CHILLIWACK – A summary of the review into the death of two-year-old Chassidy Whitford was released today through the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
Chassidy was found dead Sept. 21, 2002 on the Lakahahmen reserve near Mission. The ministry’s director of child protection, designated under the Child, Family and Community Service Act, immediately began a review of the circumstances surrounding her death. Two external reviewers with experience in aboriginal child welfare were contracted to carry out the review.
The review found that Xyolhemeylh, the native agency involved with Chassidy and her father, did not meet all the requirements of child protection standards in its response to a July 8, 2002 child protection report regarding the child.
The purpose of the review was to examine the Ministry for Children and Family Development and Xyolhemeylh involvement with Chassidy and her father to ensure that policy, standards, and practice requirements regarding the provision of child protective family services were met.
Prior to her death, the child was in the care of her father. The child and her father were subjects of ongoing protective family service from Xyolhemeylh at the time of Chassidy’s death. Xyolhemeylh Health and Family Services is the delegated First Nations Child and Family Service agency which provides on reserve child protection services to the 19 bands of the Sto:lo Nation and four affiliated bands located in the Fraser Valley.
The review made 14 recommendations to improve case management and practices. In a Nov. 4 meeting, the Sto:lo Nation agreed that the review was complete and committed to implementing all of the recommendations. Further, they directed Xyolhemeylh program director Tyrone McNeil to develop a response for presentation to the chiefs at their December 2003 meeting.
The recommendations, currently being implemented by the agency, were also released today and are available on line at http://www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/media_site/breaking_news.htm