Saturday, July 1, 2017

and the next child waits in line-----"If you have a history of abuse, and you go give birth to a baby at the Foothills [Medical Centre], they will apprehend that baby immediately and you will not get that child back," she said.-------- Castle said the legal threshold for apprehending children has been met in this case. The Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act dictates children can be removed from the home if there is a probable risk that they will be exposed to neglect, emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Guardians unable or unwilling to provide the necessaries of life, or adequately protect children from harm can also be deemed unfit.----Children's Services Minister Danielle Larivee has said there is no evidence of abuse against the remaining children, and she reiterated that statement Thursday. She said the province needs clear evidence that a child has been abused before they can be apprehended. "Obviously, if there was evidence of abuse of a specific child, apprehension would happen. That's what we're here for, to keep the children safe and we're continuing to prioritise their safety." -----------"They all should have been automatically removed, immediately. There shouldn't have been unequal treatment of the children," said Diann Castle, a Calgary-based lawyer specializing in family law. "Why would we say the house was unfit to care for three children and leave the other children in it? It's just unexplainable. There is no explanation for such a conduct."-----The decision to leave the remaining children in the home is indefensible, Castle believes. "I have certainly no understanding as to why that would happen, particularly with respect to the horrific circumstances that led to Serenity and her siblings being removed from the home," said Castle, who described the situation as appalling. "I was appalled by the facts of this case. "It would seem to me that history will repeat itself and it's not a safe home for any child living there."----"Serenity had bandages between her legs, by her vagina, and there were bruises all along there," she said. "Every time I saw them, those kids, they had bruises and cuts on them. Every single time. "There was not one time that I saw them freshly bathed in clothes that actually fit them or they weren't telling me that they were hungry."---Desperate to ensure the welfare of her children, she enlisted the help of her cousin. The local woman would regularly visit the foster home in the months that preceded Serenity's death until she too was prevented from visiting the property, she said. The conditions in the home were deplorable, said the cousin, who is not being named to protect the identity of the children. "They were sleeping on this futon, this hide-a-bed couch, and it was all broken and it smelled like pee really bad," she said. "The room was terrible. I wouldn't let my dog sleep in there."------------The document added "the child is being neglected by the guardian, the child has been or there is substantial risk the child will be physically injured or sexually abused by the guardian of the child and the guardian of the child is unable or unwilling to protect the child from physical injury of sexual abuse."----"I believe the children are in need of intervention in respect to the guardians," the affidavit said.-------A sworn affidavit from a child welfare worker, filed in provincial court in September 2014, said significant evidence of abuse in the foster home was found. Serenity's surviving siblings reported being beaten with hangers, and said they were regularly denied food by their foster mother.--The welfare worker recommended custody of Serenity and her siblings be transferred immediately back to their biological mother. ---Serenity was admitted to Edmonton's Stollery Children's Hospital in September 2014, four years after she and her siblings had been placed in government care. She was a skeletal 18 pounds. Her emaciated body, including her genital areas, were covered with cuts and deep purple bruises. She was gaunt and hypothermic. Her skull was fractured, the apparent cause of a horrific brain injury. Her hymen was missing. She was removed from life support a week later.--------"It can't be good, after seeing what happened with my children," said Serenity's mother, who cannot be identified under provincial child welfare legislation to avoid identifying her other children. "God only knows what goes on in there." Serenity, 4, died in September 2014.---------"It's obviously not good at all," she said. "Because if it's not happening to my children now, it's probably happening to the children that are still in there. I don't understand why they [social services] haven't taken the children out of there.-----"What child's in there starving now? My child came out at 18 pounds at almost five years old — that's starvation at its finest."----"I've asked why they have not been investigated after my daughter got hurt there and my other kids were abused there," she said. "I think a child getting hurt like that, and the abuse that went on there with my kids, there is enough in my eyes. I don't see what other complaints there should be."-


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I open the closet and search
for what went missing
but of course it is not there

and then I find a pocket
where the dancing memory lingers
I put the memory before me  and stare 

I look through it to the past
and I remember my childhood
that singing by the sea of time

I wished for a good life
and it was given to me
  I was one of the lucky ones

without a bed of fear to haunt me
there was no corridor of terror and starvation
instead of darkness    everywhere the light

and the singing 
that echoes in the night      perhaps you have seen the footprints
of the strangers along the way who came to help me

but who helped Serenity in her time here?
who showed her to live? who gave her comfort
in the hungry times    and the demons gnawing at her life?



 perhaps you too have been broken
and in the broken places you have mended yourself
with poetry         in the chamber of horrors where Serenity died

I have laid out the lines so I could know
I have laid them out like the children in their graves
and covered them with lyrics      so that their souls might be freed


as for Serenity   she is gone and is forgotten now by the public
by all those who saw her emaciated body      (we wanted to move on)
and the next child waits in line   for the sordid history of our times to repeat

I guess this is the learnings of the fatalities
that these deaths and abuses of the little children will repeat
and the next child waits in line   for the sordid history of our times to repeat

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-fXlLTSLbA

The Book Of Love - Martin Kerr (Cover) Live at the Citadel Theatre


It is very difficult for me to understand why any child would be in a home where Serenity suffered and died. Just the finding of starvation, beatings and injuries on the child should be enough to get all the other kids out of this home. Shameful failure by the GOA to act in this case.

Children are still living in the former foster home where Serenity lived before she died emaciated and battered in an Edmonton hospital bed, CBC News has learned.
CBC.CA

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http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/serenity-alberta-kinship-care-children-foster-home-1.4104967

people they serve.
EXCLUSIVE

'God only knows': Serenity's mother concerned about children living in former foster home

'After seeing what happened with my children ... God only knows what goes on in there'

By Wallis Snowdon, CBC News Posted: May 09, 2017 5:30 AM MT Last Updated: May 09, 2017 9:15 AM MT
Serenity was four years old when she died of severe head trauma in an Edmonton hospital.
Serenity was four years old when she died of severe head trauma in an Edmonton hospital. (Supplied)
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About The Author

Photo of Wallis Snowdon
Wallis Snowdon
Wallis Snowdon is a digital journalist with CBC Edmonton. She has nearly a decade of experience reporting behind her. Originally from New Brunswick, her journalism career has taken her from Nova Scotia to Fort McMurray. Share your stories with Wallis at wallis.snowdon@cbc.ca
Children are still living in the former foster home where Serenity lived before she died emaciated and battered in an Edmonton hospital bed, CBC News has learned.
"It can't be good, after seeing what happened with my children," said Serenity's mother, who cannot be identified under provincial child welfare legislation to avoid identifying her other children. "God only knows what goes on in there."
Serenity, 4, died in September 2014.
She lived with relatives in a kinship care placement on a central Alberta reserve when she was admitted to hospital suffering from disturbing injuries, including a fractured skull and starvation.
The RCMP is investigating the circumstances of her death.
Several children who were living in the home at the time of Serenity's death have not been removed from the property, reserve residents told CBC News.

'What child's in there starving now?'

Among the children in question — all of whom are direct biological relatives of Serenity's one-time caregivers — are two infants, two young children in elementary school and two teenagers under 18.
One source told CBC News the younger children have not been seen at school since last October.
Serenity's mother said she can't fathom why the residents of the home are still looking after so many children.
"It's obviously not good at all," she said. "Because if it's not happening to my children now, it's probably happening to the children that are still in there. I don't understand why they [social services] haven't taken the children out of there.
"What child's in there starving now? My child came out at 18 pounds at almost five years old — that's starvation at its finest."
Serenity
A picture taken of Serenity, 4, while in the Stollery Children's Hospital in September 2014. The photograph was taken by her mother and was recently recovered from a broken cell phone. (Supplied)
Serenity's mother asked provincial child welfare officers to investigate last October but said she was told that no "official complaints" had been filed. CBC News has confirmed there were two child welfare complaints made against the family this year.
"I've asked why they have not been investigated after my daughter got hurt there and my other kids were abused there," she said. "I think a child getting hurt like that, and the abuse that went on there with my kids, there is enough in my eyes. I don't see what other complaints there should be."
Serenity was admitted to Edmonton's Stollery Children's Hospital in September 2014, four years after she and her siblings had been placed in government care.
She was a skeletal 18 pounds. Her emaciated body, including her genital areas, were covered with cuts and deep purple bruises. She was gaunt and hypothermic. Her skull was fractured, the apparent cause of a horrific brain injury. Her hymen was missing.
She was removed from life support a week later.
The Alberta medical examiner didn't complete its report on Serenity's death until two years after she died.
Serenity's mother, who regained full legal guardianship of her children in the week before Serenity's death, is still waiting for a copy of the autopsy report.
RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Laurel Scott said there is "no update" on the case and they "are still waiting for an outcome" on the investigation.
A sworn affidavit from a child welfare worker, filed in provincial court in September 2014, said significant evidence of abuse in the foster home was found. Serenity's surviving siblings reported being beaten with hangers, and said they were regularly denied food by their foster mother.
The welfare worker recommended custody of Serenity and her siblings be transferred immediately back to their biological mother.
"I believe the children are in need of intervention in respect to the guardians," the affidavit said.
The document added "the child is being neglected by the guardian, the child has been or there is substantial risk the child will be physically injured or sexually abused by the guardian of the child and the guardian of the child is unable or unwilling to protect the child from physical injury of sexual abuse."
The affidavit also cited significant weight loss among Serenity's siblings and described how the other children in the home were encouraged to beat Serenity and her siblings.
"Both children disclosed again about being hit by [their caregiver] with metal and plastic hangers," the affidavit said.
The document claimed children of the caregivers also hit them and one child hit them because the foster mother told her to do so. The "reason they and Serenity are hit is because they are crying, acting up or have stolen food from the fridge," the affidavit suggested.

'I wouldn't let my dog sleep in there'

The case has become the focus in an ongoing review of child welfare services in the province. But there are still unanswered questions about government oversight and the RCMP investigation into Serenity's death.
Serenity and her two older half-siblings were taken from their mother's care because Serenity's father had been physically abusive and because their mother had struggled with substance abuse issues. First, the children were placed with non-Aboriginal families, but they were eventually transferred to the reserve to live with distant relatives in a kinship-care arrangement.
Initially, Serenity's mother was allowed regular visits with her children. But after filing complaints about alleged neglect in the home where they were staying, the mother was barred by the foster parents from returning to the property.
Desperate to ensure the welfare of her children, she enlisted the help of her cousin. The local woman would regularly visit the foster home in the months that preceded Serenity's death until she too was prevented from visiting the property, she said.
The conditions in the home were deplorable, said the cousin, who is not being named to protect the identity of the children.
"They were sleeping on this futon, this hide-a-bed couch, and it was all broken and it smelled like pee really bad," she said. "The room was terrible. I wouldn't let my dog sleep in there."
Large dogs were always growling in the front yard, the property was surrounded by a barbed-wire fence and the children were rarely seen in school, said the cousin.
"Serenity had bandages between her legs, by her vagina, and there were bruises all along there," she said. "Every time I saw them, those kids, they had bruises and cuts on them. Every single time.
"There was not one time that I saw them freshly bathed in clothes that actually fit them or they weren't telling me that they were hungry."
When asked for comment, Alberta Children's Services Minister Danielle Larivee declined to speak directly about the case or the ongoing RCMP investigation.
But she provided a statement reaffirming the government's commitment to child welfare and protection, suggesting every report of abuse is taken seriously.
Serenity
This photo of Serenity, taken by her mother, shows how thin the four year old had become. She died several days after this photo was taken in September 2014. (Supplied)
Of the 55,000 cases reported to Children's Services each year, only 12 per cent result in a file being opened. Four per cent of those investigations result in the removal of children from the home, according to the minister's office.
"Removing children from the home is a last resort," said Aaron Manton, Larivee's press secretary.
Any family involved in an ongoing criminal investigation would be prohibited from having foster or kinship care placements in their home, according to a department statement. However, the situation becomes more nuanced when biological relatives are involved, the statement added.
"We know that many families engage in informal arrangements to support each other by providing homes for grandchildren and other relatives. In those cases where Children's Services is not involved, we still want to ensure that all children are safe, supported, and loved, regardless of whose care they are in."
Serenity's cousin said she would like to see the RCMP and the province re-open their investigation on the family. Without intervention, she said she fears the remaining children will suffer.
"It makes me wonder what else these little kids are going through, because if Serenity's hymen was missing and she was four years old, what are they doing to other kids that can't speak for themselves?
"Personally, I don't think any children should be in their care, especially ones that can't defend themselves or speak up for themselves."
With files from Gareth Hampshire



"-However, other children in the home — up to six grandchildren of the former foster parents — stayed behind. "-------I don't understand why the GOA has left the other kids in this home just because they are grandchildren. Was this dumb deed done because the GOA did not want to interfere? Why not? I mean any rational person would think that if three kids in foster care in this home were harmed why would the other kids be immune from these same disasters?
Or is blood thicker with grandchildren than fostered far relatives?

Children should never be allowed to live in the same home where a little girl named Serenity suffered fatal injuries, says an Alberta child welfare expert.
CBC.CA

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http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/decision-leave-children-in-serenity-home-indefensible-calgary-lawyer-1.4110378

Decision to leave children in home after Serenity's death indefensible: lawyer

'I want justice for my daughter, but I also want justice for the all the other kids,' says Serenity's mom

By Wallis Snowdon, CBC News Posted: May 11, 2017 12:00 PM MT Last Updated: May 12, 2017 9:27 AM MT
Serenity was four years old when she died of severe head trauma in an Edmonton hospital.
Serenity was four years old when she died of severe head trauma in an Edmonton hospital. (Supplied)
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Danielle Larivee says media has 'misinformation' about Serenity case
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Danielle Larivee responds to latest revelations in Serenity case
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Wallis Snowdon is a digital journalist with CBC Edmonton. She has nearly a decade of experience reporting behind her. Originally from New Brunswick, her journalism career has taken her from Nova Scotia to Fort McMurray. Share your stories with Wallis at wallis.snowdon@cbc.ca

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Children should never be allowed to live in the same home where a little girl named Serenity suffered fatal injuries, says an Alberta child welfare expert.
"They all should have been automatically removed, immediately. There shouldn't have been unequal treatment of the children," said Diann Castle, a Calgary-based lawyer specializing in family law.
"Why would we say the house was unfit to care for three children and leave the other children in it? It's just unexplainable. There is no explanation for such a conduct."
Serenity was four years old when she died of acute head trauma. She weighed only 18 pounds. Her skull was fractured and her body was covered in lacerations and purple contusions. Her body also showed signs of sexual assault.
Before her death in September 2014, the little girl was living with relatives on a central Alberta reserve in a foster care arrangement under the kinship care program.
But when she was still clinging to life in Edmonton hospital, custody of Serenity and her two siblings was transferred back their biological mother. The two siblings were apprehended from the home.
However, other children in the home — up to six grandchildren of the former foster parents —  stayed behind.  
The circumstances of Serenity's death remain under investigation by RCMP.

'History will repeat itself'

The decision to leave the remaining children in the home is indefensible, Castle believes.
"I have certainly no understanding as to why that would happen, particularly with respect to the horrific circumstances that led to Serenity and her siblings being removed from the home," said Castle, who described the situation as appalling. "I was appalled by the facts of this case.
"It would seem to me that history will repeat itself and it's not a safe home for any child living there."
Children's Services Minister Danielle Larivee has said there is no evidence of abuse against the remaining children, and she reiterated that statement Thursday.

She said the province needs clear evidence that a child has been abused before they can be apprehended.
"Obviously, if there was evidence of abuse of a specific child, apprehension would happen. That's what we're here for, to keep the children safe and we're continuing to prioritise their safety."
Larivee said critics of the government response do not have all of the facts, but she declined to provide new information on the case.
She said the ministry is still consulting their lawyers to see if any new details can be made public.
"I understand the frustration that people have with not having those details," she said.
"I would love to disclose all those details. Unfortunately that's not in the best interest of the children involved ... but, in the meantime, I'm confident that we've done everything we can to protect the safety of those children."
SerenityThe minister said biological children cannot be removed from homes simply because a criminal investigation is underway.

This photo of Serenity, taken by her mother, shows how thin the four-year-old had become. She died several days after this photo was taken in September 2014. (Supplied)
Castle said the legal threshold for apprehending children has been met in this case. The Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act dictates children can be removed from the home if there is a probable risk that they will be exposed to neglect, emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Guardians unable or unwilling to provide the necessaries of life, or adequately protect children from harm can also be deemed unfit.
In the 30 years she's worked in the field, Castle has dealt with dozens of cases where children were apprehended from the home for the mere suspicion of child abuse.
"If you have a history of abuse, and you go give birth to a baby at the Foothills [Medical Centre], they will apprehend that baby immediately and you will not get that child back," she said.
Castle believes the kinship care program is struggling to meet its mandate to help place apprehended Indigenous children in safe homes with blood relatives. The reserve-based system is overtaxed and underfunded, and not as reactive as it should be to suspected cases of abuse or neglect, she said.

'I'm just going to keep fighting'

The program operates under the same set of legal restrictions as standard child welfare programs, but there is bureaucratic apathy and bias which makes these children more vulnerable, Castle claims.
"The standards are different and no one says it aloud and maybe I shouldn't be saying it out loud … but there's a difference," Castle said, speaking to her experience in the courtroom. "There are problems and the children suffer for it."
Larivee said workers with the designated First Nations agency were in contact with the family Wednesday. She repeated her statement that the well-being of the children who remain in the home is regularly monitored but said privacy legislation prevents her from saying how often.
"It just seems like they don't care," Serenity's biological mother said Thursday. "Serenity and my other kids that are still alive have suffered serious, serious abuse in that home," she claims.
Frustrated with the government response, Serenity's mother wants to keep her daughter's case in the spotlight. She's helping to organize a rally at the Alberta legislature next Friday calling on the government to investigate failures in the child welfare system.
"I want justice for my daughter, but I also want justice for the all the other kids that are still suffering," she said.
"I'm just going to keep fighting."
Serenity's case prompted the formation of an all-party panel of MLAs and experts tasked with looking at Albertas child intervention.
Committee members say they have been frustrated with the lack of information shared by the government.
During Thursday's question period, Wildrose MLA and committee member Jason Nixon asked Larivee if the information could be shared with committee members in a closed door session.

Larivee said they could ask for additional information through committee chair Debbie Jabbour, the NDP MLA for Peace River.

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