A review conducted by Manitoba'sfour child welfare authorities found virtually all children in foster care in the province are accounted for.The review, whichtook more than$250,000 and countless staff hours to complete, was prompted following the high-profile death of five-year-old Phoenix Sinclair.
Police believe Phoenix was abused and killed at the Fisher River Cree Nation last June, three months after Child and Family Services returned her to the custody of her birth mother and closed her case. Nine months passed before the girl's disappearance came to the attention of authorities.
Sinclair's mother and her mother's boyfriend were charged with first-degree murder in connection to her death.
Staff met with nearly every child
In the spring, the CEOs of the province's four child welfare authorities agreed to have staff meet face-to-face with every child in care, and with every child receiving services from CFS agencies.
Elsie Flett, head of the First Nations of Southern Manitoba Child and Family Services Authority, said Thursday that social workers from all four organizationsmet with nearly6,900 children in care. All but three of them were accounted for.
"There were three children that were not seen, and they were not seen because they were runaways. But they're teenagers, so we're not missing children," Flett said.
"I think we can say from that thattheâ¦ agencies are doing good work. Kids are being protected, a lot of kids that were seenâ¦ there's just no problems."
Flett said the cases of the three runaways were known to workers before the review began.
Family Services Minister Christine Melnick said Thursday the government is satisfied with the results of the review.
"This, to my knowledge, is the first exercise of its kind that's ever been carried out in Canada," Melnick said. "They had face-to-face meetings with almost 7,000 children, and I just can't stress enough how important I think the exercise was, and really recognize the work that's been done here."
More reviews of the handling of child welfare cases are underway. In March, Melnick ordered an external overview of the entire CFS program and an internal investigation looking into the circumstances surrounding Phoenix Sinclair's death.