‘How does that happen?’ Victoria family says 6-year-old son drowned in foster care


Editor’s note: The following contains details and a photo that some readers may find distressing.

After fighting for two days on life support, a six-year-old boy who family says has been under the care of the province, died Wednesday morning.

“Our innocent, impulsive, cheerful explorer had been left alone with his sister to play completely unattended in a large yard with a pool,” Jade Ratchford told CHEK News. “He was found face down after being in the pond for over an hour. His heart had stopped.”

Ratchford says her son, Oliver, and eight-year-old sister, Lucy, were taken into foster care on Thursday, Feb. 22. She says no one from the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) has explained why her children were taken.

Four days later, on Monday, she got the call that Oliver was unresponsive.

“Sweet as pie, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, playful,” said Colleen Hopkins, a family friend of the Ratchfords, describing Oliver.

And though medical staff tried, Oliver never woke up. His heart stopped beating at 3:55 a.m. Wednesday morning.

“He’s gone because someone didn’t put a fence around his pond or pool or supervise these children. How does that happen?” asked Hopkins.

It’s a question that’s echoed by Oliver’s mom.

“They took my baby. They killed him…MCFD killed my son,” Ratchford said. “How is this child protection? How is this right? How is this the government’s idea of what safety is?”

MCFD told CHEK News that foster parents undergo thorough background checks and home safety assessments, but can’t speak to this specific case due to privacy.

“What I can say is that as a minister and as a mom it’s my expectation that our ministry, if a child dies in care, is doing everything to get to the truth of what happened – and how – so we’re able to take any and all actions to keep youth safe and protected,” said Grace Lore, Minister for Children and Family Development

The BC Coroner’s Service confirmed that their agency was notified “and is in the very early stages on investigating this death.”

Hopkins says there should be other interventions available to families who are struggling before children are taken from their homes.

“Give them a little help, that’s all. We should be able to give them that. Our government should be able to do that,” said Hopkins.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!