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More Push for Ombudsman Oversight
October 22, 2009 permalink
A group called Families Supporting Families asked MPP Toby Barrett to support bill 93, providing for Ombudsman oversight over Ontario's children's aid societies. Two press reports are enclosed.
Norfolk County : Locals Push For Passage Of CAS Oversight Bill
Posted by Adam Liefl, Norfolk County
A group of people protesting in front of MPP Toby Barrett's office today say the Children's Aid Society is doing more harm than help. Spokesperson for "Families Supporting Families", Brian Caldwell, says they are trying to get Bill 93 passed so that there is someone above Children's Aid, to police CAS. If passed, Ontario's Bill 93 will allow the Ombudsman's Office to investigate the Children's Aid Societies. Caldwell believes the CAS is trying to intimidate parents and families into not exercising their rights. This is their third protest in three weeks looking to get the bill pushed through. CAS's Executive Director, Janice Robinson who says Caldwell's claims are incorrect. Hear more from Robinson tomorrow morning in the news with Renee Berube.
on 2009/10/21 16:26:52 (321 reads)
CAS in the crosshairs
Placard-carrying protesters marched in front of the Simcoe courthouse and MPP Toby Barrett's office yesterday, calling for the Ontario ombudsman to be given the power to investigate Children's Aid societies.
A handful of protesters asked people passing by to sign a petition in favour of Bill 93, which would give the ombudsman the expanded powers.
They also claimed the local CAS is "one of the worst" in the province for parents to deal with.
"This is one of the worst counties in Ontario to work with," said Christine Sorko-Houle of Tillsonburg, who said she belongs to an advocacy group called Voices for Innocent Families in Ontario.
"They need to be held accountable for not investigating before taking a child away," said Brian Caldwell of Courtland, who held a placard.
Sorko-Houle said every government agency in the province is "accountable to somebody, except for CAS."
In an interview with the Reformer, Janice Robinson, executive director with Children's Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk, said "there's lots of oversight provincially and locally" for CAS agencies.
All child apprehensions must go in front of a family court judge within five days, while parents upset with a CAS decision can appeal directly to Ontario's child and family services review board, she noted.
The ombudsman meanwhile has oversight over that review board, Robinson added.
"Our approach is to join with families and work with the strengths they have," she said. "We don't have a disproportionate number of children in care."
Robinson said her agency is not "heavy-handed and critical."
MPP Toby Barrett, who was at Queen's Park yesterday, said he favours the bill -- a private members bill put forward by NDP leader Andrea Horwath -- and will "try to convince my colleagues to give the ombudsman additional power and oversight."'
The ombudsman, he said, has come up with "excellent reports" in the past on other government bodies.
CAS societies, noted Barrett, are also suffering from a lack of funding -- "another reason the ombudsman can look at this agency as well."
If the ombudsman is given the power to probe CAS interventions, families who really need their help would be unafraid to call them, Krystal Ludwig of Tillsonburg said as she asked people passing by to sign the petition.
"I'm here supporting families," said Ludwig.
Sorko-Houle said her group is part of a provincewide effort to get Bill 93 passed. They intend to picket the local CAS office in Townsend later this fall, she added.
Source: Simcoe Reformer