Not Forgotten. How many children must die before someone takes responsibility?

In 2015, we had Paige’s story: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/paige-death-government-release-report-1.3280603

In 2016, it was Nick’s story: http://globalnews.ca/news/3015820/bc-childrens-watchdog-report-on-death-of-15-year-old-nick-lang-released/

And here we are just days into the second month of 2017…and we have Alex’s story: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/children-s-advocate-says-province-failed-teen-at-abbotsford-hotel-1.3968887

“On a mid-September morning in 2015, in an act of obvious desperation, an 18-year-
old Métis youth named Alex took his own life by smashing through the window of his
fourth-storey Abbotsford hotel room and plunging to the ground below.
Through an in-depth investigation into the life and death of this troubled youth, the
Representative for Children and Youth has developed an understanding of what led to
such a tragic outcome. It is hoped that this report and its recommendations will help
prevent other children and youth from experiencing a similar fate.
Alex lived a life that none of us would wish on our own children, or any child. He
experienced repeated abuse while in the care of his biological parents, both of whom
were dealing with significant mental illness. Although child welfare authorities in two
provinces were involved with Alex early on, his subsequent journey through the child
welfare system was marked by constant instability, repeated missed opportunities for
permanency, and trauma.
When a child is taken into care for his own protection, it is the responsibility of
government to fulfill the role of the “prudent parent” – to ensure that the child’s needs
are met, that he has a stable home, nurturing relationships and experiences, enough
food and suitable clothing, education, medical care and a meaningful connection to his
culture. In Alex’s case, the services he actually received fell far short of the care we expect
from any parent in British Columbia.”

In Alex’s case, the services he actually received fell far short of the care we expect from any parent in British Columbia…”

Except that the sad reality from Alex’s report, Paige’s report and Nick Lang’s report, is that it is heartbreaking and maddeningly clear there are many other kids out there who have been and likely continue to be in the same position.
The government takes kids away from parents who do not give an adequate standard of care, yet does not apply that standard to themselves.
In reality, the ministry of children and family development has been and always will be a very difficult ministry to be tasked with because of the nature of the responsibilities. Any minister appointed to it should have a strong record in advocacy and love for children and families. And if not direct experience, then a dedicated passion to taking on that role befitting the care children deserve and families need.
We have not seen this with current minister Stephanie Cadieux. We have not seen proactive advocacy and initiatives under her tenure, we have only seen instances of reactive response to scathing reports, following tragedies that could have and should have been prevented.
Three reports in three years on the deaths of three separate youth in care and still no resignation. Only regretful responses with an apologetic air that sound alarmingly similar to her response last year… and the year before.. and…
I digress, but only a bit.
Tragically we can fully expect.. and I say this without exaggeration and with full understanding of the implication of my words… to see more kids moving into ministry care and dying in ministry care unless the government takes a multi-faceted and proactive approach to supporting and aiding both children and families. I predict most efforts in this ministry will fail without involvement and funding of related ministries as well. Let me tell you why. It is not a failure of one ministry. It is a failure across several.
As many teachers and administrators will attest to, children are falling through cracks in the system that have widened and deepened into bottomless crevasses that some youth like Paige,Nick and Alex, never get out of. I use the analogy of the crevasse and ropes to paint a visual. Parents or supports toss ropes to kids inside those crevasses, but they aren’t long enough. They need 300 feet of help…but are given 10 feet.
For the parent tossing down that 10 foot rope, watching their child slip further away, it’s a losing battle.
For the child or youth whose parents need help of their own…it’s a downward slide that often ends in suicide,overdose or jail.
My heart breaks as I write and I have had tears because I’ve met a child in my new community who is right now, sliding down into that crevasse in a big way and I would hate to see that child’s name at the front of a report one day too…an incident at school involved law enforcement and the child was expelled. Kids who knew the child were not surprised…a child who needs 300 feet of rope to save him but is given only ten..Every community has them, but most are forgotten once out of sight.
I can’t help but feel sad, angry and frustrated that we are doing this all backwards. Government reacts when a child dies…there is a lot of noise at the tragic end of these kids journeys,but little done to address where and how their journeys started. Nothing has changed!
Some of these children are born to parents with issues and challenges of their own, who are not receiving mental health or addiction treatments or supports. It makes for inadequate parental care..but help should be there and it isn’t. We know well the lack of mental health and addiction supports in many communities across BC.
Some of these children are born with mental health challenges or disorders, and end up on a wait list for diagnosis that may take years. Many don’t even get that referral until they enter the school system, at which point early interventions are nearing the end time for effectiveness. The longer one waits, the more work and harder it becomes.
The school system is so underfunded that there is very little assistance and equally long wait times for Education Ministry funded professionals to be brought into the school to assist. Often kids end up just sitting in classroom being managed, or sent home because there is no one there to assist. Toss in poverty, systematic racial discrimination, social judgements and labels…it is a recipe for failure.

Did you ever wonder what happens to those kids? We read about them in reports to government year after year.I am tired of reading these horrific reports that share similar details over and over again.
Kids who needed interventions and extensive psychological therapies and support. And clearly unless you are wealthy, families are not getting the help they need. One reader commented to me on twitter recently, why does a child have to reach a crisis point before they are given priority? They push them off again and again until they are old enough to no longer be a government ‘problem’. By that time, they are everyone’s problem.

 

Sadly, the answer again  comes down to funding. It is just not that big of a priority. Kids in care do not have voices,so they are easy to forget about. But we must not forget.

 

This is not just a Ministry of Children and Family Development issue. It’s far deeper and more systematic government failure. It’s a cross ministry issue involving the ministry of education, the ministry of health and more. And even if one puts compassion and empathy aside and looks just at the financial aspect of it, it costs far less to do what it takes to ensure these kids are all getting the help they need, than to deal with the social costs that result as they age out, disconnected and desperate, resigned to a life of crime addiction and despair.

 

It’s almost like there is no connection between what doesn’t happen now… and what society deals with later on. Is it just me?
It just makes sense to do everything we can to identify and help these kids..and their parents.. as early as possible so we don’t have to keep seeing report after report, apology after apology, promise after promise that never gets kept.
And the really tragic part of all this? Government has known this for years. It was 2014 when former childrens watchdog Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond issued a scathing report that government was still ignoring her main recommendations. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/bc-government-ignoring-most-major-recommendations-on-children-advocate-says/article21013574/
Yet 2017 brings us yet another scathing report. More regretful statements from Minister Cadieux as government desperately tries to change the channel to avoid scrutiny. Who is responsible? A parent who acted as egregiously as this ministry has would have been charged. Will charges be laid?
What exactly does it take to get a minister to step down and resign in shame these days? I really don’t know anymore. Glen Clark stepped down over a deck.
Minister Cadieux  has three high profile deaths under her watch over this ministry yet is in full campaign mode on her twitter account… which now reads @stephanie4BC
It’s a sad commentary on priorities and politics in BC where help depends on prosperity apparently. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/christy-clark-mcfd-economy-1.3360084
How many children must die before someone takes responsibility and does the right thing? We know what to do. The problem is that it isn’t being done.

15 thoughts on “Not Forgotten. How many children must die before someone takes responsibility?

  1. Salal

    We have a government working on behalf of their corporate masters. They don’t care about people. They don’t care about the environment…but they’re still in power. I’m setting my sights on baby steps for the provincial election. Removal of Clark from office will be a positive step in the right direction.

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  2. e.a.f.

    If Cadieux actually cared about the care of the children who are her legal responsibility she would fought harder for the children in her care. She would have resigned from the position if adequate care wasn’t provided. After some deaths the press couldn’t even get her to comment.

    The B.C. Lieberals don’t care about children which aren’t personally theirs. They cost money to maintain and all Christy Clark cares about is raising money and her not so balanced budget. If Christy Clark hadn’t been so busy raising in excess of $12M for her war chest and paid some attention and made changes each time a child in her care died, this young man might not have died.\

    The reports informed us this child had been in 17 foster homes, sexual molested by care givers and the last one was under contract to the ministry for his care to the tune of $8K a month. How did this happen. eight thousand a month and the child is living in a hotel by himself with no services, no food , and he kills himself. if this is how the province does “business”? Its time they were fired because they don’t know how to do business. if you’re paying some one $8K a month to look after some one and they die, there is a problem. so much for all that contracting out which is supposed to save money. From what I can conclude all this government contracting has cost the province money, failed to deliver what was promised, led to child poverty and child death. Nice going Christy Clark. I hold her and Cadieux personally responsible for the deaths of these children in care.

    Cadieux’s promise on the evening news to do better, is just another statement getting ready for the election. The B.C. Lieberals wear all of these deaths and are responsible for them. if a parent treated their children they way the ministry treats the children in care, the parent would have been in jail for child neglect. it really is time some one charged Cadieux and Clark for child endangerment, child neglect, and neglect causing death of a child. The way the B.C. Lieberals have treated the children of this province stinks on ice and not even ice can hide the smell of death of these children.

    if the voters of this province want more child deaths, just vote for Christy and her cabal.

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  3. e.a.f.

    forgot to answer the question regarding how many children must die? In my opinion thousands could die and the B.C. Lieberals still wouldn’t pay attention. They’d blame some one else.

    Ultimately it is the voters of this province who must take responsibility for the deaths of these children, because we are the ones who kept voting Christy Clark and the B.C. Lieberals back into office.

    From the looks of things, it doesn’t matter how many die, no one is going to pay much attention except the advocate for children.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Evil Eye

    This is a government that does not give a damn about children; the BC Liberals treats children as a commodity, where everyone is past their “Best before date”, to be thrown away and the sooner, the better.

    There should be a criminal investigation of the Ministry, the phantom $8K a month worker and Cadieux herself.

    Cadieux’s pathetic apologies, belie her cold and calculating demeanor. She has no emotion; an evil automaton, without a soul.

    I am repulsed by this minister, who is so crippled by her acceptance of children’s deaths, that she is beyond redemption.

    Change will not happen because Clark and Cadieux do not care, dead children do not vote.

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  5. I detest the Liberals and Clark for your 100 reasons times ten….but not this one so much. I have been working with youth since the 70’s and the problem is one that never goes away. Part of the reason, of course, is Disneyesque – the kid gets no love (biggest flaw: we, as parents, do not know what kind of love is needed. Some need tough love, others need compassion, support, aid and special attention. Most parents, instead, go to work and put their kids in daycare, school and activities – a poor substitute for one on one parenting). the kid gets nothing from the disfunctioning biological parents and certainly very little more, if any, from foster parents. Group homes are just ‘billets’ and transient for 90% of the kids and, by the age of six, peer group starts to exert and external force. What parent has significant influence after 14..? Really? Most ‘in-care’ kids end up failing in life. And they would not have done better had they stayed at home, either. Unless you are prepared to take a kid at an early stage and love that kid (in exactly the right way) for twenty plus years, the kid is at risk. Even the best foster parents (and there are some) can’t get their time in until the kid gets taken by family services and that means a lot of damage has already ensued. I don’t know the answer. I was engaged in the ‘bad’ kid’ community for 15 years. Been involved with the ‘good kid’ community for 15 more later on. Had my own kids in between. It’s a difficult challenge because each kid is different. And I am not.
    The Liberals? Just the worst of a bad bunch of non-caring custodians.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nonconfidencevote

      Total agreement.
      My Mother was a Child Care worker in another Province.
      She had been a psychiatric nurse for 30+ years before that. She had seen it all and worse.
      She could spot an abused kid before anyone but she learned very early that the beaurocratic system didnt deal with “lives”…it dealed with “numbers”.
      Common sense meets beaurocracy and budget restraints.
      Do you want social workers on every corner or $200 naloxone kits handed out like candy for people that overdose 5, 10, 15 times?
      We cant afford both….
      Ruthless but there it is

      My prediction
      “Way out of her depth but a great photo op for the PC crowd”
      Stephanie Cadieux will be moved to another portfolio if the Liberals win the next election.
      I’m thinking something like BC Parks would be a puff job .
      She’s been hammered relentlessly by the media for her ministry’s egregious errors. But she’s stayed in the limelight far more than her gutless “I avoid all nasty questions” “boss” Christy would ..

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  6. I think it’s obvious to everyone in B.C. now that the reason Christy tried to make John Horgan into some kind of website-hacking criminal was to deflect from her and Cadieux outrageous handling of Alex Gervais suicide and other deaths that have occurred on their watch.

    We really must not let the BC Liberals sweep this under the carpet as they have been prone to do with the many scandals during their ‘reign of terror’. Let’s keep it alive until May 9th. I’m sure there will be more attempts to smear Horgan and his team over the coming weeks. Be prepared for war!

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  7. The sad fact is that 885 children have died “in care. The government (and the MCFD) was found guilty of misfeasance after the crown supported a pedophile who was given unsupervised access to children again. Guess what? He re-offended. Now the government is appealing the verdict. How pleasant is that?

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  8. Astro

    No more children must die. It is time for the gov’t to step up and take responsibility. With Christy Clark in power, this doesn’t like likely. Get rid of her in the next election.

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  9. G. Barry Stewart

    I admit, this is a file I haven’t been following much, as the stats are not easily available and the media hasn’t been giving it much attention.

    Is it known if most of these deaths are suicides? I’ve got to think that’s the case; if kids were being murdered by their caregivers, surely the deaths would be publicized.

    I’m not saying it makes the deaths any less tragic… just that whenever there’s a suicide in our society, it’s always hush-hush unless the survivors want to go public. Certainly, the MCFD isn’t going to trumpet these stats.

    I know there would be a public outcry if there were even five students dying each year when under care of the public school system or daycare providers.

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  10. Paul Kelly

    I know what its like to be “in care” my father left me in an orphanage in Scotland when I was 1 year old , he took me out of Canada in 1959 . It took my mother over a year to find me , and bring me back to Canada , where I was once again left in care , at that time 263.00 dollars per year was what a single mother was given for me and my sister , she had to work ,leaving Nova Scotia for Ontario . Well you and I both know what happens to children in care, every type of abuse one can imagine . The beatings I could deal with , that pain will always subside , but the phycological torment and the sexual abuse ,heinous . Four different homes over six years, in one I spent three to four years , most of that time was ,in a bathroom , that was my room. just a brief snippet of what I went through.
    Now then to hear that cloven hooved cow , claiming to have been abused as a 13 year old ( a man came out of the bushes and grabbed me) enraged me like there was no tomorrow . Just like when she claimed in her heart of hearts she too was also phillipino .
    The libs are here for one thing and one thing only , political power , for that and that alone leads to $$$$$$$$$ , yours , mine , and of course donations and 5000.00 dollar a plate fundraisers. Not to say she does not enjoy her 1,000.00 $ per week stipend , chump change for her ilk . but what’s most disturbing is their lack of political will to deal with the real problems children in care are faced with. Their loss of family friends cultural identity proper clothing a safe place to call home, all combined with the prospect of being bullied , cyber bullied , derogatory comments from other kids and parents as well . Endure the impossible , and later in life to be told ” that never happened” , “your a liar” , try and cause problems will you.
    I guess in some ways I’m lucky , even though I’m on meds for life , ” frontal lobe injury ” when I was five or six , has left me with anger management and impulse control issues , in my mind THEY are the child abusers , and they alone bear the responcability for the choices they make , and the children who die because of there lack of political will to deal with this portfolio .

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  11. e.a.f.

    In Alberta this week parents were found guilty of murder because they did not provide the necessities of life for their son, a diabetic, who had died. This had occurred over a period of years.

    There was also a case recently where parents were found guilty because their child died after giving him only herbal remedies while ill.

    Now here in B.C. we have had children die in the care of Cadieux and Christy Clark for years and nothing has been done about it. Cadieux and Christy clark were responsible for the young man who threw himself out of a window. their government knew he needed mental health help but never got it. He and the young woman who aged out of care had both been sexually abused while in care, the care of Cadieux and Christy clark. My question is, when will Cadieux and Clark be help criminally responsible for the deaths of these children who are legally in their care?

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