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No Tutors for Foster Kids
August 26, 2010 permalink
The foster system is thwarting the development a ward, one of the policies that turn many foster children into dysfunctional adults. When professor Leonard Richter of Walla Walla University heard Frankie Bones play the piano, he offered the boy university level tutoring. Frankie, seventeen years old, needed to cross the border from Canada to the US to take up the offer. British Columbia MCFD stepped in and blocked the lessons with threats to his long-term foster mother Esther Cordner.
B.C. ministry threatens police action to keep musician in Canada: foster mother
Frankie Bones turns 18 Friday; offered music lessons in U.S.
METRO VANCOUVER - An aspiring pianist’s foster mother says the Ministry of Children and Family Development is threatening her with police involvement to keep the teen in Canada and prevent him from pursuing his dream.
Although Frankie Bones is turning 18 on Friday, he is a foster child and his social worker won’t let him leave the country to take advantage of an offer of university-level music lessons in Washington state.
On Tuesday, Bones’s foster mother Esther Cordner received two letters, both dated Aug. 13. The first is signed by Bones’s social worker and says the music lessons may still be possible; the second is from ministry lawyer Katherine Le-Reverend and is more aggressive in tone.
The ministry can enforce its “custody rights to a child in his care in court and with assistance of police if necessary,” says the letter signed by LeReverend.
“It’s a threatening letter. They’re threatening me with the police, and threatening to take Frankie from my home,” Cordner said.
As of Friday, Bones will be old enough to vote, but he won’t be old enough to move to Washington state to study music.
The ministry could not comment on the case because of privacy concerns, but spokesman Darren Harbord said a social worker must approve all out-of-country travel for foster children.
Any Canadian over 16 years old can enter the United States with either a passport or an enhanced drivers licence. They do not specifically require their parents consent. However, if a border guard is at all suspicious they can detain the young person, Tom Schreiber, chief customs and border protection officer said in an interview.
Leonard Richter, a professor at Walla Walla University, heard Bones play and immediately offered him private lessons, Cordner told The Sun.
Bones is still in high school so he would need to complete Grade 12 at a nearby school. Cordner arranged for him to stay with a host family in Walla Walla while in the U.S.
A separate letter sent to Cordner the same day from Bones’s social worker, Nalini Prasad, says although the ministry is not yet ready to grant permission, the Washington school has not been entirely ruled out.
The letter says the ministry needs to complete a screening process for the host family and look at music schools available in B.C. In the letter, Prasad says that all matters relating to Bones’s attendance at the Washington school should be made through her.
Bones has been in foster care since he was a baby, raised by Cordner, who doesn’t want him to lose out on this opportunity.
“Frankie could be your poster child, that big feather in the ministry’s cap. You and your co-workers should be falling over yourselves to serve this young man. Instead you put up road blocks and you are setting up Frankie for defeat,” Cordner wrote in a letter to Bones’s social worker.
In a year, when he turns 19, the prize-winning musician will be free to travel to the States, but Cordner doesn’t want him to waste a year.
“Yes, his gifts will remain with him, but will this golden opportunity still be available next year?” she asked.
The ministry would be generally supportive of a youth in care furthering his education or a special gift, Harbord said.
“Just like any responsible parent, we would want to ensure an appropriate plan is in place to ensure the health and well being of the youth,” Harbord said in an e-mail.
Source: Vancouver Sun