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Opportunity for Reform
December 2, 2006 permalink
The fiasco in the legislature Thursday has created a new political mood regarding CAS. Mary Anne Chambers had planned to make it her big day, with the announcement of the proclamation of amendments to the Child and Family Services Act, and bill 165 to create a (neutered) child advocate.
Instead, bill 210, the CFSA amendments, was not proclaimed into law, the press ignored the introduction of bill 165, and all attention fell on the the leaked auditor's report and the inept response by Mrs Chambers. The new mood makes it possible that we could see:
Achieving these goals is possible, as long as this issue continues to burn. This is a good time to redouble efforts to get stories out to the press. If you can write a letter to the editor, do so. If a reporter needs a suggestion, the best is the story of Cathy Norris. It involves no vices on the part of her family, she is willing to tell her story, and the OPP has already posted the name of her lost son on the internet, breaking confidentiality.
Based on previous experience, there could soon be dis-information in the press, some story generating sympathy for CAS, such as an injured social worker or a child killed by his family because of inadequate social services intervention. But the press is interested now, and may print truthful stories about CAS atrocities.
Addendum: Here is more support for the same idea.
Sunday December 3, 2006
Dear Friends and Supporters,
Since the leaking of the CAS Auditor Report, Minister Chambers is proposing a Bill to appoint an independent advocate to oppose the Bill Andrea Horwath is trying to pass to allow the Ombudsman power to probe. It has become known that an Independent advocate is another highly paid official with no real authority to investigate or propose much needed reforms.
At this time it is urgent that we write in to our MPP's and support the Bill for Ontario Ombudsman. Please circulate this email widely as we need to be heard in Legislature.
The future of our children is in great peril. We can expect more adoptions, quicker apprehensions as the CAS is slated to say they "service families, have large caseloads and are underpaid".
The upcoming trend for child welfare is to have a case dealt with in 6-8 months with adoption being promoted more widely. They simply cannot keep up with the numbers of fosterkids needing homes. The quicker they can move the child out of care into adoptive homes, means they can cash in on the funding and then rid the responsibility of the upkeep. It will keep apprehensions steady and flowing by imbedding themselves in the schools and hospitals.
Here is the link to the Ontario Legislature with links to the MPP's. Dont forget to send it to the Premier. You can also email your comments and opinions to various media outlets, CBC, The Toronto Star, Globe and Mail the Sun etc. It is vital we are heard.
Mothers In Exile - E.M.M.A Exiled Mothers Mobilizing For Action
Source: email from Erika Klein
Addendum: And here is an example of following Erika's advice:
December 3, 2006
Monique M Smith
Member of Provincial Parliament for Nipissing
80 Grosvenor St, 11th Floor, Hepburn Block
Toronto Ontario M7A 2C4
sent by email and Canada Post
Subject: Bills 88, 165
I asking your support for bill 88, and not for bill 165.
Last week a report leaked to the CBC, and discussed in the legislature, alerted the province to a large amount of waste within Ontario's children's aid societies.
The small tragedy is that a few hundred million dollars a year of taxpayer money is being squandered.
The large tragedy is that many children are deprived of parental love and care, not for cause, but as pretext for the funding to be misappropriated. Years of watching children aid has uncovered a pattern of abuse entailing unnecessary apprehension of children, bogus expert reports, sham court hearings, warehousing of children in foster or group homes, and hiding it all behind the pretext of confidentiality. A terror campaign targets parents or advocates who speak out. For example, Cathy Norris was recently jailed for a month because her story appeared on the internet, then while jailed, her son was lost and the the OPP asked the public for help in finding him.
Bill 88 lets the provincial Ombudsman look into children's aid societies, allowing abuses to be reported in a form permitting legislative correction. Substitute bill 165, proposed by the bureaucracy itself, creates a neutered advocate lacking subpoena power and bound by confidentiality.
Robert T McQuaid
558 McMartin Road
Mattawa Ontario P0H 1V0
- Andrea Horwath, email@example.com
Dalton McGuinty, Dalton.McGuinty@premier.gov.on.ca
Addendum: Mrs Smith's reply indicates no real plan to rein in the powers of children's aid. Since it includes the discredited claim that the current government was the first to ever allow an audit of children's aid societies, we presume that she did not look into the matter herself, but referred the matter to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to create her reply. The government plan for the care of children does not include the words "mother" or "father".
collapseMonique Smith, MPP Nipissing
December 20, 2006
Mr. Robert McQuaid
558 McMartin Road
Mattawa, ON P0H 1V0
Dear Mr. McQuaid:
Thank you for your letter of December 3, 2006, outlining your concerns around children's aid societies in Ontario, and indicating your support for Bill 88 over Bill 165.
As you mentioned, the Auditor General of Ontario recently released his annual report which for the first time, included audits of four children's aid societies as well as the Child Welfare Program of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.
The McGuinty Government is the first government in Ontario to give the auditor general the power to audit broader public sector agencies, including children's aid societies. We welcome his advice. In addition to accepting all the auditor general's recommendations, we have developed a plan that goes even farther to strengthen accountability.
The government has also taken some other measures to improve accountability in children's aid societies
- Create an Accountability Office to toughen enforcement and monitor children's aid societies' performance in meeting legislated requirements and regulations for the care and protection of children and direct corrective action when they are not. The Accountability Office will also give ministry staff the training and tools they need to monitor compliance with these new performance standards
- Require children's aid societies to implement higher standards consistent with those of the Ontario Public Service for business processes such as procurement, travel and other expenses, and vehicle/fleet management by April 2007, and in addition, require all ministry funded partners to meet these same high standards.
- Undertake an independent assessment of the fleet requirements of children's aid societies, so that where less expensive alternatives exist, CASs will be directed to relinquish vehicles as quickly and economically as possible, with savings redirected into services for children and youth
- Require all ministry funded agencies to sign service agreements tied to these higher standards and mandate regular audit reporting by children's aid societies.
The action plan announced by the government today follows the recent introduction of Bill 165 that, if passed, would establish an independent provincial advocate for children and youth and deliver on a commitment to better protect vulnerable children and youth.
The intent of Bill 165 is to make the province's child and youth advocate an independent officer of the Legislature. The independent child and youth advocate would report to the Legislative Assembly, and would be appointed through an all-party legislative committee. Most importantly, the advocate would be as independent as the Auditor General and the Ombudsman.
The child advocate represents children and youth who are seeking or receiving services under the Child and Family Services Act. Those services could be in the youth justice system, in the children's mental health or complex special needs system, in the child protection and well-being system, or in provincial and demonstration schools for the deaf and blind. The advocate's office also reviews cases that involve complaints about the treatment or care of a child or youth in any program funded by the Ontario government. Simply put, the advocate speaks for children and youth who are unable to bring their issues forward on their own behalf.
Bill 165 therefore offers more expansive protections to children than Bill 88, which allows the Ombudsman to investigate any decision or recommendation made or any act done or omitted in the course of the administration of a children's aid society.
Another measure taken to improve oversight of children's aid societies was the amending of the Child and Family Services Act, which was proclaimed on November 30, 2006. This amended Act includes a strengthened and standardized process for the review of client complaints about children's aid societies, and greater accountability through third party oversight provided by the Child and Family Services Review Board for a wide range of complaints.
To further safeguard vulnerable children, the ministry now requires children's aid societies to complete an assessment, including background checks for all placements, even where a child is placed with a members of an extended family. In addition, as part of its reforms, the ministry is introducing new child protection standards and tools so that children's aid societies can better assess risk and match their response to the child and family's needs. Beginning in early 2007, the ministry will also be piloting in three children's aid societies, a new web-based information system to meet all child protection case recording and reporting requirements.
Children in need of protection must be better off as a result of the involvement of our child protection system in their lives. That also means ensuring that taxpayer dollars are appropriately invested in services that help protect ans support our children.
Thank you for taking the time to write and share your thoughts on this important issue with me and allowing me the opportunity to tell you about some of the measures the McGuinty Government is taking to improve oversight of children's aid societies and to ensure that Ontario's children have a voice.
If you have any additional questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact my office.
Monique Smith, MPP
NipissingMain Legislative Building, Queen's Park, Toronto ON M7A 1A4 • T - (416) 326-3981 F - (416) 325-8412 E - firstname.lastname@example.org