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Worker who closed file on Phoenix in 2005 wasn't breaking any rules

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The last Child and Family Services worker to recommend closing the file on Phoenix Sinclair without ever seeing her wasn't breaking any rules in 2005, the inquiry into the death of the little girl heard this morning.

Today, the rules have changed and Christopher Zalevich couldn't recommend closing a file on a child without actually seeing her and finding out if the adults she lived with have had problems with CFS in the past.

The crisis response unit worker who went to Phoenix's apartment block in March 2005 continued his testimony this morning. His was the last visit anyone from CFS paid to her home before she was taken away and killed later that year by her mother Samantha Kematch and stepfather Karl "Wes" McKay.

Zalevich spoke to Kematch in the hallway but didn't see Phoenix or know that McKay lived there, too. McKay had a criminal history of domestic violence that CFS had on file. That fact wasn't included in the information received when he was assigned the case, he testified.

The CFS after-hours worker who took a call from someone saying Kematch may be abusing Phoenix and locking her in a bedroom ommitted that information, the inquiry heard earlier. Jacki Davidson testified that she cut and pasted information from the files but missed the part about the last CFS intervention and McKay entering the picture.

The lawyer representing several child welfare authorities went through a list of rule changes that have been made since Phoenix's death in 2005 and her mother and McKay being convicted of her murder in 2008.

Social workers now have to see the child in question before they can close a file, said Kris Saxberg. They also have to check to see if the adults living in the home have a history of involvement with child welfare, the lawyer said.

Workers are no longer allowed to simply cut and paste chunks of information from the files but have to read it and prepare their own report, Saxberg said.

 

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