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Ministry Checks Out Prince Edward CAS

June 12, 2012 permalink

The enclosed article has more spin than fact, but it appears that the Ministry of Children and Youth Services is unhappy with the performance of the Prince Edward County Children's Aid Society, which allowed its foster parents to engage in sexual abuse (including rape) of its foster children.



County CAS under review

A government investigation spurred the overhaul of procedures at Prince Edward County Children's Aid Society.

Officials from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services recently drafted a number of reforms, including the need for improved documentation, at the Picton-based child welfare entity where three foster parents have been convicted in the past six months for sexually assaulting children entrusted into their care by the agency.

The ministry wanted to do its own review to satisfy its concerns that “everything that should have been done, was done and to safeguard things for the future,” said Bill Sweet, the society's executive director.

“They decided that they would launch their review and we co-operated fully with them and participated in it,” he said.

The ministry-led team stepped in last December just weeks after penitentiary terms were meted out against a Bloomfield couple, two child predators who molested numerous children placed in their care. The third offender, a 72-year-old Bloomfield man, is awaiting a July 6 sentencing date in a Picton court.

Senior staff at the County CAS also spearheaded a joint review to complement the ministry efforts. Both reviews have led to more stringent investigation procedures, said the director.

“The ministry was involved and conducted its review together with us,” Sweet said.

“It was, in some ways, a reinforcement of some of our own findings,” Sweet said of the ministry review.

There was also some new findings arising from the process, such as immediate need for the society to improve its efforts “to ensure that documentation is timely and includes all details.”

The ongoing saga of the abuse cases and subsequent investigation have had a “significant impact” on everyone involved with the agency because “it has been unfolding now for more than a year,” he said.

The agency will now have more staff dedicated to reviewing referrals for potential foster parents, in an effort to detect prior complaints or concerns relevant to a request to provide care.

Case workers having prior history with foster parents under investigation will now be asked to provide input about their previous interaction with the caregiver.

Sweet, however, is fully cognizant of public scrutiny and concern about potential gaps in the agency's foster parent program because of the nature of the assaults and the number of people convicted just months apart.

In terms of the handling of the society-led investigations against the recently convicted foster parents, Sweet is convinced that all the ministry-mandated requirements were met.

“We looked at what we did in terms of the investigation and all the steps were taken,” he said.

The majority of the changes now underway will be directed toward internal reform, which he says is aimed at unearthing information crucial to shoring up the investigative process.

Sweet credits the internal shakeup for sexual assault charges being levied against Ronald Slatter, 63, another former foster parent who appear in court June 20.

The director was unable to comment on other potential “investigations that are currently underway.” He, however, hinted that “I do not believe that there are any other (active) cases (investigations)” being managed by the society presently.

Source: Belleville Intelligencer