Alberta giving new powers for child advocate to probe deaths of children in care

Click to play video: 'Alberta commits to review death of every child that dies in government care'
Alberta commits to review death of every child that dies in government care
WATCH ABOVE: The Notley government has committed to reviewing the death of every child that dies while in government care. Tom Vernon has more – May 30, 2017

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally indicated Serenity died while in kinship care. However, on Oct. 6, 2017, Alberta’s Ministry of Children’s Services clarified that although it was through the kinship care program that she was put in the care of the man and woman now facing charges, they were later given permanent guardianship, meaning Serenity was no longer in kinship care. It was at some point after this development that Serenity died. 

Alberta is bringing in legislation to increase the powers of the child and youth advocate to investigate deaths of children in government care.

Bill 18 was introduced in the legislature on Tuesday and will require the advocate to review every death of a child under 20 years old who was either in government care or who left the system within two years.

READ MORE: Alberta faces renewed questions on safety of kids in government care

The advocate will also publicly report on every child death review and update a legislature committee twice a year.

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Children’s Services Minister Danielle Larivee says the bill is an important first step to increasing the accountability and transparency of the child welfare system.

The bill incorporates recent recommendations from an all-party committee following the death of a young girl named Serenity in 2014.

READ MORE: Mother of young Alberta girl who died in care shares photos of her final days

Serenity died after being taken to hospital with a head injury. According to the Edmonton Journal, hospital staff noted she had bruises all over her body, including her pubic and genital area. Global News has not been able to independently verify these claims. A report by Alberta’s Child and Youth Advocate also said doctors noted Serenity had bruises at various stages of healing and was “significantly underweight.”

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