Skip to main content

'How is this child protection?': Family of six-year-old B.C. boy seeks answers after death in foster care


The tragic death of a six-year-old boy on Vancouver Island is under review after his mom says he died less than a week into being placed in foster care without an explanation to her family.

Jade Ratchford says her son, Oliver, was found unresponsive, face down in a pond and later died in hospital.

“They took my baby. They killed him… MCFD killed my son,” she writes in a statement blaming the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development. “How is this child protection? How is this right? How is this the government’s idea of what safety is?”

Grace Lore, the children's minister, said she cannot comment on any case related to a child in care, even when a family comes forward, due to privacy reasons. Lore said the situation is every parent’s worst nightmare.

“My thoughts are with the family and community of this little boy. I’m a mom of a seven- and a nine-year-old. I cannot imagine what this family is going through,” said Lore.

She says foster parents undergo rigorous assessments before a child is placed in their care, including home safety visits.

“It is my expectation and my direction to the ministry that we are doing everything if a child dies in care so that we understand what happened and how it happened so we can take actions to ensure children are safe and protected – whether at home or in our care,” said Lore.

B.C.’s watchdog for children and youth says her office will also conduct a review.

Representative for children and youth Dr. Jennifer Charlesworth says the system is facing tremendous pressure.

“We’re seeing workforce shortages unlike anything I have ever seen in my 46 years of practice. We’re seeing situations (where) there’s simply not the capacity to provide the services and resources that are necessary,” said Charlesworth. “So the complexity of what we’re dealing with right now, our system was never designed to meet those kinds of needs.”

Oliver’s allies support the spotlight on accountability and have turned to helping his family.

Family friend Stephanie Paquette says she’s collecting donations to pay for funeral costs, meals and other expenses.

“[Oliver] is such a sweet, funny, smart, very curious little boy. And everyone who knew him fell in love with him. So yeah, I’m just heartbroken,” said Paquette. Top Stories

A look inside the gutted 24 Sussex Drive

The National Capital Commission is providing a glimpse inside the gutted 24 Sussex Drive, more than a year after the heritage building along the Ottawa River was closed.

How a DNA test solved the biggest mystery in one man's life

At 76 years old, Paul McLister learned the family he'd grown up with had kept a massive secret from him all his life. He also found answers to questions he'd pondered since childhood, and gained a whole new family — all because of a DNA test kit.

Stay Connected