Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mother watches over Alta. boy badly hurt in foster care

The mother of a 15 month old boy fighting for his life holds her rosary beads at the Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary Friday March 6 after she and her family prayed for his recovery. The mom can't be identified because the boy is in a foster home which is where his injuries are alleged to have occured.

Photograph by: Ted Rhodes, Calgary Herald

CALGARY — A mother’s kisses and quiet prayers mark the bedside vigil for a 15-month-old boy hospitalized this week with serious injuries suffered while in foster care.

Hooked up to machines to help him breathe, the thin, unresponsive child is a shadow of the chubby baby boy his biological mother saw two months ago.

“I talk to him, he doesn’t respond to me in any way. He just lays there. He knows I’m there, I know that for a fact,” said the 21-year-old mother, who is from the Tsuu T’ina Nation.

As the mother agonizes over the possibility she may have to make a life-and-death decision about his future, she questions how a provincial agency handled his past.

Eight months ago, the boy and his two-and-a-half-year-old sister were put in foster care.

This week, RCMP and provincial government representatives confirmed an investigation is underway after the boy was sent to hospital with severe head trauma.

Children and Youth Services Minister Janis Tarchuk wasn’t available to comment Friday.

The incident comes as a provincial report shows local agencies are struggling to find new foster recruits, placing an unprecedented strain on the system.

Opposition parties say the system “isn’t working,” and are calling for a public inquiry into this case.

The 15-month-old tot’s mother, though, is simply praying for a miracle.

“He’s so innocent. He never did anything wrong to anybody, and it had to happen to him.”

Doctors have told her the left side of her boy’s brain is “gone”; if he survives the next few days, he’ll be severely brain damaged and will likely suffer from cerebral palsy.

Little is publicly known about the foster parents responsible for the boy’s care, except that they live in the Calgary area.

NDP MLA Rachel Notley, who raised the issue in the legislature Thursday, said a source familiar with the investigation told her the foster home had more children than typically allowed.

Notley and Liberal MLA Harry Chase want the province to hold a public inquiry, noting this is the third serious foster-care incident in about two years.

The boy’s mother has been advised by legal counsel not to describe the circumstances of her children’s placement in provincial care, but said she was “dealing with life” when her children were put in foster homes in June 2008.

A few months later, she was given another chance, and the children returned to live with her. In January, they were taken away again.

She said she had never visited the foster home, and doesn’t know where it is, or the caregivers’ identities.

The mother said she visited her children at a neutral location every two or three weeks.

She became suspicious about three weeks ago after arranging a meeting, but only her daughter showed up with a provincial agent.

“I asked where my son was, and they told me he was sick and vomiting,” she said. “I told them that he needs to go to the doctor and that I would take him,” she said. “I felt like something wasn’t right.”

Because of that missed visit with her son, the last time she saw her boy before the alleged assault was Jan. 5, the day the children were taken away for the second time.

A recent report shows that, with the number of foster homes dwindling, Alberta’s foster-care system is under severe strain.

“For whatever reasons, there has been a net decrease in the number of foster homes in Alberta,” Child and Youth Advocate John Mould states in his 2007-08 report. “At the same time, Alberta’s booming economy has resulted in an exodus of staff from contracted group-care resources to other employment opportunities with better pay. All of this results in decreased placement resources for children and youth in care.”

Richard Ouellet, the province’s director of the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, said the department has begun reviewing the case, and evaluating what support was provided to the foster parents.

A broader internal review of the case is planned.

According to provincial government statistics, there are about 4,600 children in foster care in Alberta, which licenses about 2,300 foster homes. More than half the children — 2,950 — are aboriginal, despite aboriginals making up less than six per cent of Alberta’s population.

Calgary Herald

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Mother watches over Alta. boy badly hurt in foster care

Once again My Two Cents...

When I read this article I couldn't help but wonder... is this another case of Governments unnecessary intrusion into family life gone horribly wrong?

Then the kicker.. she's Aboriginal!!

Please take the time to read the link below to see just what history has to say about Aboriginals and their family life...

Disgusted with the system: Australia to formally apologize to Aborigines

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