Child and Youth Advocate releases reviews highlighting the importance of supporting youth with mental health and complex needs

October 30, 2018

Edmonton…The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate (OCYA) has completed three investigative reviews and is publicly releasing the results as outlined under the Child and Youth Advocate Act . The reviews focus on one serious injury, and two deaths involving First Nations young people.

“Young people like Lee, Dakota and Susan must have access to the supports and services necessary to address their mental health and complex needs,” said Del Graff, Provincial Child and Youth Advocate. “These reviews highlight the importance of interventions that are purposeful and appropriately tailored to each child’s unique needs and circumstances.”

It is critical that recommendations made by the OCYA are acted upon by government. Meaningful action must be taken so that the experiences of young people, their families and communities, in circumstances similar to those of Lee, Dakota and Susan, are improved.

About Lee, Dakota, and Susan

Lee was 14 years old when he was involved in a physical altercation and stabbed in the chest. At the time of the incident, Lee was the subject of a Permanent Guardianship Order (PGO) under Child Intervention Services and had been in 21 placements due to difficulties addressing his complex mental health issues and behavioural concerns.

Dakota was 19 years old when he passed away from injuries sustained in an accident. Dakota grew up in government care and was the subject of a PGO that ended on his 18th birthday (22 months before he passed away). He had a history of abuse and exposure to trauma, exhibited mental health concerns, and struggled with safely exploring and expressing his gender and sexual identities.

Susan was 17 years old when she died by suicide. She was the subject of a PGO and living with her grandmother when she passed away. Susan struggled with the loss of

significant relationships in her life, including losing family members to suicide and losing contact with the foster family she lived with for a decade. As a teenager, she frequently moved between short-term placements.

The intent of an investigative review is not to find fault with specific individuals, but to identify and advocate for system improvements that will help enhance the overall safety and well-being of children and young people who are receiving designated services.

A copy of all three investigative reviews and recommendations are available on our


The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate is an independent office of the Legislature, representing the rights, interests and viewpoints of children and young people receiving designated government services.


Media inquiries may be directed to:

Tim Chander

Communications Manager

Office of the Child and Youth Advocate of Alberta



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