FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Child Death Review Committee has reviewed the deaths of three children whose families were known to the Department of Social Development. The committee’s recommendations were released today by Chief Coroner Gregory Forestell.

The committee reviews the deaths of children under the age of 19, including those who were in the legal care of the minister of Social Development, or whose families were in contact with the department within 12 months before the child's death.

A response to these recommendations from the Department of Social Development will be released within the 45-day time frame established in the terms of reference of the committee.

The committee made the following recommendation in the first case:

  • That the Department of Social Development review the current counselling program for children under permanent foster care and make enhancements necessary to assist them in every stage of grievance they might face, being a child not raised by his or her biological parent(s).

The committee made the following recommendations in the second case:

  • That the Department of Social Development conduct a multidisciplinary conference prior to the consideration of reunification (including the police and a physician) when it involves a non-accidental injury to a child.
  • That, when a child’s injury is noted by a social worker and the injury is significant enough that the child is taken to be seen by a physician, an intake should be done (without a referral source) or be written as an event in order to be mentioned in a permanency planning meeting.
  • That the results of the police investigation be communicated with the Department of Social Development when it involves a non-accidental injury to a child.
  • That, in cases where a child is under child protection, a mechanism be implemented between the departments of Health and Social Development to flag a child’s Medicare number in order for the caregiver (hospital emergency room or a physician at a clinic) to inform the Department of Social Development that the child was taken for treatment for an injury.
  • That, when a child has been a victim of a non-accidental injury and the perpetrator has not been identified from the household in which the injury occurred, the child should not be reunified until the perpetrator has been identified.

The committee supports the recommendations made by the Department of Social Development in its internal evaluation of this particular case.

The committee made the following recommendation in the third case:

  • That, in all cases involving the death of a child, the coroner affixes photographs to his or her report.

In response to this recommendation, the Office of the Chief Coroner has issued a directive to all investigating coroners to include primary scene and secondary scene photographs as applicable in their case files for all child deaths.

The chief coroner and the committee chair continue to work with senior officials from the Department of Justice and Public Safety, the Department of Social Development, and the child and youth advocate to examine the review process with a goal to balance the government’s commitment to transparency while respecting the privacy of the children and impacted families. The chief coroner has asked the access to information and privacy commissioner to also be a part of the review and provide her input.

The Child Death Review Committee advises the Office of the Chief Coroner. The committee is mandated to review the facts and circumstances related to the sudden and unexpected deaths of all children under 19 years of age in New Brunswick. The committee conducts comprehensive reviews and uses this information to take action to prevent future deaths and improve the health, safety and well-being of all children in New Brunswick.