95% of kids in B & L homes have been visited while province reviews foster agency
Province pledged all kids would be contacted by CFS agents while it investigates allegations of sexual abuse
A week after the Manitoba government ordered a review of a Winnipeg foster care agency facing allegations of sexual abuse at a home it was responsible for, officials have met with most of the children in the agency's care.
The province announced last week it would ensure every foster child overseen by B & L Resources for Children and Youth is spoken with, at a location outside the home so they can speak freely.
In a week, more than 95 per cent of children have been approached by CFS agencies, Families Minister Heather Stefanson revealed during question period Monday.
"There's still a little bit more work to do," Stefanson told her colleagues at the Manitoba Legislature, "and we will continue to work with the agencies and authorities to ensure that."
The province ordered a review of B & L on Nov. 24, following a CBC investigation in which a secret recording revealed a manager from B & L admitted the company did not act quickly enough after sex abuse allegations involving a minor arose in a foster home overseen by B & L.
The government has refused to disclose the number of children in the care of B & L, citing the ongoing review, overseen by deputy minister of Families Jay Rodgers. As of 2016, 275 children were staying at B & L homes.
While the review is underway, no more children will be placed in homes run by B & L, the province said.
Abuse perpetrated by minor
CBC News initially reported last month on an allegation that children were being sexually abused by a minor in a foster home overseen by B & L that surfaced in 2016.
A director with the foster care company said he failed to act quickly enough after the allegations came forward, in a 2017 secret recording obtained by CBC News.
"We dragged our heels big time," he is heard saying in the recording.
Last week, CBC reported on another allegation of sexual abuse from a man hired by the company.
Through his lawyer, the 66-year-old foster father has denied the charges, which reportedly involved two boys he was fostering with his wife between 2009 and 2015.
As of 2016, more than a dozen agencies sent children in care to B & L foster homes, including Winnipeg Child and Family Services, West Region CFS, Metis CFS and Dakota Ojibway CFS.
Bruce Bertrand-Meadows, managing director of B & L, said "the safety and well-being of children entrusted to our care has always been and remains B & L's primary focus" in a recent statement.
With files from Katie Nicholson, Joanne Levasseur