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October 11, 2012 permalink
The enclosed poster was found on the front page of the St Catharines Standard and on their Facebook page, so far not on their news website. It asserts "47% of Ontarians know someone who has experienced abuse". Indeed we do. The abuse occurred in foster care.
Source: Facebook, St Catharines Standard
There is more in the FACS Niagara drive for Child Abuse Prevention Month. Pat Niagara captured the video in the enclosed article. look inside FACS Niagara Headquarters (mp4). Worker Marion Lichty refers to families broken up by force of arms as "consumers".
A bulwark against child abuse
ST. CATHARINES -
It’s a nerve centre for some of the region’s most painful phone calls.
The screening department at Family and Children’s Services Niagara is deceptively calm. The humanly-proportioned, carpeted space feels almost Zen-like.
But here, eight employees bow into their screens, quietly handling a world of anxiety.
This is the front-end, where all FACS calls come in. Some are administrative. Others of children suffering from potential sexual or physical abuse are heartbreaking.
Above all, one rule abides, says Marion Lichty intake service coordinator.
“When in doubt, check it out.
“If you have a question or concern anonymously, call us rather than not,” Lichty inside FACS’ headquarters in St. Catharines. “That’s critical for everyone.”
By law, FACS must respond to concerns they get about the care and safety of a child.
And it’s true in a situation of an immediate risk, FACS has the legal right of entry in a home.
But removal of children from families is a last resort, workers stress. They are not baby snatchers.
They say 90% of their cases never involve taking a child away — generally a worst-case scenario.
Meanwhile, as FACS marks Child Abuse Prevention Month, it points to statistics revealing the scope of the problem.
According to the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, half of Ontarians know someone who has been abused or neglected.
In Niagara, last year 5,279 referrals were made to FACS, with 3,878 families needing child protection services.
Some of the cases are harrowing.
FACS child protection supervisor David Gill is with a child advocacy centre. That’s an investigations unit looking at all of the region’s reported sexual abuse and more serious physical abuse reports.
It partners with the Niagara Regional Police as these incidents may also include a criminal investigation and charges.
Gill is asked if some of the stories bother him.
“We have to approach our work through a professional standpoint,” he said. “We are emotional beings ... but we need to keep our focus on investigative strategy, what are the supports we can put in place for the child?”
With that effort “comes the benefit of doing something for the family and child,” Gill said.
“It’s a way of taking the sometimes disturbing information that comes in, and focusing it on something that’s practical and functional. It’s the (act of) doing.”
Valerie Savoie, a child welfare supervisor, echoes other FACS workers: There are also edifying rewards in their jobs.
That parent rescued from brutal substance addiction and reunited with their child.
A family that gets help getting needed baby formula, food and counselling support.
There are the kids that thrive, balanced with the heartbreak of those that don’t.
“I’m a mom, parent as well,” said Savoie. “When you’re working with these families, you realize that families we work with are just like us, having daily struggles.
“Sometimes they need extra support and that’s just what we’re here to do.”
The 24-hour number for Family and Children’s Services Niagara is 905-937-7731
Source: Niagara Falls Review
Persons who are targeted by calls to the phone in the article may find the following contact information helpful in putting the family back together again:
Canada Court Watch
Box 51027 Maple Grove Post Office
Oakville, Ontario L6J 7P5