Bernard Richard, British Columbia’s child and youth representative said his office receives roughly 2,200 reports every year of critical injuries or deaths of kids in care or recently out of care.

Oak Bay deaths trigger reviews by multiple agencies

When police investigation concludes, reviews by MCFD and BC’s child and youth rep could begin

In the wake of the deaths of Chloe and Aubrey Berry, multiple agencies seek to find answers to what happened and what can be done to stop it from happening again in the future.

In addition to the police investigation that began immediately, the sisters’ deaths triggered a preliminary review by the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), as the girls had service involvement with the ministry in the previous 12 months (a criteria needed for a review).

“In circumstances like this we would cooperate fully with investigations that involve the police or coroner’s office,” said a ministry spokesperson. “Where there is ministry involvement, a preliminary review is conducted by the ministry to determine if an in-depth review is appropriate. The Office of the Representative for Children and Youth is also notified and may also conduct its own review.”

Court documents show that Andrew Berry, the girls’ father, was investigated twice by MCFD, once initiated by the mother Sarah Cotton for suspected inappropriate touching (MCFD concluded that Berry had not acted with criminal intent), and once after a large soft spot was found on Aubrey’s head. The documents say Cotton did not call MCFD about the soft spot and she that assumes a social worker at the hospital misread the notes and contacted MCFD.

READ MORE: Father charged with murder of two young daughters

For the ministry review, the Provincial Director of Child Welfare must decide if an in-depth case review is warranted. There are a number of factors that contribute to the decision: whether the child was in government care or not; the nature and severity of the incident; the history and nature of prior ministry involvement; any apparent link between services provided and the outcome for the children; and the need for public accountability.

“Once a review has been initiated it can take three to eight months to complete,” said a ministry spokesperson. “Case review reports include confidential information so cannot be made public. It is the ministry’s practice with all case review reports to publicly post an executive summary.”

Summaries are posted twice annually. The next posting is expected in summer 2018.

The Office of the Representative for Children and Youth also receives notice of critical injuries or death of children who have received services from MCFD. They act as a watchdog and an independent advocate for children and youth in B.C., monitoring and reviewing the ministry’s services and conducting independent investigations when there are critical injuries or deaths.

READ MORE: Oak Bay Police find two bodies on Christmas Day

“If there’s any indication services or lack of services might have played a role, then clearly I think it would be a significant interest for us to investigate,” said Bernard Richard, British Columbia’s child and youth representative. “Sadly, we receive roughly 2,200 reports every year of what are called critical injuries or deaths of kids in care or recently out of care. About 70 a month are determined to be related to mandated services in some way. About four or five a month get a more in-depth review. We end up investigating perhaps three or four a year.”

They are currently gathering information about the Berry case, however, they couldn’t begin an investigation until the police and coroners have completed theirs or after a year has passed, whichever comes first.

“Clearly given the tragic nature of the events, we want to make sure we’re diligent in starting the process,” said Richard. “We always look for ways to learn lessons from an event and to contribute to the prevention of similar events in the future. An investigation can cost in the vicinity of $200,000 but if we think there’s lessons to be learned, if we thing there’s a possibility of avoiding tragedy in the future … we make that determination.”


 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Meet the 2018 Tour de Rock team

Retired Spectrum principal among team introduced at Spectrum

WATCH: Final thoughts before the 75th Swiftsure Yacht Race

Nautical stories and racing strategies of some of the 200 crews heading out to sea Saturday

Saanich Inlet bridge billion-dollar price tag too expensive says ministry

Malahat alternatives not practical from engineering, budget standpoint

Sooke candidate seeks two positions in civic election

Herb Haldane runs for Sooke councillor and CRD director

Teen Victoria brothers receive award for saving family from house fire

Sam and Finn Parker kept cool when their home started to burn and got three people out

Trans Mountain pipeline: How we got here

A look at the Kinder Morgan expansion, decades in the making

B.C.’s devastating 2017 wildfire season revisited in new book

British Columbia Burning written by CBC journalist Bethany Lindsay

Beekeepers offer to pick up unwanted swarms

Capital Region Beekeepers Association sets up swarm line for residents to call

B.C. RCMP swoop in to save injured eagle

An eagle with a broken wing now in a recovery facility after RCMP rescue near Bella Coola

Catalyst Paper to sell U.S. mills to Chinese company

Sale will allow company to focus on B.C. interests, says president Ned Dwyer

Bug spray 101: Health Canada wants you to stay bite free

Health Canada is reminding Canadians to use bug spray and other insect repellents safely

Unions reject CP Rail contract offers

Both meeting Friday to determine next steps; 72 hours notice required before strike action.

B.C. jewellers warn public about fake gold scam

‘They are playing on people’s sympathy and their greed’

Former B.C. premier says pot industry about to enter Wild West

Mike Harcourt says Canada is about to enter a new gold rush with many dreaming of striking it rich

Most Read