VICTORIA - B.C.'s children's representative says two government ministries failed a poor, young aboriginal couple whose baby boy was removed from their care and placed in a foster home where he suffered severe injuries.
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said the parents were refused income assistance and temporary housing by the Children's Ministry and the Housing Ministry, which led to "shattering" results that will affect the boy for the rest of his life.
Her concerns are highlighted in the report "Housing, Help and Hope: A Better Path for Struggling Families," which she submitted to the government Tuesday.
Turpel-Lafond said the baby was removed from his parents' care in September 2006 when he was two months old after reports about the family's temporary living arrangements with relatives.
But three months later, the boy had been placed in three different foster homes and was hospitalized with "profound" injuries, she said.
He now has cerebral palsy, is blind in one eye and doesn't walk at age three.
Turpel-Lafond said that after the injury, the child was sent to a fourth foster home before being returned to his parents in July 2007.
Her report makes several recommendations, including the need for income assistance, housing and child welfare systems to be co-ordinated to support vulnerable families.
"These parents were put in a no-win situation - choose to stay with relatives and lose care of their son, or choose to keep their child and leave the security of staying with family - without having the money necessary to move out," she said.