Press one of the expand buttons to see the full text of an article. Later press collapse to revert to the original form. The buttons below expand or collapse all articles.
Dress for FLDS!
June 30, 2008 permalink
Now your family can dress like the FLDS! The mothers of FLDS are selling their unique style of clothing online. They started the business when their children were in state custody, as a means of allowing foster parents to buy authentic clothing for the FLDS children. Now that the children have returned, the same clothes, hand made by FLDS women, are available to the general public. So far only children's apparel is available, adult lines will be added if enough demand develops. Participating in this new fashion craze is a way of expressing your opinion of Texas child protectors. Folks on the other side can dress their kids up for Halloween.
From the website FLDSdress.com:
This site is dedicated to provide children with clothing that meets the FLDS standards for modesty and neatness. Our commitment is to offer quality, handmade, modest, affordable clothing. Each piece is made with joy and care.
CAS Trains Career Criminal
June 29, 2008 permalink
When Mervyn Breaton was a child he was a ward of the children's aid society. In 1936 he had his first criminal conviction, inaugurating a life of crime. Now at the age of 87 he has still not learned to stay out of trouble with the law.
Career crook, 87, vows to go straight
Mervyn Breaton has spent more of his life in jail than on the outside
This time, octogenarian Mervyn Breaton says, he really, really means it.
"I'm getting too old for this stuff," the 87-year old career criminal said yesterday from the prisoner's box in a London court after pleading guilty to drug charges and breaching house arrest.
"I've heard that before," said Justice Ross Webster, who sentenced Breaton in December on similar charges and freed him yesterday after fining him for his latest offences.
After 24 days at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre -- it was "hard on my arthritic condition" -- Breaton said he's putting a life of crime behind him.
"I think I'm just worn out," he said.
That's not a surprise. The tall, thin Breaton has spent more of his life inside a jail than outside -- including 19 years at the infamous Alcatraz prison in San Francisco Bay.
His first criminal conviction was in 1936. His record includes car thefts, weapons and drug convictions, vehicular manslaughter and escaping custody -- including a daring over-the-wall escape from Collins Bay penitentiary in Kingston.
"The next day I was in Toronto robbing banks," he said.
Robbing banks across the continent was his forte -- and landed him in Alcatraz, where he served 19 years of a 45-year sentence and looked after Robert Stroud, the so-called Birdman of Alcatraz.
His latest brushes with the law have been for selling his own pain medication from his Coldstream Road home.
The OPP searched the house in May and found Breaton had nearly 200 OxyContin tablets of various strength and another 200 Percocets.
There were debt lists in the freezer and Breaton's wallet. He had $2,160 in his pants pocket.
Police also found a small amount of marijuana.
All was found while Breaton was supposed to be keeping his nose clean and abiding by terms of an 18-month conditional sentence for drug trafficking dealt him by Webster.
Breaton spent his 24 days, including his 87th birthday, in jail playing bridge and reading.
Webster agreed the drug matter could be handled with a hefty fine -- $5,000. Breaton was given time served for breaching his house arrest and the conditional sentence was reinstated.
Once released, Breaton sat with his younger, law-abiding brother -- who's 85 -- and waited to sign his paperwork.
Outside the courtroom, Breaton said with a recalcitrant smile and twinkling blue eyes he was dealing his own pills because "I like eating steak, so I sold them."
From his childhood, Breaton said he's only known jails and crime. As a child in the Chatham area, he was placed with child services after his parents were sent to jail.
"They threw me into Children's Aid and from then on it was one jail to another," he said.
If there were any attempts to straighten out his life, Breaton doesn't remember.
"I don't think so. I didn't try too hard if I did," he said.
His plan yesterday was to go home "and make love to my pets" -- a German Shepherd called J.C. (short for Jesus Christ) and Bear, a white lab.
"I think Father Time's caught up with me. Hopefully it's the last trip out there," he said of the local jail.
Source: London (Ontario) Free Press
June 28, 2008 permalink
Robert Ferguson, who has already lost a son to CAS, and ran as a candidate for the provincial parliament in 2007, was led to believe by CAS that his newest child would not be apprehended. At the hospital he found out otherwise. The message below was posted to a public forum. Earlier coverage was on May 8, 2007 (lost son and social workers party), and later items dealing with election August 8, 2007, September 29, 2007 and October 11, 2007.
Posted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 12:20 am
I thank child assist services for all they have done. On Saturday June 28th my son will be brought into this world. I hope and pray he gets to come home with me. CAS said if we had everything they would have no interests but today at the hopsital we found that there has been an alert iussed. They may try and steal my son for profit once again.
Source: Canada Court Watch forum entry for June 28, 2008
Back in the USSR
June 28, 2008 permalink
Denver Post columnist Susan Greene reports on a boy, Josh Raykin, torn from his family without cause. The parents fled the USSR to live in freedom.
A county's fumbling, a family's nightmare
Josh Raykin had never spent even a night away from his parents.
That is, until Arapahoe County snatched the 8-year-old from his home after an abuse allegation that social workers dragged their feet investigating.
The ordeal began while Josh was playing outside one day before dinner in April. A neighbor knocked on the door to tell his dad that police had come to take Josh away.
The strawberry-blond kid with pale blue eyes was born in 1999 after Michael and Melanie Raykin tried for 15 years to conceive. Michael, a courier, and Melanie, a hairstylist, work extra hours to send Josh to Denver's Montclair Academy and give their boy advantages they never had as kids in the former U.S.S.R.
"He means everything to us," Michael says.
But on the sidewalk late that day in April, deputies wouldn't let him go near the son whom the county suspected Raykin of molesting in ways too intimate to be described in these pages. Deputies said the allegations came from Michael's young nieces — girls the couple hadn't seen since they went into foster care months earlier because of abuse allegations in their immediate family. The girls also had pointed the finger at their grandfather, but charges were dropped.
"They blew my mind. I didn't know what to say," says Michael, whose most serious brushes with the law had come with a few speeding tickets.
Mother, father and son were forced to sit on their curb as neighbors watched and whispered, and deputies waited for a case worker to arrive. Josh, complaining he was hungry and cold, started hyperventilating.
Once the social worker came two hours later, he wouldn't release the boy to his aunt nearby, nor tell the Raykins where he was taking Josh. Instead, he told Melanie to pack a bag for the boy she had never once left once with a sitter.
Josh screamed, "Leave them alone. They're the best parents in the world," as the case worker prodded him into his car.
He spent a week with an Aurora foster family that required the Jewish kid to pray to Jehovah at each meal. They took away the Pokemon toothbrush and stuffed toys that his mom had packed for him. They shut off his shower after five minutes. And most days, he says, they made him wash toilets with a washcloth.
For one sleepless week, the Raykins made phone calls, met with lawyers and sat in Josh's room "taking turns breaking down." Human Services refused to allow them even one phone call to tell their only child they loved him, were fighting for him and would come for him soon.
Melanie says social workers kept pushing her to say her husband molested their son, insinuating that such an admission would set Josh free. They suggested that Josh having once kissed his cousins on the lips — as is the norm in his parents' culture — was a sign that he had been molested. As social workers saw it, Michael's habit of buying his son toys and taking him to the movies was "grooming" to cover up sexual abuse.
Though counties normally interview kids before yanking them from their homes, it took Arapahoe County a week after removing Josh for that interview to take place.
"And now, because of that interview, he knows about things that I don't want him to know at 8 years old," says Michael, crying.
Michael passed a lie-detector test. His innocence claim was buoyed by a sheriff's investigator who rallied to his side until a judge released Josh, finding "there is not reason to believe any inappropriate sexual activity" took place.
Human Services cited confidentiality laws when asked about its fumbling of the case.
"We only remove the child from the home when we believe or know to be true that staying in the home is not in the best interest of the child," said county spokeswoman Nichole Parmelly.
Two months later, Josh has nightmares and trouble falling asleep.
"We live, we work, we're quiet, we pay taxes. We came from such a hard world to be free in a country where, just like this," says his mom, snapping her fingers, "they can grab your kid away from you right off your street."
Susan Greene writes Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Reach her at 303-954-1989 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Denver Post
Eldorado Raid Leader Quits
June 28, 2008 permalink
Carey Cockerell, the commissioner of the Texas department responsible for the seizure of hundreds of children from the FLDS ranch in Eldorado Texas, has sidestepped responsibility for answering questions before the legislature by resigning his post. The news reports the unbelievable statement: "There is no connection between his retirement and Eldorado".
State overseer of child protection agency retiring
Carey Cockerell, commissioner over department that seized hundreds of children from Eldorado ranch, to leave Aug. 31.
The commissioner who oversaw the controversial removal of more than 400 children from an Eldorado ranch owned by a polygamous sect will retire Aug. 31, he announced Friday.
Carey Cockerell, 61, of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, told his staff in a memo that he has been considering retirement since late last year.
"I am about to become a grandfather for the first time and I am ready to spend some quality time with my family after a career that has spanned four decades," wrote Cockerell, whose agency oversees Child Protective Services.
By leaving this summer, Cockerell will avoid facing state lawmakers during the legislative session that begins in January.
Lawmakers will have "all eyes on Child Protective Services" because of Eldorado, said state Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, a member of a Texas House committee that monitors CPS.
Department spokesman Patrick Crimmins said, "There is no connection between his retirement and Eldorado."
Cockerell, a former director of juvenile services for Tarrant County, took the helm at the department in 2005. That was just months after state reports found that CPS failed to provide needed services for children living in potentially dangerous situations and that Adult Protective Services caseworkers were not adequately trained.
"At a time when there were reports of cases being closed too quickly and children and the elderly being left in dangerous conditions, Carey helped our state refocus protective services to its vital mission — protecting Texas' most vulnerable," Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement.
Cockerell oversaw major changes at CPS, including a $248 million effort that lawmakers ordered in 2005 to add caseworkers and improve training and technology.
"Carey took on one of the most difficult jobs in state government and achieved significant improvements in just a few short years," Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins said.
Lately, the agency has been in the national spotlight for something that Cockerell's 467-word memo didn't mention: seizing the children from the Yearning for Zion Ranch in April and placing them in foster care around the state.
In a rebuke to CPS, which said its investigators discovered a pattern of teenage sexual abuse, the Texas Supreme Court ordered the state to return the children to their parents.
"Under the guise of protecting children, (CPS has) done a great injury to these children," said Rod Parker, a spokesman for the sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Through Crimmins, Cockerell has declined several interview requests from the American-Statesman, including one Friday.
His only public comments on Eldorado came at a state Senate hearing during which senators were not allowed to ask questions.
Cockerell "may simply be worn out from being in the hot seat all the time," Naishtat said.
Source: Austin American-Statesman
CAS Ward Becomes Prostitute
June 27, 2008 permalink
The Toronto Star reports on a teenaged girl who ran away from the care of the children's aid society to become a prostitute. She must have found her new life to be an improvement. The politically correct Star does not tell the story that way, instead blaming a man for her problems, barely mentioning children's aid.
Man gets 5 years for selling teens for sex
Man convicted of human trafficking tells court he regrets forcing girls, 14 and 15, into prostitution
Jun 25, 2008 04:30 AM, Bob Mitchell, Staff Reporter
A former Toronto man, who made more than $400,000 selling two teenage girls for sex, has received a five-year prison sentence.
Imani Nakpangi, 25, told a Brampton court that he regretted what he did to the two young girls, who were just 15 and 14 when he used them as prostitutes for a 26-month period.
"I'll be leaving jail a convicted criminal; shameful indeed," he said. "There is no way to turn back the clock."
The harm he caused was captured by a victim impact statement of the eldest girl, now 18, read into the Brampton court by Justice Hugh Atwood before he passed sentence.
"I feel unworthy, dirty, tainted, like nothing," she said in her statement. "I feel I am only good for one thing – sex."
Nakpangi was given 13 months credit for time served, reducing his remaining sentence to 47 months.
Justice Atwood called Nakpangi's actions "egregious to the extreme."
He was convicted May 13 after pleading guilty to two counts of human trafficking in connection with forcing the girls, one from Mississauga and one from Brampton, into prostitution.
He admitted he knew the two girls, whom he sold as prostitutes, were just 15 and 14 although he advertised them to clients as being older.
Both girls were reported missing, the older one by her family and the other by the Children's Aid Society, court heard.
Prosecutor John Raftery had sought a seven-year sentence while defence lawyer Deepak Paradkar had asked for three years.
"This was a calculated business," Raftery told the court. He said Nakpangi used the money the girls earned to live a "lavish, materially wealthy lifestyle." He drove a BMW and owned a large home in Niagara Falls.
Court earlier heard how the older girl estimated she had earned $360,000 for Nakpangi. The younger girl estimated she had earned him about $65,000.
Sex was offered at $200 for 30 minutes and $300 for a full hour, court heard.
Court heard how Nakpangi used threats and intimidation to keep the girls under control.
One of the girls, who wanted to leave, was told she had to pay a $100,000 exit fee but first needed to earn another $50,000, court heard.
She eventually went to police after being robbed at gunpoint by a client.
Nakpangi was arrested Dec. 6, 2007 following a police sting in which an undercover officer posed as a client seeking sex from the younger girl.
Court heard that between 2005 and 2007, Nakpangi drove the girls to several Mississauga hotels to meet men and perform sexual acts for cash.
Police also found revealing photos of the girls when a search warrant was executed at his residence in Niagara Falls.
Source: Toronto Star
Homes for Foster Graduates
June 27, 2008 permalink
What is the most likely outcome for children graduating from foster care:
a) a high school diploma
b) jail time
In British Columbia, the correct answer is b.
For kids in B.C. care, jail a more likely future than graduation
Lori Culbert, Vancouver Sun, Friday, June 27, 2008
Children in government care are more likely to be charged with a crime than they are to finish high school, says troubling new research by B.C.'s representative for children and youth.
Preliminary findings from a study by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond indicate that 44 per cent of adolescents receiving services from the Ministry of Children and Family Development end up facing criminal charges.
And 36 per cent of kids in care are going to jail, despite the trend of fewer youth being incarcerated each year in B.C.
"What I'm finding is, of the people who are still in [the youth justice system], they are largely these children who experienced abuse and maltreatment, and came into government care," Turpel-Lafond said in an interview Thursday.
Another troubling finding was that foster children were more likely to end up behind bars than finish high school, which just 24 per cent of them did.
"I think that's the most staggering finding because it is not exactly the outcome we want for them," said Turpel-Lafond.
The adolescents in her study -- aged 12 to 17 -- also got into criminal trouble at younger ages and stayed mired in the justice system longer than kids who live with their families and have a better support system at home.
"The average age they would first be charged is closer to 14. Someone not in care, it would be around 15," said Turpel-Lafond, a former Saskatchewan provincial court judge who became B.C.'s first representative for children and youth last year.
"And I'm seeing kids in care over-represented in terms of the population that's going on into the adult [prison] system."
She argued B.C.'s child protection system, which has been criticized by other scathing reports in recent years, is failing adolescents by not offering them more stable environments to keep them in school and out of the corrections system.
"We need to do a better job to get them supported and not be using that criminal justice system as sort of a default foster-care system," Tupel-Lafond said.
Her study tracked the progress of more than 50,000 children: those who were born in B.C. in 1986 who were still in school here in 1997 (when they were 11 years old).
The evidence suggests foster children got into criminal trouble more frequently due to both the maltreatment they experienced before going into care and also because they were not properly treated while receiving government services. "The system of support we have for adolescents needs to be reconsidered," she said.
Turpel-Lafond's study shows that more than 70 per cent of the children in care ensnared in the justice system have special needs, such as learning disabilities, mental health issues, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
She will provide recommendations in the fall when her report is complete, but said Thursday there are some measures that can be taken to reverse this troubling trend.
They include initiatives to avoid children going into care in the first place, such as more accessible medical support for vulnerable pregnant women, good quality daycares, stable housing for needy families, and better job opportunities for parents.
For adolescents already in care, she recommends:
- More stable placements, so children are not moved between multiple foster homes. (The vast majority of kids in care who did not go to jail were adopted.)
- Putting teens in placements that fit the specific needs of adolescents.
- Reconsider the the current system which is providing 583 B.C. teens with cash so they can live on their own. "Are they doing well? Evidence to me is they are not," Turpel-Lafond said.
FOSTER CHILDREN FACE UPHILL BATTLE
Preliminary findings of a new study by the representative for children and youth found that more adolescents (aged 12 to 17) in government care were involved in the justice system than teens living with their own families:
POPULATION / TOTAL / RECOMMENDED FOR CHARGES / INVOLVEMENT WITH CORRECTIONS *
Children in Care 1683 693 41.2% 598 35.5%
Kids Not in Care 48868 2557 5.2% 1614 3.3%
* Corrections involves remand, lockup, bail supervision, probation and sentencing to secure or open custody
Source: The office of the Representative for Children and Youth
Source: The Vancouver Sun
June 27, 2008 permalink
We have lost track of the number of Ontario CAS executive directors crying about their funding cuts. Here is one from Algoma.
CAS Algoma has funding woes: Baraniuk
Executive director to speak at annual general meeting tonight
Posted By BY MARC CAPANCIONI, SPECIAL TO THE STAR, Updated June 26, 2008
The Children's Aid Society of Algoma is at a severe disadvantage in terms of money, according to the organization's executive director.
"Provincial funding doesn't work in the North," said Jim Baraniuk.
"The policy is set for one size fits all, but in the North, you may not have the resources (that southern Ontario does)."
At present, CAS Algoma receives provincial funds based on how much the organization got in 2003- 2004, plus a cost of living increase, he said.
But since then, there has been some economic downturn -- for example, in the forestry sector -- yet no changes have been made to the provincial government's funding formula.
When the economy is tanking, substance abuse and other social problems increase, and the CAS requires more funds, said Baraniuk.
"Whenever you look at the North, there's a problem with funding.
"In the North, you obviously have different needs," he added.
Baraniuk will speak about these issues, and others, at the society's annual general meeting tonight at the Art Gallery of Algoma.
Members of the public are welcome.
Anne Machowski-Smith, media spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services said, "The funding formula is based in part on service volumes, and is designed to respond to changing needs of the local community.
"Our funding provides flexibility to CASs so they can use it for staffing and for helping children in a manner that meets the unique needs of each CAS," she said.
Machowski-Smith said that funding to CAS Algoma has increased by around $6.5 million -- 48 per cent -- since 2003-2004.
However, Baraniuk says there have been "huge" increases to his society's expenditures and ongoing services -- which went up 43.2 per cent -- since then.
The formula doesn't include additional costs for new services that are required by the government. "It's not a perfect system," he said.
The lack of a short-term assessment stabilization unit in Sault Ste. Marie is also a problem, said Baraniuk. Instead, children have to stay in the pediatrics unit of the Sault Area Hospital.
This a bad for children, their families and for the hospital, he said, adding that, unlike the Sault, both Sudbury and Thunder Bay have proper facilities.
While there are challenges, Baraniuk will also address the successes of CAS Algoma as well.
"It's (also) a time to identify what we've accomplished over the last year," he said.
Over the past three years, the number of tutors working with students at CAS Algoma has increased from 12 to 33.
The number of youth scholarships -- made available by donations and fundraisers -- has also risen, from 12 to 20.
There are more things to be happy about, said Baraniuk.
The society has expanded its relationships with other agencies and developed new foster programs, services and protocols.
For example, CAS Algoma has established an alternative dispute resolution process called family group decision-making.
"Everyone gets together and they try to reach an agreement (instead of) bringing the children through the court system," said Baraniuk.
Source: Sault Star
June 27, 2008 permalink
A mother is seeking her daughter, posting her request on the girl's eighteenth birthday.
- Date Posted:
- LESAGE : PIGEON
- Query Text:
- Birth mother searching for daughter born June 26, 1990 at Ottawa General Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. Surname at birth was Lesage, given name was Genevieve Raven Cecile. Birth mother was Lorraine (Lori) Lesage and birth father's name was Joseph Pigeon. Baptized August 10, 1990 by Father Morrison at Saint Joseph's Church in Ottawa. Placed into foster care through Children's Aid Society of Ottawa in November 1990. Made crown ward in September 1991. E-mail: LorrBirch@yahoo.com
Licensed to Hug
June 26, 2008 permalink
Do you want to help a neighbor's child? Hug your own child? Better get a license.
One in four will need to take the anti-paedophile test
The dramatic escalation of child protection measures has succeeded in poisoning the relationship between the generations and creating an atmosphere of suspicion that actually increases the risks to children, according to a new study from the independent think-tank Civitas.
In Licensed to Hug Frank Furedi, Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, argues that children need to have contact with a range of adult members of the community for their education and socialisation, but 'this form of collaboration, which has traditionally underpinned intergenerational relationships, is now threatened by a regime that insists that adult/child encounters must be mediated through a security check' (p.xii).
The scope of child protection has become immense. Since its formation in 2002 the Criminal Records Bureau has issued 15 million disclosures, but the whole operation has now been ratcheted up several notches by the passage of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006. This has led to the creation of the Independent Safeguarding Authority which, when it is rolled out in October 2009, will require CRB checks of 11.3 million people - over one quarter of the adult population of England.
Whereas adults would once routinely have rebuked children who were misbehaving, or helped children in distress, they now think twice about the consequences of interacting with other people's children. One of the contributors to Licensed to Hug describes the culture of fear that pervades what should be ordinary relationships:
'My daughter is allowed to play out in the street with kids from the neighbourhood. She said she was going to Semih's house and I said OK. Ten minutes later Semih's mom knocked at my door and said, 'I must introduce myself as we haven't met.' I thought she was going to tell me her name, have a chat, but she said she was CRB checked and her husband was CRB checked and then went away. I still don't know her name!'
As Frank Furedi comments: 'When parents feel in need of official reassurance that other parents have passed the paedophile test before they even start on the pleasantries, this indicates that something has gone badly wrong in our communities.' (p.xi)
In an atmosphere of mistrust, in which adults suspect other adults and children are taught to suspect anyone other than their parents, there is a feeling that it is best not to become involved. At the inquest of a two-year-old girl who had wandered into a pond and drowned, a man who had driven past and saw her obviously lost said that he did not go to help 'because I thought someone would see me and think I was trying to abduct her' (p.48). This terrible story has acquired the status of an urban legend, because so many people wonder what they would have done in similar circumstances. In an almost equally distressing story, one of the respondents to a survey carried out for this book explained the problems her partner experiences when he takes their two-year-old son swimming:
'… the mothers in the cafe he was waiting in were giving him filthy looks (apparently when he walked in it was like a scene from a Western when the room goes silent and tumbleweed blows across the foreground). This happens whenever he goes out with our son on his own, especially if he takes him into a joint changing/feeding room. Now, there is nothing strange looking about him, he's a perfectly normal guy, so I was just wondering if any other dads out there have the same experience? He's considering stapling his police check to his forehead every time he goes out!' (p.53)
As Furedi says: 'We should question whether there is anything healthy … in a response where communities look at children's own fathers with suspicion, but would balk at helping a lost child find their way home' (p.54).
The effect on the voluntary sector
Anyone working for a voluntary organisation who comes into contact with children in any way has to take the paedophile test.
'From Girl Guiders to football coaches, from Christmas-time Santas to parents helping out in schools, volunteers-once regarded as pillars of the community -have been transformed in the regulatory and public imagination into potential child abusers, barred from any contact with children until the database gives them the green light.' (p.x)
The effect of this treatment is to put some people off volunteering altogether. The Volunteer Survey 2007 found that 13 per cent of men would not volunteer because they were worried people would think they were child abusers (p.16) and 28 per cent of those who responded to an online survey carried out for Licensed to Hug said they knew someone who had been put off volunteering by the CRB process (p.18). The Children's Commissioner, Sir Al Aynsley Green, has said that nearly 50,000 girls are waiting to join the Guides because of a shortage of adult volunteers, partly caused by the red tape of the CRB process.
Perhaps the worst thing about all this is that the vetting procedure does not provide anything like a cast-iron guarantee that children will be safe with a particular adult. All it tells us is that the person has not been convicted of an offence in the past. What happens after the vetting procedure is unpredictable, so the process 'works as a form of impression management. It provides a ritual of security rather than effective protection.' (p.viii). It would be much better if adults could use their discretion and professional judgement - skills that are now becoming redundant:
'The formalisation of intergenerational contact contributes to the deskilling of adulthood. If adults are not expected to respond to problems in accordance with their experience and intuition they will have little incentive to develop the kind of skills required to manage children and young people.' (p.ix)
Halt the juggernaut
Instead of creating an atmosphere of fear and suspicion, Licensed to Hug suggests that we need to 'halt the juggernaut of regulation' (p.55) and, instead, behave as if the majority of adults have no predatory attitudes towards children but, on the contrary, can be relied on to help them. If we could encourage greater openness and more frequent contact between the generations, we would all benefit.
'The adult qualities of spontaneous compassion and commitment are, we argue, far more effective safeguarding methods than pieces of paper that promote the messages "Keep Out" and "Watch Your Back".' (p.40)
Notes to editors:
- Civitas is an independent social policy think-tank. It receives no state funding either directly or indirectly and has no links to any political party.
- Licensed to Hug: How child protection policies are poisoning the relationship between the generations and damaging the voluntary sector by Frank Furedi and Jennie Bristow is published by Civitas, 77 Great Peter Street, London SW1P 2EZ, tel. 020 7799 6677, www.civitas.org.uk, price £6.00 inc. pp.
For more information e-mail CIVITAS on: email@example.com
Source: press release by Civitas
Father Saves Children
June 26, 2008 permalink
When Steve Whissell saw a runaway car heading for his children, he pushed them to safety at the cost of his own life. Social workers, who give each other congratulatory awards for their own actions, have no awards for parents who provide a level of care beyond anything possible from social services.
National Post, Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Man sacrifices self to save his children
Father Of Five; Twins, 3, in path of runaway car
Alan Hustak, Canwest News Service Published: Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Father-of-five Steve Whissell sacrificed his own life to shove two of his children out of the path of a runaway car.
Mr. Whissell was in Huberdeau, a Laurentian community about 120 km northwest of Montreal, with his family for a holiday parade when the accident happened.
The family were sitting on some grass getting ready for the parade to start when a car parked at the top of a nearby hill inexplicably moved and began to roll towards those seated on the lawn.
It picked up speed as it careened down the 35-metre hill and headed straight for Mr. Whissell's family.
Mr. Whissell leapt in front of the car and managed to push his three-year-old twins, Noah and Nathan, out of harm's way. But the car rolled over him then struck his wife, Johanne Coursolle, who was holding their two-year-old daughter in her arms.
Mr. Whissell's oldest set of twins, Alexandre and Jennifer, from a previous relationship, were not harmed.
"There was a general panic," said Leslie Morrisson, who witnessed the accident. "Someone screamed, 'Get out of the way,' Then everything happened so fast. The next thing, Johanne was yelling, 'Lift the car up, lift the car up, my man is underneath."
Mr. Whissell, who lived with his in-laws in Boileau, Que., and his wife were taken to hospital in Ste. Agathe, but he was pronounced dead on arrival. He would have turned 34 tomorrow.
Ms. Coursolle is still in hospital, where she is expected to remain for two or three more days before she is released.
Mr. Whissell, who grew up in Mont-Laurier, had worked with delinquent children but had to give up his job when his youngest daughter, Lily Rose, was born two years ago and was hospitalized at St. Justine's in Montreal.
"His children and his wife were his life," his father in-law, Andre Coursolle, said yesterday.
"I have a big house, and they were living with us while his daughter was sick so he could go to Montreal to be with her. Now that she is okay, he had hoped to become a mechanic and go back to work.
"He was devoted, a solid, good guy. It is all so senseless.
We're devastated. The kids are still trying to understand why their dad is not coming home."
The Surete du Quebec is investigating the incident. Police say the car, with an automatic transmission, was legally parked in the municipal parking lot, which is at the crest of a hill used as a toboggan run in winter.
"For some unknown reason, it started to move and hit the couple," said SQ Sergeant Joyce Kemp.
Funeral arrangements will not be made until after Ms. Coursolle leaves hospital.
"Johanne wants to see Steve for one last time before we bury him," said Andre Coursolle "She wants to be well enough to be be at the funeral with the children for a final farewell."
Source: National Post
June 26, 2008 permalink
The first Putman award has been given to Robin Berger, a public health nurse and breastfeeding advocate. She accepted the award from the local children's aid society. CAS throughout Ontario has in the past ripped babies from mother's breast for their "protection".
Orangeville Citizen, June 26, 2008
Berger first winner of Putman Award
Robin Berger, a public health nurse and lactation consultant with the Wellington-Guelph Public Health Unit last night became the first winner of the annual Gary Putman Award.
Ms. Berger attended Dufferin Child and Family Services Annual General Meeting to receive her award. She was chosen from numerous nominees for her significant contributions toward the wellbeing of children and families in our community.
Ms. Berger has been a public health nurse for over 30 years. She became the first lactation consultant in Dufferin County's health unit and is known to many in the area as "the breastfeeding lady." Robin is also co-founder and facilitator for a three part parenting workshop series called "Parenting Children with Challenging Temperaments", and the co-founder of the breastfeeding clinic at Headwaters Health Care Centre.
Most recently, Robin became a co-facilitator for Feelings After Birth, a post partum support group.
Robin is a strong advocate for children and families. In our community she is the leader and unremitting advocate for breastfeeding. It is believed that breastfeeding rates have risen for initiation and duration in this region as a direct result of Robin's advocacy and determination.
It is apparent that she believes that if children and families are given a good start there can only be a positive ripple effect. In this role she has provided huge support, well above and beyond the call of duty, to hundreds of women over the years and has raised public awareness and acceptance of breastfeeding.
She was instrumental in organizing Dufferin's first breastfeeding support network and in establishing the Community Breastfeeding Centre.
"Beyond all of these great accomplishments, what came through so clearly in the nomination form for Robin was her ability to provide positive coaching and encouragement, her sincerity, compassion and ability to listen to and empower people," said Trish Keachie, Executive Director of Dufferin Child and Family Services. "Her dedication, enthusiasm, energy and zest in working collaboratively and innovatively with colleagues and families were made very evident."
The Gary Putman Award was created to recognize a member of the Dufferin County community who has made a significant contribution in the areas of child safety and wellbeing, children's mental health, developmental support services and/or community education and awareness.
Gary Putman led Dufferin Child and Family Services for 29 years before retiring as Executive Director in November 2007. In recognition of Gary's tremendous efforts and dedication to the children and youth of Dufferin County, an agency award, to be presented annually, has been created in his honour.
DCFS said the wide response to an invitation for nominees "clearly shows that our community cares and has numerous individuals who are committed to the well being of children."
Source: Orangeville Citizen
Cylenthia Clark Pleads Guilty
June 26, 2008 permalink
We carried the story of Cylenthia Clark, an high-ranking official of Georgia DFCS, who was accused of abusing her own child. On June 17 she pleaded guilty. In a coerced confession like this, we never really learn the truth. The next day Mary Davis, the person responsible for pursuing the case against Clark, was ousted from DCFS. Mrs Clark will get a new job within the Georgia government. It looks more like dirty politics than the best interest of the child. Earlier news was on March 13, 2007 and January 17, 2008.
DFCS Official Pleads Guilty to Child Cruelty
FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. -- An official with the Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS) pleaded guilty Tuesday to a child cruelty charge and received 10 years probation.
The case against Cylenthia Clark unfolded in February 2007 when her then 8-year-old daughter showed up at school with bruises. Clark, an assistant director with Fulton County DFCS, was arrested three weeks later after an investigation by Fayette County DFCS.
The investigation revealed that Clark used a belt to punish her daughter for an incident in which the girl got into a fight with a boy at her daycare center, and also hit one of the staff members in the face. Authorities said the girl claimed her mother struck her more than 30 times.
The guilty plea came after the start of Clark's trial in Fayette County Superior Court. During his opening statements, defense attorney Manny Arora told jurors that Clark's daughter took behavior-controlling medication and had been removed from school on occasion due to behavioral problems. He said Clark only hit the girl five to 10 times.
As a condition her plea deal, Clark had to admit that using a belt to punish her daughter would likely cause cruel and excessive physical pain. She agreed to not use corporal punishment and not work for an employer that supervises children during the length of her probation. She was given first offender status by Judge Chris Edwards.
Source: WXIA TV 11
FLDS Girl Wants New Lawyer
June 23, 2008 permalink
Sixteen-year-old Teresa Jeffs, one of the children "protected" in the Texas FLDS case, is being represented by lawyer Natalie Malonis. As is common in this kind of case, the lawyer is really representing an adverse interest, and the client wants the lawyer fired. If Texas is like Ontario, Miss Jeffs can expect no success in ridding herself of her unwanted legal counsel.
The Associated Press
Polygamist leader's daughter wants new lawyer
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A convicted polygamist leader's teenage daughter, who was among the children removed from her sect's Texas compound during an abuse investigation, is fighting her attorney's attempt to shield her from a church official.
Teresa Jeffs, 16, is one of hundreds of children from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints with an attorney appointed by a state judge as part of a child welfare investigation into allegations of abuse. Her father is Warren Jeffs, the church's imprisoned president and prophet.
More than 400 children were rounded up as part of the Texas investigation and later released. Teresa Jeffs denies allegations by her attorney that she was forced into a spiritual marriage at age 15 with an older man and that she has a baby. She told The Associated Press on Sunday that she wants a new lawyer.
But the court-appointed attorney, Natalie Malonis, believes Jeffs is being swayed by a church official.
On Friday, Malonis successfully sought a restraining order against church spokesman Willie Jessop, who she said was intimidating and improperly influencing the girl.
"I believe that (the girl) was avoiding service because of coercion and improper influence from Willie Jessop," Malonis wrote the judge.
Malonis sought the protection order after the girl asked State District Judge Barbara Walther to release her from the case and appoint another attorney.
Jessop, a Utah-based member of the church, denies trying to influence Jeffs and criticized restrictions that prohibit her from visiting the sect's Yearning For Zion ranch near Eldorado, Texas.
Teresa Jeffs says she doesn't need and didn't approve of the restraining order and doesn't want Malonis as her lawyer anymore.
"I have asked her many times to please step aside," Teresa Jeffs told the AP by telephone on Sunday from Texas. "I need more help. I want my attorney to listen to me."
In one letter she released to the AP, Teresa Jeffs wrote: "Natalie, quit all your lying about everything." She asked Malonis to "let me get a different lawyer."
Malonis declined Sunday to respond to her client's complaints.
"I'm trying to help her," Malonis said. "It's really not in any child's interest to waive their attorney-client privilege. I'm not going to fight with her in the media."
Jeffs said she plans to appear Wednesday before a grand jury opening a criminal investigation into the polygamist group. The state attorney general's office refuses to confirm anything about the proceeding, saying it's secret under Texas law.
In 2003, the sect began moving some of its estimated 6,000 members to the YFZ ranch. Acting on an allegation of child abuse, Texas authorities raided the ranch April 3 and seized more than 450 children. A court returned the children this month, although a child welfare investigation continues.
Church members have traditionally made their homes in twin towns on the Utah-Arizona border. The church practices polygamy in arranged marriages, which have sometimes involved underage girls, resulting in criminal charges against some FLDS men.
The mainstream Mormon church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, renounced polygamy long ago.
Last year, a Utah jury convicted Warren Jeffs of two first-degree felony counts of rape as an accomplice for his role in the 2001 marriage between a 14-year-old follower and her 19-year-old cousin. He is currently in an Arizona jail awaiting trial on other charges related to marriages involving young girls.
Source: The Associated Press, hosted by Google
June 21, 2008 permalink
Mike Conn posted an experience to a public board. The experiences of CAS survivors may be one of the best hopes for reform.
Posted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 1:33 pm
subject: At Church Today
My wife was telling me at church today they had a person there that was in foster care and his life was ruined by the Children's Aid. If it was not for the Church and farmers that cared, he would not have survived. He is now wanting to expose the life he has had under the care of the CAS and start helping others that had their life ruined by the CAS. He has been helping out other survivors that have aged out of the CAS and left on the streets with nothing for several years. So the Church is now going to see about helping the people left homeless by the CAS and hopefully other churches will join in. It was a real eye opener to the Church members on how destructive the CAS really is.
Source: Canada Court Watch forum
Eradicate Young Fathers
June 21, 2008 permalink
Social service agencies needing babies for adoption have an assured supply with teenaged lovers. When the baby is born, they can prosecute the father for statutory rape, leaving a defenseless single mother. For seventeen-year-old father Paul Briggs prosecution was unnecessary after he hanged himself in anticipation of the worst.
Teen father-to-be hanged himself
A teenage boy hanged himself after his 15-year-old girlfriend became pregnant, an inquest has heard.
Paul Briggs, 17, of Ferndale, Rhondda, feared he would be reported to police for under-age sex with Kyra Applin, the hearing in Miskin was told.
The couple told their families they wanted the pregnancy to go ahead but he hid his fears about being prosecuted, the inquest heard.
He died three months before the birth. A narrative verdict was recorded.
Det Sgt John Pope told the coroner's court: "The couple met and she was pregnant just a few weeks later.
"Kyra's parents were not happy about the situation but accepted it. Kyra's father said he had never seen Paul depressed.
"But a friend of the family said the situation was causing him some distress and he was afraid that if they parted he would be reported to the police for under-age sex."
Kyra then left the inquest in tears midway through the hearing when told of Paul's fears.
She is raising six-week-old baby girl Mia - her name was chosen by Paul - with her parents at their home in Ferndale.
Her father Graham Applin said he and his wife were "not terribly happy" when she became pregnant but they accepted it.
The inquest heard Kyra found Paul hanging from a bunk-bed in the bedroom they shared at her parents home in January.
Her father tried to save him but paramedics found him dead.
The inquest heard Paul had been drinking during the day - and the couple had argued about it before he died.
Before the inquest Kyra said: "I don't know why he did it, we were both really looking forward to the baby.
"I had a scan and we found out we were having a girl.
"We held hands, we were both really excited. We even talked about names.
"I liked Michaela but Paul wanted Mia."
Coroner Phillip Walters recorded a narrative verdict at the inquest.
He said: "An argument took place but I don't think Paul intended to take his own life. It seems he was trying to draw attention to his circumstances.
"He died at his own hand but I don't feel a suicide verdict would be correct."
After the inquest Paul's mum Angela said: "The baby is absolutely lovely - she is the spitting image of Paul and I will forever have his memory when I see her."
CPS Gives Kids to Killer
June 21, 2008 permalink
When Jamie Hallam and Christopher Payne got divorced in Arizona the divorce court decided that mother Jamie should get the two kids and father Christopher should not see them at all, not even for the customary every other weekend. Evidently in this case the court assessed that the father was a danger to his own children.
Arizona child protectors acted, as is customary after a divorce, in total disregard of the divorce judge. When the mother's actions were not to their liking, they turned both kids over to dad. In February 2007 4-year-old Ariana Payne was found dead in a storage locker, and the other child, 5-year-old Tyler Payne, is presumed dead.
In this case, which has been on the front pages in Arizona for a year, it appears that child protectors are responsible for the deaths, by turning children over to a parent already adjudged dangerous. The state has agreed to pay the mother one million dollars in settlement.
State agrees to $1 million settlement in suit against CPS
TUCSON - The state has agreed to pay a $1 million settlement in a lawsuit filed by a woman whose two children died.
Jamie Hallam had sued the state's Child Protective Services and the Tucson Police Department, contending that even though Hallam had been given sole custody of 4-year-old Ariana Payne and 5-year-old Tyler Payne, CPS allowed their father, Christopher Payne, to keep them.
Payne and his girlfriend, Reina Gonzales, are accused of killing the children and could face the death penalty if convicted.
The remains of the 4-year-old were found in a plastic storage tub in February 2007 after the manager of a self-storage business called police to report a foul odor. The 5-year-old's remains never have been found, but police believe he is dead.
The lawsuit alleged CPS officials never investigated Payne or Gonzales or checked on the children's well-being.
CPS had investigated Hallam on an allegation of neglect, which was later found to be unsubstantiated.
Although the state settled the case with Hallam, the portion of the lawsuit pertaining to the Tucson Police Department hasn't concluded.
Hallam's attorney, Jorge Franco Jr., said the state admitted no wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement, but noted the lawsuit was settled faster than usual.
"It's a significant settlement, and no one pays that amount of money unless they fear a jury will find them at fault," Franco said.
Franco said his client was thinking about using a portion of the funds to continue her education.
Source: Arizona Republic
Baby Snatcher Sentenced
June 19, 2008 permalink
After mother-of-two Brenda Batisse lost a third pregnancy, she wanted a replacement. On November 1, 2007 she went to Sudbury Regional Hospital, grabbed a newborn and took it home. A police search, assisted by public response to an Amber alert with surveillance photos, recovered the baby seven hours later in Kirkland Lake Ontario, 200 km away.
Yesterday the woman was sentenced to five years in jail, a sentence her lawyer is planning to appeal. What is the sentence when a social worker acting without cause snatches a baby?
Ont. baby snatcher sentenced to five years in prison
SUDBURY, Ont. -- A woman who admitted to abducting a newborn child from a hospital here last November was sentenced on Wednesday to five years in prison.
Brenda Batisse, 29, pleaded guilty to abduction of a child under the age of 14 for taking an hour-old baby girl from her mother's hospital room last Nov 1. She had spent approximately 90 minutes on the maternity ward of the Sudbury Regional Hospital, entering several rooms and changing clothing three times.
Ontario Provincial Police located the baby seven hours later, at a Kirkland Lake residence -- about 200 kilometres north of Sudbury.
Batisse wept as Justice Robbie Gordon read his decision. After the judge left the courtroom, her friends and family gathered around her.
In his decision, Gordon said the conditional sentence of less than two years served in the community that defence counsel Berk Keaney was seeking, was not sufficient. This option would allow Batisse to continue healing from her abusive past, but Gordon said it wasn't a punishment or a deterrent to others.
At her age "she has seen more grief than anyone should," Gordon said. "If I had only to consider what's best for her, I'd have no difficulty."
During the sentencing hearing, the court heard that Batisse was physically and verbally abused by her mother, repeatedly sexually assaulted by her stepfather's brother and abused in two past relationships with men.
In August, 2007, Batisse lost a pregnancy after being assaulted but pretended to be pregnant to preserve her relationship with the baby's father. She said she eventually felt pressured to produce a baby.
Gordon said the sentence needed to reflect society's condemnation of an "offence that involves a defenceless child," adding that this crime also affects the hospital staff, the community, the baby's parents and the child, herself.
"Who's to say that the long-term affects on the parents will not affect her?"
At her sentencing hearing last week, Batisse apologized for her actions.
"I want to apologize, especially to the mother," Batisse said. "My intention was never to hurt anyone. I know what I did was wrong. But in my head that day, I wasn't that person. I don't know who I was. I just wanted my baby back."
On April 29, the baby's mother appeared in court -- at Batisse's first sentencing hearing -- and recalled the abduction.
"The woman asked me something and then she left, that was the first time," the mother said. "And that's why the second time when I saw her ... I believed she [was] from the hospital because I'd seen her before."
The mother said she suffers emotionally from the trauma of having her baby taken from her, finds it difficult to drive past the hospital or to let her children out of her sight.
Assistant Crown prosecutor Len Walker had asked for a seven-year term, but said after the sentencing that he was satisfied with the five-year sentence.
The defence, which had asked for a non-custodial conditional sentence of 18 months, followed by a three-year probationary period, plans to file an appeal.
"It will be our position that in an enlightened society a punitive sentence of supervised house arrest followed by probation would allow and encourage her rehabilitative efforts rather than undermine them," Keaney said.
Source: National Post
Psychic Child Care
June 17, 2008 permalink
This is to introduce Ontario's newest experts on child abuse: psychics! A Barrie school reported a mother to children's aid after an educational assistant visited a psychic who diagnosed child "V" as abused. The assistant was able to identify Victoria as the victim.
The Mother, The Child, The School Board And The Psychic
Colleen Leduc already had a lot going against her. The Barrie woman was holding down a job while struggling to raise her autistic 11-year-old daughter. She couldn't afford to give the child the intensive therapy she needed, and was forced to send her to a public school in the area.
So she was completely unprepared for what happened to her and the youngster, an almost unbelievable tale of red tape involving a strange claim from a teaching assistant, a bizarre decision by a school board, a visit from the Children's Aid Society (CAS) and most improbably of all, the incorrect pronouncements of a psychic.
Leduc's weird tale began on May 30, when she dropped young Victoria off for class at Terry Fox Elementary and headed in to work, only to receive a frantic phone call from the school telling her it was urgent she come back right away.
The frightened mother rushed back to the campus and was stunned by what she heard - the principal, vice-principal and her daughter's teacher were all waiting for her in the office, telling her they'd received allegations that Victoria had been the victim of sexual abuse - and that the CAS had been notified.
How did they come by such startling knowledge? Leduc was incredulous as they poured out their story.
"The teacher looked and me and said: 'We have to tell you something. The educational assistant who works with Victoria went to see a psychic last night, and the psychic asked the educational assistant at that particular time if she works with a little girl by the name of "V." And she said 'yes, I do.' And she said, 'well, you need to know that that child is being sexually abused by a man between the ages of 23 and 26.'"
Victoria, who is non-verbal, had also been exhibiting sexualized behaviour in class, actions which are known to be typical of autistic behavior. That lead authorities to suspect she had a bladder infection that may have somehow been related to the 'attack.'
Leduc was shaken by the idea. "It's actually your worst nightmare your child being violated," she admits. "So for them to even suggest that, and that be my worst nightmare, it was horrific."
But things got worse when school officials used the "evidence" and accepted the completely unsubstantiated word of the seer by reporting the case to Children's Aid, which promptly opened a file on the family.
"They reported me to Children's Aid," Leduc declares, still disbelieving. "Based on a psychic!"
The mom, who is divorced and has a new fiancé, adamantly denied the charges, noting her daughter was never exposed to anyone of that age. And fortunately she had proof. The mother was long dissatisfied with the treatment her daughter had received at the school, after they had allegedly lost her on several occasions.
As a result, the already cash strapped mom had spent a considerable sum of money to not only have her child equipped with a GPS unit, but one that provided audio records of everything that was going on around her.
So she had non-stop taped proof that nothing untoward had ever happened to her daughter, and was aghast that the situation had gone this far. But under the Child and Family Services Act, anyone who works with children and has reasonable grounds to suspect a youngster is being harmed, must report it immediately - and the CAS has an obligation to follow up.
And so a case worker came to the Leduc home to discuss the allegations of sexual misconduct, only to admit there wasn't a shred of evidence that anything had ever happened at all. They labelled Leduc a "diligent" mother doing the best she could for her child under difficult circumstances, closed the file and left, calling the report "ridiculous."
"It is highly unusual, I will admit, to have a case called in based upon what a psychic might say," concedes Sue Dale of the Simcoe County CAS.
And what does the admittedly red-faced school board have to say about all this? "I don't have the information yet, but when we proceed with our own investigation we'll know more about that," is all Dr. Lindy Zaretsky, the Simcoe County Superintendent, was willing to allow.
And what does the local board have to say about all this? "I don't have the information yet, but when we proceed with our own investigation we'll know more about that," is all Dr. Lindy Zaretsky, the Simcoe County Superintendent, was willing to allow.
But that wasn't the end of the story.
While the board agrees it may have overreacted, accepted a rather dubious source and misinterpreted the signs of the so-called abuse, Leduc is now more convinced than ever that her daughter isn't safe at the campus and that she needs more intensive therapy.
As a result, she's refused to send Victoria back to class - or to the educational assistant who allegedly started the entire chain of events in the first place.
As a result of her stress and the need to stay home with her daughter, Leduc is now unable to work, has no place to send her child for the rest of the year, isn't sure where she'll go when school begins in September and is seeking legal advice.
Her goal: get the board to pay for the IBI therapy she believes her child should have had in the first place. She wants them to foot the bill for the expensive treatment - it can cost more than $50,000 annually - at least for the rest of the semester.
But school officials have refused.
Asked if she feels whether her entire support system has been yanked away, her answer is succinct and simple. "Yep," she nods.
And you don't need a psychic to know what that answer means.
Source: City News
Addendum: One commentator suggests the school staff should take a mandatory course on using your brain. A perceptive reader claims this case makes child protection a witch hunt. Trouble is, it already was. And Canada Court Watch says that we should look for CAS news in the National Enquirer. "We can expect that the Simcoe Children's Aid Society will be hiring its own psychic and card reader. What's next? Will the Simcoe CAS start a new department to begin investigations of sexual abuse of Aliens from Outer Space? Risk Assessment tools for green children from outer space could very well be the next project coming from the Barrie, Ontario Region if this latest incident is any indication of the thinking that goes on with workers at the CAS."
Irwin Elman to be Child Advocate
June 17, 2008 permalink
Starting in late July, Irwin Elman will be replacing Agnes Samler as Ontario's Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth.
We thank John Dunn for alerting us to this development, confirmed by Mr Elman himself.
New York May Cut CPS Powers
June 16, 2008 permalink
A bill is pending in New York state to limit the power of child protectors to grab children on pretext of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP). This is the second state legislature this year (the other is Washington) to bring up a measure to limit the power of child protectors.
Seek child custody changes
State lawmakers have floated a bill to make it harder for the government to take custody of children from guardians who are suspected of suffering from a rare mental illness called Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
Bona fide cases of the disease - in which a caregiver deliberately makes a child sick to get attention - are exceedingly rare. But child welfare agencies have increasingly been citing it as a way to take custody of kids, experts and lawmakers said.
"I think nine times out of 10 it's an attempt to bootstrap a crummy case," said Eric Mart, a psychologist who is an expert on the disease.
State Sen. Owen Johnson (R-Babylon) introduced the bill in April after a family who lives in his district approached him about the removal of their two children from their home for more than two years on what they called baseless accusations.
Last fall, Marvin and Vanessa James of South Ozone Park lost custody of their daughter, Amber, now 6, after the city alleged Vanessa James to be suffering from the illness. Even after Vanessa had three court-ordered psychiatric evaluations and was involuntarily hospitalized for a week, the family said the city has found nothing to support the claim.
Johnson's bill would prevent child protection agencies from using Munchausen syndrome by proxy to justify taking kids away from parents in the absence of other evidence of abuse.
The Suffolk family - who could not be named because of a court gag order - "went through a similar experience," said Johnson's spokeswoman, Kathleen O'Neill.
"He wants to put the best interests of family and children first by putting safeguards in place, such as requiring a hearing be held before putting a child into custody based on an allegation," of the disease, she said.
"The senator met with the Suffolk family and was personally moved by their story. It's just sad," O'Neill said. "This is really attempting to do something that would protect children from this in the future."
The other provision in Johnson's bill would require courts to allow testimony by the family's doctor backing the family's decision to seek medical care. That would be used to rebut an agency's claim.
Amber James has been in various foster homes for nearly a year. Her father supports Johnson's bill.
Mart also supports the bill.
"There's a lot of confusion about this," he said of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. "It's ridiculous," Mart said. "Can you imagine going forward with a case of physical abuse and no evidence of physical abuse?"
Source: New York Daily News
Baby-Stealing is Dangerous!
June 16, 2008 permalink
Reports from Queensland Australia show that baby-stealing is a dangerous occupation. The minister can't seem to understand why parents would use force to defend their children.
Child safety workers being assaulted, threatened: Minister
Seventy child protection workers and carers in Queensland have reported being threatened or assaulted so far this year.
The State Government has revealed the figures in an answer to a Question on Notice.
Child Safety Minister Margaret Keech says last week a parent punched one of her officers in the face and kicked them in the groin.
She says she wants laws changed to increase the maximum penalty for offences against child safety staff.
Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation
June 14, 2008 permalink
Wendy's is celebrating Father's Day by helping steal children from parents. On June 14 and 15, Wendy's will donate one dollar from the sale of each frosty product to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
Wendy's founder Dave Thomas was adopted himself back in the days when adoption was an act of charity. He continued to support adoption even after demographic and cultural shifts changed adoption from placement of unwanted children (mostly from single teenaged mothers) to placement of stolen goods.
Enjoy a Frosty during Father's Day Weekend and Help Change the Lives of Children in Foster Care
TORONTO, June 12 /CNW/ - Wendy's Restaurants of Canada are giving people the opportunity to help more than 30,000 Canadian children who are currently waiting for the love of their forever families.
During Father's Day weekend, Wendy's will donate $1.00 from the sale of every Frosty product to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Canada.
Last year the goal in Canada was to raise $100,000 but Wendy's surpassed the goal raising $140,000. This year the goal is to raise $150,000 to support the work of the non-profit Foundation and its signature program: Wendy's Wonderful Kids (WWK).
In Canada the program has already funded four full-time recruiters in Ontario and British Columbia and to date, have already overseen four successful adoptions and have helped match 30 kids and families to reach the pre-adoptive stage (the last step before the adoption becomes finalized).
- When: June 14th and 15th come out and purchase a Frosty.
- Where: All participating Wendy's locations across Canada.
Source: Press release from Wendy's
F4J Invades Courtroom
June 14, 2008 permalink
About ten fathers 4 justice campaigners, dressed as Spiderman, Batman, Superman and The Incredibles, invaded a family courtroom in Bristol England briefly during a march.
F4J Campaigners Storm Family Court
Updated:15:07, Friday June 13, 2008
A family court was evacuated after being stormed by members of Fathers 4 Justice.
The stunt happened during a march through Bristol by dozens of banner-waving supporters dressed as superheroes.
About 10, who were wearing Spiderman, Batman, Superman and The Incredibles costumes, entered the court.
They shouted: "What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now."
A fire alarm was activated, although court staff could not say who was responsible, and nearly 100 workers filed outside.
Two police vans arrived, along with two fire engines, and the men soon left the court building and continued their march.
The demonstration was joined by two campaigners who climbed onto the roof of deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman's home in Herne Hill, south London, earlier this week.
Jolly Stanesby and Mark Harris, both from south Devon, started the rooftop protest on Sunday and continued for more than 24 hours. They have since been bailed by police.
During the march, the group unveiled a new poster which showed an image of a child dressed in a superhero costume.
It reads: "If this little superhero doesn't see his daddy on Father's Day, he doesn't see half his family."
Source: Sky News
June 14, 2008 permalink
Fifteen-year-old Charissa Kobzick is missing from Sudbury. The news is silent on her status, but it looks like she is a runaway from children's aid. In two articles below, we give the current news, and an earlier report with a picture, relating to another incident with the same girl.
Police search for missing teen
The Sudbury-Manitoulin Children's Aid Society is asking for the public's help in locating a missing teenager.
Charissa Kobzick, 15, went missing from Sudbury on June 9, the society stated in a news release. The girl is believed to be in Sudbury or Toronto. She is described as four feet, 10 inches tall, 115 pounds, with brownish/ green eyes and blondish/brown shoulder-length hair.
Anyone with information on the girl's whereabouts is asked to call police.
Source: Sudbury Star
Girl,15, missing since Oct. 7
Date Published | Dec. 10, 2007
The Public's assistance is being requested in locating Charissa Kobzick, 15, who is believed to be in the Sudbury, Ottawa or Toronto areas.
Kobzick has been missing since Oct. 7.
She is described as Caucasian, 5-feet tall, 100 lbs., with green/brown eyes and shoulder length blonde hair.
Anyone with information as to Kobzick's whereabouts is asked to phone police.
Source: Northern Life
both pointed out by Dean Robinson
June 14, 2008 permalink
In the hysterical war on drugs, fought with much propaganda and few facts, Florida has provided some facts. The Medical Examiners Commission of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement counted deaths during the first six months of 2007. Of about 87,500 deaths, drugs were the cause in 2,224 cases. Of those, legal drugs (alcohol, benzodiazepine, carisoprodol/meprobamate, and legal opioids) caused 1749 while illegal drugs (methamphetamine, cocaine, inhalants, GHB, ketamine, PCP and heroin) caused 475. Marijuana (cannabinoids) caused no deaths. Age data was available only for nine drugs. For persons under the age of 18, seven legal drugs (alprazolam, diazepam, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, morphine and propoxyphene) caused 16 deaths, while two illegal drugs (cocaine and heroin) caused 2 deaths. Psychotropics (almost all provided legally, even against the will of the patient) were not on the list, but it is safe to say that doctors kill a lot more children (and adults) with drugs than illegal drug pushers.
June 13, 2008 permalink
The boy we formerly identified by the dehumanizing term "Chemo Boy" will from here on be called by his first name, Devin. He has been moved to Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, where his treatment has been changed, allowing him a chance to recover from the chemo.
June 12, 2008
I have some news for you all about the 11 year old chemotherapy boy that we helped with the protests at the hospital and at the Family court house at Mothers Day and the days proceeding Mother's Day.
I was talking to a member of the family this morning, and through the gracious help of the Children's Aid Society (a bit of sarcasm in my voice) they have moved the child to Sick Kids hospital in Toronto, ON.
Although McMaster Children's Hospital was the venue for Hamilton CAS to hold this child captive to force chemotherapy on him, Sick Kids will give him the attention and help and medical treatment that he deserves.
After 3 treatments of chemotherapy at McMaster Children's Hospital and now contracting a blood infection, Sick Kids Hospital is there to save the day to bring this child back to being a child, and not another statistic of cancer.
He is in high spirits and his family is thankful that we are on the outside fighting for "D" and to bring our voices together and to get people to understand that families have become the victims of the Children's Aid Societies of this community, province and country.
We will continue to fight for families and our children.
Posted by maryjaniga at 7:50 PM
Source: Mary Janiga blog entry for June 12, 2008
Addendum: Here is the Hamilton Spectator on Devin.
Tug-of-war over a sick child
Susan Clairmont, The Hamilton Spectator
(Jun 14, 2008)
The boy forced to have cancer treatment against his will at McMaster's Children's Hospital is now at Sick Kids in Toronto.
The transfer ends the volatile relationship between the sick child, his family and the Hamilton hospital. Doctors at Mac took the first steps toward forcing the 11-year-old into treatment after he refused chemo and his parents supported his decision. When a judge ordered the boy to have chemo, hospital security had the boy's furious father removed in handcuffs from the pediatric oncology unit after he flew into a rage. A no-trespassing order was then imposed against the irate dad for two days while his son lay alone in a hospital room.
McMaster was acting in what it believed to be the best interests of the boy. But the child's family resents every bit of it.
"(He) was just getting sicker and sicker at Mac," says the stepmother.
The boy -- who has fetal alcohol syndrome and mental health issues -- told his family that he wanted no more chemotherapy. In the past, it has made him weak and ill and sore and he did not want to suffer through it again. He believes he can beat his cancer without the help of modern medicine, even though the chiefs of pediatric oncology at Mac and Sick Kids gave the youth six months to live without treatment. With chemo, he has a 50 per cent chance of going into remission.
The boy's father and stepmother have said their aboriginal beliefs tell them to place all their trust in The Creator, not doctors. They wanted instead to treat the ill child with green tea, oregano and turmeric. They have sent blood samples to a lab in Germany hoping to have, as a sort of compromise, a chemo treatment designed specifically for the boy.
A judge ruled otherwise. Since his last court appearance in May, the child -- and his family -- have been carefully following the orders of the judge and the doctors. Though they still disagree with the ruling, they don't want to risk being separated from each other for not complying.
"There's probably not a judge in the world that's going to go against Western medicine," the stepmom says. "We are abiding by the court order because we have to."
Although he's able to eat, the boy has lost weight. His lung hurts him, his blood platelets are low and he is "dispirited by the whole experience at McMaster."
A couple of weeks ago, after several rounds of his court-ordered chemo, the boy developed a blood infection, according to his stepmother. At that point, she and the father began demanding he be moved out of McMaster. Discussions took place between the hospitals, the family, the CAS and the Office of the Children's Lawyer.
"We have no issue in terms of where they elect to have the treatment," says CAS executive director Dominic Verticchio. "The family has been very co-operative."
In the end, everyone who has a say in the medical care of this boy -- and that's a lot of people these days -- agreed that moving him to Toronto was the best thing for all involved.
On Thursday, he was discharged from McMaster, where he has been treated on and off since being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia four years ago. A family friend drove the boy and his father to Sick Kids. The dad is staying in his son's room, sleeping on a pullout couch. The stepmother and the boy's sister remain in Hamilton for now, but plan to go to Toronto and stay at Ronald McDonald House soon.
The family is scheduled for an appearance in family court on Monday to review the order and the compliance, but it is now expected the case will simply be remanded until the fall.
Susan Clairmont's commentary appears regularly in The Spectator. firstname.lastname@example.org 905-526-3539
Source: Hamilton Spectator
A Diamond in the Sky
June 13, 2008 permalink
There is a casting call for a new movie titled A Diamond in the Sky. The synopsis is:
"A Diamond in the Sky" is a dramatic character study about two weeks in the life of John Phillips, a recently widowed father who must battle with Child Protective Services to retain sole guardianship of Tommy, his five-year-old son.
Sideline for Baby Thieves
June 12, 2008 permalink
What sort of person makes a good child protection worker? How about a common thief? New Jersey has just indicted six Department of Children and Families workers who stole babies with one hand and gasoline with the other. In 1999 Connecticut disqualified Robert Jordan (New York Times archive) from a police job interview for having too high an IQ. Child protection workers can get disqualified for having too high an MQ (moral quotient).
N.J. indicts 12 public workers in gas thefts
New Jersey officials yesterday announced the indictment of a dozen government employees on charges of stealing gas from government pumps, the latest evidence that rising gas prices are prompting motorists to turn to crime.
Some of the defendants used magnetic swipe cards or fuel keys to steal between a few and several hundred gallons of gas, the state Attorney General's Office alleged.
Thieves across the Philadelphia region are apparently helping themselves to a commodity at record-high prices. In South Jersey, the price of regular gas averaged $3.98 per gallon yesterday, according to AAA.
Nationwide, auto-repair shops are reporting instances of thieves drilling into fuel tanks - at the risk of sparking an explosion - along with the more traditional gas-station drive-offs and siphoning.
The New Jersey indictments, which were returned Tuesday, accuse six employees of the City of Camden and the city's Board of Education of gassing up vehicles for personal use at government pumps. Also charged were six current or former employees of the state Department of Children and Families, and one private citizen.
The 13 face a variety of charges, including second- and third-degree counts of official misconduct. The maximum penalties are 10 years in state prison and a $150,000 fine for a second-degree count and five years and $15,000 for a third-degree count.
Attorney General Anne Milgram accused the defendants of taking a free ride at the expense of state and local taxpayers.
"These thefts are a slap in the face to taxpayers who are struggling to afford the gas they need to get to work and to the grocery store," she said.
After the indictments, state comptroller Matthew Boxer's office will audit vehicle and gas use in the Department of Children and Families, which has about 2,500 vehicles and uses tens of thousands of gallons of gas a week.
Among those indicted were Patrick L. Freeman, 66, of Camden, superintendent of Camden's Bureau of Recreation. He is accused of stealing about 37 gallons of gas for his own car and his son's car on four occasions in September and October.
Freeman has been a city employee for 30 years; his salary is about $72,000. A woman who answered the phone at Freeman's residence said he could not take calls because of an abscessed tooth.
Some Camden City employees are authorized to use government pumps to fill personal vehicles for city business. The two indicted employees, Freeman and Terrance Mayo of Lindenwold, did not have that authorization.
The Rev. Tony Evans, spokesman for Camden, did not return a call for comment. Evans, who also is director of the city's Department of Health and Human Services, supervises Freeman and Mayo, who is accused of stealing about 20 gallons from city pumps for a friend's SUV.
Camden school board employees Urshell Pearson of Philadelphia and Charles Rice, William Elliot and Sandra Ingram, all of Camden, are accused of fueling personal vehicles at city pumps without authorization or taking more gas than they were entitled to and then falsifying records.
The employees have been suspended pending school board action, board spokesman Bart Leff said. Those with tenure will be suspended with pay and those without tenure will be suspended without pay, Leff said, but he was unable to find out which employees had tenure.
The indicted employees of the Department of Children and Families have been suspended pending the outcome of the criminal charges, said Kate Bernyk, a department spokeswoman. For now, they are being paid; a union hearing will determine whether that will continue, Bernyk said.
In January, five employees of Newark, N.J., were charged with stealing gasoline from city pumps. One worker allegedly stole 15,302 gallons, worth about $45,000, by letting other people fuel their personal vehicles at government pumps.
David Weinstein, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic in Hamilton, N.J., said one of the organization's tow-truck contractors in that Mercer County township found his tank "siphoned completely dry" last week.
"You could say that we had to call ourselves for a tow of a tow," Weinstein said.
And in Parsippany, N.J., $3,000 in diesel was stolen from tractor-trailer tanks in a trucking company parking lot in late May, police said.
According to the National Association of Convenience Stores, gasoline theft from retailers peaked just after Hurricane Katrina, when gas prices topped $3 per gallon.
Soon after that, convenience-store owners started requiring customers to pay before pumping, which has cut down on drive-offs, said Jeff Lenard, vice president of communications for the association.
"People are still stealing. It's just harder to steal from pumps," Lenard said.
Sales of locking gas caps, which are intended to dissuade would-be gas thieves, have spiked in the last two or three months at Stant Inc. of Connersville, Ind., one of the largest manufacturers of the devices in the country. Monthly sales of locking gas caps are three to four times what they were a year ago, said Chris Hoffman, product marketing manager for the company, which sold more than a million to the aftermarket last year. Most retail for $5 to $25.
In Audubon, Camden County, locking gas caps "have been flying off the shelves" of Napa Auto Parts on the White Horse Pike, assistant manager Glen Dimitri said.
"With thieves siphoning gas out there, they're panic-stricken," he said. "They put $50 to $60 in the tank and don't want anybody stealing it."
Contact staff writer Adrienne Lu at 609-989-8990 or email@example.com.
Inquirer staff writers Rita Giordano and Matt Katz contributed to this article, which also contains information from the Associated Press.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Ottawa CAS Board Meeting
June 12, 2008 permalink
John Dunn reports on a CAS board meeting yesterday.
I attended last nights Ottawa CAS Board meeting and a couple of things happened of interest.
1. Last month's board meeting I asked the board to clarify what "conducting business" means in their bylaws pertaining to eligibility requirements for membership. You either have to reside in Ottawa, or be conducting business in Ottawa. So I asked for clarification because the Society has rejected a sixty-year-old, former crown ward of the Society membership because he lives just outside the jurisdiction. Clarification of "Conducting Business" assist us in determining if the real reason they are banning his membership application. (We suspect it is because he fought for copies of his records recently and upon doing so, learned he was not an only child and found his sister who lives locally and whom he has now met as a result of getting access to his files after a long CFSA Board review etc. and complaint process.)
At last month's meeting they told me that they [pre]vented me from speaking to my issue of concern through a pre-emptive discussion on a potential agenda item you see? Very smooth, but very effective.
3. The big one. Since all agenda items were agreed upon during the "Approval of the Agenda"... this means that if you have anything to add or amend or delete from the agenda, you do it right there and then. Not after. So anyhow, they approve the agenda, and move on. They do a presentation regarding recent and new initiatives etc... then my turn. Public Presentations, to which I make positive comments regarding the recent initiatives on getting Wards networked with the community (schools, Universities, Work places etc) Then since the agenda is supposedly approved I see nothing more to speak to of concern to me and sit down.
Once they finally get around to item 6 on the agenda, and 6.1 and 6.2, ready to move on to 7, the Treasurer/HR Financial Head Merv Sabey interjects and starts ask " and how whistleblower policies are redundant.
Then he recommends that instead they simply offer to amend the current "code of conduct" of employees so that if they have complaints they bring them to the head of the Board (President) or Executive Director or the head of the Finance Committee.. (that's him) etc... (don't forget the charges I have against them are based on the fact that they hired a lawyer to commit the offence they are currently charged for and each one of those three persons are involved)
After his long detailed description of how burdened they are by such measures, he lets the board discuss or vote.
I beg leave from the board to speak since this was not on the agenda. To which a rather confused board looks around at each other.. and says approves my request to speak. I then say, what if hypothetically speaking, the persons who have done the wrongdoing, such as illegal spending of monies etc.. are the head of the Board?
The Foster Care Council of Canada
Source: email from John Dunn
Larry Finck Speaks
June 12, 2008 permalink
Larry Finck, the father whose baby Mona Clare was seized by police after a three-day standoff with police in May 2004, has given an interview to the Halifax Herald.
Harper Apologizes to Indians
June 11, 2008 permalink
Today Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper apologized in parliament to aboriginals taken from their parents and raised in residential schools. His speech included the paragraphs:
We now recognize that it was wrong to separate children from rich and vibrant cultures and traditions, that it created a void in many lives and communities, and we apologize for having done this.
We now recognize that, in separating children from their families, we undermined the ability of many to adequately parent their own children and sowed the seeds for generations to follow, and we apologize for having done this.
These are good words. We hope the same sentiments can be applied to families today who are separated under pretext of child protection. That could avoid the requirement for a prime minister in a future generation to issue another apology.
You can read a transcript of the prime minister's remarks from the CBC or listen the the voice of Stephen Harper (mp3, 4.5 megabytes, obtained from the website of the prime minister).
Kansas Child Protectors Fake Evidence
June 11, 2008 permalink
Vickie Burris, an advocate based in Kansas, caught Don Jordan, secretary of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, saying in a recorded conversation that affidavits presented to courts by his agency are faked. We have so far been unsuccessful in getting a copy of the recording from Mrs Burris, but we have the report in the Wichita Eagle below.
Concerns arise over SRS files' validity
For years, some families have complained that court documents filed by social workers that result in children being removed from the home have contained false or fabricated information.
Now, some say they have proof.
The head of the state's child welfare agency was recorded in a meeting with a family advocacy group saying that Sedgwick County prosecutors have "bullied" social workers into putting information they don't agree with in affidavits. Those affidavits are used to decide whether children remain in protective custody or are returned to their parents.
Sedgwick County prosecutors deny using improper pressure. And three Sedgwick County judges who hear the cases say they have seen no evidence of wrongdoing.
But critics of the state child custody system and some legislators say the remarks by Don Jordan, secretary of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, raise questions about the affidavits' validity.
The affidavits are important because judges rely on the documents to decide whether children go home to their parents or remain in temporary custody or go into foster care.
The affidavits, typically three to four pages long, are based on interviews by social workers with parents, children, relatives, teachers.
The social workers lay out results of their child abuse and neglect investigations. Prosecutors then cite the documents in petitions recommending that children remain in temporary custody.
During a meeting with the advocacy group Citizens for Change on March 18 in Topeka, Jordan was recorded saying:
"But in Sedgwick County oftentimes we end up writing things because it's what our social workers get bullied by the District Attorney's Office into writing. So they really have no belief in what it says."
Later in the meeting, Jordan said: "I am working on our staff that we do our assessments properly and we not get bullied into writing things we don't believe. But then the reality comes down to, you send a 25-year-old social worker into a room with a 15-year county ADA (assistant district attorney) who is willing to yell at them, cuss at them, scream at them and threaten them, you know."
Jordan said he made the comments but wishes he hadn't said "bullied," adding that he respects District Attorney Nola Foulston and her staff.
"I don't think they intend to bully our staff. It was a poor choice of words.... I don't believe anybody's asked to perjure themselves or lie."
He also said social workers should have independence. "I think they (affidavits) should reflect, without intervention of the DA's office, the professional judgment of the social worker."
His comments not only raise questions about the affidavits' validity but also seem to be grounds for families to contest court decisions that have kept their children in state custody, said Vickie Burris, president of Citizens for Change, a statewide family advocacy group.
"The courts are only going to be as good as the information they receive," she said.
Jordan's comments also confirm suspicions Burris has had, based on complaints from families, that the affidavits include false information, she said.
Often, attorneys advise families not to contest the information or risk angering the judges, the prosecutors and SRS, she said.
Burris said an observer who was not a member of Citizens for Change recorded the comments. She said she had no part in the recording and learned of it afterward.
Foulston, the district attorney, called Jordan's recorded comments "outrageous."
"That was just so disappointing to have something like that said by an agency head," she said.
"You can't un-ring the bell. He's left the impression with citizens and individuals in the community that the District Attorney's Office is doing something that we shouldn't be doing."
Deputy District Attorney Ron Paschal, who oversees Sedgwick County juvenile cases, said his staff reviews the affidavits but does not improperly pressure social workers about what they write in the documents.
Although preserving families is one goal of the child-welfare system, "our utmost concern is the immediate safety of the child," he said.
"We have a job to do, and they have a job to do, and if they come to our office and have not done it, we're not going to hesitate to ask them to follow up," Paschal said.
Prosecutors have the legal authority and responsibility to order that relevant information be put in the affidavits, Paschal said. Social workers don't have to sign them if they disagree, he said.
"We're the ones who have to prove the matter in court."
Paschal said Jordan, after being contacted by The Eagle, called to apologize.
"He was pandering to this particular group. He used 'pandering.' Those were his words," Paschal said of Jordan's talk with him.
Custody system critics
Nancy Berry is one of the critics of the state custody system, and she attended the meeting where Jordan made the comments.
Berry, 54, of Wichita, said she spent $30,000 of her retirement savings, much of it on legal fees, so her family could regain custody of her nephew.
For a time, the boy's parents lost custody to the state partly because of older medical records that were "pieced together to make a case," Berry said. A social worker cited the records in the affidavit, she said.
In that kind of situation, she said, a family has great difficulty contesting the information. "If it's in the record, you can't get it out. It's there forever."
Marlene Jones, 69, of Wichita, also attended the meeting with Jordan. Her family also has had a custody battle with the state.
When Jones heard Jordan say that prosecutors were bullying social workers over the affidavits, she said, "I was so floored at what he said, that this man acknowledged... he was aware of what was going on."
Jones, who has voiced concerns to the Legislature about the fairness of the child custody system, contends that her family lost custody of her grandson partly because of false information in the social worker's affidavit.
"I believe that SRS is a necessity," Jones said. "They just have to get it right."
Belief in the system
Sedgwick County District Judge Jim Burgess, presiding judge in the juvenile division, which handles the child custody cases, said the process is thorough and fair.
Burgess said he is confident that prosecutors "would never intentionally put in false information."
Over the years, he has heard complaints that social workers get pressured but has not seen evidence of it, he said.
In "at least 95 percent" of the cases, parents do not contest moves to keep their children in temporary custody, he said.
Critics of the child-welfare system might see details in the affidavits as "piling on," but prosecutors are only trying "to present the clearest picture they can," Burgess said.
District Judge Tim Henderson said he typically sees a social worker's affidavit about 48 hours into a child abuse investigation, after a child has been taken into protective custody.
Before he signs a custody order, Henderson said, "I look at the social worker, and I say, 'Do you believe we've done everything we can to prevent this child from being removed from the family?'
"I am very comfortable in the integrity of the DA's office and the (SRS) workers... because I am constantly asking them if they believe it is appropriate," he said.
"Are there inaccuracies in these affidavits sometimes? Sure. It's because of the tight time frames and limitations.... But it doesn't mean that anybody's being bullied and anybody's being dishonest."
State Rep. Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, a lawyer and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said of Jordan's comments: "At a minimum, it raises the question as to whether the affidavit... is truly representative of the caseworker who has signed the affidavit. That doesn't necessarily put into doubt" all information in the affidavit, O'Neal said.
An affidavit is a "sworn, legal document signed by one person," he said. "So it needs to reflect truly what that person is swearing to."
O'Neal called Jordan's comments "refreshing" because of their apparent candor.
"I applaud him for recognizing (a concern) and saying we need to do something about it."
State Rep. Jim Morrison, R-Colby, said concerns about child custody investigations aren't limited to Sedgwick County.
Morrison said he has heard that social workers around the state have at times felt overly pressured by prosecutors.
So he wasn't surprised to hear of Jordan's comments, Morrison said.
"I think it's good that we have a secretary (of SRS) that is as frustrated as a lot of people who are complaining," he said.
Reach Tim Potter at 268-6684 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Wichita Eagle
Addendum: Two videos posted to YouTube give the actual words of Don Johnson. We regret we can not be sure of the authenticity of these postings.
Horwath Introduces Ombudsman Bill
June 11, 2008 permalink
Today Andrea Horwath introduced her bill to allow the provincial ombudsman to report on Ontario's children's aid societies. It is Bill 93, Ombudsman Amendment Act (Children's Aid Societies), 2008. The text is not yet online, but should be available at the linked location soon. We thank a reader for the tip.
Trust Me With Your Kid's Life
June 10, 2008 permalink
Here is the latest installment in the Alberta Kafka case, in which an unnamed child died at the hands of an unnamed woman who went to trial with an unknown outcome. Janice Tarchuk, Alberta's minister of children and youth services, has issued a press release on a special review. Two of the review board's eight recommendations deal with overcrowding in foster homes. You don't need to know the other six. Do you feel your children are safer now?
Child's death leads to tightening of Alberta's foster parent rules
EDMONTON — The death of a child living in an Edmonton home has led to an overhaul of foster care in Alberta, including a closer assessment of who takes in children.
The government review was ordered after a 32-year-old woman was charged with second-degree murder in the death of a three-year-old boy in her care in January 2007.
The woman was also charged with assault causing bodily harm and failure to provide the necessities of life.
Janice Tarchuk, minister of children and youth services, ordered a special review into the boy's death.
Critics of the foster-care system say the real problem is a shortage of people willing to take in children across Alberta.
Two of the review board's eight recommendations deal with overcrowding in foster homes.
Source: Canadian Press hosted by Google
Addendum: The Calgary Herald published a more complete story, giving the recommendations. Nothing in the review directly applied to the Edmonton child's death in January 2007. For example the recommended six month foster care review would not have helped, because according the the Edmonton Journal (our archive), the boy in question died after only six weeks away from his parents. So what is the point of the study?
Alberta promises to fix foster care in wake of murder charge
EDMONTON - The Alberta government pledged Tuesday to change the way it recruits foster parents, following a special review of the system triggered by an Edmonton foster mother's second-degree murder charge in the death last year of her three-year-old foster son.
Although the review praised the province's overall system, it found problems with a foster-care program that has no ``probation'' system for first-time foster parents, was inconsistent in the way it assessed home suitability and somewhat arbitrarily made exceptions to the two-child and four-child limits in many foster homes.
Children and Youth Services Minister Janis Tarchuk announced that the government will follow all the panel's recommendations. It will create later this year an ``interim'' classification for the first six months of a foster home's operation, and reassess the home at the end of that probationary period. It will also draft consistent standards for evaluating prospective foster homes.
The province also pledges it will tighten its policies on placing more than two children in Level 1 foster homes, and four children with better-trained Level 2 foster parents.
The province will also strengthen oversight of other adult caregivers in a foster home, such as nannies.
Nothing in the review released today directly applied to the Edmonton child's death in January 2007, and any details of that case the review panel explored are being kept secret because of privacy laws.
In that incident, the boy was rushed to hospital with severe head trauma, and the 32-year-old single mother was charged with murder the following day after her foster son was taken off life support.
The mother had one other foster child in her care, as well as two of her own.
Earlier this year, a judge ordered that the woman stand trial. She is also charged with assault causing bodily harm, abandoning a child and failing to provide the necessities of life. Under her bail conditions, she cannot have any children in her care, and cannot have contact with the nanny she employed when the boy was fatally injured.
These new restrictions come at a time when Alberta faces a shortage of foster homes, after years of steady decline. The government will launch a major recruitment drive for new foster parents this fall.
Source: Calgary Herald
Dumbrill Wants CAS Clients
June 10, 2008 permalink
John Dunn alerts us to a message at the end of Gary Dumbrill's homepage (expand it below) and adds: "This guy is legitimate. He teaches Anti-Oppressive Social Work".
This is a chance to tell your story to someone who will listen, and has the kind of authority that can change the future direction of social work in Ontario.
CAS service users' research notice
The project “Building Service Users' Knowledge: Understanding Child Protection Services from the Receiving End” is now in its final stages. If you are a parent living in Ontario who has received services from a Children’s Aid Society (CAS) and you have something to say about the best ways parents can work with CASs, please contact me for details about how to take part.
Dr. Gary Dumbrill
School of Social Work
Source: Gary Dumbrill
Privatizing Foster Care
June 10, 2008 permalink
A new website has appeared, Urban Fusion. It does not give a street address, but the domain was registered on March 5, 2008 to Urban Fusion, 433 Jarvis Street, Toronto Ontario M4Y 2G9.
We are not sure what Urban Fusion is, but it could be part of a new effort to privatize foster care. If foster care is to be administered by a for-profit corporation, or some kind of theoretically non-profit subsidiary of social services, it will make the condition of foster children even worse. Services in which consumers can voluntarily select among providers, such as groceries, are best provided by private, for-profit suppliers. Services for which the consumer has no choice, such as prisons, are better provided by public agencies. For in-depth reasons for this, we suggest the book Systems of Survival by Jane Jacobs.
Nazi Children Seized
June 9, 2008 permalink
Manitoba has seized two children from a neo-Nazi father, a man unlikely to find friends outside his party. Trouble is, how does his belief harm his children? Never mind that when the kids grow up, they could be a danger to Slavs and Jews, the child protection laws are supposed to protect children. Manitoba is using the lawless family courts to suppress objectionable behavior unrelated to children, just as child protectors have been terrorizing nudists and vegetarians and are zeroing in on smokers.
Alleged neo-Nazi's kids taken
Child and Family Services recently seized two young kids from a Winnipeg home based on concerns their father -- an alleged neo-Nazi -- was filling their heads and marking their bodies with messages of hate, the Free Press has learned.
The government agency is seeking a permanent order of guardianship based on ongoing concerns about the safety of the seven-year-old girl and two-year-old boy.
A Court of Queen's Bench case is ongoing, with the next hearing set for today. The Free Press is not publishing the names of the parents to protect the identity of the children.
"The children may be at risk due to the parents' behaviour and associates. The parents might endanger the emotional well-being of the children," CFS wrote in court documents obtained by the Free Press.
Winnipeg police confirmed their involvement in the case, which came to a head in late March when school officials raised concerns about the little girl. A source familiar with the case said she showed up one morning in class with disturbing scrawlings on her body, including a swastika and the common white-supremacist tag of "14/88."
The number 14 refers to a familiar slogan containing 14 words -- "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children." The 88 represents the letters HH (the eighth in the alphabet) to mean "Heil Hitler."
Const. Pat Chabidon confirmed the father was recently interviewed based on allegations he was involved in "hate crimes involving children." Police had questioned him regarding similar concerns in 2005, he said.
No criminal charges have been laid at this time, but police turned the file over to CFS, Chabidon said.
Sources say a search warrant was recently executed at the family's home in south Winnipeg. Several items, including a computer, were seized.
The mother of the children is also named in the CFS application as being unfit to parent, based on her relationship with her husband. He is the young boy's father and the girl's stepfather.
"There are also concerns about parental drug and alcohol use in the home," CFS wrote.
The parents are believed to be fighting the application for guardianship on several grounds, including a belief their right to freedom of speech shouldn't be interfered with and a denial they are polluting the children's minds.
The couple couldn't be reached for comment, and their lawyer didn't return telephone messages.
They have not yet filed any affidavits outlining their position. A judge recently ordered a psychological report on the father as part of the ongoing case. The results have not been finalized.
?-- with files from James Turner
Source: Winnipeg Free Press
Addendum: Manitoba CFS can be proud of themselves. They have conducted a successful shotgun divorce. After receiving court documents, the children's mother threw her husband out of her home.
The Canadian Press
Mother of swastika-bearing girl says she is good parent, wants children back
June 10, 2008
WINNIPEG — She freely admits that her seven-year-old daughter was sent to school sporting a swastika - the emblem of Nazi Germany that has since been adopted as a symbol of racially motivated hate groups.
She says she is not a neo-Nazi, just proud of her northern European heritage.
Now she is fighting to get her children back from Manitoba Child and Family Services, and she's finding herself at the centre of a case that has raised questions about whether children are affected by parental views that may be extreme.
In an interview Tuesday with The Canadian Press, the woman, who under provincial law cannot be identified, said her politics are misunderstood.
"This isn't, you know, a bunch of ... skinheads running around the streets in neo-Nazi gear," she said. "It's not about that. It's about being proud of who you are and what you are, and I don't have a problem with anybody feeling pride in who they are."
Officials at her daughter's school called social services officials in March after the young girl showed up with what police call "hate-related drawings" on her body, including a swastika.
Child welfare workers removed the girl and a two-year-old boy from the woman's Winnipeg home. The government is now asking the courts for permanent guardianship of the children.
An affidavit from a child welfare worker cites the "behaviour and associations" of the woman and her husband as one reason for the removal, as well as drug and alcohol use.
The mother remembers the day her child left for school with a swastika on her body. She wouldn't discuss details but hinted she had not drawn the symbol.
"I worked a lot. I'm not going to say I was ignorant to it, 'cause I wasn't," she said. "That's all I'm going to ... comment."
The woman says she threw her husband - the stepfather of the girl and biological father of the boy - out of the family home three days after seeing court documents outlining the case against the family.
She says she has always worked long hours at her job in the restaurant industry to provide for her children and has never let her politics affect how her kids are raised.
She is vague about her political beliefs.
"I would never consider myself a neo-Nazi," she said. "I consider myself a proud Scottish chick."
She says she does not belong to any group, yet has a personal belief in white pride and talks collectively about a feeling that "people are very ignorant to our politics because of media bias".
She also defends the use of the swastika, pointing out that it is based on an ancient symbol for prosperity. She rejects a suggestion that someone seeing it drawn on a child would be unlikely to interpret it as anything other than a Nazi image.
So how far can parents go in teaching their children what they think is right?
Harvey Frankel, a professor of social work at the University of Manitoba, said earlier this week that the government could face an uphill battle trying to convince a judge to remove children strictly because of their parents' political beliefs.
Manitoba guidelines allow child welfare workers to intervene in any situation where there is concern for the safety or well-being of a child. That could cover instances where the controversial beliefs cause the children problems at school or elsewhere.
Source: The Canadian Press, hosted by Google
Addendum: A follow-up story shows that for holding beliefs that are politically incorrect, but not abusive to children, a mother and father have been separated, and Manitoba intends to separate two children permanently from both parents.
Mother of girl with swastika wants children back
CTV.ca News Staff
Updated: Fri. Jul. 4 2008 10:48 PM ET
Manitoba Child and Family services was in court Monday to argue for permanent guardianship of a girl and boy, after the girl was sent to school sporting a swastika -- a symbol typically associated with racially-motivated hate groups.
The children's mother denies she has done anything wrong.
"I think I'm a pretty good mother. I've raised my children to have pride in themselves. That's all I've ever done." she told CTV News, as she sat beneath a banner with the slogan "White Pride Worldwide."
Child services was called to a city elementary school in March after the girl, 7, arrived at school with a Swastika, the words "Hail Victory" and "Aryan Pride" written on her arms and one leg in permanent maker.
The number "14/88," a reference to Hitler, was also written on the little girl. The 14 refers to the number of words in the slogan: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children." The 88 stands for HH and means "Heil Hitler."
Police and officials from the department went to the family's Winnipeg home and seized the girl's two-year-old brother, and in the process discovered what they said was evidence of the parents' neo-Nazi beliefs.
The mother of the children has maintained she is not a neo-Nazi, but is simply proud of her northern European background and describes herself as a "white nationalist."
She said her daughter drew the swastika on her own arm after taking part in a "white pride" racist march in Calgary. When the girl's teacher washed the symbol off, the mother and daughter drew it on again with a marker.
The mother said drawing the swastika was stupid, but insisted the act harmed no one and her beliefs are a family matter.
"It's OK to be proud to be a native, it's OK to preach black power," she said, before adding, "But when you're white and you're proud, it's wrong."
The case against the mother and another man -- reportedly the father of the boy and stepfather of the girl, but now separated from the mother -- has attracted international attention.
Child services says it's concerned the parent's conduct might endanger the emotional well-being of the children. It's also said the children may be at risk of harm because of the parent's associations.
Experts have said it's the first time in years in Canada that children have been removed from their home due to the parents' beliefs.
Prof. Arthur Schafer, director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba, said many Canadian parents are intolerant, homophobic or sexist. But despite their disgusting views, it's not enough for the state to intervene.
"I don't think teaching your children loathsome, intolerable, bigoted views counts as psychological abuse," he said. "Or if it did, we'd have to seize hundreds of thousands of Canadian children."
With a report by CTV's Murray Oliver in Winnipeg
Pregnant Mother Cleared of Assault
June 9, 2008 permalink
When two social workers and five policemen entered the Urbana Illinois home of Donald Williams and his nine-month pregnant wife Patrice Moore-Williams to take their six children, the result was a melee in which the older children and one or both parents fought back. Prosecutors tried to blame the pregnant mother for an injury to social worker Pam Wendt. A jury has acquitted her of the charges. A jury cannot give her her children back.
Woman acquitted of charge she attacked DCFS worker
URBANA – An Urbana woman accused of battering a Department of Children and Family Services child protective investigator was acquitted of those charges Thursday.
A jury deliberated about four hours before acquitting Patrice Moore-Williams, 34, who listed an address in the 1100 block of Briarcliff Drive, of two counts of aggravated battery for a Jan. 10 attack on DCFS worker Pam Wendt.
Testimony in the two-day trial before Judge Heidi Ladd was that Wendt and co-worker Sheree Foley went to the home of Moore-Williams after receiving a report from an Urbana police officer that the six children there might be in danger. The women explained they are required to check out such reports within 24 hours of receiving them.
The women first went to the home on Jan. 8 and made contact with Donald Williams, 43, who told them his wife and children were not home.
Foley testified they later learned that Moore-Williams and the children were in a back bedroom. Foley described Williams as "very angry and intimidating" and that his actions caused her and Wendt to leave, saying they'd return the next day to check on the children.
The next morning, Foley said Williams again told the DCFS workers that his wife and children were gone.
On Jan. 10, the workers went to the house with Urbana police to check on the children, ages 3 to 13.
The check turned into a brawl among five Urbana police officers and Williams, while his wife, the six children and the two DCFS workers were all crowded into a narrow hallway trying to get the children out of the small house.
One of the children jumped on the back of a police officer and another bit Foley, according to testimony.
Wendt testified that during the melee, Moore-Williams came up behind her, grabbed her left hand and torqued her arm upward behind her back. Wendt said she had to have surgery on her shoulder and still feels the effects, she said.
In her defense, Moore-Williams denied that she touched Wendt and suggested Wendt, a 10-year DCFS employee, was making up the encounter to collect workman's compensation.
Her attorney, Assistant Public Defender Janie Miller-Jones, argued that none of the adults present saw Moore-Williams, who was nine months pregnant, touch Wendt.
Assistant State's Attorney Troy Lozar countered that was understandable given the chaos that was going on with nine adults and six children in a small area. Wendt, he said, was certain it was Moore-Williams who grabbed her and he argued that she had no motive to lie.
Donald Williams was also charged with aggravated battery to a peace officer and resisting arrest in connection with the incident but was found unfit to stand trial in March and is currently in a Department of Human Services facility.
His case is set for an Aug. 11 review.
Source: Urbana/Champaign News-Gazette
Drug Pusher Exposed
June 9, 2008 permalink
A leading drug researcher, Dr Joseph Biederman, has been exposed by America's most influential newspaper, the New York Times. He failed to report $1.6 million in payments from drug companies while publishing research supporting treatment of children with psychotropic drugs. Based on this kind of research, prescriptions for psychotropic drugs for children have greatly increased. Through the doctrine that failure to follow a doctor's orders is medical neglect, these drugs are then administered to children by force of arms.
Researchers Fail to Reveal Full Drug Pay
A world-renowned Harvard child psychiatrist whose work has helped fuel an explosion in the use of powerful antipsychotic medicines in children earned at least $1.6 million in consulting fees from drug makers from 2000 to 2007 but for years did not report much of this income to university officials, according to information given Congressional investigators.
By failing to report income, the psychiatrist, Dr. Joseph Biederman, and a colleague in the psychiatry department at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Timothy E. Wilens, may have violated federal and university research rules designed to police potential conflicts of interest, according to Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa. Some of their research is financed by government grants.
Like Dr. Biederman, Dr. Wilens belatedly reported earning at least $1.6 million from 2000 to 2007, and another Harvard colleague, Dr. Thomas Spencer, reported earning at least $1 million after being pressed by Mr. Grassley’s investigators. But even these amended disclosures may understate the researchers’ outside income because some entries contradict payment information from drug makers, Mr. Grassley found.
In one example, Dr. Biederman reported no income from Johnson & Johnson for 2001 in a disclosure report filed with the university. When asked to check again, he said he received $3,500. But Johnson & Johnson told Mr. Grassley that it paid him $58,169 in 2001, Mr. Grassley found.
The Harvard group’s consulting arrangements with drug makers were already controversial because of the researchers’ advocacy of unapproved uses of psychiatric medicines in children.
In an e-mailed statement, Dr. Biederman said, “My interests are solely in the advancement of medical treatment through rigorous and objective study,” and he said he took conflict-of-interest policies “very seriously.” Drs. Wilens and Spencer said in e-mailed statements that they thought they had complied with conflict-of-interest rules.
John Burklow, a spokesman for the National Institutes of Health, said: “If there have been violations of N.I.H. policy — and if research integrity has been compromised — we will take all the appropriate action within our power to hold those responsible accountable. This would be completely unacceptable behavior, and N.I.H. will not tolerate it.”
The federal grants received by Drs. Biederman and Wilens were administered by Massachusetts General Hospital, which in 2005 won $287 million in such grants. The health institutes could place restrictions on the hospital’s grants or even suspend them altogether.
Alyssa Kneller, a Harvard spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement: “The information released by Senator Grassley suggests that, in certain instances, each doctor may have failed to disclose outside income from pharmaceutical companies and other entities that should have been disclosed.”
Ms. Kneller said the doctors had been referred to a university conflict committee for review.
Mr. Grassley sent letters on Wednesday to Harvard and the health institutes outlining his investigators’ findings, and he placed the letters along with his comments in The Congressional Record.
Dr. Biederman is one of the most influential researchers in child psychiatry and is widely admired for focusing the field’s attention on its most troubled young patients. Although many of his studies are small and often financed by drug makers, his work helped to fuel a controversial 40-fold increase from 1994 to 2003 in the diagnosis of pediatric bipolar disorder, which is characterized by severe mood swings, and a rapid rise in the use of antipsychotic medicines in children. The Grassley investigation did not address research quality.
Doctors have known for years that antipsychotic drugs, sometimes called major tranquilizers, can quickly subdue children. But youngsters appear to be especially susceptible to the weight gain and metabolic problems caused by the drugs, and it is far from clear that the medications improve children’s lives over time, experts say.
In the last 25 years, drug and device makers have displaced the federal government as the primary source of research financing, and industry support is vital to many university research programs. But as corporate research executives recruit the brightest scientists, their brethren in marketing departments have discovered that some of these same scientists can be terrific pitchmen.
To protect research integrity, the National Institutes of Health require researchers to report to universities earnings of $10,000 or more per year, for instance, in consulting money from makers of drugs also studied by the researchers in federally financed trials. Universities manage financial conflicts by requiring that the money be disclosed to research subjects, among other measures.
The health institutes last year awarded more than $23 billion in grants to more than 325,000 researchers at over 3,000 universities, and auditing the potential conflicts of each grantee would be impossible, health institutes officials have long insisted. So the government relies on universities.
Universities ask professors to report their conflicts but do almost nothing to verify the accuracy of these voluntary disclosures.
“It’s really been an honor system thing,” said Dr. Robert Alpern, dean of Yale School of Medicine. “If somebody tells us that a pharmaceutical company pays them $80,000 a year, I don’t even know how to check on that.”
Some states have laws requiring drug makers to disclose payments made to doctors, and Mr. Grassley and others have sponsored legislation to create a national registry.
Lawmakers have been concerned in recent years about the use of unapproved medications in children and the influence of industry money.
Mr. Grassley asked Harvard for the three researchers’ financial disclosure reports from 2000 through 2007 and asked some drug makers to list payments made to them.
“Basically, these forms were a mess,” Mr. Grassley said in comments he entered into The Congressional Record on Wednesday. “Over the last seven years, it looked like they had taken a couple hundred thousand dollars.”
Prompted by Mr. Grassley’s interest, Harvard asked the researchers to re-examine their disclosure reports.
In the new disclosures, the trio’s outside consulting income jumped but was still contradicted by reports sent to Mr. Grassley from some of the companies. In some cases, the income seems to have put the researchers in violation of university and federal rules.
In 2000, for instance, Dr. Biederman received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study in children Strattera, an Eli Lilly drug for attention deficit disorder. Dr. Biederman reported to Harvard that he received less than $10,000 from Lilly that year, but the company told Mr. Grassley that it paid Dr. Biederman more than $14,000 in 2000, Mr. Grassley’s letter stated.
At the time, Harvard forbade professors from conducting clinical trials if they received payments over $10,000 from the company whose product was being studied, and federal rules required such conflicts to be managed.
Mr. Grassley said these discrepancies demonstrated profound flaws in the oversight of researchers’ financial conflicts and the need for a national registry. But the disclosures may also cloud the work of one of the most prominent group of child psychiatrists in the world.
In the past decade, Dr. Biederman and his colleagues have promoted the aggressive diagnosis and drug treatment of childhood bipolar disorder, a mood problem once thought confined to adults. They have maintained that the disorder was underdiagnosed in children and could be treated with antipsychotic drugs, medications invented to treat schizophrenia.
Other researchers have made similar assertions. As a result, pediatric bipolar diagnoses and antipsychotic drug use in children have soared. Some 500,000 children and teenagers were given at least one prescription for an antipsychotic in 2007, including 20,500 under 6 years of age, according to Medco Health Solutions, a pharmacy benefit manager.
Few psychiatrists today doubt that bipolar disorder can strike in the early teenage years, or that many of the children being given the diagnosis are deeply distressed.
“I consider Dr. Biederman a true visionary in recognizing this illness in children,” said Susan Resko, director of the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation, “and he’s not only saved many lives but restored hope to thousands of families across the country.”
Longtime critics of the group see its influence differently. “They have given the Harvard imprimatur to this commercial experimentation on children,” said Vera Sharav, president and founder of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, a patient advocacy group.
Many researchers strongly disagree over what bipolar looks like in youngsters, and some now fear the definition has been expanded unnecessarily, due in part to the Harvard group.
The group published the results of a string of drug trials from 2001 to 2006, but the studies were so small and loosely designed that they were largely inconclusive, experts say. In some studies testing antipsychotic drugs, the group defined improvement as a decline of 30 percent or more on a scale called the Young Mania Rating Scale — well below the 50 percent change that most researchers now use as the standard.
Controlling for bias is especially important in such work, given that the scale is subjective, and raters often depend on reports from parents and children, several top psychiatrists said.
More broadly, they said, revelations of undisclosed payments from drug makers to leading researchers are especially damaging for psychiatry.
“The price we pay for these kinds of revelations is credibility, and we just can’t afford to lose any more of that in this field,” said Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, executive director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute, which finances psychiatric studies. “In the area of child psychiatry in particular, we know much less than we should, and we desperately need research that is not influenced by industry money.”
Source: The New York Times
WECAS Secret Society
June 8, 2008 permalink
Yvonne Craig has applied for membership in the Children's Aid Society of Windsor/Essex. Her efforts have been stonewalled with the same effect as the efforts of John Dunn. There is no real prospect that she will become a member, or even find out the time and place of purportedly open meetings.
Here's a little breakdown of the "deal" with WECAS membership (some information is repetitive). April 1st/2008 I filled out the application form and supporting affidavits, with an enclosure in the form of a cheque "for a reasonable amount", as per the instructions I received in file attachments on applying for society membership.
April 14th/2008 I attempted to "personally" serve the packet containing all of the aforementioned paperwork, on a person within the Society offices, after the confusion and runaround of trying to ascertain "whom" it's supposed to go to. I'd made phone calls before arriving in an attempt at determination of "whom" Society membership applications would go to. Even after being "in the building", it was quite a chore for reception to locate anyone who had any idea what to do with me or the inquiry I was making. Then the man who presented himself (Roberto I think???) wasn't sure what to do and "thought it best" that I retain the "package of papers" til I'd communicated with Lana McDowell AGAIN, and arrange to come into Windsor on a separate occasion to deliver the packet of papers.
I returned to Windsor the following week, April 21st/2008, for multiple business appointments, one of which included a meeting with my daughter's CAS worker and her supervisor. Upon conclusion of this meeting, I again addressed "Society membership interests", serviced Ms. Eilleen Imeson (Jeimy Esquavel's supervisor) with the package of papers. Ms. Imeson assured that it would get to the "correct" person, who it was my mutual understanding would be Lana McDowell. Since that time, I have received nothing indicating I've been "initiated" as a Society member. The cheque enclosed remains "uncashed". I've made a minimum of two follow-up calls since regarding instatement of membership, when it MAY be forthcoming, and to try and get information on the date, time, and location of monthly WECAS membership meetings. The only person who's achieved some success in attaining this information from WECAS is Mr. John Dunn of the afterfostercare council in Ottawa.
I, today (Sunday, June 8th/2008) phoned and left a message for Lana McDowell AGAIN querying the "uncashed cheque", lack of information/response about society membership. I clearly stated the minimal detail I've attained through yourself, John Dunn of the afterfostercare council in Ottawa, that it's explicitly clear in the Act that general membership meetings are open to the public, but after several inquiries and follow-up calls you've attained more information than myself, yet I'm an interested person of the local community, and further the lack of a definitive date and time, other than the "general" knowledge I currently possess about their meetings. I said that I look forward to hearing back from her. Very pleasant, concise. Even though I feel it's all utterly ridiculous. This will make four phone inquiries, two personal inquiries, and a minimum of three follow-up calls inside of 8-12 weeks. RIDICULOUS.
Source: email from Yvonne Craig to John Dunn, copied with permission
F4J Strikes in England
June 8, 2008 permalink
Fathers for Justice is continuing its effort to bring family law to public attention. Today Captain Conception and Cash Gordon, British fathers Mark Harris and Jolly Stanesby, climbed onto the roof of Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality.
Fathers4Justice campaigners stage rooftop protest on Harriet Harman's house
Harriet Harman was forced to move out of her home today after two Fathers 4 Justice protesters climbed onto her roof to demand a meeting.
Ms Harman, who is Minister for Women and Equality, said it was not fair to waste police time or disturb her neighbours so she was going to stay elsewhere.
In a statement she said: "At about 7am Fathers 4 Justice climbed on the roof of my house.
"We are going to move out and stay somewhere else. I don't think it's fair for police resources to be tied up outside my house by this demonstration."
The two protesters - Mark Harris and Jolly Stanesby, from south Devon - were dressed as superheroes "Captain Conception" and "Cash Gordon".
A spokesman for the group said the demonstration on the roof of Ms Harman's south London home was intended as an "early Father's Day strike" against the Government over fathers' access to their children.
The group claimed that another two activists were inside Ms Harman's home in Herne Hill, south London, and had unfurled a banner from a bedroom window reading "A Father is for life, not just conception".
The campaigners said they intended to remain at the property until the Minister read Mark Harris's book, 'Family Court Hell'.
Fathers 4 Justice founder Matt O'Connor said: "Harriet Harman and the Government have refused all dialogue with F4J for the past two years.
"We are now resuming a full-scale campaign of direct action against the Government, its ministers and the judiciary. F4J is now the last line in the defence of fatherhood."
The protesters said police had told them there were two residents inside the house, thought to be Mrs Harman and her husband Labour Party treasurer Jack Dromey.
Mr Harris said: "All we did was push open the gate which wasn't even locked, put a ladder up and climbed up.
"In this time of heightened terror alerts I can't believe Harriet Harman has such lax security.
"My house is more secure than this." He added: "We are not here to cause any damage or trouble. It's all very peaceful and we won't threaten anyone."
A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said: "We were alerted at 8.51am to reports of two males on the roof of a residential address in Herne Hill.
"Officers are currently in attendance at the location and are speaking to the men."
Speaking at the scene Fathers 4 Justice spokesman Darryl Westell said he did not know how long the men would be on the roof, adding: "As long as possible. Probably until Harriet Harman herself comes out and speaks to us.
"Harriet Harman is one of the proponents of family destruction in this country. "Just two weeks ago in the IVF debate Labour removed the need for a father.
"It's another nail in the coffin for fathers. Harriet Harman should be ashamed of herself.
"Gordon Brown once said nothing means more than being a father. If that's the case the law needs to change.
"If you are a dad in this country and the mum isn't interested in you having contact with the child on a regular basis the law is not interested.
"This isn't about individual men. It's about the right in law for fathers to see their children."
Asked whether the stunt was the best way to get attention for their cause, he said: "You (the media) wouldn't be here if it wasn't for these brave guys getting up on Harriet Harman's roof.
"I don't care about Harriet Harman. I don't care about ruining her Sunday. I don't care if they have broken the law."
This is the latest in a long line of high-profile Fathers 4 Justice protests.
The most notorious incident involved activist Guy Harrison throwing a flour bomb at former prime minister Tony Blair in the House of Commons in May 2004.
Mr Blair was unhurt, but speaker Michael Martin immediately suspended the sitting halfway through Prime Minister's Questions.
Fathers 4 Justice was shut down in January 2006 after extremist sympathisers were accused of plotting to kidnap Mr Blair's son Leo.
But it was relaunched four months later when campaigners invaded the live broadcast of the National Lottery draw.
Members have previously raised awareness of their cause by scaling high-profile buildings, including Buckingham Palace, dressed as superheroes.
Mr Stanesby and another activist were fined after climbing Stonehenge dressed as cartoon caveman Fred Flintstone in February last year in protest about comments made by Tory leader David Cameron on absent fathers.
Source: The Mail on Sunday (UK)
Permanent Scars at FLDS
June 8, 2008 permalink
Children returned to FLDS after two months in foster care have regressed, one lost toilet training and reverted to diapers. Many scars will heal with time, but some, such a fear of police, will not.
Trauma of family separations may linger for FLDS children
More than a half century after Arizona separated polygamous families from their fathers for more than two years, women still weep when they recall childhood memories of the time.
Their enduring pain may foreshadow the legacy of April's raid at the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado, Texas. Though FLDS children were in state custody for about two months, they lost both parents and often, siblings - creating an emotional impact that can linger far longer, according to mental health professionals.
"Those kids will never be the same from when they left - never," said Bonnie Peters, executive director of the Family Support Center, a Salt Lake City counseling agency whose clients include members of polygamous communities.
For many of the children, the disruption of their lives continues, as their families settle into apartments and homes away from the ranch to await the results of a child welfare investigation.
The raid by Texas authorities led to more than 450 children, from infants to teenagers, being taken into state custody and placed in shelters across the state. A district judge on Monday released the children to their parents, members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Just how each child reacts to the experience will depend upon the individual, but post traumatic stress disorder is likely for many, said Patricia Merkley, a therapist who runs a Utah support group for women who are living in or have left polygamous communities.
Depending on age and other factors, symptoms may include flashbacks, night terrors, obsessive thoughts, hypervigilance and extreme reactions. A child may fixate on the idea that mom is going to die or something is going to happen to her and she'll suddenly vanish, Merkley said.
Reactions may be exacerbated because they were taken from a rural, isolated and collective family environment into a new culture. They were exposed to processed foods, new toys such as Slip 'n Slide and people who dressed and acted differently.
"That can make them have an accelerated sense of trauma," Peters said.
Dan Barlow was 21 when Arizona authorities intent on wiping out polygamy descended on Short Creek, as the FLDS community on the state border with Utah was then called. He had children taken into Arizona custody then - and today has children and grandchildren who were taken into custody in the Texas raid.
A crucial difference is that mothers and siblings remained together in 1953, he said.
"My little 4-year-old granddaughter there [in Texas] said, 'Mama, they put me in jail,' " he said. "I don't think our children felt that [in 1953] because they had their mothers. You can about stand anything if you've got your mother with you."
After the Arizona raid, Barlow's wife and three children were placed with a Mesa family, then in a low-income housing development, before returning home.
Barlow was exiled from the FLDS community in 2004, his wives and children reassigned to other men. Among them: Sarah Draper, who lived with their four young children at the YFZ Ranch.
Testifying during a mid-April FLDS custody hearing, child psychologist Bruce Perry had warned that children ages 5 and under were most likely to be traumatized by being taken into state custody. He said efforts should be made to keep them with their mothers.
Texas Child Protective Services followed that advice only for children under 12 months, and despite an early promise to strive to keep family groups together, separated dozens of siblings.
Earlier this week, a CPS official said the state will examine what services may be offered to reunited FLDS families. Counseling is sometimes provided for families when a child returns home after foster care, said Marleigh Meisner, a CPS spokeswoman.
As the area public mental health provider, Hill Country Community Mental Health and Mental Retardation Center has notified residents that support and debriefing is available.
"What they do with that on a collective basis is up to them," said Linda Werlein, Hill Country executive director. "We don't knock on anyone's door and say, 'You have to get services.' "
A few residents had requested help after the raid, she said.
For FLDS parents, signs of the stress their children experienced are already evident.
Lori Jessop, 25, said her 4-year-old daughter refers to any one who shows up at their temporary home in San Antonio as a police officer.
Her 2-year-old has reverted to diapers and a pacifier. The children wake frequently in the night and cling to their parents during the day.
Other parents say their children had a hard time understanding they were really going home with them; some said their small ones acted as though they hardly knew them.
During an interview this week, the young sons of Edson Jessop and Zevanda Young hid their faces and told reporters they would just as soon throw rocks at them than talk.
These parents say they know it will take love, patience and time until their children feel safe again.
When Heidi Foster's eight children, raised in a polygamous Davis County group, returned home in 2005 after months in foster care, a long-term impact remained, she said. One child was very angry. Many of them were insecure, wanting to sleep in her room.
The youngest had nightmares that began in foster care and continued for months after the children returned home, she said.
Foster is part of the Davis County Cooperative, also known as the Kingstons after its leaders. She describes the group as fundamentalist Mormons who participate in multiple committed relationships. Foster said her group, like the FLDS, denounces cigarettes, drugs and profanity and encourages healthy, homemade meals.
Returning home after foster care stints ranging from about five to 18 months, all of Foster's children were very emotional, she said. Home had become more sweet.
So had their appetites: a newfound interest in junk food took time to fade. Foster's 3-year-old would cry at the movies until his parents realized what the problem was: he didn't have the candy his foster parents would buy him.
A small silver lining: family's increased solidarity.
"It's funny ... sibling rivalries were gone," she recalled. "They had such a renewed appreciation for each other."
Source: The Salt Lake Tribune
Secret Justice, Private Hell
June 7, 2008 permalink
A survey of injustice in Britain's family courts. Secrecy is the wild-card that covers a host of abusive practices.
Secret Justice, Private Hell
ALASDAIR PALMER, June 2008
Every year more than 50,000 children in England and Wales have their fates decided by the family courts. When divorcing parents cannot agree on how the children they produced together should be looked after, a judge from the family courts will adjudicate and enforce a particular way of dividing those children’s time between their two parents. Equally, when officers of the state (usually social workers) believe that children’s interests would be better served by being taken away from their biological parents and given either to a new couple to adopt, or handed over to the care of a state-run institution, it again requires a decision from a judge from the family courts, a decision which will be irrevocable.
The family courts therefore wield enormous power. Their capacity to make or break lives is far greater than that possessed by the ordinary criminal courts. People can recover from prison. But most children who are forced by a decision from a family-court judge to lose contact with one or both parents, or who are made to enter the nightmare that many state-run care homes have become, are permanently damaged by the experience. For a parent, there is probably no greater catastrophe than to be forced to relinquish care of and contact with your child. For children, the long-term consequences can be psychologically disfiguring to a degree which it is difficult for anyone who has not gone through the experience to understand.
Deciding the fate of more than 50,000 children is also a critical area of social policy. Children who are placed in state-run care homes, for example, are much more likely to end up as criminals, as drug addicts and without jobs. Every year about 20,000 children are placed in such care homes; most of them will end up in prison or dependent on state hand-outs.
Given the colossal consequences of the decisions that they make, you would expect that the operation of the family courts would be matched by a determination to see that the power they wield is wisely, or at least properly, exercised — as the Government correctly insists: “the interests of the child are paramount”.
Yet even a cursory examination of the workings of the family courts reveals that almost no attempt at all is made to see that the family courts operate in a reasonably just, effective and sensible way.
There are several barriers in the way of any attempt to discover whether or not the decisions made are in fact in the best interests of the child. The first and the most formidable is that the family courts operate in secret. The blanket that covers what takes place in the family courts is so impenetrable that there is no systematic research about the effects of their decisions: no one except the judge, and the affected family (occasionally not even the family) is allowed to read the secret court documents.
It takes a knowledgeable, and rich, parent to challenge a decision, and thereby get it scrutinised by a judge in a higher court: most parents who have their children taken away are neither rich nor knowledgeable about the law. The inevitable result is that most decisions handed down by the family courts escape any kind of scrutiny at all. It is virtually impossible even to identify when there has been an unjust decision, never mind to put it right.
What evidence there is, however, points towards one conclusion: the system, and the law which underlies it, does not protect and promote the interests of many of the children with whom it deals.
One example is the extent to which it furthers the formation of single-parent families. Every year tens of thousands of children in England and Wales have parents who fight in court about how custody should be divided. A very large proportion of those children will lose contact with one of their parents within two years. Family law and the courts which implement it are largely responsible for that result.
It is a startling fact that there is no presumption in law in favour of ensuring that children have reasonable contact with both of their parents. As a consequence, any consideration, no matter how trivial, can, in disputed custody cases, be used to stop all material contact with the non-resident parent: if the resident parent sets contact with the non-resident at a pitifully low level, it can take years of litigation to get permission from the courts for the first overnight stay. No wonder that many thousands of non-resident parents give up the struggle, losing all meaningful contact with their children. One wholly predictable result is that thousands of de facto one-parent families are created every year — with incalculable social consequences, almost all of them bad.
In a perfect example of the effects of lack of scrutiny of family courts, ministers are unaware of what is happening. The astonishing truth is that they do not know what the law is, or how it operates. All of the recent ministers “for the family” have stated on the record that “the current legal position” is that “after separation, both parents should have a meaningful relationship with their children, providing it is safe”. But in fact, that is not the current legal position. The law only states that the decision should be made “in the best interests of the child”. Nowhere in all the thousands of pages of official “advice” on how contact between children and divorced or divorcing parents should be managed is there a single sentence which defines in a meaningful way what protecting and promoting “the best interests of the child” actually involves. There is certainly nothing that states that meaningful contact with both parents is in the best interests of the child. So judges in the family courts interpret the law, quite rightly, as not requiring meaningful contact with both parents.
The situation when the state intervenes to take children away from their biological parents is even worse.
Local authorities are aware that they frequently fail to protect children who are being viciously abused: Victoria Climbié, murdered by the couple charged with her care under the noses of social services officers who failed to identify what was going wrong, is a notorious example. Their response has been to expand the signs which might indicate abuse. But that expansion of the “tell-tale signs” has merely made social workers and others more likely to take children from their parents: it has not made them more likely to take away children who are actually suffering horrible maltreatment.
Agents of the state who want to take children from their parents have to prove to a judge that there will be “significant harm” to the child if he or she is left with his biological parents. Whether that test is effective in ensuring that children are removed only when it is absolutely necessary depends on how the notion of “significant harm” is understood. Once again, the problem is that the critical term has no meaningful definition in the legislation or in the hundreds of pages of advice which is meant to help interpret it.
“Significant harm” has come to mean more or less whatever social workers want it to mean. For example, “significant harm” now includes “emotional abuse”. Although “emotional abuse” is defined in Government guidance as “the persistent emotional ill treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent effects on the child’s emotional development”, it is left vague as to what sorts of treatment will cause such “severe and persistent effects”. Social workers and psychologists have interpreted “emotional abuse” so widely that it now includes everything from being too indulgent with a child to not being indulgent enough, from moving your body in the “wrong” way in front of your children to feeding them too many grapes (each of these examples is from reports by social workers alleging that parents were guilty of “emotional abuse”). It is not even necessary to show that a child has been damaged in any way at all. All that is necessary is the claim that, at some point in the future, the child might suffer emotional damage — a claim which is of course impossible for any parent to disprove.
But surely, you object, the courts will not uphold a local authority’s claim to take a child from its parents on so flimsy a basis as “emotional abuse”? Yet that is exactly what many of them do. More children were placed on the “at risk” register on grounds of suspected “emotional abuse” than for any other possible harm except “neglect” — a category which at least is capable of reasonably objective definition. Being placed on the “at risk” register is the first stage to being taken into care. And although the statistics are not available (they are secret or not kept at all), it is a good bet that far more children are being taken into care because they are judged to be subjects of “emotional abuse” than because they are thought to be the victims of physical or sexual abuse.
Judges are almost never in a position to challenge the claims of social service officials that a child is being “significantly harmed” by his or her biological parents. The legislation leaves it up to social workers, and the “experts” they can get to support their claims, to provide the definition of what “significant harm” amounts to. Such allegations are not tested in court, for the simple reason that there is no procedure available to test them. If there were, the family courts would grind to a halt: it would take days of evidence to get through the many hundreds of pages that social services submit in support of their claims.
So allegations from social workers that a child is being emotionally abused are usually just accepted as fact by the family courts. I have met some parents who have been victims of this process, and read the judgments which led to their losing their children (committing a criminal offence as I did so). It is a profoundly shocking experience.
The way family courts operate comes into public view only on very rare occasions. One such occasion involves a judgment delivered on 16 March 2006 by Mr Justice McFarlane, one of the 14 High Court judges of the Family Division, which, very unusually, he made public. It gives a graphic picture of what can happen.
A mother asked social services for help in looking after her nine-year-old daughter who had been displaying some “modest behavioural difficulties”. The mother also wanted a doctor to examine her daughter because she had been complaining of a tummy ache. The result of social services’ intervention was that, without consulting the girl’s parents, they obtained an Emergency Protection Order. Uniformed policemen arrived and forcibly took the child away. The child was prevented from seeing her parents for 14 months as a consequence. During that time she was placed in foster care. Her foster carers changed repeatedly. There was every indication that the council would not allow the girl ever to see her parents again. It was only when her parents managed to appeal to the High Court, and Mr Justice McFarlane was able to scrutinise the evidence, or rather the lack of it, that they were able to get the care order overturned and to get their child back.
Judge McFarlane patiently identified the “multiple failures” of both the social services and the courts in this case. He noted that when social services applied to the courts for an Emergency Protection Order [EPO] “every single one of the  elements of the team manager’s evidence was misleading, incomplete or wrong”. He added that “the picture given to the magistrates by the team manager was ... so seriously distorted that it is likely to have led the bench to have a totally erroneous view of the issues in this case”.
The court was supposed to scrutinise that picture. It failed to do so. It made no attempt at all to test social services’ claims about the dangers that leaving the child with its parents would pose. When the court upheld the request for an EPO, they did not give any reasons for the decision. The bench simply endorsed the claims made by social services officials. Yet when Mr Justice McFarlane asked them “what was the imminent danger that [the child] faced” on the afternoon she was taken into care, he found that “not one of them could give a satisfactory reply. The team manager could only repeatedly assert, ‘I could not say that the child was 100 per cent safe in that household’.” As Mr Justice McFarlane pointed out, this is “nothing like the test needed to justify an EPO”, not least because it is a test which could justify taking every child in the country from its parents — no home anywhere is “100 per cent safe”. But the court accepted it as appropriate grounds on which to remove a nine-year-old child from her parents.
Even after “all of the faults of the social workers’ presentation had been laid bare”, the local authority continued to insist that the EPO application was “properly presented” — a claim Mr Justice McFarlane found “truly astounding”. A year after the poor child had been taken away from her parents, the authority based its case on the need to keep her away from them “solely on allegations of emotional abuse”.
Although, in his judgment, Mr Justice McFarlane insisted that he did not think that appalling behaviour of this kind is frequent amongst social services or the family courts, the most disturbing aspect of his analysis is the degree to which it suggests that it is extremely common. None of the social services officials involved seem to have been aware of doing anything unusual or exceptional. They did not even admit that their behaviour was below acceptable standards. Similarly, the court which rubber-stamped their behaviour, and authorised the removal of the child, proceeded in what its members clearly thought was a completely routine fashion. There is no indication at all that they believed they were acting in any other than a completely acceptable way.
We simply do not know how many cases of child removal would, if competently examined in the manner of Mr Justice McFarlane, reveal comparably appalling behaviour, for most are never subject to this kind of examination. There are certainly some, as I know, because I have seen the documents which identify them. But there could be hundreds or there could be thousands of examples of needless and wrongful removals of children from their parents every year. It is a staggering indication of the failure of the system that it is impossible to discover the truth on so critically important a matter.
A recent Court of Appeal decision into a forced adoption case, published on May 1, shows that such conduct is indeed far more widespread than is suggested by the bland reassurances that it “is exceptional”. All of the three judges on the Appeal Court agreed that the conduct of the local authority (East Sussex) was “disgraceful....[Its behaviour] demonstrates a total misunderstanding of its functions under the 2002 Act. … The local authority quite deliberately set out to prevent the father from being heard. The conduct of the local council was an abuse of power, and wholly unacceptable”.
But as with the case heard by Mr Justice McFarlane, the way the council and its officials and social workers behaved suggests that they were used to acting in that “disgraceful” way. Lord Justice Wall noted, for example, that the social workers in the case “do not appear to see the need for good management. It is the arrogance of the agency’s behaviour in this case which is its most shocking aspect”.
There is very good reason to believe that the system is doing the opposite of what it ought to. Instead of helping to keep families together, it is breaking them apart, often for trivial reasons. Fundamental reform is a desperately urgent priority. There are three steps which would could be take immediately.
First: Lift the veil of secrecy. There is no area of government, or indeed of professional activity of any kind, which functions better when officials know that what they do will escape public inspection. It is inconceivable that the quality of decision-making too often characteristic of the family courts would be tolerated in the criminal courts. The only explanation for the difference is that the criminal courts are public: incompetence and errors are made public immediately. In the family courts, it is almost impossible even to identify, let alone to rectify, poor or incompetent decision-making. Of course children need to be protected from publicity. But it is not impossible to devise a system which combines publicity for the procedures and the bare facts of the case with anonymity for the children involved. It works in rape trials, where the identity of the victim is kept secret even though the facts of the case are made public.
Second: Produce a clear definition of critical notions such as “the best interests of the child” and “harm to the child”. The ambiguity and vagueness of those notions has led to their being deprived of all concrete meaning, which has in turn led to a situation in which it is impossible for the courts to assess claims that “a child will be harmed” if allowed to remain with his parents. Moreover, social services, and courts, rarely seem to recognise that placing a child in local authority care is usually in itself extremely harmful. That harm is consequently never weighed against whatever harm is alleged to result from allowing the child to remain with his or her parents. The assumption is that local authority care will be better than parental care: in fact, that is almost never true. Parental care has to be abysmally awful for local authority care to be a less harmful alternative.
Third: Induce a sense of scepticism in judges as to the reliability of claims made by social services and the experts they produce. Mr Justice McFarlane manifested an admirable and wholly appropriate scepticism in his review of the EPO in the case discussed above. But as that case reveals, many of those on the bench are unwarrantedly credulous of social services’ claims, rather than healthily sceptical. They are too willing simply to endorse, rather than to scrutinise, them.
None of these initial steps would be difficult to implement. The depressing thing is that all of them have been recommended in the past — and the Government has never acted on them. What will it take to produce the recognition that reform is essential? The possibility that thousands of children are taken wrongly from their parents every year is clearly not enough. I wonder what is.
Source: Standpoint Magazine (UK)
David Mark Hill R.I.P.
June 7, 2008 permalink
On September 10, 1996 David Mark Hill's wife Jacqueline was involved in a motor vehicle accident. South Carolina charged her with drunk driving and took three of their children into custody. On September 16 Mr Hill went to the Department of Social Services office in North Augusta South Carolina and killed three of their employees, James Riddle, Josie H Curry and Michael Gregory. He also tried to kill himself with a gunshot to the head, but in spite of brain damage, he survived. This incident left two widows, one widower and eight half-orphans, in addition to Mr Hill's fatherless children.
Yesterday, June 6, David Mark Hill was executed by the State of South Carolina.
The Augusta Chronicle has an archive of news stories on David Mark Hill. We copy a biographical article below. In this case, and thousands of others, social services makes no attempt to help a family with its problems, but adds to them by harming the children, acting not as healer, but as scavenger.
Hill's downward spiral
Murder suspect led troubled life checkered with wrongdoing, mistakes and tragedies
David Mark Hill's downward spiral started on a dusty Augusta road in 1979, on a day he lost control of the family truck, wrecked and killed his sister.
``That really has taken its toll (on Mr. Hill),'' said Al Duval, who has attended church with the Hill family for 20 years.
Five years after his sister's death, Mr. Hill pleaded guilty in Arizona to felony child abuse charges, for abusing his then-21-month-old son, Nicholas, from a first marriage. A judge later reduced the charges to a misdemeanor.
Then, last year, his daughter Rebecca, now 4, was paralyzed in a car accident when his second wife, Jacqueline, crashed into a truck.
Friends say Mr. Hill hasn't been all right since.
Now police say Mr. Hill is the man who gunned down three Department of Social Services caseworkers Monday in their North Augusta office. DSS agents placed Rebecca in custody two weeks ago after Mrs. Hill was charged with driving under the influence and child endangerment.
Mr. Hill shot himself in the mouth Tuesday morning and remains in serious condition at Medical College of Georgia Hospital. He is heavily guarded.
When he recovers somewhat, police will serve him with five felony warrants - three counts of murder and one count each of kidnapping and assault and battery with intent to kill - and extradite him to South Carolina.
``He's not going anywhere,'' said Sgt. Tim Pearson of North Augusta Public Safety.
Mr. Hill's life, as drawn from public records, news clippings and interviews with friends and police, has been a long stretch of not managing to get much of anywhere. For every misfortune or pure accident that has befallen the 36-year-old or his family, there is a deliberate wrongdoing or blunder.
But it's the two traffic accidents - his in 1979 and Rebecca's in 1995 - that tormented Mr. Hill, Mr. Duval said.
Around 6:30 a.m. on April 10, 1979, Mr. Hill, then 18, was driving his father's truck down McDade Farm Road near the Hill's Hephzibah home. His 19-year-old sister Margaret was a passenger.
Mr. Hill told police he was blinded by the sun and the truck skidded out of control when he jammed on the brakes. The truck skidded into a ditch, then overturned. His sister was thrown halfway out of the passenger window by the initial impact with the ditch. She died when the truck rolled over onto her side.
Richmond County records do not show Mr. Hill was charged in the accident and the only criminal conviction on his record is the child abuse charge.
A current neighbor of the Hill family, Connie Gnann, said the family still talks about the accident and Margaret's death.
The Hills have an unlisted phone number and the house on Bridle Path Drive sits back far from the road, guarded by a ``No Trespassing'' sign at the foot of the driveway.
Mr. Hill had graduated from Hephzibah High School in 1978, according to Richmond County school records, and decided after his sister's death to leave Augusta. He became a missionary for the Church of Latter-day Saints and moved out West.
While living in Flagstaff, Ariz., Mr. Hill pleaded guilty to abusing Nicholas, now about 14 years old, on March 6, 1984. His first wife, Dian, had taken out a restraining order against him then, but that was dropped with the plea.
The courts sentenced Mr. Hill to seven days in jail, plus the seven he had already served and gave him 60 days probation. He was ordered to get counseling in Georgia, where the Hills planned to return.
The Hills came back to the Augusta area but soon found their financial life in dire straits. Mr. Hill and Dian declared bankruptcy in 1986 and lost their home to foreclosure in 1988.
Throughout this time, Richmond County records show numerous minor traffic charges for Mr. Hill, from speeding and running a stop sign to driving without proof of insurance in January this year.
In March, he was charged with minor traffic violations in Edgefield County and booked into the county jail. Mr. Hill was stopped at a road check set up by the South Carolina Department of Highway Patrol and officials say he was charged with having no driver's license and no vehicle tag.
On May 24, 1991, Mr. Hill married Jacqueline, whom he met while working at Amoco chemical plant. The two filed a federal lawsuit against the company in 1992, alleging she was a sexual harassment victim and he was denied a raise and severance pay because of the fallout of her complaints. The Hills settled with Amoco in a confidential agreement in March 1995.
But then, another accident.
Rebecca's paralysis from the September 1995 accident weighed heavily on the Hills, friends say. Mr. Hill tried suicide four times this year, most recently on Tuesday, after the DSS killings, friends and police said. Mrs. Hill took out a restraining order on him after a July 21 suicide attempt.
On Sept. 10, Mrs. Hill wrecked their truck while driving their twin 2-year-old boys in Aiken County. She was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and child endangerment, with both charges still pending, said Barbara Morgan, Aiken County solicitor.
That's when DSS stepped in and took Rebecca into custody. The twins went to stay with Mrs. Hill's parents in Anderson, S.C.
Less than two weeks later, three DSS caseworkers are dead and Mr. Hill lies in his hospital bed, awaiting triple murder charges.
Staff Writer Kathy Steele contributed to this article.
Source: The Augusta Chronicle
June 6, 2008 permalink
A rally earlier tentatively scheduled for early July now has a quorum and will take place on July 9 and 10 in Ottawa. Persons interested in participating can email Elizabeth at the email address in the message below.
screen name: Elizabeth
Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2008 4:17 pm
Subject: Ottawa Parliament Hill Rally
The final steps are being put in place for the rally in Ottawa organized by "Bulldog" et al.
The dates for the rally are July 9th and 10th
come for one day or come for both!
We hope to see as many of you that can make it there and there will be petitions available to sign to be given to Andrea Horwath.
if you need any further information please feel free to contact
cas.accountability at gmail dot com
Source: Canada Court Watch forum
Addendum: Based on commitments in Facebook, it is reasonable to expect 40-50 participants in this event.
- Walk for Accountability
- Causes - Rally
Time and Place
- Start Time:
- Wednesday, July 9, 2008 at 11:00am
- End Time:
- Thursday, July 10, 2008 at 4:00pm
- Parliament Hill - Wellington Street
- Ottawa, Ontario
- solodad7 at hotmail.com
Organizers meet at Tim Horton's 9 AM - 50 Rideau St. (Wellington turns into Rideau)
Please make your own signs, keep them appropriate and respectful
We are not asking people to come in suits and dresses but please attend looking respectful and 'tidy' (not that it is an issue with people but we want to look presentable and be taken seriously)
People will be responsible for their own behaviour (ie. please take care of your litter, try and keep language appropriate and refrain from verbal attacks)
Water and Crystal Light will be available. There will also be a limited supply of Timbits, all other refreshments and food are your responsibility.
If you are in need of a ride or assistance in finding a place to stay if you are attending both days please contact [ cas.accountability at gmail.com ]
Ideas for Signs:
- How many horror stories will it take?
- Why does the federal government turn a blind eye
- Where is the accountability?
- Welcome to Canada where kidnapping is legal (and on back) by Children's Aid Societies
- Your tax dollars pay for destruction of families
- Steven Harper, how many children must suffer?
- Perjury by Child "protectors" harm Canadian Children every day
- Free country? Canadian children don't think so
Additional ideas for signs:
- Love Children - Adopt Pets
- Stop Kidnapping
- Big Sister is Watching
- Decriminalize Motherhood / Decriminalize Fatherhood (on opposite sides)
- Decriminalize Parents
- The best interest of the child is keeping his parents
- Let my children go
- Love does not come out of the barrel of a gun
- CAS - It's a mess
- Do it right, reunite!
- The child you save could be your own
- A child is heaven. CAS is hell.
- Privatize children
Addendum: Organizer Bulldog wants to use your story. Send it to [ solodad7 at hotmail.com ].
If you have a story you want us to tell at our protest please email me a summary (short form) no names or places will be said. Just A CAS did this to my family and your story.
Source: private email
Province Funded Dr Smith's Lawsuit
June 6, 2008 permalink
Harold Levy has been looking into the funding for a libel lawsuit by pathologist Dr Charles Smith against the CBC. He now has enough material to be sure that Dr Smith's legal bill was paid by the province of Ontario, though Levy is still digging for more information about the matter. Below is a letter by Harold Levy posted to his own blog.
I have received a response to this Blog's application for records relating government funding of Dr. Charles Smith's lawsuit against the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
The government has provided me with three records;
The first record (two pages) is described as, "legal services invoice."
The second record (one page) is described as, "a printout of payment data."
The invoice - on the letterhead of Gowling, Lafleur, Henderson LLP, is for a total of $7,880.20;
An apparently hand-written signature "J. Young M.D." is located at the bottom of the invoice.
A similar apparently hand-written note is located at the top of the invoice , says, "pay Dr. C. Smith," and has an arrow pointing towards his name and address.
The third record bears the heading: "GEAC Financial System Payment Data."
Here is some of the information in contains:
Name: Chief Coroner's Office;
Account: Legal Services Other;
Vendor Name; Dr. Charles Smith;
Run Date: 11/3/2001;
The access coordinator's letter indicates that "solicitor client privilege has been waived" in relation to the first three records.
It goes on to say, however, that:
"Pages 4 to 7 are records that contain information reflecting confidential privileged communications. Access to these records is denied in accordance with the discretionary exemption from disclosure contained in section 19 of the Act for records that are subject to solicitor-client privilege or prepared by or for Crown counsel for use in giving legal advice or in contemplation of or for use in litigation."
Please be advised, dear readers, that I intend to pursue this matter by way of an appeal.
True, this would appear to conclusively establish that public funds were paid to Dr. Smith's lawyers to enable them to sue the CBC for libel in connection with the Fifth Estate Documentary.
(I personally find this to be outrageous and invite our reader's views);
However, I want to see the remaining documents to determine what, if any consideration was given to the constitutional propriety of using tax-payer's funds to to back a law-suit which could have the effect of chilling public discussion of Dr. Smith's work;
Any suggestions from our readers as grounds to be included in the appeal would be greatly appreciated.
Source: Harold Levy blog entry for June 5, 2008
Breach of Confidentiality
June 5, 2008 permalink
Child protectors, who continue to employ social workers responsible for the death of their wards, draw the line when discovering the release of information to clients. In today's example, the state of New York has arrested three employees of the Office of Children and Family Services. One of them, James Plante, helped a father to find his own daughter. The man searching for his daughter is characterized as a "stalker". Read the press release (pdf) or our local copy.
CAS Ward Sexually Assaulted
June 4, 2008 permalink
A child, not even identified as boy or girl, has been sexually assaulted while in the care of Sudbury CAS.
Levack man accused of sexually assaulting child in care of CAS
Posted By Rachel Punch/The Sudbury Star, June 4, 2008
A 62-year-old Levack man has been accused of sexually assaulting a child in the care of the Children’s Aid Society.
Douglas Klasges was charged in January with sexual exploitation, sexual assault and sexual interference, but police and the Sudbury and District Children’s Aid Society just announced the arrest on Wednesday.
They waited so long to release the information to give the organization a chance to contact children they know may have come in contact with Klasges, said Colette Prevost, executive director of the Sudbury District CAS.
The announcement Wednesday was an appeal to the broader community for any other children who may have had contact with him to come forward to police or the CAS.
“Douglas Klasges is known to have had contact with other children within the community. The police and the CAS have concerns that other children may also have been victimized by Klasges,” states a press release from Greater Sudbury Police.
Prevost would not say if Klasges was a foster parent or how he was involved in the organization. All she would say is he was not a staff member.
Source: The Sudbury Star
Plans for FLDS Raid
June 4, 2008 permalink
The raid on the FLDS ranch in Eldorado Texas was planned in advance, as were later operations. The Dallas Morning News used freedom of information to get copies 1500 pages of emails containing the plans. A few of the emails (pdf) were published. State officials put a lot of effort into planning the deceptive moves that separated mothers and children. It was for the same reason Nazis avoided riots by telling deportees they were going to the showers instead of the gas chamber. A mainstream charity, the Salvation Army, offered to participate in parts of the atrocious treatment of the families.
Texas had secret plan to separate polygamist mothers, children
03:12 PM CDT on Wednesday, June 4, 2008, By CHRISTY HOPPE / The Dallas Morning News email@example.com
AUSTIN – State officials, fearing a violent reaction from members of a West Texas polygamist sect, considered a secret plan to haul hundreds of children and their mothers to Midlothian to be separated, internal e-mails show. But a judge vetoed the plan.
They also worried that mothers would try to make a "run" from the shelter with their children, feared a rampage of infections among the families and fretted about the fear of violence and state resources being overwhelmed by events.
More than 1,500 pages of e-mails between the governor's office and Child Protective Services, obtained by The Dallas Morning News under state freedom of information laws, show top executives working day and night in early April to deal with a raid on the Yearning for Zion ranch that quickly mushroomed into a massive operation. In the first week, more than 1,000 personnel were deployed and costs reached $2.3 million.
Conspicuously absent in the e-mail strings was Gov. Rick Perry. While his executive staff was exchanging information and tracking events, Mr. Perry did not receive a full briefing from officials until five days after the raid – when more than 500 people were being held in state-run shelters.
Spokeswoman Krista Piferrer said that because the situation was highly charged and fluid, Mr. Perry used the phone and personal updates from his staff to stay informed. During his administration, he has avoided using e-mail because the content is subject to open-records requests. The governor's office and CPS withheld hundreds of pages of messages, citing state laws exempting confidential information.
Ms. Piferrer said the governor was engaged but deferred to the experts at Child Protective Services and the Department of Public Safety to conduct the investigation and do their work.
The governor's office was first informed there was a problem on April 1, when CPS and Texas Rangers said they were planning to raid the polygamist ranch in two days – on a Thursday. The impetus was a call from a 16-year-old pregnant girl – later determined to be a hoax – who reported physical and sexual abuse by her 49-year-old "spiritual husband."
"They went in there not expecting to find 400 children," Ms. Piferrer said. "You can easily see where it went larger than just those two entities – CPS and law enforcement."
Within a day of the raid, more than 100 girls and women had left the compound, but more children kept turning up as log cabins on the ranch were searched. Supplies were called in from the Red Cross, Goodfellow Air Force Base and local shelters. CPS workers' state-issued credit cards were quickly maxed out.
Hundreds in custody
As the weekend passed, more than 400 children were in custody. The Governor's Division of Emergency Management had set up a command post, state agencies had pitched in – including even the Forest Service – and hundreds of state workers had been deployed.
Among other details the e-mails reveal:
- Days after the raid, the governor's office apparently did not have a copy of the "search warrant that the media seems to be reading from," which contained basic information supporting the raid. Plus, an outbreak of chicken pox at the shelter prompts emergency operations chief Jack Colley to write: "Many concerns. ... This is getting out of hand."
- The governor's staff prepared for him two pages of "key message points, mostly in preparation for an interview with religious broadcaster Pat Robertson to promote the governor's new book on the Boy Scouts.
- On April 10, the governor's human service policy director Kristi Jordan reported that "we have reason to believe as a result of interviews that some of the mothers are planning to conduct a 'run.' Their objective would be to hide from law enforcement authorities." Security is beefed up.
Many of the e-mails involve how to separate the mothers, more than 130 of them, who were staying with the children. CPS spokesman Patrick Crimmins said that it is standard procedure in an abuse case to remove the parents to mitigate their influence.
Initially, the plan was to carry out the separation on Friday, April 11, by putting all the mothers and children on buses headed to a Salvation Army facility in Midlothian because of "security concerns with the separation taking place in San Angelo," Ms. Jordan summarized in an April 8 e-mail.
Ms. Piferrer explained that experts feared that emotional outbursts could turn violent, children could be hurt or alerted fathers could become involved. "There were concerns," Ms. Piferrer said. "We were prepared for that if indeed it came to a difficult situation."
She said that Midlothian offered a better-equipped and more secure location. "The model of emergency management is to hope for the best and plan for the worst," she said.
The women and children were not to be told until they were on the buses that all but nursing mothers would be separated into different living quarters from the children.
"Salvation Army indicated it would not allow the conflict associated with separation to occur in its facility, which is why the separation would occur at a secure location prior to entering the Salvation Army grounds," Ms. Jordan wrote.
The judge in charge of custody of the children eventually rejected the transfer. Instead, the separation occurred on April 14, without incident. But the e-mails show that field officers reported back to the governor's office virtually minute by minute on how it proceeded.
Willie Jessop, a leader of the Eldorado sect, said it was preposterous that women in the shelters were plotting an escape or that some mothers were trying to thwart the investigation.
"We never, never did anything other than to comply and to endure what they put us through," Mr. Jessop said. "There was never any type of inside escape plan. That would just never happen."
He expressed outrage that the governor's office was trying to move the mothers and children and separate them en route, outside of public view.
"When is the public going to hold this administration accountable for treating us worse than you would a dog?" he asked.
Staff writer Emily Ramshaw contributed to this report.
Source: The Dallas Morning News
Canadian Children Held Captive in Texas
June 4, 2008 permalink
A few of the children seized in the FLDS raid in Texas were Canadians. According to the judge's order (pdf), they cannot leave Texas, and so cannot rejoin their parents.
Texas order slows B.C. family's reunion
WENDY STUECK, From Wednesday's Globe and Mail, June 4, 2008 at 6:03 AM EDT
VANCOUVER — A Texas court order paving the way for hundreds of children to be reunited with their parents could hamper the reunion of a British Columbia girl with her family, says a lawyer representing the girl's parents.
The girl, whose parents live in Bountiful was caught up in an April police raid of the Yearning for Zion compound in Texas.
"Her parents want her to come back, we're just seeing if we can get her released," Texas lawyer Stephanie Goodman said Monday in a telephone interview. "We're working on it."
"We're just hoping that the fact that she is from Canada doesn't work against her. Because one of the stipulations [of the court order] is that you can't leave the state of Texas."
The Texas ranch and Bountiful are both home to members of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The Texas ranch was pushed into the spotlight by the April raid, in which more than 400 children were taken into protective custody and placed in foster homes throughout the state.
In B.C., Bountiful has been a headache for lawmakers for decades because of uncertainty over whether prosecution of polygamy - which is illegal in Canada - would stand up to a challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. On Monday, B.C. Attorney-General Wally Oppal named a special prosecutor to assess whether charges should be laid against Bountiful residents in relation to an RCMP investigation that concluded in 2006.
Two previous legal opinions sought by the province did not recommend charges. Mr. Oppal, however, insists a valid criminal law should be enforced.
The Texas raid was launched after calls to a domestic abuse hot line, from someone claiming to be a girl at the ranch, and that her much-older husband was abusing her. The source of those calls is being investigated.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled last week the removal of the children was not warranted. A subsequent court order cleared the way for the children to be returned to their parents.
Child protection authorities in Texas continue to investigate allegations of abuse at the ranch, including reports of pre-teen girls being involved in "spiritual marriages" with much older men, and boys being groomed as perpetrators.
"We continue to have concerns, as we have since April 3, and that's why our investigation is ongoing," Texas Department of Family and Protective Services spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner said yesterday.
"We want to make sure the environment they are returning to is a safe environment and that they will be protected from abuse and neglect."
The Canadian girl had been in Texas for about two weeks before the raid, Ms. Goodman said. If an agreement cannot be reached with officials, the parents will likely seek a court order to allow the girl to return to Canada, she said.
Winston Blackmore, a religious leader at Bountiful, yesterday accused the province's attorney-general of religious persecution.
In an e-mail, Mr. Blackmore said Mr. Oppal wants to force the Liberal government to prosecute citizens it has an obligation to serve and protect. About 800 people live in Bountiful.
Politicians and law enforcement officials on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border have called for crackdown on alleged trafficking of young women across the border and between various FLDS communities.
With a report from The Canadian Press
Source: The Globe and Mail
Most FLDS Children Released
June 4, 2008 permalink
On Monday, June 2, Judge Barbara Walther finally signed an order allowing FLDS parents to pick up their children. The order contains many onerous conditions that will make family life intolerable, so we can expect a further year or two of litigation by FLDS to get free of CPS. You can read the Order Vacating Temporary Managing Conservatorship and Additional Temporary Orders (pdf scanned 210 kilobytes). Many of the families were reunited during the last two days, but the conditions for return of the children are severe, and some parents may not be able to comply with the identification requirements. An article below from the Dallas Morning News follows two families. In one, a teenager was forbidden to have contact with her father.
Judge's orders aimed to protect Jeffs' daughter from sect member
12:00 AM CDT on Wednesday, June 4, 2008, By ROBERT T. GARRETT / The Dallas Morning News firstname.lastname@example.org The Associated Press contributed to this report
ELDORADO, Texas – A judge Tuesday set special conditions for the release from state custody of a 16-year-old daughter of polygamist sect prophet Warren Jeffs after the girl's lawyer complained she'd been sexually abused by a man in the group and might be in danger.
While 397 of the sect's 440 children in the custody of Child Protective Services had been released by late Tuesday, Mr. Jeffs' daughter was the only one accorded special protections, said her lawyer, Natalie Malonis of Flower Mound.
State District Judge Barbara Walther of San Angelo allowed the girl to be released to her mother, Annette Jeffs, at a Midland foster care facility after ordering the mother to keep her in the San Antonio area where she lives – and away from the alleged perpetrator, a 38-year-old sect member.
The judge may impose additional restrictions, Ms. Malonis said.
"She was very concerned about, 'Will the parent be able to protect her?' " Ms. Malonis said of Judge Walther.
Ms. Malonis said CPS and law enforcement had evidence that the girl was sexually abused, though they don't believe she's ever been pregnant.
CPS lawyer Gary Banks and Tim Edwards of San Angelo, attorney for the girl's mother, helped craft the special order. It orders Annette Jeffs not to return to the ranch with the girl.
The order also prohibits the girl from seeing her father, Mr. Jeffs, but Ms. Malonis said that was "standard" in CPS cases because Mr. Jeffs is a convicted sex offender. He is awaiting trial in Arizona on a charge of coercing an underage girl into a "spiritual" marriage with her 19-year-old cousin – a charge similar to one he was convicted of last fall in Utah.
Meanwhile, only a few sect families trickled back to the group's Yearning for Zion ranch in Eldorado. Many remained elsewhere in the state out of fear that CPS may "tear away" their children again, said sect spokesman Willie Jessop.
Edson P. Jessop Jr. and his wife, Zavenda Young, returned to the ranch Tuesday afternoon in a pickup loaded with bicycles and toys – and their four children.
"They hardly slept; they were just so excited," Ms. Young said.
She said their first words on being released from state custody Monday were, "Are we really going to go?"
The parents drove to Waco and retrieved sons Zachary, 9, and Ephraim, 7, from the Methodist Children's Home. They then headed for Houston to fetch son Russell, 5, and daughter, Annie, 3.
Ms. Young said she had noticed on regular visits that on some days her children "are not the same." She said they endured "one trauma after another" and will need help for years in getting past recent events.
Both parents, though, heaped praise on the children's caregivers, especially at Boys & Girls Country near Houston.
"They literally cried when we took them away," Ms. Young said.
She predicted a difficult relationship ahead with CPS, which under an order Judge Walther signed Monday can interview the children and have them undergo psychological evaluations. The couple is required to take parenting classes.
"They are hard people to trust," Ms. Young said of CPS workers.
On Tuesday, Judge Walther continued to receive initial results of DNA tests administered to sect children and many parents.
CPS spokeswoman Shari Pulliam said the test results are crucial.
"Our investigation is going to continue," she said, "And the DNA testing is a very important part of that investigation."
While the Texas Rangers and state attorney general's office pursue possible criminal charges against certain men in the sect, CPS says it needs the test results to establish family relationships.
"That's a piece of the puzzle we don't have, to figure out who we're going to be working with," Ms. Pulliam said.
Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran expects indictments to be returned against some sect members in the next several months.
Gov. Rick Perry, who indicated last month that he was proud of the actions taken by CPS, warned through a spokeswoman that Friday's decision by the Texas Supreme Court ordering the sect children's release could place youngsters in danger.
"The governor is concerned that the legal process by which the children were removed from their home is overshadowing the sexual abuse allegations at hand," said Perry's deputy press secretary, Allison Castle.
"He is very troubled that the children, especially those most at risk for abuse in this case – young girls – are being sent back to the very compound that is riddled with uncertainty, potential for harm and remains at the center of a very serious criminal investigation," Ms. Castle said.
The sect has denied there is any greater prevalence of child abuse in its ranks than in mainstream society. It says Texas swept its more than 450 children into custody two months ago in an act of religious persecution.
Source: The Dallas Morning News
Horwath Helps Dunn
June 4, 2008 permalink
Over the last year John Dunn has encountered nothing but stonewalling from the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa in his efforts to get membership for himself, and get a list of members as provided in the Corporations Act. His patience in exhausting his remedies has now led Hamilton East MPP Andrea Horwath to bring the matter before the provincial legislature.
Ontario MPP Andrea Horwath filed with the Legislative Assembly of Ontario a Private Member's motion which would see Children's Aid Societies in Ontario make it known to the public that they hold monthly Board meetings which are open to the public, something that is not widely known about.
The Foster Care Council of Canada, an organization made up of former foster children and child welfare clients, advocated for this motion with the Child and Youth Services Critic who filed the motion on the 2nd of June, 2008 which reads as follows:
Motion Number 41: Ms. Horwath
That, in the opinion of this House, the Government of Ontario should instruct all Children's Aid Societies to publish information electronically on their websites, where available, and in print format, readily accessible in the lobby area of each CAS office, which informs the public of their ability to attend and make presentations at the regularly scheduled Board of Director's meetings, the schedule and Minutes of those meetings, and further, in the same manner as mentioned above, to inform the public of the fact that CAS memberships are available to people who reside in, or who conduct business within the jurisdiction of each CAS, to provide details on how to apply for membership, and to provide access to the Society's By-Laws in the same manner. Filed on June 2, 2008.
Source: Blog by John Dunn
BC to Bust FLDS
June 3, 2008 permalink
Following the raid on the FLDS in Eldorado Texas, British Columbia's Attorney General Wally Oppal is examining the possibility of action against the same sect in Bountiful BC. If successful, the children will be rescued from a world of whole foods, homemade clothes and homeschooling and immersed in a culture including single parents, drug addiction and prostitution. Instead of evil polygamous marriages, they will be introduced to the wholesome same-sex marriage.
Oppal orders special prosecutor to pursue charges in Bountiful
Jonathan Fowlie, Vancouver Sun, Tuesday, June 03, 2008
VICTORIA -- Attorney-General Wally Oppal has asked a special prosecutor to proceed with any charges he feels are appropriate against members of a polygamous community in Bountiful.
The move goes against previous opinions in the case, which have found it would be difficult to pursue charges, either because of the constitutionality of Canada's laws as they pertain to polygamy or because prosecutors have gone so many years without taking action.
Oppal's move also comes amid significant public pressure, with U.S. officials taking an aggressive approach against a polygamous community in Texas, and with a recent Angus Reid poll showing nearly three-quarters of British Columbians support prosecution here at home.
"This has been the bane of every attorney-general for the past 20 years," said Oppal, a former B.C. Supreme Court justice who has still not said whether he is going to seek a second term during the May 2009 provincial election.
"It's been a difficult challenge for all my predecessors and I just want to put the thing to rest -- one way or another," he added.
In a letter to the criminal justice branch released Monday, Oppal said he disagreed with the previous opinions on the case, and that he wants Vancouver lawyer Terrence Robertson, as a special prosecutor, to begin conducting a so-called charge assessment.
In April, Vancouver lawyer Leonard Doust issued a report for the criminal justice branch saying there is no point charging alleged abusers in Bountiful until the courts rule on the constitutionality of polygamy itself.
Doust recommended the province initiate a reference case with the B.C. Court of Appeal, which would decide the constitutionality of Canada's laws on polygamy. If heard, that case would likely find its way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
"At least if the Supreme Court of Canada decides that Section 293 is constitutionally valid, then its decision will serve as a very clear notice to all with respect to future conduct, leaving any violations of Section 293 to be fully and properly prosecuted," Doust wrote at the time.
Doust also pointed out that prosecution would be difficult because prosecutors have gone so long without pressing charges.
"Mr. Doust's view is that in light of that, that may have given comfort to the people up there and in view of that it may be unfair to prosecute," Oppal explained.
Doust's report followed one by special prosecutor Richard Peck, who came to a similar conclusion the year before.
Doust could not be reached for comment on Monday, and Peck's assistant said he would not be commenting.
In his letter, Oppal was clear to say he thinks there is no constitutional question about the law. He went on to direct Robertson to determine the likelihood of conviction in the case, as well as to measure the public interest served by laying any charges.
"If he concludes that charges should be approved," Oppal wrote, "he is to conduct the prosecution and any appeals which may arise from those proceedings."
Speaking to the media Monday, Oppal said he has great respect for the earlier opinions, but that he feels they are not correct.
"I think the proper route to go is a prosecution of the offence," he said, adding Robertson has been given carte blanche to look at all aspects of the case to see what charges would be appropriate.
Robertson, who could not be reached for comment Monday, has acted as a special prosecutor before, most recently in reviewing the RCMP's report on the lobbying activities of Ken Dobell, a former top aide to Premier Gordon Campbell.
In that case, Robertson found there was enough evidence to convict Dobell on a criminal charge of influence peddling, but decided it was not in the public interest to lay charges.
Dobell eventually pleaded guilty to failing to register as a lobbyist, but was given an absolute discharge.
Source: Vancouver Sun 2008
Lose Your Job
Lose Your Kids
June 2, 2008 permalink
A downturn for the economy is an upturn for children's aid. Watch out for child snatchers after a layoff.
Bad economy, more kids in care
Poverty puts more stress on family, says CAS head, who fears situation may worsen
Craig Pearson, Windsor Star, Monday, June 02, 2008
The head of the local children's aid society fears the current downturn in the Windsor economy may lead to more children coming into care -- at a time when the agency is already facing a $2.7-million deficit.
Bill Bevan, executive director of the Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society, said Friday he's concerned that an increase in child apprehensions the last six months -- following three years of decline -- will only continue if the economy continues to weaken.
"This past six months, we were busier with our long-term involvement with families," said Bevan, after meeting with the Star's editorial board. "It just seems to be more than a coincidence that our downturn has occurred and we're seeing more children coming into care."
Bevan listed poverty as one factor, combined with others, that can make coping with children difficult for some families.
"When a family is not doing well economically, then there's more stress in the family," Bevan said. "It just adds so much stress trying to deal with your own issues as an adult. It becomes very complicated to deal with some difficult issues with your own children.
"We never want to take a child into care because the family doesn't have a lot of money. What we realize, though, is families that are poor are over-represented in our workload."
The shrinking manufacturing sector has driven up the unemployment rate in Windsor to among the highest in Canada.
An increase in children in care would come at a particularly bad time for Windsor, given that the local CAS's $2.7-million deficit reflects a common trend across the province.
Kevin Spafford, spokesman for Minister of Children and Youth Services Deb Matthews, said the ministry has increased funding to Windsor by $6.5 million, or 15 per cent, since 2003. In that period, Spafford said Windsor-Essex completed investigations fell 29.7 per cent.
"So they have had funding increases even though their service volume has actually fallen quite a bit," said Spafford, who noted that if the Windsor CAS takes in more children, its funding will increase.
"The funding formula is based largely on service volume."
In the most recent fiscal year, the local CAS spent $52 million, which includes $100,000 on interest costs. The number of children in care is 715, lower than the peak of 850 in 2004-2005, but higher than six months ago.
Staff has increased to 374 from 120 in 1998.
Bevan said costs have increased partly for the same reason children in care have decreased: because the agency is succeeding more with support programs that help keep youngsters at home.
He said staffing and other costs have risen, prevention programs have expanded and the percentage of teens in long-term care has climbed. And teens can cost 10 times more than caring for babies, up to $300 a day compared to $30 for a newborn.
Yet Bevan said prevention can pay dividends. This year, for instance, the Windsor CAS will set a record -- 33 per cent of wards graduating high school will go on to college or university, compared to the provincial average of 11 per cent.
"We teach that if you take care of yourself better, you can study better," Bevan said, noting that solid foster families can make a difference. "One or two people in a youth's life can turn their lives around."
Source: The Windsor Star
Kinship Beats Foster Care
June 2, 2008 permalink
Here is yet another scientific study confirming common sense. Children fare better in the care of relatives than with strangers. The original study is published by the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine (html) and we have a local copy (pdf). A press report is below.
Kids Living With Relatives Have Fewer Problems Than Those in Foster Homes
MONDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- Children removed from their homes due to mistreatment have fewer behavioral problems if they're placed with relatives -- called kinship care -- than if they're placed in foster care, a new study says.
The study, by researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, looked at 1,309 children who entered out-of-home care between 1999 and 2000. Of those children, 599 were placed in kinship care, and 710 were placed in foster care. Of those in foster care, 17 percent moved to kinship care after at least one month in foster care.
Interviews were conducted with the children, caregivers, birth parents, child welfare workers and teachers at the start of the study and again at 18 months and 36 months later.
The study found that 32 percent of children immediately placed in kinship care had behavioral problems 36 months later, compared with 39 percent of children who moved from foster care to kinship care, and 46 percent of children who stayed in foster care.
Children in kinship care were less likely to change placements frequently. At 36 months, 58 percent of those in kinship care had achieved a sustained placement or were reunified with their parents, compared with 32 percent of children in foster care. The study also found that 58 percent of children who started in foster care but switched to kinship care reunified with their parents within 45 days, compared with 40 percent of children who stayed in foster care.
The study was published in the June issue of the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
"Placement stability is a common goal of child welfare systems and has consistently been shown to result in better outcomes for all children living in out-of-home care," Dr. David M. Rubin and colleagues wrote.
"This finding supports efforts to maximize placement of children with willing and available kin when they enter out-of-home care," they concluded. "When kinship care is a realistic option and appropriate safeguards have been met, children in kinship care might have an advantage over children in foster care in achieving permanency and improved well-being, albeit with the recognition that their needs will remain great, exceeding those of children who have not experienced child maltreatment."
In the last two decades, cases of kinship care have been increasing. In 2005, more than 2.5 million children in the United States were living with relatives, according to background information in the study.
"The recommendations of the authors to expand the resources given to kinship providers with a national kinship guardianship program and to endeavor to more expeditiously notify kin and place children into kinship care deserves underscoring," Richard P. Barth of the University of Maryland in Baltimore, wrote in an accompanying editorial. "These are low-cost strategies that deserve implementation given the evidence that children prefer to be placed with relatives and that the care of relatives may support better behavioral outcomes."
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
FLDS Judge Defies Law
May 31, 2008 permalink
Judge Barbara Walther yesterday refused to comply with the order of the Texas Supreme Court. Instead of returning the children to their parents, she continued to demand that the parents surrender much of their parental authority before getting their children back. She is also asking for parental identification documents and signatures, something that could entail delay in the case of parents who currently lack identification or are visiting children in distant parts of the state. Below we enclose a news story about the court case, and an editorial from Canada's National Post, showing that worldwide opinion is turning against the Texas child protectors.
Meeting on kids' fate gets nowhere
Children's return in doubt as judge fails to vacate her order
By Brooke Adams and Julia Lyon, The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 05/31/2008 01:08:52 AM MDT
SAN ANGELO, Texas - Hundreds of children of a polygamous sect were no closer to going home Friday when 51st District Judge Barbara Walther left the bench without abandoning her order keeping them in state custody.
Two higher courts have told Walther to do so.
But the judge abruptly ended a four-hour conference with attorneys after being challenged about changes she made to a negotiated plan to return the FLDS children home.
Before leaving the courtroom, Walther told attorneys to work on an agreement and get it signed by the 38 mothers who appealed her earlier order holding the children in state custody - something that will take days, lawyers said.
That "essentially incarcerates the children and the mothers of our children for another 48 hours," said Laura Shockley, a Dallas attorney, moments after startled lawyers filed out of the Tom Green County Courthouse.
Texas child welfare workers have alleged that the sect promotes marriage between underage girls and older men, and that boys are groomed to continue the practice.
About 450 children taken from the YFZ Ranch, home to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, remain for now in shelters across Texas.
The children were taken from the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado between April 3 and April 5, based on the state's fear that children were being sexually and physically abused.
"It is a very sad demonstration of the legal system when a judge throws a tantrum and is not willing to sit at the table long enough to resolve the problem of getting little children back home," said Willie Jessop, an FLDS member and spokesman.
Attorneys for parents and the state arrived at the court with an agreement that called for children to be reunited with their parents beginning Monday.
Walther called a recess to allow attorneys to review the deal, but came back an hour later with her own "tweaked" version, which she said would apply to all the FLDS children.
The judge's changes, among others things, asked parents to give state agents around-the-clock access to homes at the YFZ Ranch and to agree to psychological evaluations on the children.
The changes repeat the same "global" claims of wrongdoing rejected by the Texas Supreme Court and Third Court of Appeals in the past week as being unsubstantiated, attorneys said. The modifications, they said, also went beyond reasonable conditions that would allow the state to continue its abuse investigation.
The higher courts ruled that the state's case particularly failed in regard to boys and pre-pubescent girls. Also, DFPS had other alternatives for working with parents to ensure safety while leaving the children in their care, the courts said.
"There is no evidence in the record regarding these people at all," said Julie Balovich, an attorney with Texas Rio- Grande Legal Aid, which represents the mothers who filed the appeal. "There is nothing the court has the ability to enter temporary orders on."
Attorney Gonzalo Rios said the judge's modifications amounted to "bootstrapping" a criminal investigation onto the child welfare case. The Texas Attorney General's Office already has launched a criminal investigation into the abuse claims.
Balovich said TRLA had agreed in "good faith" to conditions in the original deal, such as parenting classes and a 90-day restriction keeping the children in Texas. But "Why does Viola Barlow have to give 24-hour access to her 9-month-old son?" Balovich said later, using one mother represented in the appeal as an example.
The Texas Department of Families and Child Protection was satisfied with the agreement, Balovich said.
Other TRLA attorneys said they could not sign off on Walther's proposal because their clients had not seen it. They asked the judge to simply vacate her order and let the children return home. Some attorneys asked the judge to allow that to begin as soon as Friday, sparing parents who had traveled hundreds of miles to visit children from making a return trip next week.
"Another weekend seems like it would be forever'' for the children, said John Kennedy, an attorney for Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, which also successfully petitioned the appeals court for three mothers.
Walther declined, saying the state still had to work out logistics of how to hand the children back to their parents.
"The last thing any of us wants is for a child to get misplaced in any of this," Walther said.
State attorneys left the courthouse without comment. A spokeswoman later said DFPS would continue to work on a plan "to ensure the prompt and orderly return of the children."
But how that will happen perplexed attorneys. Andrea Sloan, who represents some young mothers, said parents had scattered across the state as they have waited for their children in the past few weeks. Collecting their signatures, as the judge asked, would be incredibly difficult, she said.
"It's not as simple as walking across the street and setting up a booth," Sloan said.
The original agreement called for:
- Parents to complete parenting classes and allowed them to negotiate about providers
- CPS to be allowed to make unannounced home visits between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Identify all household members
- Barred the children from leaving Texas for the next 90 days.
Judge Barbara Walther's proposed changes:
- Stated "only a portion" of her first order was vacated
- Dropped parents' ability to negotiate on parenting classes
- Left the children's travel ban open-ended
- Allowed parents and children to be given psychological evaluations
- Directed parents to give two-days notice if they traveled more than 60 miles
- Allowed state officials access to homes at the ranch at all times
Source: Salt Lake Tribune
Who's the real abuser?
National Post Published: Saturday, May 31, 2008
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sect that lives on the YFZ Ranch in West Texas strikes us as more than a little odd. But antisocial weirdness was insufficient grounds to justify the seizure of more than 440 children from the ranch nearly two months ago, and even less reason to keep holding those children still. The Texas State Supreme Court was correct, on Thursday, when it decided that the seizure was illegal and ordered the children be returned to their parents.
Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) was wrong in taking most of the children in the first place. There was never any evidence the vast majority were subjected to cruelty. No claims were made that boys were abused, for instance, nor that any child under 13 was a victim. Yet nearly all the children on the ranch between six months and 17 years were forcibly removed.
The ordeal began when a caller telephoned 911 claiming to be a 16-year-old YFZ resident who had been forced into an arranged marriage as a minor and is now pregnant by her abusive 50-year-old husband. Other girls, the caller claims, some as young as 13, are victims of similar mistreatment. The CPS moved quickly to end what it suspected might be widespread cruelty.
But it became apparent quickly that the call--and the other ones like it -- were hoaxes. Rosalita Swinton, a Colorado Springs woman with a history of mental troubles and prank calls, was "Sarah," the supposedly abused 16-year-old mother-to-be.
Unconscionably, the state agency clung to the YFZ children even after these facts were learned. The seizure, based as it was on a sincere belief that young children were being sexually abused and beaten, was one thing. But the refusal of the CPS to admit its mistake is quite another. The CPS now has fought two court orders to return the children to their parents, and appears set to fight a third.
Between the seizure in early April and the first court hearing later that month, CPS officials changed their story from "children had been abused or were at immediate risk of future abuse" to the claim that "a systematic process going on to groom young girls to become brides," and that only immediate action could protect them from "possible future abuse."
Pried from their mothers' arms, kept apart nearly two months, subjected to interrogation sessions, invasive physical examinations, pregnancy tests, DNA tests and complete body x-rays, the Fundamentalist LDS children have been abused by the state in the name of keeping them safe from abuse. No more excuses. The children should be returned now.
Source: National Post
THE OFFICIAL TEXAS "CULT" CHECKLIST:
|Criterion for cult status||Allegation against|
|FLDS||Child Protective Services|
Does almost all its business in secret
Raises children on isolated compounds where they are at serious risk of child abuse
Displays a profound bias against African-Americans
Arbitrarily moves children from home to home, reassigning them to different families
Kicks some people out when they are deemed too old, leaving them to fend for themselves on the streets
* They're called "residential treatment centers"
** It's called "aging out"
Source: Richard Wexler blog entry for May 29, 2008
Texas Supreme Court Sides with FLDS
May 30, 2008 permalink
The Texas Supreme Court has agreed with an appellate court decision last week that ordered the FLDS children returned to their parents. The Supreme Court also allowed the trial court to impose conditions on the families. If this was an ordinary case, the children would be kept in custody for months while lawyers squabbled over the conditions. We don't know whether it will be different with the world watching.
In an earlier article the New York Times criticizes Texas CPS for its treatment of the children over the last six weeks.
Polygamists Gain Custody of Children
Texas Prepares To Reunite Families; 'Back to Square One'
By STEPHANIE SIMON and ANN ZIMMERMAN, May 30, 2008; Page A3
Texas authorities prepared to return hundreds of children seized from a polygamist ranch after the state Supreme Court ruled that child-welfare authorities were wrong to have separated the children from their parents.
The Texas Supreme Court let stand an appellate ruling that the state acted illegally in taking custody last month of 468 children from the Yearning for Zion ranch in Eldorado.
"Removal of the children was not warranted," the justices wrote.
Texas Child Protective Services spokesman Patrick Crimmins said the agency would "prepare for the prompt and orderly reunification of these children with their families."
Child-welfare officials had asked the Supreme Court for an emergency order allowing them to retain custody of the children, now scattered in foster care across the state. Authorities said they feared that the polygamist families, once reunited, would flee out of state and resume practices that officials consider abusive, such as yoking young girls to older men in marriage.
The Supreme Court acknowledged those concerns. But the majority of justices ruled that the state could take other measures, short of separating families, to protect the children from sexual abuse.
For instance, the district judge handling the case could order the families reunited on condition that they promise to remain in Texas. Or she could insist that men identified as possible perpetrators of abuse move out of the home.
The judge could also grant the state custody of the children deemed most at risk, specifically pregnant girls or teenagers who have hit puberty and are considered ready for marriage in the culture of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Basically, it's back to square one," said Jack Sampson, a family law professor at the University of Texas.
He said he expected that all young children and boys would be returned to their families within days, but some older girls might remain in state custody pending individual review of their circumstances and the risk that they will be abused. "The return of all the children is certainly not mandated," he said.
Guy Choate, an attorney coordinating the children's legal representation, said he expected the state's investigation to continue. "It does not appear that the case is anywhere near closed," Mr. Choate said.
Texas officials said they were still evaluating their options. "We also will work with the district court to ensure the safety of the children and that all of our actions conform with the decision of the Texas Supreme Court," said Mr. Crimmins of the child-welfare authority.
The families of the Eldorado Ranch expressed confidence that they had scored a decisive victory.
"We call upon the state of Texas to end this nightmare and allow these families to come together on the ranch and live their lives," said Rod Parker, a Salt Lake City attorney who is serving as a spokesman for the families.
Critics of the state -- including conservative Christians, family advocates and the American Civil Liberties Union -- viewed the ruling as a clear win that would resonate nationally. "Other states will take notice: 'Gee whiz, the Constitution protects parental rights and religious freedom,'" said Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for the conservative Liberty Legal Institute, which focuses on religious-liberty cases in Texas.
States have an absolute right to protect children from abuse, even abuse perpetrated under the guise of religious practice, but they must have strong evidence that such abuse is continuing or imminent, Mr. Sasser said. In this case, he said, Texas had no such evidence for the majority of the children.
The court's ruling, he said, underscored the point that without strong evidence, the state "can't interfere, no matter how much they may disagree with the way the children are being raised."
Write to Stephanie Simon at email@example.com and Ann Zimmerman at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: The Wall Street Journal
The New York Times
May 29, 2008
Sect Mothers Say Separation Endangers Children
By LESLIE KAUFMAN and DAN FROSCH
Ruth Edna Fischer was first allowed to see her 2-year-old daughter, from whom she had been separated after the raid on their polygamist ranch in Texas, at the child’s hospital room. The child had been taken there because of severe dehydration and malnutrition, Ms. Fischer said.
“Hannah looked like a little orphan sitting on the couch,” Ms. Fischer said. “Her hair was stringy and she was in a diaper, a pair of dirty socks and a hospital gown.”
The second visit two weeks later at a state office in Angleton, Tex., was worse. The girl would not even meet her mother’s gaze. “It was like she hardly remembered me,” said Ms. Fischer, who has four children in state custody.
As they await a ruling by the highest court in Texas on whether child-welfare authorities had the right to take 468 children from the ranch early last month, the mothers have started speaking out more forcefully about what they think the separation has already done to their children.
The mothers and their lawyers are undoubtedly trying to make their best pitch for public sympathy as the Supreme Court of Texas deliberates on the fate of their children. Last Thursday, an appeals court in Austin found that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services had illegally removed the children without sufficient evidence that they were in immediate danger.
On Friday, state officials asked the higher court for an emergency order that would allow them to keep all but a dozen children in their custody. The dozen children were returned to their parents under the condition that they have continuing supervision. The Supreme Court denied the stay on Friday, but said it would consider the case over the weekend. No decision has been issued yet.
Many child-welfare experts across the nation, who have as a group watched the high-profile Texas case closely, say the raid on the polygamist ranch diverged sharply from the recommended practices both in Texas and elsewhere in the country.
They say a growing body of research supports the contention of the mothers that forceful removal can have both significant short-term and long-lasting harm, particularly for younger children. Some studies have found that the wide-ranging effects include anxiety, extreme distrust of strangers and, in the future, higher rates of teenage pregnancy and juvenile incarceration.
Through their lawyers and in personal interviews, the mothers have been spilling tales of toddlers who have forgotten toilet training and 3-year-olds who cling to them frantically during visits. Ms. Fischer’s child became dehydrated as a result of a fever.
It is because of the growing national consensus about the scarring effect of removal on children, even if only temporarily, that federal law — to which all state law must defer — demands that children be removed only if “reasonable efforts” to keep them at home have been made.
Many states, like Oregon and Tennessee, have gone even further to protect children from the trauma of removal by giving families intensive in-home services first, and then, if the child is taken, having conferences with the parents, kin and friends from the community within 48 hours to help smooth the transition.
Some experts in Texas state law and procedure say the state not only violated minimum national standards, which are written into the Texas Family Code, but they also violated due process considerations. These were essentially the findings of the appeals court.
“They made no effort to keep the children there at the ranch,” said Johana Scot, executive director of the Parent Guidance Center in Austin, which helps advocate for the rights of parents who have had their children taken into foster care.
“And even worse, they did not give the families individual hearings, which they are also required to do by the code,” Ms. Scot said. “They’ve really botched this.”
Marleigh Meisner, a public information officer for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, said she could not discuss any particulars of this case. But in the filing to the Texas Supreme Court last Friday, the state held that because the parents had declined to identify which children belonged to whom, they could not at first be treated individually.
Further, the state asserted that all children were at risk because they were being indoctrinated into a pattern of sexual abuse — the young girls as victims, and the boys as predators.
Last Friday, to bolster its case, the state made public a picture of what it said was the now-imprisoned leader of the church, Warren S. Jeffs, kissing a 12-year female child on the lips.
The state’s raid on the Yearning for Zion ranch of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or F.L.D.S., came on April 3 after someone called an abuse hot line and said that she was a 16-year-old child bride being abused by her older husband at the ranch in Eldorado, Tex., which is about 45 miles south of San Angelo.
The state raided the ranch and conducted an extensive investigation of the sect’s files and found that numerous girls under the age of 16, some as young as 13, had been impregnated by older men. The caller has not been found.
Lawyers for the families say Texas officials overstepped the law in removing the children from their families; some three-quarters of the children were under age 10 and presumably not at “imminent risk” of abuse, which is the standard, according to federal law. Less draconian options, which the state did not employ, could have included removing all the men from the ranch or only the teenage girls, the lawyers have argued.
Steven D. Cohen, a senior associate at the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation, a national child-advocacy organization, said that while he could not say whether Texas officials acted improperly in taking the children from their mothers, he did think that they had violated numerous standards of best practice widely used elsewhere.
“Breaking all of the ties to several parental figures and siblings, and taking them to a remote and unfamiliar place raises many red flags about trauma and its effect on children,” Mr. Cohen said
Experts say younger children, who often do not have a sense of the passage of time, can be particularly hard hit by such separations. About 100 of the children removed from the sect were 2 years old or younger.
Shelly Greco, a court-appointed lawyer for a 14-month-old girl removed from the ranch, says the child had been up crying uncontrollably many nights because she was so abruptly weaned.
Numerous studies in recent years show that the effects of removal can be long lasting, often not showing up fully for a decade of more. In one study, Joseph J. Doyle, an economist with the Sloan School of Management at M.I.T., found that children removed from their parents and taken into foster care, even for a relatively short period, were three times as likely to grow up to be juvenile offenders or have a teenage pregnancy than were children from similarly troubled homes who had been left with their parents.
Professor Doyle said Texas was far from alone in erring on the side of removal. “From the caseworker’s point of view, the incentive is to take the kid,” he said. “That’s the safer choice, because it is unlikely that if something terrible happens in foster care they would be blamed. Whereas if something were to happen at home, the caseworker would be blamed.”
But Lori Jessop, one of a few mothers from the ranch who were reunited with their children in a court-brokered agreement last Friday, said she had already seen the impact of this situation. Ms. Jessop said her three children were suffering from night terrors and a fear of strangers, among other problems. She said that when her 4-year-old daughter recently saw a picture of a bus, like the one used to transport the children when they were in foster care, she started to cry.
“It’s affected her a lot,” Ms. Jessop said. “Everybody that she sees, especially adult men, she calls them policemen.”
Gretel C. Kovach contributed reporting.
Source: The New York Times
Shotgun Divorce Enforced
May 29, 2008 permalink
Father Stephen M Dean of Cobourg Ontario is sitting in jail because he was found to be associating with the mother of his child, clearly with her consent.
Cobourg man ignores order of non-association
Posted By By Cecilia Nasmith, May 28, 2008
In custody since April 4 for breaching his probation order, 26-year-old Cobourg resident Stephen M. Dean did not get two-for-one credit for time served on his May 12 guilty plea in the Ontario Court of Justice in Cobourg - simply because he certainly knew better, Justice Robert Graydon decided.
As a result, he will serve 62 days on top of time served for twice breaching a probation condition to have no contact with his girlfriend following assault convictions.
On February 14, police in the vicinity of the woman's Cobourg address observed her and a companion walking down the sidewalk. The male dashed away, and the woman went inside. Police later observed her re-emerge and join up with the man - later identified as the accused - some distance away from the residence.
On April 4, a Children's Aid worker out to interview the woman about her child (with Mr. Dean) asked police to accompany her for her own safety. The woman held off answering the door until after several knocks. She and the officer spotted a man's jacket and, when they told her they knew Mr. Dean was there, she didn't deny it.
The officer heard a noise in the bedroom and went in. He saw a pair of men's shoes and heard a slight rustle of the clothing in the closet. He called Mr. Dean's name and got no answer. He started to rummage in the closet and discovered a hand attached to Mr. Dean's arm.
Crown attorney David Thompson produced Mr. Dean's record which, by his count, contained 25 previous breaches of court orders.
Justice Robert Graydon was even more disturbed by the probation officer's report that she told him the non-association clause could be removed if he underwent counselling - and then he failed to show up.
Mr. Dean acknowledged what he had done was wrong, and apologized, but Justice Graydon said he had missed a golden opportunity to show good faith when he missed that appointment.
Learning Mr. Dean is on probation until 2010, Justice Graydon declined to issue a further probation order.
Source: Northumberland Today
Child Assist Services
May 28, 2008 permalink
Protecting families from children's aid involves more than protests. Here is a report from Mary Janiga on assistance to a family under threat from CAS. We are not sure CAS will keep their promise to the family, but if they do not, Mary will tell us.
Childrens Aid Society strikes again
But the Child Assist Services is there to save the day.
May 27, 2008
Swayze, Chad, Mary and Ed travelled the highway and we were to arrive at our destination at approximately 8:00pm. We drank Tim Horton’s coffee not knowing what to expect when we got there. All we knew is we were helping a family in need of baby items, and things needed for a couple to bring a baby home and into this world. We had a stroller, a baby car seat, a rocking bassinette, lots of baby formula (5 Cans), sleepers, one piece undershirts, (onesies) more then we could count, a playpen, 2 bags of diapers, baby blankets, receiving blankets, t-shirts, hats and socks, running shoes, sandals, bumper pads and Mickey mouse blanket set and probably things that I forgot. We arrived just before dusk, and we got to their home. They were overwhelmed and very thankful for our gifts to them. We all talked outside at the van, and we respected their privacy and did not want to invade their home, so we just hung out and talked of the struggles that people come into contact when dealing with the Children’s Aid Societies of this country.
The Child Assist Services made the effort to help this family and their anonymity is the key in any family matter so we will respect their privacy. Children’s Aid Society promised to let them keep this child if they could show that they have everything needed for a baby in the home. We will see if Children’s Aid Society is going to make good on that promise and not destroy another family in the process. The mother ready to give birth any day through induction, and the father devoted to his wife and family took the first step to ask for help and we were there to assist in such a small way. We told them if they needed any further assistance do not hesitate to call us anytime.
Again a group of three made a glimmer of hope seem possible for a family in need. We are hoping that through this effort we can help many more families in crises and need of our assistance. Families need our support.
Children’s Aid Societies of this Province of Ontario get millions of dollars to provide assistance to families, but they do not assist the family they remove the child. They do not assist the family in what they need in the family home to keep the child they assist them by destroying what little they have left intact.
We received donations of cash, clothing, formula and other goods from members of our community and we are thankful for all the contributions that were given to this family.
If all we help is one family we have made a difference.
Posted by maryjaniga at 6:50 PM
Source: Mary Janiga blog entry for May 27, 2008
Child in Need of Protection
May 27, 2008 permalink
The photo below shows Miranda, daughter of Hsiang Fei Lu, OACAS Supervisor of Training and Administration. As you can see in the background, the girl is in danger of electrocution from two unprotected wall outlets. The mother's name, and the girl's face, show that she is not Caucasian. She is at risk for lactose intolerance, and consequent rickets.
OACAS Journal, Winter 2008
We thank a Dufferin VOCA reader for the tip.
Experience with Pugsley
May 26, 2008 permalink
We earlier reported Bruce Pugsley's remarks on an unfair procedure in family court. Here is the experience of one Dufferin victim, using screen name Bulldog.
Location: Burlington Ont.
Posted: Sun May 25, 2008 12:54 am
Interesting story now here's my story.
One year on Dec 13 my ex-wife tried to concoct a story that I assaulted her. The police didn't believe her and no charges were laid. Even her lawyer tried to convince the police but the police did not lay a charge (probably because it never happened). Four months later when I was after two years successful in getting a custody trial date set I get a knock at my door and was arrested for assault four months afterwards. The police came in and said her lawyer demanded charges be laid, and they had no choice. I have my ex-wife's testimony from that trial she says that because the custody trial was set her lawyer told her it was time to get tough with Mr. ....... me. Wanna know what her lawyers name was???
Gillian Shute was fired by me for having unauthorized meetings with David Thwaites resulting in her undermining agreements we made just before the meeting occurred. In less than six months I managed to get custody of my daughter without a lawyer and David Thwaites quit being my ex's lawyer People if you need a lawyer and live in Orangeville you'd best get one from another city. They are all in cahoots in Orangeville. I would be happy to chat with anyone that would like to hear more in-depth details. Email me. (through the forum)
PS Bruce Pugsley was a Dufferin county Children's Aid lawyer and if anyone goes before him for a CAS matter they should apply to have him disqualified for conflict of interest and have a different judge appointed.
Source: Canada Court Watch public forum
We concur with the assessment of the Dufferin bar.
Several clients told us in the past that Bruce Pugsley seduced them by expostulating on how much he hated children's aid. He did not disclose to them that when the regular CAS lawyer, then David Thwaites, had a conflict of interest, Bruce Pugsley acted on behalf of children's aid.
In spite of the chicanery, we take the recent statement by Bruce Pugsley at face value. He is using his position to correct unfair treatment of parents that he has seen repeatedly during his career, and maybe even committed himself. He drew attention to a mother victim, Alison Shaw, because that is more likely to generate reform than a wronged father.
Press Turning Against CPS
May 26, 2008 permalink
Two items show developing skepticism of the way Texas is handling the FLDS case. Richard Wexler reports that many newspapers outside Texas (but not within) are critical of the seizure of the FLDS children. And lawyers representing the children have accumulated a long list of illegal acts by the child protectors.
UPDATE, MAY 25:
There are signs that the rest of the country may be catching on, at least on the editorial pages. Ever since the appeals court ruling, editorials supporting the ruling and opposing Texas CPS have turned up in the St. Petersburg Times, the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle, the Wilmington (Del.) News-Journal, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Kennebec Journal (a very good newspaper in Augusta Maine) and the Paris Post-Intelligencer. (That’s Paris, Tennessee, not France or Texas). Yes, a couple of these newspapers have been all too willing to support the overreach of CPS in their own states, but perhaps this will give them second thoughts.
I have yet to find an editorial favoring CPS outside of Texas since the appeals court issued its ruling. It is a different story in Texas, where, so far the only paper I’ve found favoring the appeals court ruling is the Wichita Falls Times Record News. And Sharon Grigsby, an editorial writer for The Dallas Morning News has publicly dissented from that paper’s support of the take-the-child-and-run approach on the paper’s Opinion Page Blog.
Posted by NATIONAL COALITION FOR CHILD PROTECTION REFORM at 3:30 PM
Source: Richard Wexler blog for May 24, 2008 update of May 25
Houston & Texas News
May 24, 2008, 8:58PM
Lawyers cry foul in FLDS seizures
By MARY FLOOD, Houston Chronicle
Many lawyers for children and parents in a Texas polygamist sect are boiling mad about the growing number of legal errors they claim the state has made in seizing and holding more than 460 children.
From the way officials handled an April anonymous phone tip about a sexually abused girl allegedly at the sect's ranch, the seizure of the children, the court hearings and the questioning of children and parents alike, many attorneys are crying foul.
The lawyers breathed a slight sigh of relief Thursday when some of their cries seemed answered by an Austin appeals court. The 3rd Court of Appeals said the state had no right to seize most of the children and the local trial judge incorrectly left them in the custody of Child Protective Services.
But by Friday, CPS and its umbrella agency asked the Texas Supreme Court to overturn the appeals court decision and leave the children where they are — in foster homes and camps around the state, most far from their home at the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' Yearning for Zion Ranch in West Texas.
"They have created chaos. They don't know what to do. This case has holes in it the size of the Grand Canyon," said Laura Shockley, a Dallas family law specialist with six clients in the case. "There is no way to fix this."
She and other lawyers say some of the seized people, especially those who it turns out are 18 or older, have potent federal civil rights lawsuits against the state.
Allegations of errors
In papers filed in court and in interviews for this story, lawyers for the children and parents have complained that the state (primarily through CPS, but also through law enforcement and the courts) has made a number of legal errors including:
- Insufficient investigation of the initial tip and tipster.
- Insufficient investigation at the ranch about who was in immediate danger.
- Treating the entire compound as one household, though there were 19 separate residences.
- Taking all children instead of just the post-pubescent girls who could have been subjected to the feared sexual abuse by older men.
- Insufficient evidence presented at the first hearing for the children.
- The hearing should have been for each individual child, not all in one hearing.
- Shifting burden of proof to parents to prove innocence, rather than having CPS prove guilt.
Amy Warr, an Austin appellate specialist who is working on a response to the state's request to the Supreme Court, said she got involved in the case because of how badly the state has handled it.
"The result is a lot of people did not get due process. As a lawyer and a mother I know the reason the Legislature set high standards before the state can take kids," Warr said. She said those standards were not met.
The lawyers complain that CPS was supposed to consider removing only children in immediate danger, not children who might grow up to abuse others. The lawyers said CPS was supposed to explore alternatives before removing any children. The appeals court made those same points.
Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the primary state agency involved, said Friday that the agency had no comment. But in its request to the high court the agency defended its actions.
"This case is about adult men commanding sex from underage children; about adult women knowingly condoning and allowing sexual abuse of underage children; about the need for the Department to take action under difficult, time-sensitive and unprecedented circumstances to protect children on an emergency basis," states the request to the high court.
Wrong legal standards
The state agency also argued that the appeals court overstepped its bounds and used the wrong legal standards and processes when it told the local court to send some of the children back home.
"It seems likely they initially started trying to do the right thing. But when they proceeded beyond questions limited to young females, or taking young females into custody, they got into real trouble with the law," said Tim Lynch, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Cato Institute's Project on Criminal Justice.
Susan Hays, a Dallas appellate lawyer who is representing a 2-year-old, said this was a "perfect storm legal disaster."
One exacerbating problem, she said, was basic funding. "The state put money into the raid but not into the courts," she said.
She said copies, an overhead projector, enough assistants to be sure children didn't drop through the cracks without representation were all missing, causing children and parents to have their rights abridged. "The courts were dying — in need of resources."
Donna Broom, a South Texas College of Law clinical faculty member who has volunteered to represent a child, said many things are problematic and atypical here, compared to normal CPS cases.
"They normally have to prove the danger is immediate and to show they can't use other reasonable alternatives to removing the child," she said. "Normally, there is more investigation."
She and all the lawyers are in limbo about what will happen next in their cases. Individual hearings scheduled for Tuesday have been postponed as the local judges try to decide what to do next, given the appeals court decision and the pending request of the Supreme Court.
"Every day is a new day in this case. Every attorney is trying to digest what's happened," Broom said.
Source: Houston Chronicle
Angelica Leslie's Parents Arrested
May 25, 2008 permalink
Police have arrested two unnamed people for abandoning Angelica Leslie. The Children's Aid Society of Waterloo has struck it rich, getting three other children of the couple. Some comments:
Children tied to abandonment case in limbo
Angelica-Leslie, three kids taken from accused pair face an uncertain future, psychological side effects
May 24, 2008, Nick Kyonka, Staff Reporter
While the parents charged with abandoning her sit in jail, the future remains uncertain for baby Angelica-Leslie and three other young children who were taken from the couple's home this week.
Child care experts agree the removal of a child from his or her family can sometimes cause devastating psychological effects. But a case like this raises additional questions:
- Can the abandoned baby girl be reunited with her siblings?
- Can the children see their parents again?
- What kind of long-term effects will the whole ordeal have on the four children, all under the age of 6?
Workers from the Children's Aid Society confirmed yesterday that three children had been removed from the Kitchener home of the accused couple at the time of their arrests and put in foster care.
Yesterday, the children underwent routine medical examinations – the first in a series of assessments to determine their physical and mental well-being, said Peter Ringrose, the executive director of Family and Children's Services of the Waterloo Region.
The test results likely won't be available until next week, he said.
In the meantime, Ringrose noted, the children are adapting well to their new environment.
"My impression is that the children seem fairly normal," he said.
Meanwhile, the baby at the centre of the ordeal is still in the Toronto-area foster home she had been living in before Wednesday's arrests. When – and if – the four children will be reunited, is still up in the air.
"It's too early to speculate on what will happen to these kids," said Melanie Persaud, of Toronto CAS, noting that whenever possible, they "try to keep the kids together."
Whether the children will ultimately end up together will likely be decided in family court. Next week the CAS will begin the process by serving the parents notice of their legal right to put forth a plan for the children's care.
It seems unlikely, however, that the children would be returned to their parents if they are found guilty of abandoning Angelica-Leslie, Persaud said."It's not impossible, but my goodness it's hard to imagine the circumstances."
If the children were not returned to their parents, and no suitable relatives could care for them, they may end up with adoptive parents.
But child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Diane Philipp says it may be difficult to find a family to take all four children and warns the children will likely be emotionally and psychologically tattered.
"Even if a child's in a fairly abusive situation, separating them from their parents is a fairly traumatic event and will have consequences," said Philipp, head of an infant and preschool assessment and treatment team at the Hincks-Dellcrest centre for children's mental health.
Should the children be adopted, their future parents will play a vital role in answering the children's questions and helping them understand the events of the last three months and subsequent turmoil.
"Of course it's going to have an impact ... but it really depends on the family care system that they're put into and how well they're looked after from that point onwards," Philipp said.
Source: The Toronto Star
May 24, 2008 permalink
Ask for a second opinion, lose your baby. Here is an example from Indiana.
Special Report - A Parent's Rights
Posted: May 19, 2008 11:39 PM
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - The birth of a baby should be one of the most exciting moments a couple will ever experience. But an aggressive campaign by the state to screen newborn infants turned that moment into a nightmare for one couple.
Little Kate Ellis is healthy and normal but her birth was traumatic for her parents. It started just minutes after Kate was born.
Kate's father, Mike Ellis, said a doctor walked in and told Kate's mother that he was going to have to administer methadone.
Ellis said he was shocked and worried about giving such a powerful drug to his daughter.
"And I knew methadone...I've heard in the past that is for people that have a heroin habit. That threw up red flags immediately. I said, 'We're not doing that,' immediately," said Ellis.
Ellis was in a panic. His baby had just been born at Methodist Towers. He wanted to talk with a pediatrician.
His wife, Shannon Ellis, was in a panic too. But her medical history is what triggered the methadone suggestion.
Shannon said her doctor had prescribed hydrocodone for her after she suffered injures in a February car accident. She and Mike trusted that the prescribed drug would not affect the baby.
"Why would you prescribe this to her if this was going to be an issue?...He didn't have an answer for any time I asked that. I said, 'I'm very upset'," said Mike.
"If I had to do it all over again I would have dealt with the pain," said Shannon.
It turns out that anytime a mother is on a drug, prescription or not, a doctor can order a newborn to be screened. If a parent questions or protests, which Mike Ellis did, the red flags go up and the state takes action.
Back at the hospital a urine drug screen result on Kate was negative. But it was already too late. Child Protective Services was in the process of taking custody of her away from Mike and Shannon.
All the Ellises had to do to raise suspicion and get the state involved was simply ask for their own doctor's second opinion on whether it was necessary to give their baby the powerful drug, methadone.
Judge Marilyn Moores did not rule directly in the case, but heads up the Marion County Juvenile Court.
"Because of the huge number of children we are seeing who are born exposed or addicted to drugs and what a devastating thing that can be for children and how hard it is to find them after the fact, the system reacts pretty quickly," said Moore.
For the Ellises the system was too quick and, as they saw it, unfair.
"If this is something they do with everybody in the state of Indiana, okay. But that's not the case. I mean they cornered her immediately for something they prescribed for her and treated her like she's a drug addict," said Mike.
Infant drug screenings are not mandatory for all babies born in Indiana. And not all Indianapolis hospitals do the tests.
So the state removed Kate from her parents and placed her in foster care. Remember, the urine test for hydrocodone in the baby's system was negative.
The Ellises had to go to court to get their baby back, which meant more of a burden.
"We're going to sell her vehicle to be able to get an attorney to be able to fight to get our daughter back," said Mike.
Three days later, the Ellises were in juvenile court and the news was good. The judge ordered the release of the child back to them.
"I think the mistake is made that they were not advised of the potential need for treatment...and the reasons for it," said Jim Lowery, the Ellises' attorney.
Judge Moores said when parents go against medical advice, that's a red flag in the system.
Kate Ellis was reunited with her mom and dad about an hour after the hearing.
"I think Child Protective Services has way too much power. And I think the hospital, I feel the same way. It's supposed to be a joyous event when you have a baby and this turned into, in essence, into a nightmare," said Mike.
Mike Ellis thinks the system has too much power.
Judge Moores sees the issue from a different perspective.
"Well I guess my response to that is, that infant...that newborn baby has no power, has no one to speak for him or her.
A Merconium screen, a different kind of test that takes several days to complete, did show little Kate Ellis had been exposed to the drug her mother had taken.
Judge Moores said her court sees hundreds of infants exposed to drugs at birth. She said the only way to get them treatment is aggressive testing. If that means parents lose custody for a few days, it's better that than having a dead baby.
Report by Debby Knox, WISH. Edited by Andrew Bonner.
May 24, 2008 permalink
Hamilton East MPP Andrea Horwath is planning to introduce another bill to give the ombudsman the ability to report on children's aid societies.
Provincial Ombudsman André Marin testified before the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly on April 10. You can view the whole hearing, or two exchanges dealing with children's aid, first and second.
Andrea Horwath has distributed a petition in support of her effort. An online version of the petition has already attracted over a hundred signatures, but the legislature can only accept written petitions. You can print the attached form (MS-Word) and mail your signed petition to Andrea Horwath at the address on the document.
Harm from Child Protection
May 23, 2008 permalink
A British organization advocating natural childbirth has published a letter enumerating harmful side-effects of the child protection system. We cannot find the original letter, but British MP John Hemming summarized it.
Child Protection damages Public Health - AIMS
The following is an AIMs press release sent out recently that I quote.
The punitive way child “protection” is practised in the UK may be doing more harm than good. In their many cases on file, the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services has numerous examples:
- Women with postnatal depression who are at risk of suicide conceal their illness - for fear of losing their children
- Women who are being beaten up by their partners don’t report it - for fear of social workers taking their children
- Women in need of support whose pregnancies were the result of rape conceal it from midwives at antenatal clinic - for fear of social workers being called in.
- Parents are afraid to take sick children to A & E - for fear paediatricians will have them taken away.
- Health visitors, once valuable supporters, are no longer welcomed since they became “the health police”
These and many other examples were outlined in a letter AIMS sent to Chief Medical Officers in the UK - which has now been published. “We make sure officials have the information - then they can’t say they did not know”, says Jean Robinson, former Hon. Research Officer who wrote the letter.
“The most worrying thing is that there is no adequate research base showing benefits and risks of these draconian and expensive interventions. Yet medical interventions have to be proved. The harm that can be done from even short term, minor interventions, is both deep and long lasting, yet no one has wanted to collect the data showing how serious and common it is.”
posted by john ¶ 10:30 AM
Source: John Hemming blog for May 21, 2008
Court Sides with FLDS
May 23, 2008 permalink
A Texas appellate court has ruled that the FLDS children were not in imminent danger and there is no legal justification for their seizure under pretext of child protection. We have a press report below, and you can read the original Texas Court of Appeals decision (pdf). The court found that growing up among teachings promoting early marriage for girls did not place them in imminent physical danger. It did not deal with the issue that the phone call initialing the raid was a hoax.
The New York Times
May 23, 2008
Court Says Texas Illegally Seized Sect’s Children
By RALPH BLUMENTHAL
HOUSTON — A Texas appeals court ruled on Thursday that the state had illegally seized up to 468 children from their homes at a polygamist ranch in West Texas. The decision abruptly threw the largest custody case in recent American history into turmoil.
Although the court did not order the children’s immediate release, it raised the prospect that many of them would be reunited with their families, possibly within 10 days. The children have been in foster homes scattered across Texas since early April, making their parents travel hundreds of miles to visit them.
Officials of the State Department of Family and Protective Services, which led the raid on the ranch in Eldorado, defended their actions as being taken in the children’s interest and said they were considering their next steps.
The unanimous ruling by three judges of the Third Court of Appeals in Austin revoked the state’s custody over the children of 38 mothers and, by extension, almost certainly the rest, for what it called a lack of evidence that they were in immediate danger of sexual or physical abuse.
One mother, Martha Emack, 23, said she was “totally thrilled” by the ruling. “Everyone is totally overjoyed to tears,” she said in a telephone interview.
Ms. Emack said both of her children had been seized — one just turned a year old and the other 2. “It’s been very emotional, very traumatizing,” she said.
When asked whether she ultimately wanted to return to the ranch with her children, Ms. Emack said quickly, “I do want to go back.”
The court said the record did “not reflect any reasonable effort on the part of the department to ascertain if some measure short of removal and/or separation would have eliminated the risk.”
It said that the evidence of danger to the children “was legally and factually insufficient” to justify the removal and that the lower court had “abused its discretion” in failing to return the children to the families.
The ruling, an unusual opinion granting relief in a case not yet decided, was issued on the custody challenge by the 38 women and an additional 54 who filed a second action. Lawyers said the burden was on the state to show why it should not apply to the rest of the children, as well.
Custody hearings under way before five judges in San Angelo were canceled.
Susan Hays, a lawyer in Dallas who specializes in appellate law and who is the lawyer for a 2-year-old taken from the ranch, said the children might begin returning home as early as next week.
“Right now, there is an order saying return the children,” Ms. Hays said. “It technically does not apply to all the women’s children. But practically it does.”
She said the state would have to file a motion for emergency release quickly that asks the court to stay the order.
“If they don’t,” Ms. Hays said, “then we’re done. The children could be returned as soon as next week, or not depending on what happens with the high court.”
The case began on April 3, when Texas investigators, saying they were responding to a girl’s call for help, raided the 1,691-acre Yearning for Zion ranch of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Eldorado, about 45 miles south of San Angelo.
The caller was never found, and investigators now suspect that the call was a hoax.
The polygamous sect broke away from the Mormon church decades ago over the Mormons’ condemnation of plural marriage and began building its secluded compound in Eldorado in 2003.
The sect’s leader, Warren Jeffs, was sentenced last November in Utah to 10 years to life in prison for forcing a 14-year-old girl to marry her 19-year-old cousin and to submit to sexual relations against her will,
In a statement after the ruling on Thursday, the Department of Family and Protective Services said: “Child Protective Services has one duty: to protect children. When we see evidence that children have been sexually abused and remain at risk of further abuse, we will act.”
The agency said it removed the children “after finding a pervasive pattern of sexual abuse that puts every child at the ranch at risk.” The officials said interviews “revealed a pattern of under-age girls being ‘spiritually united’ with older men and having children with the men.”
“We will work with the Office of Attorney General to determine the state’s next steps in this case,” the department said.
The appeals judges who ruled, Chief Justice W. Kenneth Law and Justices Robert. H. Pemberton and Alan Waldrop, all Republicans, said removing children from their homes was “an extreme measure” justifiable only in the event of urgent or immediate danger.
Instead, the court said, the state argued that the “belief system” at the ranch condoned under-age marriage and pregnancy and that the whole ranch functioned as a “household” in which sexual abuse anywhere threatened children in the entire community.
But in reality, the judges said, there was no evidence of widespread abuse, and they faulted the district judge, Barbara Walther, for approving the children’s removal based on insufficient grounds.
David Schenck, a Dallas lawyer who represented one mother, Marie Steed, said that the appeals court had asked the state to respond to the women’s motion by last Monday and that the state had asked for more time.
“This was the court’s answer,” Mr. Schenck said.
The ruling was hailed by the Liberty Legal Institute, which litigates cases of religious freedom.
“One message from this decision is clear,” the group said. “The rights of every Texas parent will be taken seriously, no matter who you are.”
Jim Cohen, a law professor at Fordham University, said it was highly unusual for an appeals court to intervene in a continuing case, especially one involving child protection.
“It showed the proof was really weak, not a close call at all,” Professor Cohen said.
Tim Edwards, a lawyer in San Angelo who represents four mothers, said: “This is a wonderful day. It confirms not only my feeling, but the feeling of many, many attorneys involved in the case, that Child Protective Services failed to meet their burden of proof to justify a court order to remove more than 400 children from their homes for the last six or seven weeks.”
Mr. Edwards said even if the children went home soon, the effects were likely to linger.
“You’re talking about a situation that is traumatic to many people,” he said, “and the recovery from that trauma may be slow in coming.”
Cynthia Martinez, a spokeswoman for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, which represents many of the women, said sentiments varied. Many mothers, Ms. Martinez said, voiced “a general concern that the ranch had lost its purpose because the mothers and children’s last memory is of the ranch being raided, and that is a huge concern for a lot of these parents.”
Ms. Hays said she was surprised by the judges, whom she described as among the most conservative on the court. “This ruling restored my faith in the rule of law,” she said. “This is an opinion based on law and not politics.”
Laura Nugent, a lawyer in Austin who represents four of the children, said she was thrilled. “I feel this is the correct way to rule on the evidence,” Ms. Nugent said. “I felt all along that the department did not bear their burden of proof.”
Ms. Nugent, whose clients are 6, 10, 11 and 12, said she was unsure whether the ruling applied to all the children she represented and was awaiting details.
“They all want to go home,” she said. “They are emphatic that they want to go home and be reunited with their parents and their siblings.”
This is not the first time a raid on polygamists may have backfired. In 1953, Arizona authorities under Gov. Howard Pyle raided a fundamentalist community, Short Creek, which is now Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, taking about 160 children into custody. The custody ruling was overturned on appeal in 1955.
Reporting was contributed by John Dougherty in Las Vegas, Dan Frosch in Denver and Gretel C. Kovach in Dallas.
Source: The New York Times
Addendum: It is easier to get a court to give a favorable decision than to get child protectors to pay attention to it. Texas child protectors are appealing the decision invalidating their seizure of over 400 children from the FLDS ranch. Even if the courts are against them after appeals are exhausted, we can expect a long period of foot-dragging before the children are returned. We enclose two articles, one on the appeal and another indicating that a small number of children will be reunited with their families.
Texas fights return of FLDS kids
Top state justices to mull case
By Ben Winslow and Brian West, Deseret News, Published: May 24, 2008
SAN ANGELO, Texas — The day after FLDS mothers celebrated an appeals court decision ordering the return of their children, child welfare officials went to the Texas Supreme Court to prevent it.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services asked the Supreme Court to stay the 3rd Court of Appeals order and keep the children where they are, in foster facilities, until the high court considers its arguments. Attorneys argued the more than 450 children will "suffer irreparable harm" if the appellate court order is followed and says the children "will be at risk of sexual and emotional abuse" if returned to their parents.
Attorneys for dozens of FLDS mothers wasted no time responding, filing papers with the high court just hours afterward. The mothers argued any delay returning the children will cause "continuing, irreparable harm every day that they are separated from their parents."
Ostler McCarthy, staff attorney for the Texas Supreme Court, said the justices requested the trial record Friday from the 3rd Court of Appeals — an indication that it plans to work on the case over the weekend.
Rod Parker, a Salt Lake attorney representing the Fundamentalist LDS Church, said the state's appeal will be an uphill battle for Texas authorities.
"They ought to take a step back and think about what they're doing here and if it's really best for the children in the face of what's happened to them so far and their inability to produce any evidence," he said.
"This is an agency that's out of control."
In the first paragraph of its appeal, attorneys for DFPS wrote: "This case is about adult men commanding sex from underage children; about adult women knowingly condoning and allowing sexual abuse of underage children; about the need for the department to take action under difficult, time-sensitive and unprecedented circumstances to protect children on an emergency basis ... "
It also questions the appeals court's order to return the children "without giving the court the opportunity to determine which parents are entitled to possession of which children."
DFPS has complained that children switched names and both children and mothers have refused to answer questions about identities or family relationships, making it difficult to determine which child belongs to which parents.
"The children have a constitutional best interest right to know with absolute certainty who their parents are. Due to the orchestrated conspiracy of silence, neither the department nor the trial court was able to match alleged parents with the children," state attorneys argued, adding that it was important to establish relationships to determine potential risks of sexual abuse.
"This is a desperate argument on behalf of the state," countered attorney Amy Warr, who helped write the response to the DFPS appeal.
"The matching of children with parents did not become a problem for the department until a court decided that it had to give the children back," the response by Texas RioGrande Legal Aid states. DFPS knows the correct identities, the mother's attorneys argued, especially since the department allowed the mothers to visit their children, participated in status hearings and presented service plans that name the children and their parents.
The appeal by Texas authorities repeats allegations of a "pattern of girls reporting that there was no age too young" to be married and boys at the ranch are groomed to be "perpetrators."
DFPS identified five underage girls from "Bishop's Records" who are pregnant or had conceived a child, including one girl who was 13 when she conceived.
"By necessity, the record establishes that not only children as young as age 13 were pregnant but also that men must have engaged in the sexual abuse of children at least nine months before, if not at an even earlier age," the court document states.
The department justifies the removal of babies from the ranch, citing a Child Protective Services supervisor's statement that "the little boys, the babies, the girls, what I have found is that they are living under an umbrella of belief that having children at a young age is a blessing and therefore any child in that environment would not be safe."
Thursday's decision from the Court of Appeals "offers a poor analysis of misstated facts," and that court overstepped its authority in ordering that the children be returned, DFPS attorneys argued.
The department said it would not be safe for any child to return to the ranch "because the adults on the ranch expressed that they 'aren't doing anything harmful to their children.'"
In its response, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid attorneys said the appellate court decision to return the children does not mean Texas child welfare workers would no longer have oversight.
"The practical effect of this order is to allow the children to go home while the department continues its investigation. The department's suit regarding the children remains pending in trial court, which could issue any appropriate orders to protect the children's safety and ensure their continued presence in the state."
Attorneys for the FLDS mothers asked the Supreme Court to deny Texas' request to issue a stay of the appellate court order.
"Right now these children are experiencing the irreparable harm, pain and distress of enforced separation from their parents (and, in many cases, siblings)," the response states.
"By denying the stay and allowing the court of appeals order to take effect, this court would halt the only harm that everyone is certain is occurring. As the court of appeals correctly determined, there is no evidence of any equivalent harm — including abuse — that could justify the stay."
Contributing: Amy Joi O'Donoghue
E-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Deseret News
CPS agrees to reunite 12 FLDS children with parents for now
May 23, 2008
SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) — State child welfare authorities have agreed to reunite 12 children from a west Texas polygamist sect with their parents until the state Supreme Court rules on their custody case.
Teresa Kelly, a spokeswoman for the parents' lawyer, says Child Protective Services agreed on Friday to allow the parents to live with their children in the San Antonio area under state supervision.
An appeals court ruled Thursday that CPS was wrong to seize more than 440 children from a ranch run by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The state appealed that ruling to the Texas Supreme Court on Friday.
CPS said it took the children into foster care because the sect pushes girls into underage marriage and sex and raises the boys to be perpetrators.
Source: Associated Press hosted by Google
Addendum: A knowledgeable source says that the families of the twelve children consented to a deal with CPS under which they will get their kids back, but be subject to impositions such a visits, counseling, parenting classes and such. They also forfeit the right to sue CPS for damages.
May 22, 2008 permalink
It is easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than to get information from children's aid. In today's instance a Windsor couple has been denied records of a failed adoption.
St. Joachim couple seek transparency from Children's Aid
Craig Pearson, The Windsor Star
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
ST. JOACHIM -- Five years after a heartbroken St. Joachim couple returned a baby girl to the local Children's Aid Society -- when a potential adoption fell through -- the prospective parents are still fighting to find out what went wrong.
Edward Hickey and Kelly-Ann Spezowka say extra documents recently disclosed to them through a review by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services still do not provide what they want -- case notes from the Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society worker involved.
"Despite numerous requests from the ministry to WECAS to divulge all the documentation on the case, they're refusing to do that," Hickey said Thursday. "So it's a frustrating experience -- which is what it's meant to be. They're intending to make it frustrating."
Local CAS director Bill Bevan said privacy laws prevent him from speaking about individual cases.
"I can't talk about a specific situation," Bevan said. "But I can assure you we co-operate fully with the ministry and any review they might do.
"We are required to not only co-operate fully but to disclose all information that is required under a review."
Children and Youth Services spokeswoman Anne Machowski said she could not address a specific case. But she noted that the Child and Family Services Act has appeal procedures built in, including through the ministry, the Auditor General of Ontario, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
The story began in October 2002, when CAS workers introduced Hickey and Spezowka to a one-year-old girl as mommy and daddy.
Though the couple knew they still had to go through a formal adoption procedure before the process was complete, Hickey said CAS workers indicated they felt things should run smoothly.
The couple even wanted to rename the girl and considered her their daughter. But after some months, Hickey said they could tell something was wrong with the adoption process.
They eventually found out that the maternal grandmother, who had originally said she did not want the girl full-time, was having second thoughts.
But Hickey said he and his wife were not informed about the grandmother's flip-flop until after they had developed a close bond with the girl. Figuring they had little hope of adopting the girl against the maternal grandmother's wishes, they returned her to the CAS amid tears -- a day they still cannot shake.
"It was the hardest thing we've ever done," Hickey said.
Bevan sent Hickey and Spezowka a letter of apology in October 2003, saying: "I have concluded that the organization should have been forthcoming in working with you. Firstly, we could have and should have provided you with more information about the grandmother who was involved with the child placed in your home."
But Hickey, a 43-year-old pilot, and Spezowka, a 42-year-old social worker -- who live in a bright and airy lakeside home with their 10-year-old son and three-year-old daughter -- want more. They want to know when the CAS knew the grandmother was back in the picture and why they weren't told sooner.
They want all documents related to their case -- in particular, the CAS social worker's case notes from 29 meetings -- released to the ministry, and then hopefully to them.
"They are obligated to disclose every single document, file, and note regarding our case to the director, appointed by the ministry, who is reviewing the case," Hickey said. "They still have not done that.
"They're dragging out the process as long as possible so that the whole story of what happened to this child never finds its place in the public domain."
Hickey and Spezowka have hundreds of pages disclosed from the local CAS, but not the case workers' notes, which they believe will show everything and give them closure.
Hickey and Spezowka started their complaint procedure with the ministry in the summer of 2005, and say they were told the process would take six months.
Now they also want the system changed to make Children's Aid Societies more transparent.
"All the policies and procedures are already in place, they're just not following them," Hickey said. "But we want them to be more open and we want them to be more accountable."
Source: The Windsor Star
Texas Admits FLDS Hoax
May 21, 2008 permalink
The State of Texas has come as close as it ever will to admitting that the call initiating the FLDS raid in April was a hoax. The call, purportedly from a girl named Sarah raped by her husband Dale Barlow, now seems to have been a hoax call from Rozita Swinton in Colorado Springs. No Sarah has been found. Dale Barlow did not live in Eldorado Texas, but in Arizona. Texas previously dropped the arrest warrant for Mr Barlow, now it is dropping the case of "Sarah". Notwithstanding the collapse of the case, don't expect CPS to return the children.
May 19, 2008, 11:40PM
With no 'Sarah,' CPS asks to drop her case
SAN ANGELO — It was the call for help that launched one of the largest raids on a religious compound in U.S. history.
But on Monday, a Child Protective Services attorney asked for the case involving a 16-year-old known as "Sarah," who claimed sexual and physical abuse at the hands of her husband, to be dropped.
The state has all but declared the call a hoax after the phone number was traced to a Colorado woman with a history of pretending to be an abused child. The Texas Department of Public Safety even withdrew its arrest warrant against Dale Barlow, alleged husband and Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sect member.
But CPS has not confirmed whether it thinks "Sarah" is real or not, saying that the call didn't force the removal of 463 children, and that what the agency found — which has yet to be truly revealed — did.
Early Monday, CPS attorney Gary Banks asked that the case of "Baby Jessop," naming Sarah as the mother and Barlow as the father, be dismissed.
"We're not saying that the child doesn't exist, but at this time we don't believe she's in our custody," Banks said.
Source: Houston Chronicle
May 20, 2008 permalink
Some FLDS parents have been turned into full-time commuters as they shuttle around Texas to see their scattered children.
New York Times
Far-Flung Placement of Children in Texas Raid Is Criticized
By KIRK JOHNSON, Published: May 20, 2008
SAN ANGELO, Tex. — Texas policy holds that when children are taken from their parents for investigation of possible abuse, geographic distances should be kept to a minimum to allow supervised visitation.
That has not, by a wide Texas mile, been the experience of Nora Jeffs, who was among the dozens of women attending court hearings here on Monday. Since her eight children were taken in the raid at a polygamist compound last month, Ms. Jeffs has been transformed into more or less an itinerant traveler, trying to visit her children, who are 18 months old to 14 years old, according to a state case worker.
Ms. Jeffs has two children in foster care in Amarillo, up in the Panhandle; one in Gonzales in south-central Texas; two in San Antonio, in Central Texas; and three in Waco, halfway between Dallas and Austin, a lawyer for Ms. Jeffs said. The closest are about 150 miles from her home in Eldorado, and the farthest are more than nine hours apart by car.
The children themselves, who are not allowed to travel while in state custody, are being encouraged to use conference telephone calls to stay in touch and to send drawings and letters.
“Her children are scattered to all corners of Texas,” said the case worker, Irene Schwaninger, in a hearing before Judge Thomas Gossett. “It’s something I’m working to rectify to the best of my ability.”
The hearings, technically meant as a 60-day check-up of the state’s plan in handling the children and families of the raid, have exposed the clanking machinery of the Texas child welfare apparatus, which has strained at the seams and spent millions of dollars to handle one of the biggest and most complex child welfare cases in the nation’s history.
Altogether, 465 children are now in state custody, after being taken from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or F.L.D.S., in a raid that began on April 3 after someone called an abuse hot line and said that she was a 16-year-old child bride being abused by her older husband in the church’s compound in Eldorado, about 45 miles south of here. The caller has still not been found.
The hearings, which are expected to go on for several weeks — one at a time before five judges at the Tom Green County Courthouse here — are the beginning step of differentiating all those families and children into individuals with their own stories.
In a first round of hearings last month, lawyers represented groups of families and children. And even on Monday, there were moments of confusion. Some children, for example, still have names and ages rendered different ways in state records.
Many of the families are also related and share last names like Jeffs, which is also the name of the F.L.D.S. leader, Warren S. Jeffs, who was convicted last year on a rape charge for imposing marriage between an under-age girl and older man in Utah. (Whether Ms. Jeffs is related to Warren Jeffs could not be determined on Monday.)
In one case on Monday afternoon, a lawyer for a mother of four named Carlene Jessop argued that the state was lumping all the families together and not acknowledging that some of them lived apart from the communal experience that the state said exposed the children to the under-age marriage practices.
“This family is not part of a commune,” said the lawyer, Nancy B. DeLong, referring to Ms. Jessop and her husband, William S. Jessop, who have said they have four children together, from 8 years old to almost 2, now in state custody. “They need to be separated out.”
Ms. DeLong argued that the Jessop case should be separated out from the larger mass of F.L.D.S. custody cases because the family’s pattern is so different. Judge Jay Weatherby denied the motion but said he would be willing to revisit it later.
In Ms. Jeffs’s case, which was the first of the day in Judge Gossett’s court, and took just over an hour, moments of cool if jargon-filled bureaucracy were interspersed with periods of seemingly heartfelt emotion.
Judge Gossett, in approving the state’s interim plan for the family — that the children remain in state custody — but reserving the right to amend it later, had stern words for Ms. Jeffs, who said in a written statement supplied by her lawyer that she would do anything to get her children back and ensure their welfare as long as it did not violate the precepts of her religious belief.
“That doesn’t give me a lot of confidence,” Judge Gossett said, staring down from the bench at Ms. Jeffs, who was dressed in a pale-blue prairie dress. “Your right to your religious belief ends when it violates the law.”
The F.L.D.S. broke off from mainstream Mormons after Mormons disavowed polygamy in 1890.
State officials said the raid and the taking of all the children in the church’s compound, called Yearning for Zion, were necessary because the culture of the sect led to illegal under-age marriage for girls and acceptance of that practice by boys — a pattern that state officials have said endangers both sexes.
Source: New York Times
Experience with Child Protectors
May 20, 2008 permalink
A British Columbia couple, Colleen and Alvin Deroache, has posted an account of five years five years dealing with child protectors. This material is in seven YouTube videos:       . Since controversial material disappears quickly from YouTube, we have local copies:        (all in flv format). Only the first is technically awkward.
May 20, 2008 permalink
Child protectors who remove children from parents for the most trifling reasons give short shrift to reports of abuse within their own ranks. New York rebuffed three complaints of abuse against foster mother Joanne Alvarez, and a fourth was still under investigation Monday when six-year-old Taylor Webster died in her care.
Foster Mother Investigated For Abuse Before Child, 6, Died
By Melissa Russo, Government Reporter
POSTED: 1:14 pm EDT May 20, 2008
UPDATED: 1:25 pm EDT May 20, 2008
NEW YORK -- News 4 has learned that East Harlem foster mother charged in the death of a 6-year-old girl was the subject of four separate investigations by the Administration of Children’s Services regarding the treatment of the children in her care.
The most recent probe was still ongoing when the Taylor Webster died Monday of an apparent overdose after her foster mother administered an adult pain medication patch -- allegedly to treat the child's complaints of neck pain.
Sources familiar with the case tell News 4 New York the most recent complaint about foster mother Joanne Alvarez was filed last month, April, 2008, when a tipster reported that Alvarez was using "excessive corporal punishment."
A source inside the system tells News 4 New York that officials from the ACS Office of Special Investigations (OSI) found no evidence of abuse when they visited the child at school and checked up on two other children, ages 7 and 8, who had been adopted by Alvarez. OSI investigates allegations of abuse and neglect involving children in the foster care system.
Caseworkers also learned that Taylor's foster mother had made regular visits to the pediatrician, including one visit this month, on May 8th, and that the pediatrician had found "nothing unusual."
Insiders tell News 4 - despite several complaints about Alvarez's care - they believe the cause of her death was an "unintentional, stupid mistake."
In fact, News 4 has learned that Alvarez was in the process of trying to adopt little Taylor.
Sources tell News 4 that two prior complaints filed within the last 18 months were declared "unfounded" by ACS, meaning that ACS could not or did not substantiate the complaints. Did these workers miss warning signs that could have prevented Taylor's death?
Taylor had been in Alvarez's care for five of her six years, since May of 2003. Alvarez had adopted two other children, meaning she had to complete many necessary background checks and prove to the Family Court that she was a fit parent.
Good Shepherd Services, the foster care agency most recently supervising Taylor's case, is one of New York's better performing agencies, according to a city government source.
ACS has declined to comment on the case, saying "it's under investigation"
News 4 New York has learned that Taylor ended up in foster care as a toddler after her biological mother left her in the care of an unrelated man who died of a seizure while caring for her. Her biological mother was extradited to Pennsylvania to face felony charges. We're told the biological mother also had four children in foster care in Pennsylvania.
Source: WNBC TV New York
May 20, 2008 permalink
Harold Levy posted a story about Angela Cannings, falsely convicted of murdering her own children. Here is an anonymous post in response.
Thank God for the strength of Angela, Trupti, Patty and the thousands of others. Sally, God rest your soul. If not for all of you, I would have shared a similar fate. Somehow the knowledge of what happened in your cases weighed heavily on the minds of some of our accusers. We were spared prison, but the damages that were done are horrific.
Five months after the death of our seven-week-old son, I was six weeks pregnant. I returned home from work late in the evening. My husband, clearly grief stricken said.. sit down. I just took one look at his face and knew something was horribly wrong. I took the stairs three at a time and found the crib empty. I sunk to the floor, sobbing uncontrollably. Why? Why didn't they listen to me and do a full work up on her? She was the only surviving child from four pregnancies! How could they just look at her and say, she's just fine. My husband picked me up off the floor and said.. she's not dead. She's gone and so is our other daughter. The Children's Aid took them until the police investigation is complete. Relief flooded in. This is just a big mistake. Why would the police investigate us? Why would the Children's Aid think our children needed protection? From who?
Five days later, we appeared in court and found out. Wild accusations flew, we could not protect ourselves, our children. Our home was reopened as a crime scene. We had to prove our innocence. The loss of our beloved son, the loss of our surviving children. The torture of seeing their emotionally ravaged faces, twice weekly, for two hours in a visitation centre.. only to have them torn from our arms, screaming, crying.
This went on for months and months. Twice a week, a visitation supervisor would advise us that we had three minutes left.. Our 14-year-old would dutifully drop everything, pick up our 18-month-old, her face would turn to stone, yet as her mother, I could see the pain etched in the darkened circles under her eyes. I still see the little outstretched hands.. reaching for us as her sister carried her away to a car driven by strangers. We would hide our tears as not to upset our kids. Then breakdown on our way to our own car. Often, we would drive behind them.. all the way home. They were staying less then 4 blocks from our house, in the care of relatives. The tears would flow again, as their car turned at the intersection. Our car had to go straight. Straight home to the emptiness, where once there was so much laughter. My belly was expanding with new life, and what should have been a healing time was turned into a fear so deep. The newspaper tooted.. Infant poisoned, experts confirm, unusual chemical found
This went on for weeks, the news cameras showed up at my home. My phone rang off the hook. I was terrified. I called my parents.. the cameras showed up there too. But we had nothing to tell them. We were not given any information to even begin to form a defence. Our son's autopsy was not made available to us for a further four months. We feared arrest as our home was searched yet again. We did not even know which one of us was the focus of the investigation. We didn't know if I would be giving birth in prison, or in hospital, wife of a prison inmate. My husband prayed it would be him, I prayed I would be me. Both sets of grandparents contemplated admitting culpability but could not come up with a reasonable, plausible, way in which they could have done such a heinous thing. It seemed so hopeless, for so long. We were never charged, therefore we can never be found innocent. We were never jailed, so we can never be set free. We do however, have our children home. Our son, has health challenges. We will always be viewed as suspect. When we go to the hospital, we will always be weighed against our past. If we insist on a test or disagree with a diagnosis or treatment.. rest assured, we will be dragged away from our children in chains.. it has happened. Today, I will fill out our daughters kindergarten registration package that asks about her past. I will fill it out honestly, we have nothing to hide. Pre-School History Form ie Does my child have any fears.. yes. She fears being dragged out of her home at night. She fears that we will get mad at her and send her away.. AGAIN. She is afraid of police. She remembers they helped take her away.. I tremble when a police car is behind me on the road. Will they drag me away for going two miles over the speed limit, because I am a suspect in a crime that never happened? (This fear is getting better with time) but how will the school react to my answer to question 36.. Has your child experienced any significant changes in his/her family life in the past? Birth of a baby, death of a family member, moving, separation.. my response will not fit in the two lines provided. 39. Has your child received assistance from any social services agencies during the preschool years? Family Services, Home Care, CAS? Who will interpret my answer? What will it COST us.. will we survive their Judgement.. or be referred for more SERVICES??? Our answers will form part of her permanent school record. In two years we will have to fill out the same forms for our son. This will never be over for us. This will follow us everywhere. forever. All because of a tissue fixative used in abundance at our sons autopsy. What an effective fixative!!! It FIXED us forever.
May 20, 2008 9:05 AM
Source: comments to Harold Levy blog about Dr Charles Smith
It is only a guess, but this sounds similar to the case of baby Stryker Burke who died at age 55 days. After tissue samples were preserved in a solution containing methanol, a pathologist diagnosed methanol poisoning as the cause of death. So far, only a report by Dr Mohammed Ali Al-Bayati is available on this case, and we have a local copy.
May 20, 2008 permalink
How do parents find out their child has been injured in foster care? When they get a bill for x-rays. In the US. Canadian parents don't get bills.
New York mother Sandra Allen got a bill for her son's x-rays, but does not know anything about the injuries. On visitation, discussion of the injury is forbidden.
New York Post
FURY AT FOSTER 'ABUSE'
By DOUGLAS MONTERO
May 19, 2008 -- Sandra Allen first wants to get her son back from the city - then she'll sue.
Allen is part of growing army of irate parents whose kids were abused or injured while in the custody of the Administration for Children's Services.
Allen, who works for the city's Department of Finance, said she learned in early 2007 that her son Stephen Jr., 6, had a fractured skull and broken collarbone when she started getting X-ray bills from her employee medical insurance.
"We still don't know what happened to his head - we need to know," said the teary Queens mom.
Allen still doesn't know who beat up Stephen, and she is forbidden by MercyFirst, the Queens foster-care provider contracted by ACS to take care of him, from questioning him during supervised visits.
"They [ACS] make the Police Department's blue wall of silence look like cheesecloth," said Joseph Kasper, Allen's lawyer.
The "standard practice" requires the foster-care provider to inform birth parents of injuries or abuse "as soon as possible," an ACS spokesman said.
Tell that to Raven Hamlett, whose two sons, then 5 and 2, were sexually abused sometime between February 2004 and June 2006 when she voluntarily put them in foster care to kick a drug habit.
After getting them back, she sought their medical records from ACS because the oldest boy was acting out.
The ACS social workers accidentally "turned over documents saying these kids had been sexually abused" by an unknown man who attacked them in the Bronx foster-care agency caring for them, her lawyer David Lesch said.
"It's a nightmare - I have never seen anything so heinous," said Lesch, who filed a lawsuit last year.
There are 211 pending personal-injury lawsuits against ACS, some dating back to 2003, according to Law Department records.
The city has shelled out $1.8 million to resolve 15 personal-injury cases, including a $1 million payout last year to Antonia Phillips, now 6, who suffered permanent brain damage after being shaken in 2003 by an unknown assailant.
ACS refused to say if any workers or foster-care contractors were arrested or disciplined for the attack.
Phillips' lawyer Derek Sells calls the lack of prosecution "perplexing."
Between July 2006 and June 2007, there were 1,337 complaints that children in ACS care were abused or neglected, and 301 - nearly a quarter of the cases - were substantiated.
Both numbers were up from the previous 12 months where 197 of 1,256 complaints were substantiated. MercyFirst refused to comment.
Source: The New York Post
CAS Wards Wanted
May 18, 2008 permalink
There is a call from Ryerson University for graduating crown wards aged 18 to 21 to participate in a study of child care. We don't know who uses screen name socialworks, but it might be one of the researchers.
CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS
« Thread Started on May 14, 2008, 9:31pm »
Be part of an important Ryerson University School of Social Work Graduate Studies research study
Are you between 18 and 21 years of age? Have you been involved in Child Welfare and want to share your story?
If you answered YES to these questions, you may be eligible to participate in a Focus Group research study.
The purpose of this research study is to study the experiences of Crown Wards once they have graduated from care. Specifically, I wish to explore the transition experience from care to independence.
You may not benefit from participating in this research study, but may help others in the future. It is a good opportunity for you to speak about important issues, share your experience, and help contribute to future research and the development of new and alternative policies and possible practice procedures.
Participants will be reimbursed for their time and travel.
Adults (18 - 21 years of age) are eligible to participate.
The Focus Group will be held in the GTA.
For more information: ƒu(416) 303-2214 OR email@example.com
This study has been reviewed by, and received ethics clearance through, The Research Ethics Board (REB)
Source: The Foster Care Council of Canada Message Board
Still More Support for Chemo Boy
May 18, 2008 permalink
More action is planned in support of chemo boy, this time Tuesday at the Hamilton courthouse. The information is from screen name moldessa.
CAS seizes sick boy to give him chemo
Reply #15 May 18, 2008 at 9:18am
Once again we will be outside the family courthouse Tuesday May 20, 9 am
We must find away to protect our future our children from the child stealing corrupt people, we must stand up together!
Source: Sarnia's Smoking Gun
Conflict of Interest
May 18, 2008 permalink
Following our item on the Children's Lawyer, Rob Ferguson pointed out a conflict of interest. Birkin Culp acts for the Office of the Children's lawyer, and serves as a director of community organizations including St Leonard's Community Services. Mr Culp's profile, from the website of his own law firm, is copied below.
Lawyer Profile - Birkin J. Culp
Birkin Culp joined Lefebvre and Lefebvre in 1999 and has since had a busy practice primarily in the areas of family and criminal law. He represents individuals in the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice. In addition to representing individuals, he also acts as agent for the Office of the Children's Lawyer (OCL) and represents children in both Child and Family Services Act and Children's Law Reform Act matters. He is an appointed agent for the Family Responsibility Office (FRO), representing the FRO in collection and enforcement proceedings.
Birkin obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree from Kingston, Ontario in 1997. At Queen's, he served as president of Law Students' Society and was honoured with the Gavel Award for his significant contribution to student affairs during his three years at law school. He previously completed his Bachelor of Arts (Honours Degree) in Political Science/History at the University of Guelph where he was awarded with the W.S. Reid Thesis Prize for a paper he wrote on a special history project.
Birkin is involved in various community affairs. He is a member of the Brant Ontario Court of Justice Bar and Bench committee and in such capacity, represents concerns of the bar to the local Judge and participates in deliberations concerning matters affecting administration of justice at the local level. He is also a member of the Board of Directors at St. Leonard's Community Services, a position he greatly cherishes. He participates in board meetings concerning the agency's diverse services in the areas of justice, addictions, mental health, employment and education. In the past Birkin was an executive board member and director of the Brantford School of Instrumental Music.
Birkin is also a keen participant in federal, provincial and local political associations in the Brantford area.
Source: Lefebvre and Lefebvre LLP
Examining the annual report of St Leonard's Community Services (pdf) discloses the following:
Expansion of the dining and recreation facilities at the Youth Resource Centre (YRC), located at 331 Dalhousie Street, in order to properly serve 20 youth. This renovation, which followed the creation of 20 single rooms last year, was made possible with funding from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and through ongoing contributions for operating expenses from the Municipality, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and area Children’s Aid Societies. — page 1
Child Welfare Reform St. Leonard’s Community Services has been providing residential care to local, regional and provincially based Children’s Aid Societies since 1992. In an effort to establish more home-like therapeutic environments for children in the care of the CAS, the Agency reduced its overall number of child welfare beds to eight for Brant County and eight for Haldimand/Norfolk. This decision was also in response to a reduced demand for group home beds in Ontario, resulting from changing demographics and child welfare reforms, which are focusing on permanency planning, adoption, custody, foster care and kinship care. Sadly, as a result of the reduction in beds, staffing levels needed to be reduced. In an effort to minimize the impact of the reduction and to ensure the continued relationship between the Agency and valued staff members, most impacted employees were transferred to other Agency locations or they accepted an alternate role within the program. — page 3
Tables list Children's Aid Societies under both Funders and Partners. — page 12
We have a local copy of the annual report.
Mr Culp is a director of an agency that receives funding from the children's aid societies. The largest contributor to children's aid funding is the Ontario government, under a formula that provides per-capita reimbursement for foster children. So when Mr Culp represents a child in a protection action, returning the child to his parents reduces the funding of St Leonard's customer.
There is a potentially larger conflict of interest in the extraordinarily uninformative financial statement (page 11). Of St Leonard's $9,649,999 annual revenue, $9,321,687 came from Government funding. If that is also distributed per-capita, Mr Culp's organization can benefit directly by taking certain children away from their parents.
Office of the Children's Unlawyer
May 17, 2008 permalink
Canada Court Watch has much material on the Office of the Children's Lawyer, and is appealing to the public for more persons to come forward with information. Below is an abridged version of their comments.
Information wanted from children and parents about their experience with Ontario's Office of the Children's Lawyer!
(May 17, 2008) In a recent court hearing, Ms. Clare Burns, the Children's Lawyer of Ontario, personally intervened and attempted to discredit Canada Court Watch by claiming that Court Watch should not be allowed to monitor child protection cases in the courts and that Court Watch should not be considered as a media source for getting information out to the public. By her actions, Ms. Burns has only demonstrated that her agency is more worried about protecting the interests of its lawyers than it is interested in promoting accountability and transparency Court Watch has a copy of a video from the Law Society of Upper Canada in which Ms. Burns has stated that her office has determined that the recording of children can psychologically harm them. Yet, the Supreme Court of Canada has said that the video recording of children is a reliable source of evidence.
Ms. Burns takes the position that her government funded agency is a reliable source for providing services for children and that organizations such as Canada Court Watch should not be allowed to monitor how the Children's Lawyer's Office does its job. Her agency had previously argued this same position at a court hearing. The lawyers with the Office of the Children's Lawyer and the Children's Aid were defeated in court by a single Canada Court Watch reporter. Court Watch has received many complaints from children about their distrust of the court appointed Children's Lawyer. Children have testified that their court appointed children's lawyer has lied to the court about what they are saying and that they don't trust their children's lawyers. This being the case, why is Ms. Clare Burns so opposed to having her worker maintain an accurate record of meetings with children by simply audio recording them?
A previous report (link broken) released by a committee of citizens about the Children's Lawyer on just one case, provides some evidence as to the poor job this agency has done in the past. This report which was produced by the citizens of Ontario at no cost to the taxpayers, resulted in the Office of the Children's Lawyer being hauled before the Divisional Court In Toronto and harshly criticized by the court. Recent video testimony from a mother gives some more indication of how parents feel about this government funded agency and that problems continue to exist with this agency. Link to video.
Canada Court Watch feels that it is time for children and parents of Ontario who have had dealings with Ontario's Office of the Children's Lawyer, to have their say so that the elected officials of the Province of Ontario can know how the Children's Lawyer is performing under its mandate. Court Watch would like to gather testimony and other evidence from children and parents who have had dealings with the Office of the Children's Lawyer for the purpose of producing an investigative report on this agency. We are looking for video interviews with children and parents as well as court documents which will show how the Children's Lawyer has performed in various Ontario court cases. We want the names of individual lawyers who have worked as children's lawyers and we want feedback as to how well they performed. Testimony from mature children and teens will be most helpful. Whether a good or bad experience, Court Watch would like to hear from you. If you are interested in providing information or testimony in support of this effort, please contact Canada Court Watch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Canada Court Watch
Helter Skelter Women's Shelter
May 17, 2008 permalink
An unnamed insider has reported abuses within a women's shelter to Canada Court Watch.
Women's Shelter supervisor reports abuse of tax dollars by women's shelter!
(May 16, 2008) A women's shelter supervisor contacted Canada Court Watch to disclose that she has witnessed considerable problems within the women's shelter where she works and that there are many things that she has seen which she does not feel are right but unable to say anything publicly about due to fear of losing her job at the shelter for abused women. During her interview she disclosed that records were being altered and that the shelter for abused women was taking in many women of questionable background for the sole purpose of maintaining higher levels of government funding from the Province of Ontario. She indicated that violence was occurring in the shelter and that homeless people, people on drugs and violent women were being allowed into the facility in the presence of children without question in order to maintain higher levels of funding from the Ontario government.
Source: Canada Court Watch
May 16, 2008 permalink
The stereotype of foster children taken from miserable homes and moved to upscale families is false. Data released by the Annie E Casey Foundation shows that foster homes are on average at a lower socio-economic level than the general population. Children taken into foster care go from bad to worse.
Study: Big gaps in foster vs. traditional homes
By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY
Children in foster care live in poorer, more crowded and less educated homes than kids in other families, often taking them from one disadvantaged environment into another, new research shows.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation study is the first to analyze 2006 Census Bureau data, the most recent available, for a detailed look at foster parents.
"The gaps were so pervasive," says demographer William O'Hare.
O'Hare finds foster households have a lower average income, $56,364, than do all households with children, $74,301, even though they care for more kids.
Half of foster households have three or more children compared with 21% of all other households with that many. The study also finds foster parents are more likely than others to be unemployed and lack a high school diploma.
"Too often the foster care experience adds to the disadvantages these children" have already endured, says O'Hare, noting that most kids are placed in the foster system because of abuse or neglect.
About 510,000 children were in U.S. foster care in September 2006, the most recent count provided by the Department of Health and Human Services. Of those, 40% were white, 32% black and 19% Hispanic.
O'Hare's study adds a "unique" national perspective to other research showing foster parents are, "in some instances, lower working class," says Fred Wulczyn, research fellow at the University of Chicago's Chapin Hall Center for Children.
Wulczyn says many foster children come from poor families, and social workers make an effort to keep them with relatives or at least in their own community.
"There's a lot to be said for maintaining cultural ties," he says. He adds, however, that when the state takes responsibility for children, it should try to improve their circumstances, by offering help to struggling foster parents or by seeking parents with greater resources.
O'Hare's findings focus mostly on children in non-relative family care, which accounts for about half of all foster kids. Others live with relatives or, in the case of the 464 children removed from a polygamist sect's ranch in Texas last month, in institutions or group homes.
Foster parents related to the kids in their care are even more likely than other foster parents to be poor, single and older, because many of them are grandparents, says Rob Geen, vice president for public policy at Child Trends, a non-partisan research center.
He says many people who become foster parents have been personally touched by foster care.
"They're not in it for the money," says Geen, adding they often dig into their pockets to cover the full costs of caring for the children.
FOSTER CARE VS. TRADITIONAL
Foster children tend to live in households that are poorer, less educated and more crowded than the typical U.S. household with children.
Homes with foster care
Household income: $56,364
Household with at least 3 children: 50%
Parent with no high school diploma: 21%
Parent didn't work last year: 20%
Homes without foster care
Household income: $74,301
Household with at least 3 children: 21%
Parent with no high school diploma: 14%
Parent didn't work last year: 13%
Source: William O'Hare of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, based on Census Bureau's 2006 American Community Survey
Source: USA Today
More Ottawa CAS Foot Dragging
May 16, 2008 permalink
In the latest step in the struggle by John Dunn to get the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa to comply with the law, CAS wants Mr Dunn to sign a binding agreement without getting a copy. Here is John Dunn's letter to Barbara MacKinnon (MS-Word).
Adoption Disclosure Enacted
May 15, 2008 permalink
After many legislative turns, Ontario has enacted a new adoption disclosure law. It now awaits only the drafting of regulations and proclamation by the lieutenant governor.
May 14, 2008
Ontario has a new adoption disclosure law!
Bill 12 passed third reading today. As members of the adoption community watched, the Ontario legislature voted in favour of opening adoption records.
It was an emotional time for us. While we are very disappointed that the new law includes a disclosure veto we are thrilled that now more than half of the people affected by closed adoption records in Canada will be able to access information.
All of the Liberals present in the legislature voted in favour of the bill. All of the Conservatives voted against it. With the exception of one NDP member who abstained (Peter Kormos) all of the others present voted in favour. In the end an overwhelming majority of MPs voted for the bill.
The government now has to finish writing regulations, the guidelines that explain how the release of information will actually work. They will also plan an advertising campaign so that people understand the changes. It seems that in September 2008 adopted adults and birth parents may start filing vetoes. The following June we will be able to apply for information.
While it seems that we still have several months to wait, it pales in comparison to the 81 years, since adoption records were sealed in 1927, we have waited to get to this day.
Michael Grand email@example.com
Karen Lynn firstname.lastname@example.org
Wendy Rowney email@example.com
The COAR Coordinating Committee
Source: email from COAR
An Adoption Nightmare
May 14, 2008 permalink
When David and Desiree Smolin discovered the teenaged girls they adopted from India were stolen from their mother, they took an unusual course of action. They spent years finding the mother, eventually reuniting the girls with her. The story from ABC suggests adoptions of stolen children are rare, but in the US, Canada and the UK it appears most adoptions through child protection agencies fit this pattern.
An Adoption Nightmare
An American Couple Adopted Indian Sisters, Only to Learn They'd Been Stolen
Moments after their newly adopted adolescent daughters stepped off the plane from India in 1998, Desiree and David Smolin knew something was wrong.
"The agency told us the girls were eager to be adopted and eager to come to the U.S.," Desiree Smolin told ABCNEWS.com. "But in reality, the girls were in terrible, terrible emotional shape. They were avoidant and deeply depressed; one of them was suicidal. I had never seen people so emotionally disturbed in my entire life."
It took weeks before the couple learned the reason for the girls' distress.
Manjula and Bhagya told their adoptive parents that they had not been parentless orphans in need of a home as the Alabama couple had been told, but rather had been kidnapped from the orphanage where their mother had placed them temporarily and unwillingly put up for adoption.
"When I heard that I was flabbergasted," Desiree Smolin said. "I knew I had to keep moving forward and try to just keep these girls alive, but as a mother I knew we had to find their mother."
Nine months earlier the Smolins, already parents of five biological sons, had heard of the "millions of Indian orphans languishing and in need of a home" and decided to adopt difficult-to-place older girls.
"The stories of female infanticide really got to us," Smolin said. "We perceived there was a great need and we wanted to share what we had. We loved being parents and we loved kids."
Smolin says the couple did their due diligence, finding a well-established agency and asking the questions they thought they were supposed to in order to determine everything was above board.
"We asked that the agency speak with the girls and make sure they wanted to be adopted," she said. "They assured us the girls wanted to be adopted and the mother had willingly signed them over. Unfortunately, much of what they told us would turn out to be false."
'Issues Not Uncommon'
The couple were told that Bhagya and Manjula were respectively 9 and 11 years old, but they now believe they are actually older.
When the girls arrived at the Atlanta airport in November 1998, they were just two of the 478 Indian orphans adopted by American families that year. In the years since, about 3,950 Indian orphans have found homes in the United States, according to State Department statistics.
Only this year did the United States implement the Hague Adoption Convention, which establishes international rules for vetting children to determine they are true orphans and not the victims of kidnap.
Under the treaty, U.S. adoption agencies will for the first time be accredited by a national agency and have to register with the State Department.
About 19,613 children were adopted from foreign countries last year, according to the State Department. The department does not keep statistics on how many visa applications are turned down for lack of proper documentation, or how many adoptees are ultimately discovered to have been kidnapped, but one official speaking on the condition of anonymity said such problems are unfortunately a fact of life.
"These issues come up and are not uncommon," said the official. "That is one of the reasons we joined Hague and encourage other countries to join the convention. In order for agencies to work in Hague partner countries, they have to be accredited by a U.S. body. Over 190 agencies have been accredited to determine that they properly review documents, make site visits and are legit."
Smolin and her husband adopted the girls before the Hague Convention was implemented and used an agency they believed took the proper steps to fully vet the orphanage and the girls. Smolin would not disclose the name of the agency she used.
"We talked to a lot of people and found a well-respected agency. We thought we asked all the right questions. In the nine months it took for the adoption to be completed there were some things that worried us. In retrospect, had we known more about how international adoptions work we would have put the brakes on. We thought only ethical agencies could be in business and we thought they had checked out everything. We had faith in the system," she said.
"By the time the girls arrived we knew that we had been lied to."
The Smolins later learned that the two orphanages in which the girls had lived near in Hyderabad were implicated in a far-reaching scandal.
Beginning in 1996, several orphanages, including the one in which the girls were placed, were accused of baby buying and falsifying documents. By 2001, after several scandals in Andahr Pradesh, the Indian government had banned all adoptions from that region.
Another American family's adopted Indian child who had lived with the girls at the orphanage revealed to her adoptive parents that the sisters had been stolen and unwillingly adopted.
When the Smolins confronted the girls, they broke down and admitted the story was true.
"The girls started crying and said the story was true. They had been threatened and forced to lie to the embassy official that interviewed them. Their mother had put them in an orphanage. It's not unusual for the poor to temporarily place their children in orphanages, which provide free education, housing, food and basic care, in a kind of boarding school setting."
When the family learned the truth, the girls had only been in the United States for six weeks. Immediately the family contacted the agency to conduct an investigation, but according to Smolin the agency did nothing of the kind.
"Had they investigated and found the mother we would have returned [the] girls. Instead, they denied the story could possibly be true," she said
"The agency said they had double-checked right before the adoption went through and the mother had relinquished the girls, but when we asked them to check again -- just six weeks later -- they said they could no longer find her. Some in the adoptive community said the kids had made the story up to make themselves feel better and that parents sometimes stage a scene when they relinquish the children to trick them. We were made to feel bad and told that we were looking for a problem because we weren't committed."
The State Department does not comment on specific cases, but Ethica, a nonprofit agency that tracks ethical and legal problems in international adoptions, as well as an Indian researcher involved in locating the girls' mother, confirmed the Smolins' story.
A Few Bad Apples
Of the nearly 20,000 children adopted annually from outside the United States, most are legitimate orphans in need of loving homes, said Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, an adoption policy think tank.
"The truth is there are problems with the international adoption system. But American parents are often saving children from poverty, pestilence and war and we should not let the bad guys taint the good work many agencies are doing," he said. "If there is one child kidnapped and adopted, that is one too many. I can't speak about every adoption and bad stuff does occur, but the majority are above board."
"Parents need to be careful. They need to be good consumers -- not consumers of children, but of services. Too many people get caught up in getting a child that they miss the red flags," he said.
On the whole, India is not one of the more problematic countries, said a State Department official on the condition of anonymity. Adoptions from India peaked in 1998, the year the girls were adopted, and have been slowly on the decline, mirroring an overall downturn in foreign adoptions.
It took a year to settle the girls emotionally and get them into school. It would be an additional six years before the girls -- then women in their own right and very much acclimated to America -- would be reunited with their birth mother.
"Through e-mail and other contacts, various people told us they would help us locate the girls' first mother. We had the full name of their mother, father and brother and we knew name of their ancestral village. Every time we thought we were close to finding their first mother, the trail would go cold."
In November 2004, local activist Gita Ramaswamy tracked down the girl's mother and a year later, the older of the two, Manjula, visited her in India.
"When I found the girls' mother, Lakshmi, and told her that her daughters were alive and well and looking for her, she wept for a long time," Ramaswamy told ABCNEWS.com from Hyderabad. "I couldn't speak. I was overwhelmed. Lakshmi could not stop weeping -- it was a dam that had burst. She was so keen to see them, to speak with them."
"One hears crazy stories like this in India all the time. The girls' story sounded authentic and when I had first confirmed it with another relative, and then met with Lakshmi, I knew they had been taken."
Ramaswamy was at the December 2005 reunion when Manjula saw her mother for the first time in six years.
"It was very emotional. Manjula was quiet, but the mother was very vocal. We Indians in time of grief and great happiness sing songs, and Lakshmi began to sing and chant. She chanted about how she gave birth and lost her girls, how she didn't know where they were and how she was reunited with them."
The following year, after she turned 18, Bhagya also returned to India to visit her birth mother.
"It was just an incredible reunion. By that the time the girls were different people. They had become Americanized and were used to all our modern comforts. They feared what would happen if they went back, would they have to live in the village, would they be married off," Smolin said.
Neither Manjula nor Bhagya wanted to be interviewed by ABCNEWS.com, but Smolin said they both continue to the live in the United States.
"We and the girls are still in close touch with their Indian family. We are a part of their life and they are a part of ours," she said.
Smolin now operates a Web site, in which she catalogs international adoption injustices and offers advice to adopting parents.
"Don't blindly trust your agency," she said. "Don't blindly trust the Hague convention. Do your homework. Dig for dirt. Love your kids."
Source: ABC News Internet Ventures
Inside the FLDS Shelter
May 14, 2008 permalink
Three days ago we mentioned a press report of the unsigned statements of workers at the Hill Country Community Mental Health-Mental Retardation Center. Leonard Henderson has managed to get copies of eleven of the statements. They are in image pdf files, so only readers with broadband can read them. Here are the links: 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11.
In other FLDS news, two of the pregnant FLDS "teenagers" have given birth, been reclassified as adults and expelled from CPS care. Of course, CPS kept the newborns. It was a good trick to keep the moms from moving away and giving birth out of the reach of Texas CPS. Do you still believe that the Eldorado settlement was rife with pregnant teens?
Addendum: The Salt Lake Tribune posted links to the same files (in sidebar), so they are authentic, at least to the standards of journalism.
Chemo Boy Will Go Home
May 13, 2008 permalink
There was a three-hour court hearing in the case we are calling chemo boy. The boy will be allowed to go home to his parents following completion of his current round of treatment, probably this week. The parents are permitted to seek a second opinion from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and even a third opinion from an international expert. The case will be back in court in a month for more oversight. We include below a text report from CHCH and a grass-roots report from Mary Janiga. Here is a video link (Internet Explorer only).
The judge advised the family against continued demonstrations such as those outside the hospital yesterday, though it was only grass-roots action that led to the events freeing the boy from children's aid. Parents assume it is their natural right to seek a second opinion on their child's treatment, yet in Canada that right can be exercised only with the specific consent of a court. In the video you can hear CAS lawyer David Felicient say: "The Society obviously is going to continue to monitor the situation and cooperate with the family". This is an example of a pattern in another childhood cancer case, that of Kathie Wernecke: The child protectors tell the press the exact opposite of what they do in the secrecy of the court. The entire controversy occurred because the Society has not been cooperating with the family.
CPS lied to the public and the press. CPS lied to the press and television crews stating that they wanted to keep the lines of communication open with the parents and Katie. Meanwhile in the court room, CPS was requesting to take away Katie's cell phone and computer and phone access and wanted to shut off all communication and visits with her parents. CPS said publicly and repeatedly that all they wanted was to get Katie the cancer treatments and get her well and return her back to her parents. That was a lie. According to my attorney Luis Corona, at our next to the last court hearing, CPS had filed for termination of our parental rights over Katie. They never had any intention of returning her to her parents. CPS filed to terminate our parental rights and to take Katie into permanent CPS custody until she could be adopted out.
Father Edward Wernecke writing on Kathie Wernecke.
Later in the video, you can hear Lisa Diamond recount how her daughter Tayler's life was saved by taking her out of chemo therapy at McMaster and transferring her to Toronto's Sick Kids.
Family of cancer-stricken boy regain custody
Vows to continue fight for rights
Al Sweeney, Canwest News Service, Published: Tuesday, May 13, 2008
HAMILTON - The parents of a cancer-stricken boy forced to undergo chemotherapy, say they're very pleased to have reached an agreement Tuesday with the Children's Aid Society whereby the 11 year old will continue his treatments and will be placed in his father's custody.
"We're happy with the way this decision is," said the boy's mother, who cannot be named because that would identify the child. "When this round of treatment is over, our son comes home. That's what we wanted and that's what he wanted."
The parents also will be allowed to secure a second opinion on the boy's health, and potentially a third - possibly a world-class diagnosis from abroad -and they will be free to explore the possibility of alternative therapy.
"We will continue to fight for our rights and for our son's rights" the boy's mother said outside the courthouse.
The child's parents appeared before an Ontario Superior Court judge Tuesday afternoon, asking to regain custody of their son and to uphold his right to refuse chemotherapy.
The boy has an aggressive form of leukemia and has undergone chemotherapy before. His parents say he suffered through it, and they decided as a family to stop the treatments. He says he is taking natural medication and does not want the chemotherapy treatment.
Last Thursday, when the family brought the boy to a Hamilton hospital for routine tests, the CAS seized him.
When his father protested, he was handcuffed and evicted from the premises.
The case has sparked national debate over the right to seek alternative therapies for chronic illnesses.
The family and about a dozen supporters protested Monday outside Hamilton's McMaster Children's Hospital saying the CAS is wrong to order the child to endure chemotherapy when he says he doesn't want it.
"I feel very happy. I'm very excited that I'm going to be able to go visit my son whenever I please," said his father, following Tuesday's three-hour hearing. "And when this treatment is over, I'm going to be able to hold him." he said.
During the hearing, the judge said it is paramount the boy's mental and physical health is respected as the first consideration and that means keeping him away from the media glare and the protests over his ordeal.
"It's understood the child is going to stay in hospital for some time, having his treatment," said CAS lawyer David Feliciant. "The Society, obviously, is going to continue to monitor the situation and co-operate with the family."
The boy is undergoing the first of 22 months of chemotherapy. The case is to be reviewed in one month, the judge ruled.
Source: CHCH News
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Children's Aid Society Protest (part 4)
We started our support for the family from John and King Street, handing out flyers, talking to complete strangers at approximately 1pm today. We got alot of support and people discussed their issues with us in regards to their Children's Aid Society experiences. We arrived at the Family Court house pictured and had alot of support and turn out. Even a nurse stopped her car, parked and held a sign in support of our cause. We had people from all walks of life with their own stories of the horrors about the Children's Aid. One of our supporters from our organization Child Assist Services, was instrumental in raising the issues of corruption of the family court system, the judges, the lawyers etc... We kept chanting from 2pm until 4pm FREE "D".
As this is a child protection issue names of the parties cannot be identified but definitely our voices were heard.
The power of three people made a difference when strangers and people off the street gave their time and support to our cause. We ended up with approximately 20 supporters and people that truly heard the plight of this child and the issues surrounding the case.
We waited until 5pm when the family court shut down for the day, and the mother and father arrived outside the court house elated. They had won custody back of their son, but the Children's Aid Society still retained control of his medical and chemotherapy needs. The child would be returned to his parents once the last round of chemotherapy was finished.
However, in order to show the corruption of the family court as it stands today, the Family Court judge in charge of this decision (I will post the name once I do some further investigation) stated that the child's emotional and physical health are an issue and the amount of media coverage and the use of a bull horn and protests at McMaster Medical Center are detrimental to the child.
As stated by Al Sweeney of CHCH News Hamilton on television at 6pm on May 13, 2008, and on Live at 5:30pm with Mark and Donna. This is definitely an issue that has to be dealt with immediately in regards to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and association as determined by our own Constititution and democratic rights as citizens of Canada. I will continue to support families in need and will continue to voice my concerns about the corruption and outright falsified statements and innuendos perpetrated by the Children's Aid Societies of this world. We have the right to be heard. This is not an isolated case and we have to stand together. This blog has just sprung into hyper mode for the Children's Aid issue. I hope that you see the coverage Vinny and Paige and I never forgot you for one minute during this whole ordeal. We all tend to get caught up in the moment and not for one second were you on the backburner of my mind. You were always close to my heart and I shed a tear today for every child and family hurt by the corruption of Children's Aid Society.
Posted by maryjaniga at 8:35 PM
Source: blog of Mary Janiga for May 13, 2008
More Support for Chemo Boy
May 13, 2008 permalink
There was more activity in support of the Hamilton boy getting involuntary chemo therapy. We enclose two grass-roots reports, and the news report of CHCH-TV. From the third article, here is the link to video coverage.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Children's Aid Society Protest (part 3)
We had a great day today despite the wind and the rain. We raised our Native flag high and were there to support a sick child and his mother.
See the news clip on CHCH tv Hamilton.
Posted by maryjaniga at 7:49 PM
Source: blog of Mary Janiga for May 12, 2008
CAS seizes sick boy to give him chemo
Reply #6 May 12, 2008 at 3:11pm
Thanks to child assist services and all in attendance we were able to negotiate access between mother and sick child.
It was not until we brought out our trusty bullhorn and embarrassed McMaster and the children's aid did they allow access to take place in exchange for us to stop using the bullhorn. The exchange was made and the family was able to visit the child.
The turn-out was great. The media was all over the place again. We will be on the news at 6 and again at 11. We have been mentioned in most newspapers (child assist services) is being recognized as a valuable service in the Hamilton area. Tomorrow we will once again join together in the hopes that the child will be returned to his parents.
We will be meeting up at the family court house in Hamilton (Main and McNabe) at 2 pm. The media will also be there, we are expecting an even greater turn-out tomorrow as we have gained a lot of support from the community as many people were just walking off the street to inquire about the child assist services. In turn we have gotten the word out, made friends all for a good cause.
Anyone wishing to attend tomorrow is welcome to join the child assist services at the family court house.
We are all hoping tomorrow the child is returned to his parents but if not we are in this for the long haul.
There is much more to be done people and as you can see three people who join together with the same goal in mind (to bring accountability in the system) can make a difference. WE MADE THAT DIFFERENCE TODAY
A special thanks to the founders of the child assist services and to all those who came out and showed there support
Source: Sarnia's Smoking Gun, posting under screen name moldessa
Protestors: "We have a native child being held hostage"
Boy, 11, forced to undergo chemo: "leave me alone"
Al Sweeney, CHCH News, Published: Monday, May 12, 2008
A remarkable scene outside McMaster Children's Hospital today in a story we first told you about last week. The parents and supporters of a young leukemia victim protesting outside the hospital. They're furious that the eleven-year-old boy is being held against his will by the Children's Aid Society and forced to undergo chemotherapy he doesn't want. Al Sweeney has the latest.
Family members and supporters lined up across from the boy's room.
"We hear your voice buddy. Come to the window and wave to us."
But for much of the day the blinds were drawn.
His stepmother and a long-time family friend sang one of his favorite songs.
"One dream can change the world."
His supporters struggled with tears and anger.
"Its its its just (covers face and cries) it's (turns away)"
They say the boy's treatment is wrong. And call this abuse of a child whose family says they're Métis, part native.
"We have a native child being held hostage in McMaster Children's Hospital at this moment, stolen by the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton." -Swayze Brook, Protestor
We can't identify the boy or his family for legal reasons.
He was kept in the hospital under a court order last week and forced to undergo chemotherapy .... even though he says it makes him so sick he doesn't want the treatment and his family says it has little chance of success.
The boy told us by telephone the treatment is not fair:
"I just want them to leave me alone. I'm doing the right thing. I'm taking natural medicine. They don't, they're not listening."
Throughout the day, protestors came and went. And others were touched by the plight of the boy and his family. Francine Thibodeau brought his mother games for the boy to play in hospital.
"I think he should be able to speak for himself. if he needs a break, he needs a break." -Francine Thibodeau, supporter
The next step in this dispute with a boy's life in the middle is expected to take place in court.
The family has hired prominent Toronto lawyer Marlys Edwardh to fight their case and says the Children's Aid Society is going to ask for formal custody of the boy on Tuesday afternoon.
The society doesn't confirm that.
They say they feel for the parents and the plight of the child ... but have to carry out their mandate and a court order.
Source: CHCH TV
May 12, 2008 permalink
The cartoon below by Richard Barlow was posted on the internet in celebration of mother's day.
Source: Truth Will Prevail (FLDS)
Chemo Boy Gets Support
May 12, 2008 permalink
Supporters of the Hamilton boy subjected to involuntary chemo therapy rallied outside his hospital room yesterday. He is also getting legal assistance from a top-rated lawyer, Marlys Edwardh. We include two reports, one from the Globe and Mail and one from the blog of Mary Janiga, one of the rally participants.
Boy, 11, can't endure chemo any more, defiant father says
JILL MAHONEY, From Monday's Globe and Mail, May 12, 2008 at 3:40 AM EDT
He is angry, misses his family and is losing his reddish-brown hair. His dad says his "spirit's broken."
The 11-year-old Hamilton boy, who has leukemia, was seized by the Children's Aid Society last week and is being forced to undergo chemotherapy against both his and his family's wishes.
"We may still lose him and we may still lose against them, but that doesn't mean I'm going to give up," his father said in an interview yesterday.
The child's father and stepmother are exploring their legal options and friends have hired Marlys Edwardh, a prominent Toronto lawyer whose long-time law partner is veteran counsel Clayton Ruby.
Last night, about two dozen people, including members of the child's family, held a vigil in the rain outside his hospital window. The boy waved down at his supporters, who held candles in Styrofoam cups.
At a hospital appointment for routine tests last Thursday, the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton took the boy, who cannot be identified under youth-protection laws, into its temporary custody. Chemotherapy treatment was then commenced.
His family can visit him only under the watchful eyes of CAS workers and security guards; his father was evicted from the hospital in handcuffs after reacting in anger when his son was seized.
A judge earlier ruled the boy is not capable of understanding the implications of refusing chemotherapy.
Two of Canada's top pediatric oncologists have said he will die without the aggressive treatment.
The deeply spiritual youngster, who likes dancing, singing and writing stories, is to be released from hospital tomorrow after his treatment is finished, his father said. It is unclear if the CAS intends to place him in foster care or release him to his family.
A spokeswoman did not return messages yesterday.
The father called the ordeal "awful, hell on wheels."
He said he will fight to regain custody of his son, saying the boy has suffered enough.
"The best thing for him to do would ... be home with us so that if he did pass away, at least it would be home with us and we could take care of him and we could make sure that he's sent away the way he deserves to be, not poked and prodded and treated like a criminal," he said.
Family friend Belma Diamante, who hired Ms. Edwardh, said the boy's views have not been heard by the court and child welfare agency.
"Every institution and every individual, if they're claiming that we're making the best decision in [the boy's] interest, then naturally [he] has to be heard," said Ms. Diamante, who met the boy when she helped him realize his dream of dancing in The Nutcracker three years ago when she was president of the Canadian Ballet Youth Ensemble.
The child was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which has a cure rate exceeding 80 per cent, when he was 7.
He underwent chemotherapy and in January, marked one year cancer-free. But the disease came back just a few weeks later.
The boy, who has aboriginal ancestry, did one round of chemotherapy in February and then decided to stop aggressive treatments in favour of natural remedies, including chelation therapy, vitamins, oregano and green tea.
Chemotherapy makes him extremely ill and causes effects such as vomiting, bloating, pain in his spine and difficulty walking.
"He told us that he didn't want to undergo any more treatment because he felt that it wasn't going to give him quality of life, that he felt that it would probably take away his life," his father explained.
"He would rather just go traditional and natural and take it for as long as it would take him so that he could be with his friends and so that he could be at home with his family and play with his sister and just try to have fun and live as long as he could live."
The boy also has fetal alcohol syndrome and is mildly intellectually delayed, his father said.
He also has serious behavioural problems, for which he takes medication. His mother died of a brain tumour when he was 4.
Source: The Globe and Mail
Childrens Aid Society Protest (part 2)
Well there were at least 20-30 people in attendance at the candle light vigil for the 11 year old boy and his family at McMaster Children's Hospital this evening at 7pm. Despite the rain, the wind and the cold a good crowd showed up with candles and signs. It was definitely a Mother's Day to remember. Hugs and tears, and laughter and lots of stories told of lost children and families torn apart by the Children's Aid Society.
The media was in attendance: The Globe and Mail, The Hamilton Spectator, CHCH News Hamilton, McMaster University.
The parents were there and extended family and friends. I got a few pictures of the vigil and of the building where the child is being held hostage by a system so corrupt, they kept the child from his home and from his mom on Mother's Day. Supervised and under guard of CAS workers and Security, the mother only seen her son from 11am until 7pm today in his hospital bed. There is a 20% chance this child may not make it through chemotherapy and our voices must be heard for this child.
We will be holding another protest tomorrow morning on Monday May 12, 2008 at 8am until 3pm.
Posted by maryjaniga at 10:31 PM
Source: blog of Mary Janiga for May 11, 2008
FLDS Mother Speaks
May 12, 2008 permalink
The Salt Lake Tribune publised an article by FLDS mother Maggie Jessop. There are also hundreds of reader responses.
I am an FLDS woman and I am entitled to the same rights as you
Maggie Jessop, Salt Lake Tribune, Article Last Updated:05/09/2008 09:08:23 PM MDT
So, you want to hear from the FLDS women, huh? OK, you asked for it.
However, I may not have it within my psychological or emotional capacity to communicate appropriately due to the widespread "fact" that I belong to an uneducated, underprivileged, information-deprived, brainless, spineless, poor, picked-on, dependent, misled class of women identified as "brain-washed." But, I'll give it my best shot.
I have the right to freedom of speech. Why haven't you heard from me before? I am a mother. That is my privilege, my career and my duty, and it keeps me pretty busy. I like it that way.
Up until now, I have left it up to the government to protect my right to be a mother. I have never been guilty of intentionally breaking the law, never been in a courtroom, never even spoken to an attorney.
In the face of the holocaust going on, most people want to know the truth, right? Well, do you get truth from liars? Come on, John Doe-Head, do you revel in crude and erroneous sensationalism? What kind of a person are you, anyway? Isn't it better to get the truth from those who really know?
If someone is different, people get suspicious, perhaps even jealous, and assume the worst. Interesting. I have broken no law. I have never abused my children. I have injured no one in the choices I have made. I am a citizen of the United States of America, and I am entitled to the same rights as you are. I expect the freedom to worship God after the dictates of my own conscience, and believe all men, and women, should be free to do the same.
Put yourself in my shoes, because you and your children could be next. You think you are safe because you belong to the public? I am denied my rights because I am alien? Frankly, they are dead wrong. I am just a normal person. I have eyes and ears, not to mention a big mouth, and I have a heart to feel my way through life, and I have a brain to reason and choose.
They take my children because my beliefs could damage them years from now? How ridiculous can they get?
I used to think anyone in this country was innocent until proven guilty, but, no, I am guilty because the media and the government and the religious bigots think or say or hear or suspect I am immoral and abusive. Good grief!
They say we are dangerous to society because we follow one man. Do we, indeed? Yes! His name is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Get out your scriptures, all you sanctimonious judges and prove where I have broken a single law of God; and after that, since He comes first, prove where I have broken a law of this land.
OK, I admit, I got a speeding ticket once about 25 years ago, but I repented of that, and I haven't had one since. What else have I done?
You mean they have my children in state custody because of what I believe? What an incredible outrage.
Who is brainwashed, after all, may I ask? Excuse me, please, but I feel completely indignant that authorities in the state of Texas would insult my level of intelligence, however minimal it may be, and label me a half-wit when I have witnessed hundreds of numbskulls lower themselves so pathetically, responding without conscience in blind obedience to orders from the Gestapo. And they call me brainwashed? Amazing.
I believe the truth shall be known and right will prevail. In the meantime, I continue to lug around my gargantuan briefcase as I search for my children. That briefcase really ought to be a diaper bag.
My day planner ought to be filled with ideas for a day of improvement with my children, for nothing is more joyful than witnessing the development of a child from heaven, nothing more pleasant than watching a beautiful bud of the rarest flower on earth blossom into a picture of loveliness, a precious bloom in the garden of life, nourished by that eternal element of unconditional love, a gift from our Eternal Father, which He makes available to His children through the instrumentality of unselfish motherhood.
My pillow really ought to be a sacred place where I can rest my weary head after a satisfying day of interaction with precious children, not a sponge of sorrow to mop the tears of a childless mother.
Ask your questions about the most misunderstood people on Earth. Seek the truth, and we will answer with truth. Just ask.
MAGGIE JESSOP is a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and mother of four children who are in Texas state custody. She asks readers to read the Web sites www.captivefldschildren.org and www.fldstruth.org.
Source: Salt Lake Tribune
CAS Pushes Smokes
May 12, 2008 permalink
Canada Court Watch has posted the video they promised earlier of a girl who was introduced to smoking by her foster mother. She also acted as cigarette buyer while under legal age. Watch the video CAS workers break the law and encourage kids to break the law too! on the Canada Court Watch site or our local copy (flv).
A Happy Mother's Day Greeting from Social Service
May 11, 2008 permalink
Melinda Pillsbury-Foster describes a chilling visit from social services.
A Happy Mother's Day Greeting from Social Service
Two women, Michelle Hammond, and Lynn Sears, accompanied by a sheriff, Deputy Kemmerling, drove up to the house in two white cars, one a patrol car and the other a government vehicle. They asked to see Arthur, my son. Arthur is 30, but disabled. Arthur had left to take a short constitutional after having lunch, he had then been gone for about 15 minutes. I told them he would be back shortly and went inside, leaving them to wait on the driveway.
The house is a cabin located in a small subdivision. Most of the cabins are occupied only on weekends as most owners only vacation here. We live here full time to save money and since Arthur needs full time care this is the only way I can provide that care and survive, and that just barely. I work from home doing free lance writing and an online radio show. The downturn in the economy has hit all of us.
I was informed that there had been an anonymous complaint regarding the care of my son. When I let them talk to Arthur out of my hearing I later learned from him that he was asked if I abused him. He was asked a series of questions that each served to demean me, prying into our personal lives in ways that clearly violate our rights. My son was asked if he used illegal drugs, among other evidently routine questions. It was manipulative, ignoring my son's Constitutional rights. This would have been true even if he was not severely disabled.
We are obviously being targeted. My son represents potential income to the system. Income that amounts to more than $400,000.00.
There was a time when being poor did not make you fair game to predators like the people from Social Services. That time is past. Having ascertained that Arthur is not abused; he was astonished at the suggestion, any legitimate inquiry should have ended. Instead they used intimidation as an opening wedge in an attempt to influence my son. Having listened to their blandishments Arthur told them that although he was sometimes lonely he preferred to stay with me. Arthur helps when and where he can; he knows families pull together. At that point they transferred their attention to me. Arthur had unwittingly thwarted their agenda.
There was a time when we all knew that the family was the center for our lives. Families stayed together, in good times and bad. Families were and are the kind of insurance that both protects and makes our lives whole. We are who we are because of our family; being a good mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter carried us along with our faith in God through things that otherwise would destroy us.
Refusing to tell either of us who might have filed such a charge they demanded answers to questions that no part of government has a right to know under the Constitution. Arthur and I have a happy and amicable relationship having passed through much pain and adjustment; he receives all the care I can afford and participates in every event and activity possible. Hearing his voice makes the hardships of the last ten years unimportant. He has his own computer and spends time on line. He attends church and goes to Bible Study once a week. I drive him to events when possible but attend few myself since it is costly and interferes with my work. At our small church I usually read the weekly lesson.
The obvious thrust of the procedure the women followed was an attempt to get control of Arthur if money could be generated for their department. The presence of a deputy sheriff, although he said later he was only there to show them where I lived, was intimidating and embarrassing. I am nearly 60 and have suffered two heart attacks, I am no threat to anyone. Although the deputy then said he was only there to show them where I lived, the place is not served by the Post Office, he stayed, listening to what transpired making his explanation problematical.
Over and over Hammond implied that I was 'keeping Arthur away from his friends,' that he was not happy. They asserted that Arthur had a 'right' to make his own decisions regarding where he lives. If such a 'right' exists, and it is not included in the Bill of Rights, then most of us would choose to live in Beverly Hills. Arthur well knows that we live at the cabin because I do not have funds to live elsewhere.
These well paid government 'workers' assumed as a matter of course that Arthur should be receiving welfare or disability; he is not and never has. The distress on their faces was obvious. Immediately they wanted to know if I would apply.
There was a time when Americans stood tall, accepting help from friends and family in need. Government was not part of the equation. That was a better time for all of us. Why do those who make their living supposedly, making us safer, bring a message of fear? Why have so many families, already struggling, been forced over the edge from just this kind of predation from the agencies funded through our taxes? Why can they afford nice homes, goodies, and pensions when so many of us are struggling to stay off the street?
The answer is obvious.
Evidently during their time alone with Arthur they worked to persuade Arthur that he would be happier living elsewhere. It is hard to imagine that they could believe that a man who has had two major brain injuries is capable of deciding for himself that he is capable of making life-impacting decisions, or that they, having known him for around 30 minutes, were better qualified than myself to do so but this was, indeed, their attitude. It is amazing that they could, with straight faces and such fervor, maintain that it is appropriate to interfere with the most intimate choices a family makes. They showed no concern over the stability of any situation they might offer, simply rejecting the obvious fact that the economic meltdown every other part of America is feeling in the most visceral way could impact their small, ugly shake down.
With bright, glassy smiles, they asserted Arthur's right to be happy over any other consideration. But his wellbeing and happiness were not on their agenda.
They promised Arthur that he could go back to Santa Barbara, something I considered to be doubtful. They ignored his need for further therapy. There are many new approaches now coming into availability for the victims of brain injuries. They demonstrated complete ignorance and indifference about the facts regarding brain injuries. They told me I would let him go if I cared about him. They were insulting, demeaning, and verbally abusive to both me and to my son. That was the underscoring and the message received by me and by countless others who find such 'workers' on their door steps.
One wonders what any of the three would do if someone trying to make their quota in human flesh arrived at their door with the power of a holstered gun and tried to intimidate them into handing over their child. What do you say about the moral fiber of people who profit from such a system? Nothing is ugly enough.
Americans need to demand answers. Among others we need to know what bounty is being put on each child or disabled adult sucked into the system. We need to know what such 'workers' are paid. We need to know the specifics about their benefits. We need to know how many disabled adults die after being sucked into their system, how many children end up sold into sex rings or used for pornographic films. In case you were unaware that is all too often their fate. Children present many possibilities to the greedy.
Hitler also instituted 'homes.' Those received there were put to death under the same benevolent rhetoric I heard yesterday. The long dead Germans were also told they would be happier and better cared for.
There are questions that need answers and now is the time to demand them. The disabled adults and children, now far more vulnerable because of the incessant need to pump more funds into a system intended solely to profit those in power, needs to be stopped.
Government has drawn a bead on all families, yours included. Listen for the knock on the door.
Those in power need to be charged and sued for the damage they have done to lives barely started and at risk. As Americans we have a right to justice and the time for that is now.
Protect Yourself from the CPS. Use Copper Cards and the Constitution. Our Founders intended us to be free, not the property of government. Have no doubts, these people are making war on us. It is time to begin the LovoLution, restore the Constitutions, our freedoms, and the vision of America through non-violent action, starting exactly where you are.
CopperCards Family Services / CPS
- Without discussing anything, hand CPS or officer the CopperCards Officer NOTICE Card.
- Do not invite sheriffs or CPS into your home.
- If they wish to proceed further hand them the CopperCards Officer verification questionnaire.
- Do not talk to the sheriffs or CPS or let them talk to your children (5th Amendment right)
The bottom line is these people rely on you authorizing them to take your children or to talk to their children. If you exercise your 5th they can’t do anything.
Authors Website: howtheneoconsstolefreedom.blogspot.com
Authors Bio: Melinda Pillsbury-Foster is the author of GREED: The NeoConning of America and A Tour of Old Yosemite. The former is a novel about the lives of the NeoCons with a strong autobiographical component. The latter is a non-fiction book about her father and grandfather.
Ms. Pillsbury-Foster has been active in politics since the Goldwater Campaign. She left the Republican Party to join and become active in the Libertarian Party in 1973, working as an activist and party officer until she left the Libertarian Party in 1988 when she returned to the Republican Party and became active in the National Federation of Republican Women.
She is also the the founder of the the Arthur C. Pillsbury Foundation
May 11, 2008 permalink
We have posted so many items originated by John Dunn that he is nearly part of the Dufferin VOCA family. Today Mr Dunn spoke to his father for the first time.
I just wanted to blast this out there and will expand on it later! I'm in too good of a state of shock to type much now.
I just talked to my birthfather for the first time and it was awsome! He said he tried to find me too thinking I was in Nova Scotia etc, but he remembered my mom (1969) and he remembered going to the CCAS in 1972 when an ad in the paper from the CCAS was seeking him (to which he was unable to take care of my brother and I)...
We are going to meet this summer and have a beer, shoot the shit and swap photos!
I just happened to call his parents today (have known about them for a while using Canada 411) and he answered! He sounded as if he almost teared up at first when I mentioned who I was, and he said "that's me!" (about himself)
Ok, I am atta here, but will write more later... yahoo!
Executive DirectorThe Foster Care Council of Canada
Source: email from John Dunn, May 11, 2008
Addendum: In June John met his father, grandmother and aunt in Sudbury Ontario. He posted photos, which we have tuned to best show the faces.
CPS Abused FLDS Kids
May 11, 2008 permalink
The mental health workers hired during the first week after the FLDS raid last month have revealed the treatment of the children by the CPS workers. Social workers lied to the families, and threatened mental health workers with arrest. Mothers were denied access to their lawyers. After a week, CPS sent the mental health staff home for being too compassionate. The children were held under conditions favoring the spread of contagious diseases.
May 10, 2008, 10:39PM
Mental health workers rip CPS over sect
Staff complains agency traumatized kids, disregarded mothers' rights
By ROGER CROTEA, San Antonio Express-news
Mental health workers sent to emergency shelters in San Angelo last month to help care for the hundreds of women and children removed from a polygamist sect's West Texas ranch have sharply criticized the Child Protective Services operation, telling their governing board it unnecessarily traumatized the kids.
The CPS investigation of suspected child abuse and its decision to seek state custody of all 464 children punished mothers who appeared to be good parents of healthy, well-behaved and emotionally normal kids, workers said in a set of short and unsigned written reports made at the request of the board after a briefing Tuesday.
All nine reports by employees of the Hill Country Community Mental Health-Mental Retardation Center expressed varying degrees of anger toward the state's child welfare agency for removing the children from their community, separating them from their mothers or for the way CPS workers conducted themselves at the shelter.
A few described ongoing tension between the two groups of social workers, including threats by CPS to have interfering MHMR workers arrested.
"I have worked in Domestic Violence/Sexual Abuse programming for over 20 years and have never seen women and children treated this poorly, not to mention their civil rights being disregarded in this manner," one wrote.
The workers spent several days in San Angelo, some shortly after the April 3 search of the Yearning for Zion Ranch prompted by a sexual abuse complaint, during the chaotic opening of a shelter in the city's coliseum, or in the days leading up to the children's dispersal to foster care facilities across the state later that month.
"The entire MH support staff was 'fired' the second week; we were sent home due to being 'too compassionate,' " one report stated.
The state has argued that enough evidence of "spiritual marriages," pregnancy and childbirth by underage girls at the ranch exists to seek permanent removal of all the children from their parents because of the risk of child abuse.
The compound was built to house members of a breakaway Mormon sect called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
To respond to the allegations, CPS spokesman Patrick Crimmins said via e-mail: "We have received no complaints from Hill Country MHMR. However, we will be looking into what are obviously very serious allegations, and sharing these allegations with other agencies as appropriate."
The MHMR workers helped staff large shelters in San Angelo where mothers were at first allowed to stay with the children. Only mothers of younger children were allowed to remain after the first few days.
All the MHMR workers described themselves as impressed by the mothers they worked with. Many of them described child welfare workers as high-handed, rude or uncaring toward the mothers and overzealous in their concerns that they might escape or harm their keepers.
Two reported that the CPS workers were friendly and compassionate.
Three reported that CPS workers lied to the mothers; one described it as a tactic to make separating them from their children go easier. Several said the mothers were denied access to their lawyers.
Some of the MHMR workers said the crowded conditions at the shelter allowed upper respiratory infections and chicken pox to spread rapidly and many noted the shelter's other discomforts. One described it as deliberate, a form of coercion to aid the investigation: "The more uncomfortable they were the more CPS thought they would talk."
Needed to communicate
Kevin Dinnin, the president of Baptist Children and Family Services who served as incident commander at the shelter under a contract between his agency and the state, said he couldn't confirm many of the allegations made by the MHMR workers.
"Some of it is unfounded," he said. "Some of it is accurate, depending on your point of view. Were the shelters crowded? Yeah. But it's a shelter. And yes, CPS workers were taking notes and listening. Yes, they were always around. I'm not defending CPS, but it's hard to give people privacy in a shelter."
The CPS and the MHMR staff could have reduced tensions with better communication, Dinnin said.
The written statements were given to the Hill Country MHMR board anonymously because the workers had signed agreements not to disclose what they had seen, said board member Jack Dawson.
"What they saw was so horrendous, they had to report it to the board," said Dawson, a Comal County commissioner. "I have every confidence their stories are accurate. Our people are professionals, with years and years of service in their fields."
Board President John Kite said the entire board was upset by the reports. He said he is trying to get Gov. Rick Perry to meet with the workers.
"We were literally astounded at what they told us," Kite said. "They are trampling all over human decency and those people's civil rights. ... We should not just sit here and let it happen."
Express-News staff writer Nancy Martinez contributed to this report.
Source: Houston Chronicle
Lawyer Abandons Child
May 11, 2008 permalink
Here is a personal plea from a mother double-crossed by her lawyer, who has now joined the local prosecutors office. When a lawyer's malfeasance causes a client to lose money, the client can recover the money from the lawyer, but there is no way to recover a child.
I had an attorney that was supposed to file an appeal in Pennsylvania Supreme Court for the termination of parental rights but she lied to me for three years. She has moved on to the DA Office now and she said she could not help me. I checked with the Supreme Court and they told me she never filed in that court. What can I do? She left my son in a boy's house and lied to me, telling me that she had not heard from the court yet. I don't know what I can do, I have not seen my son in over three years. Can anyone tell me if there is something I can do? Anything I can put into the court myself? Is there a way I can sue this attorney? Please contact me at [ cafaily at yahoo.com ].
Source: CPSWatch posting copied with permission of the author
British Court Slams Elected MP
May 10, 2008 permalink
Lord Justice Wall of the England and Wales Court of Appeal has criticized John Hemming, elected as MP for Yardley, by name. We enclose below a newspaper article on the dispute, then a rebuttal posted by Mr Hemming on his own website, including a link to the judge's opinion. The case is that of Rachel Pullen, who was deemed incompetent to instruct a solicitor, so the Official Solicitor was appointed to act on her behalf, and let the case be decided by default.
The court criticizes Mr Hemming for saying that the court record was falsified. Zed McLarnon, Dr Stephen Baskerville and Canada Court Watch have found evidence (not allegations) of record tampering in family courts in the United States and Canada. It would be remarkable if British courts, operating with comparable procedures, had avoided the temptation to alter records of proceedings conducted in secret. British judges, along with American and Canadian counterparts, are possibly playing a game, pretending ignorance of practice known to all participants.
The court deals at length with the issue of the mother's lack of representation. The argument has to be long, because only a smokescreen can hide the injustice of this procedure.
Hemming 'abused his position as MP' says top judge
May 9 2008 By Jon Walker
Birmingham MP John Hemming was accused yesterday of abusing his position in a scathing attack by one of the country’s top family law judges.
Lord Justice Wall said the MP’s behaviour was "not only unacceptable but shocking".
The condemnation followed Mr Hemming’s long-running campaign for reform of public family law, which has included the release of a pop single to publicise his cause.
The judge said: "As to Mr Hemming, my judgment is that his self-imposed role as a critic of the family justice system is gravely damaged.
"Speaking for myself, I will not be persuaded to take seriously any criticism made by him in the future unless it is corroborated by reliable, independent evidence."
Mr Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) has accused social service departments of removing children from families unnecessarily, so they can be put up for adoption. He has also argued that the secrecy in which family courts operate prevents proper scrutiny of decisions.
In a hard-hitting speech last month in the Commons, Mr Hemming said: "In the deep, dark corners of the British legal system, hidden away by threats of imprisonment for those who speak out about injustice, we have allowed bad practice to fester.
"No action can be taken by a Member of Parliament to prevent solicitors from undermining their own clients because they want to keep the money coming in from the local council.
"No action can be taken by an MP to stop social workers who lie to the courts because they want to win a case and hit their adoption targets, or to stop doctors who provide rubbishy, unproven and unchallenged medical evidence that destroys families, but fills their bank accounts."
But Lord Justice Wall was equally outspoken, as he delivered judgment at the Court of Appeal in London yesterday.
He was ruling in the case of a woman whose child had been taken into care by Nottingham City Council. Mr Hemming had attended court hearings as the woman’s adviser.
The judge said: "Mr Hemming has been willing to scatter unfounded allegations of professional impropriety and malpractice without any evidence to support them."
Referring to criticism the MP levelled against a clinical psychologist involved in the case, identified only by the initials HJ, Lord Justice Wall they were "a wholesale and entirely unwarranted attack on the professional integrity of HJ for which, once again, there is no evidence whatsoever".
The judge also referred to a parliamentary petition in which he said Mr Hemming indicated he believed the psychologist was in the pay of the local authority, and that he considered the system under which the woman’s case was being handled was "evil."
Lord Justice Wall said: "In my judgment, these comments are not only wrong and ill-informed. The simple fact remains that they have no foundation in the evidence presented either to the Nottingham County Court or to this court. That they are made publicly by Mr Hemming once again strikes me as an abuse of his position."
The judge ruled that Nottingham City Council was right to take the child, identified only as KP, into care.
And he said Mr Hemming had concentrated too much on the rights of the mother and failed to take into account the welfare of the child.
He said: "The danger of the mother’s approach, reinforced as it has been in my judgment by Mr Hemming’s partial and tendentious advice, is that it has been entirely adult focused. Not once in his argument did he mention the welfare of KP."
Last night Mr Hemming said: "I have been very critical of the judicial process in Public Family Law.
"I refute the criticisms in the Court of Appeal. But there is something far more important than whether or not my allegations are true."
He said a judgment had been made without the mother receiving an opportunity to present her case. "The mother . . . has been given no opportunity to challenge the allegations of the local authority.
"This is a case that must be considered by the House of Lords."
Mr Hemming’s single is to be released worldwide on May 19. The first verse, written before yesterday’s judgment, refers to the case, having changed the mother’s name to "Sarah".
The MP sings: "Sarah they said was slow; So her babe she had to go. In court the experts said; They turned the truth right on its head."
Source: Birmingham Post
The linked judgment is the one in which I was criticised by the Court of Appeal for two points.
Bias and Apparent Bias
Firstly I provided the court with evidence that local authorities and Nottingham in particular had been in receipt of hypothecated funding ringfenced towards adoption. This practise ceased from 1st April 2008.
The second leg of Natural Justice requires Nemo Judex in Causa Sua. The decisions of the local authority in terms of both whether to initiate care proceedings and assessment fall foul of the need for the local authority to make those decisions in an unbiased manner. It is clear that both the existence of the BV163 adoption targets and the hypothecated funding (both scrapped from 1st April 2008) created an apparent bias on the local authority. Magill v Porter  UKHL 67  2 ACT 357 at  (Lord Hope: “The question is whether the fair minded observer, having considered the facts, would conclude that there was a real possibility that the tribunal was biased.”) The decisions of the local authority would have been potentially subject to judicial view. Similarly, the expert in acting as the agent of the local authority is subject to the same apparent bias. This could be merely a bias in terms of the selection of the expert rather than necessarily a bias in terms of the actions of the expert herself.
The danger, therefore, with the single expert system is that an apparent bias exists in terms of the selection of the expert whose evidence is then not contested as has happened in this case.
I did give reference to the legal precedents relating to bias when listening to opinion.
I pointed out to the court that certain documents were unusual. One document was sent by the Official Solicitor to the mother's solicitor. This document had an unusual address format and also did not have a "received" stamp from the solicitors office in which it would have been received.
A second document was a note in a completely different format to other notes. It indicated that the first document had been posted to the mother with a compliments slip. The use of a compliments slip was an unusual instance. The date on this note was clearly wrong as it was the same day as the first document had been posted when the first document would not have been received.
In the 1980s I was involved in a number of legal cases as an expert witness looking for fraud. I took the view that the above indicated that the file had been tampered with.
The Key Point
The key issue, however, is not whether or not the file had been tampered with, but that the mother had never been given an opportunity to put her side of the argument.
Human beings should have some rights. However, the one of the most fundamental has to be to have the opportunity to be heard in legal proceedings.
The Court of Appeal have determined that the fact that the mother was never given an opportunity to challenge the assertions of the local authority and its experts is acceptable.
This is a far more important issue than whether or not my contested assertions are true or not.
posted by john ¶ 6:56 AM 0 comments
Source: John Hemming's blog, entry for May 9, 2008
May 10, 2008 permalink
During a year-long sham separation a British couple, Craig and Donna Aston, were forbidden to tell their children "I love you". This story shows that official assurances of correction of past abuses are false. Dr Christopher Hobbs, whose Reflex Anal Dilatation (RAD) theory was responsible for the pandemic Cleveland child removal two decades ago, was the supervising pediatrician in the Aston case.
09/05/08 - Femail section
How social workers took away our children for 11 months without a shred of evidence
By SUE REID
Enjoying the sunshine at a park near their home, the Aston family cling closely to each other as if to make sure they will never be prised apart again.
Jodie, a bubbly ten-year-old, entwines her arms around her brother, Luke, who was 12 last Thursday, while both children smile fondly at their parents, Craig and Donna.
Yet the happy scene is full of poignancy. Until very recently, this Yorkshire couple were trapped in what a High Court judge described this week as "every parent's nightmare".
For an interminable 11 months, Jodie and Luke were removed from their home because their parents faced accusations from doctors of the most hideous crime imaginable: sexually molesting their own daughter.
They were permitted to visit their children only under strict supervision, for just three hours a week. All letters which they sent to Jodie and Luke were vetted by social workers - making them feel like criminals.
What's more, they were cruelly ordered not to say "I love you" to either boy or girl. Throughout this ordeal, the couple always protested their innocence and were relieved beyond belief. When Mr Justice Holman cleared them of any wrongdoing. He ordered the children's return, insisting that his ruling be made public so lessons are learned by doctors, social workers and lawyers working in the child protection service.
In a landmark judgment, he warned that even two decades after the infamous Cleveland child abuse scandal, parents are still being wrongly accused of molesting their sons and daughters.
The Cleveland controversy was Britain's biggest and first mass child abuse scare.
In 1987, 121 children were taken into state care in North-East England over five months after abuse was diagnosed on the basis of physical examinations carried out by a controversial paediatrician called Marietta Higgs.
The parents were often wrongly condemned - just like the Astons today - without their children being listened to or their family background being taken into account.
The doctors in the Eighties had relied on the discredited sign called Reflex Anal Dilatation (RAD), said to indicate sexual abuse.
Last year, the controversial sign was condemned as unreliable by the Government's chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, who admitted that its use had led to mistakes in Cleveland.
Everyone hoped the lessons had been learnt from Cleveland. But now the shocking extent of young Jodie Aston's ordeal is becoming clear, it seems that is tragically not the case.
Mr Justice Holman said it was inevitable that Jodie was now "emotionally damaged" by her experiences.
After the private hearing at Leeds High Court, he said: "Unless there is clear diagnostic evidence of abuse (for example, the presence of semen or a foreign body internally), purely medical assessments and opinions should not be allowed to predominate. Even 20 years after Cleveland, I wonder if the lessons have fully been learned." The importance of this judgment cannot be overstated. Jodie's father, a 33-year-old railway signals' engineer, courageously agreed to talk for the first time about the case.
He said: "I hope the judge's words will rein in doctors, and help other parents accused of sexually abusing their children without any real proof." What happened to the Aston family seems incredible in 21st-century England. They are now seeking legal advice in the hope that the General Medical Council, the doctors' disciplinary body, will investigate their case.
Yesterday, Leeds' Safeguarding Children's Board launched a review into Jodie's case, saying "all relevant, accurate facts" must be taken into account in future child abuse inquiries.
Officials said it was too early to reveal how many other children have been taken into care or even adopted, as a result of suspected sexual abuse over recent years.
However, the Mail is aware of two other families in the city who have had their children removed, largely on the basis of the RAD testing technique, yet who insist they are entirely innocent.
The Astons' nightmare began when they took Jodie, then aged eight, to Leeds General Infirmary's casualty department on a Monday evening in August 2005. She had scraped her groin on a small wall while playing with friends.
She was examined by doctors in Leeds at least eight times. Photographs and videos - later shown in court - were taken of her naked body again and again.
The girl was referred to the community paediatrics department at the city's St James's University Hospital on the following Thursday. Nothing was found to be amiss after an intimate examination. But two months later, Jodie was changing into her pyjamas after school when her mother saw a spot of blood on her pants.
Jodie, who was prone to eczema and had visible raw splits in the skin of her hands and arms, was again taken to casualty before being referred for a second time to the paediatrics unit at St James's.
The hospital has a busy child protection team, overseen by the respected paediatric consultant Dr Christopher Hobbs.
Significantly, he is an original pioneer of the RAD technique in this country. In June 1986, just a year before the Cleveland controversy broke, Dr Hobbs and his colleague Jane Wynne introduced young Marietta Higgs to this new way of diagnosing child molestation during a Leeds' medical conference.
By looking at and probing a child's bottom, the paediatricians claimed they could see if there was reflex anal dilatation and - therefore - abuse.
Dr Higgs enthusiastically embraced the technique, provoking the Cleveland crisis.
However, 80 per cent of the "victims" were later returned to their parents because they had not been hurt at all.
Since then, the nagging doubts about the technique have grown. Today, it is well-known that RAD can appear normally and spontaneously in any child.
According to some paediatricians - notably an expert named Professor Astrid Hegar from America, where RAD has been abandoned in some states - half of all children who have not been sexually abused show the same "tell-tale" sign when their bottoms are examined.
That means, of course, that almost any family taking their child to hospital or the doctor's surgery can be accused of child abuse.
Yet in Britain, many child doctors - including Dr Hobbs - rely on the technique as an important piece of many pieces in the jigsaw of diagnosing child abuse.
Even before 1987 - at the height of the Cleveland crisis - both Hobbs and Wynne were discovering high numbers of child sex abuse cases in Leeds by using RAD.
According to the doctors' research, published in the medical journal The Lancet, 94 boys and 243 girls were diagnosed as sexual abuse victims in a previous two-year period. The paper - still quoted in medical literature - says that eight in ten of the boys, and a quarter of the girls, had "anal signs".
Astonishingly, in half of all cases, the abusers were deemed to be the children's natural father and - even more bizarrely - five per cent were women. A quarter of the Leeds adults involved were convicted by the courts. The two doctors wrote at the time: "Sexual abuse is emerging as a major child and mental health problem." So it was against this background - in a city whose medical establishments were at the centre of the RAD debate - that Jodie Aston was taken by her mother to hospital. It was the first of many visits and, during one, on November 24, 2005, she met Dr Hobbs.
Although he did not physically examine Jodie, at the end of the appointment he and a fellow paediatrician said that they suspected child abuse. It was a terrible moment for Jodie's mother, Donna.
She says today: "I couldn't believe it. I began to cry. I walked out of there not knowing what to think. Jodie saw that I was quiet, and thought she had done something wrong. I waited in the car park for Craig to come and pick us up.
"I asked Jodie if her Daddy had done anything to her. She said "no" and I believed her. But when I got in the car, Craig saw that I had been crying. He asked me what was wrong and I just mumbled something about child abuse because I didn't want to upset Jodie." At home, after the children had gone to bed, Donna had to ask her husband a question that no wife should have to. Craig said he had not touched his daughter.
"I was being accused of something worse than murder," Craig said this week.
"From that point, we began to watch the children like hawks.
"We did not allow them even to go to the shops nearby. Luke said we were treating them like babies," added Donna, 34. However, the family remained under suspicion. Donna was told by the authorities that she was also considered the potential abuser of her daughter.
The following March, Jodie faced another assessment with Dr Hobbs. Just a few weeks earlier, she had again come home with a small blood spot on her pants.
This time, the paediatrician conducted a physical examination, which included RAD. He wrote in his report afterwards: "I feel that the time has come for me to involve social services, because I am concerned about the possibility that she may have been sexually abused."
The family were trapped. The doctors ignored Donna's suggestion that eczema might be the cause of the blood spots. Meanwhile, social workers began visiting the family regularly.
Overwhelmed with worry, Craig and Donna were advised to get an independent second medical opinion on Jodie's condition. Therefore, their GP arranged for a doctor called Ruth Skelton to examine their daughter. This proved to be a disastrous move.
Dr Skelton had been trained by Dr Hobbs. As Mr Justice Holman commented in his judgment: "In my view, the selection of her was deeply regrettable. Dr Skelton lacked the complete independence that is required for a second opinion in these sorts of circumstances.
"She was being asked to review the previous opinion of someone who was a more senior colleague, then working daily at the same hospital, and who had been her own teacher."
It emerged that Dr Skelton had discussed Jodie's case with Dr Hobbs before the so-called independent examination took place in March last year.
Dr Skelton concluded that she could spot RAD. According to her report, she said that Jodie had "been sexually abused chronically, over a long period, both anally and probably vaginally . . . I feel that this child is not protected at all at present." Both Jodie and her elder brother, Luke, were taken away from the parents the same day. It was arranged that they would live with their maternal grandparents, aged 77 and 78, three miles away from their home in Armley, a suburb of Leeds. Donna still finds it hard to relate the story as she sits with the children and Craig in the family's neat sitting room.
She says: "The social workers came at 9.30am to tell us they wanted to remove Jodie and Luke. It was a Thursday. Jodie and Luke were at school. They never came home for almost a year.
"I packed a few things for the first night: toothbrushes, pyjamas, a big bear toy that was Jodie's favourite. Then I had to come home alone.
"Craig was in a worse state than me. I thought he was going to harm himself. We woke up in night crying. We hugged each other because it was as if the children were dead."
This week, she said: "There were more tears, but we had to cope for the sake of the children. On Christmas Day last year, we were only allowed to see them for one hour." Yet the family's fortunes were changing.
Craig's lawyers had instructed the American paediatrician, Professor Hegar, to give her views. She has examined 40,000 children for suspected abuse during a 28-year career. She believes that a family's history - and a host of other factors - are vital when deciding if a child has been molested.
Professor Hegar studied the medical reports and photographs of Jodie. She said: "I believe that the medical examiners in this case have relied heavily on Reflex Anal Dilatation as diagnostic of sexual abuse.
"This is a common finding in up to 49 per cent of children who have not been abused. There is no research ... that supports the use of RAD as a sensitive or specific finding for sexual abuse."
Professor Hegar also suggested that dermatologists should examine Jodie to find another cause of her bleeding. One skin expert diagnosed that a small split in her skin, caused by eczema, may have produced the suspect spots of blood on Jodie's underwear.
Her crucial views were also heard by video link during the hearing into Jodie's case. Afterwards, Mr Justice Holman said Donna and Craig Aston are intelligent, responsible parents.
During the hearing, he met both their "bright and well-mannered" children, giving them chocolate biscuits and talking to them for nearly an hour.
Jodie told him that no one had touched her at home, or at primary school. Her brother Luke declared, quite spontaneously, that it was "all a big mistake".
He added: "We have got the best mum and dad. Why would they abuse my little sister?"
Both of the Aston children said they loved their parents dearly and only wanted to go home. Now, at last, thanks to an enlightened judge, they have finally got their wish.
But how many other families who suffered similarly disgraceful misdiagnoses, more than 20 years after it had been presumed the lessons of Cleveland had been learnt, are still fighting to clear their names?
Source: The Daily Mail (UK)
Boy Ambushed by Doctors/CAS
May 9, 2008 permalink
Here is another story of a boy getting medical treatment against the will of his family, and the boy himself. The family was invited to McMaster Children's Hospital in Hamilton Ontario for routine tests, but instead was ambushed by CAS. The boy is now in their custody. Since there is no name in the story, we will be unable to post a follow-up saying whether the boy survives.
Parents battling hospital, CAS over child's cancer treatment
Say boy is being treated against his & their will
Scot Urquhart, CHCH News, Published: Thursday, May 08, 2008
A young Hamilton boy is undergoing treatment for cancer. But the question is, should he be? His parents don't want him to go through chemotherapy again and they say neither does he. But the Children's Aid Society has obtained a court order allowing a hospital to forcibly treat the eleven year old. As Scot Urquhart tells us this case is raising tough questions about who has the right to decide the fate of a child.
It's become a classic legal and moral debate: who really knows what's best for a child?
These parents have an 11 year old child suffering from a rare and aggressive form of leukemia.
Due to legal constraints, we cannot identify them.
Their child has already undergone some treatment for the disease, and didn't do well. The parents say he suffered, and they put a halt to further chemotherapy. They discussed the issue as a family.
The child knew his condition was grave, and at the best -- would face more chemotherapy, aggressive radiation, and a bone marrow transplant, all with a significant risk of death.
If the child survived the treatment, the best prognosis was a 40 to 50 percent chance of recovery.
The family decided not to continue treatment.
But doctors, and the CAS had other ideas.
When the family arrived at McMaster Children's Hospital Thursday morning for what they were told was a routine set of tests, the child was seized for forced treatment.
Their reaction: "Oh, no you're not."
They wanted due process, wanted to stand behind the wishes of their child, wanted to see a court order.
"If you're going to do treatment, then please advise us, and we'll back up, and wait for you to apprehend him so that we can still stand behind our child's wishes" - Child's father
Instead, a heated argument ensued. And all through it the child was "screaming, 'I don't want this, I don't want this, I don't want this, why won't you ever listen to me? Please somebody listen to me.'"
The father went to call his lawyer:
"in the midst of calling my lawyer security was called on me, and they tried to force me to hang up from calling for my lawyer"
He claims he was roughed up, and handcuffed by security officers. Police were called, but refused to press charges, and ordered his release.
He appeared with his wife on Live at 5:30 here on CHCH News. And Children's Aid Director Domenic Verticchio was asked under what legal circumstances the CAS could seize a child:
Mark Hebscher: "Dominic you mentioned off the top that if a parent is unable or unavailable, or refuses in this case."
Verticchio: "unwilling, that's it..."
But unless the child is in iminent peril, the legislation and the courts have directed that a warrant be obtained and produced prior to seizure.
Father: "and we don't have those documents yet."
Hospital PR director Jeff Vallentin dismissed the family's story as hearsay, although he would neither confirm nor deny the details. Then he cited the Privacy Act, and the jurisdiction of the CAS, saying he was legally bound not to talk about this case. Although he would not say at what time the court order went into effect, or what transpired beforehand.
Father: "and when your body goes, it goes, right, it doesn't matter how strong your faith is, or how strong your will to survive, you're going to go right, (sob) and as a father I'm trying everything I can."
Source: CHCH (TV) Hamilton
Addendum: CHCH TV did a half-hour program on this case on Friday May 9, 2008. Guests were John Dunn, Foster Care Council of Canada, lawyer Gordon Morton, Michele Lafantaisie, a mother from Dundas, and NDP house leader Peter Kormos. You can try viewing the program through an http stream. It is highly problem-prone, we spent over an hour getting it to work. Thanks to John Dunn, we have an audio-only copy of the program (mp3) hosted locally.
Addendum: Commentary by blogger Memee.
May 8, 2008 permalink
A study by Australian researcher Greg Tooley has found that children in the care of substitute parents, usually stepparents, are at increased risk of death relative to natural parents. It is called the Cinderella effect. Tooley's work dealt with all accidental deaths, whether or not intentional. There are two measures of risk, depending on how some incomplete death reports are classified. The death rate for children with no natural parents, the situation in foster care, is either 6 or 37 times higher than the rate for children with two natural parents. Here is the paper by Tooley et al, (pdf, by email from Greg Tooley), and an earlier paper on the same topic by Martin Daly and Margo Wilson (pdf) of McMaster University. A press report on the research follows.
Young stepchildren at greater risk of violence
CHILDREN under five living with a non-biological or step-parent are up to 78 times more likely to die from a violence-related injury.
But these children are also up to 15 times more likely to die from unintentional causes such as road accidents, drowning, poisoning, falls and burns than those living with their biological families, Deakin University research shows.
Study author and psychologist Greg Tooley said parenting was a demanding role and parents generally did a very good job, and were not "evil".
But a review of more than 1000 coroners' cases between 2000 and 2003 found Australian figures mirrored overseas findings known as the Cinderella Effect.
That is where stepchildren are at dramatically raised risk of being victims of fatal accidents, as well as physical abuse and homicide.
Dr Tooley found children living with single mothers were no more likely to die from either violent or unintentional causes than those in biological families, except for accidental drownings, which were three times more likely.
But children living with neither biological parent, such as foster children and state wards, faced up to a 102 times greater risk of death.
Dr Tooley's research was testing an evolutionary theory that humans are genetically programmed to nurture and protect their own biological offspring more than others' children.
He found Australian data on accidental child deaths as well as homicide cases, especially in the most vulnerable 0-5 age group, matched the theory.
"There are times when a parent might be so distracted -- by work, fatigue, a conversation or another child -- that they momentarily drop their guard with respect to watching over their children," Dr Tooley said.
"Step-parents fill the parental role without the same set of parental drives triggered by becoming a biological parent.
"As such, it is simply more likely that given the same set of trying difficult circumstances, a step-parent will drop their guard or physically lash out at a child."
In the study, a step-parent was defined widely as the married, de facto or visiting partner of a biological parent.
For the purposes for the study, the relationship could last for years, weeks or even days.
Source: Melbourne Herald Sun
Correction: In the first version, we said: "The death rate for children with no natural parents, the situation in foster or adoptive care ... ". Mr Tooley's research had no data on adoptive parents.
Dad Dies Saving Daughter
May 8, 2008 permalink
Joseph Richardson has died while protecting his daughter from an out-of-control car in Illinois. Contrast this story with a headline you will never see: Foster dad dies saving foster daughter.
Illinois Father Dies After Shielding Daughter When Car Jumps Curb
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
CHICAGO — Chicago police say a man died as he tried to shield his four-year-old daughter from an auto allegedly driven by a man under the influence of a controlled substance.
Joseph Richardson was walking his daughter Kaniyah to a McDonald's for burgers late Monday when a car jumped the curb. Police say the 39-year-old Richardson grabbed his daughter just before the car slammed the two into a fence.
Richardson was pronounced dead at the scene. Kaniyah was taken to Comer Children's Hospital in serious condition.
Police say the driver of the car, 32-year-old Angelo Thomas of Chicago, was charged with two felony counts of aggravated DUI. Witnesses say the man was driving erratically before the accident.
Richardson, a church musician, was the father of three, two girls and a boy, all under the age of 10.
Source: Fox News
FLDS Arrest Warrant Dropped
May 5, 2008 permalink
Texas CPS took 463 children from the Yearning for Zion ranch because of a phone call from a girl who was raped by her 50-year-old husband, Dale Barlow. It now appears the call was a hoax, phoned in by Rozita Swinton from Colorado, and Mr Barlow did not live in Texas, but in Arizona. Texas has dropped the arrest warrant for Dale Barlow. Of course, CPS will not give the children back. As already noted, they just make up new allegations.
Arrest warrant against FLDS member dropped
ELDORADO, Texas (AP) -- An arrest warrant has been dropped for a man thought to be the husband of a teenage girl whose report of abuse triggered a raid on a polygamous sect's Texas compound, authorities said.
A Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman would not say why the warrant was dropped for Dale E. Barlow, 50, who lives in Colorado City, Arizona. Barlow has denied knowing the 16-year-old girl who called a crisis center.
The girl reported that she was a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and that she was beaten and raped at the sect's Eldorado ranch.
An investigation led to the April 3 raid, in which state welfare workers took 463 children living at the Yearning For Zion Ranch. A boy was born to one of the sect's mothers Tuesday; he and the other children remain in state custody.
Authorities have not located the 16-year-old girl and are investigating the source of the call.
Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger would not say when the warrant for Barlow was dropped, only that "it is no longer active."
Rob Parker, an FLDS spokesman, said the dropped warrant shows the weakness of the state's case against residents of the ranch.
"I think that's just one more piece of evidence that the whole basis on which this raid was premised was unfounded and was inadequately checked out, to the formulation of what basically amounted to an army that went in there and took their children," Parker said.
The phone number used to call the crisis center is the same one once used by a Colorado woman, identified as 33-year-old Rozita Swinton of Colorado Springs, accused of making previous false reports of abuse.
Investigators have not said whether Swinton made the call to Texas authorities, though Vinger said she is "still considered a person of interest."
"There is an investigation centering on that," Vinger said. "We have quite a bit of evidence that still needs to be analyzed."
A judge has ruled that children removed from the ranch should stay in state custody until all can have a hearing.
Child welfare officials told the judge the children were living in an authoritarian environment that left girls at risk of sexual abuse and raised boys to become sexual perpetrators.
The FLDS is a group that splintered from the Mormon Church, which does not recognize the sect and disavows polygamy.
In Utah, members of the polygamous church have asked the state's governor to intervene in its fight with Texas authorities over the custody the children.
A letter written by FLDS elder Willie Jessop says Texas officials are rejecting Utah-issued birth certificates and other documents as "fake."
The letter asks Gov. Jon Huntsman to exercise his executive authority to assist in protecting the civil rights of native Utahns and FLDS members. FLDS parents claim they have been denied their due process by the Texas courts.
"Without your leadership and personal intervention in this matter, the parental rights of every Utah family is at risk," Jessop wrote.
Huntsman spokeswoman Lisa Roskelly said the governor has been in contact with Jessop and was reviewing his request.
CAS Workers Smoke
May 5, 2008 permalink
Consideration by Ontario of a law to outlaw smoking in a vehicle with children present caused one mother to post her experience with smoking around her son. The author thinks it safest to withhold her name. WARNING! CAS workers use coarse language!
Years ago when I was still able to see my children I complained bitterly about a driver smoking in my youngest's face. I complained about smoking in the foster homes (express policy always been in place that foster parents are not to smoke with the children present). I complained about a foster parent's teenage son smoking in front of my children. I'm extremely allergic. But the disturbing one was the driver (turned out to be the in-home support person's husband) smoking in my toddlers face, a long ash dangling inches from his eye. Kieran was crying. When I asked that he get the cigarette the hell out of his face, his wife jumped at me and said, "He's dying of cancer he can do whatever the fuck he wants, and it's our fucking vehicle so don't fucking tell us what to do in our car". I threatened to immediately remove my son, trying to grab him away from the frail elderly man. His wife (Penny) told me to go ahead and defy her cause she'd make sure I paid for it from CAS!
Source: email copied with permission of the author
May 5, 2008 permalink
An Ontario mother has posted the story of an adopted child gone wrong. The child received long-term medication for ADHD, now the family has accepted the explanation that his mental deficit is the result of fetal alcohol syndrome. They have not considered the possibility that the psychotropic drugs used to treat the ADHD are the cause of behavioral problems.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
One of my sons came to live with us when he was 2-1/2 years old. He was this tiny little guy with huge dark eyes, a lot of black curly hair and the fattest cheeks you'd ever see. We called them chipmunk cheeks! Even at a young preschool age he had some anger problems... Children's Aid said... put him into preschool... that will help... it didn't, but we did notice some learning difficulties. While he was growing up he was on multiple medications for ADHD while he struggled with his learning disabilities. When he was seventeen, he left home...determined that there was a better life out there without the rules and consequences of living in our family. We finally figured out that it wasn't ADHD that he had all these years but something much more devastating... Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. We had been told that his birth mother spent a lot of time in the bars while pregnant...slowly damaging our son's brain for good...never to be recovered. While on his own, he had difficulty holding a job so he turned to the 'easy' way... illegal activities.... dealing drugs, growing pot, stealing, fraud... in the midst of it all he met a girl and fathered a child, a little boy. He also started drinking... a lot... and now he's an alcoholic and.... now he's in jail. There's a court hearing tomorrow morning and if my eldest isn't in labour, my husband and I plan to be there... because... even though he's done a lot of bad things and made a lot of poor choices while on his own in the last seven years... he's still our son.
Posted by secondofwett at 4:28 PM
Source: personal blog
Family Escapes From Doctors
May 5, 2008 permalink
Here is a story of a mother, Denise Watier, who escaped from her doctors with her three children. The CCAS says a boy, Mekhi, age 8, needs medical care, but does not specify what the problem is, or the treatment. Similar claims last year about Alana Livas (Nov 30 and Dec 5) turned out to be a hoax, so we are skeptical that the boy in this case is in need of help. Maybe the mother feels that the doctors are doing more harm than good.
Officials concerned about boy missing with mother
May 02, 2008, Sarah Boesveld, Staff Reporter
A Toronto mother and her three children have gone missing and officials are concerned for the health of her 8-year-old son, who suffers from a serious medical condition.
Police and the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto are asking the public to help find Denise Watier and her children, four-month-old baby Ayden, 5-year-old Brianna and 8-year-old Mekhi.
They haven't been seen since March, police say.
Watier has missed an appointment for Mehki, who has had his medical condition since birth.
CCAS spokesperson Anne Rappé said she couldn't elaborate on what kind of illness Mehki has, but did say he needs regular medication to keep healthy.
She said doctors at the Hospital for Sick Children - the only place Mehki can receive treatment - were concerned after Watier not only missed the appointment, but also failed to pick up the child's medication.
"We have been working closely with police on this," Rappe said. "The most important thing is the safety of the children."
Rappe says the CCAS has been working with the Watier family. The children are not in full custody of the aid agency.
Anyone who has seen or heard from the Watiers or knows the family's whereabouts is asked to call the CCAS at 416-395-1500.
Source: Toronto Star
Addendum: Since there are no names, we cannot be sure, but the article below, reporting on the capture of a child, may be the same case, though the ages are not consistent.
Kidnapped toddler found in Orangeville Saturday
Tuesday May 6 2008
A 22-month-old child kidnapped from social services was found safe and sound in Orangeville Saturday morning (May 3). The toddler's mother, 17, is charged with abduction in contravention of a custody order.
The child was taken from the Jewish Family and Child Services office in Vaughan the afternoon of April 28. During a subsequent investigation York Regional Police confirmed a sighting of the child's mother in Etobicoke and, as a result, they were able to track the girl to an Orangeville home. In good health, the child has been returned to Jewish Family and Child Services.
Source: Orangeville Banner
Ottawa Event in July
May 3, 2008 permalink
A man using the screen name Bulldog is planning an event in Ottawa in July to draw attention to the mess in family law.
Location: Burlington Ont.
Posted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:54 pm
subject: TIME TO WALK THE WALK PEOPLE
All too often I see more talk then anything.
Now I'm going to take the first step, but I'm going to need the support of all of you that are serious about doing something significant. NO BS'ers
I am gathering names of people committed to a protest at Parliament hill.
Our lobby group is called F.O.C.A.S.D Families Opposed to Children's Aid Societies Deceit.
I know that predominantly this is a provincial matter but Ottawa is the Canadian Capital the center of Canada where laws are made and treaties are broken.
I want the whole of Canada to see the damage agencies like CAS are doing to Canadian Families and their children.
In July I'll be pitching a tent on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to force the Federal government to change the laws to make agencies like the CAS more accountable.
Email me if you want to be a part of history it will be fun and we'll be able to vent in a manner that get the most response.
Everyone has enough time to plan for this event in July between July 5th and the 19th. Come for a day, come for a few days, or come for the whole event. From here we plan protests in cities across the country.
It's a process people we need to get it started, people who are truly passionate about this can do it.
So if you’re tired of not being able to do a damned thing join me and a few others that have already committed to helping me make this work.
Let’s make July of every year the month we protest against agency’s like the CAS and others that harm our kids and families.
We will work with those that don't have a ride, or need other things as best we can.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and help me gather the strength we have in our numbers
I will be posting this post in several forums on this site.
Source: Canada Court Watch forum, private message published with permission
Bring the Sunshine In
May 2, 2008 permalink
British MP John Hemming is trying his hand at competing with Bruce Springsteen and Monty Python.
Date: Fri, 02 May 2008 10:55:30 +0100
From: "John Hemming MP"
Subject: MP Releases charity song for family miscarriages of justice
John Hemming, a Birmingham MP who chairs the organisation "justice for families" is releasing a charity song called "bring the sunshine in" to fight miscarriages of justice against mothers and fathers.
"The song", he said, "calls for more openness in the Family Courts. Britain has a network of secret courts that lock up mothers, fathers and grandparents for heinous crimes like talking to their children or grand children. These secret courts make lots of money for lawyers and expert witnesses, but the general public is not allowed to know what goes on".
"The verses in the song refer to real situations although some of the names have been changed. If the names had not been changed then people could be sent to jail for playing the song because of the secret courts."
"The money raised will go to the Angela Cannings Foundation and to pay for advisors to help parents fight for justice."
"Not all of the decisions of the Family Courts are wrong, but many are. However, people are not allowed to reveal publicly what goes on in the court without permission. We do need a system to protect children, but it must be accountable. Those who abuse their power need to be held to account."
Explanation of the lyrics:
Lets bring the sunshine in
lets end this awful sin
mums and dads are being convicted
because the truth has been evicted
The chorus is one of the campaign's objectives. We need people to be able to talk about what happens in the Family Courts so that miscarriages of justice can be prevented. At the moment people have their children removed when they have not done anything wrong.
Sarah they said was slow
So her babe she had to go
In court the experts said
They turned the truth right on [upon] its head
This verse refers to a case which has been in the Court of Appeal. The judgment has been made public for the first hearing, but the second judgment is due for publication on Thursday 8th May. The name has been changed. It refers to someone who was told she was too stupid to tell her solicitor what to do. Hence an organisation called the "Official Solicitor" was appointed and they decided not to contest the case so there wasn't a trial. Let me stress the situation this woman's baby has been put up for adoption, but there has never been any trial at which she was allowed to challenge the assertions of the local authority. This fails under "audi alteram partem" aspect of Natural Justice.
Poor Sally's children died
in court the doctors lied
they put poor Sally inside
What have the courts got to hide
This verse refers to Sally Clark's case where the Doctors were thought to have so badly misled the jury that one of them was found guilty (after a number of court hearings) of "misconduct". Although this was a case in the Criminal Division it was infected by the bad practise in the unaccountable Family Courts.
Molly was wanted for a family switch
So they said [that] Fran was a Munchausen’s witch
She flew to Sweden to keep her babe
Of course The Doctors they got paid
This verse refers to the case of Fran and Molly Lyon. Fran left to have her baby in Stockholm which she did in January 2008. She is now a refugee from the Family Courts. It refers to the fact that the doctors make a lot of money out of being "expert witnesses". Some experts have admitted that they simply write what they are asked to write by the Local Authority that pays them.
The boys they say that they won’t talk to their mom
The judge says foster care is what must be done
Dad says its wrong by writing a book
He’s put in jail ‘cos somebody looked
This verse refers to a surreal case where two teenagers were placed in care because they refused to talk to their estranged mother. The local authority have continued to misbehave into May 2008.
Danny was eight when was stolen by the state
He ran away at 4 by the gate
Mom ran to France with her new baby’s dad
Sending him to jail the judge said he was bad
The middle 8 refers to another "mum on the run" who escaped to France with her 8 year old son (whose name has been changed). Her husband was imprisoned for 16 months for driving her to France. He was released from prison in late April 2008. Whilst in France she was airlifted to hospital to have her new baby.
Lyrics Note: The lyrics are not totally precise a number of things have been changed for legal and artistic reasons.
Production: The tune was written by John AM Hemming MP in collaboration with John A Hemming (no relation). The Lyrics were written by John AM Hemming MP. The song was produced by John A Hemming of Moseley Sounds who performed most of the instruments and sung by John AM Hemming MP.
Distribution: The tune will be available via iTunes, Amazon, Coolmusic, orchard, beatport and eMusic and is a worldwide digital release.
Source: indirect email from John Hemming later posted to his personal blog
Adoption Disclosure Stalled
May 2, 2008 permalink
Ontario's new adoption disclosure law has been stalled in the legislature. Conservatives are using the lame argument that hiding adoption records will somehow stop child abuse. We present two bulletins from COAR and an article in the Orangeville Citizen showing that Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones and CAS Executive Director Trish Keachie both claim that children will be abused again by disclosure. In real cases, we haven't found one yet where an adopted adult fears being found by his mother.
April 25, 2008
Late today COAR learned that Bill 12 is scheduled for third reading on Monday April 28 at 3:30 p.m.
If the Bill passes third reading, it will become law. There will then be a waiting period while the government creates the application process, determines how this process will work exactly, and advertises the changes. After this waiting period, Ontario’s adult adoptees and their birth parents will be able to apply for the information we have wanted for so many years.
If you want to see the debate and vote, plan to be in the visitors’ gallery at Queen’s Park by 3:30 p.m. Simply go to the legislature and tell the guard that you want to watch the debate. S/he will give you a pass.
Let us hope that Ontario has a new adoption disclosure law by Monday evening.
Michael Grand, email@example.com
Karen Lynn, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wendy Rowney, email@example.com
The COAR Coordinating Committee
April 28, 2008
Today in the Ontario legislature, Madeleine Meilleur, Minister of Community and Social Services, introduced Bill 12 to third reading. We had hoped for passage of the bill today but it didn't happen. Instead, Norm Sterling delayed passage by going on at great length about an amendment that he wanted that had been declined by the government. He wanted an amendment that would provide for an automatic disclosure veto applied against birth parents who had previously abused their children. Madame Meilleur pointed out the obvious that we are talking about adults, not children, and that there was no evidence from BC or other provinces with similar laws to warrant such an amendment.
The debate will continue, but Madame Meilleur assured us that the government will soon restrict the length of time legislators can speak on the issue. We hope to tell you more in the near future about how and when Bill 12 will finally be passed.
Michael Grand, firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Lynn, email@example.com
Wendy Rowney, firstname.lastname@example.org
The COAR Coordinating Committee
May 1, 2008
Jones says revised adoption bill endangers abused children
By DAN PELTON Staff Reporter
Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones fears the provincial government's latest attempt to provide access to adoption records will open up the possibility of abused children being victimized again.
As the Progressive Conservative Community and Social Services critic, she introduced an amendment to the bill during a committee hearing that was aimed at ensuring that children who are abused, removed from the home and subsequently adopted, would be automatically protected from having their personal information disclosed to the abuser without the adoptee's consent.
The original intention of the Access to Adoption Records Act was to open up all adoption records in Ontario, so birth parents and adopted persons could find and contact each other.
It was challenged in court, however, and the court ruled that past adoption records could not be opened.
The revised bill states that previous records cannot be opened without the consent of all parties involved.
Records of future adoptions, on the other hand, can be disclosed once the adopted person reaches the age of 19.
Ms. Jones says she is puzzled by this apparent lack of protection for formerly abused adopted persons, noting that such a provision was in the original legislation.
"This was in the original Liberal bill. I think it's an oversight, but it's not in the bill now."
There is a provision that allows either the adopted person or the birth parents to effectively veto any contact by those applying to do so.
"In today's environment, if there is an adoptee taken as a ward of the court because of abuse, the adoptive parents will know of the abuse and can inform the child of the abuse," said Liberal MPP Liz Sandals, one of four Liberals whose votes defeated Ms. Jones' amendments at the hearing. "The adopted child can then vote for a no-contact order."
Trish Keachie, executive director of Dufferin Child and Family Services, sides with Ms. Jones on the issue. "Our concern is that, even if they are over 18 and choose not to reconnect, (the adopted person) will have their personal information disclosed. That can be disconcerting. They do have a choice, but it forces them to relive what they've gone through."
Source:two emails from COAR and Orangeville Citizen
New FLDS Allegations
May 1, 2008 permalink
Our April 24 report titled More of FLDS Case is Fake showed that the original reasons for picking up the children were false, and included the statement: Don't expect child protectors to give up — they will come up with new reasons to keep the kids.
Here it is: sexual abuse. Since sex occurs in private and family court records are secret, this is a wild card that can be used to take kids from their parents in just about any situation. Habitually by the time the sexual abuse charges are dismissed, the children are irreversibly adopted. Just to be sure, they have thrown in broken bones as well. Do you remember the pictures of kids on stretchers? We don't.
Friday, May 2, 2008, Posted on Thu, May. 01, 2008
Official: Boys in polygamist sect might be sex-abuse victims
By JOHN MORITZ, Star-Telegram Staff Writer
AUSTIN -- The chief of Texas Child Protective Services told a legislative panel Wednesday that at least 41 of the youngsters seized last month from the polygamist camp near San Angelo have suffered broken bones and that evidence gathered by investigators suggests that some of the young boys now in state custody had been victims of sexual abuse.
The revelations from Carey Cockerell, commissioner of the agency that provides emergency care for endangered youngsters, was presented to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee with little or no elaboration because lawmakers had agreed to withhold their questions so as not to jeopardize the investigation into allegations of widespread abuse at the camp.
"This is the largest removal of children in Texas history by Child Protective Services," Cockerell told the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services in his first public appearance since more than 463 children were removed by the state from the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado.
The count of children in state custody from the breakaway Mormon sect called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints reached 464 on Tuesday when a teenage girl gave birth in a San Marcos hospital.
Rod Parker, a spokesman for the sect, dismissed Cockerell's testimony as "a deliberate effort to mislead the public."
Parker told The Associated Press that, although the ranch has a small medical facility, any broken bones would have been treated away from the ranch. He noted that doctors are required to report suspected abuse. Parker said state officials were "trying to politically inoculate themselves from the consequences of this horrible tragedy."
Cockerell, who was director of Tarrant County Juvenile Services for 20 years before taking over CPS in January 2005, said that since the state took custody of the children, many of whom had children of their own or were pregnant, officials have had trouble determining their parentage. Court-ordered DNA testing is being used in that effort.
But Cockerell told the committee, chaired by Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, that the younger children and those who might be mothers of those children have systematically attempted to mislead investigators and caregivers.
Among the concerns cited by Cockerell were:
Plastic wrist bracelets issued by the state to help keep track of children's identities were sometimes tampered with or removed.
Some women refused to allow children to undergo basic health screening.
Many teenage girls declined to take pregnancy tests.
In some cases in which children attempted to talk with investigators, women and older children forbade them to speak or coached them on what to say.
According to an update posted Wednesday on the state's protective services department Web site, all of the children taken from the compound have been placed in residential foster care facilities. Among them are 27 girls in who have told officials they are 14 to 17 years old and 26 other girls who have given conflicting information about their ages, sometimes claiming to be adults and other times claiming to be minors.
Of the 53 girls, at least 30 have children, are pregnant, or both. Six of the girls have two children, and two have three children, according to the update
The report that 41 youngsters had suffered broken bones before entering state custody came from physical examinations and interviews, but officials were reluctant to flatly assert abuse as the cause.
"We do not have X-rays or complete medical information on many children, so it is too early to draw any conclusions based on this information," the report said. "But it is cause for concern and something we'll continue to examine."
Allegations that boys had been sexually abused came from "interviews with the children and journal entries found at the ranch," the update said.
Cockerell told the panel that officials were attempting to respect the religious and cultural traditions of the youngsters in custody. He said that minors who have children are not being separated from them. Adult women with infants under 12 months are being allowed to remain with their babies, he said.
Child Protective Services is beefing up its caseworker staff to handle the influx of children from the compound as well as its legal staff to handle the ongoing challenge by the sect for the long-term custody of the children, Cockerell said.
Cockerell attempted to assure the panel that they have received top-flight care while in state custody. Many have been reassigned to licensed foster-care facilities.He said the children have been given ample facilities for recreation, clothing and food that conform with their religious beliefs, and access to some educational materials. Cockerell complimented the sensitivity of officials who have been assigned to the case.
"It was interesting to see DPS troopers in uniform playing kickball and pitch with these children," he said.
This report contains material from The Associated Press.
Source: Ft Worth Star-Telegram
Foster Care Ruins Kids
May 1, 2008 permalink
On CNN's Larry King Live Dr Phil McGraw described the prospects in store for the hundreds of FLDS children now in foster care:
KING: Let's turn to the polygamy matter. If the allegations of abuse are true, do you see any problem with all of these children in foster care?
MCGRAW: I see huge problems with it, Larry. I think we're in a situation here that there is not necessarily a good option. Now, think about this: there are only a certain number of these children that were believed to be at risk. But, yet, all of the children were taken out and put into foster care.
Now, I've said this before, the statistics tell us that 73 percent of all children that go into foster care wind up on the street or in jail. So, that means that if you apply those numbers to these 416 children, 304 of them would be predicted to wind up on the street or in jail. Is that a good alternative? And I don't think it is. And I don't think that it makes sense to take all of the children out of this situation without doing a case-by-case study, to see which one of these children are at risk and which ones are not.
Now, clearly, the principles that seem to govern the FLDS would be imminent danger for these children. But somehow or another, you have to figure a way to train these people, create an open door policy, get monitoring, get access and try to get these children back with their biological mothers, but with protection, and monitoring.
Source: CNN transcripts