Jeffrey Baldwin inquest: Children’s aid almost sent Jeffrey, sister to foster care

Date: 2013-10-24
Source: The Star

Jeffrey Baldwin inquest: Children’s aid almost sent Jeffrey, sister to foster care
Violent incident at welfare office nearly prompted removal of children to foster care, but mother’s suggestion led them to be placed with grandparents instead, social worker tells inquest.

Retired Catholic Children's Aid Society social worker Margarita Quintana leaves the Jeffrey Baldwin inquest after testifying Wednesday.

By: Jacques Gallant Staff Reporter, Published on Thu Oct 24 2013

Jeffrey Baldwin and his older sister were almost placed in foster care before a hastily made decision saw them go to their grandparents instead, where Jeffrey would starve to death, an inquest heard Thursday.

During her second day of testimony at the coroner’s inquest into Jeffrey’s death, retired Catholic Children’s Aid Society case worker Margarita Quintana said that throughout her dealings with the Baldwin family from 1994 to 1998, she never had any intention of apprehending the children and placing them in foster care until a March 1998 incident changed her mind.

Quintana testified that Jeffrey’s mother, Yvonne Kidman, had been seen shaking the 1-year-old and his older sister at a welfare office. She soon went to the home of Kidman, who was pregnant with her fourth child, and her partner, Richard Baldwin, to tell them that their kids would be taken away.

“The incident (at the welfare office) showed me that the situation had now escalated, that Yvonne was losing all control, and in public,” said Quintana under questioning by her lawyer, Jordan Goldblatt.

“Up until that moment, she was someone who was still providing some level of care and not harming the two kids, but then it changed.”

There were already concerns about domestic violence between Baldwin and Kidman, as well as a lack of parenting skills.

Quintana testified that when confronted with the prospect of apprehension, Baldwin and Kidman instead suggested that Jeffrey and his sister, known as Sibling 2 to protect her identity, temporarily go to the home of Kidman’s parents while she and Baldwin sought counselling.

The grandparents, Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman, had been looking after the eldest Baldwin child, Sibling 1, since 1994 when CCAS opened its first case regarding Baldwin and Kidman.

No record checks had been performed on Bottineau and Kidman at the time, and no checks were made in 1998, either.

Had a search been done, CCAS would have found in their own files that Bottineau and Kidman had had run-ins with children’s aid in the past, and had separate convictions for assault on their own children.

“(Elva) was already taking such good care of Sibling 1,” said Quintana. “And I knew that the house was clean.”

Bottineau successfully gained custody of the children through the courts in April 1998, much to the surprise of Yvonne Kidman, who believed the arrangement to have her kids placed with her mother was only temporary.

Quintana said on Thursday that she never advised Bottineau to ask for custody, but said she approved of the move because she felt the children would be safer with the grandparents. She also wrote a letter supporting Bottineau’s request for child and family benefits.

Jeffrey and Sibling 2 were severely abused in the Bottineau-Kidman home, where the malnourished children were locked inside bedrooms and left to languish in their own waste. Jeffrey weighed only 21 pounds when he died of septic shock at the age of 5 in 2002.

Bottineau and Kidman are now serving life sentences for second-degree murder.

In May 1998, weeks after she gained custody of her grandchildren, Bottineau called CCAS to say that she “felt that our involvement was not needed anymore,” according to notes from the time. The case regarding Richard Baldwin and Yvonne Kidman was closed two months later.


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