Manitoba's children's advocate critical of how foster girl's case handled

The Canadian Press
Associated Press

WINNIPEG - Manitoba's children's advocate says social workers who checked on a little girl three months before she was beaten to death shouldn't have closed her file without seeing her.

Darlene MacDonald told an inquiry into Phoenix Sinclair's death that the workers should have made a point of seeing the five-year-old when they checked on the family after an abuse allegation.

MacDonald was a program manager at Winnipeg Child and Family Services when Phoenix was alive.

She said the agency was experiencing heavy staff turnover at the time.

She also said it would have been much better if one social worker had been assigned to the girl's file long term.

Phoenix spent much of her life bouncing between foster care, her parents and family friends before she was killed by her mother and mother's boyfriend at the age of five in June 2005.

The inquiry has already heard the social workers often lost track of who was caring for Phoenix and missed that her mother's boyfriend had a history of domestic violence.

MacDonald was appointed children's advocate — an independent adviser to the provincial government — in 2011.