Manitoba Minister of Families Heather Stefanson said all 407 children in homes managed by B & L Resources for Children, Youth and Families have been spoken to as part of a provincial probe. (CBC) All 407 children in foster homes run by a private, for-profit foster care company have been contacted as part of a provincial review of the organization, according to Manitoba’s families minister.
Heather Stefanson said Wednesday face-to-face meetings have been held with every child in homes managed by B & L Resources for Children, Youth and Families.
The review followed allegations reported by CBC News in November that children in two foster homes were sexually abused while in the care of Metis Child and Family Services, which hired B & L to recruit foster parents and supervise foster homes.
Stefanson said the province is in the process of compiling data from the review. Any follow-up actions identified as a result of the review will be made public, she said.
"I think it’s important to look at all of the data and review all of the data that we have received," she said. "It’s a bit premature to say, I think, at this stage, what steps we’ll take."
In November, a CBC investigation revealed children in care were sexually abused by a minor in a B & L-managed home and were left in that home for some time after the allegations emerged.
In that case, a biological parent told CBC they had brought concerns of sexual abuse to a worker with Metis CFS months before B & L separated the children from their abuser. Not the time to review Metis CFS: Minister
CBC’s I-Team also reported on a second allegation of abuse at a B & L foster home, in which a 66-year-old Winnipeg man was charged with multiple sex crimes spanning more than five years against two boys he was fostering with his wife.
The man was charged with sexual assault, sexual interference and assault. Police allege in court documents he showed the boys pornography, assaulted one of them with a hammer and uttered threats. The alleged abuse occurred between 2009 and 2015.
The biological mother says she notified a Metis CFS worker in 2012 after her son, who was six years old at the time, said the foster father was showing pornography to him and his three-year-old brother.
She said the only thing that changed after her disclosure to Metis CFS was that the foster father stopped attending her visits with the boys.
It was only after the boys left foster care and returned to her care in the summer of 2017 that she learned of additional sex abuse allegations, which she immediately reported to police.
CBC News is not naming the man to protect the identity of the foster children.
On Wednesday, Stefanson told CBC "nothing is off the table" as her ministry looks into foster care in the province, including a review of Metis CFS. But now is not the time to launch such a review, she said.
"If we feel at some point in time that that is warranted, we’ll look at that. But for right now we don’t believe that that is the next step in all of this process," she said.
"I think that we’re taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of the children first, and we’ll continue to work with the authorities and the agencies to that end."
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