TORONTO - A children's aid worker handling the case of a Toronto boy who died of starvation in his grandparents' care said there were no concerns about the couple that would have prompted her to search their records.
Margarita Quintana of the Catholic Children's Aid Society told the inquest into Jeffrey Baldwin's death Wednesday that grandmother Elva Bottineau seemed "highly concerned" about the well-being of her grandchildren.
"We didn't check records during that time unless we had protection concerns for the person," she said.
The inquest has heard that both Bottineau and her partner Norman Kidman had a history of child abuse, including separate convictions and various dealings with the children's aid society.
But when the society was looking at placing Jeffrey and his siblings in their care, the inquest has heard the workers didn't look through their own files to see what might be lurking in the grandparents' past.
While testifying in a soft, halting voice on Wednesday, Quintana described Kidman as "supportive" and told the inquest Bottineau had been "helpful" and "positive" while the family was dealing with children's aid services.
"She was always very assertive in defining their needs," Quintana said of Bottineau's attitude towards the grandchildren.
Bottineau and Kidman are currently serving life sentences for second-degree murder in Jeffrey's death 11 years ago.
When he died, five-year-old Jeffrey was 21 pounds, about what he weighed when he was first sent to his grandparents four years earlier.
The inquest has heard that Bottineau and Kidman would keep Jeffrey and one of his sisters locked for long stretches of time in their room, where they were left to urinate and defecate, then forced to clean up their own mess.
Quintana's testimony on Wednesday focused largely on her early interactions with Jeffrey's family, before he was born.
The CCAS first got involved with Jeffrey's parents when a neighbour reported concerns about their care of their first baby.
Quintana said Bottineau was described by Jeffrey's parents as a source of support while the young couple, who struggled with domestic violence issues, were grappling with how to care for their first-born. She said a visit to Bottineau's home when she was temporarily caring for Jeffrey's oldest sibling turned up no concerns.
"She was very clear about how to take care of a baby," she said of Bottineau. "The grandparents were providing an alternative that in this moment the parents were not."
The inquest has heard that Jeffrey and his siblings were each sent to their grandparents on a temporary basis, but each time Bottineau went to family court to get permanent custody.
Quintana repeatedly told the inquest on Wednesday that Jeffrey's mother, Yvonne Kidman, had expressed her faith in Bottineau's ability to care for her children many times.
"Yvonne was always talking about her mother, in support of her," she said.
Kidman has testified at the inquest, however, that she and her mother — who kicked her out of the house at 16 — did not get along.
She also testified that had she known about her mother and father's past, she would not have consented to her children being placed in their care.
She said she didn't know that two different psychological evaluations cast major doubts on Bottineau's ability to care for children.
Kidman has also said she knew her mother had two other children from a previous relationship, but she didn't know that they were taken out of the home and made Crown wards following a severe beating by Norman Kidman that landed them in hospital.
Quintana's testimony is set to continue on Thursday.