The Edmonton group home where a 15-year-old ward of the province committed suicide is not an accredited facility, CBC News has learned.
The girl, who can only be identified as K.C., hanged herself in a closet at Crossroads House last Monday after struggling with depression.
The facility was licensed and received money from the province. While Crossroads had applied for accreditation last fall, it had not yet received it.
“What we have in our policy is that the agency must either be accredited or in the process of being accredited,” said Elden Block, Director of Children Services for Alberta.
There were 4 teens living at the home when K.C. died, monitored by 10 staff members. Family members tell CBC News that the girl may have been dead for up to 12 hours before she was found.
E4C, the non-profit agency that runs the home, says that staff check on the teens only if there is cause for concern.
“I'm not in a situation to talk about the event,” said Barb Spencer, E4C’s executive director.
“Tragic, tragic event for sure - and traumatizing for everybody who's been involved with that.”
Spencer says the group home does not have breakaway bars in the rooms' closets. Breakaway bars are designed to collapse if too much weight is placed on them, preventing suicide attempts.
“Crossroads House has never had breakaway bars. I don't have an answer as to why that wasn't identified as one of those best practices.”
The bars have now been installed at the group home, which has been temporarily closed while a review is carried out.
Children’s Services says it is checking with other group homes in the province to make sure they have breakaway bars installed.
Alberta's Child and Youth Advocate may launch his own independent investigation.