Crucial information missing from teen's file: inquest
New details have emerged about a girl'stroubling journey through Manitoba's child welfare system before she took her own life in August 2005.
The inquest into the death of Tracia Owen heard that the woman in charge of choosing the girl's final home didn't receiveimportant information from Owen's case history.
Owen, 14,was moved more than 65 times through a variety foster homes, group homes, a drug treatment facility and her biological parents' homeover the course of her life.
Patricia Cox, who ran the placement desk for Manitoba's Child Protection Branch during the time Tracia was in care, testified at the inquest this week.
Earlierin the week, Cox testified that the file she saw on Owen contained little indication of her involvement in the sex trade or drug use.
On Friday, Crown attorney Larry Allen reviewed for the inquest the information the agency in charge of Owen's case, Southeast Child and Family Services, had in the girl's file.
Move by move, through dozens of foster homes and care facilities, Allen recited instances where Owen became violent and evidence that she was using illegal drugs and sniffing solvents.
Allen also referred to case files in which Owen is reported to have demonstrated suicidal behaviour andspoken about being sexually abused.
Cox testified Friday that she did not see many of those details.
'You are writing a kid's life story'
Coxtestified thatit was the responsibility of the child-welfare agencies —in Owen's case, Southeast Child and Family Services— to handle case management and communication.
Sheadmitted that the case information on Owen was inadequate.
"You are writing a kid's life story and you have to do it well," she said. "In this case, it wasn't done well."
If details about Owen's problems had been available, Cox said, it may have made a difference in wherethe teenwas placed and how her case was handled.
The central desk referred Owen to Project Neecheewam, a long-term care facility for aboriginal girls. She was there for eight months, and Cox testified earlier this week that indications the girl was in trouble came only days before she took her own life.
Owen, originally from Little Grand Rapids, committed suicide in a West End garage in August 2005.
The inquest was ordered by the province's chief medical officer to determine if drugs or sexual exploitation were factors in Owen's death. It will also look at how child welfare services monitored the girl's life.
The inquest is taking a break and will resume hearing testimony in April.