B.C. family says their son died while under care of Ministry of Children and Families

B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Family Development is under fire once again.

Another family is calling for a public inquiry after their son died while he was in provincial care.

Nick Lang was 15 when he took his own life earlier this year. He was addicted to meth and was placed with a family in Campbell River while he attended a treatment program for drug addiction that was paid for by the ministry.

The family says their son was not properly supervised while he was in care, but his host family says they were never informed that Lang needed constant supervision. He died after being in care for six days.

B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond says the ministry has started a complete review and she will be following it very closely.

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WATCH ABOVE: More questions about death of teen in BC gov’t care

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“It does appear that there is a pattern with these kids,” she says. “And as I’ve reported before, kids with complex needs that need high level support are sometimes not placed in the right resource.”

Turpel-Lafond says this situation is one that families across B.C. do face.

“It’s very challenging to get them into treatment and to agree to treatment,” she says. “He agreed to begin a treatment program and as I say, my heart goes out to the parents because no parent likes to be in a situation where you have to actually, to protect your child, take a strong position against them sometimes. Because these drugs take over a young person’s ability to make good, healthy decisions and we need good hospital facilities and good drug and alcohol addiction treatment centres; where they can have in-patient intense support until it’s safe for them to be in the community.”

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She says she will be looking at whether the right support was provided to Nick and the Lang family.

WATCH ABOVE: Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, BC’s representative for children and youth, discusses the case of another young man who died while in government care.

Barb McLintock with the BC Coroners Service, says it is too early to determine whether an inquest or a Death Review Panel might be held in this case.

Turpel-Lafond says it appears to her that Nick was “at very serious risk” and needed further support.

“The challenge is that we do not have enough resources,” she says. “As I’ve said repeatedly, at that stage where the kids are in crisis, particularly the teenagers.”

She would like to see agencies work together to build a treatment program that meets the needs of kids. “[They] cannot be placed basically in a mom and pop foster home when they’re in active addiction and at that level of risk. They need to actually be in a hospital setting with highly-skilled staff, 24/7, probably a two-to-one ratio, to have a very supervised detox.”
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She adds that any death of a child needs to be fully investigated.

The family is now coming together with two other families, those of Alex Gervais and Carly Fraser, and are calling for a public inquiry to be held.

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