New Brunswick·CBC Investigates

Children abused/neglected in 2 Moncton-area foster homes

Two foster care homes in the Moncton region were shut down between 2013-2014 due to "Abuse/Neglect of Client," according to the Department of Social Development.

2 foster care homes in Moncton region shut down for 'Abuse/Neglect of Client' between 2013-2014

Zoe Bourgeois, a former foster care client and a youth adoption advocate, questions how kids can develop healthily if they’re bounced through dangerous foster homes 0:44

Foster children in the Moncton area have been abused or neglected at the hands of those tasked by the provincial government to care for them, CBC News has learned.

Two foster homes were shut down in the last two years for “Abuse/Neglect of Client," according to the Department of Social Development.

The department is refusing to say anything more about the cases, including how many children were affected, the nature of the offences or whether police were called in for a criminal investigation.

Norm Bossé, the child and youth advocate, told CBC News he will be asking the Department of Social Development for information on the closure of two Moncton-area foster homes. (CBC)
Norm Bossé, the province's child and youth advocate, learned of the closures through CBC News.

“We can't allow mistreatment in foster homes. We simply can't allow it," he said.

“It's not acceptable to me as the child and youth advocate and this office, or I think anybody else, to say ‘well, we'll place you in a place that's better than where you were, but not completely safe.’” said Bossé.

“That shouldn't happen today.”

The provincial department told CBC News that the Child and Family Services Act prohibits the department from saying anything about the cases.

Bill Innes, the director of child and youth services, said the safety and security of children is the foremost concern for the Department of Social Development. (CBC)
“The province takes the safety and security of children extremely seriously. It is the foremost concern of the department. In all cases where we get reports of abuse or neglect we will deal with those appropriately and take whatever actions are absolutely necessary to protect those children from future harm and neglect," said Bill Innes, the director of child and youth services.

Innes said the department will call in police on a case-by-case basis. He said in the case of a home being closed for abuse or neglect, "it would depend on the individual circumstances of the situation."

Innes added that the provincial government implemented a new, comprehensive screening program in April 2014.

He said that of the average 460 to 500 homes operating at any time, he thinks "the vast majority are loving, caring homes."

Embarrassed and ashamed

Zoe Bourgeois, an advocate for youth in care, said she thinks social workers should inspect foster care homes more frequently to try and better prevent abuse or neglect. (CBC)
Zoe Bourgeois, who is a former client of the province’s foster-care system, said she was not surprised that abuse or neglect had occurred.

The 22-year-old woman, who is currently studying social work as a second degree, said it’s unacceptable that the province has not revealed how this came to happen.

“It comes probably down to one main thing: they’re embarrassed and they’re ashamed of what they did to the child. They placed this child in a just as terrible home as they removed the child from. And so the fact that it didn’t work out and that these terrible things happened in a foster home, reflects on Social Development,” said Bourgeois.

“Of course they’re not going to take that into consideration and express this to the media because they don’t want people thinking they’re removing children and placing them in more damaging homes,” she said.

Bossé said he will be seeking answers.

“The public, as far as I'm concerned, is entitled to know whether or not our foster care homes in the province are safe. And for the most part, to my knowledge, 99 per cent of them are safe. And these folks are doing a tremendous job,” he said.

“We definitely will be asking questions of the department on these, absolutely.”

Auditor General Kim MacPherson warned in her 2013 report that children in foster care may be at risk. (CBC)
Auditor General Kim MacPherson released a report on foster care in the province in 2013.

Her audit found that the department had not done criminal background checks on all foster parents and that in some cases, files were missing records to show homes had met all standards for approval.

MacPherson made 11 recommendations overall.  A follow-up report on how many recommendations have been implemented is expected in December. 

CBC News has requested an interview with Social Development Minister Cathy Rogers. Her office has not responded.

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