Failure to investigate child abuse led to deaths, advocate says
26 children in government's care died in Saskatchewan in 2015, advocate reports
Saskatchewan's children's advocate says the deaths of two children can be linked to a failure by officials to adequately report and investigate suspected child abuse.
The case was highlighted in Bob Pringle's annual report, which was released Wednesday.
While Pringle was able to review the circumstances of the case in detail, his report did not identify the children nor did it say where in Saskatchewan the abuse allegations arose.
The report was also vague about when the deaths took place, but Pringle did note that officials had already responded to his concerns and adjusted their policies.
According to Pringle, a three-year-old girl died of drowning in a home where the caregivers (the child's father and his partner) were suspected of child abuse. The girl's younger brother, a two-year-old, died five months later. Pringle did not have a confirmed cause of death relating to the boy.
Before moving to that home, the children were in foster care in Alberta.
Pringle said the children were placed in the father's home following an assessment by social services that found no concerns.
However, when Pringle looked into the file he discovered multiple reports of suspected abuse involving the children and their parents.
He said there were times when health officials should have reported the condition of the children to social services due to suspected physical abuse.
He also noted that investigations that should have been undertaken by social services were not done.
Pringle's report also highlighted that the case where the children died was not isolated.
"Lack of reporting suspected child abuse [was] found in cases in two other health regions," Pringle said in his report.
The advocate made a number of recommendations to improve training and policies and said he was encouraged that his recommendations had been accepted.
Last year, Pringle's annual report noted the deaths of 23 children who were in the care of the province or receiving government services when they died.
For 2015, Pringle reported 26 deaths, including the two children highlighted in his case summary. Of the 26, 12 were under the age of five.