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October 1, 2007 permalink
Here is a report on the Hastings rally by its organizer, Andrew Skinner.
The Hastings Rally was an excellent success. The exposure and support shown was truly overwhelming. We received countless honks and cheers of support from passing motorists and pedestrians.
We started our rally by meeting at Tim Hortons's where before we even started we heard honks of support from passing cars. We proceeded to rally in front of City Hall where we met with others trying to expose the corrupt system. Everyone was eager and readily shared their support and wanted to be interviewed.
The protest then proceeded up to the Family Courthouse, where once again, honks of support were given and people approached us wanting more information. About half way through our protest a police officer arrived but was very friendly and allowed us to voice our concerns. We were approached outside the courthouse by a couple of individuals who work within the system, showing their support but wishing to remain anonymous. You know there definitely is a problem within the system when lawyers show their support and applaud your efforts to expose the corruption.
The Highlight was definitely our final stop at The Children's Aid Society office. We were given many thumbs up from motorists along with numerous honks and cheers. Local newspapers were in attendance and asked questions. A Trent University student writing a paper on The Children's Aid Society was also interested in our cause and was interested in what the citizens were saying about the present system of child protection and family court. The Children's Aid Society did not try to stop the protest or intervene in any way. To all parties involved, we thank you for your professionalism and courage. The power of a peaceful protest can only lead to positive change. Everyone knows the system is corrupt and broken and that change and oversight is "in the best interest of the child".
In closing we would like to thank all those that attended to lend their voice. It very quickly became apparent, that the public does agree that change within the child protection system is paramount and supported by the public. The citizens can now only urge their present and future political candidates to address this issue of corruption within the system.
Source: email from organizer Andrew Skinner
Addendum: Here is a report from the Community Press.
Protest held at Children's Aid Society
by BETH PRIMEAU
Monday, October 01, 2007 - 09:00
Local News - Belleville - Seven people gathered in front of the Hastings Children's Aid Society (CAS) in Belleville on Monday to spread awareness of what they say is a “corrupt” system.
“We are trying to bring public exposure to the unaccountability of CAS," one of the protesters, Andrew Skinner, said in an interview. "Under the present system, they seem to steal away children with hearsay evidence and perjury in court.”
He described the protesters as a "group of concerned citizens" who met on the Internet..
Skinner said they have three major concerns with the current system: In their view, the Children's Aid Society is unaccountable to anyone, it removes children from their parents without proper authority and it employs frontline workers who aren't well-trained.
Asked for hard evidence to substantiate the allegations, Skinner offered none but said there is information on the Internet to back up his claims. “The information is out there on the Internet if you look for it.” he said.
Skinner said he videotaped an untrained frontline worker while dealing with the CAS. “My own experiences, I have documented it on videotape saying they aren't formally trained in social work.”
Skinner would not comment further on his own experience.
The group's number one concern is that there is no third party to deal with complaints against CAS. “(They need) a body that investigates complaints and doesn't profit from the child protection industry.”
Hastings CAS executive director Len Kennedy said CAS does not employ unqualified frontline workers.
“All of our frontine staff is professional and trained,” he said in an interview. “Our staff is as well-trained as in any sector. So there would be no untrained staff providing frontline service.”
Kennedy also said that any rationale the CAS has for removing a child from a home needs to be proven in court. “Under the Family Services Act any decision to remove a child from their home has to be presented to court within five days,” he said. “So in each of those incidents the court has to decide that there are grounds to remove a child under legislation.”
Kennedy also said evidence presented by CAS must hold up in court, making it nearly impossible to create false allegations. “We have to protect evidence and bring evidence that will withstand the court's scrutiny and withstand the scrutiny of the defence lawyer in court. So, our staff has to be very well -trained in the court process in order to fulfil that requirement.”
If someone has a complaint against CAS there are two options available to them, Kennedy said. The first option is to submit their complaint to an internal review process. The second option is to submit a complaint to Child and Family Services Review Board, which is an independent provincial body mandated under legislation.
The protest caught Kennedy by surprise. “No advance, no request, no notice they were coming or what they were coming to protest about.," he said. "Certainly we would have been prepared to hear what they had to say and respond accordingly, but there was no notification to the society at all.”
Source: Community Press