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Legislator Calls for Ombudsman Oversight
September 7, 2012 permalink
Jeff Leal, the Liberal MPP representing Peterborough, has written a letter to Eric Hoskins in support of bill 110, which provides for ombudsman oversight of children's aid. The letter mentions the case of Chad Wells, who got custody of his children after a struggle with CAS including a favorable but futile unenforced decision from the Child and Family Services Review Board. The letter is enclosed along with an editorial in the Sudbury Star referenced by Mr Leal.
collapseJeff Leal, M.P.P. Peterborough
August 10, 2012
The Honourable Eric Hoskins
Minister of Children and Youth Services
14th Floor, 56 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2S3
I recently had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Chad Wells regarding the Private Members Bill 110 which would legislate broader powers of oversight for the Ombudsman in Ontario to include Children's Aid Societies and other public agencies. Mr. Wells had a long battle with the Muskoka Children's Aid Society regarding the custody of his three children. The courts ultimately made a decision that allowed Mr. Wells to have custody of his children.
When Bill 110 has been discussed, your Ministry has stated that the Review Board handles complaints regarding decisions made by Children's Aid Societies. In Mr. Wells' case, the Muskoka CAS was found guilty in court but your Ministry Review Board docs not enforce court decisions. This is why a significant number of individuals want Ombudsman oversight.
I have also included for your review a copy of an opinion editorial from the Sudbury Star, Monday, June 14,2010 entitled "Why did the CAS want foster father's name kept secret?" The information in this editorial suggests the need for Ombudsman oversight of CAS.
I want to thank you for taking the time to review this matter.
Cc Mr. Chad Wells (address) Peterborough, Ontario (postal code)
Source: Chad Wells
Why did the CAS want foster father's name kept secret?
The bravery of a 16-year-old young woman last week was astounding.
After having the courage to come forward to police about a foster father who had sexually abused her since age 11 and impregnated her at age 14, she also asked the court to lift the publication ban on the name of the abuser.
And yet the Sudbury and Manitoulin District Children's Aid Society fought to have the judge not only ban the name of Donald Klasges, but also asked Justice Patricia Hennessy to ban all reporting on the case.
Justice Hennessy said, "the irony is rich, that concerns for other foster children is most eloquently addressed by the victim."
No kidding. Klasges, 65, was sentenced to seven years in prison for abusing the girl.
This young woman -- who is not only a survivor of horrendous abuse, is now also a single mother of a two-year-old -- told the court she would be willing to have her name published if it meant Klasges' name would also be published.
According to The Sudbury Star, the request by the teen was supported by the Crown but opposed by CAS. The lawyer for the CAS, Dawn Dubois, said revealing Klasges as a foster parent could have an adverse impact on the future lives of foster children who had been placed with him in the past.
The survivor told Justice Hennessy it was that very reason that Klasges had been a foster parent to others, that she wanted the ban lifted.
I will go further than Justice Hennessy and say not only is the irony rich, but the CAS comes across as looking like it is protecting an abuser instead of supporting the survivor they placed with this man at the age of 11.
They CAS has said it is horrified by the case and quite shaken by it, and when Klasges was first charged in 2008, the society took six months to make it public.
There had been 42 children placed in his Levack home and officials needed time to investigate. Executive Director Collette Prevost said all 42 were contacted and there was no evidence of other cases of abuse. And apparently, the screening and training of foster parents has changed for the better since 2008 becoming more in-depth and exhaustive. Would it always have been so.
Having been a social worker myself, I understand the concepts of confidentiality and how important it is to ensure the names of the innocent and those who come forward for help are protected. When I worked with women who were abused as children and adult rape survivors, it was paramount to ensure confidentiality so more women would feel safe telling their story.
In this case, the survivor's name is protected and the name of the offender -- who pleaded guilty -- is not. So it floors me as to why this was such a big deal to the CAS. Who would gain by keeping Klasges's name private? Does it really help the other foster children who were placed with the abuser?
If it's true that no one else was abused by Klasges, according to the CAS, then what is the harm in releasing his name? Especially when the victim in this case was requesting it.
Does the CAS even begin to understand how they look when not only does it place the victim with an abuser, it fights her right to have the abuser's name made public?
Anyone who works in any of the helping professions understands that mistakes can happen --big mistakes that can have a lasting impact on people's lives. But we also know the importance of owning up to those mistakes and respecting the rights of people who may have been harmed in the process.
We all know many Children's Aid societies are struggling. Many are deeply in the red with no help in sight. The province has told them to fundraise, which is the most ridiculous thing I have heard in a long time.
When staffs are worried about layoffs and they are overworked with huge caseloads, mistakes will happen. Perhaps the province should get off its high horse and allow the Ontario ombudsman to investigate the agencies so real changes can be made.
Of course, that still doesn't explain why the powers that be in the Sudbury agency decided to fight the publication of Klasges name. When Director Prevost was asked why the CAS fought the release of Klasges's name, she replied, "the public has the right to ask the question." I guess we have the right to ask, but we don't have the right to hear an answer that makes sense.
Source: Sudbury Star
All news sources refer to the rapist as Douglas Klasges. Donald is a mistake.