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Alberta Sued for Letting Foster Girls Die

September 21, 2014 permalink

Two mothers are suing Alberta after their daughters Kyleigh Crier and Nevaeh Michaud died while in foster care.



Mothers sue government after daughters die in care

Kyleigh Crier
Kyleigh Crier

EDMONTON - Two mothers whose daughters died while in government care claim the deaths were due to negligence and have each sued the province for $682,000.

Statements of claim filed by Crystal Crier and Desiree Michaud allege specific negligence at the care homes where their daughters died and systemic provincial issues within the “opaque, secretive and deficient system for investigating the deaths of children in care that fails to collect, track and implement changes to prevent further deaths from occurring.”

In April 2014, Kyleigh Crier, 15, hanged herself from a closet bar rod at Crossroads House, an Edmonton group home licensed under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act. Her body wasn’t discovered by staff for 12 hours.

Before her death, the suit claims, Crossroads staff knew the teenager was in trouble. Kyleigh Crier told her mother she was being bullied at Crossroads and Crystal Crier then approached staff and “requested they intervene to protect” her daughter.

“The defendants were aware that Kyleigh had distinct behavioural and mental health issues that required specialized care,” the suit states. “Kyleigh had a history of engaging in self-harm conduct, including cutting.”

Before she died, she changed the banner on her Facebook page, posting a photo of a coffin with the words: “Now, everyone loves me.”

In 2001, the suit points out, a fatality inquiry into the death of another child in care resulted in a recommendation that provincial group homes use breakaway closet bar rods to prevent such deaths. Crossroads had no such breakaway rods.

Crossroads “did not have the proper procedures and policies to provide for her safety and care,” the claim states.

Crystal Crier is also claiming damages for events after her daughter’s death, including the province’s initial refusal to release the body and a blanket publication ban that ensured she was “prohibited by law from publicly grieving or identifying that Kyleigh had died, compounding the injuries she suffered from the loss of her daughter.”

Eight-year-old Nevaeh Michaud, 8, died in her sleep at the Ayesha’s Light group home on Jan. 5, 2014. The girl was found unresponsive around 8 p.m. and was pronounced dead at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital. Her cause of death, the claim states, was a fatal concentration of sedative prescribed to the girl to help her sleep.

The lawsuit alleges that group home staff failed to properly store and dispense the sedative to the eight-year-old.

“The defendants were aware that Nevaeh had global development delays,” the suit states. “Her cognitive abilities and functioning were below what is considered normal for a child her age.”

Desiree Michaud’s lawsuit states that the treatment of her after the girl’s death was “malicious and oppressive, representing a marked departure from the ordinary standards of decent behaviour.”

In July, the provincial government overturned a publication ban that made it illegal to publish the names and pictures of children and teens who died while receiving child welfare services, even if their families wanted to go public.

The ban was overturned months after a joint Edmonton Journal-Calgary Herald investigation revealed the province dramatically under-reported the number of children who have died in care and failed to monitor implementation of recommendations to prevent similar deaths.

Statements of claim contain allegations not proven in court.

Source: Edmonton Journal