Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 01/29/2013 2:18 PM | Comments: 0
Children with broken bones end up in the hospital, and children like Phoenix Sinclair ended up in child welfare, part of a steady stream of kids from wounded families arriving daily, the inquiry into her death heard today.
"Intake was and still is a very busy place," said Pat Harrison, the intake program manager for Winnipeg Child and Family Services from 2003 to 2005.
"I liken it to an emergency room in a hospital."
The inquiry has heard about the many times social workers on the front lines closed her file without seeing her.
Harrison said workers had to prioritize their cases, deal with them and move on.
"Demand is pretty constant," said Harrison. "We'd get 15,000 to 16,000 requests for service per year."
Phoenix was in and out of care and on and off CFS's radar from the time she was born in 2000 until she died in 2005 at the hands of her mother Samantha Kematch and stepfather Karl McKay. Her death wasn't discovered until 2006. Kematch and McKay were convicted of her murder in 2008. The province ordered an inquiry in 2011 to find out how Phoenix fell through the cracks of the child-welfare system.
Harrison talked about one of the efforts at the time to improve the system. He and two assistant program managers were hired in 2003 to replace one manager "spread too thinly" and running the front-line department's 12 teams by herself, he said.
Morale was low as workers and supervisors dealt with changes in the system, he said. There was also anxiety as devolution loomed with the creation of aboriginal agencies, and the solo manager didn't have a lot of time to deal with staff concerns.
"The hope was the three of us could improve that relationship." Harrison said. There wasn't much they could do about the heavy workload, the complexity of cases arriving at the CFS "emergency room" or to prevent kids like Phoenix from being at risk.
"Children are at risk," said Harrison. "That's what we do -- manage and mitigate risk. There always will be children at risk," said Harrison, who's concerned their numbers are growing.
"Over the years, we've seen more families in more difficulty and more children in more challenging situations," said Harrison. "A segment of our community is in very deep distress."
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
New anti-terror laws coming on Friday
NDP delegates from remote constituencies get mail-in ballots, electronic voting
Team Jones claims seventh provincial curling title
Oswald says racism exists in Manitoba; criticizes Pallister's comments
Sapotaweyak Cree Nation sets up teepee to protest Bipole III transmission line
Police continue to investigate city's first homicide of 2015
Japan working to gain IS hostage's release, analyzing video
Rockets kill 30 in Ukrainian city as rebels launch offensive
Facebook comments test political parties
Suspects nabbed in North End robbery
Tobogganing-ban idea ripped
Two young teens face charges after breaking into a Main Street business
RCMP say alcohol was a factor in snowmobile accident in RM of Stanley
Finally… a sign of weakness
Things to do in Winnipeg this week
After dove debacle, Vatican makes balloons new peace symbol
How does the NDP fix itself?
Buff just wants to have fun
Canadian denies jihadi aid
Rafael Nadal through to Australian Open quarterfinals
Bouchard advances to quarter-finals at Australian Open
Legendary skater Toller Cranston dead at 65
Obama looks to build toward policy breakthroughs with India
World Cup format a winner
Truck bombing in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, wounds 2
No to ban on tobogganing, say parents
Abe 'speechless' after video claims IS hostage dead
Novel details F. Scott Fitzgerald’s troubled Hollywood years
Hall of Famer Ernie Banks mourned in sports world and beyond
Spanish police arrest 4 suspected members of a jihadi cell
Belichick on deflated balls: 'We try to do everything right'
Police investigating first homicide of 2015
Newcomers want to be heard
Key of Bart: Share The Carlton Land
Nguyen books trip to worlds with win
Learning SimCity's lessons
Meet Jordan McConnell, the Winnipeg luthier who handcrafts guitars
Blue Bombers: Not our fault no Heritage Classic in Winnipeg
The daycare dividend