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More on Gary Putman

November 8, 2007 permalink

The Orangeville Banner has another hagiography on the retiring Gary Putman. The publisher of the Banner only prints stories on children's aid that have Mr Putman's prior approval. We have learned a few of the things that will never get into the Banner. Mr Putman has unleashed a reign of terror on the families of Dufferin that generated hundreds of personal pleas for help to Dufferin VOCA. The man who pretends to protect women from violence has taken dozens of children from single mothers. A smattering of other children were taken from intact families, cases in which his staff routinely suggests that one parent should divorce the other to improve their chances of keeping their kids, an implied promise that is never kept. A few foster parents and prospective adoptive parents also complained of harsh treatment from Mr Putman's staff. The terror extended within his own organization to his staff, and to other institutions such as the press. When faced with a membership drive that threatened to undermine his power through legitimate political organizing, he responded not by improving the performance of his agency, but by adopting rule changes cutting the membership out of a voice in the selection of management. In April 2001 Dufferin Children's Aid started five separate actions through its lawyer to get Dufferin VOCA shut down. While failing to shut us down totally, he prevented advocating for particular families by inflicting even more hardship on the families that we did mention.

The article says Mr Putman has three children, without specifying how he got those children. Parents who claim to know have reported that at least one is adopted. Is there any conflict of interest in taking babies by force of arms while also adopting? The photographer was gracious in taking a picture that did not show Mr Putman's extreme obesity.



Orangeville Banner

Gary Putman retiring after 30 years with family services

Monday November 5 2007, ERIC SPARLING

Gary Putman
Gary Putman

Gary Putman has had a long tenure as the executive director (ED) of Dufferin Child and Family Services. When he started the job, back in 1978, he was just 31. He'll be retiring on Nov. 30. In between, he's raised three kids with his wife, and overseen the growth of the Dufferin Children's Aid Society -- a small agency with eight employees -- into a multi-service agency employing almost 100.

Joining Dufferin CAS from Peel CAS was a smart career move for a young social worker. It also afforded the Putman's the opportunity to get back to their small town roots -- both grew up in rural centres -- to raise their children. But they had a five-year plan, after which the intention was to move on. That didn't happen.

"[We were] quite happy here," says Putman, adding that they lived first in Orangeville, and then in Erin Township. A year ago the couple relocated to Cambridge, where they plan to retire living close to family.

A number of different aspects of the job kept him motivated through the decades, says Putman.

"We know we're doing good work," even if the perception isn't always positive, he says. He also credits the community with keeping his work rewarding, from the pleasures of raising kids in the area, to the partnerships the agency has enjoyed over the years. The growth of the agency, as well as its broader mandate -- agency HR manager Jennifer Moore says it includes child protection, mental health, support for the developmentally-challenged and work with families in crisis -- has kept the ED on his toes.

It was just two years ago that DCFS moved into a building on Riddell Road built by a Guelph developer for their purposes, bringing all of the services under one roof. The agency will be buying the building at the end of a five-year rental contract, says Putman.

The final reason he offers is his colleagues: "A great bunch of people that work here."

Just because he's enjoyed his work doesn't mean it hasn't been without its challenges. Dufferin presents a number of obstacles to happy, healthy families. The first is the commute. A huge number of residents face a daily drive to Peel Region or Toronto. That was true when Putman moved to Orangeville decades ago and it's still true today (although some commutes have actually shortened, he says, due to increased employment opportunities west of Toronto). Long days can put stress on families: kids come home to empty houses and parents miss family time. The ED also began noticing an increase in hard drug use about a decade ago. It doesn't rival the problems faced by large cities, he says, but it's made an impact on the community. And despite the amalgam of services offered by his agency, he says services to families in the region are still "fractured."

Dufferin is a relatively small player in southern Ontario, so local residents find they need to travel to Wellington or Peel -- increasingly the latter -- for help.

"There are some real cracks" in services for kids with serious emotional or mental health needs, says Putman, citing the fact that children who need inpatient psychiatric care are currently sent to Oshawa for treatment.

In a month or so, however, these problems will become someone else's professional responsibility. The soon-to-be retired executive director says many people have asked him his plans for retirement. He won't be doing social work, at least not in the short term; if he wanted to continue working, he'd stay in his current position, he says. With a new grandson and travel plans -- possibly back-to-back summers on the east and west coasts -- Putman figures he has enough to keep him busy. But come six months from now, he may start assessing social work projects he'd like to tackle.

Looking back on almost three decades of service to Dufferin, Putman returns to the kids. When he hears from a child who has been helped by him or the staff -- "had a significant impact" on their lives -- that's one of the job's biggest rewards.

Source: Orangeville Banner

CAS bullies parent