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November 27, 2010 permalink
A rally was held outside CAS in Stratford on November 26. According to participant Lillian Christine Sorko-Houle the police told the demonstrators that using the washrooms would be construed as trespass. A radio station interviewed Chris Carter and the press came out to speak to Lillian. The reporter could not understand how the society is a private corporation even though she provided him with supporting information. The local newspaper reported:
Travelling protesters demand oversight of CAS
A handful of protesters waving placards and using a bullhorn outside the Huron-Perth Children's Aid Society offices Friday said they were there to draw attention to secrecy and corruption within the 53 CAS agencies across Ontario.
They were also calling for support for a bill introduced in the Ontario legislature Nov. 15 by NDP member Rosario Marchese that calls for ombudsman oversight of CAS agencies, hospitals, long-term-care facilities, retirement homes and school boards.
Christine Sorko-Houle, a spokesperson for Voices of Innocent Families in Ontario based in Tillsonburg, said the demonstration was one of many being held across the province.
"I personally have had 400 complaints (about the CAS) from people in Huron and Perth," she said.
Sorko-Houle said complaints included those about CAS services and about access to children placed under the care of the agency.
The demonstrators have been petitioning for transparency within CAS agencies provincewide and particularly want to see an end to CAS workers approaching children in schools without consent from parents.
The 43-year-old grandmother said that while she agrees with the need for the CAS, she is still dealing with the effects of her own experience with the agency seven years ago.
Signs carried by demonstrators said "CAS Corrupt & Secret" and "Ontario Only Province That Has No CAS Oversight."
Sorko-Houle acknowledged some children need CAS care, but she suggested children from native and poor families are unfairly targeted.
"A lot of good people come from poor families," she said.
Sorko-Houle said the Huron- Perth CAS -- whose administration was recently directly taken over by the province -- is the only CAS agency that is subject to oversight.
When asked, she did not cite any specific allegations of secrecy or corruption that involved the Huron-Perth agency.
Under the Child and Family Services Act, child protection workers with the CAS have the right to investigate possible abuse and neglect of children and to take action to protect children from abusive situations. Their powers include apprehending children from their parents or caregivers where there is a high risk of harm.
Vince Tedesco, supervisor with the CAS in Stratford, did not immediately return a phone call Friday.
Complaints about CAS services may be made to the Child and Family Services Review Board if a person believes the CAS refused to proceed with a complaint, didn't follow the complaint review process or hasn't given reasons for a decision.
The board is required to respond within seven days with a decision or with notice of a hearing.
The review board website says the CAS and board review processes cannot consider matters currently before the courts or that the courts have already decided.
Source: Stratford Beacon Herald