Diana Verrier (via video link)
Monday, January 14
Phoenix Sinclair's file was re-opened one last time before her death, but it would be closed within two days. Within that time frame, her file would be passed around in the agency like a tragic game of hot potato.
The file was re-opened after Source of Referral (S.O.R.) #7 called child and family services (CFS) officials with concerns from Samantha Kematch's friends.
S.O.R. #5 and S.O.R. #6 feared Phoenix was being abused and locked in a room for hours at a time. They asked a former foster parent to contact the agency on their behalf.
Jacki Davidson picked up the phone at the CFS After Hours Unit. Contrary to S.O.R. #7's testimony, Davidson said her unit didn't have any trouble taking tips from anonymous parties.
Davidson remembered it being a long phone call, but her notes don't reflect the same tone of strife and frustration that S.O.R. #7 spoke of on Thursday. That witness testified about having to convince Davidson to take the information seriously.
Davidson didn't dispatch a social worker to look into Phoenix's safety that night, but she did set the file up for a 24-hour response from the Crisis Response Unit. Richard Buchkowski was handed the file.
Buchkowski told the inquiry that he first tried to visit Samantha
Kematch and Phoenix mid-morning at their McGee Street apartment. He
tried again in the afternoon. His file indicates that he waited for five
minutes before leaving.
Buchkowski spoke of the importance of actually eyeballing the little girl and looking for signs of abuse.
Abuse, Buchkowski pointed out, is a sliding scale. What one person may consider to be abuse may not be what CFS workers consider to be abuse.
Buchkowski's comments echoed those made earlier by Davidson. When asked why claims that a little girl was being locked in a room did not prompt an immediate response from AHU, Davidson bluntly stated, "Locking children in a room is not uncommon."
Richard Buchkowski never got the chance to assess Phoenix. At the end of his work day, he tried to send the file along to another unit for follow-up.
Today we learned that file was sent back. In CFS parlance, the file made the "walk of shame" back to the Crisis Response Unit. No one from Intake or the Abuse Unit took on the file with its allegations the child was being abused.
Tomorrow, we will hear from the social worker who made one last attempt to check in on Phoenix before the agency closed her file for good.
With CBC's Katie Nicholson where an inquiry is trying to figure out how a little girl fell through the cracks.