WARNING: This story contains extremely disturbing details about child abuse.
British Columbia Children’s Ministry staff who failed to check on two Indigenous children who were systematically abused by their foster parents have lost their jobs, the government says.
A judge this month sentenced the foster parents to 10 years in prison each for the death of the 11-year-old boy and the serious injuries to his eight-year-old sister. and violence against an innocent child.
While the Ministry of Children and Family Development did not provide the names or number of persons involved, it said in a statement: “The personnel directly involved in this case are no longer employed by the Ministry.”
Children’s Affairs Minister Mitzi Dean was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.
The statement said the ministry has conducted a review of its involvement with the children and made changes to existing practices, including regular, face-to-face, private meetings with children in care and assessments to ensure care providers are properly assessed.
The statement said ministry staff did not follow a policy that children in care should be seen regularly by a social worker.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, policy required that children and youth in care and/or those who were the subject of a child protection response be seen in person,” the statement said. “It is the ministry’s policy that children under supervision must be seen regularly by a social worker. In this particular case, the ministry’s policy was not followed by the staff involved.”
The statement also said that the ministry’s assessment of the case includes that the agency concerned has completed child protection incidents in a timely manner and reviewed them with staff.
The ministry’s evaluation also says cultural plans should be made for Indigenous children in shelters, and staff should ensure children have access to appropriate medical care and support services.
“In addition, the changes outlined above have been fully implemented at the agency involved in this incident,” the statement said. “In addition, the employees who were directly involved in this case are no longer employed by the ministry.”
Indigenous groups are demanding the minister’s resignation
BC Indigenous groups have called for the resignation of Children’s Affairs Minister Mitzi Dean and the overhaul of the county’s foster care system, with one leader saying the horrific abuse of the two children left him “nauseated”.
Judge Peter La Prairie of the county court in Chilliwack, BC, sentenced the foster parents to 10 years in prison after they pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and manslaughter of the boy and aggravated assault of his younger sister.
La Prairie said in his ruling that the children were tortured, starved and forced to eat their own feces, vomit and dog food. They were forced to engage in excessive exercise for hours, often with their eyes taped shut, while wearing diapers or naked.
They were also beaten, beaten, kicked and beaten, and much of the abuse was captured by home video cameras.
The boy died in February 2021 after suffering a traumatic brain injury during a beating by the woman, documents say. His sister was later examined and found to have multiple abrasions and bruises all over her body and injuries to her wrists and ankles from zippers.
The BC Green Party also called on Dean to resign on Thursday.
“I stand with the First Nations Leadership Council and reiterate their call for Minister Dean to resign or be dismissed and for Prime Minister David Eby to authorize a new minister to immediately begin transformation in British Columbia’s child welfare system ,” Green MLA Adam Olsen, who is a member of Tsartlip First Nation, said in a statement.
Eby previously said the child protection system “has let these kids down,” and the Department is reviewing the case under Dean’s leadership.
Jennifer Charlesworth, BC’s representative for children and youth, said this week that her office is conducting an investigation, calling it “one of the most egregious situations” she has ever seen in her 46 years of helping children.
Support is available for anyone affected by this report. You can talk to a mental health professional at Welfare Together Canada by calling 1-866-585-0445 or text WELLNESS to 686868 for youth or 741741 for adults. It’s free and confidential.