Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Posted: 01/28/2013 3:48 PM | Comments: 0
The former head of Manitoba's largest child welfare agency today had some questions about the way Phoenix Sinclair's case was handled.
At the inquiry into the death of the little girl, Linda Trigg questioned the kinds of inquiries workers made the last time Winnipeg Child and Family Services dealt with the girl's file when she was alive in 2005.
Two CFS workers went to Phoenix's home after receiving a call that the four-year-old's mother might be abusing her and locking her in a bedroom. They spoke to her mother, saw Phoenix's infant half-sister, and closed the file without ever seeing Phoenix herself.
Trigg, who was the CEO at CFS from 2001 to 2004, has testified that a child protection file shouldn't be closed without seeing the child.
Today, a lawyer for several child welfare authorities at the inquiry asked Trigg where in the agency's policy manual at the time was it written that workers had to see children before closing their files. Trigg didn't know but said it was expected that social workers would see a child before closing a child protection case.
"Clinical judgment and clinical skill is involved here," said Trigg.
Phoenix Sinclair was in and out of care from the time she was born in 2000 until her death in 2005 at the hands of her mother, Samantha Kematch, and her stepfather Karl McKay. Her death wasn't discovered until March 2006. Kematch and McKay were convicted of her murder in 2008. The province ordered an inquiry in 2011 into how and why Phoenix fell through Manitoba's child-welfare safety net.
Trigg, a clinical psychologist now in private practice, asked why the two workers who went to Phoenix's home in March 2005 didn't see the child or the bedroom with the lock outside the door. She asked why they didn't ask more questions. They spoke to Kematch in the hallway of the apartment building because she said she had a guest. They reported that Kematch said the abuse allegation was likely someone complaining about her yelling at Phoenix.
"I would take it further than that," said Trigg, who said she would've asked Kematch why she was yelling at Phoenix. They were there to find out about Phoenix's well being and yet Kematch brought out her and McKay's fussing but well-dressed and healthy newborn. After that, the workers left satisfied there were no child protection concerns and recommended closing the file.
Trigg said seeing the cared-for infant wouldn't have satisfied her that Phoenix was OK, and that it was OK to close her file.
"I would've been asking myself, 'Is this a proxy child?" Trigg said.
Trigg said the workers' supervisors had to approve closing a file, and that more training for workers and supervisors was needed.
When she was seconded from another major social welfare agency, New Directions, it was to "hold down the fort" at CFS as it was about to downsize and devolve with the establishment of aboriginal agencies, she said.
Workload was high, morale was low and there was no money or plan for hiring additional staff or making major changes with devolution on the horizon, Trigg said.
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
Despite bringing in extra revenue, province no further ahead in slashing deficit
Child welfare should focus on parents, community:First Nations chiefs
Broken net for city's at-risk kids
NHL game day: Senators at Jets, September 30, 2014
'Arctic Gateway' a Plan B for oil, D.C. told
Havixbeck wants to upgrade sewage plant, cut phosphorous contamination
Bowman promises different city hall, highlights 'efficiencies'
Swiss, Canadian tourists missing in Chile
Willy skips Bombers practice to let his body recover
Winnipeg start-ups score sought-after financing at innovation fund awards
Veteran Manitoba RCMP officer alleged to have molested child
AFN wants outside probe into teen's death
Man in custody after weapons-related investigation
Tories want government to release consultant's report on Phoenix Sinclair inquiry
Police looking for two bronze plaques stolen from community of Dunnottar
Man gets jail after assaulting, choking police officer
Sanders says voters should be told hard truth about city's financial woes
Clouds, rain on the way
Art gallery sets weekend opening attendance record for its new Dali exhibitions
Van 'driven erratically' crashes into construction equipment
Russia upset over Canadian visa denials
Former NHL player, hall of famer Hergesheimer dies
Judy W-L's ties targeted
CanRock stalwarts The Tea Party in town Dec. 2
Abbas does more harm than good
Tories months late with jihadi tracking tool
Magnotta's trial takes look at photos of parcels
Dialogue through dance
Uh-oh, more goalie worries
Canadians paying more for dairy, poultry
Radio personality charged
Nicole Kidman reveals heartbreak at father's death
History abounds in HBC Archive
Hot in the kitchen business
Health groups call for flavoured tobacco ban
US Ebola labs, health equipment arrive in Liberia
Spotify to battle YouTube as itlaunches in Canada
Dalhousie suspends rugby club over hazing
EU says Apple gets illegal tax benefits in Ireland
Seven rescued from sinking vessel off BC