Press one of the expand buttons to see the full text of an article. Later press collapse to revert to the original form. The buttons below expand or collapse all articles.
Social Worker Steals Ritalin
December 27, 2005 permalink
Those drugs prescribed for your kids may become recreational drugs for social workers, or the source for drug sales.
Missing Ritalin leads to charges
KITTERY, Maine - A Department of Health and Human Services employee has been charged with two felony counts of drug theft for allegedly taking Ritalin prescribed for an 8-year-old.
Kimberly S. Sawyer, 29, of 26 Prospect St., Westbrook, was summonsed on Dec. 2 by Kittery police after an investigation into allegations she had taken the drugs from the child's home, said Police Chief Ed Strong.
Sawyer, a DHHS case worker, was assigned to visit the child's home on a regular basis. The parents, whose name and address are not being released, noticed that after Sawyer's visits, portions of the child's Ritalin prescription were missing, said Strong.
The parents took matters into their own hands and set a trap for Sawyer on Dec. 2, the date of her next scheduled visit.
"The family themselves had put a hidden camera in and caught her on film taking the drugs," said Strong.
The parents notified police. Officer Don Truax investigated the allegations and charged Sawyer with the Class C felony later that day.
Sawyer is scheduled to appear in York District Court on Feb. 9, 2006. If convicted, she could face up to five years in prison for each charge.
Source: Portsmouth Herald
Did CAS Know about Fonthill?
December 26, 2005 permalink
This article by Anne Marsden suggests that authorities brushed off warnings of abuses at Fonthill, site of the David S Horne home that housed the killer of Matthew Reid until less than a day before his murder.
"WHAT HE SHUTS NO-ONE CAN OPEN"
By Anne Marsden
The above title, a scripture found in Revelations 3 vs. 7 in the NIV Holy Bible, was first given to me by a member of my church family who sought to comfort me after one of my sons had been abducted (that's what we believe it was) by the Halton Children's Aid Society and placed in a group home in Fonthill. It did not bring much comfort at the time but my husband and I have now begun to understand why the Lord sometimes shuts doors when no human understanding could possibly establish why? Our experience saw us enter a ministry which recently saw the release of a 3 year old Brantford girl from a very similar situation in less than a week. She is one of many children now reunited with the parents they should never have been taken from because of our experience.
My bible notes Friday, December 16, 2005 was the 13th anniversary of the door opening at the Fonthill group home after nine months of sheer misery for our son and the rest of the family. During his incarceration, we got to know a beautiful teenage girl who the family believed was being severely abused by the home foster parents. We reported the abuse to the Halton CAS, the Child and Family Advocacy Office, MPP Peter Kormos when we managed to speak to him personally on the telephone, and others. We also attempted to adopt her to get her out of the situation but "what He shuts no-one can open". We could not have possibly known that on Friday, December 16, 2005 we would see the same group home in Fonthill where the door was opened for us 13 years to the very day, on CH News. But that's exactly what happened. A fourteen year old girl was a resident there and within a short time of her release to a foster home, a three year old foster child resident was found murdered and the 14 year old girl charged in the murder. Perhaps if there is an inquest we can give evidence related to the abuse we know happened behind those Fonthill Group home doors to a girl of similar age as the one charged with murder, and no-one, including MPP Peter Kormos, would listen.
In 1999 we were faced with closed doors that again took us nine months to open, this time at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital and the family member was my mother. Christmas and her 80th birthday she spent isolated from her family. Family, including our son who knew what incarceration and isolation was, and friends were escorted out of OTMH by Halton Region police, even on Christmas Day. Today we face the same threats if we dare enter my mother's home Brantwood Lifecare Centre after 5:00 p.m. My husband does not finish work until 4:30 p.m. and evening was our visiting time. Again we have repeatedly reported the abuse that goes on behind the doors of Brantwood Lifecare Centre including the isolation of my mother from her family. Again, and more willingly this time we accept "what He shuts no-one can open" because we are assured by our experiences that the promises we read in the bible are true especially "all things work together for good."
A December 21, 2005 Auditors Publication
Baby Placed in Foster Care
December 25, 2005 permalink
The internet this year is rife with rumors of the latter-day treatment of a baby boy who cannot be identified.
INFANT DISCOVERED IN BARN, CHILDREN'S AID LAUNCHES PROBE
Carpenter Being Held On Charges Involving Underage Mother
Bethlehem, Ontario - Authorities were today alerted by a concerned citizen who noticed a family living in a barn. Upon arrival, Children's Aid social workers, accompanied by police, took into protective care an infant boy who cannot be named, wrapped only in strips of cloth and placed in a feeding trough by his 14-year old mother.
During the confrontation, a man identified as the father attempted to stop the social workers. The father, aided by several local shepherds and some unidentified foreigners, tried to forestall efforts to take the child, but were restrained by the police.
Also being held for questioning are three foreigners who allege to be wise men from an eastern country. The RCMP and CSIS officials are seeking information about these who may be in the country illegally. A source with CSIS states that they had no passports, but were in possession of gold and other possibly illegal substances. They resisted arrest saying that they had been warned by God to avoid officials in Bethlehem and to return quickly to their own country. The chemical substances in their possession will be tested.
The owner of the barn is also being held for questioning. The manager of the Bethlehem Inn faces possible revocation of his license for violating health and safety regulations by allowing people to stay in the stable. Civil authorities are also investigating the zoning violations involved in maintaining livestock in a commercially-zoned district.
The location of the minor child will not be released, and the prospect for a quick resolution to this case is doubtful. Asked about when the baby would be returned to his mother, a Children's Aid spokesperson said, "The father is middle-aged and the mother definitely underage. We are checking with officials in Bethelem to determine what their legal relationship is.
The father has admitted taking the mother from her home because of a census requirement. However, because she was obviously pregnant when they left, investigators are looking into other reasons for their departure. The father is being held without bond on charges of molestation, kidnapping, child endangerment, and statutory rape.
The mother was taken to the Clark Institute where she is being examined by doctors. Charges may also be filed against her for endangerment. She will undergo a psychiatric evaluation because of her claim that she is a virgin and that the child is from God.
The director of the psychiatric wing said, "I don't profess to have the right to tell people what to believe, but when their beliefs adversely affect the safety and well-being of others - in this case her child - we must consider her a danger to others. The unidentified drugs at the scene didn't help her case, but I'm confident that with the proper therapy regimen we can get her back on her feet."
A spokesperson for the premier's office said, "Who knows what was going through their heads? But regardless, their treatment of the child was inexcusable, and the involvement of these others frightening. There is much we don't know about this case, but for the sake of the child and the public, you can be assured that we will pursue this matter to the end."
News of Foxwoods Conference
December 20, 2005 permalink
The Hartford Courant has finally reported on last month's Foxwoods Parental Rights Conference. While the article deals mostly with Connecticut, the lessons could benefit children in Ontario.
DCF Called Too Reliant On Foster Care
Connecticut's over-reliance on foster care is costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year and may be endangering children the state is trying to protect, a national child welfare advocate says.
National statistics show that children in foster care are physically and sexually abused at rates significantly higher than the general population, Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform in Alexandria, Va., told an audience at the first Northeast Parental Rights Conference at Foxwoods Resort Casino last month.
Helping families in crisis stay together through intervention, guidance and support is less expensive and has been shown to be better for children than putting them into foster homes, said Wexler, whose opinions have been covered in The New York Times and on CNN and "60 Minutes."
Wexler cited a recent University of Florida study that tracked children born to cocaine-abusing mothers. Children who remained with their mothers through inpatient rehab fared better than those placed in foster care, the study found.
"The separation from their mothers was more toxic than the cocaine," Wexler said. "It is very difficult to take a swing at so-called `rotten parents' without the blow landing squarely on the child."
Officials at the state Department of Children and Families say that the agency is removing fewer children and that the state foster care population is declining. But Wexler questioned DCF's effectiveness and says Connecticut lags far behind model child welfare programs in Michigan, Illinois and Alabama.
"Illinois and New York City learned from their mistakes," Wexler said. "They embraced safe, proven programs to keep families together. They slashed [child] removals by 60 percent and with no compromise of safety."
Illinois' foster care population has plummeted, in part, because that state changed the way private foster care agencies are funded. Instead of paying private agencies based on the number of children in foster care - as Connecticut does - Illinois rewards agencies for finalizing adoptions and returning children safely to their homes. Agencies are penalized when children languish in foster care.
As of Nov. 30, more than 6,000 Connecticut children were living in out-of-home care at an annual cost to taxpayers in excess of $260 million. Out-of-home care includes foster homes, group homes, shelters and institutions.
Contrary to popular belief, most children placed in foster care are not victims of serious abuse and probably don't need to be there, Wexler said.
Of the 523,000 children living in foster care nationally in 2003, only 11 percent were victims of serious physical or sexual abuse, Wexler said. The overwhelming majority of children in foster care were removed from their homes because of alleged neglect or issues such as inadequate housing, food or medical care.
DCF spokesman Gary Kleeblatt said the agency has stepped up family preservation since Commissioner Darlene Dunbar took office in early 2003.
The agency has invested nearly $51 million in family preservation programs over the past year, many of them new. Of the 39,779 children being served by DCF, more than five out of six are receiving services at home, Kleeblatt said.
Kleeblatt said there were 194 fewer children living in out-of-home placements this November compared to November 2004. But the reason for the drop is unclear. It could be due to the agency's efforts to help families, kids in foster care turning 16 and leaving the system, fewer children entering foster care, an increase in adoptions or any combination of those factors.
Wexler concedes that DCF has made modest gains, but he pointed out that the $51 million earmarked for family preservation is but a pittance compared with the $260 million the state spends on foster care, group homes and institutions.
Wexler challenged Kleeblatt's position that the state is working comprehensively with families. He said a recent report from a federal official monitoring DCF's performance tells a much different story.
The federal monitor's November progress report found that only 20 percent of DCF investigators surveyed said their office had sufficient services to meet families' needs, Wexler said.
More than half of the families who needed help with housing didn't get it and more than a quarter of those identified as needing substance abuse treatment didn't receive any, according to the report.
When services were provided, many times they were inferior. More than half the DCF workers surveyed in the study acknowledged problems with poor quality services and nearly 40 percent acknowledged sending families to services they knew to be inferior.
When it comes to involving families in their treatment plans - seen by many to be a key to their ultimate success - DCF's track record isn't much better, Wexler said. Nearly 58 percent of the cases reviewed by the monitor didn't include a parent's perspective on what the key issues were, despite the fact that most successful interventions begin by addressing the needs the family thinks are important, Wexler said.
In 44 percent of the cases reviewed, there is no indication how progress is to be measured, which is key to whether a parent succeeds in meeting DCF's demands and is allowed to keep their child. In about two-thirds of the cases there were no timelines for completing cases, Wexler said. And in one quarter of the cases, the plan doesn't even say who is responsible for doing what in meeting DCF's goals.
Kleeblatt attributed some of the problems with treatment plans to workers' failure to fully document their work in the agency's computer database.
"The department is focused on improving how our social workers engage families in the process of planning and providing services," Kleeblatt said. "Training that has already begun and is continuing ... will substantially strengthen our staff's capacity to work with families."
Wexler said DCF's failure to make their treatment plans easily understandable to parents is particularly troublesome because parents who fail to meet DCF's goals risk having their children taken away.
Source: Hartford Courant
Jeffrey Baldwin Story
December 20, 2005 permalink
In yesterday's Globe and Mail, Christie Blatchford presented the full story of Jeffrey Baldwin, including material not presented at the trial. It is a damning account of the failure of CCAS, bypassing the usual platitudes about the best interest of the child.
As the murder trial of Jeffrey Baldwin's grandparents moves into its final phase, CHRISTIE BLATCHFORD looks at the role in the family's life of the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto. Through exclusive interviews with some of the key players and access to documents not part of the criminal trial, a picture emerges of how the agency failed again and again to protect the children.
If the story of Jeffrey Baldwin is about one thing -- aside from the guilt or innocence of the grandparents accused of starving him to death -- it is about the child-welfare agency that was for 36 years intimately enmeshed with the little boy's family.
It was this agency, the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto, that consented, fatally as it turns out, to Jeffrey and his three siblings being placed in the care of the grandparents.
Through exclusive interviews with some of the key players and access to documents not part of the criminal trial of Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman, The Globe and Mail has pieced together a harrowing account of how the CCAS failed to protect the youngsters.
Yet while the trial put Ms. Bottineau and Mr. Kidman under the microscope before Ontario Superior Court Judge David Watt, with nothing less than their liberty at stake, they are the only principals in this tale who have had their conduct fully scrutinized.
The CCAS is not in any meaningful and public way held to account for its mistakes in the death of five-year-old Jeffrey in 2002, or any other. Neither are any of its 52 sister children's aid societies in Ontario, which in fiscal 2004-05 collectively ate up $1.174-billion of taxpayers' money.
The only body that even critically examines the deaths of children like Jeffrey is a small, underfunded and woefully short-staffed arm of the Ontario Coroner's Office -- the pediatric death review committee -- and it has no power to enforce change.
Indeed, what the late Ronald Reagan once said about government appears true of Ontario's children's aid societies: They are, in the former U.S. president's words, "like a big baby -- an alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other."
The CCAS has been involved with Jeffrey's family since 1969, when his maternal grandmother, Ms. Bottineau, gave birth to her first child, through the fall of this year, when Jeffrey's surviving brother and two sisters were abruptly removed and separated from the foster home where they had lived together for almost three years.
These two events, which bookend all else that happened, demonstrate such a stark lack of common sense, or street smarts, that it is as though agency workers were forbidden to use the tools that ordinary people call upon every day to make assessments of those they meet: What does Mr. X look like? What is Ms. Y's background? What have they done in the past?
The CCAS didn't do even a rudimentary check on the grandparents and thus missed in its own aged records the fact that Ms. Bottineau and Mr. Kidman, now 54 and 53 respectively, were both convicted child abusers when the agency approved them as legal guardians of their daughter Yvonne's quartet of youngsters in three separate proceedings over three years ending in 1998.
The agency has explained this failure, in part, by citing a policy vacuum (there was then no rule to make such checks in cases where relatives were stepping into the breach) and by pointing to the confusion caused by the plethora of last names in the case and no automatic link to old files.
But the agency didn't make this mistake only once.
It made the same mistake at least five times over the years.
As Yvonne and her husband, Richard Baldwin, kept losing their children to her mother and Mr. Kidman, so did they keep on having more -- one who was stillborn in 1999 and another who was born this past summer and was immediately seized by the CCAS.
It was a pattern perhaps bred in the bone.
Ms. Bottineau was convicted of assault causing bodily harm as a teenage mom in the 1970 pneumonia death of her first baby, Eva, who later was found to have suffered multiple fractures consistent with battered-child syndrome.
Undeterred, Ms. Bottineau had another child the next year, and another the year after that, both by the same boy-man -- reported in agency files to be a distant cousin and a heavy-drinking product of the children's aid and foster systems -- before she took up with Mr. Kidman.
It was these two youngsters who in 1978 Mr. Kidman seriously assaulted. Late that December, he pleaded guilty to two counts of assault causing bodily harm for what were described as extensive beatings. He was fined $150 on each count.
But there was much more in the CCAS files, only some of it made public at trial and virtually none of it used when it mattered most.
Ms. Bottineau was first diagnosed in a 1970 psychiatric assessment as a "borderline mental defective" with an IQ of 69, a hostile personality and a sexually provocative manner. The diagnosis was confirmed nine years later when psychologist Ruth Bray assessed her again at the request of a judge.
The judge had asked for the assessment because the couple still had their three young daughters living with them --Yvonne, Yvette and Tammy -- though the CCAS had removed the two children Mr. Kidman assaulted.
The Globe has interviewed one of those two children, the girl, who is now 34 and living in southern Ontario, gainfully employed and happily married with two youngsters of her own.
So uncannily similar was her and her brother's dreadful childhood to the suffering Jeffrey and his sister would endure three decades later that it is almost as though the first two youngsters served as practice children for the grandparents, providing them with the opportunity to perfect their maltreatment skills.
What happened to Jeffrey and his sister, who were then five and six, "is exactly what happened to us'' at the same age, she said, referring to herself and her now 33-year-old brother.
As Jeffrey and his sister were locked in a dank and unheated bedroom, she was kept in a dog cage, sometimes for weeks at a stretch, and her brother confined to a garbage can. As Jeffrey and his sister were so desperately thirsty that they drank from the toilet, so did this woman and her brother. As Jeffrey and his sister had to stand on a rubber mat in a corner of the Bottineau-Kidman house that was known as "the pigs' wall," so, when this woman and her brother were allowed out, were they made to stand over an air-intake vent that was between two bedrooms.
"You were always cold," she said, her voice jarringly mild. "I was always hungry. I drank out of the toilet. It was exactly the same."
A lengthy affidavit produced at the trial by CCAS worker Jennifer Maryk, who conducted a review of the agency's records after Jeffrey's death, confirms much of what this woman told The Globe about the abuse she and her brother endured, particularly their state of near-starvation and their over-sexualized behaviour, complete with the girl's disclosure to a foster mother that she and her brother "had been taught to perform sexual acts together."
This was all in the agency's own records. It is undeniable that in the late 1970s the CCAS recognized -- at least on paper -- that Ms. Bottineau and Mr. Kidman were dangerous.
Indeed, the agency maintained for several years "orders of supervision" on the family and the three young daughters whom the CCAS left in the home.
Yet within four years of Mr. Kidman's criminal convictions, the agency was anointing Ms. Bottineau as one of its own child-care providers.
Ms. Maryk's affidavit shows that by 1983, Ms. Bottineau "was working as a home child-care provider with the support" of the CCAS. The woman went from being what a psychologist described in a report to the agency as "a danger to herself as well as to others" to so reliable a caregiver that the CCAS was entrusting her with other people's children.
From April, 1983, through to November, 1984, and perhaps even through the fall of 1986 and beyond -- it is unclear from the affidavit how long it went on -- Ms. Bottineau was being paid by the agency as a "funded daycare provider," even despite what appear to be at least two documented complaints about sexual abuse that were deemed "unsubstantiated."
The agency declined a request from The Globe to discuss these issues at this time.
"The CCAS deeply regrets the circumstances that led to Jeffrey Baldwin's death," reads a statement the agency provided. "We plan to discuss the substantial changes we have made to our own operating policies and the sector-wide reforms under way that will help reduce the risks that such a tragedy could happen again in the future."
But not now, the agency said. "While the charges against Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman are before the courts, the CCAS has been advised by legal counsel that it should not comment on these issues before the trial is completed."
The only external review of the CCAS conduct, written by a consultant named Susan Abell in September of 2004 at the agency's request, makes no bones about background checks being a core function of the social worker's job or of the impact the lack of them had in Jeffrey's case.
"The inability to connect to the past history of the extended family when the children were referred for protection services in 1994 meant that the Catholic Children's Aid Society was a participant in Jeffrey and his siblings being at risk," Ms. Abell wrote.
It was Ms. Abell who identified "at least five different pivotal points when there was the opportunity to search for the old records," the latest in 1998 when Jeffrey's little brother was placed with the grandparents, but that it was never done.
Even here, though the agency did a "formal home study" on the grandparents before the little boy was placed with them, Ms. Abell said, "the report was minimal and doesn't include a police check."
As far back as 1997, the year before that home study was done, even Hockey Canada was urging its member minor hockey associations "to conduct criminal record checks where possible" and to "thoroughly research individuals who apply for coaching and other positions." Such checks are now mandatory across the nation.
The Globe has obtained a copy of Ms. Abell's 37-page report.
Even this woman, a veteran social worker and the executive director of the Ottawa CAS before her retirement two years ago, didn't get to interview the front-line workers involved in Jeffrey's case "due to legal implications."
However, it appears unlikely Ms. Abell knew that Ms. Bottineau was, for that undetermined period in the 1980s, a CCAS-paid daycare provider.
Certainly, she made no reference to it and doesn't appear to count it as one of the five points where she says the agency logically might have checked for the old records.
The terms of her review, she said frankly, were determined by CCAS senior management, who decided she should focus on the services provided to Jeffrey's parents during the period 1994 to 2002.
Ms. Abell concluded that, because Ms. Bottineau went to the CCAS with concerns about her daughter and son-in-law's care for their first baby, and kept pestering the agency as each successive child was born, the CCAS began to see her as an ally.
"Given the level of her concern for the children," Ms. Abell wrote, "the role of the grandmother was viewed as a family strength."
Moreover, Ms. Abell found, "there does not appear to have been follow-up with the family after the children were living with the grandparents. With each subsequent placement, the grandmother applied for custody within weeks and the case was closed for further service."
Lacklustre background checks and poor investigations are familiar laments about children's aid agencies.
Though Jeffrey was not "receiving services," as the jargon of child welfare puts it, when he died on Nov. 30, 2002, he would have been if the CCAS had done minimal checks -- either of the records it already had or even a simple criminal-records search.
In the eight years before Jeffrey died, the agency was involved in much-publicized deaths of two other young clients -- the April, 1994, murder of baby Sara Podniewicz by her parents, and the June, 1997, starvation death of infant Jordan Heikamp. Both died while ostensibly being monitored by the CCAS.
In those cases, as with this one, it was evident that CCAS workers failed to properly investigate the caregivers and to adequately monitor the vulnerable children.
As British Columbia Judge Thomas Gove noted in his famous 1995 review of one little boy's death and the child-welfare system in that province, "Many other children continue to die in similar circumstances, yet little seems to change."
Many of the most significant problems he found in the death of Matthew Vaudreil centred on poor investigations. As he noted, "background history . . . does not seem to be part of an investigation."
All the damning information the CCAS had in what Ms. Abell described as "child-protection files, court files, child-in-care files and adoption files" was never once accessed.
Even without it, the agency was concerned enough about Jeffrey and his three siblings that four times they held a "high-risk-case conference."
Yet the only record checks performed were done on the people who were losing the youngsters -- their parents, Yvonne Kidman and Richard Baldwin. Not one check was done on those seeking custody of them -- the grandparents.
Most cruelly, it is debatable what the agency has learned -- beyond adopting a new policy requiring background checks on relatives seeking custody -- from its failures in Jeffrey's death.
The same day the little boy died, his siblings were retrieved by the CCAS. After a brief stint in emergency foster care, using what's called a "collateral" agency, Carpe Diem, the CCAS placed the shattered youngsters in a permanent foster home so far removed from their experience, and so preposterously beautiful to their weary eyes, that Jeffrey's oldest sister believed they had been brought there merely to have Christmas pictures taken.
There, under the care of a woman named Karen and her husband and their own two young girls, the siblings bloomed.
They did so as one would expect in youngsters who had been grossly traumatized -- in fits and starts. Each child had different and painful adjustments to make.
The sister who had been locked away with Jeffrey had to learn that a toilet was not for drinking from or washing in; that she did not have to Hoover down everything in sight because there really was another meal just around the corner; that she should brush her hair. The little girl had to learn, in short, that she was a valuable, worthy and lovable human being.
The older sister, who had been treated relatively well under the Bottineau-Kidman regime but simultaneously given far too much responsibility and far too much exposure to adult anxieties, had to learn that she was a child who was free to be a child.
Mostly, she had to learn to accept that she could not have been, should not have been, and would never have been expected to be Jeffrey's saviour.
Critically, she had to learn that her terrible, corrosive guilt was misplaced.
The youngest boy, who had been spoiled by Ms. Bottineau and Mr. Kidman in the ways they believed mattered -- with material things and overtly preferential treatment -- had to realize that he was no longer the first among unequals. He had to pick up after himself, not order about like a servant any adult female he encountered, and stop whacking and berating his little sister. He had to understand he was no longer that precocious creature called "the Prince" by his grandparents.
These are tough lessons, not learned overnight and arguably not even in a lifetime.
But the children made significant progress, every bit of it chronicled in the regular "plans of care" that Carpe Diem prepared and sent to the CCAS and its lead worker.
The little girl, enrolled by her foster parents in everything from karate lessons to swimming and Brownies, gained physical confidence and, with that, began to show the first tenuous signs of self-acceptance. The elder girl made friends at school and became popular, did well academically and began to shed the reserve that was a necessary shield in her grandparents' house, where Jeffrey was a dirty secret to be kept from the outside world. The little boy, though prone to temper tantrums and stubbornness, was learning that men, especially husbands, need not hit their wives and that women were not chattel.
It was this youngster who inadvertently precipitated the crisis that, just before Thanksgiving this year, saw the children abruptly yanked from the foster home and separated.
The reason for their removal has been shrouded in secrecy, but The Globe has interviewed the foster parents at length and seen documents that appear to support their version of events.
The foster mother was walking the five children -- Jeffrey's sibs and her own two -- to school. En route, the little guy suddenly sat down smack in a neighbour's driveway and refused to move.
"Buster," she said, "if I have to drag you there I will," and with that, and a reminder that he would get to play basketball that day -- his new favourite game -- she scooped him under one arm and half-carried, half-dragged him the rest of the way.
"They [the CCAS] say I should have stayed with him," she said in the recent interview. "But I couldn't leave the four girls on their own.
"I'm not Betty Crocker," the foster mom said with a tearful grin of how she handled things that day, "I'm a normal mom."
The little boy went into his class and promptly reported: "My mom dragged me here." Teachers and school officials were well aware that they had the youngsters from a "high-profile" child-death case in their ranks. They were on high alert, and called the area children's aid society.
In short order, social workers descended upon the school, and all the children -- but for one of the foster mom's own daughters, who was sick and had gone back home with her --were privately questioned.
The little boy, finding himself in his rightful place once again -- the centre of adult attention -- complained that his foster mom had also thrown his computer away, tossed his money in the fireplace, locked him in his room.
Meanwhile, Karen was back at her house, blissfully unaware of what was coming.
At five to 3, she was back at the school to walk the kids home. A case manager from Carpe Diem met her there and said, "There's a problem. There's been an allegation."
Soon, they were all back at her house -- two workers each from Carpe Diem and the CCAS, a couple of representatives of the local children's aid, the five children.
The foster mom sent the kids upstairs, knowing it was futile and that they would hear everything anyway. The oldest girl, with her learned distrust of social workers, was already packing.
The questions came hard and fast for Karen. Do you call the kids names? Yes, she said, if you mean did she tell the little boy, "You have to pick up your toys; bend at the waist!" or tell one or another of them, "You can't watch too much of the idiot box, or you'll become one." Do you send them to their rooms? Yes, she said, sometimes, but their doors are open and they each have their own music there and besides, "How do you punish children who have been through what they've been through?" Do you yell at them? "I have five children under the age of 11," the foster mom told them. "You need to be louder than them."
A letter from the local children's aid society received more than two weeks after the meeting notes the agency had "verified" certain "protection concerns."
The yelling was deemed "moderate risk of emotional harm;" the half-dragging of the little boy "moderate risk of physical harm;" the sending of the youngsters to their rooms -- the little girl, for instance, would be told to stay in her room until she brushed her hair, which could take hours if she got distracted -- was labelled "moderate risk of cruel and inappropriate treatment."
Despite that, Karen told The Globe, the local agency concluded the children were not at such risk that they had to be moved. It was the CCAS from Toronto that made that call, and so, that very night, Oct. 4, the youngsters left their foster parents' home forever.
When the children were called downstairs and officially "told" what they had already overheard, "all five of them burst into tears." The little boy immediately recanted, said he'd been lying -- indeed, the Carpe Diem reports of this year noted that he "has a tendency to lie about anything and everything" and was bitter about his loss of status -- and that he didn't want to go. The older girl announced she was packed. There was a platoon of cars outside the house, ready to take them away.
"I told them, 'Make us proud,' " the foster mom told The Globe, weeping.
The three children remain in separate foster homes -- apparently, their therapists believed the sight of one another was causing them to be "retraumatized," so the removal provided an opportunity to test that theory -- and meet once a month for a supervised visit at a neutral site.
"They kept saying they had to 'err on the side of caution' because of the 'high-profile nature of the case,' " the foster mom said.
She remains furious and bewildered. CCAS workers "were in this house every 30 to 45 days," she said, and knew first-hand how well the children were doing.
The Carpe Diem reports refer to increasingly warm bonds the children and foster parents were developing, with remarks from the children themselves that they wanted to "grow up in that house and stay there forever," and praise for the foster parents.
Almost gruff and affectionate, the foster mom was blunt that she had expectations for the three youngsters, just as she does for her own two. Where the social workers urged her to be happy if the threesome merely socialized at school, for instance, Karen believed they should also do their homework.
It was a bit of a philosophical divide, with the foster mom believing the three were capable of greatness, and the social workers content if they were attending classes.
Karen's own two daughters were devastated by the sudden removal.
The foster parents had just bought a new van, the better to transport their brood about. The whole configuration of the couple's sprawling new house was geared to there always being five kids there -- bunk beds for two girls in one room; for two others in another; the boy's awash in Spiderman paraphernalia; both leaves always in the big wooden table in the bright kitchen.
As plain, good sense was missing in the beginning, so it was again at the end.
For years, the Catholic CAS failed to perform what is surely the most elementary task in child welfare -- that is, check out the people getting custody of a youngster -- and ultimately failed to protect Jeffrey and his siblings.
Then, when Jeffrey was long dead, the agency was hyper-vigilant, and overreacted to the angry allegations of a furious little boy even though they appear to fly in the face of evidence singing the praises of the foster home.
These are flip sides of the same coin -- on the one, extreme institutional sloppiness; on the other, the harshness of zero tolerance.
The only independent body that reviewed Jeffrey's death was the pediatric death review committee, originally set up in 1991 and expanded six years later under Ontario deputy coroner Dr. Jim Cairns. He decided, after a series of inquests into the deaths of children being monitored by children's aid societies, that the committee would review the deaths of all youngsters who "died with an open CAS file" within the previous year.
It is possible, even probable, that Dr. Cairns could decide after Judge Watt's verdict is delivered to hold an inquest into Jeffrey's death. But just as the review committee can only make recommendations, not impose them, so are inquest jury recommendations merely suggestions.
Ontario's Children's Advocate, an agency of the children's and youth services ministry, cannot investigate either, and indeed, in a 2003 report called It's Time to Break the Silence, was pronounced the least powerful and worst-staffed of the eight child advocate's offices across Canada.
The Ontario ombudsman, André Marin, appeared this month before the standing committee on social policy -- the group reviewing proposed new child-welfare legislation -- to beg that his office be given power to probe complaints against children's aid societies.
In addition, he told The Globe in an interview, he has personally lobbied Premier Dalton McGuinty and the new Child and Youth Minister Mary Anne Chambers to push for independent oversight for the agencies.
"It's hard to find a champion," Mr. Marin said, because "oversight means accountability."
His counterparts in other provinces, Mr. Marin said, can probe complaints against a child-protection agency.
But while his office has investigative tools he calls robust -- the ability to subpoena witnesses, hold hearings, even send people to jail for non-co-operation -- he is precluded from probing complaints involving children's aid societies and long-term-care institutions for the elderly.
The bill revising the Child and Family Services Act has gone to second reading at the legislature, but though Mr. Marin said it would take only "a 10-word line" added to the bill to give his office the necessary authority, "there have been no changes" thus far.
"It's just a crying shame that children are not entitled to the same oversight" as the Ontarian who is denied a driver's licence, Mr. Marin said. "If you're after a licence and you don't get it, you can complain to me."
As Judge Gove wrote a decade ago in his searing indictment of the B.C. child-welfare system, "Child protection has, for as long as anyone can remember, been conducted in secrecy, with at least the perception that social workers are not accountable."
There remains no champion for independent investigations of children's aid societies, or for all those children who do not die but are merely injured and who suffer unnoticed.
There is none at all for the little boy who was once -- in the relatively glorious months before he was removed from his parents' sometimes violent and always erratic care and placed in the far more dangerous home of his grandparents -- called Jiffy Pop for his popcorn hair.
Did Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman kill Jeffrey Baldwin? Will they be found guilty of murder? At the least, their feet have been put to the fire. They have been called to account. In the matter of dead children in this province, that's as good as it gets. The buck stops with the alleged killers, not with those who arguably placed the victim in their sights.
Change legislation so the independent Ontario ombudsman can probe complaints about children's aid societies.
Better fund the pediatric death review committee, and change the definition of "an open CAS file" to include those children who die within two years of receiving services from a CAS and any other case it deems fit.
Better fund the office of the Children's Advocate so it can reach vulnerable children, such as those in foster care, to inform them of their rights to complain.
Remove the investigative function from CAS social workers and have agencies hire instead former police officers, coroners, public-health nurses -- anyone who "thinks dirty" and doesn't take at face value what prospective caregivers say -- as investigators.
- Christie Blatchford
Jeffrey Baldwin's death was the third high-profile case in less than a decade of a child dying while being monitored by the Toronto Catholic Children's Aid Society (CCAS).
Sara Podniewicz, six months
Died April 25, 1994
Parents convicted of second-degree murder. Expert evidence at trial showed that before she died of pneumonia,Sara suffered multiple fractures to her ribs, arms and a leg as well as internal bleeding in the chest cavity and spinal cord. Jury heard the CCAS case worker relied on information given by the parents and recommended the agency end its involvement with the family.
Jordan Heikamp, five weeks
Died June 23, 1997
Died of chronic starvation while in care of his 19-year-old mother, who had no home, no money and no job. A coroner's inquest, which ruled the death a homicide, heard that the case worker assigned to Jordan saw him only twice, the last time about two weeks before his death.
Inquest issued 44 recommendations, including a call for child-protection workers to focus on their young charges and not the parents or families.
Jeffrey Baldwin, 5 years
Died Nov. 30, 2002
Died of septic shock and pneumonia brought on by chronic starvation. Placed by the CCAS in the care of his grandparents, Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman, both previously convicted of child abuse.
They are now charged with first-degree murder.
Source: Globe and Mail
Addendum: Sentenced. Children's Aid is powerful enough to routinely rebuff requests for information from parents, in the second enclosed article they succeeded even in stonewalling an investigation by the police.
Jeffrey's killers get no parole for 20 years
'They are the antithesis of nurturing grandparents'
Peter Brieger, National Post, Saturday, June 10, 2006
The murder of five-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin shocked Toronto and those responsible must pay, a judge said yesterday as he jailed the boy's grandparents for at least two decades.
Justice David Watt said Elva Bottineau cannot apply for parole from her life sentence for at least 22 years.
Her common-law husband, Norman Kidman, must stay behind bars at least 20 years.
The sentences prompted whispers of "yes, yes," in a packed downtown courtroom. Judge Watt said autopsy photos of the emaciated boy, who passed away shortly before his sixth birthday, resembled a famine victim or "a person with full-blown AIDS."
"I'm very happy with the result and now maybe [Jeffrey] can rest in peace," said Crown prosecutor Beverley Richards.
In his ruling, the judge expressed disbelief at the couple's treatment of their grandson and a granddaughter, both of whom lived in a spartan, unheated room that smelled of feces with a urine-soaked mattress on the floor.
"They are the antithesis of nurturing grandparents," he said. "The inhumanity of this crime shocked the community."
"Those who committed it must pay a very steep price," Judge Watt said.
The pair also received eight years each for unlawfully confining one of Jeffrey's sisters, who cannot be named.
The petite grandmother, wearing an oversized green sweatshirt, stared straight ahead before slumping back into her chair after the judge delivered his sentence. Kidman, dressed in the blue Metro Housing work jumpsuit he wears at every court appearance, showed little emotion.
The judge's harshly worded sentence -- and stiff parole restrictions -- were justified given the nature of Jeffrey's death more than three years ago, said Paul Culver, head of the Toronto region Crown attorney's office.
"It was a great judicial reaction, a great investigation, and a great prosecution," he told reporters outside the downtown courthouse. "Jeffrey was totally ignored during his life, but he certainly wasn't after his death."
Susan Dmitriadis, Jeffrey's paternal grandmother, tearfully accepted the sentence.
"It's not going to bring Jeffrey back," she told reporters. "But they didn't get away with it and I'm thankful for that."
In April, Bottineau and Kidman, who are both 54, were found guilty of second-degree murder in their grandson's horrific death. (Second-degree murder carries a life sentence with parole eligibility set between 10 and 25 years.)
Police investigators described it as one of the worst child-abuse cases they've ever seen. Jeffrey weighed just 22 pounds when he died, less than half the average weight of a boy his age. His body covered with sores and bruises, Jeffrey died of septic shock brought on by severe malnutrition.
Mike Davis, a former police investigator who worked the Baldwin case, called for a public inquiry to probe the Catholic Children's Aid Society, which let the couple adopt their grandchildren even though both had abused children in the past.
In 1970, an 18-year-old Bottineau plead guilty to assault causing bodily harm in the death of her first child.
The retired police officer criticized the agency's "lack of co-operation" during his investigation, adding that a scheduled coroner's inquest into the matter is not sufficient.
"This is not the only case where there have been issues with the CCAS," he said. "I'm very disappointed with them."
Mary McConville, executive director of the Toronto Catholic Children's Aid Society, rejected suggestions the agency did not co-operate with investigators. Since the Baldwin case, numerous controls have been tightened for all child protection agencies, including mandatory background checks on people who take children into their care, she said.
At a hearing last month, Nick Xynnis, Elva Bottineau's lawyer, said her abusive childhood and feeble intellect -- she has been diagnosed borderline mentally retarded -- should earn a 12- to 14-year term of parole ineligibility.
Because Kidman played almost no role in raising the children, he deserved less than the average 15-year parole ineligibility period for child-abuse crimes, his lawyer argued.
"Mr. Justice Watt's judgment speaks for itself," Mr. Xynnis said yesterday. "My client is obviously disappointed and my instructions are to appeal both the conviction and the sentence."
Rejecting the defence arguments, Judge Watt noted the pair showed a "complete and boundless abdication of responsibility."
Not only did they willingly adopt their four grandchildren, the couple showed no interest in the boy's condition when paramedics arrived at their east-end home on Nov. 30, 2002, and tried to resuscitate Jeffrey, he said.
In fact, Bottineau berated firefighters for making too much noise and turning on lights in the house while Kidman remarked on his grandson's lack of toilet training, Judge Watt said.
In her diary, Bottineau warned that Jeffrey and his sister would be on their own if anything happened to her or Kidman because the children "were raised to be little pigs and can't behave themselves," the trial heard.
Jeffrey's grandparents beat him and his sister with a spoon and called them names, including "f---ers" and "bitch."
Judge Watt said the grandmother treated the pair's two siblings well by comparison -- differential treatment that he said suggested Bottineau "may not be very bright," but knew what she was doing.
Absence Of Emotion
All these years later, Mike Davis is still haunted by the memory of the death of Jeffrey Baldwin.
Davis was a cop in 2002, the lead investigator on the case of the five-year-old boy who would come to be the unfortunate poster child for child abuse in Toronto.
His grandparents, Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman, were sentenced to life in prison for the crimes, and won’t be eligible for parole for more than 20 years.
Even four years later, Davis can’t comprehend the cruelty of the couple, who he interviewed after their arrests for the terrible crime.
“They didn't say anything at all,” he remembers. “I sat with them and I went through each and every picture of little Jeffrey. And there was absolutely no emotion whatsoever from either, either Ms. Bottineau nor Mr. Kidman. None whatsoever.”
Davis remains incensed that the Catholic Children’s Aid Society placed the little boy with the pair, even though they had previous records for abusing children.
“This is something that was contained within their files,” he charges. “Criminal convictions. Convicted child abusers.
"And absolutely nobody from the Catholic Children's Aid Society looked into their files to see and do any background checks on these parents before they were given custody.”
The society's Mary McConville takes issue with that statement.
“I absolutely disagree with Mike Davis' characterization of this agency's conduct with respect to the investigation and our cooperation during the trial.”
“At the outset, you had a social worker that was in charge of this case and I ... tried to make some inroads to interview this person and at no time did she ever come forward.
"She obtained counsel. And from that point on I never had the opportunity nor was I afforded the opportunity to interview this person, with the exception that I was to give an undertaking that she would not be charged with a criminal offence.
“Which was absurd because I could not give that undertaking due to the fact that I had absolutely no idea what she was going to say.”
The coroner has pledged to look into this case further with an inquest pending.
pulse 24 website
Comment: This ends the punitive phase of this case.
In foster care, the foster parents are hired contractors with no authority over the children. The social worker retains control over medical care, school enrollment, moving, vacations, and just about everything else except routine food, clothing and shelter.
But when things go wrong, the social worker never takes responsibility for her ward. The foster parents make convenient, and credible, scapegoats. In the Jeffrey Baldwin case, the incompetent foster parents have been put away for good. The responsible social worker has not even been named in the press, and will receive no punishment, not even a reprimand.
Now that the criminal process is complete, there may be a coroner's inquest into the death of Jeffrey Baldwin. In the few other foster deaths that have been the subject of an inquest, the jury has been under the control of social services. In the case of Jordan Heikamp, who starved to death in CCAS custody, the coroner's jury returned 44 recommendations, all suggesting more money and power for Children's Aid. This case will be no different.
A blog has appeared called jeffreyslawnow by Amanda Reed. Look at the last quarter of her first page for her agenda. Most of the suggestions amount to giving more power to Children's Aid, and merger of CCAS and CAS. How much of this is Amanda's conscience, and how much is part of a power struggle within social services?
Children's Aid will acquire yet more powers, and possibly one arm of social services will cannibalize another as a result of the Jeffrey Baldwin tragedy. The next time they need more money and power, will they let another child die?
Leonard Henderson Hospitalized
December 20, 2005 permalink
According to his close associates, Leonard Henderson, leader of AFRA, the most active American opponent of the child protection system, has been hospitalized. We have no further information at this time.
Addendum: He returned home on December 21. Here is Leonard Henderson's account of his own illness.
Dead Boy is Matthew Reid
December 19, 2005 permalink
The Welland Tribune has named the murdered Welland boy as Matthew Reid. A reader comment follows the story.
- WELLAND - A 14-year-old girl charged in Thursday's murder of a three-year-old boy at a downtown foster home was moved there from an open youth custody facility less than 24 hours earlier, The Tribune has learned.
Niagara Regional Police spokesman Const. Sal Basilone said Friday that results of an autopsy conducted at Hamilton General Hospital concluded the child died of suffocation.
Police still aren't releasing details about how the toddler died, but a source told The Tribune the boy was smothered with a pillow.
After speaking with both the boy's foster parents and birth mother, Sgt. Jim Armstrong said Niagara's 13th homicide victim of 2005 can now be identified as Matthew Reid.
Matthew had lived in a foster home on Welland's Frazer Street for more than two years, The Tribune's source said.
The children's aid society responsible for Matthew would only say he was well known by his foster family.
The girl charged with his murder had been a resident at David S. Horne Home.
She first arrived at the open custody and open detention facility on Highway 20 on Dec. 9, said its executive director, Mark Patus.
She moved out of the facility and into foster care Dec. 14.
Matthew was found lifeless at 8:20 a.m. Dec. 15.
It's a pretty sad case, Patus said.
It's absolutely shocking not just for us, but the whole system.
The girl, whose identity is protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, appeared Friday in Ontario court of justice in St. Catharines for a bail hearing.
Dressed in a pink V-neck sweater, the girl tucked behind her right ear the very dark brown hair that falls straight just past her shoulders.
Asked if she understood the first-degree murder charge before her, she said Yes and immediately flashed a smile.
What was said in court by the Crown and defense counsels is automatically protected by a publication ban.
The girl was remanded into custody to await her next court appearance, two days before Christmas, at 9 a.m.
In the meantime, children's aid societies in neighbouring regions continue to co-operate with police investigators, as they also review their own procedures.
As an agency that strives to care for and protect children in need, this is absolutely the worst news we can receive, Family and Children's Service Niagara executive director Bill Charron said in a prepared statement.
The girl charged with Matthew's murder is a Crown ward of FACS, meaning all ties between her and her family have been severed.
We share with the community a tremendous shock, sadness and grief, Charron said of what he called a tragic situation.
We are reviewing every aspect of the case and will co-operate with the police with regard to the investigation, he said.
FACS is reporting this is the first time it has experienced a tragedy of this nature.
There are now about 650 children in the care of the Niagara child welfare agency. Children are placed in foster care every day.
Placement is based on a number of factors, including the needs of a particular child, the history of a foster home and the level of care it offers, said spokeswoman Ann Godfrey.
She wouldn't go into details about the case at hand, nor say how long the foster home had been running.
However, Godfrey did say, It's my understanding they were well regarded foster parents and experienced foster parents.
Last year FACS responded to 5,700 child protection concerns and conducted 43,400 investigations of possible abuse and neglect.
Matthew, who still had contact with his mother, was in care of The Children's Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk.
The mother said she had hoped to get custody of her son back and was devastated by his death.
She said the Haldimand-Norfolk Children's Aid Society took the child from her because she was considered an unfit mother.
They also took her four-year-old daughter who is now in the care of her paternal grandmother in London, Ont.
They told me I can't have them because, Your house isn't clean and you have a history of depression', she told the Hamilton Spectator.
She said she was angry at the children's aid society for failing to protect her son.
Where were they? They have to be responsible too, she said.
News of the homicide has devastated our place, executive director Brian Hillier said of the small rural agency.
Our staff are very intimately connected with our kids, our families, our foster parents, he said.
We saw pockets of our people standing around in tears.
Hillier, too, spoke highly of the foster family trying to come to grips with what has happened.
This is a terrific foster home. This is nothing but tragic for them, he said.
Because of the issues involved, Welland's only homicide of 2005 has captured the attention of the national media.
It is also drawing intense scrutiny from Ontario's Ministry of Child and Youth Services.
Anybody who believes this will not fall under a microscope does not know how government works, Hillier said.
The girl's lawyer said there was no decision yet on how to plead.
Based on the evidence that is out so far it's difficult to think of anything more tragic than a three-year-old that's deceased and a 14-year-old who is charged with first-degree murder, said lawyer John Lefurgey.
Police forensics investigators completed their examination of the Welland foster home mid-afternoon Friday.
The homicide investigation is being headed up by the St. Catharines-based major crime unit.
They are being assisted by officers from the Welland district criminal investigations bureau, street crime unit and uniform patrol, and the child abuse unit.
With files from CP
Source: Welland Tribune
An anonymous Dufferin VOCA reader comments:
Here are a few facts pieced together from different sources.
The Welland Tribune and CTV carried photos of the residence that Bill Charron (Executive Director of FACS) described as an excellent foster home - it looks like the type of property CAS would remove children from on the pretext of being dirty or dilapidated. To me, Charron's comments appeared calculated to distinguish the quality of Matthew's care from the house of horrors run by Eva Bottineau. How comforting to know he died in such excellent surroundings. While proclaiming his confidence in the foster home, Charron seems unaware that public confidence in CAS is the issue.
The girl charged with murder was also a crown ward in the care of FACS for the past two years. On December 9, she was placed in open custody at the David S. Horne Home. (Charron was a founding board member of that facility and an OACAS board member for 8 years). Subsequently, she was relocated to the foster home where the murder occurred less than 24 hours later.
Matthew had lived in this foster home since October and had been in CAS custody for at least two years - which means he was taken from his (now) 23 year-old mother at a very young age. According to CAS, her house was dirty and she had a history of depression.
The mother was herself a CAS ward, lives in Tillsonburg. A second child was placed with a paternal grandparent, but Matthew was not allowed to remain within the family - a custody application involving the woman's stepfather was pending at the time of Matthew's death.
If one were to accept CAS' viewpoint, this could be seen as one more indication these agencies produce unfit parents - the more likely explanation is that Matthew was abducted on a pretext. Not surprisingly, the mother blames CAS for the boy's death.
What I found frightening is that CAS stated that it was now the accused girl's family and was arranging her legal counsel. Consequently, if she acted in retaliation to CAS abuse it's unlikely to ever come out. Also, the Niagara CAS conducts 43,000 investigations annually - a figure that must be astronomical in relation to the area's population. There are 650 kids in its custody.
Hearings on CFSA
December 19, 2005 permalink
The Ontario legislature is considering changes to the Child and Family Services Act under bill 210. The Standing Committee on Social Policy held four hearings on the bill. Half of the hearing time was devoted to First Nations. Along with the usual functionaries of the social services system, the committee heard from some witnesses outside the system. The links below point to each of the four days record, and list the outsiders giving testimony.
Here is a submission to the committee not in the Hansard:
Social Policy Committee:
Chair: Mario Racco, Liberal www.marioracco.onmpp.ca
Vice Chair: Khalil Ramal, Liberal www.khalilramal.onmpp.ca
Members: Ted Arnott, Conservative www.tedarnottmpp.com
Ted Chudleigh, Conservative www.tedchudleigh.com
Kim Craitor, Liberal www.kimcraitor.com
Peter Fonseca, Liberal www.peterfonseca.onmpp.ca
Jeff Leal, Liberal www.jeffleal.onmpp.ca
Rosario Marchese, New Democrat www.rosariomarchese.ca
Kathleen Wynne, Liberal www.kathleenwynne.ca
Re: Amendments to Bill C210
Gentle men and women:
As a parent of 2 high needs adoptive children, I have had a good look at the operation of the Children Aid Societies of Ontario. I was truly appalled with what I have learned. It has made me ashamed to be called an adoptive parent. Knowing what I now know, I can never again hold a foster parent/adoptive parents with the same innocent regard. It represents my loss of trust in government. I think only of the pain of the biological family coerced into this quagmire.
I gathered my information by speaking to many involved Ontario citizens. I guess I did what you were supposed to do. Initially I thought I was simply unfortunate to have run into "2 bad apples." Instead I found an entire system rotten to the core and in need of reform, a system seeking to coverup its misdeeds. It is a system that functions with our precious children as mere "economic reimbursement units." It is about careers, jobs, and money, but most of all money. The blunt truth does hurt.
The secrecy of the current and proposed legislation facilitates the abuse of human rights. This secrecy can no longer be contained. It has been disclosed to the entire world. The World Government knows how Canada violates the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It knows how Canada treats its immigrants, the poor, single women, the special needs community, and its children. Only children without parents are entitled to health, education, shelter, and food. It routinely rips children from poor parents to provide these services, truly a black mark on Canada and particularly Ontario. Canada trafficks in children.
I urge you to strengthen the complaint process to protect the rights of families and their dependent children. I would also urge you to strength the powers of the College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers to bring it into line with the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the College of Nurses, and the College of Teachers. Any social worker who falsifies his sworn affidavit should be stripped of his credentials. Does it happen? Yes, from personal experience. All professionals who work with the "protected" groups and paid from the public purse should be held accountable to their communities and to the ethical/moral standards of their profession. They draw their mandate and power from these communities. These communities have the right to set the boundaries. They are not simply asking for these rights but demanding them.
$1.3 billion of our Ontario tax dollars are given annually to this industry. It is "a private corporation" funded solely by tax dollars. There are no outcome measures to insure that these monies are spent on our children. Unacceptable! At last it is time for accountability and transparency in government.
Thank you for receiving my comments.
Dolores A. Sicheri MD FRCPC
15 December 2005
Another Dead CAS Ward
December 18, 2005 permalink
Another child has died in CAS custody. The Hamilton Spectator and the Globe and Mail both carried the story, and both decided to protect the dead boy from emotional harm by withholding his name. The foster child who did the killing was developmentally handicapped. If that euphemism means that she was mentally handicapped, how can CAS blame her, instead of itself, for the death?
Three-year-old died in 'excellent foster home'
CAS official stands by Welland residence where child suffocated, teen charged
BY CHRISTIE BLATCHFORD AND KAREN PINCHIN
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2005 PAGE A18
WITH A REPORT FROM THE CANADIAN PRESS
He was just 3, described by a next-door neighbour the way those of such tender years are invariably described -- "incredible, always smiling, always happy."
He had lived in the two-storey detached house on Frazer Street in Welland, Ont., since October.
She is 14, and, The Globe and Mail has learned, developmentally handicapped. She had just arrived at the house.
They lived, for that brief time, in a foster home regarded by local child-welfare groups as so sterling that, as Brian Hillier, executive director of the Children's Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk said yesterday, it is considered "a go-to" place for the agency. "This is an excellent foster home," Mr. Hillier said. "I had, and I continue to have, a high degree of trust in the home."
These should not have been ingredients for a tragedy, but they were: On Thursday morning, Niagara Regional Police responding to a 911 call found the little boy VSA, or vital signs absent, and soon after arrested and charged the teenaged girl with first-degree murder.
A postmortem has revealed the boy was suffocated.
As The Globe reported yesterday, both the boy and the girl accused of killing him were clients of local children's aid societies.
The girl is a Crown ward of the Family and Children's Services Niagara, or FACS Niagara, the agency's executive director, Bill Charron, confirmed yesterday. "The young lady is a ward of ours," Mr. Charron said, "and we're ensuring she gets the appropriate legal representation and that we support her in any way we can."
Though in the home on a "temporary placement," pending a court decision about his custody, the boy had been living there since October, and was well known to the foster mother there.
"This was his placement," Mr. Hillier said. "It was our little guy and this is the kind of foster home that would be [emotionally] wiped out by this."
Both executive directors said their staff have been devastated by the boy's death.
"It is a terrible day," Mr. Hiller told The Globe. "It's the nightmare that all CASes absolutely dread. . . . We're a smaller agency, and our staff have a very strong connection to our kids and our families. . . . There are staff all over this place in tears."
While police continue their probe, the office of the Ontario coroner is keeping a close eye on the case.
"We are aware of the death and that care was being given to both these children by CASes," deputy chief coroner Dr. Jim Cairns said yesterday in a telephone interview. He said his office is actively probing what role the CASes did or didn't play in the events leading up to the little boy's death.
However, whether the results of the coroner's probe -- which Dr. Cairns said will be complete within three weeks -- will be made public immediately depends on the criminal investigation.
It is an arm of the coroner's office, the pediatric death review committee, that provides the only independent review of deaths of children in CAS care.
Mr. Charron wouldn't comment on the specifics of the girl's placement at the home, but said that, generally, it is agency practice to share with foster parents any psychiatric reports and relevant information so that "they understand what the youngster is all about and how to cope."
He said FACS Niagara is "doing a very thorough review of every aspect, to see what, if anything, we missed" and what might be learned to prevent something like this happening again.
"I've been 30 years in child welfare," Mr. Charron said, "and it's the first time I've ever come across a situation like this. Every agency has situations where children are killed or injured, but this is the first time a child in our care has been charged with this type of offence."
While Mr. Charron's first thought was for the little boy's parents, Mr. Hillier's was for the foster mother his agency regularly has used for at least five years and for the woman he described as "a much-loved foster parent."
The confidentiality provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act forbid identification of either the little boy or the teenager.
Following a brief court appearance yesterday at which the girl was remanded into custody, her lawyer said there was no decision yet on how to plead.
Source: Globe and Mail
More CAS Bullying
December 18, 2005 permalink
Canada Court Watch has found more instances of bullying by Children's Aid. They do not report names, but are reliable on facts. Read the letter signed by Rev Dorian Baxter (pdf).
More on André Marin
December 12, 2005 permalink
Here is a newspaper story from the Ottawa Citizen on the Ombudsman's efforts to get oversight over Children's Aid.
Ombudsman seeks power over CASs
Children at risk without oversight of Children's Aid Societies: Marin
Ontario children are at risk because there is no independent scrutiny of the province's 53 Children's Aid Societies, Ontario's ombudsman says.
Andre Marin says the existing law governing Children's Aid Societies prevents him from investigating the more than 300 complaints he receives annually about CASs.
Even worse, legislation being considered for the child protection system would remove all accountability of CASs, which operate as "private agencies." In other provinces, Mr. Marin says, child protection is a public function or is shared between government and private agencies.
Speaking to the legislature's standing committee on social policy in Toronto last week, Mr. Marin said that not only would Bill 210 fail to provide effective oversight, but it would remove the sparse complaint mechanisms now in place.
"If that small window (of accountability) closes, Ontario will have the dubious distinction of having solidified its position as being at the back of the oversight pack in Canada in ensuring that the most vulnerable of our children have an independent avenue of redress."
The solution, he told legislators, would be to add a single provision to the Child and Family Services Statute Law Amendment Act to give the Ontario ombudsman authority over Children's Aid Societies.
He said no one should be surprised at his persistence because "administrative decisions taken by these societies have life-and-death impact on children in need."
Mr. Marin gives disturbing examples of what can happen when CASs are beyond scrutiny, as in the case of five-year- old Jeffrey Baldwin, who was starved to death in Toronto in 2002. Two people are still on trial in Toronto over the boy's death.
Mr. Marin notes that Ontario affords convicted criminals housed in privatized provincial jails protection by the ombudsman, but fails to extend the same protection to children.
"The sheer irony here in Ontario is that you have the ombudsman's office positioned to help protect convicted criminals, but we've left children in this province in a lurch," he says.
In an interview yesterday, Mr. Marin said his decision to make a public statement was prompted by the lack of progress in his months-long campaign of "glad-handing" with Ontario Children and Youth Services Minister Mary Anne Chambers, her deputy minister and the bureaucrats responsible for the bill.
"I've been lobbying the ministry. This is not just me coming out of nowhere last week. I've been quietly working in the background, but there were no results," he said.
Still, Mr. Marin says there are signs of hope. "The minister sent me a message after my testimony saying that she was open to amendments and, again, that's encouraging, but we're not there yet. I haven't seen it on paper."
Ottawa child welfare advocate John Dunn said he is pleased with the ombudsman's public discussion about the issue.
Mr. Dunn, 35, was in care himself for 16 years and lived in 13 foster homes. He recently formed the Foster Care Council of Canada after advocating for himself and others in the area of child protection for five years.
As the new organization's executive director, Mr. Dunn is preparing to circulate a petition to ask the government to "enact legislation giving the Ontario Ombudsman's Office jurisdiction over all Ontario's Children's Aid Societies."
Looking back, Mr. Dunn can identify the rights he should have had as a ward of the state. He hopes the ombudsman can help others by bringing some insight, impartiality and a cool head to the CASs.
Mr. Dunn has seen firsthand that fear and panic often cause parents to make rash and inappropriate statements to the CAS. "Then the CAS worker gets offended and the relationship becomes strained. Things are said between them that cause the worker to label the parent 'emotionally unstable.' They may even truly believe that the parent is like that, but it's only spawned by their fear of losing their kid."
Mr. Dunn thinks the legislation "has a lot of good things in it," such as open adoptions and kinship care. "But the fact that they're going to reduce any external accountability is what inspired my whole petition action," he said.
Source: Ottawa Citizen
CAS Opponents in Parliament
December 11, 2005 permalink
On December 5 and 6, 2005 opponents of Children's Aid had a chance to address the Ontario Provincial Parliament. John Dunn spoke, but we do not have his statement.
Here are notes from EkaterinaEthier:
I spoke to the Minister of Children and Youth Services herself personally yesterday for 15 minutes, passed her my flyers with David and had a speech in front of the Social Policy Committee in regard to bill 210 and the proposed changes in section 68 of CFSA.
The Minister told me that they intend not to remove the directors review process and strengthen the complaint process. She asked me to speak up and give personal examples, as well as propose what exactly needs to be done.
Here are the prepared remarks of EkaterinaEthier (doc).
December 11, 2005 permalink
For those of you still having doubts, the main objective of child protectors is not children, but money. The following story shows the efforts of child protectors to raid the inheritance of one of their wards.
Lorraine Ahearn: A bleak house -- foreclosing on a boy at age 15
Article published Dec 4, 2005
Out of the endless cast of adults to come and go out of this boy's life, bit players in a ruthless, long-running reality show, the only one who really kept his word was a church janitor.
His name was Tracy Studivent, and before he died in 1994, he drew up a will. In it, he left what little he had to his adoptive son, then a toddler. There was a modest CD account, a monthly survivor benefit from Social Security, and the little house on Partnership Court, for which Studivent made a small mortgage payment each month to Habitat for Humanity. It was all he had, and he left it to his son, John.
More than a decade later, the 15-year-old is about to have his house foreclosed upon. His legal guardian, the Department of Social Services, cashes and keeps his $538 monthly survivor benefit to go toward John's upkeep in foster care.
And because the $221 mortgage payment hasn't been made in a year, Habitat is seeking to foreclose on the house, which now sits vacant and boarded up, with a stack of "Condemned" notices tacked to the front door because the grass isn't cut and the utilities are turned off.
So on Friday, John found himself at the center of a dense, bitter, lawyer-heavy hearing on probate, trusteeship and bureaucratic jurisdiction. Big words at the worldly age of 15.
"People say life comes at you fast," the friendly, soft-voiced youth mused as he waited all day in a back room at the courthouse for his case to be called. "Now, I see what they mean."
As John played computer solitaire and fidgeted away a missed school day, six attorneys and a handful of social workers drew battle lines in a unique challenge to the DSS.
In the hearing, to be continued this week, advocates from the Guardian ad Litem program, allied with a unit from Legal Aid, asked a judge to protect the boy's house from foreclosure and stop the DSS from using the boy's money to reimburse itself.
The assistant county attorney for DSS, Lynn Shifton, countered that the actual cost of the boy's foster care is $1,333 per month -- more than twice the survivor benefit John receives -- and that the agency's first duty is to spend the benefit on "current" needs.
That raised the question of whether a foster care child "owes" the DSS, assets or no assets: "If he's in DSS custody," said District Court Judge Susan Bray, "his needs are going to be met regardless."
Though the DSS lawyer pointedly questioned why the newspaper would cover a seemingly obscure -- but public -- juvenile hearing, several of the juvenile advocates and the judge said the case appeared to be a first.
Even with the volume of cases on the juvenile docket -- rivers of splintered families and abandoned children -- the judge told attorneys that John's case had stood out over the years. John was, Bray said, the only child she knew of who owned a house.
"As the 'parent,' when a child has an asset such as a trust fund or a bank account," Bray asked, "don't you have an obligation to try to preserve that?"
The long-languishing case came to a head as child advocates have increasingly warned of the crisis known as "aging out" -- that is, foster care children turning 18 and entering the adult world alone and destitute.
Even at 15, John's story is a trail of broken promises. Abandoned by his biological parents, he was left after Studivent's death with a stepmother he said had him sell drugs for her.
He was next placed with an aunt, who without making their house payment kept John's $538 monthly check. A DSS worker told Judge Bray that the aunt received adoption assistance funds for months after Bray ordered John be taken from the aunt and placed in foster care by the DSS.
After a year of receiving no house payments and no action by the DSS, Habitat operations officer Phil Barbee said he saw little choice but to foreclose and protect John's equity, before the house further depreciates.
As for John? Bored and miserable in his button-down court clothes, the big words sailed over his head. Mostly, he hopes to buy a car one day.
"What's that word for what you need ... insurance?" he said, wondering if Medicare covers that. "If I can't afford to buy a car, I'll just rent one."
Contact Lorraine Ahearn at 373-7334 or email@example.com
Source: Greensboro News-Record
Addendum: A court decision two years later favored using social security funds to make the mortgage payments, protecting the child's equity.
Posted on Wed, Nov. 07, 2007
Court backs teen against DSS
Decision prevents agency from paying itself with 17-year-old's Social Security benefits
ERIC FRAZIER, firstname.lastname@example.org
In a decision that could affect foster children across North Carolina, the state's second-highest court on Tuesday blocked Guilford County social workers from taking a child's Social Security benefits as reimbursement for caring for him.
The case could also have national implications, child welfare advocates say.
The 17-year-old boy, identified only as John G., has an $80,000 house his late adoptive father willed to him. The home was threatened with foreclosure because DSS officials wouldn't use his $538 per month Social Security payment to handle the monthly $221 mortgage.
A judge in 2005 ordered the Guilford County Department of Social Services to apply the boy's Social Security benefits toward the mortgage. But Guilford DSS, like DSS agencies across the state, routinely takes foster children's Social Security benefits as reimbursement for the cost of feeding, clothing and housing the youth.
Mecklenburg officials say, for instance, that they have taken more than $369,000 in Social Security benefits from January to October of this year. An average of 81 children were affected each month.
Cash-strapped DSS officials around the state say they need the money to care for the children, but child advocates equate it to stealing money from abused, neglected and disabled children.
The ruling doesn't automatically block Mecklenburg and other counties from taking Social Security money, but it gives child advocates legal basis to challenge cases like John G.'s in court.
"It's useful for John, useful for the state and maybe can be leveraged nationally," said Lewis Pitts, the Legal Aid of North Carolina lawyer who represented the teen.
"This opportunity should be seized to say to DSS and all child welfare agencies that we realize you have a budget nightmare, but don't take it out from the children."
The Congressional Research Service estimates states take about $150 million a year from foster children. The practice is attracting so much attention that John G.'s fight landed on the front page of The New York Times last year. U.S. Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., cited the case early this year in introducing a bill to protect the Social Security benefits of about 30,000 children nationally.
The bill is pending, his office said.
First Star, a national child welfare reform group in Washington, D.C., filed a brief in the case supporting John G.
"This is really the first step in the direction of nationally recognizing that a child has an interest in their own benefits," said Amy Harfeld, First Star's executive director.
"It has major national implications for foster children. I think most people would agree it's unconscionable for states to dip into the pockets of these most vulnerable children just to balance their budgets."
Guilford DSS officials didn't respond to calls and e-mails Tuesday seeking comment, so it was unclear whether they would appeal to the N.C. Supreme Court. Lawyers for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services were studying the ruling, a spokeswoman said, but had no immediate comment.
Pitts said DSS has continued to pay the mortgage while it fights the case in court.
The agency contends that, as the payee for John G.'s Social Security benefits, it had the right to use the money for the boy's care. It argued that federal law protects such benefits from being taken through garnishment, bankruptcy or any other "legal process."
DSS argued that the state judge who ordered the mortgage paid had violated federal law by subjecting the boy's federal benefits to "legal process." The Court of Appeals, however, said that the federal law was designed to protect Social Security recipients' money from creditors, not to help local governments take it.
DSS' interpretation of the law "is an improper attempt to fashion a shield into a sword to be used against the intended beneficiary of the law," the judges wrote.
Eric Frazier: 704-358-5145.
Source: Charlotte Observer
Candidate in Federal Election
December 11, 2005 permalink
Today's London Press says that Cynthia (Cyndi) Cameron will be the federal NDP candidate in the riding of Etobicoke Centre. She is one of the parents of an autistic child mentioned in the report by Ontario Ombudsman André Marin.
Ontario Government Harasses Mother
December 11, 2005 permalink
Ontario child protectors may have found a new way to harass clients circumventing caller identification. A mother menaced by Children's Aid has reported receiving several calls in which no one speaks to her after she answers the phone. Identification of the caller leads to an Ontario government office with only the following recorded message:
You've reached the number 905-521-7460 for the Ontario government located at 119 King Street West in Hamiltion. Should you be calling in response to having seen this number on your call display, please be advised that this telephone number is not a personal telephone number for anyone in this building. This number is strictly for Bell Canada billing purposes. Please hang up, check the number for the office or ministry you are trying to dial and call again. We do apologize for your inconvenience and thank you for your patience.
Ombudsman Restricted from CAS
December 9, 2005 permalink
The Ontario Ombudsman now has only limited power to investigate Children's Aid Societies. He used his limited powers earlier this year to produce a report Between a Rock and a Hard Place (pdf). According to this article by Christie Blatchford he now wants expanded power to examine all Children's Aid matters. According to other sources, the pending legislation bill 210, will eliminate all of his jurisdiction over Children's Aid.
Ontario ombudsman requests power to probe children's aid societies
Ontario Ombudsman André Marin wants the power to investigate complaints against the province's 53 children's aid societies.
Appearing last night before the government's social policy committee, which is examining a bill that would amend the laws governing the societies, Mr. Marin cited the notorious Jeffrey Baldwin case as an example of his office's powerlessness.
"We received a complaint in the last month about this case," he told the committee, "and were asked to investigate.
"We had to turn it down. We have no jurisdiction over the CAS."
The complaint seeking a probe into Jeffrey's death of starvation-induced pneumonia and septic shock, Mr. Marin said, is one of 94 his office received in the first six months of this year.
"Last year, we received 305. . . . Because of limits in our mandate, we cannot address them."
His counterparts in other provinces, he said, have the ability to investigate such complaints.
The little boy died while in the custody of his maternal grandparents, approved by the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto as acceptable caregivers for him and his three siblings.
Only after Jeffrey died, weighing at almost the age of six less than he did when he was a year old, did the CCAS find in its files evidence that the grandparents, Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman, were each convicted child abusers.
Ms. Bottineau, 54, was convicted as a teenage mother of assault causing bodily harm in the death of her infant daughter.
Mr. Kidman, 53, was convicted eight years later of two counts of assault causing bodily harm upon two of Ms. Bottineau's children by a previous relationship.
The two are on trial for first-degree murder in the death of Jeffrey on Nov. 30, 2002.
Mr. Justice David Watt of the Ontario Superior Court has heard evidence that Jeffrey and a sister were confined for such long periods of time to a dank and fetid room that they lived amid their own waste.
The information about the grandparents' criminal past was contained in the CCAS records, the agency has acknowledged, but went undiscovered, prompting Mr. Marin to characterize the agency as having, in effect, "facilitated" the harsh and degrading conditions in which Jeffrey was kept.
"I think the committee was stunned to realize that the CASs, despite receiving a billion dollars in taxpayers' money, run themselves without any independent oversight," Mr. Marin told The Globe and Mail last night in a telephone interview.
He said he received a sympathetic audience, but no firm commitment that the legislation would be amended.
He says it would require only the addition of a "10-word line" to the law.
Source: Globe and Mail
Mom Hides Kids from CAS
December 9, 2005 permalink
A shrewd mother has hidden her children from Toronto CCAS. Unless she gets help from a good lawyer, she may be behind bars soon.
December 8, 2005
Mom keeps girl in hiding
Spirited child away from police and children's aid
By VIVIAN SONG, TORONTO SUN
A mother who whisked her child away from under the noses of police officers at school Tuesday has refused to disclose her daughter's location to children's aid officials.
Jessica Arnold, 28, whom police listed as missing along with her 8-year-old daughter Lamonee "Layla" Arnold, came out of hiding yesterday and met with investigators and the Catholic Children's Aid Society.
But she refused to reveal where she's keeping her daughter and 4-month-old son.
Investigators believe the mother may have panicked after learning the Catholic Children's Aid Society planned to take Layla away.
The mother went to St. Kevin's Catholic School on Glen Murray Dr. near Pharmacy Ave. and Lawrence Ave. E. Tuesday, where she found police and CCAS already on the scene.
After a confrontation, Arnold slipped away undetected with her daughter over the lunch hour.
CCAS spokesman Anne Rappe declined to say what prompted the school's call to children's aid, citing confidentiality issues.
"We didn't find the meeting satisfactory. We asked for (Layla) to be in our care so we are proceeding with child welfare court," said Rappe.
Police said there are no charges, but the investigation is continuing.
Source: Toronto Sun
More CPS Lies
December 3, 2005 permalink
It is rare for professional journalists to investigate the press releases from child protectors. In this unusual case in which a Texas newspaper was embarrassed to find that they had published a fake story, they checked the other stories and found that lies were endemic.
CPS review finds more stories embellished
By Jen Sansbury
Several caseworkers with Child Protective Services in Brazoria County had embellished stories about foster children for publication in The Facts as part of the now-discontinued Fill-a-Stocking fund-raising campaign.
"It's certainly fair to say that some of the changes, some of the inaccuracies, were puzzling and don't seem to have had any effect other than to make the cases or the plights of the children more dramatic," said Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman in the agency's Austin office.
The annual holiday initiative, which started in 1982, featured daily stories during the holidays about needy foster children and encouraged readers to donate to a fund that helped pay for special needs not covered by other sources. Throughout the year, the money was tapped for items such as stylish eyeglasses, graduation gear and summer camp tuition.
The Facts announced this week it would cease publishing the stories this year after learning the CPS-submitted story that ran in Tuesday's edition was fabricated by a caseworker. It told the story of "John," a hurricane evacuee who supposedly had been separated from his mother for months.
CPS officials have reviewed more than 20 of the as-yet unpublished stories and determined most of them reflected only minor changes designed to mask the identities of children, Crimmins said. Those changes included names, exact ages and, in one instance, a family's country of origin.
But at least seven stories appear to include more substantive changes to the featured children's actual circumstances, including misleading information about drug use, fictionalized descriptions of their personalities and incorrect information about the degree of parental abuse or neglect they suffered.
"There are several of them that have at least partial inaccuracies — and you can term those embellishments if you like — where at least some dramatic license was taken," Crimmins said. "There was not an adequate system in place to make sure that the profiles matched actual individual cases."
For example, an article about "Sara," a 19-year-old mother of four whose baby died while sleeping in bed with her, said she tested positive for methamphetamines and had admitted to smoking crystal meth since she was 11. The story said the mother's children gave statements about watching their mother use drugs. It also said she served four months in jail before being put on probation, spent several months in an inpatient facility and has been clean for nine months.
"Sara" now has a steady job and a new apartment and is allowed unsupervised visits with her children, the story, which had not been published in The Facts, said. "Sara hopes to have her children returned to her by Christmas," it said, "She will need assistance from CPS with clothes, toys and bedroom furniture for her new apartment."
In reality, according to the agency's review notes, the mother is in her 20s, had fewer children and the deceased child was sleeping with her on a couch. She tested positive for marijuana, not methamphetamines, and "it is not true about smoking crystal meth." Her children did not give statements against her, she did not serve any time in jail, is not on probation and did not go to an inpatient facility. She has not been clean for nine months, does not have unsupervised visits with her children, a steady job or an apartment, the review said.
In fact, according to the agency's notes, the profile was actually a composite of two different mothers' stories.
Bill Cornwell, publisher of The Facts, said the newspaper's understanding was that only certain details that could identify specific children, such as names, exact ages and perhaps places, would be changed to protect their identities.
"We wouldn't have allowed them to merge two (cases) into one," he said. "All we wanted was some consistency and accuracy, with privacy the main goal. We didn't need this exaggeration. These stories talk for themselves."
Cornwell said he was surprised to learn that additional submitted stories scheduled for publication in The Facts contained inaccuracies.
"This is one of the reasons why we've put a hold on this campaign this year so we can at least get to the bottom of this," he said.
Crimmins said about a dozen caseworkers were asked to write two profiles each based on their cases. He said he could not and would not identify which of the unpublished stories was written by the same author as the fictional story about the hurricane evacuee.
It is too soon to tell whether Child Protective Services would be interested in continuing the program next year, Crimmins said.
"We just know that our participation in the campaign is going to have to be scrutinized," he said.
Crimmins said the stories also had been submitted to the weekly Pearland Journal newspaper, but it had not begun publishing them.
Inaccuracies in stories that were submitted to The Facts by CPS, but had not run:
- An article about four malnourished children — two sets of twins — said they were living in a filthy home without electricity or running water and eating rotten food off the floor. The 2-year-old twins "were found to have multiple fractures to several areas of their body, which were in various stages of healing." One set of twins was adopted by their paternal grandparents, the story said, and the other set by maternal grandparents, who had said they had been isolated from the children and would love to take them in. In reality, according to the agency review, the children did not have multiple fractures and they were adopted by non-relatives. Furthermore, this was a composite story combining information from more than one case.
- An article about a teenage boy named "Steven" said he and his seven siblings had been abandoned by their parents. Steven works a minimum wage job to take care of his siblings and they had not seen their parents for more than four months, the story said. "Neither has bothered to return to the trailer where they left their eight children to fend for themselves," the story read.
In fact, according to the review, both the mother and the father, who are separated, visited two or three times a month. The story said the siblings were placed in foster homes together in two groups, but in fact a 1-year-old is not with any siblings.
- An article about "Kayla," a teenager left in CPS care by her mother, said she is "very outgoing and easy to talk to" and "loves to write her feelings down" to help her get through the day.
According to the agency's review notes, "Per the worker, you have to pull words out of `Kayla' and she does not write her feelings down."
Source: The Facts
Girl Loses Dad to Lesbian
December 2, 2005 permalink
To the difficult question "How can same-sex marriage harm heterosexual marriage?", the Supreme Court of Washington has provided an answer.
The court has thwarted the ability of a married mother and father to raise their daughter in favor of the mother's former lesbian lover. Sue Ellen (Mian) Carvin and Page Britain lived as lovers for twelve years. Midway through that relationship Britain conceived a child with sperm donated by a gay friend, John Auseth, and gave birth to a daughter known only as LB. When the girl was almost six years old, the couple split up and Britain married Auseth. The Supreme Court of Washington ruled that Carvin was entitled to parental rights over LB.
This tangled case is another step in reducing the rights of mom and dad, and we can expect with the spread of legitimate same-sex marriages there will be many more limits on the rights of parents over their own children.
Here is a local copy of two opinions from the court. There are many other views on this case, accessible with a search on [ Carvin Britain Auseth ].
Addendum: On May 15, 2006 the Supreme Court of the United States declined to review this case.
Christmas without Children
December 2, 2005 permalink
I am sorry but my wife and I are at the point were we had hoped that our family would be together, but the Scrooge of Christmas still has our child for their own benefit. I was told to spend more time with the children because of my shift work trying to make things more brighter for them. The Brant County CAS has said that I have done an indecent act to my own child. 17 to 27 people we have seen that night said that was impossible but the CAS is allowed to molest our oldest child at a school interview.
CPS Issues Fake Story
December 1, 2005 permalink
Many newspapers in Ontario uncritically print press releases from Children's Aid without checking the facts — they can't because the stories lack identifying information, exact names and places. Here is an instance of a newspaper in Texas that printed a story created by local child protectors and had to retract it two days later when it was revealed as a fake. How many Ontario stories are fake?
CPS says worker's story fake
By Jen Sansbury
The Facts has discontinued this year's Fill-a-Stocking fund-raiser after learning a submitted story about a needy foster child published in Tuesday's edition was fabricated.
Publisher Bill Cornwell said the $1,070 received since Friday will be returned to donors.
During the annual Fill-a-Stocking campaign from Thanksgiving through Christmas, the newspaper publishes submissions written by caseworkers for Child Protective Services of Brazoria County. Each story includes an editor's note explaining that children's identities are protected. Otherwise the stories are represented to the paper — and readers — as true.
However, agency officials on Wednesday said Tuesday's story was not based on a real case.
"CPS apologizes to the Brazosport Facts and to the local community for this mistake," regional director Randy Joiner said in a written statement. "We will make sure that when CPS supports external fund drives in the future that there are clear instructions to staff and appropriate checks and balances are in place to ensure accuracy."
Cornwell said the newspaper relies on its sources to provide factual information, not "creative writing."
"They have violated the trust with this newspaper," he said. "We took the word of a local state agency in an effort to raise money for needy kids.
"We've allowed them to change names and dates and places to honor certain privacy concerns," Cornwell said. But, "there's nothing true about the story that ran."
Managing Editor Yvonne Mintz said she has stressed to officials with the Brazoria County Alliance for Children, the umbrella community organization that ultimately receives and spends the donations, that the stories be accurate.
"Just like anything we put in the newspaper we want to be able to stand by them," Mintz said. "The program brings in a lot of money for kids in foster care, and we don't take lightly the fact that we have to stop."
Tuesday's story featured 10-year-old "John," who was said to be living in an emergency shelter and whose mother had been missing since "the hurricane," apparently a reference to Hurricane Katrina which devastated parts of the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29. Many evacuees from Louisiana came to the greater Houston area, including Brazoria County.
The article included details about a recent ice-skating trip and a Christmas wish to go home. It also included quotes from the boy saying he doesn't think he'll get gifts this year, and he doesn't believe in Santa Claus anymore.
The problem, according to state officials, is the story isn't true.
"It's not based on a real child's story," said Patrick Crimmins, a Child Protective Services spokesman in the state office in Austin.
"We believe that the story was written and submitted with the best intentions in mind," Crimmins said. "The caseworker obviously has real children with real needs, and we don't doubt that her sincere desire (was) to use this story to help generally."
The Facts launched Fill-a-Stocking in 1982 to help raise money for "special occasions and special needs" of abused and neglected children in the county's care. The newspaper publishes the caseworkers' stories, accepts the donations and passes them on to the Brazoria County Alliance for Children.
"We've covered a multitude of things from braces that are not covered by Medicaid to upgrading children's glasses," said Deborah Spoor, the alliance's president.
The money is used all year long to buy birthday and Christmas gifts and cover other expenses during the year that foster families and the state aren't able to pay.
"We've bought senior rings, we've bought prom dresses. We have done band camps, baseball camps, we have bought shoes — specialized shoes like cleats," Spoor said.
In 2004, Fill-a-Stocking raised $9,570. The money will be depleted by the end of the Christmas season, Spoor said. The 2005 money would be spent for gifts and special items in 2006. Spoor said she's not sure what the organization will do come January.
"It's like losing a major grant," she said. "What do you do? You take a deep breath, you step back and try to develop an alternate plan."
For the first time this year, the alliance was acting as a liaison between The Facts and Child Protective Services to ensure the stories arrived at the newspaper in a timely manner.
"I don't think that we ever questioned that the stories were factual, none of us ever did," Spoor said. "Our concern was always that we protect the confidentiality of the child."
Child Protective Services officials said the article was written by a caseworker in the agency's Angleton office, but have not provided any additional information about her or the process for vetting the stories before they are submitted to the newspaper for publication.
"Absolutely, a supervisor should have been reviewing them, but I don't have the details yet about who reviewed this one," Joiner said.
The issue came to light when a reporter for a Houston television station made inquiries about "John" with the Child Protective Services' regional and then state offices.
Regional spokeswoman Gwen Carter, who lives in Lake Jackson, said there are no children fitting the child's circumstances in the 13-county region served by the Houston office. All evacuated children who came to the area and have not been reunited with their parents have been placed with relatives, she said.
Lauren Crim, a local Child Protective Services employee who was involved with collecting the stories for publication in The Facts, referred a call for comment to Crimmins.
Joiner said the agency is continuing to investigate what happened. He said he thinks it's possible the child was a composite of children the caseworker has worked with. She wrote another story for the series that had not been published, Joiner said. It is still being reviewed.
Agency and newspaper officials said no other major errors have been found in the other four stories that had been published so far this year.
Denise Troyer of Lake Jackson, who donated money in her grandchildren's names, said she thinks it is "just sad" that a Fill-a-Stocking story was made up.
"I can't understand that with as many pathetic stories as there are out there why they would do that," she said.
Another early donor, Mildred Walker of Clute, said contributing to the Fill-a-Stocking fund is a holiday tradition.
"I've donated for years now to The Facts, and I've always hoped it did some good," she said. "Can't you change it and give it to some other causes?"
Cornwell said he doesn't know whether Fill-a-Stocking will resume next year. The paper sponsors a variety of holiday initiatives to collect coats, food and cash donations, including Angleton Goodfellows, and will continue this year as planned.
"We're going to reconsider what we can do to help needy kids," he said, "and who we can trust."
A local office of Child Protective Services (CPS) has issued an apology to the editor of the Brazosport Facts for an inaccurate story that was submitted to the newspaper and published Tuesday, Nov. 29, as part of the annual "Fill-a-Stocking" campaign to help foster children.
The story was about a 10-year-old boy identified as "John," living in an emergency shelter since losing his mother in a hurricane. An internal review by the agency has determined that the story written by a CPS worker in the Angleton office was not based on a real child's story.
"CPS apologizes to the Brazosport Facts and to the local community for this mistake," said Randy Joiner, CPS' regional director. "CPS has been an enthusiastic partner in the Fill-a-Stocking campaign, and we sincerely hope that this isolated incident will not overshadow the good work of 7,000 employees and will not damage other worthwhile efforts to help real children with real needs."
CPS has checked all other stories that have been published in The Facts during this year's campaign. Each story is accurate with the exception of minor details — for example, names or exact ages — which may be changed to protect the identity of individual children.
The Facts and CPS have agreed that stories that have been submitted to the newspaper but not yet published will be returned to the agency.
CPS management will review all the actions and the circumstances that led to the mistake.
"We will make sure that when CPS supports external fund drives in the future that there are clear instructions to staff and appropriate checks and balances are in place to ensure accuracy," said Joiner.
Source: The Facts
Adoption Story on ABC
November 30, 2005 permalink
Here is a story for people who think adoption is the solution to child abuse.
Tomorrow night an extraordinary and unprecedented story will air on ABC Primetime about my client, a Russian orphan girl who was adopted by an American pedophile.
When millionaire Matthew A. Mancuso adopted five year old Masha from a Russian orphanage, she had already lived a tragic life. Stabbed by her drunken mother at age three, Masha hoped for a better life in the United States. Instead she was sent to live near Pittsburgh with a pedophile who had a long history of abusing young girls. During the next five years, Mancuso sexually assaulted Masha almost daily while slowly staving her to keep her body thin and childlike. Some of the abuse was photographed, both at their home in Plum Borough and at Disney World. Mancuso traded many of these hard core images on the internet which is how the FBI caught him and rescued Masha.
The ABC Primetime report chronicles Masha's adoption from a small industrial city in the south of Russia to her new home in the outskirts of Pittsburgh and questions many events that could have stopped the depraved abuse, including why no one from the adoption agency ever visited Masha in her new home and why Mancuso's ex-wife and grown daughter were never interviewed about his past. The later could have exposed the claims of his biological daughter that she, too, was sexually abused as a child.
Masha, who was adopted by another family, says she is speaking out now at the age of 13 "because I think that it's wrong what he did. And this is happening so often now. And a lot of times nobody ever tells anybody. Some kids just give up. And they don't have any faith."
Recently Mancuso was sentenced to a minimum of 35 years in prison on top of 15 years from a federal conviction. He could face more time in Florida, including the death penalty, for the crimes he committed in a Disney World hotel room.
During the past month there was an organized effort by the international adoption phalanx to silence this story, and to deny and cover up the actions of the agencies which facilitated this adoption and Masha's abuse. These "Cowards in Adoption" despise the truth, dismiss the victim and defend their entrenched pecuniary interests. Tomorrow they will start answering, both in the court of public opinion and ultimately in a court of law, for their reprobate acts, careless omissions and willful ignorance.
Tomorrow night's shocking account is simply the first chapter of Masha's unimaginable story.
MARSH & GAUGHRAN LLP CONTACT INFORMATION
Phone (914) 592-2626
Fax (914) 206-3998
Toll Free (800) 592-2251
Westchester Financial Center
50 Main Street - Tenth Floor
White Plains, New York 10606-1900
Lawyers Professional Building
61 Smith Avenue
Mount Kisco, New York 10549-2813
Source: James R Marsh
Edmonton Foster Death
November 27, 2005 permalink
Here is another death in foster care, this time in Edmonton. The Edmonton Journal, the Edmonton Star-Phoenix and the CBC all carried the story without mentioning any names. Under the pretext of protecting a dead child from emotional harm, a man charged with a capital crime has joined the ranks of the disappeared, the desaparecidos, for the real purpose of helping social services bury their mistake.
Man charged in baby's death
The Edmonton Journal
Sunday, November 27, 2005
EDMONTON -- An Edmonton man is charged with second-degree murder in connection with the Saturday death of a 13-month-old toddler who was in the foster care of his relatives.
The child, who police have not identified, was taken to an Edmonton hospital Thursday. Hours later, his life-threatening injuries prompted hospital staff to notify police. Police would not describe the boy's injuries or say whether his parents were with him in hospital. The toddler died shortly after 11:30 a.m. Saturday. An autopsy is scheduled to take place Monday.
Police spokesman Jeff Wuite said the 44-year-old man charged could not be named because of the Child Youth Family Enhancement Act, which prevents the release of any details that identify a child, siblings or guardians. The man's first court appearance is expected to take place Monday. Sources say the child was one of three in the Edmonton foster home.
Alberta Children's Services spokeswoman Jody Korchinski would not confirm whether the child had come under government care nor whether two siblings are still in the home. She said whenever a child is seriously injured while in care, a special case review can be done to determine what could have been done differently.
If this is deemed a homicide, it would be the 35th of year.
Source: Edmonton Journal
Addendum: Today, November 28, the Edmonton Journal and the Edmonton Sun, but not the CBC, have identified the parties involved in the case.
Mother screams ‘baby killer’ as man charged in child’s death
Monday, November 28, 2005
The mother of a toddler killed on the weekend screamed "baby killer" in an Edmonton courtroom today as the 44-year-old man charged in the child’s death made his first appearance.
Thirteen-month-old Caleb Jerome Merchant died Saturday in the home of his foster parents.
Raymond Douglas Loyer, who is common-law husband of the child’s foster mother, has been charged with second-degree murder. He was remanded in custody and is to reappear in court on the charge next month.
As he made his appearance, the child’s mother, Sandra Mingo, 21, shouted "baby killer."
Afterwards, she said Alberta Children’s Services should have done a better job of screening the people that her child was living with.
Mingo said her son was taken into care by Children’s Services because she has a drug problem.
The boy was placed in the home of a distant relative who Mingo referred to as her cousin. Loyer lives common-law with the relative.
Relatives of the child and the accused attended today’s brief court appearance.
The child is Edmonton’s 35th homicide of the year.
Source: Edmonton Journal
Runaway Foster Children Jailed
November 26, 2005 permalink
Teenagers in foster care know they are in a prison, regardless of the social service euphemisms. In Yakima Washington those who run away are now put behind bars.
Dispute erupts over using jail as fix for foster-care runaways
By Jonathan Martin, Seattle Times social issues reporter
YAKIMA — Maria had already run from foster care three times when a judge had her write an essay with as much introspection as a 13-year-old could muster.
"I will no longer hang out on Six Street with all those hard-core Surenos and I will no long have any resin to come back to this Juvinle Detenion Center because I going to be on my best behaver," she wrote in July 2003, from the Yakima Juvenile Detention Center. "I promise."
A few weeks later, she ran back to the streets to hang out with the street gang and take methamphetamine.
That sort of self-destructive behavior is repeated over and over each week across the state. Researchers estimate as many as one in five adolescent foster kids in the state and nation runs away each year.
But Maria is now a legal test case because of what happened next. The Washington Department of Social and Health Services, her legal parent, asked a Yakima County court commissioner to impose the toughest love in his power.
Although running away is not a crime, the commissioner, Robert Inouye, found Maria in contempt of court and sentenced her to 30 days in juvenile jail, with no chance of getting out early. She ran two weeks after being released, so he held her in contempt again and gave her another 60 days.
Inouye's orders involving Maria and two other teenage girls are on appeal. If upheld by the Court of Appeals, the cases will create precedent for other judges to use jail as a solution for chronic runaways from foster care. That power could allow a judge to hold the child until age 18.
"We're all following this case because it will tell us when that power can be used," said Stephen Hassett, the state attorney general's lead lawyer on foster care.
State law allows judges to detain foster kids on contempt-of-court for up to seven days to coerce good behavior. Inouye went beyond the law to use a different kind of contempt power, his so-called "inherent power of contempt," rooted in a judge's need to control the courtroom and one commonly used to punish.
Hassett said that power is appropriate in extreme cases to protect children from themselves.
"The issue isn't just whether the kids were running away. It was the kids were placing themselves in significant danger," he said. "I think the key element is the court is exercising its authority to protect kids from lasting harm."
But Inouye's legal interpretation, and the length of the jail terms, are controversial among public defenders, child-welfare researchers and other judges. Critics say locking up kids for months for noncriminal behavior is ineffective and obscures legitimate reasons that kids run from foster care.
No statistics are available, but other juvenile-court judges around the state knew of no other cases where such long contempt sentences were imposed. "I can't imagine a circumstance where I would do that," said Chuck Snyder, a Whatcom County Superior Court judge and chair of the juvenile-law committee for the state judges association. "My personal philosophy is to try and solve problems. If you alienate them, you don't solve problems."
DSHS staff in Yakima and elsewhere around the state are also queasy about requesting inherent contempt. This week, a panel of experts who are trying to improve the state foster-care system ordered DSHS to significantly reduce how long runaways are gone from care without increasing the amount of time the kids spend in jail on contempt.
Ken Nichols, DSHS child-welfare director for Yakima, said he now must personally sign off on each request after being alerted to the issue by The Seattle Times.
"What I'm concerned about is we don't do it willy-nilly," he said. "I think generally people, including myself, would prefer this not be used, and it be used only for those young kids whose lives are in danger."
A widespread problem
In 2002, Florida foster-care officials realized that a 5-year-old girl, Rilya Wilson, had been missing from foster care for more than a year and was presumed dead. Fearful of a similar scandal here, DSHS quietly began checking, in files and in person, on its own missing foster children.
There is cause to be concerned. In 2004, 1,040 of Washington's foster children — 7 percent of all children in care — had run away at least once since they entered care, according to an internal DSHS study. Of those, 648 were gone at the time of the study.
DSHS did not provide the percentage of adolescents who ran, but other research, including a study based in a homeless youth shelter in Seattle, estimate that 15 to 20 percent of teens in foster care run.
And the problem is growing: The number of times foster children in Washington run away each month has more than doubled in the past eight years, for reasons not explained in the study. Runaways tended to be girls and to be long-term wards with at least seven prior foster homes.
They often end up in juvenile jail, although rarely as long as Maria.
After a year of work, DSHS' search resulted in all but four children being found; two were reported to the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children. DSHS staff recommended to top administrators in late 2003 that it be made an annual exercise, but that recommendation has not been acted on.
Runaways are "a proxy for other problems," said Mark Courtney, director of the University of Chicago's Chapin Hall for Children — a research and policy center — and an expert on runaways from foster care.
"One way to look at runaway problems is kids vote with their feet. They're saying, 'This out-of-home care that's supposed to be for my own good doesn't feel like that to me.' It should be a huge priority," he said.
Judges using their power
Frustration with runaway foster kids has brewed since an appellate-court ruling in 2000 curtailed judges' contempt-of-court power in those cases. But the ruling also said judges could use their inherent power when all alternatives were exhausted.
Inouye, a juvenile-court commissioner since 1999, said he grew alarmed at seeing the same runaways come before his court with chilling tales of drugs, crime and prostitution.
He levied his first inherent-contempt sanction in late 2003, giving a month in jail to a 17-year-old boy who had violated 14 prior orders.
He levied five more in quick succession: 90 days to the same boy; 60 days to a 16-year-old girl who had run to Montana to live with a felon; 30 days to a 15-year-old girl who had gotten pregnant while on the run; and, twice to Maria.
Inouye, as he sent Maria to jail for 30 days, compared juvenile jail to a "home" that was preferable to the streets. Time in jail "will give her an opportunity to reflect and become more accustomed to a lifestyle which includes school and continuity."
The long stints were not intended to punish, Inouye said in an interview. Instead, he hoped they would give DSHS time to provide the children with substance-abuse or mental-health treatment.
"It's true the Legislature lays out law as a way to do things," said Inouye, 54. "But when you see a genuine problem in front of you and there's no route specified by the Legislature to deal with it, I think it is fair to use a power available to the judiciary."
A breakdown in jail
In 2002, at the age of 12, Maria was caught shoplifting a $3 blue marker from a Yakima grocery store. Police called DSHS, which tried to take her home. They realized Maria did not have a home to return to.
Her father had left when she was a toddler, and her mother had been deported to Mexico five years earlier, according to Maria's DSHS records. Maria had lived with an adult sister, but the sister no longer wanted to parent her, and the state stepped in.
Maria ran away her first day in foster care. She ran a month later, after her first court hearing. She ran so many times her DSHS social workers — five in all over the next three years — had trouble finding new foster homes willing to take on her troubles.
That problem is endemic. Just two of DSHS' 6,000 foster homes cater solely to adolescents, and the agency has slashed its budget for group homes that specialize in tough cases such as Maria's.
In an interview earlier this month, Maria, round-faced and shy, said she regrets her street life. She said she smoked pot, then tried meth, and was shot at by a rival gang during one run.
"I would run away when things got hard, to be with my friends," said Maria, who asked that her last name not be used. "I wanted to go see my sister, but my social worker wouldn't let me, so I left."
Her public defender, Sonia Rodriguez, suspected Maria was mentally ill and asked DSHS to give her a psychological evaluation. According to her records, that wasn't done until April 2004, after Maria had been given the 30- and 60-day terms in jail.
The evaluation, which found that Maria had a psychotic disorder, came only after she had a breakdown in jail, when she said she heard voices and saw shadows creeping across her cell. Although she eventually was treated with medication and counseling, Maria said she still hears the voices and sleeps with the light on to ward off the shadows.
"All that time in jail didn't do anything for Maria. It just exacerbated her mental-health problems," Rodriguez said. "I think [DSHS] asked for these contempt sanctions because they didn't have anything else to do with her."
Accusation of neglect
Inouye stopped levying inherent-contempt sanctions after Rodriguez appealed his orders last year.
If his intent was to give DSHS time to better help the girls, Maria's court-appointed advocate said last year, the agency did not use the time wisely.
"We've seen her go downhill since she first came into the system," said Lauri Leaverton, according to a transcript of a hearing last June. "And from the very beginning there's been a lack of mental-health services that the court has been asking for and we've all been asking for ... I believe that, that amounts to neglect by the department."
Inouye said Maria's "poor choices" made it harder for DSHS to help her, but said, "the end result is just unacceptable here, that we've got a child with this kind of acting out."
In an interview this month, Maria said a power stronger than inherent contempt is the only thing that could coerce good behavior.
"When I was on the run, my family wouldn't have anything to do with me," she said. "When I'm where I am supposed to be, I get visits with my sisters."
Maria, now on her ninth foster-care placement, has not run in more than a year.
Jonathan Martin: 206-464-2605 or email@example.com
Source: Seattle Times
Foxwoods Conference Report
November 26, 2005 permalink
Here is a report from the organizer of the conference held November 19, 2005.
The Conference at Foxwoods was a success and achieved our desired goals. Our speakers were Richard Wexler, Executive Director from National Coalition for Child Protection Reform (NCCPR); William O. Tower, Executive Director, American Family Rights Association (AFRA); Jeff Griffin, Executive Director, Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) and Thomas M. Dutkiewicz, President, Connecticut DCF Watch.
We would like to personally thank all of the speakers for their time and dedication to the issues of child protection and protecting children from abuse by child protection agencies and case workers.
We had parents and legislators from Maine, Mass, Rhode Island and Connecticut in attendance. There was discussions on the abuses by child protection, the judicial system and the drugging of our children with fictitious diagnosis that can not be determine with any testing.
For those who were unable to attend, we are working on editing of the video and making it available not only to you but the media also.
This is only the beginning. We hope to hold conferences throughout the country to start a national dialogue on the issues of parental rights when dealing with case workers who knowingly lie and commit perjury. We look forward in seeing all of you in your state. If you have a venue that a conference can be held and are able to secure that, please contact us at the below email address.
Thank you all who helped and participated in the promotion of this event.
Thomas M. Dutkiewicz, President
Special Family Advocate
Connecticut DCF Watch
P.O. Box 3005
Bristol, CT 06011-3005
Don't Tell Mom and Dad
November 26, 2005 permalink
Personal information that is readily available to Children's Aid is routinely withheld from parents.
Privacy laws block help path to teens
By IAN GILLESPIE, FREE PRESS COLUMNIST
Too young to help themselves. Too old to be helped by others.
That's the agonizing dilemma faced by parents who want to aid their troubled teens, but find themselves paralysed by privacy laws.
Last week, I wrote about a local woman trying to help her drug-addicted 16-year-old daughter. The woman said her efforts had been thwarted by school officials, health-care providers and police -- all in the name of protecting the child's right to confidentiality.
"I'm a parent screaming -- and I mean screaming -- for help, but nobody can help me because nobody can tell me anything," the woman said. "And I know I'm not the only parent like this."
It seems she's right about that. Her story prompted nearly a dozen messages from local parents in similar straits.
"I went through a similar experience with my son," said one caller, adding the young man was later diagnosed as manic depressive. "I lost control of him at (age) 16 . . . He overdosed and died in Vancouver seven years ago."
The other messages were just as saddening: A woman said she was struggling to overcome the same obstacles with her 17-year-old daughter; a man complained that legal restrictions blocked him from helping his 14-year-old son; a woman said she'd faced the same roadblocks during the last eight years while trying to help her two teenage sons. And on and on.
Whether the legal snare was embedded in the Personal Health Information Protection Act or the Child and Family Services Act or the Mental Health Act, the essence of the complaints was the same.
Because of privacy rules, the doctors, counsellors and cops say they can't intervene -- or provide helpful information to parents -- unless the kid consents.
But again and again, the parents insisted it's absurd to expect the troubled child to share information, accept help or heed advice -- they're either too addicted, too sick, too depressed, too confused or too angry to do so.
"Thank you for highlighting the destructive . . . results that privacy legislation can have on families with troubled children," wrote one reader. "I pray for that woman, but unfortunately, based on experience, she won't get help from the system.
"Only her daughter can (get help) -- but only if she asks. And too often troubled kids are unable to help themselves."
This parent suggested too many professionals hide behind the various privacy laws, which are often vague and open to interpretation.
"My family has been struggling to help our daughter fight anorexia for the last 3 1/2 years," the reader wrote.
"At one point, a doctor told my husband he had no rights -- only responsibilities. Instead of working as a team to help the child, the family is shut out and, tragically, the child is the big loser."
The most poignant letter came from a woman who identified herself as Christine. Her envelope contained one note to me and another addressed to the woman I wrote about last week.
"Dear mum," stated the letter. "I read about your worries in The Free Press. . . . I empathized, because I've felt as hopeless as you, as frustrated as you, as angry as you must feel sometimes.
"My son has been going through depressions since he was 16, and now, at 28, I believe he is an alcoholic. I went to the doctor when this first started and was told . . . she couldn't tell me anything about his behaviour and condition because he was 16 and (she suggested) maybe I should take a stress seminar.
"When I said I was concerned he might commit suicide, she said it was a valid concern."
The woman explained that she attended some Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to get tips on how to help her son. Instead, she gained some insight about herself.
"I had become obsessed with my son's problem," she wrote, "and had forgotten to take care of myself."
In the end, this woman urged the other worried mother to look after her own needs because "it doesn't mean you love your daughter any less."
That's not the answer these parents are seeking. But it's worth remembering that in a bid to save their kids, these parents need to make sure they don't lose themselves.
Source: London Free Press
Money for Abused Indians
November 24, 2005 permalink
Paul Martin has announced compensation for aboriginals abused in foster care.
In the following article, we show only the paragraphs relating to foster care.
Conference to address aboriginal child abuse
Thursday, November 24, 2005 Posted: 1343 GMT (2143 HKT)
KELOWNA, British Columbia (AP) -- In an unprecedented summit, Canada's leaders will sit with aboriginal chiefs Thursday to settle outstanding claims of child abuse and treaty violations -- termed by one native leader "a national tragedy."
But Fontaine hailed a proposal by Ottawa to give more than $1.7 billion in cash payments to atone for decades of abuse of First Nations children forced to attend Christian residential schools.
Some worry that any progress made at the conference could be washed away when the opposition in Parliament is expected to topple Martin and his minority government in a vote of no-confidence, after he refused to call early national elections.
If the school abuse deal is approved in court, survivors of rape, beatings and cultural isolation would likely be paid by the end of 2006, though the average abusive victim is now 60 and many are sick or dying.
"It is an agreement for the ages," said Fontaine, who was one of the first to go public with his own story of sexual abuse at the Fort Alexander School in Manitoba.
"We hope the settlement package will bring comfort and a sense of victory and vindication for the children and grandchildren of survivors as well," he said.
That history has long been cited by aboriginal leaders as the root cause of epidemic rates of alcoholism and drug addiction on reserves.
The agreement is open to more than 80,000 former students who can apply to receive $2,560 for each year spent in the once-mandatory system meant to "Christianize" native kids.
Almost 15,000 people have sued for damages since Ottawa acknowledged in 1998 that abuse was rampant in the schools. During much of the last century, about 100,000 First Nations children, aged 4 to 18, were sent to Christian residential schools in nearly every province.
November 24, 2005 permalink
Amanda Reed has started a new blog centering on the Jeffrey Baldwin case.
Man Exonerated and Ruined
November 23, 2005 permalink
This is a familiar story pattern. A father is accused of a sexual impropriety and exonerated. But as a result of actions during the pendency of the charges, his family and career are destroyed. In this case, the fatal blow was putting his name on the child abuse register, ending his career as a teacher.
On June 24, 2004 my daughter's 11 year old female friend accused me of touching her. I was charged, arrested and placed in custody. The CAS of Bruce County got immediately involved and insisted my daughters go to their mother's house.
The next day I was transported to Owen Sound but was unable to have a bail hearing, so spent that night in the Owen Sound jail. Kara Wall, the CAS worker, visited me and told me that I was to have no contact with anyone under 16.
The following day I was granted bail. With input from the CAS and my ex-wife, my bail conditions included that I could not live in Bruce County. So I went to Brantford to live with my parents.
The CAS worker called and insisted that I sign a voluntary agreement or they would hound me until I did. They also intimidated my partner who was still living in our home in Wiarton to sign one as well. When our lawyer found out, he helped us to revoke our agreements. It was after this the CAS made a motion to intervene to place my partner's 15 year old son in protective custody. We made a counter motion, it went to court in February and we won. We are still waiting for the Justice's decision on whether the CAS will pay court costs. The CAS then placed me on the Child Abuse Register. Requests for expunction have been deferred to a hearing yet to be heard.
In August 2004, my bail terms were modified to allow me to live back in Bruce County, but one of my parents had to live with me. Also, it was modified to stipulate no contact with minor females. Because of this, I was placed on administrative leave without pay from the Bluewater District School Board.
My ex-wife finally filed for divorce and wanted sole custody of my daughters. There was a case conferrence and the judge made an interm order that I have no contact with my daughters. I haven't seen them since June 24, 2004.
In May, I had my days in court and was aquitted. The school board reassigned me to teach a grade 2 class in the fall. Near the end of September my union called to inform me the school board had received a letter from the CAS three weeks earlier. The letter stated I was not to be placed in a position of trust with children.
The CAS wanted me to sign a consent to allow them to share information with the school board. My union said no way. The school board placed me on administrative leave without pay for insubordination. The union has my consent to view the CAS's information, but the CAS is too busy to have time to send them the files. Instead they have written the union stating that while the court might have aquitted me, they have a higher burden of proof and feel that I am guilty. Because of this, the union's two grievances have been denied by the board and it will be going to an arbitrator. If I win the arbitration, I will go back to the classroom and the Union will sue the CAS for lost wages. If I lose the arbitration, my teaching career will be over but the Union intends to sue the CAS for potential earnings that have been lost.
This is the short version. I could provide more detail if you want. Also, if anybody you know wants to pick up a torch for me, I'm all for it.
Name masked by request.
November 22, 2005 permalink
Today, through the courtesy of a Maine reader with a scanner, Michelle Goodwin, we post a two-year-old story of a legislator, Ed Dugay who was excluded from a child protection case, though child protection was within the scope of his legislative responsibilites. Your elected representatives really do not have much control over social services, and pleading for relief by petitioning them is futile.
Lawmaker fights DHS, state court in custody case
SPRINGVALE - As representatives of the people, state legislators are in a unique position to evaluate and correct policies and procedures within state agencies that may be flawed or unfair. But what happens when forces within the bureaucracy and the judiciary converge and shield potentially suspect activities within state departments from the scrutiny of lawmakers whose privileges are protected by statute?
If you happened to be in the same position as state Rep. Eddie Dugay was Thursday, you'd find yourself locked out of a York County courtroom while a district court judge, an assistant attorney general and a child welfare advocate discussed your motives and intentions.
"I was barred from entering the courtroom and I was pretty distressed about it, because I felt the original complaint involved me," the Cherry field Democrat said Sunday. "As a legislative official, I should have been allowed into the courtroom not to only observe the case, but also to state the facts and defend myself from the mischaracterizations that I believe were being make about my activities."
Dugay now plans to test the boundaries of the judicial system and policies within the state Department of Human Services. His challenge to current practices could ultimately affect the separation of powers governing the relationships of the Legislature, the Judiciary and Executive branches of government.
From Dugay's perspective, the entire chain of events that placed him on a collision course with the Attorney General's Office and a guardian ad litem from Pine Tree Legal Assistance began innocuously enough.
Dugay was contacted by the sister of a former Addison native, now residing in Lebanon, whose grandchildren had been taken from his daughter by the DHS welfare division.
The children's grandfather told the legislator the children had been placed in foster care after the state claimed his daughter was an unfit mother.
The woman and her entire family rebut the allegation and have been fighting an ongoing court battle to reunite the children with their mother, or at least allow the children to reside with the grandparents until the facts in the case are clear to all parties.
As a sitting member of the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee Dugay has heard more than his share of horror stories regarding blundered child protection actions by DHS that were undertaken reportedly for the best interest of the child.
The most egregious example took place in 2001 when 5-year-old Logan Marr was suffocated to death after her foster mother, a former DHS case worker, decided to punish the little girl by wrapping her in duct tape.
"My involvement in this case didn't come out of the blue and DHS practices have been called into question," Dugay said. It seemed reasonable to me that I should respond to this constituent's request, and my privilege to do so is protected by law.
Under Title 22, Maine law allows "an appropriate state executive or legislative official with responsibility for child protection services" to have access to DHS records providing "no personally identifying information may be made available unless necessary to that official's functions."
In her ongoing functions as guardian ad litem, a person delegated by the court to safeguard the interests of children in DHS care, the lawyer objected to Dugay's appearance at a court hearing involving the mother's visits with her children.
Dugay said he began to suspect the guardian ad litem was mischaracterizing the relationship between the mother and her children in order to frustrate any attempt to reunify the family. The guardian had stated that it appeared to her the children were upset and not enjoying their visits with their mother. In order to determine whether changes should be made in the laws defining the responsibilities of a guardian ad litem, Dugay accepted the invitation of his constituent's family to observe an actual meeting between the mother and her children in Lewiston.
"The kids were very happy to see their mother and were not emotionally upset in any way, which only heightened my suspicions regarding the guardian ad litem's (statement)," he said.
During the visit, Dugay requested further information from the court and DHS regarding the case. That was the final straw for the guardian ad litem, who fired a motion to York County District Court Judge Christine Foster, a former DHS worker herself, and asked her to intervene.
The guardian ad litem asked the court to prohibit the disclosure of records and the attendance during the children's visits with their mother by anyone other than the biological parents', attorneys, moving intervenors and their attorney, the DHS and guardian ad litem."
"In other words, everybody except me," Dugay said.
In her motion, the guardian ad litem further implied that Dugay's actions were not of an unbiased legislative official, but of one who was involved with the mother's family.
"It is unclear if he [Dugay] is acting in his official capacity or as an advocate for the family," the guardian wrote.
In either event, the guardian ad litem insisted Dugay's presence at a meeting between the mother and her children was "outside the scope of the statute" that allowed a legislative official's involvement in an ongoing child welfare case.
The guardian ad litem asked the court to find that DHS had violated state law protecting a child's confidentiality by permitting Dugay's attendance at the meeting between the children and their mother and, essentially, rule the state representative's involvement in the case was "not in the children's best interest."
The guardian further asked the court to punish the DHS worker who permitted Dugay to attend the visit with a $500 fine or imprisonment of no more then 30 days.
During a court hearing Thursday in Springvale, Judge Andre G. Janelle barred Dugay and a newspaper reporter from the proceedings while, according to the children's grandfather, the guardian ad litem and Assistant Attorney General Lise Wagner discussed the state representative's activities in detail.
The court reportedly took no action on any of the guardian's requests, but did suggest that "third parties" should not have access to DHS records.
"I guess that means me," Dugay said.
Wagner refused to comment on the state's role in the proceeding.
The children's grandfather perceived the entire proceeding from a more sinister perspective, claiming that the court had invoked a shield to prevent public scrutiny of what he describes as the state's mismanagement of the entire action.
"They're just protecting their own butts," the grandfather said of the court, the guardian ad litem and the Attorney General's Office. "One just protects the other."
Frustrated after being denied information he believed could drive needed changes to the DHS Child Protective Services Division, Dugay said he will meet with attorneys and legislative leadership to determine what action he should take next.
"We need to know what kind of recourses are available for legislators who find themselves in this kind of a situation," he said. "The law clearly states that legislative officials should have access to the kind of information that was sought in this case."
Girl Taken Without Cause
November 22, 2005 permalink
In the following case, CAS attempts to prevent a single mother from associating with a man. According to professor Stephen Baskerville, the first objective of the state in gaining control of a family is removal of the father. In this, and many other CAS cases, they also endeavor to prevent the reentry of a father substitute into a family. Also, while the police and child protectors are legally separate agencies under different ministries, in practice they act together as a single unit. This is not the first case where police enforce the unsubstantiated word of a social worker in preference to an order from a court.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Dear Chief McElveny,
I am the agent for a complainant who hand delivered her complaint on October 3 and then on October 4, 2005 when the officer in charge of Brantford police refused to give her the information she needed to make her complaint on October 3, 2005.
The complaint is not complicated. Officers of Brantford City Police threatened her with arrest if she did not hand her daughter over to a CAS worker. The complainant is a single mother who had a court order which placed her daughter in her care and neither the CAS nor the police had any order from a Justice of the Peace or a Judge. And, further no paperwork, not even a receipt for her daughter or an officer's card, was left with the complainant. The reason given for apprehending the child was that Ontario Works had informed the CAS that she was living with a man who the court said she should not live with. There was no evidence to support this statement and if there was any doubt in the mind of the CAS that the complainant's daughter was at risk there is a court procedure set out in the Child and Family Services Act that would have allowed the matter to be before the court without the trauma that was caused this little girl.
The complainant hand delivered a copy of the court order to you through the receptionist at headquarters on October 5, 2005 and you were asked through our organization to have the child returned to the mother in accordance with the court order. You failed to respond. The matter went before a Judge on October 8, 2005 and the little girl was returned to her mother but not without cost to the emotional health of the child who now believes her mother gave her away to a stranger. She had no idea that her mother was threatened with arrest if she did not do so and that the CAS would have taken her anyway as her mother could not look after her in jail. Coercion invalidates any action that is seen as voluntary and a threat of arrest is I am sure you will agree coercion.
As I am sure you are aware our Criminal Code protects children under 14 from being removed from the supervision of their parent without lawful reason. In this case there was no lawful reason. The matter could and should have waited until the Monday and a court application made if there was any concern. However, as we know possession is nine tenths of the law and in many cases these children are not returned for months, if at all, regardless of the CAS concerns being groundless, which many of our audits show is the case. We have been involved in many such cases throughout Ontario and the safeguards built into the Child and Family Services Act are simply not being adhered to.
I have also been involved as agent for dozens of police complaints throughout Ontario and I can truthfully say none of the complaints, except one, worked out as an appropriate means of obtaining what was desired - a change in how police do things. I was not surprised, therefore, when I got a call from Inspector Scott Easto saying that all correspondence in this matter was lost and he required the complainant's copy to proceed with the complaint. Inspector Scott Easto inferred that I am being unco-operative in this investigation because I don't believe it is our responsiblity to furnish Brantford Police with the complaint and the correspondence, most of it hand delivered, yet again.
I wonder if after reading the attached November 7, 2005 publication of our organization you can suggest some means of bringing about the desired change when it comes to Brantford police assisting in the apprehension of children when there is no paperwork to suggest it is a legitimate process. Perhaps this could be a successful resolution to the matter and could prevent the trauma that faced this little girl being prevented for others in Brantford. I look forward to your response.
Anne Marsden (Mrs.)
The Canadian Family Watchdog
#308 - 1425 Ghent Ave
Burlington Ontario L7S 1X5
Agent for complainant in complaint registered at Brantford Headquarters October 3, and 4, 2005
Addendum: From the same source:
UPDATE - BRANTFORD CHILD ABDUCTION
By Anne Marsden
Discussions with Brantford City Police regarding changes that need to be made to have their officers comply with the law and not be seen as aiding and abetting CAS child abductions are proceeding. Readers will remember that October 1, 2005 a police complaint was filed by a Brantford single mother who had been threatened with arrest, that day, if she did not hand her child over to the CAS. Mom knew this was neither lawful nor in her child's best interests. The mother had a bona fide order of the court placing the child in her custody and a requirement under the law to act in the child's best interests. CAS and police had no warrant and no evidence that the child was in any way requiring protection. However, they did have the power to have the child believe her mommy gives her away to strangers.
Mom faced obstruction of justice at Brantford police headquarters when laying a justified complaint October 1, 2005 given the officer in charge refused to give her the names and badge number of the officers involved. October 2, 2005 saw the single mother return and file two complaints with the new officer in charge. On October 3, 2005 the Brantford Chief of Police was provided with a copy of the order of the court that showed the child's lawful right was to be with her mother. On October 3, 2005 The Chief was requested, through our organization, to determine the whereabouts of the child and have the child returned home immediately, in the best interests of the child. The Chief refused and left the child, breaking her heart and believing her mommy gave her away to strangers.
The first court appearance saw the child immediately returned to mom. The second court appearance saw the CAS withdraw their application that the child become a permanent ward of the CAS and be adopted as there was no evidence to support the child being a child in need of protection. However, not without cost to the child's emotional health and secondary of course, the public purse.
Mom has been informed that the police complaints are "lost" but they are working on changing things within Brantford City Police so this never happens again to her 3 year old child or those like her who live in Brantford. Hopefully, it will happen before any more Brantford children unnecessarily suffer from the trauma like this little girl does.
A December 5, 2005 Auditors Publication
CAS Chief Loses Granddaughter
November 21, 2005 permalink
The granddaughter of Peter Ringrose, Executive Director of the Children's Aid Society of Waterloo Region, has died in a traffic accident in which she was apparently not properly restrained. We extend condolences to the Ringrose family.
Girl, 5, dies in collision
HAWKESVILLE (Nov 21, 2005)
A five-year-old St. Clements girl was killed Saturday when her family's minivan was struck by an SUV that failed to stop at a stop sign.
The driver of the SUV, an 80-year-old New Hamburg man, and four other occupants of the minivan were taken to Grand River Hospital, where they were treated for minor injuries and released.
The collision happened shortly after 12:20 p.m. at the intersection of Herrgott Road and Ament Line in Wellesley Township near Hawkesville, Waterloo regional police said.
A 34-year old St. Clements man was driving the minivan with his wife and their three young children as passengers.
The minivan was travelling south on Herrgott Road when the SUV, heading west on Ament Line, passed by a stop sign without stopping, police said.
Emma Ringrose was ejected from her seat at the time of impact, police said. She was pronounced dead in hospital.
Witnesses told police the van was travelling at "highway speed" at the time of the collision, Const. Doug Buckley said.
Emma's father, Geoff Ringrose, said last night that he and his family weren't ready to talk about the girl, a student at St. Clements School.
Speed and alcohol were not factors in the crash and roads were clear at the time, police said.
Charges against the SUV driver are pending.
RINGROSE, Emma Catherine - March 23, 2000 - November 19, 2005. Tragically, in an accident, at the age of five, on Saturday, November 19, 2005. Precious daughter of Pam and Geoff Ringrose, and adoring sister to Stephanie and Abbey. Emma was in Senior Kindergarten at St. Clements School. She was a delightful little girl who loved to sing and dance. She dreamed of dancing in the fluffy, white, cotton ball clouds. Now she is happily dancing in the clouds with the angels. Emma will be missed by her immediate family as well as her grandparents, Lynda and George Lorentz of St. Clements and Susan and Peter Ringrose of Heidelberg, and her great-grandparents, Irene Detzler of St. Agatha, Gladys Wheeler of Imlay City, Michigan, as well as many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Friends may call at the Futher Brothers Funeral Home on Tuesday, November 22, from 7-9 p.m. and Wednesday, November 23, from 2-4 p.m. and from 7-9 p.m. Prayer vigil will be at 8 p.m. Funeral Mass will take place on Thursday, November 24, at 11 a.m. at St. Clements RC Church. In recognition of the outstanding, supportive efforts of the local emergency response crews and the compassionate, caring Grand River Hospital staff; memorial donations may be made to the St. Clements Fire Station for the Jaws of Life fund or Grand River Hospital Foundation. These may be arranged by contacting the Futher Brothers Funeral Home, 172 Henry St., Wellesley, phone 656-2880.
Source: A reader forwarded these two articles, from news sources that are closed to public view. Melinda Dalton confirmed the validity of the first article.
Addendum: Since this case has become infamous, we enclose a document from the Corporation of the Township of Wellesley (pdf) including a letter from Pam and Geoff Ringrose, Lynda and George Lorentz, and Susan and Peter Ringrose dealing with the death of Emma Ringrose. Below expand for a map of the crash site.
The village of Hawkesville is at the upper right, the crash intersection is at Herrgott (10) and Ament (17). A terrain map shows that the land is flat at the intersection.
Threat of Child Loss Silences Rape Victim
November 21, 2005 permalink
A gynecologist raped a woman, then used the threat of a child protective services report to silence his victim.
Ex-gynecologist convicted of raping patients
The Federal Way Mirror
Nov 19 2005
By MIKE HALLIDAY
Charles Momah, a former gynecologist who had an office in Federal Way, raped patients, fondled them and filed false claims with insurance companies, a jury ruled Wednesday.
The King County Superior Court jury deliberated for four days on the case and returned the verdict of guilty of rape in the second degree, rape in the third degree and two counts of indecent liberties.
Momah will most likely be sentenced next month, according to Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng. Momah could face up to 16 years in prison.
Charging papers revealed that in 2001, a patient who was seeing the doctor for pelvic pain told him she was recovering for a painkiller addiction.
He then allegedly prescribed Percocet, a powerful painkiller, for her and within weeks she was hooked. According to the patient's statement to investigators, she continued seeing Momah to get more prescriptions for pain pills. Eventually, he started asking her to meet him outside of his office for sex. In 2003, while she was on an exam table in Momah's office for treatment of abdominal pain, Momah raped her, the patient told investigators. Then he threatened to call Child Protective Services to have her son taken away if she told anyone.
The woman's boyfriend took her to a hospital, where she reported the rape and was examined, authorities said.
Five other victims' accounts involved Momah fondling the women, using an ultrasound wand as a sex tool and overbilling insurance companies for procedures he didn't perform.
Since the case became public, more than 40 women have filed lawsuits against him.
Momah will have a second trial next year on three charges of filing false health claims.
Donohoe said the prosecutor's office is "pleased with the verdict". Momah's lawyer reportedly plans to appeal it.
Momah's medical license was suspended by the state in 2003 after Federal Way Police raided his clinic in a commercial complex on South 336th Street.
Momah has had legal problems elsewhere. He was indicted in New York for allegedly submitting more than $366,000 in false claims to Medicaid. He was acquitted in 1999. But in 2000, that state's attorney general announced Momah had reached a settlement to repay $500,000 for having overbilled New York for obstetric deliveries he didn't make and prenatal care for which he already had been.
Momah practiced medicine in New York before coming to Washington.
Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Federal Way Mirror
November 20, 2005 permalink
Ellis Family Requests Hearing
November 19, 2005 permalink
The Ellis family continues efforts to save themselves from the Children's Aid Society.
Sent via FAX: 416-212-7431
Mr. Aneurin & Mrs. Patricia Ellis
31 Inadale Court
November 19, 2005
Honorable Mary Anne Chambers M.P.P.
Ministry of Children and Youth Services
56 Wellesley Street West, 14th Floor
Dear Minister Chambers,
This letter is not to detail the tyranny impressed upon our family, but rather a request for your guarantee that our complaint against the Family and Children's Service of the Waterloo Region be reviewed by the Ministry as per Section 68 of the Child and Family Services Act, without fear of reprisal from Family and Children's Service of the Waterloo Region.
We are a family that cares deeply for each other, with three absolutely adorable children that you can see in a photograph at http://www.canadacourtwatch.com holding a sign saying "Government needs to protect children not abuse them". We are committed and determined to protect our children from an out of control and reckless child protection organization known as the Children's Aid Society that engages in criminal activity such as kidnapping, torture and murder with impunity. Even thought this organization hides behind an image of virtue with many believing, "oh those poor children with such bad parents", we have been forced to set the record straight and expose their routine work of kidnapping good children, from good parents, and subjecting them to mental torture without the slightest compunction.
All we are asking for is a fair chance to a fair hearing. Would you, for the sake of the children kindly respond to us with a date and time we can schedule our meeting.
Aneurin & Patricia Ellis
c. Premier Dalton DcGuinty
(FAXED to 416-325-9895)
Hulk and Superman Strike!
November 19, 2005 permalink
The Incredible Hulk and Superman are now 150 feet in the air over the New Westminster British Columbia courthouse.
Addendum: This action ended early on account of fog.
Social Workers Excused
November 19, 2005 permalink
The persons exercising parental rights over Jeffrey Baldwin, and the ones genuinely responsible for neglecting his welfare, will not be called to testify at the trial of the foster parents accused of killing him. The public will learn nothing in this trial of the true failures leading to his death.
The Globe and Mail
Crown at Baldwin trial won't call children's aid witnesses
By CHRISTIE BLATCHFORD
Saturday, November 19, 2005 Posted at 4:25 PM EST
Prosecutors will not be calling any witnesses from the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto when the Jeffrey Baldwin murder case resumes next week.
The unexpected decision, made this week during a break in the trial of the little boy's maternal grandparents, comes on the heels of Crown attorneys Bev Richards and Lorna Spencer frequently referring in open court to their plans to question several social workers from the agency, but particularly Margarita Quintana.
The practical effect of the decision is that the conduct of the agency and its workers will go unexamined at the trial.
That may in turn ratchet up the pressure for some sort of public inquiry -- either a coroner's inquest or a full-blown probe headed by a judge -- into the broader circumstances of the little boy's death.
Though almost six years old, Jeffrey weighed only 21 pounds and stood only 37 inches tall at the time of his death. His emaciated body was covered with a layer of fecal bacteria -- consistent with what evidence at trial has revealed about how he was confined for long periods of time to a cold, fetid bedroom such that he lived surrounded by his own waste -- and his lungs were filled with pneumonia.
Ms. Quintana was the agency worker in charge of the family's case when the CCAS supported Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman -- now charged with first-degree murder in Jeffrey's starvation death -- gaining legal custody of the little boy and three of his siblings.
The custody transfers were made in three separate proceedings over the course of several years ending in 1999.
Astonishingly, the grandparents were able to take over care of the youngsters despite the fact that each of them is a convicted child abuser, Ms. Bottineau convicted of assault in the 1970 death of her first child, and Mr. Kidman convicted eight years later of assaulting two of her children from a previous relationship. Information about their criminal records -- as well as psychological reports suggesting Ms. Bottineau was of marginal intelligence and a potentially dangerous parent, as well as other complaints about the pair -- were all contained in the agency's own records, but went undiscovered.
Shortly after Jeffrey died on Nov. 30, 2002, CCAS executive-director Mary McConville confirmed that the crucial information had been buried in the agency's files, but had not been checked because of a policy vacuum in so-called "kinship care" cases -- where relatives come forward, as happened with Jeffrey and his siblings, when a youngster's parents are deemed unfit, to take the child in.
But evidence already heard at the trial has revealed that the agency also ignored its own red flags about the grandparents on another occasion -- and in the early 1980s had approved Ms. Bottineau as a CCAS daycare provider and was actually paying her to care for other people's children.
Toronto Police homicide detectives first asked Ms. Quintana for an interview about two years ago. Indeed, the grandparents' trial has twice been delayed in part because prosecutors were either unable to arrange to interview her or, when in recent weeks they finally succeeded, they then needed time to review the videotape of the interview.
The decision not to call the worker means that the prosecution case could be completed as early as the end of next week.
Source: Globe and Mail
Father Charged For Daughter's Call
November 19, 2005 permalink
In March 1996 Oregon child protectors seized five-year-old Melissa Gaston from her father Will Gaston and her stepmother, the late Pamela Gaston. She has been kept away from her parents ever since. The now fifteen-year-old girl called her father this year, resulting in him being charged with stalking. In cases reported in the press, stalking laws are for people who harass celebrities, but their main use is to prosecute parents for seeing their own children. Here is the current state of Will Gaston's case in his own words.
- "Bro Will" <email@example.com>
- I'm In Court for Melissa--- Court Watchers needed
- Thu, 17 Nov 2005 05:06:29 -0800
As a lot of you know my Daughter, Melissa, called me in May... I ask her how she found me and she said she put my name in a search engine,,, I said,"I'll bet that came up a couple hundred times?" She said 37,000 !!!...
Thanks, to all you beautiful people out there... That impressed my daughter... I haven't had a lot of chances to impress my Daughter for a while... And at her invitation I visited her in the Park and in her home... I thought it prudent to have an witness so I took Susan Defletson with me... And she was with me at all times..when I was with my Daughter and I have never called my Daughter, she has always called me...
Well.. to get to it... Marilyn Kay Olson Has charged me with Civil Stalking and I have filed a Motion to Dismiss, you must be the "Moving Party"... and that's the way to do it, and we are scheduled for hearing at 1:15 on November 18, 2005 at JC2 Multnomah County Justice Center, 1120 SW 3rd Avenue, Portland Oregon....
This is a big one for me because it puts me back in Court where I can expose the heinous criminal acts they have committed against my Beloved Daughter ... and her Family Body... To you Court Watchers, it might be interesting, I'll attach the "Motion to Dismiss" and Please be there
... Bro Will
Source: Direct email
Addendum: The court hearing was put off, on December 8 a time and place for the trial will be set, probably to take place December 9.
Nevada Buries Mistakes
November 19, 2005 permalink
Nevada also conceals deaths of children. Aside from investigative reports such as this one, the social services system uses the confidentiality pretext to limit reports of deaths to those cases where they returned children to parents who killed them. We remind you again that a dead child cannot suffer emotional harm from disclosure.
Colleen McCarty, Investigative Reporter
Children Lost in The System
Nov 19, 2005 06:36 AM
The former head of the state Division of Child and Family Services once said she suspects Nevada is number one in the nation for deaths of children involved with child protective services. It turns out she may be right. The Channel 8 I-Team has learned DCFS has conducted a five-year review of child deaths in Clark County. And the numbers are alarming.
The head of Nevada's Human Resources Division tells the I-Team more than 100 children known to the system have died in Clark County over the last five years. The review, scheduled to be completed later this month, includes families with Child Protective Services cases and children in the juvenile justice and mental health systems. For several months now, the I-Team has tried to learn more about what happened to some of these kids, with no luck -- kids like Jushai Spurgeon.
Inside a home in North Las Vegas, 14-month-old Jushai Spurgeon lived with his foster mother, 58-year-old Sallye Johnson, her adopted 12-year-old daughter and his four siblings, all under the age of seven. Eyewitness News has learned on April 3rd of this year, Johnson took a sixth foster child to the hospital. Leaving Jushai and his 4 brothers and sisters alone with the 12-year-old.
We can't tell you exactly what happened next, because the Clark County Department of Family Services and the North Las Vegas Police Department refuse to release the records. But we do know Jushai died that night from thermal burns due to scalding.
Bill Grimm with the National Center for Youth Law says, "The agency has a lot to hide here. Children have died with open CPS cases, children have died in foster care and Mr. Reilly and director Susan Klein-Rothchild don't want the public to know that those things have happened on their watch."
Grimm and Donna Coleman, a child advocate, began questioning Clark County and the State Division of Child and Family services before Jushai's death. Using public records requests, the two asked for information about all child deaths in Clark County, including Jushai's.
"I think they just don't want anybody involved in their business but them. They think they know best how to handle things and they don't want the community involved in it and they don't want other eyes involved in it," Coleman says.
At issue, whether a federal law requiring the release of child death records supersedes Nevada rulings that prevent it. In September, the Las Vegas Sun, joined by Eyewitness News , sued to get the records of Adacelli Snyder, a 2-year-old who starved to death. Judge Stew Bell ruled the records would not be released.
"I'm kind of the issue that if a child dies, I'm not sure who we protect. I think the more information out there. Clearly if we're going to deal with abuse and neglect, we need to have more eyes and ears out there," says Clark County manager Thom Reilly.
Reilly asked the district attorney's office to petition the court for further clarification as to what information can be released. More than two months have passed and a hearing has yet to be scheduled. In the meantime, concerned by the increase in the number of kids who are dying, the State Department of Child and Family services began a review of Clark County death cases over the last five years.
Eyewitness News has learned preliminary estimates show more than a hundred local kids known to the system have died. Kids like Jushai.
State Assemblywoman Barbara Buckley says, "One child death is unacceptable and I think we need to look at it. And there's certain things we need to do right away. The first is to lift this cloud of secrecy over these files. Let's find out what happened to these children and what could've been done to prevent it."
The state review of Clark County is scheduled to be released later this month and with it the concrete numbers. We're told more than a 100 have died, but that number may grow in the final analysis. The State will also announce a blue ribbon commission to get to the root of the problem and work to prevent more children from dying.
Source: KLAS TV
Social Workers Bury Their Mistakes
November 18, 2005 permalink
Here is one way to avoid reporting deaths in the foster care system.
Hundreds of child deaths in B.C. not reviewed
Last Updated Thu, 17 Nov 2005 15:51:49 EST
British Columbia failed to properly review the deaths of 713 children following massive civil service cuts in 2002, the province's solicitor general said on Thursday.
John Les called the situation completely unacceptable, saying the province will launch a complete investigation into how the cases were overlooked.
He has also promised that all the cases will be reviewed.
While most of the 713 deaths were accidental or natural, about 100 are homicide, suicide or remain unexplained.
The problem dates back to 2002, when Premier Gordon Campbell's Liberal government embarked on the largest cuts to the civil service in the province's history.
The government cut the children's commission, an independent body that reviewed all child deaths, shifting responsibility to the coroner's office, with a fraction of the budget.
The provincial coroner's office says it didn't have enough money or legislative authority to undertake the job.
Campbell has accepted responsibility for what he called a systematic breakdown.
NDP critic Adrian Dix calls the figure "staggering" and says the government is clearly guilty of negligence.
The Grinch Who Stole Santa Claus
November 16, 2005 permalink
Here is another victim of the moral panic surrounding child abuse. Swiss children will no longer be able to sit on Santa's lap.
United Press International
11/15/2005 12:51:00 PM -0500
Swiss Santas can't hold tots on lap
ZURICH, Switzerland, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Swiss Santas are banned from sitting children on their laps because they might be accused of pedophilia.
The Society of St. Nicholases issued the ruling to its 100 professional members after parents expressed concern about close contact between their children and the men.
"Samiklaus," as Santa is known in Swiss German, turns up Dec. 6 rather than the night of the 24th, the Telegraph said. Large groups of St Nicholases parade through the streets that day before visiting children. They traditionally sit them on their laps before asking if they have been well-behaved.
"We want to counteract any possible accusations of pedophilia involving our members," the Society of St Nicholases said in a statement. "We regret having to do this, but the public has become very sensitive about child abuse."
Walter Furrer, president of Zurich's Society of Nicholases, said the rule had been introduced after a flurry of calls to the society from parents.
November 15, 2005 permalink
Here is a case in which a mother fighting to get her children released by child protectors has found them listed on a pre-adoption website.
On May 16, 2001 Indiana child protectors took all ten children from homeschoolers Jon and Julia (Julie) Phillips of Frankfort Indiana. On April 10, 2003 their rights to the five youngest children were terminated. On October 24, 2003 three of the children participated in a public demonstration proclaiming their love for their foster mother, Janet Pillion. Given the control of the foster parents and social workers over the children, it is impossible to judge their sincerity.
Here is today's letter from Julia Phillips:
- November 15, 2005
- julia phillips <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- My Kids are on here
- Pastor Keaton <email@example.com>
I was looking for something on the Access Indiana site and found my children on the adoption list! That makes my mother's heart bleed some more. However, I'm assuming since they are still on this list, they are not yet adopted out, which would make me feel better since we are still working on getting them home. If you open this url, scroll down to almost the bottom and you'll find Girl , Boy , Girl , Girl , Girl . The case number or whatever is 3196ABCDEUBD
I will give you more details. This was evidently put on here a year and a half ago because their present ages are not current.
Girl  Charity Hope Phillips, now 4 1/2
Boy  Joel Edward Phillips, now 7
Girl  Elisabeth Grace Phillips, now 8
Girl  Rebekah Joanne Phillips, now 10
Girl  Hannah Faith Phillips, now 12
Their descriptions of them are accurate, although Joel was not diagnosed with Asberger's before he was kidnapped. Also Elisabeth did not have seizures while she was with us.
I wish someone would adopt them and then give them back to us!!!! Anyone brave enough to try? If anyone could check this out further for me, I'll be extremely thankful. I'm afraid to "meddle" for fear it will make matters worse for me.
It is really depressing, though, to think the State never wants me to see my kids again. I'll never give up the fight, though.
In God's Grace, Julie
Here is what Indiana CPS says about the family, on their list of unidentifiable children (visible only with Internet Explorer).
Girl  Boy  Girl  Girl  Girl 
The youngest child is in preschool, she likes to do things with her hands and to talk and play. She is in good health. The boy is in Kindergarten and has a good memory. He has ASP Berger's, but is healthy. He often plays alone but does best with adults. He needs help with social issues. The 7 year old girl is has a severe mental disability, lack of verbal skills, but does smile, laughs, makes noises and reaches for objects. She has seizures and uses a wheel chair. The 9 year old girl is in the 3rd grade. She plays well with peers, but likes to be alone. She is good at sports, likes to read. She wears tubes in her ears for the last 2 years. The oldest child is in the 5th grade. She likes to interact with people, but doesn't like loud noises. She is autistic, has dental problems and poor circulation in her legs and feet. These children were removed from their home due to neglect. [3196ABCDEUBD] A specific family has been identified for this child.
Toronto Mom Hunt
November 15, 2005 permalink
Police are looking for another mother caring for her own baby. This time they did not release any names, so the only way for you to help is by reporting every mother caring for a newborn baby girl.
Mother and newborn missing
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
TORONTO -- Toronto police are searching for a 10-day-old girl they believe could be in jeopardy.
Police say the infant's 32-year-old mother had agreed to put her newborn in the care of the Children's Aid Society.
But during a scheduled visit Nov. 8 at a downtown CAS office, she reportedly left with the infant and neither has been seen since.
A police official says the CAS then applied for a warrant of apprehension.
The woman is believed to have a history of emotional problems and may not be able to properly care for her baby.
In a statement, police say they are attempting to locate the infant out of concern for her safety and well-being.
Source: National Post
Linda J Martin Closing Website
November 14, 2005 permalink
The website of Linda J Martin, fightcps, will shortly be closing. Linda has been one of the most articulate critics of child protectors in California and the USA for fifteen years.
Foster Care Trains Prostitute/Killer
November 13, 2005 permalink
Debbie McCabe was found to have a sexually transmitted disease at the age of five. It is hard to see how her mother could have been responsible, but New York City child protectors took her into foster care. In the next fifteen years they educated her to become a drug addict, prostitute and killer. In the final line of the story, Debbie suggests that her life in prison is an improvement over what she had before.
New York Daily News -
Victim of system?
BY HELEN PETERSON
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Sunday, November 13th, 2005
Debbie McCabe is in jail for killing an off-duty cop. She was a drug addict and prostitute - and a former foster child who is suing the city for abuse 20 years later.
She was a little girl known only as Debbie M. when her troubled mom sued the city in 1985, charging that foster care was destroying her kids.
Two decades later, Deborah McCabe tragically has made her mother's fears come true.
She made her first suicide attempt at age 11. She was a prostitute by age 14. A cop killer by the time she was 20.
Now, from an upstate prison cell, McCabe is trying to make something of her life. She has taken college courses, earning an associate's degree in sociology.
And largely unbeknownst to her, her mother's suit against the city has quietly moved forward - giving her a chance at winning millions of dollars in damages and possibly changing the system she claims subjected McCabe and her younger brother to years of abuse and molestation in several foster homes.
McCabe's hope may be the city's fear. As the Administration for Children's Services is facing tough questions about how it handled a Brooklyn neglect case, McCabe's story is a grim reminder of how the effects of child abuse can echo for decades.
Moreover, experts say a jury verdict in favor of the McCabes could open the floodgates for suits by other ex-foster kids.
As she talks about her childhood abuse, McCabe is surprisingly calm.
"I want something to happen with this case. I want something to change. Something's got to give," said McCabe, 28, from the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility.
Her lawsuit accuses the city and the Louise Wise foster-care agency of failing to provide "a clean and safe environment" for McCabe and her brother, Sean, who were first placed in foster care when she was 5 and he was 3. According to court papers, doctors found that the nervous little girl had a sexually transmitted disease.
But instead of a safe haven, the siblings say they found themselves in a Dickensian nightmare.
"In those foster homes, the social workers never showed up, and if they did, they called ahead and then the [foster parents] cleaned up the house," McCabe said.
"We weren't fed well, and we were locked in rooms. I remember there was one boy who molested me. I remember being hungry. I remember being hit," she said. "Just a whole bunch of stuff that I don't think should have happened."
McCabe said that if she gets any money from her suit, she wants to open a center where people on drugs or alcohol can drop off their kids so they are not neglected.
"I do hope that I win, first of all. I hope that I win because I have this thing in my head that I don't want this to happen to other kids. I hope that if we win, it opens doors for other people like myself," she added.
But she is brought to tears describing the "hell house" run by a Bronx couple where she and her brother were placed in the late 1980s.
There, she said, they were made to kneel on uncooked rice, sleep in lice-ridden beds and clean slugs out of the bathtub. They had to use the same bathwater as the five other foster kids living with the couple. Dinner, she said, was rice scraped from the bottom of a pot.
It is the memory of watching her little brother at a rear window of that house, calling to her for help, that drives her to tears.
She said she recalls being penned in a shadeless backyard. A fair-skinned child, she was sunburned so severely that her skin peeled off in sheets.
Meanwhile, her little brother - locked in a room with three other boys, and made to urinate and defecate in a bucket - would call out to her.
"They used to be crying in the window. And he used to call my name, and I couldn't go get him," she said, sobbing.
The two are no longer in touch. She said her brother was angry that her own son, born when she was 16, was sent to foster care when she went to prison.
"We made promises to each other that we would never let our kids go to foster care. We would never have kids and have them wind up how we did," she said, crying.
Now McCabe wants the city to explain how she and her little brother fell through the cracks of the child-welfare system, as they were shuttled in and out of foster care and group homes into their teen years.
Last spring, the city lost a key appeal in the case, and if it isn't settled, a trial could get underway in Bronx Supreme Court early next year.
"We believe that the evidence at trial in this case will show that the city's supervision of the foster-care placements was not in any manner inadequate or inappropriate," said city lawyer Ronald Sternberg.
McCabe is serving a 10- to 20-year sentence for manslaughter in the death of 28-year-old rookie cop Brian Fasack.
Fasack picked her up in his car on a Bronx street shortly after his shift ended. McCabe claims he wanted oral sex and admitted shooting him after the two got into a struggle.
Fasack died two weeks later and was given a ceremonial inspector's funeral, usually reserved for cops killed in the line of duty.
In prison, McCabe said she battles depression, and is undergoing extensive counseling and group therapy.
"I don't think a day goes by that I don't wish he was still alive," she said of Fasack. "And then, I...sort of, like, thank him. I don't know how to explain it, but me coming here saved me from the rest of my life," she said.
Source: New York Daily News
Parent Takes Blame for CPS
November 10, 2005 permalink
We wrote earlier about the case of four malnourished boys found in Collingswood New Jersey. New Jersey DYFS used the family to dump four children with eating disorders, then when the scandal broke, blamed the hapless adoptive parents for the problems. Now they have bullied the adoptive mother into pleading guilty to a crime.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Posted on Thu, Nov. 10, 2005
Mother pleads guilty in starvation case
By Troy Graham
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Vanessa Jackson pleaded guilty this afternoon to starving her four adopted sons in the family's Collingswood home and could receive up to 7 years in prison.
Jackson, 49, entered a guilty plea to one count of endangering the welfare of a child for denying food and proper medical care to her four adopted sons.
The plea was entered in Superior Court in Camden. Jackson had been given until today to decide whether to plead guilty or go to trial on charges that included aggravated assault.
Under the plea, she could receive up to 7 years in prison when sentenced by Judge Robert G. Millenky on Feb. 10. Afterward, she could apply for acceptance into an early parole program and serve less than a year, if a three-judge panel agreed.
Originally, her husband, Raymond Jackson, was also charged in the case. He died Nov. 30 after a massive stroke.
The state of New Jersey recently agreed to pay $12.5 million to the four Jackson brothers. The money will be used to pay for the care of the boys, whose emaciated condition was overlooked by state social workers in visits to the Jackson home to check on foster children who had been placed there.
The case made national headlines, prompting a congressional hearing, and put New Jersey's already beleaguered Division of Youth and Family Services under the microscope.
Under the legal settlement, Bruce, the oldest son, would get $5 million, the state said, and his younger brothers, Keith, Tyrone and Michael, would get $2.5 million each.
The boys' plight came to light in October 2003 when Collingswood police found Bruce, then 19, foraging through a neighbor's garbage for food. He weighed 45 pounds and stood 4 feet tall.
His younger brothers - 9, 11 and 14 at the time - weighed a total of 91 pounds.
Supporters of the family argued that the boys suffered from pre-existing eating disorders.
Contact staff writer Troy Graham at 856-779-3893 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Parents Denied Parting Moments with Son
November 10, 2005 permalink
Here is another story too sick for comment.
WAWS Jacksonville Florida
Family to sue DCF after death of son
Last Update: 11/10/2005 3:39:19 PM
A First Coast family wishes to sue the Department of Children and Families after the recent passing of their terminally ill son.
Debbie and Richard Brand of Yulee were caring for their 9-year old son, Ricky, at home after being told he had about a month to live. Ricky had been suffereing from bone cancer.
Doctors had lowered the boy's dosage of pain medication so that he could interact with his family. However, a DCF case worker claimed the parents made the decision for religious reasons.
The case worker said that the boy was in pain, and threatened to take the boy unless he was taken to the doctor.
Ricky then died on the way to the hospital.
Here is another longer report.
Children's Champion Exposed
November 10, 2005 permalink
Mike Cox, attorney general of the state of Michigan, has posed as a public champion of children. He has placed billboards in Michigan showing a picture of handcuffs and the words "We never treat deadbeats with kid gloves".
Yesterday Mike Cox was forced to admit to an extra-marital affair, apparently conducted during his tenure as attorney general. Under an old law, adultery is still a felony in Michigan, but prosecutors may treat Mr Cox with kid gloves.
Source: Detroit News
November 9, 2005 permalink
Here is a letter from Mary McConville published in the Toronto Star, followed by an unpublished reply from a Dufferin VOCA reader.
CCAS committed to quality care
Nov. 5, 2005. 01:00 AM
Innocent children, monstrous life
The Star reported that the Catholic Children's Aid Society moved Jeffrey Baldwin's three remaining siblings from their foster home "because of a time-out that exceeded the approved formula." The Society's legal and professional obligations prevent us from disclosing why Jeffrey Baldwin's siblings were removed from their foster home. The Ministry of Children and Youth Services — to whom we are accountable — is aware of the reasons for our actions in this case. The Society does not remove children from foster homes for frivolous reasons.
We understand the importance of maintaining continuity and stability in the lives of our foster children and any decision to remove children from their foster home is difficult and is always taken with a child's well-being in mind. This is especially critical in the case of Jeffrey Baldwin's siblings, whose childhoods have already been compromised. We are committed to ensuring that Jeffrey Baldwin's siblings receive nothing but the highest quality foster care.
The circumstances that led to Jeffrey Baldwin's death are tragic and unacceptable. The Catholic Children's Aid Society has made changes to its internal practices to reduce the risk that a tragedy like this could happen again in the future.
Mary A. McConville, Executive Director, Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto
Source: Toronto Star
In her letter, CCAS Committed to Quality Care, Mary McConville selectively takes issue with statements sworn by the foster parent her agency employed to care for Jeffrey Baldwin's siblings.
She neglects to mention these children were removed from this foster parent only days after Jeffrey's death and placed in three separate foster homes. One wonders what incident could justify inflicting such an emotionally devastating experience on these children. If a sufficiently serious incident did occur, it can only raise further alarms about this agency.
McConville claims she cannot disclose why the children were removed from their foster home due to legal and professional restrictions. Curiously, the same restrictions did not prevent CCAS from publicly disclosing why the children were removed from the Baldwin home in the first place.
The Ministry of Children and Youth Services - who are only aware of what the Children's Aid Society of Toronto told it - must view this wide discrepancy between the foster parent's testimony and the agency's explanation with considerable concern. This is one more reason why a public inquiry is essential in this case.
Previously, McConville claimed the incredible negligence CCAS demonstrated in placing Jeffrey with convicted child abusers was attributable to deficiencies in her agency's kinship care policies. Here, she conveniently neglected to mention that CCAS also supported Elva Bottineau as home child-care provider.
Contrary to McConville's reassurances that CCAS does not remove children for frivolous reasons, thousands of Ontario residents have publicly stated the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto and provincial agencies like it, routinely do precisely that.
Texans Ban Gay Marriage
November 8, 2005 permalink
Texas voters passed a ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage, in spite of a serious effort by opponents to defeat the measure. The margin in favor of the ban was more than three to one.
Foster Care is Dangerous
November 8, 2005 permalink
A new scientific study published in Pediatrics magazine shows unsurprisingly that natural parents take better care of their children than unrelated adults, but then measures that unrelated adults are 50 times as dangerous as parents. This suggests that the best interest of the child is served by foster care only for parents 50 times worse than normal -- children should not be taken from parents for bad housekeeping, or even drug abuse. The data comes from studies of fatalities in Missouri conducted by the social services system itself, so social services cannot contest it on grounds of biased data. Unlike all other studies, it suggests that fathers are more dangerous than mothers, but the sample seemed too small to produce reliable information on this issue.
You can read the study at:
Message for Anne
November 7, 2005 permalink
We received an email message directed to the girl we identify as Anne. Since she is now lost in CAS custody, we cannot forward it directly to her. In hopes that she may monitor this website, here is the message. Replies can be sent to: email@example.com
I just finished reading the story of the 13-year Barrie girl who is in hiding from CAS, I do not expect to hear from her directly (of course), but if somehow this email does manage to get to her,
I just wanted to say: "HOW PROUD I AM OF THE COURAGE YOU DEMONSTRATED TO DO WHAT YOU DID, it is those like you who give us hope to put an end to this cruelty. I pray that you are successful in your endeavors to end this nightmare and still have a happy life ahead of you.
No to Child Abuse Registry
November 7, 2005 permalink
A judge in Missouri has ruled the child abuse registry unconstitutional because there is no due process, meaning that parents have no right to a hearing before being placed on the list. In Ontario many parents remain on the child abuse register after being exonerated by the courts. One case follows the news report.
St Louis Post-Dispatch
Court strikes down Missouri child abuse registry
By David A. Lieb
Thursday, Nov. 03 2005
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A judge declared Missouri's child abuse registry unconstitutional on Thursday, ruling that people merely suspected of abuse are wrongly listed on the registry in violation of their due process rights.
The ruling marked the second time in two years that Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan has struck down the child abuse registry. The first ruling ultimately was rejected by the state Supreme Court, partly because the accused people's names already had been removed from the list and legislators had changed the law.
The child abuse registry is kept secret from the general public but is used by child care providers and others to screen current and potential employees.
Callahan cited numerous due process violations Thursday, concluding people's reputations and professional careers were damaged when their names were placed in the abuse registry before receiving a court-like hearing.
The Department of Social Services said it was likely to again take the case to the Missouri Supreme Court. And Callahan suspended the effect of his judgment pending an appeal.
Source: St Louis Post-Dispatch
I have been reading some of the information you have posted on the Internet. I was completely surprised when last night (due to stress-related insomnia) I found this e-mail you sent me in 2003: July 23, 2003 Subject: homeschooling Dear Angela: Though I homeschool my own 6-year-old son, I know nothing about the needs of a child losing his hearing, so I can not help you directly. There is one part of your post that worries me, and maybe I can be of some help there. Child protectors, in Ontario the Children's Aid Society (CAS), are aggressive in taking certain kinds of children into custody, leaving parents with perfunctory contact, or even no contact at all. Reimbursement rules by the province of Ontario fund the local CAS, with higher payments for special needs children, so your child may be unusually attractive to them. There are 52 Children's Aid Societies in Ontario, and through my work I have identified the most aggressive ones as Halton, Durham, Dufferin, St Thomas/Elgin, and Hamilton. You did not say where you live. Are you in Ontario? In one of those areas? If so, you should take some precaution against Children's Aid. Robert T McQuaid Orangeville Ontario
Apparently, I completely disregarded your warning (and forgot all about it!). I currently find myself under investigation by CAS and your e-mail seems a scary foreshadowing of what was to come. The investigation is now in week 7 (of the 30 days it was suppose to last!). I have managed to get them to say that it is the possibility of emotional harm they are investigating, but they have been reluctant to put in writing the specific action or inaction on my part they believe may cause emotional harm to my three children. A call to a lawyer today, confirmed all I have learned from your articles:
They have all the power.
They can take my children away from me and decide why later.
If I don't go along with any of their "suggestions" they can take my children away and discuss it further in court.
The lawyer also confirmed that the plans I had to one day adopt are now over, as are my plans for a career working with children as most jobs I would apply for would require a child welfare check which, even if I am found to be innocent, will not look good. Why is this set up so that I have the burden of proof? I must prove my innocence rather than them proving I am guilty of something!
I can't even believe this can be allowed to happen in Canada!
Although I obviously failed to heed your advice previously, I would appreciate any assistance you might give me at this point. I will likely have another "visit" from my caseworker tomorrow.
Police Checkpoint Inside Family
November 6, 2005 permalink
Do you want to see your cousin? Get a police check first! The Canada Court Watch report on this new CAS policy is below, including two audio links.
Ontario CAS agency say all families must subject themselves to criminal checks if they even want to speak to their own family members who are in care!
(Oct 2005) Listen to this short audio file of a CAS worker (who it is believed is unlicensed) from an Ontario CAS agency, telling a child advocate who a 12-year-old child in care has asked to speak to for help, that not only would this child advocate, but anyone, including family members, that they would all have to subject themselves to criminal checks from the police before being even allowed to speak to the child. The CAS worker also said that this is the written policy of the CAS! Imagine CAS are now telling families in Ontario that they have to get a criminal check to speak to their own family member who may be in care. Court Watch will keep readers informed when we have obtained a copy of this "written policy" as this young worker claims it is.
This is yet another example of how CAS agencies, violate the rights and freedoms of children and families as part of their campaign to intimidate, abuse and to totally take over a child's mind by separating the child from those he/she trusts and to show the child and the family that the CAS holds all the power. College graduates, often with little or no social work training, routinely abuse their power to separate children from family and friends. There is no law that says that a 12 year-old child should not be able to have contact with someone he knows or trusts, but CAS sure make their own laws which routinely violate the rights of individuals as guaranteed under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the principles of fundamental justice.
Most who are familiar with the system know that currently it takes about 6 months to get a police check from the RCMP in Ottawa and approximately one month to get a local check from a local police agency which only covers one jurisdiction. Just to verify this the Court Watch advocate called local police to find out how long it does take to get a police check. Below is the link to the response from the local police.
CAS workers knowingly put barriers to family members contacting children because this is part of their game to instil fear and to exercise power and control over the child and the child's family. It all begins by taking the child out of his/her home and then showing the child and the parents that the CAS has all the power and that everyone had better do what CAS workers (many who are unlicensed) tell them to do or else they won't get to see their child.
If you are a child or a parent who has had communication restricted by CAS workers at any time in the past or have been threatened with loss of access to your child/parent if you do not do as CAS workers tell you to do, then please contact Court Watch and pass us the names of those CAS workers responsible and the circumstances surrounding these events. We will assist you to take further action.
Source: Canada Court Watch
November 3, 2005 permalink
For parents aggrieved by Children's Aid, the main recourse is through the courts, and the internal complaint procedure within Children's Aid is irrelevant. But for children caught in the foster care system, it is their only means of relief. The gutting of the complaint procedure by proposed amendments to the Child and Family Services Act is fearsome for crown wards. A press release by former crown ward John Dunn (doc format) addresses the problem.
Through the Looking Glass
November 2, 2005 permalink
Yesterday Mary Anne Chambers spoke in the Ontario Legislature on the subject of the proposed changes to the Child and Family Services Act, bill 210.
Over the past months we have received three communications from parents who have attempted to join their local Children's Aid Society but been rejected, one in Ottawa, one in Kitchener and one who requires discretion in Hamilton. Sometimes the rejection is without a reason, and once CAS gave the reason that the parent does not support the goals of the society. These rejections prevent opposition from being heard within the membership and make Children's Aid Societies less accountable to the communities they serve. Yesterday Minister Chambers said:
As well, we are changing the way children's aid societies work by not only making them more stable and sustainable, but also making them more accountable to the children and families they serve, to our community partners and to government.
Bill 210 reduces the scope of the formal complaint procedure within CAS by eliminating the right to be heard by the board of directors. Minister Chambers further stated:
Through Bill 210 and the regulations that will follow, we will strengthen the client complaint mechanism to provide a higher standard of accountability.
Many of her other statements bent the truth, but these two stand in direct contravention of the facts.
Adoption Disclosure Enacted
November 1, 2005 permalink
The Ontario legislature has enacted the adoption disclosure bill. Now, baby theft will at least come to an end eighteen years later.
Contentious adoption bill passes
November 1, 2005
TORONTO -- After nearly 80 years of secrecy and more than a decade of debate, Ontario has passed a controversial bill to unseal the province's adoption records.
With the support of the New Democrats, the Liberal bill passed by a wide margin.
The Opposition Conservatives opposed the legislation because they say adoptees and birth parents who want their records kept sealed consider it a potential violation of their privacy.
Ontario now joins British Columbia, Alberta and Newfoundland, which have already unsealed their adoption records.
Ontario has been trying to pass adoption legislation for more than a decade, but has always failed on the cusp of the final vote.
The legislation won't be enacted for another 18 months while the province embarks on an advertising campaign to inform those impacted by the changes.
The legislation, which was introduced in March by Social Services Minister Sandra Pupatello, is designed to let adoptees and birth parents access records that were previously sealed.
The names contained in those records will help parents find the child they surrendered years ago and adoptees to reconnect with their birth parents.
Premier Dalton McGuinty said the legislation allows information to be released while also giving people the tools they need to maintain their privacy.
"We believe that we struck the right balance,'' McGuinty said.
The legislation allows parents and children alike to stipulate that they not be contacted, or to keep their records sealed, provided they can prove to a tribunal that unsealing the records would cause harm.
"We're saying to people, `You've got a right to know but you don't have the right to a relationship,''' McGuinty said.
"We're confident we've got it right.''
Source: National Post
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
November 1, 2005 permalink
Here is more inside information on the kinds of care CCAS provides for its wards.
In this house, no child escaped without scars
Tuesday, November 1, 2005
In the hierarchy of hurt at the murder trial of Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman, Jeffrey Baldwin stands alone.
Of the six children who were living in the Bottineau-Kidman house in east-end Toronto in the fall of 2002, the little boy is the only one who died. Only Jeffrey's hurt was fatal: He was wasted, stunted and so weak after months, if not years, of sustained starvation that he could not fight off either the pneumonia which filled his lungs or the septic shock which poisoned his blood and in short order proceeded to shut down his organs.
His three young siblings and two cousins survived.
Even the sister who escaped by the skin of her teeth -- she was confined with Jeffrey to a foul bedroom for such long periods of time that the two youngsters were regularly reduced to soiling themselves -- got out of the house for half-days at school. Jeffrey did not. Though at 5, almost 6, he was of kindergarten age at least, he was stuck in that reeking bedroom, or ordered to stay on a mat in the kitchen of that small up-and-down house, all day and all night.
But not by a long shot could any of his siblings -- even the two, the self-described "good kids," who were by comparison treated well by Ms. Bottineau and Mr. Kidman -- be said to have emerged remotely unscathed.
Indeed, how could they?
As the youngest child kept repeating, when the trio arrived at the doorstep of their first emergency foster home just hours after Jeffrey's cold and ruined body had been taken away on a stretcher and the remaining youngsters had been apprehended by the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto, "My brother's dead, my brother's dead, my brother's dead."
And then, at the end of that sad mantra, this: "Grandpa always said if you shit all over the place, you're gonna get beat."
That child was then about 4, but already had absorbed the tortured logic that prevailed in that wretched house: We shall lock your brother and sister in an unheated pit of a room such that when nature calls, as it inevitably will, they necessarily will have to relieve themselves in the room, and then we shall beat them for doing it.
As the youngest sibling later told the first foster mom, "Sometimes Grandma can't handle Jeff and Grandpa goes up and he beats his ass real good sometimes."
The first time the youngest blurted out the revelation about Grandpa dearest, the oldest child attempted to put a halt to it. "You need to be quiet." The child could not stop, kept repeating, "My little brother's dead!" The oldest, then about 8, took charge then.
"You need to shut up," came the order. "It's for us to know and them to find out."
Thus the dynamic that had been established in the Bottineau-Kidman household was sickly clear: These two, youngest and eldest, were the "good kids," and part of being a good kid was in learning to blind yourself to what was going on in the house and to bind yourself to the family contract that you didn't ever talk about it to outsiders.
As the sister who was locked in that room with Jeffrey once told Michelle Rose, the CCAS worker who was assigned to the three youngsters after they were taken into care, she had to go to her little prison whenever a neighbour's son came over "because I stink."
This little girl, thin with the jarring pot belly of malnourished youngsters the world over when she was taken into CCAS care, also had head lice and eczema virtually all over her body and so severely on her feet that an entire layer of skin peeled right off after her first bath at the emergency foster home. The foster mum said yesterday she had to change the water in the tub three times before the little girl was clean.
Didn't she have any cream for the rash, the foster mum, a woman with a beautifully kind face, asked. "I had cream," came the answer, "but because I was a bad girl I wasn't allowed to have it any more."
The little girl said that she didn't know what happened to Jeffrey, only that when "they went to check on him, I woke up and he was dead."
These words from Jeffrey's siblings, called "utterances" in the jargon of the courtroom, were elicited yesterday from Ms. Rose and two of the emergency foster mums by prosecutor Bev Richards, who is arguing that Ontario Court Judge David Watt should consider them as evidence.
They form part of the prosecutor's application to have the statements deemed sufficiently reliable that the traditional truth-seeking function of cross-examination can be safely forgone.
The judge has already ruled that the three youngsters themselves will not testify at their grandparents' trial, so defence lawyers won't be able to question them directly about what they told the foster parents and CCAS workers. Thus, Judge Watt must be satisfied the statements are reliable.
Though the foster parents' names are not covered by a publication ban the judge issued yesterday to protect the identity of Jeffrey's siblings, they continue to work as foster parents for the CCAS, and at their request, The Globe and Mail isn't identifying them to protect the youngsters currently living with them.
What was sobering about some of the children's statements was how, even in the throes of the first confusion, fear and sorrow they were feeling on the day Jeffrey died, they were concerned about, and still loyal to, Ms. Bottineau and Mr. Kidman, now 54 and 53 respectively.
The sister who had been locked in the room with Jeffrey, for instance, was "very upset, sad and crying" about her little brother, but her grief was nonetheless coloured by fear: "My brother's dead," she said at one point, "and my grandfather's gonna get in big trouble and he's gonna go to jail."
By the end of the second day of three she spent in the emergency foster home, the little girl "was attached to my hip," the foster mum said. "She'd become very clingy."
The youngest child told the first foster mum that Jeffrey and the sister slept in a room that was very cold, and that Jeffrey didn't have any blankets. "That's what happens," the four-year-old said, "when you're bad at Grandpa's house."
The oldest child, while more aloof and careful with the foster mum, settled in quickly at the permanent foster home, telling Ms. Rose, within the first week there, that it would be good "to live there forever," and offering within another week or so a theory of why Jeffrey died -- that he'd "got sick from drinking from the toilet."
Perhaps the most heart-breaking, and telling, remark came from the sister who'd been locked up with Jeffrey.
Asked how she liked the permanent foster home, the little girl allowed that she did, Ms. Rose said. "She said everyone is nice, and she smells better and her room smells better."
The little girl was all of 7 then, but so terribly old, as were they all.
Source: Globe and Mail
Review for Dr Smith's Victims
November 1, 2005 permalink
Child abuse is not as pervasive as you have been told. From the Toronto Star:
Nov. 1, 2005. 02:52 PM
Child killer cases first under review
Dr. Charles Smith faces scrutiny Notorious Dooley case among them
Cases in which people are serving life terms for the murder of a child will be among the first of 40 to be reviewed by independent forensic specialists examining the work of disgraced pathologist Dr. Charles Smith, the Star has learned.
The cases were identified at a news conference this morning by Dr. Barry McLellan, Ontario's chief coroner.
The unprecedented review announced in June encompasses all suspicious child-death cases in which Smith conducted autopsies or provided an opinion since 1991, while working at the province's Forensic Pediatric Pathology Unit.
Three priority cases, evidently chosen because of their impact on the people convicted, include the notorious death of 7-year-old Randal Dooley.
McLellan decided to order the review after Smith misplaced forensic exhibits that a Sault Ste. Marie man, William Mullins-Johnson, needed to prove that he did not sexually assault and murder his 4-year-old niece Valin, as Smith had concluded.
McLellan's officials found the samples on Smith's desk at the Hospital for Sick Children. After tests, two independent experts concluded that Valin had died of natural causes. Mullins-Johnson was freed on bail this September, after nearly 13 years behind bars.
As expected, his case will reviewed by members of the expert panel, whose names will be released today, along with other widely reported cases in which Smith played a role.
Besides Mullins-Johnson, the three cases involving convicted murderers focus on:
- Tony and Marcia Dooley, who were found guilty of second-degree murder in the 1998 beating death of their 7-year-old son Randal, who had been found to have 13 broken ribs, a lacerated liver and four brain injuries. Smith performed the autopsy. Both have appeals pending in the Ontario Court of Appeal.
- Marco Trotta, who was convicted of the second-degree murder of his 8-month-old son Paulo — in spite of the autopsy finding by another pathologist that he had died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome — after Smith gave his opinion that the death was not accidental. Trotta was recently granted leave to appeal his conviction to the Supreme Court of Canada.
- Tammy Marie Marquardt, who is serving a life sentence for the second-degree murder of her 2 1/2-year-old son Kenneth Wynne in a case where Smith concluded the child was probably suffocated. She has asked the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted to take on her case.
Over the past week, McLellan and his staff have been contacting families involved in other high-profile cases through their lawyers so they would know the cases were being reopened before that information was made public this morning. Kingston lawyer Felicity Hawthorn was told one such case involved Louise Reynolds, whom she represented in criminal proceedings.
Reynolds was accused in 1997 of killing her 7-year-old daughter, on the basis of an opinion provided by Smith. The charge was dropped after experts concluded the fatal wounds were caused by dog bites.
The case has occasionally been compared to the Australian dingo case — the subject of a Meryl Streep movie called A Cry in The Dark — in which a woman was convicted of murdering her 2-year-old daughter but was released and pardoned after evidence proved the girl had been snatched from the family tent by a wild dog.
Reynolds spent two years in pre-trial custody, plus time in a halfway house, and was forced to put up another daughter for adoption before prosecutors withdrew the charge in 2001.
The Star has confirmed from other lawyers and relatives that the following cases will also be included in the review:
- Brenda Waudby: Charged with murdering her 2-year-old daughter Jenna in Peterborough, after Smith came up with a timeframe in which she could have been present when the injuries were inflicted. She was freed after experts concluded she could not have been present at the time.
- Lianne Thibeault: Investigated by Sudbury police for manslaughter in the death of her 11-month-old son, after Smith determined the death was not accidental. She was cleared after much personal distress, when an independent expert in child-abuse deaths disagreed with Smith's opinion.
Smith was formally cautioned by the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons in 2002 after a panel of experts that had studied his work in three suspicious-death cases (including Waudby and Thibeault) reported that they were "extremely disturbed by the deficiencies in his approach."
He resigned from the Hospital for Sick Children shortly after McLellan announced his review and is now employed at City Hospital in Saskatoon, pending the local health authorities' review of his one-year contract.
Smith could not be reached for comment.
McLellan is expected to announce this morning whether the review will be confined to a review of pathology evidence, such as microscopic slides and tissue samples, or if the experts will also be permitted to review trial transcripts to assess Smith's conduct.
Source: Toronto Star
Katie Goes Home
November 1, 2005 permalink
Katie Wernecke has been ordered home. But the result may not be the family victory that it appears to be, since it is conditioned on completing CPS prescribed treatment first. Since the most likely prognosis is now death, CPS may be ridding itself of an embarassment.
Oct. 31, 2005, 5:49PM
Judge orders sick teen returned to parents
CORPUS CHRISTI — A 13-year-old girl with cancer who was put into foster care after her parents refused to allow radiation treatment will be reunited with her family, a judge ruled today.
Faced with her deteriorating health, state district Judge Jack Hunter said Katie Wernecke would be better off with her family in Agua Dolce, near Corpus Christi, than in the custody of the Houston foster parents she was assigned by Child Protective Services.
He said that all sides were well intentioned but the stops, starts, and delays in Katie's treatment as grown-ups continued to battle were doing more harm than good.
"CPS and the Werneckes are never, ever going to agree," Hunter said. "If I leave it up to CPS and the Werneckes ... this child is going to die."
CPS removed Katie from her family in June after her father, Edward Wernecke, said radiation treatment could put his daughter at a heightened risk for breast cancer, stunt her growth and cause learning problems.
Katie's parents have made several attempts to stop treatment for the girl's Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the lymph nodes. The girl was diagnosed in January and began receiving chemotherapy, which doctors recommended be followed with radiation.
Hunter said Katie would be allowed home after she completes a current round of chemotherapy at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. It was not clear from the judge when that would be, however.
The ruling came despite objections from state lawyers who argued that Katie's life would be endangered if she did not continue to receive treatment at M.D. Anderson.
Before the ruling, Hunter told Wernecke to "look at me man to man, eyeball to eyeball" and promise he would do the best for Katie. Wernecke said he would.
CPS spokesman Aaron Reed said the agency hoped the Werneckes would continue treatment at M.D. Anderson.
"We certainly understand why the judge would want Katie at home with her family at this point of her illness," he said. "This isn't the outcome we advocated for, but our goal all along has been for Katie to get the treatment she needs and get better and go home."
Wernecke's parents were overjoyed with the judge's decision.
"The good news is we're getting Katie back," Edward Wernecke said. Her mother, Michelle Wernecke, added, "She's going to be home soon, it feels great."
In a statement, family attorney James Pikl said the decision had larger implications for parental rights in Texas.
"When your child becomes sick, you do not have to merely stand by while state CPS workers tell you what care your child will receive," he said. "You also need not fear that CPS will take your child away from you simply because you have a disagreement with CPS about what treatment is right for your child."
During today's hearing, Edward Wernecke said he wanted to try alternatives for Katie before considering radiation as a possible last resort.
"If that were her last hope and it was the only other thing that would save her life than I would do it," Wernecke testified.
Wernecke said M.D. Anderson had failed to offer alternatives that would spare Katie the side effects of the treatment recommended by doctors.
Wernecke said he might consider radiation, but wanted to first try intravenous vitamin C at a treatment center in Kansas. He said he had also researched treatments in Germany, Mexico, and other places.
Katie's oncologist has said her chances of surviving have gone from 80 percent to 20-25 percent because of incomplete treatment.
Hunter was the third judge to hear the case. The previous judge, Carl Lewis, recused himself after the Texas Supreme Court overturned parts of his ruling barring contact between Katie and her father. Another judge was removed from the case after objections were raised by CPS attorneys.
Source: Houston Chronicle
Addendum: Katie went home to her parents on Thursday, November 3, 2005.
November 1, 2005 permalink
Today's Dear Abby deals with child protection. The cash-cow child gets the worst treatment. Following the advice in the last sentence will result in the loss of all of Katie's children.
Oct. 31, 2005, 6:19PM
Neglected child needs help before it's too late
Universal Press Syndicate
Q: My older sister, "Katie," has three children — an adopted son, a foster son and a biological son — all under the age of 3. Katie and her husband took in their foster son, "Richie," only because he's the biological brother of their adopted son. They didn't know if they'd get to keep Richie or not, so Katie closed herself off to him emotionally.
During the year and a half that she has had Richie, he has become, in essence, an "invisible" child. She shows him no kindness, no positive attention and certainly no love.
I love Richie. It makes my heart ache to see him emotionally neglected. It also causes me distress to see that Katie seems blind to the way she behaves toward him. The rest of our family sees what's happening, but no one seems to know how to handle the situation.
My husband and I have been unable to have children of our own, and we currently keep Richie every weekend. We have considered taking him in ourselves and, if possible, adopting him. He loves us as much as we love him. My question is, should we (our family) stand together and try to convince Katie to open her eyes and change her ways, or would it be better for everyone involved if my husband and I were to adopt Richie? And if so, how do we do this without creating a rift in the family?
DISTRESSED in Wisconsin
A: Whether she wants to admit it or not, your sister must be aware on some level that she's unable to love Richie as she does the other boys. I recommend that you take it slowly: The first thing that you, your husband and the extended family could do would be to "sympathize" with Katie about how hectic her life must be with three tiny toddlers on her hands. Suggest that you'd be happy to "lighten her load" by taking Richie more often. (You may find that she'll be delighted.)
Once you have established that routine, begin mentioning how hard it is for you and your husband to see him go home. After that, the next logical step would be to offer to adopt the boy — which might provide your sister with the "out" she needs.
If she's open to it — and let's pray that she is — you won't have to inform child protective services that the boy is being emotionally starved and neglected. If she's not, I hope you will step in on his behalf, because the damage your sister is doing to that child will affect his view of himself and the world for the rest of his life.
Source: Houston Chronicle
Alberta Class Action
November 1, 2005 permalink
This week-old story shows efforts to redress abuse committed by the foster care system. Persons who refuse to use their names will not produce reforms, the only issue is whether they will get some of the taxpayer's money. The same lack of names will make it difficult to follow up on this story.
Groups seeks class-action status for child welfare case
Last Updated: Oct 25 2005 11:57 AM MDT
Lawyers for more than 300 people who say there were abused while under the care of the province's child welfare system are trying to convince a judge to allow them to pursue a class-action lawsuit against the Alberta government.
The group alleges that they suffered sexual and physical abuse, often in foster homes, and that the child welfare agency didn't take the proper steps to protect them. The allegations of the victims have yet to be proven in court.
The move to launch a class-action suit for compensation takes advantage of new legislation, which allows one person's story to represent a group with similar complaints.
"We already have hundreds of people that want to sue over the same topic, so if we were to do this individually, we'd have to do this argument a hundred times or 500 times, and that's just not an effective use of government resource, court space and lawyers times," said Robert Lee, one of the lawyers representing the victims.
T.L., who can't be identified by name, says she was in an abusive environment and the government did nothing to help.
"They were involved in our home, all the time, because there was so much abuse in our home," T.L. said. "We had the police at our door all the time, and nobody ever took us out. So they were involved, welfare was involved, for years and years and years.
"How could they do that to somebody?"
The province is arguing that the stories of each victim is too different for them to be tried as one case.
The judge is expected to reserve decision on whether the case can proceed as a class-action suit.
Ghosts and Goblins Coming
October 31, 2005 permalink
The website systemvsbizzi.biz has posted a request that the Canadian government return children to their parents by December 24, or face an attack. Since government capitulation is unlikely, they will unleash an attack against computer infrastructure, and assemble and publish information about the operation of the child protection system.
Turn In More Kids!
October 31, 2005 permalink
A multi-media campaign is under way to encourage people to report suspected abuse to CAS. To avoid future broken links, we have made a local copy of the campaign pictures (pdf). In newspaper ads, the bubble in the lower right is replaced by one giving contact information for the local Children's Aid Society.
The Children's Aid Societies are getting together on a huge campaign to get people to start reporting to them when they think there is abuse or neglect. They are using very powerful posters with images of kids who have their mouths removed to say they have no voice and encourages or intimidates people into reporting anything at all because it says they have an obligation to report.
This is great for real abuse, but as we all know, this type of advertising is going to bring in many false allegations and discrimination based calls among others of classism and vindictiveness.
Please read the following description of the campaign and then lets start to discuss a similar campaign which we could create which has posters of adults with their eyes removed, claiming the public is blind the abuse of children by the system...
Child Protectors Cannot Count
October 30, 2005 permalink
The following opinion piece from the Indianapolis Star shows again that numbers coming from child protection agencies simply cannot be trusted. In Canada the level of secrecy is even greater than in the USA, so the figures are even less credible.
October 30, 2005
Get the numbers right to show extent of child abuse
State's continued inability to record accurate number of child abuse deaths points to other serious problems in the system.
Four-month-old Katie Michelle Stacy should have been counted.
One-year-old Anthony McClendon Jr. should have as well.
After Katie died last year, her parents were charged with criminal neglect. Anthony was shot to death during a robbery at a crack house while in the care of his father.
Yet, both children, along with eight other young victims, were left out of the Indiana Department of Child Services' 2004 report on deaths from abuse or neglect.
If the 10 deaths, revealed in a story on today's front page by Star reporter Tim Evans, had been included in the report, 2004 would have gone down as the state's deadliest year on record. The rate of child deaths in Indiana was more than twice the national average.
This isn't the first time Indiana has significantly underreported the number of child deaths. An earlier investigation by The Star found that between 1999 and 2002, state government failed to account for nearly one-third of the deaths from abuse and neglect.
Why do such numbers matter? Hoosiers need to have an accurate understanding of what is happening to children in their communities. Deaths aren't exactly rare -- not when three children were killed, as Evans found, on a single day in February 2004. Not when the state has averaged one child's death from abuse or neglect per week for more than a decade.
And as Dr. Antoinette Laskey, a forensic pediatrician, points out, accurate data are key to creating prevention programs that truly work.
"When everyone is operating in a vacuum, you know what is happening in your county, but if you don't realize it's a statewide problem, the recognition of large-scale prevention efforts are missed,'' she told Evans.
There also is the matter of accountability. Despite state reforms and widespread media attention, the number of deaths jumped to a record level last year. From the governor to state legislators, from the state headquarters of DCS to the county field offices, there needs to be an intensive evaluation of which efforts are working and which aren't.
The discrepancy -- especially in numbers that receive as much attention as the list of fatalities -- also highlights the fact that Indiana doesn't really have one child protection system. In essence, it has 92, one for each county DCS office.
James Payne, DCS director, has promised to fix that. And he's taken important steps in that direction by, among other things, improving training and rewriting guidelines. But a great deal of work remains to fix a child protection system that has been broken for many years.
Some critics in the child welfare system argue that the news media's focus on abuse deaths can be counterproductive because caseworkers, to protect themselves, might be more apt to unnecessarily remove children from their homes. The critics, to a degree, have a point.
The number of abuse deaths, although tragic, is dwarfed by the thousands of children who suffer from lesser but still destructive forms of abuse and neglect. Prevention programs primarily must focus on those victims.
Pushing more children into foster care, a system with its own serious problems, can leave many of them emotionally scarred for years.
Bottom line is that there are no easy answers when it comes to protecting children from the horrors of abuse and neglect. Improving prevention, rebuilding foster care and bolstering the quality of caseworkers all will require sustained effort. And all demand a sense of urgency given what is at stake.
Getting the numbers right, however, is an important beginning in helping the public understand the scope of abuse and enabling the professionals to design effective steps toward prevention.
Unfortunately, as with so much else when it comes to protecting children, Indiana hasn't been getting the numbers right. Continuing that failure is unacceptable.
Source: Indianapolis Star
Were You Drugged?
October 29, 2005 permalink
Canada Court Watch is soliciting reports from former foster children who were drugged while in "care".
(Oct 26, 2005) Court Watch is gathering information relative to a specific investigative report which will deal with the subject of children being needlessly drugged while in foster/group home care. For this specific project we are interested in hearing from persons who are now above the age of 18, who were once in the care of CAS while under the age of 18, and while in CAS care were forced to take drugs such as Ritalin, Risperdol or other forms of medication. We would especially like to hear from those who had to be placed on a drug reduction program as a result of being given medication while in the care of the CAS or from those who believe that they now suffer long term physical or mental health effects as a result of having medication prescribed to them while in care of a CAS agency. Candidates must be willing to be interviewed professionally on videotape and be willing to go public with their information. A class action lawsuit against the CAS agencies, workers and the medical professionals involved in prescribing the medication will be discussed with those who involve themselves in this project. If you believe that you meet the requirements above then contact Court Watch at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us by phone at (416) 410-4115. If you are under 18 years of age, currently under CAS care or supervision and feel that medication is being forced upon you, we would also like to hear from you in relation to other investigations we are conducting into the abuse of children by CAS agencies and workers.
Source: Canada Court Watch
October 25, 2005 permalink
Last year Ottawa CAS arrested Jesse McVicar after finding him with a classified ad in an Ottawa newspaper. They are at it again.
Some recent posts by CAS to the Ottawa Sun. If you know any of them, they may need support.
- ANYONE KNOWING the whereabouts of Ashley Hayes please contact L. Tremblay at 747-7800 ext. 2057
- ANYONE KNOWING the whereabouts of Chad Bouthillier please contact Melissa Chung at 747-7800 ext.3616
- ANYONE KNOWING the whereabouts of Corey Damiano please contact Melissa Chung at 747-7800 ext. 3616
- ANYONE KNOWING the whereabouts of Derek Renaud Melissa Chung at 747-7800 ext. 3616
- ANYONE KNOWING the whereabouts of Marc Proulx (Born in 1964) please contact L. Tremblay at 747-7800 ext. 2057
The Foster Care Council of Canada
Ontario Advisory Committee on Child and Youth Services
More Foot-Dragging by CCAS
October 25, 2005 permalink
Even judges find themselves powerless to get CAS to comply with the law. For an ordinary party, the judge can find them in contempt for refusing to supply documents, but that will not happen with CCAS. Comments follow this story.
Judge lights fire under lawyers in Jeffrey case
By CHRISTIE BLATCHFORD
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Stung by constant delays and legal wrangling, the trial judge in the Jeffrey Baldwin case yesterday gave prosecutors and lawyers for the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto a week to get their respective houses in order.
In setting strict deadlines for the two sides to meet and even directing them to communicate with one another, Ontario Superior Court Judge David Watt noted that for all the complaining, the dispute "rarely condescends to specifics."
For weeks, prosecutors Bev Richards and Lorna Spencer have been telling the judge they haven't got all the agency documents they need, with CCAS lawyers Paul French and James Maloney claiming either that they have produced the requested files or that they don't know what precisely the prosecutors are seeking.
The CCAS is involved in the case because Jeffrey, who was five when he died a skeletal and wasted child, was in the legal custody of his grandparents, Elva Bottineau and Norman Kidman, with the blessing of the agency, which had failed to check its own files and thus failed to discover the two were each convicted child abusers.
Ms. Bottineau was convicted as a teenage mother in the 1970 death of her first child, a baby daughter. Mr. Kidman pleaded guilty eight years later to assaulting two of Ms. Bottineau's children by a previous relationship.
In the lawyers' ongoing disagreement, Judge Watt characterized it as a case of one side saying, "You have something" and the other replying, "No, we don't."
Indeed, the CCAS version of the dispute gained support yesterday when lawyers for Jeffrey's grandparents, who are accused of first-degree murder in his Nov. 30, 2002, starvation death, told the judge they have had no difficulty getting information from the agency.
As an example, lawyer Anil Kapoor, who represents Ms. Bottineau, told the judge that the defence "already had" what the prosecutor recently demanded the agency disclose. "We had it all," Mr. Kapoor said.
Since defence lawyers get all their disclosure from prosecutors, it must necessarily mean the prosecutors already had the information they wanted.
And, he said, if Ms. Richards finds she doesn't have files she needs from the CCAS, she should "go get a warrant and get it."
But Ms. Richards had an example of her own.
Citing affidavits from CCAS workers who reviewed the agency files and who appeared to quote from original, aged documents, Ms. Richards said prosecutors have been "told those documents are too old and don't exist."
How, she asked, can files the workers claim to have seen just two years ago no longer exist?
The dispute, however, appears to be at least partly rooted in poor communication between the CCAS lawyers and prosecutors, with Mr. French yesterday filing a document which shows many of his letters and calls have gone unanswered by Ms. Richards and Ms. Spencer, and which saw him all but begging the judge to intervene.
The trial of Ms. Bottineau and Mr. Kidman, respectively ages 54 and 53, began early last month before Judge Watt alone; usually, such trials proceed much more quickly than those held before a jury. But this one has been plagued by delays and now won't even resume until Monday.
At that time, lawyers for Jeffrey's three siblings, who were also in their grandparents' custody and living in the east-end Toronto house with them when the little boy died, will renew an application for a publication ban to formally protect the youngsters' identities.
Source: Globe and Mail
Commentary: Here are some comments by John Dunn on the Jeffrey Baldwin case:
When ever I hear a story about kids abused by family members while under CAS care, it always makes me think that the CAS gets into full gear to promote the story so that they can hold an inquiry, and then get recomendations from people who don't know better, on how to better protect children from family.
This type of hype must be monitored by people like us and we should not only complain about how the Society let it happen, but while complaining about it, we must also include how many cases of child abuse happen to kids while in foster homes and group homes.
We need to make it common knowlege to the public that group homes by law, are required to report to the Ministry any time a "Serious Occurance" happens in the home, within 24hrs.
A woman I know who worked in a group home in Ottawa was fired because she complained that they were restraining a child for the wrong reasons. As punishment rather than as safety precautions. The kids were being restrained for not having a shower, or doing their homework etc, or as the result of an argument with staff.
One boy was getting restrained up to five times a day! Imagine how many reports would have been sent to the Ministry on him alone!
So when we speak to officials about story's such as the case in the CCAS and others like it, we must always be sure to mention the fact that these cases which make the media are usually exceptional but that hundreds of cases of abuse are reported to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services only when proper procedure is followed, and that those reports, called "Serious Occurance Reports" can be obtained through freedom of information requests.
It would at least get people thinking and hearing about the issue and maybe even acting on it.
Thanks everyone... we are all doing great work here... :)
The Foster Care Council of Canada
Ontario Advisory Committee on Child and Youth Services
F4J Under Attack
October 25, 2005 permalink
The following letter relates not to child protection, but to its family law twin, divorce. Fathers for Justice, F4J, has engaged in many high-profile stunts to publicize the atrocities of family law, but its effectiveness has been dulled over the last few months. The following letter from F4J founder Matt O'Connor shows why. An F4J Canada leader has also told of enhanced surveillance.
A big thanks to everyone who turned up yesterday especially given that at 10.00am the thing looked like a wash out! Half hour later though the sun burst through and stayed with us for what was a great demo given the turmoil of the last 6 months.
The Police presence was staggering. At one point I counted 20 Police vans full of cops both in front and behind the demo. Anyone would think they didn't trust us. It far outweighed any previous policing seen at an F4J demo.
An especially BIG thanks to Jenny, Eddie and our compere Glen for giving the courts welly.
Another BIG thanks to Andy Work and Joh Pointer who missed the demo after being kept in overnight by Kent Police after Thursdays M25 Gantry demo which proved to be a useful 'probing' exercise for future plans.
On a different note it was inevitable that as soon as we were back in action the knives would be out. It is my belief (though for various reasons we cannot disclose why) that a serious attempt was made by the authorities to bring down F4J in June of this year using undercover Police Officers recruited at the end of 2004. This is a common tactic where 'trusted' fellow members who are actually undercover police use that trust to create internal strife and division.
The point is also illustrated by the fact that part of the ITV network have been filming covertly within F4J after recruiting ex security guards to infiltrate the organisation. We were tipped off in November last year and May of this year that this was happening by people they tried to recruit.
We believe that a team of at least 3 people were involved and footage was taken at various meetings including London, the South Coast and Bristol though it appears that since other splinter groups are not being effective, ITV are not interested in them which I guess proves how effective we are unfortunately!!!
This again is another attempt to try and discredit our campaign however we will never be deflected from allowing such attempts to bring this organisation down be it by the Police, the government or parts of the media.
We can't say anything more about the matter at this stage other than we will deal with this in the most appropriate manner. It should go without saying that given all the above we expect people to behave appropriately at meetings and other gatherings.
Given the amount of positive PR we have enjoyed recently thanks to Guy Harrison such hatchets are inevitable however given this new media campaign and the high profile Police treatment we are receiving it is fair to say that we could be in for a rough couple of months.
Lets stick together and hold fast.
On a better note the Sunday Telegraph this weekend should be running a piece on Guy Harrison and his partner Emily. Hopefully this will be another good piece of positive PR.
Good luck to all, get stuck into the campaign and lets keep up the fight. Remember F4J is the ONLY credible force for change. Lets make every action count, let us shake this country and rouse it from its slumber1
Source: F4J mailing
More Opposition to Adoption Disclosure
October 24, 2005 permalink
Ontario's privacy commissioner Dr Ann Cavoukian is again opposing the adoption disclosure bill. Commentary follows the article.
The Ottawa Sun
October 24, 2005
Adoption bill riles privacy boss
Birth moms told info would be kept under wraps
By CHRISTINA BLIZZARD, Queen's Park Bureau
TORONTO -- Ontario's privacy commissioner is speaking out for birth mothers who fear sensitive personal information will become public if adoption disclosure legislation is passed tomorrow.
Dr. Ann Cavoukian says the proposed law is "shameful" in retroactively revealing information birth mothers were told would be kept private when they gave up their babies for adoption decades ago.
"This erodes trust in government and in my view it is shameful that the government would consider doing this retroactively without giving anyone the right to say no."
Only three provinces have retroactive adoption disclosure -- B.C., Alberta and Newfoundland, and all have a disclosure veto that allows a party to the adoption to refuse to allow their information be given out.
Cavoukian wants that as Ontario's legislation. Bill 183 gets third reading tomorrow.
"It's the only fair thing to do. You have to have a balance. You can't be one-sided, only favour one of the parties," she said.
Amendments allow for a veto -- but the individual requesting it has to plead her case before an expert panel, who will decide if disclosing her information will cause her harm. Cavoukian says that's unacceptable.
"People who want to preserve their privacy want to preserve their privacy because it is their right to do so."
Cavoukian received several submissions from birth mothers and adult adoptees who were told by children's aid and legal system officials that their records would be sealed. Cavoukian pointed out that simply coming to a tribunal would require an individual to lose their right to privacy.
She would like to see a system in which parties to an adoption could opt out.
"What I am seeking is the weakest form of privacy protection," she said.
The minister responsible for the bill said changes made to the legislation over the summer have strengthened privacy protection. But Sandra Pupatello added adoptees have the right to know where they come from.
"The other side of the coin for each of those cases is an individual, a son or a daughter, who has been denied their right to information for many years."
Source: Ottawa Sun
Commentary: John Dunn commented on June 25, 2005, on the curious position of Ann Cavoukian.
It is interesting how the Ontario Privacy Commissioner is so against parts of Bill 183 and yet recently on CTV there is a story where she tells of the need for CAS's to be under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act (FIPPA) so that the CAS can become more accountable to the public.
Although I support this 120%, it is just odd how she is behaving so "polar" on the two similar issues. When you read the Hansard (the minutes or text record) of the committee meetings regarding Bill 183, one person who presented to the Social Policy Committee stated that she thought maybe the Commissioner had something in her past she was hiding (maybe gave up/lost a child herself)
Read this quote below from a public deputation who spoke to the committee, Michelle Quick of Defense For Children International;
Michelle Quick: Finally, we should ask questions about the privacy commissioner's motives, given that she is acting outside of the mandate of her office. She has made a number of inflammatory and irrational statements in public. When I heard a radio interview earlier today, I thought I detected a note of desperation in her voice, so perhaps the privacy commissioner has a very personal connection to the issue, and this is what is driving her to act outside of the proper scope of her office.
I come before you today in support of Bill 183 --
The Chair: Yes, Mr. Jackson?
Mr. Cameron Jackson (Burlington): Mr. Chairman, I am very anxious to hear the deputations, but if we're going to impugn this, I'd like to have sufficient time to ask the deputant which medical degree or which legal degree she's drawing upon to draw these extraordinary conclusions.
The purpose of these hearings is not to indict former deputants, any more than we would allow you to leave the room today and have someone come in here and trample on your good name.
With all due respect, I don't know you at all and I didn't really know Ms. Cavoukian, but I believe that the purpose of this hearing is for us to hear your personal experience. I would just like you to perhaps focus on that, and I believe it would be the role of the Chair to assist you in that regard.
This raised the roof for a second in the Committee, but my gut said the same thing. She is fighting this tooth and nail and using very strong words so hey, you never know. All I can say is that I would not be surprised to find out some day it was true.
That being said, I want to now move on to her recent press release which announces a recent release of the 2003/04 Annual Report from the Privacy Commissioners Office. In the report, she makes mention of the fact that she believes that CAS's should be under the FIPPA. Here is the paragraph that I find so important and support.
"Here, I address the need for three over-arching steps the government should take that would significantly enhance freedom of information and protection of privacy in Ontario:"
She goes on to recomend that "Institutions that are primarily funded by government dollars should be covered by Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation for the purposes of transparency and accountability. Universities, hospitals and Children's Aid Societies are leading examples of the types of institutions that need to be brought under this legislation. I recommend that the government launch an immediate review to compile a list of institutions that are primarily funded by government but are not yet covered by the Acts. Part two of this project should be a short review of which of these institutions will be placed under the Acts — with the default position being that each institution on the list will be added, unless there are very unique and compelling reasons not to add a specific institution."
Now, read that last line carefully which states "with the default position being that each institution on the list will be added, unless there are very unique and compelling reasons not to add a specific institution."
This is exactly why the CAS is currently exempt from FIPPA. I read it somewhere before, which at this very moment I can not remember where, but I am looking into it, that this happened the last time. The CAS's presented that they were to be exempt because their files had unique and compelling reasons not to be under FIPPA.
This now goes to you. If you want to increase accountability of Children's Aid Societies, this is the most important move we can all work on together. Whether your life has been affected by CAS or not, your assistance in getting CAS under FIPPA would be greatly appreciated.
It is one way we, as members of the public, would be allowed to "order" copies of CAS files, documents, decisions, statistics, and to have questions answered which are currently impossible to have answered. If you have a friend in the media, let them read this email, or tell them that this recent Annual Report from the Ontario Privacy Commissioner has opened a door for debate on the issue of opening up CAS's to FIPPA, then please tell them.
We need to create a huge body of people who will lobby publicly to open CAS records to the public (with identifying information blanked out of course) What kind of information could then be made available?
Just as an example off the top of my head...
1. Serious Occurance Reports: When a child / Youth in care is abused in care, they MUST fill out a "Serious Incident / Occurance Report which details the incident and they must submit it to the Ministry for review.
2. My life records contain evidence of child abuse in them. I know, because I have seen them.
3. Thousands of foster kids and former foster kids files contain evidence of abuse in them. For example, they say things like Johnny was moved from the home because the environment was "too strict" or "Ronnie was pushed over the couch during an argument with the foster father" etc...
4. We could ask general questions such as "how many times this year, was a child moved between foster homes due to serious incidents which involved physical or sexual abuse".
The questions go on and on and on to almost anything you can think of and if they are under FIPPA, they must answer and the Privacy Office will help when they try to deny you access to the information via an appeal process.
As it stands now, the CAS simply has to say "no" and the FIPPA does not covery them, the Ombudsman does not have CAS's under it's juristiction and of course, they will simply claim that this information is "confidential".
Please, get involved. Contact me at email@example.com to let me know if you would like to join a lobby group to actively get involved in spreading awareness of the issue through flyers, emails, a web site, networking, public speeches (Speakers Corner etc) and through press releases and conferences.
Thank you.. please, forward this to a media rep or list.
The Foster Care Council of Canada
Promises in lieu of Responsibility
October 21, 2005 permalink
How many parents can kill a child, then escape jail with the excuse: "We are making changes to ensure it won't happen again."? Answer: Social workers exercising parental rights. An instance appears in the article below. The proposed change, to scrutinize family members more closely, will result in even more separation of children from their relatives.
Baldwin's death spurs changes to system
Ontario's deputy chief coroner, Jim Cairns, says steps are being taken to prevent another tragic death like that of Jeffrey Baldwin. The five-year-old boy starved to death in 2002 while in the custody of his grandparents.
They are now on trial for murder. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Elva Bottineau, 54, and Norman Kidman, 53, won custody of their four grandchildren after Bottineau's daughter was deemed to be an unfit mother. In November, 2002, the five-year-old was found dead.
Decades earlier, the couple had been convicted of child abuse, and Bottineau, as a teenager, had been convicted in the death of her own infant daughter. In spite of this, they were given custody of Jeffrey and his siblings by Toronto's Catholic Children's Aid Society.
When the horrifying details of Jeffrey's treatment and death became public, the Catholic Children's Aid Society said a terrible mistake had been made, and, in the future, any relative wanting to take custody of a child would be thoroughly investigated.
Since then, the coroner's office, the provincial government, children's aid societies across the province, and family-court judges have also taken action.
Deputy Chief Coroner Cairns says the tragedy weighs heavily on everyone.
"[There are people] who can't sleep at night because of what this poor little boy went through, and [from thinking about] what we can possibly do to stop it from happening again," Cairns says.
The province has introduced legislation to make house visits and criminal background checks mandatory before relatives can take custody of children.
Cairns says most children's aid agencies have started doing the checks, even though the bill isn't yet law, and many family-court judges are refusing to grant custody to relatives until the screening is done.
"Certainly it's not just this death, but shall we say that this death spurred it on."
Cairns says a decision on whether to hold an inquest into Jeffrey Baldwin's death won't be made until the murder trial is over.
Quebec Speeds Up Child Removal
October 21, 2005 permalink
In the following article, Quebec Youth Protection Minister Margaret Delisle says that state care is harmful to children, then uses that as a reason to speed up the separation of children from their parents.
Quebec introduces legislation to limit role of state in child care
QUEBEC (CP) - The Quebec government introduced legislation Thursday that will overhaul its child protection services and reduce the state's role in resolving child-care issues.
Youth Protection Minister Margaret Delisle says the new laws will mean more stability for children who are in vulnerable situations.
"These children are suffering enormously," she said at a news conference.
"After 10 years of recommendations from experts, this has to stop. These children have to able to develop normally."
One of the key elements of Delisle's plan is limits on how long children can spend in the state's care.
In order to avoid having children change homes repeatedly, the maximum stay in child-care centres for a child under two years will be capped at 12 months, 18 months for children between two and five, and 24 months for children over six years old.
If after that parents still can't provide a stable environment for their children, youth protection services will recommend they be given up for adoption, placed in the state's care, or given a mentor.
According to the provincial association of child protection centres, some 2,000 children get bounced around from their biological parents to various foster homes.
"The priority remains to keep the child with his family," Delisle said. "But there are cases where that's not possible, and they could be placed in a stable environment."
The proposed laws hope to avoid relying on the courts to resolve child-care disputes by encouraging a "consensual approach."
They are also designed to speed up the processing of files and improve access to information.
Delisle's legislation was welcomed by the head of Quebec's youth protection system.
"The amendments will allow for the more vulnerable to live in stability," said Jean-Pierre Hotte.
And even the opposition Parti Quebecois had few criticisms.
"It doesn't solve all the problems, but its a step in the right direction," said Delisle's PQ counterpart, Solange Charest.
"The government will have the co-operation of the opposition."
Source: canada.com website
October 20, 2005 permalink
October 24, 2005
360 James St. N.
5pm – 10pm
* DEMONSTRATION AGAINST THE CHILDREN’S AID SOCIETY IN HAMILTON.
Will these funds be used to take children from mom and dad?
Better to raise the OW rates to support the care of children in their natural families.
TAKE THE FUNDS FROM CHILDREN’S AID AND GIVE IT TO THE FAMILIES ON OW/ODSP.
SAVE THE FAMILIES
For more information:
Contact: Ed or Mary (905) 481-0937
Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Addendum: One person from Brantford attended in the evening and found no demonstration in progress. But earlier demonstrators reported a success.
Oct 24 2005
Yes the demonstration at the Liuna station in Hamilton was great with about 10 people showing up despite the constant rain coming down. Our signs and voices came across loud and clear, against funding for the children aid and crimes which they have committed against citizen of this country.
Many thanks to Mary janiga and Ed who organised the demonstration.
Sam Cino God bless our children
Keep in Step ... Or Else!
October 20, 2005 permalink
While child protectors tolerate and promote some non-mainstream behaviors, such as homosexuality, they oppress practitioners of others, for example, vegetarianism. Here is a press release from a group engaging in a lawful but not politically correct practice. Are children harmed more by seeing nudity, or by losing their parents?
The article cited in the press release, based largely on an interview with a CAS worker, is naive about the operation of CAS. For one example, the eligibility spectrum purports to be a tool for evaluating families, but leaves so much discretion to the social worker that she can continue or dismiss a case at will. And in Dufferin, CAS always seems to take an armed policeman when entering a home for the first time.
Addendum: The link has disappeared, this copy is from the internet archive.
Child Nudity and CAS
TORONTO, Oct. 20 /CNW/ - The Fall 2005 issue of Going Natural magazine features advice for naturist parents who are being investigated by a Children's Aid Society in Ontario (http://www.fcn.ca/GN20-3-article.pdf).
While we all know that protecting children is very important, we also know that CAS investigations may be extremely intrusive and traumatizing to families. The Federation of Canadian Naturists believes that CAS investigations based on lack of information must be avoided.
The FCN, publisher of Going Natural, has learned of cases in Ontario where the CAS worker has specifically directed parents to stop participating in naturism. In other cases, parental naturist activities alone have been given as the reason for an investigation. Yet naturism itself is perfectly legal, even when children are involved. It is not a reason for CAS investigation under the Child and Family Services Act of Ontario.
While most CAS workers are reasonable and do an important job very well, the FCN has reports that some workers abuse their power, make subjective judgment calls, misinform parents, and even use intimidation tactics.
On being contacted by concerned parents, the FCN has attempted to communicate with the specific CAS involved. Citing privacy reasons, CAS officials refuse to discuss their cases; unfortunately, they also refuse to discuss their policies. For this reason, the FCN felt it necessary to publish information to help protect naturist parents.
Although the information is meant for naturists, it clearly has implications for all parents in Ontario. This initial article is based on expert advice of a family law practitioner and a children's aid worker with nearly ten years' experience, both in Ontario. Future articles will address situations in other provinces.
Those without formal training in child rearing might well conclude that non-sexual nudity could be harmful, because of opinions from popular writers on childcare, from Dr. Benjamin Spock to advice columnist Ann Landers. However, none of those so-called experts have based their advice on scientific evidence.
Scholarly research in psychology and sociology shows that children reared in a setting with family social nudity may benefit from the practice. Even the most cynical reading of this research would conclude that naturism has no negative effect.
For more information on these studies, go to: http://www.fcn.ca/children_2.htm.
"We tried to work with the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies to help educate workers," said Stéphane Deschênes, President of the Federation of Canadian Naturists and the father of two young children. "Unfortunately, they didn't seem interested in working with us. It's too bad, given that the system seems so overburdened with cases. As a parent, I want my children protected too, but not at the cost of our personal freedom."
To read the correspondence between the FCN and OACAS, go to: http://www.fcn.ca/media/OACAS_correspondence.pdf.
For a printable version of the magazine cover and article, go to: http://www.fcn.ca/GN20-3-article.pdf.
For further information: Stéphane Deschênes, Telephone: (416) 410-6833 ext.5, Cellular: (416) 219-5856, Fax: (416) 410-6833, E-mail: email@example.com; Entrevue francophone: Michel Vais, Téléphone: (514) 278-5764, Fax: (514) 278-5521, Courrier électronique: firstname.lastname@example.org
More on Jack Stratton
October 20, 2005 permalink
So far there is nothing on these incidents other than material from Mr Stratton himself.
STRATTON CONFRONTS SOCIAL SERVICES CHAIRMAN HELMS: "YOU'RE NEXT"
On Tuesday, October 18, 2005, father of ten Jack Stratton appeared at the meeting of the Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners / Board of Social Services in Charlotte, N.C. The Board oversees the Mecklenburg County DSS, the entity that seized all ten of Jack and Kathy Stratton's children on January 30, 2001.
Stratton signed up to speak shortly before the televised meeting.
Stratton told the Board that Judge Elizabeth Miller-Killegrew, who announced her resignation on October 12, 2005, had been removed from office due to his massive evidence against her. Stratton, his voice cracking with emotion, told the Board "I've got enough evidence against her to impeach 10 judges." Stratton claimed that Beverly Lake, Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, had become aware of how big a liability Miller-Killegrew had become to North Carolina.
Stratton stated that he now had "two scalps." This was a reference to Miller-Killegrew and former Board Chairman Tom Cox. Several years ago, Stratton charged that Cox's software company had been engaged in numerous contracts with DSS agencies across the State of North Carolina. Cox resigned shortly after Stratton made these charges. Cox has claimed his resignation had nothing to do with Stratton's charges but that he "wanted to spend more time with my family."
Even though Miller-Killegrew can no longer be impeached, Stratton told the Board that she would still be indicted. "You can bet your grandmother's pension on it" an emotional Stratton said.
Stratton told the Board that to show that Cox's and Miller-Killegrew's resignations were not just "coincidences", he would now turn his attention to removing Board Chairman Parks Helms. Stratton then read from what he said was consent forms he had prepared for himself and Parks Helms to take an FBI polygraph test. Stratton stated that he had also prepared a consent form for County Manager Harry Jones to consent to a polygraph test. Stratton said he was sending the consent forms to Charlotte FBI Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kendrick.
Stratton read from the consent form he had prepared for himself and stated that he would take an FBI polygraph test if any of the following persons would also take the test: Parks Helms, Harry Jones, Jim Coman [North Carolina Deputy Attorney General], Sandra Bisaner [Deputy Mecklenburg County Attorney], "Jake" Jacobsen [Mecklenburg County DSS Director], Tyrone Wade [Associate County (DSS) Attorney], Gretchen Caldwell[Mecklenburg County social worker who filed custody petition against the Strattons], Elizabeth Miller-Killegrew, Yvonne Mims-Evans [Mecklenburg County Judge who signed the custody petition to take the Stratton's ten children from another county], or Michael Giftos [Pediatrician who signed medical records Stratton claims he has proof were falsified].
Stratton claimed that he had nothing to fear from a comparative lie detector test because, he said, "I tell the truth 100% of the time and every person on this list [consent to polygraph] is a liar."
Stratton read from the FBI polygraph consent form he had prepared for Helms, which also contained statements Helms had made about Stratton on television and radio:
"I, Park Helms, hereby consent to take an FBI polygraph test. This will provide solid evidence to the FBI that Mr. Stratton's charges are false and will show the FBI and the public that I was truthful when I claimed that: 1) Mr. Stratton's children would have been dead if we had not taken them; 2) What was going on in the Stratton's household before we took his children was worse than sexual abuse."
After reading the above Stratton closed by sarcastically "thanking" the County Commissioners for not having him "indicted." "I'm probably the first person in the history of the United States to have committed such heinous crimes and not been prosecuted."
Neither Helms nor Jones responded to Stratton's challenge to take a lie detector test. "Thank you Mr. Stratton" Helms calmly said as Stratton walked out of the auditorium.
Stratton's statement on television that Helms would be removed from office clearly puts Stratton's credibility on the line. Helms is one of the most powerful and influential politicians in the State of North Carolina and it is difficult to see how Stratton could possibly follow through on his promise to remove Helms.
The county commission meeting is taped and will be replayed on cable and public television numerous times over the next two weeks.
Stratton also previously sent out an email claiming that he had recently been "ambushed" and beaten by 6-10 individuals who also threatened to kill him.
10-19-05 Press Release from Charlotte, N.C.
HELMS MOCKS STRATTON:
"[I'M] SHAKING IN MY BOOTS."
In a late breaking development, it was learned that Mecklenburg County Commission Chairman Parks Helms had responded almost immediately to Jack Stratton's October 18, 2005 challenge to Helms. Stratton is the father of ten children who were seized on January 30, 2001 by Helms and his DSS. On October 18 Stratton spoke before the Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners and demanded that he and Helms both take an FBI polygraph test. Stratton also claimed he would remove Helms from office.
After Stratton finished speaking, Helms appeared so shook up that he introduced the next speaker, a man, as a female. As the man approached the podium, Helms recognized the man as someone he knew.
Helms then sarcastically told the man he had made the mistake because he [Helms] was "shaking in my boots" because of Strattons' challenge to take a lie detector test. Some of Helms fellow board members hooted and howled.
Jack Stratton had already exited the auditorium when Helms made his comments.
Randy Blair Arrested
October 19, 2005 permalink
In another story not in the press, one of Michigan's leading opponents of the child protection system, Rev Randy Blair, was arrested. In the two messages below, Nanc is Nancy Luckhurst, an associate of pastor Blair. During his recent litigation difficulties, his website has disappeared from the internet.
Just got a phone call to let me know. Pastor Randy Blair has been arrested for extortion of Judge Mathews. We all know this did not happen. He was leaning on her pretty heavy but he never tried to extort anything out of her and this is a totally bogus charge.
We need to hammer Oakland Co Prosecutor's office and the Michigan Attorney General as well as the Judicial tenure Commission and let them know this is nothing more than retaliation for Randy being so outspoken on the subject of the Probate court and the CPS cases that are also bogus against families.
Ok folks we have got to help Randy Blair to get out of this mess. We all know he has not done anything wrong. I just got a call and found out they moved him to several different places before arraigning him this morning. His attorney Janet Frederick was looking all over for him and Gee they couldn't find him until the had arraigned him and he had no counsel with him. How convenient. Do we see the collusion of the Oakland Co Court system here covering the ass of a crooked Judge.
Randy's bond is $10,000 so some how we have to come up with $1000 to get him out on bond. IF you are willing to help Randy after all the things he has done for this movement all it takes is 100 people donating $10 to get the job done. You may make your donation by going on the FCR site and doing it through paypal or you can send it directly to us at the Foundation for Children's Rights 3541 Roy Dr Unit 2 Sheridan MI 48884. We will see that Janet gets the money to bail him out. We need to get this done as soon as possible. God only knows what will happen to him in jail. Please help us out here. We know he is not guilty of doing anything to this Judge Cheryl Mathews other than pissing her off.
The other thing you can do is send an e-mail to the above people all you have to do is cut and paste the addresses in to your To: and Bcc sections and they are all set up for you. It is to all the County commissioners and his representative as well as the Senate Judiciary committee.
Thanks for you help and God Bless you all for helping Randy in any way you can. HE is one of the hardest fighters in this cause and we cannot let him down.
Addendum: Randy Blair got out of jail on the morning of October 21, 2005. From his email below, it appears that the principal objective of the police in his case is to suppress his opposition expressed through the internet. Just like Ontario.
From: Blair <blairs@...>
Date: Fri Oct 21, 2005 11:27 am
Subject: Order to cease any and all Contact with Judge Cheryl Matthews
The purpose of this email is to direct any and all individuals who work or advocate for or on behalf of Michigan victims of CPS or myself, Randy Blair, to cease ALL activity in regards to Judge Cheryl Matthews. This includes handing out flyers in neighborhoods, picketing the courthouse, etc. I have been ordered to cease activity which could be perceived as a "threat". As we well know, that term is bandied about quite loosely, and I don't want to spend more time in jail because of something someone else did (again).
This message will therefore satisfy the requirement that Judge Cheryl A. Matthews will not be contacted to the best of my ability. I have no ability to control the actions of others, and this is made in good faith in an attempt to satisfy the conditions of my bond, as ordered by Magistrate Trott.
The website, www.michiganvictimsofcps.org has been dismantled since 1 SEP 2005 and has not returned. Any references to Judge Matthews' family (which was previously published by the Detroit news at: www.vgt2004.org/a-detnews/candidate-detail.go ?id=1318801) have been gone since that time. The website, www.geocities.com/toast4life has been dismantled as of 8:00am this morning, in its entirety. Only 1 reference to Brad Conkey (Matthews' husband) was mentioned. No other websites under my control contain any information regarding Matthews.
Again, this is a directive to everyone to cease all activity regarding the Campaign to remove Matthews from office, per the conditions of my bond. Thank you very much for your cooperation.
Furthermore, do not contact any of the individuals in the CC: field of this email. It is imperative that this matter be resolved fairly and impartially without undue interference. I know I can count on all of you to do the right thing, and I thank God for you all, in the name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Who delivers His children from evil.
Yours in Christ,
Randy Blair (248) 618-7937 Fax - (831) 855-9108
President - Michigan victims of CPS - www.michiganvictimsofcps.org
MIvCPS Blog - http://blog.360.yahoo.com/toast4life
J.A.I.L. Warden - Oakland County MI- www.jail4judges.org
Addendum: Here is how a newspaper reported the story:
The Detroit Free Press
Man charged in threat to Oakland judge
BY L.L. BRASIER
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
October 21, 2005
A 37-year-old Clarkston man was arrested and charged with a felony Thursday for allegedly threatening a circuit court judge and demanding that she resign from the bench.
Randall Blair faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of extortion.
Police said Blair began harassing Oakland County Circuit Judge Cheryl Matthews earlier this year. The extortion charge stems from a poem Blair sent Matthews that threatened to reveal an affair she was allegedly having if she did not step down.
Police said Blair purports to be an advocate of families who have been mistreated by the judicial system and was reportedly angry over a decision Matthews made in a child abuse case earlier this year. In that case, Matthews refused to return a child to a mother who had been convicted of criminal child abuse.
Thursday, a magistrate in 48th District Court in Bloomfield Township ordered Blair held on a $10,000 bond. He is to appear in court Nov. 2. A not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf.
Contact L.L. BRASIER at 248-858-2262 or email@example.com.
Source: Detroit Free Press
October 16, 2005 permalink
The First Northeast Conference
On Parental Rights and Child Protection Services
Speakers will be:Richard Wexler, Executive Director
National Coalition for Child Protection Reform
www.nccpr.orgWilliam O. Tower, Executive Director
American Family Rights Association
firstname.lastname@example.orgThomas M. Dutkiewicz, President
Connecticut DCF Watch
connecticutDCFwatch.comAnne E. Tower, Asst. Executive Director
American Family Rights Association
Parents, Attorneys, Judges, Legislators and Government Officials are welcome.
What are the myths vs. the facts according to the Federal Courts?
What rights do parents have when Child Protection knocks on your door?
Is it unlawful and unconstitutional for Child Protection to enter your home?
Is it unlawful and unconstitutional for Child Protection to speak with your child?
Do Juvenile Judges lack jurisdiction when there in no imminent "physical" danger?
Can you deny Child Protection entry to your home according to the Federal Courts?
What is the only legal and constitutional basis for Child Protection to remove your child?
- Foxwoods Resort Casino 39 Norwich Westerly Rd. Mashantuket, CT 06338 1-800-FOXWOODS
- November 19, 2005
- 7PM – 9PM
- 860-833-4127 203-239-2651
Parents, if you need a ride to Foxwoods, check with Foxwoods because they have buses that pick-up through out the Southern New England area. The buses may be first come first served.
Journalist Saves Girl
October 15, 2005 permalink
This is a rare case of a girl genuinely in need of help. Social workers, who in other cases are adept at getting children in front of a camera to make damaging statements about their parents, are unable to elicit information from the girl, and have to call on a professional journalist to do so.
Little girl lost
Will the abandoned 4-year-old now get lost in the system?
NEW YORK CITY - Valery Saavedra Lozada is wide-eyed, curious and chatty. She’s an adorable, typical 4-year-old, except for one thing: For almost two weeks, this little girl has had the city of New York at her feet.
Valery’s story is so incredible it made news and captured people’s hearts across the country.
It’s a tale of trust, betrayal and abandonment. For Valery it began on a street in Queens two weeks ago. Valery says her mother’s boyfriend—a man she called “daddy”—drove up to a deserted corner in the black hours of a Sunday morning, took her out of the car, and told the little girl to walk up to a house on the block, knock on the door and ask for help.
Then Valery says her daddy got back into the car and drove away, leaving her alone in the darkness.
Georgina Visacki, who lives on the street where Valery was left to wander, heard somebody crying outside her house that night. “So I said, ‘Who’s crying at this time?’ It was like a baby,” says Visacki. Visacki says when she looked out the window she could hardly believe what she saw.
“She didn’t have any shoes or socks. I said ‘Oh my god it’s cold.’ So I just grabbed her and she held me so tight.”
Another neighbor, Kevin Flood, also ran from his home to help the distraught child. “She looked well kept,” he describes. “She just had messy hair like she was just taken out of bed.”
Valerey was crying saying “I want my mommy, I want my mommy,” though she didn’t know where her mommy was.
And with that, a mystery began. Who was Valery’s mother? And where was she? For days child welfare workers tried to coax information out of the little girl with little success. And unbelievably, no one had reported Valery missing.
Frustrated, the city’s administration for children’s services took an unusual step. It asked WNBC-TV local reporter Melissa Russo to interview Valery and tell her story, hoping someone would come forward with information about the little girl and her family.
Valery shared fragments of her life with Russo and child welfare workers. She answered questions with extraordinary calm for a traumatized four year old.
And when asked to describe her mother, her answer melted the hearts of even the most hardened New Yorkers.
“She looks like a princess,” the child described.
“People were so touched by her,” says Russo, the WNBC-TV reporter. “And she was so charming and articulate and sweet and adorable, beautiful really.”
The tactic to publicize Valery’s plight worked.
“Phones were ringing off the hook in the newsroom people calling in,” says Russo.
One of those calling into authorities was Valery’s great uncle. He provided further details about the child’s mother: 26-year-old Monica Lozada Rivadineira was an immigrant from Bolivia. She had been living in Queens with Valery and dating a man named Cesar Ascarrunz, apparently the “daddy” that Valery says abandoned her on the street.
Foster care for lost little girl
As police investigated, Children’s Services placed Valery in a foster home.
“Too many people in public believe that once we rescue children from bad situations and bad families, they’re going to be saved,” says Marsha Lowry, director of Children’s Rights, a watchdog of foster care programs throughout the country.
According to Lowry, Valery could spend a lot of time in the child welfare system. “The average length of time that a child remains in New York city’s child welfare system is 49 months, which is astronomically long,” says Lowry.
Even though Valery may be the toast of the town today, Lowry says she worries that once out of the spotlight, Valery may share the fate of so many other foster children who are shuffled from one home to the next.
“Obviously that’s a devastating experience. Once she is in many different places she’s going to be psychologically damaged. And she’s going to find it harder to find a permanent family, and that’s what happens to too many children in the system,” says Lowry.
For Valery, though, an unfamiliar home is just one new, bleak reality to absorb.
Her mother’s boyfriend is arrested
This week, New York city police arrested the man Valery called her “daddy,” saying Ascurrunz confessed to killing Valery’s mother, a charge Ascurrunz has denied. When asked about Valery’s story of that night, Ascurranz’s lawyer told “Dateline” his client had no comment.
Then late this week police made a gruesome discovery in a Pennsylvania landfill— the body of a woman fitting Monica’s description.
Now Valery’s grandmothers are each seeking custody of the little girl.
“We don’t know whether these relatives are going be found to be suitable, important question. So even with people lining up to adopt this cute little girl, she could end up in the system for years to come,” says Lowry.
The administration for Children’s Services declined our request for an on-camera interview, but said Valery is with a strong and capable foster family and it issued a statement saying it “will be meeting with all family members to assess the best possible permanency plan for Valery. When we have finished our assessment, we will make our recommendation to family court.”
In the meantime, Valery will remain a ward of the city. Those who found a frightened child outside their doors in the middle of the night are hoping this little girl can find her way home soon. “It’s heartbreaking— this poor girl and what she had to go through,” says Visacki. “What she has to go through now... it’s just not right.”
Grandma Kept from Starving Boy
October 14, 2005 permalink
Even after CCAS had allowed one of her grandchildren to die in their care, they kept the innocent grandmother away from her family.
The Toronto Sun
October 14, 2005
Grandma fights tears
Battles with emotion as she testifies about struggling to see starvation victim Jeffrey Baldwin
By SAM PAZZANO, COURTS BUREAU
The murder trial of starvation victim Jeffrey Baldwin saw the anguished face of a grandmother who fought to see him -- and a defensive man who watched the boy's "death march" but did nothing, just to preserve his free-lunch life.
Grandmother Susan Dimitriadis bit her lip and dabbed away tears on the witness stand yesterday as she recalled her futile efforts to see Jeffrey.
She was repeatedly denied access by Jeffrey's other grandparents, Elva Bottineau, 54, and Norman Kidman, 53, who are now accused of first-degree murder in the Nov. 30, 2002, death of the almost six-year-old by confining and starving him. Jeffrey weighed 21 pounds when he died Nov. 30, 2002. Both accused have pleaded not guilty.
Later, prosecution witness James Mills was cross-examined by Crown attorney Bev Richards on his admitted "bald-faced lies" about the boy who resorted to drinking toilet water to quench his thirst.
Mills had been declared an "adverse" witness by Justice David Watt allowing Richards to cross-examine him over inconsistencies in his statements and testimony.
Mills appeared angry and chippy as Richards questioned him for obeying Elva's rules that condemned Jeffrey and his sister to a horrific life of deprivation.
Mills, jobless and seemingly without ambition, enjoyed free meals and board while living with his girlfriend Yvette Kidman, the couple's daughter.
"His death didn't come as a surprise to you," Richards asked.
"No, probably not," Mills said after a pause.
He admitted hearing Jeffrey and his sister cry and beg to leave the locked, unheated, urine-and-feces ridden room, but doing nothing to help them.
The portly Mills also agreed he created a "bald-faced lie" to police that he saw Jeffrey eat more than he did in a bid to evade responsibility for the child's death.
In a dramatic gesture, Richards held up a poster-sized, "skin and bones" autopsy photograph of Jeffrey to Mills, who had not previously seen it.
"You knew there was no way that a child as skinny as Jeffrey was eating and certainly not as much as you?" Richards asked.
"Fair," Mills said.
"And you were concerned about yourself being held responsible," Richards asked. He concurred, adding he hadn't seen Jeffrey eat.
"You didn't want to rock the boat, did you?" Richards asked.
Mills agreed that he didn't want to jeopardize his cosy existence by fighting for the emaciated boy's welfare.
While Mills showed no concern for Jeffrey during his testimony, Jeffrey's grandmother battled with her emotions.
The Oshawa woman saw her three grandkids only twice since Jeffrey's other grandparents took custody in 1998. Dimitriadis testified the last time she and her spouse saw their grandkids, the couple felt "so uncomfortable" that they left within 15 minutes.
Dimitriadis then contacted a Catholic Children's Aid Society worker to see if she could help.
"I was told Elva Bottineau had custody and I'd have to go through her to see the children," she said. "I just want to see my grandchildren."
Six years later, Dimitriadis still hasn't.
The trial continues today.
Source: Toronto Sun
Good Reason to Avoid Wine
October 14, 2005 permalink
The following article says that proceeds will provide post-secondary bursaries, and vital therapeutic and recreational programs to children that have suffered from abuse and neglect. Will they also be used to take children from mom and dad at gunpoint?
Organizers have grape expectations
By Peggy Chapman
(Oct 14, 2005)
The Children's Aid Society of Hamilton is hosting a good food for a great cause.
A group of local restaurants, caterers and wineries have come together to help raise more than $130,000 for children at risk through the annual Grape Expectations Gala on Monday, Oct. 24 at Liuna Station.
"Our participation in Grape Expectations gave us the opportunity to assist in raising funds for worthwhile children's programs and also give back to the community in which we work and live," said Charmaine LeFebour, owner of Dundas' Chef & Wife Cuisine and Catering.
She is one of 34 businesses who will be donating to the cause.
Guests will sip some of the most sought after wines and sample delicious and unique dishes while at the same time supporting local children.
"There are many smart and talented children that can, and will, make wonderful lives for themselves, but they need to have the love, the support and the opportunities," said Dominic Verticchio, executive director of the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton.
"That's why the Children's Fund, and this event, are so important to everyone at the Society. We are extremely grateful for all the support we've received in the past and continue to receive from this community."
The proceeds will provide post-secondary bursaries, and vital therapeutic and recreational programs to children that have suffered from abuse and neglect.
Tickets are $100 and can be purchased by calling 905-522-1121, Ext. 6414.
Source: Dundas Star News
October 13, 2005 permalink
Here is the latest news from Jack Stratton, a homeschooling parent who had ten children seized by North Carolina child protectors.
Judge in Stratton Case Suddenly Resigns as Jack Stratton Closes In
From Charlotte, North Carolina / Mecklenburg County
"The individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists."
— Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover
Ladies and gentlemen,
In the 10/12/05 Charlotte Observer, the infamous Judge Elizabeth "Libby" Killegrew (formerly Miller) announced that she was resigning from the bench. Miller oversaw most of the Stratton "case."
The alleged reason for the sudden resignation was so that Miller-Killegrew could join a group called The Council For Children. The stated reason is ludicrous on its face.
The Council for Children is a component of the criminal child trafficking operation. Its Executive Director is Brett Loftis, a co-conspirator with Miller-Killegrew in the kidnapping and abuse of our ten children.
More on co-conspirator Loftis and The Council for Children at a later date. Suffice to say, I intend to put Loftis in prison with his co-conspirators and shut down the Council for Children permanently.
Here is what I allege to be the real reason for Miller-Killegrew's sudden resignation:
I long ago realized that those who kidnapped and were holding our children were operating a vast child trafficking enterprise and that the only way we would get our children back was to expose the conspiracy.
After getting my son out of North Carolina to safety last year, I returned to confront the criminals and to lay the groundwork to force the release of our other eight children.
I have been working underground in Mecklenburg County since last fall. After much strenuous work I am now closing in rapidly on the North Carolina criminal child trafficking enterprise in which Miller-Killegrew is a lower level conspirator. I have evidence which will put Miller-Killegrew in prison.
A major reason it has taken me so long to blow this case open is because my former attorney refused to address the issues and repeatedly threatened to quit on me if I tried to address them.
I finally got fed up with this coward and confronted him. He quickly filed a motion to withdraw, thereby hiding what he had been doing to my family and avoiding a confrontation with the criminals whose asses he had been so busy kissing.
Since getting rid of this trojan horse attorney, we have been virtually unstoppable in marching through the enemy. Miller-Killegrew's resignation is but the latest manifestation of that.
It has been apparent to me for some time that I was under surveillance and was being followed. This was no surprise, as the child traffickers are desperately worried about what I'm doing.
About 11 p.m. on Labor Day, I was ambushed in an organized attack by 6-10 thugs. I was beaten and kicked in the head. I heard one guy appearing to give the others orders. As I lay bleeding in the street, one of them put an object to my head and threatened to blow my head off. They searched me and took most of what I had until [apparently] someone came out of a house, whereupon the thugs took off. I do not know if the thugs were "sent" by someone or if it was just random street gang violence.
Shortly after the attack, I got a little careless while doing legal research in the library. Numerous floppy discs on which I was working were suddenly "missing."
The discs contained information on my plan of attack on the child traffickers and Miller-Killegrew in particular.
I cannot prove it but I believe the discs were lifted from my tote bag by someone following me as I was doing legal research in the library. I believe the discs were turned over to the child traffickers and are now in their possession.
I believe this is the real reason Miller-Killegrew suddenly "resigned." I believe she was forced out by those above her in the child trafficking enterprise. I believe Miller-Killegrew's resignation is an act of desperation by the traffickers to somehow protect themselves from what they saw on my discs.
I have the proof that will absolutely annihliate the child trafficking industry in the State of North Carolina. If the traffickers have my discs they now know that I have the capability to do this.
Do not be surprised if I end up like Vince Foster. I cannot elaborate at this time.
I will be sending out additional information in the next 24-48 hours.
Contact: Jack Stratton 704-981-6303
PLEASE DISTRIBUTE THIS ON YOUR EMAIL LISTS AND WEBSITES. THANK YOU.
Source: direct email from Jack Stratton
Note: Vince Foster, a white-house assistant to president Bill Clinton, committed suicide in Fort Marcy Park by firing a gun into his mouth without getting blood on the ground and laid the gun neatly on the ground next to his hand.
Failure to Protect
October 13, 2005 permalink
The assessments used by social workers are not for evaluating clients, but are subjective tools that can be used to vilify or glorify a client at will. In the current case when CCAS wanted to remove children from Elva Bottineau, then characterized her as criminal and mentally defective. But when it became burdensome to supervise her care of her grandson, they called her a well-meaning and good parent.
When a parent leaves a child in a dangerous environment it is a legal misdeed called "failure to protect" that can result in loss of children or jail time. But when Children's Aid does the same thing, it is an oversight. Will CCAS be asking for more money soon to correct their oversight?
Catholic Children's Aid in Toronto ignored abuse warnings, papers show
By CHRISTIE BLATCHFORD, Thursday, October 13, 2005
The Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto ignored decades of dire warnings -- including an eerie report of another hungry little boy who was tied to a bed with a dog chain -- about the grandparents now accused of starving Jeffrey Baldwin to death.
It was amid a cacophony of alarms that the agency consented to the grandparents getting legal custody of Jeffrey and his three young siblings in three separate proceedings from 1994 through 1999.
The information is contained in an affidavit from an agency worker and paints an utterly searing portrait of Elva Bottineau, Jeffrey's 54-year-old grandmother, as the product of a violent and horrific childhood who went on to be convicted as a teenage mom in the death of her own baby daughter and who at least twice was assessed by psychiatrists as being in the "mentally defective" or "well below average" intellectual range.
The worker, Jennifer Maryk, is a senior child protection worker with the CCAS who conducted a review of the agency's own extensive files as part of family court proceedings after the Nov. 30, 2002, death of Jeffrey.
Ms. Bottineau and her husband, Norman Kidman, now 53, are charged with first-degree murder in Jeffrey's death from pneumonia and septic shock, the two coming as a fatal one-two punch that overwhelmed any feeble resources the little boy had left after what experts have testified here was months, even years, of chronic starvation.
Mr. Justice David Watt of Ontario Superior Court has also heard extensive evidence about the appalling conditions in which Jeffrey, who was not quite 6 when he died, and his seven-year-old sister lived in their grandparents' east Toronto house -- the two youngsters locked in a fetid, unheated bedroom for long periods, surrounded by their own feces and urine and left so thirsty they sometimes drank from the toilet.
But what Ms. Maryk's affidavit, made an exhibit yesterday at the murder trial, describes, albeit in bare-bones detail, is a mirror image of the children's deprivation more than two decades earlier -- the story of the other hungry little boy and his seven-year-old sister.
They were Ms. Bottineau's children by a previous relationship with an abusive and violent alcoholic whom she left for Mr. Kidman.
It is these two whom Mr. Kidman was convicted of assaulting on Dec. 29, 1978, a result of which the youngsters were later made wards of the Crown. Mr. Kidman, like Ms. Bottineau before him, did no jail time.
It is this little boy who was described in a 1978 psychological assessment as being always so "ravenous" he "ate without chewing" and who was so "physically and emotionally abused" his development was "seriously impaired"; it is his sister who was described outright as "a battered child . . . covered in bruises."
Both youngsters were said to be "barely coping with life emotionally," both complained about a "lack of food" in the home, both disclosed having been tied up and put in an inverted garbage can, and both showed disturbing and unusually "sexualized" behaviour.
Yet just five years after these children had been apprehended by the CCAS, Ms. Maryk's notes show, Ms. Bottineau and Mr. Kidman had had three daughters together, and despite a psychologist finding that she appeared "at times to be a danger to herself and to others" and raising "concerns about the potential risk" to the couple's daughters, they remained with them at home.
While the CCAS maintained various "supervision orders" on the family, meaning its workers were entitled by law to visit the house and monitor the children's well-being, inexplicably the same couple who were portrayed just a short time before as woefully unfit -- not to mention criminally convicted in a death and assaults on children -- were now miraculously described in agency files as "well-meaning and good parents."
In fact, shockingly, by April of 1983 -- just five years after Mr. Kidman pleaded guilty to abusing Ms. Bottineau's children by the other man and amid the well-documented concerns of the psychologist -- the CCAS had approved of Ms. Bottineau working as a home-care provider.
Ms. Maryk's review of the files reveals that the CCAS found the family "doing well" and notes that, "Further, Ms. Bottineau was working as a home child care provider with the support of the Society."
With the Bottineau-Kidman daughters then under the age of 10, the only logical inference would appear to be that the CCAS had approved Ms. Bottineau as a care provider for other people's children or for its own young troubled clients.
On its face, that would appear to contradict how agency executive-director Mary McConnville characterized Jeffrey's death two years ago - that it was, in effect, an appalling mistake, but a one-time error resulting from a policy vacuum in the area of "kinship" care.
Ms. Bottineau's and Mr. Kidman's criminal convictions have been a matter of public record since shortly after Jeffrey's death, with Ms. McConnville confirming that the agency had failed to check its own records before agreeing to the grandparents' gaining custody of Jeffrey and his siblings.
But Ms. McConnville said at the time that the failure occurred because the CCAS then didn't have a policy requiring its staff to check the backgrounds of relatives seeking custody of children considered at risk with their own parents -- so-called "kinship care" cases -- as was the case with the four offspring of their daughter Yvonne Kidman and her husband Richard Baldwin.
Indeed, what is stunning even in Ms. Maryk's brief review of more than five decades of various child-welfare agency involvement - it begins with Ms. Bottineau's own parents, who had 16 children - is the staggering amount of information the CCAS appeared to have on the maternal family and yet which appears to have influenced its vital decisions only occasionally.
As Ms. Maryk's affidavit notes, in addition to her mental handicaps, Ms. Bottineau suffered from at least two significant bouts of depression, one in 1973, another in 1982. For decades, she appears to have made virtually no effort to mask her dislike and contempt of CCAS workers, once appearing in a 1979 interview, at which she denied exposing the two youngsters the agency apprehended to sexualized behaviours, wearing a T-shirt which said "SEX INSTRUCTOR" across the front.
She was variously described as evasive, hostile, unreliable, verbally combative, prone to mood swings and incapable of coping with her children's demands.
Mr. Kidman, meanwhile, was deemed the great white hope of the pair - capable of becoming a good parent - despite his acknowledged assault of Ms. Bottineau's children by the other man and being found by a psychologist to be a confused, weak, insecure and anxious fellow. While he won praise for accepting "partial responsibility" for his physical assaults on the two children, he also "placed partial blame" on the youngsters.
The CCAS actually closed its file on the Bottineau-Kidman family in 1984, but reopened it months later amid fresh complaints, one, Ms. Maryk's affidavit notes, from an unidentified mother who came to the agency with "concerns about the substitute caregiver to her daughter. The caregiver was identified as Ms. Bottineau."
This complaint alleged sexual abuse by Mr. Kidman, but when the child failed to make any disclosures to a worker, and Mr. Kidman denied the allegation, the CCAS worker "concluded the referral source was unreliable" and the file was again closed in 1986.
It was reopened again in 2000, when the Toronto Children's Aid Society made a referral to the CCAS about another complaint. The complainant retracted the allegation, Mr. Kidman and Ms. Bottineau denied it, and the worker concluded "the children presented very well and appeared well bonded" with their grandparents, and on Sept. 12, 2000, the agency closed its file yet again.
One of those well-bonded children was Jeffrey, who died just two years later.
October 12, 2005 permalink
Today the CAS accepted my apology and withdrew their motion to have me jailed for six months. We intend to move forward with Patricia's request for CAS membership. We may request the assistance of the Ontario Human Rights Commission to ensure that she is treated fairly. If any of you have any thoughts or advice you can offer please respond.
Family Picked Apart
October 12, 2005 permalink
An extended family is being dismantled piece by piece by a Children's Aid Society somewhere in Ontario. The case seems to be one that can only be helped by exposure. We show here two emails from the family, and some other correspondence. To protect the family from CAS retaliation, the names are fictionalized, and identifying facts, such as the day of the week or any exact numbers, have been altered without changing the substance of the story.
We lost one of our three children to CAS at the age of 10 and her 4 children have been in care for two years.
We have not attended court re: these children but have repeatedly requested access through the various workers.
After promising our granddaughter we would try again, they will be contacting us after May 13th to set up a meeting to discuss access.
There will be our daughter's worker, the children's worker and a supervisor present and to be perfectly honest we are very reluctant to attend.
Would you have any suggestions on how to handle this meeting?
Our daughter has given custody of one child to his aunt and another father is seeking custody of our 6 year old granddaughter.
The little girl does not want to live with this man and CAS is fully aware of that yet they continue to push her into this unsuitable home and have asked her mother to give him custody.
Does this child have any say or can this be fought in any way?
CAS has informed our daughter that they will be seeking crown wardship for the remaining 2 children in court come October and have suggested that since the children will not be going home she should just sign them over.
Can you explain Crown Wardship and is there any way to fight it?
We apologize for taking up your time but would appreciate any bit of information you may be able to offer.
Bill and Sally
Bill and Sally:
Once CAS gets a child, they lay claim to the next generation as well. In their psychological reports they cite the abuse of the parent in foster care as one of the reasons s/he is emotionally unequipped to be a parent.
Any kid placed with a true father is better off than living in foster care, and that action should not be opposed, aside from the exceptional homicidal father.
You will get nowhere pleading for mercy with social workers. The only way you can influence the outcome is through the judge. A good case presented in court could convince a the judge to award custody to you instead of some CAS selected contractor. But to get that to happen, you need a good lawyer. The fees start at $10,000 and go up. There are only five lawyers in all of Ontario that I would suggest -- they are all posted on the help page of my website.
Crown wardship does not mean that the queen will be making lunches for the kid. It means that the local Children's Aid Society takes the rights and privileges of the parents, and the mom and dad who gave birth to the child are no longer legal relatives. They have no rights at all, so for example, if the child dies, mom and dad are not entitled to notification.
I wish you well, but from what you say, it looks like a bad case where CAS will get most of what it is asking for. Good Luck.
Robert T McQuaid
In a later email, not quoted verbatim, the grandparents describe their legal situation, with two grandchildren in CAS custody and threatened with crown wardship. They point to CAS efforts already under way to get the children adopted, by posting them on an internet adoption website, and are aghast that it is legal for CAS to do so while the children have not been legally severed from their mother.
You have helped us out with information in the past and we are about to ask your advice again on another urgent matter.
Our previous inquiries were in regard to our daughter and 4 grandchildren, two of which that are about to become crown wards and are being prepared for adoption.
Their mother is on the verge of giving up and letting it happen.
This past week our youngest daughter has been sought out and questioned by CAS, they seemed to have stumbled upon her while she was visiting a friend and was present while they were investigating an accusation.
During this visit they asked our daughter her name, birthdate etc., what her relationship was with her friend and if she was involved with CAS.
She was also present during a follow up visit but not questioned.
Our 2 year old grandson had a sore on his wrist during both of these encounters but nothing was mentioned in that regard.
Our guess is, the worker recognized the name, returned to her office and dug around a little until she realized the relationship between our two daughters.
Yesterday a worker who did not identify herself called our daughter and left a message wondering if the sore had been seen by a doctor.
Before our daughter could call back they appeared at her door asking the same question.
She explained that she had taken her son to emergency on Tuesday and was directed to the walk in clinic on Main Street in Metropolis.
At this point they were closed but she was taken first thing on Wednesday.
She was seen by a doctor there and given a prescription that was filled the same day.
Our daughter also made an appointment for this Monday morning with her family doctor.
The worker assured our daughter that they would be verifying this information.
Our daughter also has a 7 year old daughter and we are afraid she may be confronted at school.
Unfortunately, she is very outspoken and won't have a problem telling them what she thinks ... that in light of her sisters case they are useless and to get out.
Is there anything at all we can do to rid ourselves of this agency before we lose two more grandchildren to CAS.
Thanks so much for your time.
Bill and Sally
Press Boosts CAS
October 11, 2005 permalink
Here is a case of the news media uncritically repeating the statements of Children's Aid. The reporter did not examine any of the names or case files of the 13,000 children reported nor the 6,000 investigated nor the 847 cases of abuse or neglect, because they are all secret. He could not determine how many of the cases were the result of a false or frivolous accusation. The reporter also did not attend court hearings in child protection cases, because as in the case of Anne the courts exclude the press when they suspect an unfavorable article might ensue.
THE MISSISSAUGA NEWS
Ribbon sales will fight child abuse
Joseph Chin, Oct 11, 2005
Last year, Peel Children's Aid responded to more than 13,000 calls from the community about children who might be in need of protection. About 6,000 of these calls needed to be investigated and 847 cases involved a child severely abused or neglected.
These grim figures were revealed by local authorities as they kicked off October's Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month in Ontario.
"These statistics clearly demonstrate that child abuse and neglect still exists in our community," said Paul Zarnke, executive director of Peel Children's Aid.
During October the agency is encouraging community leaders, organizations, students and the public to buy and wear a purple wristband or ribbon to demonstrate your desire to end the abuse. More than 15,000 wristbands have already been distributed to over 100 schools in Peel.
Ribbons cost $1 and wristbands cost $2. They can be ordered at www.peelcas.org or by calling 905-363-6131, ext. 1155.Everyone needs to be involved in keeping children safe and healthy, says Zarnke.
"With the community's support, we can shine the spotlight on the importance of children and their right to a safe and secure childhood free of physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect," he said.
Source: Mississauga News
CAS Surveys Clients
October 10, 2005 permalink
Children's Aid of Waterloo Region is conducting a survey of its clients to assess their satisfaction with the agency. We do not know whether this is localized within that agency, or general throughout Ontario, but you may help us find out by sending us feedback. A rumor from an unquotable source suggests that the political leadership (not the bureaucracy) is unhappy with the amount of opposition developing to Children's Aid, and the survey may be a response. Alternatively, it may be just another trick to pry personal information from victim families.
Research ID Number: 398
Family and Children's Services of the Waterloo RegionLet us Know How We are Doing
The purpose of the questions you are being asked is to help us serve children and families better in the future. Please be assured that your individual response to the questions will be kept confidential. No information will be released which identifies individual responses to questions.
All of the questions refer to the most recent time that you had a case open at Family and Children's Services. While some individuals may have had their case open more than once, we want you to answer the questions with the most recent involvement in mind.
Before responding to the questions about your experience with Family and Children's Services, would you answer a few questions about yourself?
SECTION 1: DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION
1. How old are you? ______________________
2. Do you currently have a live-in partner?
□ Yes if yes, how old? _____________________
3. Which one of the following best describes your present situation?
__________ Legally married
__________ Common law partners
__________ Single parent
__________ Never married/Common law
__________ If other, please specify
4. How many biological children (you are the birth mother or father) do you have? ___________________________
5. How many children currently live in your home? ____________
What are the ages of the children that live in your home? (Youngest to oldest)__________ Child 1 __________ Child 2 __________ Child 3 __________ Child 4 __________ Child 5 __________ Child 6__________ Child 7 __________ Child 8 __________ Child 9 __________ Child 10 __________ Child 11 __________ Child 12
6. Where does your family's current income come from? (Check all that apply)
□ General welfare assistance/Ontario Works
□ Pension: Disability or Survivor
□ Child Tax Benefit
□ Employment Insurance
□ Employment Income
If other, Please specify ____________________
7. Which of the following best describes your current housing?
□ Subsidized apartment or townhouse □ Private market rented apartment or townhouse □ Rented single family house □ Owned condominium or townhouse □ Owned single family dwelling □ Rented farm □ Owned farm □ Other If other, Please specify ___________________
8. What is you family's average monthly income approximately before taxes?
The next questions are about your experience with Family and Children's Services. Please choose the answer which is closest to your point of view.
SECTION 2: INITIAL CONTACT WITH FAMILY AND CHILDREN'S SERVICES
9. How clearly did agency staff explain their reasons for contacting your family the first time?
□ Very Clear □ Somewhat Clear □ Somewhat Unclear □ Very Unclear
10. How clearly did the agency staff explain why they were going to open a child protection for your family?
□ Very Clear □ Somewhat Clear □ Somewhat Unclear □ Very Unclear
SECTION 3: SERVICE RESPONSIVENESS AND ADEQUACY
11. Did the agency staff most involved with your family know what was going on in your family?
□ Definitely □ For the most part □ For some things □ Not very much □ Not at all
12. Did the staff most involved with your family know how to help your family?
□ Definitely □ For the most part □ For some things □ Not very much □ Not at all
13. Were the agency staff most involved with your family respectful?
□ Definitely □ For the most part □ Sometimes □ Not very often □ Not at all
14. When you tried to get in touch with your workers at the agency, how long did it usually take to be able to speak with someone?
□ Same day □ Same week □ Longer □ Calls often not return
15. When you felt you had an emergency, how long did it usually take to be able to speak with someone?
□ Same day □ Same week □ Longer □ Calls often not return
16. At other times, how often usually did you speak on the phone or in person with one of your workers?
□ A few times a week □ Once a week □ A couple of times a month □ Once a month □ Less frequently
17. Were agency staff able to connect your family with a useful range of services and supports?
□ All that I needed □ Quite a few that were useful □ One or two that were useful □ None that were useful
SECTION 4: CLARITY
18. How clearly did agency staff explain what your family was expected to do before the agency would close your child protection file?
□ Very Clear □ Somewhat Clear □ Somewhat Unclear □ Very Unclear
19. How clearly did agency staff explain the reasons your child protection file was closed at the agency?
□ Very Clear □ Somewhat Clear □ Somewhat Unclear □ Very Unclear
20. When your child protection file was open, were any of your children placed by Family and Children's Services in care outside your home?
□ Yes □ No (If no, proceed to question #21)
20a. How clearly did agency staff explain their reasons for taking your child(ren) into care?
□ Very Clear □ Somewhat Clear □ Somewhat Unclear □ Very Unclear
20b. How clearly did agency staff explain how long your child(ren) were likely to be in care?
□ Very Clear □ Somewhat Clear □ Somewhat Unclear □ Very Unclear
21. Did you have to go to court because of Family and Children's Services child protection concerns in your family?
□ Yes □ No (If no, proceed to question #22)
21a. How clearly did agency staff explain their reasons for taking their child protection concerns to court?
□ Very Clear □ Somewhat Clear □ Somewhat Unclear □ Very Unclear
21b. How clearly did agency staff explain how the courts work in child protection cases?
□ Very Clear □ Somewhat Clear □ Somewhat Unclear □ Very Unclear
21c. Did agency staff suggest that you should contact a lawyer or seek legal advice?
□ Yes □ No □ Can't remember
21d. If your case was taken to court, was the description of your family in the court papers prepared by the agency accurate?
□ Definitely □ Somewhat □ Not really □ No
SECTION 5: FAIRNESS
22. In your opinion, was it necessary for Family and Children's Services to become involved with your family in the first place?
□ Definitely □ Probably □ Maybe not □ No
23. Did you feel that you were treated fairly by agency staff?
□ Definitely □ Most of the time □ Some of the time □ Not usually
24. Was what your family was expected to do reasonable?
□ Definitely □ For the most part □ Some of the time □ Not usually
SECTION 6: HOW HELPFUL
25. Overall, to what extent did being involved with Family and Children's Services help to make things better for your family?
□ Agreat deal □ Quite a bit □ A little bit □ Not very much/Not at all
26. In each of the following things, how helpful was Family and Children's Services in making things better for your family?
Very helpful Quite helpful A bit helpful Not very helpful/not at all Not relevant to my situation a. Improving how I act as a parent b. Reducing conflict with my partner c. Reducing conflict within my family d. Reducing problems with alcohol or drug use e. Improving children's behaviours at home f. Improving children's behaviours at school or in the community g. Helping me feel better about myself h. Reducing pressure and stress on the family
27. If a friend was having problems at home, how likely would you be to suggest that she or he contact Family and Children's Services for help?
□ Definitely would □ Probably would □ Probably would not □ Definitely would not
28. If your family were to have difficulties in the future, how likely would you be to call Family and Children's Services for help?
□ Definitely would □ Probably would □ Probably would not □ Definitely would not
29. If you were concerned about what was happening to children in another family, how likely would you be to call family and Children's Services to report your concerns?
□ Definitely would □ Probably would □ Probably would not □ Definitely would not
30. Overall, how satisfied are you with your familys experience with Family & Children's Services?
□ Very satisfied □ Mostly satisfied □ Somewhat satisfied □ Not very satisfied/ Not at all satisfied
SECTION 7: POPULATION
Please provide this information ONLY if you are comfortable doing so.
31. Were you born in Canada?
□ Yes □ No If no, where? _________________________
32. Was English your first language?
□ Yes □ No If no, what language? _______________
33. Do you consider yourself a member of a particular cultural, ethnic or racial group other than English Canadian?
□ Yes If yes, which one? _______________________
□ No (If no, proceed to question #34)
33a. Were agency staff knowledgeable about this particular background?
□ Definitely □ For the most part □ Somewhat □ No/Very little
33b. Were agency staff respectful about this particular background?
□ Definitely □ For the most part □ Somewhat □ No/Very little
34. Do you identify yourself as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgendered? Please identify yourself as a group member ONLY if you are comfortable doing so.
□ Yes □ No (Proceed to Question #35) □ No response (Proceed to Question #35)
34a. Were agency staff knowledgeable about this sexual orientation?
□ Definitely □ For the most part □ Somewhat □ No/Very little
34b. Were agency staff respectful about this sexual orientation?
□ Definitely □ For the most part □ Somewhat □ No/Very little
SECTION 8: GENERAL COMMENTS
35. Were there things you liked about Family and Children's Services? What did you like? Anything else?
36. Were there things that you did not like about Family & Children Services? What didn't you like? Anything else?
37. What do you want the agency to understand about your family's involvement with them?
38. Do you have any other comments?
If you are MAILING in your questionnaire, please return this coupon along with the questionnaire to receive a $5.00 gift certificate for Tim Horton's.
PLEASE PRINT CLEARLY.
Kaye Rempel, Manager of Planning and Quality Assurance
Family and Children's Services
200 Ardelt Avenue
Kitchener, Ontario N2C 2L9
CAS: It's like the SS
October 7, 2005 permalink
In language usually reserved for internet discussion groups, lawyer Robert F. Hopkins compared Children's Aid to the Nazi SS. He was talking about the case of Lisa Heughan, who took her own baby from Children's Aid. In addition to time already served, the crown wants another five months in jail, three years probation and mandatory indoctrination (counseling). That should scare mothers off caring for their babies in the future.
October 7, 2005
Kids agency 'like SS'
Ex-model abducted baby
By IAN MCDOUGALL, COURTS BUREAU, TORONTO SUN
The strange case of former Playboy model Lisa Heughan, who has admitted abducting her child from the CAS, took another odd twist when her lawyer accused the provincial agency of acting like Nazis.
Heughan, 35, was in Old City Hall court for a sentencing hearing on abduction and breach of recognizance.
Her lawyer, Robert F. Hopkins, argued the Children's Aid Society needs to take some responsibility in the case for giving Heughan the opportunity to abduct her baby in mid-April, prompting an Amber Alert.
Heughan was visiting with the baby under CAS supervision. She took the child when a CAS official left the room.
Hopkins said the CAS has acted in a high-handed and arrogant manner towards his client. "It's like the SS," Hopkins said.
That's when Justice Brent Knazan stepped in.
"The SS is a symbol of evil in our century," he said. "You undermine your case when you compare the Ontario Children's Aid (to the SS)."
Hopkins, who characterized his client's legal battle as "David vs. Goliath," said the organization has some negative elements working in it. "It's a force of evil," Hopkins said. "When you get strong groups, power corrupts and sometimes people use it."
He said CAS was heavy-handed when it took away Heughan's child at birth because of an argument his client had with a nurse at St. Michael's -- where the child was born.
Crown attorney Colleen Hepburn has asked for a five-month jail sentence on top of 20 days already served in jail. She also wants Heughan to complete three years probation and undergo counselling.
The hearing will continue.
Source: canoe website
Addendum: The canoe website deleted this item within a day, fast for them. For a possible reason, refer to an earlier press release by the Children's Aid Society of Toronto.
Les voleurs d'enfance
October 6, 2005 permalink
A new documentary exposes child protection in Quebec.
The Montreal Gazette
Paul Arcand takes on Quebec's 'dark secret'
Thursday, October 06, 2005
MONTREAL -- Stuck in Quebec's youth-protection system after years of torment by his abusive father and neglect from relatives, the former victim sees only one way out.
"I wish I could plant a bomb and make it all disappear," he says of his past in a powerful documentary, called Les voleurs d'enfance (The Childhood Thieves).
The documentary features personal accounts of abuse and puts the spotlight on problems in Quebec's provincially run youth-protection system, which Premier Jean Charest's Liberal government plans to overhaul.
The film opens Friday in 50 Quebec theatres, a commercial release usually unheard of for a documentary. A version of the film with English subtitles will open in mid-October.
It was made by well-known Quebec broadcast journalist Paul Arcand, but was produced by Denise Robert, who with her husband Denys Arcand made the Oscar-winning film, The Barbarian Invasions.
Robert had recently made Aurore, the story of a horrific child-abuse case in rural Quebec during the First World War, and was prompted to ask Paul Arcand to look into how children are treated in Quebec's youth-protection system.
"When I was preparing to do Aurore, I got a lot of calls from people saying, `Don't do Aurore, it's a story that happened 100 years ago," Robert said at the film's recent premiere.
"There are far more pertinent stories that are happening today that you should look at," she said.
The documentary is as much about the frustration and confusion felt by the victims of child abuse who often find themselves no better off when entrusted to provincial care, bouncing from foster home to treatment centre and back. Some 30,000 Quebec kids are in the youth-protection system.
It turns explosive when the focus shifts from personal experiences to how the youth-protection system deals with some troubled youngsters.
Paul Arcand makes it clear the childhood thieves are not simply those who abuse or those who do nothing to stop it, but the government-run institutions as well.
"When you make a film like this you want it to have an impact," said Arcand at the film's premiere.
The film's premiere was attended by a veritable who's who in Quebec politics, including Health Minister Philippe Couillard, interim Parti Quebecois leader Louise Harel and former premier Lucien Bouchard.
It prompted discussions on news and talk shows in the province and numerous newspaper articles and opinion columns.
Arcand is unapologetic about the way his documentary treats Quebec's youth-protection services.
He said the province has a long history of mistreating vulnerable children.
He called it a "dark secret," one the province hasn't always been willing to face.
"It's my point of view. It's not perfect, but it's not an anecdote," Arcand says of his film.
Arcand has no shortage of blame to heap on the system: It's overly bureaucratic, it neglects children's psychological and emotional needs, and it over-medicates even basic behavioural problems.
But Jean-Marc Potvin, head of the youth protection system in Montreal, said the documentary showed those working in the system as insensitive.
"We don't need a knock-out punch," Potvin told a news conference in response to the film. "We need a helping hand. We need solidarity."
But Arcand says don't blame him if the film questions the provincial youth-protection system.
"My job is just taking pictures of reality and putting them in the movie."
But some of his most damaging allegations concern the use of isolation cells in the province's youth-protection centres.
Margaret Delisle, provincial youth protection minister, tells Arcand in the documentary the cells are used only in "exceptional circumstances," and for short periods of time to deal with certain children.
Her comments are contradicted by Quebec's human rights commissioner who maintains in the film that many children are placed in the cells "not for hours, but days," against established legal guidelines.
In a bit of filmmaking that recalls the in-your-face style of U.S. filmmaker Michael Moore, Arcand and Delisle are locked in one of the isolation rooms, which resembles a solitary confinement cell in a prison.
A visibly upset Delisle insists on opening the door after only one minute and 15 seconds.
Health Minister Couillard criticized Arcand's lack of nuance in treating the system's shortcomings.
"While what it showed was real, there is another reality to the Centre jeunesses (youth centres), all the effort that social workers give the kids," he said after the film's premiere. "There are little miracles that are happening everywhere everyday so that a lot of lives are saved."
Source: Montreal Gazette
Plans For Your Children
October 6, 2005 permalink
John Dunn obtained a copy of the document Child Welfare Transformation 2005 (pdf) from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. It is mystifyingly vague on almost every point, but purports to be an outline of plans for the near future in child protection.
One definite fact is:
The number of child abuse and neglect investigations conducted in Ontario has nearly tripled since 1993, expanding from an estimated 45,000 investigations in 1993 to close to 130,000 in 2003.
Statistics Canada reports that the number of births in Ontario during the year ending June 30, 2003 was 129,256. So every child is now a victim of suspected child abuse and neglect.
Later in the report there is a disclosure of a plan to build a dossier of every Ontario child.
6) Single Information System
The Child Mortality Task Force and the coroner's inquests of the late 1990s strongly recommended the implementation of a comprehensive single information system. The Ministry of Community and Social Services along with children's aid societies attempted on two previous occasions to develop one such system. More recently, the Child Welfare Program Evaluation recommended a single information system to support implementation of many of the report's recommended reforms and outlined the advantages of one system over the current multiple systems.
In 2000, a province-wide FastTrack system was established to allow all children's aid societies to determine if referred children and families had been previously reported to another children's aid society.
- "Harrison, Catherine (MCYS)" <Catherine.Harrison@mcys.gov.on.ca>
- child welfare transformation document
- Wed, 5 Oct 2005 17:51:09 -0400
John: I'm sorry that you haven't received the hard copy, but we'll try it electronically. If you have any problems and/or questions, please contact me at the number below.
Ministry of Children & Youth Services
Policy Development and Program Design
Child Welfare Secretariat
880 Bay Street, 6th Floor
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2B6
Unscientific Study of Child Protection
October 4, 2005 permalink
A new study has been released called Canadian Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect 2002. The foregoing link is to a summary from which you can download the full pdf report. The study methodology is to gather reports on sampled child protection cases across Canada (excluding Quebec) and tabulate the results. In their words:
the study is based on assessments provided by the investigating child welfare workers, which could not be independently verified.
A true scientific report contains enough information to allow others to duplicate the test, so that its accuracy can be confirmed or refuted, and often includes an offer for other researchers to share the original research data. Not this one. Here is the description of how the original data is handled:
The data collection instruments (that contain no directly identifying information) were scanned into an electronic database. These electronic data were stored on a locked, password-protected hard drive in a locked office and on a CD stored in a locked cabinet off-site. Only those University of Toronto research personnel with security clearance from the Government of Canada had access to this information through password-protected files. All paper data collection instruments were archived in the type of secure filing cabinets approved by the RCMP.
The principal results are summarized in table 9-3. In five years, substantiated cases of child abuse have risen from 9.6 to 21.71 per thousand children. Canadian behavior does not change that drastically in five years. Budgets for child protection doubled in the period, allowing social workers to produce more reports.
Dead Boy Hidden
October 2, 2005 permalink
The name of a dead Edmonton foster child is being withheld. Concealing his identity will not protect him from emotional harm, but it will protect the social service agency from responsiblity in his death.
October 2, 2005
Boy killed by truck wanted to die?
By SORCHA MCGINNIS, EDMONTON SUN
A 17-year-old boy, killed by a pickup truck as he fled across a highway from a social worker's car, may have wanted to die, says a family friend.
Paul Morin, 38, says he'd gone to visit the teenager at his sister's home on the Enoch reserve, west of Edmonton, Wednesday when it became obvious something was bothering his young friend.
"He was very, very upset, right from the moment I got there," said Morin.
"As we were talking, he just got more and more upset. He said he didn't want to go home. I didn't realize he was in foster care.
"He said he was being abused. Whether it was physically or mentally, I don't know."
Provincial officials say the allegations will be investigated and it's also likely a fatality inquest will be called into the teen's death.
Morin said the teen, who cannot be identified, had been drinking.
The teenager was being driven back to Spruce Grove around midnight Thursday when his social worker pulled to the shoulder of Highway 16A, two kilometres west of Highway 60.
The teen was struck after he jumped out of the vehicle and crossed the divided highway's westbound lanes.
Children's Services spokesman Jody Korchinski said her department would look into the allegations of abuse.
"We take seriously any allegation of abuse or concern into quality of care," she said.
Source: Edmonton Sun
Addendum: The Edmonton Journal published the name of the dead boy, Lloyd Stamp.
Black Babies Available
October 1, 2005 permalink
This slightly off-topic article from the Globe and Mail gives (without citing a source) the market price for adoptive babies. Mary Anne Chambers said in the Ontario legislature that Ontario has 800 adoptions per year. The highest baby price in the article, about $60,000 Canadian, gives at most $48 million per year for Ontario adoptions, compared to the budget for Children's Aid of over a billion dollars a year. If baby selling exists in Ontario at all, it is a small business compared to warehousing children in foster care. More comments follow the article.
A Canadian haven for black U.S. babies
By JANE ARMSTRONG
Saturday, October 1, 2005 Posted at 2:42 AM EDT
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
The United States is exporting newborns by the hundreds and Canada is a preferred destination.
Most of the infants are African American or biracial; their birth mothers want them to be raised outside the United States and believe Canada is a land of little racial strife.
Although there are no officials figures, an estimated 500 African-American babies are adopted abroad each year. In the past 20 years, about 300 have come to British Columbia, where blacks account for less than 0.7 per cent of the population.
The Open Door, a private adoption agency in Thomasville, Ga., has placed about 200 children in British Columbia, including Dave and Juanita Alexander's two sons, Elias and Keiran.
“It's the hardest thing a parent can do,” Mr. Alexander, 32, said in an interview this week as he gazed at Keiran — a 14-month-old aptly nicknamed “the tornado”— playing on the back porch of their home in Langley, east of Vancouver, with his older brother. “I imagine [the birth parents] are still grieving.”
Keiran's birth parents, Mark Dedrick and Shante Easterling, are a young African-American couple who already had two children, one with costly health problems, and decided they could not raise a third. They chose the Alexanders, both teachers, over a black American family because the Canadians agreed to an open adoption with regular contact and future visits.
The adoption process was wrapped up in a matter of weeks in July of 2004, after the Alexanders completed the required paperwork and home study. They had had a similar experience when they adopted Elias, now almost 3. It had taken mere weeks to learn that a woman in Georgia had selected them to raise the baby boy she delivered in November, 2002.
When the couple first laid eyes on Elias lying in a crib in a foster home near Atlanta, they both burst into tears. The three-month-old infant, who had been crying, suddenly stopped. “It felt like he knew who we were,” Ms. Alexander, 36, said, recalling her first minutes with her elder son.
The Alexanders' rear porch backs onto a wooded marsh threaded with a creek and bicycle paths. In the distance, the snow-capped Coast Mountains gleam in the autumn sunlight. It's light years from the muggy heat and segregation of the Deep South where both boys were born.
Walter Gilbert, The Open Door's CEO, said Canada appeals to African-American mothers because the culture and language are similar, plus there is a belief that racism in not nearly as prevalent.
“Is the U.S. more racist?” Mr. Gilbert asked in a telephone interview. “We say yes.”
The practice of sending African-American infants abroad has attracted a wave of media attention in the United States, some of it unfavourable. Critics there say the United States should be embarrassed that the world's richest country is exporting African-American infants to Canada and Europe to be raised in cultures with far less defined black cultures.
The National Association of Black Social Workers of America has condemned the practice, saying every effort should be made to ensure African-American infants are raised in African-American homes. It says black children are better off with parents who look like them and who can teach them their culture and better prepare them for racism.
Mr. Gilbert said he recently asked a black 13-year-old whose adoption to British Columbia was arranged by The Open Door to describe his experiences with racism. The boy said he had been taunted and teased at school about five or six times in his life.
“If that child had grown up here, in southeastern United States, he would have been called the ‘n' word every day of his life,” Mr. Gilbert said. “In Canada, it appears like it is just a matter of incidental racism, whereas here, it's a daily occurrence.”
The Alexanders know that racism exists in Canada, although they believe that in a province like British Columbia their children are viewed more as exotic curiosities. While the Lower Mainland is as diverse as any other Canadian urban centre, with large Asian and Indo-Canadian populations, blacks are few and far between on the streets of Vancouver.
As white parents, they can't live in their children's shoes or identify with the experiences the boys will encounter as they grow up in a predominantly white culture. But the couple have taken pains to expose the youngsters to other black children and adults. Once a month, they take their kids to a nearby playgroup for black children.
The couple once lived in Senegal and have African friends. “We aren't black and we can't pretend to be or pretend it doesn't matter,” Ms. Alexander said. “We can only hope they won't feel like strangers to this heritage when they are older.”
Still, there are moments of tension. Ms. Alexander calls it the Safeway syndrome, that moment when a stranger approaches — often in a supermarket aisle — and asks, “Where is he from? Who are his real parents?” That's if the stranger is polite.
Once, when the Alexanders entered Washington state for a visit, a U.S. border guard, after viewing the boys' U.S. passports, said disapprovingly: “You should only be allowed to adopt kids from your own country.”
In both Canada and the United States, foreign adoptions are increasing in popularity.
In the United States, international adoption has increased by 140 per cent in the past two decades, with China the most popular source country for babies. North American couples often cite the lack of babies here as the reason for international adoption.
Private agencies, lawyers or even church groups handle most of the adoptions. And, increasingly, both domestic and international adoptions are “open,” where the birth mother or parents select the adoptive parents and maintain some sort of contact.
When Elias and Keiran get older, they might turn to someone like Troy Peart for advice on how to live as a black man in a white-dominated culture.
Mr. Peart, 33, is one of a handful of black mentors who gather once a month at a community centre in the Vancouver area to play with black kids. The financial adviser with the Bank of Montreal was born in Sudbury and raised in Scarborough, Ont. His parents came from Jamaica.
Mr. Peart understands the isolation of being black on Canada's West Coast. He helped start the playgroup to be a role model to black youngsters, many of whom don't know any black adults.
One story repeated at the playgroup was of a young boy asking his white father, “At what age do I become white?” The boy didn't know any black adults, so he believed he, too, would grow up to be white.
Another assumed that Mr. Peart worked at a fast-food lunch counter because that was the only place he had ever seen blacks.
Mr. Peart laughs when told that many Americans, especially in the South, believe racism scarcely exists in Canada.
As a teenager growing up near the Metro Toronto Zoo, the honour roll student and accomplished athlete was routinely pulled over by police for no reason except that he often seemed to match a description of a criminal at large.
In Vancouver, his biggest complaint is isolation.
To this day, if he sees another black person on the street, he nods and says hello.
The Alexanders have heard the U.S. criticism against sending black infants abroad. But they know, too, that there is a pecking order to the world of international adoption, which ranks white female infants at the top and black boys near the bottom.
The wait for a white baby girl can be years, if ever, and the cost can approach $40,000 (U.S.). The wait for a mixed-race baby is shorter, and the price about $20,000. The wait for a black baby boy is even shorter and costs about $10,000.
Lee Allen, a spokesman for the National Council for Adoption, said African-American families traditionally have not been recruited to be adoptive parents. And their unwanted children, or children they cannot care for, have generally been taken in by relatives.
The Alexanders don't want to be viewed as a middle-class couple flying in to “rescue” two poor black boys. If anything, the reverse is true, Ms. Alexander said.
“They have blessed our lives beyond measure already. We feel privileged to have the honour of raising and sharing their lives with their birth parents.”
Source: Globe and Mail
Addendum: A reader points out an error in our logic. There are two other sources of adoptions besides those under the Ministry of Children and Youth Services — foreign adoptions and birth falsification. The latter occurs when a child is snatched from its mother before issuing a birth certificate, and a phony birth certificate records only the adoptive parents. This is easiest when the birth mother is a teenager who is herself a crown ward — children's aid has legal authority to act on her behalf. In other cases a baby might get two birth certificates, with the collusion of the registrar. Since birth records are secret, no one outside the registrar's office could detect the fraud. In the absence of any data, it is hard to believe that the numbers of these cases could change the conclusion that foster care, not adoption, is the main goal of Ontario baby snatchers.
Chambers in Parliament
October 1, 2005 permalink
This week Minister of Children and Youth Services Mary Anne Chambers addressed the Standing Committed on Estimates of the Ontario Legislature. She proudly announced new policies aimed at expanding social services for children, without any hint that some of them might worsen life for children by weakening the influence of parents in their lives.
But in our day-to-day work in the constituency office, first of all, I find the children's aid societies kind of removed. I know the work they deal with is rather proprietary in terms of privacy issues and other issues; it's very personal information. But I find it's almost like I'm on turf that I shouldn't be on, even though I've been asked or engaged to be because of some constituent's needs. It's almost like dealing with another country. I don't say that critically. I just find that they're protective almost to a fault. We don't go looking for trouble. We don't. We have enough work to do without digging up some spurious little piece of information. But I do encourage a perhaps more open relationship.
In plain English this means that getting information out of children's aid is as hard for politicians as for anyone else. This is no accident. It is an example of what public choice theory calls "information asymmetry". Social service bureaucrats know what is happening in their agency, but conceal the facts from the legislators, revealing just those few bits of information that will get them enhanced funding. The elected politicians have to operate mostly in the dark. It is information asymmetry, not the emotional protection of the child, that accounts for the extraordinary level of secrecy within children's aid.
The rest of the Hansard in this discussion confirms that the politicians are clueless about the actual operation of children's aid societies.
September 30, 2005 permalink
Aneurin Ellis has had his children seized by Children's Aid, getting them back only after a prolonged struggle. He publicly criticized Children's Aid for its treatment of his family.
Peter Ringrose, Executive Director of The Children's Aid Society of Waterloo Region, has sued Mr Ellis twice. Mr Ellis has been assessed costs in the two actions of $10,000 and he was ordered by a judge to apologize in writing or spend 30 days in jail. Earlier this month Mr Ellis issued a letter of apology to the offended parties.
Owing to the diligent action by Mr Ringrose, we now know that Children's Aid does not employ Gestapo tactics, it is not a secret society, since $210 of its $40 million budget is from voluntary donations Children's Aid is a charity, the presence of Mr Kevin Chalk as both a division superintendent of the Waterloo Police Service and president of the board of directors of Waterloo Children's Aid does not make Children's Aid an extension of the police force, nor does Mr Ringrose's past as a probation officer or present as a member of the Community Safety & Crime Prevention Council, and we know that when Mr Ellis's four-year-old daughter said that he put his finger in her vagina she said so of her own volition and not on account of a week of coercion by Joan Allison and Leane Bast. For more on the methods used by Mr Ringrose to cleanse his reputation, we suggest reading Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler.
CCAS Ward Kept Like a Dog
September 30, 2005 permalink
Here is the more of the death of CCAS ward Jeffrey Baldwin.
Man forgetful in Jeffrey death
Shannon Kari, CanWest News Service
Friday, September 30, 2005
The Jeffrey Baldwin murder trial was stalled again yesterday as a key witness appeared unco-operative and forgetful in his testimony.
James Mills, boyfriend of one of the boy's aunts, testified for about 10 minutes before the trial was shut down for the day so he could review several hours of videotaped statements he made to police after Jeffrey died on Nov. 30, 2002.
Norman Kidman and Elva Bottineau, the grandparents of Jeffrey, are on trial on charges of first-degree murder in the starvation death of the five-year-old boy, who weighed less than 10 kilograms when he died. A medical expert testified earlier that Jeffrey suffered from such severe malnutrition he would have been provided with emergency care in a developing country.
Jeffrey was "kept like a dog" and locked in his room, Mr. Mills said in a statement to police. The boyfriend of Tammy Kidman slept over at the grandparents' east-end Toronto home about three or four nights per week in the weeks before Jeffrey died. He told police there was a "horrendous stench" coming from the room that Jeffrey shared with one of his sisters, and the boy was so thirsty he drank toilet bowl water.
During his brief testimony yesterday, however, Mr. Mills said he had never been inside Jeffrey's bedroom. "I wasn't required to go there," he said.
Mr. Mills may be declared a hostile witness when he resumes testifying today.
Before he was called to testify yesterday, he could be seen in a hallway of the courthouse chatting with Jeffrey's father, Richard Baldwin, and with Michael Reitemeier, who fathered two children with the boy's other aunt. Mr. Reitemeier, who was living in the home, is expected to testify.
Richard Baldwin and Jeffrey's mother, Yvonne Kidman, slipped out a side exit of the courthouse yesterday to avoid being photographed. All four of their children were seized by the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto and were in the care of Norman Kidman and Elva Bottineau at the time of Jeffrey's death.
Source: canada.com website
Canadians Too Smart for CAS
September 28, 2005 permalink
Most Canadians know better than to report their neighbors to the Children's Aid Society --they seem to understand that reporting families to Children's Aid is as helpful as reporting Jews to the Gestapo.
The article suggests that Children's Aid investigates cases for abuse, when they really assess families for weakness, targeting the children easiest to take. The article ends with: " ... CAS won't reveal a complainant's identity unless the matter ends up before the courts". This is curious, because in other kinds of pronouncements, they claim all families are protected by court supervision.
In the near future, be on the lookout for ads urging you to give tips to the Children's Aid Society.
The London Free Press, Wednesday, 28 September, 2005
Ad campaign calls for abuse reporting
By BRODIE FENLON, Special to The Free Press
TORONTO -- More than half of Ontario residents surveyed on behalf of the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies said they wouldn't report suspected signs of child abuse.
The survey of 195 people in the province found 54 per cent of respondents would not report suspicions of abuse, while 85 per cent would report abuse or neglect only if they were certain it had occurred.
"People are afraid of retribution and they're afraid of being wrong," said Jayne Patterson, spokesperson for the association, which launched yesterday Use Your Voice, a new public awareness campaign.
The $225,000 campaign is aimed at encouraging people to report abuse, even if it's only suspected.
"You don't have to be right to report suspected child abuse and neglect. The Children's Aid Society will verify if something needs to be done," Patterson said, noting the CAS won't reveal a complainant's identity unless the matter ends up before the courts.
Source: London Free Press
found by Dolores Sicheri
Girl Forcibly Sterilized
September 28, 2005 permalink
Katie Wernecke, now thirteen years old, has cancer, Hodgkins disease. The parents have cooperated in getting her treatment to cure the disease, but have balked at higher levels of treatments that doctors say will increase her chances of survival. The same treatments will leave her sterile, and at age thirteen, she is mature enough to understand for herself what is at stake. Weighing the relative risks of death and sterility is more than just a medical decision, and the family deserves a voice in the choices made for their daughter.
Not in Texas. The state has seized custody of Katie and blocked communication with her parents, preventing the family from getting a second medical opinion. Doctors acting under CPS guardianship have imposed high-dose chemotherapy on her against her will, but she has ripped out her catheters. The family truck was hit by gunfire in a possible hate crime.
This is a literate family -- Katie's father is a PhD, and has conducted his own research into the effectiveness of treatments for his daughter. The family has tried to protect Katie with a blog -- the August 31, 2005 entry contains the sterility prognosis. They have also put up billboards in Texas (below).
CAS Refusing Memberships
September 27, 2005 permalink
Earlier we posted a letter from the Children's Aid Society of Waterloo Region denying membership to an applicant, even though that applicant was a resident of the area served. Here is another one, this time in Ottawa. This now looks like a province-wide policy.
Hello France Clost,
I recently submitted an membership application with the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa accompanied by a cheque to cover the membership fee. In return, I received a letter from the Society denying me membership with no explanation other than to say that membership was denied.
I would like to initiate an official complaint with the Society regarding this matter in order to discover the reason(s) for the Society's decision to deny my membership request and to learn what I can do to improve my chances of obtaining a Society membership in the future.
The Foster Care Council of Canada
China Imitates Canada
September 25, 2005 permalink
In imitation of monitoring by Canadian social services, China has now stepped up controls on who can post news to the internet.
China sets new rules on Internet news
Sun Sep 25, 8:03 AM ET
BEIJING (Reuters) - China set new regulations on Internet news content on Sunday, widening a campaign of controls it has imposed on other Web sites, such as discussion groups.
"The state bans the spreading of any news with content that is against national security and public interest," the official Xinhua news agency said in announcing the new rules, which took effect immediately.
The news agency did not detail the rules, but said Internet news sites must "be directed toward serving the people and socialism and insist on correct guidance of public opinion for maintaining national and public interests."
Established news media needed permission to run a news Web site, it said. New operators had to register themselves with government information offices.
China has a dedicated band of cyber police who patrol the Internet with the aim of regulating content. Postings that criticize the government or address sensitive topics are quickly removed.
Registration was a feature of rules imposed earlier this year aimed at not-for-profit Internet activities, such as personal Web sites and blogs.
Since March, university on-line discussion groups have been restricted to students, removing a once popular outlet for Chinese keen to publicize their views on sensitive issues. Student users and site managers must register using their real names.
The biggest Chinese Web portals include those operated by Sina Corp. (Nasdaq:SINA - news) (www.sina.com.cn) and Sohu.com Inc. (Nasdaq:SOHU - news) (sohu.com). Both carry news.
Access to many foreign news Web sites is routinely blocked.
Source: yahoo news
September 24, 2005 permalink
In Sweden the Feminist Initiative, a political party founded by Tiina Rosenberg, wants to abolish marriage.
Party aims to ban marriage
A new political party in Sweden says it will abolish marriage if it gets into power.
The Feminist Initiative, which expects more than 20% of the vote in next year's election, claims marriage "is not about love, but about ownership".
FI founder Tiina Rosenberg, said: "Instead of marriage we want to promote a co-habitation law that ignores gender and allows more than two people in a partnership."
But she said in allowing relationships to involve more than two people, the FI did not want Sweden to fall back into a "patriarchal structure" with one man having a harem of women.
"A man who lives with eight women in a patriarchal structure, where the man decides and the women obey is not what we are aiming for," said Rosenberg.
And in order to encourage men to vote for them as well, the party's all-female board is also calling for the introduction of a six-hour working day.
Ontario PCs Oppose Adoption Disclosure
September 23, 2005 permalink
The following article in the York Region papers opposes adoption disclosure. It features the story of an anonymous man identified only as "Ted". Comments appear after the article.
Ontario adoption bill 'morally rapes' citizens
Sep 22, 2005
Roy Green, Staff Writer
When "Ted" and his wife adopted a little girl out of an abusive family situation more than 15 years ago, provincial authorities assured them the process would forever remain confidential.
"You'll never be interfered with -- that's the one thing they told us," an angry Ted (not his real name) said this week.
"They never gave us any financial support to save this child's life but they promised anonymity. She's 16 now and after years of medical hurdles, therapy and dozens of doctors later, she's doing great.
"We've never told her she's adopted; never. She was discriminated against enough because of her afflictions. Now, they're about to invade and destroy our lives."
He's talking about Bill 183, the adoption disclosure legislation that was put off last spring after privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian said it fails to protect the privacy rights of birth mothers and adult adoptees.
The bill will give adoptees and their birth parents access to adoption files containing names, medical records and other personal information. Because it is retroactive, guarantees of confidentiality given decades ago no longer apply.
Instead, the bill requires those seeking anonymity to prove to a tribunal that revealing their past would cause "significant harm".
Ted and his wife are afraid of what will happen to the child they've lovingly raised for 16 years if her birth parents decide to contact her.
"What kind of person is going to try and get hold of her? Is the government going to force that horrible family to be visited upon my child. (This is like) being intellectually and morally raped. We're considering leaving this country we're so frightened. What right does this government have to frighten its own population?"
The Conservatives support the privacy commissioner's call for a retroactive disclosure veto in the bill, which would give birth parents and adoptees the right to refuse release of their information.
At a meeting in Ottawa in June, 13 privacy commissioners representing 14 jurisdictions across Canada endorsed Ms Cavoukian's call for a veto.
But after a clause-by-clause examination this summer, the bill will be reintroduced, virtually unchanged, when the provincial legislature resumes next month.
Bill 183 is a welcome change in adoption policies, according to Sharon Virtue, chairperson of Aurora-Newmarket Parent Finders.
"The way it is now, it's like we're not allowed to know who we are; like we're third-class citizens," said Ms Virtue, who was adopted as a child and now has an adopted child of her own.
"No one's out to hurt anyone. My understanding is there will still be some kind of veto where you can say, 'I don't want anyone contacting me.'"
The right of adopted children to know their history outweighed the privacy issue, said Thornhill MPP Mario Racco, chairperson of the standing committee on social policy that debated the bill this summer.
"We did not do what the privacy commissioner wanted us to do. People will be able to know who their (birth) parents are," Mr. Racco said. "We had to make a choice knowing that someone won't be happy. Who should we pay more attention to? At the end of the day, the (social services) minister was convinced the right to know was more important."
But both sides could have been accommodated by a disclosure veto, Oak Ridges Tory MPP Frank Klees said.
"Mr. Racco is wrong; no one needed to be hurt by this legislation," he said. "It can and does provide for right to access, but to deny people their privacy rights, especially retroactively, is fundamentally wrong. The government has a responsibility to protect everyone's right to privacy."
If Bill 183 becomes law, Ontario will become the fourth province to open adoption records but the other provinces, Alberta, British Columbia and Labrador and Newfoundland, offer a disclosure veto.
Source: York Region Papers website
Comments: This story leaves a lot of questions unanswered. The family mentioned only as "Ted" gave their adopted daughter years of medical treatment and therapy. Was that to remediate problems from her natural parents before she was adopted? If so, how did Ted avoid telling her she was adopted?
In response to an inquiry, the reporter Roy Green said that he did not himself know the man's identity, but that Oak Ridges MPP Frank Klees got Ted to call the reporter.
So the Ontario PC's are not just voting against this measure in the legislature, they are assisting in placing unfavorable stories in the press. Mr Klees ran for the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party on a platform opposing same-sex marriage, an apparently pro-family position. Now he is cooperating in an anti-family campaign to preserve the power of social services with continuing secrecy.
Addendum: In reply to reader response, here are the relevant provisions of bill 183, adoption disclosure:
Disclosure to an adopted person
48.1 (1) An adopted person may apply to the Registrar General for an uncertified copy of the original registration, if any, of the adopted person's birth and an uncertified copy of any registered adoption order respecting the adopted person.
(2) The adopted person is not entitled to apply for the uncertified copies until he or she is at least 18 years old.
Disclosure to a birth parent
48.2 (1) A birth parent of an adopted person may apply to the Registrar General for all the information contained in the following documents, with the exception of information about persons other than the applicant and the adopted person:
1. The original registration, if any, of the adopted person's birth.
2. Any birth registration respecting the adopted person that was substituted in accordance with subsection 28 (2).
3. Any registered adoption order respecting the adopted person.
(2) The birth parent is not entitled to apply for the information described in subsection (1) until the adopted person is at least 19 years old.
These sections state clearly that an adopted child can get his records starting at age 18, and a birth parent can get the adoption records starting when the child reaches age 19. The one year difference is peculiar, and may lead to some clever games. Other sections of the act provide that the birth parent or the child can issue requests to preclude disclosure or contact.
The linked audio titled "Social Workers Discuss Adoption Disclosure" contained a discussion at length of plans to nullify or even reverse the apparent effect of the law. It was un-linked from this site at the request of the police, but can still be found elsewhere on the internet by resourceful readers. Children's Aid Societies might put boilerplate in its adoption forms invoking the non-disclosure provisions in every case. But at least with its enactment, parents and children separated by force of arms would in principle have the legal right to the information required for reunification. One provision of the act is totally unworkable:
56.1 (1) If, under section 48.1, an adopted person receives notice that a birth parent does not wish to be contacted, the adopted person shall not knowingly contact or attempt to contact the birth parent, either directly or indirectly.
This provision is impractical in the age of the internet since an internet search for the name of a parent desiring no contact may, under certain conditions, be disclosed to that parent, constituting contact.
September 23, 2005 permalink
The following conference will not be one organized by social workers parroting the party line about the best interests of the child. It is organized by one of America's most active opponents of the current child protection system.
Event: A Conference dealing with issues of Child Protection and Family Courts.
Place: Foxwoods Casino
Date: November 19, 2005
Time: 7pm - 9pm
We are pleased to announce there will be a conference dealing with Child Protection and Family court at Foxwoods Casino. Now that we have a firm date, we are already securing some heavy hitters for this historic event.
As things develop, we will release that information. We will be working on flyers for you folks in the New England Region giving the specifics of the event and the speakers. We are also in conference with the media to cover this event. We are working out the exact title and theme. If you can offer some type of service please email me at the private address below.
Please forward this to all of your groups and friends and families. If someone is coming in from a long distance and need a room, they will need to make their own arrangements with Foxwoods. We are not getting involved with any sleeping arrangements.
Thomas M. Dutkiewicz, President
Special Family Advocate
Connecticut DCF Watch
P.O. Box 3005
Bristol, CT 06011-3005
October 15, 2005
We originally stated that the conference will be held in the Monte Carlo "B" room but that has been upgraded to a larger room now. If you plan to attend, just mention the "Parental Rights Conference" and you should get to the correct room.
We are not going to give the name of the room in the event it changes again. Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.
Thomas M. Dutkiewicz