Child intervention panel approves draft recommendations
Published on: April 14, 2017 | Last Updated: April 14, 2017 6:19 PM MDT
News coverage of the death of Serenity, shown as a happy toddler riding her trike, prompted the creation of the Ministerial Panel on Child Intervention. SUPPLIED
A panel tasked with improving the province’s child intervention services has approved a draft set of recommendations aimed at making reviews of in-care deaths more accountable and timely.
The Ministerial Panel on Child Intervention met Thursday to finalize suggested changes to be forwarded to Children’s Services Minister Danielle Larivee for review.
The recommendations call for increased authority for the office of the province’s child and youth advocate, greater accountability for preventable deaths, timely completion of reviews, better supports for families, greater cultural sensitivity, and improved information sharing.
Discussion about balancing public information with privacy interests during death reviews was deferred until the panel can get more information.
Larivee said she’s pleased with the all-party panel’s “unprecedented” collaboration in its conversations.
“I look forward to examining these recommendations to streamline and strengthen the child death review process and bringing forward legislation to improve the system in the near future,” Larivee said in an emailed statement Friday.
Wildrose caucus whip Jason Nixon sits on the panel and said that he’s pleased with what the panel was able to come up with.
“If the minister takes those recommendations seriously, I think we’ll see some good changes to the death review itself,” he said.
Nixon added that he continues to be troubled that the panel isn’t allowed to interview staff about concerns they have with the system, and also that they haven’t been able to discuss specific cases, including the case of Serenity, a four-year-old indigenous girl who died in care.
The panel was set up after Serenity’s death and has been tasked with identifying systemic problems in the child intervention system.
The panel’s recommendations mark the end of the first phase of the panel’s work. At its next meeting, it’ll begin a broad overview of the child welfare system.
Alberta Party leader and panel member Greg Clark said the panel members did a good job of transcending partisan lines to create child death review recommendations, but he wonders if that will be harder to achieve in the second phase.
“Working in a consensus model could be challenging. I’m hopeful we’ll be able to make some good recommendations that we’ll be able to agree on, but it’s certainly a bigger mandate.”
Clark hopes to prioritize issues of preventing children from ending up in care, as well as addressing the over-representation of indigenous children in the system
More than 10,000 children and youth across Alberta receive intervention services.
The panel is next scheduled to meet on April 19.