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MLA gives emotional appeal for B.C. teen to stay with family as foster father battles cancer

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Fighting back tears Tuesday, BC United MLA Mike de Jong made an emotional plea in the B.C. legislature on behalf of a 14-year-old girl in foster care.

“Later today apparently, she’s going to be contacted by someone in the ministry to remove her from the family,” said de Jong over the pin drop silence in the chamber. “She doesn’t want to go, her case worker doesn’t want her to go, her teachers don’t want her to go, but there’s the policy.”

De Jong was contacted by a foster family in Abbotsford this past weekend, who’d been told the girl would be removed from the home because her foster father was battling terminal cancer.

“Will the minister call in the necessary people before this terrible conversation takes place,” said de Jong with a wavering voice.

The girl has a healthy foster mother and de Jong wants Mitzi Dean, the minister of children and family development to get involved.

“The 14-year-old needs the minister to intervene—surely we are here to do more than apply blind policy,” said de Jong.

Dean responded that she recognized the situation as very serious and commended de Jong for his advocacy, but said she was not permitted to intervene in individual cases, but would draw the case to the attention of the provincial director of child welfare.

“In all circumstances, our staff are expected to put the best interests of children first,” said Dean. “We know that children need to be safe and loved and nurtured.”

The Ministry of Children and Family Development issued a statement to CTV News on Tuesday afternoon advising that its staff had taken immediate action after learning of the case, and were working to assist the family. It did not say whether that assistance meant the child could continue living with the foster family—the only home she says she’s felt safe and loved in.

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