Hotel placements continue for B.C. children in care

Exceptional circumstances cited by children's ministry in each of 24 recent cases

Super 8 Hotel in Abbotsford where 18-year-old Alex Gervais died last year.

A new report shows 24 children and youth in government care were placed in hotels in the three and a half months up until the end of April.

The Ministry of Children and Family Development has been under pressure to minimize the practice but says hotels sometimes must be used when there’s no other suitable option.

Most of the children placed in hotels this year stayed only a day or two.

In each case, a qualified contracted caregiver, ministry social worker or foster parent was staying with the child, and each placement was approved locally and reported to the provincial director of child welfare.

One pair of siblings were in a hotel for 18 nights because the relatives they were placed with were staying in the hotel while waiting to take possession of the new home they’d bought.

Other reasons for hotel placements included a fire at a foster home, emergency removal from a remote home where no other local foster home was available, and a bad weather delay of foster parents’ flight to pick up their foster kids.

In a few other cases threats to safety were cited for urgent use of hotels.

Seven children were placed in hotels in northwestern B.C. during the period, as well as another seven in the Vancouver-Richmond area and four in the South Fraser area.

Hotel placements have been high profile and have drawn heavy fire from the Representative for Children and Youth.

The focus intensified after 18-year-old Alex Gervais fell or jumped to his death last fall from the fourth floor of an Abbotsford hotel, where he’d been housed after his group home was shut down due to poor conditions.

The release of statistics every six months is part of the ministry’s commitment to better transparency on the issue.