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November 9, 2012 permalink
The Brockville Recorder covered the story, but did not include the report on its website. Here is a transcription by Chris Carter.
PROTEST: Group demands that ombudsman be able to investigate CAS
Picket targets children's aid
A group calling for the right for the Ombudsman of Ontario to investigate children's aid societies picketed in front of the Brockville's courthouse on Thursday.
The group passed around a petition to draw Member of Provincial Parliament Steve Clark's attention to what they describe as a "flawed and corrupt" system.
"With the click of a button, the provincial government will tell you how many pounds of soya beans were grown in Leeds-Grenville last year," said Chris Carter, a Canada Court Watch worker who organized the picket. "They will not tell you how many children were made Crown Wards without access to their families last year."
While children's aid services in Ontario aren't currently investigated by the ombudsman, Family and Children's Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville executive director Allan Hogan said that his organization responds to a number of governing bodies.
Hogan said that Family and Children's Services of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville is susceptible to service and financial audits by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and is also subject to financial reviews by the auditor-general.
There is also a complaints procedure that is embedded in the legislation, a child and family services review board that hears complaints from families who receive service from children's aid societies, the office of the provincial advocate for children and youth, and a family court system, Hogan said.
There are a number of oversight or accountability mechanisms that are put in place for children's aid societies," Hogan said.
But Carter said that having children's aid societies across the province fall under the ombudsman's jurisdiction would make the system more accountable.
Currently, no Freedom of Information and Privacy Act requests can be filed to a children's aid society.
"What are they hiding?" Carter asked.
Hogan confirmed that no such requests can be filed.
"It doesn't have jurisdiction over the information in a children's aid society, and the reason for that is because we have a lot of confidential information that we need to be able to respect."
Carter was joined by a protester from Kingston who had been a crown ward as a child. Amber Lagroix, now 24, said that she was "apprehended" from her home at age 11 and separated from her brother for more than 10 years after he was adopted and she remained in foster care.
I think of being a foster child as being a second class citizen," Lagroix said, alleging that she was emotionally abused in foster care and later struggled with a drug dependency.
"I blame them for a lot of things that have happened to me. I led a life that I don't feel would have happened, had they kept supporting me and done their job."
Hogan said that foster parents are chosen using an intensive provincial screening process that includes criminal record checks, references, a review of social history, and mandatory training.
"The system is set provincially for the approval and training of foster parents," he said.
The agencies may do more with them, but they have to fit at least that minimum standard."
Source: Facebook, Chris Carter (MS-Word)