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January 11, 2012 permalink
The rally scheduled for Friday in Chatham has already made the press.
In speaking to the press Chatham-Kent CAS executive director Mike Stephens came up with two new arguments. The rally is futile, because ombudsman oversight is not a decision that can be made locally by the children's aid society. And CAS workers are not registered because there is no legal requirement to do so.
Use of title, social worker
46. (1) No person except a registered social worker shall use the English title “social worker” or “registered social worker” or the French title “travailleur social” or “travailleur social inscrit” or an abbreviation of any of those titles to represent expressly or by implication that he or she is a social worker or registered social worker. 1998, c. 31, s. 46 (1).
(2) No person except a registered social worker shall represent or hold out expressly or by implication that he or she is a social worker or a registered social worker. 1998, c. 31, s. 46 (2).
Source: Ontario statutes
Court Watch organizing rally
LEGAL: Active member staying in C-K to help families dealing with CAS
An active member of Canada Court Watch Program plans to be spend several weeks in Chatham-Kent helping people who have issues with local child protection services.
Chris Carter is also organizing a rally to be held Friday on Grand Avenue West at the entrance to the Chatham Court House, beginning at 10 a.m., that will focus on garnering support for giving Ontario's Ombudsman the right to investigate complaints against children's aid societies.
Carter said Ontario is the only province in Canada that doesn't give the ombudsman authority to investigate complaints about a CAS.
Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin is on record stating he is concerned about not having the ability to investigate complaints about children's aid societies, along with complaints about municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals.
Court Watch is also taking legal action concerning a local complaint. Carter said a private prosecution is being brought to court against a local CAS worker, by a local resident, for alleged perjury.
"The Chatham-Kent Children's Services should expect more of that," Carter warned.
Mike Stephens, CEO of the Chatham-Kent Children's Services, said Tuesday he was not aware of the matter and couldn't comment on it anyway.
As for Friday's rally to support having the ombudsman investigate CAS complaints, Stephens said, "that's not a decision that can be made locally by our childrens' aid society, so I'm not sure why anybody would be protesting us for that."
He added that is a political decision, so "you're not going to change anybody's mind here, because we don't have a say."
Carter, who is staying with a local family, said he is also interested in helping people deal with the "very complicated and convoluted child protection system here in Ontario."
He said he's willing to help families "at risk" of CAS involvement, prepare for their initial court appearance, because the vast majority of parental capacity assessments - which determines if a parent is fit to care their child - are ruled in favour of the CAS.
Court Watch also shares information with families about the Child and Family Services Act and the regulations attached to the act, Carter said.
He added the program also helps families navigate the Child and Family Services Review Board, which handles complaints about the CAS.
Another concern Court Watch has is with the lack of CAS child protection workers who are registered with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers.
The group states only 10% of the approximately 8,700 CAS in workers are registered with the college, which has the power to discipline members if warranted.
"This is a huge deficiency within the child protection system," Carter said.
Stephens said local CAS workers are not registered with the college because "there is no legal requirement for protection workers to be registered."
He added a child protection worker is not providing the kind of counselling that was intended to be required to be registered as a social worker.
"They're not practising social work when their protection workers, they're practising protection," Stephens said, adding the CAS doesn't just hire people with a degree in social work.
Carter said Court Watch "supports the existence of an organized, government-controlled child protection system."
But he said the group believes it needs to be done in a "holistic" fashion, that helps keep families together.
However, Carter notes the group also knows there are cases where it is better to remove the child from the home - especially if there is sexual or physical abuse involved.
Source: Chatham Daily News