Nine Alberta youth die in six-month span while involved in child intervention services: 2020 report

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A 15-year-old homicide victim is one of nine youth who died in a six-month span last year while involved in child intervention services, says Alberta’s child advocate, recommending plain language for no-contact orders.

A report released Thursday by Del Graff reviews the deaths of 10 children, nine of whom died between April 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2020. It also includes the death of one child who died prior to this time, but the review was delayed in order to ensure that his family did not experience undue hardship.

Graff noted three other children also died during this time period, but the reviews of their deaths have been stayed at the request of the Crown or a policing agency and will be released at a later date.

Each child was involved with Alberta’s child intervention system and were either in need of intervention at the time of their death or within two years of their death.

“Each of these young people experienced unique challenges and circumstances. My thoughts are with those who love them and are experiencing the profound impact of their loss,” said Graff in a news release.


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“As we continue to grapple with the pandemic, we must also continue to prioritize young people’s well-being and ensure that services and supports are responsive and flexible enough to meet their needs.”


Teddy (all names in the report are pseudonyms for privacy reasons) died at 15-years-old, a victim of homicide. He was involved with Child Intervention Services through a custody agreement at the time of his death.

The report notes Teddy had complex needs and had been provided supports in education, justice, child intervention, disability and mental health services. He had assaulted his father, was arrested and no-contact conditions were put in place as a requirement of his release. However, these conditions were “significant barriers” to Teddy and his family receiving help. 

“At times, they could not actively participate in treatment or properly transition him home because they were not allowed contact with each other,” the report states.

“Young people are dependent on their caregivers to provide the necessities of life and promote their emotional, physical and mental well-being. When considering a no-contact condition that would keep a young person from contacting their caregivers, one must balance both the need to protect the adult’s immediate safety, and the young person’s vulnerability and dependency on their caregivers.”

As a result of Teddy’s death, Graff is recommending the Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General ensure that when no-contact conditions are imposed, information about timely revision or removal of the conditions is provided and explained to young people and their caregivers in plain language.


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Libby was 16 years old when she died by suicide and at the time, was involved with Child Intervention Services through a permanent guardianship order.

Graff’s review of her death found she experienced a “profound sense of grief and loneliness” after her mother died when Libby was 12. Her grief intensified when she was separated from her sibling, who went to live with another family member.

“Although it appears that the right supports and services were in place for Libby, she continued to experience a heightened sense of grief with the loss of other important relationships in her life,” the report states.

“Libby’s circumstances highlight both the importance of relationships for young people as they deal with experiences of grief and loneliness, as well as the significance of fostering connections with young people as they explore and develop their sense of self.”

As a result, Graff is recommending the Ministries of Health and Children’s services host a forum or other event, engaging in relevant stakeholders to highlight actions taken and results achieved in the first two years of the province’s five-year youth suicide prevention plan. The forum should also look at steps for action needed in the coming two years and the ministries should include a written summary of the event so there is a public document for future reference.

All of the young people highlighted in the report were between 13 and 19 years old. Eight were First Nation. Four died of drug or alcohol-related causes, two died by suicide, one died from medical reasons and in three cases the cause of death is pending an autopsy report, however two of these are apparent homicides.


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