Social Development

Minister's response to child death review committee report (08/12/22)

NB 1865

Dec. 22, 2008

FREDERICTON (CNB) - A response was issued today by Social Development Minister Mary Schryer to the recommendations made by the child death review committee, which reviewed the death of a six-month-old child who died of natural causes in 2007.

"The safety and security of children is paramount, and our government is committed to ensuring our child welfare system responds to the needs of children and their families," said Schryer. "I thank the committee for its thoughtful recommendations. The government will consider all recommendations that improve the lives of children and their families."

The committee was established to investigate the deaths of children younger than 19 who were in the legal care of the minister, or whose families were in contact with the child welfare system within 12 months prior to their death.

"I have also shared two of the three recommendations with the Department of Health and the Department of Education, respectively, and they have worked collaboratively to respond to recommendations made by the committee in their respective program areas," said Schryer.

The committee issued three recommendations on Oct. 8. They were released publicly by Social Development on Nov. 10. Under the terms of reference of the committee, the department was to respond to recommendations 45 days after they were publicly released.

Following are the three recommendations and the department's responses:

Recommendation 1:

Whenever a psychological assessment is ordered, it should include interviews and assessments of both parents living in the home. None of the interviewers had a satisfactory explanation for not including (father's name withheld) in the assessment.

Response 1:

Social Development has collaborated with the Department of Health regarding this recommendation. It is to be emphasized that the departments of Social Development and Health will work collaboratively to ensure this recommendation is met. It is agreed that whenever a psychological assessment is ordered, it should include interviews and assessments of both parents living in the home. Both departments will ensure this is reinforced with the staff.

Recommendation 2:

Before a file is closed, a permanency planning committee meeting is held to review the current situation. As recommended in other reports by this committee, these meetings should be attended by all the service providers in order to ensure that all the information is available to the department. In this instance, there were no representatives from the office of the public health nurse; early childhood intervention; the family support worker; and the psychologist (who had completed a significant assessment two months earlier). This would provide a forum for service providers to discuss risk factors and, in this case, for the psychologist to clarify specific recommendations for addressing the risk factors that she noted in her report.

Response 2:

Social Development, through the reform of the delivery of the child protection services, is establishing a more collaborative approach when working with families and service providers. The department will make every effort to contact service providers prior to closing a child protection case, as occurred in this case. The role of the permanency planning committee is being reviewed by the department as part of the reform of the delivery of child protection services.

Recommendation 3:

Access to psychological resources and remedial assistance should be provided to children in a timely manner. (Sibling's name withheld) required this assistance for his hyperactivity, but no assessment was ordered despite the clear indications of the need for it in the psychological report.

Response 3:

Given that the sibling was school-age, Social Development has collaborated with the Department of Education, which has indicated that it (the Department of Education) is:

08/12/08

MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon Hagerman, communications, Social Development, 506-444-2416.

08/12/08