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Grape Expectations Video
October 31, 2007 permalink
Cathy Norris (justiceseeker) has posted a video of the Grape Expectations demonstration on YouTube. Watch CAS workers and supporters arrive dressed in tax-supported opulence, and compare them to the parents who take real responsibility for children. Thanks to Mary Janiga for pointing out this video.
October 30, 2007 permalink
A foster mom identified only as Lanette tells a story of stealing Halloween candy from her foster kids.
Foster Children at Halloween
Here is the major a problem that I ran into with Halloween and the whole candy business: These children get all of this candy in their bag which means in their eyes it is their candy. In my house no one eats any candy until I go through it all and then it is placed into a large Halloween bowl. The children are able to have a couple of pieces of candy with permission but all the candies are placed together. My little secret is that I also throw out some of the candy a little at a time, things they do not like too much to help do away with the mound of candy and sugar highs that come with it. Every one of my foster children they struggled with this rule. One little guy attacked me when he thought I was taking his candy. It is their candy they feel like they earned and do not want to give it up easy.
Source: foster care and adoption blog website
New Minister Deb Matthews
October 30, 2007 permalink
In a cabinet reorganization following the October 10 election premier Dalton McGuinty appointed Deb Matthews, MPP for London North Centre, as the new Minister of Children and Youth Services.
Addendum: Here is a constituent experience. It does not look good.
Last Ontario parliament term, I was disappointed with Deb Matthews, MPP, Liberal, lack of support in stopping the legal kidnapping of my children. Last year Deb's staff waved Michael Bryant MPP former Attorney General's statement that the family court system is in perfect order. Yea right. Now he is going to help our Canadian Natives. I'm already starting to feel sorry for our Natives.
At a political debate last month Deb told me that we need to ask for funding to get a proper study done. Currently, I'm trying to work with the Canadian Equal Parenting Council to see if any the London politicians can help to sponsor funding. Sounds like Deb may help. I will keep you informed.
Source: email from Rob DeJong, October 31, 2007
John Dunn's FOI Requests
October 30, 2007 permalink
John Dunn has posted his letter to Jean Paiero of Queens Park requesting information about Ottawa Children's Aid:
Here is a link to the letter (pdf).
Thoughts From Jail
October 30, 2007 permalink
John Murtari of Syracuse New York has a son Domenic born in 1993. When the boy was five years old the marriage broke down and his ex-wife moved across the continent with the boy to be as far as possible from John. Although the mother's family had the means to easily care for the boy financially, she applied for court-ordered child support from John. He was a highly-paid computer specialist, and the support level was based on his former earnings. But with the disruptions of family law, continuation of that career was impossible and his earnings are now greatly reduced. High child support and low earnings have left him impoverished. What little money he has is used to pay trans-continental plane fare each time he gets to visit his son. His finances mean that he regularly spends time in jail for non-payment of support.
Rather than direct anger toward his ex-wife, John treats the family court as the party responsible for separating him from his son, and has conducted a number of actions to demonstrate his love for his son to the court. For example, this summer he chalked the message "I love you Dom" outside the courthouse. These actions led to a jail term. Below are John Murtari's thoughts after his recent release, addressed to others who have been forcibly separated from their children.
Good People & People of Faith,
Just got out of jail last Friday. It was good to hear that if your sentence ends over a weekend, they let you go early! I started this message while there... Need background:
Get used to it!
A single room, lots of noise, 45 men and 2 TVs without much space or privacy -- get used to it. It's so crowded they even put in steel bunk beds. The guy five feet away snores like a freight train ... you gonna giv'm a shove and tell'm to roll over? I don't think so -- you better get used to it.
Freight train got released and I've had some quiet nights. That can be worse for some because you can think. What am I doing here! Thoughts of regrets and wasted days and should-have-beens.
This may sound strange, but I haven't felt regret or that I did the wrong thing, took the wrong path.... just gotta get used to it.
How about you?
Maybe you think you could never get used to it. Live part of your life that way? Never! Personally, I think many of you are lying. Why? Because you've already demonstrated an ability to live in a much worse environment...
One of even greater pain, personal indignity and injustice. You were separated from your children and the tremendous beauty and love and fulfillment that relationship 'can' bring. But most of you GOT USED TO IT!
Oh, in jail there are a lot of those 'coping' mechanisms. You can keep the outside noise turned up and just not think. You can live in denial, or quiet acceptance, or explode in aggression. A few choose to 'hang up'. What about you -- how are you coping with injustice?
What we need.
More action and less talk in our effort for reform. I'm really hoping a few of you have NOT gotten used to being separated from your kids. That you feel the pain fresh every day, but have not 'coped' by anger, resignation, or forgetfulness. I plan to resume 'our' efforts in early January. I hope some of you are getting close to making a decision to come forward, to take real action for what you believe in.
Glad to accept the discomfort of jail and the life disruption it can bring as a minor inconvenience compared to the loss of a normal life with your kids. Willing to sacrifice in an effort that may not improve a thing with your kids, but may help others.
Because our goal is worth it. Because some good examples from history say the method can be effective. Because real peace & joy can be found when our actions correspond to the reality in which we live.
We have held up the ideal that people willing to demonstrate: Faith, Love, and Personal Sacrifice can be the means of effective social change. More specifically, that Parents can promote Family Law reform by demonstrating:
- Faith in a loving God,
- Love for their children, former spouses, and other "brothers and sisters", and
- Willingness to make Personal Sacrifice,
NonViolent Action allows you to demonstrate through "unambiguous physical action" the depth of your Faith and belief in your "cause." It is a positive demonstration of love given at sometimes tremendous personal cost.
Hope to see you in January!
Source: email from John Murtari
October 29, 2007 permalink
Many personal stories of child protection get posted to the internet daily. Here is one by Bessie Hudgins, one of the organizers of the DCrally in Washington last August, and planned again for August 2008. She paints a good picture of the pain inflicted on children by our divisive family law system.
my14mema at yahoo.com
Subject: Family story
Good Evening my Many Friends,
I am here once again to tell you about the sadness of the plight of our children.
As most of you know, I have two of my grandchildren back with us after being away from us for over seven years due to the abuse of our system. These two girls have a sister, ten years old. We are still not allowed to see her because her mother still uses her to control the situation.
One of the girls was able to spend some time with her little sister this weekend. The young sister asked could she please talk to her daddy. It has been way too long since I talked to him. The oldest one called their daddy on his cell phone and handed the phone to her baby sister.
I'm not even sure I can make everyone understand the happiness and the pain that this little girl and her daddy felt through this conversation, but I will try.
My ten-year-old granddaughter told her daddy how much she loves him and how bad she wants to see him. She talked about her sister's puppy and her new pocketbook, and school. She laughed and had the best time with her daddy. She asked him all kinds of questions about where he lives and what he does everyday. She asked him if he wanted to see her as bad as she wants to see him. She told him over and over how much she loves him and how badly she misses him.
When it came time for her to hang up, she got very sad and didn't want to say bye. She told her daddy that she misses him so bad, and how she doesn't understand why she has to stay where she is and her sisters get to live with us.
The oldest sister watched her little sister become very happy and alive while she talked to their daddy, and she said it really made her see how horrible it is to keep parents away from children.
I pray every night that the people in power in this country will wake up and see how cruel and inhuman our courts are when they rule against our children.
I have two grandchildren that we spent over $50,000.00 to bring home. We went through five attorneys and got no where. Once we ran out of money and went pro se, and the girls found out we were STILL fighting for them, they came on their own to find out if it was true. The rest is history. They moved in with me a short time later and are now very happy.
The youngest girl is not allowed to see us, but the two oldest ones do give her messages from us and she sends us messages all the time.
"Best Interest of the Child" this judge has now decided our case is not right for his court and has moved it to Juvenile court, which also has rendered the girl's mother without an attorney cause the mother's attorney is also the juvenile judge in our county.
Source: email from Bessie Hudgins
October 29, 2007 permalink
Neighbors of a group home for teenaged girls complain of problems with parking, noise and inmates removed in handcuffs. Not mentioned in the article, many CAS wards have a mom or dad, or both, willing to care for them, but were relocated by force of arms.
Resident wants group home laws changed
MPP says no notification because "nobody wants them"
OSHAWA -- All Angela Borysenko wants is to have a say in what happens in her neighbourhood.
The north Oshawa resident says her world was turned upside down this summer when a group home for youth opened down the street from her house on Iris Court.
"We've had problems with parking and traffic, we've had problems with noise and children being taken away from the home in handcuffs, but the thing that bothers us the most is that we had no say in the matter. We weren't even told this was happening," she said at a recent meeting of council's development services committee. "The process has to be changed."
Ms. Borysenko and other neighbours only discovered a group home would be located at 220 Iris Crt., after they noticed renovations at the property during the summer and questioned a contractor.
Weeks later, Ontario Family Group Homes sent a letter to neighbourhood residents explaining that the home would house young women ages 12-16, in the care of various Children's Aid Societies in Ontario.
An open house was held to introduce the group home to the neighbourhood on Sept. 19, but Ms. Borysenko still feels her concerns are unresolved.
"We want the laws completely changed. They shouldn't be able to put group homes in single family neighbourhoods, just like you couldn't put a lodging house here," she says. "If this was a business it would be forced to close and this is technically a business."
Officials at Ontario Family Group homes did not respond to requests for comment.
Ward 5 Councillor John Henry acknowledges group homes provide a vital service, but says the lack of consultation and communication with the community is unacceptable. He wasn't even aware of this latest group home in his ward until residents called him to complain.
Councillor Louise Parkes, who chairs the development services committee also sympathizes, but said there is little the City can do.
"As a municipality, we have zero control with regards to location of these homes. That's all done by the Province," she said. "All we can do is hope the people who provide them would have good judgment."
According to Anne Machowski, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, the only guidelines used when deciding where to locate youth group homes are municipal zoning, fire and health standards.
She said the Ministry monitors children's residences through an annual licensing renewal process, which assesses things like whether the children are receiving appropriate care and whether municipal bylaws are being complied with.
Those applying for a licence must provide a range of documentation including program proposals, descriptions of the intended client population and written evidence of community consultation -- something Ms. Borysenko insists was not done in this case.
Where there are issues, Ms. Machowski said the Ministry's regional office may become involved to help resolve them.
Oshawa MPP Jerry Ouellette couldn't comment on this specific group home without more information, but said this isn't the first time he has dealt with this issue.
"There is no requirement for pre-notification for residents that these homes are going in and that upsets some people," he said. "There's no requirement because nobody wants them anywhere and where would you put them if you notified people and everyone was against it?" He said the Province needs to do a better job of differentiating between good owners providing the service to help children and those just in it for the money.
In the meantime, the MPP said concerned residents should take their concerns to the operator first, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.
Source: Durham Region website
pointed out by a Dufferin VOCA reader
October 28, 2007 permalink
The final reminder for Grape Expectations, held tomorrow October 29. You have a chance to raise you objection in person to this CAS fundraiser.
Screen name: sparton2000
Posted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 2:46 pm
Subject: protest PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE OF EVENT: OCTOBER 29, 2007 5PM TO 9PM
LOCATION: LIUNA STATION 360 JAMES ST. N. HAMILTON ON
CONTACT PERSON: MARY LOU JANIGA, CHILD ASSIST SERVICES
PHONE NUMBER: (905) 296-4366
Every Halloween the Hamilton Children’s Aid Society holds a fundraiser called the GRAPE EXPECTATIONS GALA. Every Halloween a group of concerned citizens come out to the event to protest. This will be the third year for people to unite for a common goal.
parts of message omitted
And with all the corruption within the system that controls the family and the state infringing upon these rights by funding an agency that destroys families, I am ashamed to call myself a Canadian.
Source: Canada Court Watch Forum
Addendum Here are three reports on the event.
Screen name: sparton2000 [ Mary Janiga ]
Posted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 11:03 pm
It was a great success. 15 people in attendance for our rally. I would like to thank all that attended the rally at the Grape Expectations Gala and making our voices heard. I will say that the rally/protest gets bigger every year and lets hope on our fourth anniversary we have just as many or more. We handed out CCW leaflets about what happened last year and the illegal drug use of CAS workers at last years event and people have to understand now that changes are needed in the Children's Aid System. We must overhaul the CAS and our voice must continue to resonate we are here and we are not going away and we are not going to take it any more. Again thank you and I look forward to seeing you all at next years protest/rally. Very happy. (On a side note I was there in spirit, after organizing for the past month I was immobilized by a superficial embolism of the outer veins of my left leg making me unable to walk or even stand — plaque and mini clogged veins which will clear up with heavy duty antibiotics in the next week with lots of rest and relaxation — and I spent today in the hospital emergency room from 3 pm until 9 pm. Ed called me while I was in the hospital and told me of the great success and even met me after the rally to keep my spirits up and going. So lets just say there were 16 people in attendance with me there in spirit and I hope that one day this system will change for our children and families of Canada.
Screen name: MConn
Posted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 11:28 pm
It was great to see all the people there, we even had native people there helping with the protest and I learned something from one native that they are fighting for the same thing, to stop CAS from destroying their families and they did not know that the CAS was doing the same to us. We got to find out if this is true
Screen name: moldessa
Posted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 11:31 pm
It sure was a success.
One of the best protests i have been to. It was nice to meet the people I read from everyday. We came with high hopes and we left feeling as we made a small drop in the bucket. I think its great that we came together as one as we worked to achieve the same goal. Its great to be with like minded people and feel as though you're understood, acccepted, its just so nice to be part of something bigger then yourself. Many thanks to the organizers of the event. Keep up the good work.
Source: Canada Court Watch Forum
Kids Can't Find Advocate
October 28, 2007 permalink
Recent legislation strengthened the Office of the Child and Family Service Advocacy (Judy Finlay), empowering her to help children to get proper care. John Dunn has found that children resourceful enough to find the home page of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services will not be able to find Judy Finlay. She is mentioned on the website, but cannot be found from the home page. His message to the minister via their webform is below.
I wanted to inform you of the fact that the Child and Youth Advocates office is not easily, if at all accessible through the Ministry web site. I have searched and searched and can not find it.
I am asking you for a response to this request.
Will the Ministry place a very obvious link to the Child and Youth Advocate so that children and youth who require access to their services can quickly locate them in times of emergency.
Source: email from John Dunn
Experiment on Baby
October 27, 2007 permalink
The British press has been exposing the child protection system by skirting the prohibition on mentioning children, reporting on children not yet born or over the age of majority. Today's story is that of Lawrence Alexander, stolen from his parents as a baby on a junk science theory and subject to medical experiments. At age 14 he suffered a decline leaving him nearly disabled, possibly a side-effect of the experiments. The article paints a picture of the doctor involved, Dr David Southall, as a child abuser. Psychopaths do sometimes get licensed to practice medicine. For a portrait of a medical psychopath, we suggest the book Blind Eye by James Stewart detailing dozens of homicides by Dr Michael Swango.
Is this doctor responsible for parents being falsely branded as child abusers?
Lawrence Alexander suffered a difficult childhood. Neighbours pointed at him in the street. He was inexplicably bullied at school.
When he invited his few friends home for tea, they nearly always refused. His family moved from Cornwall to Sussex and then to Shropshire. In every fresh place, there were whispers.
His parents lost their jobs and the only member of his extended family who sent birthday presents was his father's sister, Aunt Nina.
At 13, Lawrence began to ask why his upbringing seemed different to everyone else's.
It is only today, nearly eight years on, that he knows the full truth: his parents had been wrongly accused of one of the worst crimes imaginable — deliberately harming him as a baby.
As a result of the allegation made by children's doctor David Southall, the family became social pariahs.
A bundle of papers in Lawrence's NHS records followed him to every new GP and new school, repeating the claim that his parents had hurt him.
The accusation has scarred his life and theirs.
Lawrence has never before told his deeply shocking story.
The 21-year-old is central to a Government inquiry into Dr Southall, which could establish once and for all his links to one of the worst scandals in British medicine for years.
The doctor has been praised as a pioneer by colleagues, while vilified as arrogant and dangerous by patients.
He has also been in trouble over remarks he made concerning the case of Sally Clark, the mother who was given two life sentences for the murder of her two children before being released after medical evidence emerged to prove she was innocent.
Dr Southall, who had never met Sally, accused her husband of the murders, a totally unfounded allegation which led to the paediatrician being declared guilty of professional misconduct and barred from child protection work for three years.
The present inquiry, overseen by Attorney General Baroness Scotland, wants to find the answer to a crucial question: were Lawrence's parents — and many others — falsely smeared as child abusers so that Dr Southall could put their children into care and use them as guinea pigs in deeply contentious medical experiments, which many would argue were also deeply immoral?
In the 1980s and 1990s, under the aegis of Dr Southall, thousands of sick children were given breathing tests — called 'sleep studies'.
The experiments, authorised by hospital ethics committees, were carried out despite the doubts of worried parents.
Incredibly, it is now alleged that some of the tiny babies were forced to breathe poisonous gases and deprived of oxygen.
The results of these tests were stored by the paediatrician in 4,500 secret files.
But the true nature of the experiments — to discover the cause of cot-death — is only coming to light now the children involved are grown-up.
The Attorney General's officials have asked to see the Southall files.
They want to know what they contain and if they were produced at court hearings at which parents were falsely accused of child abuse.
The suspicion is that justice may have been perverted by the paediatrician because vital evidence in the files — which established that the children he diagnosed as victims of parental abuse had never been harmed but were, in fact, genuinely sick — was deliberately hidden from criminal court judges.
Meanwhile, the Mail can reveal that police forces in the Midlands, Wales and London are also investigating evidence to discover if Dr Southall's experiments, dating back three decades, harmed children.
Officers in Doncaster plan, if necessary, to examine the death certificates of babies who died while in his care.
The General Medical Council (GMC) is also due to resume a hearing in a week's time into Dr Southall's fitness to practice, following a series of complaints by parents of children treated by him.
Dr Southall, who denies any wrongdoing, has worked at the Royal Brompton in London, University Hospital of North Staffordshire in Stoke and hospitals in Wales, the Home Counties, Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley.
One Welsh mother, who says her son was brain damaged by Southall's research, told the hearing earlier this year: "He treated my son like a laboratory rat."
As for Lawrence Alexander's parents, one of the cases being examined at the GMC hearing, they always objected to their son being involved in Dr Southall's sleep study tests.
But when they refused to co-operate, Janet and Robin Alexander were accused by Dr Southall of pretending their son was ill.
Although they say there was not a shred of evidence, the little boy was made a ward of court.
It meant the tests could be done without his parents' agreement, and Lawrence himself narrowly escaped being put into care or adopted.
This week, Lawrence said: "I believe that my loving mother and father were labelled as child abusers by Dr Southall because they tried to stop his experiments on me.
"The appalling slur blackened their names. Yet the idea of my caring parents being child abusers is laughable. They never even smacked me."
Today, Lawrence lives in Ludlow, Shropshire, with his 61-year old father, a former television reporter, and mother, a 49-year-old former nurse.
Tragically, he is 80 per cent physically disabled. At the age of 14, he was struck by a muscle weakness which led to his body sustaining severe cell damage only ever seen before in cancer patients completing chemotherapy.
He says: "I want to know how my health has been ruined. Is it because of the tests I underwent as a small child?
"We now know that the so-called 'sleep studies' carried out by Dr Southall involved giving babies noxious gases, including carbon monoxide.
"Babies were deprived of oxygen. I want to know what implications this has had for my health."
Dr Southall, who has always refused to comment on his work or research to the Daily Mail, has repeatedly been at the centre of controversies.
His involvement with Sally Clark, who died earlier this year, is all the more bizarre because he had nothing to do with the inquiry into her children's deaths.
After watching a television documentary on the couple, he simply phoned the police with his theory that her husband, Steve, was the killer.
Meanwhile, concern has grown about his experiments on children.
Bill Bache, the solicitor for Angela Cannings — another mother accused of infanticide, jailed and then freed on appeal — has written to the Attorney General and the Department of Health estimating that "10,000 people have been affected by the actions of Dr Southall".
He fears that behind this number lurks a potential scandal of gigantic proportions.
Mr Bache is so concerned that he says the Government should look into Dr Southall's work over a 25-year period.
In a letter to the Department of Health he says Dr Southall "may have caused death or very serious bodily harm, including irreparable brain damage" to children.
Mr Bache believes parents were told by the doctor that he would report them to the police and social services if they didn't co-operate with his experiments.
"There is evidence… that he carried out these threats and, as a result, there have been convictions [of parents] for murder and grievous bodily harm, while children have been placed in care or adopted," he says.
His concerns are supported by Lib Dem MP John Hemming, who told the Commons: "Many of the parents of the (Southall) babies who were choked, given carbon monoxide and had their breathing damaged in other ways did not give consent to the experiments."
The Alexanders were no exception. Lawrence first became ill seven weeks after being born.
He would often stop breathing or turn blue: signs of sudden infant death syndrome or cot death.
At first, doctors thought he was epileptic and he underwent numerous brain scans.
At five months, he was referred to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London.
His mother says: "We were told Dr Southall, who was a cot-death expert who worked not far away at the Royal Brompton hospital in Chelsea, could help Lawrence.
"However, we were suspicious when we met him there in January of 1987. He looked like a research student.
"Now we know that he was not qualified as a child doctor at the time, but was a senior lecturer in paediatrics."
Lawrence was transferred for one month to the Brompton hospital, where his parents always slept beside him overnight. Dr Southall insisted on exhaustive tests.
Janet says: "We quickly became suspicious that Dr Southall was using our son as a guinea-pig and we told him that we were going to take our child home."
It was then that the paediatrician invited Janet and Robin to a meeting to discuss Lawrence's progress.
Instead, to their horror, they realised that they had stepped into an ambush.
"We found social workers from Kensington and Chelsea Council and their solicitors, sent by Dr Southall," recalls Janet.
"One social worker told me: 'You need help as parents. There is nothing wrong with your child.'
"It suddenly clicked that we were in a dangerous situation. They were saying we made up Lawrence's illness.
"'There was no logic. They asked me to sign papers giving them the legal right to care for Lawrence.
"I had no choice but to do what they said. I was afraid I would lose him for ever."
Janet was told the hospital — and, of course, Dr Southall — was now in charge of Lawrence's care.
Crucially, they would no longer be allowed to see him at night. It meant that he was left unattended by his parents from evening to the following morning and Janet was forced to stop breastfeeding.
Although they did not know it at the time, Dr Southall had accused them of suffering from Munchausen's - Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP) — a disorder where parents are said to fabricate an illness about their children to draw attention to themselves.
The theory was devised by another paediatrician, Professor Sir Roy Meadow.
He was found guilty of professional misconduct two years ago for giving "misleading and incorrect" testimony as an expert witness in the case of Sally Clark, who was also wrongly accused of suffering from MSBP.
He has since retired.
But what of Lawrence Alexander?
During the past year, he has been searching for his own childhood medical records, which prove he was enrolled in Dr Southall's sleep studies at the Brompton Hospital.
So what exactly happened during those nights 20 years ago when his parents were barred from seeing him?
Was Dr Southall carrying out experiments on him which amounted to child abuse — the precise crime the paediatrician accused his parents of having committed on their only son?
Significantly, Lawrence's records of the time show clearly that he had a life-threatening illness.
He was suffering from various ailments, most significantly gastro oesophageal reflux (a condition that causes breathing problems and which is linked, inextricably, to cot death.)
Yet nothing was done to cure him. Indeed, Dr Southall told social workers: "His parents have pursued the belief that he is seriously ill… they must now accept that their child is healthy."
The Alexanders fought back against Dr Southall. They sought legal advice and took their case to the High Court.
In late February 1987, a judge in London told them they could return home to Cornwall with Lawrence, but that he should remain the subject of an interim care order.
It was only eight months later that they regained the right to look after their son without the interference of the authorities.
They never again saw Dr Southall, who is still working as a paediatrician in Staffordshire, although he is barred from child protection work.
Yet the stigma of being child abusers remained — even after they changed their surname by deed poll to try to escape the past.
Both sides of the couple's families — apart from the loyal Aunt Nina — refused to speak to them after they were branded abusers.
"Wherever we moved, people seemed to know," recalls Janet.
"Robin was pointed at and called a paedophile. We could not even find jobs in a supermarket.
"Our car was broken into, the house burgled, we received offensive literature and abusive phone calls. The classic paedophile treatment.
"At one school, when Lawrence was 12, the bursar said we could not enter the premises.
"The GP had told the teachers we were child abusers.
"Lawrence began to be bullied when word got out, and had to leave despite his brilliant academic progress. It broke his heart."
From then on, his parents educated him at home. Then, six years ago, he became desperately ill — losing two stone in as many months.
He lay in a darkened room listening to Radio 4. Today, he cannot eat normal food and rests most of the day.
No-one really knows what is wrong with him.
This week, Lawrence said: "It is impossible to imagine how my life would have been without Dr Southall's intervention.
"All he has done for my family is bring us grief, poverty, danger, isolation and now, I fear, ill-health.
"I am not a bitter person, but I hope and pray that there is a proper inquiry into this doctor, his accusations against innocent parents and his invasive experiments.
"I say that for my own sake and thousands of other children just like me.
"The opening of his secret files will be just the start.'
Source: Daily Mail (UK)
Alberta Kills Another Boy
October 27, 2007 permalink
A Calgary couple had a squabble last month and social services seized their baby for his protection. On October 24 the boy died in their "care".
If you don't believe the story that the death was an accident there is no way for you to check. Alberta social services have bullied all elements of the press, even the CBC, into concealing the names in dead child cases. Even the mother does not know the truth.
Mom blasts province over tot's death
Just weeks away from giving birth, a grieving Calgary mom is demanding answers about the death of her 18-month-old son in a foster care home this week.
Crying uncontrollably, the boy's mother, 22, said she's in shock about the death of her blond-haired, blue-eyed son at a foster home in the Hamptons on Wednesday.
"I want to know how exactly he died," she said between sobs. The toddler was apprehended from his mother's home and placed in foster care just under a month ago after a physical confrontation between her and the child's father, she said.
The young mom is questioning the safety and care provided by the boy's foster parents, and said she plans to sue them as well as the provincial department responsible for foster care, Children's Services.
"It's ridiculous that you open foster homes and the child dies," she said.
Cops have deemed the death accidental.
Police were called to the Hamptons residence after paramedics arrived to find the boy not breathing and in cardiac arrest about 2 p.m. Wednesday.
Along with a police escort, an ambulance rushed the boy to Alberta Children's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.
The initial police investigation indicated he was found not breathing in the basement of the home by his foster mother.
They have determined the death was an accident, but released no further details on the incident.
His mom said the boy's father was scheduled to spend time with him the day he died, but Children's Services cancelled the visit due to a lack of staff to supervise.
She last saw her son Tuesday during a supervised visit, which they spent playing with toy trucks and snuggling.
"He had three weeks until he would see his sister," she said in reference to her unborn daughter.
The grieving mom described her little boy as a delight who lit up a room with his beaming smile.
"He was a joy to everybody's life," she said.
Calgary and Area Child and Family Services Authority has placed the other foster children at the Hamptons home in alternative care while an internal investigation into the tot's death is conducted, said spokeswoman Dawn Delaney.
An autopsy was conducted yesterday.
Source: Calgary Sun
CPS Threats Unconstitutional
October 27, 2007 permalink
A US federal court has ruled that threats against parents to get their consent are unconstitutional. This ruling will have little practical impact because of a procedural rule. Challenges to apprehensions must be made at the shelter hearing, within three days. Most parents can't find a lawyer that fast, so their rights are forfeited. Only the few parents with legal counsel will benefit from the court's ruling, so this case is a good reason why homeschooling parents should be members of the HSLDA. Of course, no Canadian court will be as generous to parents as the Arizona appellate court. Below is the report on the case from the HSLDA. We also have the full text of the court's opinion (pdf).
October 22, 2007
Judge Rules Social Worker Fear Tactics Unconstitutional
A federal court in Arizona has ruled that an unsupported threat to place children in custody, made to coerce cooperation with a social services investigation, violates the constitutional guarantee of family privacy and integrity.
As detailed in the March/April 2007 issue of the Court Report, social workers and sheriff’s deputies had come to the home of Home School Legal Defense Association members John and Tiffany Loudermilk, demanding entry based on a six-week-old anonymous tip that the newly constructed home was unsafe for children. The Loudermilks declined consent, as was their right under the Fourth Amendment. After an escalating confrontation at the front door that lasted 40 minutes, the social workers, backed by no fewer than four deputies, threatened to take the Loudermilks’ children into custody and place them in foster care if the Loudermilks continued to deny them entry to their home. An assistant attorney general repeated this threat to HSLDA attorney Thomas Schmidt, who was assisting the Loudermilks during the confrontation.
Under this duress, Mr. and Mrs. Loudermilk allowed the social workers and sheriff’s deputies inside. Within five minutes, the social workers determined that the anonymous tip was false and left.
HSLDA filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the Loudermilk family, alleging that the search violated the Fourth Amendment and that the unjustified threat to remove the children was a separate constitutional violation of the family’s Fourteenth Amendment right to privacy and family integrity. The social workers and assistant attorney general moved to dismiss the claims, arguing that neither the search nor the threat to remove the children violated the Loudermilks’ constitutional rights.
On September 27, 2007, the judge ruled in the Loudermilks favor, stating: “Defendants persisted in their threats to remove the children if Plaintiff Parents did not consent to the search, stating that [they] could arrest or handcuff the Parents in front of the children. Based on the allegations set forth in the Amended Complaint, viewed in Plaintiff’s favor, no reasonable official would have believed that his or her conduct was authorized by state or constitutional law.” With regard to the assistant attorney general, the court ruled that “Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that [the attorney] . . . by ‘threat’ exerted ‘coercive pressure’ on them to allow the search of their home so that their children would not be removed.”
The judge’s ruling allows the case to proceed to trial. “The ruling in this case makes it clear that threatening to remove children to gain a parent’s cooperation is unconstitutional,” said James R. Mason, Senior Counsel for HSLDA. “We hope that this ruling will change this common tactic used by investigative caseworkers all over the country.”
Source: Home School Legal Defense Association
CAS Stories Wanted
October 26, 2007 permalink
An aggrieved father, Brian Latreille, is soliciting stories of abuse by CAS to help him in assembling information for corrective action. We ask all persons responding to also send a copy of their story to Dufferin VOCA by email to [ rtmq at fixcas.com ]. Please indicate in your email whether you wish to keep your story confidential or have it publicized.
Family Law needs to be re-written for the best interest of the children.
Were you a child who has been involved with the CAS as a result of a supervision order?
If you feel that you are not close to one or both of your parents and/or siblings as a result, I want to hear from you.
If you are a parent that has had nothing but problems with your children as a result of the CAS involvement, I want to hear from you.
If you are a father to children that you have been alienated from as a result of the CAS, I want to hear from you.
If you had to deal with the CAS at all, and feel that they lied to make their case against you, I want to hear from you.
If you are a parent who has tried to prove to CAS that you were wrongfully accused, and got no response or lost in court as a result of negligence on the part of the CAS, I want to hear from you.
If you are a parent who has had nothing but headaches from dealing with the CAS at all, and feel that they misused their power against you, I want to hear from you.
IF YOU ARE A WOMAN WHO LIED TO GAIN CUSTODY OF YOUR CHILDREN, AND USED A SHELTER OR COMMUNITY CENTER TO BEGIN YOUR FALSE CLAIMS AND HAVE, GONE THROUGH THE SYSTEM PUT INTO PLACE TO PROTECT ACTUAL ABUSED WOMAN, AND THE FATHERS LOST OUT AS A RESULT OF YOUR LIES, I DEFINITELY WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU.
(We will not disclose any information to the authorities regarding any lies you have made, if you make the request in your letter.) We need to act on the solution to fix the glitch in our family laws to better protect the children and parents in the future so we can all stay involved in our children's lives. I believe that all children need both parents in their lives.
On a plain piece of lined paper, tell us your full name, address at the time, telephone number to reach you and the best time to contact you regarding any questions we may have. Give a description of what happened, and how it all unfolded. Please include if you feel the CAS has wronged you, and how you feel it has changed your lives with family members on a long-term basis. Include; if you feel, that if the CAS were not involved, how do you think things would have worked out?
ALL INFORMATION WILL BE KEPT CONFIDENTIAL UNLESS WE USE YOUR INFORMATION IN COURT.
* Please note that names, dates and addresses are very important. As we will be investigating further into the ethics used by CAS and systems put into place to better protect people that really need it.
We are looking to take the CAS to court in an effort to providing a better system to protect children, without having long term effects to the family members involved. We will be trying to make law that everyone accused has a right to defend oneself properly with Legal Aid assistance if needed. We want a better way of dealing with false allegations/accusations made to gain custody of the children involved. Both parents need to have their say, and a chance to defend their names, LONG TERM.
If a lawsuit transpires from the evidence we provide from your information received to us, we will contact you to make you aware so you can act on a sit should you feel it would help out. We cannot assist in any lawsuit against any party involved, as we are not lawyers. We are just trying to make a difference in our policies we adhere to so that all parties have a fair and equal chance to be able to clear ones name and keep it clear.
Thank you for taking the time to care about the best interest of all children and their parents as a single unit working together for a safer tomorrow and families being together again.
Please forward all letters to:
DAP2/Dads Are People 2
79 Dean Street, Smiths Falls Ontario K7A 4S6
Email: [ dadsarepeople2 at yahoo.ca ]
Yahoo Groups: ca.groups.yahoo.com/group/dadsarepeople2
Source: email from Bryan, [ dadsarepeople2 at yahoo.ca ]
CAS Records Abandoned
October 26, 2007 permalink
Following a visit to a private home, a Halton CAS worker abandoned several documents. The client is returning them to the judge in their case. In an earlier mistaken disclosure a mother placed a document on the internet — it is in the second addendum to the Easter Grinch story. Documents like this ought to be published, not for the names and conditions of the children, but for what they disclose about the methods used by social workers to break up families.
October 25, 2007
Family secrets revealed
CAS worker forgets info in client's home
By SARAH GREEN, SUN MEDIA
An Oakville couple say they were shocked when a case worker with the Halton Children's Aid Society left behind papers that they say contain sensitive information about other families.
"It scares me to death," said the 33-year-old woman, a mother of four children, aged 15 to 5. "Is my information out there at somebody's house? We don't think this is right at all."
The CAS worker left the stack of clipped papers on the kitchen table following an hour-long visit Monday afternoon to the couple's Oakville home, the woman said.
The woman said the Halton CAS has had an open file on her family for nearly four years following allegations made after the breakdown of her abusive, former marriage. She has full custody of her children.
"I thought they were papers for me," the woman said. "I didn't think it would be information on all these families."
The woman alleged the papers contained the addresses of foster homes where kids are living, as well as other potentially sensitive information.
"This is stuff that shouldn't be out there," she said.
Nancy MacGillivray, executive director of the Halton CAS, said she spoke to the case worker yesterday and "we have no idea what they have in their possession."
The case worker "doesn't seem to be missing anything," MacGillivray said.
"If we've left confidential information behind, of course it's concerning on our part, but I have no idea what it is," MacGillivray said.
The agency left a message for the couple Tuesday and two Halton CAS officials visited their Oakville home yesterday afternoon to ask for the return of the papers, the woman's fiance, 33, said.
A letter, written by the agency's director of protection services, noted the couple had information with the names and addresses of 15 clients.
"We look forward to the immediate return of our documents," the fiance said, reading from the letter. "I am sure that you can appreciate that privacy and confidentiality of all of our clients are of the utmost importance to us."
The couple, who have a hearing today in family court in Milton, said they plan to turn the papers over to the judge instead.
Source: Toronto Sun
Addendum: Canada Court Watch has found the parent in this case and identified Barb Turkowska as the incompetent caseworker.
Halton CAS worker, Barb Turkowska, gets exposed for her incompetence
(October 25, 2007) A child protection worker with the Halton Region Children's Aid Society, Barb Turkowska, is incompetent and has tarnished the reputation of the Halton CAS and should be fired as a child protection worker claims an Oakville mother. Under existing legislation, the name of the mother cannot be published.
According to the Oakville mother, CAS worker, Barb Turkowska left highly confidential case files containing personal information about several other families at the mother's home when she came for a visit at the family home on Monday October 22, 2007. The mother says she found the files in her home and at first thought that the files were left for her by the CAS worker. When she looked at the files in more detail later, she discovered that highly confidential and sensitive information about other children and families was there as well. Ms. Turkowska did not call the family for the missing files and it was only when members of the media tried to reach Ms. Trukowska at her work, did the Halton CAS become aware of Ms. Turkowska's most serious mistake.
According to Nancy McGillivray, the Executive Director of the Halton CAS, Ms. Turkowska, was not missing anything and that the CAS had "no idea" as to what information the Oakville mother may have had in her possession. Examination of the files at the mother's home by reporters from various media agencies, clearly revealed the highly sensitive information. Either the worker misled the Executive Director of the Halton Children's Aid Society, or she was just so forgetful that she really could not remember what files she had outside of the offices or where she had left them in error.
The mother claimed that not only was the Halton Children's Aid Society worker forgetful, but that she did not know how to spell English properly. According to the mother, Ms. Turkowska's case notes are riddled with spelling mistakes and errors. Even the simple word "mother" was spelled, "mahter" in the worker's own notes. The mother also claims that the children could not communicate with Ms. Turkowska very well because the CAS worker's accent was so heavy that the children had difficulty understanding what she was saying much of the time.
Court Watch has claimed for some time now that workers with the various CAS agencies in Ontario must be more carefully screened and trained and that all workers with CAS agencies be licensed by the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. Most citizens would agree that any child protection worker who carelessly leaves confidential files on the job and then cannot even remember which confidential files he/she had with them outside the confines of their office, obviously is not fit to bear the responsibility of a child protection worker.
Source: Canada Court Watch
CCAS Success Stories
October 24, 2007 permalink
The Fall Newsletter of Hamilton CCAS salutes six of their wards who are going on to higher education. These are their more successful cases. Note two points:
The publication of names and photos makes us share the hope of Hamilton CCAS that at least these six young people will have a bright future. Publication of the names of all CAS wards could get us to root for them as well, instead of thinking of them as mere ciphers to justify more funding.
bound for HIGHER EDUCATION
This past June, CCAS hosted its Annual General Meeting in our newly redeveloped building. One of the highlights of this event was the presentation of six educational bursaries to six very deserving youth in the care of CCAS who have plans to pursue post-secondary education. Each of these young people have lived their lives with struggles few of us could even imagine. We congratulate all of them for striving for success and working toward a brighter future.
Source: Fall 2007 Newsletter of Hamilton CCAS (pdf)
Comply with Court Order
October 24, 2007 permalink
On our help page we suggest parents molested by children's aid should scupulously comply with court orders, to get better treatment from the judge at the next hearing. Here is an exception. Garrett Thomas, 14, ran away from foster care and called his mother to pick him up. His mother, following a court order, did not do so, instead asking the foster facility to pick up her son. The boy has not been seen since. To most families, saving a child is more important than compliance with a court, so this is a place to defy a court order. The remainder of the story below details a boy led into a life of crime by the system claiming to protect him.
DAILY-NEWS RECORD ONLINE
Elkton Boy’s Disappearance Fuels Dispute
Mom Claims Social Services Shouldn’t Have Let Him Stray
By David Reynolds
HARRISONBURG — A 14-year-old Elkton boy has run away from an institution in Salem, his mother says, leaving her fearing for his safety and wondering whether the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Department of Social Services should have kept closer watch.
On Sunday, Garrett Thomas left the home where Social Services placed him days earlier, according to his mother Teresa Shenk.
Garrett called Shenk, 41, from a Salem bus station, she says, but because picking him up would violate a court order, she called the home he left to arrange for them to pick him up.
Before that could happen, Garrett was gone, and hasn’t been heard from since, she says.
Garrett’s disappearance is the latest in an ongoing dispute between Shenk and Social Services that began in March when a juvenile court judge granted the agency custody of the boy.
Since then, Shenk says, her son, who is bipolar, has left homes, accumulated a criminal record, and warned Social Services that he won’t stay in homes in the future.
Shenk says that the agency, which won’t allow her to care for her son, isn’t doing enough to protect him.
“These people are supposed to protect our children. That’s what our tax dollars pay them to do,” Shenk said. “What are they doing with my kid?”
The Runaway Case
Sgt. Joe Mills of the Salem Police Department says Garrett was on a field trip with other children, when he told another boy he was going to the bus station, then left.
A counselor with Hope Tree, a home for troubled children in Salem, had been accompanying the children when Garrett ran away, Mills said. On Thursday, a representative of the home said that information about Garrett should come from police or the Harrisonburg-Rockingham DSS.
Mills said there is no sign of foul play, that Garrett left voluntarily and presumably he knows people are concerned for his safety.
But, because he is a juvenile, Mills said, a detective began working the case Monday morning. Since then, the investigator has forwarded Garrett’s picture to officers at the Salem department and other authorities in the area.
Police also have sent out an alert to law enforcement nationwide.
The boy’s picture and a description have been forwarded to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He is 5 feet 6 inches tall and 140 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.
Runaway cases are common for police, Mills said, and children often turn up with a friend or relative.
An Ongoing Conflict
Shenk says she’s concerned for her son’s safety and that his disappearance shows Social Services isn’t watching the boy as closely as she would.
The dispute started in March when the agency sought custody to give Garrett expensive in-patient mental health treatment, according to court records and Shenk.
The agency’s reasoning changed two weeks later, however, when it said the mother could not properly care for the troubled boy and that residential treatment wasn’t necessary.
The change came the day after Shenk’s complaint about the agency’s handling of her son’s case appeared in an article in the Daily News-Record.
During the seven months since the agency took custody of Garrett, his mother says, he has been in several homes, run away more than once and been arrested for disorderly conduct.
Earlier this month, Shenk says, Garrett told her and a DSS worker that he intended to run away again.
Contact David Reynolds at 574-6278 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Harrisonburg (Virginia) Daily News Record truncated by Dufferin VOCA
Addendum: The boy was found twelve days later. To show their appreciation for saving the boy, authorities arrested his father.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Missing boy found in Tazewell County
By Reed Williams
A 14-year-old boy who ran away in Roanoke while in the care of HopeTree Family Services is no longer missing.
Garrett Thomas and his father, Brian Thomas, turned themselves in to authorities in Tazewell County today.
Brian Thomas was arrested on outstanding warrants unrelated to Garrett's disappearance. Garrett was being returned to the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Department of Social Services.
Garrett is in the custody of the social services department but had been placed in the care of HopeTree, a group home for troubled youths in Salem. He ran away Oct. 14 during a field trip to Elmwood Park in Roanoke. He has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and a pervasive developmental disorder, his mother, Teresa Shenk, has said.
In March, Garrett was taken from the custody of his mother, who lives in Rockingham County, under an emergency Child in Need of Services petition, Shenk said.
Source: Roanoke Times
October 24, 2007 permalink
A man, or woman, adopted through Simcoe Children's Aid is looking for his/her mother. The mother's deaf siblings are so unusual she should be recognized immediately by anyone knowing the family. Replies may be made through the webpage that is the source of this message.
Full Details for Query #151292
- Date Posted:
- Query Text:
- I am searching for my birth mother who was 17 at the time of my birth. I was born on December 12, 1974 at Scarborough General Hospital. I was adopted through the Simcoe County Children's Aid Society. I believe she was working as a waitress in Scarborough where she had met my father, the owner of the restaurant. My father was 28 at the time and was from Argentina. My birth mother had 10 siblings and three were deaf.
Source: Cousins Connect, website for genealogical queries
Truth du Jour
October 23, 2007 permalink
We have not seen the legal papers used to take custody of Matthew Reid from his parents (they are secret) but if they are like all other child protection cases they paint a picture of a horribly abused boy taken from an unsafe and unloving home. Now in the effort to deflect responsibility by blaming a mentally defective girl for the failures of the child protection system, a crown attorney has made a contradictory claim, describing Matthew with the words: "A young life, you hear from the family, was a very happy life.” Sounds like they tell the story that suits their purposes at the moment, and rely on secrecy to avoid being caught.
Crown argues girl who killed toddler should get more than 7 years
By KARENA WALTER Standard Staff, Posted October 12, 2007
Seven years is not long enough to hold a teenage girl accountable for smothering a toddler, the Crown argued in St. Catharines court Thursday.
That’s the total sentence the girl, who was 14 when she killed Matthew Reid, can receive if she is sentenced as a youth for second-degree murder.
“This young lady needs supervision and support and will probably need it for the rest of her life,” said assistant Crown attorney Patricia Vadacchino, arguing the girl should be sentenced as an adult.
“Not only does she need it, but the community needs it.”
But lawyer John Lefurgey told Justice Ann Watson that a youth sentence for the girl, now 16 and suffering from developmental disabilities, is the best option in the case.
“It may not be perfect, but it’s better than all the alternatives,” he argued.
An adult sentence would mean the girl would receive life, with eligibility for parole in five to seven years. A youth term brings a maximum seven years, with no more than four of those years in custody.
Watson will make her ruling on the adult versus youth sentence Nov. 16 in the Ontario Court of Justice.
The girl, whose identity is protected by the Youth Criminal Justice Act, pleaded guilty in January to killing the three-year-old.
The court has heard the girl arrived at a Welland foster home on Dec. 14, 2005 and suffocated Matthew, also a foster child, with his own pillow sometime after 9 p.m. that day.
He was found dead the next morning with blood smeared into a cross on his forehead and a note under his head that said, “I know what his last words were before he died. Momma.”
Vadacchino said the court has to evaluate the girl’s prospect for rehabilitation and if she can be re-integrated into society. The youth sentence is not a sufficient length to meet those standards, she said.
Experts who testified said the girl will always need supervision, Vadacchino said.
The girl has the cognitive ability of a seven or eight-year-old, has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome. She has a conduct disorder that makes her violent and irrational, Vadacchino said.
Prior to Matthew’s death, the girl had significant difficulties, was suspended from high school, stole and ran away from home, Vadacchino said. She had difficulty controlling anger and would throw things and swear. She stole her foster parents car to meet a 40-year-old man, was charged and ended up in the Welland foster home.
“Within 24 hours she killed Matthew Reid. She takes the life of a young person she did not know. A young life, you hear from the family, was a very happy life,” Vadacchino said.
“There is something utterly wrong with burying a child. That’s what this family faced.”
The girl was assessed by several health professionals and there were numerous attempts to assist her, she said. Under a youth sentence, Vadacchino said, if the girl does not respond to treatment, she will still be out in seven years.
But Lefurgey said the youth sentence should be looked at in proportion to the person — seven years is half the girl’s life from the time she committed the crime. She won’t be done serving the sentence until she is 23, and that’s a very long time for a 16-year-old, he said.
He said the girl wasn’t someone born with a silver spoon who went out to commit crimes.
“She was born with certain issues, her whole upbringing has been full of issues, she hasn’t been dealt a good hand to begin with,” he said.
If she is sentenced as a youth, there is already a reintegration plan in place and supports in the community, Lefurgey said. He said she has been showing signs of improvement.
Source: St Catherines Standard
October 23, 2007 permalink
The following gossipy clip about the Britney Spears celebrity child custody case illustrates a point that we can never report in more mundane cases because of secrecy. When child protectors send parents to parenting or anger management classes, the instructors are not there just to teach. They are gathering evidence for the adverse party. It works because persons sent to class by compulsion, such as Britney Spears, rarely have a positive attitude toward the instructor.
Parenting Coach to Brit -- I'm Not A Potted Plant!
Posted Oct 23rd 2007 1:35PM by TMZ Staff
TMZ has learned Britney Spears' parenting coach has submitted her report to the court, and it ain't pretty.
Sources say the two-and-a-half page report says Britney totally ignored the coach -- didn't even acknowledge her presence. The coach says she was unable to teach Britney anything, because Spears didn't want to listen.
The report, which was presented to the court yesterday and will be critical in determining if Spears should regain 50/50 custody, concludes that Britney often ignores her kids and lives in her own little world -- that Britney often disappeared and wasn't around the kids or the coach. We're told the coach has said Brit spends a lot of time on the phone and changing clothes.
More Threats for Cathy Norris
October 22, 2007 permalink
Cathy Norris has posted a new video, along with mention of a new jail threat.
Posted: Mon Oct 22, 2007 1:08 pm
Video on group homes. Secret tape of a CAS worker stating that “group homes are not ideal, so we obviously would not want to do that.” talking about where my son would be placed after he ran away from the group home and I was put in jail because he ran away from the group home.
The office of the Children’s lawyer has threatened to throw me in jail for my videos. So as can be expected I am working hard on more. I lost my computer for a while as it was getting fixed. Now I should be cut off services soon. (supposed to have been cut off Saturday) So if I am not answering anyone it is only because I don’t have internet. While I am down I will be working hard and I hope to be up and running soon.
Source: Canada Court Watch Forum
Career for Pedophiles
October 21, 2007 permalink
Psychotherapist James F. Bonczek has been arrested for the victimless crime of storing pictures on his computer. But earlier the same man had been a social worker, using his authority to get close to lots of naked children. It is the perfect career for an aspiring pedophile.
The New York Times
October 21, 2007
Child Pornography Arrest Stirs Previous Allegation Against Therapist
By MANNY FERNANDEZ
A Manhattan psychotherapist arrested last week on child pornography charges was fired in 1996 from his job as a social worker for New York City public schools, after an investigation by the school district.
The psychotherapist, James F. Bonczek, 58, was arrested on Thursday morning after the police found more than 2,000 computer images of child pornography, the authorities said. A maintenance worker fixing a leak in Mr. Bonczek’s Stuyvesant Town apartment on Wednesday saw a disturbing screen-saver image on his computer and notified the police, the authorities said.
Mr. Bonczek did not return phone calls yesterday seeking comment. He was charged with possession of photographs of children performing sexual acts, said the police, who said the images were of boys under the age of 10. He posted bail, set at $3,500, on Friday.
From 1984 to 1996, Mr. Bonczek was a social worker for New York City public schools. He worked in several schools, but was terminated in 1996 after an investigation by the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District, said Andrew Jacob, a spokesman for the Department of Education.
Mr. Jacob did not know the details of that investigation. The current special commissioner, Richard J. Condon, said the report was not available yesterday. WNBC-TV reported that the investigation involved four adults who accused Mr. Bonczek of misconduct years earlier, when they were children. One accused Mr. Bonczek of having sex with him, and the others said they had slept in his house and bathed with him, the station reported.
In December 1996, he sued the city’s school board by filing an Article 78 lawsuit, which allows a judge to review an agency’s action or decision. The case was closed a few months later, according to court records, which did not disclose the outcome.
No charges appeared to have been filed after the special commissioner’s investigation. Barbara Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, said she did not believe Mr. Bonczek had any prior criminal record. She said the child pornography investigation was continuing.
According to the New York State Education Department, which oversees the licensing of 47 professions, Mr. Bonczek is licensed as a clinical social worker with psychotherapy privileges.
Alan Ray, a spokesman for the state Education Department, said no information was available yesterday about the details of Mr. Bonczek’s licensing history. “Individuals who have no criminal record and show no proven evidence of misconduct can generally get a license under the law,” Mr. Ray said.
A profile posted on the Psychology Today Web site said that Mr. Bonczek had experience with children affected by divorce and adoption, as well as those with attention deficit, mood and other disorders. In an office on East 27th Street, he had hosted an anger management group for children on Friday nights called Stay Cool and a children’s organizational skills group on Saturday afternoons called Get It Together.
Cara Buckley contributed reporting.
Source: New York Times
Dracula Protects Baby
October 21, 2007 permalink
Nebraska baby Joel Anaya was forcibly taken from parents Josue and Mary Anaya for mandatory blood tests. The parents opposed the action on religious grounds. In the photographs neither parent appears to be of African descent, so the sickle cell test was superfluous. Instead of taking the baby for the few minutes required for the test, the state kept him for six days, interfering with breastfeeding.
Child protectors love the cases where they appear to be providing real help to a child, and publish them with real names notwithstanding confidentiality laws. In the more common cases where they harm a child with a parentectomy, they keep the case secret and threaten anyone contemplating publishing the facts.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Blood test done on Omaha baby, but fight isn't over
BY JENNIFER PALMER, WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
Baby Joel Anaya was welcomed home Tuesday into his mother's arms. And his father's arms. And his sister's. And his brother's. And another sister's. And another brother's.
In fact, all nine of Joel's siblings held, kissed or otherwise fawned over the 6-week-old brother they hadn't seen since he was whisked into foster care last week.
"Finally, he's home," said older brother John Anaya. "He should have never left."
The family of 12 piled onto a small couch for a photograph of the happy moment, with the baby in the center. Not having Joel "has been very stressful for the family," said Josue Anaya, their father.
Despite the objections of Josue Anaya and his wife, Mary, Joel's blood was drawn Friday and screened for medical conditions, as required by state law. The tests screen for a variety of conditions, including cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease, which could lead to mental retardation or death.
Joel had been in state custody since Oct. 10 when a petition was filed in Douglas County Juvenile Court alleging the Anayas put their son at risk by not having him screened.
Following a court order, Joel remained in foster care until the preliminary test results were received Tuesday and showed the baby was not predisposed to any of the disorders, the Anayas' attorney said. The Anayas then were reunited with their son, and prosecutors dismissed the case.
Joel's parents say they object to the blood withdrawal because of their religious beliefs and conscience. They believe in certain Scriptures that say life is in the blood.
Attorney Jeff Downing, who represents the Anayas, said it was appalling that Joel's blood was drawn before the Anayas had an opportunity to appeal the judge's decision.
"We can't undo what was done," Downing said. "But from a legal standpoint, we have a right to appeal."
They are considering filing an appeal, either in Douglas County District Court or the Nebraska Court of Appeals, he said.
Judge Elizabeth Crnkovich was not looking out for the child's best interests in Friday's court hearing, Downing said, criticizing her comment that it was inappropriate to allow Mary Anaya the frequent visits needed to breastfeed Joel at every meal.
Not allowing Mary Anaya to consistently breastfeed Joel during the critical first few weeks of attachment put him at greater risk than the chance that he had one of the diseases being screened for, Downing said.
She was allowed some visits and was able to nurse the baby during those times.
Mary Anaya, 40, said she will keep pushing for Nebraska to adopt an exception to the state-mandated testing, for the sake of her children and the grandchildren she hopes to have in the future.
Most states provide some sort of exception for people who object to the blood tests based on "religious" or "sincerely held" beliefs. Nebraska has no such provision.
Joel was born at home. Workers with the Nebraska Health and Human Services Department routinely cross-check a database of newborns who have had the screening with birth certificates issued. In Joel's case, a worker noticed the boy had a birth certificate but had not been screened.
The HHS worker first sent the Anayas a certified letter informing them that their baby needed to be screened in accordance with state law. She also called Mary Anaya, congratulated her on her new baby and asked if she planned to have the baby screened, according to court testimony.
Mary Anaya said she did not. Then the worker asked Mary if she knew what would happen next. Mary said, yes, we've been through this before.
The Anayas previously fought a court order that required that the testing be done on their daughter Rosa. But in 2005, the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld the order to have the testing performed. In that case, Rosa remained in the Anayas' custody while the case was being argued.
So when sheriff's deputies arrived Oct. 10 to take Joel into state custody, it was a complete shock, Mary Anaya said. She expected to be summoned to court, but she didn't expect her child to be placed in foster care.
In court Friday, Mary Anaya explained that part of her objection to the blood screening is she doesn't believe in inflicting pain on a healthy infant. She also said the Bible talks about how life is in the blood. "To me, the blood is something important and not to be tampered with lightly," she told the court.
Mary Anaya declined to discuss her religious beliefs in detail Tuesday because she said she feared others might mock them. Anaya and her husband are ordained ministers. They also are administrators of the Mission for All Nations food and clothing pantry in Omaha.
They have avoided having the metabolic screening done on most of their 10 children, who now are ages 21 years to 6 weeks.
Every parent chooses the risks they are or are not willing to take with their own children, she said, adding that she won't allow her son to play football because of the risk he could be injured.
Source: Omaha World-Herald.
October 19, 2007 permalink
Anita Nicoli watched her daughter get involved in altercations with other students, culminating in a death threat against the girl. What was the mother doing when she removed her children from school in favor of homeschooling? Child abuse! Social workers intervened in the family, and without assistance, they would have taken the children back to school, and possibly taken them away from their parents. Only the intervention of the HSLDA gave this family a chance to stay together.
BRAVE NEW SCHOOLS
Mom accused of neglect for teaching own kids
Describes litany of harassment, intimidation at public district
Posted: Tuesday, October 16, 2007 1:00 a.m. Eastern
A Missouri public school is pursuing a complaint against a mother for withdrawing her son and daughter from the school and teaching them at home, after an apparent threat to the daughter's life at the school.
The case involves Moberly, Mo., mother Anita Nicoli, who withdrew her daughter and a son from Moberly Middle School recently after what she has described as a two-year campaign of intimidation by other students.
The breaking point came when another student, who allegedly had harassed and assaulted her daughter, drew a picture of herself holding a gun and pointing it directly at Nicoli's daughter. The picture was passed around among students, she said.
But she now has been cited in a complaint filed by the school after she withdrew two of her children.
Multiple telephone messages left with officials at the school district were not returned. But Nicoli told WND that she is accused of "educational neglect" by social services, based on a complaint from the school.
The incident that she perceived as a threat was especially egregious, she told WND, because the student who drew the picture showed it to her daughter, and then other students saw it as well. One student told a teacher, who took the picture. But Nicoli said when she found out and wanted a copy of the offending picture to pursue a complaint, the school told her it had been lost.
In Nicoli's encounter with school officials in Moberly, she said her children had been subjected to harassment and badgering at the school for several years. She cited incidents of being slapped, bullied, kicked and butted, as well as threatened. Her son was shoved into a metal bar. Another time a student used a seat belt buckle on the school bus to hit him.
The last situation with her daughter happened when the other student hit her daughter in the face with a locker door, leaving a bruise on her check. Then the other student slapped her daughter, punched her, and threatened to "kick" her.
The attacker then drew the picture and showed it to Nicoli's daughter before it was taken by the teacher, she said.
Discussions with school administrators led nowhere, so she notified the school of her homeschool plans and went forward.
"Three days after I pulled my kids out, the school apparently wrote a letter to juvenile authorities [with a complaint]," she told WND. She was notified by juvenile authorities and went in to talk with them.
The complaint letter, filed by a counselor at the school, essentially said, "I couldn't adequately teach," Nicholi said. But she said juvenile authorities would not let her touch, or even see the letter, instead reading from it to her.
"There are no legal grounds [for the complaints]," she said. "But I still have to prove I'm not guilty of educational neglect."
She is being helped by the Home School Legal Defense Association, which advocates for the rights of homeschoolers.
"They're lashing out because they didn't want to deal with the reason for this – what they were not doing for my children," Nicoli said. "I told them, 'My children have a right to a safe and proper education, and you're not doing it so I'm pulling them out.'"
Her previous complaints about such treatment generally was met with the response that "There were no witnesses," or "The witnesses don't agree," Nicoli said. She said police were never notified of the incidents, and many times she wasn't even told until her son or daughter told her.
"One vice principal accused my daughter of putting marks on herself," Nicoli said.
She said officials accused her of being irrational after withdrawing her two older children from the Moberly Middle School, but she pointed out that left her younger son in public school classes, where he seems to be thriving at a different location, she said.
material relating to other families omitted by Dufferin VOCA
Bomb Threat Empties Family Court
October 18, 2007 permalink
Family court in Orangeville was emptied on Wednesday (Oct 17) by a bomb threat. No word on who called in the threat. Was it an unhappy parent? Or maybe a social worker needing to keep a child for a few more days?
Orangeville Citizen, October 18, 2007
Bomb threat empties courthouse for 4 hours
By LAVINIA KERR Staff Reporter
A bomb threat led to the evacuation of the Dufferin County courthouse Wednesday, with staff of the county and the Ontario Superior and provincial courts left standing outside the building for nearly four hours.
When the evacuation order came, at about 9:30 a.m., everyone in the building on Zina Street was ordered to leave immediately and muster in the Elizabeth Street parking lot.
Everyone contacted, including Crown Attorney Mary Ellen Cullen, said they were forbidden to speak to the press, including even to say who had given that direction. Even a simple question such as "how many courts were in session?" was answered with a "no comment". A court clerk refused to confirm whether her court had been in session, which normally begins at 9 a.m.
Constable Al Buck, spokesperson for Dufferin OPP detachment, showed up for a scheduled 10 a.m. court case and did confirm that it was a bomb threat they were dealing with, but found himself waiting outside with the crowd.
Scott Davis, media relations officer for Orangeville Police, said police had no reason to believe the bomb threat was real but no chances were being taken.
Two hours after the evacuation, local police were still waiting for the arrival of the OPP's bomb disposal unit and eventually the streets in the vicinity of the courthouse were blocked to traffic.
An unspecified number of prisoners awaiting a court appearance were transported to the Orangeville Police station lock up.
It appeared the all-clear had been given by about 1:30 p.m., when the roadblocks were removed, and by then the crowd had dispersed.
All court cases were cancelled for the day and court was to resume at 8:30 a.m., today (Thursday).
No other details about the bomb threat were available at press time.
Source: Orangeville Citizen
Addendum: Police have arrested Tracy Ellen Booth for the false bomb threat, without disclosing any facts, such as a motive.
Arrest made in bomb threat Arrest made in bomb threat
Friday October 26 2007
An Orangeville woman faces four charges after allegedly threatening to "blow up" the courthouse last week. The suspect was arrested Tuesday -- six days after the threat was received.
"It's a rare occurrence in our community. Hopefully this puts it to rest for now," Orangeville Police Service acting-chief Mike Robinson says of the bomb threat. "It was basically a voice identification made by members of our service that led us to the suspect."
"I'm glad to hear that," Dufferin County warden John Oosterhof remarked when told of the arrest.
The courthouse and attached Dufferin County office were evacuated at about 9:30 a.m. Oct. 17, after a bomb threat was called in to the police station. Roads around the building were blocked off and four explosives-sniffing canine units were brought in to check the building.
No harmful materials were found and the building was declared safe for reentry shortly after 1 p.m., though county officials decided to keep it closed for the remainder of the day.
"It was basically a wasted day.... It ruined the day," Oosterhof says, suggesting it was also an expensive day because of lost productivity and wages that had to be paid. "It had quite an impact on the county, as well as on the judicial system."
Matters slated for court that day were rescheduled in front of a justice of the peace in an Elizabeth Street parking lot across from the courthouse. County business also had to be shuffled to alternative days.
"The threat was a hoax," notes Davis, who declined to comment on a motive. "We don't want to go into the evidence."
The suspect was arrested at about 3 p.m., when an unmarked police cruiser pulled over the van she was driving at the intersection of Mill and Little York streets. Police took the woman into custody without incident and transported her to the police station in a regular cruiser.
Tracy Ellen Booth, 36, is charged with mischief, pubic mischief, conveying a false message and failing to comply with a court order. She was held in custody until Wednesday afternoon, at which time the courts released her on bail.
Source: Orangeville Banner
British Fetus Damned
October 18, 2007 permalink
An English woman, Fran Lyon, will lose her baby within 30 minutes of birth, because of problems she had as a teenager. In the article below you can see a picture of what, in the eyes of child protectors, looks like a blood-thirsty mother with her daughter already bulging in her belly. The statement "a domestic incident in July led to the involvement of social services" means that the mother may already have been the target of a shotgun divorce.
I won't hurt my baby' says woman who fears social workers will seize her newborn
The woman who won't be allowed to keep her baby - just in case she harms it
By STEVE DOUGHTY and PAUL SIMS - Last updated at 20:08pm on 18th October 2007
A mother-to-be faces losing her baby within minutes of its birth because social workers fear she will harm the child.
Fran Lyon, 22, has been told she cannot be trusted with a newborn because she is likely to suffer from Munchausen's syndrome by proxy.
The condition is said to lead mothers to seek attention by harming their child or claiming it is ill.
Miss Lyon insisted yesterday that the mental health problems she had as a teenager were behind her. She also appealed for a place in a mother and baby unit so that she could look after her child under supervision.
"I would be happy to stay for as long as it takes," she said. "At the end of the day I have nothing to hide so why would I have a problem going? I know there is nothing wrong.
"I'm not depressed, although I have every right to be. I'm not struggling to cope."
Miss Lyon's child - a girl to be called Molly - is due in January.
"I know I wouldn't hurt her," she said. "I would quite happily have 24-hour supervision with a perfect stranger sat with me watching my every move.
"All I want is a chance to be Molly's mum."
Social workers told Miss Lyon last week that her child will be taken from her within 30 minutes of birth.
Munchausen's has been at the heart of a series of miscarriages of justice.
Sir Roy Meadow, a discredited paediatrician who helped develop theories about the condition, was responsible for evidence that led to the wrongful convictions of Angela Cannings and Sally Clark for murdering their children. Miss Clark died earlier this year, after, friends said, turning to alcohol following her release from prison.
Miss Lyon, from Hexham in Northumberland, started self-harming at the age of 15 and has been treated at psychiatric hospitals for borderline personality disorder.
She said a domestic incident in July led to the involvement of social services who became concerned by her pregnancy.
"I told them that I had mental health problems when I was a lot younger and that I had since moved on and now had a normal life," said Miss Lyon.
"I assumed that would be the end of it but the next thing I know they were going to a child protection conference.
"I am living with this constant notion that someone might walk into the delivery suite and take my baby away."
Her case has been taken up by Lib-Democrat MP John Hemming who has been campaigning against adoption of babies.
"The whole family court system, because of the secrecy which surrounds it, is vulnerable to bad practice," he said.
"Social workers are under pressure not to lose cases."
Family courts set up adoption orders and make decisions about children thought to be at risk. The evidence and the reasoning behind rulings are rarely made public.
A spokesman for Northumberland County Council said: "Legally we are unable to comment on the detail of individual cases.
"We can say that such cases can be very complex and involve a lot of information and various concerns relating to the safety of a child."
Dr Stella Newrith, a psychiatrist who has treated Miss Lyon, said she had made a significant recovery.
In a letter to Northumberland Council, she stated: "There has never been any clinical evidence to suggest Fran would put herself or others at risk and there is certainly no evidence to suggest she would put a child at risk of emotional, physical or sexual harm."
• Munchausen's syndrome by proxy was identified in the 1970s by paediatrician Sir Roy Meadow. It can take the form of fabricated illness where a parent claims a child is ill by making up symptoms.
In a more vicious form, illness is actually induced, with the parent inflicting harm on the child.
Professor Meadow's research at the University of Leeds cited a case of a woman who poisoned her child with salt and that of another mother who tampered with blood samples to make her child seem ill.
The theory became increasingly influential and in 1993 the professor's evidence helped convict nurse Beverley Allitt of the murders of four children.
But the Angela Cannings and Sally Clark miscarriages of justice wrecked Professor Meadow's reputation because he had been an expert witness. Some now question whether Munchausen's exists.
Source: Daily Mail
Adults Fear Kids
October 18, 2007 permalink
A survey in Scotland shows nearly half of adults avoid volunteer work with kids out of fear of the pedophile label. Though only briefly mentioned in the article, men are more likely to be targets of accusations than women. For a tragic outcome, refer to the case of Abby Rae. The result is that professional care of young children is now an almost exclusively female occupation. This in spite of the fact that every measurement shows that women are more prone to abuse children than men.
BBC NEWS, Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 October 2007, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
Adults 'too afraid' of youth work
Adults are often too scared to work with young people for fear of being branded a paedophile, according to a new report.
A survey by Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People revealed that the fear of being accused of harming young people was the main deterrent.
Kathleen Marshall's study found a shortage of adults prepared to take work roles and volunteering posts.
More than 1,100 people took part in the detailed survey.
Some 48% of adults surveyed said fear of being falsely accused of causing harm was a barrier to contact with children and young people.
This same fear also made adults much less likely to help when they saw a young person in danger or distress.
The report also revealed that adults who work with young people in structured environments tend to have positive attitudes towards them, and enjoy seeing children and young people develop through their involvement. However, people reported much more negative attitudes to meeting young people in informal groups, especially in large groups on the street.
According to the report, fear was largely fuelled by media reporting rather than people's personal knowledge of young people.
Other concerns included fear of young people themselves, and concerns about bureaucracy and the culture of litigation.
Women are almost twice as likely to have formal contact with children and young people, either as a volunteer or through work, the survey showed.
Men in particular reported being afraid of being falsely accused of being a paedophile which they described as "the worst thing imaginable".
Men are also disproportionately less likely to approach a lost child and try to help.
Ms Marshall said: "Young people consistently tell us they want safe and fun things to do and that anti-social behaviour is a result of a shortage of opportunities for 'social behaviour'.
"The activities they want to take part in need adults to volunteer and support them and this report shows exactly why that isn't happening.
"We need to help bridge the divide between the generations and establish a framework for attractive activities that are stimulating, safe and fun for all involved.
"I hope this report will start a full public debate about how that should be done, and everyone who has ever worked with young people or considered doing so has something to contribute to that debate, as do Scotland's young people themselves."
George Thomson, chief executive of Volunteer Development Scotland, said that potential volunteers needed greater support.
He added: "We must now have the conviction and courage to overcome the challenges and find ways to take up the offer of voluntary help from adults in a way that benefits everyone."
John Loughton, chair of Scottish Youth Parliament, said that both adults and young people should feel safe, without "wrapping either of them in cotton wool".
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We understand that some people are put off by checks - that's why we are simplifying it to cut down on multiple checks."
He said a new system would be in place in 2009.
October 18, 2007 permalink
We regret to inform you that a boy, Buice McInnis, has been recaptured after an attempted escape from the Children's Aid Society.
Missing teen located
Wed Oct 17, 2007
COBOURG - A 15-year-old boy has been located by Cobourg police, after running away from the Children's Aid Society, on Thursday, Oct. 11.
Police were told where to find Brice McInnis around 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16, and verified he was OK.
Police credit the public for their assistance in the matter.
Source: Metroland Durham Region
October 18, 2007 permalink
During the last month, American newspapers have printed dozens of articles presenting the view that the pay of foster parents is inadequate. Someone, we don't know who, is pushing a campaign for more pay. Former foster parent Mary Callahan writes a response in the Los Angeles Times.
From the Los Angeles Times
A foster mom has second thoughts about parenting for pay.
By Mary Callahan, October 16, 2007
It may seem like a no-brainer to say that foster parents should be well paid. They are good people doing the hard work of raising someone else's kids. Right?
Fifteen years ago, I was one of those people. I took good care of the kids who had been placed in my home after being removed from their birth families for various reasons -- usually neglect: once because of a severe spanking, another time for "rough handling on the way to the car" when a child was suspended from school. But I also shopped around for the foster-care agency that paid the best, and I took the harder-to-place kids for the same reason.
I justified my pay by saying it was just like my other profession, nursing. I enjoyed taking care of patients, did a good job, but I still expected a paycheck. It took one particular foster child to show me the big difference between nursing and foster parenting.
I don't say "I love you" to my patients.
Michael moved in with me at 9 and at first just enjoyed the benefits of my financial status. He settled in, began to trust me and believed me when I said he was a great kid and I was proud to be his mother -- if only temporarily. Kids in foster care need love, acceptance and affirmation even more than our own kids do. But try convincing them you were sincere when they find out how much you were paid for your parental love. They don't stay 9 forever. Some foster children stay with a family for years, and eventually they are old enough to question where the money for the vacations and the second car came from.
I'll never forget the look on Michael's face when he returned from a visit with his mother and asked me, "Did you, like, inherit money or something? 'Cause my mom works all the time and she only has two pairs of shoes. You hardly work and you have about 100."
I didn't have 100 pairs of shoes, but I was well paid for raising him, while his mother would have paid anything to have the opportunity. But she had nothing to pay. She had lost her kids when, at 18, she called the state for help after her husband deserted her. She had no family to fall back on, as she was a former foster child herself. Her poverty cost her the right to raise her own kids.
It seemed wrong to Michael because it was wrong. Money can put blinders on you, but since I took mine off and adopted my last two foster kids, I can see many reasons why it is wrong to pay foster parents too much.
- It creates a disincentive to adopt.
- It creates a conflict of interest when a foster parent has to report on how family visits are going.
- It makes kids look down on their own families.
- It attracts people who don't even like kids.
- Worst of all, it deals a blow to the child's self-esteem when he learns someone had to be well paid to love him.
Some foster parents are now complaining that they are not paid enough. A coalition of advocates for foster families in California, for example, has filed a federal suit alleging that what the state pays is less than what it costs to board a dog in a kennel. At first glance it seems that we, as a society, must care more about dogs than kids. But boarding dogs is a "for profit" business. Taking foster kids should be a calling.
California has the most foster children of any state -- 75,000 -- and about 19,000 licensed foster families. One study found that state reimbursement for care ranges from $425 a month for a 2-year-old to $597 for a 16-year-old. A state agency disputes those figures, estimating the average at $680.
I'm not saying that foster parents shouldn't be paid at all. Most are middle-class families that don't have a lot to begin with. But how can foster parents say, as some do, "I love him as if he were my own," if they are not willing to make some sacrifice?
But if there aren't enough foster parents who will do it for just a little financial help, maybe we should look back to the people who already love the child, without conditions -- the birth family. Yes, there may be cases, such as an abusive parent, in which a child cannot be returned to his or her family. But in many instances, such as Michael's, pay the birth family the amount that would be paid to foster parents to help them stay together in the first place.
And if it is still necessary to have a stable of "professional parents," such as I was, they should be labeled that. The children should know them from the very beginning -- not as foster parents but as paid parents.
Mary Callahan is author of "Memoirs of a Babystealer."
Source: Los Angeles Times
Stealing Kids from Mom and Dad
October 17, 2007 permalink
Most children taken for "protection" are picked up at school, or from single parents. Here is first-hand account of a seizure from the home of an intact family.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Child Protective Services? My Ass.
So, my fiancé and I took my kids out to lunch the other day, go finish getting our Halloween costumes, etc, and on the way home, my daughter starts talking about cigarettes and alcohol being drugs. We start an in depth conversation about this, and my kids mentioned that they had an interview at school that day. Of what, we ask. Did any of your classmates get interviewd? No.
So here we are, wondering what the hell is going on, and we get home, and lo and behold there is a letter on our door requesting an interview with us. I immediately call them, and get an answering machine. I leave a message, requesting that they call me. This can't be anything, they have the wrong family, right?
No, apparently they don't. Someone called CPS on me, saying they "smelled marijuana, there was animal feces, and my house was a mess". Lets break this down. I have nine animals. A dog, two ferrets, and six sugar gliders. So yes, there will be animal feces around, you can't get rid of it, and we clean out their cages quite often. It isn't strewn about, it's in controlled animal environments. Second, my house has three adults and two highly active children in it, and I am not a housekeeper, so yes, my house will always be untidy. There is no law saying that there cannot be toys strewn about, and dishes in the sink. And marijuana?? WTF?
They came to my house yesterday, as I was in the middle of laundry. I invite them in, offer coffee, tell them about my children's family life, how good we have it, show off my Wii, and brag about my children and fiancé. Everything is going well. They ask me if I'll drug test, I immediately agree, I have nothing to hide, I had told them that I hadn't smoked pot in a long, long time.
Then they told me to go wake up my fiancé's sister to take a drug test. I told them, "I'm sorry, I can't." My future sister-in-law is a cancer survivor, she's on a CPAP machine, and on many medications due to health problems. I am not waking her up, especially as she has to go to work that night. That's when things went wrong.
They start badgering me, questions, accusations, flying all around. Why won't you wake her up? She's on medication, I can't, not even a knock at the door will wake her up. Why won't you try? Did they not just hear me? Well, can we go peek in on her?
You peek in on sleeping children. You do not peek in on sleeping adults, especially ones you have never met. Peek in on her? What the hell is that? For all I know she may not even sleep clothed, why am I going to go let complete strangers look at her?
Then I tell them that no, I will not take your silly test. When my fiancé comes home, and his sister wakes up, then we will all go down and schedule an appointment for a drug test. So, they answered me with taking my children away from me, and placing them in my mom's care, after a very cursory background check. They didn't check her identification, they didn't even look at her house. Just gave her my kids. Luckily, I have one thing they didn't count upon.
My father. San Antonio police officer, who has been through CPS's lies and strong-arm tactics, and laughed in their face. He also knows my rights, and the law. And a damned good lawyer.
This is not the end of this, and someone needs to account for why my children are not happily at home, playing with pets, toys, and their friends.
Posted by XeviousTheGreat at 12:44 PM
Still More Record Tampering
October 16, 2007 permalink
Canada Court Watch, which rarely identifies cases by name, has uncovered more evidence of altered court transcripts.
Evidence of more court transcripts being altered by the court at 47 Sheppard Ave. E. (The same court where Justice Marvin Zuker previously got caught for altering court transcripts)
(October 16, 2007) Another citizen who had matters recently before the court at 47 Sheppard Ave. E. has produced evidence which would reasonably support claims that court transcripts have been significantly altered in violation to the Criminal Code of Canada in order to prevent the party from being able to appeal the judge's decision. This sounds a lot like what Justice Marvin Zuker did in a court case as well at the same court building.
In light of this recent information and claims by other citizens of tampering of official court documents by officers of the court, it is time that Federal and Provincial authorities step in and put an end to what would appear to be illegal and immoral activity at the courts by some judges with the help of some courthouse staff. The unwritten practice of Judges reviewing and "approving" transcripts in the back rooms of the court must be put to an end, NOW! Independent, third party court reporters with no ties to the judges, must be implemented along with court supplied audio tapes to each party immediately at the end of each court hearing. In this day and age of affordable and convenient recording devices, there should be NO reason why recording devices should not be put into widespread practice to increase transparency of the courts and to increase public confidence in the Administration of Justice.
Source: Canada Court Watch
October 16, 2007 permalink
Parents of children with minor injuries used to take them for medical care on the principle of better safe than sorry. No longer. Now cautious parents have to stay away from doctors, except in cases of real injury. Here is the case of a mother who faces loss of her children for taking them to the emergency room.
Mom Blames Hospital ER For CPS Investigation
Tue Oct 16, 7:18 AM ET
An Indianapolis mother blames Methodist Hospital for prompting a Child Protective Services investigation after her 15-year-old daughter was hurt on the soccer field last week.
Marilyn Brown told 6News' Tanya Spencer that she thought she was get the best care for her daughter, Margrette Lowe, 15, by taking her to the emergency room after she was injured at a soccer game.
Instead, Brown said her daughter got no care, sat in pain for hours and that her case was referred to CPS for possible abuse and neglect.
Lowe has a mark on her eye from the soccer collision. Brown said the athletic trainer didn't think it was too bad, but that she decided to take the girl to Methodist's ER just in case.
Brown said she and her daughter were treated rudely from the start, and that she was told the wait would be about two hours.
Brown and Lowe said they waited for more than four hours, with no one able to tell them how much longer it would be before they could be seen.
"Margrette said, 'Mommy, I just want to go home. I'm tired. I'm cold,'" Brown said. "She was still in her soccer uniform."
"At that point, I'm saying to myself, 'She's not receiving care at all.' I know there's a limited amount of time, a window that she can get stitches done, and ... now her eye is swelling. The bleeding has stopped. It's kind of sealed itself," Brown said.
Brown said she decided to take her exhausted daughter home and see her own doctor in the morning, but she couldn't believe what happened next.
"She says, 'If you take her out of here, I'm calling Child Protective Services on you," Brown said. "I'm getting ready to just absolutely break down in tears. I'm being accused of abusing my child."
Hospital officials told 6News that the ER was very busy the night Brown and Lowe were there, and that the more serious cases always move ahead of less serious ones.
Hospital officials also said that anyone who suspects abuse is required by law to report it.
"Now, I have to defend my actions, defend my lifestyle," Brown said.
A week after the incident, Brown's case is still open and a caseworker wants a home visit. Brown said the whole ordeal is embarrassing and humiliating.
Brown said she thinks hospitals need to give patients realistic wait times so they can consider other treatment options before wasting a lot of time.
A hospital representative told 6News proper protocol was followed in Brown's case.
Source: Yahoo news, citing WRTV TheIndyChannel.com.
October 16, 2007 permalink
We have commented in the past that child protectors and animal protectors are brothers in arms. Here is proof in a Yahoo video by Ellen DeGeneres.
Baby Theft in UK
October 14, 2007 permalink
The press in Britain has opened up and now routinely tells the truth about the atrocities committed by social services in the name of child protection. This is at least in part owing to activities of Fathers-4-Justice in getting family law on the political agenda.
In talking to hundreds of aggrieved Ontario families, we can say that the following elements of the Pauline Goodwin story below are routine here.
Independent.co.uk Online Edition:
Are over-zealous social services acting on orders to meet adoption quotas?
Pauline Goodwin's daughter was taken into care before she'd even left hospital. She says she'll fight to get her baby back
By Lena Corner, Published: 14 October 2007
When Pauline Goodwin went into hospital to give birth to a baby daughter in June 2005, two people came to see her in the delivery room: they were social workers asking her to sign the papers that would entitle them to put the baby into care. Goodwin refused.
When the baby was just three days old, Goodwin was summoned to court and instructed to leave her baby in the care of the hospital. The judge issued a care order and by the time Goodwin left the courtroom, the social services had already dropped by the hospital to collect her baby.
"They said that because the baby had never lived in a family unit, she didn't have a bond with us so it didn't matter if she was taken away," says Goodwin. "I don't know where she is now and I'm not entitled to know."
In a case that could make legal history, Goodwin plans to go to the European Court of Human Rights to prove the adoption of her daughter was fraudulent.
The irony of Goodwin's situation is that, initially, she welcomed the intervention of the social services. For 10 years she had been in an abusive marriage in which she had had five children. When the marriage collapsed, Goodwin had a breakdown. At the time, her youngest child was three months old and social services came forward offering to help.
But within a few weeks, the social workers' attitude had changed. "They started visiting two or three times a day and phoning the children's schools daily." Social workers turned up during the middle of one of the children's birthday parties and sometimes would arrive to carry out spot-checks at 10pm, shining torches into the sleeping children's faces to check it was them.
Then the threats started. One social workers said it was her aim to get the children into care. "They also said that they'd had two or three people phoning in daily to say they'd seen my kids out playing till all hours or that I had left them and gone out drinking. The stupid thing is that often I had a social worker round at the moment this was meant to be happening."
The social services claimed to have issues in three areas. First, with the state of Goodwin's house. "It was messy," she admits, "but it was just toys and clothes; it was never dirty." So Goodwin stripped the house, redecorated and bought new bunk beds for the children. "When I did that, all they said was 'Where did you get the money from?'" She was also criticised for her children's poor school attendance. "I did find it difficult to get them all up and out in the morning. I was sending them to school in a taxi and that worked fine, but the social services decided I wasn't allowed to." And third, they highlighted missed medical appointments. "I missed two dental appointments," says Goodwin, "and I refused to give my two youngest the MMR because I wanted more information."
The social services decided to push for a an interim care order and Goodwin soon found herself in court. The youngest four children were ordered into foster care for six weeks while the eldest was allowed to stay with Goodwin, "which was ridiculous because she had the worst school attendance of all". Goodwin told her children they were going on holiday and packed their bags. "Two social services cars and a police car turned up and just took them. One of the very first things they did was dish out the MMR." Two were sent to foster carers and two to their father, "a violent alcoholic who's been arrested 10 times. The court psychologists seem to think that if you're an alcoholic it doesn't affect your parenting skills." That was 2004; Goodwin has been fighting for them ever since.
"Pauline Goodwin's case is one of the more extreme examples of appalling behaviour among people in the area of public family law," says MP John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat member for Birmingham Yardley, who is chairman of the Justice for Families group and is helping fight her case. "I have great difficulty in understanding how what has been done has benefited any of these people. The mere fact that the judges resisted providing her copies of the judgment, which she needs in order to appeal [it took her over a year to get them] rings alarm bells as to whether the rule of law is in operation in Liverpool County Court."
Social services refuse to comment on individual cases, but Hemming believes Goodwin's story is part of a wider phenomenon that started seven years ago when the government decided to speed up the adoption process. A target was set to increase adoptions by 50 per cent between 2000 and 2006; the number of babies taken into care rose from 1,600 in 1995 to 2,800 10 years later, while the number of adoptions jumped from 810 in 1995 to 2,300 in 2005. This has led some to say the social services are acting to to meet quotas.
"Pauline is the tip of the iceberg," says Hemming. "Statistics suggest there are about 1,000 cases in this country where children have been wrongfully adopted. It's possibly even more than that. I know of a number of cases where all sorts of intimidation is used to discourage people from fighting back."
More worrying is the increasing number of very small babies who are being taken. "This is a disturbing trend," says Hemming. "I am aware of cases where babies are put in care because their mothers get post-natal depression. This is an evil way of working."
Goodwin is now helping other women in her situation and is part of a mounting campaign to stop unnecessary adoption. Recently, she helped organise demonstrations in Manchester, Derby and Liverpool. "There were three other mothers in the square where I lived who all had their children taken away within a matter of months," she says. "We happened to live by some malicious people, who thought it was fun to ring the social services and see the reaction. It should never have been allowed to happen."
Goodwin believes a lot of her problems have been caused by the secrecy of the family courts. "There is no jury and we're not allowed witnesses or character references. They allow hearsay from professionals but not from us, so it comes down to their word against ours." Goodwin claims to have had problems with one social worker in particular. "She's well-known in Liverpool and has been involved in various cases. I put in a formal complaint about her and she was moved."
Goodwin now gets to see her children six times a year. "We meet for an hour and a half in contact centres with social workers watching over me," she says. "I've never been accused of harming or hurting them. They say the visits are supervised in case I say anything to the children about coming home."
In the meantime, Goodwin's priority is to get her baby back. "That baby never even had the chance to come home from hospital. The social workers might have had issues with my other five children, but at that point my baby wasn't even born."
"I haven't missed a court or contact appointment and I've met every care plan they've asked for. Now they say they don't think I'll keep it up. Well, I'm proving to them that I can keep some things up, and that's this fight. I'm going to keep this up until the day I get my baby back."
Source: the Independent (UK)
pointed out by a Dufferin VOCA reader
Guy Lavigne R.I.P.
October 14, 2007 permalink
Guy Lavigne, a member of the board of directors of F4J Canada, was found dead on Friday. Our earlier statement that his death was the indirect result of family court action seems to be unjustified in light of a clarification in the addendum below. A memorial gathering is planned at Parliament Hill for October 31.
October 13, 2007
It is in numbness I write this.
One of our long standing activists has succeeded in taking his own life after multiple attempts.
Guy Lavigne, Director on the Fathers 4 Justice board and friend passed away sometime between Thursday am and Friday am.
Many of you knew him only from these lists.
Others knew him as friend.
I will post funeral details when available.
I really don't know what more to say, I am lost.
October 14, 2007
Members of Fathers 4 Justice Canada will be travelling from Toronto and surrounding areas to Ottawa ( Parliament Hill ) on Wednesday, October 31st to send the message that we do not want anymore DEAD DADS and that we want parents to be more than GHOST parents ( parents only allowed to be there in 'spirit' )
If you want to participate, contact me ASAP.
I need to know numbers so I can arrange transportation for everyone.
Other noteworthy dates - November 20th Child's Day 393 University Ave in Toronto, will other cities be participating?
Upcoming high profile actions - NOT to be announced
December 21/22 - NATIONAL - Santa Marches for family justice ( With a twist this year, we will be going directly to the Premier's home in our chapter provinces and delivering cards - more details on this to follow )
Fathers 4 Justice Canada
Photos provided by Brian Jenkins.
Addendum: Here is a later email from Kris Titus clarifying the situation.
There seems to be some confusion surrounding Guy's death.
Guy did not die because he was denied access to his children.
Guy had the opportunity, after his fight, to be an equal parent to his children over the past several years.
Guy did continue to fight for others who were denied their kids.
Guy died because of an entirely separate situation and because he did not receive the treatment and care he needed to deal with the situation.
Some upsetting e-mails have been sent and read by Guy's children and the family would like this stopped.
Because of this, they have now requested that police be present in case of a problem with any of us at the funeral.
Please word any condolence letters accordingly.
Funeral details should be released in a day or two as his body gets released tomorrow.
Addendum: The funeral will take place on Friday, October 19.
FUNERAL FOR GUY LAVIGNE
Family and Friends, Local Residents, Politicians and Fathers Activists to gather in Hawkesbury to pay final tribute and farewell to well known and popular Fathers Rights Activist Guy Lavigne.
Visitation/Viewing: will be held at the Funeral Home Salon Funéraire Berthiaume, 1243, rue Lansdowne in Hawkesbury, Ontario on Thursday Evening, 18th October between 7 pm to 10 pm and Friday Morning 19th October between 9 am and 10:30 am .
The Funeral/Service will be on Friday Morning at 11:00 am at the Parish Church of St-Alphonse on Main street (rue Principale -besides Tim Hortons)
Source: email from Jeremy Swanson
Kids in Bankruptcy
October 14, 2007 permalink
When a for-profit foster home chain can't pay its bills, the bankruptcy trustees scramble to find homes for dozens of children before school gets out. What children need is the love of a warm accountant.
Children's homes hit by buyout fears
Concern at private equity's role in social services
Nick Mathiason, business correspondent, Sunday October 14, 2007
The collapse of a private equity-backed care home dealing with sexually abused and autistic children has sparked renewed concern at the advance of financial buyers into British public services.
Sedgmoor, owned by established private equity firm ECI Partners, ran 45 homes for vulnerable children. It went into administration two weeks ago.
After selling most of the care homes, administrator KPMG spent several days urgently liaising with local authorities to find places for dozens of children. Charities claimed some had nowhere to go after the school day ended.
Jack Dromey, Unite deputy general secretary, said: 'It beggars belief that the care of the vulnerable might now be put at risk by the cost-cutting which is a characteristic of private equity. Inevitably long-term care considerations will give way to short-term profit-making.'
But sources close to ECI blame its demise on a shift in government policy which saw children moved out of care homes into foster homes. The policy change has prompted a stampede of private equity firms into the foster-care sector. The venture capital firm 3i and a number of other financial buyers still run dozens more children's care homes.
Experts say private equity firms now control 30 per cent of the independent foster agency market. Last December, Sovereign Capital bought the country's second largest foster agency, NFA, and at least six big agencies have fallen to private equity players. Sources say foster businesses are keen to turn to private equity as a ready source of capital to fund rapid expansion.
The trend has sparked deep unease among children's charities, who say private equity-backed foster agencies are piling extra work on social workers and will raise charges to local authorities.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Adolescent and Children's Trust (Tact), the UK's largest fostering and adoption charity, said: 'This is not an issue for us about the private sector operating in foster-care. Our issue is with private equity firms, their stated aim of maximising profits for shareholders and operating for short-term gain. This is not compatible with providing long-term care for some of the most vulnerable children in society.'
Williams added that regulations governing fostering and care homes needed to be strengthened to deal with a new breed of aggressive financial buyer.
In April, Ofsted was handed responsibility for children's homes and social care. Insiders said it did not have the expertise to understand private equity's complex financial modelling and the implications it might have. Ofsted said: 'As part of the transfer of this responsibility, Ofsted employs all inspectors who were previously employed by the Commission for Social Care Inspection solely or mainly to regulate and inspect children's homes, including carrying out checks on their financial viability.'
It has emerged that Sedgmoor, which ECI bought for £13m in 2000, ran into difficulties several months ago. It leased its homes and when occupancy levels fell could not afford to pay staff or rent.
Private equity firms are also big players in the elderly care sector.
Source: Guardian (UK)
October 13, 2007 permalink
A Texas mother committed a common act for parents of young children, leaving a baby alone for a short period of time. Usually this happens when a mom leaves a baby in a car while she runs into a store to make a purchase. In the Texas case, the mom left the baby in the safety of her own home while running an (undisclosed) errand. Texas has charged her with felony abandonment, just as if she deliberately fed her baby to wolves. The child protectors have taken all four of her kids. If Texas remuneration is similar to Ontario, they can expect a million dollar jackpot on this case.
Mom, 23, goes to jail
By ZACHARY FRANZ , LAREDO MORNING TIMES
When a Child Protective Services case worker went to a home in the 1800 block of Convent Avenue to investigate the care of the children on Friday, it started badly.No one answered the door, but the caseworker could hear a baby crying inside, said Jose E. Baeza, a spokesman for the Laredo Police Department. After waiting about 10 minutes, the caseworker saw the mother, Norma Alicia Cabello, return home, Baeza said.
The child inside the home was a 2-month-old boy, Baeza said. Police are not sure how long he was alone before the CPS agent arrived, but the child was unharmed and did not need medical attention, Baeza said.
Cabello, 23, was arrested at about 11 a.m. on Friday and charged with endangering a child, a state jail felony.
Cabello also has three children who were at school at the time, Baeza said. CPS took custody of all four children.
Cabello was taken to the Laredo Police Department, then held at Webb County Jail without bond. If convicted, she could be punished with up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
(Contact reporter Zachary Franz at 728-2582 or by e-mail at email@example.com)
Source: Laredo Morning Times 2007
Reviewers in child deaths have $3M contracts
October 11, 2007 permalink
Denver child protectors had a scandal on their hands when Chandler Grafner died after being taken into care and Neveah Gallegos died after not being taken into care, so they hired two external agencies to review their department, the Kempe Center and the Annie E Casey Foundation. Both have financial ties to the department. This article shows why the reviews can't lead to any real reforms.
Reviewers in child deaths have $3M contracts
By Arthur Kane, The Denver Post Article Last Updated: 10/11/2007 12:08:08 PM MDT
One of the two nonprofit organizations conducting an external review of the Denver Department of Human Services after the deaths of two children has received city contracts totaling at least $3 million over six years.
The other agency provided the department with a grant of up to $200,000 this year and is using Denver as one of 15 sites where it will study how its child-protection proposals work.
DDHS manager Roxane White announced last month that the Kempe Center, which received the contracts, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which provided the grant, would conduct a review of her department's policies at the same time as the Colorado Department of Human Services. The review is a response to the deaths this year of two children - Chandler Grafner and Neveah Gallegos - whom human-services workers had the opportunity to remove from homes where abuse was suspected.
State Rep. Debbie Stafford, an Aurora Republican who has focused on children's issues, questioned whether a nonprofit that receives money from the department can impartially investigate that agency.
"That's a conflict of interest," said Stafford, who will propose a bill this session creating an independent ombudsman for children. "It would certainly raise eyebrows that it is a valid and objective assessment."
The assessment by the organizations will review hotline calls, files, interview staff and look at neglect filings to determine whether DDHS has proper practices and policies in place to protect children.
Small portion of budget
Kempe spokeswoman Lindsey Zimmerman said the nonprofit could be independent, despite the contracts it receives from the government, and that Denver would not have chosen it if there were questions about the organization's impartiality.
White said Kempe's contracts are not a big enough part of Kempe's budget to taint the review. "Kempe has a national and international reputation and will do this in an independent way," she said.
Zimmerman could not provide Kempe's budget, but its foundation spent $3 million last year, according to its 2006 tax forms.
Elsa Holguin, a member of the Denver Human Services advisory board, said some agencies, such as the Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center, were not asked to participate in the review because they receive too much of their funding from the department. White said that was one factor, along with the size, reputation and breadth of services, in asking Kempe and Casey instead of others.
The Kempe contracts require the foundation to provide mental and medical services to abused and neglected children.
The Casey Foundation provided money to DDHS this year as part of its Family to Family initiative. The initiative works to provide neighborhood-based, culturally sensitive care emphasizing less reliance on hospitals, shelters and group homes. It also advocates improved foster care for children who must be removed from home and screening services to safely preserve families, according to the foundation's website.
Denver was chosen as one of Casey's anchor cities to gather data on the success of Family to Family.
White said the Family to Family concept is neutral on whether to work with the family on a voluntary basis or involve the juvenile court in taking the children or court-ordering parents to change their ways.
But White's department has built upon Family to Family to find ways that it can, when possible, safely provide services to families without involving the courts by removing a child. She said there are not enough foster homes or other places to raise children taken from their parents.
The debate over whether to involve the courts has been controversial in Neveah Gallegos' case because the department decided to allow the child to stay with her mother even after she was brought to a hospital with apparent signs of being sexually assaulted. Her mother declined to cooperate with police investigating her boyfriend in the assault, and no charges were ever filed, court records say.
Many have DDHS ties
A Jefferson County juvenile court put Chandler Grafner in the home where he died, placing him with an ex-boyfriend of his mother. Denver Human Services workers were then notified of a complaint from Chandler's school that he was missing from class but did not respond.
Retired Denver juvenile- court judge Dana Wakefield said he respects the Casey center's work but said DDHS has gone too far in avoiding the courts - especially in Neveah's case.
"You have a mom who won't protect the child, you have a boyfriend who is a sex offender - a bell should go off in the head of the (DDHS employee) that this is not a case where voluntary service is appropriate," he said. "It could be an example where a new approach blinds them to the facts."
Suzanne Barnard, Casey senior operations manager in the mountain west region, said Casey is most interested in the safety of the child, whether it is going to court or working with the family on a voluntary basis.
She said its Family to Family study would not color its work in the internal review.
White said it would be impossible to choose a major organization that doesn't have financial or other ties to DDHS.
"We're not that big of a town," she said.
Mayor John Hickenlooper said he stands behind the job White is doing at Human Services and believes the review will improve the child-protection system.
Source: The Denver Post
October 11, 2007 permalink
In yesterday's re-election of the Ontario Liberal government, Dave Levac was elected in the Brant riding with 23,483 votes. Rob Ferguson, running for the Family Coalition Party, got 403 votes. CAS opponent Andrea Horwath was re-elected to represent Hamilton-Centre.
October 10, 2007 permalink
Here is another case of a father defending his family against a social worker. This time a Wisconsin man used less than deadly force. A condition of his release is that he have no contact with the social worker. If the order is reciprocal, it could become a popular way to keep social services away.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Is this child abuse?
By Citizen Staff
JUNEAU — A 46-year-old Horicon man made his initial appearance in Dodge County Circuit Court on Monday after allegedly striking a Dodge County Human Services child protective services caseworker who had come to his home to investigate a child abuse complaint.
According to the criminal complaint, Gary Kahlhamer, 205 Kansas St., was charged with misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct. The caseworker and a police officer went to Kahlhamer's home on Dec. 20 and asked him to come to the police station in reference to child abuse allegations against him. Kahlhamer refused to go and did not answer the officer's questions.
Kahlhamer then addressed the caseworker and asked if she had anything to say. When the caseworker was attempting to answer Kahlhamer's question about the definition of child abuse, he struck her with an open hand on her right shoulder and pushed her.
He then asked the case worker, "Is this the definition of child abuse?"
He then grabbed the caseworker's right arm in the shoulder area and proceeded to kick her in the right buttocks and upper thigh area. He continued to ask her for the definition of child abuse during the attack.
At that point, the officer stopped the conflict. When the officer asked Kahlhamer what was wrong with him, Kahlhamer told the officer that he was using the woman as an example.
Kahlhamer was released on a $500 signature bond. He may have no direct or indirect contact with the victim. He may not have abusive contact with anyone. He will return to court on Nov. 5 at 12:30 p.m. If found guilty of the two offenses, he may be sentenced up to 9 months and 90 days in jail and fined $11,000.
Source: Beaver Dam Wisconsin Daily Citizen
October 7, 2007 permalink
An article in Psychology Today concerns Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. Today when doctors are unable to diagnose a child's disease, they accuse the mother of deliberately harming her own child.
Psychology Today, Publication Date: Sep/Oct 2007, Last Reviewed: 1 Oct 2007
Munchausen: Unusual Suspects
Call them the Munchausen mothers. A growing number of women stand accused of deliberately sickening their children for attention from doctors. In an era of patient advocacy and hard-charging moms, there's no end in sight to this hotly contested diagnosis.
By: Pamela Weintraub
Austin Savage was born the youngest of four in Sierra Vista, Arizona, in 2002. He fell ill with pneumonia at one week of age, and landed in a hospital incubator. After he came home, he cried inconsolably, threw up his food, and barely gained weight. "I'd raised three other healthy children," says Kelly Savage, his mother. "I knew something was wrong."
While her husband, Buddy, stayed back in Sierra Vista, Kelly and the kids left for Tucson, where a top-notch medical center could drill down. Soon they found the problem: a case of acid reflux so severe that doctors said Austin must be feeling pain equivalent to a heart attack. So began a marathon of surgery, feeding tubes and special formulas. "It was scary," Savage says.
Then Buddy got a job near a major hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, enabling the family to be together, at last. Little Austin arrived with a mountain of medical records. By then 9 months of age, "he had constant, watery diarrhea and weighed as much as a 3-month-old. You could see every bone in his body," Kelly Savage recalls.
Desperate, the Savages reached out to local doctors, eventually requesting that nutrients be delivered intravenously, despite damage to liver and kidneys that might result. "The doctors had no answers," says Kelly Savage, who worried that her baby might die. One doctor arranged for Austin to enter Fort Worth's famed Cook Children's Hospital in March 2004. Alone in the room with him, Kelly noticed an air bubble blocking his feeding tube, trapping gas in his stomach and preventing formula from getting through. Sensing her baby's pain, she sucked out an ounce of formula and the trapped air bubble beneath. "I planned to replace the ounce later," she states.
But she would never get the chance. Already suspect in the eyes of her new doctor, she'd been placed in a hospital room wired for surveillance, and now her accuser had "proof." Based on the video, the doctor charged, it was clear Kelly was stealing Austin's food, intentionally starving him because she craved the excitement of hospitals. Kelly Savage might have even killed Austin, all in pursuit of a bizarre form of child abuse called Munchausen by proxy (MBP), in which a parent—almost always a mother—exaggerates a child's symptoms or actually induces illness so she can swoop in to the rescue, thereby gaining attention and a special bond with the child's M.D.
That very day child protective services arrived to take Austin and his siblings into custody. In foster care, Austin refused to eat, stayed bloated, and had explosions of diarrhea. Finally the children, even Austin, were allowed to come home only if Kelly stayed away. With Austin's health at the precipice and her family ripped apart, she lived at a hotel and studied medical records, preparing for her day in court. "I swapped with my friends from church. I watched their children and they watched mine so my husband could go to work."
The Savage trial, in May 2004, lasted just two days. After expert witnesses combed through the medical records, dismantling the case against her, Kelly Savage was finally fully exonerated in January 2005. "It was a nightmare," she says. "We were too scared to take any of our children to the doctor until 2006."
A Controversial Syndrome
The very idea of MBP is difficult to grasp. Child abuse, of course, is a sad but well-known occurrence. That some mothers abuse children by poisoning or starving is beyond refute. But in Munchausen by proxy, hundreds of women a year in the U.S. alone are said to knowingly fabricate or induce illness in their children to garner a doctor's love. Whether the physician is male or female doesn't matter, says psychiatrist Herbert A. Schreier of Children's Hospital Oakland in California and co-author, with Judith Libow, of the influential book Hurting for Love. "These mothers are seeking a reparative relationship because they felt they weren't valued in their family of origin," Schreier states. "The mother becomes a 'perfect' mother in a perverse, fantasized relationship with a symbolically powerful physician." This motivation, he believes, is what differentiates MBP from ordinary medical abuse caused by anger, incompetence or neglect.
Given the abundance of accusations on the one hand and the outright strangeness of the syndrome on the other, MBP has become one of the most hotly contested psychiatric diagnoses in the country. On one side of the debate are psychiatrists, psychologists, and plenty of social service agencies who say these cases occur regularly. They route them out when children are absent from school, or where mothers frequently change doctors or move. "Most cases go unrecognized," says University of Alabama psychiatry professor Marc D. Feldman, author of Playing Sick, who's popularized MBP in the medical press. "Perpetrators have borderline personality disorders and maladaptive ways of handling stress," he contends. "They have a hazy sense of identity, and compensate by creating the persona of mother of the year."
On the other side of the argument are wrongly accused mothers and the experts who have analyzed their cases, fighting for them in court. "I have seen mothers accused of MBP simply because physicians disagreed about the medical management of their child," says Portland psychologist Loren Pankratz of Oregon Health & Science University. An authority on the psychology of deception and author of the book Patients Who Deceive, Pankratz calls MBP "vastly overdiagnosed."
"There's virtually no empirical evidence that it exists as a syndrome," states New Hampshire psychologist Eric G. Mart, who has deconstructed the theory in the book Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy Reconsidered. "Controlled and blinded studies have never been done."
The controversy pits doctors against mothers—an irony given that the crux of the theory is the mother's desire for physicians' approval and nurturance. A changing zeitgeist fuels the dispute. Patient empowerment, dissatisfaction with managed health care, and the intensified face of motherhood conspire to escalate standoffs between the medical establishment and parents. Assertive, demanding, and well-informed, mothers increasingly challenge doctors as a matter of course.
When a child stays sick and no one has an answer, relationships can turn sour, even adversarial. "Mothers who argue with doctors or seem challenging have been accused," Pankratz says, "as have those with children who are hard to diagnose or treat. Since mothers with chronically ill children usually have very strong views about treatment, there's a huge pool of candidates at risk."
The Munchausen by proxy story starts across the Atlantic, where British physician Richard Asher described a group of wanderers who trekked from hospital to hospital fabricating complaints. In 1951 Asher named the condition Munchausen syndrome after Baron von Munchausen, whose travel and military adventures spawned a series of fabulist tales.
It wasn't until 1977 that the British pediatrician Roy Meadow, writing in the journal The Lancet, identified mothers he said were causing or fabricating their children's illnesses. The mothers were coldly and intentionally using the children as "proxies," he theorized, taking them to doctors to get the attention they themselves craved.
People found it hard to believe this argument until Meadow's pediatric colleague, David Southall, videotaped suspects, unbeknownst to them. The most shocking Southall tape showed a woman smothering her baby with a piece of plastic wrap, then running out to summon doctors whenever his breathing stopped. Though some of the tapes were later questioned, and suspects including the woman who smothered her baby were actually psychotic, here at last was evidence of mothers doing harm.
Meadow and Southall later spent decades on the Munchausen scene, examining patient records, then using statistics, video surveillance, and the "separation test"—in which a child is removed from a suspect parent and monitored for improvement—to identify MBP perpetrators and testify against them in court. To bolster cases when evidence was slim, they brandished a profile of the classic perpetrator—a seemingly caring mother with great knowledge of medicine, especially the illness at hand, who cultivated doctors, and was intensely involved in her child's care. Thousands of sick British children whose mothers fit the profile were removed from their homes over the course of 25 years.
One mother caught in the frenzy, attorney Sally Clark, lost two children to sudden infant death syndrome in 1996 and 1997. After Roy Meadow testified that the chance of two such deaths was 73 million to one, Clark was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in jail. But Meadow's calculations were wrong—he'd literally made mistakes in math. The correct statistic was 200 to one, a world of difference to the court.
When Clark won her appeal in 2003, it was as if the blinders came off in Great Britain. Excoriated for skewed statistics and the by-then discredited profile (mothers of genuinely sick children are often intensely involved in their children's care), Meadow almost lost his medical license and soon after, retired. Southall too came under fire after accusing Clark's husband, Stephen, of smothering his sons. The accusation was based on no more than Southall's impression of Stephen on TV.
For months, stories of wrongly accused parents rang through the British tabloids. This was junk science, members of Parliament and the British medical establishment ultimately declared.
Britain's MBP-backlash notwithstanding, the diagnosis is flourishing in the U.S. One case considered classic by Herbert Schreier is that of Coral Gables, Florida, mother Kathy Bush. Her daughter, Jennifer, spent 640 days in the hospital and underwent 40 operations, including removal of her gall bladder, appendix, and parts of her intestine, from ages 2 through 9. As the tireless advocate for a chronically ill child, Bush appeared with Hillary Clinton in her quest for health-care reform—before being convicted of making Jennifer sick by infecting her feeding tubes and giving her damaging drugs in 1999. She served three years in jail.
Bush has always maintained her innocence, but Schreier isn't impressed. He sees Bush and other such mothers as impostors devoid of feeling for their children. "The purpose is not to kill the child but to keep her sick, so that the mother can be in a relationship with the doctor, who would recognize her devotion, knowledge, and sacrifice," he states. As for the doctors, Schreier says they're routinely fooled by Munchausen mothers, "who may be issuing a dare, a challenge of who can outsmart whom."
No one has done more in recent years to ring the alarm than Louisa J. Lasher, a former child protection worker from Georgia now running the only forensic service devoted exclusively to MBP. She first learned of it, she says, when a mother she investigated made her daughter appear ill by painting her panties with blood, leading to unnecessary procedures. Soon Lasher was running workshops and training others to look for signs.
Today, when child protection agencies want to train case workers, they turn to Lasher. With her slide show, videos, and experiential exercises, she's taught thousands of case workers in dozens of states her investigative techniques and views on MBP. When a jurisdiction thinks it's dealing with a perpetrator, they recruit Lasher as expert witness. In a typical week, she fields dozens of e-mails and calls, and during any given month she's flying around the country, testifying in court.
"Because they rarely admit to their acts and deny any wrongdoing, they are generally incurable," Lasher says. "So I've never recommended reunification in a genuine MBP case."
Whether due to extreme stigma or the rarity of the phenomenon, few self-identified victims ever speak out. "They are very vulnerable to public attention since this kind of publicity is typical of the kind of victimization they experienced," explains Harvard psychologist Catherine Ayoub.
Those coming forward, moreover, don't necessarily have tales as neat or paradigmatic as the classic definition of the syndrome might suggest. Bree, now 29, says her mother withheld crucial antibiotics as an infant, causing her to remain perpetually sick. Her health stabilized during childhood, but then, at age 12, it all changed when her mother learned Bree had been named after her father's childhood crush.
From that point on, Bree says, she could taste the sickly sweet flavor of purple gum—it turned out to be the emetic ipecac—in food her mother prepared for her. After such meals Bree suffered uncontrollable vomiting and dehydration, eventually becoming so impaired that she often missed school and was confined to a wheelchair. "It was always worse in March, around Mom's birthday," Bree recalls.
She was almost 18 when doctors found toxic levels of the anti-seizure medicine Depakote in her blood, despite their explicit orders to stop that treatment. The police were called and Bree was carted off to a foster home. "At first I didn't believe it, and I wanted to get back to Mom." But a new, loving family and years of therapy have helped her recover and convinced her of the abuse. "I was never sick after I left Mom," Bree says. Bree's mother appeared to be punishing her for the perceived transgressions of her father, but she also basked in the attention that a sick child conferred on her, Bree says today.
Another survivor, Lauren—not her real name—is now 40. Her violent mother had long beaten her. Then she began giving ipecac and paregoric to Lauren and other children while baby-sitting, regularly causing them to throw up. "I knew what she was doing, and I was furious," says Lauren, "but she said she would kill me if I told." The medical abuse stopped a year later, when a pharmacist refused to refill the prescriptions. "Then the beatings increased," Lauren recalls. Now a clinical social worker, Lauren reflects: "My mother felt she had no family or support, though she did. No matter how much was done for her, it was never enough."
Lauren says that despite all her education and sophisticated understanding of abuse, she remained afraid to speak out until her mother died of a massive heart attack in 2002. "There is fear of not being believed and fear of retaliation by the abuser," she says. Both women now maintain limited contact with their families of origin.
Despite all the theories and prosecutions—despite reports of abuse by children now grown—Munchausen by proxy has never been embraced as a formal diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association in its diagnostic bible, the DSM-IV. Not yet a proven entity, the syndrome is a theory waiting for research to validate it as real.
Even if Schreier's theories on motivation are eventually borne out in studies, the problem of false accusations will persist. In case after case, families with complex medical histories have been stripped of their children and left to fight for custody in court.
One such mother is Mannie Taimuty-Loomis, whose son, Jonah, had cerebral palsy and was mentally retarded and blind. He died of heart failure at age 3 in 2001. After his death, doctors suggested he'd suffered mitochondrial disease, in which the cell's energy factories malfunction, causing a wide array of ills. Moving on that hunch, they finally diagnosed the condition through a muscle biopsy performed on Jonah's older brother, Ezra, who, like their younger sister Symia, had been sick from birth.
Mannie and her husband, Ron, who was training for the ministry, founded the nonprofit Jonah & the Whale Foundation to help other parents of the chronically ill. They also brought Ezra and Symia to top medical experts, who agreed the children had mitochondrial disease and treated both aggressively. Despite that, they became so ill they too seemed headed toward certain death.
It was a resident at Pittsburgh's Mercy Hospital who blew the whistle in 2004. As the head of an organization for special-needs families, Mannie fit the typical MBP-parent profile, after all, and the resident didn't believe her children were truly sick. Child protective services took little Ezra and Symia, removing the intravenous lines that delivered their nutrients and drugs, stopping the treatment cold. Dramatically—in what could be interpreted as confirmation of MBP—the children (who did have mitochondrial disease) nonetheless began to improve. Yet it hadn't been Mannie who'd lobbied for all that medication, but some of the top doctors in the world.
"It's so ironic," says Mannie Taimuty-Loomis, whose trial took place on 15 separate days spread over nine months, a period during which she was separated from her kids. "Our children were the patients of 15 doctors, and not one stopped to think that it could be the treatment, not the disease they had, that was making them that sick." The court agreed, vindicating Mannie and Ron of any wrongdoing in 2005.
Also falsely accused was Terri Reiser, a North Carolina artist, whose 16-year-old daughter, Mimi, is diagnosed with Lyme disease and is under a specialist's care. Last year, Mimi was bullied by local teens who posted nude pictures online and falsely said they were photos of her. Frantic over the situation, she landed in the hospital, where she told psychiatrists about the Lyme disease. They were skeptical of the diagnosis. When Terri came in to confirm it, she was labeled suspect as well. Mimi was released from the hospital, but doctors had called authorities. Terri was brainwashing Mimi, they charged, by convincing her she had Lyme disease. The phrase Munchausen by proxy was written into the medical record, and an investigation launched.
When a lawyer called to warn that Catawba County agents could be on their way right then, Mimi slipped out the back door. First she said good-bye to her beloved horse, then she went down the road. Terrified they would pull her Lyme treatment and lock her away for years, Mimi simply disappeared, contacting Terri just sporadically to let her know she was safe. In May 2007, having turned 16, Mimi found the only out available to her: She married her boyfriend, ending the dominion of the state. Mimi was declared emancipated, and the case was dropped in June.
"We had so many losses," Mimi says. She's particularly saddened by the death of her horse's foal. "She wouldn't have died if I'd been there," she reflects.
"Marriage at 16 is not what I wanted for her, but it was our only choice," says Terri, who's invited Mimi and her new husband to live as a family in her home. "We're trying to rebuild our lives, but moving past it is so hard. I know bad things happen in life, but good God, do they have to traumatize people like this?"
The Perfect Storm
Here in the U.S., awareness of MBP may be rising along with antagonism between doctors and moms. "I have never known a false case not sparked by conflict between a mother and a doctor," New Hampshire psychologist Eric Mart states.
Schreier says powerless mothers are clamoring for intimacy with doctors. But he could be recalling an era past, when doctors were emotionally present and generous with their time. Indeed, the impersonal nature of modern medicine doesn't seem to support the Munchausen by proxy construct. Marching to the drumbeat of managed care, in fear of litigation, 21st century doctors may have little interest in schmoozing. They are often seen as distant by the very patients they serve.
Mothers, too, have changed. Best described by Judith Warner in her book Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety, post-millennium moms are intense, omnipresent, and highly involved. From finding the perfect nursery school to engineering marathon play dates, nothing escapes their attention and no detail is too small. Taught independence by their own feminist mothers, at home with their children by choice, these educated women aren't likely to defer to a doctor when a child stays sick. The more mothers learn, the more they access the Internet, and the more intense and independent they become, the more they will spar with doctors—and the more they'll be at risk of being labeled a Munchausen mom.
"If it were the man demanding help, wanting to know more and wanting to be involved, no one would think anything of it except, 'What a dad!'" says Mannie Taimuty-Loomis, now executive director of the Jonah & the Whale Foundation. "But when a mother displays the same characteristics she's deemed difficult to work with, overly interested, and very controlling."
"Diseases that can't be fixed can create enormous amounts of anxiety," adds Tracy Davenport, a University of Delaware expert on the social impact of illness. "Doctors want these patients out of their office, while the patients are filled with loneliness and despair—not because they want the doctor to love them, but because they want the disease to go away."
Pennsylvania psychiatrist Virginia Sherr has a special interest in Lyme disease, whose neurocognitive symptoms can seem bizarre and vague. She says she's seen false allegations time and again when a mother tries to get help for a child who's truly sick. "Modern medicine tends to trivialize women's seemingly offbeat concerns, and hurried physicians who seek easy panaceas drastically devalue mothers' opinions," she states. "Worldwide, there have been thousands of very sick children forcibly removed from mothers because these women have insisted, quite knowingly, that their children are ill."
"We are seeing a conflict between doctors and patients that didn't exist before," says Davenport. "Mothers are increasingly demanding consumers. They are texting friends by BlackBerry and getting information in minutes that trumps what their doctors advise. Rather than idolize their doctors, they are apt to antagonize them, leading to more misunderstanding and more charges of MBP in years ahead."
Mannie Taimuty-Loomis, meanwhile, thinks the next wave of allegations could come from the rising tide of autism diagnoses. "I see all the red flags," she states. "There is no definitive diagnostic tool, it is a spectrum disorder that has a wide confusing range, and parents are being hit like ping-pong balls with differing opinions, treatments, and diagnostic titles. This is a toxic mixture for accusations of MBP."
When children suffer complex, or controversial, or confusing illnesses, when symptoms are amorphous or vague, parents can be accused. The situation has been compared by SUNY Stony Brook philosophers David B. Allison and Mark S. Roberts, authors of Disordered Mother or Disordered Diagnosis?, to the witch trials, in which thousands were killed around the world. As with MBP, the women were perceived as abrasive and paid a heavy price.
The intellectual dilemma here, says Kirk Witherspoon, an Illinois psychologist studying the issue, is that two unrelated elements have been mixed. One of them is motive, which is a cause. The other is abuse, which is a result. There's no proof that the theorized motive—a need for attention—explains the abuse routinely labeled MBP. But that doesn't stop some doctors from "dredging up motive to scapegoat mothers when they don't have answers," says Witherspoon. "Instead of diagnosing the child with a disease, they diagnose the parent with a crime. When mothers challenge their authority, doctors call it a pathology, one that's so broad it fits everyone. For example, if the mother is too friendly, a sign of Munchausen. If the mother is angry, a sign of Munchausen. There's no differential diagnosis. It's preposterous. It doesn't make logical sense."
Feldman attributes the confusion, in part, to invalid profiling. "There is no profile," he says. "There has to be proof."
But there, too, problems abound. Subject to misinterpretation, tools like covert taping (used to entrap Kelly Savage) and family separation (the evidence against the Taimuty-Loomis family) can lead to false allegations. Children who suffer from acid reflux are a prime example. They are often treated with Reglan, a drug that can cause seizures and a full range of unusual side effects. Mothers are blamed for the symptoms, and then separated from their children. The treatment is stopped, and the children get well, apparently confirming MBP. And since many conditions improve on their own over time, the separation test is an imperfect investigative tool.
In light of all this, even doctors convinced of MBP's reality are pulling back. Feldman insists the syndrome exists, but says "we've gone too far. Those of us on the front lines must take ownership of the problem and admit we've been overzealous. Innocent mothers have been accused." Feldman is especially troubled because when vindictive doctors make false reports, they're protected by the law and consequences are nil.
"We have created a monster in our imagination that we project onto certain mothers," Pankratz says. "Some of these mothers have problems in the medical management of their children and need clinical help, but the exotic label has entangled them in a destructive web, seemingly without escape."
Eric Mart points to psychiatry as a field rife with discredited theories—for instance the idea that "refrigerator mothers" create autistic kids. When studies are done, such concepts are relegated to the dustbin of science, and MBP stands poised to end there, too, he states. "I'm not saying the abuse doesn't happen," Mart emphasizes. "I'm just saying the theory behind the syndrome doesn't hold up."
"Why call it Munchausen," asks Kirk Witherspoon, "when you can just call it abuse or murder."
Source: Psychology Today
Dunn Seeking Contracts
October 6, 2007 permalink
John Dunn has another ingenious idea for learning about CAS operations. Every CAS has a contract with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, and it should be possible to get a copy through the Freedom of Information Act. If the request for information goes to the Ministry, instead of the children's aid society, it might get less than the decade of foot-dragging typical of other legal demands on CAS. John promises to keep us informed by website.
Screen name: afterfostercare
Posted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 11:19 am
subject: CAS Funding "Service Contracts"
The Ministry of Children and Youth Services has a contract with a Society on what they are to use their funding for etc.
Did you know that you can make a Freedom of Information Request (FIPPA) through your local Regional Office ( Directory Here ) for the service contract between your local Children's Aid Society and your local Regional Office?
I am going to attempt to do this in order to let people know what is contained within them. The progress will be posted on my site as well under the news page.
The Foster Care Council of Canada
Source: Canada Court Watch Forum
Keachie to Head Dufferin CAS
October 5, 2007 permalink
The new Executive Director of Dufferin CAS will be Trish Keachie. The article from the Orangeville Citizen announces her appointment. Elsewhere on the web we found her photo and resumé (MS-word format).
October 4, 2007
Keachie new DCFS director
Trish Keachie will be assuming the role of executive director of Dufferin Child and Family Services on Nov. 19, replacing Gary Putman, who will be retiring after 29 years in the position.
An integrated children's service agency, Dufferin Child and Family Services provides child protection services, children's mental health services and developmental support services to children and families in Dufferin County.
Ms. Keachie has many years' experience in management at the municipal and provincial level, and has worked in the education system.
A major focus of her career has been the well being of children and families.
Ms. Keachie is looking forward to joining Dufferin Child and Family Services and working with its staff and community partners in continuing to deliver quality services for children and families in Dufferin County.
Source: Orangeville Citizen
October 4, 2007 permalink
COAR has received enough positive response to its last message to seriously explore the possibility of an appeal. They now have a fund appeal. For those of our readers who have not been driven to penury by family courts this is a chance to act.
A Bulletin from the Coalition for Open Adoption Records
October 4, 2007
PLEASE DO NOT CLICK "REPLY" TO THIS EMAIL. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Decision to Appeal with the Government
We have read your responses to our last bulletin asking you how we should proceed. It is clear that the adoption community is angry and upset over the judge's decision to shut down the Adoption Information Disclosure Act (AIDA).
Most people want us to intervene if the next Government of Ontario appeals the judge's decision to the Supreme Court of Ontario. We agree. People want our community to be represented by our community. We must demonstrate to the judge, the government, and the wider community that the adoption community cares about the outcome of this hearing.
To do this, we again have to ask for pledges to pay our legal costs. We need to approach our lawyer in the next week so please send your pledge in the next few days. During the last pledge drive most people donated between $50 and $500 and we raised almost $14 000. We hope that you will be as generous today.
When we accumulate enough pledges we will go back to our lawyers and ask them if they and their firm will continue to represent us. Please pledge an amount, and we will contact you later after we are certain that our lawyers can go ahead.
Send your pledge to: Wendy Rowney at email@example.com. Please include this information:I ___________________ pledge $ ____________ to The (first and last name) (amount) Coalition for Open Adoption Records to defend the Adoption Information Disclosure Act in the Supreme Court of Ontario. Address _____________________________________________ (apartment, street number, street, city/town, province/state, country, postal/zip code.) Phone number including area code: ___________________ Email address: ______________________
Again, the Election on October 10th. If you vote in Ontario, support the candidate in your riding who will promise to support an appeal of the judge's decision. See COAR's survey of candidates in the election: 2007ontarioadoptionrecordspoll.blogspot.com. To find out your candidates, go to Elections Ontario: www.elections.on.ca/en-ca.
We are quite certain that a Conservative government will not appeal.
Michael Grand firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Lynn email@example.com
Wendy Rowney firstname.lastname@example.org
COAR Coordinating Committee
Source: email from COAR
Addendum: October 19, 2007. COAR reports that the deadline has been extended at the request of the Ontario government, indicating in interest in pursuing an appeal.
Fri, 19 Oct 2007 15:05:41 -0700 (PDT)
We learned this morning that the Ontario government has applied for and been granted an extension to appeal Judge Belobaba's decision that struck down the Adoption Information Disclosure Act on September 19th. They now have until November 15, 2007 to decide whether they plan to appeal the judge’s decision.
Today was the original deadline. They requested more time because it was difficult to make a decision while the politicians were campaigning before the election.
By applying for the extension, the government is not saying that they plan to appeal but that they have not yet had sufficient time to study the case. However, it does indicate that they plan to consider their options carefully and not dismiss the case out of hand. We are cautiously optimistic.
What You Can Do
We urge you to write both the Attorney General and Ministry of Community and Social Services and let them know why you want the government to appeal. You can contact the Attorney General, Michael Bryant, at email@example.com and the Minister of MCSS, Madeleine Meilleur, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to share with them your disappointment with Judge Belobaba’s decision and tell them why you hope they will decide to appeal the decision. Your e-mail need not be long.
We will keep you informed as we learn more.
Michael Grand, email@example.com
Karen Lynn, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wendy Rowney, email@example.com
Source: email from COAR
October 4, 2007 permalink
A Kentucky whistleblower reports that she was required to arrange a dangerous adoption, and was fired for refusing to ignore complaints about the adoptive parents. All for the love of (tax) money. Since no local whistleblowers have come forward, Ontario can still pretend such abuses do not occur here.
Posted on Tue, Oct. 02, 2007
State pays $380,000 to former social worker
SUIT WAS FILED OVER ADOPTION DISPUTE
By Valarie Honeycutt Spears, VHONEYCUTT@HERALD-LEADER.COM
The state has paid $380,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a former social worker who said she was urged to arrange an inappropriate adoption so the state could get federal bonus money.
In the lawsuit filed in 2005 against the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Pat Moore of Elsmere said her supervisors harassed and ultimately fired her because she would not ignore a half-dozen allegations of abuse in a foster home.
In addition, both foster parents had criminal records. A son living in the home had been convicted of multiple felonies, including drug convictions, and the foster mother's brother, described in court documents as a pedophile convicted of sex crimes, had been in the home around the foster children.
Moore said in her suit that the cabinet was forcing an adoption to keep its numbers high. She alleged that was because the federal government gave the state federal money for each adoption from foster care that was approved.
In a second, unrelated case, the state paid $45,000 to former social worker Katherine Siereveld, who said she was forced to rush investigations of alleged abuse.
Siereveld, who worked in Grant County, said the cabinet put unrealistic expectations on social workers and that led to poor practices. She said she was fired for voicing complaints.
As part of a confidentiality agreement, neither the former workers' attorney, Shane Sidebottom, or cabinet officials may discuss the settlement in detail.
But in both Aug. 8 settlements, the cabinet denies violating any policy or procedures or breaking any law.
The money was paid "solely in order to compromise a disputed claim for the purpose of avoiding further controversy or litigation," the settlement said.
As for the former social workers, Sidebottom said yesterday: "My clients are happy to resolve all claims amicably and put this matter behind them."
In her lawsuit, Moore said she was fired because she criticized her supervisors.
The supervisors insisted, she said, that two foster children be placed with an adoptive family in Verona in Boone County even though the family, among other problems, allowed the convicted sex offender to be around the children.
Court records show that cabinet supervisors pushed for the adoption even though those same supervisors acknowledged in a 2004 report that the home should never have been approved. Also, a private foster care agency deemed the home unfit.
The adoption was stopped only when a Campbell County judge refused to let it go through.
Kentucky's Cabinet for Health and Family Services has been under scrutiny for its handling of adoptions from state foster care since January 2006, when two child-advocacy groups issued a report.
Accusations of inappropriate removals from biological families led to a cabinet inspector general's investigation, and more recently to the announcement that the state intends to fire six social workers based in Hardin County.
Reach Valarie Honeycutt Spears at (859) 231-3409 or 1-800-950-6397.
Source: Lexington Herald-Leader
October 3, 2007 permalink
For skeptics who doubt the need for adoption disclosure, here is a typical plea for help. To social workers the children below look abused and neglected.
- Date Posted:
- RODGERS : RODGERS TURNER : TURNER
- Query Text:
- My name is James Turner and I am looking for my 3 children (2 daughters and my son) They were taken from me by the Simcoe Children's Aid Society, we lived in Midland at the time. Names they were known as then are as follows: Amy Doreen Rodgers Turner D.O.B. Oct 4/1985, Ashley Lynn Rodgers Turner D.O.B. Dec 27/1986 and Andy Travis Turner D.O.B. Dec 2/1988. Mother of my children's name is Connie Rodgers.
Source: Cousins Connect, website for genealogical queries
F4J Not Guilty
October 3, 2007 permalink
In November 2004 Jonathan (Jolly) Stanesby handcuffed himself to British Children's Minister Margaret Hodge. Today a jury acquitted Jonathan Stanesby and Jason Hatch of criminal charges stemming from the incident.
In November 2003 David Chick, dressed as Spiderman, spent six days on London's Tower Bridge. He was acquitted by a jury on May 14, 2004.
On September 11, 2004 David Chick spent 18 hours on top of the 450 foot London Eye dressed as Spiderman. He was acquitted of charges by a jury on February 22, 2005.
On June 13, 2002 Canadian father Peter Cornakovic conducted a citizen's arrest of Judge Terrance O'Connor in Milton Ontario. He was found guilty and sentenced to six months in jail.
BBC NEWS, Published: 2007/10/03 16:11:52 GMT
Two cleared in handcuffed MP case
A fathers' rights campaigner who handcuffed himself to former children's minister Margaret Hodge has been cleared of false imprisonment.
Mrs Hodge was ambushed at a Law Society conference at the Lowry Hotel in Salford, Greater Manchester, in 2004.
The MP was handcuffed for 20 minutes Manchester Crown Court heard.
Jonathan Stanesby, 41, from Ivybridge, Devon, was cleared along with Jason Hatch, 35, from Cheltenham, who tried but failed to reach the MP.
Mrs Hodge, who is now culture minister, had to be freed with bolt cutters.
The minister was at the Lowry Hotel on 19 November for a conference called "Battle of the Sexes".
She was handcuffed by Mr Stanesby as she took part in a question-and-answer session afterwards.
He cuffed her wrist to his, saying: "Margaret Hodge, I'm arresting you for covering up child abuse."
This was a reference to Mrs Hodge's time as a councillor in Islington, north London.
Mr Hatch also attempted to handcuff the Cabinet minister and MP for Barking but was blocked from reaching her by Mrs Hodge's assistant private secretary.
At the trial Mrs Hodge described how she was "distressed" by the activists' actions.
'Upset and disturbed'
"I did have a pain on my wrist for about six months afterwards," she said.
"I was upset and I was very disturbed by that incident."
But Kyri Argyropoulos, for Mr Stanesby, suggested that the minister was not prepared to meet members of Fathers 4 Justice because of their past behaviour.
He suggested she was "far from accessible" - a charge Mrs Hodge denied.
Alan Wolstenholme, prosecuting, said the men "went much further than they were entitled to do".
The verdicts were met with cheers and applause from Fathers 4 Justice supporters in the public gallery.
The court heard how both men had previously been involved in high-profile protests for the group.
Mr Hatch, who gained notoriety after scaling the walls of Buckingham Palace dressed as Batman, thanked the jury after the not guilty verdict was read out.
He said he was "ecstatic" at the verdict.
"The jury are sending a clear message that the family law courts must be overhauled immediately.
"The breakdown in our society can quite clearly be traced to the breakdown of families. The only way this can be rectified is by stopping the secrecy of family courts.
"I carried out a citizen's arrest on Margaret Hodge and it looks like the jury thought I was justified to do so."
Crackdown on Paralegals
October 2, 2007 permalink
The Ontario bar is getting serious about blocking competition from paralegals. A North Bay paralegal, Marueen Boldt, has been sentenced for helping clients over the past thirteen years. Desperate families unable to afford a lawyer will now get no help at all. There is a press release, but so far no news articles.
October 1, 2007 permalink
Here is a report on the Hastings rally by its organizer, Andrew Skinner.
The Hastings Rally was an excellent success. The exposure and support shown was truly overwhelming. We received countless honks and cheers of support from passing motorists and pedestrians.
We started our rally by meeting at Tim Hortons's where before we even started we heard honks of support from passing cars. We proceeded to rally in front of City Hall where we met with others trying to expose the corrupt system. Everyone was eager and readily shared their support and wanted to be interviewed.
The protest then proceeded up to the Family Courthouse, where once again, honks of support were given and people approached us wanting more information. About half way through our protest a police officer arrived but was very friendly and allowed us to voice our concerns. We were approached outside the courthouse by a couple of individuals who work within the system, showing their support but wishing to remain anonymous. You know there definitely is a problem within the system when lawyers show their support and applaud your efforts to expose the corruption.
The Highlight was definitely our final stop at The Children's Aid Society office. We were given many thumbs up from motorists along with numerous honks and cheers. Local newspapers were in attendance and asked questions. A Trent University student writing a paper on The Children's Aid Society was also interested in our cause and was interested in what the citizens were saying about the present system of child protection and family court. The Children's Aid Society did not try to stop the protest or intervene in any way. To all parties involved, we thank you for your professionalism and courage. The power of a peaceful protest can only lead to positive change. Everyone knows the system is corrupt and broken and that change and oversight is "in the best interest of the child".
In closing we would like to thank all those that attended to lend their voice. It very quickly became apparent, that the public does agree that change within the child protection system is paramount and supported by the public. The citizens can now only urge their present and future political candidates to address this issue of corruption within the system.
Source: email from organizer Andrew Skinner
Addendum: Here is a report from the Community Press.
Protest held at Children's Aid Society
by BETH PRIMEAU
Monday, October 01, 2007 - 09:00
Local News - Belleville - Seven people gathered in front of the Hastings Children's Aid Society (CAS) in Belleville on Monday to spread awareness of what they say is a “corrupt” system.
“We are trying to bring public exposure to the unaccountability of CAS," one of the protesters, Andrew Skinner, said in an interview. "Under the present system, they seem to steal away children with hearsay evidence and perjury in court.”
He described the protesters as a "group of concerned citizens" who met on the Internet..
Skinner said they have three major concerns with the current system: In their view, the Children's Aid Society is unaccountable to anyone, it removes children from their parents without proper authority and it employs frontline workers who aren't well-trained.
Asked for hard evidence to substantiate the allegations, Skinner offered none but said there is information on the Internet to back up his claims. “The information is out there on the Internet if you look for it.” he said.
Skinner said he videotaped an untrained frontline worker while dealing with the CAS. “My own experiences, I have documented it on videotape saying they aren't formally trained in social work.”
Skinner would not comment further on his own experience.
The group's number one concern is that there is no third party to deal with complaints against CAS. “(They need) a body that investigates complaints and doesn't profit from the child protection industry.”
Hastings CAS executive director Len Kennedy said CAS does not employ unqualified frontline workers.
“All of our frontine staff is professional and trained,” he said in an interview. “Our staff is as well-trained as in any sector. So there would be no untrained staff providing frontline service.”
Kennedy also said that any rationale the CAS has for removing a child from a home needs to be proven in court. “Under the Family Services Act any decision to remove a child from their home has to be presented to court within five days,” he said. “So in each of those incidents the court has to decide that there are grounds to remove a child under legislation.”
Kennedy also said evidence presented by CAS must hold up in court, making it nearly impossible to create false allegations. “We have to protect evidence and bring evidence that will withstand the court's scrutiny and withstand the scrutiny of the defence lawyer in court. So, our staff has to be very well -trained in the court process in order to fulfil that requirement.”
If someone has a complaint against CAS there are two options available to them, Kennedy said. The first option is to submit their complaint to an internal review process. The second option is to submit a complaint to Child and Family Services Review Board, which is an independent provincial body mandated under legislation.
The protest caught Kennedy by surprise. “No advance, no request, no notice they were coming or what they were coming to protest about.," he said. "Certainly we would have been prepared to hear what they had to say and respond accordingly, but there was no notification to the society at all.”
Source: Community Press
October 1, 2007 permalink
Child protectors try to send most parents to psychiatrists for evaluation. Have you ever wondered why? Here is a reason you may not have thought of: mothers are fun to touch with their clothes off.
Local Doctor Arrested On Sexual Assault Charges
POSTED: 4:07 pm EDT October 1, 2007
UPDATED: 6:49 pm EDT October 1, 2007
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. -- A Gwinnett County doctor has been arrested after a woman said he sexually assaulted her during a psychiatric evaluation.
Gwinnett County police arrested Dr. Mohammed Qureshi, 45, after a woman said he sexually assaulted her during a psychiatric evaluation.
Qureshi is a psychiatric physician with Gwinnett Rockdale Newton Community Service Board -- also known as GRN.
A 43-year-old woman contacted authorities after her first appointment with Qureshi. She said Qureshi instructed her to remove her shirt and then touched her inappropriately.
"When a psychiatrist is doing some type of other exams that a medical doctor should be doing, that's a criminal act," Capt. Greg Vaughn with the Lawrenceville Police Department.
Officials with the Lawrenceville Police Department said that since the woman came forward, two additional patients have also come forward to say they had been sexually assaulted during evaluations.
"We all trust our doctors and we listen to them, so Dr. Qureshi, obviously he could convince these ladies they needed some type of other exam," said Vaughn.
Investigators said they want any other possible victims to please contact them.
"We want them to come forward. That will help us put this together. If we have some more victims, of course, that will help us with a timeline. How long has this been going on? There's a good possibility there's someone out there that was sexually assualted and just hasn't reported it," said Vaughn.
GRN released a statement which said, "Dr. Qureshi was not an employee of GRN but was an independent contractor supplied to GRN by a private company. He no longer works here."
Qureshi faces one count of sexual battery and one count of sexual assault. He has bonded out of jail. Channel 2 attempted to contact Qureshi but was unable to do so.
Child Abuse Prevention Month
October 1, 2007 permalink
Ontario's children's aid societies are kicking off Child Abuse Prevention Month with a press release showing that a big increase in child abuse reporting has created an increased need for their services.
Of course, it is illegal for anyone to tell the other side. The provincial ombudsman is forbidden to look into children's aid cases. Cathy Norris spent time in jail for telling her side, and every day parents are threatened with loss of their children for speaking out. So there is no way for newspaper readers to know that the increase in reporting is due to more threats against mandated reporters, or that the death rate in foster care is five times that in parental care.
Child abuse soaring in Ontario
The Canadian Press, October 1, 2007 at 8:08 AM EDT
TORONTO — The Children's Aid Societies says more than 29,000 children in Ontario were abused or neglected last year, an increase of 24 per cent since 2000-2001.
The child and family welfare agency also says it received more than 160,000 calls about child protection concerns last year, an increase of 25 per cent.
The Children's Aid Societies released the figures Monday to mark the start of Child Abuse Prevention Month in Ontario.
It said that the number of children and families receiving its services keeps rising and that more must be done to protect them.
Children's Aid also says almost 44,000 families received child welfare services and parenting supports last year to cope with stress, poverty, addiction and mental health problems, a 33-per-cent rise over 2000-2001.
Nearly one-third of all child-related investigations of abuse involved exposure to domestic violence or neglect. Another 15 per cent involved emotional abuse, 10 per cent were physical abuse cases and 3 per cent involved sexual abuse.
Source: Globe and Mail
More on Adoption Disclosure
September 30, 2007 permalink
COAR continues in its efforts to save adoption disclosure. Since the quashing of the law coincides with an Ontario election, the coalition has posted the candidates' positions on a website. During the enactment of the bill support came from the NDP and Liberals, and strong opposition came from the Progressive Conservatives. Election of John Tory as premier will be doomsday for the law.
A Bulletin from the Coalition for Open Adoption Records
September 30, 2007
We are writing to ask for your advice on how to continue supporting our community. Although the issue is complex, we ask you to wade through the information below and provide us with your thoughts in the matter of how we should proceed. If people ask questions we will try to respond in another bulletin. We regret that we will not be able to answer the many questions and letters individually.
We also want to encourage you to support the candidate in your riding who, after the election on October 10th, will promise to support an appeal of Judge Belobaba’s decision that struck down The Adoption Information Disclosure Act (AIDA). COAR has initiated a survey of candidates in the election. Please click on this link to find out the responses of candidates in your riding: 2007ontarioadoptionrecordspoll.blogspot.com. Check back frequently as the responses come rolling in! To find out your candidates and where you vote, the Elections Ontario website has the answers: http://www.elections.on.ca/en-ca. We are quite certain that a Conservative government will not appeal.
At present, we don’t know for sure if a new Liberal government will appeal the decision, although it looks likely that the Liberals want to. After the Ontario election, we expect to find out.
Appeal – Option 1
If the government does appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal, COAR would like to, again, ask the court to accept us as an intervener in supporting the government so that we can advocate in the best interests of the adoption community. We believe that we have a better chance of winning in this higher court. We will require financial donations from the community to support this appeal.
Appeal – Option 2
If the new government does not appeal, we have another option of asking the court if we, COAR, can appeal on our own. The court may or may not accept our application. If the community wants COAR to attempt an appeal on our own, and will support the effort with further funding, we will do it. If not, we won’t.
Keep in mind that the deadline for filing an appeal is October 18th. That is why we are asking you now.
If the government does not appeal, a new Liberal government may create a new law with a disclosure veto. This means that 2-5% of applicants will not get their information for many years until we can lobby successfully to eliminate the disclosure veto. In the mean time 95% of applicants will get their information. If COAR can successfully appeal on its own, significantly increased rights to our information will be established. But, this may take up to three years IF the case goes to yet another higher court, the Supreme Court of Canada. Whether we win or lose in the Supreme Court, all adoption disclosure laws in all of Canada will be impacted.
Amendment – Option 3
Presently, there is no adoption disclosure legislation in Ontario. No one can apply for his or her information and this has to change as soon as possible. Whether or not there is an appeal, COAR will advocate strongly for the government to immediately reinstate the previous “passive” registry in which a person applies for information and then waits until someone who matches also registers.
We could choose not to intervene or appeal and simply lobby the government for a new law that would have to include a disclosure veto.
In sum, if the government appeals, or if COAR appeals on its own, in both cases, any new adoption legislation in Ontario (apart from the passive registry) will likely be on hold for a long time until the “final” decision is made.
We expect that both types of appeal will cost at least $10 000. Our expenses in the last case were over $7000. (We need to remember that had our lawyers not offered their services pro bono that our current expenses would run over $200 000.) Depending on your responses to this consultation, we will be asking for pledges in another COAR Bulletin.
Please consider the following options and offer us your thoughts:
- If the government appeals, will you support COAR as interveners for the adoption community?
- If the government doesn’t appeal, will you support COAR in a separate appeal to the Ontario Court of Appeal?
- If the government does not appeal, should we also not appeal and put all of our efforts into a new piece of legislation with a disclosure veto (no government at the moment would consider legislation today without it), a contact preference, wider searching power for the ADR and mandatory health information?
Please write to one of us, soon, and we will assemble the responses and report your consensus in a subsequent bulletin. We need to hear from you.
Michael Grand firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Lynn email@example.com
Wendy Rowney firstname.lastname@example.org
COAR Coordinating Committee
Source: email from COAR
Loophole to be Closed
September 30, 2007 permalink
For years a small number of fathers, driven to despair after family courts take their children, their homes and their livelihood, have escaped by suicide. The state of Texas is moving to close this loophole. A new bill 80(R) SB 617 makes the estate of deceased parents responsible for child support even after death. The analogy to the mugger who kills a man and takes his wallet does not apply, since Texas is acting in the best interest of the child.
Candidate Ferguson Attacked — by Allies
September 29, 2007 permalink
Rob Ferguson, running for parliament as the Brantford candidate of the Family Coalition Party, has come under attack from his own party.
This case illustrates the aphorism that politics makes strange bedfellows. In an effort to soften their message to pregnant young women, abortion opponents have shifted from fire and brimstone to offering adoption as a practical alternative. The pro-life movement (Family Coalition Party) has become a political friend of the adoption industry, the one Mr Ferguson is opposing. Protecting families entails something even more important than finding homes for the unborn — keeping children already born with mom and dad. In May we reported on the legal loss of Mr Ferguson's son, and the social worker celebration of the consequent funding bounty.
Family guy?; Party frowns on common-law candidate
Posted By Susan Gamble, Saturday, September 29, 2007
Rob Ferguson isn't a typical Family Coalition Party candidate and he's proud of the fact.
Ferguson is a recovered glue sniffer who has been charged - and acquitted - of assault.
For five years, he has been living common law with his partner, Kalena Mallon, a woman who has had serious mental health issues.
And he has marched and fought against the Children's Aid Society.
But the issues of the past are met with honesty by the pair as they head into the Oct. 10 election.
"The challenges in my life make me a better candidate," Ferguson explains, "just as a recovered addict makes a better counsellor. Everyone has some sort of addiction.
"It's a chapter in my life that's concluded, but it means I can relate to people with problems."
Ferguson said the Family Coalition Party understood the need for flexibility, but provincial party president Lynne Scime had a different opinion when contacted Thursday.
"All of our candidates have to sign a document affirming they are pro-life and pro-family," said Scime. "Living common law is not our definition of pro-family. We're very strict about that."
Scime added that all of the other issues Ferguson has put behind him would be accepted and forgiven by the party.
Ferguson was named in The Expositor when he was charged with assaulting Mallon in 2004. In court the next year, Ferguson was acquitted of the charge.
He and Mallon told The Expositor this week that he had been trying to save Mallon when, in a deep depression, she tried to take her own life. However, it was reported in The Expositor that Mallon and Ferguson had got into a fight when she tried to take away a bag of glue that Ferguson was sniffing.
Ferguson went for counselling for his glue addiction. He has now been clean for three years.
Mallon said she's refocused her depression, despite ongoing serious cardiac health issues, and hasn't suffered a serious episode of despondency for more than a year.
"I'm focused on the election and I love it. It gives me all the hope in the world."
Mallon is acting as Ferguson's campaign manager, manning phones and going with him to debates. The couple have two children who do not live with them.
Ferguson was a member of the NDP party, but broke with that group two years ago, citing infighting.
On the candidates' debate circuit, he has run into some opposition from people who want to air other issues. And he has been slandered on the Internet.
Ferguson and Mallon were the victims of a serious crime earlier this year, the details of which can't be made public, and they have yet to see the perpetrator dealt with in court.
But the challenges of a tough life give him a unique perspective, Ferguson said.
"I'm getting more responses in the campaign because I've 'been there'," he said. "Which of the other candidates can say, 'Yah, I've used the food bank?'"
Ferguson has volunteered for community organizations such as the CNIB and helped out for years on Riverfest. He has repeatedly called for more accountability in the Children's Aid Society and has led marches on their office.
He and Mallon are currently fighting their way through the health system as they try to deal with her supraventricular tachycardia - a rapid heart rate which causes confusion and loss of consciousness.
They plan to marry one day but say they face an impediment to doing that immediately.
The critical thing is that they hold dear the family values of the Family Coalition Party, despite not being married.
Federal tax law considers common-law partners to be married after a year of living together.
The Family Coalition Party does not.
"I'm really disappointed in him," said party president Scime.
"Living common-law is a no-no for us and we will have to deal with him. If he had been honest with us, we wouldn't have accepted him as a candidate, but we would accept him as a member of the party."
There's nothing the party can do about the fact that Ferguson stands as its representative on the ballot in 11 days, she said.
Party leader Guiseppe Gori contacted Ferguson on Friday and elicited a promise that Ferguson and Mallon would get serious about setting a date for their marriage.
"If we had known about this before we probably would have chosen a different candidate," admitted Gori.
"By disqualifying a candidate at this point, it would create problems and not solve anything. I've talked to him about what it means to sign our declaration of agreement with our principles."
Meanwhile, the candidate hopes to make a good showing in the election and to continue to grow the Family Coalition Party locally toward the next election call.
"I haven't been deceitful in any way, shape or form," said Ferguson.
Source: Brantford Expositor
with thanks to a Brantford reader
Addendum: An email from Rob Ferguson suggests another motive for the article, and that his differences with his own party are not as represented in the Expositor.
- Sun, 30 Sep 2007 09:47:19 -0400
- rob ferguson email@example.com
Let me explain a bit better. The reporter that interviewed me was supposed to be preparing a a bio for the election not attacking me. The editor of the Brantford Expositor Mr Judd is a Liberal and a real close golf bud with Brant MPP Dave Levac and CAS Director Andrew Koster. This is just an attempt to throw off my support but it hasn't, after receiving many calls yesterday for voter who were going to vote Liberal now will vote for me. My party's words have been taken way out of context. After speaking to party leader Guiseppe Gori it was realized that being engaged as me and Ms Mallon are does qualify as a typical family through commitment. CAS Brant and Dave Levac are simply afraid that I do have a chance here to continue to fight for family rights.
Source: email from Rob Ferguson
September 29, 2007 permalink
The Miami Herald reports that the State of Florida has paid out $196 million in a decade to settle lawsuits against the state. The costliest offender has been DCF, the Florida child protection agency. A document attached to the article gives all settlements over $50 thousand (pdf) during a two year period.
We have also received reports of litigation against children's aid societies, so far all fragmentary. From the few fragments, we can say that the first step in all suits against children's aid is an order sealing the court records, and preventing the litigants from talking about their case. During the litigation itself, CAS lawyers employ stalling tactics to the maximum possible extent, preventing the real issues from coming before the court as long as possible. If a settlement is worked out, it is on condition of secrecy, so that the aggrieved parties know that they will lose their compensation for speaking out. So far the only suit against CAS to come to public attention is that of Dorian Baxter. He won his case in court, but CAS refused to pay, preferring instead to make endless appeals. He was forced to accept a settlement for less than his legal fees and wound up in bankruptcy.
The size of the settlements in Florida suggests that in Ontario, where secrecy is more effective, children's aid societies may be a large hidden drain on the taxpayer's money. In a private company where customers are the only source of funds, monetary judgments force the company to correct its problems or fail financially. In an agency funded by the legislature, monetary judgments are just another claim on the taxpayer. As long as the settlements remain secret, they cannot cause reform.
State spent $196M in a decade to settle suits
Posted on Fri, Sep. 28, 2007
BY GARY FINEOUT gfineout@MiamiHerald.com
State spent $196M in a decade to settle suits
Florida has spent nearly $200 million over the past 10 years to quietly settle lawsuits for everything from employment discrimination to sexual harassment to state employees turning a blind eye to child abuse.
And with few exceptions, nearly all of it has taken place out of the eye of the public, and with scant oversight from lawmakers responsible for spending taxpayer money.
The biggest payouts have come on behalf of Florida's child-welfare agency, the Department of Children & Families, to compensate children who have been beaten, abused or sexually assaulted while in state custody.
The most expensive payout: nearly $14 million for the 20 victims of Nellie Johnson, a Gainesville foster parent sentenced four years ago to 60 years in prison for beating children in her care between 1991 and 2001. She hit them with pipes and boards, force-fed them until they vomited and beat one boy so badly doctors had to remove a testicle.
Despite Johnson's conviction in 2003, the state fought the lawsuit brought by the injured children -- until late last year, when DCF agreed to a series of settlements amounting to $13.8 million.
''We could delay another three years to where these children who are victims of crime would not receive anything,'' said DCF Secretary Bob Butterworth, who has moved aggressively to settle the Johnson case and others since he took office in January. ``That's just not the right thing to do.''
A review of 10 years' worth of records maintained by the state Division of Risk Management shows that Florida has paid $196.2 million to settle lawsuits. The payments range from relatively small settlements for damages caused by malfunctioning parking gates to larger ones to settle sex, race and age discrimination lawsuits filed by job applicants or state employees.
During the past decade no department has paid as much to settle lawsuits as the state's child welfare agency. In 10 years, the state has paid $73 million to resolve lawsuits involving DCF. And since January, DCF and the state's Division of Risk Management have settled 29 cases totaling $16 million.
All the cases were filed before Butterworth took office. But Butterworth, a former judge and state attorney general, said he directed his legal office to review all outstanding lawsuits to see ``if we had absolute losers here because the person is going to jail.''
''We are trying to do what is in the best interest of the children,'' Butterworth said.
Those who have repeatedly warned about shortcomings in Florida's safety net for children over the years say the steady stream of litigation should be a wake-up call.
''What's been going on in our foster care system for far too long is that the children are not being kept safe,'' said Karen Gievers, a Tallahassee attorney representing five children to whom the state agreed to pay $1.2 million. The five were sexually assaulted by a Merritt Island foster parent who was allowed to adopt the children. The lawsuit, settled in August, lambasted DCF for allowing Robert Howard, now awaiting trial on sex abuse charges, to adopt the children even though the state had shut down his foster home.
Dozens of other cases settled by DCF are similar. Last month the agency agreed to pay $1.4 million to a child who was placed in an overcrowded foster home where she was repeatedly sexually abused by two older foster children.
State Rep. Dan Gelber, a Miami Beach Democrat, said he is glad Butterworth is trying to settle the lingering cases. But he said he questions whether the department is doing enough to track and prevent abuse against children in state custody.
''I want to know whether this reveals the quality of the care,'' said Gelber, who has sent a listing of recent DCF settlements to the GOP lawmakers who oversee the agency.
A review of state records shows that all state agencies and Florida's 11 public universities are routinely paying out thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, to resolve lawsuits or disputes that haven't even made it to court. Some of the lawsuits have been publicized, but usually the settlements are reached quietly.
Among the cases:
- The Agency for Persons with Disabilities agreed this summer to pay $300,000 to the family of Franklin Weekley, an 18-year-old who disappeared in 2002 from a state-run home for the disabled. Nearly two years after he vanished his bones were discovered by a contractor tearing down an old boiler room at the Marianna facility.
- The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles settled a long-running dispute over Florida Highway Patrol troopers' use of force against an Opa-locka man when they raided his apartment in 1998. The state agreed last year to pay $475,000 to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit in which Kenrick Christopher said the incident left him partially disabled.
- The Department of Corrections agreed in July to pay $1.3 million, including $500,000 for attorney fees, to 13 nurses who said the department did nothing to protect them from sexual harassment by prison inmates at Washington Correctional Institution in Chipley.
- Florida International University paid $75,000 to a woman who was sexually assaulted in 2005 by an FIU police officer. The officer, Frederick Currie, was convicted in January 2006 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
''It's a terrible thing that happened to her, and I'm embarrassed that one of our officers would have been found guilty of such actions,'' said FIU President Modesto ''Mitch'' Maidique.
The settlements authorized by the Division of Risk Management don't need approval from the Legislature. That's because the state routinely set asides millions in the state budget to pay claims. Top legislators in both the House and Senate routinely get official notices of large settlements, but the grand total has surprised lawmakers.
When told Florida had paid more than $68 million in settlements in the past three years, House Speaker Marco Rubio said he was unaware of it.
Some of the settlements reached by the state sidestep Florida's sovereign immunity laws, which cap damages at $200,000 per incident. That's because in the past few years attorneys have chosen to file civil rights violations lawsuits in federal court, where the immunity doesn't apply.
State Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, whose department oversees the risk-management office, said the millions spent resolving lawsuits shows that the state needs to do a better job at figuring how to prevent future litigation.
''This is big money,'' Sink said. ``The division is very efficient and it's well run, but it's very reactive. We need to be more proactive.''
Miami Herald staff writers Mary Ellen Klas and Marc Caputo contributed to this report.
Source: Miami Herald
Silence of the Lambs
September 27, 2007 permalink
Journalists cannot find out whether claimes of injustice in family courts are correct because of secrecy.
Silence of the Lambs
CPS would rather shut up than deal with scrutiny
By Sarah Fenske, Published: September 27, 2007
The calls come to my voice mail with depressing regularity. At least once a week, sometimes more.
"Please help me," callers beg. "Child Protective Services stole my kid."
The stories that follow are unique only in the details. Mom or Dad insist that they've done nothing wrong. And even if they did, once, they swear they've turned things around. They're doing everything they can, but they can't seem to make any progress in the system.
Please, they say, can't New Times get to the bottom of what's happening with their case?
The short answer is, no. We can't.
And that's just the way CPS likes it.
The fact is, unlike trials for embezzlement or murder or even rape, CPS dependency hearings, which determine custody and whether parents continue to have the right to raise their children, are closed to the public. The agency's paperwork is also sealed.
And that means the entire system operates without scrutiny from outsiders, be they reporters or advocates. (There's a state ombudsman, but he is legally barred from releasing specifics about cases.) We never get to see the evidence that would determine whether kids are wrongly being taken from their parents, as so many callers insist on my voice mail, or whether CPS is instead erring on the side of leaving kids in unsafe homes.
We can write about the big picture because CPS has to release some statistical information every six months. But we can't look at the heart of the system: the individual families who are forced to deal with it. Even when those families are crying out for their cases to be reviewed, we simply can't get enough information to determine what's really going on.
Our tax dollars pay for this system. Even more importantly, we all depend on it to protect our state's youngest and most helpless citizens.
None of us has any idea whether it's working.
Here's the good news: An Arizona state senator plans to introduce a bill that would let the sunshine in. Senator Linda Gray, R-Mesa, wants changes for CPS that include opening up dependency hearings and paperwork.
It's a really good idea, one that the Legislature needs to follow through on. And if Governor Janet Napolitano is serious about improving CPS, as she's claimed, she, too, must get onboard.
In the past two decades, 17 other states have opened dependency hearings to the public. As far as I can tell, not one has reported major problems with open hearings. And this should tell you something: Not one has since reverted to a closed system.
More recently, Arizona tried a pilot program to open a small number of cases — about 10 percent — to the public. A report, prepared by an ASU graduate student at the conclusion of the pilot program last year, found no real problems with increased openness.
And yet when the pilot program ended, we went right back to closed doors.
I can't understand why. Unless, of course, CPS simply doesn't want anyone keeping an eye on it.
Liz Barker Alvarez, the spokeswoman for CPS, tells me that Arizona has "one of the broadest laws when it comes to sharing information about families involved in the child welfare system."
Maybe — and I think this is a big "maybe" — that's true on paper. But it's definitely not true in reality.
Here's how dependency hearings work in Arizona. Supposedly, anyone — including parents who want help in getting their kids back, or grandparents who insist that the wrong person has been handed custody, or even the media — can petition for the hearing to be open.
But the court rarely seems to take the petition seriously, much less agrees to open things up. I've had parents beg the judge to let me in. Nope, the judge decreed. That was that. I didn't even get a chance to argue my case. And if you think getting into court is tough, getting records is even worse. Public-records laws simply don't apply.
That's why advocates like Richard Wexler, director of the Virginia-based National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, are calling for a "rebuttable presumption of openness." Basically, a hearing would be open unless someone could demonstrate to the judge why it should be otherwise.
Hearings and records should be closed, Wexler argues, only if lawyers for the parents or the child want them closed — and if they can convince the judge "by clear and convincing evidence that opening a hearing or record or portion of a hearing would cause severe emotional damage to a child." Notice that the request would have to come from the parents, or the child's lawyer. CPS wouldn't be allowed to ask for closure.
It's a good idea. Because, for all the talk about how secrecy is necessary to protect children, the reality is much different.
When the doors are closed, it can be easier to focus on keeping the wheels turning than on achieving true justice. One example: As my colleague Paul Rubin reported earlier this year, lawyers who handle CPS dependency hearings sometimes don't even meet their clients until they get to court ("Outrageous Fortune," April 19). Rubin also found lawyers taking on as many as 500 new cases a year.
No wonder these parents are feeling bereft of representation!
Earlier this year, I wrote about Robin Scoins, a Surprise woman whose son was "stolen" by the agency. While she was pregnant, Scoins had taken medication known to cause a false positive on drug tests, but after her postnatal test came back positive for "amphetamines," CPS wouldn't listen to her protestations of innocence and took away her infant son. It didn't matter that the baby had never tested positive for any drug. Or that Scoins subsequently passed several drug tests ("Public Enemy Number One," March 22).
Scoins now has full custody of her son, but she devotes much of her time to advocating for families stuck in the CPS system. In that volunteer role, Scoins regularly has to fight to get into hearings and then has to fight to stay. (Keep in mind, these are cases she's attending at the express request of the families involved — she is way too busy to seek out cases where she isn't wanted.)
In one case, Scoins tells me, the judge kicked out a child's biological grandfather. His crime? CPS thought he'd shared paperwork from the case with Scoins, a charge the grandfather denies. The lawyer representing CPS actually asked the judge to hold the man in contempt of court for supposedly sharing the "secret" file.
There's a bigger picture to all this, and it has to do with accountability.
As I wrote last year, after Janet Napolitano was elected governor, she vowed to reform CPS ("Suffer the Children," October 26, 2006). But her call to remove children first and ask questions later had serious repercussions for an already-stressed system. The number of kids in foster care skyrocketed. Caseloads increased to the point of insanity — and that meant fewer kids in foster care got regular visits from the workers assigned to keep an eye on them.
Napolitano's actions were triggered, in part, by a series of violent deaths. Too many parents were killing their kids even while caseworkers were supposedly monitoring them. Err on the side of the safety, Napolitano instructed. Get the kids out and into foster care.
But the sad truth is that even with the dramatic increase in kids in foster care, the number of children dying from abuse or neglect has only increased. The number of kids slain while CPS was supposedly monitoring them hit a record high in 2005, the last year for which we have complete data ("Death Watch," December 14, 2006).
So, more kids are in foster care — even at a time when serious studies have concluded that foster care, shockingly, is even harder on kids than mild abuse or neglect. And, there's still been no decline in murder rates.
Last month, the Arizona Daily Star ran a story that highlighted many of the statistics that I reported last year. Hot in the middle of a re-election campaign, Napolitano had refused to talk to me. But she did talk to the Star.
And this is what she said: The statistics are irrelevant.
"I think taking isolated statistics out of thin air without attachment to particular cases is not helpful," the governor said.
Does anyone else see the irony? Here the guv is saying that statistics are meaningless and that we need to look at particular cases. But rather than open up the courts, and records, so we can do just that, the agency has fought to keep each particular in a shroud of secrecy.
Heck, even after two toddlers were murdered earlier this year in Tucson, the Star and the Arizona Republic had to sue to get CPS to release its files on the children's case. (Typically, CPS releases a summary of its files after a child dies. In this case, the papers wanted more.)
Don't tell me that CPS was protecting these kids' privacy. The kids, remember, were dead.
Napolitano's spokeswoman says that the governor is in favor of making CPS "as open as it can be." I hope she's sincere — but I have to wonder why, in that case, all dependency hearings were closed immediately after the end of the pilot progam.
Indeed, Alvarez, the CPS spokeswoman, suggests that it may be useless to open dependency hearings. People just aren't interested. "Very few members of the public or the media attended any of the hearings," she says.
It is true that while the ASU study shows that more than one-fourth of the open hearings attracted the attendance of a "non-party," only seven hearings were, in fact, attended by a reporter. That's 1 percent of the open hearings in Maricopa County — and a truly shameful statistic.
But buried in that same report is an e-mail that an anonymous lawyer in the system sent to the ASU researcher. That e-mail, I think, makes it clear that the lack of attendance wasn't simply a sign of lazy reporters. (Although, trust me, I know that was a factor, too.)
"If more members of the public knew that hearings were open, more people might come, and then CPS would be more accountable," the lawyer wrote. "Parents generally don't want the hearings open, but in the cases where parents would want the press, or other members of the public, present . . . CPS can object, [meaning] there is no way to ever get members of the press or the public into a hearing!
"The open-hearing law," the lawyer concluded, "has no teeth!"
It's time for the Legislature to fix that. And it's time for Governor Napolitano to put her political talents to work protecting the children in the system, not CPS. We owe it to these kids to keep an eye on what's really going on — and we can't do that without more openness.
Source: Phoenix New Times
Two More Mistakes Buried
September 25, 2007 permalink
A journalist has found two more babies who died in foster care in British Columbia on August 11 and August 16. While a host of trifling mistakes are adequate to cast suspicion on a mother, three deaths in foster care are not suspicious.
B.C. probes three child deaths
Lindsay Kines, Times Colonist
Saturday, September 22, 2007
The B.C. Coroners Service is investigating three cases where children have died within days of being apprehended or placed in the government's care on Vancouver Island.
In addition to previously publicized cases in Duncan and Nanaimo, the Times Colonist has learned of a third death in Greater Victoria last month where a child died a short time after being voluntarily put in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
Coroner Barb McLintock confirmed the male infant was found dead in his bed Aug. 11 on the West Shore. No name has been released and RCMP do not consider the death suspicious.
"We did an autopsy and, as is very often the case with these infant deaths, we did not get ... a really clear cause of death," McLintock said.
The case was followed five days later by the death of an 11-month-old aboriginal boy in Duncan. The boy had been apprehended by the Children's Ministry a few days earlier and placed with a relative. Again, RCMP said the death was not suspicious.
Then, three weeks later, a four-month-old aboriginal girl, Caroline Touchie, died at Nanaimo on Sept. 11 just five days after being apprehended and placed in foster care. Police have said there is no criminal investigation.
McLintock said yesterday that all three deaths have been referred to B.C. Children's Hospital for further investigation by pediatric pathologists, including one who specializes in studying the brains of babies and young children who have died.
"It's very complicated testing and we're so lucky to have it," she said.
Until the pathology reports are finished in four to six months, McLintock cautioned against reading too much into the cluster of child deaths.
"At this point, there's absolutely nothing to make us believe there's any specific significance to it," she said. "We see this so often in this job ... Things sort of sometimes run in clumps, and sometimes it's really relevant, like when we had all those forestry deaths that led to inquests. And sometimes it's just one of those statistical things that happens. It's way too early for us yet to say which it might be in this case."
McLintock said any decision on whether the coroners service will report on the deaths individually or as a group will likely be made by the service's child death unit. The unit looks at the deaths of all children under 19 in B.C., and sometimes conducts "cluster reviews" as a way to prevent other child deaths.
Children's Representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond also reviews all reports on the deaths or critical injuries of children in the government's care or known to the Children's Ministry in the previous 12 months, and could issue her own report.
Finally, the Children's Ministry conducts internal reviews of child deaths -- sometimes called director's or deputy director's reviews -- in cases where it had recent involvement.
Marilyn Hedlund, director of child welfare, said in a prepared statement this week that the ministry is prohibited from commenting on specific cases to protect the privacy of children and their families.
The ministry does, however, pay particular attention in cases where there are a number of deaths over a short period of time, ministry spokeswoman Barb Wright said yesterday.
"We're very concerned and we take it very seriously and we do look to see if there is any commonality."
The ministry's website reports 98 deaths of children involved with the ministry last year, including 13 in care and 85 who had received ministry services in the 12 months prior to their deaths.
The number of fatalities represented an increase of 25 from the previous year and marked the highest total since 2001, though similar numbers were reported in the mid- to late-1990s.
The ministry deals with 50,000 children a year, many of whom have serious or terminal illnesses, Wright said.
"Let's never forget that, by the very nature of these children being known to the ministry, they are vulnerable -- that's why we have them."
Source: Times Colonist (Victoria)
New CAS Palace
September 22, 2007 permalink
Children's Aid has another new palace, this one in Oshawa for Durham Region, at a cost of $17 million. Readers are invited to provide a picture of the facility. "A new clinic has exam rooms for doctors and dentists who treat the kids in the CAS's care." We don't know what the rooms will really be used for. In the case of the Norris family, CAS suspended dental care for a boy needing braces.
CAS opens doors to its new home
Wed Sep 19, 2007, By Erin Hatfield
DURHAM -- Greeting clients and staff with bright blue-tiled columns, purple- patched floors and a giant fish tank, the brains behind the Children Aid Society's (CAS) new home hope it will be an inviting and pleasant place.
Located on Airport Boulevard in Oshawa, the building has playrooms complete with books and toys, supervised visitation rooms and a large meeting room. There is a life skills facility for kids in care, where they can learn to cook, do laundry and socialize. A new clinic has exam rooms for doctors and dentists who treat the kids in the CAS's care. On the upper three floors there are offices for the 380 full-time-equivalent employees.
Outside sits a shiny new playground, donated by Auto Workers Community Credit Union.
The move to the new building is the culmination of four-and-a-half years of planning by the board of directors and senior staff and its opening ceremony was on Sept. 18.
Wanda Secord started as the executive director of Durham CAS on Aug. 1. She explained the CAS was able to consolidate three offices formerly spread out across Durham in the new building.
"We were all over the place," Ms. Secord said. "They all needed to be run out of the same office; it just made better sense in terms of service."
The building cost just less than $17 million.
"That sounds like a lot of money, but when you consider the fact that we were renting in three other locations and having leases, as leases go up they can be very expensive," Ms. Secord said. "Over time the cost of this building will be less than the various leases we had."
It took a while to come together, but Oshawa Mayor John Gray said his council nurtured the construction of the new building for some time, first looking at a downtown location and then selling the CAS the land on Airport Boulevard.
"It is a gorgeous building," Mayor Gray said. "The beauty of it is that it is along a major bus route."
But, more than the building, Mayor Gray said he is proud of the work the CAS does.
"Sometimes parents aren't as responsible as they should be and that is where the CAS has to step in," Mayor Gray said. "It is a sad commentary on society, but yet we actually have an organization that can help pick up the pieces."
Former executive director James Dubray, who received much credit for the new building during the opening ceremony, said he is proud of the structure.
"I think it is a great building and it will serve children well," he said. "It will continue to do that for many years."
Source: Metroland Durham Region
Addendum: Here is a picture of the building from the Durham CAS website.
Real Child Protection
September 22, 2007 permalink
In Saudi Arabia, motherhood is not a crime, instead is protected by the law. A maid, Rizana Nafeek, on duty when a baby died is awaiting beheading for her neglect. Contrast that with Canada, where a baby dies in CAS custody without legal consequence.
The Middle East's Leading English Language Daily
Sunday, 16, September, 2007 (04, Ramadhan, 1428)
Rizana Case: No Date Set for Minister’s Visit
Mohammed Rasooldeen, Arab News —
RIYADH, 16 September 2007 — A date for the forthcoming visit by Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Keheliya Rambukwella has not been set. Rambukwella is planning to meet if possible with the parents of an infant who died while under the care of Rizana Nafeek, a Sri Lankan woman facing the death penalty for murder.
The maid, whom the parents accuse of murdering their newborn during her second week on the job, contends that the death of the baby was accidental, that the baby died from choking during a bottle-feeding session.
Officials at the Sri Lankan Embassy confirmed that Rambukwella would come sometime after Ramadan.
Nafeek reportedly came to the Kingdom as a minor on a forged passport claiming she was in her early 20s. She was 17 at the time of the incident, according to her Sri Lankan birth certificate.
Meanwhile, a prominent Sri Lankan philanthropist has offered a house, tractor and Rs100,000 in cash for Nafeek’s parents. Deshamanya Lalith Kotelawela, chairman Ceylinco Group, gave the money to help cover two-thirds of the lawyer’s fees. The money to pay the lawyers involved in Nafeek’s defense is being raised by the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission.
Nafeek had no legal representation in the first trial, and signed a confession at the police station with no translator present after her arrest.
Source: Arab News
Baby Protected to Death
September 21, 2007 permalink
A baby girl taken into custody by child protectors in British Columbia for no disclosed cause has died, just days days after the seizure. The girl's name remains a closely guarded secret.
Baby died days after entering foster care
The Canadian Press
September 20, 2007
VICTORIA -- The British Columbia government is being asked to give a grieving Vancouver Island family some answers after their two young girls were taken into foster care and one of them died just days later.
The NDP critic for the Children's Ministry said yesterday a four-month-old girl died in foster care in Nanaimo on Sept. 11 while her two-year-old sister remains in government care. "The family, until today, didn't receive any reason on why the children were removed or how the child died," said Nicholas Simons, the MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast.
"The family needs support in getting through this difficult time. And I think the mother and the grandmother in this case deserve some answers. It's certainly troubling."
Mr. Simons, a former child-protection worker, said no social worker has visited the family since the children were taken away, noting a written explanation for the removal would have come in court.
"Unfortunately, on the day of court the mother was told her child had died," he said.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Children and Family Development said because of privacy considerations the ministry will not comment on specific cases.
"What we can say, though, is that in any instance where a child in care and child receiving ministry services dies the situation is carefully assessed by the director of child welfare and ultimately that assessment could lead to a full case review," the official said.
Mr. Simons said the case is indicative of the serious level of neglect that B.C.'s families are suffering under the current Liberal government. He said he would like some answers himself about the reorganization of ministry services that's taken place in Nanaimo.
"A number of contracts have been farmed out to various agencies," he said, adding the continuity in services recommended in two past provincial inquiries into child deaths in care seems to have been lost.
Source: Globe and Mail
Addendum: Another news source, A-Channel, gives the names. The parents are Rose Touchie and Ray Dewell and the deceased girl is Caroline Touchie.
Newfoundland to Subsidize Births
September 20, 2007 permalink
Newfoundland may subsidize childbirth by giving new moms $1000. Let's see, moms get $1000, but when a social service agency takes a baby from the delivery room and keeps it until age of majority it gets $71 per day, $466,754. That shows where the real priorities are. We also note that the subsidy applies to adoptive moms as well. Taking care of a stolen baby is as worthy as giving birth.
Williams promises to pay $1,000 for every baby born or adopted in N.L.
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. (CP) — Faced with a dramatic drop in Newfoundland and Labrador's population, Premier Danny Williams is hoping a little financial incentive will encourage more couples to adopt or have babies.
The election promise made by Williams on Tuesday means parents would get $1,000 for every child they have in an effort to combat a sagging birth rate and mass outmigration that has sapped the province.
The Progressive Conservative party leader, on his first full day of campaigning for the Oct. 9 election, unveiled a platform that also promises to improve the province's crumbling infrastructure, put more police officers on the streets and maintain a freeze on tuition fees.
But perhaps the most novel idea was the plan to reverse a prolonged decline in the population, which includes a promise to increase parental leave supplements.
"The province cannot afford to have its population shrink," Williams said in an interview while on the campaign trail in Labrador.
"The ultimate goal is to having net gain in our population in the province."
Liberal Leader Gerry Reid said the best way to boost population is to create jobs as he described Williams record on that score as "dismal."
"Rather than try to create an economic climate where people would want to come invest, the premier and this government has turned people away because of his confrontational approach," he said.
The province would spend $4.5 million annually on the program, which would be modelled after similar ones in Quebec and throughout Europe, Williams said.
Newfoundland, with a population of 505,000, has lost 7,000 people since 2001, according to Statistics Canada. Women in the province gave birth to 4,488 babies in 2004, only about half the 8,929 children that were born in 1983, the federal agency found.
Quebec once paid up to $8,000 to families having children in a bid to encourage growth after the province was grappling with dwindling birth rates, but eliminated the payments in 1997.
In more recent programs, Quebec provides residents with $7-a-day daycare and has taken over the federal Employment Insurance program that provides maternity benefits to mothers and made it more generous.
Kevin Milligan, an economics professor at the University of British Columbia who studied Quebec's baby bonus, said it had a positive effect on boosting the province's population.
"A well-designed program can have some impact on fertility," Milligan said.
"But whether it's a good policy or not, it depends on how much you're willing to pay and whether those dollars are best spent there or elsewhere."
Reid, who spent Tuesday travelling the southeastern region of the province, took credit for the key Tory policy plank.
"I'm glad to see that (Williams) has paid attention to the initiatives that we've been talking about and are still talking about," he said in an interview.
The Liberals are also promising to offer parents a financial incentive to have children, though they haven't specified an amount.
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael, who has not released her party's platform yet, said the baby bonus would do little to stem the exodus of young families departing to other provinces in Canada such as Ontario and Alberta.
"It's a very short-sighted way of dealing with our population problem," Michael said.
At dissolution, the Tories had 34 seats, the Liberals 11 and the NDP one. There were also two vacant seats.
Source: Canadian Press hosted by Google
Adoption Disclosure Law Not in Force
September 20, 2007 permalink
Only two days after reporting the Adoption Disclosure Law in force, the CBC has reported its demise. Judge Edward Belobaba has stricken the law from the books. An imaginary promise of confidentiality given to birth parents is the pretext. Not mentioned is that family destruction is a big source of income to an industry of which the judge's profession, the bar, is a part. Ontario now goes on as before, with adopted adults forbidden to know their origins, though social service workers have full knowledge. How many of you got your disclosures during the two days?
Adoption law struck down by Ont. court
Last Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2007 | 9:20 PM ET, CBC News
Days after an Ontario law that opened past adoption records went into effect, a judge has quashed it.
The legislation, which took effect Monday after years in the making, allowed birth parents and adoptees to access information about each other, but an Ontario Superior Court ruling Wednesday struck it down.
Civil rights lawyer Clayton Ruby launched a constitutional challenge to the Adoption Information Disclosure Act last year on behalf of four Ontario residents — three adoptees and one parent.
He argued that privacy is an individual right and it is not the role of government to decide what information should be released.
Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba agreed, saying the act breaches the guarantee to individual privacy enshrined in Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"I have come to this conclusion after much deliberation," Belobaba wrote in his 68-page ruling. "No judge takes lightly his or her responsibility as a 'constitutional umpire.' "
Disclosure veto missing
Ruby and Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian said at a news conference that they had both urged the government to amend the legislation to allow birth parents and adoptees to file a "disclosure veto" that would allow them to retain their anonymity.
British Columbia, Alberta, and Newfoundland and Labrador, which have similar laws to the short-lived Ontario one, each have such a "disclosure veto."
Denbigh Patton, one of the individuals represented by Ruby, was relieved by the court ruling.
"The government can't give out my name until someone asks me, and if I say no, they can't give it out period. For an adoptee, that's everything," Patton said.
But for former MPP Marilyn Churley, who spent the past decade fighting for the scrapped disclosure law, the ruling brought disappointment.
She gave her son up for adoption after a teenage pregnancy. Though she eventually managed to connect with him, Churley has long fought for adoption records to be opened so others could more easily do the same.
"This is not about opening up records to the public. It's about opening up records to the parties involved," Churley said.
Addendum: Here is a bulletin from COAR, trying to salvage the new law.
Thu, 20 Sep 2007 14:17:16 -0700 (PDT)
Yesterday Judge Belobaba published his decision regarding the Adoption Information Disclosure Act. He found that it was unconstitutional for the government to release information to adoptees and birth parents without providing them with some means of vetoing its release.
We are, as we know you are, deeply disappointed by this result. We all feel personal sadness and anger at this decision.
We are not, however, defeated. At the moment we are conferring with our lawyers and waiting to hear whether the government plans to appeal. Based on that information we will build our own plan to fight for our right to information about ourselves.
The Ontario government is no longer receiving applications for information and cannot act on those applications it has received.
Once we have a clearer understanding of the situation we will write again immediately.
Michael Grand firstname.lastname@example.org Karen Lynn email@example.com
Wendy Rowney firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: email from COAR
Addendum: Erika Klein's ten-year-old daughter lost her little sister to adoption. Until Judge Belobaba's decision she had been looking forward to reunification. Her comment:
Humph! I wish I could go to court and tell those people that it is wrong. I would go into the room and hold up my poster and say, "Don't you want parents and their kids to be happy like these kitties?"
Source: Erika Klein blog
Addendum: Here is another bulletin from COAR. Barring miraculous developments, Adoption Disclosure is dead. The social services industry is powerful enough to ignore laws enacted by the legislature.
- Sat, 22 Sep 2007 14:15:45 -0700 (PDT)
- Wendy Rowney email@example.com
- COAR Bulletin
The Current Situation
Over the past few days, we have made several efforts to talk with the government. We did speak with a contact on Wednesday when the decision was first made public but since then our efforts have been unsuccessful. As a result, we do not have a clear answer to the questions, "Will the government appeal the judge's decision?"
Some things are, however, clear. There is an election in Ontario on October 10. All politicians are now campaigning and the regular business of government is suspended. As a result, we do not anticipate that the government will make a decision until the new cabinet is in place. It is likely that the 30 day limit for appeal will by then have passed.
There remains the question whether we, the adoption community, can appeal on our own. This is a legal question and one that our lawyers are trying to determine. We are meeting with them this week to learn more about our options.
The sections of the law that the judge declared unconstitutional effectively made the entire law unworkable. (Although we anticipate that the ADR will continue to function as a match only registry and that Children's Aid Societies will continue to provide non-identifying information.) This means that Ontario does not have a functioning adoption disclosure law at this time. We must have one. This means that we must put pressure on the government to find a workable solution immediately after the election.
What Can You Do Right Now?
1. Talk to the Politicians
Over the past few days we have many many letters form you. These letters are full of sadness and rage. We are asking that everyone on this list send a letter to their MPP and copy
- Minister of Community and Social Services, Madeleine Meilleur firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-325-5225
- the Attorney General, Michael Bryant email@example.com
- your local paper
Then copy your letter to the Premier at https://www.premier.gov.on.ca/feedback/feedback.asp.
To find your MPP go to www.ontla.on.ca. Click of "Members (MPPs)"
These letters must be sent as soon as possible to be effective. They need not be long but they should explain how the judge's decision has affected your life. You do not need to call for an appeal; simply let them know how you feel. With politicians it is numbers that count. Let them know that we are out here and we care!
2. Talk to the Media
The media responds to public interest. It does not matter whether your letter is published. What we want to do is show the media that we care. Send them the letter that you sent to the politicians.
Whenever you see or hear a media piece on the decision write them immediately. Tell them your thoughts about the judge's opinion. Let them know how his decision has impacted your life. We know of two upcoming programs.
- Sunday morning on CBC National News. At 8:30 am, Toronto time, Karen Lynn will be interviewed live by the anchor. This will be broadcast nationally. They have already taped a session by Joy Cheskes (one of the people who opposed AIDA). Karen has been asked to respond to her on behalf of mothers seeking the identity of their children. Write to the CBC National News. Click here http://www.cbc.ca/contact/index.jsp and select your local area, then write.
- Next Wednesday evening on CTV. At 11 pm or 11:30 pm, Toronto time, Scott Laurie will present an adoption special. in the CTV National News. Karen Lynn has already been interviewed by Scott and two others from "our side" will be interviewed: Jennifer Charles, a reunited mother from Ottawa and Paul O'Donnell, a searching adoptee from Toronto. The main website is http://www.ctv.ca. Find your local station, watch the show. Contact them at CTV News/Newsnet: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Use the Election
Finally, for those in Ontario, call your local candidates and ask them what their position is on the situation. Tell them your vote depends on a good clear answer. If they don't understand the issue, educate them and ask them to get back to you asap. To find all of your candidates search in Elections Ontario at http://www.elections.on.ca/en-ca. Remember too that the Conservatives have strongly opposed any changes to the adoption disclosure system. It is difficult to imagine that, if they are in government, that they will do anything to change the current situation and we could be left indefinitely without a workable law.
We will write again later in the week.
Michael Grand email@example.com
Karen Lynn firstname.lastname@example.org
Wendy Rowney email@example.com
Source: email from COAR
Addendum: The court's decision in the case, Cheskes v Ontario, is now online.
Adoption Disclosure Law in Force
September 18, 2007 permalink
Ontario's Adoption Information Disclosure Act is now in force, though a court challenge is under way.
Adoptees, birth parents get access to records in Ontario
Last Updated: Monday, September 17, 2007 | 3:38 PM ET, CBC News
Birth parents and adult adoptees in Ontario can now get information about one another under the province's Adoption Information Disclosure Act.
The legislation, which went into effect Monday, allows adoptees who are 18 or older to obtain copies of their original birth registration and adoption orders containing their original birth name and birth parents' names. Birth parents can also get details from those records if the adoptee is 19 or older.
The act, which amends the Child and Family Services Act as well as the Vital Statistics Act and was passed in 2005 in stages, allows both parties to protect their privacy by requesting a no-contact notice. That means a birth parent or adoptee must agree not to contact the person who registered the notice before details from records are disclosed.
"We're very excited," said Michael Grand, a University of Guelph psychology professor and spokesman for the Coalition for Open Adoption Records, an umbrella group endorsed by adoption groups including Parent Finders Canada, the Adoption Council of Canada and the Canadian Council of Natural Mothers.
But the act is being fought by opponents. In June, three adoptees and one birth parent represented by Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby mounted a constitutional challenge to the legislation, arguing it's a serious breach of privacy.
Grand said the coalition, which was granted intervener status in the case, has been told that presiding judge Edward Belobaba will make a decision on Wednesday.
Regardless of the outcome, one side will likely make an appeal at the Supreme Court of Canada, he said.
British Columbia, Alberta, and Newfoundland and Labrador have similar legislation, but those provinces included a disclosure veto that protects the identities of those who wish to remain anonymous.
Under the new act, Ontario is also providing a voluntary adoption disclosure registry, which allows birth parents and adopted adults to exchange contact information.
England May Cut Baby Bounty
September 16, 2007 permalink
The British press has run numerous articles in recent weeks exposing the corruption within the social services system. Now the results are reaching cabinet level. British Justice Secretary Jack Straw is proposing to eliminate the bonus paid to social service agencies for adoption of children. The bonus acts as a bounty on the head of every British baby, collectible by social service agencies that succeed in getting the baby taken away from his parents.
15/09/07 - News section
Straw rethinks councils' cash for adoption targets
By LAURA COLLINS
Jack Straw is to review the Government's controversial policy of offering councils cash rewards to meet adoption targets.
Critics claim the nationwide system, introduced seven years ago by Tony Blair, provides a 'perverse financial incentive' to remove children from their birth parents.
Now the Justice Secretary has said he will rethink the Government's position following a meeting with Norman Lamb.
Mr Lamb, the Lib Dem MP for Norfolk North, wants social workers to keep more detailed records when they meet families whose children may be put up for adoption.
He has also expressed his concern that the secrecy which surrounds proceedings in the family courts may work to parents' disadvantage.
His campaign was inspired by the plight of two of his constituents, Mark and Nicky Webster, whose case has been championed in The Mail on Sunday.
The couple, from Cromer, won a landmark legal case last June to keep their fourth child, Brandon, after false allegations of child abuse meant their first three children were taken away in 2004. The older children have now been adopted and the Websters have been told they will not get them back.
Mr Lamb said: 'Theirs was an appalling miscarriage of justice and part of any proper discussion about this must mean rethinking social services' adoption targets. It simply provides a perverse financial incentive. 'It ought not to be a factor that taking children into adoption means the social services bringing in money from the Government.'
He added that he had discussed the Websters with Mr Straw.
'I raised Mark and Nicky Webster's experience as a powerful example of the horror that can come as a result of it all.
'The deeply troubling fact is that they cannot be the only such example of the system failing.' Mr Straw has given no official undertaking to open up the Family Court system. But Mr Lamb said he was 'greatly encouraged' by the meeting.
He added: 'Adoption targets were a subject of discussion as was the insufficient safeguarding of parents' rights. The lack of case protocol in this area is breathtaking.
'Mr Straw was sympathetic and interested in meeting again to discuss further once he had made his own enquiries. It was a very heartening exchange.'
Source: Mail on Sunday (UK)
Don't Imitate CPS
September 15, 2007 permalink
Child protectors love to subdue their wards with drugs. According to the Globe and Mail, 47% of Ontario's crown wards are prescribed psychotropic drugs. Massachusetts lawyer Gregory Hession reports a third of children in custody in his state are on drugs. So what are to make of today's story of a mother charged with a felony for giving her daughter prozac?
Police: Mother Mixed Prozac with Applesauce, Gave It to Child
Sep 15, 2007 01:45 PM
By JOSEPH S. PETE, Staff writer
GREENWOOD, Ind. - A Center Grove area woman is accused of feeding her 12-year-old daughter applesauce spiked with Prozac every night for the past six months.
Karen Walsh, 51, 3712 Chancellor Drive, Greenwood, was arrested on a charge of neglect of a dependent, a Class D felony that carries a sentence of up to three years in prison.
Walsh told police she gave her child the antidepressant without the girl's knowledge to help her sleep.
The child is now in the custody of her father, who was unaware that the girl was being fed Prozac, Johnson County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Doug Cox said.
No doctor diagnosed the girl as needing the medication or prescribed it to her.
When not prescribed, Prozac can cause a range of medical problems including heightened suicidal tendencies, three physicians told police.
The Division of Family and Children's Services received a complaint that Walsh was giving her child Prozac and notified police, who questioned her Tuesday.
Walsh, who was taking Prozac prescribed to her, said she didn't want to take her daughter to the doctor for her sleeping problem because she knew he would tell her to stop giving the child Prozac, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Walsh told police she knew giving her child Prozac was wrong and could harm her health, according to the affidavit.
When asked by a detective, she described in detail the side effects an incorrect dosage could cause, such as permanent neurological damage.
She told police she gave her daughter about 10 mg per day, which she described as a "clinical dose."
Every night, she took a 20 mg time-released capsule and broke it open, emptying out the powder. She divided the powder into equal amounts, mixing half into her daughter's applesauce.
Walsh sometimes had to wake her from sleeping to give her the spiked applesauce, she told police.
Police required Walsh to sign a statement that she wouldn't give her daughter any medication in any form.
A physician will need to monitor the girl's health as she gradually stops taking Prozac, Cox said. She will need to stay on a reduced dosage for a while so sudden withdrawal doesn't endanger her health.
"She won't be able to safely quit cold turkey," Cox said.
Walsh was released from the jail Wednesday on $3,000 bond.
Quets Gives Up
September 15, 2007 permalink
Allison Quets, the mother who took her children to Canada to escape forcible adoption, has pleaded guilty to kidnapping. She was held in jail for an indefinite term that she could end only by a guilty plea.
Woman pleads guilty to international parental kidnapping
By TITAN BARKSDALE and SARAH OVASKA
Raleigh News & Observer
Friday, September 14, 2007
Allison Quets, who attracted headlines with her fight to regain custody of her twins, pleaded guilty Friday to two charges of international parental kidnapping.
Quets, of Orlando, Fla., appeared calm as she entered the guilty plea in U.S. District Court in Raleigh. She was scheduled to be released pending sentencing Dec. 17.
Quets had been in jail since her arrest in December in Ottawa, where she had fled with the twins, who had been adopted by an Apex, N.C., couple.
The twins, now 2 years old, had been adopted by Kevin and Denise Needham and were in their custody at the time Quets left the country with them. Quets had visitation rights and was fighting in the Florida courts to get them back.
The courts have upheld the adoption by the Needhams.
Quets, a former Lockheed Martin engineer, gave birth to the twins at age 47 after getting pregnant through in-vitro fertilization. Her friends said she was extremely ill during her pregnancy and gave up the children, Tyler and Holly, under duress when they were 5 weeks old.
Her fight for the twins stirred sympathy in some quarters, and supporters set up an Internet site to solicit donations and publicize her case.
When she was in Canada, Quets stayed at a bed-and-breakfast for five days, and the inn's owners raised money to help defray her legal costs.
(Titan Barksdale can be reached at titan.barksdale(at)newsobserver.com. Sarah Ovaska can be reached at sarah.ovaska(at)newsobserver.com.)
Source: Scripps News
Dunn Prosecution Delayed
September 13, 2007 permalink
John Dunn's prosecution of his children's aid society was delayed because of a technical problem with his form of service. In addition to his news blog entry below, we have a copy of his Notice of Intent (ms-word format).
Thursday, September 13, 2007
1st Appearance in Court - Adjourned
Today was the date for the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa (Ont. Corp. 37637) and Barbara MacKinnon (Exec. Dir) to show up and plead "guilty" or "not guilty" to committing the Offence of "failing to furnish a list of the Society's members", contrary to section 307 (5) of the Corporations Act, RSO 1990, c. C-38, but their lawyer, Robert C. Morrow, caught me on a technicality regarding how I served the summons to them.
This appears to be done merely to delay the proceeding, or to use it as a training opportunity for a new Student at Law in which the Society's solicitor was using today in court.
According to the Provincial Offences Act (POA), when serving summons on a corporation, you are to serve it to an executive, someone who appears to be in control of the corporation or a secretary.
[The original post quotes the controlling law.]
Source: blog by John Dunn
York Services Resume
Families Take Cover
September 13, 2007 permalink
The strike against York Region Children's Aid is over. How many times have you heard of mom or dad refusing to take care of a child on account of a strike?
CAS strikers ratify deal
Sep 12, 2007 03:52 PM
By: Joan Ransberry, Staff Writer
York Region Children's Aid Society's 180 child and family workers are expected to return to work tomorrow, ending a 17-day strike.
A tentative agreement between Ontario Public Service Employees Union - Local 304 and the agency was reached last night and union members ratified the agreement today.
Of 147 union members voting, 122 accepted the collective deal and 22 rejected it. Include in the agreement is a 7.5-per-cent raise over two years as well as fewer caseloads for front-line workers.
After contract talks collapsed Sept. 1, the union walked off the job, leaving about 1,000 open files, including 450 in-care children in the hands of about 35 non-union workers.
In a joint statement released yesterday, Local 404 union president Lisa Maynard and Children's Aid Society executive director Patrick Lake said they're both gratified they were able to resolve three areas of concern: workload, wages and milage.
"We look forward to a new era of working together in our shared goal of creating a positive work environment for staff and providing the highest quality care to the children and families of York Region, " Ms Maynard and Mr. Lake said.
Provincial union president Smokey Thomas kept a close eye on developments and visited the picket line in Newmarket. Workers set up lines at four society offices across the region.
"We look forward to an improved working relationship with the employer so that, together, the children and the families of the region will receive the best possible service," Mr. Thomas said.
"We are optimistic that with this new collective agreement, we will be able to achieve just that."
Statistics from the local Children's Aid for 2006 show 6,457 families were served, there are 950 open cases at any given time, between 200 and 400 cases were investigated each month and 130 foster homes were overseen by staff.
This was the first strike in the history of the local Children's Aid Society.
Baby Death Hidden
September 10, 2007 permalink
Here is another case of social workers burying their mistakes. A baby died, but the mother was kept in the dark for 28 years.
Birth mom angry she wasn't told of baby's death
By Kirsten Stewart, The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 09/10/2007 01:11:00 AM MDT
Jayni Anderson wants Utah law changed to require that birth parents be informed if a child they put up for adoption dies.
Since placing her newborn for adoption in June 1979, Jayni Anderson has wondered about the girl she called "my Sarah Marie."
Was she a fussy baby? Did she excel at school, make friends easily? How was her "sweet 16th" birthday?
Anderson conjured happy images of a healthy and loved child maturing into a young woman. But those hopes were crushed two weeks ago when a social worker at LDS Family Services, which handled the adoption, told Anderson that 28 years ago her baby died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The child was 6 months old.
"It was like someone took scissors to a movie reel in my head. Everything just went black," said Anderson of the initial shock, which gave way to feelings of betrayal and anger.
The 50-year-old Montana native wants to know whether the adoption was ever finalized. She wants to know where her baby was buried. And she wants to know why it took LDS Family Services so long to disclose the death.
Scott Trotter, spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, declined to comment, citing a church policy against discussing litigation.
Anderson hasn't sued the church. But she does want Utah law changed to require adoption agencies to notify birth parents of deaths.
"I don't want this to happen to someone else," said Anderson on Thursday. "Adoption hurts, and it stays with you. But you take heart knowing your child is going to a good home, and you trust the adoption agency. That trust was violated."
Nothing in Utah law or licensing rules - then or now - requires adoption agencies to keep contact with birth parents after relinquishment, said Ken Stettler, director of the state Human Services division that oversees adoption agencies.
Contracts can be written to order continued contact, he said. But Anderson's was a closed adoption.
"If I could have opted for an open adoption, I would have, but it didn't really exist back then," she said.
As for changing the law, Stettler isn't sure how an agency could be expected to track children over the course of their lives.
Further complicating matters, for Anderson: the adoption may never have been finalized, which would mean that the agency had legal custody of her daughter at the time she died.
In such cases, there's still no disclosure requirement for a death, but "it's good practice," said Utah adoption attorney Larry Jenkins.
Legislators recently changed state law to allow for adoptions to be finalized posthumously, but the law applies only to adoptions after May 2006, said Jenkins.
Anderson may have remained oblivious to Sarah Marie's fate had she not recently reported an address change at the LDS Family Services.
That prompted a phone call from a social worker who asked Anderson to come into the office. There, she shared the news of the baby's death. Anderson recalls her explaining, "I didn't want you to go through the rest of your life thinking your daughter might come looking for you."
When Anderson asked, "Why didn't you tell me earlier?" she said she was simply told, "That's a good question."
Anderson said the social worker claimed to have no information on her daughter's place of burial. Nor would she say whether the girl was ever "sealed" to her adoptive family, an LDS practice to assure that family members meet again in the afterlife.
"She's my daughter, she's dead and I can't even place flowers on her grave," said Anderson, who is LDS and said she surrendered her baby at the urging of her ecclesiastical leader.
"I was a young, single mom with a toddler and pregnant. I didn't want to be on welfare," said Anderson. "I was adopted; it's something I believe in."
Anderson doesn't want to think there's something purposeful behind the church's silence, noting, "They're not above making mistakes." But, she said, "the agency had ample opportunities to fess up."
After relinquishing her rights to her daughter, Anderson surrendered two more children through LDS Family Services: her firstborn, a toddler son, in 1980 and another boy, a newborn, in 1981.
The same social worker handled all three adoptions, said Anderson, who believes the woman has since retired.
"I asked her if my boys could live with their sister, but she said, 'No, the parents moved back East,' " recalls Anderson. Queries about her daughter's well-being, Anderson said, were met with, "Oh, she's doing just fine."
Anderson said she has had second thoughts about the adoptions, but never any regrets. It provided her children with a brighter future, she always assumed, and gave her time to mature and later raise a son.
But now, she worries about her boys, who live together with a family about whom she knows very little. And she says she won't rest until she knows for certain what happened to her little girl.
"I'm not sure why, if the adoptive parents were so grateful to me, they never told me she died," said Anderson. "I need closure. I hope she wasn't hurt, but your mind thinks all these icky things."
For now, she holds onto the memory of those "tender" three days that she fed, held and sang to her daughter in the hospital before saying goodbye.
"Hardly a day has gone by that I haven't thought about her," said Anderson. "That's more than 10,000 days, and to what end?"
Source: Salt Lake Tribune
Behavior Worth Medicating
September 9, 2007 permalink
Massachusetts lawyer Gregory Hession has another cover story in The New American. This one deals with the routine drugging of children in care of the state.
Behavior Worth Medicating?
When you are there, standing before an actual judge, real courtroom drama feels much less exciting than what you see on TV. There is no swelling music soundtrack, no scripted performances, and no overblown oratory.
Recently, I participated in a typically dull hearing that likely ruined a life — the life of a little six-year-old mildly autistic boy. The banality of the process was in contrast with the seriousness of the outcome.
Twelve adults gathered in a small, closed courtroom to decide how many powerful, anti-psychotic drugs that the child, who is currently in the custody of the state, would be required to take. The patient did not have a voice, since he was not there. No doctor was present, but plenty of lawyers were. The little boy’s lawyer saw nothing wrong with drugging him into a stupor. As the attorney for the heartbroken mother, I spoke against the whole idea; I suggested to the court that other factors may be causing the child’s problems, and that the compulsory administration of drugs by the state was simply an excuse to avoid addressing those issues.
The verdict: the little guy would be forced to take anti-psychotic drugs Risperdal, Concerta, and Seroquel, plus the stimulant Clonidine and the anti-anxiety drug Klonopin.
This outcome begs the question of whether a six-year-old child, let alone children as young as three, can be diagnosed as psychotic. And, whether children should be drugged by potions so powerful that most of them are not approved by the FDA for use in children.
A Disabling Science
“The mechanisms through which most psychotropic drugs produce their therapeutic effects remain poorly understood,” according to Kaplan & Sadock’s Synopsis of Psychiatry, a respected source in the field of psychiatry. When it comes to drugging children, the operation of these substances is even less understood, and the side effects are often far more profound and long-lived. Incredibly, most psychotropic drugs (i.e., chemicals that alter nervous-system and brain function) are not tested or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in children.
All psychiatric treatments exert their primary or intended effect by disabling brain functions, says Peter Breggin, M.D., author of Toxic Psychiatry and other books critical of the use of psychiatric drugs. Dr. Breggin maintains that no existing psychiatric treatment corrects or improves existing brain dysfunction, such as a biochemical imbalance, which he argues is the major misunderstanding about psychiatry that the profession prefers to hide, and which places it outside the realm of proper treatment for disorders.
Yet courts, state child protective services agencies, and schools are now working in tandem, backed by the power of the law, to mandate that children as young as three years old take multiple psychotropic drugs despite the lack of a provable scientific basis for such treatments.
Psychiatry was born out of the eugenics movement of the late 19th century, and was used by totalitarians like Bismarck, Stalin, Hitler, and many more as a tool for social control, explains Kevin Hall, the New England director of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), an organization opposing psychiatry as it’s now practiced. Hall, who has intensely studied the history and development of the profession, provides a terrifying summary of how psychiatry has been misused from the beginning, particularly as a tool of state compulsion.
“Prussian dictator Otto von Bismarck,” explained Hall, “used the work of German psychologist Wilhelm Wundt to attempt to create a war machine based upon nationalism, as Napoleon had done. Wundt changed psychology, defined as study of the soul or mind, to the current belief that man is a stimulus-response animal without a soul or free will.”
Ivan Pavlov (of “salivating dog” fame), a student of Wundt, created a system of what Hall called Russian psycho-politics for use by dictator Josef Stalin. Millions of citizens were sent to gulags because of their opposition to the state, many of whom were given drugs or other treatments to cure them of their politically defined mental problems.
German psychiatrist Ernst Rudin founded psychiatric genetics, the belief that mental health characteristics are passed down genetically, and the German Society for Racial Hygiene, which used psychiatric genetics in Hitler’s service to establish that different races are genetically inferior or superior to others. Rudin’s theories provided justification for the campaign against Jews, in which he was integrally involved.
Starting in the mid 1930s, psychiatrists started on a spree of 50,000 lobotomies, which largely ended in the 1950s once psychotropic drugs became widely available to control persons acting in anti-social ways. The first widely used such drug was Thorazine, released in 1954. This was a major tranquilizer, now called an “anti-psychotic.” But at the time it was enthusiastically marketed to the public as “a chemical lobotomy,” as it would put a person in a drooling stupor similar to a lobotomy. Within months, millions of persons began to use it. A staggering array of highly addictive psychiatric drugs followed. And though lobotomies would now be considered an extreme treatment, the same does not apply to their chemical substitutes.
The drug pushers (legal ones, that is) began to target children shortly thereafter, according to Hall. He points to the year 1963 as critical in the expansion of psychiatry to children. That was the year when psychiatry coined the term “learning disorder,” which was followed by federal legislation, the Primary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, to provide money for disabled children in schools. Soon, “mental illness” was added to the list of qualified disabilities under that law, and that is now the largest category of disability for which funds are available.
Hall claims that various maladies began to be literally invented, in order to have a diagnosis or category within which to fit what would otherwise be fairly innocuous behavior. All mental health diagnoses are codified in a book called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association. When it started in 1952, it had 112 entries. Over the years, the APA has added hundreds more, based on the current whims of the profession and what malady may be politically or socially in vogue.
The real purpose of these categories is to provide a basis for insurance reimbursement. The DSM, in its fourth iteration as DSM-IV, and the soon to be released DSM-V, contains such gems as Mathematics Disorder, Caffeine Disorder, Disorder of Written Expression, Telephone Scatalogia, and Malingering. Thus, virtually any visit to a mental health professional can result in a diagnosis which qualifies for payment by health insurance agencies.
School as a Referral Service
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) was created by a vote at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in 1987. Prior to this, hyperactivity was called Minimum Brain Dysfunction. Some of the many symptoms of this “disorder,” listed in the DSM-IV are:
- “(1)(a) Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work or other activities”;
- “(1)(c) Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly”;
- “(1)(i) Is often forgetful in daily activities”;
- “(2)(a) Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat”;
- “(2)(c) Often runs about, climbs, or talks excessively.”
This sure sounds like most boys in their growing years. In fact, three out of four youths diagnosed with ADHD are boys. Just about any child at any time could be diagnosed with such a disorder. There is no biological test for ADHD; the diagnosis is based only on observation of behavioral symptoms. Put simply, if a doctor examined a child diagnosed with ADHD, he would not be able to identify a physical or medical condition, in the brain or elsewhere, showing the presence of ADHD. A conference held by the National Institutes of Health in 1998, to investigate the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD, concluded that “there is no independent, valid test for ADHD; further research is necessary to firmly establish ADHD as a brain disorder.... Our knowledge about the cause or causes of ADHD remains speculative.” Thus, a diagnosis is entirely discretionary.
Despite this official and professional equivocation, a 900-percent increase in the number of hyperactive children since the official ADHD naming ceremony in 1987 has been reported. Rather than help a child to learn to control his or her behavior, schools, state child protective services, and psychiatry work together in a coercive alliance to addict millions of children to amphetamines in order to “treat” these normal childhood behaviors.
The underlying theme in this epidemic of hyperactivity is state compulsion. When a school spots a child exhibiting these symptoms, the school uses on-staff psychologists, or demands that the parents have the child evaluated for ADHD. If the parents refuse, the school will often arrange for the state child protective services to demand that the child be evaluated. If the parents still refuse, the school could expel the child and the state agency could intervene in the family on the basis that the parents are neglecting the child. In many cases, the agency will bring a case to court to force the family to obtain “services,” which almost always include drugs. In my experience defending families faced with such a demand to medicate a child against the parents’ will, the parents will often “voluntarily” agree to have their children medicated to head off problems with child protective services.
That cure is far worse than the disease, in most cases. The first and most widely known drug to treat ADHD is Ritalin, which has been joined by many others in recent years. Since 1987, when ADHD was included in the DSM, there has been a 665 percent increase in the production of drugs to deal with it. Eight million school children, or one in nine, are now on medication, half of which are ADHD drugs, according to CCHR’s Kevin Hall.
The drugs used to treat ADHD are called psycho-stimulants, more popularly known as amphetamines, or “uppers” in street language. Ironically, since these are stimulants, which could be expected to produce a euphoric high, the dosage has to be extremely large in order to produce a flat response. According to Hall, the initial “street dose” of Ritalin, sold illegally on the corner to produce a high, would be about 5-10 mg for an adult. Children, weighing much less than an adult, and thus affected proportionally more, are routinely given a dose of 20 mg, meaning that the drug is prescribed in high dosages in order to overwhelm the child into a tranquilized effect.
Dr. Fred Baughman, Jr., a pediatric neurologist and author of The ADHD Fraud: How Psychiatry Makes Patients of Normal Children, and an outspoken foe of the use of these drugs, has stated, “The ‘medication’ typically prescribed for ADHD and ‘learning disorders’ is a hazardous and addictive amphetamine-like drug.” Its side effects are intense and often permanent: stunted growth, depression, tics, rashes, spasms, psychosis, and ironically, “attentional disturbances” and hyperactivity when the drug is taken for a long period.
Giving Children the Hard Stuff
The problem with Ritalin and other amphetamine-type drugs like Adderall and Dexedrine is pervasive enough, but psychiatrists have several more dangerous and powerful classes of drugs that they routinely prescribe to children, namely neuroleptics (also called anti-psychotics), anti-depressants, and mood stabilizers. Neuroleptics, which means “nerve-seizing,” are the most frequently prescribed drugs in mental hospitals, and are widely used in prisons, nursing homes, and by state child protective services and juvenile courts. Most of the prescriptions used in those institutions are issued by state fiat.
Neuroleptic drugs go by trade names such as Thorazine, Haldol, Seroquel, Zyprexa, Risperdal, and many others. Greatly simplified, all neuroleptics work by blocking receptors in the dopamine pathways of the brain. This means that dopamine released in these pathways has less effect, the excess of which has been linked to psychotic experiences. These drugs are major tranquilizers that mask symptoms, causing a deadening of the personality and brain function, but which cure nothing. Studies funded by the World Health Organization and the National Institute of Mental Health have shown that people labeled schizophrenic actually have much higher rates of recovery when they don’t take these drugs.
These drugs also have the potential to cause permanent neurological disorders in a large percentage of patients, such as constant motion, Parkinson-like symptoms, psychosis, dementia, shuffling gait, extreme writhing, and other problems. Half or more of long-term patients develop a devilish syndrome called tardive dyskinesia, which is an uncontrollable twitching and writhing of the body. It can include grimacing, tongue protrusion, lip smacking, puckering and pursing of the lips, and rapid eye blinking. The term “tardive” means that the affliction continues even after the drugs are no longer being taken. A variation of this syndrome, called tardive akathisia, manifests as anxiety along with an uncontrollable urge to move the body.
Depending on the study and population, these maladies strike between 10 percent and 50 percent of long-term users of neuroleptics. These deadly substances are also a major reason why the average life span of a mentally ill person is only 51 years according to a USA Today article entitled “Mentally Ill Die 25 Years Earlier.”
The problem in children is even more tragic. Long-term use afflicts a large percentage of the children who take these drugs with devastating side effects, and these children tend to suffer particularly incapacitating cases of these tardive reactions.
The nation’s state child protective services agencies have over 500,000 children in their custody at any one time. These children are often force-fed drugs, and can do little to resist them. A large percentage of those children are subjects of compulsory psychotropic drug use. The motives for doing so range from the need to control the behavior of children who are distraught from being seized from their parents, to the large federal reimbursements available to the state for drugging children.
A 2006 study by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services documented the scope of drugging of children in the custody of that particular state. Despite the statistics being artificially rigged downward by not including all drugged children in the figures, and by only including those who had been on drugs for a certain period of time, the results are still chilling.
Over one-third of the children in custody, with an average age of 10.4, are on psychotropic drugs, with almost all of them on multiple varieties. Even more surprising were the statistics for the control or comparison group for the study, which consisted of children not in custody, but on welfare of some sort. In that group, 38.3 percent of the children were taking drugs. If all drugged children in state custody were included in the figures, the percentages would likely be even higher.
A newer trend is to use many of these drugs simultaneously on the same child, euphemistically called “polypharmacy.” This tendency to prescribe many drugs for children necessitates experimentation until they “get it right.” Many drugs produce side effects which often must be dampened by the use of even more drugs. In the aforementioned study in Massachusetts, nine out of 10 children on compulsory state-prescribed drugs took more than one of them. Of those polypharmacy victims, 60 percent took three drugs, 30 percent took four, and the rest took more, up to seven drugs each.
What Can Be Done?
Children in America are confronted with a hostile and threatening world, which presents new mental, emotional, and societal challenges that their parents have not faced. And the challenges often seem counterintuitive. On the one hand, children have never been more hyper-connected to each other or their parents by way of electronic devices; on the other, they’ve never been more alienated from personal familial affection and guidance. When a child has difficulty navigating this greatly dehumanized, governmentalized world, the reflexive answer is to give the child a drug, in lieu of guidance or truth. They become fodder for an unscrupulous mental-health profession, which makes billions of dollars convincing parents to give chemicals to their maladjusted children, rather than helping them to regain balanced, emotionally fulfilling lives. Or worse, the professionals use the power of the state to force drugs on the children.
Psychiatry has a reflexive impulse to treat life’s vicissitudes with drugs, rather than help patients to deal with root causes. It has been linked since its inception with government compulsion, usually for a nefarious purpose.
Given the climate of treating any discontent with drugs, who can blame children for absorbing that message, when it has been relentlessly promoted to them? Don’t confront your problems — medicate them. Is it any wonder that many children grow up choosing to skip the doctor — the middleman — and just “self-medicate,” using illegal drugs instead?
Psychiatrists seem to start and end their treatment with a pill. However, unlike medical conditions that are scientifically verified with x-rays, blood, urine, and other lab tests, psychiatric disorders are merely subjective behavioral symptoms. If the first resort is to drugs, the doctor could readily miss, and fail to treat, the actual root cause of the problem.
On the other hand, addressing the root cause can solve the behavioral symptoms without resorting to drugs. For instance, in children, inability to read can manifest itself as ADHD, owing to an inability by the child to understand what is happening in the classroom. The use of “see-say” reading methods in government schools, rather than teaching phonics, has ensured the reading failure of millions of children, many of whom are falsely assumed to have ADHD. The solution to this problem in most cases is very simple: teach phonics!
Poor nutrition can also provoke a child to act out, and to be mistakenly diagnosed with ADHD. The solution: good nutrition.
Reaction to family problems can also be mistaken for mental illness. This is particularly true when a child is forcibly taken from parents by a state child protection agency. In such a case, the child is going to be traumatized and emotional. The solution: remove the trauma by providing as stable a family life as possible.
The growing cultural rot to which our kids are subjected — from the sexually suggestive shows they may see on TV to the music they may listen to — also greatly impacts their behavior. The solution: protect our children as much as possible from destructive outside cultural influences.
Bad behavior on the part of kids may also point to the lack of any kind of moral compass. The solution: provide that compass; instruct children about what’s right and what’s wrong — and teach them about God and His laws.
Religious faith has always served as a ground for inner peace and stability, but that is increasingly rejected as a method for coping with problems. David the Psalmist described a picture of perfect mental health when he said, “I have stilled and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; Like a weaned child is my soul within me.” This is a description of a peace which comes from within, which cannot be disrupted by the jangling communication protocols of today, nor which can possibly be achieved by chemical means.
Faith in fact is the key to happiness. Corroboration for this assertion comes from an unlikely source: a survey by the AP and MTV, the often vulgar music network, recently published on MSNBC.com. The conclusion of the survey was that people aged 13 to 24 who describe themselves as religious or spiritual tend to be happier than those who don’t.
If there is a comprehensive solution to the tragic trend toward drugging our children, it is to provide the moral compass including the belief in God that will lead to peace and happiness. Providing that upbringing is the awesome responsibility of the parents, who have been entrusted by God to raise the child. But too often the parental responsibility to raise the child is being impeded by a growing Nanny State that sees itself and not the parents as being responsible for the well-being of the child. Consequently, the solution must also entail the elimination of the Nanny State, including state-ordered and -pressured psychiatric drug use. Parents must be allowed to be parents. And in the case of boys who are now drugged for mildly hyperactive “symptoms” that would have been considered normal only a generation or two ago, boys must be allowed to be boys.
Gregory A. Hession practices constitutional and family law in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Source: John Birch Society
More Grape Expectations
September 9, 2007 permalink
The past two years have seen gatherings of CAS opponents at Hamilton's Grape Expectations event. Plans are afoot to duplicate the effort this year. In a letter dated December 7, 2006 Rev Dorian Baxter informed Mary Anne Chambers of illegal drug use by social workers at Grape Expectations. Other coverage in 2005 on October 14 and October 20, and in 2006 on October 31 and November 2 Here are two posts to Canada Court Watch.
For Those Asking About An October Demonstration
Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 12:16 am
This was found on the CAS of Hamilton-Wentworth Site:
"We're celebrating our fifth Grape Expectations Gala this year! Plan to join the celebration on Monday, October 29 at Liuna Station. Tickets are $100 each with proceeds to the Society's Children's Fund. More information will be available soon."
Please remember to take your tape reorders and video cam's to watch their marijuana smokers in action out back. (Makes a great gift for friends, family, neighbours and goes to YouTube for our viewing displeasure.)
I can't get around althat easily, but I pray I will be able to be there.
ANY other gathering suh as this in other cities would be well worth the protest, and well-worth making ourrselves known.
So, let's hear from other cities and what you find on their sites about fundraisers.
Remember: We are ALL family. ( Even someof the workers who don't know beans from bacon.)
Posted: Sun Sep 09, 2007 4:45 pm
We are holding our 3rd anniversary to this Grape expectations fundraiser. WE will be out there in full force. Feel free to join me in fighting the injustices of CAS and the Child Protection Agencies that fail our children and families. We are out to expose corrupt family court judges, and glorified clerks and their endangering childrens lives. I will start leafleting towards the end of the month and do a mail out of people that want to attend. Thanks for bringing this up again. Even though our numbers have been small in the past...it takes courage to stand up and handle the rain, the wind, the jaunts and the whistles and the people inside wanting to discredit our peaceful right of assembly and public protest. Very Happy
Source: Canada Court Watch forum
The front page of the Hamilton CAS site has the announcement:
Mark you calendars for this year's gala We're celebrating our fifth Grape Expectations Gala this year! Plan to join the celebration on Monday, October 29 at Liuna Station. Tickets are $100 each with proceeds to the Society's Children's Fund. More information will be available soon. To purchase tickets, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 905-522-1121, ext. 6414.
Source: Hamilton CAS
Addendum: In a YouTube video, CAS has high expectations for this year's event.
CAS Must Plead to Charges
September 9, 2007 permalink
John Dunn has brought his legal action against Children's Aid of Ottawa to the point where the society and its Executive Director must plead to charges.
On September 13, 2007, The Ottawa Children's Aid Society and the Executive Director separately have to stand in front of a JP and plead GUILTY or NOT GUILTY to the following charges
- The Society:
Failing to furnish a list of the Society's members, contrary to section 307 (5) of the Corporations Act, RSO 1990, c. C-38, as amended.
- Barbara MacKinnon:
Authorizing, permitting or acquiescing in such offence (as above) is also guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a like fine.
In other words, because the Society refused to provide a list of the members upon a properly submitted request, the Society can be charged and the Directors or Officers who Authorized, Permitted, or Aquiesced to the Offence can also be charged.
On September 13th, 2007, the Society will plead Guilty or Not Guilty.
This charge was brought forward by Johh Dunn, as a private prosecutor under section 23 of the Provincial Offences Act, which allows any person to lay an information / charge someone instead of having to get the police involved. What you do is go to a JP if you believe someone has contravened a provision of a provincial statute, (Corporations Act, CFSA) which says it is an Offence to do something, you swear it to the JP and a date is set to have the alleged Offender appear before the court to plead guilty or not guilty at their first appearance.
The Crown might step in and take over then stay the charge, or they might not. I'll keep you informed.
Provincial Offences Court (where you pay your traffic tickets)
Thursday, Sept 13, 2007
1:30pm, Court Room 102
100 Constellation Crescent (Near Baseline Station)
Source: email from John Dunn
CAS Ward Dies
September 7, 2007 permalink
The boy in a coma since August 9 has died. In controversy over the intervening month, Children's Aid asserted the right superior to the mother to determine when life support should be ended. In the CAS tradition of burying its mistakes, the boy's name remains secret.
Tot who fell into Markham pool dies
Sep 05, 2007 10:16 AM
By: Joe Fantauzzi, Staff Writer
A young boy pulled from a pool behind his Markham foster home has died.
The boy died in a Hamilton hospital Saturday, Toronto Children's Aid Society spokesperson Melanie Persaud said.
“I can confirm for you that the little guy has passed away,” Ms Persaud told yorkregion.com
The 18-month-old tot, whose name was never released, was discovered in the pool behind his foster family's Pringle Avenue home, in the Hwy. 7 and Wootten Way area Aug. 9.
York Regional Police believe the tot crawled out the back door of the home and into the fenced area surrounding the pool before plunging into the water.
A police probe concluded the drowning was an accident.
September 5, 2007 permalink
We are not making this up. A severely obese CAS worker lectured a mother on nutrition, after discovering that the mother, following her doctor's advice, fed her baby watermelon.
York, Ontario Region CAS's latest make work project - Watermelon patrol!
(Sept 4, 2007) It seems that even while they are on strike, workers with the York Region CAS continue to create havoc with children and parents in the community. It seems like workers who are on strike, still like to create work for themselves.
A mother called Court Watch today to report that Metro Toronto Police and two Metro CAS workers showed up at her door without notice after a complaint from York Region CAS workers who claimed that the mother was seen by a York Region CAS worker two weeks prior feeding her healthy 7-month-old baby small chopped up pieces of seedless watermelon at a food court in a public mall. The child's doctor reports that the child is in excellent heath and has had regular check ups and that the child should be introduced to fruit and vegetables at this age.
According to the mother, a 300 lb overweight and rude York Region CAS worker lectured her about taking courses on nutrition. Yet this CAS worker knew nothing about the baby's health. This overweight CAS worker it seems needs to take some of her own personal nutrition lessons before she should be lecturing to parents in the community about how to eat properly. This whole charade and huge waste of taxpayer's money was over some watermelon. While Toronto CAS refused to take up the mother's offer to inspect her apartment, CAS workers said that they would "be back," after checking with their legal department and with supervisory staff. (at more taxpayer's dollars of course!)
"Had CAS workers been required to audiotape their encounters with parents then none of this would have happened," said the mother because the CAS workers were rude and threatening and would not answer some questions when asked. CAS workers typically work in teams of two so that they can support each other as witnesses should they need to "fix" the records.
Source: Canada Court Watch
CBC Exposes Charles Smith
September 4, 2007 permalink
Tonight's broadcast of The National on the CBC dealt at length with the career of Dr Charles Smith. It pointed out that his actions in falsely accusing parents of killing their own babies were part of a moral panic. Perhaps this report will contribute to ending the panic.
The program is not available for downloading, only for streaming at the CBC website.
Routine Strip Searches
September 2, 2007 permalink
A press release from a legal advocacy group shows that strip searches of children by social workers are routine.
Contact: PUBLIC RELATIONS DEPARTMENT - 800-671-1776
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 30, 2007
Appeals Court Asked To Hold State Responsible for Illegally Strip Searching Children
Milwaukee, WI - Today Liberty Counsel filed a brief at the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in a case involving a state worker who made two elementary children undress without parental consent. The case is Michael C. v. Gresbach. The eight-year-old boy, his nine-year-old sister and their parents are represented by Stephen Crampton, Vice President of Legal Affairs and General Counsel for Liberty Counsel, and Wisconsin attorney Michael D. Dean.
The case involves Dana Gresbach, a social worker from the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare, who, acting on a tip that Michael C. had spanked one of the children with a plastic stick, decided to examine the children at a Christian school. Gresbach entered Good Hope Christian Academy and had the principal bring the children to a private room for questioning. She instructed the principal not to call their parents and would not allow the principal to observe the investigation. Gresbach then interrogated both students, forcing the boy to raise his shirt and the girl to lift her jumper and pull down her tights for a bodily examination. After the parents found out about the incident, they were furious. Gresbach closed her investigation after finding no evidence of abuse.
The trial court ruled that there was an obvious violation of the students' Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Now, Gresbach has appealed that ruling to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
The case involves the fundamental issue of the constitutional right of families to be free from unwarranted intrusions by government social workers who, as here, without any parental knowledge or consent, subject children to humiliating and degrading activities. The case also raises concerns about the defiance of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare to respect basic restraints on the exercise of its enormous power. In another federal lawsuit against the same Bureau, Doe v. Heck, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that it is "patently unconstitutional" for government officials to seize a child on private school premises without a warrant or an emergency.
Stephen Crampton, Vice President of Legal Affairs and General Counsel for Liberty Counsel, commented: "Government social workers cannot simply barge into a private school whenever they feel like it and strip search innocent children. Just like police officers, they must obtain a warrant, consent, or be acting in an emergency, before performing physical searches or other intrusive investigations."
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Source: Liberty Counsel
CAS Worker Speaks
September 1, 2007 permalink
In support of the York CAS strikers, a former CAS worker has posted her experiences to Facebook. You will need a Facebook account to read the original story.
Arshdeep S. (Toronto, ON) wrote at 5:48pm on August 30th, 2007
I wish you guys the best of luck. I left YCAS because my supervisor was a crazy spaz. I had a caseload of 20, withouth ANY TRAINING, I was not even an authorized worker and I was covering 6 cases while my coworker was on a 6 week educational leave. Despite my having complained to my supervisor, asking for training etc she provided none and the first case I was given was a sexual abuse case. I had no idea [what] a transfer visit was or anything. And I was made to feel guilty for having the flu (that later turned into bronchitis because I did not take a proper rest). Anyway, I hope you guys get higher wages and treated with more respect. I am sad I left YCAS, but I got an awesome job as a supervisor so it's all good.