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Barrie Rally

August 6, 2011 permalink

Barrie CAS sign

About 30 people participated in a rally yesterday in Barrie. Most of the activity was at Mulcaster and Collier, a small group made an excursion to the courthouse and about half the group reassembled at 3pm in front of the children's aid office on Bell Farm Road.

Eleven-year-old Austin Edsall, pictured previously in Simcoe said he was approached at home by CAS workers who insisted on questioning him out of the presence of his parents. They asked whether his parents held sex-parties, and whether they used drugs at their parties. The questions came, Austin explained, before his parents had taught him about sex. Later at school different CAS workers questioned him about the same matters. This time, after a few questions, he declined to answer further.

There is a video of the rally edited by Pat Niagara on YouTube and local copy (flv).

Some photos: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10].



Parents take aim at CAS

Barrie rally
Protesters called for more accountability regarding the Children's Aid Society at a rally in downtown Barrie, Friday.
Lance Holdforth Photo

Participants at rally call out for more accountability

The intersection at Mulcaster and Collier streets became a forum of tears, anger and speeches in the name of children and families under the blanket of child services, Friday.

Parents rallied as they demanded accountability for the actions of Children's Aid Society (CAS) workers.

Barrie resident Wendy Hart shared her "horror story."

"They violated us. When you're going through it (CAS) you don't realize how bad it is," Hart said. "My son has scars all over him because they wouldn't send him home. He was 16. He shouldn't have even been in a home."

Hart's son, now 18, had just come back into her life after years in CAS custody when agents showed up on her hospital room after giving birth to her daughter.

"Three days after I had a C-section, two CAS workers came to our hospital room and said we could not leave without talking to them," she said. "After three hours of talking to them and exposing my breast and feeding in front of them, they said they wanted to come home with us that night."

Hart said her file with the CAS was closed at the time, but the agency's procedures meant six months of constant monitoring.

"We wanted to take our daughter home and enjoy the moment and not worry about a CAS investigation," she said. "It ruined our time with her and I've never cried so hard."

Earlier this week, Gary Perdue, media representative for the Simcoe County CAS, said the organization is governed by provincial legislation and there are "a significant number" of accountability measures in place. "If a member of the public has a complaint, there is a review board set, so this is a neutral independent third party," he said.

Perdue said the CAS has a solid approach to dealing with complaints of children in distress.

"We respect people's opinions who may think differently, who may think further monitoring is required," he said. "We always respect people's rights to voice their opinions."

Pat Hudak made the drive to Barrie from Port Colborne to have his voice heard.

"We came from all over Ontario," he said. "The goal for today is to bring awareness to the unlawful practice of social work and how the social workers are skirting the law."

Hudak and Hart say the CAS can take a child based on little evidence of abuse or mistreatment, and can even interview children without parents knowing.

"No one knows what's going on unless you're in the middle of it.," he said.

Because CAS is governed by a third-party organization, hired by the society, Hudak says investigations into mistreating children, unqualified workers, child deaths and improper interview techniques are never reported to the public.

"We want accountability and transparency, which we don't have," he said. "We want them all registered with the College of Social Workers so when they do wrong they can be punished."

Groups such as the Children and Families Advocating for Accountability and Canada Court Watch have been trying to have laws changed so Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin can investigate CAS complaints, which Hudak said isn't in the legislature.

"They claim to have oversight, but they don't," he said. "They're a private organization."

Velvet Martin returned from Alberta to attend a series of rallies, including Barrie's, to share the story of her daughter, Samantha, and how she died in child services custody at 13.

"She had 10 years of seizures that went untreated and the foster mother was approached by medical professionals, schools and myself, and she said I didn't see any myself," she said. "My daughter received seven broken bones, three of them were in her femur, and I learned, following the fact, that my little girl died of a heart attack at age 13."

Martin said she wanted to expose the misconceptions attached to losing a child to protective services. "The majority of people believe in the stigma of somebody must have done something wrong," she said. "It happens to middle-class people, it happens to professional people, and I think the public needs to become aware of that."

Source: Barrie Examiner