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July 27, 2010 permalink
About a dozen people participated in a rally outside children's aid in Kingston. Below is a write-up by CKWS TV, and from the same article a video exchange between Catherine Frei and CAS spokesman Yvonne Cooper (flv).
CAS RALLY:About a dozen protesters staged a rally outside the Kingston Children's Aid Society offices over the noonhour
About a dozen protesters staged a rally outside the Kingston Children'S Aid Society offices over the noonhour
The demonstration was just one of several protests that have taken place outside CAS offices across the province over the last few months.
Demonstrators say they are concerned about a number of issues including a higher than average mortality rate for children in foster care.
Source: CKWS-TV Kingston (CBC)
Addendum: The Kingston Whig-Standard writes at length on the rally. There are many user comments, most critical of CAS.
Protesters take aim at Children's Aid
A group of protesters gathered at the Children's Aid Society's offices on Montreal Street yesterday to demand more government oversight for Ontario's 53 children's aid services.
About a dozen people with homemade signs expressed their concerns.
"We're not against CAS, because we realize there is a lot of children out there who need protection," said Catherine Frei, who organizes a Facebook page called Protecting The Innocent, "but they need oversight. There's a lot of innocent families being affected.
"It doesn't need to happen that way."
The protesters cited questionable practices relating to investigating claims, employees who are not registered social workers and executives expensing luxury cars and trips, as was discovered by the Ontario Auditor General in 2006.
Their wish is for legislation to allow the Ontario Ombudsman to be able to review actions taken by the CAS.
"A lot of people don't realize they're private. Even when they're caught doing it there's no consequences," said Frei.
Yvonne Cooper, speaking for the local society, said all societies follow the same rules and regulations that are set out by the Ministry of Child and Youth Services.
"All of the Children's Aid Societies across Ontario, while we are all individually run and governed by our own boards of directors we are all mandated by the government of Ontario to carry out the services that we do," Cooper said.
There are mechanisms of review in place at the CAS, Cooper said, such as an internal complaint system where parents can "deal with the people in the agency itself."
"There's also an external process, that's conducted through the Child and Family Services Review Board and that system itself has the oversight by the ombudsman," she said.
Cooper acknowledged that not all CAS employees may be registered social workers, but it depends on their position.
"We have a couple of different qualifications depending on what their role is," she said.
"If you look at our job description the minimum requirement for education is to have a Bachelors of social work," she said, adding that people in managerial positions must have or be working toward a Masters in social work.
Cooper said the CAS tries to be as sensitive as possible when investigating claims.
"It's not an area that is taken lightly when it comes to dealing with parents and families," she said. "Families are precious and we work very hard to build strong families."
They also provide services to keep families together, but child welfare is their priority, as mandated by the government.
"We all know that keeping a child with their biological parents is the best place for a child, as long as they are safe," she said. "There are checks and balances at every single level."
Still, Andrew Skinner said he thinks there needs to be more accountability.
"Child protection ... is a $1.4 billion industry in Ontario," he said. "That's a lot of money to be putting out with no accountability."
However, Frei said the protest yesterday wasn't about the money.
"We have no problem with them being given the amount of money which they need to care for children in need," she said, "but let's make sure those children are in need."
Source: Kingston Whig Standard
Addendum: Queens University campus station CFRC (mp3) interviews ralliers Catherine Frei, Andrew Skinner, Beth Cartwright, Peter Boudreau and CAS spokesman Yvonne Cooper.