Press one of the expand buttons to see the full text of an article. Later press collapse to revert to the original form. The buttons below expand or collapse all articles.
Ombudsman in the CFSA
December 13, 2011 permalink
While the ombudsman has long noted that his powers do not extend to Ontario's children's aid societies, John Dunn has found a provision in the Child and Family Services Act allowing children in care to speak to the ombudsman.
Rights of Children in Care
Rights of communication, etc.
103. (1) A child in care has a right,
- to speak in private with, visit and receive visits from members of his or her family regularly, subject to subsection (2);
- to speak in private with and receive visits from,
- the child’s solicitor,
- another person representing the child, including the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth,
- the Ombudsman appointed under the Ombudsman Act and members of the Ombudsman’s staff, and
- a member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario or of the Parliament of Canada; and
- to send and receive written communications that are not read, examined or censored by another person, subject to subsections (3) and (4). R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 103 (1); 2007, c. 9, s. 25 (2); 2009, c. 2, s. 8 (1).
Source: Child and Family Services Act
Here is Mr Dunn's letter to André Marin (pdf) requesting his opinion on the provision.
Below Ottawa This Week profiles John Dunn.
Standing up for current, former foster kids
When John Dunn was only 18 months old, he was taken away from his mother who had attempted suicide. He and his siblings were split up, and Dunn was put into the foster care system.
The first home he lived in until he was five years old was pretty good. But in later homes, he faced years of abuse from his foster parents.
Fast forward to 2002 and Dunn was 32 years old. He found himself suffering post-traumatic stress disorder and emotional issues. He lived an unstable life, and by age 32, he had held about 60 jobs and had moved around more than 40 times.
He was looking for some sense of stability, so he got help from a mental health professional and asked the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto to send him copies of his personal records from his time in the system, but to this day, he still doesn’t have those records.
That’s why the west-end resident started the Foster Care Council of Canada, a group that helps former foster children find their own personal records and promote foster care system awareness campaigns.
“We’re focused on issues that need to be fixed,” said Dunn. “We’re trying to look at things we know of that are in need of repair or need work.”
Since the organization started about 10 years ago, Dunn said he and members have tried to make several changes at the provincial level to help former and current foster children. Also, he said the group has helped create guidance books and manuals for foster kids who might feel like they’re in an unsafe situation.
In addition, he said the group helps provide support to current and former foster children who want to file complaints and make criminal injury compensation claims resulting from their time in foster care.
Dunn knows this abuse first hand, which he describes in a documentary he made back in 2002. Living at a foster home in Trout Creek Ontario, near North Bay, until he was nine years old, he remembers the abuse he suffered at the hands of the home’s father figure.
He was a bed wetter, and as punishment his foster father would make him sit on the surface of the family’s wood burning stove when he had an accident. One night, his foster father opened the door of the stove and pushed Dunn head-first into the burning coals, until he begged and screamed that he wouldn’t do it again.
Dunn also witnessed his biological brother, who was also living in the house, being abused.
While he remembers the bad stories and wants to help former foster kids who were in similar situations, he also fondly remembers the first foster home he lived in.
“There’s definitely good stories out there too,” Dunn acknowledged. “We’re not an anti-Children’s Aid group. But we try and look at things that we know need repair.”
Today, the west-end resident is executive director of the Foster Care Council of Canada and he has kept in touch with his siblings.
“It’s a great family relationship, and we get along amazingly,” Dunn said. “Emotionally now I feel fine, but it’s taken a lot of work.”
For more information on the Foster Care Council of Canada, visit its website at www.afterfostercare.ca .
Source: Ottawa This Week