severe.

The minister of children and youth services confirmed to CTV that an investigation has now been launched.

"It is very heartbreaking when any child is in a life-threatening situation and our thoughts are with this child's family -- that is our foster family and this child's biological family," said Yvonne Fritz.

RCMP in Morninville opened a file into the severe injury of a child on the same night as the alleged incident. So far, no charges have been laid.

This recent occurrence is just the latest facing Alberta's foster care system.

Just last week, a Calgary foster parent was charged with a range of sex crimes against children in his care.

Then in June, an Edmonton foster mom was sentenced to three years in jail for the death of a toddler.

And one year ago, a four-year-old girl in the care of children's services died from head injuries -- her aunt was later charged with murder.

NDP Leader Brian Mason says they've been calling on the government to make improvements.

"They need to improve the recruitment and screening of foster parents; they need to make sure there's enough supervision that's taking place."

The province won't speculate on what caused the latest death, but Fritz admits the system needs to be better.

"It doesn't mean we've done all that we can do to strengthen in our screening process, but that's something the senior staff evaluate on a continual basis."

The child's biological family says the little girl was in foster care because her mother was dealing with some medical health problems.

The province claims privacy laws prevent it from disclosing how long the foster parents have been in the system, or if there are currently other foster children residing in the same home.

With files from CTV's Scott Roberts

Source: CTV Edmonton

The mother of the dead girl is being effectively gagged by a law preventing publication of her name. She says she provides a good home for her children, some still in her own care, and did not voluntarily give up her daughter.

We invite the mother to tell her story in full. If you are, or know of, this mother, please send notice to Dufferin VOCA by email to [ rtmq at ] or phone 705-744-6274.



Mother of dead foster child breaks her silence

The biological mother of a 21-month-old girl who died Wednesday while in the care of foster parents, says her daughter was murdered and was wrongfully placed in the foster care system.

The mother, who cannot be named, believes her daughter was unjustly taken from her and adds that she was working with a lawyer to get custody of her daughter.

"Someone murdered my daughter," she said in a written statement to CTV News. "I have other children in my care. I am standing here looking at my son."

She says her daughter was under a temporary guardianship order for three months, but insists she never signed the papers.

"I was going to court on March 8 to get her back. She was not supposed to be in the foster care system," said the mother. "Something is wrong with the system."

The mother goes on to say that her family has a good home and that she had the support of her family members.

Police have not released the child's cause of death, but they are investigating it as a homicide.

Biological family members believe it may have been a case of shaken-baby syndrome.

They say the little girl suffered severe brain damage, and that doctors told them the toddler may have been shaken to death.

The 21-month-old girl was in the care of a Morinville-area foster family when she died at the Stollery Children's hospital Wednesday, two days after she had been admitted.

The little girl's family released a statement saying, "What we know is that the baby was brought to the Stollery on Monday, March 1st and was in a coma. After 2 days, the baby succumbed to her injuries with her family at her side."

The death comes two weeks after the Minister of Children and Youth Services met with foster-care workers to discuss some of the challenges they face.

Janet Ryan-Newell, the executive directive of Crossroads Family Services, a non-profit organization that provides foster care for children in the Edmonton area, says she was sad to hear about the death, but suggests the tragic story overshadows what she believes to be the wonderful work foster families do.

"Every month, thousands of successes -- they never hit the news and they can't, so it is very frustrating," she said.

Privacy laws prevent foster parents from sharing their successes, until the child is an adult.

A memorial service for the child will be held next week.

Source: CTV Edmonton