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Out with CAS!
September 11, 2009 permalink
Six Nations residents are gathering signatures on a petition to oust CAS from their reserve. No one has refused to sign.
Petition seeks removal of CAS office
Posted By SUSAN GAMBLE, Posted 15 hours ago
A petition on Six Nations is gathering signatures from those who want to see the native branch of the Children's Aid Society removed from the reserve.
The move is just the latest in a round of community discontentment that seems to be focused on frustration of those who complain that Six Nations children are being removed from the reserve rather than being placed with willing extended family members.
"We want the CAS office here closed and moved back to Brantford," said Betty Thomas, one of the women behind the petition.
"I feel that they're hurting the kids in the community because they separate kids and their families."
The petition calls for removal of the native office of the CAS from the territory by the end of September. It decries the "adversarial approach" of the CAS and challenges that the agency is making money on every native child taken into care. It's an issue that's been widely discussed in the community since a group of clan mothers met to talk about setting up their own child protection system, which they're calling Haudenosaunee Child Services.
Last month, the elected band council was ready to meet publicly with the CAS and the community but cancelled the meeting until it could hear from both the agency and the clan mothers.
That closed door meeting took place a week later. CAS executive director Andy Koster said Thursday that he, Karen Hill, the manager of the CAS native service branch, and three other managers also met with the traditional Confederacy chiefs Thursday morning to discuss the issue.
"It was a great honour," said Koster. "We're committed to their advice to try and meet again with the clan mothers."
Koster said the clan mothers have informed the CAS that the executive director must personally sign off on every Six Nations case rather than have it handled by the native office.
"If I was to be the only person to (do that), I would be undermining the authority of the Six Nations staff ."
He has directed the native staff again to try and meet with the clan mothers but says the eff orts have so far been rebuff ed.
Koster said the petition has been stressful for the staff at the native branch, most of whom are from Six Nations or are natives from other bands.
"We've talked to the Confederacy and we've talked to the elected band council and we'll continue to do our work," said Koster.
"It's my belief the chiefs have not requested we leave in four weeks, or at all."
Koster contradicted the petition, saying the CAS works hard not to be adversarial and is definitely not making a profit when it takes children from Six Nations into care.
Currently, the CAS has care of 68 Six Nations children, of whom many are in a "kinship care" situation where they are living in the home of a supportive relative.
"We're committed to trying to arrange a diff erent type of service, depending on a client's belief system and we support Six Nations making its own decision on the type of service they wish to have."
Meanwhile, Thomas continues to take the petition from door to door on the reserve.
"Nobody has turned me down. They're all for it."
Source: Brantford Expositor
Addendum: While millions suffer reduction in earnings or savings in the economic downturn, children's aid workers are getting more.
CAS workers agree to 3-year contract
Posted By SUSAN GAMBLE, Posted 16 hours ago
Workers at the Brant Children's Aid Society have settled with their employer, ratifying a new three-year agreement on Friday.
More than 100 unionized workers, who had previously voted 100% in favour of strike action, settled with the agency after conciliation. They accepted annual wage increases of 2.5%, 2.5% and 3%. The new contract is retroactive to April 1.
The workers also got improved vacation and bereavement days and a wage increase for the after-hours workers who are paid a flat rate.
"It was a tough haul," said Andrew Hunter, the national representative for the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
"The province was saying there's no money and the CAS was saying there's no money but in the end, there was money."
Hunter said this CAS is the first such agency to settle this year and the agreement will probably provide a benchmark salary for other agencies that are negotiating.
The biggest issue for the two sides was insurance coverage.
Workers worried that if a family sued them or a child was injured through an accident while in the worker's car, they wouldn't be covered by the CAS insurance
The province was saying there's no money and the CAS was saying there's no money but in the end, there was money."
Andrew Hunter, national representative for the Canadian Union of Public Employees policies.
Union members and management sat down at an information session held with the agency's insurer and asked questions about the CAS's coverage that left them "a lot happier" said Hunter.
"We were assured they have sufficient coverage through the employer that if a worker was involved in a coroner's inquest they will have legal counsel paid for by the employer. There's up to $16 million in protection and most suits don't go over $10 million."
The agency's coverage doesn't extend to any worker who is sued criminally and pleads or is found guilty.
CAS executive director Andy Koster said he is pleased that the meeting quelled workers' insurance fears.
"I'm glad of a settlement and I'm glad the union believed we have a good insurance policy for our workers," said Koster.
"We now look forward to the next three years."
Source: Brantford Expositor