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
Officer under investigation for sexual harassment sues police force, city
'Hate mail' slammed at Wolseley public meeting
HSC sets aside 10 isolation rooms to deal with Ebola
Judy W-L stays unperturbed while Bowman is buoyed after new poll shows him ahead
Paul Maurice is frustrated after Jets' four-game losing streak
Kurds rally in support of besieged countrymen in Syria
Five-year old boy dies after being struck by vehicle at St. Theresa Point First Nation
Murder trial begins for man accused of dismembering co-worker
N.B.'s new premier touts Energy East
A search for the visionary mayor
Man in Forces incident had 'become radicalized':PMO
Winnipeggers resign themselves to new community mailboxes
Judge's inquiry panel to begin Nov. 24
Bombers will hand offence controls back over to Willy for matchup with B.C. Lions
Record iPhone sales drive Apple's 3Q beat
Voynov suspended on domestic violence suspicion
Advance poll turnout continues to increase, sets record this year
Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta dies at 82
No rules stop school trustee incumbents from using official email for campaigns
Six-week-old infant dies at Red Sucker Lake First Nation
Architectural historian Frank Albo endorses Sanders for mayor
PTE posts 11th consecutive surplus
Winnipeg group trying to sponsor three Syrian refugee families to come to Canada
From Blink to the Sheriff, these five running backs earned their place in Bomber history
Two-vehicle crash on Trans-Canada Highway near Oak Lake covers lane with debris
Crummey talks Sweetland at News Café
Missing teen last seen in Elmwood
Nigerians await news on missing girls
Police: Indiana suspect hints at more killings
No medics without evacuation plan: Ambrose
Case on aboriginal kids in care nearing end
Police arrest man in alleged sexual assault on transit bus
Bowman, Judy W-L neck and neck, poll shows
Manitoba Hydro invites questions online on its bid to control Lake Winnipeg levels
Drug treatment for female sexuality not about equality
Class action lawsuit filed against CHL
School fire forces relocation of polling station in Elmwood-East Kildonan
Police looking for man suspected of sexual assault at Fort and Graham bus shelter
Mayes, Bihun, Bestland to play at Blues Manitoba bash