Stephanie Cadieux says answers coming in death of Danny Francis, other teens
'We all seek answers,' minister says while denying any trend after death of 4th teen in care
B.C. Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux took a barrage of reporters' questions Friday days after the body of 18-year-old Danny Francis was discovered.
The youth, in the care of B.C.'s Ministry of Children and Family Development, committed suicide after not being allowed to see his family, said the young man's friend.
"Anytime this sort of tragedy occurs both the people around that person who love and care for them but also the structures in place and programs like the ministry who are providing service need to know what happened," said Cadieux to media at a ribbon-cutting for a new special needs child care spaces in Surrey.
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"So a series of reviews or investigations have begun and are underway," she added while denying there is a developing trend of youth dying in care.
"There are no trends that are discernable that anything is different today," said Cadieux.
"What is different is that because we have had a number of very tragic incidents in a relatively short period of time, conversations in the media have begun to try and draw them together."
Francis is the fourth teen in care to take his own life in recent months. A review into the death of Alex Gervais is underway, after he jumped from his fourth floor hotel room in September.
The ministry is also reviewing the deaths of Nick Lang, 15, who killed himself while in care in June and Carley Fraser who took her life just hours after she aged out of ministry care.
According to government statistics, there have been nine additional suicides of children in care since 2010. Another 25 children receiving Ministry services, but not in care, also took their lives.
There are currently 7,210 children in care in B.C. as of July 2015 according to the latest figures provided by the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
Cadieux said that recent legislation has changed B.C.'s Agreement with Youths to provide $5 million in support to youths aged 19 to 24 like Fraser who need to transition from care to adulthood.
"They are the most vulnerable, and they come from families that are vulnerable and challenged," said Cadieux. "And we need to support them."
Cadieux said she could not comment specifically about Francis's death.
Francis was provided services by ministry-contracted social workers with the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council's USMA Family and Child Services
"A delegated agency allows for an opportunity for more culturally respectful care," said Cadieux. "We do that in partnership with numerous agencies around the province and they provide a vital service."
Cadieux insists her ministry is taking the appropriate steps to find out what happened to Francis and says Children and Family Development has the added scrutiny of the Office Representative of Children and Youth.
The Director of Child Welfare will assess this latest death, which could lead to a formal review and investigation by the Representative for Children and Youth.
The B.C. Coroner's Service is also investigating Francis's death.
In the meantime Cadieux says Francis' family needs to mourn and "we need to let the processes that are in place to do the reviews to learn from the circumstances and have the opportunity to do that before we jump to conclusions."