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Social Work professor named to child review panel

Bruce MacLaurin chosen for his expertise in child welfare policy and service delivery

Bruce MacLaurin, professor in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary, was chosen by the Alberta government as one of three expert advisers to the Ministerial Panel on Child Intervention, reflecting his extensive research and expertise in child welfare policy and service delivery, child welfare, and foster care outcomes and youth at risk.

“I’m excited about the work that is coming,” says MacLaurin. “I’m looking forward to the important agenda we’ll be tackling in the coming months. I think it’s important to have representatives from all parties around the table, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to collaborate and to come up with some solid recommendations to protect Alberta’s children in the future.”

The panel’s first order of business will be to review and to make recommendations for the death review process. The impetus of the panel’s creation was the tragic death of a four-year-old girl — Serenity — who died of a traumatic head injury while in kinship care. A subsequent review by Alberta's Child and Youth Advocate, Del Graff, showed that the girl's caregivers were not trained and their home was inadequate. The investigation by Graf also revealed that Serenity, along with two older siblings, were left in the care of relatives despite complaints about abuse.

The panel will follow their examination of the death review process with a larger consideration of Alberta's child welfare system. The panel is expected to draft a comprehensive report, detailing systemic changes in the next six to eight months for the new Children's Services Ministry, created by the provincial government Jan. 19. 

MacLaurin is currently the primary investigator on the third cycle of the Alberta Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect, co-principal investigator on a study of the Truth and Reconciliation Report funded by Policy Wise, co-investigator on two child welfare studies funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and co-investigator on an intervention study on youth at risk funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He was previously a  co-investigator on each of the three cycles of the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (1998, 2003, 2008), as well as the principal investigator for provincial maltreatment studies in B.C. (2008), Alberta (2003, 2008), Saskatchewan (2008) and N.W.T. (2003).

The first meeting of the Child Review Panel will be held Feb. 1 at Government House in Edmonton. The meeting is open to the public.