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August 25, 2010 permalink
A rally for accountability took place outside the Cornwall Courthouse on August 23. The Cornwall Daily News and the Cornwall Standard Freeholder covered the event, here is a copy of their Daily News audio report (mp3).
Call For Children's Aid Society Oversight
August 23, 2010 — There's a call for oversight of Cornwall's Children's Aid Society. A small group picketed outside Cornwall's court house with signs saying "CAS needs oversight now" and "It's all about power, control and money." Rally spokeswoman Diana Kinnear tells TheCornwallDaily.com, it's time for the Ombudsman to have the power to step in. (Hear audio clip to the right) Kinnear says there's a $25 million budget with no checks and balances. But the Executive Director of the CAS, Rachel Daigneault, says the agency already goes through many audits and reviews including a board which is overseen by the Ombudsman. Click on Full Story Audio to hear the entire interview with Diana Kinnear.
Source: Cornwall Daily News
Rally demands more CAS oversight
Several protesters called for reforms to the Children's Aid Society of the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, one of many such scenes played out across the province on Monday, in front of the Second Street West courthouse.
In support of Bill 93, which would amend the Ombudsman's Act, Diana Kinnear, a Cornwall native who now lives in Edmonton, rallied protesters in a call for more oversight of the Children's Aid Societies of Ontario.
"We want the Ontario Government and the Ministry of Child and Youth Services to begin taking responsibility for Ontario's 53 Children's Aid Societies' actions and begin investigating complaints, criminal activity and wrongdoing," read a statement from the Ontario Children's Aid Accountability Rally (OCAAR).
"Ontario is the only province in Canada without independent ombudsman oversight to investigate decisions or recommendations made or any act done or omitted in the course of the administration of a Children's Aid Society. We believe this will help protect children in dangerous foster care situations and innocent families."
Kinnear said she knows people who have found themselves falsely accused of abusing their own grandchild because their names were confused with another grandparent.
"Their names got flipped and the CAS didn't bother to correct their mistake before it got to the courts," Kinnear said.
The child's mother had given the innocent grandparents custody of the child because she was a 19-year-old with substance abuse issues at the time.
Kinnear claims the mother was discriminated against and penalized because she has a learning disability.
After nearly three years, Kinnear said the case is still before the courts and the child still in foster care.
Rachel Daigneault, executive director of the local CAS, said she is "all for oversight," but adds that there are already many mechanisms in place to review the work of child protection workers.
"We support accountability reviews and mechanisms already in place, which help ensure our children are well cared for and receive the best service, under the Child and Family Services Act," she said. "Currently, the public is effectively protected through a variety of mandated oversights and rigorous standards."
Daigneault provided an extensive list of the checks and balances provided by the provincial government for the CAS.
The Child and Family Services Review Board manages client complaints, while oversight for the board is provided by an ombudsman.
Family courts of Ontario deal with all child protection matters, but Kinnear complained that once a case is before the courts, it can't be questioned by an oversight body.
Once a child becomes a ward of the Crown, Daigneault explained that the Accountability Office of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services' Crown ward review unit looks over each case annually.
Foster care licences are also audited, while the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth takes complaints from children in care. The list went on.
But people such as Kinnear believe there should be criminal investigations into some cases and that often parents accused of abuse are innocent of the charges.
She spoke of a case in which a baby born prematurely -weighing only two pounds -was treated by paramedics with CPR that broke the baby's ribs.
The baby stayed in the hospital for two months. After she was sent home with her mother, the baby was brought to regular doctor's appointments and well cared for over the following month.
But when X-rays showed a doctor the healed breaks to her ribs, the CAS was called in and took the baby away from her mother.
Kinnear claimed that even law enforcement authorities said the mother was innocent based on records kept by emergency services explaining the old rib injuries, but two years later the child remains in foster care.
Source: The Cornwall Standard Freeholder