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.

Deaths of young Victoria sisters 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: 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.”
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Life takes an unpredictable turn for well-known South Okanagan baker

Walla Artisan Bakery and Café owner Benjamin Manea diagnosed with ALS

Smoke Eaters win overtime thriller over Vees

Smoke Eaters win Game 3 overtime thriller over Penticton Vees in Interior Division semifinal

Cure for Alzheimer’s disease remains elusive

Complexity of the brain still defies discovery of drug treatment

World Down Syndrome Day: The up side of Down

A Kelowna family’s journey with Down Syndrome: ‘There is tremendous beauty in these kids’

Community Sport Heroes recognized in Penticton

Three Okanagan residents who dedicated their lives to sport were recognized

Wilkie returns home with three medals in tow

Paralympic champion returns home with a gold, silver and bronze from the 2018 PyeongChang games

Liberals tried pilot project with Facebook data whistleblower in 2016: source

Cambridge Analytica has been accused of improperly using information from more than 50 million Facebook accounts

No opting out: Canadians to get emergency alerts on their phones soon

Canada’s wireless providers are preparing for a looming update to the National Public Alerting System

Just For Laughs sold to Howie Mandel

Just For Laughs sold to Howie Mandel and U.S. company ICM Partners

Texas bombing suspect blows himself up as SWAT moves in

The suspect in a spate of bombing attacks that have terrorized Austin over the past month blew himself up with an explosive device as authorities closed in

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Witnesses: Boko Haram returns Nigerian kidnapped schoolgirls

Witnesses say Boko Haram militants have returned an unknown number of the 110 girls who were abducted from their Nigeria school a month ago.

Most Read