EDMONTON — A director in Alberta’s Department of Children and Youth Services may be headed to jail.
Richard Ouellet was found guilty of contempt for not returning a child to his foster mother.
He was sentenced to eight days in jail but can avoid jail time if he instead chooses to perform 40 hours of community service and pays the foster mother’s legal fees, at $275 per hour.
The child in the case had been living with his foster mother for more than four years when another boy living in the same home told a bus driver that his foster mother’s daughter had physically abused him.
The child in question was then removed from the home and the foster mother fought the decision for more than two years and eventually won her case.
The boy was to be returned to the home, but he wasn’t reunited with his foster mother until more than two weeks later.
In his decision, Justice Jean Cote wrote: “I found no wilful or improper intent by Mr. Ouellet, he was very careless and possibly poorly advised.”
A spokesperson from the department of Children and Youth Services said steps are now in place to ensure the court orders are followed promptly by caseworkers.
“Within days of the initial contempt ruling we issued a directive to all staff to reinforce complying with court orders in a timely manner,” said Stuart Elson.
Ouellet still works at the department but was relieved of his duties as director when the initial contempt of court charge was filed.