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Report shows social services failed to follow policies in case of boy, 13, who died by suicide
REGINA -- The coroner’s inquest into the death of 13-year-old Kaleab Schmidt heard the Ministry of Social Services failed to properly follow a number of its policies when dealing with the case.
Kaleab was found unresponsive on his family farm on April 30, 2018. He attended Greenall High School in Balgonie, where he experienced bullying and racism from other students at school and through social media including Snap Chat.
The report that followed his death found a number of policies were not followed, and important timelines were not met.
The coroner’s jury heard that on April 30, child protection social worker Samantha Cooney spoke with the parents, who said Kaleab was doing okay. Under the guidance of her supervisor, the social worker decided not to meet in person.
Social worker and another supervisor who was working on Kaleab's case, Kaely Jacques had previously changed the case to immediate, meaning it was to be dealt with urgently.
Cooney and another supervisor, Salim Otiso downgraded the immediacy of Kaleab’s case based on the phone call with the parents.
Since Kaleab’s death the Ministry of Social Services has added mandatory suicide intervention training, two new positions in its investigation unit and the screening process is no more and cases now go directly to the investigation unit to speed up the process.
Michelle Skjerban with Quality Assurance for the province recognized many policies were not followed based on social services logs through the report.
“I felt like we were reaching out and no one was listening,” Kaleab’s mother Sandra Barker Schmidt said, “I was screaming for help, they’re short-staffed, it shouldn’t happen and they need to get these people trained properly so it doesn’t happen again. Suicide is high for kids… we’re losing our children.”