The best interests of Phoenix Sinclair didn't necessarily trump invading clients' privacy and earning their trust, the inquiry into her death heard today.
Laura Forrest, a Child and Family Services intake worker assigned to the case in 2003 after the toddler was taken to hospital with a foreign and festering object stuck up her nose, tried unsuccessfully for months to see Phoenix. She tried visiting the home right away but her father Steve Sinclair said she wasn't there.
"He told me she was being looked after," said Forrest.
She went back to the home several times over the next three months but no one was home. She didn't try any other contacts listed on file to see if they could help her locate Phoenix and her dad.
"I do not think that is a respectful way to work with people," Forrest told Jeff Gindin, the lawyer representing Steven Sinclair and Phoenix's foster mother Kim Edwards.
Forrest said she was hoping and trying to work with Sinclair. She wanted to win his trust by not "invading his privacy" and phoning people to ask his and Phoenix's whereabouts. She had to be careful with confidentiality issues, too, she said.
"They're all trumped by the best interests of Phoenix?," Gindin asked.
"Not necessarily," said Forrest.
As an intake worker she had many cases to deal with and had to prioritize them. Calling around to find Phoenix might have taken some time but might have been a good idea, she admitted.
"It's easy to say that now after we know what happened."
Phoenix was later apprehended and taken into care then murdered by her mother, Samantha Kematch in 2005.