Starved child was let down by flaw in system, official admits
The executive director of the Catholic Children's Aid Society (CAS) said Monday that the decision to allow Jeffrey Baldwin to live with his grandparents without doing a background check on the couple is, in hindsight, hard to comprehend.
That statement came in light of last week's guilty verdicts for second-degree murder against Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman after Baldwin, then five, died in 2002 of starvation and pneumonia.
Both grandparents had previous child abuse convictions before Baldwin was sent to live with them by the children's aid group, which assumed the child, and his other siblings, would be safe.
The decision to place Baldwin with Bottineau and Kidman was made after he was removed from the care of his natural mother because of child abuse allegations.
"Unless the extended family who were presenting themselves presented obvious concerns that would lead us to checking records and doing the home study, either by way of what knowledge we might have had of them or the conduct or their behaviour, we didn't assume that family members would be anything other than a beneficial solution to children in need of protection," said Mary McConville, executive director of the CAS, who added that so-called "kinship" placements were a blind spot in the society's system.
"I know when you look at the situation like this in hindsight, that's hard to comprehend, but that is, in fact, what the thinking was."
The CAS said it now performs thorough background checks and home studies in cases of kinship placements.
Ontario's chief coroner has ordered an inquest in Baldwin's death that will, among other things, examine the role of the Catholic Children's Aid Society.