Winnipeg woman raising concerns after CFS complaint
In early April, stay-at-home mom Jacqui Kendrick got an unexpected visit from a Child and Family Services worker.
“(The worker said) somebody called saying that my kids were playing outside unsupervised, and the older ones were playing with the younger ones,” Kendrick said.
Kendrick has three children ages two, five and 10.
She said they often play in the backyard after school. Kendrick is usually with them on the porch, and when she’s not, she’s watching from the living room that has windows to the backyard and a set of glass French doors.
Kendrick was made to answer a number of personal questions.
“We had to go through a whole interview, asking so many questions, asking me about if we’ve ever dealt with CFS before, what my childhood was like, how I punish my children. She had to look to see where my kid slept. She had to see if we had enough food in the house,” Kendrick said.
“The whole time I’m sitting there, pretty much in tears, because I couldn't understand what was going on."
Kendrick’s backyard is fully fenced in. A wood fence covers three sides, and only a portion of the front has a chain link fence.
“We’ve taught both the (older) kids so far that you look after each other. That’s kind of the point. The older ones should be looking after the younger ones,” Kendrick said.
“My 10-year-old is very responsible. We’ve taught the older ones already the whole stranger danger, and they know what to do. When my 5-year-old’s out there, she knows she’s not supposed to go up to the fence.”
Winnipeg psychologist Dr. Toby Rutner said kids should be as independent as their abilities allow.
He said with an increased use of the internet, “it has created a situation where everyone feels entitled to give an opinion, but this approach that says everyone’s opinion is equal in value.”
He called this case common passive aggressive behaviour, where in the past, concerned neighbours would have had to knock on someone’s door; now they can make an anonymous complaint.
“It’s a way that I can avoid dealing with the fact that I might have negative feelings. I would then rationalize it, as I’m just concerned about the children,” Rutner said.
Kendrick worries that now with her name on CFS files, further complaints could lead to her kids being taken away.
“Anyone else ever wants to complain for any reason, there's always going to be a file there,” she said. “If you really had a concern, you could have knocked on my door.”
CTV News did not hear back from the province about CFS practices.
Manitoba's Child and Family Services Act states a child 12 or older can be left home alone unsupervised.
It doesn't say anything about children unsupervised in a backyard.
Kendrick said she was home with her children who were playing in the family's fenced backyard.
She said whoever complained to CFS reported the kids were unsupervised.