Child “protection”, the hard truth

Delonna Sullivan family photoDelonna Sullivan family photo


Two social workers from Leduc along with a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer arrived at Sullivan’s house with an apprehension order for the children of Sullivan’s roommate on April 5, 2011. Delonna was also taken from the house by the social workers and RCMP, but without the legally required apprehension order.

“There was never an apprehension order that was filed or a complaint against my daughter. I went out to my daughter’s place and we pleaded to the RCMP that we could take Delonna, but they flat out refused,” explained Marilyn Koren, Delonna’s grandmother.

An affidavit signed by a social worker two days later claimed that the child needed to be removed because “the infant has been subjected to disharmony in the home and the child is left with inexperienced babysitters” and her mother “appears to suffer from an alcohol addiction.”

On April 8, 2011, Delonna’s mother and grandmother visited the foster parent’s home, and were distressed by what they saw. Delonna had severe diaper rash, and was covered in feces due to three straight days of diarrhea. It was obvious to both of them that four-month-old Delonna was not appropriately being cared for by the foster parents.

On April 11, 2011, Delonna was taken to the hospital. At 4 P.M. she was pronounced dead. The mother wasn’t notified of her daughter’s death until 10 P.M. that evening. The medical examiner ruled that Delonna had been heavily dosed with Tylenol, and subjected to unsafe sleeping conditions.

The family continues to seek justice for the loss of Delonna to this day.

Letter to the editor of the Leduc Rep, a Canoe Sun Media Community Newspaper, written by Jamie Sullivan, the surviving mother of Delonna Sullivan who perished while in foster care. Letter is as published in the online edition of the paper on December 20, 2013, under the title “Child ‘protection’, the hard truth.”

Dear editor,

There has been a series about child protection, in the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald, talking about the hidden number of deaths while in foster care. I was extremely offended by a recent dear editor letter to the Leduc Rep on the December 6/13 issue, written by Trevor Thain – Co-Chair, Audrey Franklin – Aboriginal Co-Chair, Board of North Central Alberta Child and Family Services Authority, and Child and Family Services Authority.

This letter reprimands the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald for overshadowing successful foster and kinship families. I think this is extremely childish and selfish to sit back and criticize what the families who have lost their children and media fought so hard to achieve. The Journal and Herald worked for 4 years to obtain the records to reveal the TRUE number of children that have died in our province. These stories are for them and should not be overshadowed by the system that they died in wanting to look good. I would like for those people that wrote that letter to tell the hundreds of parents in this province and across Canada how they think that their child’s death or abuse was, quote, “UNFORTUNATE”. A totally inaccurate description on so many levels. And that, quote, “Foster families are skilled and loving caregivers who continually undergo training”, end quote. Don’t forget to include all the other family members that were destroyed by these “loving caregivers”. And make sure to tell them about your many success stories.

Finally we are able to start talking about our children that we loved and cherished even though we are still made to hide their names and faces due to publication bans. Bans which are put in place to protect social services. Not to protect the families that they CLAIM it is for. If publication bans were actually put in place for families, why then are we never told? Most parents don’t find out about this imposed ban until they try to speak publicly about their stories and are then subsequently threatened with a fine, jail time and or a lawsuit. Or loss of other remaining children. This is sad FACT. How is this working for families? With such severe consequences people should be well informed of their rights and consequences for failure to comply. Considering the ban is put in place as soon as they open a file on you. A publication ban should be at the families discretion if that is who it is really meant to serve.

Hundreds of children, parents and families are damaged beyond repair every year just by being ripped apart. The damage is always irreparable. You may prove yourself a fit parent and get your child back, but they are never the same and you have already missed out on so much of their lives. If you get them back at all. Good foster placements don’t even know that they are contributing to this damage because they are told by CPS workers that the child came from a bad home. So that is what they believe to be true. That is not their fault. Lack of supports and OPINION of parenting skills, not proof of endangerment, are the leading root causes of apprehensions. Only a small number of children need to be removed due to proven mental or physical endangerment. I would also like to thank those care givers that do make a difference in a child’s life that really needed to be removed from a bad situation.

In closing, I would also like to thank all the media outlets that have exposed these issues and sparked some much needed discussion on a mass public concern. We cannot sugar coat things by saying, oh yeah, things are bad, BUT, look at what our successes are. Most of the success I hear is from people working from within. It is easy to become biased when you are involved in the process. I know as a child CPS destroyed my life and as an adult they took what was left when they destroyed my daughters life to the point of death. Child protection has become a business. A far cry from what it was incorporated for. I have a list of questions that I would like to ask our government and I will list them here. These are some of my biggest concerns about our flawed system. If you would like to read my daughter Delonna’s story and watch videos please go to friends of Delonna Sullivan on fb, or follow up on the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald stories at

Jamie Sullivan

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