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Give the Ombudsman Power
May 5, 2012 permalink
Add the Toronto Sun to the voices calling for ombudsman oversight of children's aid societies. Their editorial is enclosed.
Katelynn’s death is an outrage
Something is rotten in Ontario’s child welfare system and it’s killing children.
Seven-year-old Katelynn Angel Sampson is the latest victim.
Randal Dooley and Jeffrey Baldwin were just two of the previous ones.
The horrors have been revealed over and over at murder trials and inquests.
As reported by the Sun’s Michele Mandel last week, Katelynn died on Aug. 3, 2008, assaulted, battered and bruised, forced to write out 62 times before her death at the hands of her court-appointed guardians, “I am A awful girl that’s why no one wants me.”
While this was going on, the children’s aid system missed warning after warning that Katelynn was in mortal danger.
As Justice John McMahon put it in sentencing Katelynn’s killers, Donna Irving, 33, and Warren Johnson, 50, to second-degree murder: “The alarm bells were ringing but no one was responding, if they had we would not be in this courtroom this afternoon.”
He harshly criticized the two agencies involved in Katelynn’s case, the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto and Native Child and Family Services, who ignored warnings and failed to communicate with each other.
The family court system failed to check out the records for Katelynn’s guardians, after her mother, Bernice Sampson, signed her daughter over to Irving’s care because of her own crack addiction.
If they had, they would have discovered Irving was a crack-smoking former prostitute with a Grade 5 education, lengthy criminal record and a history of sexual and physical abuse.
Johnson, her common-law husband, was a crack user and unemployed former pot dealer.
Yet they were granted full custody of Katelynn in June, 2008.
By the time she died, Katelynn had 100 wounds on her body, some as severe as injuries that would normally be caused by a car crash. No one intervened.
She missed 73 days of school leading up to her death. No one intervened.
Katelynn’s principal at Parkdale Public School reported his suspicions she was being abused to the CAS. No one intervened.
Irving, Katelynn’s eventual murderer, even called the CAS emergency line four months before her death, saying she couldn’t care for her anymore. No one intervened.
Of course there must be an inquest, but inquests aren’t enough.
Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin has received thousands of complaints from the public about Ontario’s $1.4 billion-a-year children’s aid system.
There are allegations of CAS’s refusing to investigate abuse, neglect and staff misconduct, of biased and incompetent probes, of inaccurate record-keeping and misrepresenting information in court.
But Marin can’t probe the system because Ontario is the only province that doesn’t allow it.
Enough is enough. The status quo has failed.
It’s time to give the ombudsman the power to investigate the system and recommend how to fix it.
If Premier Dalton McGuinty’s minority government continues to refuse, Conservative Leader Tim Hudak and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath must force the issue. Now.
Source: Toronto Sun