NEWS

Foster home where B.C. baby Isabella was placed at time of death shut down

03/25/2015 09:38 EDT | Updated 05/25/2015 05:59 EDT
The foster home where a B.C. baby girl had been placed when she died in March 2013 has been shut down. 

The baby's mother says she was forced to hand her daughter Isabella over to government care and is now suing the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Authorities won't say if the baby's death and the shutdown of the foster home are related, but a coroner's report found that Isabella had fractures in her left arm and bruises on her arms, legs and face.

Now her mother, Sara Jane Wiens, is demanding answers and an apology for Isabella's death. She also wants to know if her child's death and the foster home at which Isabella was placed were investigated by the ministry. 

Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux, however, is not saying when or why the foster home was shut down.

"At this point, I can't give you that information," she said on Wednesday. 

Wiens said the ministry took Isabella away when she was two months old, after ruling she was unfit to parent because of her learning disability.

She said she had raised concerns about her daughter's well-being during supervised visits, but was ignored. 

"They're telling me I can't parent and that I'm dangerous and that I will potentially harm my child and … then they take her from me, put her in a home, and she ends up dead," she said. 

"I saw bruises and constant diaper rash, and I brought these things up, but they disregarded them."  

Her lawyer Jack Hittrich said it was a struggle for Wiens to obtain the coroner's report.

"It's very reprehensible that the very ministry charged with protecting children essentially sentenced this child to death. Ultimately the buck stops with the ministry."

The allegations have not been proven in court. 

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.'s representative for children and youth, said the government has failed in not meeting with Isabella's family about her tragic death.

"I'm glad the home is closed. I am not happy we have a death of a child, and I am not happy that the family waited a long time to find out why, and what they got was an answer that was very troubling," she said. 

She has also considered launching her own investigation after the case makes its way through the court.

"We do have a child welfare system for a reason. We do need foster care and we need safety, but we need to make sure the standards are high and that the families are engaged and involved," she said.

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