Pubdate: Sat, 24 May 2014
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2014 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: James Turner
Page: 4


Supervision lax at facility where mom killed girl: judge

A lack of supervision at a Winnipeg transitional shelter helped lead
to the death of a baby girl who was killed by her mother, a provincial
judge has found.

Nicole Redhead suffocated her daughter, Jaylene, at the Native Women's
Transition Centre, where alcohol and recreational drugs were used liberally.

The Awasis agency of Child and Family Services, which had returned the
baby to Redhead even though they knew the mother had a history of
severe crack addiction, had a mistaken belief about the level of
supervision at NWTC, Judge Larry Allen found.

He cited a major communication gap between staff at CFS and staff at
NWTC, which led to a faulty perception of the actual risk Redhead
posed to her infant.

Allen's wide-reaching inquest report examining the death of baby
Jaylene on June 29, 2009, was publicly released Friday.

The report's findings have prompted pledges from the province to
improve aspects of the child-welfare system, including fostering
greater collaboration between its various players.

Redhead is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence for

She admitted to killing Jaylene by suffocating her. The little girl
also suffered physical abuse.

Redhead was nine months pregnant with another child at the

A mother to two prior children who had been seized by CFS, Redhead
also saw Jaylene apprehended at birth in October 2007 because of a
severe crack-cocaine addiction.

Redhead's personal background was marred by extreme trauma, abuse and
addictions issues -- factors known to CFS.

She came to live at NWTC by January 2008 and by December was living in
a more independent tier of housing there.

It was the fourth time Redhead had stayed at NWTC. She had chosen to
leave on the prior occasions.

She regained custody of Jaylene under the provisions of a CFS
"temporary supervision order."

A month later, she was back to using crack cocaine

The inquest was heard over 41 days between August 2012 and December

In addition to social workers, NWTC staffers and experts, it heard
from past NWTC clients.

They described widespread and unchecked use of alcohol and drugs at
the CFS-endorsed shelter around the time Redhead was living there.

Allen said a CFS requirement that Redhead undergo random drug testing
was dropped "at some point" because it was felt she was staying at a
"safe house."

A clinical psychologist who once assessed Redhead's capacity to parent
called this development "a major miss."

CFS didn't know that not only was Redhead becoming intoxicated at NWTC
but she was also taking weekend leaves, often leaving Jaylene with a
relative to go "partying," the inquest heard.

In the months before Jaylene's killing, Redhead's CFS file was handed
off to interim workers. Agency caseloads were consistently high and
the social work suffered, the inquest heard.

One worker admitted not knowing why Redhead was living at NWTC or that
she was considered a "high-risk" client with serious issues, Allen's
report states.

The worker also believed NWTC to be a "secure facility," Allen

Her risk assessment was downgraded from high to low. Mere months
later, Jaylene was killed.

This perception by CFS workers of NWTC as a "safe house" wasn't
accurate, Allen suggests.

There was also an "inadequate understanding" between the two entities
about which was responsible for what services for Redhead, Allen said.

"This misapprehension of just what NWTC was is one of the reasons for
the tragedy of Jaylene Redhead's death," Allen states. "While it may
be that the Awasis agency should have known more about where Nicole
and Jaylene were going when away from the centre, they cannot be
faulted for believing that NWTC was a safer environment than it
actually was.

"Many of the (lawyers) involved in this matter and the court itself
have been familiar with 'safe houses,' and NWTC in particular, for
many years and I believe all of us were very much taken aback with the
revelations as to drug use, lax enforcement of rules and lack of
security at the facility," Allen wrote.

"The relationship between Awasis and NWTC appears to reveal poor
communication of information and accordingly, poor information.
Unfortunately, the reliance on this information was high. High
reliance on poor information creates situations fraught with risk,"
Allen stated.

The death prompted an audit of NWTC by Manitoba's Child Protection

The centre's management has since undertaken extensive procedural and
other changes, including adding after-hours staff and performing room
checks for drugs and alcohol.

"The centre itself has gone a long way to rectifying perceived
problems," Allen wrote. "The Awasis agency understandably appears to
have misunderstood how NWTC was being run. It should never be the case
again that the rules and practices of that facility are left as
nebulous as they were preceding Jaylene Redhead's death," Allen said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt