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Secret Shame

March 19, 2012 permalink

Ted Korol was in these columns in December 2010 when he spoke to the CBC. Last year he produced a report on child welfare from an insider's perspective. Some quotes from social workers in his report:

I remember I must have been about six years old when we first got our television. The first commercial I can remember was a commercial on UNICEF. I remember running to my mother telling her we had to help and feed those children. From that day on I knew all I ever wanted to be was a social worker. Even in my play I pretended I was a social worker. For a time in my adult life I considered other career paths but they just weren't right. I finally became a social worker, I had made it. I worked with different community based organizations and it seemed I was always advocating on behalf of families against the Ministry. I finally decided that I should try working from inside the system. I joined the Ministry and worked in protection. It was brutal! The system was so opposite of what I was as a social worker, opposite to what social work was supposed to be. It was even a shocker to see that the Ministry conducted itself in a manner opposite to how the Ministry policy people taught us to be. We were always behind, worn down, there never was a feeling of accomplishment. The Ministry is so crazy making and bizarre!

I was reviewing some concerns relating to a 1st Nations child who was in the care of the Ministry for a number of years. Much to the chagrin of the manager (who was having trouble understanding and explaining policy to me) I discovered that the child was still in care months after the court ordered the child to be returned to the child's kin. It was also clear that the Ministry had no legal authority to hold this child in foster care over the last few months. I raised it with the manager who immediately acknowledged the fact and replied we could draw up the appropriate documents and backdate them. When I raised my concern that such action would be unethical, unlawful and quite possibly fraudulent the manager shrugged it off stating "we do it all the time."

After a child death occurs, an internal report from the Ministry may take up to two years to be finalized and published. I have reviewed instances like this and I find the delay appalling. Furthermore, the Children's Advocate Office has an agreement with the Ministry that it will not begin their investigation until the Ministry's report is concluded. All the while the parents are languishing in their grief and despair, not knowing what happened. All the while witnesses and evidence are disappearing, the public is forgetting what happened and children remain at risk for a cause not reported and corrected.

We found Korol's report at The Secret Shame: Saskatchewan Child Welfare. Here is a local copy (pdf)