Coming child and youth watchdog report follows on years of deaths and injury in care

Today, a child or youth in or recently released from the care of the Crown in B.C. is likely to die or be “critically injured.”

That’s the unavoidable truth calculated in just over five years of reports by the province’s Representative for Children and Youth. Over that period, 504 children and youth died in care, while 1,136 were “critically injured.”

Some of the deaths are the result of illness — a 2006 report notes that “about 30 per cent of the in-care deaths were due to congenital anomalies, nervous system diseases and childhood cancer — conditions that have not been highly amenable to prevention.” Yet those are a minority.

Most deaths in care are never investigated. Of the 40 kids and teens who died in the system in the summer of 2012, for example, 29 cases received no review. But 11 did. And as the Representative reports, many occurred while the victims were in the charge of a government department with a legacy of crucial errors.

This month, B.C.’s current Representative, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, will release her latest report — the last before the provincial election. It will detail the critical injuries and deaths that happened in care in the fall and winter of 2012. It is expected to report no break in the decades-long toll of tragedies.

Pieta Woolley reports on solutions to breaking the link between foster care and youth homelessness for The Tyee Solutions Society. This article was produced by Tyee Solutions Society in collaboration with Tides Canada Initiatives (TCI), with funding from the Vancouver Foundation. TCI and the Vancouver Foundation neither influence nor endorse the particular content of TSS' reporting. Other publications wishing to publish this story or other Tyee Solutions Society-produced articles, please see this page for contacts and information.