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Agency was aware children not being seen by workers, inquiry hears

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Speaking to parents but not seeing children when investigating a child protection concern had become an "accepted practice" at Winnipeg’s child welfare intake agency prior to the death of Phoenix Sinclair, the head of the agency told a provincial inquiry today.

"I know there were times when not all children were being seen," said Sandie Stoker. "It caused me enough concern that I wrote a policy on it," she told commissioner Ted Hughes during cross-examination today.

Stoker went to work at the agency which is the public’s first point of entry to the child welfare system in Winnipeg in September 2005. It is now called the All Nations Co-ordinated Response Network.

The policy Stoker referred to requires that all children for whom child protection concerns have been alleged must been seen in person by the social worker. Phoenix was not seen by Winnipeg social workers the last time her file was closed in March 2005. She was murdered by her mother and stepfather that summer in Fisher River First Nation.

An inquiry was announced in 2011 by the province to determine why Phoenix’s death wasn’t discovered until March 2006, how she fell through Manitoba’s child welfare safety net, and what has been or should be done to improve the system.

The inquiry has moved to the Marlborough Hotel.

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