Bernard Richard, British Columbia’s child and youth representative said his office receives roughly 2,200 reports every year of critical injuries or deaths of kids in care or recently out of care.

Deaths of young Victoria sisters trigger reviews by multiple agencies

When police investigation concludes, reviews by MCFD and BC’s child and youth rep could begin

In the wake of the deaths of Chloe and Aubrey Berry, multiple agencies seek to find answers to what happened and what can be done to stop it from happening again in the future.

In addition to the police investigation that began immediately, the sisters’ deaths triggered a preliminary review by the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), as the girls had service involvement with the ministry in the previous 12 months (a criteria needed for a review).

“In circumstances like this we would cooperate fully with investigations that involve the police or coroner’s office,” said a ministry spokesperson. “Where there is ministry involvement, a preliminary review is conducted by the ministry to determine if an in-depth review is appropriate. The Office of the Representative for Children and Youth is also notified and may also conduct its own review.”

Court documents show that Andrew Berry, the girls’ father, was investigated twice by MCFD, once initiated by the mother Sarah Cotton for suspected inappropriate touching (MCFD concluded that Berry had not acted with criminal intent), and once after a large soft spot was found on Aubrey’s head. The documents say Cotton did not call MCFD about the soft spot and she that assumes a social worker at the hospital misread the notes and contacted MCFD.

READ MORE: Father charged with murder of two young daughters

For the ministry review, the Provincial Director of Child Welfare must decide if an in-depth case review is warranted. There are a number of factors that contribute to the decision: whether the child was in government care or not; the nature and severity of the incident; the history and nature of prior ministry involvement; any apparent link between services provided and the outcome for the children; and the need for public accountability.

“Once a review has been initiated it can take three to eight months to complete,” said a ministry spokesperson. “Case review reports include confidential information so cannot be made public. It is the ministry’s practice with all case review reports to publicly post an executive summary.”

Summaries are posted twice annually. The next posting is expected in summer 2018.

The Office of the Representative for Children and Youth also receives notice of critical injuries or death of children who have received services from MCFD. They act as a watchdog and an independent advocate for children and youth in B.C., monitoring and reviewing the ministry’s services and conducting independent investigations when there are critical injuries or deaths.

READ MORE: Police find two bodies on Christmas Day

“If there’s any indication services or lack of services might have played a role, then clearly I think it would be a significant interest for us to investigate,” said Bernard Richard, British Columbia’s child and youth representative. “Sadly, we receive roughly 2,200 reports every year of what are called critical injuries or deaths of kids in care or recently out of care. About 70 a month are determined to be related to mandated services in some way. About four or five a month get a more in-depth review. We end up investigating perhaps three or four a year.”

They are currently gathering information about the Berry case, however, they couldn’t begin an investigation until the police and coroners have completed theirs or after a year has passed, whichever comes first.

“Clearly given the tragic nature of the events, we want to make sure we’re diligent in starting the process,” said Richard. “We always look for ways to learn lessons from an event and to contribute to the prevention of similar events in the future. An investigation can cost in the vicinity of $200,000 but if we think there’s lessons to be learned, if we thing there’s a possibility of avoiding tragedy in the future … we make that determination.”
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Province approves city’s process for borrowing $17M for fire hall

Alternative approval process will start April 3

Court date moved for Nanaimo city manager accused of threats

Tracy Samra’s court date now scheduled for next month

Crash in Nanaimo claims man’s life

One man dead after crash in Nanaimo. Police say speed and alcohol are considered factors.

RDN receives funding for flood risk assessment

Regional District of Nanaimo to see $80K from B.C. government and $70K from feds

Safari Jeff brings exotic animal tour to town

Animal enthusiast and educator presenting shows at Nanaimo North Town Centre

Beefs & Bouquets, March 22

To submit a beef or bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail

Nanaimo Harbourfront Library set to host third annual GeekCon

Cosplayers, comic book fans and board gamers unite at library

Public warned not to eat herring eggs harvested from French Creek to Qualicum Bay

Island Health reports herring eggs contaminated with vibrio cholerae bacteria

Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond wins figure skating world title

The 22-year-old fwon the women’s singles crown with her Black Swan routine

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Judge the NRE on its own merits

Letter writers weigh in on the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange’s closure

Vancouver Island pooches celebrate National Puppy Day

Check out some of the submissions we received from around the region

Alberta tells B.C. to stop opposing pipelines if it doesn’t like gas prices

John Horgan said he would like to see the federal government step in to deal with high gas prices.

Most Read