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Punishment for Failure to Steal
December 30, 2006 permalink
No social worker has been prosecuted, or as far as we know, even reprimanded, for causing the death of a child in her care. But what about the other kind of problem, failing to take enough children?
In the case below, the social services system exploits the tragic death of a boy to inflict fear within its ranks. Taking a child that is harmed within the foster care system has no consequences, but failing to take a child can cost you your job.
Manager fired in baby’s death
Supervisor in Delaware had been alerted to possible abuse
DELAWARE, Ohio — Delaware County officials fired a Children Services supervisor yesterday for ignoring a phone call about suspected abuse of an 11-month-old boy who later died.
After an internal review, the county commissioners decided that Lee Hayes’ inaction warranted ending her job as intake supervisor.
The review focused on two anonymous calls made to Children Services workers in November regarding possible mistreatment of infant Nicholas Goodrich. The boy died Dec. 12, and his mother’s boyfriend is accused of killing him.
State and local officials are investigating how Delaware and Franklin counties’ child-welfare agencies handled complaints about Nicholas’ care before his death. Franklin County Children Services yesterday confirmed receiving three calls about the boy as well.
Hayes’ office in Delaware County forwarded the first call about Nicholas to Franklin County authorities after tracing the boy’s mother to a Columbus address through welfare records.
But when the same caller followed up a week later, saying the mother and child had moved to Delaware, Hayes ignored the tip, Commissioner Jim Ward said.
That complaint should have been investigated immediately, he said.
Hayes "was the supervisor, and it was her responsibility that this sort of thing should never have happened," Ward said. "She did not handle things correctly."
Within weeks of the reported abuse, Nicholas died of severe brain injuries. His mother, Rachel Ewers, 22, of Delaware, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, and her live-in boyfriend, Raytone Wilson, 21, is charged with aggravated murder.
A baby sitter said she called Children Services workers in both counties with her suspicions of abuse before the boy died.
Ward said it remains unclear why Hayes did not respond after her office learned that Ewers was living in Delaware County.
Ewers and her son lived in Franklin County before moving to Delaware.
Hayes, 44, was placed on paid administrative leave Tuesday. Her firing is effective today.
Hayes oversaw employees who receive calls and investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect. She has worked for the Delaware County Department of Job and Family Services since 1992, and served as a supervisor since 1998.
Her personnel records show praise for her overall performance and no previous disciplinary problems.
Hayes’ attorney, Tony Heald, said his client will consider appealing the commissioners’ decision to the Ohio Department of Administrative Services.
Meanwhile, how the case was handled by child-welfare officials in both counties remains under review by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Franklin County Children Services also is conducting its own review of three calls it received regarding Nicholas, as well as the referral from Delaware County, said Eric Fenner, the agency’s deputy director.
"We are doing a very thorough, comprehensive review of that entire episode," Fenner said. "We want to find out exactly what happened and how it was handled."
Referrals of families who recently moved can sometimes lead to confusion between agencies, Fenner said.
Mona Reilly, director of the Delaware County Department of Job and Family Services, said her agency continues to review its policies and procedures and likely will hire an outside firm for further evaluation.
"We feel this is a very tragic occurrence for all involved," Reilly said. "It is our job as a Children Services protective agency to respond to children that are in need and protect them, and we will continue to do our best effort in that regard."
Information on Nicholas’ suspected abuse was given to Hayes last month almost immediately after one of her employees took the second call, Reilly said.
As intake supervisor, it was up to Hayes to review the complaint and determine whether it required investigation, Reilly said.
"We don’t really have a clear picture as to why she did not respond," Reilly said.
Commissioner Kris Jordan said the internal review revealed Hayes’ awareness of the situation.
"We found that there were things that weren’t done and, unfortunately, that leads to us having to fire somebody," Jordan said. "They should’ve sent somebody out to visit the home and assess the complaint."
Source: Columbus Dispatch
December 29, 2006 permalink
A woman used in vitro fertilization to initiate a pregnancy. When groggy after birth, she consented to an adoption, and revoked consent promptly on regaining her faculties. The adoption went through anyway, and she lost her kids. She has now taken them to the world's worst refuge, Canada.
When you see a mother caring for two toddlers, call the police!
Abducted twins taken to Canada
RALEIGH, North Carolina -- The RCMP and the FBI are now involved in the search for a North Carolina woman.
She's believed to have taken the twin toddlers she had given up for adoption and fled with them to Canada.
Authorities say 49-year-old Allison Lee Quets had visitation rights as a part of a custody agreement with the adoptive parents.
The custody order allowed her to take the children from their adoptive home from December 22nd to the 24th, but she never returned.
The F-B-I says an investigation indicates Quets crossed the Canadian border with the twins on December 23rd.
It's not known where she's alleged to have entered Canada.
A warrant for her arrest was issued Wednesday on federal charges of international parental kidnapping.
The children, 17-month-old Tyler and Holly Needham, lived in the Raleigh suburb of Apex with their adoptive parents, Denise and Kevin Needham.
According to Quets's sister, the woman met the Needhams through a friend, and had a change of heart with hours of agreeing to the adoption.
She apparently begged to have her children back, but the Needhams refused.
Child Find Canada is also reportedly involved in the search.
Source: Global TV
Addendum: Police found the mom and twins in Ottawa.
U.S. woman wanted in abduction arrested in Ottawa
OTTAWA -- Ottawa police have arrested an American woman being sought on a Canada-wide warrant for allegedly abducting her biological toddlers, who she had put up for adoption after their birth.
Allison Lee Quets, 49, a Floridian who had been living in North Carolina to be near the 18-month-old twins, was arrested Friday night at a Centretown residence, police said in a release.
The two children, Tyler and Holly Needham, were with her and are now in custody of the Children's Aid Society.
Ms. Quets was to appear in court Saturday. Ms. Quets was supposed to return the two to their adoptive parents, Kevin and Denise Needham of Apex, North Carolina, on Dec. 24, after a two-day court-ordered visit.
Source: Ottawa Citizen
Addendum: Two further articles give the circumstances of the difficult pregnancy and birth that gave rise to the adoption consent, quickly revoked. The legal system was eager to exploit the mother's troubles by taking her money, not so eager to correct the error by returning her children.
Mother Accused of Kidnapping Twins Had 'Given Up'
Created: Monday, 01 Jan 2007, 10:45 AM EST
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A biological mother accused of kidnapping her 17-month-old twins from their adoptive parents before they were found in Canada last week had reached a breaking point after struggling to get them back through the court system in Florida, her sister said.
"She's not a crazy, unstable person," said Gail Quets, whose sister, Allison Lee Quets, 49, was arrested in Canada on Friday. "She's a well-meaning, upright citizen who was driven to the brink. I think she must have given up and felt she couldn't get justice in the state of Florida.
"I think she thought this was a last-ditch effort to save her children."
Allison Lee Quets and the twins were found Friday night when police in Ottawa, Canada, acted on a tip, the FBI said in a statement early Saturday. The toddlers, Tyler Lee and Holly Ann Needham, were placed in the custody of Canadian Social Services.
Quets could face federal charges of international parental kidnapping.
A custody agreement allowed Quets to take the children for a brief visit Dec. 22-24, but authorities said she never returned them. The FBI said an investigation indicated Quets crossed the Canadian border with the twins Dec. 23.
The children lived in the Raleigh suburb of Apex with their adoptive parents, Denise and Kevin Needham, who could not be reached for comment. Quets lived in Orlando, Fla., but kept an apartment in Durham so she could see the twins while she appealed the adoption.
Officials with the FBI Victim Witness program were arranging for the adoptive parents to travel to Canada to be with their children.
Allison Quets spent five days last week tucked away with the twins at a bed and breakfast in Kingston, Ontario.
Her sister said Saturday from her Kentucky home that Quets probably thought she was doing the right thing for the children, adding that she had been fighting for the twins since just hours after she gave them up.
Allison Quets was married once for about 15 years, but the marriage ended about a decade ago, Gail Quets said. She has no other children and the father of the twins is a sperm donor.
Quets, who conceived the twins through in-vitro fertilization, became weak during her pregnancy from hyperemesis, a severe form of nausea and vomiting. She was fatigued and disoriented and gave her children up for adoption just weeks after they were born, Gail Quets said, adding that her sister almost immediately changed her mind and attempted to get them back.
"She really is a smart and competent person," Gail Quets said. "She was so disoriented by the disease she suffered during pregnancy, she just wasn't her usual, competent self."
She had the children just long enough to give them their names.
The adoption is not yet final because of Quet's appeal, which is why she had visitation rights.
Custody and parental rights issues will be determined by authorities in Florida, the FBI said in a news release.
Adoption experts say Quets has likely hurt her case for reclaiming her children.
"It's getting a lot of attention because it is rare," said Adam Pertman, executive director of the New York City-based Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. "It's probably even more rare than divorced fathers snatching their kids."
Quets should not have fled with the children, Pertman said, but he added that the twins were most likely never in danger.
"There was no evidence that she was going to hurt the kids," he said. "There was evidence that she wanted to parent the kids."
Source: WGHP (Fox)
Mom won't be told where kids are
OTTAWA -- The Florida woman accused of abducting her children and bringing them to Canada illegally will start 2007 in an Ottawa detention centre, not knowing if her biological children are still in the country.
Allison Lee Quets, 49, who was taken into custody on Friday, remains in the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre and her Canadian lawyer said she will be there until at least tomorrow, when courts are next in session.
Jeff Schroeder said that the Children's Aid Society, which has been looking after the 17-month-old twins, has told him that they will not be notifying Quets of her children's return to the United States.
The twins' adoptive parents, who live in Durham, North Carolina, were expected to be reunited with the children over the New Year's weekend.
Quets's status has been in dispute since the day she gave up her children for adoption in August 2005. Within 12 hours, she changed her mind and the fraternal twins, a boy and a girl, have been at the heart of a custody battle ever since.
"It's just been a very, very long, arduous legal process," said Gail Quets by telephone from Lexington, Kentucky, and added yesterday that her sister has spent more than $400,000 US fighting for custody.
"She did everything that she possibly could, legally, and she thought that the system was just ignoring her," she said.
In early December, the adoptive parents failed to bring the children for a court-mandated visit with Quets, who eventually got a court order to compel the adoptive family to let her see them.
With the kids in tow, she drove into Canada on Dec. 23.
Source: Edmonton Sun
Government Opposes Bill 88
December 29, 2006 permalink
Monique Smith has replied to a letter requesting support for bill 88, instead of the neutered bill 165. Her response, apparently drafted by the Ministry, maintains government support for bill 165. The government's plans for children do not include mom and dad.
Cell Phone Ban
December 29, 2006 permalink
Family courts routinely alter the record of court hearings. Refer to the case of Harry Kopyto or legislative testimony by Vernon Beck. Cell phones, which can record audio and video, could expose these alterations, causing court staff to demand their removal from the courthouse. The article below shows efforts in Ft Wayne Indiana to do so. The reporter is completely taken in by the cover story, that the ban is to avoid disruptions by ringtones and for security, such as protection of jurors from having their picture taken. A skilled artist with a notepad has been able to make pictures of jurors for centuries, yet notepads have not been banned.
Cell ban set to hit courts
Rules cover all electronic devices
Some are covered in flowers or NASCAR emblems and they come in various sizes from tiny in-the-ear pieces to thin handhelds to the bulky models of yesteryear.
But come Tuesday, one place cell phones won’t be allowed is inside Allen County’s courts. People won’t even be allowed to take phones, pagers or other electronic devices, into the buildings. The only exceptions to the new rule will be for attorneys with court-issued identification cards and county employees with their proper county identification badges.
Signs have been up for about a month inside and around the county’s four court buildings – the Allen County Courthouse; the Bud Meeks Justice Center where misdemeanor and traffic court is conducted; the Allen County Juvenile Center; and the Courthouse Annex, which is where the Small Claims Division is located – to give people plenty of notice of the pending ban.
“Our building and courts across the country are called temples of justice,” Allen Superior Judge Fran Gull said. “The reason it’s akin to temples is because of the solemnity of things going on. When you get ring tones going off, inappropriate ones that we’ve all been exposed to in elevators and the mall, it interferes with what’s going on.
“It’s just been a real electronic nightmare that we didn’t have to deal with even 10 years ago.”
In addition to disruption, the main reason behind the ban is safety, judges have said, because people have been using their phones to take pictures and videos of attorneys, jurors, witnesses, victims and court proceedings. Indiana law bars cameras from most courtrooms.
Although people have asked, there will be no exceptions, Gull said. The Board of Judges, which includes all the superior and circuit court judges, makes that decision, and so far has denied official requests from the Allen County Courthouse Preservation Trust Board of Directors as well as a local doctor who provides services to the court.
Gull said the courts will make phones available to people who need them, and if the need becomes great enough, they will consider talking to the county commissioners about adding more phone lines and installing additional pay phones.
Unlike other court systems, such as the local federal building, sheriff’s deputies will not hold anyone’s cell phones at the front security station. They will tell people to put them in their cars or they will not be allowed in. That also applies to people who are dropped off for court.
“We have no room to hold them,” Gull said. “We get over 1,500 folks a day just in the Courthouse. That doesn’t count the justice center, juvenile court or small claims. There’s no way we could accommodate the numbers of phones, cameras and electronic devices that people carry.”
However, law enforcement officers, who are required to check their gun in a lockbox with deputies, will likely be able to store their cell phones there as well, Gull said.
The ban will not only affect people coming to court hearings, but also groups that work daily within the system, such as the Fort Wayne Police Department’s Victim Assistance; the state Department of Child Protective Services; and Court Appointed Special Advocates, also known as CASA.
The groups say they understand the reasons behind the ban and are just trying to find ways to work within it. Victim Assistance Executive Director Lynnice Hamilton said her organization will just have to plan better than they do now to coordinate meeting victims at court.
“(Cell phones) were our only means of communication with advocates who were out of the office in court,” she said. “So (now) we either have to send someone down to contact the advocate in court if there’s information they need, or if there’s any sort of emergency for them personally or for the office. But overall if you look at the safety of victims and jurors, it’ll be well worth it. We wouldn’t want anyone’s life to be at stake because we’re being inconvenienced.”
Allen County CASA Director Rex McFarren said the ban will affect several of their volunteers, who are not considered county employees, if court runs behind schedule.
“We have some (volunteers) who are retired and are not on any major time schedule, (but) we do have a fair amount who work full time and have the ability by flexible schedule … to go to a court hearing because their employers are very gracious,” he said. “When court runs late, we’ve had volunteers who had to call and reschedule. That would be a problem for them in that vein, but I think for our volunteers we can probably be able to find an office somewhere to use there at court.”
The cell phone ban will also apply to the state Department of Child Protective Services, which has made a request to be exempt from the policy, said Michelle Savieo, director of the Allen County Office for the Department of Child Services.
But as an alternative, Child Services has already worked out a plan with the family court judges to use a landline phone if needed, she said.
“We do understand the importance of it. We not only advocate for the safety of children, but also court personnel as well,” said Savieo, who said her office has 55 caseworkers and about 20 are in the Courthouse at different times on a given day.
Another side effect of the ban will be that visitors will no longer be allowed to take pictures of the Courthouse. Commercial photographers will have to schedule photos after the Courthouse is closed for the day.
Media cameras will be the only cameras allowed inside the buildings during business hours, Gull said.
Though court security doesn’t anticipate any major problems with implementing the ban Tuesday, Gull asks people to be patient.
“Those that are complying with the ban are going to be in line trying to get through security with those who are aren’t aware of the ban, and those people are just going to have to be patient,” she said, “and recognize it’s a security measure and protection measure that we would hope people appreciate.”
Source: Ft Wayne Journal Gazette
Kids Boss Successful Mom
December 28, 2006 permalink
Here is a case of a mom who has raised three children getting advice from a caseworker whose only knowledge of motherhood comes from books. The caseworker does not even follow her own dietary advice.
I also think one of the biggest problems is the education and experience (or lack thereof) of the social workers. I find I want to burst out laughing at the SW sitting at my kitchen table telling me tips on raising two little boys. I have three grown children who didn't turn out too bad, she is expecting her first child in two months, and is young. I love it when they tell you about all the healthy food you should be feeding them while their 300lb butt is about to break my chair!! Everyone of them are huge!! Why is that? When we went for visits 1pm at the CAS offices, you should have seen the fast food coming in the door. If I had of taken that they would have written me up. They gave my daughter a lecture for bringing hotdogs and giving them chocolate. They only provide a microwave for cooking food. What the hell are you supposed to cook?? Idiots. That's all I think.
Source: Sarnia Smoking Gun discussion board
December 28, 2006 permalink
The Orangeville Citizen does not admit it, but the woes of Dufferin County in finding courthouse space are the result of family law run amok. On civil court days, the courthouse is empty, on criminal court days there is some activity, on family court days the courthouse is packed and it is impossible to park within two blocks. Cutting back on unnecessary family interventions would be a cheaper way to bring court space into line with demand.
Province lays down law on courthouse
Dufferin Warden John Oosterhof, his successors in 2008 and 2009, and the largely new county council might be facing difficult decisions during the early years of their tenure, as the province has served an ultimatum on courthouse space.
And, in other respects, the new warden says his aim in the next year would be to complete two of “the jobs I started when I was first warden (in 2005),” dealing with waste management and planning.
But the biggest challenge, he said, is that the province would like to take over the entire county building – to provide not only more court space, but also consultation room and lawyers’ offices.
“They won’t renew their lease (on existing space, including the Provincial Offences offices and court space) unless they can take over the building.”
So, he said, the county has to be prepared to move out by mid- 2009.
If not, “it would mean that our county people would have to go to Caledon (for such as parking and speeding tickets).”
For several years, county council has been meeting in the historic “county court.” Warden Oosterhof said the province wants that practice to end. “For security reasons, they won’t let us meet in the county court (now Superior Court of Justice) after a certain time.”
On the good side of things, he said that if the province takes over the building, the county could pay for its own premises, a place of its own design, “at no net cost to the taxpayer.”
But there has been no specific planning for such, although county council did recently purchase another house on Elizabeth Street.
Yet there is no set plan to build on the site of the newly acquired house. “We have put out a request for anyone to offer a location, whether it be a building or vacant land. There is (no fixed plan of where to move).”
Site selection might not be simple. Orangeville has always been the county seat. Although it is the main centre of population, the town is not the geographic centre of the county. The warden didn’t say it, but there is likely to be disagreement among councillors over whether a new building should be in or at Orangeville, or closer to Shelburne. Primrose, on county-owned property, has been mentioned in the past.
Whatever the location, the county appears to have fewer than three years in which to select a site, design a building, and complete construction.
Also facing the new council, the county has been planning to provide a waste disposal facility of some kind but the county does not have waste management control.
“It’s going to be a challenge to get (waste handling) organized when it gets down to the fact that the county still has no control,” said the warden.
“I would like to see waste handled by the county. We could make better deals (than can individual municipalities), have a better quality of service, and better prices.”
The province also appears poised to force countywide planning, at least in a limited sense. This was one of the issues that the warden, in his 2005 tenure, was pushing. But the provincial push came later.
He said there are two ways in which over-all planning has become an increasingly important issue since 2005: Places to Grow legislation, and the gas tax.
“We have to have a plan showing how the gas tax rebates are to be used. It has to be for issues of safety and the environment, and how we intend to carry those out.”
On Places to Grow, provincial officials recently let it be known they wanted to deal with a county authority, rather than with individual municipalities.
County council, meantime, has approved a plan to discuss budgeting for a planning consultation function within the Public Works department. It has not suggested a countywide Official Plan.
Warden Oosterhof says such an OP would not detract from the autonomy of individual municipalities. “It would not take over all planning issues, but would deal with (such as) source water protection and some general growth issues.”
He said some counties have taken over all planning issues, but Dufferin would not need to do so.
Source: Orangeville Citizen
Tilson Boosts Services
December 26, 2006 permalink
During his eleven years as Dufferin MPP, David Tilson posed frequently for a published picture with CAS social workers. Now as federal MP, he poses without CAS workers. We hope this is because he has assessed that goodwill from CAS will do him more harm than good, though we are disturbed by the presence of Neta Gear of Family Transition Place (FTP) in the picture. In the past, women taking shelter in FTP have lost their children to Dufferin Children's Aid.
Source: Orangeville Banner website, December 26, 2006
F21/03 Family Appeal
December 26, 2006 permalink
Anne Marsden has been following the plight of a Brantford family, including sealing the fate of a baby even before its birth. She has now addressed a plea on behalf of the family. Since the family cannot be named, we can only identify them by the warm cuddly name F21/03. This material, created on Christmas eve, seemed too depressing for Christmas day, so you can read it on Boxing Day. Learn about the caseworker trained at Joey's Fish and Chips.
Opportunistic Child Snatching
December 26, 2006 permalink
Eight times child protectors examine a home and find it safe for children. When a mother comes to the same conclusion and leaves Damya Jefferson with a lethal baby-sitter, child protectors punish her by taking her other child.
Home where toddler stabbed investigated 8 times by state workers
State caseworkers are defending why they didn't sooner remove children from a family investigated eight times before police say a 9-year-old boy fatally stabbed a 2-year-old girl in an unsupervised house.
More than a dozen children were being watched by a 15-year-old baby sitter on Friday when Damya Jefferson was stabbed twice in the chest, authorities said. The boy who police say stabbed the toddler, who cannot be prosecuted because of his age, has been placed in a hospital.
No charges have been filed.
Police said the boy's mother, Detress Richmond, was not home at the time. Richmond has at least 13 kids, and the Texas Department of Child Protective Services has been to her house eight times since 1994 to investigate allegations that her children were neglected, not fed or living in filth.
CPS spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales said conditions at the home were never bad enough for the state to intervene.
"It never rose to the level of imminent danger," Gonzales said. "That is what is necessary for removal of the children."
Damya's mother, Tiara Jefferson, 17, went to earn extra Christmas money Friday by braiding hair and left Damya and her 2-month-old sister in Richmond's care.
Authorities said the boy who stabbed the toddler was described by siblings as a bully.
"We don't know what spurred it," Dallas police Sgt. Brenda Nichols said. "All we know is that his brothers and sisters say that he tended to push them around."
Instead of removing Richmond's children after previous investigations, state workers referred her to parenting classes as well as helping her find work and food. Gonzales said Richmond seemed to be cooperative with that intervention.
Three of Richmond's children have been placed with relatives and seven others were placed in foster care.
CPS workers also took Damya's 2-month-old sibling, because caseworkers questioned Jefferson's judgment when she left her children at a home that police said was dirty and potentially unsupervised.
A hearing will be held within 14 days to determine where the children should live.
Source: Dallas Morning News
Crown Wards Speak
December 25, 2006 permalink
The Adoption Show on Christmas eve interviewed three former crown wards. You can link directly to the interview (mp3) or the Adoption Show. The program is just over two hours. The individual interviews are:
Transgender woman files a complaint against a Sudbury women's shelter.
Jessica Larabee was a boy when she was born. The 23-year-old is now transitioning from male to female. What lead her to file a human rights complaint ?
F4J Strikes Boston
December 25, 2006 permalink
Police Harass F4J
December 23, 2006 permalink
Here is the latest police harassment of peaceful demonstration, in this abridged report from Canada Court Watch:
Security at Newmarket, Ontario Courthouse bully and threaten law abiding Canadian citizens!
(Dec 22, 2006) It was reported to Court Watch that on Thursday, December 21, 2006, court security officers from the Newmarket Court came outside of the court and threatened members of the equal parenting group, Fathers-4-Justice. Members of Fathers-4-Justice were outside of the front entrance to the court and peacefully obtaining signatures on a petition. The protesters had signs on the grass to the side of the court entrance. Fathers-4-Justice members were told to take their signs down off public property. The one large sign read, "Put father back in Christmas"
Court officers told the Fathers-4-Justice rep that members of their group would be arrested for public mischief if anyone inside the court complained about their activities against the court system.
Although security officers allowed the demonstrators to remain outside less their signs, when one of the supporters for fathers-4-Justice attempted to enter the public court building to simply use the washroom, he was told that he was not allowed to enter the public court building to use the washroom. Court security workers gave the lame excuse that fathers-4-justice supporters might hand out literature inside of the building.
Source: Canada Court Watch
Become a Prostitute!
December 21, 2006 permalink
A man employed by Ontario's social services, but not a children's aid society, has been arrested for recruiting prostitutes.
Here is a link to the Toronto Police Service report on Shahid Nazim (pdf).
Pimp charge for youth worker
Girl, 17, reports him to police
A man who worked at a Toronto youth shelter helping teens find jobs has been arrested and accused of trying to persuade at least one young girl he worked with to become a prostitute.
Toronto Police say the 38-year-old youth worker was arrested Tuesday night after a complaint by a 17-year-old girl who said the man had tried to recruit her into prostitution.
And now investigators are trying to determine whether any other girls were approached.
"This girl was strong enough, confident enough, ... and street smart enough to know what she wanted, and this wasn't it," Det.-Const. Eduardo Dizon, of the sex crimes unit, said yesterday.
How many others?
"The question becomes how many other girls are out there who had this question posed to them and said, "Maybe it's not such a bad thing, given my situation,' " he said.
Dizon said the accused made multiple offers to the girl to engage in sex acts with him in exchange for money and other favours.
"It took tremendous courage for her to come forward," Dizon said. "But she recognizes the importance of coming forward to bring the accused to justice, as well as to encourage other women, girls, boys, or youths he may have dealt with to come forward to police."
Shahid Nazim, of Toronto, is charged with procuring illicit sex, attempting to procure a person to become a prostitute and sexual exploitation.
Dizon said the accused had worked with youth at a Toronto shelter until at least two weeks ago -- a position he may have held for two years.
"His main role was to go around to the various other shelters, including the one he worked at, to conduct job training seminars or programs," Dizon said.
Nazim worked most recently at Humewood House, a shelter for young mothers and pregnant teens at Bathurst St. and St. Clair Ave.
Staff there were said to have been shocked upon hearing he had been charged.
Anyone with information regarding Nazim is urged to call Dizon at 416-808-7468, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS.
Source: Canoe website
VOCA Service Interruption
December 21, 2006 permalink
The service interruption on this website December 20 and 21 was not the result of a hacker attack. To avoid being shut down by CAS, this website is hosted outside of Canada, necessitating some communication by the postal service, with its delays and disruptions.
CAS Rewards Infanticide
December 19, 2006 permalink
Here is more on the case of Jody-Ann Lee, who killed one of her twins. Now after being charged with homicide, she has been awarded visitation with the surviving twin.
Accused mom can visit surviving twin
BARRIE–A woman charged with murdering her newborn baby has regained the right to spend time with the child's surviving twin.
"The baby's father is devastated," the man's Toronto lawyer, Irving Solnik, said yesterday.
The 34-year-old Barrie woman was charged last month with first-degree murder in the October 2005 death of her newborn girl. She was later released on bail and a publication ban imposed on many details of the case.
Police found the body of the dead girl a few days after her birth and after Simcoe County Children's Aid Society had taken the surviving twin boy into custody.
The mother was charged with neglecting to obtain assistance in the delivery of a child and concealing the body of a child, said Sgt. Dave Goodbrand of Barrie Police Service.
It was widely reported that the infant's body was found in a plastic bag in the trunk of a car.
The father was awarded interim custody and in October, a family court gave the mother the right to make three visits a week for three months. The visits were suspended after she was charged with first-degree murder.
Then, late last week, a CAS worker advised the surviving twin's father that the visitations were to resume with the child's grandmother present. Solnik, who represents the father in the custody battle, said he couldn't discuss the case because of a family court order. "My hands are tied," he said.
The father has serious concerns about the safety of his now 1-year-old son, said Solnik, especially in light of the recent infanticides of Serena Campione, 3, and her sister Sophia, 1, who were found dead in their Barrie apartment in October.
Frances Elaine Campione faces two counts of first-degree murder in that case.
Source: Toronto Star
My Father Was an Anonymous Sperm Donor
December 17, 2006 permalink
A young woman, Katrina Clark, born of an anonymous sperm donation, draws attention to the fact that reproductive technologies are not just about satisfying the needs of parents. She describes her life without a father, and joy on reunification.
My Father Was an Anonymous Sperm Donor
By Katrina Clark, Sunday, December 17, 2006; B01
I really wasn't expecting anything the day, earlier this year, when I sent an e-mail to a man whose name I had found on the Internet. I was looking for my father, and in some ways this man fit the bill. But I never thought I'd hit pay dirt on my first try. Then I got a reply -- with a picture attached.
From my computer screen, my own face seemed to stare back at me. And just like that, after 17 years, the missing piece of the puzzle snapped into place.
The puzzle of who I am.
I'm 18, and for most of my life, I haven't known half my origins. I didn't know where my nose or jaw came from, or my interest in foreign cultures. I obviously got my teeth and my penchant for corny jokes from my mother, along with my feminist perspective. But a whole other part of me was a mystery.
That part came from my father. The only thing was, I had never met him, never heard any stories about him, never seen a picture of him. I didn't know his name. My mother never talked about him -- because she didn't have a clue who he was.
When she was 32, my mother -- single, and worried that she might never marry and have a family -- allowed a doctor wearing rubber gloves to inject a syringe of sperm from an unknown man into her uterus so that she could have a baby. I am the result: a donor-conceived child.
And for a while, I was pretty angry about it.
I was angry at the idea that where donor conception is concerned, everyone focuses on the "parents" -- the adults who can make choices about their own lives. The recipient gets sympathy for wanting to have a child. The donor gets a guarantee of anonymity and absolution from any responsibility for the offspring of his "donation." As long as these adults are happy, then donor conception is a success, right?
Not so. The children born of these transactions are people, too. Those of us in the first documented generation of donor babies -- conceived in the late 1980s and early '90s, when sperm banks became more common and donor insemination began to flourish -- are coming of age, and we have something to say.
I'm here to tell you that emotionally, many of us are not keeping up. We didn't ask to be born into this situation, with its limitations and confusion. It's hypocritical of parents and medical professionals to assume that biological roots won't matter to the "products" of the cryobanks' service, when the longing for a biological relationship is what brings customers to the banks in the first place.
We offspring are recognizing the right that was stripped from us at birth -- the right to know who both our parents are.
And we're ready to reclaim it.
Growing up, it didn't matter that I don't have a dad -- or at least that is what I told myself. Just sometimes, when I was small, I would daydream about a tall, lean man picking me up and swinging me around in the front yard, a manly man melting at a touch from his little girl. I wouldn't have minded if he weren't around all the time, as long as I could have the sweet moments of reuniting with his strong arms and hearty laugh. My daydreams always ended abruptly; I knew I would never have a dad. As a coping mechanism, I used to think that he was dead. That made it easier.
I've never been angry at my mother -- all my life she has been my hero, my everything. She sacrificed so much as a single mother, living on food stamps, trying to make ends meet. I know that many people considered her a pioneer, a trailblazer for a new offshoot of the women's movement. She explained to me when I was quite young why it was that I didn't have a "dad," just a "biological father." I used to love to repeat that word -- biological -- because it made me feel smart, even though I didn't understand its implications.
Then when I was 9, the mother of one of my classmates ran for political office. I remember seeing a television ad for her, and her family appeared at the end -- the complete nuclear household in the back yard, the kids playing on a swing suspended from a tree and eating their father's barbeque. I looked back at my lonely, tired mother, who sat there with a weak smile on her face.
In the middle of the fifth grade, I met a new friend, and we had a lot in common: We both had single mothers. Her mother had suffered through two divorces. My friend didn't have much to say about her dad, mainly because she knew so little about him. But at least she got to visit him and his new family. And I was jealous. Later, in the eighth grade, another friend's father had an affair and her parents divorced. She was in so much pain, and I tried to empathize for the loss of her dad. But I was jealous of her, too, for all the attention she was getting. No one had ever offered me support or sympathy like that.
Around this time, my mother and I moved in with a friend and -- along with several other teenagers, one infant and some other adults -- lived with her for nearly a year. I went through a teenage anger stage; I would stay in my room, listening to Avril Lavigne and to Eminem's lyrics of broken homes and broken people. I felt broken, too. All the other teenagers in the house had problems with their dads. I would sit with them through tears during various rough times, and then I'd go back to my room and listen to some more Eminem. I was angry, too, and angry that I had nowhere to direct my anger.
When my mother eventually got married, I didn't get along with her husband. For so long, it had been just the two of us, my mom and I, and now I felt like the odd girl out. When she and I quarreled, this new man in our lives took to interjecting his opinion, and I didn't like that. One day, I lost my composure and screamed that he had no authority over me, that he wasn't my father -- because I didn't have one.
That was when the emptiness came over me. I realized that I am, in a sense, a freak. I really, truly would never have a dad. I finally understood what it meant to be donor-conceived, and I hated it.
It might have gone on this way indefinitely, but about a year ago I happened to see a television show about a woman who had died of a heart attack. A genetic disease had caused her heart to deteriorate, but she didn't know about her predisposition because she had been adopted as a baby and didn't know her biological families' medical histories. It hit me that I didn't know mine, either. Or half of it, at least.
So I began to research Fairfax Cryobank, the Northern Virginia sperm bank where my mother had been inseminated. I knew that sperm donors are screened and tested thoroughly, but I was still concerned. The bank had been established in 1986, a mere two years before my conception. Many maladies have come to light since then.
I e-mailed the bank five times over the course of a year, requesting medical information about my donor, but no one responded. Then one Friday last spring, I started surfing the Web. Eventually I came upon an archive of "Oprah" shows. One was a show about artificial insemination using anonymous donors. A girl perched on Oprah's couch. Next to her sat her "donor," the man who was her biological father.
I froze. Why hadn't I thought of that? If I wanted medical information and a sense of roots, who better to seek out than the man responsible for them?
I set out to find my own donor. From the limited information my mother had been given -- his blood type, race, ethnicity, eye and hair color and hair texture; his height, weight and body build; his years of college and course of study -- I concluded that he had probably graduated from a four-year university in Northern Virginia or the District within a span of three years. Now all I had to do was search through the records and yearbooks of all the possible universities and make some awkward phone calls. I figured if I worked intensely enough, my search would take a minimum of 10 years. But I was ready and willing.
A few days later, searching for an online message board for donor-conceived people, I came across a donor and offspring registry. Scanning past some entries for more recent donors, I spotted a donation date closer to what I was looking for. I e-mailed the man who had posted the entry. A few days later he sent a warm response and attached a picture of himself. I read through his pleasant words and scrolled down to look at the photo. My breath stopped. I called for my mother, who rushed in, thinking something was terribly wrong. "I think I've found my biological father," I gasped between sobs. "Look at the picture. . . .That's my face."
After a few weeks of e-mailing, this stranger and I took DNA tests. When the results arrived, I tore open the envelope, feeling like a character in a soap opera. Most of the scientific language went over my head, but I understood one fact more clearly than I have ever understood anything in my life: There was, the letter said, a 99.9902 percent chance that this man was my father. After 17 years, I let out a long sigh.
I had found the man who had given me blue eyes and blond hair. And it had taken me only a month.
My life has changed since then. Once the initial disbelief that I had found my father wore off, my thoughts turned to all the other donor-conceived kids out there who have been or will be holding their breath much longer than I. My search for my father had been unusually successful; most offspring will look for many, many years before they succeed, if they ever do.
My heart went out to those others, especially after I participated in a couple of online groups. When I read some of the mothers' thoughts about their choice for conception, it made me feel degraded to nothing more than a vial of frozen sperm. It seemed to me that most of the mothers and donors give little thought to the feelings of the children who would result from their actions. It's not so much that they're coldhearted as that they don't consider what the children might think once they grow up.
Those of us created with donated sperm won't stay bubbly babies forever. We're all going to grow into adults and form opinions about the decision to bring us into the world in a way that deprives us of the basic right to know where we came from, what our history is and who both our parents are.
Some countries, such as Australia and the United Kingdom, are beginning to move away from the practice of paying donors and granting them anonymity, and making it somewhat easier for offspring to find their biological fathers. I understand anonymity's appeal for so many donors: Even if their offspring were to find them one day -- which is becoming more and more probable -- they have no legal, social, financial or moral obligation to their children.
But perhaps if donors were not paid and anonymity were no longer guaranteed, those still willing to participate would seriously consider the repercussions of their actions. They would have to be prepared to someday meet the people whom they helped create, to answer questions and to deal with a range of erratic emotions from their offspring. I believe I've let go of any resentment about the way I was conceived. I'm playing the cards I've been dealt and trying to make the best of things. But not all donor-conceived people share this mindset.
As relief about my own situation has come to me, I've talked freely and regularly about being donor-conceived, in public and in private. In the beginning, I also talked about it a lot with my biological father. After a bit, though, I noticed that his enthusiasm for our developing relationship seemed to be waning. When I told him of my suspicion, he confirmed that he was tired of "this whole sperm-donor thing." The irony stings me more each time I think of him saying that. The very thing that brought us together was pushing us in opposite directions.
Even though I've only recently come into contact with him, I wouldn't be able to just suck it up if he stopped communicating with me. There's still so much I want to know. I want to know him. I want to know his family. I'm certain he has no idea how big a role he has played in my life despite his absence -- or because of his absence. If I can't be too attached to him as my father, I'll still always be attached to the feeling I now have of having a father.
I feel more whole now than I ever have. I love our conversations, even the most trivial ones. I don't love him, and I don't know if I ever will, but I care about him a lot.
Now that he knows I exist, I'm okay if he doesn't care for me in the same way. But I hope he at least thinks of me sometimes.
Katrina Clark is a student in the undergraduate hearing program at Gallaudet University.
Source: Washington Post
Dion Adopted Daughter
December 17, 2006 permalink
Here is yet another case of a person at the upper levels of political power with an adoptive child. This time it is the new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Stéphane Dion.
Portrait of Stéphane Dion's family according to the women in his life
Beyond the well-known public personality of Stéphane Dion is also a husband and a father as only those who are near him really know. In an interview with his wife and daughter, the true nature of this man is brought to the spotlight.
A native of Alma, Janine Krieber met Stéphane Dion during their studies. "He arrived in a rather ordinary way, at a student party at Laval University in 1978," said Krieber, noting that since then they have been together and sealed their union in 1987.
Krieber reminisces that Dion, who enjoys walking, would meet her at her parents place after a run in his jogging clothes. However, he took care to bring in his knapsack suitable clothing to go out with.
With time, she learned about his preferences. "He adores nature, the forest and dining with friends," she said. "He also reads a lot, likes fishing and cross country skiing. He plays tennis and racquetball especially when he was a professor. Now, he partakes in physical exercise in the gym."
Among their plans, the couple wanted to have a child. Janine and her husband went to Peru in 1988 to adopt a girl, Jeanne. "The steps of international adoption are extremely complicated since they are twinned with the process of immigration and it lasted one year," she noted. "Stéphane spent three months over there during this period. The experience was very emotional."
Jeanne, 18, finished her collegial studies last June, with a diploma in social sciences at CEGEP Bois-de-Boulogne. She then worked on her father's campaign for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. "I took time to reflect following my studies, while helping my father during the campaign," she said, noting that "the joy of victory has passed."
The election of Stéphane Dion as leader of his political party has affected the daily life of the family. Jeanne considers that this new position has more impact for her father.
"I try to not to make too big of it as if it were a new job," she said noting that she does not often see her father. "We succeeded in developing a friendly relationship. We avoid quibbling so as not to waste the time we spend together. Moreover, he has a unique sense of humour, since he tells silly jokes, even in the presence of my friends."
Teaching at the Royal Military College of Canada Fort St-Jean Campus, Krieber took one semester of leave, in order to reorganize her family life. Kreiber and her daughter are not insensitive to criticisms of which Stéphane Dion is sometimes victim, but they feel that in general, people are nice.
"I am accustomed to and I respect the opinion of the others," she said. "I have good humour, in particular for the caricatures, because they are sometimes funny and make me laugh."
The two women in the life of Stéphane Dion agree on the fact that the voters of Saint-Laurent-Cartierville gave Dion their confidence in the last election, despite the scandal which surrounded the party. "People of the county vote now for him more than for the party," said Jeanne.
Patricia Bittar, who worked at the district office of Dion from 2000 to 2004, spoke about the unity of the Dion family. "I observed all the love and the affection that Mr. Dion holds with his wife and his daughter," she said. "He is a family man, who appreciates their support because he could never do what he is doing without it, nor to go where he has."
(Translated by Michael Beigleman)
"I met Stéphane at a student party at the university." — Janine Krieber, wife of Stéphane Dion.
"My father has a unique sense of humour. He makes silly jokes." — Jeanne Krieber-Dion, daughter of Stéphane Dion
Source: Courrier Bordeaux/Cartierville
Falsely Accused Parent Exonerated
December 16, 2006 permalink
Here finally is exoneration for another parent falsely accused by the discredited pathologist Dr Charles Smith, who found parental homicide in many cases of blameless parents. We dealt with Dr Smith earlier on June 13, 2005, September 12, 2005, September 13, 2005, September 21, 2005 and June 1, 2006.
Justice for Jenna
A decade of emotion boils over as Brenda Waudby tightly hugs her 17-year-old daughter. Tears of closure stream down their faces as they come to terms with the dramatic events that, just moments before, unfolded in a provincial courtroom in Peterborough.
Ms Waudby has just heard a man plead guilty to manslaughter for the 1997 death of her 21-month-old daughter, Jenna Mellor.
"I just wanted to hear an admission of guilt. It's a relief. It reiterates what I've known all along," Ms Waudby says.
"It makes it concrete. Now I can just pick up the pieces and I've got a lot to pick up...Life begins now."
Ms Waudby's strength holds her family together. She grows quiet while reflecting on the past 10 years of her life -- a roller coaster ride that once landed her in jail for Jenna's murder. Over the years she's talked about her life, her feelings and her resolve to find justice.
That culminated in a disturbing admittance of guilt on Thursday by a 24-year-old man, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act because he was 14 years old at the time of the murder.
The man was charged by Peterborough police this time last year with second-degree murder and two counts of sexual assault related to Jenna's death in Jan. 22, 1997 at her Mountain Ash Road home. He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter and had the sexual assault charges withdrawn. He was released from custody and will be sentenced on March 1.
Jenna's murder was unsolved for almost nine years before Peterborough police made an arrest last December. Their original investigation targeted Ms Waudby who was charged with the girl's murder in September 1997. Those charges were withdrawn following a difference in medical opinion. The first pathologist, Dr. Charles Smith, pinpointed the time of Jenna's death to when she was in the care of Ms Waudby. Other doctors later debunked that claim saying Jenna's injuries were sustained while she was in the care of the babysitter.
Ms Waudby was released from custody and investigators hit a wall. On Thursday, Court heard that in July 2001 Detective Sergeant Larry Charmley was assigned to the case. He re-interviewed all witnesses and called on help from outside agencies, including a child abuse specialist in Seattle.
In July 2005, court heard an undercover operation began, which eventually led to a confession by the babysitter in November 2005.
"The accused became emotional...and stated he did assault Jenna Mellor," Crown Attorney Brian Gilkinson told court.
Mr. Gilkinson said the man admitted to punching Jenna six times during the course of the night, adding the punches to the stomach area were strong enough to break ribs. Doctors said Jenna died as a result of blunt-force trauma to her abdomen.
"I f***ing jabbed her a few times and started hitting her," Mr. Gilkinson said as he read from notes taken during the man's confession.
Mr. Gilkinson explained the assaults occurred throughout the night and started shortly after Jenna was left alone with the babysitter.
Mr. Gilkinson said the boy was angry over having to look after Jenna.
As the confession was read out, Ms Waudby reached behind her and clutched her older daughter's hand. Justine Traynor, 17, was there that night when her sister was killed.
"I put them to bed and brought her [Jenna] out because she was crying," Mr. Gilkinson said as he continued to read from the confession.
"I hit her down so she would stay down."
The disturbing details were too much for some people. Two ladies walked out of the courtroom as others just shook their heads in disbelief.
The accused's lawyer, Peter Copeland, agreed the facts were accurate. The accused also agreed.
Mr. Copeland refused to comment when asked by This Week after the proceeding.
Justice Robert Graydon agreed this was a "serious violent offence" and to the guilty plea of manslaughter as presented by both the Crown and defence.
He said sentencing will be handed down on March 1, adding the man will be sentenced as a young offender.
The guilty man stood quietly in the courtroom throughout the proceedings, saying very little.
But as he left, members of Ms Waudby's family said he winked at Ms Waudby's mother-in-law, Faye Yelland. Following this there was a disturbance outside of the courtroom.
"You asshole," shouted a member of Ms Waudby's family as the two families met in the hallway.
A security guard quickly defused the situation, separating both families.
"I could have punched him right in the face," Ms Yelland later said.
Darrin Peever, a close family friend, said it appeared to family members the man showed no remorse for killing the young girl.
"Karma is a bitch. It comes back to bite people in the ass," he said.
Despite the tension, Mr. Peever admits there is some closure for the family.
Tom Waudby, Ms Waudby's brother, agrees. He said it was good to see a conviction, but doesn't think justice has been served. He said watching the suspect walk out of the courtroom proves there's a problem with the justice system and believes the time he will serve will be "a joke."
"But he has to live with it. It's on his soul for the rest of his life," said Mr. Waudby.
Jenna's father, Randy Mellor, told This Week on Thursday afternoon that he doesn't blame Jenna's killer for what happened that fatal night. He said Jenna shouldn't have been left alone with the 14-year-old boy.
Court heard Ms Waudby left Jenna with the boy to babysit while she went out on the night of Jan. 22.
Mr. Mellor said he will never find closure or relief.
"I get people saying 'When am I going to move on?' I say to them, 'Have you buried a kid lately?'"
Source: Lindsay This Week
More Support for Bill 88
December 16, 2006 permalink
Last month the Hamiltion media all reported on an audit passed by the local Children's Aid Society. We ignored the self-congratulatory item then, but John Dunn got a reply published in the Hamilton Mountain News. Here are the original article and John Dunn's reply:
CAS sees strong results in Ministry review
The results of a recent Ministry review confirm that children in the permanent care of The Children's Aid Society of Hamilton are being placed in appropriate settings and are receiving effective services and supports to address their needs.
In October 2006, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services conducted a comprehensive review of 199 Crown ward files and 12 adoption probation files, as required under Section 66 or the Child & Family Services Act. Overall, the Society achieved compliance ratings of 93 per cent on the Crown ward files and 100 per cent on adoption probation files.
"We are extremely pleased with the results of the review," said Dominic Verticchio, Executive Director of The Children's Aid Society of Hamilton. "These results prove the effect of long-term sustained focus for continuous improvement in the overall delivery of service to children."
Crown ward findings are based on a review of a Society's files, questionnaires completed by Crown wards and client interviews. The review was conducted at the Society's office from October 2-12, 2006. In addition to legislative requirements, a review team audits the entire case management of the wards ensuring that the Society is providing services to meet the child's educational, behavioural and treatment needs.
"This is testament of the dedication and hard work of our staff to ensure high compliance with Ministry standards, while managing the challenging day-to-day responsibilities inherent in meeting the needs of children in our care," said Mary Meyer, Director of Children's Services, for the Society.
Currently there are 357 Crown wards in the care CAS Hamilton.
Source: Hamilton Mountain News
If you care about rights of children, support Bill 88
Re: CAS sees strong results in Ministry review
In the Nov. 24, 2006 article which discusses the results of a recent Ministry review of the appropriateness of placement of foster children in homes and adoption probation settings the Ministry gives the agency rave reviews.
What it fails to mention is how long in advance the Ministry gives the agency to prepare for the review (agency's selection of files for review by non-independant Ministry Auditors), how Crown Wards were selected for interviews (do they choose the ones who are upset or just the well behaved and happy ones) and it does not mention what appropriate services are being provided to those who need them. (therapy and support vs. punishments and labels).
The article goes on to state that the Ministry reviewed 199 Crown Ward files and 12 adoption probation files and that overall the Society acheived compliance ratings of 93 percent on the Crown Ward files and 100 percent on the adoption placement files. Compliance with what? Are the public allowed to see these criterion? Who makes them? People in the industry? Unfortunately due to extremely high and often unwanted secrecy in child welfare, information which would shock the public is kept secret, locked away in record vaults such as serious occurance reports, thousands of them which detail the daily abuses that children and youth in foster care suffer while in care.
They are so secretive that not only are the media, the privacy commissioner and even at times the courts kept from accessing them, but the actual current and former foster children themselves are refused copies of their files and offered "social histories" instead.
Please, if you care about the rights of children and youth in foster care, support Bill 88, which is an attempt to get the Ombudsman to have jurisdiction over CAS's across the province. Something the Ministry has fought tooth and nail over many years, especially the last year.
Can we hear from the Crown Wards themselves on this review? Oh yeah, sorry folks, the media are not allowed to identify them.... s. 45(8) Child and Family Services Act.
The Foster Care Council of Canada
Source: Hamilton Mountain News
December 16, 2006 permalink
Judges who break up families are uncomfortable with the celebration of Christmas. Under guise of tolerance, Judge Marion Cohen has banished the Christmas tree from the public space in her courthouse.
This move has nothing to do with religious tolerance. Christmas is widely celebrated among non-Christians, for example, in Japan. Celebrating the birth of a baby is inoffensive.
Following the news article, we include an email relayed by Canada Court Watch from a parent trying to organize opposition to Judge Cohen's action.
Judge's Christmas tree ban triggers protest
A Toronto judge is standing firm by her decision to keep a Christmas tree out of her downtown courthouse lobby, despite backlash from the public and objection from Premier Dalton McGuinty.
Justice Marion Cohen's order caused one protester to show up at the Jarvis Street courthouse Friday and display her disgust.
Kaitlin Toph marched out front holding a placard that read, "Mrs. Grinch, was it in the name of intolerance to get rid of the Christmas tree? Shame on you. Merry Christmas."
"I am all for immigration and multiculturalism, no problem with it whatsoever," Toph told CTV News. "I have many friends who are from other cultures. They respect my views and I respect theirs, but there is another way of doing something like that.
"If they put a menorah or any other religious symbol, I have no objection, but leave the Christmas tree alone."
Cohen ordered the tiny plastic tree removed earlier this week, saying it's not an appropriate symbol to non-Christians. In a letter to staff, she said courthouse visitors are "confronted" with it, which makes them feel "they are not part of this institution.''
Employees called the move stupid and insulting, saying the tree has been a lobby staple for decades.
The story has triggered a flurry of angry responses from CTV viewers and readers.
A number of Christmas trees are on full display inside other public institutions, including at the Ontario legislature, Toronto City Hall and at Nathan Phillips Square. There are also trees inside the Old City Hall courts.
Lawyers at the Jarvis Street courthouse were also upset and puzzled. McGuinty slammed the judge's order, calling it "unfortunate."
"I think it represents a misunderstanding of what we are working so hard to build here in Ontario," he said.
There is currently no court or ministry policy that addresses this particular situation. Attorney General Michael Bryant said he'll be speaking to the chief of the Ontario Court of Justice about creating one.
Cohen would not comment on camera.
The tree now sits in an administrative corridor off to the side.
With a report from CTV's Chris Eby
Here is a reaction:
- Zorro email@example.com
- December 14, 2006 8:30 PM
- Christmas Tree controversy
CTV is having a poll regarding the right of Judge Marion Cohen to have a Christmas Tree removed from the 311 Jarvis St. court.
Please, go to www.toronto.ctv.ca, scroll down to about the middle of the page and in the right hand side there is a poll, which by now is starting to show an overwhelming amount of support (97%) for having the tree.
Marian Cohen is one of the worst, radical feminist, foam in the mouth, judges around. By her actions she is passing the message to the parents attending court that it is OK to be intolerant. The wrong message to people who are trying to find the best interests of children.
If you are interested in participating in a demonstration in front of the court to bring the tree back, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
The rally will be on Monday or Friday of next week, depending on how the situation develops. It is said that the Attorney General is calling for the chief judge to set the standard and the tree may go back sooner in which case it would blow up the purpose of our demonstration.
If anybody is scheduled to be in front of her next week, we would like to know.
December 15, 2006 permalink
Here is another article about a children's aid society overspending its budget. That puts the province in the position of covering the deficit or allowing foster children to starve. The province always comes up with the money. Sadly, CAS has to intervene in more families to justify the higher budget.
In the article notice the "$800,000 to build new offices, mostly for supervisors, to provide more private space to deal with cases". Sorry, supervisors do not deal with cases, that is for caseworkers. Supervisors are the ones with the SUV's and Caribbean vacations.
CAS faces $3.5M budget deficit
Second consecutive shortfall blamed on hiring additional staff, office construction costs
The Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society is facing a $3.5-million deficit this fiscal year largely as a result of increased hiring to help reduce workers' caseloads, the agency's executive director said Thursday.
"It's not uncommon in child welfare to have a deficit," Bill Bevan said. "Historically, we were one of the agencies that often was quite balanced when the rest of the field was in deficits."
It marks the second deficit in a row. Last year's shortfall was $3.3-million.
"Historically we've had some higher caseloads for our staff," Bevan said. "They really wanted to see that change. So we've answered the bell on that."
Bevan said that over the last two years the CAS created 22 new positions, mostly in the recently developed Family Well-being Program -- which cost $1.1 million to start and which is designed to help keep more children with their families. The society also spent $800,000 to build new offices, mostly for supervisors, to provide more private space to deal with cases.
The idea, Bevan said, is to have more workers helping families so that the number of children in care drops -- which in the long run reduces lodging and legal costs, among other expenses.
"We feel we'll spend less and can work toward having a balanced budget again," Bevan said. "But we'll need to work with the government and get this year's fiscal dollars covered."
Bevan said another issue is the amount of funding his agency has received, which he thinks could be higher. He says his agency spends the provincial average, given the caseload and the 400 full- and part-time workers employed there. The current budget of $48.5 million will, however, end up being about $52 million.
In 2004 and 2005, the local Children's Aid Society had an average of more than 800 children in care. Bevan said that by the end of the year, it is expected to average 727.
"We have a 10 per cent reduction happening with our kids in care over the last two years," Bevan said. "So it's fantastic."
Anne Machowski, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, said the government will continue monitoring all budget overruns but does not see a need for any special review in Windsor.
"While we recognize that some CAS's have spent above their funding model eligibility in past years, the ministry has resolved those deficits," Machowski said. "These are difficult decisions based in large part on our desire to ensure continuity of service to children who require care and protection."
The ministry will spend more than $1.3 billion this fiscal year, which ends in March. Last year, it provided $63 million extra to cover deficits across the province. The government allows certain deficits if Children's Aid societies do such things as increase the number of adoptions, increase the use of family-based care and implement mediation and alternative dispute resolution.
Source: Windsor Star
CAS Critic Attacks Allies
December 15, 2006 permalink
Jessie McVicar, better known by his screen name bizzi, has turned on his friends. He has put messages on his own website attacking most other CAS opponents in Ontario. He has put a series of messages on the Sarnia Smoking Gun threatening to bring that board down the same way as the Canada Court Watch board.
Mr McVicar was a crown ward himself, and later had his own son taken by children's aid and placed for adoption. We regret that he has taken to attacking his allies. We warn other CAS critics to be careful, and hope Mr McVicar will redirect his anger toward CAS, not his friends and allies.
We also note that the Canada Court Watch site went down completely overnight.
Why Chambers Stays
December 14, 2006 permalink
The Orangeville Citizen suggests a reason for keeping Mary Anne Chambers in the cabinet - skin color. Our children are being sacrificed to an inept minister for affirmative action. In the article below, we omit sections not relating to Mrs Chambers.
Weakest ministers challenging McGuinty
Premier Dalton McGuinty now knows for sure who his two weakest ministers are, but it is not certain how much he can do about it.
Children and youth services minister Mary Anne Chambers put herself very much in the running when she provided one of the feeblest defences by a minister on a key issue in memory.
She was asked to explain why some children’s aid societies have failed to help needy children, while wasting millions of dollars on luxuries for their staff.
Chambers replied she could not discuss the failings because they were described in a report by the auditor general that had not been released formally in the legislature and she kept repeating that as if she were announcing which trains were leaving which platforms in a railway station.
But McGuinty’s government every day leaks policies to news media before presenting them in the legislature, hoping to get them reported twice, once when leaked and again when officially announced. No government has leaked more, so it is bizarre it would ask not to discuss the issue to respect the legislature.
Chambers also kept saying that she was proud the McGuinty government eventually would reveal the problem, and when opponents pointed out that it constantly volunteers information on less crucial issues, such as how many eggs the province produces, objected huffily to vulnerable children being compared to eggs.
[omissions relating to Harinder Takhar]
McGuinty might feel that he would like to get rid of both ministers, but he is in a quandary because the other link they have is that both happen to be members of visible minority groups. Chambers came from Jamaica and Takhar from Punjab. To be fair, both also have made considerable marks in life outside politics.
If McGuinty were to drop either, the minorities to which they belong would be offended. They also are the only representatives of visible minorities in his cabinet.
Parties like to have representatives of visible minorities among their elected members and cabinets to show that they have support among them and promote some to their inner circles.
In recent years, being in a visible minority and elected to the legislature has been almost, but not quite, a passport to cabinet.
[omissions relating to other minority ministers]
Source: Orangeville Citizen
Chambers Got it Wrong
December 14, 2006 permalink
On November 30, 2006 Mary Anne Chambers answered questions in the Ontario legislature about the Auditor General's disclosure of fiscal waste within children's aid societies. Several times she cited the same point in her defense. Her government had enabled the auditor to make the report, allowing the deficiencies to come to public view. In previous governments, there had been no audit, keeping the deficiencies under wraps.
In answer to a question from Howard Hampton, leader of the NDP, Mrs Chambers said:
Here is why the leader of the third party shouldn't really be so proud of being around this place for such a long time: In all of the time that he has been here, he did nothing. He did nothing to shine the light on what kinds of services our vulnerable children and youth are receiving in this province.
Our government, the McGuinty government, is the government that expanded the powers of the Auditor General so that the Auditor General could help us take good care of vulnerable children and youth. You have nothing to feel proud about. You have been around here for too long doing nothing. We're the ones who are acting. You're just going to have to accept that.
From 1990 to 1995 Ontario had a majority NDP government, Mr Hampton's party. We have obtained photocopies of a document titled 1994 Annual Report, Office of the Provincial Auditor, Accounting, Accountability, Value for Money. Here are pages 26-37 (8 megabytes, pdf), giving a report on children's aid for the years 1990 to 1993. Mrs Chambers statement was wrong, and she owes a correction to the legislature, and the people of Ontario (to say nothing of Mr Hampton). How long will we have to wait?
Teen Escapes CAS
December 13, 2006 permalink
The following article reports on an apparently successful escape from Children's Aid by a Brantford teenager. The photo with the article shows an attractive girl. In order to protect her from snitches, we will not reproduce it here.
15-year-old has been missing for weeks
Police are asking for the public's help in locating a missing 15-year-old girl.
Brandi Stewart-Sperry, a ward of the Children's Aid Society, left a William Street group home in Brantford on Nov. 14. She has not been seen since.
Brandi is about five-feet, five-inches, weighs 125 pounds, with brown, shoulder length hair and brown eyes. She occasionally wears black square framed eye glasses.
She may be in the company of family members in Hamilton, and police are concerned for her well-being.
Anyone with information concerning Brandi's whereabouts is asked to call police. In Brantford, call 519-756-0113.
Source: photocopy of Brantford Expositor, December 13, 2006 sent by reader
New Discussion Board
December 13, 2006 permalink
The Canada Court Watch discussion board was shut down on November 27. Until its repair, we can suggest another open discussion board as a substitute, the Sarnia Smoking Gun. Here are links to the home page and CAS discussion:
First Nation Boots Out CAS
December 13, 2006 permalink
The Wahgoshig First Nation has barred the Timmins and District Children's Aid Society from his territory, as a means of protecting its children. Is there any chance the Province of Ontario will extend the same privilege to the other people of Ontario?
NAN supports Wahgoshig's demand for recognition of First Nation child and family service
THUNDER BAY, ON, Dec. 12 /CNW/ - Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Stan Beardy says given the inherent right to self-governance, First Nation child and family service agencies, specifically Timmins based Kunuwanimano, should be recognized as the primary service for First Nations rather than the Government of Ontario's Children's Aid Society (CAS).
"The most recent practice of CAS brings back many memories of the 'Sixties Scoop' not only for those directly involved, but for the community of Wahgoshig and the First Nations of NAN as a whole," said NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy. "Without proper recognition of First Nation child and family service agencies as the ideal and primary service, First Nations across Ontario will continue to feel victimized as a result of history seeming to repeat itself."
After a public retrieval of an infant by two workers from Timmins and District Children's Aid Society and City Police at a Timmins shopping centre last week, Wahgoshig First Nation (one of NAN's 49 First Nation communities) declared Friday the community is restricting CAS and Ministry of Youth Services from entering the community.
"We are losing our children to a system that does not belong to us," said Wahgoshig First Nation Chief Dave Babin adding this is an issue that must be addressed throughout the North. "Ideally all First Nations should be governed by a First Nation Child and Family Service not a government CAS. If it is a case of a First Nation then it should be handled by a First Nation organization."
Kunuwanimano is a First Nation Child and Family Service Agency serving 11 of NAN's 49 First Nation communities. It operates out of Timmins, Ontario.
The "Sixties Scoop" refers to a period between the 1960s and 1980s where a documented 17,000 First Nation children were taken from their homes to be adopted by non-native families across Canada, United States of America, and Europe. Wahgoshig Chief Babin considers this period an attempt at genocide and is seeking reparation under the Genocide Convention Act (1949), including establishing a national inquiry to investigate policy and period purpose.
Babin says one of his community's objectives is to negotiate with the Ministry of Youth Services, however Wahgoshig First Nation will be closed to them and CAS until Kunuwanimano is designated and CAS adheres to its workplan.
Wahgoshig First Nation together with Kunuwanimano Child and Family Services will host a news conference at the Wahgoshig band office tomorrow.
For further information: Jenna Young, Director of Communications - Nishnawbe Aski Nation, (807) 625-4952; OR Wahgoshig First Nation Chief Dave Babin at (705) 273-2055 or (705) 262-2770
Source: press release by Nishnawbe Aski Nation
Addendum: The subject came up in the Ontario legislature. Here are some questions by Andrea Horwath and clueless answers by Mary Anne Chambers.
Finck Denied Parole
December 13, 2006 permalink
Larry Finck, the father in the Halifax police standoff of May 2004, has been denied parole again. Apparently he still does now acknowledge his crime in defending his baby daughter from seizure by the Province of Nova Scotia.
Lawyers Sell Out Parents
December 11, 2006 permalink
Anne Marsden reports from her own advocacy experience that lawyers sell out their clients in child protection cases.
The Canadian Family Watchdog
For information call (905)639-5684
1425 Ghent Avenue, Suite 308, Burlington, Ontario, Canada L7S 1X5
"LEGAL AID IS PERHAPS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT MECHANISM WE HAVE TO TURN THE DREAM OF EQUAL RIGHTS INTO A REALITY"
(Quote from the Report of the Chief Justice of Ontario upon the opening of the courts of Ontario for 2006)
By Anne Marsden
If this is a true statement as one would expect it to be coming from the Chief Justice responsible for the operation of our courts then Legal Aid surely has a means of dealing with those lawyers who turn the dream into a nightmare. Our audits show that a legal aid lawyer Birkin Culp of Lefebvre and Lefebvre consented to his client's daughter remaining in care without such instruction from his client. A privately paid lawyer, Mark Kakkainen, a publicly paid Ontario Childrens Lawyer -Sandra Hams -and a publicly paid Brantford CAS lawyer were also part of the consent process that has no lawful place in family court in Ontario.
The child was the subject of a TCA (temporary care agreement) signed December 5, 2002 by mom. The CAS failed to obtain the consent of dad who had equal custodial rights and responsibilities. However, the court and the lawyers involved refused to act on the evidence brought before the court that the child was in care without lawful authority given there was no consent from dad. Instead the judge, Mr. Justice Edward, now the administrative judge for Brantford Family Court "strongly suggested" in his endorsement of January 30, 2003 that the Brantford CAS bring in a protection application and so this very expensive court process to isolate this child from her family and place her for adoption began.
The Child and Family Services Act requires a Temporary Care and Custody Hearing to be completed within 35 days of apprehension, which in this case was February 3,2003, and a consent order is prohibited except in the best interests of the child. But our audit shows that did not stop the court allowing the lawyers to consent without a confirming consent from the parties and dispensing with a legislated Temporary Care and Custody hearing. There has not been a single trial in this matter where parents were given an opportunity to present the facts and have a judge listen and determine what the truth was. Evidentiary standards and their use in a court process as taught in our law schools have had absolutely no place in this matter.
The CAS are bound by the Child and Family Services Act to ensure parents are listened to and heard. There are many including the Honourable Children's Minister and the Ontario Childrens Lawyer who know this is not the case for this Brantford family who have often times not been served papers and thus were barred from the court room on many occasions. Further, bringing some of the very concerning matters involving the courts action to the attention of the Senior Regional Justice has not provided any accountability for the use of court and child protection resources in this manner -the child remains isolated, the family devastated and the public continue to foot an unnecessary and very expensive court resources and legal aid bill.
Yes, legal aid can make a difference in levelling the justice playing field but it is our experience that when it comes to CAS matters it is very rarely the case. We have had success in ensuring truth reigned and justice was served when those seeking our help were able to use the services of Mr. Ian Mang. However, he cannot take on every case and parents should be able to expect the same service from every lawyer no matter who they are and how they are paid. Our courts are reputedly about the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So why are those responsible for accountability within the court system not acting on the audit results. If the media began posing this question to those responsible including the Minister, the Attorney General and the Chief Justice perhaps the dream the Chief Justice talks about could well become reality. We hope and pray that day is soon so child protection and court resources that are presently being squandered for want of a better word, can be used where they will do the job they are supposed to be doing protecting children from those who would harm them. A December 10, 2006 Auditors Publication
Smug, Sanctimonious and Impervious to Criticism
December 11, 2006 permalink
Christie Blatchford's weekend article deals with the excuses for the mismanagement by CAS of money and foster children. She has not yet dealt with the biggest form of mismanagement, taking children from good homes.
CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETIES
Kids always come first? Not likely
Accountability, in all its trying forms -- now that's a lesson child-welfare agencies need to learn
A wonderful Toronto cop I know sent me a note a couple of days ago; he was one of the officers involved in the Jordan Heikamp investigation, Jordan being the baby who quietly starved to death on July 23, 1997, while under the ostensible protection of the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto.
"I see by the news," he wrote of the provincial Auditor-General's recent first-ever report on the performance of children's aid societies, "that the average response time is 21 days to a child at risk.
"Twenty-one days? Funny, that's exactly how long it took for Jordan to die."
Actually, it took him 25 days, the time he spent at a native women's shelter called Anduhyan, which was used as a collateral resource for the CCAS and where none of the half-dozen female staff noticed a thing awry. The CCAS worker herself saw baby Jordan, identified as being at risk from his then-homeless teen mother, only once in all that time.
He died early on the morning of his 36th day on Earth, a skeletal ruin of a child. The officer's rage was palpable. Mine is, too. So is it for a lot of us who, over the past decade, have written about children who died lonely and frightened while in the charge of one or another of this country's children's aid societies and about the paid professionals who failed them.
For the record, what Jim McCarter, the Ontario Auditor-General, was doing was conducting a "value-for-money" review of four agencies. Given his mandate, what Mr. McCarter found was a catalogue of sloppy spending practices, inadequate documentation for bills and contracts, and at least one example of a dishy deal or two with senior agency executives.
The agencies, and the organization that often speaks in unison with them, the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, were quick to react, as well they might be, since they were given the report long before it was released publicly.
Carolyn Buck, the head of the Toronto CAS, was later flushed out as being the anonymous executive with the nice SUV that the A-G reported on. She was actually huffy about the A-G's criticism of car-detailing expenditures: It wasn't what it seems, she told the Toronto Star, the vehicle was being cleaned after caseworkers had used it to transport poor wee children who were sometimes sick to their tummies.
Well, you know what, Buckeroo? Perhaps if you and yours had submitted proper documentation, the way the rest of us do, that nasty misapprehension could have been avoided.
Ms. Buck wouldn't confirm whether she was also the executive with the $4,600 a year gym-and-personal-trainer package, in addition to her $158,000 salary, but she was sufficiently defensive about it that a betting woman might think she is.
Releasing that kind of detail, she snipped, "is beyond realistic. I'd like the public to understand that we pay very careful attention to how we spend our money here. We put the needs of children first all the time."
Not bloody so: That was the whole point of Mr. McCarter's findings, in fact. The agencies stand accused of paying scant attention to how they spend public money and furthermore, Mr. McCarter said, they are doing a rather lousy job of protecting children -- and he didn't even mention the dead.
Same story with the Peel CAS, revealed as the one criticized by the A-G for what the auditor called "questionable" trips to the Caribbean to repatriate children with their biological families. Why, those inclusive packages were the cheapest available, executive director Paul Zarnke sniffed this week; the workers spent a few days there to make sure the child was safe. This information wasn't in the books that the auditor saw, and Mr. Zarnke pledged to improve the paperwork but was unrepentant about the cost or the decision-making.
Children's aid societies, after all, in their formal response to Mr. McCarter's recommendations, agreed that "original receipts" might be useful things to submit with expenses -- this, they had to be told?
But the people who manage social workers and run these agencies have been like this forever -- smug, sanctimonious and impervious to criticism. For years, they have explained their various failures -- and these failures, remember, involve dead children -- by citing overwork, understaffing, underfunding, and, during the years of the Mike Harris Conservatives in Ontario, even politics.
This, it turns out, was the finest service Mr. McCarter's audit provided; he exposes this as a lie. Child-welfare agencies' budgets have more than doubled since 1998-99, he said, but caseloads have increased by only 40 per cent -- so basically, and these are my words, the agencies are doing less with more.
Some real-life examples?
Mr. McCarter found that in a third of cases where a child should have been seen within 12 hours or seven days -- this because the child was deemed to be in danger -- visits were late by an average of 21 days (thus, the figure my policeman pal cited); some plans of service were 300 days late; in one case, a visit was never made because it took the caseworker 19 days to call and the family had moved; in another, a child was finally seen only after his aunt and school principal called the agency again, by which time he'd been beaten by his mother.
Every time a child dies in this country while "receiving services," as the CAS lingo has it, the story unfolds in a variant of the same way. There is, first, either a refusal to comment (citing privacy regulations); there is much head-shaking about the dangers of "finger-pointing" and "the blame game" and much pissing and moaning about overwork; there is evasion, public-relations spinning and protestations that change already has occurred, or soon will.
I think a good start -- learning the lessons of accountability in all its trying forms -- might be to round up the social worker, the supervisor and the executive director who took so long to see that little boy that his principal and aunt had to call the society again. I think they should all have to see the boy, and explain to him why it is that, in the absence of any action on their part, his mother had the chance to beat him.
I don't know which agency it is, but I do know of a nice SUV they could use, so that they could go together to the boy's home, in some comfort. Oh, and keep the gas receipt.
Source: Globe and Mail
Addendum: A reply:
- "The Auditors" <email@example.com>
- there's the other side of non-accountability too!
- Sun, 10 Dec 2006 21:14:04 -0500
Dear Ms. Blatchford,
The number of resources we see the Children's Aid Society using to keep children in care who should never have been there in the first place is the other side of the non-accountability story. The courts, judges and lawyers are part of that non-accountability story too. We have one case in Small Claims Court at Brantford right now trying to get the accountability we cannot get through the Family Court. In either the Ontario Court or the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Those resources that are spent isolating children from their family without cause should be going to protecting children who need protecting. When is this story of non-accountability going to be told. When is the impact of these resources being unnecessarily utilized going to be covered.
We have lots of material from our audits some of it very, very current but nobody wants to hear it. One of the first cases I got involved in from Milton Halton CAS had the swat team in family court and it was reported on the national page of the Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail never followed up on the outcome - why? The outcome showed how unnecessary it was 1. for the young girl to be in the care of the CAS - she was released back to her parents 2. there was absolutely no necessity for a swat team or any kind of security to be in family court. The Brantford CAS were supported by the Halton CAS Legal Counsel Megan Pallett and the ex Legal Counsel David McKenzie recently in an affidavit put before the Brantford court that denied this ever happened. That`s what happens when our media fails to follow through and support accountability for CAS behaviour.
The Canadian Family Watchdog
308 - 1425 Ghent Avenue
Burlington Ontario L7S 1X5
OACAS Wants Cole!
December 9, 2006 permalink
The OACAS has posted a picture of Cole Norris on a wanted poster on its home page. Based on previous experience, as with Jessie McVicar, Cole can expect a police SWAT team to arrest him when he is found.
The same page links to the OACAS response to the Auditor General's criticism. Their suggestions are futile, since problems originating with CAS management cannot be corrected by better supervision of subordinates and contractors.
Addendum: Cole Norris was removed from the OACAS homepage on or before December 15, 2006.
Creative Lying 101
December 9, 2006 permalink
During the trial of Jeffrey Baldwin's killers, Toronto CCAS stonewalled the prosecutor, refusing to provide documents or allow social workers to testify in court, especially Margarita Quintana. They also refused to allow a retired police investigator, Mike Davis, to see documents or interview social workers. Below responding to an opinion by Rosie DiManno, Mary McConville, executive director of CCAS, claims that her society co-operated fully with all requests for information from both the police and Crown. Here are links to four earlier stories reporting the intransigence of CCAS: Christie Blatchford October 2005 and November 2005 and Peter Brieger and Pulse24 news June 2006. As for "accepting responsibility", they sent two of their contractors to jail, but none of the social workers responsible for Jeffrey's welfare have received even a reprimand.
CCAS accepted responsibility
Minding the minders
Column, Dec. 6.
Children's aid societies welcome any improvements that will ensure the protection and well-being of children in Ontario and we will work closely with the government and with the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies to respond to the Auditor General's findings.
In its call to have CASs accountable to the public they serve, the paper refers to the tragic death of Jeffrey Baldwin, asserting that for the Catholic Children's Aid Society, "there was no reckoning."
The Catholic Children's Aid Society has publicly accepted responsibility and regret for its role in Jeffrey's death, taking swift action to improve its protection practices — practices that have now been replicated by all Ontario CASs. The society has also stated that it will co-operate fully with the coroner in the inquest into Jeffrey's tragic death. The society co-operated fully with all requests for information from both the police and Crown. So much so, that the society took the unusual step of appearing before Justice David Watt in order to demonstrate that every request made was complied with in a thorough and timely manner.
Children's aid societies will continue to improve their capacity to protect children and to deliver services effectively, efficiently and responsibly
Mary A. McConville, Executive Director, Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto
Source: Toronto Star
CAS Steals Girl
December 9, 2006 permalink
The following story is typical of CAS. The only thing unusual is that, owing to the scandal of the past week, the press is willing to print it.
Father has issues with CAS
Tb News Source
Web Posted: 12/5/2006 5:47:12 PM
While Children's Aid Societies were under scrutiny by the Ontario auditor general for irregular spending, a local father has his own complaint.
Doug Olsen says he has been in an ongoing battle with CAS since August 2005 over the custody of his six-year-old daughter.
Olsen says he has brought more then 27 issues forward, all of which he says, have been ignored. He says his daughter's safety is at stake, and Children's Aid is not honouring its mandate, which is to protect his child.
'' When she was born she had her human rights attached to her and for the CAS office in Thunder Bay, to strip rights from my daughter and subject her to verbal, physical, mental, and maybe sexual abuse is unforgivable. Why do they do it? and why are they doing it? ''
Olsen says he is in the process of organizing a group in the city called Justice for Fathers. He says he will continue the fight with CAS until his daughter is protected.
Source: Thunder Bay's Source
Internet Journalists Jailed
December 8, 2006 permalink
The Committee to Protect Journalists has released a report showing 134 journalists were in jail on December 1, 2006, of which 49 were internet journalists. Their reporting did not include Canada, where Cathy Norris spent a month in jail for her website critical of children's aid.
The three charts below summarize their findings.
Source: Committee to Protect Journalists
CAS Workers on Drugs
December 8, 2006 permalink
Rev Dorian Baxter writes of drug-use by CAS staff, and requests mandatory testing.
Canada Court Watch
A program of the National Association for Public & Private Accountability
Box 30, The Reimer Building, 5500 North Service Road, Burlington Ontario L9L 6W6
The Archbishop Dorian A. Baxter, National Chairman
December 7, 2006
The Honourable Mary Anne Chambers, Minister of Children & Youth Services
56 Wellesley St. W., 14th floor
Phone: (416) 212-7432
Fax: (413) 212-7431
RE: Abuse of illegal drugs by CAS workers
Recently, a professional health care worker who attended the Hamilton CAS "Grape Expectations" fund raising event in Hamilton on October 30, 2006, contacted Canada Court Watch and reported seeing several workers with the Children's Aid Society engage in smoking hash near the front entrance to this public event.
The high profile "Grape Expectations" fund raising event was held at the Luna Station Banquet Hall on James St. N. in Hamilton with tickets being sold at $100 each.
According to this professional who contacted our offices, the actions of the CAS workers were visible to members of the public entering the main entrance to the event. The odour of drugs was also noticeable in the area surrounding the area where the CAS workers were smoking the illegal substances. It was reported that one well-dressed, elderly gentleman who was dropped off at the entrance to the event by a private limousine was also not pleased to see the CAS workers indulging in drugs near the entrance to the building. The unnamed gentleman walked over to the CAS workers and told them that they should be ashamed for what they were doing and that they should at least be going to the back of the building to make their activities a bit less obvious.
The CAS workers laughed and just ignored the well intentioned gentleman who obviously could see that the CAS workers were stoned and exercising very poor judgement.
This incident of illegal drug use by CAS workers in Hamilton falls on the heels of the arrest and conviction of another CAS worker, Sarah Villella, who was recently convicted in court of helping to bring illegal guns into Canada. Ms. Villella is also facing charges relating to the import and sale of illegal drugs in Canada. The CAS workers indulging in drugs at the Grape Expectations event knew Sarah Villella and had worked with her at the CAS before her arrest and conviction.
The fact that the CAS workers have become bold enough as to openly indulge in drug use at a public event clearly indicates that a serious problem exists. Most law abiding citizens of Ontario would agree that illegal drug use should have no place at any CAS agency or at any function sponsored by the CAS. Allowing CAS workers to indulge in drugs sets a double standard as many parents involved with CAS are subjected to drug testing by CAS agencies as a condition of having access to their children. Many parents are being forced to subject themselves to drug tests by CAS workers who may in fact be doing drugs themselves. It would seem that the CAS workers have established one set of standards for parents in the community and no standards of accountability for themselves.
While the Ministry has just promised to deal with the issue of blatant abuse of taxpayer's monies by some CAS workers, it is time that the issue of drug use of drugs by CAS workers be dealt with as well. Even if it is only some CAS workers are involved with drugs, those involved must be removed from their duties so that their influences will not rub off to the other workers or on to some of the children and families they serve.
Court Watch has received calls from some teenage children who have reported that CAS workers have provided kids in care with booze, cigarettes and sometimes even drugs. When a culture of drugs and involvement with the criminal sector infiltrate a CAS agency and become accepted as normal amongst workers and volunteers, a lot of damage can be done to the very children who CAS are supposed to be caring for.
It is well known that organized crime is responsible for importing most illegal drugs and when CAS workers become involved with those associated with organized crime, they put the agency they work for at risk. The case involving former Hamilton CAS worker Sarah Villella is a clear example of how her connections with organized crime led up to her arrest and conviction of gun running. The chances are that she was involved with drugs and organized crime while she was an employee of the Hamilton CAS.
This latest incident of CAS workers taking drugs at the Grape Expectations event can only lead many to question if other workers are connected to the same circle of friends as was Sarah Villella. This begs the question: Could some CAS workers be "bought off" with free drugs? Could some CAS workers turn a blind eye to suspected abuse of children in families connected with drugs? Could a CAS worker become dependent on drugs to the point where he/she could be blackmailed to obtain confidential records from CAS files?
In another troubling case involving the York Region CAS, a supervisor with the agency, Ms. Donna Lennon recently pleaded guilty in the Newmarket Court to stealing money from children in care. According to the mother of the child involved, she believed that Ms. Lennon may have become involved with drugs and that money problems as a result of drug use may have caused the CAS supervisor to steal from children in care. If it had not been for Court Watch assisting the mother to pursue the crime, the CAS supervisor would likely still be working for the CAS and still likely stealing from other children in care.
To protect our province's most vulnerable and to help ensure that CAS workers are not involved with the criminal element, all case workers with the Hamilton CAS who are directly involved with families should be promptly screened from drugs use, using a hair test. If workers at the Hamilton CAS have not taken drugs, they should offer no objection to a hair test being conducted on themselves. If anything, CAS workers should be eager to demonstrate that they are willing to comply to the same set of standards that they impose on many parents in the community when use of drugs has been alleged. Those workers who refuse or object to drug testing likely have something to hide.
CAS employees found with illegal drugs in their system should be immediately relieved from their duties without pay and not allowed to return to work until drug tests confirm that they are free of drugs.
When it comes to the use of illegal drugs by CAS workers, there should be a zero tolerance policy established. It is imperative that workers involved with illegal drugs at the CAS be weeded out and their links to organized crime broken. The only way to find out this for sure is to have drug testing done on all workers by an independent lab and monitored by the RCMP or the local police. Random drug testing should be a condition of employment with all CAS agencies, with testing being monitored by an independent outside agency under the control of a police force.
It is inevitable that if random drug testing is not implemented for CAS workers that it will be only a matter of time until other CAS workers are caught up again in the web of illegal drugs. Random drug testing for CAS workers as a condition for all future employment would certainly be a reasonable step for the Ontario Government to take to help protect the integrity of this province's child protection system.
A personal meeting could be arranged if you would like to speak to the person who attended the Grape Expectations event and witnessed the abuse of drugs by CAS workers. If you wish to meet, then please contact me through the number on this letterhead.
Your response would be appreciated.
/signed/ Dorian A. Baxter
The Archbishop Dorian A. Baxter, B.A., O.T.C., M. Div
Members of the Ontario Legislature
Members of the House of Commons
Ombudsman of Ontario
Source: Canada Court Watch (pdf)
Santa Wants Kids
December 8, 2006 permalink
Fathers-4-Justice is back, this time dressed as Santa Claus, and asking for both parents to have time with their kids.
'Superheroes' fight for father rights
Courts overwhelmingly side with women in custody cases, group says
(York Region) - Superheroes and Santas protesting outside Newmarket's courthouse were battling the elements and inequality yesterday. A steady stream of people, seeking shelter from the driving snow, craned their necks to shoot curious looks at a small gathering of the newly formed local branch of Fathers 4 Justice.
Donning Superman fatigues, Mark Litman approached men heading into the Eagle Street courthouse.
"Are you going to family court today?" he would ask, often to no response, while handing over the organization's leaflet.
The group, which has just started a chapter in York Region, is planning more similar publicity stunts to help turn up the pressure on the bias they insist exists in the courts over granting custody of children.
The courts overwhelmingly side with women when it comes to child custody during divorce proceedings, organizer Denis Van Decker said.
Their superhero and Santa get-ups don't detract from their credibility, he said.
It's symbolic, Mr. Van Decker added from behind a faux white beard.
"Superheroes. That's how kids see their dads," he said.
A drawn-out divorce of his own provided the inspiration to pull up his bright red pants and strap on a set of black boots in yesterday's frigid temperatures.
The 44-year-old Aurora resident, who normally favours a Mr. Incredible persona, simply wanted to see more of his 10-year-old daughter.
He figured there must be many fathers in a similar position and took up the cause.
Gary Keenan can relate to Mr. Van Decker's situation.
"I lost a lot of time with my boys," he said.
He felt the courts used his financial hardship at the time to build a case against him.
But Markham family lawyer Stephanie Ansky disagreed, saying the courts will use all the information available when determining where a child's primary residence will be.
"It may be primary residence, in most cases, is with mom. Mom is usually the primary caregiver. That's the reality. If it's perceived as a bias, that's unfortunate, but that's how families are usually run," she said.
Often, decisions about a child's best interests will be made by the parents out of court.
But when divorce proceedings go before a family court judge, a father can just as easily be selected as the primary caregiver for a child over the mother if the court deems it in the child's best interest, Ms Ansky said.
"It's case specific. So for fathers to say they get the crappy end of the stick, it's not like that."
Fathers 4 Justice has 15 York Region members, however, there are more than 1,000 members Canadawide.
For more information about the group, go to www.fathers-4-justice-canada.ca or call 905-786-9806.
Source: Northregion newspapers
Hold CAS Responsible
December 6, 2006 permalink
The following opinion by Rosie DiManno is important because the Toronto Star expresses opinions similar to the Liberal Party, now governing Ontario. It starts with the observation that children's aid is really the responsible person when a child in its care dies. We have been saying that for years, now the establishment is catching on. It goes on to recount the abuse found by the Auditor General, then suggests that CAS is in need of oversight. Dave Brown said that six years ago in the Ottawa Citizen, now his view is catching on.
DiManno: Minding the minders
Report on children's aid societies shows that it isn't just the money that needs better care
When Jeffrey Baldwin died a miserable, lonely death, the courts took their pound of flesh from his grandparents, who were convicted of second-degree murder.
The chronically starved 5-year-old had only 21 pounds of flesh and stunted bones on his wasted little frame.
Yet the Catholic Children's Aid Society, which had placed that doomed boy in the custody of his wicked grandparents — never even checking their own records, thus unaware the "caregivers" were both convicted child abusers — was not made to answer for such a tragic lapse of judgment.
No caseworker, no supervisor, no executive was ever called to the stand. That was largely a tactical decision made by the Crown attorney, who did not wish to shift any of the blame from the two accused.
But the CCAS was acutely responsible for Jeffrey's fate. And there was no reckoning.
The thing is, child welfare agencies have enormous autonomy in Ontario: Their decisions rarely scrutinized, their finances unexamined, their catastrophic failures revisited only at coroner's inquests. Tens of thousands of children placed in their safekeeping — directly, as wards of the state, or indirectly, in monitored at-risk households — and nobody really knows how they're faring, if they're receiving appropriate services, whether they're hurting.
The provincial government doesn't know. That was pitifully evident in the auditor general's report released yesterday.
Ontario lacks even a standardized province-wide information system to collect and assess the data that exists.
They know not the age and gender of children receiving services; the proportion of children receiving services who are taken into care; the proportion of children who've received services and then been victimized again; the types of reported and investigated maltreatment; the number of children moved from one placement to another.
This audit is essentially a financial closeup. It speaks of cases and care plans far more frequently than vulnerable children and damaged youths.
It follows the money — $1.218 billion for the 2004/05 fiscal year — and annotates some of the more grotesque misuses of funds: senior managers driving agency-issued SUVs worth up to $60,000, lavish restaurant meals, $600 monthly car allowances despite exclusive use of CAS vehicles, trips to Caribbean resorts, unsupported billings to corporate credit cards, a $2,000 gym membership for one senior executive along with quarterly personal trainer fees of $650, $150 car washes.
Such extravagances only hint at the culture of entitlement and self-determination — the astonishing fiscal and moral latitude — that pervades these agencies.
The excesses uncovered all relate to the four societies investigated: Toronto, York, Peel and Thunder Bay, which accounted for almost 25 per cent of total CAS expenditures. Auditor General Jim McCarter does not tie any of this mismanagement and malfeasance to a specific CAS, although the report notes that one particular society was most often referenced. The Star has learned that agency is the Toronto CAS.
Senior managers take what's not coming to them, while child referrals — initial intake and investigation — go begging for follow-up. In one-third of the cases reviewed, where a child should have seen a caseworker within either 12 hours or seven days, visits were late by an average of 21 days. Ninety per cent of cases reviewed for completion of "initial plans of service'' — what to do with the child, assessment of risk and need — went uncompleted for months, a few times late by more than 400 days.
And there's cheating, too. In one case, three plans of care were completed for a child on the same day — 192 days after the first was due. That's catching up, on paper. But there's a real child inside that file.
"Non-compliance'' with requirements is how the report dryly puts it. In human terms, consider these children: The youngster, beaten by his mother, who was not seen until his aunt and school principal called again 12 days after the mandated deadline had passed. Or another child never visited at all, the explanation being that the caseworker hadn't been able to reach the mother over five months. When contact was finally made, the mother said, s'okay, everything okey-dokey, and the worker simply closed the file.
Only last March did the Child Death Reporting and Review Directive come into effect, requiring the societies to report all child deaths to the chief coroner. Up till then, the government had no idea how many kids under protection had died.
Since their inception, these societies have been fiefdoms unto themselves, with minimal oversight from what is now the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. The little review that once was done had been dropped in recent years, with audits of non-Crown wards and child protection files discontinued in 2003. While this Liberal government introduced a risk assessment model — to promote consistency and accountability in the intake process — it failed to monitor its implementation.
The agencies determine when a child should be removed from the family home and when that child can safely remain. But they have a remarkable knack for getting it wrong repeatedly, which we know from the headline disasters. And they're rarely held to account for that, or much else.
Children's aid societies can afford lawyers, and properly so. Sometimes, though, deep pockets obfuscate and obstruct. In the Jeffrey Baldwin case, detectives complained about the lack of co-operation in obtaining documents from a resistant CCAS. The auditor general's report, in a separate case, refers to a society that paid a law firm an annual retainer of $160,000, with poor records as to actual services rendered.
Gobs of cash going out; distressingly little clarification of value-for-money. Hourly billings for lawyers, psychiatrists, psychologists, interpreters, but no indication of how those professionals had been selected, whether they were qualified, or whether the cost was justified.
Child welfare services are not underfunded. But where does all that money go? And who's keeping track?
The government covers 100 per cent of costs because the one non-negotiable rule is that no child must wait for services because of funding constraints. Yet there's no explanation as to why costs doubled between 1999 to 2005, while the caseload increased only about 40 per cent. Agencies got a lot more money basically because they asked for it.
Nobody seems to have wondered why foster-care per diems — regular care, nothing specialized — ranged from $41 per day for a CAS-placed child to $449 per day for care arranged through subcontracted placement agencies.
Nobody ensured that all children's homes and foster-care operators had documents supporting the issuance of a licence.
Why? Short answer: Because nobody's been minding the minders.
Source: Toronto Star
Addendum: The Star printed a reply from Mary McConville.
December 6, 2006 permalink
When caught with their hands in the cookie jar, CAS brings on the excuses. In the article below we respond to each lame excuse with a rebuttal in red.
CAS executive: Perks a necessary 'motivation'
The compensation package that provides the Toronto Children's Aid Society's top executive with a taxpayer-funded sport utility vehicle and other perks is necessary "motivation" to do a tough job, the executive told the Star yesterday.
For specialized organizations like Bell Canada or Sick Kids Hospital, only a few people have the required technical and managerial expertise, and they must be compensated well to keep them on the job. CAS hires executives with no skills beyond social worker training. Some of them have a past in law enforcement, bringing no special skills to the job.
"I don't just write my free ticket," Carolyn Buck, executive director of the Toronto Children's Aid Society, said after provincial Auditor General Jim McCarter released a scathing report on widespread spending abuse throughout the public agency.
Many of the spending abuses the auditor highlighted in his report -- including two SUVs worth more than $50,000 and "numerous expenditures of hundreds of dollars at a time" on executive credit cards at swanky restaurants -- resulted from a probe he conducted at Buck's own office.
Yesterday, the three-year executive defended her compensation package, saying her agency's board of directors had authorized all the perks.
If the Toronto CAS board is like others, it is under control of the executive director. Most are (subordinate) employees, an occasional "community director" is required to sign a contract with the agency pledging to keep its secrets.
"When people from business (backgrounds) come to the Children's Aid Society's boards, they apply business sort of thinking to the health and well-being of executives," she said, adding that on-the-job-extras serve as "motivation to continue to do this very difficult work. This is a high stress job."
Buck, whose salary is about $158,000, admitted she uses a taxpayer-funded SUV. She said $150 car-detailing expenditures mentioned in the auditor's report weren't what they appeared to be.
The cleaning bills are for caseworkers who cart young victims away from traumatic incidents, she said. "Sometimes they're sick in cars or sometimes they soil in cars. It's not that somebody's getting their car cleaned because they'd like to," she said.
Let's guess. Were those $150 car washes for caseworkers' cars or for executives' cars?
Asked whether the $4,600-per-year gym/personal training package the auditor uncovered belonged to her or one of her senior executive colleagues, Buck became defensive.
She said the details made public in regards to executive compensation packages are "really beyond realistic."
"I'd like the public to understand that we pay very careful attention to how we spend our money here," she said. "We put the needs of children first all the time."
Really? The auditor reported that caseworkers don't visit their wards on time, and 3/4 of the "serious occurrences" (deaths disasters or missing kids) are not handled properly.
Peel Children's Aid Society executive director Paul Zarnke said that's exactly what his agency was doing when officials authorized staff to take clients on two trips to the Caribbean last year.
His agency came under fire by the auditor, who highlighted a $1,700 all-inclusive trip to a St. Martin resort for a caseworker and child, and a $4,000 one-week trip to St. Lucia for another caseworker and child. Zarnke said, "It's about doing our job: returning children to their families in the cheapest way possible."
A week? Did they make the trip by boat?
A new accountability office will oversee the societies with more rigid controls imposed on expenses, Premier Dalton McGuinty said yesterday.
Managers for the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton and the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Hamilton say the findings are not reflective of their operations, but they to will review expense policies and procedures to see if they meet recommendations from McCarter.
Both Hamilton CAS executive director Dominic Verticchio and CCAS executive director Beatrice Kemp said no one from their agencies has an expensive car or has gone on expensive trips at the agency's expense.
Hamilton is one of Ontario's hotspots, with a disproportionate number of complaints of children taken without cause.
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Auditor's Report Released
December 5, 2006 permalink
The Ontario Auditor-General's report on children's aid societies (pdf) is now available online (local copy).
Previous reports in the press have been limited to hot-button issues likely to catch the attention of reporters, such as SUV's for CAS management and Caribbean vacations reported as visits to children. Examination of the report shows some more serious structural problems.
A pie chart on page 59 shows that $652 million of annual expenditures of $1.218 billion, just over half, goes for two categories of foster care. Later a table appears classifying the types of care:
|Figure 4: Per Diem Rates for Residential Care|
Source of data: Individual Children's Aid Societies
|Type of Care||Low ($)||High ($)|
|foster care — regular||26||41|
|foster care — specialized||29||53|
|foster care — treatment||40||70|
|Society-operated group home||180||416|
|Outside Purchased Institution — foster care||72||449|
|Outside Purchased Institution — group home||82||739|
The documentation for classifying children in the various categories was deficient, and the classification may have been arbitrary. There was no indication in the report of how much of the allocated expenditures went to foster parents, and how much remained in the agencies for their own operations. Previous experience with children's aid shows many informal connections between persons in the system, for example marriages between social workers and police, and several cases of persons connected to the child protection system also being adoptive parents. In cases of collusion between CAS management and foster contractors, the higher foster care rates, up to $739 per day, could be lucrative.
On page 62 the auditor says:
The Ministry continued to fund the annual year-end expenditure deficits of Societies regardless of their entitlement under the funding framework. This contributed to significant differences in funding growth between Societies, and significantly higher overall program costs.
This is a problem we alluded to two years ago in the report Ontario Taxpayers Cover Prodigal CAS. Children's aid societies can overspend their budget, leaving a deficit in their bank account at the end of the year. Banks extend credit, because they know CAS is funded by the crown. The following year the ministry will increase funding to make up the deficit. This process allows CAS management to treat their agency as a personal piggy-bank. In government agencies with real fiscal control, there is no bank account. All contracts must be within budget limits, and invoices are paid by an office that checks each invoice for proper budgeting and delivery of goods and services before issuing a cheque on the government treasury.
The auditor suggests in recommendation 18:
Children's Aid Societies should ensure that additional remuneration paid to employees over and above their regular salary is in compliance with established policies and approved by senior management and the Board of Directors as appropriate.
A naive view of the problem. In the few discussions we have had with caseworkers, they are unaware of the financial incentives driving their own agency, instead believing that their actions are driven by the needs of children. The policies leading to financial waste originate with CAS management. The board of directors cannot act, because they are stooges under control of management.
Pages 76-77 deal with the complaints process. The auditor's report confirms the view of CAS critics that it is a sham.
The report never deals with the largest form of CAS waste, warehousing children in expensive foster care when their parents could better provide for them at no cost to the taxpayers.
While CAS management and foster contractors derive rich rewards for their services, children get short shrift. Social workers don't even check on their wards. From page 71:
The requirement to visit a child in care every 90 days was not met in 60% of the cases reviewed, and the visits were an average of 19 days late.
Another example of poor attention to children is the last item:
All Child Welfare Service providers are required by Ministry policy to report any serious occurrences involving children in their care to the Ministry within 24 hours of the incident, with a written follow- up within seven days of the occurrence detailing corrective action taken. Examples of serious occurrences that would require this reporting are:
- death, serious injury, or allegations of mistreatment of a child in care;
- complaints made by or about a client that are considered serious in nature;
- disasters such as fire on the premises where a service is provided; and
- situations where a client is missing.
We examined the Serious Occurrence reporting process at the Societies we visited and found that 75% of the files we reviewed were not in compliance with the required Ministry policy and procedures. Issues included failure to meet timing requirements and a lack of documentation on the follow-up action taken as a result of the incident.
We noted similar concerns in our 2000 audit of the ministry Child Welfare Services Program.
The following sentence at the beginning of the report allows calculation of the level of waste — $414 million per year.
Total society expenditures net of society-generated funds more than doubled between the 1998/99 and 2004/05 fiscal years, rising from $541.7 million to $1.173 billion, while key service volumes, including the number of families served, increased by only about 40% over the same period.
A ministry response delivered the same day as the report deals with some of the hot-button issues, but not the more serious problems.
December 5, 2006 permalink
Ahead of the auditor's report to be released later today, Premier Dalton McGuinty has responded to the CAS spending scandal.
McGuinty vows to end spending abuses at children's aid
Hours before the release of a report alleging misspending at several Ontario children's aid societies, Premier Dalton McGuinty addressed the issue for the first time, promising to put an end to spending abuses.
His comments Tuesday ended a widespread silence from the government in the week after CBC News revealed disturbing details from a leaked draft copy of the provincial auditor general's report on four children's aid societies.
Auditor General Jim McCarter brings down his full annual report Tuesday and for the first time it will also be reporting on hospitals and school boards.
The draft suggests that some of the $1.24 billion that the province hands out annually to 53 local not-for-profit children's aid societies has been spent on trips abroad, luxury vehicles and in one case, even a gym membership with a fitness trainer.
"We have not been getting good value for our dollars, in terms of the money we've been sending to the Children's Aid Society," McGuinty told reporters Tuesday.
One expense questioned by the auditor was a fleet of 50 vehicles at one agency — including two luxury SUVs for senior managers.
"That $1 billion is there to support services for children," said McGuinty.
"It's not to ensure that people who are employed at the children's aid societies enjoy a comfortable ride to and from the workplace."
He pledged that his government would put a stop to spending abuses and ensure money designated for at-risk children goes to them.
Liberals 'cobbled together' plan: opposition
Opposition parties said McGuinty's tough talk was too little too late. They said the Liberal's response to the auditor-general was "cobbled together" after the CBC revealed the details of the leaked report.
The provincial minister of children and youth services, Mary Anne Chambers, flatly denied that any action plan had been "cobbled together" in the past week.
Chalmers said it had been in the works for several weeks.
Children Die in Secret
December 5, 2006 permalink
An editorial in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle reports that in California child protectors conceal the facts when their wards die, even though the legislature enacted a law requiring full disclosure, including names, in these cases. This experience suggests that only an outside agency with subpoena power can disclose failings within the child protection system.
On Foster Care Reform
Why are these children dying?
THE STATE OF California cannot say how many foster children die each year, even though a state law that took effect in 2004 requires counties to release the names, dates of birth, and dates of death for these children. The new law is not being followed by all: The Children's Advocacy Institute, a San Diego-based research and lobbying group that co-sponsored the 2004 law, requested the names for 2005 from all 58 counties. Nearly a year later, they're still waiting for two counties to respond.
The names that they do have for 2005 -- 48 so far -- offer more questions than answers. What does it mean, for example, that nine of the deaths were children age 17 or older, five of whom were within six weeks of their 18th birthday? Are 17-year-olds simply more likely to get in car accidents? Suffer drug overdoses? Skateboard without helmets? Or does it mean the fulfillment of our worst fears -- that some children, facing the harsh realities of homelessness and desperation when they "age out" of the system at 18, are taking their own lives instead?
"There's no way to get more information without going to the courts," said Christina Riehl, staff attorney for the Children's Advocacy Institute.
There is absolutely no reason why an advocacy group, a newspaper, an elected official, or any other concerned member of the public should have to go to court to find out what happened when a foster youth dies.
But due to California's baffling policies on disclosure, it's extraordinarily difficult for the public to learn who in the system is dying and why. Nearly every bill that has come through the Legislature in the past several years has been stonewalled by the County Welfare Directors' Association.
Take AB1817, a very modest bill sponsored by Assemblyman Bill Maze, R-Visalia, three years ago. Concerned about a wave of foster children's deaths in his district, Maze simply wanted legislators to be allowed to review the case files of deceased children in the system. But he couldn't get his bill out of the Judiciary Committee.
"They said that, as an elected official, I'd just use these cases as a political forum," said Maze. "I think it's just baloney. We need to know if there's some kind of pattern or trend or lack of oversight in case management, because, until we know that, we won't know how to fix the problem. But needless to say, I've been fought against on this issue tremendously by the welfare directors of this state."
Maze is not the only one frustrated by the lack of information about child deaths from California's social-services bureaucracies. Last year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determined that the state was violating federal law by failing to file reports about the deaths and near-deaths of children due to abuse or neglect. Threatened with the loss of $60 million in child-welfare funds, this summer the state began requiring counties to file these reports. But -- and here's the rub -- the Department of Social Services keeps all names confidential, even in the case of foster children.
Imagine -- our state's most vulnerable children, betrayed by a state system that was supposed to protect them -- and we have no idea who they are. A look at the questionnaires the state started providing this July offer only haunting glimpses of their fates:
- On July 30, a 15-year-old foster child died after either jumping or being pushed from a moving car in a suspected sexual assault.
- On Aug. 17, a 2-year-old foster child drowned after her foster parents left her alone in a bath tub.
- On Aug. 24, a 16-year-old committed suicide by shooting himself in the head after telling his sibling that he couldn't take their legal guardian's abuse anymore.
Confidentiality is important, especially when it comes to protecting the identities of family members and abuse reporters. We understand, as well, that it's important to protect the names of abused children who suffer near-fatalities but are expected to recover. But there are no good reasons why the full case files -- including names, counties and histories -- for dead foster children shouldn't be open to all of us. There can't be any accountability without transparency.
When we asked Sue Diedrich, assistant general counsel for the state Department of Social Services, why they couldn't tell us more, she said that the state could risk its federal funding.
That's simply not true, according to a federal official who tracks the issue.
"Federal law doesn't require that a state release (those details), but it doesn't prohibit those disclosures either," said Susan Orr, associate commissioner of the children's bureau in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Indeed, there are at least two states, Georgia and South Carolina, which offer up just the sort of connect-the-dots information that an informed public needs -- and unlike California, they haven't had any threats of a funding cut-off.
There is a solution to this, and this year Assembly members Sharon Runner and Karen Bass even tried to offer it. It was AB2938, which required the release of juvenile court records, and county and state files, in the case of a child death pertaining to abuse or neglect. AB2938 should be expanded to include the deaths of foster children, regardless of whether or not they died as a result of abuse or neglect.
Unfortunately, although the governor and Legislature worked together to pass many important pieces of child-welfare legislation this year, AB2938 wasn't one of them. The county welfare directors' association voiced its opposition again, and it didn't go past its first committee.
For some reason, there are still people who seem to believe that if we don't get the information, we won't pay attention to the fact that our children are dying.
They're wrong. It's time to resurrect -- and expand -- AB2938. What we don't know can hurt us. It's unconscionable to let children pay the price.
Opportunity for Reform
December 2, 2006 permalink
The fiasco in the legislature Thursday has created a new political mood regarding CAS. Mary Anne Chambers had planned to make it her big day, with the announcement of the proclamation of amendments to the Child and Family Services Act, and bill 165 to create a (neutered) child advocate.
Instead, bill 210, the CFSA amendments, was not proclaimed into law, the press ignored the introduction of bill 165, and all attention fell on the the leaked auditor's report and the inept response by Mrs Chambers. The new mood makes it possible that we could see:
Achieving these goals is possible, as long as this issue continues to burn. This is a good time to redouble efforts to get stories out to the press. If you can write a letter to the editor, do so. If a reporter needs a suggestion, the best is the story of Cathy Norris. It involves no vices on the part of her family, she is willing to tell her story, and the OPP has already posted the name of her lost son on the internet, breaking confidentiality.
Based on previous experience, there could soon be dis-information in the press, some story generating sympathy for CAS, such as an injured social worker or a child killed by his family because of inadequate social services intervention. But the press is interested now, and may print truthful stories about CAS atrocities.
Addendum: Here is more support for the same idea.
Sunday December 3, 2006
Dear Friends and Supporters,
Since the leaking of the CAS Auditor Report, Minister Chambers is proposing a Bill to appoint an independent advocate to oppose the Bill Andrea Horwath is trying to pass to allow the Ombudsman power to probe. It has become known that an Independent advocate is another highly paid official with no real authority to investigate or propose much needed reforms.
At this time it is urgent that we write in to our MPP's and support the Bill for Ontario Ombudsman. Please circulate this email widely as we need to be heard in Legislature.
The future of our children is in great peril. We can expect more adoptions, quicker apprehensions as the CAS is slated to say they "service families, have large caseloads and are underpaid".
The upcoming trend for child welfare is to have a case dealt with in 6-8 months with adoption being promoted more widely. They simply cannot keep up with the numbers of fosterkids needing homes. The quicker they can move the child out of care into adoptive homes, means they can cash in on the funding and then rid the responsibility of the upkeep. It will keep apprehensions steady and flowing by imbedding themselves in the schools and hospitals.
Here is the link to the Ontario Legislature with links to the MPP's. Dont forget to send it to the Premier. You can also email your comments and opinions to various media outlets, CBC, The Toronto Star, Globe and Mail the Sun etc. It is vital we are heard.
Mothers In Exile - E.M.M.A Exiled Mothers Mobilizing For Action
Source: email from Erika Klein
Addendum: And here is an example of following Erika's advice:
December 3, 2006
Monique M Smith
Member of Provincial Parliament for Nipissing
80 Grosvenor St, 11th Floor, Hepburn Block
Toronto Ontario M7A 2C4
sent by email and Canada Post
Subject: Bills 88, 165
I asking your support for bill 88, and not for bill 165.
Last week a report leaked to the CBC, and discussed in the legislature, alerted the province to a large amount of waste within Ontario's children's aid societies.
The small tragedy is that a few hundred million dollars a year of taxpayer money is being squandered.
The large tragedy is that many children are deprived of parental love and care, not for cause, but as pretext for the funding to be misappropriated. Years of watching children aid has uncovered a pattern of abuse entailing unnecessary apprehension of children, bogus expert reports, sham court hearings, warehousing of children in foster or group homes, and hiding it all behind the pretext of confidentiality. A terror campaign targets parents or advocates who speak out. For example, Cathy Norris was recently jailed for a month because her story appeared on the internet, then while jailed, her son was lost and the the OPP asked the public for help in finding him.
Bill 88 lets the provincial Ombudsman look into children's aid societies, allowing abuses to be reported in a form permitting legislative correction. Substitute bill 165, proposed by the bureaucracy itself, creates a neutered advocate lacking subpoena power and bound by confidentiality.
Robert T McQuaid
558 McMartin Road
Mattawa Ontario P0H 1V0
- Andrea Horwath, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dalton McGuinty, Dalton.McGuinty@premier.gov.on.ca
Addendum: Mrs Smith's reply indicates no real plan to rein in the powers of children's aid. Since it includes the discredited claim that the current government was the first to ever allow an audit of children's aid societies, we presume that she did not look into the matter herself, but referred the matter to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to create her reply. The government plan for the care of children does not include the words "mother" or "father".
collapseMonique Smith, MPP Nipissing
December 20, 2006
Mr. Robert McQuaid
558 McMartin Road
Mattawa, ON P0H 1V0
Dear Mr. McQuaid:
Thank you for your letter of December 3, 2006, outlining your concerns around children's aid societies in Ontario, and indicating your support for Bill 88 over Bill 165.
As you mentioned, the Auditor General of Ontario recently released his annual report which for the first time, included audits of four children's aid societies as well as the Child Welfare Program of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.
The McGuinty Government is the first government in Ontario to give the auditor general the power to audit broader public sector agencies, including children's aid societies. We welcome his advice. In addition to accepting all the auditor general's recommendations, we have developed a plan that goes even farther to strengthen accountability.
The government has also taken some other measures to improve accountability in children's aid societies
- Create an Accountability Office to toughen enforcement and monitor children's aid societies' performance in meeting legislated requirements and regulations for the care and protection of children and direct corrective action when they are not. The Accountability Office will also give ministry staff the training and tools they need to monitor compliance with these new performance standards
- Require children's aid societies to implement higher standards consistent with those of the Ontario Public Service for business processes such as procurement, travel and other expenses, and vehicle/fleet management by April 2007, and in addition, require all ministry funded partners to meet these same high standards.
- Undertake an independent assessment of the fleet requirements of children's aid societies, so that where less expensive alternatives exist, CASs will be directed to relinquish vehicles as quickly and economically as possible, with savings redirected into services for children and youth
- Require all ministry funded agencies to sign service agreements tied to these higher standards and mandate regular audit reporting by children's aid societies.
The action plan announced by the government today follows the recent introduction of Bill 165 that, if passed, would establish an independent provincial advocate for children and youth and deliver on a commitment to better protect vulnerable children and youth.
The intent of Bill 165 is to make the province's child and youth advocate an independent officer of the Legislature. The independent child and youth advocate would report to the Legislative Assembly, and would be appointed through an all-party legislative committee. Most importantly, the advocate would be as independent as the Auditor General and the Ombudsman.
The child advocate represents children and youth who are seeking or receiving services under the Child and Family Services Act. Those services could be in the youth justice system, in the children's mental health or complex special needs system, in the child protection and well-being system, or in provincial and demonstration schools for the deaf and blind. The advocate's office also reviews cases that involve complaints about the treatment or care of a child or youth in any program funded by the Ontario government. Simply put, the advocate speaks for children and youth who are unable to bring their issues forward on their own behalf.
Bill 165 therefore offers more expansive protections to children than Bill 88, which allows the Ombudsman to investigate any decision or recommendation made or any act done or omitted in the course of the administration of a children's aid society.
Another measure taken to improve oversight of children's aid societies was the amending of the Child and Family Services Act, which was proclaimed on November 30, 2006. This amended Act includes a strengthened and standardized process for the review of client complaints about children's aid societies, and greater accountability through third party oversight provided by the Child and Family Services Review Board for a wide range of complaints.
To further safeguard vulnerable children, the ministry now requires children's aid societies to complete an assessment, including background checks for all placements, even where a child is placed with a members of an extended family. In addition, as part of its reforms, the ministry is introducing new child protection standards and tools so that children's aid societies can better assess risk and match their response to the child and family's needs. Beginning in early 2007, the ministry will also be piloting in three children's aid societies, a new web-based information system to meet all child protection case recording and reporting requirements.
Children in need of protection must be better off as a result of the involvement of our child protection system in their lives. That also means ensuring that taxpayer dollars are appropriately invested in services that help protect ans support our children.
Thank you for taking the time to write and share your thoughts on this important issue with me and allowing me the opportunity to tell you about some of the measures the McGuinty Government is taking to improve oversight of children's aid societies and to ensure that Ontario's children have a voice.
If you have any additional questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact my office.
Monique Smith, MPP
NipissingMain Legislative Building, Queen's Park, Toronto ON M7A 1A4 • T - (416) 326-3981 F - (416) 325-8412 E - email@example.com
December 2, 2006 permalink
Vivian Song interviews activist David Witzel. David is suing Hamilton Children's Aid and his story was summarized by Andrea Horwath in the legislature.
Power to probe CAS urged for ombudsman
Children's Aid societies enjoy a shield of immunity that make it nearly impossible to hold them accountable, say child advocates on the heels of a leaked report detailing gross misspending.
David Witzel, who grew up in foster care and is suing the Hamilton Wentworth Children's Aid Society for sexual abuse, renewed the call to give the provincial ombudsman power to investigate the child welfare system.
Currently complaints are investigated internally. Appeals are dealt with by a government-appointed board.
Witzel pointed to Jeffrey Baldwin, who was handed over to his grandmother Elva Bottineau despite her having been convicted of killing her own baby. Jeffrey, 5, died of starvation. Bottineau's record was on file but the Toronto Catholic Children's Aid Society has never been investigated by police.
'IT HAS NO TEETH'
Though the province announced the introduction of an independent child advocate Thursday -- the same day the media got wind of the leaked auditor's report -- Witzel lambasted the new role, calling it useless because it would only have the authority to review complaints and not act on them.
"They have no power to do anything," Witzel said. "They can do exactly what they've been doing now, which is exactly nothing. It has no teeth."
In a report obtained by the CBC, provincial auditors allege that senior managers received SUVs worth as much as $59,000, and paid for gym memberships and trips to the Caribbean with taxpayers' money.
"The best way to deal with the CAS is by allowing the ombudsman, who has the tools, staff and experience, to have oversight over the CAS," agreed Andrea Horwath, NDP critic for children and youth services.
"Child advocates won't be able to investigate, issue subpoenas to witnesses or force the handing over of documents," she said. "A child advocate would not be able to investigate the use of SUVs."
Past pleas by Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin asking the government to give his office further investigative powers fell on deaf ears.
Source: Toronto Sun
Chambers Covers for CAS
December 1, 2006 permalink
Examination of yesterday's Hansard, now online, reveals what is really happening. Mary Ann Chambers introduced a new bill 165 to create an independent advocate for children. The bill text is not yet online, but according to Andrea Horwath who was filled in on its content, the proposed advocate will be a fluff position with no investigatory powers. Mrs Chambers introduced the bill in an effort to head off the more serious bill 88, which would give oversight powers to the provincial Ombudsman, an officer who does have investigatory power. When the proceedings reached questions, the main topic was the leaked auditor's report. Mrs Chambers rebuffed all questions with two claims: the liberals expanded the powers of the auditor to allow this report to be created, and we cannot comment because the report has not yet been released.
Since the press and the internet have gone wild on this story, and the Canada Court Watch discussion board is down, we include several comments in the addenda.
Here are the relevant sections of the debate:
Addendum: Here is news and commentary from Vivian Song in today's Toronto Sun:
Child welfare workers ripped
What child welfare workers have done is tantamount to stealing from children, says one woman who grew up in the system.
"Staff at children's aid societies get paid well enough," said Chantal Lalande, 22, who told her story in a heartbreaking documentary Wards of the Crown. "They shouldn't be taking money away from a child. These kids already had their (childhood) stolen from them. The last thing they need is to be deprived of more because someone wants to go out for a nice dinner with their family or buy a car."
Though appalled, Lalande said she wasn't surprised at the revelations, saying it was common knowledge among kids at the group home she lived in that staff expensed family dinners under the guise of taking out a child.
While working at a group home near Ottawa, Jane Scharf says she watched as the owners bought a new Jeep, built a new home and dined on expensive dinners while the children were starved of breakfast and went cold in the winter.
"These group homes are funded by the children's aid society," Scharf said from Ottawa. "There was no accounting of the money going into the children's aid society or to the owners of group homes."
BASIC NEEDS NOT MET
Scharf is now an outspoken critic of the child welfare system after a four-month stint as a careworker. The group home didn't take care of the kids' basic needs much less provide the services they needed to help them, she said.
Scharf applauded the government's announcement yesterday introducing legislation that would make the youth advocate an officer of the legislature -- and independent.
"What CAS is doing infuriates me," she said. "It's the most out-of-control organization I've ever seen."
Source: Toronto Sun
Addendum: A VOCA reader got the opinion of John Tory:
- December 1, 2006 12:44 AM
- firstname.lastname@example.org; NDP Members
- Tory, John
- who is paying for the PR firm to add the spin to this report? the tax payers?
And the CBC has also obtained an internal document showing that an outside public relations agency has been hired to develop a response to the damaging report and "to preserve the reputation of children's aid societies and their leadership."
- Tory, John
- Friday, December 01, 2006 7:56 AM
- RE: who is paying for the PR firm to add the spin to this report? the tax payers?
I hate to say it but you are. The taxpayers who thought the money was going to the kids and families are paying for the p.r. people too. Hopefully you might add your voice by writing to the Premier since his Minister didn't take this seriously yesterday. Thank you for writing to me. John Tory
Source: reader who prefers to omit his name
Addendum: Just in time for this scandal, here is a press release from the union representing children's aid workers, complaining that they do not get enough compensation.
Addendum: Some cynics have pointed out that junkets to the Caribbean also go a haven for money laundering.
CathyEthier rescued her son from children's aid by placing him with her parents (the boy's grandparents) in her native Bulgaria. Here is her comment on the scandal:
- Cathy <email@example.com>
- Fri, 1 Dec 2006 03:26:56 -0800 (PST)
- AfterFosterCare Minister of Children's Services - Announcement 1:00pm
Well , you know that York CAS wanted my son's school address in Bulgaria.
The reason for that is because Ms. Nancy French wanted to go on a vacation on the Black Sea. That's why she was trying to collect the address even two years after my file was closed. When she did not succeed, she got bananas and went to York Regional Police in an attempt to unsuccsessfully manipulate the Police.
Source: afterfostercare email group
Addendum: Anne Marsden comments:
- "The Auditors"<firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Fri, 1 Dec 2006 06:34:47 -0500
- CBC News
Whats worse is the billions that is being spent dragging innocents through the courts. December 6, 2006 will be another appearance by mom and family in the Bantford family court. This will be 4 years since it started December 5, 2002 with an illegal TCA. There is no evidence this child is in need of protection, the CFSA requirements to protect children have all been set aside - no temporary care and custody hearing and no protection hearing just a summary judgment without notice to mom and grandma who was a party. December 6th is a settlement conference for her sister who was apprehended from the hospital July 10, 2006 based on the same garbage the other little girl has been in care for four years now. Strange it only happens to the little girls, mom does produce beautiful baby girls, as the three sons mom has had all live at home. Judgment has been reserved on the temp. care and custody hearings since Oct 16th and there has been no temporary order since July 13, 2006 for this baby to be in care. Also on Dec. 6, 2006 is the third attempt commencing August 16, 2006 with all the evidence before the court that the order of July 13, 2006 making the 6 year old a crown ward no access has to be set aside. Consents to keep this child in care have been given by lawyers without any consent of the parties! The audit of these two cases are very detailed and the evidence is all there to support what we have been saying for years, children for the most part are being taken and kept in care outside rule of law. The Children's Minister refused to have a CFSA Section 67 review of this matter (have a judge investigate) and my request is right on Hansard as you all likely know. Anne Marsden
Source: email from Anne Marsden
Comment: Here is a quote from Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. The same racket is practiced today, not by foster parents, but by children's aid societies.
Upon this the parish authorities magnanimously and humanely resolved, that Oliver should be "farmed," or, in other words, that he should be despatched to a branch-workhouse some three miles off, where twenty or thirty other juvenile offenders against the poor-laws, rolled about the floor all day, without the inconvenience of too much food or too much clothing, under the parental superintendence of an elderly female, who received the culprits at and for the consideration of sevenpence-halfpenny per small head per week. Sevenpence-halfpenny's worth per week is a good round diet for a child; a great deal may be got for sevenpence-halfpenny, quite enough to overload its stomach, and make it uncomfortable. The elderly female was a woman of wisdom and experience; she knew what was good for children; and she had a very accurate perception of what was good for herself. So, she appropriated the greater part of the weekly stipend to her own use, and consigned the rising parochial generation to even a shorter allowance than was originally provided for them. Thereby finding in the lowest depth a deeper still; and proving herself a very great experimental philosopher.
Source: Oliver Twist, chapter two
Different Kind of CAS Death
December 1, 2006 permalink
Canada Court Watch reports on a child driven to suicide by CAS workers. Since the girl is no longer under protection, we hope Canada Court Watch can release her name.
Stress because of abuse by CAS workers killed by daughter claims mother!
(November 30, 2006) - An Ontario mother has come forth to Court Watch to report that her daughter took her own life after enduring months of psychological abuse by over-zealous CAS workers. This mother claims that her daughter literally gave up after being continually harassed and degraded by CAS workers. Court Watch is currently investigating this developing story. More to follow.
Source: Canada Court Watch
November 30, 2006 permalink
Here is an apparently successful escape from child protectors in California.
Suspect sought in child seizure
ABDUCTION: Authorities think the boy's father is going to southern Mexico with the 10-month-old.
10:00 PM PST on Thursday, November 30, 2006
PEDLEY - Riverside County Sheriff's Department officials are searching for a Perris man suspected of abducting his 10-month-old son from a Pedley foster-care facility Tuesday evening.
Liborio Cadenas, 21, is believed to be headed to southern Mexico, where his 17-year-old wife, who is the boy's mother, is living, according to a Sheriff's Department statement.
Fidelmar Cadenas is described in the statement as an "at-risk infant," who was removed from parental custody due to felony child neglect and abuse by his mother.
Liborio Cadenas does not have legal custody of the boy but was allowed supervised visits at the Mountain Shadows Special Kids Home on Teasdale Avenue in Pedley.
The abduction took place at about 5:20 p.m., the statement said.
The father's visits with the boy were required to be supervised.
Riverside County sheriff's Sgt. Earl Quinata said he could not comment on details of the abduction, citing the ongoing investigation.
"The big puzzle is: Who was watching the guy?" Quinata said.
Wade Wilde, executive director of Mountain Shadows Special Kids Homes, would not comment on the incident except to say it was the first time something like this had happened in the 10 to 12 years the home was in operation.
"We're a little upset about this," he said..
The company has nine homes in the Pedley area and four in Moreno Valley and is licensed to care for children with special medical needs.
Wilde said Fidelmar has ongoing health issues but declined to be more specific.
The sheriff's statement said the boy has a surgery scar on the back of his head and on his left wrist.
Quinata said he did not know if the father had been in touch with the mother or if he was acting on her behalf.
Liborio Cadenas is described as 5 feet 9 inches tall, 220 pounds, with a shaved head and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a black pullover hooded sweat shirt and black pants.
He is possibly armed with a 9 mm handgun, according to the Sheriff's Department.
He was driving a red 2006, Ford F150 extra-cab truck. The truck has flames around the Ford logo on the tailgate.
The baby is 30 inches tall and weighs about 20 pounds. He was wearing a beige shirt and baby-blue sweat pants with "Pooh" on both pant legs.
Cynthia Marez, regional manager of the central intake center for Riverside County Child Protective Services, declined to comment on any aspect of the case involving the boy's mother or how she lost custody of her child.
Ingrid Wyatt, spokeswoman for the Riverside County district attorney's office, said she could not discuss the case against the mother because she is a minor.
Quinata said the Sheriff's Department has notified Mexican authorities about the abduction and is working with them.
Anyone with information about the missing baby is asked to call Investigator John Negrete at the Riverside County Sheriff's Department at 951-955-2600.
CAS Squanders Funds
November 30, 2006 permalink
With great fanfare, Mary Anne Chambers announced the implementing of the new Child and Family Services act, enacted earlier this year. But the CBC released a story of scandal within Children's Aid. It dominated activity today in the provincial parliament. The article contains the statement that hundreds of children have died while in the care of children's aid societies, something we have reported previously only from statistical evidence. We will say more when the Hansard becomes available.
The CBC source page includes links to the video report by Michelle Cheung (mis-identified as Nancy) with video clips by Erika Klein and homicide detective Mike Davis.
Ontario children's aid societies misspent money, auditors allege
Luxury vehicles for executives, trips abroad and personal trainers are just a few of the "questionable" expenditures made by certain children's aid societies in Ontario, the provincial auditor general says.
CBC News has obtained a final draft of the province's first value-for-money audit of children's aid societies, scheduled to be released next week.
The report focuses on four agencies — in Thunder Bay, Toronto, the Peel region and the York region — that account for almost 25 per cent, or $310 million, of the $1.42 billion spent annually on all 53 children's aid societies in the province.
The report details a number of troubling expenditures, including:
- Senior managers receiving high-end SUVs to use for work — worth tens of thousands more than the maximum allowances that provincial deputy ministers are allowed.
- Scores of trips by the children being cared for and staff members to the Caribbean.
- A week-long stay at resort.
However, the report does not name the agencies in connection with the alleged actions — leaving it unclear which of the four children's aid societies in Toronto and two in Thunder Bay are at issue.
Retired homicide detective Michael Davis said the report makes him angry and disappointed. He has reviewed the deaths of hundreds of children who died while in the care of children's aid societies.
"I think the public is going to be outraged when they hear this," said Davis. "When they look at these perks being used by children's aid societies."
Agencies saw findings, hired public relations firm
When CBC News called several of the agencies, they said all queries had to go through the Ontario Association of the Children's Aid Societies. The association, however, refused to comment on the report before its official release.
Ontario Minister of Children and Youth Services Mary Anne Chambers stonewalled reporters when peppered with questions about the CBC report on Thursday afternoon.
"I'm going to wait until the auditor general releases his report," Chambers told reporters, refusing to "speculate" on a document she said she hadn't seen.
However, the report contains responses to the auditor general's findings from all four children's aid societies and the provincial body responsible for all the agencies.
And the CBC has also obtained an internal document showing that an outside public relations agency has been hired to develop a response to the damaging report and "to preserve the reputation of children's aid societies and their leadership."
Luxury SUVs among agency's 50-vehicle fleet
At one of the four agencies, the auditors said they made a number of disturbing discoveries regarding the massive fleet of company vehicles and improper use by staff.
The report states that senior management staff received luxury vehicles, including two SUVs worth $53,000 and $59,000.
It notes that not even the province's deputy ministers, who have a maximum allowance of $30,000, receive such expensive cars.
Those two SUVs were among a fleet of 50 vehicles owned or leased by one agency.
But that auditor found that almost half of those vehicles were underused, logging fewer than 10,000 kilometres a year. Some of them even were below 4,000 kilometres a year, the report says.
Those numbers were far below usage levels of above 22,000 kilometres per year considered economical by the Ministry of Transportation.
There was one instance at that agency where an individual not only had exclusive use of a society-owned vehicle but also received a tax-free allowance of $600 per month for use of his personal vehicle.
Personal trips, all-inclusive resorts
The auditor general alleges in the report that an employee at one agency made a personal trip on the taxpayers' tab.
In that case, a senior staff member allegedly attended an international conference in Beijing, China that was "unrelated to his duties or society business," the report states.
At the same society, the report notes that an executive assistant and executive director travelled to a conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The three other agencies were also found to have scores of unusual trips abroad, with a number of "questionable" trips by children and staff members to the Caribbean.
There were a number of instances where the agencies bought return tickets for children to visit families in the Caribbean, the report states.
One of the societies paid $1,700 for a seven-day all-inclusive trip to a resort in St. Martin and another $4,000 one-week trip to St. Lucia for a caseworker to accompany a child returning to their biological family.
Auditor questions funding
Other findings allege the societies aren't following the law to protect children.
In one-third of cases reviewed, initial visits to children at risk were late by an average of three weeks. Some children weren't seen at all.
In the report, the auditor asks why government funding for Ontario's children's aid societies has more than doubled over six years, while the number of families served increased by 40 per cent.
Addendum: Here is an audio report from CBC Ottawa (real media). The first half deals with the CAS report, giving a few more details about the misuse of funds. The link may only last a few days, but by then the full auditor's report should be released.
Foster Experiences Wanted
November 29, 2006 permalink
Michelle Cheung wants to talk to former foster kids.
- "John Dunn" <email@example.com>
- Wed, 29 Nov 2006 14:58:26 -0500
- CBC looking for stories QUICK
Michelle Cheung of the CBC is looking for kids / former kids in care who have stories of how the CAS is either negligent on spending ministry resources or in keeping within their time frames to bring cases to court etc.
If you have something please call her at
416 580 4241 (Michelle Cheung)
Must be very quick, call today/tonight/Thursday morning?
The Foster Care Council of Canada
Source: email from John Dunn
Addendum: In retrospect, it appears that Michele Cheung had advance warning of the next day's scandal.