Boy, 13, Takes His Own Life After Being Bounced Around 18 Different Foster Homes

A South Australian teenager took his own life after being moved between eighteen different foster homes.

Reports claim that 13-year-old Zhane Chilcott was failed on multiple occasions by people responsible for caring for him.

“But State Coroner David Whittle has stopped short of ruling that the 13-year-old’s death was preventable,” said Daily Mail.

“He said the circumstances related to the death of Zhane Chilcott in 2016 were complex and multifactorial, and the question of whether the boy’s death could have been avoided was therefore complicated.”

“Mr. Whittle said among the failures in Zhane’s case were missed opportunities for early intervention before he went into care, missed opportunities to deal with the trauma associated with multiple placements, and, in the period close to his death, multiple missed opportunities to address his psychiatric issues.”

According to David Whittle, the matter is very complicated, and it cannot be said with surety that the boy’s life could have been saved by early intervention.

“An analysis of those missed opportunities does not lead with certainty to the conclusion that Zhane’s death by suicide was preventable.”

“I do find, however, that there were a number of missed opportunities in Zhane’s case to moderate the chances of death by suicide,” the Coroner added. “The cumulative effect of all those failings was to increase his risk of suicide. Had those failings not occurred, it can only be said that the risk of Zhane taking his own life must have been reduced.”

The boy died of suicide in July 2016 while living in a Residential Care Unit in Adelaide’s south.

According to Daily Mail, Counsel assisting Sally Giles said Zhane had been living in foster homes since he was 12 months old.

“She said his short life was marked by significant placement instability leading to minimal opportunity to develop meaningful and secure relationships with the adults who cared for him. Ms. Giles said Zhane had also suffered from a myriad of behavioral issues in care and at school, sparked by significant traumas and a lack of help at critical moments in his life.”

“At one stage, he was placed with an experienced foster carer in SA’s mid-north where he was said to have flourished, had begun to attend school regularly, and had been nominated for a leadership role.”

However, after the authorities refused to pay extra funds to his carer, he said he couldn’t look after the boy without an increase in funds.

“Instead, Zhane was placed in a residential facility at a greater cost over a three-month period than what the carer had asked for over a full year,” per Daily Mail.

Coroner David Whittle said a risk register should be established in state-owned foster care homes to record any risk or threat of self-harm to prevent such incidents in the future.

“He also called for a review of payments to family-based foster carers in a bid to increase the number of people willing to take children in and recommended children in care have their contact with biological family members considered in a meaningful way at least once every 12 months.”

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Source: Daily Mail

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