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July 1, 2010 permalink
The Ride for Accountability has ended in Windsor. Radio station CKLW, AM 800, posted two bulletins on the event.
TRAVELLING CHILDREN'S AID PROTEST (photo)
A travelling awareness campaign for children has made it's final stop in Windsor. Two Ontario men have joined together to call for an external accountability for the province's Children's Aid Societies. Don Lester is from Hamilton and has had dealings with CAS in the past, John Dunn is from Ottawa and was a foster child in the system.
A cross province 30-day tour to draw attention to the accountability gap at Children's Aid Societies has wrapped up in Windsor. John Dunn of Ottawa is a former foster child and Don Lester from Hamilton has had dealings with CAS previously. They are calling for an External Accountability for CAS and they can't understand the resistance.
Source: CKLW AM 800
Addendum: Here is a video of John Dunn on Windsor A-Channel TV (mp4, low quality).
Addendum: The Chatham Daily News covered the ride. In rebuttal it quotes Mike Stephens, executive director of Chatham-Kent Children's Service, citing two internal reviews by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services as examples of existing oversight. They are in the words of Richard Wexler, audits that never go beyond the filing cabinet.
Campaign aimed at Ontario CAS
A campaign to draw attention to flaws in the system of the province's Children's Aid Societies recently made a stop in Chatham.
John Dunn of Ottawa and Don Lester of Hamilton brought their Ride for Accountability of Children's Aid Societies to the local CAS office on Saturday.
"We left Ottawa, and we're traveling all the way to Windsor as an awareness campaign so the public recognize there are serious issues with Children's Aid," said Lester in an interview after the Chatham rally.
While Both Lester, 65 and Dunn, 39 said there is a need for the service provided by the 53 CAS branches in Ontario, they also alleged many abuses within the system, including illegal and unprofessional conduct.
"We recognize that this is a system that does care for children; we're not saying there shouldn't be that kind of an agency," said Lester.
"We're saying there needs to be accountability and that parents and children need to be protected."
Mike Stephens, executive director Chatham-Kent Children's Service, told The Chatham Daily News: "We have so much oversight it would take me all day to tell you them all."
One of the checks and balances he cited was the Crown ward review undertaken by a team from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.
"The ministry comes once a year, spends a week here and reviews the file of every Crown ward," he said.
Stephens said every file is measured against ministry standards. If there is an issue, the agency has to either report back or act on a directive from the ministry, he added.
A similar process is carried out for children in care, however, the ministry randomly chooses files to review, he said. The ministry also annually reviews foster care files, he added.
Dunn, a former foster child and the volunteer executive director of the Foster Care Council of Canada, started the campaign June 1 in Ottawa.
He said the main goal of the effort is to establish an effective, third-party oversight of the system.
"The most important thing is to have the ombudsman to have direct jurisdiction over Children's Aid Societies," said Dunn.
Ontario is the only province whose ombudsman does not have oversight of child protection services.
In his last two annual reports, Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin noted his office received more than 700 complaints and inquiries about the province's CASs
Among the allegations raised against CAS are:
- Refusing to investigate allegations of abuse;
- CAS refusal to disclose information relating to the reasons for apprehension, or services provided to children in care;
- Allegations of abuse of authority by CAS workers;
- Allegations of retaliatory actions against parents who challenged CAS decisions.
Marin's 2009-10 annual report noted that people have some recourse to complain about children's aid societies through the Child and Family Services Review Board.
Stephens said this independent, government established board is comprised of people who have not affiliation with the ministry or the CAS.
He said it has the power to convene hearings and can order a CAS to change its decisions.
Source: Chatham Daily News