Bernard Richard, British Columbia’s child and youth representative said his office receives roughly 2,200 reports every year of critical injuries or deaths of kids in care or recently out of care.

Oak Bay deaths trigger reviews by multiple agencies

When police investigation concludes, reviews by MCFD and BC’s child and youth rep could begin

In the wake of the deaths of Chloe and Aubrey Berry, multiple agencies seek to find answers to what happened and what can be done to stop it from happening again in the future.

In addition to the police investigation that began immediately, the sisters’ deaths triggered a preliminary review by the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), as the girls had service involvement with the ministry in the previous 12 months (a criteria needed for a review).

“In circumstances like this we would cooperate fully with investigations that involve the police or coroner’s office,” said a ministry spokesperson. “Where there is ministry involvement, a preliminary review is conducted by the ministry to determine if an in-depth review is appropriate. The Office of the Representative for Children and Youth is also notified and may also conduct its own review.”

Court documents show that Andrew Berry, the girls’ father, was investigated twice by MCFD, once initiated by the mother Sarah Cotton for suspected inappropriate touching (MCFD concluded that Berry had not acted with criminal intent), and once after a large soft spot was found on Aubrey’s head. The documents say Cotton did not call MCFD about the soft spot and she that assumes a social worker at the hospital misread the notes and contacted MCFD.

READ MORE: Father charged with murder of two young daughters

For the ministry review, the Provincial Director of Child Welfare must decide if an in-depth case review is warranted. There are a number of factors that contribute to the decision: whether the child was in government care or not; the nature and severity of the incident; the history and nature of prior ministry involvement; any apparent link between services provided and the outcome for the children; and the need for public accountability.

“Once a review has been initiated it can take three to eight months to complete,” said a ministry spokesperson. “Case review reports include confidential information so cannot be made public. It is the ministry’s practice with all case review reports to publicly post an executive summary.”

Summaries are posted twice annually. The next posting is expected in summer 2018.

The Office of the Representative for Children and Youth also receives notice of critical injuries or death of children who have received services from MCFD. They act as a watchdog and an independent advocate for children and youth in B.C., monitoring and reviewing the ministry’s services and conducting independent investigations when there are critical injuries or deaths.

READ MORE: Oak Bay Police find two bodies on Christmas Day

“If there’s any indication services or lack of services might have played a role, then clearly I think it would be a significant interest for us to investigate,” said Bernard Richard, British Columbia’s child and youth representative. “Sadly, we receive roughly 2,200 reports every year of what are called critical injuries or deaths of kids in care or recently out of care. About 70 a month are determined to be related to mandated services in some way. About four or five a month get a more in-depth review. We end up investigating perhaps three or four a year.”

They are currently gathering information about the Berry case, however, they couldn’t begin an investigation until the police and coroners have completed theirs or after a year has passed, whichever comes first.

“Clearly given the tragic nature of the events, we want to make sure we’re diligent in starting the process,” said Richard. “We always look for ways to learn lessons from an event and to contribute to the prevention of similar events in the future. An investigation can cost in the vicinity of $200,000 but if we think there’s lessons to be learned, if we thing there’s a possibility of avoiding tragedy in the future … we make that determination.”
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Award-winning harmonica player transforms instrument on stage

Carlos del Junco plays Upstairs Lounge Friday March 23

Lilia Zaharieva wants to share her medical good fortune

UVic student wants treatment for cystic fibrosis made available for all

Piano campaign purchases piano and more for Oak Bay theatre

Surplus funds sound mixer and console for Dave Dunnet Community Theatre

Latitude 48 Paddling Club races through Victoria waters

Local team clinched victory in Nanaimo to kick off season that will see them compete in Hawaii

Greater Victoria police busy with St. Patrick’s Day calls

Victoria police respond to 82 calls for service

Monterey student sale a swarming success

Community shows up in record number for middle school event

Women’s Expo seeks to empower women this weekend

Victoria Women’s Expo set for Saturday and Sunday at Pearkes Recreation Centre

America’s Musical Journey premieres at the IMAX

Enter to win tickets to an invite only concert at your community newspaper’s Facebook page

Some surprises in new book about B.C. labour movement

“On the Line” charts history of the union movement back to the 1800s

B.C. cyclist races to first win of the season in New Zealand

Casey Brown captures Enduro title by more than two minutes at Crankworx Rotorua

Notorious Russian troll farm also took swipes at Canadian targets

Targets included oil infrastructure and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Cirque du Soleil aerialist dies after fall during Florida show

Longtime performer fell while performing in VOLTA

Canada earns second Paralympic Games silver in 20 years

Held 1-0 lead in para hockey game from 12:06 of first to dying seconds of third and lost in overtime

LETTERS: Two views of oil pipeline protests

U.S. and other petroleum-rich countries aren’t cutting production

Most Read