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CAS Driver Abandons Baby
December 3, 2012 permalink
Here is a report at-length on a child abandoned by a driver for Brant CAS. It looks like the same case reported on Facebook by grandmother Helen Smith.
For What It's Worth
Case of forgotten infant conjures sage advice
A few years ago, a wily detective provided sage advice to me.
"Remember, Vincent, everything is not always as it seems."
His advice came to mind just over a week ago when I was given an assignment involving the Brant Children's Aid Society.
A grandmother called to complain about the CAS, saying that her infant grandson had been left alone in a car for more than two hours by a CAS volunteer.
The baby was under the care of the CAS but got visits once or twice a week with his grandmother. A volunteer CAS driver would pick up the child from his grandmother's house and deliver him to his foster family.
Anyway, the grandmother said, on one occasion the driver picked up the child but, instead of delivering him to his foster family, the driver forgot all about the child and instead went home. The vehicle was parked in the garage. And the child was left there as well until the volunteer discovered the mistake and returned the child to his foster family.
The child was not hurt.
The CAS, upon hearing about what happened called everyone involved with the child, including the grandmother, to a meeting and revealed what happened.
Quite properly outraged by what had happened, the grandmother called The Expositor. She said she wasn't getting answers from the CAS. How, after all, could the CAS legitimately call into question someone's parenting and caregiving skills when one of it volunteers left an infant alone in a vehicle parked in a garage for two hours?
I agreed to look into the issue. But these kinds of assignments are difficult. They mean interviewing people who are angry and are dealing with emotionally volatile situations. Let's face it, people are willing to accuse others of just about anything, especially when the care and custody of a child is at stake.
And there's another issue.
Public agencies - the CAS, hospitals, police - are bound by privacy legislation that puts severe constraints on what they can publicly say. Generally, they will not speak about specific cases. Instead, they only speak in general terms about their policies and how they usually handle certain situations.
I called the grandmother.
"So, how do you know this happened?" I asked.
"Because the CAS told me. They had this meeting and they told us what happened," she said.
"So, they didn't try to hide it from you. In fact, you wouldn't even know about it if they hadn't told you?"
"That's right" she acknowledged. "But there are still a lot of unanswered questions. How did this happen, what are they doing to prevent it from happening again and what have they done about the driver?
Those were just few of the questions she had.
She also informed me that a custody hearing involving the infant was coming up.
I called the CAS expecting to hear: "No comment."
Instead, I received a phone call from Andrew Koster, the CAS executive director.
He wouldn't mention any names and he was somewhat guarded in his comments.
But he acknowledged the incident, said it was a rare occurrence and that steps were being taken to make sure something like it never happens again.
"We hold parents to a high standard and, when something like this happens, we have to hold ourselves to the same high standard," he said.
"When something like this happens we have to be held accountable."
Volunteers for the CAS undergo a rigorous screening process, Koster added.
I held off writing a story about the situation because I wanted to hear what happened at the custody hearing.
The grandmother and her daughter are apparently pleased with the result of the custody hearing but they are still unhappy with the CAS. They want to see any reports that have been written by CAS staff concerning the incident. And they want to know what the CAS is doing differently and what changes, if any have been made, to prevent something like this from happening again.
They also want to know how it is that the child could be missing for two hours without anyone knowing.
They say they're not getting answers and will continue to press the CAS for more disclosure.
For what it's worth, I probably have a bit more confidence in public agencies, like the CAS, than most people. I have to believe they're doing what they can to make sure such a situation never arises again. And I'm quite sure they were as disturbed as anyone when they learned what happened to that infant.
So, why would I think the CAS is doing its due diligence following a case like this?
Well, it's not as if they denied what happened or tried to hide behind a no comment.
They acknowledged it and promised to do better.
Is there more they should be doing?
Source: Brantford Expositor