The SECFS Child Abuse Unit assesses all referrals and conducts investigations of allegations of physical, sexual (including sexual exploitation), and emotional abuse of children and youth who are under the jurisdiction of SECFS.
This includes on-reserve matters for the Brokenhead, Pauingassi, Little Grand Rapids, Poplar River, Berens River, Bloodvein, Hollow Water, and Black River First Nations. The Unit may also investigate allegations, or be involved in investigations, that occur in foster homes licensed by the Agency where SECFS children in care are placed, that are situated off-reserve but outside the City of Winnipeg.
Sandra Lagimodiere – Director and A/Child Abuse Coordinator
Robin Smith – Administrative Assistant
Genevieve Bruce – Child Abuse Investigator
Lauren Turney – Child Abuse Investigator
Vanessa Johnson – Child Abuse Investigator
The Coordinator oversees the Child Abuse Unit to ensure children receive protective services related to abuse as outlined in the Child & Family Services Act, and ensures there is compliance with the Provincial Child Abuse Committee Regulations.
The Administrative Assistant creates and maintains the child abuse files, including completing the Intake Module; ensuring files on the CFSIS system are up to date; maintaining yearly statistic reports; preparing the Child Abuse Committee (CAC) agenda, taking meeting minutes, and distributing the minutes to the CAC members. The Administrative Assistant also assists workers with obtaining or providing information to the police, the Crown, court, or other agencies, as necessary, and maintains a tracking system for all internal and external referrals.
The Child Abuse Investigators specialize in investigating abuse allegations that may be physical, sexual, or emotion in nature. They are responsible to establish working relationships with the Direct Service Worker and Supervisor while the allegation is under investigation, they are not responsible for regular case management activities. Once the Direct Service Worker makes the initial assessment to ensure the safety of the child, the Child Abuse Investigator will interview the child and the alleged offender. The Abuse Investigator makes appropriate and/or necessary recommendations that identify protection concerns for the victim child, or any other child, and may recommend the immediate removal of a child to ensure his or her safety. The Abuse Investigator and Child Abuse Coordinator are available to consult with workers and supervisors when there are questions about potential or real abuse, referral processes, investigations, and outcome reports.
The Personal Health Information Act (PHIA)
The PHIA allows health care practitioners to share personal health information without the consent of the person (patient) in order to report a child in need of protection, or to co-operate with a child protection investigation. Health care practitioners governed under The Mental Health Act (MHA) are also required to report suspected child abuse. A child does not have to be under CFS agency apprehension for these situations to apply.
Abuse Referral Criteria
Physical Abuse – Physical punishment that causes an injury to a child, or an injury caused by an omission of care. The Abuse Unit will also investigate any physical punishment to a child over the age of twelve that meets the definition of Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
Sexual Abuse – The Criminal Code of Canada indicates the legal age to consent to sexual activity is 16 years. Sexual activity of a child 12 or 13 years of age is permitted if the sexual activity is consensual and the person engaging in the sexual activity is within 2 years of the child’s age. Sexual activity of a child 14 or 15 years of age is permitted if the sexual activity is consensual and the person engaging in the sexual activity is within 5 years of the child’s age.
Sexual Exploitation – Allegations concerning the coercing, luring, or engaging a child under the age of 18 into a sexual act. The Abuse Unit will investigate cases of child pornography, interfamilial sexual abuse, historical abuse cases, all nonconsensual sexual activity, and sexual activity that is outside the legal age, even if a child indicates sexual activity was consensual.
Emotional Abuse – Defined under Section 1(1) of the Child and Family Services Act as an act or omission by any person where the act or omission results in “emotional disability of a permanent nature in the child or is likely to result in such a disability”. Allegations that meet this definition will be investigated by the Abuse Unit.
Cyber Tip Referrals – Cyber Tip is the national tip line for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children through the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. Cyber Tip forwards reports to law enforcement and to the CFS agency whose jurisdiction is responsible for designated intake.