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Readers Say No to CAS
April 30, 2010 permalink
When the St Catharines Standard published an article that was a plea for more funding for children's aid, most of the reader comments were critical. Politicians deciding how much to spend may notice that most of the people who care about the issue oppose more CAS funding.
FACS seeks cash advance
With a funding deficit last year of more than $2 million, Family and Children's Services Niagara will ask the province for a cash advance to cover payments made to the end of May.
The agency was one of 36 children's aid societies that applied to the province last fall for a formal review of their funding because of year-end shortfalls.
Its board of directors approved asking for a cash advance of $380,000 from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services Wednesday night.
"If we have to work with this cash advance strategy for a period of time we will, but that's not the solution," said FACS Niagara executive director Chris Steven prior to the board meeting.
"We need a longer-term sustainable solution as soon as possible."
The agency's deficit last fall was $2.8 million and Steven said FACS did not feel it could fulfil legal responsibilities to protect children in the community with less funds.
After asking the province for a formal review of its funding, FACS received a total of $630,000 from the ministry in February to help with the financial pressure. That left the agency with a $2.2-million deficit for the fiscal year ending in March.
"While we always appreciate the help from our ministry and our politicians, it was not sufficient in this case," Steven said. "We are still needing to manage our way through the current fiscal year by way of seeking cash advances from the ministry."
Included in that $2.2-million deficit were costs of more than $350,000 related to an inquest into the death of foster boy Matthew Reid, slain by a foster girl in a Welland home. Matthew was under the care of another agency, but the girl was in FACS Niagara's care.
That money included legal costs, seconding a manager for the case, preparing for the inquest and addressing matters identified when the case was examined by the agency.
Historically, the ministry will cover unexpected expenses such as inquests. Steven anticipates the government will reimburse FACS, which would reduce the deficit.
He said the ministry introduced the idea of a cash advance template to children's aid societies knowing there would be nancial pressure this year.
"This isn't just handing over money, they do expect us to continue to try to find efficiencies and contain costs wherever possible," Steven said.
He said it was an effort to assist societies while a newly appointed commission works on promoting sustainability in child welfare. The commission, appointed by the ministry, has a three-year mandate and has been working with ministry staff and children's aid societies for about six months.
"They'll be looking at opportunities for systemic change that could assist in the delivery of services to children and youth so that expenditure doesn't continue to increase in children's aid societies," Steven said.
Meanwhile, FACS will work with the cash advance strategy, but Steven said at some point in the year, the agency will run out of funds.
Comments on this Article.
Call Jim Bradley, the HST is about to take two billion out of our pockets. That should cover the FACS shortfall.
Post #1 By aggyt8
The problem I have with children's aid societies is that too often they harass and break-up families with nothing wrong but nosey neighbours, and too often they allow ACTUAL dangerous situations to continue (as you often see with 'honour' killing situations).
Post #2 By westernhillisnotsobad
So let's get rid of FACS mr. westernhillisnotsobad and the children can fend for themselves?
Post #3 By aggyt8
Compare the salary levels with the private section and the reason for the deficit will become obvious. Maybe their union needs to make some concessions like GM or face bankruptcy ?
Post #4 By pounder
I agree with westernhill. This is a corrupt private organization. Take a close look at what their expences were for the fiscal year and you will find out exactly why they are in such big debt. They have wasted so much money in court going after families and kidnapping children from famalies based on lies from others in the neighbourhood. They even fabricate evidence to justify there actions in court. This can be proven. The government regulations by way of the child and family services act dictates that they can only spend 10% of their annual budget on legal proceedings yet they continually spend over 75% yearly. If you also look alot of money is wasted on things that are not necessary to the health and well being of a child or their care. Items such as extravagant vacations for the social workers and expensive cars. If you want the real stories of the CAS attend the rally in Toronto That is taking place today at queens park at noon. Attend the rally in October at the same place. Or better yet go and visit the facebook group stop childrens aid from taking children away from good parents and see the real stories first hand. There are several groups on facebook, another is Horror stories of the childrens aid - The real truth. There are so many cases documented where it has been proven with factual evidence of lies and deciept by this corrupt corporation. Do not give them one thin dime untill there is accountability. They are over spending and using our tax dollars to fund there extravagent vacations and should be audited by our government. All to often they target innocent families because they are easy to take kids away from as most of them that they target are on social assistance and do not know their rights under the CFSA. Take the time to read the stories and get involved demanding change or it could very well be your children next. Keep in mind they take these children based on the fact they can say that the child might be at risk, does not say the child is at risk just says the child MIGHT be at risk. They do not even have to show the child is at risk to take them they just have to say they believe they might be and they can take your child, but they will leave children with drug addicts and children that are not at risk get taken and placed in foster homes like the one mathew reid was placed in and abused or killed while in the foster care system for nothing more then lies from others. Its time to say no more.
Post #5 By VinnieVegas
The police department needs more money (not enough on the sunshine list), the fire department needs more money (not enough on the sunshine list), the forestry industry needs more money (why no everyone else is asking), the automotive industry (GM, Chrysler) needs more money, the hospital workers need more money (while their CEO and other senior officials earn outrageous salaries), the Arts groups need more money (to fulfill their dreams) and now FACS needs more money. I guess we shouldn't be surprised. If you need more money, all you have to do is stand in line at City hall or the provincial building downtown and feast at the taxpayers trough. These guys apparently have an endless amount of money but aren't bright enough or are willing to figure out why you're asking. After all, this is an election year, they can't say no. Saying no would mean that they won't be re-elected.
Post #6 By xxxxxx
The problem here is the CAS is NOT a government agency. They are in fact a private corporation and are not subject to any oversite by the government regardless what they will try to make you believe. Ask Andre Marin the Ontario ombudsman about this and you will find a stack of complaint against the CAS that he is not allowed to investigate due to the fact the CAS is allowed to operate as a private corporation and not have to answer to anyone. CAS will tell you they do have a process you can use to file a complaint, problem is the complaints are investigated by guess who? thats right themseleves. Guess what the findings of that complaint will be? The inquiry that was held into the death of the child in welland was conducted by guess who? The jury that listend was all members of guess who? The recommendations and findings of that panel is going to be recommendations of Guess who? if you answerd CAS to any of these questions you would be right. If you think it was all conducted in complete fairness and transparency well all I can say is better hope they are not knocking on your door next.
Post #7 By VinnieVegas
Well if they're not answerable and accountable to the taxpaying citizens, then ,I know what those taxpaying citizens should tell them when they come looking for money. The same thing we should be telling everyone else that comes looking for money. Some honest answers and accountability would be a good start. To pay reasonable ( not outrageous) employee wages and benefits, to treat their customers with respect and to serve those people that they're they're paid to serve. If they can't commit to those few things, then I think we need to find a few others who can or simply not fund them.
Post #8 By xxxxxx
Perhaps FACS should have considered their funding situation prior to building a shiny new HQ in Niagara Falls and undertaking an expensive "re-branding" campaign.
Although this organization provides an important and valuable service to families and children across Niagara, I think it is time they re-evaluate their true core services and processes to see how they can get their financial house in order. Unfortunately, I'don't think this is the last we've heard about the $$ situation at FACS. Too bad.
Post #9 By RealityCheck?
FACS has to have their FACTS before they just take a kid from their home and I know that they do everything they can to keep the child in their home thorugh parenting classes,counseling for the whole family, referrals to Big Brother/ Sisters and many other agencies that are FREE. Problem today is that many parents feel their children are their PROPERTY and now there is someone to protect that child if warranted. FACS would much rather place a child with family members for the well being and benefit to the child. No-one with a heart purposely rips a child from their home for no good reason. I am a fromer crown ward, I've seen and heard it all fromt he child's point of view and my own. Now I work in a similar field and the bottom line is about helping our vulnerable society whether that means seniors at risk, adults at a loss or children in jeopardy. I see plenty of children just begging to leave home but family members continue to lie about the homelife and are enabled by other outside family members for fear of shame and ownership rather than what is in their child's best interest. FACS deserves the pay they get to put up with so much from society! Don't give anyone reason to call FACS or your child any reason to take off and the majority of you will never have dealings with them. Keep in mind we are all human and yes some mistakes do get made but hopefully they are the rare occassion.
Post #10 By 321nyturn
The problem is this is not a rare occasion. Perhaps you need to spend some time reading on the support sites of the people who fight the CAS everyday exposing them. I can show you piles and piles of affidavits from facs workers who delibertaely commited perjury and then flip flopped on their stories when caught lying. You dont need to give them a reason all you have to have is a neighbour or family member with an axe to grind call them up and lie and they will be at your door. I can prove this with evidence that this happens all the time. Facs also does not want bill 93 to pass which would hold them accountable to the public. They also pick and choose who can be members or get a membership with them. So please dont try and tell me I dont know what goes on with them or how they operate.
Post #11 By VinnieVegas
And I'm sure there are numerous neighbours, family members, formally abused or neglected children with piles and piles of evidence to the contrary that would beg to differ and are thankful that FACS intervened. No-one said Vinnie Vegas doesn't know what goes on but his experience doesn't speak to the majority otherwise there would be no FACS would their? I know several families that have no business having kids but that's because their child reering goes again my moral radar, but parents are entitled to raise their children the best way they see fit...otherwise more kids would be wards.
Post #12 By 321nyturn
Perhaps you need to go visit a page on facebook called stop childrens aid from taking children away from good parents. Read the real stories going on out there. There are countless stories of abuse by the CAS. You speak of the majority but the problem is the these people are in fact the majority. One of the questions on a childrens aid membership application is will you side with the childrens aid at all times. If you answer no you will be refused a membership. The brantford CAS is currently talking of a strike to get better pay and to have the taxpayors pay for their legal fee's when they are sued by parents who can prove they committed wrong doing. Go and read the real stories and truth out there and see just how much is hidden and coverd up by these pieces of garbage. As fot the question of need for FACS? hells no there is none. The biggest problem today is kids have no dicipline at home due to the fact CAS tells these kids your parents cant touch you or we will take you and put you with different people and even pay you to stay in there care. You wonder why there are so many young offenders and violent crimes by youth today? here is your reason. If I did half this stuff as a child I was getting a whipping and I sure as hell did not talk back to my parents or else. If I was told to do something you either did it or else there was no saying no or I dont want to or how much you going to pay me. Facs has gone to far and needs to be abolished. At the very least we need oversight on them by an independant person such as the ombudsman and this is the only way complaints will be truely investigated. Currently any complaints are investigated by the childrens aid against there own people. Guess what the findings will always be?
Post #13 By VinnieVegas
I guess we teach and learn our children respect and they won't be the mouthy little brat we see yelling a tthier parent in McDonald's or running away from home because they didn't get a new cell phone. Bottom line it remains up to parents to parent and teach and educate our own children. It's when we fail to do our job that someone else has to. Sure they should have a governing body outside of their own staff....any agency should insist on it.
Post #14 By 321nyturn
Commenting on this article is now closed.
Source: St Catharines Standard
April 30, 2010 permalink
Survivors of the 60's scoop rallied near Queens Park in Toronto on April 29. Here is a video (mp4).
Hey hey, ho ho.
CAS has got to go!
Here is a higher quality video (mp4) showing the demonstrators blocking one of Toronto's busiest intersections, Yonge and Dundas.
And we have a video of Grand Chief Randall Phillips speaking in front of Queens Park (mp4). He is the chair of the Chiefs Committee on Social and Child Welfare.
Let the Judge Decide
April 27, 2010 permalink
Former social worker Walter was advised during his career to take children into care in all marginal cases. "Let the judge decide" was the mantra. The letter was posted to Glenn Sacks' blog by Robert Franklin.
In a system driven by the incentives of bureaucracy, child protection agencies benefit financially by taking as many children as possible into their care. Social workers as a rule do not share in the bounty. Instead, management promotes a set of beliefs in the social workers that suit its goals. Walter's writing is an example of the views promoted in his agency.
Letter to the Editor: 'Defensive social work... has little to do with child protection'
This letter is in response to the blog post entitled "Part II: Erring on the side of hidden harm."
For 13 years I worked for one of the largest child protective agencies in the US. Throughout that time, our director had a favorite saying which became the mantra for the department, "err on the side of protecting children." Obviously this is quite similar to the phrase used in your article and to Paul Chill's concept of "defensive social work." I used to cringe whenever I heard it. I cringed because I knew that it really meant that I should be the one to abuse children. I was well aware of the emotional harm that comes from removing a child from its parents, even abusive parents. This harm needs to be weighed against the harm from the actual abuse by the parents. In cases of error, there is no harm from actual abuse, therefore the state (and social worker) becomes the abuser.
The error is committed for precisely the reason you outline in your article. It protects the department (and social worker) from lawsuits and bad press. It has little to do with child protection. Our director attended a staff meeting where I was able to point this out. "Let the judge decide" was the answer and when I pointed out that the harm would already have been done, it was strongly suggested that I find another line of work. No one wanted to discuss the "hidden harm" the department was causing to children and their families.
I can't tell you how many times I was handed an allegation to investigate and told by my supervisor to "detain" the children. Each and every time I had to remind her (or him as I had more than one supervisor) that I would need to investigate first. In nearly every instance that this occurred, the allegations were either false or not nearly as severe as the allegation stated. Most of the allegations I received were the result of custody disputes and most of those were made by the mother against the father and the vast majority were denied by the children and had no corroborating evidence. Department policy required medical examinations for allegations of physical and sexual abuse. As a result, many children were put through invasive medical examinations based solely on the word of one parent. Of course that parent was never held accountable.
I can only state that I am quite happy to no longer be a part of the system. Thank you for your article. I had never before heard of Paul Chill or of defensive social work, but will certainly have to find out more.
Source: Glenn Sacks blog
One Solution Fits All
April 27, 2010 permalink
The aphorism that to a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail means that to social workers, everything looks like child abuse. The Flagg family of British Columbia is an example. Their firstborn son Trevor has brain damage of the sort that makes him a danger to others when not restrained by bars or drugs. As he aged out of the provincial care system, he had nowhere to go but home and his parents took him back. The ministry could only see child abuse, and put the family's three younger children in foster care. Following the removal, Trevor left home and soon got into the kind of trouble that put him in jail.
Children taken because of mentally ill brother
Kamloops parents say lack of government help for son put other children at risk
A couple in Kamloops had their three youngest children removed by the B.C. government after they gave shelter to their violent, mentally ill adult son, who had been turned away from government care.
"We were backed into a corner," said the children's mother, Leah Flagg. "We had to choose between the well-being of one child or our other children."
Leah and Steve Flagg have four children, aged 11 to 20. Leah said her oldest son, Trevor, has brain damage and has been diagnosed with several types of mental illness. She said he can be paranoid, obsessive and violent.
When he was 13, he beat his mother badly, she said, so the parents placed him in the care of B.C.'s Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD). He had also harmed his younger siblings.
"He does really well when he's on medication and the medication is working. When he's not stabilized, conflict can become a physically aggressive situation in seconds," said Leah.
Nowhere else to go
Trevor was living in a secure youth residence, with 24-hour supervision, when he turned 19. At that point, because he was an adult, the ministry was no longer responsible for him. His parents said they could find no other government agency or community agency to take him in.
This photo has been removed at the request of the family. A violent youth who saw the photo online has attacked Trevor.
"Although they could see he had a need for help, he was turned down, because somebody else needed it more," said Leah.
"'You don't qualify' is the statement we were getting," said Steve.
When Trevor Flagg was kicked out of an apartment he rented last spring, his parents said they felt they had no choice but to allow him to come home, temporarily — despite knowing he was a threat to their other children.
"We knew from past experiences, and the way his mind works, that if he was to be on the street, there's a good chance that he could possibly die — or he could hurt somebody else," said Steve.
Steve is a full-time automotive mechanic, and Leah was holding down a job and studying for her university degree at the time.
"It wasn't a decision we took lightly," said Leah. "I quit my job. Steve and I took shifts sleeping — to keep the other children safe. It was our way of trying to provide for the needs of all of our children."
After weeks went by, and they still couldn't find a home for Trevor, they said the situation deteriorated. Fights were breaking out between their children, they said, and Trevor was becoming unmanageable.
"It was just drawn out — and we were getting worn out," said Steve.
"We were putting out spot fires when we needed a whole fire crew to manage the situation," said Leah.
Getting better: minister
CBC News asked for an interview with the minister responsible for children in care, Mary Polak, but was referred instead to Rich Coleman, minister of Housing and Social Development, who said he thinks the system does a good job in cases like this.
"We're a lot better at it than we were 10 years ago," said Coleman. "We've actually gone to a different form of contract management that is saving us a lot of money that we can actually put back into services for people.
"I think we are actually doing a pretty good job."
The Flaggs said that when they hit a crisis point, they asked the MCFD for respite and counselling. The ministry sent a caregiver to help, but only on weekends, which the parents say wasn't enough.
Government records show that by then, the Flaggs' younger son was sleeping with a knife, to protect himself from his older brother.
The ministry then decided the younger children needed to be removed.
"The children have been found in need of protection," a ministry report concluded in December 2009. "All children indicated not feeling safe. Trevor has not found a home."
Social workers, along with the RCMP, then came to take all three of the younger children and put them in foster homes.
Other children removed
"It was heartbreaking," said Leah. "We went between just crying and being devastated to being angry and wanting to fight back — and feeling like we had no power."
Even after all the severe problems with their oldest son, the Flaggs said it was one of the worst days of their lives.
"We had our parental rights taken away from us," said Leah tearfully. "And that's all we wanted to do was parent our kids. That's all we wanted when we called for help."
"[The older girl] indicated she would not go to a foster home and that she would go stay at a friend's. [The younger boy] fled from the home once he saw the RCMP," reads the government report. "Leah was crying, and [the younger girl] was comforting her mom … hugging her and telling her it's OK."
Under order of the ministry, the two younger children were put into separate foster homes. The older girl went to live with an aunt.
"It's disrupted their school life, it's disrupted their social life," said Leah. "The stigma [of foster care] for our kids alone is infuriating."
Trevor also left home — the night his siblings were removed — and his mother said he hasn't returned since.
"He was devastated," said Leah. "He told the social workers that night, don't take the kids away, this is the best mom you will ever see, don't take the kids away — I'll leave."
Son now facing charges
Trevor went to stay with a friend, his parents said. He went off his medication and was taking street drugs. He's now in custody, facing charges for robbery and assaulting a police officer.
"We're now going to visit our son at jail," said Leah.
Both Flagg girls have since returned home. The parents are fighting to get their son home from foster care, though. The 14-year old boy had a nervous breakdown because of all the upheaval, his mother said, and is now in counseling.
"We now have children who now want the doors and blinds closed all the time, because they are afraid people are going to be looking in on us … to take them away."
Leah said she believes the government is paying $6,000 a month for her son's foster care, which she said infuriates her.
"It just seems to me that that money could have been far better spent to support the family and prevent the trauma," she said. "To prevent the emotional, psychological damage that it's done to us — and our children.
"It's a crisis-driven system," she added. "You have to be at the point we were at, of devastation — the most worst-case scenario — before you can get help."
The Canadian Mental Health Association said lack of services for troubled teens when they become adults is an all-too-common problem.
"It's well known to anyone who works in the system, and it's unfortunately too well known to parents and their families," said Bev Gutray, executive director of the B.C. branch.
"When somebody turns 19 … they move to another system, and sometimes that means no service or very little service."
"They have opportunities to fix it," she added. "What we're waiting for — along with other organizations — is the finalization of a new, 10-year, mental health and addictions plan that the [B.C.] government has been working on for the last year or more."
"This is absolutely not just a B.C. problem," said Gordon Floyd, executive director of Children's Mental Health Ontario.
This is one of the most underserved areas of mental health care in Canada. These kids fall into a great void. The adult services aren't really designed to deal with young adults."
Leah and Steve Flagg said, after people in the community heard what happened to them, they got several calls from other parents, also in crisis.
"There are all these families like us that are dealing with the same thing," said Leah. “We don’t care who is bossing who or who is directing what — we just need help.”
Bereaved Boy Gets Sex Therapy
April 27, 2010 permalink
After a girl committed suicide her distraught mother asked CAS for help in caring for her teenaged son. Windsor-Essex CAS placed him with a foster mother whose therapy consisted of marijuana, ecstasy and sex, until the foster dad caught them at it.
Windsor CAS sued after mom charged with having sex with foster son
Birth mother wants $450,000 in damages for teen son
WINDSOR, Ont. — A local mother who says she turned her teenage son over to the Children's Aid Society to get him needed help is suing after his foster mother was charged with having a sexual relationship with him.
The mother, who can't be named to protect the boy's identity, is suing on her son's behalf. She is suing the Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society and the foster parents in whose care her son was placed.
In allegations yet to be tested in court, she is seeking $450,000 in damages.
The foster father has filed a cross-claim against his wife, saying he had no idea she was having sex with the 14-year-old boy until catching them in the act in February 2009.
In his statement of defence filed in Superior Court, he says he "took immediate steps" to keep his wife and the boy separated by getting his wife to move out of the house.
He called CAS and gave a statement to police.
After her husband went to police, his 46-year-old wife was charged in the criminal courts. She is charged with sexual assault and sexual interference.
"She is cloaked with the presumption of innocence," said her criminal defence lawyer, Laura Joy. Joy said she couldn't comment further while the case is before the courts. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for this summer.
Civil lawyer Sam Mossman represents the boy's mother. He said he hasn't spoken to the boy, but understands he is confused and "damaged" by his relationship with his foster mother.
"He is far too young to appreciate what has happened to him."
"He probably doesn't understand at his tender age the nature of what's occurred."
According to the Criminal Code, the boy is too young to consent to sex, much less consent to sex with a person in a position of authority.
In her statement of claim, the boy's mother said she turned to the CAS for help after her daughter committed suicide in 2008.
"The impact of his sister's death ... was severe to the point that (his mother) was concerned about his emotional state."
The mother says the CAS, knowing she was grieving and in a "fragile" emotional state, convinced her it would be in her son's best interest to be placed with a foster family.
The arrangement was to be temporary, and she still had contact with her son.
But soon after the October 2008 placement, the mother "became concerned about his behaviour and aspects of his care."
She said she went to CAS workers assigned to her son's case, but they "ignored her concerns."
She said she learned later from police that, while in foster care, her son smoked marijuana with his guardians. She also alleges they introduced him to ecstasy.
The foster father, in his statement of defence, says this is not true.
He does not deny that his wife and the boy were using illegal drugs, but says he never participated or had any knowledge they were doing so.
He says the boy was already using illegal drugs before he was placed with the couple, and the boy brought drugs into the home.
Neither the foster mother, nor the CAS, have filed statements of defence with the court. A CAS spokeswoman declined to comment on the case.
According to the foster father's statement of defence and cross-claim against his wife, he says the boy was the second foster child to be placed in their home. His cross-claim lays all blame at his wife's feet. Regardless, the foster father denies the boy has "sustained serious or lasting permanent injuries."
While there are no divorce proceedings, court documents suggest the foster parents are estranged, with them keeping separate addresses.
This is the second local foster parent in a month to appear in court on sex abuse charges.
On March 31, a 51-year-old foster father was sentenced to six months in jail for repeatedly sexually assaulting a girl placed in his care, in incidents beginning when she was 14.
In an interview at the time of the man's sentencing, Bill Bevan, CAS executive director, called such instances "extremely rare," with the CAS investigating "maybe one case every few years."
Bevan deferred questions Monday to CAS spokeswoman Tina Gatt, who called the timing of the two cases "an awful coincidence.
"It's still very rare that it does happen," Gatt said.
Also rare is the instance of a parent willingly turning their children over to the CAS, Gatt said. Such instances are called "temporary care agreements.
"Most of the kids that come into care, it's not voluntary."
The CAS has 185 foster homes and 650 children in care.
Gatt said becoming a foster parent is an "intensive, some would say intrusive process," that can take up to one year.
"We're in no rush to do it. We want to be thorough."
Source: Windsor Star
April 27, 2010 permalink
Three articles, all from a doomsday perspective, report on cutbacks in social services in Waterloo, Sarnia and Toronto. The good side left out in the press reports: More children will now be spending time with mom and dad.
Children’s aid agency leaving front line positions unfilled to cope with deficit
Children’s aid societies across Ontario, including in Waterloo Region, say they are cutting staff to deal with shortfalls in funding from the province.
Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region cut 14 positions last year, said Alison Scott, the agency’s executive director, in an interview Thursday.
The cuts were achieved by attrition, she added.
More than half of the unfilled position dealt directly with cases. “As staff left ... we didn’t replace them,” she said. “If we hadn’t been able to manage it through attrition, they would have been layoffs.”
In Waterloo Region, the child protection agency employs about 160 people, including 116 who investigate calls where children are potentially at risk of being abused, provide counselling and other services to families in their homes, help place children with members of their extended family and arrange adoptions.
The agency deals with about 4,000 investigations a year, Scott said.
“There’s the potential for children to be at risk,” Scott said. “If our staff are working to capacity with very high caseloads, then there’s the potential that families aren’t going to get the services they need in time.”
Additional cost-cutting measures have whittled down the agency’s deficit, in the $45-million annual operating budget, to $617,000.
Before the belt-tightening, the shortfall was expected to be $1.5 million.
But the agency also ran a deficit in previous years, Scott said. So its total debt is nearly $1.1 million.
Scott said the agency doesn’t know how much money it will receive from the province for the current fiscal year, which started April 1.
But based on last year’s funding and demand for service in the community, Scott estimates the shortfall could reach $1.8 million.
It’s going to be difficult to continue to find more ways to cut without also thinking about cutting staff and programs again, she said.
On Tuesday, Durham Children’s Aid Society, west of Toronto, cut 31 full-time management and union jobs to help address a $3.8 million deficit.
The Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies says another 39 agencies are underfunded by $32.5 million.
Scott said she recently met with MPPs John Milloy (Kitchener Centre), Elizabeth Witmer (Kitchener-Waterloo) and Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge) to present the agency’s case for more funding.
So far, the MPPs have been “verbally” supportive, Scott said.
Milloy didn’t respond to The Record’s request for comment Thursday.
But Elizabeth Witmer, a Conservative, agreed it would be difficult for agencies to trim budgets further.
“They’re at a point where there’s not much more low-hanging fruit to cut,” Witmer said in a brief interview on Thursday.
“I think it’s disgraceful that we have a government that makes it mandatory for the children’s aid societies to ... protect our children and then they don’t provide the necessary funding to make it possible,” Witmer said.
The recent recession and booming provincial deficit aren’t valid excuses for the shortfalls, she added, citing the government’s costly plan to implement full-day kindergarten and the $1 billion in provincial money largely wasted in the attempt to establish an electronic health records system.
Scott, and the president and vice-president of the local agency’s board plan to further lobby local MPPs on May 17 during a day designated for children’s aid agencies to meet with legislators at Queen’s Park in Toronto.
Source: The Record
Girls’ Home closure comes under fire
A decision to close a residential girls' home for troubled teens after 37 years of operation is sparking a local backlash.
Sarnia's mayor, academics and a union all denounced last week's announcement that the Community Girls' Home will close its doors permanently next March.
"These are the most vulnerable kids in our community and they're not going to disappear," said Craig McKenzie, a social service worker and vice president with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, representing 18 girls' home employees.
"My concern is, if they can't stay at home and there's no other option for them, they're going to end up out on the street. Our community deserves more, and certainly these kids deserve more."
McKenzie was scheduled to meet with impacted staff tonight to discuss their options.
Mayor Mike Bradley said Sarnians are "stunned" and "deeply upset" about the decision. He wrote Ontario's Minister of Child and Youth Services on Monday asking Laurel Broten to provide proper funding in hopes the decision can be overturned.
"For almost four decades this home has provided countless young girls and women the opportunity to receive proper care, to improve their lives and give them a passport to success, " the mayor said.
Representatives of the social service worker program at Lambton College have also written the minister urging immediate action.
"This is a government that's always talking about investing in young people and education, and that's exactly what the Girls' Home does,'" Bradley said.
The Michigan Avenue home provides therapeutic care for girls aged 13 to 19 with emotional, social, family and behavioural problems.
Rick Shields, executive director of St. Clair Child and Youth, which operates the home, announced last week it was closing because fewer beds are being used, creating a $180,000 deficit this year.
The agency has approved a plan to replace the 14-bed home with a new service division, in which staff will partner with the Children's Aid Society to support foster care families, and develop a two-bed treatment facility.
McKenzie has been flooded with calls from parents, child advocates and service providers asking what's going to happen next, he said.
"I had a teacher call — she was almost in tears, saying `I've got a child in the girls' home right now. What's going to happen to her? She's finally being successful; she's finally stabilized.'" That's when you start realizing just how far reaching the roots from the girls' home go into the community.
"There are still some legitimate concerns," added McKenzie, noting the CAS is also bleeding red ink.
"The concern here from staff is, `What if this doesn't work?'" he asked. "We've got two agencies running a significant deficit trying to shore up the dam here. People are asking me, `If both agencies are struggling, what makes you think bringing them together on this is going to solve the issue?"
Families are waiting longer than ever for children's mental health services, said McKenzie, and the problem isn't going away any time soon.
"As a front line worker I can tell you that the needs of our kids today are a lot more severe than they used to be," he said. "So hopefully we can stir up enough of a hornets nest here to move government. It's not an easy thing to do, but I think these kids deserve it."
Source: Sarnia Observer
Strike at home for teen moms blamed on government cuts
Money from Queen’s Park needed to end walkout, union and management at Massey Centre say.
Four teen mothers with newborns and three who are about to give birth are staying in homeless shelters or with friends in the wake of a strike at Toronto’s Massey Centre.
Child care and parenting programs at the Broadview Ave. centre have also been disrupted for 21 teen mothers and their babies who remain on-site and for parents living in the community who rely on the services.
The centre’s 55 unionized staff walked off the job last Wednesday after provincial Children and Youth Services Minister Laurel Broten refused to respond to a joint staff-management plea to cover $80,000 in pay equity costs incurred in 2003.
The money is just a fraction of the centre’s $500,000 debt that dates back to a 25-per-cent provincial cut in the mid-1990s by the previous Conservative government that has never been restored. The centre relies on government funds for about 80 per cent of its $3.8 million budget.
A spokesperson for Broten said the minister only became aware of the centre’s financial plight last Tuesday and can’t act because the request is part of labour contract negotiations.
“Once the labour dispute is resolved, I look forward to hearing from the Massey Centre about their programs and working with them to continue to deliver these critically important programs in our city,” Broten told the Legislature last Thursday.
Union members who voluntarily agreed to a two-year wage freeze in 2000 are still frozen on the pay grid a decade later and can no longer subsidize the centre with their wages, union official say.
“The funding crisis has gone on so long the centre is unable to meet its labour obligations,” said Sharleen Stewart, president of Service Employees International Union, Local 1. “What we are hearing from the government is excuses. There is no excuse for continuing to deny the centre’s request.”
The union has been “incredibly patient,” said the centre’s chief operating officer, Ekua Asabea Blair. “It’s horrible that both the union and the centre are in this vortex.”
The centre plays a key role in getting vulnerable young mothers on their feet and keeps their babies out of the costly child protection system, she said.
Victoria Hospedales, 18, whose son, Ethan, is almost 6 months old, is one of the 17 young mothers still living in centre’s postnatal residence. She’s anxious to resume high school. But with the daycare operating with minimal staff, she doesn’t know when that will happen.
“I can’t move on with my life without daycare,” she said. “We need our staff back to work.”
Resident Angelica Bonilla, 19, had to send her year-old son, David, to live with her mother because the daycare closed the toddler room last week due to the strike.
“I can’t miss any of my co-op classes if I want to graduate this spring,” she said. “But I’ve never been away from him overnight before and I can’t even focus. I just want this over.”
Source: Toronto Star
April 26, 2010 permalink
When a teenager in CAS care went to the psychiatrist to renew her prescription, he did not examine her, just filled out the forms and signed them.
Another teen reports forced medication and abuse in CAS care (04/22/10)
(April 22, 2010) Another teen has contacted Canada Court Watch to report how she was forced under threat to take a number of powerful medications while in care of the CAS in Ontario.
The teen reported that she was given powerful medications for as long as she could remember and that the same CAS "approved" doctors kept repeating her medications without ever asking her how she felt while under the influence of the medications forced on her by the CAS. While under the influence of these meds, she felt dizzy and her head felt funny for years. Her parents stated that she acted like a Zombie during supervised visits.
The teen reported that the "approved" CAS doctors did not ask her anything about her health when she was taken by CAS workers to get her prescriptions continually refilled. At the visits, the CAS doctors just said "Hi" to the teen and then just filled in the forms to repeat the medications.
Canada Court Watch has received similar reports from teens at difference CAS agencies. It seems that a number of doctors with close ties to CAS agencies are just rubber stamping medications without exercising due diligence to get the kids off of drugs and to make them well. Most likely in the name of profit for the doctors and the CAS.
Many believe that CAS agencies push to have children put on drugs in order to get the extra funding that the Province of Ontario pays for kids labeled as special needs. These drugs are costing the taxpayers of Ontario huge amounts annually yet in many cases these prescription drugs are not required.
Any child who has been in care of the CAS or who is currently in care and who feels that medication is being forced upon them which they feel is unnecessary should contact Canada Court Watch at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide us with the name(s) of the doctors who are prescribing the medications without due diligence being exercised.
Source: Canada Court Watch
Child Abuse Register
April 25, 2010 permalink
A journalist sympathetic to the objectives of child protection finds fault with state child abuse registries. His sympathies prevent him from finding one reason for placing names on the registry: bullying by social workers.
Flaws found in state child-abuse registries
NEW YORK -- Combatting child abuse is a cause with universal support. Yet a push to create a national database of abusers, as authorized by Congress in 2006, is barely progressing as serious flaws come to light in the state-level registries that would be the basis for a national list.
In North Carolina, an appeals court ruled last month that the registry there is unconstitutional because alleged abusers had no chance to defend themselves before being listed.
In New York, a class-action settlement is taking effect on behalf of thousands of people who were improperly denied the chance for a hearing to get removed from the state registry.
And the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case this fall arising from the plight of a California couple whose names remain on that state's registry years after they were cleared of an abuse allegation made by their rebellious teenage daughter.
"Nobody wants to be seen as soft on child abuse - and that's gotten us where we are," said Carolyn Kubitschek, a New York attorney who has waged several court battles over the registries. "In the state of New York, it is still almost impossible to get off the list."
More than 40 states have the abuse registries - which are distinct from the better-known registries of convicted sex offenders that every state makes publicly available on the Internet. The abuse lists aren't accessible to the public, but are used by day-care centers, schools, adoption agencies and other entities to screen people who want to adopt, be foster parents or get a job working with children.
Even critics of the registries say they can serve a vital purpose in barring perpetrators of serious abuse from roles where they would interact routinely with children. It's the process underlying many of the registries that has come into question - and their potential to entangle innocent people as well as wrongdoers.
A person doesn't have to be convicted or even charged with a crime to get listed. Under the general practice in most states, entries are based on a child protection investigator's assertion that the person committed an act of abuse or neglect; hearings or appeals, if granted at all, often come long after the name is entered.
"Anybody can call a child abuse hotline and report abuse - anybody, including your ex-spouse who hates you, your landlord who's trying to evict you," Kubitschek said.
By law, she said, child protection services must investigate each call - and their subsequent reports can lead to a person's placement on an abuse registry before they are notified or allowed to defend themselves.
The problems with due process were highlighted last year in an interim report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which has been directed by Congress to assess the feasibility of a national child abuse registry.
"Strong due process protections could necessitate significant changes to CPS investigation processes in some states that could be costly to implement and may discourage participation in a national registry," the HHS report said.
The report also questioned whether a national registry might be plagued by "false positives" affecting innocent people sharing a name with a perpetrator.
The potential problems will be assessed by a new HHS-commissioned study over the next two years, examining the state registries, gauging the states' interest in participating in a national registry, and trying to determine if one is indeed needed.
"Would a national registry in fact be useful to states?" said Barbara Broman, an HHS official who oversaw preparation of the interim report. "We do not know the answer to that question."
Congress authorized a national child abuse registry in 2006 as part of the Adam Walsh Act, named for a Florida boy abducted and murdered in 1981. His father, John Walsh, hosts the TV series "America's Most Wanted."
Among those urging faster progress toward a national registry is Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who says such a list would help track child abusers who cross state lines to avoid detection and offend again in the new location.
"It doesn't make any sense at all that while we try to watch sex offenders like hawks, we let child batterers, who physically batter children, slip through the cracks," he told a news conference last month.
However, Howard Davidson of the American Bar Association's Center on Children and the Law, said most people on the state registries are accused of neglect, not battering or other physical abuse.
Davidson supports use of the registries to screen potential adoptive or foster parents. But he questions whether they're a suitable tool for employers to vet job applicants because of inconsistencies in the level of proof required to register a name.
A disproportionate number of people on the registries are poor, Davidson said, decreasing their chances of successfully challenging an unfair inclusion on the list.
Even the National Child Abuse Coalition, a major player in Washington in advocating on behalf of abused children, is cautious about the proposed national registry.
Tom Birch, the coalition's legislative counsel, said there are many unanswered questions about the registry's costs and how it would reconcile differences in the states' definitions and handling of child maltreatment.
"Rushing ahead to create a national registry is not the way to go at this point," he said. "It would need to be done right."
While the abuse registries remain out of the spotlight in most states, there have been some notable recent developments. Among them:
California has had a series of cases involving people who were exonerated of abuse allegations yet struggled to get their names off the state's Child Abuse Central Index.
One such case is scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this fall. Lawyers say it will draw attention to the registry debate even though the issue before the justices involves a dispute over Los Angeles County's position in the case - not some of the more fundamental issues raised during their nine-year legal battle.
The couple, Craig and Wendy Humphries of Valencia, were arrested in 2001 after their daughter, then 15, accused them of abuse; their younger children were placed in foster care. State courts ruled the allegation was false but they remain on the list of 800,000 names.
In 2008, a federal appeals court found the registry system unconstitutional because there's no way for the innocent to clear their names. The ruling empathized with the Humphries as "living every parent's nightmare."
Esther Boynton, the Humphries' attorney, is frustrated by what she considers a slow, piecemeal government response to the ruling.
"It shows how the defendant is circling the wagons, how hard they will fight," she said. "This goes on and on and on. My clients are living through that."
Boynton knows the ordeal firsthand - she was placed on the abuse index in 1990 after accidentally splashing her 17-year-old daughter with hot coffee. Only three years later, applying for a volunteer job, did she learn she was on the list; it took two more years of litigation to get removed.
Later, Boynton represented a Bakersfield stockbroker, Scott Whyte, who had been accused of child abuse by an ex-girlfriend in 1986. Whyte avoided contact with their son for years, worried that another allegation might land him in prison, before he was cleared and won a 2007 court ruling upholding his right to challenge the index system.
Despite the vindication, Whyte says being on the registry left lasting scars.
"I will never get over this - it is still oozing out of me," he said in a telephone interview. "I think I've given up my anger, but I have to continually readdress that. Forgiveness was so difficult."
Boynton says the officials responsible for the registries have good intentions, with the aim of protecting children, but often overlook the harm that can befall people wrongly placed on the lists.
"If they do look, they'll see that parents and children have a shared interest," she said. "Accurate information helps everyone. Inaccurate information can pull people apart unfairly."
North Carolina's Court of Appeals ruled in March that the state's registry process was unconstitutional because it gave suspected abusers no chance to defend themselves prior to being listed. The ruling also required a higher standard of proof before a name could be entered.
Sherry Bradsher, director of the state's Division of Social Services, said the legislature would amend the law to conform with the ruling. Temporarily, she said, the roughly 8,000 names on the list will not be made available - but their long-term status is uncertain.
The law was challenged by Kelly Holt, whose name had been on the list since 2007 even though he denied abusing his son and was never charged with a crime.
His attorney, Miriam Thompson, said the unanimous appeals court ruling brought tears to her eyes with its eloquent affirmation of the right to due process.
"I have two daughters - I'm all for protecting them," Thompson said. "But you've got to provide a better system before you accuse someone and put them on that list. That's a punishment, a state action with consequences. Before you do that, you've got to prove it."
In New York State, lawyer Thomas Hoffman is representing thousands of people who may have been improperly denied the chance for a hearing to get removed from the state abuse registry.
Hoffman says somewhere between 17,000 and 25,000 requests for hearings were terminated prematurely by the Office of Children and Family Services between 2003 and 2007 - in many cases with the request letters simply shredded. Under a proposed class action settlement, the state has agreed to restore their right to a hearing and promised not to allow employers access to their names in the meantime.
However, Hoffman says it may take years for these hearings to be scheduled - which could leave many of the affected individuals in limbo while prospective employers get no response of any sort to screening requests.
"At least 50 percent of the people who get a hearing are exonerated," Hoffman said. "There are a lot of people who don't belong there, and it's taking too long to exonerate them."
"There's a good purpose for these lists," Hoffman added. "But you could have a divorce case, fighting over custody, the dad puts the kid in car with no seat belt on and the mom calls it in. Suddenly you're on the same list as the pedophile, and the employer doesn't know difference."
Missouri's Supreme Court, in a 2007 ruling, said the state's method of placing people on the abuse registry was unconstitutional because it allowed a listing based solely on a state investigator's determination. Now, a hearing is required beforehand.
Since the ruling, disputes have flared over how many names should be removed from the registry.
"It's a horrible thing to be on this list," said Timothy Belz, the lawyer who won the 2007 case. "You can't get a job as a teacher, a nurse. You can't volunteer for your church's nursery duty.
"If you're a sex offender, your name doesn't go on the list until you're convicted," Belz added. "But if you're a little late getting a kid to the emergency room after he cut his finger, you could be on the list for ever."
Belz attributed the due-process problems to zealous legislators.
"You can't find a lawyer or judge who isn't shocked," he said. "Yet you go to the legislature and it's like pulling teeth to get it changed. All it takes is one kid to get molested, one horrible story, and the legislators just go nuts. The legislature ought to require itself to cool off."
On the Net:
New York class-action case:http://www.registryclassaction.com/
HHS interim report:http://tinyurl.com/y83sm5s
Source: Washington Post
April 24, 2010 permalink
Mother Shahnaz Malik has fled Britain with her five-year-old daughter Amaani to escape from British child protectors. Unlike many refugees from social services, this family does not live one paycheque away from poverty.
One of the accusations against the mother was that she spent too much time cuddling her daughter. To assist in protecting children, here is an alert: Whenever you see a mother cuddling her child, call the police immediately!
In hiding, the mother accused of abuse for cuddling her child
A mother alleged to have 'emotionally abused' her daughter by telling her she was born by caesarean has fled to Ireland with the child.
Fearing that social workers would take her daughter away, Shahnaz Malik smuggled five-year-old Amaani out of the country.
After allegations that included Mrs Malik cuddling Amaani for too long while dropping her off at nursery, social services placed the little girl on a 'child protection plan' and scheduled a child mental health assessment.
But using tickets booked under assumed names, Mrs Malik and her daughter caught a ferry to Ireland from a Welsh port.
Police arrested her husband for obstructing their investigation, and raided their Birmingham home in the hunt for Amaani.
Detectives even removed toothbrushes from their home to obtain DNA, in case the pair had been murdered.
Mrs Malik, who has a masters degree in social policy and has lived in Britain all her life, plans to stay in Ireland with her daughter until the family can raise enough money to start a new life in Dubai, out of the reach of the UK social services.
They own four properties in Birmingham which they plan to rent out.
At her Irish hotel, Mrs Malik said she fled the UK because she feared losing her daughter.
She added: 'Once social services are on to you it's a complete nightmare and no matter what you do you are deemed a bad parent. If your child is full of beans or just sitting there quietly, it is your fault.
'Amaani was born premature so we've always been protective of her and would do anything to keep her with us.
'Ideally we'd like to get the matter resolved and return home, but we know that isn't going to happen.'
Social services became involved after a dispute between the family and a private nursery.
Nursery staff told social workers that Amaani had used a swear word, bit her nails, told them she was delivered by caesarean and that they had seen Mrs Malik cuddle her for up to ten minutes.
In January, Birmingham city council notified the family that Amaani was subject to a child protection plan for 'emotional abuse'.
Further meetings were arranged, including a mental health assessment for Amaani a month later.
But fearing that her daughter would be taken away, Mrs Malik went into hiding at a friend's house, and social workers contacted police.
After her husband Vijay Bansal, 42, was arrested at their home, Mrs Malik came out of hiding, but before social workers could meet the family they drove to Wales and boarded a ferry as foot passengers to Ireland.
Mr Bansal, an IT consultant, has returned to Birmingham to deal with their properties, but makes regular trips to Ireland.
Mrs Malik said: 'It's been really tough on Amaani as she has left all her family and friends. We hope to leave for Dubai soon.
'We have been there on holiday and really enjoyed it. There's plenty of work out there for my husband and we have friends there too.
'The only problem is having to remortgage our properties so we can have a large deposit to satisfy the Dubai authorities we are able to settle there.'
She added: 'I told Amaani that she was cut from mummy's tummy as I wanted her to be informed, but not in a graphic way.
'As for the hugging - no mother would not comfort their child if they were screaming.'
The family are being supported by Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, who campaigns against abuses in the family courts.
He said: 'This whole case is madness. There is no reason for the state to be involved in this little girl's life in this way.'
A spokesman for West Midlands Police confirmed that Mrs Malik and her daughter were investigated in a suspected missing persons case.
Colin Tucker, Birmingham city council's director for children's social care, said: 'It can be a case of you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.
'People want to portray things as black and white but the reality in social care is that we are dealing with very complex situations.'
Source: Daily Mail
April 23, 2010 permalink
Workers at Service Familiaux Jeanne Sauvé Family Services have voted 90% in favor of strike action.
If the strike materializes, this is an excellent opportunity to fight back. A few people carrying signs opposing the strikers will have a big impact, since the press is sure to be around with cameras. A few good pictures in the press could eliminate any chance for this strike to succeed in appropriating more tax funds to steal children from mom and dad. Offices of this CAS are in Kapuskasing, Hearst, Cochrane, Smooth Rock Falls, Timmins and Moonbeam. A strike may take place in any of these locations.
Northeastern Ontario family service workers support strike
ONTARIO PUBLIC SERVICE
EMPLOYEES UNION (OPSEU)
Service Familiaux Jeanne Sauvé Family Services workers vote 90 percent to support strike action
KAPUSKASING - (April 22) - Children's Aid Society workers at Service Familiaux Jeanne Sauvé Family Services in six northern communities have voted 90 percent in favour of strike action.
CAS staff in Kapuskasing, Hearst, Cochrane, Smooth Rock Falls, Timmins and Moonbeam are prepared to walk off the job if the employer does not take significant concessions off the table, said a spokesperson for Local 639 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union which represents 80 workers.
"At time when the need for child protection services is greater than ever, we find ourselves losing jobs and cutting back on programs during bargaining. The repercussions of those kinds of attacks on workers and service users are serious in our line of work" says Local 639 President Barb Hutchings.
"It's just plain wrong to attack workers who have one of the toughest jobs around when many in the North are already struggling to get by," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "It's about time this government got its priorities straight. "Must we remind Children and Youth Services Minister Laurel Broten that the CAS has an obligation under the law to deliver services to protect at-risk children? How can that be done when workers are laid off and programs are cut?"
The agency is facing a $211,000 deficit.
The situation in northeastern Ontario is similar to places elsewhere in Ontario where 49 of 53 children's aid societies are reporting financing problems.
Members of local municipal councils have expressed deep concerns over program cuts and the impact of service reduction.
In Kapuskasing on April 19, council members adopted a resolution that called on the ministry to restore stable funding to the local CAS.
Both parties are scheduled to meet with a conciliator on April 27.
Key issues in negotiations include lay offs, 25 percent premium pay for benefits and cuts to vacation time, sick days, vacation, and compassionate leave.
Source: SooToday (online only newspaper)
April 22, 2010 permalink
Today's rally in Sudbury was covered on television (wmv). William Mullins-Johnson, falsely convicted of child killing, appears on the video. The tv reporter suggested finding more information on the website bill88.ca. A printed report follows.
Protestors want ombudsman to have power to investigate CAS
A group of about 15 people protested on Lasalle Boulevard, across the road from the Children's Aid Society (CAS) of the Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin April 22.
The protesters want the province to pass a private member's bill, Bill 93, introduced by provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwath, which would give the ombudsman the power to investigate Children's Aid Societies in the province.
Among those who attended the protest was William Mullins Johnson, a Sault Ste. Marie man who was wrongfully convicted of murder in the 1993 death of his four-year-old niece, Valin Johnson.
He blames the Children's Aid Society for ruining his family, because during the investigation they bullied his six-year-old niece “into telling lies.”
Source: Sudbury Northern Life
April 22, 2010 permalink
The recent increase in CAS opposition, including frequent rallies, is producing news coverage. Perth EMC reports on a group founded by Sarah Laurin, called FAILSAFE LANARK (the link goes to its website).
Let Ombudsman investigate CAS, says local group
EMC News - The founder of a local advocacy group is lending her support to a private member's bill that would allow the Ontario Ombudsman's office to investigate complaints against the Children's Aid Society.
Perth area resident Sarah Laurin founded FAILSAFE (Families Apart in Lanark County Supporting Advocacy, Fairness and Empowerment) last fall because, she said, "there is no recourse for complaints."
NDP Member of Provincial Parliament Andrea Horwath has introduced a private member's bill which would give the Ontario Ombudsman the authority "to investigate systemic complaints and problems plaguing children's aid societies across Ontario."
Horwath, the NDP critic for child and youth services, told the provincial legislature in 2006 that "nearly every province in Canada allows for independent oversight - except Ontario." According to Horwath, Canadian Ombudsmen first identified child welfare as their top investigative priority in 1986, and eight provinces now have their child welfare system accountable to an impartial legislative officer.
Horwath's private member's bill, Bill 93, has been a rallying point for groups fighting for more accountability and transparency in the organizations that attend to child welfare.
Currently Ontario's Children's Aid Societies fall under the category of institutions beyond the reach of the province's Ombudsman - along with hospitals, police, school boards, universities, municipalities and long-term care facilities.
Ombudsman Andre Marin said in his 2008-2009 report there were 429 complaints about Children's Aid Societies made to his office that year which his office was "forced to turn away." In the report Marin stated: "All we need is for the government of Ontario to extend this office's limited mandate."
"It's always good for there to be checks and balances in place," said Sheila Stanfield, service director for the Children's Aid Society of the County of Lanark. "We certainly have no issue with that."
Stanfield said the local CAS has an internal complaint review panel. "There are times when issues arise because of our role as Children's Aid Society workers, which is a difficult one," she said. Complaints first go to the internal complaint review panel. The panel consists of three people, one of which has to be a person who is not a CAS worker and has no specific knowledge about or involvement in the case. The panel's role, said Stanfield, is to determine whether the CAS has followed the policies, procedures and regulations "we're bound by under the Child and Family Services Act." The panel cannot review an matters which are currently before the courts. If the complainant is not satisfied with the review panel's decision, he or she has the right to ask the Child and Family Services Review Board, which oversees all Children's Aid Societies in Ontario, for a hearing.
Laurin said the fact the CAS is overseen by and accountable to a private board is a situation that lends itself to secrecy. "Secrecy is insidious," she said. "At the end of the day, CAS workers are people first and people make mistakes."
The local advocate's personal interest in the issue stems from her own battle with the local agency. The CAS, she said, has been "involved with my family on numerous occasions over the years." The series of events which prompted her to found an advocacy group began in 2009 when her daughter was removed from her care. Although the removal was intended to be temporary, Laurin's daughter has still not returned home. According to Laurin, her difficulties began because "there was a lady down the road who took a disliking to me and made an anonymous complaint."
Although she acknowledges that there are cases in which parents should not have custody of their children and that the CAS should certainly be involved, there are many other cases where the issues are not so clear cut. "What's left in most cases is a bigger problem than what they went in there for in the first place," said Laurin. "It's a system that needs to be fixed."
"It just amazes me how they can tear these families apart," said Jewel Purdon, a Perth resident who is also a member of FAILSAFE. "These families have nowhere to go."
Purdon said when agencies intervene in family situations, one parent - usually the husband - is forced to leave the home, which leaves a single mother without the financial resources to cope.
Laurin said she has tried to learn more about the agency by applying for a $10 membership, "but they won't let me become a member." She added that she has received no response to a request she made in early February to review meeting minutes.
Laurin said agencies like the CAS need to understand the dynamics of the community they're dealing with. "What we have now is a one size fits all system, and it's not a one size fits all scenario." She also believes that families in trouble need more guidance about community resources that could help them with their problems.
Laurin said her own case has been resolved, but she wants to ensure that what happened to her doesn't happen to others. "They're out of my hair but that doesn't mean I'm going away," said Laurin. "There are too many people who need my help."
FAILSAFE meets every second Tuesday at the Salvation Army Family Centre at 40 North St. in Perth at 7 p.m. The group also has a new website at www.fairsafelanark.org, and will be posting relevant media articles on a weekly basis. "It will be a safe forum where people can give their views," said Laurin. "It's not always about slamming the CAS, it's about overseeing it."
The group also hopes to raise funds for a benevolent fund that can provide donations to help families. Sarah Laurin can be contacted at email@example.com.
Source: Perth EMC
Motherhood is Terrorism
April 22, 2010 permalink
What happened to British mother Maureen Spalek after she sent a birthday card to her abducted son? She was arrested as a terrorist.
This story is not in the commercial press, so far only on advocacy sites and the exaggeration-prone Prison Planet (Alex Jones). Going to the source in the expand block leads to a YouTube video of the story.
Police Arrest Woman For Sending Her Stolen Son A Birthday Card
Maureen Spalek was arrested on 20th April for sending a birthday card to her own son, who Liverpool SS have abducted, in order to try to cover up medical negligence. They are using the TERRORISM ACT in order to persecute law abiding people. Maureen Spalec is not a terrorist – she is a tiny little woman, a mother who would not hurt a fly!
Please phone Cheshire police main switchboard to ask about Maureen Spalek’s welfare - the number is 0845 458 0000.
Please also call Merseyside police on 0151-709-6010 – Maureen is a resident of Liverpool even though she was arrested and is being held by the neighbouring Cheshire police.
Can you further contact Maureen’s local Liberal Democrat MP, Paula Keaveney, who should be willing to help under present circumstances, on 0151-494-0341 – She is the MP for the area of Garston & Halewood.
Please be firm, calm and polite, and highlight concerns for her safety and that you are aware that she is working to expose paedophiles.
Source: Prison Planet (Alex Jones)
CAS Layoffs, Pro and Con
April 22, 2010 permalink
Durham Region children's aid is laying off 31 staffers. While executive director Wanda Secord bemoans the loss, reader Crystal Renata tells it straight in a letter to the editor.
Durham CAS laying off 31 employees
Cites underfunding as reason
DURHAM -- A funding shortage means the Durham Children's Aid Society is eliminating 31 full-time jobs.
The layoffs affect both management and bargaining unit staff, executive director Wanda Secord said.
Management staff was let go on Monday, while the contract with bargaining unit staff members means they will be let go in 12 weeks, or early July.
The layoffs are in the areas of administrative support and some service positions.
The CAS for weeks has been saying it would have to take action to solve its budgetary shortfall. The agency finished its fiscal year on March 31 with a $3.8-million deficit, Ms. Secord said.
"Even with the reductions in staff and internal cost containments, we're still projecting a $2.7-million deficit this year," she stated.
"With the staffing cuts, we're losing some very committed, knowledgeable staff. It's never a good thing for any organization to lay off staff," Ms. Secord said.
The last layoffs by the Durham CAS occurred in 1995.
When asked if children would be more at risk with the staff cuts, Ms. Secord said, "What we did was try to keep that to a minimum. There's front-line staff. Behind them are support staff."
When planning for the cuts, the aim was to preserve the society's ability to provide services, she said.
"Every role helps us to do that," she said, adding it means more work for remaining staff. "We're already carrying a high caseload."
There are no more staff reductions planned for this year, she noted.
"To cut further, we would just cripple our ability to protect kids and to do the service we're mandated to do. This is our line in the sand."
Agency staff have been in "constant discussions" with Ministry of Children and Youth Services staff, she said, keeping it appraised of the staffing reductions.
"They're aware of our circumstances. They're aware we're making staffing cuts to reduce our deficit," Ms. Secord noted. "We don't anticipate anymore layoffs this year. We presented our plans to the ministry. They accepted it. They know what we're doing. It's because of a lack of funding."
The ministry and "the government at large, they need to fund child welfare appropriately, so we won't be in these situations again next year as well."
Source: Metroland Durham Region
Why is CAS seeking more money?
To the editor:
It sickens me that the Durham Children's Aid Society is asking, yet again, for money. This is an organization that does not focus on keeping families together. It needs to go back to the days when family was more important than money and covering your own butt.
There needs to be a complete audit of not only the financial end of things, but the way it handles cases.
There is a no-ending flow of money given to these people and their lawyers. They need to put a cap on what they give to the lawyers to destroy families. Please do not give them more money, but teach them about what family is and how to use the money they have properly.
Source: Metroland Durham Region
thanks to [ justiceismyreward at hotmail.com ] for the tip.
Defending Child is Terrorism
April 21, 2010 permalink
A Pennsylvania man, unhappy with the caseworker who took his child, expressed his displeasure in words. There is nothing about physical violence in the news report. For this he is accused of being a terrorist.
Meadville man facing trial on charges of threatening CYS worker
MEADVILLE -- A man accused of assaulting police and threatening a caseworker over a child custody issue could face even more charges at trial.
Arnold E. Johnson, 54, of the 500 block of Pine Street, Meadville, will face trial on charges of threatening a Crawford County Children and Youth Services worker. He waived his preliminary hearing on misdemeanor counts of terroristic threats and harassment after his Greensburg lawyer was unable to attend the hearing before Vernon Township District Judge Michael Rossi on Tuesday morning.
Johnson's formal arraignment was set for May 21.
Vernon Township police accused Johnson of making threatening remarks to a CYS official at the Crawford County Human Services offices in Vernon Township on Feb. 2.
Johnson said Tuesday that the only threat he made to the official was to tell him that he would hold the official accountable for anything that happened to a child who was placed in custody.
The child, Johnson's relative, was taken from his home in June. It was during that incident that Meadville police accused Johnson of threatening people who had come for the child, and fighting with officers who tried to place him under arrest.
Johnson accused police of attacking and severely beating him without warning as he tried to pick up the child.
Meadville police charged Johnson with a felony count of aggravated assault and misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest, obstructing administration of law and terroristic threats in the June incident.
Johnson's initial trial in January was stopped because of health issues that Johnson said he was experiencing.
TIM HAHN can be reached at 392-7821 or by e-mail.
Source: Erie Times-News
April 20, 2010 permalink
Chrissie Carr-Lippett announces two Saturday rallies, the first the day before Mother's Day in Walkerton on May 8, the second the day before Father's Day in Owen Sound on June 19. Expand for details.
We will beholding a Rally in Walkerton on Saturday 8 May 2010 from 10am-2pm, in front of the Walkerton CAS office.
This will be our Mother's day Rally.
OWEN SOUND RALLY - Saturday 19 June 2010 - 10am -2pm- Location to be posted later.
This will be our Father's Day Rally.
EVERYONE WELCOME.............. Please feel free to bring posters, signs (be polite) and lets make the public aware of what really happens !!!!
I will get a hold of Dorian Baxter to see if he would be interested in joining us.
The Children's Aid Society of the County of Bruce
5 McGivern St. W., P.O. Box 279
Walkerton, ON N0G 2V0
Source: Facebook private message
Natives at Little Current
April 20, 2010 permalink
Natives protested outside children's aid in Little Current Ontario on April 6. They want control of the welfare of their own children both on and off reserve.
First Nations protestors visit CAS office, demand control over children's welfare
LITTLE CURRENT-For several hours Marjorie Beaudry joined fellow protestors pacing the Highway 6 shoulder outside the Little Current Children's Aid Society (CAS) office, waving to passers-by and urging them to honk their support. In her hands was a neon yellow sign reading, "Mona Red, RIP."
The Chapleau woman, who has ties to Wikwemikong, attended the April 6 protest in memory of Mona Redbreast, a teenaged girl with whom she was close enough to consider a niece, and who, at the age of 13, died while in the care of CAS.
"Her name was Mona Redbreast," Ms. Beaudry explained. "CAS took her and promised to care for her and look after her. She ran away during her time there and died in their care."
Ms. Beaudry holds the child-welfare agency wholly responsible for the death of her niece, and claims there are abuses committed against First Nations children while in the care of the agency that are hidden from parents and the Aboriginal community.
The solution, she and others say, is to allow the First Nations across Ontario to break off from the CAS and create their own child-welfare services that would address the needs of Aboriginal children in a culturally appropriate way.
Organized by Wikwemikong resident Rose Beaudry, last week's protest drew support from representatives of the Union of Ontario Indians (UOI) and the United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin.
"I want Anishinabek people to be heard, to come forward and not be ashamed, and hold their heads up high," Ms. Beaudry said.
John Fox of Wikwemikong said the movement is gaining momentum and will culminate in a rally being held at the Toronto Council Fire on April 26-29. It coincides with a hearing of a lawsuit being filed by roughly 16,000 people who allege they suffered abuse while in the care of CAS as children during the 1960s.
"That policy is continuing today," Mr. Fox said. "We see it as a general policy against First Nations people."
Ultimately, the First Nations would like to see an inclusive system that puts control of child welfare services in the hands of Aboriginal leaders, and that reflects the needs of both on- and off-reserve band members.
"We have the resources to take over the services," Mr. Fox said. "We have everything in our communities. We can take over, we have the resources. We don't need these people here."
Glen Hare, deputy grand chief of the Anishinabek Nation, which represents 42 First Nations in Ontario, agrees that the time has arrived for a shift in the way in which First Nations child-welfare cases are handled. But he remains optimistic that both Native and non-Native leaders are on the same page when it comes to reform.
"I do believe the majority of politicians agree with where we're going, but the question is when," he said. "Let's see if they can help us do what needs to be done. We're ready to take it on."
Ultimately, the transformation needs to begin at the heart of the Anishinabek community. First Nations need their own governance model, with their own constitution and laws, which would result in their own child-welfare system, the grand deputy chief said.
He believes proof of the First Nations' competency lies in other successful programs being run on reserves across the North: if they can run health and education programs, why not child welfare? he argued.
Deputy Chief Hare is bothered by the attitude of some to dismiss the abuses that are alleged to have committed in the 1960s, comparing their effects to those created by the residential school system. Just as those who went through residential school will never forget the experience, children who grow up in the care of CAS will always remember their time in care.
"People say get over it...but they don't know the stories," he said. "It's easier said than done."
Under the purview of the First Nations, the deputy grand chief would like to see more support offered to kids who are put into care, especially during the transitional phase when they move into adulthood. He believes that more backing for wards would alleviate many of the problems that currently continue with them beyond their years in the system.
Ontario's First Nations are not the only critics of the child-protection agency. A series of protests have been held in communities across the North, with the next installment scheduled for April 22 in Sudbury, urging parliament to reintroduce Bill 93, a bill that would give the Ontario Ombudsman authority to investigate complaints against the CAS.
Introduced by NDP leader Andrea Howarth in 2008, the private member's bill died following the proroguing of parliament in February.
Sudbury-Manitoulin CAS executive director Colette Prevost was unavailable for comment by press time; however, she has gone on record as saying the CAS is opposed to the bill, suggesting that there are several checks already in place to ensure accountability within the organization.
"Children's Aids across Ontario do not support another level of oversight because we understand there to be significant accountability in a number of different areas," she told The Sudbury Star last month.
The CAS is overseen by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, and people can address complaints to an executive director of any CAS office across the province. An internal panel review rounds out the supervisory structure.
"We understand the Ombudsman to have oversight on Child and Family Service Review Board, which is a third-party review," Ms. Prevost added. "The auditor general has oversight on any organization as far as the financial (aspects)."
Last week's protest in Little Current was peaceful, with a few dozen people marching with placards along the highway, but if change doesn't materialize quickly, the First Nations community has vowed to step up the campaign by setting up roadblocks along the major arteries throughout the North.
Mr. Fox said the First Nations protestors will not wait long for a government response before progressing with their campaign. While they would rather not resort to roadblocks, it's the only way they believe they can effect change in a system that has long disappointed their citizens.
"I want to highlight that we're not going to let them take our kids anymore, starting from this day forth," Mr. Fox said. "We're keeping the peace for now, but if something doesn't change we'll go to the highways between the Sault, Sudbury, and Toronto."
Several Island residents and Native leaders have already committed to attending the rally in Toronto at the end of the month, including Ms. Beaudry, who promised to keep her niece's memory alive until she believes justice has been served.
"I don't want to let her memory go," she said. "I'm going to keep pushing it."
Source: Manitoulin Expositor
Winnipeg Walk/March for Children in Care
April 19, 2010 permalink
Jules Greyeyes of Winnipeg's Northend Action Group (NAG) announces the second annual Walk/March for Children in Care to take place May 8, 2010. Full details are on the announcement (MS-word). In case you cannot display an MS-word file, the event convenes at 10:45 am at Selkirk & McGregor, and ends at 1:00 pm when reaching Oodena Celebration Circle at the Forks. For more information look at Northend Action Group on the web, or send email to Jules [ nag at mail.org ]. Expand for the map.
Enhanced 419 Scam
April 19, 2010 permalink
Enclosed below is an appeal from a young lady who was abused in her years as a child, and now asks for help in rescuing her from the consequences of that abuse. It is in reality the come-on for a 419 scam, a common ploy initiated with emails to strangers in which the scammer offers to split a large sum of money (six million dollars by this girl), then demands advance fees from the victim. It shows that correcting child abuse can enhance the appeal of any scam. Remember that when hearing those heart-warming appeals from children's aid.
With Due Respect,
I am writing this mail for you to help me. I will really like to have a good relationship with you, and i have a special reason why i decided to contact you. I decided to contact you because of the urgency of my situation here, I am Miss Wendy Mamadu, 22 years old girl from Liberia, the only daughter of Late Wendy Mamadu, the deputy minister of national security under the leadership of president Charles Taylor who is now on trail in Hague after many innocent soul were killed, My father was killed by government of Charles Taylor, he accuse my father of coup attempt. Charles Taylor is accused of funding Sierra Leone's former rebels, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) by selling diamonds on their behalf and buying weapons for them.The RUF were notorious for mutilating civilians, by hacking off their arms or legs with machetes.
I am constrained to contact you because of the abuse I am receiving from my step mother. She planned to take away all my late father's treasury and properties from me since the unexpected death of my beloved Father. Meanwhile i wanted to escape to the USA but she hides away my international passport and other valuable travelling documents. Luckly she did not discover where i kept my fathers File which contains important documents. So I decided to run to the refugee camp where i am presently seeking asylum under the United Nations High Commission for the Refugee here in Ouagadougou, Republic of Burkina Faso.
I wish to contact you personally for a long term business relationship and investment assistance in your Country. My father of blessed memory deposited the sum of (US$6,000,000) Million Dollars in Bank with my name as the next of kin. However, I shall forward you with the necessary documents on confirmation of your acceptance to assist me for the transfer and statement of the fund in your country. As you will help me in an investment, and i will like to complete my studies, as i was in my 2 year in the university, when the crisis started.
[ continuation omitted ]
Miss Wendy Mamadu.
Las Vegas Child Protectors Sued
April 19, 2010 permalink
The National Center for Youth Law, based in Oakland California, has filed a lawsuit against the social services system of Clark County (Las Vegas) Nevada. Another group, Children's Rights Inc, has been suing other states for decades with similar claims, which turn out to be a form of collusion with social services — the settlements always provide for more money for foster care, less power for mom and dad, and a payment from the state the cover the expense to Children's Rights of conducting the litigation. As far as we know, this is the first entry of NCYL into this kind of litigation, so there is no way to tell whether it will have the same counterproductive outcome. The complaint identifies the plaintiffs by pseudonyms, but this time the stories in the complaint come from foster and adoptive parents, not CPS insiders.
Perusing the complaint (pdf) gives an inside look at the routine abuses in Nevada's child protection system, and most other child protection systems as well.
- Henry A., age 11, has been in custody since the age of four. Henry was physically abused by his mother, including being locked in the trunk of her car. DFS placed Henry back with his mother, only to later return him to foster care. Henry suffers from severe mental health problems, but any treatment he received was repeatedly discontinued and disrupted because Defendants moved him to more than forty different placements, and assigned him six or seven different caseworkers (including one who had not completed basic training), He has had to change mental health providers more than ten times, and DFS has often failed to forward information regarding his mental health and treatment history to his new providers. Henry has been administered psychotropic medications, many at the same time. In May 2009, when M.J. met with caseworkers to decide whether to take Henry into her home, M.J. was told only that Henry “might” have ADHD, and that he no longer needed a higher level of care. M.J. only learned that Henry was on medications when she picked him up and was given a bag containing Adderall, Abilify, Trileptal, and other prescription drugs. When he arrived in M.J.’s home, Henry was aggressive and threatening. It was only after M.J. brought Henry to meet with a psychiatrist that she learned of Henry’s history of psychiatric problems and erratic behaviors. Henry’s aggressive behavior continued, and he was eventually admitted to two psychiatric facilities. Henry has not been returned to M.J.’s care. In June 2009, Henry fell gravely ill after being poisoned by the combination of psychotropic medications. Henry was hospitalized in an ICU for two weeks and nearly suffered organ failure. Upon his discharge Henry was again administered psychotropic medications. He again fell gravely ill and spent two more weeks in treatment. During Henry’s time in custody, caseworkers rarely visited him.
- Charles B., age nine, and Charlotte B., age one, are siblings. They have been in custody since March 2009. Defendants refused to place them with their grandmother, despite an obligation to place foster children with relatives when safe and appropriate placements are available, despite a court order requiring that these children be placed with their grandmother, and despite their grandmother being ready, willing, and able to provide them a safe and appropriate placement. Instead, Defendants placed Charles and Charlotte in a foster home in which the foster mother and her teenaged son abused them, including by locking Charlotte in a closet without food and water for long periods of time in a soiled diaper and beating Charles when he tried to help Charlotte. The Las Vegas police ultimately removed the children from that foster home and brought them to a hospital for treatment. At the hospital, Charlotte was found to be suffering from dehydration, bruises on her forehead, cuts on both legs, and diaper rash so severe that her buttocks were ulcerated and bleeding. The foster mother has been charged with child abuse, and her son has pleaded guilty to assault. In the twelve months since they entered custody, Charles and Charlotte have been in at least seventeen placements, including multiple single-night placements at Child Haven, a shelter for abused and neglected children. In 2009, Charles was placed on Adderall and Ritalin. Charles’s psychiatrist prescribed these drugs for ADHD, instead of treating Charles with behavioral approaches, based on nothing more than the request of a foster mother who had only known Charles for a matter of weeks. These medications were not medically necessary and subjected Charles to risk of serious harm. Charlotte, who was less than a year old at the time, was administered asthma medications even though she does not have asthma. Both children were medicated at the request of foster parents, rather than as a result of assessments and examinations by qualified health professionals. During Charles and Charlotte’s time in Defendants’ custody, Defendants’ caseworkers rarely visited them.
- Linda E. is a seventeen-year-old girl who has been in custody for over fifteen years. Linda has been in more than forty different foster care settings, including many inappropriate and dangerous placements in which she suffered abuse and neglect. For example, Defendants placed Linda in the home of an aunt where she had previously suffered abuse. Linda reported this abuse to her caseworker, but her circumstances did not improve. She was also left at a psychiatric facility for six months because Defendants failed to identify an appropriate placement for her. It was not until the 2008–2009 school year—her junior year in high school that she was able to complete an entire grade in the same school. Linda and been administered multiple psychotropic drugs.
- Leo and Victor C. are seventeen-year-old twins who have been in custody since November 2006. Defendants at first repeatedly refused to place the brothers in the care of their grandmother, who was ready, willing, and able to provide a safe and appropriate placement for them. Instead, Defendants shuttled the brothers between their father’s house and the home of their mother and her boyfriend, where they were repeatedly abused. The boys were eventually abandoned at Child Haven. Defendants took no steps to arrange psychiatric treatment in response to repeated suicidal threats made by Victor. Additionally, after Victor’s needs and symptoms escalated to the point where he had to be hospitalized twice, Defendants failed to arrange for Victor to receive follow-up treatment by a psychiatrist
- Delia, Maizy, and Jonathan D. are siblings. Two-year-old Delia has been in custody since March 2008. Maizy, age five, and Jonathan, age four, were in custody from late 2005 until August 2009, after which they were adopted by S.W. Delia, Maizy, and Jonathan have multiple medical problems and developmental delays. Defendants placed the children in Child Haven as infants, where they did not receive even basic care to meet their medical and nutritional needs. Instead of feeding the children age-appropriate food, the staff at Child Haven kept the children on an inadequate formula diet and failed to adjust the feeding techniques after observing the children regurgitate their food on numerous occasions. Both Maizy and Jonathan were left in their cribs for the majority of their days at Child Haven with limited interaction with adults and other children and few opportunities for exercise or physical development. As a result of this neglect, both children were diagnosed with failure to thrive, a diagnosis made when children are consistently underweight due to environmental and social factors. At the time of the children’s placement with her, S.W. was given little information about their history, background, or special needs. Defendants have actively impeded S.W. from obtaining urgently needed medical treatment for Jonathan and Delia, including neglecting to return calls and failing to provide authorization for at least three necessary procedures. Left untreated, these conditions became so severe that doctors determined they could proceed with the procedures on an emergency basis without Defendants’ authorization. As a result of Defendants’ failure to provide medical treatment when it was urgently needed, Jonathan and Delia have ongoing complications. Jonathan’s colon is now misshapen and needs to be surgically corrected as a result of Defendants’ delay in authorizing treatment to remove a calcified stool from his impacted colon. Delia has also had to undergo emergency surgery to remove a tumor located behind her eye. This surgery was delayed because of Defendants’ failure to provide her with necessary and timely medical care, and Delia is now undergoing chemotherapy as a follow-up to the surgery.
- Olivia G., age nine, has been in custody since January 2006. During 2005, Defendants received multiple reports that Olivia and her siblings were being abused, but they did not remove Olivia and her siblings from their parents’ care until almost a year after the initial report. Olivia was placed with a series of relatives, but Defendants made no effort to determine whether those relatives were able to provide appropriate care for her or to monitor the care she received in the relative homes. Olivia suffered abuse in those homes, including multiple incidents where she was beaten with a belt. She has been diagnosed as suffering from severely impaired neuropsychological functioning and a range of cognitive and behavioral impairments. Olivia has been administered powerful multiple psychotropic medications. In April 2009, Defendants placed Olivia with E.F. but failed to provide E.F. with all the information and authorizations required to obtain Olivia’s prescriptions. As a result, Olivia was forced to go through an abrupt, medically contraindicated withdrawal from powerful psychotropic medications.
- Christine F. is a three-year-old girl who has been in custody since May 2008. Christine is a medically fragile child who is severely developmentally delayed and who suffers from permanent disabilities and a seizure disorder. Christine was hospitalized at University Medical Center after falling out of a second-story window at the home of her mother, grandmother, and two uncles. Despite suspicious marks around her ankles, suggesting that someone had held her out the window by her ankles before dropping her, or had swung her by her legs into a wall, DFS did not investigate the incident and did not take custody of Christine until her parents refused to authorize medically necessary treatments to remedy Christine’s injuries. Approximately six weeks after Christine was medically ready for discharge from the hospital, Defendants finally placed her in the custody of E.F. Defendants failed to provide E.F. with Christine’s seizure medications and offered almost no support or training on how to care for Christine’s extensive special needs. Defendants have failed to provide Christine with regular medical care or therapeutic services, such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy. County DFS also allowed Christine’s grandmother, who County DFS knew to have a history of child abuse allegations made against her and who was watching over Christine when she fell from the window, to have unsupervised visits with Christine in her own home.
- Sheldon H. is a five-year-old boy who has been in custody since August 2008. Sheldon has extreme developmental disabilities, including behavioral problems. County DFS assumed custody of Sheldon after he was injured in a car crash, the culmination of his mother and stepfather fleeing from the police in a high-speed chase. After Sheldon was placed in E.F.’s care, Defendants failed to make any home visits for six weeks, despite calls to the caseworker from E.F. County DFS also failed to respond to repeated requests from Sheldon’s foster mother for training and support to meet Sheldon’s needs and failed to provide a timely needs assessment for Sheldon. Sheldon has thus missed many months of school, special education, and related services during a critical window in his development. DFS has also endangered Sheldon by compelling him to have unsupervised visits with his mother and stepfather, whom Sheldon has alleged sexually abused him. This allegation was reported to Sheldon’s caseworker in March 2009 but was not investigated for nearly a year. In February 2010, Sheldon was placed with his grandmother, out of state.
- Mason I. is a twelve-year-old boy who has been in custody since July 2003. Mason lived with M.J. for nearly 1.5 years, beginning in September of 2008. Deaf since birth, Mason entered foster care at the age of six after enduring sexual, physical, and emotional abuse by his parents and grandparents. He suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder and reactive attachment disorder, among other serious mental health diagnoses. During the six years he has been in Defendants’ custody, Mason has been in more than twenty-five placements, including a treatment center in Florida, the National Deaf Academy (NDA), to which Defendants transferred Mason for approximately nineteen months. Mason’s only means of communication with others is via American Sign Language. Despite knowing of his impairments, Defendants have failed to place Mason in homes able to meet his special needs. Defendants have not provided Mason with a qualified American Sign Language Interpreter on a consistent basis, thereby depriving him of the ability to effectively communicate with others and participate in and benefit from evaluations and medical treatment. Defendants have routinely failed to fully disclose Mason’s relevant medical, mental health, family, social or educational backgrounds to Mason’s foster parents, or health and mental health professionals, or to provide him with the medical, mental health, and educational services he needs and to which he is entitled. For example, Defendants failed to provide Mason with proper and medically necessary treatment, including speech therapy, following his receipt of a cochlear implant. Against Mason’s wishes, the NDA staff with whom Defendants placed him rendered Mason’s implant permanently inoperative. Defendants also routinely administered, had administered by caregivers they selected and supervised, or acquiesced in others’ administrating, multiple psychotropic drugs to Mason with little to no information about the individual drugs or their possible interaction. Further, Defendants placed Mason at NDA without ensuring that it was safe and capable of meeting Mason’s needs. Defendants then ignored Mason’s complaints of sexual abuse at NDA, took no steps to investigate or verify his safety or well being, and never once visited the facility or had a face-to-face interview with Mason while he was there.
Source (pdf): National Center for Youth Law complaint
The next expand block is the announcement of the suit from the National Center for Youth Law.
NCYL Seeks Relief for Children in Las Vegas Child Welfare System; Sues for Damages and Reform
April 14, 2010 — The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) filed a lawsuit against state and county child welfare officials yesterday, charging them with violating state and federal law and showing "deliberate indifference to the health and safety of the children [they are] obligated to protect." The suit seeks unspecified damages for 13 children named in the lawsuit, as well as system improvements for several classes of children that comprise more than half of the 3,600 children in foster care.
The lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Las Vegas, cites countless instances of blatant disregard of federal and state law, substandard judgment, neglect, and active indifference on the part of child welfare officials and caseworkers. In many cases, as described in the lawsuit, their conduct has served to perpetuate abuse by routinely denying foster children stability, health care, and, in many cases, even the most minimal level of safety. In fact, many children are taken from their homes only to be subjected to further abuse, including physical, sexual, or psychological abuse, while in the county's custody, the suit says.
For example, defendants placed an infant and her older brother in a foster home where the baby was locked in a closet, and her brother was beaten when he tried to help her. Another plaintiff, now 17, has been in foster care for 15 years, since she was just 1½, and has been shuttled through 40 placements.
Since 2003, more than 10 studies and reports have documented the defendants' failure to protect the health, safety, and well being of child abuse victims and children in foster care. Defendants themselves commissioned many of these reports.
Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Director Michael Willden, Clark County (Las Vegas) Department of Family Services Director Tom Morton, and several other county and state officials are named in the suit.
NCYL filed suit together with Morrison & Foerster LLP, an international, 1,000-lawyer firm with offices in 16 cities, including San Francisco, and Wolfenzon Schulman & Ryan, with offices in Las Vegas, Reno, and San Diego.
NCYL previously sued to reform the child welfare system in Nevada on behalf of different plaintiffs and a different class. The last suit, filed in 2006, was dismissed last year after the District Court declined to certify the class, and all the plaintiffs had either aged out of the system or been adopted.
The Center is renewing its efforts for current and future foster care children who will continue to suffer until state and county child welfare officials stop resisting reform and instead comply with the law by making essential changes to ensure the safety and well-being of children in their custody.
"Our hope is that going forward, the county and state will commit its time and resources to addressing the needs of children in its care," says NCYL attorney Bryn Martyna.
NCYL said that many of the problems cited in its initial lawsuit persist or have worsened. A 2009 review of Nevada's child welfare system by the US Department of Health and Human Services found the state did not meet federal standards for child safety, staff and caregiver training, and children's physical and mental health, among others.
Even more disturbing is the discovery of other abuses, including the administering of multiple psychotropic drugs to foster children. Among the allegations in the lawsuit, for which NCYL is seeking damages for 13 plaintiff children:
- Many caseworkers lack even the most rudimentary training, have no supervision, and carry exceedingly high caseloads, resulting in serious injury to children
- Children are routinely denied mental health, medical, early intervention, and special education services
- Children as young as 7 are prescribed powerful psychotropic drugs, sometimes in combination, without adequate monitoring. Most of the drugs are not approved for use in children. One child named in the suit was twice hospitalized in the ICU for near organ failure due to an overdose of such drugs
- Caseworkers regularly fail to visit children in their placements
- Supervisors and caseworkers often "turn a deaf ear" to reports of abuse and neglect in foster care, allowing children to endure further abuse
- Children sent to out-of-state placements are essentially written off by defendants, who fail to evaluate or monitor such placements, allowing children to suffer further abuse and neglect.
The lawsuit is also seeking relief on behalf of three classes of children for whom defendants have failed to fulfill their legal obligations to:
- Develop case plans that contain the information foster parents need to properly care for the children in their care
- Provide guardians ad litem (representatives for children in court) as required under both Nevada and federal law
- Provide early intervention services for foster children, denying them that care and support at a crucial point in their development
"If Defendants' unconstitutional and unlawful actions and omissions are not halted, many more children will be harmed," said NCYL Senior Attorney Bill Grimm, lead counsel on the case. "And another generation of children will suffer untold misery in the form of abuse, instability, and absence of a loving family. Some will suffer irreparable injury or even death, and others will leave the foster care system ill-prepared to live healthy, independent, and productive lives."
For more information, contact:
- Tracy Schroth (510) 835-8098, x3013
- Bill Grimm (510) 835-8098, x3016
- Bryn Martyna (510) 835-8098, x3036
Source: National Center for Youth Law
Addendum: Here is a settlement. The state has expended $3.475 million on the case, to be divvied up:
Court approves $2.075 million settlement for ex-foster children
The federal court in Nevada has approved a $2.075 million settlement for seven former foster children who claimed they were injured while in Clark County’s child welfare system, the National Center for Youth Law announced Monday.
The advocacy group’s attention has now shifted to whether recommendations for county child welfare reform and related court systems will be implemented.
“The track record for the county is not good,” said Bill Grimm, a senior attorney at the Oakland, Calif.,-based National Center for Youth Law, which filed the lawsuit and lobbies for the protection and care of foster children.
The settlement was approved by the Clark County Commission in mid-November, but it still needed final approval from the court. About $1.6 million will directly benefit the seven former foster children, while $500,000 will cover attorney fees and costs for plaintiffs’ counsel.
Clark County spent $1.4 million on attorney fees, which covered outside counsel, and other costs in defending the case.
The settlement follows a long legal battle over the county’s foster care system waged by the National Center for Youth Law and Morrison & Foerster LLP on behalf of their clients, the announcement said.
The federal civil rights lawsuit was filed in 2010 and claimed the county’s child welfare agency failed to provide adequate care and safety for foster children.
A federal judge threw out the case, but a federal appeals court reinstated the suit in 2012.
The suit cited concerns with numerous aspects of the county’s child welfare system, including the use of psychotropic medications on children, reported physical and sexual abuse in foster homes, and the adequacy of Child Protective Services investigations.
The settlement was approved on March 21 by federal Judge Robert C. Jones. The money for each plaintiff ranges from $100,000 to $350,000, which has been deposited into annuities and trusts, Grimm said.
Four of the former foster children are still minors and may need to go to court for particular disbursements.
Now that the legal battle is over, the advocacy group’s attention has turned to the recently released report from a Nevada Blue Ribbon committee that recommends reforms to the county’s child welfare and court systems, Grimm said. The committee was appointed last fall by Nevada Supreme Court Justice Nancy Saitta to examine system shortcomings.
“A report gets issued … and when it comes to implementing the changes, very little ends up being done,” Grimm said.
Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal
April 18, 2010 permalink
A British vegetarian family had to fight two years without legal aid to prevent social services from seizing their son.
Council tried to seize ‘veggie’ child
A COUPLE have won a legal battle to prevent social workers taking their five-year-old son into care after the authorities claimed that his health had been damaged by a meat-and-dairy-free diet.
Social services even tried to get police to investigate the family and threatened to seize the boy’s two older siblings during the two-year ordeal.
The parents, Ken and Marie, were forced to represent themselves in court after their legal aid was removed — simply because they had insisted on contesting the case.
Last week a family court judge removed an interim supervision order on the child previously obtained by social workers and ruled that he must be taken off the at-risk register.
“It has been a nightmare and we feel our experience should serve as a warning that the system is being used to try to break up innocent families,” said Marie, 40, a trainee aromatherapist from Lewisham in London.
Her words echo those of Lord Justice Wall, new head of the family courts, who said last week the eagerness of some social workers to take children into care was “quite shocking”.
The case is seen as another example of social services preferring to seize children rather than risk the type of bad publicity sparked by the case of Baby Peter, the toddler who died in 2007 after his plight was repeatedly overlooked.
Marie and Ken’s ordeal began in March 2008 when their son, then aged three, collapsed at home.
Only after he was rushed to the Evelina children’s hospital in Waterloo, central London, was it discovered that he appeared to be suffering from rickets, with very low levels of vitamin D, zinc and iron. He also had a bronchial condition.
Hospital doctors alerted Lewisham council because they believed the child’s condition was caused by malnutrition.
Social workers from the council alleged that the family’s diet, which included fish but no meat or dairy products, was the cause of the boy’s rickets and said it could put him in future danger.
However, the rest of the family, including another boy, now 10, and a girl, now 8, were found to be fit and healthy despite sharing the same diet.
“They implied we had selectively starved one of our children,” said Marie, who asked for her son not to be named.
“They twisted things, saying we were vegans even though we eat fish. We don’t eat dairy because asthma runs in the family and that can make it worse, but we are not vegans. I always gave the children extra vitamins, too.
“When the social workers found out that we home- educate our children, we were accused of being ‘unorthodox’, which made us even more suspicious in their eyes.
“We were told by social workers that they had obtained an emergency protection order in case we tried to snatch our son from the hospital, which was quite ridiculous.”
The boy remained at the hospital until November 2008 and his parents were kept under supervision whenever they were with him.
Ken, 35, said: “We found out from his dietician that when they initially gave him vitamin D his levels had gone up, but then over a period of months it dropped right back. It strongly indicates to us that he has a problem absorbing vitamin D — but social services continued to accuse us.”
The parents were said to be “in denial” of their role in causing their son’s collapse, which then became a reason in itself for seeking to remove him.
In late 2008 Lewisham council applied to the family courts to have the boy taken into care, but was granted an interim supervision order instead. This allowed the boy to go home from hospital but meant social workers would visit frequently.
“We were told that once they had obtained the care order, they would apply for the same for our other children,” said Marie.
Despite psychological reports that found the parents to be normal, the council attempted to upgrade to a full supervision order.
Lewisham also unsuccessfully tried to get police to investigate the family. A social worker wrote to a colleague saying they should “actively encourage” police to investigate the case in the hope that the parents would acknowledge the “harm” the child had suffered.
Marie, who gave birth to the couple’s fourth child last October, said: “After our legal representation was removed, we [requested] a judicial review of the reasons for the interim supervision order.
“The day before the court hearing last Tuesday, the council called us to say that if we would agree to them ‘monitoring and supporting’ us for a year, they would drop their application for a [full] order. We agreed to a six-month period of monitoring.
“If it wasn’t for the help of other professionals, such as paediatricians outside the Evelina, we probably would not have our son with us today. The big issue remaining is that no one seems to want to find out what the real reason is for his medical problems.”
John Hemming MP, who advised the family, said: “It is just appalling the way parents are being forced to agree to councils’ demands in order to keep their legal aid.”
Lewisham council said: “The court has made no criticism ... and considered that we acted entirely appropriately to protect the child.”
Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Evelina, said: “Patients are only referred to social services if a multi-disciplinary team of senior clinicians suspect a child is in need ... No individual doctor makes this decision.”
The Legal Services Commission, which governs the awarding of legal aid, said it could be withdrawn if the chances of success were seen to be too low.
Source: London Times
Addendum: British MP John Hemming comments on a system of legal aid only for clients who plead guilty:
Legal aid as a tool of state oppression
Imagine a criminal court in which you are told that unless you plead guilty your lawyers will be taken off you and you will have to cope with all the procedures without any help.
What we have in the family courts (see link) is a situation where legal aid can be (and is from time to time) removed merely because people are uppity enough to want to disagree with the local council.
In this case (see link) the parents had legal aid refused and acted as litigants in person and won their case.
To me this is another really scandalous situation which the government are clearly responsible for.
The government's response is to change the law to ban the identification of the family concerned.
Source: John Hemming blog
Addendum: A reader comments on the irony of some agencies of government promoting a vegetarian diet to improve health and conserve the earth's resources while another uses the same diet as evidence of neglect.
Foster/Adoptive Mom Excused for DWI
April 18, 2010 permalink
The state of New York passed a tough law to punish drunk driving with children in the car. When Jolie Norse, adoptive mother of three children and foster mom of another, was caught driving drunk with her kids, the judge excused her with probation. A possible reason not in the article: As adoptive mother of three, she was a dumping ground for children too difficult for social services to handle. Incarceration of this mother would require finding other homes for them.
Mother with DWI gets probation sentence
DEPEW, N.Y. (WIVB) - The first person sentenced in Western New York under the new Leandra's Law will not serve time behind bars.
The law is designed to be a tough felony punishment for driving drunk with children in the car.
But on Friday, State Supreme Court Justice Penny Wolfgang sentenced Jolie Norse to five years probation.
She had consumed more than twice the legal limit when she was stopped at the Depew exit of the thruway on Christmas night.
Her three adopted children and one foster child were in the car with her.
"I'm just very sorry for everything that happened that night and the way that everything turned out. It was just a bad night, and that's all," Norse exclaimed.
Police said Norse had been drinking heavily that night before she got the call to see her dying father in the hospital.
In addition to probation, she has also lost her license and an opportunity to adopt a fourth child.
Source: WIVB Buffalo
April 17, 2010 permalink
The birth family of T Cowie is searching for their relative lost to adoption.
SEARCHING Birth relative is searching for T. Cowie , born April 19, 1965 at Cobourg Hospital, adopted through The Northumberland Children's Aid Society. Your birth family wish to contact you. Please call 905-269-8174 after 5 p.m.
AD Number: 1634787
Publish Date: April 15, 2010
Postal Code: K9A4Y6
Source: Toronto Star classified
Kids on Display
April 16, 2010 permalink
The children's aid society of Ottawa has launched a heart gallery, with pictures of children awaiting adoption displayed to the press on April 15. CAS has pledged to put the pictures online, and fixcas will feature them when they are available. The most notable thing about the article from CTV is the response from reader Ron Jette.
Ottawa CAS launches project to increase adoption
Ottawa's Children's Aid Society is launching a new project to boost adoption rates for older children.
For the first time in Canada, an art exhibit of children who are up for adoption will be on display with the hope of increasing the adoptions of older children looking for families.
"It is incumbent on us to try every strategy to give (kids) a home," said Barbara MacKinnon of the CAS.
The exhibit was on display for CAS staff to view on Thursday before it was moved to the Hill. Eighteen children are shown in the exhibit, and their photos are also displayed on the CAS website.
Photo galleries have significantly boosted adoption rates for children in the United States. Right now, the CAS has almost 30 children between ages five and 15 who are looking for permanent homes.
What do you think of this new approach? Have your say by posting a comment below . . .
I'm sitting at my desk right now trying to see through the tears as I write this note. Let me say up front that I spent many unpleasant years under the care of the Children’s Aid Society in another province.
Although mine was not a good experience, nobody wants the CAS to succeed more than me. And nobody admires and respects its executive director, Barbara McKinnon, more than me. Although it’s an agency with opportunities to make mistakes at every turn, I believe the CAS plays a critical role in trying to protect children.
But when I saw this story about the “marketing” the kids--let’s be honest--it opened the gates to a flood of memories that left me in a state of shock.
When I was eight, the CAS put me in a children's shelter, one of my many stops along the way. They, too, had a program designed to get more kids adopted. Each Sunday, they would dress us up in little suits and ties and parade us out in front of potential adoptive parents who would then take us for a "test drive" for the afternoon.
Sometimes I was picked and sometimes I wasn't but even when I was picked, I was always returned never to see that couple again. I can't even describe the negative impact it had on me. Clearly, the message to me, an eight-year-old kid, was that I was not worthy.
I know the success of this program will be measured by the number of kids adopted--and some will be and that’s a good thing. But what about those who aren’t? The message to them is that they, too, aren't worthy. And that's a bad thing.
— Ron Jette
Source: CTV Ottawa
Addendum: A month after promising to open the Canada Heart Gallery, the site still does not show children for adoption. Perhaps children's aid has caught on that hawking children no longer generates favorable publicity.
Kirkman Case Referred to Harper
April 16, 2010 permalink
The case of twelve-year-old Noah Kirkman, the Canadian boy held by Oregon child protectors, has reached the point where MPs are asking prime minister Stephen Harper to intervene. Below are an exchange in the Canadian Parliament on April 15, a Globe and Mail article and an internet opinion piece. According to Lisa Kirkman, "the judge on my case is retiring on May first, but he's staying on as the judge just for our case!"
Hon. Dan McTeague (Pickering—Scarborough East, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, for two years, Noah Kirkman has been held in the United States by a county judge who refuses to send this 12-year-old boy back to his family here in Canada. Calgary Child Services has not declared Mr. Kirkman, Mrs. Kirkman or Noah's grandparents, for that matter, unfit to look after him. For two years, Noah has been bounced back and forth between several foster parents and schools, yet this outrageous judicial detention of a Canadian citizen continues. This case flies in the face of the Hague Convention on returning children to their countries of origin. Can the minister explain when he is prepared to act and how long this travesty will continue?
Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, consular officials abroad and in Ottawa have been providing consular assistance to the Kirkman family since October 15, 2008. This particular case is in front of the courts. Consular officials abroad and here in Ottawa have respected and will respect the court orders concerning the minor child. If ordered by the court, consular officials abroad and in Ottawa are ready to assist in the child's return to Canada.
Hon. Dan McTeague (Pickering—Scarborough East, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the problem is that the government has waited two years. Calgary Child Services is no longer in a position to determine what is in the best interest of young Noah. The young boy must immediately be returned to his family. Noah's family needs the government's help to put an end to this charade.
Why have the Conservative government and the hon. member been refusing for two years to help the family and bring young Noah back to Canada?
Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it is very important to note that the child protection agency is responsible for the protection of minor children. Under international law, this is the court in the U.S.A. As the current matter is in front of the courts, we will abide by the court rules. We will continue abiding by the court rules and if ordered by the court, consular officials abroad and in Ottawa are ready to assist in the child's return to Canada.
Harper asked to intervene in bizarre international custody case
Calgary family has been fighting for nearly two years to bring home 12-year-old boy seized in Oregon
For nearly two years, 12-year-old Noah Kirkman has been shuffled through Oregon foster homes as his family in Calgary fights through the U.S. court system to bring the youngster back to Canada.
Now, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been asked to intervene in the bizarre international custody case, and federal Liberals are slamming Ottawa for not doing enough to protect the young Canadian citizen.
“I’m hoping that the Canadian government will step in at this point and just say, ‘Give us this child back. He’s Canadian and we can handle it thank you very much,’ ” said Lisa Kirkman, Noah’s mother.
The Kirkman family has been locked in Kafkaesque bureaucratic limbo since a misunderstanding ruined an idyllic summer vacation in small-town Oregon in 2008.
That’s when Noah was in Oakridge spending time with Ms. Kirkman’s husband, John Kirkman, who has raised the boy since he was a toddler and is the biological father of Noah’s younger sister, Mia. Mr. Kirkman is an American citizen, and he and his wife for a time lived in different cities.
One day, police in the U.S. stopped Noah, who was riding his bike without a helmet. The boy, who has severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder but maintains an A average in school, had trouble answering questions. Officials looked into his background and found a social services file open in Canada (the result of his special needs assistance) and that he was in the U.S. without his mother, his legal guardian (her note permitting care by his stepfather wasn’t enough).
Noah was taken into custody to protect his welfare.
U.S. officials will not talk about the case, citing state and federal privacy rules, but Gene Evans, a spokesman with Oregon’s Department of Human Services, said American and Canadian governments are “continuing to work together to provide appropriate assistance to the Kirkman family.”
The battle for Noah has since been waged on two fronts: through Oregon’s Lane County Circuit Court, and in the U.S. federal court through a Hague Convention application that deals with child abductions in foreign countries. The latter requires by international law that governments hand over children to their place of usual residence to decide what’s in the youngsters’ best interests.
Last week, circuit court Judge Kip Leonard ruled that he might be open to sending the boy back to Canada when the school year ends, but there was no guarantee. There’s no date to hear the Hague application.
Tony Merchant, Ms. Kirkman’s Regina-based lawyer, is hoping for another audience at the circuit court level to sort things out.
“Just having a social service file in Canada doesn’t mean that you have a family problem or the child is in need of intervention and I don’t think they know that,” he said. “It’s pretty easy to see how the mistakes began. I can’t be so sympathetic about the failure of the judicial system to let the mistake come to an end. Some people have difficulty backing down off the hill.”
Calgary Conservative MP Rob Anders has been raising the issue with U.S. officials. He said he is willing to go down to pick Noah up, and this week he asked Mr. Harper to help.
“It’s a complicated case,” he said.
Federal Liberal consular affairs critic Dan McTeague said the government hasn’t done nearly enough to demand Noah’s return and warns this could erupt into a “serious diplomatic row” between Canada and the U.S.
“This is the most outrageous case I’ve ever confronted,” he said.
Ms. Kirkman, 35, has already jumped through hoops required by the U.S. courts – parenting classes, psychological testing and therapy – and even has Noah’s grandparents in Calgary ready to assume custody if she and her husband, who also now lives in Calgary, are deemed to be unfit.
Ms. Kirkman, a self-described “anti-prohibition activist” who writes for marijuana magazines for a living, was sentenced to community service in 2005 for growing medicinal pot for her husband, who has chronic fatigue syndrome. She and her supporters wonder whether that background is partly to blame for Noah’s situation.
She hasn’t seen her son since July, 2009, and the family is only permitted one 15-minute supervised call with Noah every two weeks. Mia, now 7, keeps saying “the government in U.S.A. took my brother.”
“She’s kind of stopped asking when Noah’s coming home because I don’t know what to tell her,” Ms. Kirkman said as her eyes welled with tears.
“Although I’ll never ever, ever stop fighting for Noah,” she added, “… I’m afraid I don’t think they have an intention of ever giving Noah back. I really don’t.”
Source: Globe and Mail
Marijuana Activist Lisa Kirkman Fights to Get Her Son Back
Lisa Kirkman has spent the last two years trying to regain custody of her 12-year-old son, Noah, and have him returned to their home in Calgary, Canada. Her dilemma, according to the Calgary Sun, is “on the verge of becoming an international incident.”
The saga stems from a 2008 trip Noah made to his visit his stepfather in Oregon. Noah, who reportedly suffers from several mental health issues, was stopped by police for riding a bike without a helmet, and through a still unclear chain of events and red tape, ended up being placed in a series of American foster homes.
Here’s the kicker: The reason authorities have been hesitant to give Noah back to his mother is because of her history with marijuana activism and a 2003 conviction for growing medical marijuana without a permit.
“As a result,” the Calgary Sun reports, “the court has forced her to undergo psychiatric evaluations, and parenting tests. Most telling of all, the court says she must swear off drugs before Noah can come home.”
This Friday, a judge in Oregon will decide if Noah can go back to his mother. Canadian MP Rob Anders has said he is ready to travel down to the States and bring Noah home, depending on the ruling.
Oregon, which passed medical marijuana through a ballot measure in 1998, recognizes the rights of patients to use medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. From all reports, Lisa Kirkman is a legal patient in Canada—her conviction is for growing her medicine without a permit. So why would they make her “swear off” a medicine recognized by both her native country and the state in which her son is being held? Furthermore, how can a judge deprive a mother custody of her son for being politically active on any issue? It wasn’t like she was exploiting her son by making him wear protest gear, which the last time I checked isn’t illegal in the U.S. either.
Lisa Kirkman is being interviewed on CNN later this afternoon. Hopefully they can bring her back Friday when she gets to experience a long overdue reunion with her son.
Source: Opposing Views
Addendum: Here is Lisa Kirkman interviewed on CNN, April 16, 2010 (mp4).
Petty Fraud Uncovered
April 16, 2010 permalink
According to the Belleville Intelligencer, investigators in Hastings County Ontario are protecting the taxpayers against fraud in social assistance, housing and child-care services. A team of four investigators found $127,000 in overpayments in one year. The province paid the team $194,000 for wages and mileage. Deputy director of social services Steve Gatward said: "Typical cases of overpayments are due to factors such as unreported income, or claimants living somewhere other than reported."
The investigators are finding trifles because they are not looking at the real fraud. It is not from welfare moms making claims while working part-time. The big one is making claims on appropriated funds for unnecessary services. When, as in most cases, a child could be safely returned to mom and dad, keeping the child is a fraud against the appropriation. Likewise, if a parent tries to take a child from school to begin homeschooling, it decreases the burden on the taxpayers, but the schools and social service system will fight hard to keep the child in school, maintaining the flow of unnecessary funds from the taxpayers.
It is ironic that the article deals with Hastings. Based on the number of complaints, this children's aid is now a hotspot for unnecessary child removal, and consequent fraudulent claims on tax funds. Here are links to past articles on this aggressive CAS: August 30, 2007 , October 1, 2007 , March 13, 2008 , March 17, 2008 , April 30, 2008 , September 17, 2008 , October 11, 2008 , January 10, 2009 , June 23, 2009 , September 4, 2009 , September 11, 2009 , February 28, 2010 .
Investigators keep fraud to a minimum, says official HASTINGS COUNTY
The presence of investigators in Hastings County is helping keep social assistance, housing and child-care services fraud to a minimum, say officials.
Deputy director of social services Steve Gatward told the Hastings-Quinte joint social services committee there were 569 investigations in 2009 and $127,000 in overpayments were identified.
In the last five years, that number totalled about $1 million.
With a $30-million annual budget, that means less than one per cent of people collecting benefits have been identified as defrauding the system.
Marmora and Lake Reeve Terry Clemens, who had requested a report on the numbers, said the results were not bad.
"Any overpayment is bad, but about half a per cent, it's not like an epidemic," Clemens said.
Gatward said there are four investigators, all former police officers, who look into alleged claims of fraud for the county. Investigations are initiated by calls to a toll-free number or internally by staff.
In 2005, there were 841 investigations conducted and the number has dropped each subsequent year.
The $127,000 in overpayment last year was the lowest in the five-year period.
Gatward said he believes the decrease is due to the esence of the fraud control unit and public awareness.
"The fraud unit has been very valuable over the years," Gatward said. "I think that small percentage is attributable to the presence of the unit."
Last year the county paid $194,000 for wages and mileage to investigators, a cost currently funded by the province. Director of social services Eric Fry said next year that will change to a 50/50 cost sharing between the province and the county.
Gatward said typical cases of overpayments are due to factors such as unreported income, or claimants living somewhere other than reported.
Source: Belleville Intelligencer
Rally for Kincardine/Walkerton/Owen Sound
April 16, 2010 permalink
Neil Haskett Those interested in a Rally 4 Accountability in Kincardine, Walkerton, Owen sound please contact me. April 15 5:53pm
To reach Neil, join him on his Facebook page or send email to [ neil.haskett at gmail.com ].
April 15, 2010 permalink
Yesterday children's aid workers wore pink to draw attention to the problem of bullying. Does that mean that CAS will stop surrounding homes with police cars while they take the kids from mom and dad?
Local CAS dons pink to draw attention to bullying
As part of an effort to draw attention to the problem of bullying in the community, staff at the Sudbury and Manitoulin Children's Aid Society (CAS) will be wearing pink on April 14.
"Despite some progress in raising public awareness the fact is bullying remains a problem in our schools, workplaces, homes and over the internet," Jane Kaija, president of Local 668 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), said.
The local represents the about 200 staff members at the Sudbury and Manitoulin CAS.
National Pink Shirt Day was started by a group of teenage boys in Nova Scotia, to support another boy who was the victim of bullying.
Across Canada, several schools, businesses and organizations mark the day and promote its slogan, "Bullying Stops Here," a press release said.
Source: Northern Life
Accused Parents Flee
April 14, 2010 permalink
Parents Christopher Smith and Angele (Angel) Bertrand have been charged in the February 17 death of Bryce Christopher Smith, almost three months old. Angel has two older boys from a previous relationship. Relative Anna Tessier fears in a Facebook posting that the couple will try to take Angel's two older boys back from foster care. Since the boys have family not accused of a crime, why are they in foster care?
Arrest warrant issued for man charged in son's death
Second warrant issued for baby's mother
An arrest warrant for 21-year-old Christopher Smith, who is facing charges in the death of his three-month-old son, has been issued after just two days after he was released on bail.
Smith was arrested on Feb. 13, after paramedics contacted police after taking Smith's son, Bryce, to St. Joseph's Health Centre. Bryce was airlifted to an Ottawa hospital, and died five days later.
A warrant has also been issued for 20-year-old Angele Bertrand, Bryce's mother, said Greater Sudbury Police const. Bert Lapalme.
Smith is facing four charges, one each of manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death, failing to provide the necessities of life, and assault (against Smith's common-law wife).
According to media reports, Smith's first attempt at bail was denied, but the second was allowed, so he could receive alcohol addiction counselling.
Three people posted $2,500 each as surety for Smith, and he was released with the condition that he must follow a curfew that would have him with one of the three sureties between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. The bail conditions also required Smith to not be in contact with Bertrand.
Only four days after being released on bail, information provided to the police indicated he was not following the conditions set out in his bail.
The police went to the address where Smith lived, and found he was not there. Information has led police to believe he left in the company of Bertrand.
Smith is wanted on three counts of breach of recognizance, and Bertrand is wanted on a charge of party to the offence of breach of recognizance.
Anyone with information about Smith and Bertrand's whereabouts are asked to contact the Greater Sudbury Police at 675-9171, or Sudbury Rainbow Crime Stoppers at 222-TIPS(8477), online at www.sudburycrimestoppers.com, or by sending a text message to CRIMES (274637), starting with the word TIPSUD, and then the tip.
Source: Northern Life
Addendum: The parents have been captured.
Police arrest parents of dead baby
The parents of an infant son who died under mysterious circumstance in February are in police custody, Greater Sudbury Police announced Wednesday.
Angele Bertrand, 20, and Christopher Smith, 21, were arrested last night near the Costco store off the Kingsway, a police spokesman said.
Earlier Wednesday, police issued arrest warrants for Bertrand and Smith, a common-law couple who are not supposed to be together under a bail condition imposed on Smith.
Smith was charged with a number of offenses following the death of his three-month-old son Brice Smith two months ago.
He was released on bail last week. But police were told Monday – just days after his release from jail - Smith was not following his conditions. When police went to the home Smith was supposed to be living at, he was not there, investigators allege.
There is evidence he fled with Bertrand, police said.
Smith is wanted for three counts of breach of recognizance. Bertrand is wanted for being a party to the offence of breach of recognizance.
Source: The Sudbury Star
Sudbury father who killed baby son 'stuck in grief and filled with pain'
He is sentenced to seven years
Christopher Smith woke up after a night of hard drinking about 7 a.m. on Feb. 13, 2010, to care for his infant son, a Sudbury court heard on Monday.
Within an hour, the about eight-pound baby Brice was admitted to Sudbury Regional Hospital with no vital signs, assistant Crown attorney Kenrick Abbott said.
Brice was resuscitated, but died four days later at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.
Smith pleaded guilty in a Sudbury court on Monday to criminal negligence causing the death of Brice.
"Everyday he replays in his mind what he … should have done to prevent this," Smith's lawyer, Bob Beckett said. "He takes responsibility for his actions."
Smith takes responsibility for causing two serious head injuries that lead to the baby's death.
"My client has to live with that every day," Beckett said.
Beckett and Abbott were both suggesting a sentence of seven years in jail, minus credit on a two for one basis for the time he has already served in jail. That would mean an additional sentence of four years and four months in a federal penitentiary.
Ontario Court Justice William Fitzgerald agreed with the sentence, stating it was "reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances."
"This is a tragedy. The events are tragic. The results are tragic. What remains is tragic," Fitzgerald said before sentencing Smith.
Smith apologized to the judge.
"I'm sorry about everything and that's all I have to say," he said.
Smith also wrote the judge with a letter. Fitzgerald read a line from the letter, which stated Smith was "stuck in grief and filled with pain."
Abbott read an agreed statement of facts about the baby's death. Brice was born three months premature on Nov. 20, 2009. At the time of his death, he would have been a corrected age of about one month, Abbott said.
On the night of Feb. 12, 2010, Brice was put to bed about 8 p.m. at his family's Armand Crescent residence in Chelmsford. Brice lived in the home with his father, mother Angele Bertrand and two half-brothers.
After the baby was put to sleep, Bertrand and Smith began drinking. Smith passed out about midnight. Bertrand fed Brice before going to bed herself about 1 a.m., Abbott said.
Smith got up at about 7 a.m. with Brice and the two other children. Bertrand remained in bed. Smith brought Brice back into the bedroom a short time later and called 911. By that time, the injuries had occurred and Brice was turning blue, Abbott said.
The post-mortem examination revealed a number of injuries, among them a fractured left wrist, significant retinal haemorrhaging of both eyes and two blows to the head.
"The injuries to the head required significant force. They could not have been caused by another child, do not typically occur during a fall and even individually were unlikely to stem from accidental injury," Abbott said. "A significant degree of force was required to cause each injury individually. They are above and beyond injuries that could have been caused by normal handling of an infant or even rough handling."
Beckett said his client admits to causing the head injuries, but does not agree that he caused the other injuries. He said the post-mortem examination shows some of the injuries could have been caused at another time.
Source: Sudbury Star
Stalin and Mao in Family Court
April 14, 2010 permalink
In the case of a British mother who applied for the return of her children taken by social services Lord Justice Aikens likened the attitude of social workers toward families to Stalin's Russia or Mao's China.
Is justice being done for the parents who lose their children?
The new top family judge has a track record in standing up to social workers, says Cassandra Jardine.
Any journalist who writes about the family courts dreads looking at their emails. Often I find long cries of pain from parents whose children have been removed by social services. A spot judgment has been made on their competence as parents, they say, following some incident or injury to a child. From then on, nothing they do or say will change the social workers' opinions.
The new President of the Family Division, Sir Nicholas Wall, offers such parents a ray of hope. Before taking up his appointment yesterday, he criticised the way in which a "warm and loving mother", who was seeking to keep her two children, had been "quite improperly rebuffed" by Greenwich social services. Having ditched their violent father, she wanted to start again – but was receiving no help.
Also in the Court of Appeal, another mother from Devon was told by Lord Justice Aikens that she too should be allowed more time to prove that she could care for her children. The obdurate refusal of social workers to believe in the possibility of change he described as: "More like Stalin's Russia or Mao's China than the west of England."
There have always been accusations of over-hasty or unnecessary removal of children, but since the torture and death of 17-month-old Peter Connelly (Baby P) came to light in November 2008, there has been more reason to fear injustice. The number of children being taken into care has shot up by 40 per cent, to more than 8,000 last year.
At the same time, the number of infants not in care who died of neglect or abuse actually increased from 46 in 2007-8 to 56 in the first 10 months of 2009. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that, in some cases, the wrong children are being removed from their families, and the wrong children being left in abusive homes.
One judge told me that that he thought the increase in care orders was not a cause for alarm: "These are cases that should have been dealt with years ago." But it sounds as if Lord Justice Wall will not allow the family courts to be viewed as mere rubber-stampers of judgments made by social services departments. Chronically understaffed, social services are liable – some social workers admit – to take action against soft targets while fighting shy of seriously threatening or elusive parents.
Sir Nicholas Wall is a contentious appointment. Within the family-justice system, where he has spent his whole working life, he is admired for his passion and commitment. But he is less popular with politicians. In December, he urged his colleagues to "come off the bench" and speak out about the "parlous state of family law" – prompting Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, to attempt to block the promotion of this potentially turbulent judge.
The family courts are the cinderella section of the legal system. Hearings are often worryingly brief because courts are so overstretched. Family law is neither highly paid nor glamorous but, as Lord Justice Wall knows, it can have a devastating effect on lives. Parents whose children are taken from them feel it as keenly as a bereavement. If young, those children are likely to be adopted and lost to their birth parents for ever. Those too old or troublesome to be found new families will stay in the care system, where their chances of emerging educated or well-balanced are slim.
A perfect system in which every judgment is correct will never exist. But the broken-hearted deserve fair treatment. At present they often do not seem to get it. One mother from Essex, who recently emailed about the loss of her children, described social workers thus: "From day one they decided they were judge, jury and (sic) exocutioner. They have caused so much hurt and upset and totally destroyed our family."
Poor spelling does not necessarily make a poor parent. Nor does writing to a newspaper prove fitness to care for children. But, as Sir Nicholas Wall is well aware, he needs to restore confidence in family justice.
Source: Daily Telegraph
April 14, 2010 permalink
Chicago child protectors have a way of placing foster children without oversight from the courts. They give a child to a foster parent with an undated letter giving informal custody. Chicago Tribune reporters tell of placing children with Carolyn Lowe, whose past made her unqualified to be a foster parent.
This is the second method we have come across to bypass the courts. A California lawsuit claimed that child protectors bullied a mother to execute a voluntary placement of her child with unqualified foster mother Bertha Gonzales when they knew the courts would not accept her. The Katelyn Sampson case in Toronto resembles the Gonzales pattern.
In foster home, DCFS letter gave paper-thin authority
Carolyn Lowe took custody of two infant boys and kept them for years without any court approval. Her only authority: two form letters issued to her by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
The state agency gave the custodial letters to Lowe even though it had previously put her foster parent license on hold and had removed a child from her home.
DCFS officials say they have issued "potentially thousands" of such letters to caregivers declaring that they have custody of children, with the expectation that they will soon get a judge's approval. But because the letters are undated, and because DCFS did not always follow up, some guardians such as Lowe have had years-long custody with no court oversight.
Child welfare advocates say the use of the letters could be illegal and could potentially put children in danger.
Years before Lowe took custody of the two boys in 2006 and 2007, child welfare workers found several problems with her foster home. A child was scalded in a bathtub, but Lowe said she rubbed "burn cream" on his wounds rather than take him to the hospital. A male resident of the home was accused twice of sexually abusing a 3-year-old girl there, and a 15-year-old boy in Lowe's custody used an illegal gun from the home to commit suicide, court records show.
Last month, following questions raised by the Tribune, DCFS removed the two boys, now ages 2 and 4, from Lowe's home. Child welfare officials say they have begun an investigation into whether one of the boys was abused while in Lowe's care.
Lowe's case is a stark example of how the DCFS letters have been used in some cases to keep children out of the foster care system without safeguards such as home background checks and home visits, child advocates said. It also points to problems with DCFS' screening of caregivers who were provided custodial letters.
"It outrages me," said Cook County Public Guardian Robert Harris, whose office will represent the two boys when their cases come into Juvenile Court later this month. "They didn't do one check. Not even one."
The undated form letters, in which DCFS declares that the state has determined the caregiver to be the custodian, have been given out since the late 1990s as part of the DCFS Extended Family Support Program, said DCFS spokesman Kendall Marlowe. The program was established 12 years ago to provide short-term help to needy families whose risks were not deemed serious enough to bring them into the child welfare system.
The intent of the letters was to make it easier for caregivers to enroll children in school, take care of the children's medical needs and apply for state financial aid until legal guardianship was awarded in court, DCFS officials said.
Many of the caretakers who received the letters later asked judges to award them legal guardianship of the children. But others never went to court, and instead continued to use the letters as proof of custody.
Marlowe said the agency stopped issuing the letters March 17, two weeks after the Tribune raised questions with DCFS officials about a number of cases, including Lowe's. Marlowe, however, said the decision to end the practice was unrelated.
"The letter was created to help families receive public services, but it's clear to us that, in both form and substance, the letter doesn't do that job well and can be easily misinterpreted," Marlowe said. "We see multiple problems with that letter. That is why it will need to be revised."
The mothers of the 2- and 4-year-olds gave their boys to Lowe as infants with the approval of DCFS officials, who later confirmed the arrangement with the letters. Although the letters refer to "the custodian of the noted related child," Lowe is not biologically related to either of the children, according to court documents.
Stacey Platt, associate director of the ChildLaw Clinic at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, said the letters suggested that DCFS had the authority to make formal custody decisions.
"That's just wrong. No decision has been made by any legal body at the time the letters are written," said Platt, who has represented families in guardianship cases. "It's lawless for the department to suggest that children are … legally in the care of relatives or other would-be guardians who they have simply approved."
Marlowe said use of the letters was not a "deflection" from the court system.
"This is not intended to make any kind of legal determination or recommendation, nor were they meant to be a judgment on a caregiver's fitness to parent," he said.
After DCFS gave Lowe the letters, caseworkers were prepared to provide her temporary assistance, but the plan fell apart when Lowe declined the help and DCFS severed ties with the family, Marlowe said.
"The family refused to cooperate … and refused to consent to background checks on adults living in the home," Marlowe said.
At that point, Harris said, the child welfare system could have easily run a check on Lowe and discovered her history. Then child welfare officials could have removed the boys and brought their cases into the child welfare system.
Instead, DCFS left the children with Lowe without any home monitoring or support systems. And for years, Lowe used the tattered papers — a form letter written on a letterhead from a DCFS director who left the agency in 2003, before either child was born — to obtain state financial benefits, according to court records.
"They gave her the letter, she gets the kids, knowing that if she came to juvenile court she couldn't be a foster parent," Circuit Court Judge Patrick Murphy said in court. Murphy alerted DCFS to the case earlier this year.
After the boys were removed last month, Lowe, 50, told the Tribune she felt DCFS had unfairly pegged her as an unfit foster parent, and that the children, whom she calls her babies, were wrongly taken from her. The 2-year-old was placed with Lowe's mother and the 4-year-old is with his biological grandmother.
"I've been hoodwinked. That's what you get when you help people, when you are taking care of children other people don't want," Lowe said. "They (DCFS workers) are crooked."
On a recent afternoon, Lowe's Englewood home was swarming with people, many of them relatives, she said, who had attended a party there the night before.
Though DCFS removed the boys from her custody, Lowe said they both visit regularly. That afternoon, Lowe said, the 2-year-old was there, as was his 30-year-old birth mother.
"I'm addicted to heroin and crack cocaine," the birth mother announced in front of her 11-year-old daughter, whom Lowe has adopted.
As the birth mother drifted in and out of the bedroom to speak, the 2-year-old rolled a plastic truck on the carpet nearby.
"This child was born a drug baby," she said. "(Lowe) went through hell for this boy."
She said she comes to Lowe's house to visit her son and daughter "anytime I take a crack break."
She said raising her own children is not an option and that both are better off with Lowe, a longtime family friend.
"Once I pushed that baby out, I left," the birth mother said. "(Lowe) stopped her life to take care of my kids. If it weren't for her, where would my kids be?"
State records reviewed by the Tribune detail many problems over the years with Lowe's foster home.
Twice, allegations were made to the DCFS hotline — in 2002 and 2003 — that a male resident, who previously was convicted of public indecency, had sexually abused a female toddler in the home. State officials did not find enough evidence to prove the charges, but in 2002 they placed Lowe's foster home license on involuntary hold, meaning she could not take in additional foster children. A year later, her license expired.
DCFS officials temporarily removed the female toddler, but returned her after putting a "safety plan" in place requiring Lowe to monitor children when the male resident was in the home.
In 2004, Lowe said, a young man placed a child who was visiting in a bathtub of hot water. State documents show the child suffered leg burns, but Lowe says she never took him to the hospital. When the child's mother took him to a clinic the following day, DCFS cited Lowe for medical neglect.
After that incident, DCFS removed a 4-year-old male foster child from Lowe's home. Then, the teenager whom Lowe had custody of used an illegal gun from the home to kill himself, records show.
State documents detail other issues, including allegations that she improperly supervised her children, failed to notify officials about troubling incidents, did not have a working telephone and had not cooperated with officials to improve her home.
A DCFS report noted that Lowe's home was "very busy with people coming and going." A Tribune review of court cases found that young men who listed their address as Lowe's current home were charged with crimes including drug possession, unlawful use of a weapon and domestic battery.
Lowe said she has cared for more than a dozen children since becoming a foster parent in 1987. But in recent years, she said, she has lived alone with her adopted daughter and the two boys.
This year, Lowe went to probate court with her letters to officially file for guardianship of the boys because, she said, she wanted to adopt them.
Murphy, the Circuit Court judge, denied the guardianship request after learning of her home's troubled history and ordered DCFS to review the case. The agency then removed the boys from the home, though a caseworker had declared it safe two weeks before, according to state records.
Patricia Martin, the presiding judge of the Child Protection Division of Cook County Juvenile Court said Murphy had told her office about the custodial letters but she had not actually seen one until the Tribune presented her with a copy.
Lawrence Grazian, director of policy initiatives for the child protection division, said that according to his understanding of the law, DCFS has authority to place a child for only 60 days with an additional 60-day extension. Before DCFS disclosed it had stopped issuing such letters, Grazian said Judge Martin had asked state officials to "take appropriate action" regarding the letters.
"That's obviously a problem," Grazian said. "We don't want to see this again."
Source: Chicago Tribune
Gays and Lesbians Needed!
April 13, 2010 permalink
Children's aid in Windsor is seeking gays and lesbians to become foster and adoptive parents.
Gay foster parents sought
Children's Aid starts drive
A new campaign will encourage adoptive and foster parenting in Windsor's gay and lesbian community.
Organized in partnership between Windsor Pride and the local Children's Aid Society, the project seeks to promote awareness that families come in diverse forms.
The initiative's first public session takes place Wednesday night at Windsor Pride's downtown centre, where CAS representatives will be on hand to answer questions from gay and lesbian singles and couples interested in adopting a child or becoming foster parents.
"Parenting is a great gift," said Neil Mens, executive director of Windsor Pride. "Everybody in Canada who is prepared to take on that responsibility, and can afford to do so, should be able to do that."
Bev Thomson, CAS adoption recruiter, said there is always a need for adoptive and foster parents in general, regardless of sexual orientation.
But gay or lesbian adoptive parents remain relatively rare in Windsor and Essex County. Thomson said that over the past four years, there have only been about five applications for adoption by same-sex households in this area.
"I think a lot of people in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) community aren't aware of the fact that we would accept them as adoptive and foster parents," Thomson said.
Darcy Thachuk, CAS foster parenting recruiter, said: "From our end, there is no issue. We are actively recruiting unique families from different cultures.... It's about parenting, and providing children with a safe home environment, giving children a second chance."
Asked what special challenges are faced by lesbians or gays who choose to adopt or become foster parents, Mens said there remains a potential for lack of understanding in schools and neighbourhoods.
One misconception identified by Mens is the belief that a child who grows up with homosexual parents will be homosexual.
Mens pointed out that the vast majority of homosexual individuals today grew up in heterosexual households. "We're not trained," Mens said with a chuckle.
Mens had less to smile about when asked about so-called "traditional family" advocacy groups that argue against same-sex households. "They have a bias that they want to communicate. They have a right to communicate as they like, as long as people recognize the bias that comes with those words."
Mens said modern families take many different shapes: There are single parents, divorced parents, and parents who have remarried.
But Mens added that the focus of the initiative is to emphasize the commonalities in parenting rather than the differences.
"Good people come from many different backgrounds," Mens said.
Mens noted that the information session will be attended by local gays and lesbians who are currently adoptive or foster parents, and they will share their experiences with attendees.
The information session takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Windsor Pride community education and resource centre, 422 Pelissier St.
For more information, visit www.windsorpride.com or call 519-973-4656.
Source: Windsor Star
The Star posted this article twice, first with the headline:
Initiative to encourage gays, lesbians to adopt
Parent Exclusion Report
April 12, 2010 permalink
Minister of Children and Youth Services Laurel Broten has released the Report on the 2010 Review of the Child and Family Services Act (pdf, local copy). We got bored reading the bureaucratic gobbledygook, so we resorted to a word count. Aside from grammatical particles, the most frequent words are:
At the other end, there are no occurrences of the words father, mother or love.
How Bad is Foster Care?
April 12, 2010 permalink
Anyone with common sense knows that parental care is superior to child care by strangers, but ascertaining the magnitude of the difference requires scientific study. A group headed by Mark E Courtney looked at children who had entered foster care as teenagers and followed up at age 23/24.
The foster kids in the survey were not the most severely damaged. They mostly entered foster care as teenagers, so had more real family experience than those entering as pre-schoolers. Other exclusions in the words of the report: "Youth with developmental disabilities or severe mental illness that made it impossible for them to participate in the initial interviews and youth who were incarcerated or in a psychiatric hospital were excluded from participation. Youth were also ineligible to participate if they were on run or otherwise missing from their out-of-home care placement over the course of the field period for the initial interviews or if they were in a placement out of state." Results were compared to the earlier National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health done on the general population.
All of the comparisons between foster kids and the general population showed worse outcomes for foster care. Male involvement in the criminal justice system, six times the general population, is charted below.
There was one positive result: "We asked the Midwest Study participants to look back on their experiences while in foster care. Almost two-thirds agreed that they were lucky to have been placed, and well over half reported feeling satisfied with their experience. Almost three-quarters agreed that they were helped by their foster caregivers and almost two-thirds agreed that they were helped by their social worker."
Study Finds More Woes Following Foster Care
Only half the youths who had turned 18 and “aged out” of foster care were employed by their mid-20s. Six in 10 men had been convicted of a crime, and three in four women, many of them with children of their own, were receiving some form of public assistance. Only six in 100 had completed even a community college degree.
The dismal outlook for youths who are thrust into a shaky adulthood from the foster care system — now numbering some 30,000 annually — has been documented with new precision by a long-term study released Wednesday, the largest to follow such children over many years.
Researchers studied the outcomes for 602 youths in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin, and compared them with their peers who had not been in foster care. Most youths had entered the foster care system in their early teens and then were required to leave it at 18 or, in the case of Illinois, 21.
“We took them away from their parents on the assumption that we as a society would do a better job of raising them,” said Mark Courtney, a social work researcher at the University of Washington who led the study with colleagues from the Partners for Our Children program at Washington and the Chapin Hall center at the University of Chicago. “We’ve invested a lot money and time in their care, and by many measures they’re still doing very poorly.”
Over the last decade, the federal government and many states have started to assist former foster care youths with education grants, temporary housing subsidies and, in some places, extra years of state custody and support. The new data showed that just over half of them are doing reasonably well and benefit from such aid. But they throw a spotlight, researchers said, on two groups that need more sweeping and lasting help.
About one-fourth of the people in the study, mainly women, are receiving public aid and struggling to raise their own children, usually without a high school degree. Researchers found that one in five in a second group, mainly men, are badly floundering, with multiple criminal convictions, low education and incomes and, often, mental health or substance abuse problems.
Once they leave foster care, these most troubled youths often have no reliable adults to advise them or provide emotional support, said Gary Stangler, director of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, a private foundation. “When these kids make a mistake, it’s life altering, they have nothing to fall back on,” Mr. Stangler said.
Finding a mentor who provides “that backbone you need” has made all the difference, said Cameron Anderson, 21, of Tampa, Fla., who entered foster care at 15 after he got into trouble with the law, then lived in group homes.
Mr. Anderson, who is now in community college and works at a printer cartridge company, receives education and other financial aid that has helped him keep an apartment. But he has made some missteps since moving out on his own, he said, like not paying bills in full so he could buy shoes and hanging out with old friends who were bad influences.
Last fall, he was introduced to a mentor, an investor in Tampa, by a Casey program, Connected by 25. The two now speak daily, Mr. Anderson said, discussing “school and life in general, even to the point where he’ll say, ‘Hey, are you using protection?’ ”
Had he had such a relationship earlier, Mr. Anderson said, “it would have saved me from a ton of bridges I’ve had to cross.”
While younger children are often adopted when their parents’ rights are terminated, fewer prospective parents want to adopt teenagers. Recent research, including the new study, shows that most foster children, even though they have been removed from their homes, maintain ties with a parent or other relative. Some agencies are trying to support such ties or to locate relatives who might adopt the children or provide long-term support.
Illinois, New York, Vermont and the District of Columbia now allow youths to remain in foster care to age 21, and some states help with transitional housing.
Congress in 2008 passed a law providing matching money to states that extend foster care to age 21, something that the authors of the study call for. But in the face of large budget deficits, few states have signed on so far.
Source: New York Times
Anger to Anguish
April 10, 2010 permalink
Promotional material from child protectors shows all smiling faces, but the expressions of real families are the opposite. In today's report parents in Yellowknife told MLAs and child welfare experts about their lives after intervention. A single phone call ripped one mother's life to pieces. "They came into my house and I was treated like I was a murderer".
Review of Child and Family Services Act evokes tears, anger
SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - The child welfare system in the NWT is tearing apart families and inflicting trauma on children the same way residential schools did, according to aboriginal parents who spoke at a public consultation on the Child and Family Services Act on Tuesday evening.
Emotions varied from anger to anguish at Northern United Place as people shared their grievances with a panel of MLAs and child welfare experts.
One mother, whose two daughters are currently in foster care, said Health and Social Services isn't listening to concerns she has about her daughters being raised in a non-aboriginal home and being taught different religious beliefs.
She pleaded with the panel "not (to) make it so difficult that I'd go out and use (drugs or alcohol)."
Under the Child and Family Services Act, there is a publication ban that prevents the naming of foster parents, parents, or children involved in custody hearings.
"It really hurts ... Why didn't someone come to me and say they could help me?" another woman asked softly, as she related the story of losing her child 20 years ago, being homeless and not knowing how to become a better parent.
Another woman sobbed as she told of losing her three children after being abused by her partner and said she's been fighting for eight years to get her daughter back. The Inuk woman said her daughter is living with a non-aboriginal family in Alberta, far removed from her culture, all because she said she wasn't given the benefit of the doubt when she tried to leave an abusive relationship.
More than 25 people, including aboriginal mothers who lost their children, foster parents, social workers, lawyers and community justice workers voiced their frustrations and highlighted aspects of the act they want revised.
Criticism didn't just come from aboriginal parents.
One non-aboriginal foster mother said an unproven accusation of mistreatment destroyed her family.
"One phone call ripped my life to pieces," she said. "They came into my house and I was treated like I was a murderer. They had no respect for me whatsoever in the world. They didn't even give me time to change the babies."
She said her six-year-old adoptive son, who has since been returned to her after going through court proceedings, was now so traumatized from being separated from her and his father that he is scared to go to school.
Another former foster parent pleaded with the panel to take another look at how long children stay in the system.
"I don't feel any child needs to be a foster child for their entire life. They deserve someone to call Mom or Dad regardless of the parents' background," the woman said. "At what point do you say and decide they need love and stability?"
She said she believed children should be with their biological families first, but worried about cases where children were passed between foster homes. She argued that adoptive families would be more likely to stick it out with children who ran into trouble than foster parents would.
People working in the community justice system said children need child advocates who aren't the social workers. Others said the technical language used in the act intimidates parents, and their legal rights are violated because they don't know them.
Arlene Hache, executive director of the Centre for Northern Families, called the system "classist and racist," referring to how frequently judges remove children from their homes while they're investigated.
"I believe really strongly in a family-resource model where you work with families and put resources into families, you don't take children out of families," she said.
"We need to stop blaming parents for being poor," said Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, who participated in the panel as a consultant.
She said across Canada there are three times as many aboriginal children in child welfare custody as non-aboriginal children.
Neglect, not physical or sexual abuse, is driving the number of children in the system, Blackstock said, adding many parents don't have the tools to properly take care of their children.
The Standing Committee of Social Programs is holding eight more public meetings across the territory this month.
The Child and Family Services Act became law in 1998. MLAs passed a motion to review it last June after critics said it gave too much power to social workers to take children away from their parents.
The purpose of the legislation is to protect children from physical, mental and emotional abuse and sexual molestation. It also aims to provide protection to children in homes where they are neglected or malnourished.
Source: Northern News Service
April 10, 2010 permalink
After Artyom Savelyev was separated from his Siberian alcoholic mother and became a paper orphan he was adopted by Tennessee nurse Torry Ann Hansen and rechristened Justin Hansen. Six months later Torry abandoned the boy by placing him alone on a plane to Moscow. Russians, and Americans as well, are understandably outraged. A Tennessee newspaper report appears below, there is also video from the CBC (flv) showing the boy's arrival in Russia.
TN mom's return of adopted son to Russia ignites furor
TN woman put 7-year-old on a plane back to Russia
SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. — Authorities in Tennessee and Russia have opened investigations after a Shelbyville woman sent her adopted son on a one-way flight back to Moscow with a note saying he was violent and had severe psychological problems.
The incident has provoked an international uproar, with Russian officials threatening to cut off all adoptions to the United States.
Law enforcement in Bedford County, the state Department of Children's Services and child welfare officials in Russia have opened inquiries into a decision by Torry Hansen, a 32-year-old nurse, to return 7-year-old Artyom Savelyev to his birth country.
The boy's adopted grandmother, Nancy Hansen, said family members feared for their safety.
"He drew a picture of our house burning down, and he'll tell anybody that he's going to burn our house down with us in it," she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "It got to be where you feared for your safety. It was terrible."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the actions "the last straw" in a string of U.S. adoptions gone wrong, including three in which Russian children died.
No charges have been filed in this most recent case, but the family retained an attorney Friday as inquiries from Tennessee and abroad mounted.
"Initially there appears to be a lot of pressure from external matters involving the adoption," said Trisha Henegar, a Shelbyville attorney who practices family law and criminal defense. "We're hopeful that after our investigation, the family will have a reasonable explanation of what has occurred."
The case has ignited a firestorm in Russia, where officials have become increasingly wary of international adoptions.
Americans adopted 1,586 children from Russia in 2009, the lowest number adopted from the country in a decade, according to the U.S. State Department. Forty-one of those children were adopted into Tennessee homes.
A spokesman for Tennessee Department of Children's Services said the agency has no oversight or involvement in international adoptions, but the family's actions are being investigated for signs of child abuse or neglect. It was unclear Friday whether there were other children in the home.
Bedford County Sheriff Randall Boyce also said Torry Hansen was under investigation, but plans to interview family members Friday afternoon were put off to next week after Henegar asked to speak with them first.
Henegar said Friday afternoon she planned to interview the family this weekend. She said she could not confirm or deny any details of the case until then.
The Russian education ministry immediately suspended the license of the group involved in the adoption — the World Association for Children and Parents, a Renton, Wash.-based agency — for the duration of the investigation.
Julie Snyder, spokeswoman for World Association for Children and Parents, said the organization is limited in what it can say because of confidentiality rules. She said the group is working with authorities in the U.S. and Russia.
"It's as shocking to us as to anybody else to hear about it," she said.
No one answered the door Friday at the homes of Torry Hansen and relatives on the outskirts of Shelbyville along Highway 41A. Neighbors said they had seen a police car on the property Thursday, adding they have had little interaction with the family since the Hansens moved in, in the past three years.
According to Russian media, Torry Hansen adopted Artyom Savelyev in September from the town of Partizansk in Russia's Far East. Savelyev was given the name Justin Hansen.
The boy returned to Russia on Thursday, arriving unaccompanied in Moscow on a United Airlines flight from Washington, D.C. The Kremlin children's rights office said the boy was carrying a letter from Hansen saying she was returning him due to severe psychological problems.
"This child is mentally unstable. He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues," the letter said. "I was lied to and misled by the Russian Orphanage workers and director regarding his mental stability and other issues. ...
"After giving my best to this child, I am sorry to say that for the safety of my family, friends, and myself, I no longer wish to parent this child."
Nancy Hansen vehemently rejected assertions of child abandonment. She told The Associated Press that she had flown with the boy to Washington, where she put the child on the plane with the note.
Hansen said the boy was watched over by a United Airlines flight attendant, and the family paid a man $200 to pick him up at the Moscow airport. He was then taken to the Russian Education and Science Ministry.
Hansen said she and her daughter went to Russia together to adopt the boy, and she believes information about his behavioral problems was withheld from her daughter.
A social worker had checked on the boy in January and reported to Russian authorities that there were no problems. But after that, the grandmother said incidents of hitting, kicking and spitting began to escalate, along with threats.
"The Russian orphanage officials completely lied to her because they wanted to get rid of him," she said.
United Airlines disavowed responsibility and said it requires a parent or guardian dropping off a child to show an ID and to list who is picking the child up at the destination.
United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said all unaccompanied minors on the flight that arrived Thursday in Moscow were picked up by the person listed on the form. Russian authorities said a Russian man delivered Savelyev with his papers to the Russian Education and Science Ministry.
Russian state television showed the child in a yellow jacket holding the hands of two chaperones as he left a police precinct. Social workers sent him to a Moscow hospital for a health checkup.
Child mental health experts in Middle Tennessee said it is common for children who switch homes through adoption — whether within the United States or from abroad — to have difficulty adjusting.
Children coming from another country are more prone to tantrums if they struggle to communicate verbally as they learn a new language, said Dr. Lynna Hollis, a child psychiatrist and regional medical authority with Centerstone.
"A person entering another culture has to learn all new rules, a new language. The food is different. The climate is different. Expectations in the home can be very different," Hollis said.
Compared to other countries, Russia offers little background information about children in its orphanages, said Connie Reguli, a Brentwood family law attorney who helps parents interested in international adoptions. Reguli adopted three 5-year-old Russian children in 1996.
Parents often don't know before the adoption whether a child has a past that includes abuse or fetal alcohol syndrome, she said. Some parents fail to make adequate preparation for their new children, including finding a counselor that the child can see in the U.S.
"People become enamored with the process and they don't think about that," she said.
Families in circumstances such as those the Hansens say they faced can essentially put the child up for adoption again in the U.S.
It was unclear Friday whether the child was still considered an American citizen. The Associated Press reported that Artyom Savelyev was traveling on a Russian passport.
But Reguli said children cannot leave Russia with their adoptive parents until the process is complete. The adopted child enters the U.S. as a citizen and is not required to go through an immigration process.
"Technically, that is their child," Reguli said. "They have the same responsibilities as any parent."
Treaty called for
Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, has requested that no new adoptions be allowed until the U.S. and Russia hammer out a formal agreement on conditions for them. He said the U.S. had refused to negotiate such a deal in the past.
Russia's children rights commissioner, Pavel Astakhov, also gave a televised interview in which he called for a treaty.
"How can we prosecute a person who abused the rights of a Russian child abroad?" he said. "If there was an adoption treaty in place, we would have legal means to protect Russian children abroad."
U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said both countries bear responsibility for the child's safety. Asked if he thought a suspension by Russia was warranted, Crowley said: "If Russia does suspend cooperation on the adoption, that is its right. These are Russian citizens."
On at least two other occasions since 1996, Reguli said, Russia has frozen international adoptions — leaving potential adoptive parents waiting for a resolution. Those suspensions followed reports of mistreatment of Russian children.
American parents have been convicted of killing Russian children they had adopted twice since 2006. Prosecutors in Pennsylvania are investigating a third instance in which a 7-year-old Russian boy was killed.
Russian authorities told The Associated Press that Torry Hansen had told the boy that he was "bad," that she "did not love him," and used to pull his hair.
Nancy Hansen said the boy had suffered mistreatment in Russia. She said the boy was skinny when they picked him up, and he told them he had been beaten with a broom handle at the orphanage.
Hollis, the psychiatrist from Centerstone, said it's common for children adopted out of an orphanage to suffer mental damage. Often, if they aren't cuddled and hugged as infants, they grow to be distant and prone to tantrums.
"A child coming from an orphanage can often be deprived in that way," she said.
Adoption advocates in the U.S. said they are outraged by the case.
"Child abandonment of any kind is reprehensible," said Chuck Johnson, acting CEO of the National Council For Adoption. "The actions of this mother are especially troubling because an already vulnerable, innocent child has been further victimized."
The Tennessean's Clay Carey and The Associated Press' Travis Loller, Joshua Freed and Foster Klug contributed to this report. Contact Chas Sisk at 615-259-8283 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Tennessean
Addendum: Comic Relief! News video (flv). The tiny town of El Bethel Tennessee is inundated by international news reporters equipped with satellite trucks.
Addendum: Russia is demanding child support payments from the adoptive mom, Torry Hansen.
Russians want child support from Tennessee woman who returned adopted son
SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - An American woman who sent her adopted son back to Russia has been hit with a child support claim by an adoption agency, but her attorney asked a Tennessee juvenile court to throw the claim out.
Torry Hansen, who had been living in Shelbyville, sent the 8-year-old boy on a plane to Moscow by himself last April with a note saying that she didn't want to be his mother anymore because the child had psychological problems. The incident created an international uproar.
According to documents obtained by the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, Hansen's attorney filed a motion to dismiss child support claims made by Hansen's adoption agency, World Association for Children and Parents, in juvenile court in Shelbyville.
The newspaper reported Thursday that Russian authorities want Hansen to pay about $2,500 a month to care for the child, who is living in an orphanage.
Hansen's attorney, Trisha Henegar, filed the response Dec. 28. Hansen has since retained a different attorney, Jennifer Thompson, who declined to discuss details of the case when reached by The Associated Press on Thursday.
Henegar argued that the juvenile court lacks jurisdiction to order child support because Tennessee is not the boy's "home state" and said the termination of Hansen's parental rights is currently being handled by a Russian court.
Henegar said in the documents that Tennessee state law defines the "home state" as where a child lived with a parent for at least six months. She said the boy, who was named Justin Hansen, lived with the family in Bedford County less than six months before he was sent back.
Henegar wrote that the National Council for Adoption, an adoption advocacy group that joined in the petition against Hansen, has been trying to persuade a court in Moscow to postpone proceedings that would terminate Hansen's parental rights. Hansen "will not have to pay child support in Tennessee once her rights are terminated and will not be held criminally liable," Henegar wrote.
Neither Torry Hansen or her mother, Nancy Hansen, who put the child on the plane under the care of the flight attendants, has been criminally charged. Local authorities have said they have not been able to determine if a crime occurred in Bedford County.
An attorney representing the adoption agency did not immediately return requests for comment Thursday.
Source: Kingsport Times-News
Noah Kirkman Before Court
April 9, 2010 permalink
According to the Calgary Sun, today a court was scheduled to hear the case of Noah Kirkman, an Alberta boy held in Oregon for two years. No word yet on the outcome.
Battle over foster child hits court
Noah Kirkman turned 12 nearly two weeks ago.
The last time he slept in his own bed, back home in Calgary, he was ten.
If it started as a holiday, the boy’s trip to Oregon, it’s now become a two-year-long nightmare, rife with red tape.
And the strange case of Noah Kirkman is on the verge of becoming an international incident.
On Friday, a judge in Oregon will determine what to do with the Canadian child seized by the State of Oregon and placed in foster care, despite having a mother and family in Calgary desperate to get him back.
“We’re hoping the judge will back out of his position, but there’s also a chance he will say ‘screw you,’” said Lisa Kirkman, Noah’s 34-year-old mother.
Waiting on the sidelines, ready to throw the official weight of Canada’s federal government behind the Kirkman cause, is Calgary West MP Rob Anders.
Anders says he is ready to head south, with a tentative travel date of April 19, to collect Noah and bring him home to his family, depending on what the judge decides this week.
“We want the judge to see fit in his own good wisdom, that Noah should return home,” said Anders.
“We’re waiting to hear what the judge decides, and we don’t want to do anything that may jeopardize Noah’s case.”
Anders is all about diplomacy — but his involvement, as a sitting member of the ruling federal government, is a massive development in a case that’s dragged on, under the public radar, for nearly two years.
Noah’s family calls Oregon’s refusal to release Noah an abduction — but that word makes the case sound calculated, sly and sinister.
Really, it has a lot more to do with heavy-handed court orders and a stubborn bureaucracy run amok.
In the eyes of that state’s child welfare office, Lisa Kirkman is an unfit parent, or at least a mom too sketchy to trust with the child she raised and nurtured until September 2008.
That’s when authorities in Oakridge, Oregon took Noah into custody, after police found him riding in their town without a bike helmet.
Noah, a straight-A student who suffers from severe attention deficit disorder, struggled to explain who he was, and that he was on holiday in Oregon with his younger sister, staying with their non-legal stepdad.
The confusion led officers to run the boy’s name through the system, where they discovered his past history with Canadian social services, the result of Lisa seeking help with her son’s special needs.
The social service system doesn’t differentiate between parents seeking help with unique children, and parents forced into the system through abuse and neglect of their kids.
Hence, with no legal guardian and a suspicious background, authorities in Oregon took Noah and placed him in foster care.
A simple misunderstanding, in other words, with the boy’s best interests in mind. But untangling the red tape that snagged Noah has proved impossible.
Lisa’s own past is the major hurdle: She’s has a criminal record in Canada.
An outspoken marijuana crusader and pro-pot journalist, she was busted years ago for growing medical marijuana without a permit.
As a result, the court has forced her to undergo psychiatric evaluations, and parenting tests. Most telling of all, the court says she must swear off drugs before Noah can come home.
Though authorities in Oregon refuse to discuss the case with reporters, it’s clear Lisa is the reason Noah can’t escape the foster care system, which could ultimately lead to his permanent adoption in the U.S.
Thus, his Calgary grandparents have stepped forward, offering to care for Noah in Lisa’s stead, if only to get him back in Canada with the family who loves him.
Those grandparents, both working professionals, have undergone a complete assessment of their home and lives, to prove to Oregon that the Canadian child is headed to a good place — but the wait continues.
For Lisa, who last saw her son in July 2009, she’s afraid to even feel optimism over Friday’s hearing and the involvement of a federal Member of Parliament.
“I get my hopes up, and get all excited, and then something else goes wrong — I feel like a wound up spring.”
Source: Calgary Sun
Addendum: Result of the hearing:
Well, the results of the Disposition Review Hearing are in and they are... nothing's changed whatsoever. In fact, now the judge is saying he won't even consider sending Noah home before the school year's over, because it would "disturb" him too much. Like being held in a foreign country's foster care system for two years isn't disturbing enough.
Baby Stealer = Wife Killer
April 9, 2010 permalink
Former Toronto Catholic Children's Aid Society social worker Donald Sneyd killed his wife Edyta Lewandowski with a shotgun blast to her neck.
Social worker admits killing ex-wife
In a surprising turn of events, a Toronto social worker admitted he murdered his ex-wife two years ago after initially claiming she killed herself.
Donald Sneyd, 50, pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree murder, saying he fired a single gunshot into Edyta Lewandowski’s neck on Feb. 25, 2008 in the foyer of their matrimonial home.
“Initial indications appeared ... it was a suicide, but the police were open-minded and conducted an exhaustive investigation, which included a deep look at the history of the accused and the deceased,” Det. John Biggerstaff said after the guilty plea.
“The family wants the world to know she didn’t kill herself, he did.”
A year before the 32-year-old woman’s murder, she alleged in a family court affidavit that her ex-husband “owns guns and has threatened me that he knows how to use them. ... I better be careful.”
Crown attorney Mary Humphrey said Sneyd called 911 to report that his ex-wife had shot herself in their Woodbine-Danforth-area home. She had arrived at 23 Morton Rd. to pick up the couple’s two-year-old toddler, Humphrey said in reading an agreed statement of facts.
Relatives and friends of the victim firmly believed she would not have killed herself. After a four-month investigation, police charged Sneyd with first-degree murder.
Sneyd was employed by the Catholic Children’s Aid Society as a child protection worker and later an investigator of allegations of abuse and neglect from 1988 until he resigned in 2002. He was later employed as a mental health case worker.
Sneyd met his wife in 2004. She was impregnated in the fall of that year and the couple wed in April 2005, four months before their son was born.
When their marriage deteriorated, he alleged his ex-wife was suicidal, mentally ill and an unfit mother and she was “forced to disprove these allegations,” Humphrey said.
The couple divorced in 2006. The ensuing custody battle was “marked by acrimony, accusations and recriminations by each against the other,” Humphrey said. Sneyd charged his estranged wife with assault in 2006 but she was acquitted the next year.
Sneyd feared losing custody of his son, Humphrey said.
On the night of the murder, Sneyd was carrying a handgun and said he intended to intimidate Lewandowski into accepting his custody and access conditions, Humphrey told Justice Brian Trafford.
After a struggle, “the defendant intentionally shot the deceased under her chin,”
Sneyd’s lawyer, John Rosen, said his client has “considerable remorse for what has happened.”
Sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday.
Source: Toronto Sun
Help Yourself to Cash
April 8, 2010 permalink
In the moral cesspool that is child protection, workers at all levels are tempted to turn their godlike powers to personal gain through embezzlement. There are too many stories like this to cover on fixcas. Here are just two from today's news, one about foster mother and Virginia DSS employee Eileen Patricia Maldonado, the other on New Jersey DYFS employee Ugochukwu Madubuike and confederate Onyinye M Nwokeji, all netting over a hundred thousand dollars each.
Foster mom ordered to serve 11 months
The woman embezzled more than $100,000 while working for state social services.
There was much that remained unclear Wednesday about Eileen Patricia Maldonado's decision to put herself on the dole.
She had lived a life of service as a foster mother and a benefits specialist at the state Department of Social Services office in Roanoke, where she awarded grants to the needy. But then she began sending checks to herself, clearing something in the low six figures before being caught.
In January, Maldonado pleaded guilty to five counts of embezzlement. Back in Roanoke Circuit Court to receive a sentence of less than a year in prison, Maldonado wept as she tried to explain what had happened.
To Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Wanda DeWease, Maldonado's actions were "probably as elaborate and sophisticated a scheme as had been perpetrated" and evidence of "greed ... unlike any greed that's ever been seen by the court around here."
Taking place from July 2007 to July 2009 amid the gathering state and local budget crises, Maldonado's thefts were a slap to city and state workers who went without raises and didn't break the rules, DeWease said.
But Maldonado said she was just reacting to a life out of control. She began issuing herself checks soon after one of five foster children she and her husband were raising was killed in a stabbing, she said.
About the same time, another child they had fostered revived an abuse complaint from a decade earlier. The complaint was again determined to be unfounded, but not before the Maldonados' other four foster children were placed elsewhere.
At the same time, Maldonado said, her sister and nieces cut off contact. She and her husband were on the brink of divorce. And her mother was diagnosed with cancer.
The only thing she felt she could still control was her job, Maldonado told Judge William Broadhurst, and "I was going to control ruining that."
How much she took was still in question Wednesday. DeWease said her office estimated the bogus awards at almost $126,000, but the social services department said it was more than $132,000.
And how the money was spent was a mystery too. Maldonado said she had frittered it all on "day to day stuff" and presently had just $12 in the bank.
She asked if she could be allowed to volunteer somewhere to help repay what she had taken, calling it "the only thing I have to offer at this point."
Broadhurst imposed a prison sentence of 20 years, to be suspended after Maldonado served 11 months and 20 days. She will be on indefinite supervision by the state probation office after her release and will have to undergo whatever psychological counseling her probation officer thinks necessary, he said.
And Maldonado would have to make payments toward a restitution Broadhurst set at $100,000.
"They can sue you for the rest," the judge said.
Source: Roanoke Times
Ex-N.J. child welfare agency employee admits forging clients' checks, tax fraud
TRENTON — A former employee of the state Division of Youth and Family Services pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to charges he stole about $800,000 by filing hundreds of phony federal tax returns and claiming refunds using the personal information of clients he pulled from state files.
Ugochukwu Madubuike, 30, of Orange was a family services specialist with DYFS from June 2004 until November 2007, according to federal authorities who said he began his scheme in 2006 and continued through 2008, even after he left the state agency.
Madubuike admitted before U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano in Trenton that he used confidential information pulled from files at DYFS and other state departments to submit fraudulent tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service.
The returns resulted in more than 200 refund checks that were sent to addresses to which Madubuike had access. He forged the signatures of the payees on those checks, according to the charges, and deposited the checks into bank accounts controlled by him and a co-conspirator, Onyinye M. Nwokeji, 27, of Irvington.
Both men were arrested in November 2008 by federal agents after a Bank of America employee became suspicious about Madubuike depositing a tax return check bearing another person’s name. Federal authorities said they soon discovered numerous fraudulently endorsed checks were being deposited into accounts held by both Madubuike and Nwokeji.
A “federal information” to which Madubuike pleaded guilty showed checks ranging in payments of $2,000 to more than $8,000.
Madubuike pleaded guilty to mail fraud, conspiracy to pass forged treasury checks, and making false claims to the treasury department. He is scheduled to be sentenced July 14. Nwokeji, who had pleaded guilty to similar charges in February, is scheduled to be sentenced May 15.
The maximum possible sentence each man faces on the most serious charge, mail fraud, is 20 years in prison.
Source: Newark Star-Ledger
CAS Worker Demonstrations
April 8, 2010 permalink
Children's Aid workers in Ontario's north are staging public protests to save their jobs in the face of budget cutbacks. Since most of them lack skills of value in the private sector, their alternative is unskilled jobs such as waitress. The Jeanne Sauvé agency in the release does not have a website, but the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies (OACAS) lists it as a member society:
Services Familiaux Jeanne Sauvé Family Services*
29 Mundy Ave.
Kapuskasing, ON P5N 1R1
Bus (705) 335-2445
Fax (705) 335-4391
The press will be out taking pictures at these events. Even one opponent at next week's event in Kapuskasing carrying a sign such as "Fire them all" could have an impact.
ONTARIO PUBLIC SERVICE EMPLOYEES UNION (OPSEU)
Demonstrations planned to protest CAS crisis in northeast Ontario
KAPUSKASING, ON, April 7 /CNW/ - Demonstrations by Children's Aid Society workers are being organized this week and next across northeastern Ontario to protest the crisis in child protection services.
"We have reached the stage where we have no alternative but to take to the streets so that the public can learn directly from front-line workers how bad the situation has become for at-risk children and young people," said Barb Hutchings, president of Local 639 of the Ontario Pubic Service Employees Union (OPSEU) representing more than 80 CAS workers in Kapuskasing, Hearst, Cochrane, Smooth Rock Falls, Moonbeam, Timmins and Val Rita.
A $211,000 operating deficit at Familiaux Jeanne Sauvé Family Services in seven communities has resulted in job losses and the prospect of further staff cuts. The result in some cases could mean that reports of abuse are delayed and programs are being slashed, like the popular Camp Cadanac in Moonbeam which provides summer programs for more than 200 children and youth.
OPSEU is calling on Children and Youth Services Minister Laurel Broten to restore funding to programs serving at-risk children.
"The children and youth our workers serve already come from disadvantaged situations," said Hutchings. "The funding crisis amounts to re-victimizing them once again."
Demonstrations are scheduled for the following communities:
- Wednesday April 7, 12 noon, Hearst, Familiaux Jeanne Sauvé Family Services office
- Thursday April 8, 12 noon, Cochrane, Post Office
- Thursday April 8, 4:30 p.m. Timmins, Familiaux Jeanne Sauvé Family Services office
- Thursday April 15, 4:30 p.m. Kapuskasing, Familiaux Jeanne Sauvé Family Services office
For further information: Barb Hutchings, OPSEU Local 639, (705) 272-8186; Norm Pilon, OPSEU Staff Representative, (705) 561-3570
Dufferin CAS Wants Help from Taxpayers
April 8, 2010 permalink
Dufferin CAS is moving to get help from the county taxpayers to purchase its palace on Riddell Road, ridding itself of future rent payments and freeing $200,000 per year to commit more mayhem against families. Click on the image for more detail.
DCAFS to pursue purchase of its home
Dufferin Child and Family Services (DCAFS) hopes to exercise an option to purchase its building on Riddell Road this November, and will seek the support of county council.
The agency, “an integrated children’s service providing: Child Protection Services; Children’s Mental Health; Developmental Support Services; and Headwaters Family Visit Centre,” says it now is spending more than it should to lease the building.
Executive Director Trish Keachie, who will outline a proposed solution at county council tonight, said in an interview that. even with what might be a $3.5-million mortgage, the accommodation savings from a purchase would be in the order of $200,000 a year.
The DCAFS obtained its building in 2005 in a leaseback arrangement with a buyback option on the fifth anniversary. Ms. Keachie said the purchase price would be about $4 million but, at the time of the lease, then-manager Gary Putnam submitted an application for provincial funding to be applied in 2010.
If that $3-million application is successful, the local cost to purchase would be reduced to about $1 million, part of which would be covered by fundraising activities of the agency itself.
Prior to 2005 and the construction of the building, the agency was housed in numerous locations. Ms. Keachie said the single location has facilitated “seamless service delivery for both staff and clients,” resulting in service efficiencies, savings on administration along with travel time, rentals for meetings, office equipment, and phone service as well as IT.
DCAFS is an almost unique example of integrated service. The agency performs the child protection service of the former Dufferin Children’s Aid Society as well as mental health and other services.
The fact of integration created an apparent accounting anomaly, which resulted in an $880,000 loss of funding for DCAFS when the province last year imposed a 10% cap on infrastructure spending.
Ms. Keachie’s explanation was generally (not in her words) that some transfers between functions appeared to have been considered as income whereas they were simply budgetary movements, or accounting movements, between but all from the same pot.
She did say that there has been “persistent underfunding” of child mental health services, and that budgets for the service has increased only 8% in the past 16 years.
Yet, statistically, according to Ms. Keachie, “one in five children struggles with mental health concerns (and) suicide is the second leading cause of non-accidental death for youth.”
She is expected to make a strong case tonight for support in the purchase of the DCAFS building.
Source: Orangeville Citizen
April 8, 2010 permalink
In the past we have observed that parents who represent themselves in court without a lawyer often get better outcomes than those who rely on legal aid. Now the Toronto Sun exposes the incompetence of Ontario's legal aid lawyers.
Where’s my lawyer!: McLaughlin
Shoddy Legal Aid attorneys finally being exposed, but clients suffer
So the pot finally boiled over and one of our legal aid lawyers got caught providing less than shoddy service to his clients.
It finally bubbled over last month when a judge took lawyer Arman Hoque to task for continuously failing to show up in court, leaving his clients standing abandoned at the front of the court looking bewildered.
But this isn’t the first time trouble has been brewing in the courts with lawyers who are paid by Legal Aid Ontario.
The matter was finally brought to light recently when Hoque went way over the top — not only by failing to show up in court for his clients over the past year, but even going as far as setting trial dates through his law clerk without ever meeting the client or once looking at the client’s file.
One client, raging angry after missing days and days of work after showing up for court with no lawyer, stormed out of court this week with no recourse.
So far several judges have loudly scolded Hoque in court, calling his behaviour “notorious,” saying he has left clients “twisting in the wind” and twice threatening him with contempt charges.
But at least two judges have noted that in their 30-year careers they have never, ever, admonished a lawyer this way.
If Legal Aid Ontario is not going to monitor the behaviour of the lawyers it pays, we need our judges to stiffen up and speak out.
Last year, Legal Aid Ontario charged the taxpayers $362 million for its annual budget. That figure will climb after the province recently increased rates following a boycott by legal aid lawyers. The new pay structure allows for a gradual 40% increase in the present top rate of $97 an hour to $135 an hour for standard criminal cases. (The hourly rate gets higher for big cases such as murder trials.)
While many lawyers who take on legal aid clients have great passion for their clients and put in far more hours than they are actually paid — there is a heaping handful of lawyers who simply rack up the client numbers and don’t do any work.
Everyone in the legal community knows who they are — unfortunately, it’s the clients who have no idea.
These are the lawyers who paint a greenish slimy hue over the legal aid system, tainting all of the good lawyers who work so hard.
Last week I met a mother with a babe in her arms, weeping on the front steps of the courthouse, because it was her fifth day in a row she has attended bail court to try to bail out her husband. But every single day the case was adjourned and hubby was kept in jail because the legal aid lawyer didn’t show up.
“I keep calling (a lawyer we won’t name) but he doesn’t even answer his phone,” she said with tears streaming down her cheeks. “I don’t know what to do. I need my husband to come home. If he doesn’t get out he will lose his job.”
This young woman is just one of a string of clients left destitute at the doors of the court house.
Dozens and dozens of these people charged with minor offences are ready and willing to plead guilty but don’t even know how to go about doing that. Yet their cases are adjourned in court not once, not twice, but dozens of times, by their legal aid lawyers who don’t show up or haven’t bothered to look at the case file yet.
Questions about what kind of screening and monitoring Legal Aid Ontario does on its lawyers and how much they have billed for various clients go unanswered. Legal Aid Ontario, much like the Children’s Aid Society, is a secretive shop.
In fact, in the past month, despite several calls and e-mails, the only time Legal Aid responded to my questions was to send a letter to the editor noting I had made an error by using the term “appointed lawyer” rather than “approved lawyer.”
As one Crown attorney said to a judge in this matter, “this behaviour brings disrepute on the entire administration of justice.”
Yes, it’s got to be up to our judges to grab the joystick on this one and order these lawyers to act responsibly.
— McLaughlin is a reporter who covers Simcoe County for the Sun
Source: Toronto Sun
April 7, 2010 permalink
More on the death of the Alberta foster child we have dubbed Morinville girl. The mother will not rest until her daughter's killer is behind bars. Meanwhile, the foster care system is following the script, claiming now that procedures have been tightened to prevent this from happening again. Just like in every other high-profile foster death for the last 25 years. The continuation is likely to end with some hapless foster mother convicted of a crime, without any real improvements to safety for children.
The unnamed mother seems to be acting alone. Real reform could be facilitated if she got in touch with serious opponents of the child protection juggernaut. We invite the anonymous mother , or anyone knowing her whereabouts, to get in touch with us by email to [ rtmq at fixcas.com ].
Mother won't rest until daughter's killer is behind bars
EDMONTON - The mother of a 21-month-old girl slain in foster care - speaking publicly for the first time - vows she will not rest until the killer is put behind bars.
“All I have left of her is her toys,” the grieving 31-year-old mother told the QMI Agency Monday.
No one has been arrested in the homicide of the toddler who was living in a Morinville-area foster home when she died in hospital March 3.
“I buried her a month ago and no one is in jail yet,” said the mother, who cannot be identified.
She is calling for more stringent screening of foster parents and the foster care system in general.
“I would like to believe this whole system can change and this will not happen to another baby,” she said. “I would like to believe that the death of (my daughter) will stop all of this.” Childrens’ Services Minister Yvonne Fritz said Monday she could not comment on this specific case but defends the screening process already in place.
“It is a very rigorous system to become a foster parent,” said Fritz.
The heartbroken mom received the horrific call that her daughter was being flown into the University hospital by STARS Air Ambulance in critical condition on March 1.
“I just knew my daughter was dying,” she said.
Two days later, on March 3, her daughter was pronounced dead.
Doctors told the mother the cause of death was either shaken baby syndrome or blunt force trauma to the toddler’s head.
“I could not walk at first, I was in shock,” said the stay-at-home mom.
Now she takes some comfort in the fact that her child is at peace.
“She is in heaven, that comforts me.”
Slowly, she is removing some of the physical reminders of her daughter, like her crib, from the small north-end apartment that they shared. Only photos will remain.
Fritz said that in 2008 the foster system was reviewed and several changes, particularly in regard to screening suitable foster parents, were instituted.
Foster parents, and any other adults living in the home, are screened very carefully and must go through various child care training sessions.
“It is extensive training,” said Fritz.
The process can take up to six months. Fritz added that there are presently 4,400 children in foster care in Alberta, and the vast majority are in safe, nurturing homes.
Don't Tell Kids the Truth
April 6, 2010 permalink
Texas parents Barry and Candi Cooper have had their children seized in a raid. One of the allegations: "Parents are unsuitable and create and environment where the children believe the government is out to harm them". Another: "Outburst of crying for no reason observed during execution of a search warrant at the residence". Why would a kid do that? The suspected real reason for the seizure is that Barry is a former drug cop who switched sides and now advocates marijuana legalization.
Cops & CPS Seize Child From Parents For Mistrusting Government
Williamson County police deem parents “unsuitable” for teaching kids government is out to harm them
A family in Williamson County, Austin have lost custody of their 7-year-old son as part of a Child Protective Services investigation because the parents taught their children to mistrust the government, an action that deemed them to be “unsuitable parents,” according to charges leveled by police officers in CPS documents.
Drug reform activist filmmakers Barry and Candi Cooper recently had their home raided and searched by police after authorities claimed Cooper’s voice had been heard in the background of an allegedly false police report.
“Once in the couple’s home, officers discovered a small amount of marijuana and charged the Coopers with Class B misdemeanors, resulting in both their arrests. Each immediately bonded out of jail and paid a small fine. Days later, while Candi’s youngest son was visiting his father in east Texas, Child Protective Services contacted the Coopers, revealing that the incident could cost them not only custody of the boy, but also their freedom on felony child endangerment charges,” writes Stephen C. Webster of True Slant, who has been following the case.
On page five of the CPS case report, police level the shocking claim that the Coopers are “unsuitable parents” because they teach their children “the government is out to harm them”.
On page six of the report, police accuse the Coopers of being “aggressive to authority” because they will not allow government employees to enter their house without a court order.
Despite Travis County Deputy District Attorney Dayna Blazey declaring the Coopers to be fit parents, whose children are healthy, happy and “well cared for,” and stating that the kids were not at risk, Williamson County police claim the Coopers allow their children and their friends to use drugs in the house.
Ominously, police also characterize the Coopers educating their children that the drug war is evil as an act of ‘mental abuse’.
“In another completely dumbfounding, ironic entry, Sgt. Gary Haston of the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department — the officer whose testimony appears on the original search warrant affidavit — actually claims he observed the children “crying for no reason” as armed officers invaded their home,” writes Webster. [Emphasis added.]
“He also claims that Barry “hates” his father and does not believe in church, as though this information would somehow be relevant to the CPS agents.”
The real reason Barry Cooper, a former police officer and Drug Enforcement Agent, is being targeted undoubtedly relates to his work in catching police engaged in corruption and other criminal activity, specifically relating to the drug war. Cooper is the man behind the hit underground DVD, Never Get Busted Again, which teaches people how to react to police oppression and has appeared on the Alex Jones Show to discuss his work on several occasions.
Cooper dedicated a recent You Tube video featuring him and his wife to their son, in which they discussed the raid and the attempt to seize 7-year-old Zach.
“In my 19 years of experience with criminal defense matters, a search warrant for a misdemeanor charge is certainly unusual,” wrote Minnesota attorney Maury D. Beaulier, who had no prior knowledge of the Coopers’ case. “It indicates to me that this is a targeted investigation. It may be targeted because it is believed to be a part of a greater crime or conspiracy, or, perhaps, because there are political motivations at work.”
The Coopers were unsuccessful in re-obtaining custody of their son at a court appearance on Tuesday. 7-year-old Zachary is currently under the care of his father, who has never previously had custody of the child, and Barry has been barred from any contact with him whatsoever. The Coopers face losing custody of their child entirely.
“I just don’t know what I’ll do if we lose Zach,” Barry said. “That would be the most horrible thing to ever happen to me in my entire life.”
Apparently, police now believe that parents who teach their children not to trust the government, something the founding fathers encouraged, should have their kids seized by the CPS.
This frightening new level of thought police tyranny outstrips anything we witnessed in the darkest days of Nazi Germany of Soviet Russia.
[The Source page contains the full CPS report]
Source: Prison Planet (Alex Jones)
Assault on Social Worker
April 6, 2010 permalink
When an unwanted social worker entered the Connecticut home of Michael Rivera, he punched the worker in the face, breaking several bones. Mr Rivera has been sentenced to eight years.
Reading between the lines, it looks like Connecticut is a place that treats assault on a social worker the same as an attack on a policeman, though they do not wear uniforms warning the assailant of their special protection.
Man sentenced for attack on Conn social worker
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - A 19-Bridgeport man has been sentenced to eight years in prison for assaulting a child welfare worker.
Michael Rivera pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of assault on a peace officer and attempted assault.
Prosecutors say a 38-year-old male case worker had driven to Rivera's home last June 25 to check on a child's living conditions.
He said Rivera punched the man in the face after shouting that a psychiatrist had given Rivera clearance to visit his child.
The case worker suffered a broken nose and several broken bones in his face.
Information from: Connecticut Post, http://www.connpost.com
Source: Hartford Courant
April 2, 2010 permalink
The Bayne family has organized an event that anyone can participate in from any place. Starting at 8pm on April 16 join in two days of prayer.
Historically, families who use bibles have a better than average rate of success against child protectors.
A Call To Prayer
- Start Time:
- Friday, April 16, 2010 at 8:00am
- End Time:
- Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 8:00pm
We are asking everyone to join us in prayer and fasting from April 16, 2010 to April 18, 2010.
We ask that you pray for God's Will to be done and His Sovereignty and His Purposes be made clear in our family. We pray for wisdom, understanding and patience as we wait upon Him and His timelines to be fulfilled.
We pray that His Love and Tenderness be made evident in our children's daily lives.
Please feel free to post your prayer additions on this event page for others to see and join in prayer.
The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing therof is of the Lord.
This means that every decision, every step has been ordained and allowed by God's Sovereign Will.
1 John 5: 14 - 15
And this is the confidence that we have in Him that if we ask anything according to His Will He heareth us and if we know that he hear us whatsoever we ask we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.
The picture we included was taken some time after our children had been in care. Pray that the Lord keep hope in their hearts as we wait for His intervention in our lives.
God bless everyone of you that has supported and prayed with us these many months.
Source: Facebook (account required)
April 2, 2010 permalink
This bizarre story qualifies for inclusion here only because of the comment: "the Children's Aid Society's glowing recommendations about Sinn's parenting skills and support of her regaining full access, calling her `an excellent mother.'"
After moving several times, father Michael Marquette became curious enough to look inside his long-term-partner's smelly boxes. He found that in addition to their three living children, they had three more children who had died at birth. Their mother, Jennifer Sinn, concealed her pregnancies. At this late date there is no way to know whether they died before or after birth, so the story conveniently classifies them as stillbirths. The reporter places most of the blame for the fiasco on the father. There is not enough information to decide between mom and dad, but does this sound like a mother worthy of a glowing recommendation from children's aid?
Grief-stricken mom kept babies' remains on move
They were her babies.
Her grief over the three stillbirths held such a tight grip, Jennifer Sinn couldn't let them go.
She gave them each names. One, a girl, was put in a cardboard box rapped in layers of garbage bags. The body was wrapped in a sheet, a green towel and a grey fleece sweater.
The remains of the second child in a black tote was found in bedding and towels under a toy truck.
The third little corpse in a red tote was a baby boy, dressed in a bonnet, jumper, shirt and diaper.
She had no money to bury them, no ability to figure out what to do and knew her solution "was a bad thing." She was in an abusive relationship and said her spouse had told her "it wasn't his problem."
"I didn't know where else to put them," Sinn later told a psychiatrist.
Yesterday, the 33-year-old London mother of four with no criminal record, pleaded guilty to three charges of offering an indignity to a dead body.
In the "unusual" case, Ontario Court Justice John Skowronski decided Sinn needed support more than jail and sentenced her to three years of probation.
While the focus of the charges was on the discovery of the bodies, the case had as much to do with domestic abuse.
In an agreed statement of facts by the Crown and defence, Skowronski heard Sinn had been in a "volatile relationship" for 15 years with Michael Marquette, the father of three of her four children aged 16, 14, 10 and 17 months. Her oldest is from a previous relationship.
Marquette, who wasn't in court and has moved to Nova Scotia with one of the couple's sons, alerted police last June after moving to London from Brampton.
Assistant Crown attorney Meredith Gardiner described how the boxes were first spotted in the spring of 2007 in a storage unit when the family was facing eviction. Later that year, Marquette's parents were helping him move to an apartment and the boxes were described as having "a very strong, foul odour." Sinn showed up with two Peel Regional Police officers to retrieve the boxes.
Sinn told police as she dragged the boxes away, there was a rotting roast she was keeping "out of spite" because Marquette refused to cook it.
Marquette next saw the boxes at Sinn's father's home where the family was storing belongings after moving to London. They were taken to the Sandford St. address, and on June 6, 2009, while preparing for another move, Marquette looked inside two of them.
Police were called and Sinn arrested. She denied murder or hurting the children. She told police she'd been pregnant but had not told Marquette or had any pre-natal care. She thought Marquette knew because she was showing.
Later, she told an undercover police officer in the cells, "I'm not denying I did it, just the way they're saying it." She said "it" happened six or seven years ago.
Tests done in Toronto on the bodies showed the babies were either full-term or close to it. They may have been dead for months or years. DNA profiles strongly suggested two of the dead infants belonged to the couple. The third was so badly decomposed, a DNA profile couldn't be generated.
Autopsies couldn't determine causes of death or if they'd been live births or stillbirths. One baby had a broken clavicle, likely suffered during birth.
Sinn was re-arrested but gave no statement. She was in custody for 77 days before granted bail. Her father was given temporary custody of her kids.
Defence lawyer Jeanine LeRoy said Sinn told a psychiatrist "that Michael knew" about the babies. She'd kept the corpses and didn't seek help "because of the real lack of support from Mr. Marquette," and "the abuse she and the children suffered at his hands."
The whole family was under stress, but Sinn kept a strong bond with her children.
Her oldest son reported Marquette wouldn't give Sinn and the kids money for food, but she'd always find something "even if she did not eat herself." If Marquette was angry, he'd bring home food, then eat in front of his family without sharing.
Sinn was scared to get pre-natal care because she was scared of Marquette, LeRoy said.
She pointed out the Children's Aid Society's glowing recommendations about Sinn's parenting skills and support of her regaining full access, calling her "an excellent mother." She now lives with her father and the children and has two hours of unsupervised access a day.
A psychiatrist said Sinn had no major mental illness and recommended she have continued counselling and support.
LeRoy asked for a suspended sentence.
Gardiner asked for two years less a day, minus the equivalent of five months Sinn was in custody, that could be a conditional sentence along with three years probation.
Skowronski said Sinn's actions were "repugnant," but he was impressed with the CAS support and noted it appeared Sinn had a real connection with the stillborn babies because she took the remains with her "for years."
He also noted she'd been under intense public scrutiny.
He ordered counselling for grief and stress plus assertiveness training. He also ordered a DNA sample.
The judge noted that "what took place is something you never want to re-live," and the deaths would affect Sinn for life.
He wished her well, saying "it's not likely you will ever be before a court again."
Source: London Free Press
April 1, 2010 permalink
The Facebook page Stop The Children's Aid Society From Taking Children Away From Good Parents grew in three years to over 5000 members, and had become a prime meeting place for families affected by children's aid. Today the group was sumarily removed. In this kind of removal the group just disappears, and the members never find out the nature of the complaint, or the name of the person making objection.
This experience shows the need for a forum secure against frivolous deletion, but well moderated to keep out the agitators and the crazies.
If you have any questions or concerns, you can visit our FAQ page at http://www.facebook.com/help/?topic=wgroups.
CAS of Cape Breton R.I.P.
April 1, 2010 permalink
Good news: The Cape Breton's Children's Aid Society has been disbanded.
Bad news: Children and families who are receiving child welfare services won't be affected.
Cape Breton children's aid has been disbanded and its functions are now to be carried out the Department of Community Services. This children's aid society has appeared here twice before, in February 2006 and May 2007. It may have been the enfant terrible of Nova Scotia social services.
Cape Breton Children's Aid departure won't affect services
Cape Breton's Children's Aid Society disbanded last week and is now part of the Department of Community Services.
District manager David Tunney said children and families who are receiving child welfare services won't be affected.
"Clients won't see any change in service delivery that they have now. So they have the same social workers, they go to the same district offices and they won't experience any change," said Tunney.
There used to be 13 separate children's aid societies in Nova Scotia. Only three remain.
The province said having one central department ensures consistent programs and services.
Tunney said the move gives the 100 employees access to province-wide job opportunities, and the government pension plan.
Free Devon, Support Ombudsman
April 1, 2010 permalink
Devon, at last report close to final liberation from CAS, is the subject of a rally in Hamilton on Monday, April 12. The rally will also support ombudsman oversight of children's aid.
The final countdown support for Devon
- Causes - Rally
- Monday, April 12, 2010
- 9:30am - 12:30pm
- 55 Main St West Hamilton, ON
Attend the family court house outside and support Graham, Paula and Devon and CAS' removal from their case. This will be two fold as you can also come out and support Bill 93. Get Ombudsman oversight for our Children's Aid Societies of this Province. I will be handing out petitions and holding signs. I want to be there for Devon and his family
Source: Facebook (account required)
Addendum: Only Mary Janiga showed up. Graham is Devon's father.
The court house area was deserted and I could not find Graham anywhere. They were in and out pretty fast in court so that is why I missed him. I did get word back from Graham when I got home this afternoon, the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton has removed their agency from the case and they will be sending them a closing letter and closing the file in June of 2010. There will be no more court appearances for the family, thank goodness.
There is no longer a media or publication ban against Devon or Graham and they are free to do the alternative therapy for Devon.
Source: Mary Janiga blog
Oregon Keeps Boy
April 1, 2010 permalink
Lisa and Noah Kirkman are back in the news. Oregon still refuses to release the boy so he can return home to Calgary with his mother. In two years of foster care they have isolated him from his Jewish faith.
We gave Lisa's personal account and a press report in December/January.
Calgary mom fights Oregon for son's return
A Calgary mother is fighting to get her 12-year-old son brought home from Oregon where he has been in foster care for almost two years, because of what she calls bias against her past as a marijuana activist.
Lisa Kirkman took Noah, who is Canadian, to Oakridge, Ore., to visit his stepfather in 2008. But during that summer, local police became concerned about the boy's behaviour.
Kirkman says Noah suffers from several mental health problems, including obsessive compulsive disorder and a severe form of attention deficit disorder.
Kirkman told CBC News when police stopped Noah for riding a bike without a helmet, they alerted the state's department of human services, who contacted their counterparts in British Columbia and Quebec, where the family used to live.
Kirkman says that based on Noah's lengthy files in those jurisdictions — including periods of part-time therapeutic foster care in B.C. — U.S. officials took him into care.
Since then, he has been placed with several foster families in Oregon.
"He has a hard time even remembering some of the traditions and things we've done together as a family now at this point because he's been kept so far away from it," said Kirkman.
"They've worked so hard to instill him with a whole different set of values," she added. Kirkman was raising Noah in the Jewish faith, something she says his U.S. guardians have disregarded.
Canadian lawyer says boy belongs in Canada
Kirkman has lawyers on both sides of the border working on her case — Lane County public defender Ilisa Rooke-Ley in Oregon and Tony Merchant in Regina.
Under international legal conventions, when it was decided Noah's situation required the intervention of social services, the Oregon court had an obligation to send the boy back to Canada, Merchant told CBC News on Wednesday.
But Merchant said for some reason, the judge assigned to the case has dragged his heels.
"It almost feels like judicial child abduction," said Merchant. "They don't have any confidence in Canada. It's almost as though they're saying you can't go back to Calgary because it's cold up there. Or you can't go back to Calgary because we don't really understand the strengths and the protections that exist in the Canadian system."
According to Kirkman, it's because of her criminal conviction in Canada for growing marijuana in 2003, her current status as a medical marijuana user and her background as a pot activist.
Kirkman said she believes Lane County Circuit Judge Kip Leonard — who spearheaded the state's juvenile drug court — is biased against her.
He ordered her to complete psychiatric assessments, home studies and parenting classes — which she did.
Meanwhile, Kirkman said she is worried about the home Noah is being kept in. And she has concerns about the new medications Noah has been put on since being in Oregon, she said.
Kirkman contacted U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley on Feb. 12. He told her his office would look into the matter. Calgary Conservative MP Rob Anders has been watching the case closely.
"I think Oregon has actually been wanting for him to return home. It's just a matter of doing so in a manner that they feel is in Noah's best interests," said Anders from Ottawa.
Officials in Oregon refused to comment on the specifics of the case, but said in a statement Wednesday, "The Department of Human Services of the State of Oregon, the Social Services of Alberta and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade are working together to provide appropriate assistance to the Kirkman family."
Lawyers will be meeting with Leonard on April 9, when the judge is expected to set a date for a hearing.
Kirkman is confident her son will be returned to her, but says she finds it too difficult to dwell on, particularly during holidays like Passover.
"I wouldn't be able to continue to fight to get him back because I would be paralyzed with it but I think it'll be the greatest day of my life."
April 1, 2010 permalink
A court in Florida has ruled that foster children cannot be jailed just for running away. Not mentioned in the story: the most common destination for foster runaways is mom and dad. In places that do not allow for jailing of runaways, foster children old enough to travel can escape by running back home. If police send them back to foster care, they can continue running until the cops get tired of picking them up.
Runaway foster kids can't be jailed, court rules
Juvenile court judges cannot jail delinquent foster kids in county lockups just to keep the kids from running away, a Miami appeals court ruled Wednesday, ending a years-old practice that child welfare authorities have employed to protect runaway kids from themselves.
In a short decision involving a 12-year-old girl in foster care -- identified in records only as J.J. -- the Third District Court of Appeal said delinquent children can be held in secure detention only under ``strict statutory criteria.'' Protecting the child from herself is not one of the accepted criteria, the court wrote.
``Although we sympathize with the trial court's motive -- getting J.J. to stay in one place long enough to get the help she needs -- detention is not authorized under these circumstances,'' the opinion stated. It was signed by Judges Gerald B. Cope, Jr., David M. Gersten and Barbara Lagoa.
The opinion, a ruling on a habeas corpus petition, does not specify what charges J.J. was facing. But at a conference before a Miami-Dade judge, who is not named, the girl's guardian and school principal complained they were ``concerned for her safety and well-being.
``They indicated that J.J. needs medical and dental examinations, psycho-educational testing to determine appropriate school placement, and a psychiatric evaluation,'' the opinion states. But J.J.'s ``conduct'' made it impossible for her foster care caseworkers to get such testing done.
``With the best of intentions,'' the opinion states, ``and an effort to do what is in J.J.'s best interest, the trial court ordered her secure detention.''
J.J.'s situation is not unusual: Throughout the state, hundreds of children in state care have had some contact with the juvenile justice system.
``Some children need assistance beyond what they can get in their residential setting,'' said DCF's child welfare chief, Alan Abramowitz. But, he added, DCF has alternatives for getting such help.
First, caseworkers can ask a judge to order a dependent child into a residential treatment center for long-term psychiatric care. Under state law, such children are entitled to a lawyer and a hearing before they can be committed to a treatment center against their will.
DCF also can have a troubled child committed to a psychiatric hospital under the state's involuntary commitment law, called the Baker Act, Abramowitz said.
``We have a lot of safeguards,'' Abramowitz said. ``We want the youth in our dependency system not to be punished because they were abused or neglected.''
Of the roughly 2,500 children in the Miami-Dade's child welfare system under 18, about 7 to 10 percent have been involved with the juvenile justice system at some point, said Fran Allegra, who heads Miami's privately run foster care agency, Our Kids.
``Generally,'' Allegra said, ``these teenagers have resided in group care and have been in the system for a long time.'' Miami is one of seven U.S. cities that will be part of a Georgetown University study of how to improve coordination of services for youth in the delinquency and foster care systems, she said.
Miami-Dade Public Defender Carlos Martinez, whose office represents J.J., said jailing children to protect them from themselves is both costly and counterproductive. Children in the detention center, he said, cost the county $281 per day.
``Locking a child up increases the likelihood of future criminal activity,'' Martinez said. ``This is the latest in a long line of appellate court opinions instructing a juvenile judge to follow the law. We remain vigilant.''
Frank Penela, a Tallahassee spokesman for the Department of Juvenile Justice, said his agency has not sought to lock up children who don't meet the criteria for secure detention.
``We just follow the letter of the law,'' Penela said. ``Current law establishes detention admissions criteria. Today's ruling reflects that law and we agree with the decision.''
Source: The Miami Herald
March 31, 2010 permalink
Ontario's child advocate Irwin Elman has released a report on The Roy McMurtry Youth Centre. The Toronto Star first reported on Elman's concerns about the superjail for teenagers last November. In October the Ministry of Children and Youth Services made improvements to procedures at the jail. The Toronto Star quotes minister Laurel Broten saying she’s “very proud of the work we’ve been doing to get to this stage where we are now". However, the advocate reports the number of complaints only increased after the changes. Faced with abuse of their children, mom and dad would take corrective action immediately, but minister Broten spent the last five months preparing a report. Our reading of her "Action Plan" reveals little that is likely to improve the treatment of the kids. There is nothing in the plan that suggests ending the dominator methods exemplified by repeated strip-searches.
Below is a list of complaints received from inmates:
The name of Roy McMurtry seems destined to join Buchenwald, Gulag and Abu Ghraib.
Jail for youth not safe, report says
Ontario’s newest superjail for youth is not safe for its teenage inmates, a report by the province’s children and youth advocate says.
“It doesn’t feel safe and it isn’t safe,” Irwin Elman told the Star Tuesday.
The Roy McMurtry Youth Centre opened in Brampton last summer with the promise to provide programs that would help turn troubled youths into “future taxpayers.”
But complaints of violence, abuse and neglect have risen dramatically in the past eight months.
In new allegations outlined in Elman’s report, to be released Wednesday, youth describe being brutalized by guards and ignored by nurses at the 192-bed facility.
In one case, a staff member reportedly grabbed a youth by the hair to prevent a call to the advocate’s office.
Laurel Broten, Minister of Children and Youth Services, which oversees the jail, said her office has spent the past few months drafting an action plan to address concerns about the facility.
The plan, which also will be released Wednesday, includes phasing in more staff training, anger-management programs for detainees and improving the assessment process that determines to what unit youths are directed on arrival.
The Star learned in December a teenage Crown witness was put in the same quarters as the group of young men he was to testify against.
Broten said she’s “very proud of the work we’ve been doing to get to this stage where we are now.
“I’m not saying we don’t have a lot of work to do — we do. But we’re well on our way.”
The Star first exposed problems at the $93 million jail in November.
While its gleaming, modern façade has won international acclaim in the design world, it’s a different story inside.
After just a few months operating, staff and detainees corroborated accounts of escalating violence, lack of programming and questionable body-cavity searches for missing items, including a DVD.
The advocate’s office, already looking into concerns at the jail, intensified its investigation as more complaints surfaced in the wake of the Star’s investigation.
Elman’s first official report on the institution highlights yet more concerning allegations.
Under the heading “Excessive Force,” the report states that one youth was doing a chore at the jail when “I was grabbed roughly from behind by one officer and forced up against the wall.”
Under “Standard of Care,” youth say they were denied medication because of a “nurse shortage.”
Others complained about a lack of food and being served raw sausages.
Elman is aware of the ministry’s action plan, but says, “the pace of change is too slow.
“People’s lives are dependent on how this place operates. The growing-pains argument won’t work for me because of the length of time they’ve had to get this right from the beginning,” he said.
The individual complaints his office is investigating are serious, but short-term issues, he said.
He sees the root of the centre’s “crisis” as a fundamental disagreement between staff and managers about how to run the facility: Should it be the inmates-behind-bars approach or a more progressive model?
The ministry says it’s committed to the latter.
In response to an early draft of Elman’s report, the ministry recently submitted a list of nearly 140 programs it said it had implemented at the superjail.
Elman’s office deconstructed the list and surveyed almost 90 youths at the jail to see whether they were familiar with any of the programs.
A line-by-line analysis revealed some of the programs have been cancelled, while others were one-off activities and a few seemed right out of place on the list.
“If they list `Diet for Muslim Youth’ — and serve Halal food — is that really a program?” Elman said.
The importance of keeping detained youth busy from dawn to dusk was cited in a number of inquest recommendations after the death of 16-year-old David Meffe, who killed himself in 2002 while awaiting bail at the Toronto Youth Assessment Centre.
That facility was ultimately condemned as “chaotic and unsafe.”
Source: Toronto Star
March 31, 2010 permalink
Teenagers in Ontario foster care are denied a nutritionally adequate supply of milk.
Children in CAS care being denied adequate milk to drink
Canada Court Watch has finished videotaping two teenagers from two different CAS foster facilities who have both provided testimony that they were denied adequate milk to meet Canada's food guide requirements.
Both teens described on video how they were told that they could not go to the fridge on their own. Fridges were off limits to the kids in care. Even when milk was allowed it was often only one glass a day. Kids would be punished for only wanting more milk.
While the Ontario Government pays out to support children in care, many claim that CAS agencies and foster homes, pocket money by denying children proper nutrition and clothing.
The Government of Ontario must take steps to ensure that the money being paid to care for children is being used appropriately by CAS caregivers. Testimony of the teens will be made available on the Court Watch website in the near future.
Source: Canada Court Watch
March 31, 2010 permalink
Canada Court Watch reports on a case in which court personnel, including her own lawyer, refused to attest an affidavit for a girl in family court. She took it to the judge in person at her hearing and got relief notwithstanding the legal obstruction.
Duty counsel and Office of the Children's Lawyer obstruct justice in Court in an attempt to silence teen's voice
Canada Court Watch received a report from citizens who reported that Duty Counsel and the lawyer from Ontario's Office of the Children's Lawyer (OCL) all refused to witness the signature of a 16-year-old teenager on an affidavit which she wanted to have put before the court so that she could get CAS to step threatening and harassing her and go back home. According to the teen and her family, the court officials seemed almost afraid of the teen's affidavit.
The teen's lawyer gave a lame excuse by saying that because he had not written the affidavit for the girl himself that he would not witness it and that he wanted nothing to do with the affidvait. While the Ontario Government pays the lawyer to represent the girl's interest it would seem that the Office of the Children's Lawyer is not up to the task of competently representing many of the persons it is supposed to represent.
In the teen's affidavit, the teen reported how she had been threatened, abused and her rights violated by CAS workers and by court related authorities. CAS workers (who are private citizens under the law) even gave the police orders which the Toronto police seem to have foolishly followed.
In the end, the teen had to stand up in the court and to tell the judge that she had an affidavit for the court which her children's lawyer did not have the guts to do for her. The judge listened and took the affidavit into chambers and after a short recess returned to the court with a court order which ordered that the child be allowed to go home with her father. Standing up on her own two feet and speaking for herself, the young teen put all the high priced lawyers in the room to shame. Her actions show that having a lawyer can sometimes have more liabilities than benefits. The judge should also be commended for putting the family law rules aside regarding the commissioning of the teens affidavit and listening directly to the teen.
Those at the court who outright refused to simply witness the teen's affidavit, in effect, were obstructing justice and preventing this teen from having the truth put before the honorable court. While the family courts in Ontario all claim to be doing what is best for children as this case clearly shows, officers of the court are actually trying to silence children and to ensure that the truth from teens does not get before the courts.
Those lawyers who did this today to this teen are only hurting themselves and adversely affecting the administration of justice in Ontario. The actions of these lawyers are only alienating more and more Canadian children and families who ultimately will be the voters who will through legislative changes put the Law Society of Upper Canada out of business one day.
Source: Canada Court Watch
March 31, 2010 permalink
Attila Vinczer reports on today's rally at the CAS office in Kitchener:
Rally in Kitchener - CAS office - 200 Ardelt Ave-March 31, 2010
We had an excellent rally in Kitchener at 200 Ardelt Ave. with a great turnout. Several people from the public joined in! Most passing cars honked and waived in support. Undoubtedly the movement is gaining STRONG momentum. I met with the assistant to CAS Executive Director, Alison Scott and expressed my concern at the last rally where one worker accused ALL the protesters of being CHILD MOLESTERS!!!
Source: Facebook (account required)
Here is a link to the picture.
Addendum: More from Attila:
CAS worker blasted by powerfull "BULLHORN" [HQ]
Here is just one of the videos we took. John had a few words for a CAS worker who wandered in our sights and chose to swiftly avoid the 'BULL HORN" aimed right at her! Funny how these CAS workers cower when they are alone (like the parents and children they abuse) and not shielded by the heavy guns of the Children's Aid Society aided by the police when they snatch children from their loving parents!
You can watch our local copy of the video (mp4).
Readers Vote Against CAS
March 30, 2010 permalink
After the Toronto Sun printed an article by guest Glen Stone favorable to York Region Children's Aid, readers posted comments to the paper's website. Almost all are unfavorable to CAS.
The unedited responses below are typical of any forum in which the public is invited to express an opinion. The politicians don't care. Ordinary voters are limited to the choice among three major parties. They have no voice where it really counts, in the private meetings that select those candidates. After participating in this process, we can report that the meetings are well attended by persons relying on government funding, but rarely attended by others. As long as the politicians have a reliable supply of hacks supported by their appropriations, their positions are secure.
Dalton McGuinty’s ‘new’ funding for CAS is just sneaky
By Glen Stone, Guest Columnist
Last Updated: March 28, 2010 9:30pm
There’s an old joke about a guy who kills both of his parents and, when he goes to court, throws himself on the mercy of the judge on the grounds he is an orphan.
That’s the kind of chutzpah (great Yiddish word for sheer nerve and gall) Dalton McGuinty’s crew showed recently with their announcement of new funding for Children’s Aid Societies across Ontario.
On the surface, the news sounds great; nearly $27 million in new funding for these groups that help protect children. Best of all, the dough is targeted to the Societies in the most financial trouble. For York Region’s CAS, the money was a lifesaver because they were just about down to scrounging for empty pop bottles to return.
Instead, thundering over the hill comes McGuinty’s cavalry with a last-minute rescue package of more than $4 million. It’s enough to get the Society through the rest of the year and make sure nearly 3,000 children in the region (500 in the agency’s care) will continue to get help.
So, why are the people working at the agency quietly seething and cursing McGuinty’s government under their breath?
It has to do with one thing Queen’s Park did not mention in their press release ... the reason the York Region CAS was on the list of agencies in financial trouble and, therefore, qualified for this extra help in the first place.
That reason is simple. Ontario cut their funding.
That’s right, the Liberals cut the agency’s funding with one hand and put them into deep financial doo-doo. As a result, the Society had to lay off 18 people and slash all spending to the bone, but still went far into the red.
Then, eight months later, the same government presented new funding with the other hand, weeping crocodile tears for this poor, hard-working agency that was struggling so badly.
But that’s not the worst part.
What really rubs salt in the wounds is Queen’s Park cut $5.5 million from the Society’s funding last year. So, the big announcement of $4 million in new help still leaves the agency a million and a half bucks short of where they were.
It’s like the same person who mugged you and stole your money showing up later to return your empty wallet, and then posing for a photo op as a local hero.
But the York Region Society doesn’t dare kick up a fuss or point out it would have been better off if McGuinty’s crew had just left them the hell alone. The agency can’t afford to tick off Queen’s Park when it urgently needs this bailout and still doesn’t know how much funding it will get for this fiscal year.
So, publicly, they have to swallow the hypocrisy with a smile. Agency staffers have to quietly complain to newspaper columnists instead.
There’s a name for what McGuinty’s government has done here, but this is a family newspaper. So, let’s just call it really, really sneaky.
— Stone lives in Thornhill and at www.GhostWriterInTheSky.ca
Seems to me that not only is the CAS victimizing children and families , our premier and prime minister are as well....but the media whom is supposed to be for the public seems to take a very biased view also....our public newspapers and magazines should be screaming for justice on behalf of a system that is so anti- family, yet the average citizen is oblivious to it unless personally affected. Why is this?? From the amounts of comments I have read , our Canadian media should be on this and publisizing the horrors CAS does to families. They are getting worse and no longer taking children who truly need help, but taking children that come from good families. Look into it...investigate, you would be surprised.
John Dunn Afterfostercare.ca
Visit accountablecas dot ca on the internet to see more about the RIDE FOR ACCOUNTABLE CAS'S AND MINISTRY OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH SERVICES starting June 01 in Ottawa and going until we reach Windsor where group home owner Jim Malone killed himself driving his truck into the new CAS building to send a message to the world...
John Dunn Afterfostercare.ca
A really close audit is required of all CAS's. What is that money being spent on? Really, look at the books. Join your local Children's Aid Society as an annual "Member". (Not a board of directors member, just a regular member). You do that by contacting the Society, asking to speak to someone in the Executive Office and ask them how you go about obtaining a regular membership application for the Society.
Once you become a member, you then have rights under the Society's By-Laws and under the Corporations Act (which trumps the By-laws which are to be "inline" with the Corporations Act) to review financial documents up close and personal.
See the expenses, how much is being spent on services for families vs. legal to take and keep kids?
Ombudsman oversight now!!
Interesting that the man who adopted thinks they are great - no wonder chump, they are kidnapping other peoples children for strangers. Adopters are not the victims kids are.
Audit all of them, and let the Ombudsman investigate them too.
CAS is very altruistic to their real clients, those who adopt, but not so much to children.
WHY IS MCGUINTY COVERING THE DEATHS OF 109 KIDS???
Sneaky is an understatement for this monster.
Dalton McAsshat vs CAS which is worse?
Yes Dalton Mcasshat is just that, and yes there are some very dedicated and caring people in the various CAS's agencies across Ontario, but, and there is always a BUTT.
The CAS has no reigns on it, there are many individuals within the various CAS agencies that abuse their power. Interviewing and/or attempting to interview children, in a group daycare, about the other children at that same daycare, without the knowledge or consent of their parents, completely offside. But do not criticize or you may also have your kids taken away.
McGilty is the biggest liar, the biggest waster, and the most corrupted premier in Ontario's history.
McGuinty is simply trying to hang on to power by any means.
And people vote for him over and over.
Does Ontario deserve this kind of SNEAK?
We will find out the next election.
CAS: STEALINNG YOUR CHILDREN FOR THE LAST 50 YEARS
I know that this idea will not be well received on this forum, but I say let's hire more government employees - specifically auditors. 1 for every 4 organizations that receives money from the government. Let them go though the books each year and recommend the level of funding to be provided based upon what is really being spent on the achieving the organization's mandate. I'm sure the savings would be more than enough to cover their salaries.
I have adopted a child from the Simcoe CAS. He had a great foster home with gifted and loving caregivers. I have found most of the CAS workers to be profoundly altruistic and motivated by what's best for the child. You can debate whether the CAS is too dogmatic,or is paralysed with regulatory restraint; or simply that it takes on more than it can handle. After all, you can point out that they place less than 10% of children in Crown Ward care (their's) into adoptive family homes.The process to become adoptive parents in most places is an onerous task - you are held to the highest standard of open custody facility care - in most areas of Ontario. I am aware that the standards are not uniform,that is a shame; not all are culpable here though
As an organization CAS is almost as useless and corruptpt as WSIB. Both agencies refuse to investigate anything and just react. They should be immediately disbanded and new organizations set up with a proper mandate and properly trained workers. As it stands now, all they do is prey on the week and disadvantaged.
McGuinty would sell his own mother,do you know what politics stands 4? PO- poor people LI-liars TICS-little bloodsuckers so politicianS stand 4 BLOODSUCKERS WHO LIE TO POOR PEOPLE,Mcskinme &DUNCAN DONUT ARE nothing but blood sucking little parasites.Who in their right mind would vote 4 this scumbags?If the dopey lot votes this ahole in you will get what you deserve,Ontario is the next ghost town,since McGuinty has got in what the f has he done but raped Ontario,used to be a great place to live,just wait till they try to bring in carbon tax they are going to destroy people with obscene pricing for energy and that little bastard will be nowhere to be seen.
Please read 15 (6) of the Child and Family services Act as it applies to the employees of Ontario's Children's Aid Workers. It explains why CAS workers can't be charged when a child dies in the care of CAS.
CAS mandate. People, please read 15 (6) of the CAS mandate. This will explain why employees of The CAS never get charged when a child dies in the care of The CAS.
The real crime here is that The CAS is a (defined by Ontario Law) a private company that receives public money. When a child dies in the care of CAS...1- The CAS is a "private" business, they are not obligated to hand over records when a crime is commited. 2- They have the protection of the provincial government when a crime is commited, hence, the usless corner's inquests. It's in the CAS mandate. Read it people!
democracy vs police state
self promoting hypocrites ,sitting down at $500 plate dinners giving reach arounds to each other how can there be 109 dead children under the care of cas .has there been a criminal investigation into these deaths.
Sam I Am
I've seen these people do nothing but meddle in the lives of good people I know, while letting the real monsters get away with murder. I'm extremely glad their funding has been cut, and I hope they get eliminated entirely.
Surprise,surprise, when are you twits in Toronto going to wake up and see what the liebrals are about, both provincial and federal. McGinty said I won't lower your taxes but won't raise them either, then when elected brought in the the biggest tax calling it a health care premium. Suckers then elected him again with more B.S. Just wait and see how your ahole burns with the hst. Time to be your own province idiots and quit pulling the rest of us down the drain.
evil but chewy
Let's see this issue raised again and again at election time,complete with billboard exposure,a dog and pony show playing politics with the most vulnerable.
Ombudsman oversight needed
The mounting body count of dead children gets bigger every year. Yet CAS funding goes up every year as well.
Why are the 53 CAS agencies being barred from investigtaive review by the Ontario Ombudsman, and more importantly why are the deaths in particular totally off the scale to be investigated by anyone.
A memorial to these kids is a good idea, and so is the Ombudsman looking into this secret cesspool to find out WHY THESE KIDS ARE DYING? What are they doing, and why are they doing it??
109 dead kids and no one being responsible for it? Criminal, McGuinty cares about protecting CAS not children, what a wretched government; secrecy, lies, corrupt consultants and cover-ups.
Give them more money 109 children died in Ontario last year under children's aid society open file management we need to increase the murder of children and that costs money honey. While the so-called protectors are having fun in the sun the children are used, abused and disposed of like carcasses of beef. We Ontarian's are a fine group of people we support and pay for murder and then we praise the murderers with money. Incidentally we have a section of the 401 from Trenton to Toronto called the HIGHWAY OF HERO'S for the 141 soldiers killed since 2002 seems we need to dedicate the whole 401 the two lanes going West and the two lanes going East for the children murdered in Ontario in the same time period. OVERSIGHT OR IS THAT NO SIGHT.
Give them more money 109 children died in Ontario last year under children's aid society open file management we need to increase the murder of children and that costs money honey. While the so-called protectors are having fun in the sun the children are used, abused and disposed of like carcasses of beef. We Ontarian's are a fine group of people we support and pay for murder and then we praise the murderers with money. Incidentally we have a section of the 401 from Trenton to Toronto called the HIGHWAY OF HERO'S for the 141 soldiers killed since 2002 seems we need to dedicate the whole 401 the two lanes going West and the two lanes going East for the children murdered in Ontario in the same time period. OVERSIGHT OR IS THAT NO SIGHT.
Ombudsman oversight needed
The York CAS was one of four agencies that failied in the Ontario audit a few years ago. Instead of portraying them as a poor and pitiful agency totally innocent... and all the other hogwash why is this agency not being audited by the Ontario auditor along with the 52 counterpart sister agencies.
The previous audit was by far not flattering - managers jetting to foreign countries and holiday resorts, SUV's and lavish meals, and a lack of police checks for caregivers. A nightmarish report that showed these agencies are spending money on themselves - not children as is constantly being spewed here.
Not only should the auditor audit all of them the Ontario Ombudsman should be give oversight of all of them too. CAS is sneaky even more so.
The man has no shame
Meanwhile McGuinty wastes untold millions
".....the disclosure could reasonably be expected to be injurious to the financial interests of the Government of Ontario,..."
and dragging law abiding Ontario Citizens into Court on the Public dime and at the expense of Children.
Read the truth,then tell McGuinty to stop playing Political games with the lives of your children.
Source: Toronto Sun
Rally for Family Preservation
March 30, 2010 permalink
Children belong in families!
Attendance at this afternoon's rally to reinstate and protect the Children's Aid Society of Algoma's Family Preservation unit was better than it looked.
So says rally organizer Dawn Gauthier (shown).
While only about 25 people actually came out to rally at the cenotaph in front of the Sault Ste. Marie Court House, Gauthier said many others sent messages of support through e-mail, Facebook and by telephone.
Gauthier led an energetic and enthusiastic event, beginning with a letter she read from Sault MP Tony Martin.
"We are here to speak for the many who have not the freedom or the ability to lend their own voice to this outcry," she said. "This program has helped with many families by providing good supports, helping with teaching effective parenting skills and providing a voice within the system."
Gauthier's thoughts were echoed by others who took up the shiny gold loudspeaker but didn't identify themselves.
Several shouted that children belong in families - not foster care - and said the family preservation program did just that.
Gauthier said many who sent in their support couldn't be at the rally because they were afraid their participation might negatively affect the outcome of their custody cases currently before the courts.
Others couldn't be there, she said, because it would signify a conflict of interest.
And some couldn't attend because they were in class.
All said that the family preservation program was there when they needed it and they fear for families who will need it now that it's gone.
Gauthier everyone in attendance to write to Laurel C. Broten, Ontario's minister of child and youth services to tell her how important family preservation is to Saultites.
Source: SooToday (online only)
Addendum: A newspaper printed an opinion piece by the rally organizer.
CAS programs that protected at-risk children have been cut
FROM DAWN GAUTHIER, Parents for Children's Aid Society Family Preservation:I want to bring to your attention a very serious issue that is going to affect many families in a negative way. I am a parent who has been involved with the Children's Aid Society both as a child and as a parent.
As a child, I was removed from my home and my parents had to fight hard in court to have my brother and I returned. The workers who were involved overstepped their boundaries by doing things that were against the rules and it did have a negative impact in my life.
If Family Preservation had been there, I believe things would have been much better for my parents and me. As a parent involved with CAS, I am very thankful for Family Preservation and the many good workers who work that program.
They have been very supportive with what I have been going through with issues both involving the CAS and not. I am very, very thankful for them. Programs such as Family Preservation and Family Intervention work with families to prevent them for going into care, facilitates the strengthening of support systems for families, and assists with diminishing barriers to effective parenting. They also help with assessing and resolving issues that would prevent children from remaining in their home and provide intensive intervention to families by promoting a sense of belonging, nurturing, and implementation of effective strategies.
But due to a $1.1-million deficit at Children's Aid Society of Algoma, these programs will no longer be available. As of April 12, in the District of Algoma, CAS will lay off six workers and one supervisor who work in the Family Preservation program that helps at-risk children in "open child protection families." As well, in March 2011, our community lost the Family Intervention program. Losing these supports will have a very negative effect on our community as a whole. Besides more children being removed from their homes and placed into foster care, there will be many other community agencies affected by this. Family Preservation has worked closely with other agencies such as Algoma Family Services, Women In Crisis, and Ontario Works to help families have the supports they need and to help provide a better future for these families.
The ripple effect of these program cuts on our community will be outstanding in a negative way. The removal of these supports will create longer wait times for services needed, with more families falling through the cracks. I know, from experience, that in the long run, this will hurt the children that the society was designed to protect. These cutbacks will set back the work the society has been doing 10 to 15 years.
Not providing the funding that would keep open programs such as Family Preservation seems "shortsighted," on the part of the Ministry of Child and Youth Services. These cuts are in stark contrast to the message the Ministry of Child and Youth Services sent in 2006, when it passed a bill that required CAS to work with families to help them take better care of their children.
I really would like the media to bring this to the attention of the public and to Queen's Park. The people that CAS is involved with need these programs to continue. In order for money to be available for them to continue, the legislation needs to change on how funding is provided to the Children's Aid Society. This doesn't just affect the community that I live in but many more across the province.
We held a rally [recently] in Sault Ste Marie to show how much these programs are important and needed in the community.
[Editor's note: Jim Baraniuk, chief executive officer of the Children's Aid Society of Algoma District, points out that mechanisms now are in place to ensure against abuses by CAS workers. A family court judge determines whether or not the CAS has abused its power and families have their own lawyer to help ensure this.]
Source: Sault Ste Marie This Week
Pregnant Women Controlled
March 30, 2010 permalink
Police in Seattle can legally taser a pregnant woman who is not breaching the peace. An appellate court has ruled that police acted properly when they zapped Malaika Brooks three times after she refused to sign a summons which she thought was an admission of guilt. Residents of Seattle can sleep peacefully now that they are safe from the danger of a crime wave by gangs of pregnant women.
Court OKs Repeated Tasering of Pregnant Woman
A federal appeals court says three Seattle police officers did not employ excessive force when they repeatedly tasered a visibly pregnant woman for refusing to sign a speeding ticket.
The lawyer representing Malaika Brooks said Monday that the court’s 2-1 decision sanctioned “pain compliance” tactics through a modern-day version of the cattle prod.
“To inflict pain on a person if that person is not doing what the police want that person to do is simply outrageous,” said Eric Zubel, the woman’s attorney. “I cannot say that loud enough.”
Zubel said he would ask the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear Friday’s 2-1 decision that drew a sharp dissent from Judge Marsha Berzon:
“Refusing to sign a speeding ticket was at the time a nonarrestable misdemeanor; now, in Washington, it is not even that. Brooks had no weapons and had not harmed or threatened to harm a soul,” (.pdf) Berzon wrote. “Although she had told the officers she was seven months pregnant, they proceeded to use a Taser on her, not once but three times, causing her to scream with pain and leaving burn marks and permanent scars.”
The majority noted that the M26 Taser was set in “stun mode” and did not cause as much pain as when set on “dart mode.” The majority noted that the circuit’s recent and leading decision on the issue concerned excessive force in the context of a Taser being set on Dart mode, which causes “neuro-muscular incapacitation.”
Stun mode, the court noted, didn’t rise to the level of excessive force because it imposes “temporary, localized pain only.”
The majority reversed a lower court judge who said the woman’s rights were violated. The lower court’s failure to distinguish between the two levels of pain modes “led the court to err in finding excessive force.”
The woman was driving her 12-year-old to the African American Academy in Seattle when she was pulled over on suspicion of speeding in 2004. The child left the car for school and a verbal spat with the police resulted in the woman receiving three, 50,000-volt shocks, first to her thigh, then shoulder and neck while she was in her vehicle. An officer was holding Brooks’ arm behind Brooks’ back while she was being shocked.
Brooks gave the officer her driver’s license, but Brooks refused to sign the ticket — believing it was akin to signing a confession. She was ultimately arrested for refusing to sign and to comply with officers asking her to exit the vehicle.
“A suspect who repeatedly refuses to comply with instructions or leave her car escalates the risk involved for officers unable to predict what type of noncompliance might come next,” Judge Cynthia Holcomb Hall wrote for the majority. She was joined by Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain.
“Therefore, while using the Taser three times makes this a closer case, we find that it does not show excessive force in light of the corresponding escalation of Brooks’ resistance and the fact that it was the third tasing that appeared to dislodge her such that the officers could finally extract her from her car and gain control over her,” Hall wrote.
Mother Jailed for Taking Her Own Baby
March 27, 2010 permalink
Mother Samantha Lynn Folan is in jail charged with two felonies for taking her own baby daughter, Rylee Alexann Folan. Child protectors had placed the girl with her great-grandmother in Roseville Michigan.
Trio arraigned in child’s kidnapping
ROSEVILLE — The 20-year-old mother who abducted her infant daughter from protective custody on March 24 is now being held on $1.5 million bond.
During arraignment March 26 before 39th District Court Judge Marco Santia, Samantha Lynn Folan was charged with one count of unlawful imprisonment and one count of conspiracy to unlawful imprisonment, both 15-year felonies.
Her boyfriend, 18-year-old Ryan Frederick of Clinton Township, is being held on $2 million bond after being charged with one count of kidnapping-child enticement and one count of conspiracy to unlawful imprisonment.
A third suspect, 25-year-old Michael Payne of Three Rivers, was also charged with kidnapping and conspiracy to unlawful imprisonment.
On March 24, Folan snatched 10-month-old Rylee Alexann Folan from the baby’s great-grandmother’s home in Roseville, then drove with Frederick to Payne’s home in Three Rivers. Following tips generated by an Amber Alert, State Police, FBI agents and local police found Rylee unharmed the next afternoon.
Roseville Deputy Chief James Berlin said several tips led police to Payne’s home.
“A tipster who had seen the Amber Alert and was concerned for the safety of the child notified the Roseville police that Frederick and Folan may be in the company of a friend of Frederick’s,” Berlin said.
He noted that with the help of agents from the Clinton Township office of the FBI, Michigan State Troopers, Three Rivers police and detectives from the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department, surveillance was set up on the home where they were suspected to be staying.
Shortly after, officers entered the house, recovered Rylee and arrested the three without incident.
Police had feared for Rylee’s safety, saying that the girl’s mother and Frederick are addicted to illegal drugs and had no means of properly caring for a child. Folan was to have her parental rights terminated at a court hearing April 6.
You can reach Staff Writer Robin Ruehlen at email@example.com or at (586) 279-1105.
Source: C and G News
Nancy Schaefer R.I.P.
March 27, 2010 permalink
Former Georgia state senator Nancy Schaefer is dead.
Murder-suicide possible cause of deaths of former state Sen. Schaefer and husband
Conservative political activist and former state Sen. Nancy Schaefer and her husband Bruce have died of an apparent murder-suicide.
Few details were available Saturday, the day after the couple's bodies were found. It could be weeks before autopsy results are available, Habersham county Coroner Kasey McEntire told the AJC Saturday.
"There will be a thorough investigation to determine what happened," GBI spokesman John Bankhead told the AJC. He could not say who might have been the shooter. Six GBI agents and two crime scene technicians are at the scene of the Schaefer home in Habersham County.
An announcement was made around 7:30 p.m. Friday on the floor of the Georgia General Assembly.
Sen. Don Thomas, a physician and who said he knew the couple well, said he believed Bruce Schaefer, 74, had cancer.
“In those moments, you are not at your complete sanity," said Thomas, of Dalton. "Some people figure the best way is to end it for both of you. They were married for so long. Loved each other so much. When you see somebody that you love so much, every now and then, you think the best way out of it is to go and be with the Lord. ”
Schaefer, a former Atlanta mayoral candidate and two-term senator, was beaten by Habersham County Commission Chairman Jim Butterworth in a north Georgia Republican runoff in 2008.
“Nancy Schaefer was a great lady, and she served Georgia and her constituents with honor and grace,” said Rep. Rick Austin who made the announcement from the house floor of the couple's death before the chamber observed a moment of silence. Austin, represents Habersham and White counties, near Schaefer's home.
Schaefer and her husband were the parents of five children and moved to Habersham County in North Georgia after living in Atlanta for 35 years. The daughter of a North Georgia Superior Court Judge and granddaughter of a state legislator, Schaefer, 73, entered the public eye in 1985 when she organized a Constitutional Liberties Rally in Atlanta.
The following year, she founded Schaefer Family Concerns, Inc., a nonprofit foundation dedicated to issues such as display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings and opposition to abortion.
She was the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor in 1994. In 1998, she sought the GOP nomination for governor.
According to her state senate biography, she was an eight year Trustee of the National Ethics and Religions Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). She represented Family Concerns and the SBC at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, the U.N. Conference on Human Settlements in Istanbul, the U.N. Conference on Food in Rome, Italy and the U.N. follow up Conference to Beijing in New York.
She is a former First Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, a frequent speaker to churches of all denominations, a speaker to civic and political organizations, and a frequent guest on radio and local and national television programs across the nation. She was also a Sunday School Teacher.
Nancy Schaefer was chosen as a Gracious Lady of Georgia, served on numerous advisory boards and directorships and in 2001 became the first woman Trustee for Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa, Georgia.
As a state senator, Schaefer represented the 50th district, including Banks, Franklin, Habersham, Hart, Rabun, Stephens, and Towns Counties, as well as part of White County.
- Staff writers Ernie Suggs, Nancy Badertscher and Alexis Stevens contributed to this report
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Addendum: An autopsy ends the notion that husband Bruce suffered from cancer. An article below from the Gainesville Times blames finances for the murder/suicide and alleges that Bruce was the shooter, killing Nancy as she slept. Following that is an epitaph by Daniel Weaver.
Schaefer's husband was shooter, law authorities say
Finances believed to be linked to shooting death of former state senator and her spouse
Troubled by financial problems, the husband of former state Sen. Nancy Schaefer shot his wife to death as she lay sleeping Friday morning before turning the gun on himself, authorities said Saturday.
Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell said Bruce and Nancy Schaefer's daughter, who lives in the same gated community as the Schaefers, discovered their bodies in a bedroom about 5:30 p.m. Friday. He said a handgun was used in the shootings and was found near Bruce Schaefer's body.
An autopsy showed Nancy Schaefer died from a gunshot wound to the back and that Bruce Schaefer died from a gunshot wound to the chest.
Authorities believe Nancy Schaefer was asleep when she was shot, probably sometime Friday morning, Terrell said.
Several notes written by Bruce Schaefer were left behind.
"Some financial problems were mentioned," Terrell said. "That might have been one reason."
Contrary to previous reports, Bruce Schaefer, 74, was not suffering from any serious illnesses at the time of the shootings, their daughter told the sheriff. Authorities were unaware of Nancy Schaefer, 73, having any major health problems, Terrell said.
News of the prominent conservative Republican's sudden death was met by Habersham County residents with "utter shock," said State Rep. Rick Austin, who represents Habersham County and part of White County. Austin announced her death from the House floor Friday evening.
"It's just utter disbelief," Austin said Saturday. "You never know. If there was a family that you would have thought would be very much immune to something like this, it would have been that family. People are deeply saddened. It's just a terrible tragedy."
Austin, who knew Schaefer for several years, described the former lawmaker as "a great, graceful lady, who was very involved in her community and very passionate about the issues that concerned her. She's going to be deeply missed."
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle released a statement Saturday, saying, "I had the privilege of serving with Nancy for several years in the state Senate and appreciated her kind heart and desire to serve the people of Georgia well. Nita and I will be praying for the entire Schaefer family and ask that the Lord will provide them with peace that passes all understanding during this difficult time." Schaefer, who has been active in conservative Christian causes for many years, was president of Family Concerns, a Christian organization.
She was elected in 2004 after federally redrawn legislative districts created an open seat in the 50th District. She defeated two Republican challengers and a Democrat to win the seat.
Prior to that, Schaefer ran for mayor of Atlanta in 1993, was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 1994 and finished third in the GOP race for governor in 1998.
Gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal, who represented the 9th U.S. Congressional District for nine terms, issued a statement Saturday saying that Schaefer was "passionate about her work and the causes to which she was so devoted."
"She will be remembered for her public service to Georgia," Deal said. "Sandra and I will join others in praying for her family in this terrible tragedy."
Before seeking re-election in 2008, Schaefer considered a challenge to U.S. Rep. Paul Broun for the 10th District congressional seat. She later chose to run for re-election to the state senate, but lost in the Republican primary to eventual winner Jim Butterworth.
On Saturday, Butterworth issued a statement to area media expressing his condolences to the Schaefer family.
"The Schaefers were a blessing to many who were privileged to know them," Butterworth said. "We are reminded that the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and as the Schaefer family mourns their loss, they can be assured that Amy and I will keep them in our prayers for many months to come."
Don Thomas, a state senator from Dalton, said he knew the Schaefers well and traveled to Habersham County to help support them in Nancy Schaefer's last campaign.
"They were a real strong, Christian conservative family, and you wonder why something like this happens," Thomas said. "They seemed just madly in love all of their lives. It would appear there was never a cross word between them."
Schaefer was a former first vice president of the Georgia Baptist Convention, a frequent speaker to churches of all denominations, a speaker to civic and political organizations and a frequent guest on radio and local and national television programs. She once was host of a daily commentary show on WNIV-AM, an Atlanta Christian radio station, according to her state Senate biography.
In 2001, she became the first female trustee of Toccoa Falls College.
She and her husband lived in Atlanta for 35 years before relocating to Habersham County, where they settled in The Orchard, a gated golf community near Turnerville.
The 50th District, which she served, includes Habersham, Rabun, Towns, Stephens, Banks, Franklin, Hart and a portion of White counties.
Schaefer and her husband had five children and 13 grandchildren.
Source: Gainesville Times
CPS opponents jumping to conclusions about the murder suicide of Nancy Schaefer and her husband
The Gainesville Times has been covering the death of former Georgia State Senator and advocate for family rights and the reform of Child Protective Services, Nancy Schaefer.
Said the Times yesterday, "Troubled by financial problems, the husband of former state Sen. Nancy Schaefer shot his wife to death as she lay sleeping Friday morning before turning the gun on himself, authorities said Saturday."
"Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell said Bruce and Nancy Schaefer's daughter, who lives in the same gated community as the Schaefers, discovered their bodies in a bedroom about 5:30 p.m. Friday. He said a handgun was used in the shootings and was found near Bruce Schaefer's body."
"An autopsy showed Nancy Schaefer died from a gunshot wound to the back and that Bruce Schaefer died from a gunshot wound to the chest.""
Already many people who are advocating that Child Protective Services be abolished or reformed are claiming that it is not a murder-suicide and that something more sinister happened and everything is being covered up.
I say, "Slow down."
One thing that is killing our movement for the reform of Child Protective Services is that too many advocates see conspiracies everywhere. We could accomplish a lot more in this movement if we would stop worrying about who shot JFK, who shot JR, did W order the destruction of the World Trade Center and similar questions. Stop worrying about the Trilateral Commission, the Bohemian Grove, ZOG, and the conspiracy of world bankers and focus on what you can do about the abuses of Child Protective Services in the county or state where you live.
Deal in facts and fight the battles that you actually have the brains and ability to win. Don't ruin your reputation and your ability to persuade people by following the likes of David Icke.
Right now there is no evidence to assume that anyone else but Nancy Schaefer's husband killed her. Until we find out different, we should keep our mouths shut and not sully the memory of Nancy Schaefer by jumping to conclusions and saying things that do nothing to honor her.
RIP Nancy Schaefer!
Addendum: An article on the Schaefers' financial troubles gives a possible motive.
Foreclosure was looming for Schaefers
Whether financial troubles were the motive for the March 26 murder-suicide of Nancy and Bruce Schaefer of Turnerville isn't known.
What is clear is that financial problems were plaguing the couple.
At 9:06 a.m. Wednesday, March 31, hours before the Schaefers' funeral in Toccoa, The Northeast Georgian received a legal advertisement of notice of sale under power to secure debt by Nancy S. Schaefer.That legal advertisement notice states the original principal amount was $755,000.
The home is scheduled to be sold "at a public outcry for cash to the highest bidder before the courthouse door of Habersham County" during legal hours of sale on the first Tuesday of May (May 4).
The 4,700-square-foot house, located at 458 Yates Circle, Clarkesville, is located within the private, gated golf course community known as The Orchard near Turnerville.
The home is valued at $629,000, according to the Habersham County Tax Assessors' Office.
Source: Northeast Georgian
March 26, 2010 permalink
Durham CAS, and many other societies throughout Ontario have finally reached the point where they are cutting services and laying off staff. While these desperate pleas are coming to save their funding (always in the name of the children), cabinet level politicians are making up their minds what to do. This is a point where expressing your views could make a difference. Let a senior politician know what you think, or attend one of the frequent rallies in support of ombudsman oversight.
CAS seeks support from Durham Region
DURHAM -- More than 60 staff members could be laid off and 123 children wouldn't get service from the Durham Children's Aid Society if the organization doesn't get more provincial funding.
Wanda Secord, the society's executive director, told Durham council's finance committee on Wednesday the organization is forecasting a $3.8-million funding shortfall this year.
In the past, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services would provide 'top-up funding' at the end of the year, so a CAS wouldn't have a deficit. This year, however, the ministry has said there won't be such funding and has ordered societies to balance their budgets.
The process of layoffs would begin in April, with notices of layoffs going to staff, Ms. Secord said, adding the layoffs would take place 12 weeks later.
Wage freezes for staff have been considered, but the union representing 280 staff members isn't "prepared to do a roll back. Management staff have taken reduced increases," she staled.
In 2008-09, the agency served almost 5,400 families and 1,220 children. Ms. Secord noted about 900 children are in the society's care.
Funding is based on previous years' data and expenditures, she said.
"We're working on the 2007-2008 framework. Right off the bat, we're in a deficit position."
The society's budget this year is $71.6 million and the organization is expecting the same level of funding next year, "although, that hasn't been confirmed," she added.
"We're not here asking for money. We asking for political advocacy and political intervention," Ms. Secord stated.
Meetings have been held with all Durham Region MPPs, with opposition members raising the issue in the legislature.
"Last year, every day, with few exceptions, the issue was brought up in the house," she said.
Ajax Mayor Steve Parish said, "Everyone is sympathetic. We've heard this a lot. Durham and the 905 have been underfunded in health and social services.
He noted regional and local councils have passed resolutions seeking more social service and health funding.
Marilyn Pearce, Scugog Mayor and chairwoman of the committee, said funding shortfalls with CAS and other social service agencies will eventually affect the Region.
"It will have an impact on regional finances down the road."
Regional council on Wednesday is expected to pass a resolution asking the Province to provide more money to the CAS.
Source: Oshawa This Week (print edition)
thanks to [ justiceismyreward at hotmail.com ]
Murdered Girls' History Still Secret
March 26, 2010 permalink
After a death in foster care, social services response follows a script. In the case of Renee Bowman, who killed two of her foster/adopted daughters and stored them in her freezer, that script has come to an end with the sentencing of Mrs Bowman to life in prison. An editorial in the Washington Post comments on how the public is still left in the dark by the whole process. Just about nothing is known about the origin of the girls, how they were separated from their parents, and the process that led to the selection of Renee Bowman. It is only through a news report of a lawsuit that we found that one of the dead girls, Jasmine Nicole Bowman, was born Humble Souljourna Muhammad, daughter of Michael Muhammad. There can't be real reform until all of the facts of foster and adoptive failures are disclosed.
Why are Renee Bowman's adoptions still cloaked in secrecy?
AS HE SENTENCED Renee Bowman to life in prison for murdering two daughters she adopted, a Montgomery County Circuit judge wondered how this woman was ever judged to be a fit parent. It's a good question, but one that may never be answered fully because secrecy shrouds the government's handling of child adoption and welfare cases. Until there is more transparency, mistakes can be easily hidden and lessons will go unlearned.
Judge Michael Algeo nearly broke down as he addressed the 44-year-old woman, telling her that he's never dealt with such horror. Ms. Bowman adopted three girls and, according to court testimony, systematically abused and terrorized them. Two girls -- Minnet, who would have been 12 now, and Jasmine, who would have been 11 -- were killed and stuffed in a freezer. Only when their sister, now 9, escaped were the bodies discovered in September 2008 in Ms. Bowman's Southern Maryland home. It's unclear when the girls were killed, but an autopsy showed they died of asphyxiation. The adoptions, in 2001 and 2004, were handled through the District of Columbia's child welfare agency, which continued to pay Ms. Bowman a stipend for their care even as their bodies were hidden in ice.
'The court certainly questions how that [the adoptions] could have been done, but it was done. And I'm not going to go behind that," said the judge. Indeed, as Richard Wexler of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform pointed out, the judge really couldn't delve further because of the strict privacy laws that govern child welfare cases and family court proceedings in the District and Maryland.
According to sources familiar with the case, Ms. Bowman was subject to a rigorous review process when she first became a foster parent to one of the girls in 1997. She was employed, owned her own home, was given high marks by friends and co-workers, and had undergone the required training. But should authorities have picked up on the warning signs when, for instance, she filed for bankruptcy or was convicted in 1999 of threatening to harm an elderly motorist? What about when Maryland's social services agency got a complaint of neglect and found it to be unfounded?
Officials in both the District and Maryland say they have reviewed procedures and tightened policies, such as requiring parents who receive subsidies to provide evidence that children are in school or have been immunized. It is possible that this case was appropriately handled, that the awful spiral of events began after Ms. Bowman adopted the children and that nothing could have stopped the evil. Too bad the public will never know for sure.
Source: Washington Post
Group Home Closing
March 26, 2010 permalink
London Ontario's children's aid society is closing a group home. The reporter tells the story in doomsday terms, omitting the possibility of leaving children with mom and dad.
CAS closing group homes
A lack of funding from Queen's Park has forced the London region's Children's Aid Society to close its remaining group homes -- moves staff say will place in harm's way the most vulnerable of children and adolescents.
"These kids will have no place to go but shelters. I'm really scared for these kids," said a staffer at one of the homes.
The groups homes on Cheapside, Gunn and Argyle streets in London have been used for children whose special needs make it difficult to place them in foster care or a privately-operated group home, children battling addictions or mental health challenges or whose conduct puts others at risk.
"These are children, who, for a variety of reasons, can't be in foster care," said Jane Fitzgerald, executive director of the Children's Aid Society of London and Middlesex.
She disputes the contention those children will have no place to go. The society won't simply shut the doors of its group homes, but rather take months and years if needed to find places for 18 children who now live there.
In the meantime, Fitzgerald hopes to come up with a plan with private and non-profit providers to manage high-need children after the group homes are closed. While the process will be a challenge, she believes those children will be looked after well because most children's aid societies in Ontario don't operate their own group homes.
"We're one of the last still providing this service directly," Fitzgerald said.
But several workers who spoke to The Free Press disagree and say the evidence is available, if only agency leaders would look.
In the past three years, the local CAS has closed three group homes and some kids who had been there have since struggled, one shuttled between foster families and a unsuitable home, another forced to live with a parent who said she wasn't able to cope and a third not taking needed medication, a staff member said.
But the society hasn't tracked the kids who left group homes to see if they were as well cared for after, the staff member said.
Fitzgerald agrees the group homes have benefits because child and youth workers deliver great programs and no child can be turned away because he or she has needs that are too intensive.
But that care comes with a price -- it costs the local CAS at least twice as much per child in its own group homes than it does to place them in foster care or private group homes, she said.
That's a cost that isn't affordable for an agency which this month had to secure a $2.3 million credit line from a bank and an extra $1.1 million from the Ontario government just to pay bills before the end of its fiscal year March 31.
In April, the agency will get its next fiscal year's allotment of cash, money that will first be used to pay back the bank, leaving a less-than adequate amount of funds that will run out by next January - three or four months before the end of the next fiscal year.
"One option we don't have is not to deliver our services," she said.
The Free Press e-mailed questions Thursday to Children and Youth Services Minister Laurel Broten, but neither she nor her staff replied.
The province has formed a three-member commission to improve the child welfare system but it hasn't yet made recommendations.
Fitzgerald and unionized staff agree on this: the Ontario government has neglected its commitment to vulnerable children, providing far too little funding to keep children safe.
"The true problem is the Ontario government won't fund CAS's to the level of service it expects," said Marnie Dickout, president of local 116 of the the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or follow jsherLFPRESS on Twitter.
Source: London Free Press
Mother Unleashes Dog on Social Worker
March 26, 2010 permalink
Louisiana mother Daphne M Bailey, who had been repeatedly harassed by social services, finally had enough and unleashed her dog when a social worker called. The social worker required medical treatment, and Bailey has been charged under a law that treats attacks on social workers the same as attacks on the police.
Social Services reviewing dog attack
Department officials want owner prosecuted under 2005 law
State Department of Social Services officials said Wednesday they were continuing to review an incident in which a Ouachita Parish case worker was attacked in West Monroe by an angry dog owned by a woman who had made threats against the department.
Department officials said they want the woman who was charged with aggravated battery in the incident, Daphne M. Bailey, to face a stiffer penalty under a 2005 law that sought to protect child welfare workers.
Bailey, 40, of 205 S. Fourth St., was charged Monday by West Monroe police with aggravated battery for the attack, which occurred around 3 p.m. In the arrest affidavit, police said the case worker went to Bailey's home to check on the safety of a child.
The arrest affidavit said the victim told police she frequents Bailey's home multiple times a year and has to enter the yard through a side gate because the front door is bolted.
Once inside the gate, police said, the case worker saw the angry dog, which was on a chain. The affidavit said Bailey unchained the dog, which attacked the case worker, and did not attempt to restrain the dog or help the worker during the attack.
The dog was described as a dark colored "chow" breed.
Bond was set at $10,000 for Bailey. The case worker was treated at St. Francis Medical Center for three bite wounds that required stitches. Social Services officials said the case worker, who had been on the job about a year, had not returned to work Wednesday.
In a prepared statement released Wednesday, Department of Social Services Secretary Kristy Nichols urged law enforcement officers to charge Bailey under a 2005 law that made attacks on case workers punishable by the same standards as attacks on police officers. That law imposes a fine of $500 and imprisonment of not less than 15 days and not more than 90 days. In addition, the law says that battery resulting in injury to a child welfare worker requiring medical attention imposes fines of up to $1,000 and imprisonment of one to five years.
Trey Williams, spokesman for Social Services in Baton Rouge, said the department has made no decision about changing its practices about visiting homes that might present dangerous settings. He said Social Services had not had a problem of this magnitude before with Bailey.
But the police report said "Bailey has been very angry with Social Services, making many recent threats toward the Social Services Office."
Williams said the child is in a safe environment.
Williams said case workers routinely encounter dangerous situations and are no strangers to threats. He said individual case workers make decisions about how to handle situations based on their own experience. He said case workers sometimes ask police to accompany them to the homes. The decision to enter Bailey's yard, Williams said, was up to the case worker, who Williams said is trained in identifying dangerous situations.
"We are constantly looking at different ways to make it safer for staff members. We provide them with cell phones and with computer access," he said. "In addition, we have great support from the law enforcement community. Numerous times, we have had to have law enforcement accompany us into homes."
Also, when case workers suspect danger might occur on a visit, they can require families to visit the Social Services office.
Williams said about a year ago in Bastrop, two case workers went to a home to check on a child's welfare when the mother left the room, ostensibly to get the child's clothing. When the mother returned, she had a gun. The case workers grabbed the child and fled without injury.
The department believes that incident was the first that was prosecuted using the 2005 law.
Source: Monroe News-Star
Addendum: Not guilty.
Woman acquitted in case of dog biting social worker
A woman accused of releasing a dog that attacked a State Department of Social Services case worker was found not guilty by a 4th Judicial District Court jury Wednesday.
Daphne M. Bailey of West Monroe was arrested in March by West Monroe police on one count of aggravated battery.
According to police reports, the case worker went to Bailey's house to check on the safety of a child. The case worker told police she frequented Bailey's home multiple times and has to enter the yard through a side gate because the front door is bolted.
Once the case worker was inside the fence, she saw a dog on a chain. The victim told police Bailey unchained the dog and it attacked her and Bailey did nothing to restrain the dog during the attack.
The dog was described as a dark colored "chow" breed. The victim was treated at a local hospital for three bite wounds that required stitches.
Social Services also reported the woman had made threats to the department before and pushed to have Bailey prosecuted under a 2005 law that made attacks on case workers punishable by the same standards as attacks on police officers.
Local attorney Charles Kincade served as the lead attorney on the case and said he is pleased with the result.
"Mrs. Bailey was facing serious prison time had she been convicted," Kincade said. "It is important to remember just because someone is accused of something doesn't mean they are guilty."
Source: Monroe News-Star
March 25, 2010 permalink
An organizer of the recent Sudbury rally writes:
After the comments by the executive director I fired off an email to the mayor and city council copy. [ news and reply at Sudbury Rally on TV ].
I would also like to note that emails are pouring in after the rally from all over Ontario asking how to get involved.
We've also just scheduled another rally.
The new people brought in by the news coverage could make for a larger rally. Link for details of planned rally.
Experts Want Protection
March 25, 2010 permalink
In the past Ontarians have suffered greatly in the courts at the hand of so-called experts. Many victims of pathologist Dr Charles Smith spent time in jail on his false testimony that they killed their own children, including at least two who spent more than a decade behind bars. A reasonable guess is that dozens of children were separated from their parents by just this one expert. And Dr Smith was not alone. Every Ontario bailiwick has its own stable of experts, some conscientious, but some in the rogue categories of hired gun, incompetent or outright fake. Recently psychologist Dr Gregory Carter has been exposed as a fraud.
Common sense would suggest that more controls are required to rein in abuse at the hands of these experts. Instead, the professional groups representing the experts are lobbying for laws to give them more protection from complaints by aggrieved parents.
Enclosed is an article from the National Post representing the view of professionals seeking protection from clients, and two replies.
Put limits on custody complaints, group urges
Canadian law must be changed to make it far more difficult for disgruntled parents to file disciplinary charges against psychologists, psychiatrists and other health professionals who do assessments in child-custody cases, says a group of leading lawyers and therapists.
The complaints submitted to professional bodies by the losing side in custody battles are turning experts off the important work, the group says in a discussion paper. The result is a "major social and legal problem," it says.
The group urges changing the rules so disciplinary bodies can only consider complaints from such parents if they have been first approved by the judge in the case or by the other, winning parent, or have been screened to weed out frivolous grievances.
"The family law justice system is seriously undermined every time a vexatious complaint is made by a parent to the college," said the paper signed by 11 psychologists, psychiatrists, lawyers and social workers. "It feels like a professional sucker punch and has no correlation to the skill, experience and savvy of the assessor."
Earlier this year, the Ontario Medical Association's board directed its staff to work with other professionals to push for changes to protect members against such complaints.
A parents-rights organization, however, says people embroiled in emotional disputes often feel the assessor is biased against one side, and need some recourse to question their professionalism.
Kris Titus of the Canadian Equal Parenting Council said she has heard from parents about psychologists or others who will spend a whole day with one parent in their home, and an hour in a "sterile" office environment with the other.
Or, in some cases, parents suspect the assessor appointed by the court is a "hired gun," inclined to reach a predetermined conclusion.
"When you're dealing with children, where every decision made is essentially going to affect someone's entire future, there has to be strict regulation of assessors," Ms. Titus said. "There are some assessors we have heard multiple complaints about."
The experts are appointed jointly in custody cases to interview, observe and sometime conduct psychological testing on family members to help determine who is best able to care for the children of divorces. The work can take months and cost the parties up to $75,000.
The lobby group is not looking to gain "immunity" for assessors from disciplinary charges, only to curb the high number of spurious complaints, said Nick Bala, a Queen's University law professor.
The report suggests three options, based partly on legislation in a handful of U.S. states.
- Require that a judge approve any disciplinary complaint, ensuring that it is more than merely an attack on the assessor's conclusions.
- Require that the complaint be approved by both parents, again making it less likely the grievance will be just another appeal by the losing party.
- Set up a vetting process within regulatory bodies that would throw out vexatious complaints before they are formally investigated.
Source: National Post
Posted by unregistered user: Karol_K
Dr. Charles Smith protests against unfair treatment he got in the Ontario Courts and in the Toronto legal community.
Disgraced pathologist Dr. Charles Smith bitterly complains that what he did over the years in Criminal Courts was not much different than what, now disgraced, psychologist “Dr.” Gregory Carter was doing in Family Courts.
Dr. Charles Smith claims that the only reason that he wrote his flawed pathology reports that were accusing parents that they murdered their children was that he was pressured by government officials who wanted to maximize number of children that CAS was able to take away from their parents. He claimed that in essence he was a hired gun serving provincial government’s agenda.
Dr. Charles Smith claims that psychologist “Dr.” Gregory Carter was providing similar services for Durham CAS in Family Courts accusing parents that they were mentally ill and they were danger to their own kids and by doing so he was helping CAS workers who wanted to maximize number of children that Durham CAS was able to take away from their parents.
What bothers Dr. Charles Smith the most is the fact that he was made into a scapegoat and nobody came to his defence whereas evident fraud “Dr.” Gregory Carter is hailed as a hero and a poor victim of disgruntled parents who lost their kids to CAS.
Where is the justice in any of that??
Posted March 24, 2010
Source: Ogopogo Media
Lawyers gum up custody process
Re: Put Limits On Custody Complaints, Group Urges, March 22.
Kris Titus of the Canadian Equal Parenting Council is correct that there are many inadequate custody assessments presented to Ontario family courts. As a former psychologist who conducted custody-access assessments for over 30 years, and as a former member of the complaints and discipline committees, it was clear that lawyers, not only "disgruntled parents," lodged complaints against assessors. A system in which a judge had to agree to a college investigation would risk having "hired guns" or incompetents operating with impunity.
The recently publicized events in Durham, Ont., in which certain judges favoured evidence provided by an alleged pseudo-psychologist over that of an authentic psychologist, demonstrate that having judges intrude into self-governing bodies would decrease the college's ability to protect the public. Colleges do not know whether a complaint is frivolous until they investigate.
Lawyers who do not like the results of a custody assessment may lodge strategic complaints, filing those complaints in family court to intimidate and impugn the testimony of the assessor. This is contrary to the Regulated Health Professions Act that prohibits complaints being presented in other civil and criminal venues. My experience is that the College of Psychologists has been remiss in preventing this situation. If it did, the incentive for lodging frivolous complaints would be significantly decreased.
Marty McKay, Toronto.
Source: National Post
March 25, 2010 permalink
Ontario's ombudsman André Marin, whose job was in peril, has a six month extension.
Statement by Ontario Ombudsman André Marin
Today I was advised that my appointment as Ombudsman of Ontario has been extended for a further six months. I would like to thank the Premier and Cabinet for their support and for giving me the opportunity to continue to the good work of my Office during this time.
– André Marin, Ombudsman of Ontario
Source: Ontario Ombudsman
Addendum: An opinion piece tells how hard it is to decide on a replacement for André Marin
Sought: another pit bull, or a tame Ombudsman?
Ontario parties at an impasse over choice of a replacement for André Marin
Ontario’s government and opposition are at an impasse over the fate of the province’s most prominent watchdog. And it’s not hard to understand why.
To put it mildly, André Marin – the pit bull who’s spent the past five years as the government’s Ombudsman – evokes strong feelings. Depending on who you talk to, he’s either a folk hero bravely standing up for the little guy against the machinery of big government, or a shameless self-promoter willing to destroy other people’s reputations so he can build his own.
That’s rather a significant difference of opinion. And it explains why the process to replace him, launched by the governing Liberals, has ground to a halt.
“As you are aware, a selection panel was named and charged with the recruitment for the position of Ombudsman,” provincial Speaker Steve Peters wrote recently in a letter to the parties’ house leaders, a copy of which was obtained by The Globe and Mail. “This is to advise you that the selection panel has been unable to reach a consensus on this matter.”
Mr. Peters concludes by informing the letter’s recipients that he’s referring it to them. But it’s doubtful whether the house leaders will have much more success than the panel in reaching agreement about who should replace Mr. Marin, because that would require them to agree on whether he should be replaced at all.
From the opposition’s perspective, it’s impossible to imagine anyone better. Mr. Marin, who previously served as the Canadian military’s first ombudsman and before that as the head of Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, has turned a formerly sleepy outpost into a force to be reckoned with. With a hyper-aggressive approach to investigating complaints, an apparent enthusiasm for stirring things up and an ability to speak in sound bites, he has repeatedly shone a light on where the government is coming up short – everywhere from the screening of newborn babies to the management of the province’s lottery system.
It’s doubtful any replacement would generate as much heat. So the opposition – the third-place NDP in particular, which has little chance of forming government after the next election and thus wouldn’t find itself in the ombudsman’s sights – isn’t interested in accepting any substitutes.
From the perspective of those who’ve come under his microscope – including politicians, and especially civil servants – it’s hard to imagine anyone worse.
They paint a picture of a publicity hound who’s interested more in his own profile than in the interests of the Ontarians he’s representing. There are charges that he only pursues those cases likely to generate media attention, in some cases actively seeking out complaints so he can pursue them, and then sensationalizes his findings to ensure maximum play. And there’s a belief that he’s insensitive to any casualties he racks up along the way, in some cases going out of his way to name individual employees.
Even if the truth about Mr. Marin is somewhere in the middle, it’s unlikely either side will see it that way. So the likeliest outcome is that, with the opposition unwilling to give the appearance of consensus that he should be replaced, the Liberals will have to steamroll over objections to name a replacement.
According to one rumour, the government is set on replacing Mr. Marin with a former federal Liberal MP. A senior official categorically denied that’s the case, and indeed it seems unlikely the Liberals would inflict those optics upon themselves. But they’re nevertheless going to invite criticism – much of it has started already – because anyone is going to look tame next to Mr. Marin.
In fact, the political hit from replacing Mr. Marin may be worse than anything he’s inflicted on the Liberals to date. But they seem to believe it’s still preferable to another five years of him.
Source: Globe and Mail
Father Charged After Defending Family
March 24, 2010 permalink
California child protectors removed ten children from parents John Lee Hickey and Kimberly Hickey because of claims that father spanked them and mother failed to protect. Their sixteen-year-old daughter wrote that she had been raped while in foster care, an allegation that CPS determined to be unfounded. Children Jessie Baker, 14, and Michaela, 12, escaped and were living with their parents when police tried to search the home for weapons. Father John thought they were coming to take the two children again and held the police off for 26 hours with gunfire. Police flushed them out by twice attacking the father and children with pepper spray. Hickey could get up to 80 years in jail. The press story portrays the family negatively, describing the home as a dilapidated trailer.
Bangor gunman was enraged over claim of rape by daughter placed in foster care
OROVILLE -- A Bangor man ordered Tuesday to stand trial for shooting at police during a 26-hour standoff at his home last month had been angry over the removal of his 10 children and claims by one that she was raped while in foster care.
"He believed the system had failed our children," said the wife of John Lee Hickey, 43.
When officers attempted to search his 202 Grimy Gulch Road trailer for weapons Feb. 9, Hickey barricaded himself inside and allegedly fired a shotgun and revolver at lawmen outside.
Only one round was returned by an officer during the incident.
Judge Kristen Lucena ruled there was sufficient evidence to hold Hickey for trial on eight felony charges, including three counts of assaulting a peace officer with a firearm, child endangerment and resisting an executive officer.
Hickey could potentially face more than 80 years in prison.
Two of the suspect's children were inside the dilapidated rural trailer with their mother at the time of the armed standoff, having recently run away from separate foster homes.
Kimberly Hickey, 37, said outside of court that Butte County Children's Services had removed their children Jan. 22, 2009, allegedly for the father "spanking" them and for the mother "not protecting" them, she said.
Several months before the standoff, Mrs. Hickey said her 16-year-old daughter wrote home that she had been raped in the foster home where she was placed.
The mother said a county caseworker told them the allegation was investigated and determined to be unfounded.
However, a few months later she was told that foster parent had lost her license and the Hickeys' children were being relocated to several other foster homes.
When deputies from the Butte County Sheriff's Office attempted to serve a warrant to search Hickey's home around 1 p.m. Feb. 9 to determine if he was complying with a domestic violence court order not to possess firearms, he allegedly said he had a gun, "that he was going to shoot us and kill us all," sheriff's detective William Olive testified.
During the standoff that ensued, he quoted Hickey as cursing the officers and saying "he was upset about his children ... and that one of his daughters was raped."
Hickey's wife said her husband became enraged because he believed the officers were there to return the two children there to foster homes.
The investigating officer testified Tuesday that about 11:45 p.m. he heard several shots from both a pistol and a shotgun, and quoted SWAT team members as saying they were being fired a upon, though no one was hit.
Several members of the Chico police SWAT team arrived later to relieve the sheriff's officers.
Chico detective Matt Nowicki testified that about 2:30 the following morning, he saw muzzle flashes coming from the suspect's trailer and what appeared to be pellet strikes hitting nearby brush.
It was initially believed Chico police officer Dave Bailey was hit by one of the shotgun blasts. It was later determined that what struck his helmet was debris from his partner, Ben Love, firing back one shot at Hickey with his rifle, according to Nowicki.
During the armed siege, officers twice put pepper spray into the trailer.
Hickey's wife said she and the children placed wet towels over their faces to ease the effects of the chemical agent and sought refuge in a bedroom.
The following afternoon, the three escaped through a hole in the floor moments before a second round of pepper gas finally prompted Hickey to surrender.
When told one officer may have been shot, Hickey apologized, saying he never intended to hurt anyone.
Hickey's son, Jessie Baker, 14, who was inside the trailer with his sister, Michaela, 12, during the siege, quoted his father as saying he was only "trying to scare the cops."
Sheriff's deputy Mason Miller testified that during a search of the residence afterward, he found a 12-gauge shotgun in the hallway along with a vest containing 61 live shotgun rounds, and 21 shotgun wads just outside the windows on the south side of the trailer.
Under questioning by Hickey's lawyer, Eric Ortner, Miller acknowledged he did not locate any spent bullets.
Ortner conceded his client had fired a weapon, but argued there was insufficient evidence he was attempting to shoot the officers, or that his actions endangered his children.
Deputy district attorney Michael Candela countered that Hickey's verbal threats to kill the officers, coupled with the evidence the shots were fired in the officers' direction, were enough to support the three assault charges and enhancements.
Shooting guns inside the trailer clearly endangered his family, the prosecutor argued.
The judge ordered Hickey held on $730,000 bail pending arraignment in two weeks on all eight felony charges.
Hickey's mother, Edna Rubin, 67, is scheduled to stand trial in May on related charges alleging she rammed a vehicle through a gate onto her son's property, narrowly missing officers, and encouraged Hickey to shoot the officers.
Source: Chico Enterprise-Record
Devon to be Freed
March 23, 2010 permalink
March 23, 2010 DAY 1825
It’s been a busy two days actually. We got a lot of rain and wind up here and we did a few things downtown. We are heading downtown tomorrow morning to do some paperwork at Family Court and lawyers offices. I am doing up a new video that I will probably finish up this evening and publish tomorrow before I head out for the day.
I have an update on Graham and Devon and the chemotherapy case I have been advocating and supporting since 2008. They went back to court and it got remanded until April 12, 2010. The Childrens Aid Society of Hamilton (CAS) is getting removed from the case and they are removing the publication ban on Devon speaking with the media. They will be back in court and I will be there to show moral support bringing coffee and friendship.
It would be great if I had the support of more people to come out and join in the festivities of the CAS walking away from this family after 2 years of torture to their boy.
Forced chemotherapy, ill health and sadness has abounded this family for the whole time.
If not for the support of family and friends I don’t think they would have made it through their days.
Posted by Advocate at 3:34 PM
Source: Mary Lou Janiga blog
Sudbury Rally on TV
March 22, 2010 permalink
Addendum: Here is a newspaper report from the Sudbury Star, and a reply by rally organizer Neil Haskett.
Critics want CAS held to account for actions
Cars honked in support for the 25 people protesting across the street from the Children's Aid Society for the Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin on Lasalle Boulevard.
Some signs held by the protesters asked for accountability, while others accused the society of being a corporation only interested in money and practising child abuse instead of protection.
The group is calling for the implementation of what was known as Bill 93, which would would give the Ombudsman oversight over the province's Children's Aid Societies.
Proposed by NDP leader Andrea Horwath to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, it had its first reading carried on June 11, 2008.
"We'd like the Ontario Ombudsman to investigate all of Ontario's 53 Children's Aid Societies. We've been asking for four years to file a complaint against the Sudbury Children's Aid Society. They've done nothing to address our concerns," said Neil Haskett, the Sudbury organizer for the Rally fro Accountability.
He no longer has the CAS in his family's life. They became involved after he filed a complaint about police actions years ago, Haskett said.
He would like to see the CAS's actions investigated by the Ombudsman.
Since the proroguing of provincial parliament earlier this month, Haskett and others at the rally are waiting for the bill to be reintroduced. The bill has the support of about 19 MPPs, including Horwath, he said. He can't understand why the government won't grant the Ombudsman this power.
"We want (them) .... to stop victimizing innocent families," Haskett said.
"We'd also like them to help foster children in care who are asking for help. Foster children who are being abused. We're not saying everyone is doing it. They've done great work. We're not disputing that. But we'd like them to be accountable for their actions."
It's a delicate balance between the protecting children and protecting the rights of families, said Colette Prevost, CAS executive director for the Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin
"We don't support the bill," she said. "It's not an active bill because the house has prorogued. We'll have to see whether it will be advanced again.
"Children's Aids across Ontario do not support another level of oversight because we understand there to be significant accountability in a number of different areas."
The Ministry of Children and Youth Services already oversees the CAS, she said. Any complaint can be sent to an executive director, such as herself. There's also an internal panel review.
"We understand the Ombudsman to have oversight on Child and Family Service Review board, which is a third-party review," she said. "The auditor general has oversight on any organization as far as the financial."
However, the review board will not hear cases regarding matter currently before the courts, already seen by the courts, or those that fall under the Child and Family Services Act, said Haskett. That doesn't leave much that it will hear.
Most of those attending the rally were there for personal reasons -- either they had asked the CAS to investigate abuse and felt it had failed to do so adequately, or were fighting to regain custody of their children.
James, his sister, Anna, and their parents travelled from Timmins to attend the rally, as well as visit with James' two young children. The children were removed from their mother, who is separated from James, when another sibling by a different father died.
The family has been fighting to get the children, now in foster care, into their custody. They say the CAS never contacted James or any of them when the children were removed from the mother's care.
They've had to undergo fingerprinting and other background checks. The matter will go before a family court judge in April.
Tammy McIntyre was there to protest the money spent on keeping children in care rather than investing in families to give them the support they need to deal with special needs children.
"Every child is a source of revenue for a very large corporation. It starts with the social workers, the medical profession is in there and, of course, the legal," she said.
There's more First Nations kids now in care then there were in residential schools, she added.
"It's really heartbreaking," McIntyre said. "They cry to come home. People think they get over it. They don't."
Source: Sudbury Star
In an interview with reporter Lara Bradley in today's Sudbury Star, March 23, 2010, Colette Prevost, Executive Director for the Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin Children's Aid Society states "We don't support the bill," in reference to Ontario's Bill 93 and she also stated "Children's Aids across Ontario do not support another level of oversight because we understand there to be significant accountability in a number of different areas."
- Being on the Children's Aid Board of Directors do you share Colette Prevost opinions?
- Have you prior to receiving this email ever reviewed my complaints? If so failed to involve police in criminal matters?
- Will you go on record and say all complaints against this Children's Aid are dealt with properly?
- Mayor Rodriguez will you and council support a private bill to protect this community with proper Ombudsman oversight over Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin Children's Aid Society? I guarantee you and council the Ontario Ombudsman would expose how bad this Children's Aid Society Is.
- Yesterday, during our passive rally that the media including Sudbury Star, CBC and Eastlink News was in attendance and that I recorded on video. Two police officers in separate, marked police cruisers arrived at the society and left within 10 minutes. Was the call made for another matter, was this call a form of intimidation by the Society against the rally participants and was it an offence and a waste of an emergency service already stretch thin?
I would like to provide more information that would prove children and families are in need and the benefits for our community to have Ontario Ombudsman oversight and would like help in the matter.
Mayor Rodriguez, I would like to invite you and the council to our next rally April 22nd, 2010 at 12 noon until 2pm. Same location: Across the road from Children's Aid on 319 LaSalle Blvd.
cc.. Mayor John Rodriguez, Joe Cimino - Councillor Ward 1, Jacques Barbeau - Councillor Ward 2, Claude Berthiaume - Councillor Ward 3, Evelyn Dutrisac - Councillor Ward 4, Ron Dupuis - Councillor Ward 5, Andre Rivest - Councillor Ward 6, Russ Thompson - Councillor Ward 7, Ted Callaghan - Councillor Ward 8, Doug Craig - Councillor Ward 9, Frances Caldarelli - Councillor Ward 10, Janet Gasparini - Councillor Ward 11, Joscelyne Landry-Altman, Lara Bradley
Source: Ontario's Bill 93 2008
March 22, 2010 permalink
Police issued an amber alert today for two boys, Jack and Christian Armstrong, allegedly taken by their father Richard Armstrong from children's aid in Kingston Ontario. The alert is already over, and most news sources have deleted their stories from the web, replacing them with uninformative text. Enclosed below is an article on the alert from the National post and two reader comments made on the Kingston Whig-Standard website.
Amber alert issued for two Ontario boys
The Ontario Provincial Police has issued an amber alert for two missing boys in the Kingston area.
Police said three-year-old Christian Armstrong and five-year-old Jack Armstrong, seen below, were taken by their father, Richard Armstrong, 45, seen left,
The father took the boys from a Children’s Aid Society building after threatening a worker with mace.
Jack is described as having dark hair, with dark eyes, is three feet, four inches tall and of Cree descent. He was last seen wearing dark pants, a dark green jacket and tan hiking boots.
Christian is also described as having dark hair, with dark eyes, is of Cree descent and is three feet tall. He was last seen wearing a yellow jacket, a dark winter hat with ear flaps, dark pants, an unknown crest on his shirt and wearing shoes with Velcro straps.
The boys’ father is believed to be travelling in a 2010 Chrysler Avenger with Ontario licence plate AXTB 992 rented from Budget Rent A Car.
Police said that it is likely the father will try to return to Saskatchewan with the children.
Source: National Post
Here are two comments posted to the Kingston Whig-Standard story on the amber alert:
CAS is one of the worst organizations out there. At least with Criminal Code cases, the crown has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt before they lock you up. CAS can just walk in and take your kids if they don't like you. And they certainly don't help your kid when you're the one who reports the abuse, not in any meaningful way anyways. The cops aren't much more help either. The CAS also loses (another word for kids dying on their watch) almost 100 kids each year to suicides, homicides (by foster parent mostly) and 'accidents' not to mention drug od's from people severly screwed up from being in the system their whole lives. And that's just in this province alone. There's also a disproportionate amount of First Nations children in care of CAS. The white man, destroys their heritage and culture with alcohol, residential schools and smallpox blankets (early example of biological warfare), then sets them up on a reserve system that leaves them almost totally reliable on the state or they lose their native status. Now, give them polluted water, inadaquate healthcare and barely enough money to survive. Next, the system provides an incentive to make more babies as it's based on how many children you have. It's not hard to see why they have the fastest growing population in Canada. A financial system that encourages more babies, a welfare system that's based on handouts not a hand up, and a CAS system to take away the kids that they're too poor to take care of. Then those kids get placed in potentially abusive situations with foster parents that consider them a paycheque and not a human being. How many mortgages have been paid off with the payments received for these kids?
It's a frustrating, thankless system and if you end up on the wrong side of it, you end up getting charged with kidnapping, all because you love your kids and want to see them.
Guess what justice, you don't have to mess up at all to have CAS knock on your door. I speak from experience. Someone called them on me because my child was using the so called "Breakfast Program" at the school. So because she had breakfast at home then went to the "Breakfast Program" at the school, the said my child was not being fed at home. She was also taking lunches to school, as well as getting the hot lunches at the school every day they were available. So don't tell me "YOU HAVE TO MESS UP TO HAVE CAS KNOCK ON YOUR DOOR!" Learn what you are talking about before you open your mouth.
Source: Kingston Whig-Standard
March 22, 2010 permalink
New York state keeps a Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. Falsely accused persons wishing to get off the registry can apply for a hearing. New York has a way of dealing with the applications. They have been shredded at the rate of a thousand applications a day.
NY denied thousands accused of child abuse the chance to clear their name
Syracuse, NY - The state Office of Children and Family Services in 2004 had a backlog of requests for hearings from people accused of mistreating children.
Three women had recently sued the agency over the delays that were costing them jobs working with kids because they couldn’t get their names cleared.
The agency had a solution to the thousands of pending written requests that would come under scrutiny by the lawsuit, according to sworn testimony from state workers: Shred.
For a month in 2004, the workers were under orders to take carts of the requests for name-clearing hearings and shred them after hours in their Albany offices, according to the testimony. They shredded about a thousand a day for a month, one OCFS worker testified.
The revelation came in a proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit last month that could affect 25,000 people across the state who are listed in a statewide database as reported child abusers. Under the settlement, anyone who requested a hearing on child abuse or maltreatment charges but never got it regained the right to the hearing.
Employers such as day care centers check the database to see if a job applicant was ever accused of child abuse. Those accused could request a hearing with OCFS to clear their names. More than half of those challenges result in the accused person being cleared, according to Thomas Hoffman, a lawyer for the three women who sued the state over the lengthy delays.
Those women claimed they lost opportunities for jobs working with children because the state took up to two years to give them a name-clearing hearing. By then, the potential employer had filled the job opening.
Four years after the suit was filed, a whistleblower who works for OCFS called Hoffman, he said. She told him how the agency was getting rid of the written requests for hearings, then marking the case “waived” or “withdrawn” on the database, court papers said. The state never told the accused. To the inquiring employer, it would appear that the person had given up on their request for a hearing, and the child abuse accusation stood.
The backlog of hearing requests was much longer than two years — some requests had been sitting around for seven years, court papers said.
The whistleblower came forward in February 2009. Hoffman then took testimony of 18 or 19 OCFS workers about the handling of the requests for hearings, he said.
In some cases, workers called the prospective employers with whom the accused person had applied for a job, according to the workers’ testimony. If the employer was no longer interested, the state workers were told to mark the file “waived,” according to the testimony of six OCFS workers. The accused person was never notified in those cases. The written requests were shredded or thrown in the garbage, at least three of the workers testified.
If the whistleblower hadn’t come forward about the shredded cases, Hoffman would never have known the extent of the backlog, he said.
Cathy Dufty, a clerical worker in the office, testified that supervisor David Peters ordered her to gather a bunch of temp workers and start shredding.
“I would go down to his office about 3:30 and I would take the cart back, and it would be, ‘These are to be shredded, and these over here are to be refiled,’” Dufty testified last year.
Peters was then the director of the statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. He has since retired. In his deposition for the lawsuit, Peters denied that his agency did anything improper, Hoffman said. Peters could not be reached for comment.
The assistant state attorney general who represented the state in the lawsuit, Robert Kraft, refused to comment. A spokeswoman for OCFS, Pat Cantiello, said no one from the agency could comment because the settlement has not yet been approved by a federal judge.
The whistleblower, who still works for OCFS, also would not comment.
Under the proposed settlement, the state would have to send notices to the 25,000 people on the central register whose requests for hearings were ignored between 2003 and 2007. U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin will hold a hearing in April in Manhattan, then decide whether to approve the settlement.
As part of the settlement, the state agreed to stop the practice of calling potential employers to see if they still wanted to hire the person accused of child abuse. The state agreed that the accused person has a right to a hearing whether the employer is interested or not, Hoffman said.
The settlement only applies to people who requested a hearing and never got one. It doesn’t affect anyone who never requested a hearing or who withdrew his or her hearing request.
Once the settlement is approved, Hoffman will submit a bill for legal services to the court. The state will pay those costs, but will not pay damages under the proposed settlement. Anyone who might be affected should check Hoffman’s Web site on the case: registryclassaction.com.
The state gets about 350,000 inquiries a year from prospective employers, including child care centers, foster care agencies, juvenile detention centers and other employers who work with children. The register is accessible only to employers who are required to check a job applicant’s background.
’’The employer doesn’t know why you’re on the list,” Hoffman said. “You could be a pedophile or it could be something benign.”
John O’Brien can be reached at email@example.com or 470-2187.
March 22, 2010 permalink
A young artist created a photograph of Christ on the way to the crucifixion being battered by Roman soldiers. In the modern setting, the soldier was a cop with a nightstick and Christ was a helpless child. Because the photo showed apparent child abuse, a church art exhibition has refused to display it.
Texas church bans child's photograph of Passion
DALLAS -- Some find Jackson Potts II's photograph of a nightstick-wielding policeman beating a fallen, bleeding child violent and offensive, conjuring images of police brutality and child abuse.
But to Jackson, a talented 10-year-old Houston photographer, and a cadre of art lovers, the disturbing image has religious symbolism.
Jackson shot the photograph for an exhibit depicting the Stations of the Cross, but the show's organizers rejected it, sparking a controversy some say is overshadowing remembrance of Jesus' final hours during the season of Lent.
Jackson was the only child among 15 artists invited to participate in the exhibit. Curator Marc Brubaker said he thought the boy would bring a unique perspective.
But comments posted anonymously on blogs and callers to radio talk shows have questioned whether such a sophisticated piece could really be the work of a child.
Jackson was assigned to portray the seventh Station of the Cross, where Jesus fell for a second time while carrying the cross to the site of his crucifixion. The home-schooled fifth-grader, who is taking a class on religious symbols in art at a Catholic church, decided to do a modern depiction of Christ being beaten by a Roman soldier.
"I thought about how innocent Jesus was, like a kid," Jackson said. "I thought a police officer was sort of like a Roman guard."
His younger brother played the Christ-child role, with stage blood splattered on his head and arms. Neighbors and friends portrayed an angry mob and brutal police officer.
Although Jackson has gone on more than a 100 photo shoots in recent years, mainly working as an apprentice for his father, a professional photographer, the show at Xnihilo (NY'-low) Gallery was to be his first public exhibition.
He worked for months to get the details right, taking advice on everything from makeup to lighting. But the concept and execution were his own, he and those who know him say.
Jeremy Martin-Weber, who was part of the angry crowd, said Jackson held the camera during the entire photo shoot.
"Jackson told us where to go, how to stand and every once in a while, Jack (his dad) would ask a general preference question, 'Do you want them in a row or a little bit curved?' Jackson would make the call," Martin-Weber said. "Jackson was in charge of the whole thing."
But when Jackson submitted the finished piece, he was told it wouldn't be shown.
The fine arts gallery also serves as the sanctuary for the 1,100-member Ecclesia Church, and "a church should be a place where people can feel safe," Brubaker said.
Church elders said they thought the photograph would scare young children who trust and respect police officers, some of whom are also church members. Elders said they also wanted to be sensitive to a congregation member whose mentally impaired son was fatally shot by police around this time last year.
"Certainly we don't want to be censoring art or anything like that," said Jeremy Wells, a gallery board member, church elder and artist. "Artwork being provocative in nature can be beneficial to the church if it's provocative in the right way.
"We felt it was provocative in the wrong way," Wells said. "The image, being as graphic as it is, did not draw people closer to the risen Christ."
He praised Jackson's "phenomenal talent," saying the rejection wasn't made lightly. The church paid the boy about $250 for the loss of material and time and asked him to create and submit a replacement photograph in the two weeks before the show opened, which he reluctantly did.
Jackson's father recalled the boy's frustration.
"I could tell that he's on the verge of tears," Jack Potts said. "I give him a hug. He tells me he can't make Jesus smiling, because he feels like that's what they want."
Jackson kept his second photograph simple, showing Jesus, still as a child, holding the cross in his hands.
Suggestions by some gallery board members to have the original photograph behind a curtain where only adults could see it were rebuffed.
Two of the gallery's seven board members resigned in protest.
One of them, Jessica Martin-Weber, said she felt Jackson's photograph was appropriate for the exhibit and parents should decide whether their children could see it. A three-dimensional piece that hung in the show last year, a mannequin "corpse" draped in a blood-soaked cloth, was just as shocking, she said.
Elders eventually allowed Jackson's original piece to be shown but only during the opening reception last week.
To the boy's delight, a stranger bought it for $350, and a copy is now hanging in another Houston gallery.
"I'm not a big religious freak," G Gallery owner Wayne Gilbert said. "The idea that he couldn't show that or it was something that couldn't go on the wall was sort of ridiculous to me."
Source: Washington Post
Rally for More CAS Funding
March 20, 2010 permalink
Dawn Gauthier had a bad childhood experience with children's aid, ended only when she benefited from a family preservation program. She is organizing a rally for March 29 to save that program from funding cuts.
Past experience shows that supporters of children's aid societies are often employees. Suspicion is increased by noticing that the Facebook event Rally For CAS Family Preservation mentioned in the article does not exist. Instead of funding the family preservation program, a more cost-effective way to improve childhood experiences is to defund the family destruction program.
Former foster child laments end of Algoma CAS program
Dawn Gauthier believes her childhood could have been vastly different if her parents had the kind of support now available to families in Algoma.
Gauthier said that's why she was stunned to learn of the Children's Aid Society of Algoma's plan next month to wind down its Family Preservation Program.
"It's unbelievable, the negative effect this is going to have on our community," said Gauthier, 28.
On April 12, CAS Algoma will lay off six workers and one supervisor who make up an in-home program that helps at-risk children in "open child protection families."
In the meantime, Gauthier, is organizing a March 29 rally in front of the court house from 1-2:30 p.m.. She said she hopes the sound of hundreds, "screaming that we need those programs," will get the attention of Queen's Park.
Gauthier said she and her younger brother were sent into foster care when she was two. She blames CAS at the time for "overstepping its boundaries," and she said programs now available, including the Family Prevention Program, probably would have prevented the "living hell," her parents went through.
"My parents needed help. They didn't need to have me removed," said Gauthier, who spent "several years," in foster care.
"Life wasn't the best (at home), but there was no reason to go through what we went through," she said.
A smaller, similar program, Diversion From Care, is scheduled to wrap up in March, 2011, but CAS Algoma expects it to fade away sooner as the workers in that program move to other areas.
The cuts are in response to a lingering deficit CAS Algoma says is due to inadequate funding from the Ministry of Child and Youth Services.
Both CAS Algoma and the union representing the workers about to lose their jobs have warned the loss of the prevention programs could put more children into care. The union and the local CAS branch have called on the province to add funding that would allow the programs to continue.
Gauthier has set up a Facebook event for the rally, called Rally For CAS Family Preservation.
Source: Sault Star
Snafu causes 50 raids on Brooklyn home
March 19, 2010 permalink
Once a place is on an official bad list, there is no getting off, not even by the new owner. A Brooklyn family was repeatedly raided by police on account of the previous owners.
Computer snafu is behind at least 50 'raids' on Brooklyn couple's home
Blame it on a computer.
Embarrassed cops on Thursday cited a "computer glitch" as the reason police targeted the home of an elderly, law-abiding couple more than 50 times in futile hunts for bad guys.
Apparently, the address of Walter and Rose Martin's Brooklyn home was used to test a department-wide computer system in 2002.
What followed was years of cops appearing at the Martins' door looking for murderers, robbers and rapists - as often as three times a week.
After the Daily News exclusively reported on the couple's plague of police raids yesterday, apologetic detectives from the NYPD's Identity Theft Squad showed up at their home.
Rose Martin, 82, said they told her Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly ordered them to solve the puzzle - stat.
By the end of the day, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said the snafu was traced to a 2002 computer test, though he couldn't explain why the couple's address was used as a test case in the first place.
He said that when the Martins complained to cops in 2007 about their scary series of official doorknocks, police tried to wipe their address from the system.
But the raids continued. The most recent, on Tuesday, left 83-year-old World War II vet Walter Martin woozy from soaring blood pressure.
Investigators found yesterday that not every computer file bearing the Martin's address was deleted.
"It wasn't supposed to stay in [the system]," Browne said. "It's been removed."
In order to be "doubly cautious" in the future, Browne said cops have flagged the Martin's address so no officer will be dispatched to the home without double-checking the address.
A skeptical Rose Martin asked the department to write her an official letter, dubious that such a long-standing problem could be fixed in a day.
"It seems like too simple a correction for something that has been going on for eight years," she said.
Meanwhile, The News learned problems with the house go back to before the Martins bought it in 1997: The previous owner sold the modest Marine Park house because police and fire crews kept showing up at his door chasing bogus reports.
In his case, the freaked-out former owner - who fled the city because of what happened at the house - told The News he was being targeted by a still-unknown tormentor who sicced the cops on him 30 times in the three years starting in 1994.
"Someone was calling from different pay phones in the area, calling in fires, domestic disputes, kids screaming - whatever," said the man, who is still so scared he asked his name not be printed. "All totally unfounded."
The ex-owner said he complained multiple times starting in 1994, and his brother, a city firefighter, helped to get fire marshals to investigate.
The calls, which the marshals believed might have been made by a devious vengeful neighbor, stopped about six months before he sold to the Martins, he said.
"I always thought I was being targeted personally - and, to be honest with you, it freaks me out that it's happening again," the ex-owner said.
Source: New York Daily News
March 19, 2010 permalink
Metroland reports on the anti-CAS rally today in Oshawa.
Anti-Children's Aid Society rally held in Oshawa Friday
Group wants ombudsman to have oversight of agencies
DURHAM -- About a dozen people marched up and down Simcoe Street on Friday, trying to raise awareness for a bill that would give the provincial ombudsman oversight of Children's Aid societies.
Jen (her last name is being withheld as she has had dealings with the CAS) is from Oshawa and she helped organize Friday's protest.
"We're trying to promote awareness of the issue of children's aid. A lot goes unspoken," she said. "We're hoping to gain awareness in Oshawa of what we're trying to do."
Andrea Horwath, the NDP leader in Ontario, is pushing Bill 93, which would give the ombudsman oversight of Children's Aid societies. But the bill has been stalled in the legislature.
Zane Sherwood, of Kitchener, has been involved in similar rallies.
"We're trying to get the ombudsman to take oversight of Children's Aid societies," he said. "It would stop corruption and child abduction. After three anonymous calls, they think they have the right to come into your home with two police officers and take your children.
"We're trying to make our point," he said of the rally.
Mr. Sherwood said rallies have been held across Ontario to raise awareness.
Brian Prousky, the director of services for the Durham CAS, said, "We would say, ultimately, it's up to the provincial government to put whatever oversight it feels is needed in place. Regardless of the oversight, we will provide the most transparent service possible."
Mr. Prousky pointed to several oversight measures already in place, such as the Child and Family Services Review Board, the provincial auditor general and the accountability office with the Ministry of Children and fFmily Services.
"Every children's aid society receives oversight by an independent community-based board of directors," Mr. Prousky said. "Our board members are members of the community and they make governance decisions for the society.
"We welcome any accountability," he added. "We feel there's sufficient mechanisms in place now."
Source: Metroland/Durham Region
CAS Worker Stabbed
March 19, 2010 permalink
Yesterday a Windsor children's aid worker was stabbed in the parking lot of the CAS headquarters by Donald James Lockwood. So far we don't know the name of the victim, or the nature of the case that provoked the attack. Two articles are enclosed.
Children's Aid Society stabbing suspect charged
A Windsor, Ont., children's aid worker is in hospital after she was stabbed in the parking lot of the Children's Aid Society.
The 40-year-old woman and a co-worker were walking to their cars outside the building on Riverside Drive around noon Thursday when one of the women was attacked.
A witness said a man on a bicycle rode up to the woman and stabbed her in the stomach then kicked her in the face.
The second woman brought the victim, who still had the knife blade embedded in her chest, into the building as the suspect threw rocks at the pair.
The suspect then rode his bike into the building and walked through rooms threatening other staff, said witnesses.
Police said he accessed the family visitation area and started swinging his bike lock, trying to hit people.
Two men working on a nearby roof who had heard the screams climbed down to help. They followed the man into the building, tackled him and restrained him until police arrived.
Police arrested Donald James Lockwood, 36, of Windsor.
He was charged Friday with attempted murder.
The injured woman had surgery late Thursday at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital where her condition has been upgraded from serious to stable.
Windsor police ID stabbing suspect
WINDSOR, Ont. — Windsor police are praising two roofers who climbed down from on high Thursday and subdued an enraged man who beat an unsuspecting woman, stabbed her and snapped the blade off in her chest.
Police said the victim and another woman were walking to their cars at the Children’s Aid Society Parking lot on Riverside Drive around 12 p.m.
As they walked, they noticed a man on a bicycle riding towards them. The two women parted ways to get in their cars.
The man on the bike suddenly rode up and hit the victim in the stomach. Police said he then got off of his bike, ran toward the woman and kicked her in the face. He then walked away as the other woman ran to the aid of the victim. She helped her friend get back into the CAS building.
Two men working on a roof of a nearby heard the screams for help, and saw the man throwing rocks at the women as they fled toward the building. They yelled at him to stop, and started climbing down from the roof to make their way toward him, said police.
The attacker yelled back at them to mind their own business. The suspect then picked up his bicycle and rode towards the doors of the Children's Aid Society building. The two men, realizing this was not a good situation, followed him.
Once the victim and other woman were inside building, CAS staff activated their security measures. It was at this point that the victim realized she’d been stabbed when the man struck her in the stomach.
The man rode his bicycle into the front lobby with a U-shaped bike lock in his hand, then started walking through the building threatening people.
The two roofers ran inside and confronted the assailant, who started swinging his bike lock at them. The two men were undeterred. They wrestled him down and held onto him until police arrive.
The victim was rushed to hospital where doctors discovered that she still had part of the blade embedded in her lower chest area, just under the skin. She underwent surgery and is listed in stable condition.
Windsor police said the quick actions of the two roofers and CAS staff in such a dangerous situation prevent things from escalating.
Police said Donald James Lockwood, 36, of Windsor was to be arraigned this morning on an attempted murder charge.
Investigators said further charges may follow.
Source: Windsor Star
Soviet propaganda masters used a standard technique to control public opinion following a disaster. After, for example an explosion and fire, they focused their reporting on the firemen who risked their lives to go through the flames rescuing the victims. After reading extensive coverage on these heroes, few readers thought to ask whose negligence led to the disaster.
The first article we cited above giving the bare facts of the stabbing of a CAS worker has been rewritten by the CBC, and clicking on the Source: link will get only the revised version. The new one, enclosed below, focuses on bystander Wayne Schreiner who intervened to save the women under attack. There is a lot of material about him, he is unemployed, he needs a job and he is full of praise for children's aid. After reading of his plight and heroic act, few will ask the vital question: Why would a man want to harm a children's aid worker?
The print aticle is enclosed, and here is the video (mp4).
Good Samaritan tackles stabbing suspect
Police in Windsor, Ont., are hailing an unemployed labourer who helped stop a stabbing attack at a Children's Aid building.
A 40-year-old woman is in hospital after a man stabbed her Thursday afternoon in the parking lot of the building where she works.
She and a friend were walking to their cars at lunch when a man on a bicycle rode up to one of the women, stabbed her in the abdomen and then kicked her in the face.
Men working on the roof of a nearby house heard the commotion and yelled at the attacker to stop.
'You're not gonna hurt me!'
Wayne Schreiner heard the shouting and jumped into action.
He and his friend, Jean-Paul Lacounte, had been at the job site hoping to pick up a little work when the attack happened.
"I just ran to the fence and jumped over to see what I could do," Schreiner told CBC News.
The attacker threw stones at the women as they sought refuge in the Children's Aid building, said police.
Schreiner said the man threatened to hurt anyone who tried to stop him from going inside.
"I told him, 'You're not gonna hurt me!'"
Schreiner followed the man into the building and found him in the family visitation area, where he was swinging a bike lock and threatening staff.
"Everybody was scared, I was a little scared," said Schreiner. "Then I seen a little girl in there crying and I knew I had to do something right away, so I jumped him and put him in a choke hold and then we fell on the ground."
Schreiner held the man that way until police arrived, saying the battle was personal and there was no way he was going to let go.
"Children's Aid's been there for me when I was a kid, they were good to me. They took me out of a bad home and they helped me all my life," Schreiner said. "I couldn't not do anything."
Police arrested Donald James Lockwood, 36, of Windsor, who now faces a charge of attempted murder.
Thought police might arrest him
The injured woman was taken to Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital, where she had surgery to remove the knife blade in her abdomen. She is listed in stable condition and is expected to survive.
Schreiner never spoke with the woman, but said he got all the praise he needed later on.
"I went home and told my little daughters about it and they said I was like Mr. Incredible."
A few hours later, Schreiner said four police officers showed up at his door.
"I thought they were coming to get me ... to arrest me for assault," he said. "They came and they thanked me."
Schreiner said he was just glad he had the chance to give something back to Children's Aid for all that agency had done for him.
He is still looking for work. Asked by CBC what work he could see himself doing, Schreiner said, "I'm thinking about security at Children's Aid."
From an article in the Windsor Star, here is a photo of the two heroes.
Russian Boy Saved
March 18, 2010 permalink
An international dispute erupted between Finland and Russia after Finnish social workers took seven-year-old Robert Rantala from his parents, one of them a Russian. After a month in the orphanage he was sent to school for the first time, and escaped to his parents. Russian president Dmitri Medvedev appointed an envoy to deal with the problem, and the family home was occupied by Russian news reporters. News sources from Finland give only pap about this case, enclosed below is a real story from Russia. Later, Finnish authorities agreed to leave the boy with his family. In family affairs, Russia is now the city upon a hill that serves as an example for the rest of the world.
Rantala case should be settled out of court
Russia's Presidential Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov says the conflict between the parents of seven-year-old Robert Rantala and the Finnish child overseeing agencies should be settled out of court.
The Russian Ombudsman has met with the boy's Russian mother Inga Rantala in Turku, where the family lives. Inga Rantala is planning to appeal against the court's ruling under which her son was placed in an orphanage at the beginning of February. The conflict flared up after the boy told his classmates that his mother had smacked him and announced that he might leave for Russia. Turku's social care workers filed a lawsuit against Inga Rantala and her Finnish husband to strip them of parental rights.
Pavel Astakhov is seeking to postpone the court hearings set for March 19th to a later date. But the best solution, he says, would be to avoid court altogether.
"The top priority for now is to secure the family's reunion so that the boy will live with his mother and father, and not with strangers, where he might be exposed to abuse. It's important to reach a temporary truce and hammer out a negotiated solution which would satisfy all the parties involved".
The Russian Ombudsman considers it his personal victory that Robert Rantala stayed with his mum and dad after he had escaped from the orphanage on Monday. Pavel Astakhov will now insist on a psychological expertise having found the boy stressed out and with bruises and scratches.
Rantala is not the only Russian-Finnish family to have had problems with the country's child care authorities. In Turku alone 53 Russian women have faced similar injustices, and there were 11 thousand cases of this kind registered throughout Finland last year. This is a lot for a country of 5 million, Pavel Astakhov says. The Ombudsman plans to take the matter up with the Finnish authorities.
"Children have to be spared the stress of being dragged into disputes among the adults, he says. The best place for a child to live in is home. And we should simply put this question straight to him, where he would like to live and who with".
Hopefully, the disputes will be settled through a bilateral agreement between Russia and Finland.
The Finnish authorities have allowed Inga Rantala's son to stay home and revoked the lawsuit on Wednesday.
Source: Voice of Russia
Mixed Up Advocacy
March 17, 2010 permalink
A press release from a group advocating for the welfare of Canadian natives starts by alluding to the paradox that, while everyone from the front-line worker to the prime minister is apologetic about the abuses of the residential school era, the number of native children removed from their parents today is even greater.
The means of child removal is Canada's children's aid societies, funded with megabucks to care for children outside of their homes. The press release goes on to advocate not less, but more funding for the child removers.
Aboriginal Child Welfare in Dire situation; more children in foster care than at the height the Residential School system! PDF Print E-mail
For immediate release
Kahnawake (March 3rd, 2010) – While federal government uses legal loopholes to keep flawed policies for First Nations children in place, documents obtained under access to information say that inequitable child welfare funding contributes to the fact that there are more First Nations children in child welfare care today than at the height of residential schools. It goes on saying that the federal government’s child welfare funding service on reserves results in a “dire” situation.
The federal government’s response to the “dire” inequality facing First Nations children has been to partially implement a flawed funding formula known as the Enhanced Funding Approach that the Auditor General of Canada has already ruled inequitable in few provinces.
Canada is currently before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal because of its inequitable treatment of First Nations children. However, in December of 2009, the federal government filed a motion to have the case dismissed, claiming that the Canadian Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in government services, does not apply to the funding decisions that determine the level and quality of services to First Nations communities. Cross examinations on affidavits filed by Canada in support of the motion and by First Nations and others in opposition to the motion have been held last week and will continue this week in Ottawa.
On February 23, 2010, Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, who along with the Assembly of First Nations brought forward the human rights complaint, was cross examined in Ottawa by Canada’s lawyers on her affidavit objecting to the federal government’s attempt to derail the hearing. She has insisted that her cross examination be open and transparent to the public but the federal government wants its witness to be cross-examined behind closed doors.
Blackstock says “We expect our government to ensure all children are treated equitably and yet when it comes to First Nations children, not only has the federal government failed to act on a clearly acknowledged crisis, the government is now going to extraordinary lengths to avoid public accountability and to prevent the matter from being heard on its merits by the Human Rights Tribunal.”
Ellen Gabriel, President of the Quebec Native Women’s Association adds that “the choice the federal government offers First Nations children and families is inacceptable given the vulnerability of the children and the wealth of this country. Instead of putting the needs of the children first, Canada has repeatedly tried to derail the tribunal using legal loopholes.”
The Quebec Native Women’s Association and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada demand that Canada allow a full and public hearing on the merits of the case and that Canada stand by its obligations under domestic and international law to ensure First Nations children receive culturally based and equitable services.
The need for increased funding for First Nations child and family services was identified 10 years ago in a joint study carried out by Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. The recommendations of this report were never acted on. Instead the federal government froze cost of living adjustments to First Nations children’s agencies in 2005, resulting in a further decline in real funding.
The government briefing notes refer to plans to provide interim funding to help address the growing crisis in First Nations children’s services. This funding was never provided.
Cross examinations on affidavits filed in relation to the motion to dismiss are being held at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal offices in Ottawa from February 23 to March 3, 2010. The Human Rights Tribunal is scheduled to hear the government’s motion to dismiss in April of 2010.
For more info, please contact:
Communications officer, Quebec Native Women
Tel : 450-632-0088, #227
First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada
Source: First Perspective
Divorce, American Style
March 14, 2010 permalink
Serviceman Matthew Kleman is fraudulently divorced by a wife who takes his son and remarries.
One big lie
He learned on MySpace that his wife had divorced him. He knew the marriage was in trouble, but he was in Iraq — and thought he was protected.
It was mid-June 2009, another hot, sweaty day in a yearlong Iraq tour for Spc. Matthew Kleman, a medical support specialist with the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.
Out of the blue, one of his buddies sent him an e-mail asking when he and his wife, Renee, another soldier who was back at Fort Hood, had gotten divorced.
Divorced? That was news to Matthew. When he expressed bewilderment, his buddy directed him to his wife’s MySpace page.
What he saw stunned him: His wife claimed she had divorced him June 4 in Texas.
Matthew knew one thing: He hadn’t signed any divorce papers. He couldn’t have; he was in Iraq at the time. And no one sent him any such documents to sign while there, he said.
When he called Renee to ask her what was going on, he says, “She yelled at me, ‘What are you doing on MySpace?’ ”
In the months since, the saga has gotten stranger. Matthew says the copy of the divorce decree he eventually received gives no indication that the court was aware that he and Renee have a child.
He says she later told him she did not tell the court about their son, Matthew Jr., who will turn 2 on March 24, because she didn’t want him to have to pay court-ordered child support. But then, Matthew says, she began demanding $1,000 a month in child support in exchange for the right to see the boy.
Renee declined to respond to repeated requests for comment through her attorney, Daniel Corbin, as well as through Capt. A. Lawson, her company commander at Fort Hood.
Corbin says that in handling Renee’s divorce, he was never told a child was involved.
Matthew says he’s been unable to meet Renee’s monetary demands on an E-4’s pay, so he has been allowed to see his son only twice since his return from Iraq.
Two months after coming home, Matthew is still trying to sort out the details.
How could this happen with no one in an official capacity noticing anything amiss?
A marriage on the rocks
Matthew, 32, admits his marriage had hit choppy waters even before he deployed early last year. While he was on leave the month before deployment, “things started getting crappy,” he says.
They got worse while he was in Kuwait, and later in Iraq.
Matthew called home from the war zone and confronted Renee. He says she acknowledged that she’d been seeing another man. He says he told her that if she wanted a divorce, he’d be willing to work that out. “She said, ‘I don’t want a divorce,’ ” he recalled. “ ‘I like him, but I love you.’ ”
Still, Matthew says, he resigned himself to the fact that the marriage was over. Yet he couldn’t walk away completely because of his son.
Matthew assumed he and Renee would deal with the situation when he returned home. “I thought she couldn’t do anything, with me in Iraq,” he says.
He was wrong.
The Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act allows service members to seek a postponement of a court proceeding if military duties prevent them from participating.
But no one had notified Matthew that a court proceeding was in motion. Matthew was unaware that his wife had filed for divorce last March, while he was in Iraq.
He also was unaware of a form, dated April 8, bearing his supposed signature and waiving his rights to a court appearance and to be personally served with paperwork in the case. His command confirms he could not have signed the document in Texas because he was in Iraq at the time.
The waiver states: “I agree that this case may be taken up and considered by the Court without further notice to me,” and it also states that Matthew acknowledged receiving a copy of the original filing for divorce — a claim he insists is untrue.
Matthew also was unaware that on June 4 a judge in Bell County, Texas, signed a final divorce decree for Matthew and Renee Kleman.
Finally, he was unaware that a marriage certificate dated June 5 was filed in Bell County certifying that Renee, who is assigned to the 4th Sustainment Brigade, married another man.
A copy of the marriage certificate obtained by Military Times names him as Stanley Daniel Miller Jr.
Matthew says Miller also is a soldier and has since left Fort Hood on a permanent change-of-station move.
After reading Renee’s MySpace posting that she had gotten divorced, Matthew says he sought help from his division judge advocate general’s office in Iraq and called the clerk’s office in Bell County from the war zone.
A clerk confirmed that a divorce decree was signed June 4, and also told him about the waiver he had supposedly signed in April essentially waiving all his normal rights in the divorce case.
Corbin, Renee’s attorney, says it’s the client’s responsibility to get the proper signatures on the paperwork.
“We give all the paperwork to our clients and tell them to have it signed by their spouse,” Corbin says. “We would have no idea if that signature is not legitimate. We check when they bring it back to make sure the information is there.”
But how could documents bearing Matthew’s signature also bear a notary’s seal if he had not signed them in the notary’s presence?
That’s one of Matthew’s many unanswered questions.
A legal labyrinth
Second Brigade spokesman Maj. James Rawlinson confirmed that Matthew was deployed from January through late December 2009, and that his midtour leave dates were May 11-27.
By the time Matthew went on leave, he had informed his command about his marital troubles. He says he went back to his home in New Jersey during his leave after his command advised him it would be best not to rejoin Renee at Fort Hood just then.
A few weeks later, he had returned to Iraq and found out about his “divorce,” Matthew says. He was “relieved in one sense, but still confused, not knowing how she could have done this. I was willing to work with her with the divorce. But not having a voice made it really difficult.”
But now, the paramount issue for Matthew has become his parental rights, which surged to the fore after he finally received a copy of his divorce decree and saw that it states he and Renee have no children.
That means questions of custody, visitation and other issues are not addressed in the divorce — so he has no official visitation rights.
He wants custody of his son, but says Renee refuses even to allow him to see the boy unless he pays her $1,000 a month. He says he can’t afford that on an E-4’s pay, but for the past few months has paid between $400 and $500 a month, because he feels an obligation to his son.
Renee’s company commander confirmed that she and Matthew have a son. Matthew says he saw Matthew Jr. for about five minutes Dec. 20, the day after his return from Iraq; and for about two hours Feb. 20.
“A fraudulent divorce will potentially deprive him of visitation rights,” says retired Air Force Reserve Col. John Odom, a recognized expert on the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act.
Odom says Matthew needs to get an attorney to reopen court proceedings. The legal assistance office at Fort Hood has helped Matthew find a civilian attorney.
At press time, Matthew was formalizing an agreement for attorney Barbara Weaver to represent him. Weaver says based on her research so far, “We will file a bill of review based on fraud, asking that [Renee] and the notary be prosecuted on charges of fraud and forgery.
“I’ve never seen a case like this before,” Weaver says.
Shelia Norman, clerk of the court for the 146th Judicial District in Bell County, said that if Matthew believes a fraudulent document was filed, he should report it to local civilian authorities.
“That whole divorce could be set aside if it could be proved he didn’t sign” the waiver, Renee’s own attorney acknowledges. “Nobody’s going to let an injustice like that stand.”
A copy of the waiver Matthew supposedly signed last April bears a notary’s official seal and Matthew’s driver’s license number. A phone number on the document — supposedly Matthew’s — turns out to be a listing for the Monroe Clinic at Fort Hood’s Darnall Community Hospital.
The notary who certified the document, Chipper L. Beegle, could not be reached for comment. He sold his business late last year, according to the new owner, who explained that notaries maintain logbooks containing information about what documentation was used to confirm someone’s identity. As is common practice, Beegle took his logbook with him when he left.
Rawlinson, spokesman for 2nd Brigade, says he cannot comment on Matthew’s case, but Matthew says his command is working with him to investigate the situation.
In the case of a contentious divorce during a deployment, the command’s first step generally is to advise the service member to get a copy of the divorce decree and hire an attorney, Rawlinson says. “If there is no pressing issue, they would wait until they got home from deployment. If there is, they try to go home on emergency leave,” he says.
As if Matthew didn’t have enough unanswered questions, there is another mystery: He says his file in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, the database that determines the eligibility of service members and their families for various military benefits, was changed without his knowledge or consent.
Specifically, Matthew’s son was removed from his DEERS record and put on the record of Renee’s new husband, he says.
“For any change to be made on DEERS, there has to be a proper documentation and reason,” says Army Lt. Col. Mike Moose, a spokesman for Army Human Resources Command. “Custody of the child would play a role. If this was a valid divorce with proper documentation to show that there is custody of the child, normally the child [would be] on the DEERS of the spouse with custody.”
Officials should be able to determine when a change in the DEERS account was made, and from which computer, Moose says.
Matthew says his command is checking on that.
As he tries to work through the whirlwind that has enveloped him, he looks back and wonders how it could have come to this.
He met Renee in 2005, when they were in the same battalion at Fort Bragg, N.C., when they went out with friends one night. They dated for almost two years before tying the knot, he says.
“I thought it was bliss,” he says. “Apparently it wasn’t.”
Source: Navy Times
CAS Loves CAS
March 14, 2010 permalink
Who is willing to praise a children's aid society? The executive director of another children's aid society!
One cynic issued a challenge to find praise for children's aid from someone not under their control, such as an employee or current foster child. No one has come forward yet.
As for the audit claim in the letter, Richard Wexler has been pointing out recently that audits of child protection agencies never go beyond the filing cabinet. As long as there is a document on file for every dollar spent the auditors are satisfied.
Durham CAS does a great job under severe strain
To the editor:
At Catholic Family Services of Durham, we work closely with Durham Children's Aid Society. We also collaborate with them in our Safer Families program which is demonstrating its worth in reducing the incidence of families needing repeat investigations.
These programs not only are good for families, but they are effective in reducing the number of cases that have to be reopened. Durham CAS is currently under severe pressure for funding and has been unfairly accused of poor management. It is audited by the Province four times a year; there is no waste. As we work with the Durham CAS staff, we see skilled, committed, efficient professionals stretched to their limit in providing protection services. As executive director, I work closely with the management of Durham CAS and have never found that agency to be anything but well run. The fact is, if our Province wants to ensure that children are protected from abuse and that families are given help so the children can be safe, there is a financial cost. This is a cost taxpayers are willing to pay.
RSW Executive Director
Catholic Family Services of Durham
thanks to [ justiceismyreward at hotmail.com ]
March 14, 2010 permalink
A woman is looking for her sister born in Toronto March 16, 1969.
DESPERATELY Seeking My Sister. Know an Adoptee born March 16/1969? Born as Tracy Michelle D. in T.O. Happy 41st B-Day. Love, Kris 613-791-1974, www.parentfindersottawa.ca Please post/pass this on.
AD Number: 1621861
Publish Date: March 08, 2010
Postal Code: K4B1J1
Source: Toronto Star
March 12, 2010 permalink
On Thursday March 11 there was a candlelight vigil in front of the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton for the twenty-one-month old girl killed in her Morinville foster home on March 3. Here is a report from a participant:
The mom was in attendance, but she is bound to silence (I honestly do not even know her name). Media had to turn off cameras when she was in sight. Not once could the child's name be spoken. However, it was a very beautiful, touching vigil... I've never been in the presence of such a spiritual tribute as this. I was told by Media that mom is under extreme duress and requests privacy.
Source: private communication from participant
The same participant supplied photographs.
Here is the Edmonton Journal report on the vigil:
Candlelight vigil honours foster child
EDMONTON — About 100 people attended a candlelight vigil at the Alberta legislature Thursday evening for a toddler who died in foster care.
The 21-month-old girl died at the Stollery’s Children’s Hospital last Wednesday, two days after an alleged incident at a Morinville-area foster home.
Her death is being investigated as a homicide by the RCMP based on findings by the medical examiner.
The medical examiner’s office has not released a cause of death, but family members were told it was consistent with brain injuries caused by shaken baby syndrome.
The child has been placed in care two months earlier.
Source: Edmonton Journal
March 11, 2010 permalink
A rally supporting ombudsman oversight of children's aid has been announced for Sudbury on March 22.
Addendum: The Sudbury Star announces the rally.
Sudburians join cause to hold provincial Children's Aid Societies accountable
A group supporting a bill calling for Ombudsman oversight over the province's 53 Children's Aid Societies will hold a rally in Sudbury on Monday.
The Bill 93 rally will last from noon until 2 p.m. across the street from the Children's Aid Society for the Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin at 319 Lasalle Blvd.
"We're expecting a minimum of 25, but we know people are travelling from as far as Timmins," said Neil Haskett, a Sudbury organizer for Rally for Accountability.
He is concerned there is no genuine place for families to appeal actions or decisions made by CAS workers.
"By having the Ombudsman receiving the power of oversight, we will be assured that the Children's Aid Societies are finally accountable to someone other than themselves and that every child in Ontario will receive a better child protection system," Haskett said.
Right now, the Auditor General only has the power to look into the finances of this private corporation, Haskett said. When he investigated four Children's Aid Societies in Ontario in 2006, they all failed.
He expects if the Ombudsman investigates the actions of societies, he will discover problems of a criminal nature.
"We were involved previously back in 2006 because we filed a complaint against a police officer. They called the Children's Aid Society on us," Haskett said.
"We will be pursuing a lawsuit in the near future ... It left a bad taste in our mouths. We actually had to call the OPP for help. That's how frightened we were."
Eventually, a judge ordered the CAS out of their lives, he said. The couple then began the long process of finding a place where they could launch a complaint about their treatment by the society.
Originally, complaints could only be filed with the societies themselves, he said. Then the Child and Family Services Review Board was created.
"But if you look into filing a complaint, they clearly state you cannot file a complaint that is currently active or a previous case. So, if you can predict the future, you are more than welcome to file a complaint," Haskett said.
"This, once again, proves they can not be trusted and cannot be accountable on their own accord."
The only hope appears to lie with the Ombudsman, Haskett said.
"He can't do anything right now until there is an amendment to the act. He's powerless. What we've done is tried to raise awareness ever since."
On Friday, a rally was held in Oshawa and others are being planned in Kincardine, Walkerton and Owen Sound.
Each year, there have been rallies to support the bill held at Queen's Park in Toronto in early October, with representatives of both opposition parties speaking about the need for oversight.
Originally, the legislation was known as Bill 88, but time has elapsed requiring a name change to Bill 93.
"You're familiar with the Dr. (Charles) Smith case?" asked Haskett, referring to the work of the disgraced pathologist. "There's a long list and it's growing every day," he said.
"If the Ombudsman was involved, we could prove it goes a lot deeper than what the public sees."
While some of the group's members are concerned the CAS is at times abusing its power, others worry it isn't doing enough for genuine cases of neglect and abuse.
Family members of a baby from Chelmsford who was killed earlier this year will also be travelling to the rally to lend their voices to the cause. The baby's father has been charged with assault and neglect in the case.
Source: Sudbury Star
Pregnant Woman Scams Adopters
March 11, 2010 permalink
In Indiana Christina White is accused of fraud for collecting money from more than one adoption agency during her pregnancy.
Woman accused of adoption fraud
Marion County - An Indianapolis woman is charged with running an adoption scam that defrauded adoption agencies and would-be parents. This latest case is strikingly similar to another one in central Indiana.
On Wednesday, prosecutors formally charged 27-year-old Christina White with theft and adoption deception. Prosecutors say that the Indianapolis woman was at the center of an adoption fraud scheme.
According to court records, White knowingly placed the same unborn baby up for adoption with multiple couples and adoption agencies, including Bethany Christian Services, pocketing the money she was given in return for housing and medical expenses as part of the adoption agreement.
"This was like having another miscarriage because the rooms were already decorated and nurseries to welcome the babies home and that never happened," said Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi.
This latest case comes after the February arrest of 28-year-old Amber Jackson of Indianapolis, also charged with several counts of adoption deception. Jackson is accused of taking $6,000 from several agencies and couples hoping to adopt the twins Jackson said she was carrying. Prosecutors say it was a scam.
"I'm extremely sorry and it was the most stupidest thing [sic] I could probably ever do in my life and I have probably messed up my life for who knows how many years," said Jackson.
Two of Jackson's alleged victims, Clayton and Kay Younggreen of LaPorte, tried for years to have children. Jackson found them on an adoption website.
"You shouldn't do terrible things like that to, you know, very vunerable women and use the shield of an unborn child to try to better yourself financially," said Clayton Younggreen.
Detectives say they were two similar crimes designed to profit from hopes and emotions of childless couples hoping to adopt a baby.
White's accused of receiving several thousand dollars worth of living and medical financial expenses from agencies and would-be parents in 2009, including a couple from South Carolina. White delivered a child in December 2009. The baby was placed in foster care.
Source: WTHR-TV Indianapolis
Teen Dies During Apprehension
March 10, 2010 permalink
Iowa teenager Denver Daniel Parvin died while being taken from his family to a foster home. He left the vehicle and was found dead by police fifteen minutes later. Iowa DHS says he died at the end of the fifteen minutes instead of the beginning, but there are no independent witnesses. Authorities have ruled the death a suicide, eliminating any need for further investigation.
We have heard the story before of a terrified child jumping from the social worker's car to instant death, but until now never in a form that could be repeated.
Death of Teen Hit on I-380 Ruled a Suicide
URBANA - Benton County authorities say the state medical examiners office has ruled the death of Denver Parvin, 16, as a suicide.
Parvin jumped out of a stopped car along I-380 near the Urbana exit on Monday afternoon. He then walked along the interstate for 15 minutes, before stepping in front of a moving car.
Investigators determined the driver of the car had no chance to stop when Parvin walked in front of the vehicle.
The Iowa Department of Human Services confirmed it was a DHS worker driving Parvin to a youth shelter in Independence to fulfill a juvenile court order.
"The DHS employee attempted to prevent the tragedy... the accident. And he has provided a detailed sequence of events to law enforcement people who are continuing their investigation. It's obviously a tragedy not only for the victim and his family, but also the DHS employee on the scene," said DHS spokesperson Roger Munns.
Munns would not say how the teen got out of the car on the interstate, but county authorities did fill in those details.
Benton County Chief Deputy Mike Ferguson says Parvin threatened to jump out of the moving DHS employees car, so the worker was forced to pull over. That's when Parvin left the vehicle and started walking.
The worker called authorities for help. But the nearest deputy was north of Vinton and took nearly 15 minutes to make it to the scene.
Chief Deputy Ferguson says that deputy was just pulling up to the scene as Parvin was hit, but the deputy didn't actually see the accident.
Parvin’s father, Dan Parvin, told TV9 that “there is a lot I would like to talk about.” But Parvin declined to say any more at the moment saying he wanted to speak with a lawyer first. Parvin did add there are “things people need to know” (about the accident).
Source: KCRG-TV Cedar Rapids
Addendum: Iowa paid $400,000 compensation to Denver's family.
Iowa to pay $400K in boy's suicide
Iowa will pay $400,000 to the family of a troubled 16-year-old boy who escaped a social worker's car and committed suicide by walking into oncoming interstate traffic, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.
The State Appeals Board approved the payment Monday to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the estate of Denver Parvin of Cedar Rapids, and released settlement documents in response to a request by the AP.
On March 8, 2010, a Department of Human Services social worker was driving Parvin in a state vehicle from his home to be placed at a youth shelter in Independence in accordance with a juvenile court order. Parvin threatened to jump out, prompting the driver to pull over on the side of Interstate 380 near Urbana, about 20 miles north of Cedar Rapids, and call 911 for help completing the trip.
The DHS worker told the 911 dispatcher that Parvin got out of the car and was walking south alongside the northbound interstate, went underneath an overpass and stopped in a ditch before walking out into traffic. As deputies were arriving minutes later to try to corral him, Parvin was struck by a car and killed. An autopsy later ruled the cause of death suicide. The driver of the car that hit him, a 36-year-old man from Nashua, was not injured.
Parvin's lawsuit, filed in Linn County in May on behalf of his mother and father, contended the DHS employee did not follow department policy for transporting potentially dangerous persons when he failed to move him in a law enforcement vehicle. It said that DHS was aware that Parvin had made threats to harm himself and previously escaped other employees.
The lawsuit said the social worker took Parvin to the shelter without law enforcement's help despite a warning from his mother that he would likely try to escape. Two police officers accompanied the DHS social worker when he went to pick Parvin up. The boy then became upset, tried to grab a knife from the kitchen and told officers he intended to commit suicide, the lawsuit claimed. Parvin also told the officers to shoot him in the head and yelled that he didn't want to go to the shelter, according to the complaint.
It was not clear why the police officers did not accompany Parvin and the social worker to the juvenile facility.
During the 911 call, the social worker told the dispatcher he'd worked with Parvin for two years and the notion of suicide had never come up. Parvin's parents did not agree with his placement in the shelter, he added.
The settlement was reached after a September mediation session between attorneys representing Parvin's estate and DHS that cost taxpayers $1,460. The settlement, which avoids a trial that was set for Nov. 26, says the payment is a compromise to end the suit and not an admission of any wrongdoing.
"This was clearly a tragic incident," said Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for the Iowa attorney general's office, which represented DHS in the lawsuit. "Based upon our evaluation of the case, as well as the risks and uncertainties of litigation, we felt that it was in the best interests of the state to settle the case."
According to his obituary, Parvin went by the nickname "Den," was a sophomore at Linn Mar High School and enjoyed sports, drawing, video games and music. The lawsuit had sought compensation for his death and funeral and burial expenses.
Brad Brady, the estate's attorney, did not return telephone messages. DHS spokesman Roger Munns had no immediate comment.
Source: Quad-City Times
CAS Attacks Father
March 10, 2010 permalink
An anonymous father reports on his experiences with Ontario children's aid. When he applied for help with his wife confidentially, CAS immediately tipped her off. When his wife threatened to kill him, the judge treated it as a joke. Later CAS took away his sons' opportunity to see their greatgrandmother before she passed away.
He alludes to the new policy requiring all custody changes to get the approval of children's aid.
One disagreement with anonymous: CAS attacks fathers, but it also attacks mothers. It is an equal-opportunity destroyer.
Children's Aid Society
Now, judges in Ontario must consider ... Children's Aid Society reports before giving custody.
This is sure to make things even worse for Ontario fathers fighting for custody-the Children's Aid Society is one of the worst father hating organisations in existence.
I have experienced first hand its Gestapo tactics.
My wife made numerous, totally unfounded complaints against me. Even long after the CAS had noted in their own records that the complaints were unsubstantiated they continued to send staff regularly every month to my home to continue to investigate me. It was only after legal action was repeatedly threatened against them that they stopped. The CAS refused then and refuses still to give me a copy of any of the complaints against me or of any of the records of their investigation. They tell me that they will do so only if ordered by a judge - they claim confidentiality as the reason. All that they would ever say is "Our records show that there was not sufficient evidence to substantiate the claims". Or, to put it another way: "We are sure that as a father you are scum and therefore you must be guilty but we couldn't twist enough of the facts to make it stick in court."
I was later to discover that during this period, contrary to the law, the CAS sent my children to a summer camp and paid for it out of CAS funds. The CAS was fully aware and had the documents to prove that there was a joint custody order in force and therefore the CAS was aware that they, by law, had to inform me of any actions taken with respect to the children. They simply ignored the law. This little CAS funded 'kidnapping', for that is what it amounted to, was so my wife could have the courts turn down my request to take my children out to Alberta to visit their critically ill paternal grandmother who had just had a severe heart attack and triple bypass surgery; and also to meet for the first time, their great grandmother who was 94 and in failing health. Their grandmother (my mother) had even written a letter, for me to give the judge, that literally "begged" for permission to be granted that she could have her grandchildren visit in case there was never another opportunity. The request was turned down because "the children's mother has already made arrangements for the children during that time period". It wasn't until months later that I learned that the 'arrangements' were in fact summer camp that had been registered for and paid for by the CAS. Fortunately my mother has regained a portion of her health and my sons have had the chance since then to visit her. Their great-grandmother passed away shortly after the travel request was denied and as a result died without ever seeing her great-grandsons or her great-grandsons meeting her.
When I did find out about the summer camp, my lawyer contacted the CAS for an explanation. The first time, they sent a letter back which had a number of comments on it totally unrelated to the summer camp issue. My lawyer sent a second letter requesting clarification which they totally ignored. When my lawyer then phoned them they simply hung up on her.
At about that same time, the Ontario Ombudsman was conducting an investigation into CAS spending that resulted in many headlines as I am sure everyone recalls. I submitted my complaint concerning the summer camp since it was a misuse of funds - i.e. the CAS had used their funding to carry out an unlawful act. I was informed that the mandate of the Ombudsman was limited to investigating "misuse of funds" and did not extend to custody issues so that my complaint did not comply with investigation guidelines. I was told, however, that my complaint would be "kept on file". Of course I have never heard another word about it.
Even when totally untrue and unsubstantiated, complaints to the CAS about fathers are kept on file, inaccessible to the father, and are used by the woman's lawyer in divorce and custody proceedings. How do I know? Because in court my wife's lawyer said, long after the complaints were refuted: "Mr. W***** has had numerous complaints regarding child abuse logged against him with the Children's Aid Society." When I protested that the complaints were all found to be totally unsubstantiated the lawyer made some offhand comment about "well I am just saying that there were numerous complaints made". Again the same attitude-the complaints were logged, therefore he must be guilty-don't confuse me with the facts.
As for confidentiality - that is a joke if you are a father.
My ex-wife verbally, psychologically, and physically abused me over many years. When I went to a Family Services agency for advice and support, thinking naively that my confidentiality would be protected, the first thing they did was send a Children's Aid worker to my home to interview my wife.
So much for confidentiality. So not only did my wife know I had spoken to Family Services about the abuse so did her father. This led to my ex-father-in-law verbally harassing and threatening me as well.
The evening the Children's Aid worker visited, my wife threatened to kill me in front of this Children’s Aid worker. No mention of this was ever made in the worker's report. In fact when my lawyer brought it up in court the judge literally laughed in my face.
On another occasion my lawyer and I attended CAS offices to respond to yet another child abuse complaint (I assume by my wife, the CAS will not even tell a father who filed the complaint). During that session the CAS immediately admitted that the complaint was unfounded but then insisted that I sign a statement that I would never, under any circumstances, spank my children and that if I did the statement would be used against me in court. I, of course, told them that I never spank my children but that even if I did it was none of their business. As it turns out, this was the same week that the Supreme Court had ruled that parents had a constitutional right to spank their children so long as they used reasonable force. I told the CAS that it was illegal in Canada (and it is) to ask anybody to sign any document that abrogates any of their rights under the Charter of Rights and, hence, irrespective of whether I spanked my children or not, they were breaking the law in even asking me to sign such a document. My lawyer supported me fully on this point and the CAS backed off but did say that my wife had signed the document (which is why I think she originated this complaint, as well as all the others) and I could be sure that my refusal to sign it would be brought up in court.
This is yet another example of organisations like the CAS and FRO stating categorically that Canadian Law, the Canadian Constitution, and the Charter of Rights do not apply to therm and they will do whatever they please.
During that same CAS session my lawyer presented the CAS with a 30 page document chronicling 3 years of abuse by my wife against both the children and myself and requested that the CAS log and investigate each of those complaints. The CAS did nothing with the document and inquiries since about it have been met with the statement that for confidentiality reasons they cannot comment.
I know that I am just one of thousands and thousands of fathers who have been met with the same Gestapo tactics from the CAS.
We can be sure that this latest "change in custody proceedings" will do nothing but further entrench the CAS and its father hating tactics and cause the destruction of untold more fathers and their children.
Perhaps the most ironic thing about this announcement is that the changes were made in response to an investigation wherein a drug addicted MOTHER had petitioned Family Court to grant custody of her child to another WOMAN friend, so that the mother could enter a rehab facility. The WOMAN judge agreed and the WOMAN granted custody severely abused the child over many months (worst abuse I have seen in 20 years, it is the work of the devil said one investigating Toronto cop) and eventually murdered the child.
So .... an innocent child is severely abused and murdered, because of actions taken by 3 different WOMEN ..... and the FATHERS of Ontario will be punished and have to pay the price for this atrocity.
Long live gender equality.
Source: F4J Quebec
March 10, 2010 permalink
Toronto Police are looking for Meggin Chiande Farthing, thirteen years old. She was last seen on Sunday, January 10, 2010, in the Morningside Avenue/Lawrence Avenue East area. She is described as 5'5", 120 lbs., brown hair, brown eyes, with two birthmarks on her left cheek.
Here is the original News Release from the Toronto Police Service (pdf). It is still on their website, and according to the CBC, she is still wanted as of March 8. We are not sure that finding her will improve her circumstances, so we are skipping the snitch information.
███████ ███████ R.I.P.
March 9, 2010 permalink
Funeral services were held in Edmonton Tuesday for ███████ ███████, who died last week in her Morinville Alberta foster home. She is survived by her mother ███████ ███████.
Foster child’s death an Alberta tragedy: priest
EDMONTON — A Catholic priest presiding over the funeral of a 21-month-old Edmonton girl who died in foster care last week says people must speak out for changes to the foster care system or the little girl will have died in vain.
Rev. Jim Holland told about 100 mourners at Edmonton’s inner city Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples on Tuesday that the child’s death is not just a tragedy for her family but for the community and the entire province.
He called on Albertans to fight to make sure the province better protects children “that from time to time might need care.”
“There are good foster parents but the system has got to be changed,” he said while family members and the child’s mother wiped away tears.
“If we stop fighting then her death is in vain. We must make sure that another child does not die.”
Neither the child, who had been placed in a Morinville home, nor her parents or foster parents, can be identified under provincial law.
The toddler died March 3 in the Stollery Children’s Hospital. Police are treating her death as a homicide but will not say how she died.
Children’s Service Minister Yvonne Fritz has promised that her department will launch a review of the case.
Source: The Vancouver Sun
Addendum: The Edmonton Journal editorializes on the issue of anonymity
Review law on victim anonymity
For the fourth time in five years, an Albertan child has died a violent death while a ward of the province, under an almost Orwellian law that prevents her fellow citizens from ever knowing who she was.
The photograph accompanying this editorial should be of the 21-month-old victim of this tragedy. We should have to look into her trusting eyes, and contemplate the horrible irony of the inevitable snapshot smile from happier times. We should be forced to read an uncomprehending accusation into her gaze, at a world that treated her so cruelly and unfairly.
Instead we have only a visual statistic, as it were, to accompany the bloodless factual statistic she is doomed to become in collective memory: another fatality in which the foster-care systems and an aboriginal background are part of the picture.
Imagine having your life stolen almost before you've started writing your story, and then as an added indignity, being denied the right to have your proper name on the public record -- the right to stand up in a figurative sense and shout out to the world that "I was here!"
Yes, there is reason behind the law: the government wants to protect the privacy of guardians and family members whose circumstances might otherwise be dragged injuriously before the public eye. But making this an automatic response -- a response that inevitably depersonalizes a tragedy and reduces the public demand for change -- is wrong.
The anonymity of the young victim is by no means the central outrage here, or even the second priority after that most awful of crimes, the homicide of a child. Higher billing must surely go to the emotional pain of family and friends, and to society's loss of the contributions the child might eventually have made to her community, and perhaps even to all mankind.
But it is still vital that a review be made of the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act (if you can believe a name that the Ministry of Truth might have come up with in 1984.) We owe it to this latest victim of a society that still doesn't know how to protect its most vulnerable members. And we owe it to those who may find themselves in similar peril in the years to come.
Source: Edmonton Journal
Addendum: Four years later the girl was named as Shylee Kasokeo
Plea for More CAS Money
March 9, 2010 permalink
Here is a note of concern that the Ontario throne speech includes policies to reduce funding for several sectors including children's aid. The concern does not come from fathers or mothers or children. It comes from CUPE, the union representing employees. The baby-stealers are trying to protect their jobs.
We hope the government will ignore this plea. Free countries don't put prisoners in jail just to keep the guards busy. And as for members of CUPE, we suggest that they could help preserve their jobs by fostering better relations with their clients. For example, eliminate the humiliation rooms, where parents are observed with their children in the manner of laboratory animals. Stop suggesting to mom and dad that they should divorce. And don't block communication by foster kids with friends and family outside the foster system.
Throne Speech job promises can't hide dangerous changes in health care and sell-off of public assets, CUPE Ontario President says
TORONTO, Ont. – The job promises previewed in today's Throne Speech are vague and fail to hide dangerous changes in how patients access health care, how funding is allocated to hospitals and a plan for “cash-grab” asset sales that won't create a single job but will cripple the province by permanently reducing its revenue base, the President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario, the province's largest trade union, said today.
“Dalton McGuinty has so little confidence in his own job creation promises and in Ontario's businesses and workers' ability to grow the economy that he's planning to sell the farm to pay the mortgage,” CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn said today.
Selling off chunks of Ontario's biggest revenue sources, Hydro One, Ontario Power Generation, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and the Ontario Lottery Corporation, “is an admission of defeat by a Premier hoping to use marketing gimmicks to dress up a fire sale of what generations before us worked so hard to build,” said the CUPE Ontario leader.
Hahn is also extremely alarmed that new legislation to bring competition to hospital funding will be a disaster predicting that Ontarians will reject it because it will pit communities against each other and make access uneven and harder for Ontario families.
“Finally,” the CUPE President said, “it is sadly ironic that our Premier chose International Women's Day to deliver a Throne Speech that leaves women and children behind by continuing to underfund the very non-profits described in the Speech as ‘unsung heroes,' child care, children's aid and child welfare agencies.”
Fred Hahn is President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario with over 220,000 members.
For more information, please contact:
Chris Watson CUPE Communications 416-553-9410
Source: CUPE Ontario
305 Milner Ave. Suite 801
Horwath Wants Effective Ombudsman
March 8, 2010 permalink
For several years Andrea Horwath had legislation pending to expand the powers of Ontario's ombudsman to include children's aid societies. Now her legislation is dead by prorogue and Mr Marin's job is in peril. Here is her opinion piece on the ombudsman in the Toronto Star.
How to hire an ombudsman
Transparent process would fix term at 10 years and he should stay there until a successor is named
By all accounts, André Marin has done a sterling job as Ontario's ombudsman since his appointment five years ago.
Among other accomplishments, Marin created a special investigative unit that has completed more than 20 reports on a wide range of topics, from cancer drug funding to problems with Ontario's lotteries to ensuring new homeowners get what they pay for. Another investigative team he created has blown the door off secret meetings at the municipal level of government.
Given Marin's laudable track record as the provincial watchdog, you would have thought his reappointment by the McGuinty government for another five-year term would have been a slam dunk.
After all, members of the government have gone out of their way to praise Marin. Premier Dalton McGuinty himself has, on more than one occasion, paid public tribute to Marin's work and welcomed his constructive critique of a provincial government that can sometimes run amok or be prone to inertia.
"It's great to have a guy like this who is nipping at our heels on a regular basis. He forces us to move. I think that serves the public interest," McGuinty said in one interview.
So it must have been surprising to Marin and other keen observers of the provincial political scene to learn last month that the ombudsman will have to reapply for his job in an open competition.
Let's be clear. New Democrats have consistently called for an open competition for the appointment of officers of the Legislative Assembly, such as the ombudsman and the environment commissioner, among others. Furthermore, as "officers of the assembly," these office-holders must have all-party support.
And Marin, to his credit, has expressed a willingness to have his performance assessed and subject to the scrutiny of an open competition.
But given the way this drama has unfolded, at the 11th hour of Marin's five-year term, we can't help but believe cynical politics are at play.
With the next provincial election campaign a little more than a year-and-a-half away, we can only assume the McGuinty government would like nothing better than to rid itself of an effective – and at times harsh – critic.
Marin's reports garner headlines and plenty of public attention. And they always point to government failings and shortcomings. Hardly the kind of thing an incumbent government needs as it strives for a third successive majority.
If the McGuinty government were truly serious about the integrity of the appointment process, it would have launched it well before now. The amount of time and effort needed to fill a position like the ombudsman is greater than the six weeks before Marin's term expires.
The government should look no further than the still unfolding, plodding process to find a new integrity commissioner. More than three years since that process began, the selection committee – made of up MPPs from all parties – still hasn't come to a decision.
Given that example, a truly transparent and open competition – if that's what the McGuinty government intended – should have been launched much earlier. Instead, we're left with an ombudsman in limbo.
If he appeared to be caught off guard last month, Marin can be forgiven. Late last year, McGuinty reappointed the privacy commissioner for a third term with a simple stroke of the government pen. With the expiration of his first term quickly approaching, Marin had every right to assume he'd receive the same treatment.
At the time of the privacy commissioner's reappointment, New Democrats raised concerns about the lack of transparency. A perusal through the record of debate at Queen's Park shows we aren't the only ones uncomfortable with the existing process, or lack thereof.
None other than current Finance Minister Dwight Duncan once mused about formalizing "a process for appointing officers of the assembly that rightfully ought to be done in as non-partisan a fashion as we can."
We're glad Duncan agrees with us and we're equally glad to share some ideas on how to proceed.
First, the ombudsman's term should be fixed at 10 years (just like the auditor general), instead of the current five.
Second, there should be no reappointment. Once the 10 years are up, you hand the job to someone else.
Third, the incumbent ombudsman should automatically keep the job until a successor is named. That is to say, there should not be interim, short-term appointments, as there have been in the past.
We think our proposals are reasonable and would remove any suggestion of politically motivated actions on the part of governments in the future.
Given the important role the ombudsman plays in protecting the interests of Ontarians, we think it's only fair.
Source: Toronto Star
Paradise for Kids
March 8, 2010 permalink
Life inside the Brookside Youth Centre in Coburg Ontario is heaven for the kids. They watch TV, eat pizzas and McDonald's and attend school, one tutor for every six kids. They are served so much food at meals, most inmates don't finish their plates. The inmates are regularly given fast food, given portable AM/FM radio devices they are allowed to take home, allowed to watch movies, snack on pop and potato chips, surf the Internet, enjoy chocolate and fruit, play sports and more.
At least, that is their life if you believe the union representing the staff. For another view, refer to the purgatory at the Roy McMurtry Youth Centre in Brampton that led to complaints by Ontario's child advocate Irwin Elman.
Brookside inmates have 'free rein,' union charges
Posted By PETE FISHER, NORTHUMBERLAND TODAY, Posted March 8, 2010
COBOURG -The president of the local union representing Brookside Youth Centre staff has harsh words for the Ministry of Children and Youth Services following an alleged assault last month on three workers.
"I truly believe a staff member will be killed, if not a youth, in the very near future in one of our five facilities," said Peter Harding, president of Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) Local 337, who also sits on various provincial committees regarding youth justice.
As a result of provincial interpretation of youth laws, Harding said, the inmates at Brookside have "free rein."
Federal legislation regarding the Child and Family Services Act gives institutions the ability to use Secure Isolation, create special security programs, etc., for facilities such as Brookside Youth Centre.
"The ministry has the ability to create policy to keep staff and youth safe but prefers to take away any measure of control we once had," Harding said.
Now, instead of staff disciplining the youths for misbehaviour or assaults, the youths are kept in regular programs.
"Their general feeling is we give them a hug and everything is all better," Harding charged.
"The ministry also refuses to move adult-age youth to adult institutions even though legislation allows for this."
Harding said morale at the institution, which can house up to 87 youths, is at an all-time low.
"In my 22 years it has never been lower in our institution," he said.
"Morale was higher when we were on strike. It's terrifying what's going on.
"There is a big fence up, but anything within that fence is theirs."
The inmates at Brookside Youth Centre range in age from 14 to 18 years old at the time of the crime and are housed in the institution for anything an adult would get a minimum two-year sentence for, including gang violence, attempted murder, murder, rape and arson.
The ministry has directed all offenders who are minors at the time of the crime be housed together regardless of their age. This means offenders aged 14 are housed with 20-year-olds.
Currently 35% of the inmates at Brookside are 18 years old and older.
Harding said "discipline is likely," after three staff were allegedly assaulted Feb. 26 by a 19-year-old inmate in an unprovoked attack.
Since the alleged attack, Harding said, Brookside administration have been attempting to transfer the inmate to another facility, but other institutions are refusing.
The union had previously requested the inmate be transferred after a Brookside worker was assaulted, but the inmate remained in the general population at the facility.
"He has done the runaround of the province and has assaulted staff everywhere he's been," Harding claimed.
The ministry is refusing to send the inmate to a mental facility because he is too violent, even though he meets the criteria, Harding said.
The three staff members were treated and released from hospital and the youth is facing adult criminal charges because of his age.
But because of a previous incident in June 2009 in which two Brookside staff members restrained an inmate for disruptive behaviour, and were subsequently fired in January 2010, Harding fears the ministry will try the same tactic for the three injured staff.
"We have a concern that staff that were hospitalized... their jobs are now in jeopardy," Harding said.
"Apparently there is an internal investigation to find wrongdoing by staff."
The union is in the legal process of having the two men fired in January reinstated.
"I am confident they will be exonerated of all charges," Harding said.
"It was, in my mind, a completely fabricated ministry official direction going out to send a message to staff that, although we're supposed to break up fights, we're supposed to keep being safe, we can't go near the youths and if the youth does anything, the youth is correct."
Inside Brookside, Harding said, gangs are the biggest problem and "assaults are up dramatically."
"We can't take away even the small things like extra programming that they get," he said. "We have to allow them to watch TV, we have to allow them to have their pizzas and their McDonald's and attend school.
"There are no losses for people that don't follow the program."
And the dangerous part, he said, is that the inmates know that.
Harding said staff at youth institutions across the province are "terrified to be able to do their job."
OPSEU is hoping the ministry will review the interpretation of the current legislation and follow other provinces that are using secure isolation for discipline.
"Our province is interpreting federal legislation differently than any of the other provinces," Harding said.
As a result, he said, "there is no discipline existing within our facilities."
Harding stated the public would be "shocked" if they knew what murderers and rapists receive while in the youth facilities.
They are served so much food at meals, most inmates don't finish their plates.
The inmates are regularly given fast food, given portable AM/FM radio devices they are allowed to take home, allowed to watch movies, snack on pop and potato chips, surf the Internet, enjoy chocolate and fruit, play sports and more.
Along with short sentences for their crimes, inmates receive one teacher to six youths for school.
"Most things are now considered to be rights, not privileges, by ministry officials," Harding said.
Source: Northumberland Today
UK Courts Don't Trust Social Workers
March 8, 2010 permalink
According to a new study, British courts hold social workers in low esteem and do not trust their evidence. Social workers are suffering the ultimate penalty of liars — being disbelieved.
Courts distrust evidence from social workers
Judges delay decisions in urgent cases affecting vulnerable children to hear from other experts, says report
Courts are refusing applications to take children into care because some members of the judiciary hold social workers in such low esteem that they do not trust their evidence, it will be claimed this week in a major study.
Local authorities told researchers that children were being put at risk because social workers were not always recognised as experts.
The findings are part of research commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) into the practicalities of implementing the 58 recommendations of Lord Laming's report into child protection , carried out in the wake of the death of Baby Peter. The 17-month-old boy from Haringey, north London, who suffered more than 50 injuries over an eight-month period, died despite being seen repeatedly by social services, police, doctors and health vistors.
The LGA report, carried out by academics at Loughborough University and published this week, concludes: "The low status afforded to social workers was ... perceived to impact upon the court decision-making process. A number of authorities felt courts were refusing applications that children's social care felt were necessary to protect children." Social workers, it says, "are not always recognised as experts in the court arena".
As evidence of their low status, it points out: "Experts such as hospital consultants are not expected to wait in court all day to give evidence, but social workers are, meaning they are not able to use the time available more effectively." The report found that social workers had to wait on average 20 hours in court to get a care order.
Nushra Mansuri, joint manager of the English office of the British Association of Social Workers, said it was appalling that professionals were treated so badly, and said it could be dangerous for children.
"There is good practice, and there are plenty of members of the judiciary who do show due respect," she said , but she had seen a number of examples of the sort of attitude detailed in the report. "I think there is a bit of a snobbery because social work is the soft target. We are the most exposed of all the professions, whereas others are a little more anonymous in the process."
She said judges had to try not to be influenced by the negative image of social workers portrayed in the media. "I'm sure it doesn't happen in most cases, but we as professionals are asked to question our prejudices all the time, and so should they."
A senior lawyer involved in child care proceedings said they were often subject to lengthy delays because judges were reluctant to accept social workers' assessments at face value, and would commission a series of additional and expensive "expert" views from psychiatrists and other professionals.
"If you have a case of neglect involving a mother of five, who has been a crack cocaine addict for 10 years, do we really need to commission another psychiatric assessment to tell us that she needs to be free of drugs before she can care for her children, which costs thousands of pounds?
"This is not about denying justice or a fair hearing to parents, but ensuring that justice for the child is not unnecessarily delayed, and that limited resources are made available to help parents avoid these problems and not diverted into telling us things we already know, that the social worker has expertise in."
The LGA research also focuses on Laming's recommendation that all referrals to children's services from other professionals such as NHS staff or police should lead to a full initial assessment. It claims the cost of implementing such a change would be £250m a year to councils, and require 6,300 more social workers.Shireen Ritchie, chair of the LGA's Children and Young People board, said: "One of our major concerns is the amount of bureaucracy that social workers have to go through when making these assessments. Meeting targets around assessments does not make children safer. Social workers need to be involved in the reflective process, as well as form filling."
Last year the children's secretary, Ed Balls, accepted all Lamings recommendations and said they would be "properly resourced".
Double Foster Death
March 6, 2010 permalink
Teenaged foster girls Martha Jackson Hernandez and Kayla LaLonde were close friends — the Facebook photo in the enclosed story shows just how close. Last Monday, they attended the same party near Vancouver British Columbia where they are suspected of sharing the same drug, MDMA, better known as ecstasy. On Tuesday they both died.
Death may be from the effects of the drug, or from contamination. Drug dealers cannot report thefts to the police. One way they can control theft is my mixing a poison into some of their inventory, and marking the items with a coding system. Paying customers get only good drugs, thieves, unaware of the coding system, get the death penalty. A theft anywhere in the supply chain can account for the deaths of the foster girls.
Text messages went unanswered from two teen girls found dead
Friend of one of two girls who died ‘knew something was wrong’ after getting no response
METRO VANCOUVER -- Kayla LaLonde had promised her girlfriend Allie Detina that she would be home in time for her 10 p.m. curfew Monday night.
LaLonde, 16, had often been late returning back to her Vancouver foster home, but in recent days had been consistently on time, even early.
“She was doing so well,” Detina, also 16, said Thursday. “She promised me she’d go home for curfew, and she kept her promises.”
Detina did not hear from LaLonde again after 6 p.m. Monday. At 12:40 a.m. Tuesday, passersby found her collapsed on the road in the 4000-block of Rumble Street in Burnaby. She was taken to hospital where she died shortly after. Detina thought she might have got lost on the way home.
LaLonde’s 17-year-old friend Martha Jackson Hernandez, with whom she had been earlier, died hours later in Richmond, following a 911 call about a youth in distress.
Witnesses reported seeing the two hanging out together in Richmond on Monday and friends believe they separated that night when LaLonde decided to go home.
Both the Burnaby and Richmond RCMP detachments were in the early stages of investigations, but drugs and alcohol may have been contributing factors in the girls’ deaths, said Burnaby RCMP media relations officer Cpl. Brenda Gresiuk.
“I knew something was wrong, because she wasn’t answering my text messages or calling me back,” Detina said. “I just felt something was wrong. I knew it.”
LaLonde and Hernandez were known to drink and occasionally use drugs, but not in large quantities, according to multiple friends.
“I’m positive alcohol was a factor,” Tori Delorme said. “The only reason they would go out [to Richmond] is to drink. But they were pretty good when they drank; they never got out of hand. I don’t know whether or not they were on drugs that night.”
Not all friends and family members believed the girls died of drug overdoses.
“Martha drank but she’s never done drugs,” said friend Giselle Sutherland. “She was afraid she’d get addicted. If she did [do drugs], that would be her first time.”
“I don’t think it was an overdose,” Delorme said. “I think something else went on.”
“It’s more likely a case of bad drugs,” said LaLonde’s uncle Hank Bee, who said it was unlike the girls to ingest large quantities of drugs.
Toxicology results were expected in about two weeks.
A group of people gathered Thursday at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society in east Vancouver to console each other and share memories.
More people still, including LaLonde’s girlfriend Detina, gathered at the spot in Burnaby where LaLonde was found, to drop off flowers and pay their respects.
“I feel really broken inside and lost and upset,” said a choked-up Detina. “She’s my angel.”
A Facebook memorial page was flooded with messages from friends, family and even people who didn’t know then girls.
“Celebrate the lives of these two young girls & all of your cherished memories together,” wrote Stephanie Brianne Rodriguez. “Do not be sad that you have lost them, but be so thankful that you were fortunate enough to have had them.”
Delorme said she hopes people don’t judge LaLonde and Hernandez based on early media reports.
“I don’t want people to think they were bad people,” she said. “They weren’t druggies or alcoholics.”
Bee said he hopes the incident doesn’t cast the aboriginal community in a bad light.
“People are going to say, ‘Oh, those native kids,’” Bee said. “They were young and smart and usually tried to stay out of trouble. Sometimes things don’t work out the way you want them to.”
There were 90 teenage overdose deaths involving drugs or alcohol in B.C. from January 1997 to September 2008, according to a report by the B.C. Coroners Service.
Of those 90, 55 involved illicit drugs, 23 non-prescription drugs, six alcohol, four prescription drugs and two a combination of alcohol and drugs.
Source: Vancouver Sun
New Trial for Alberta Kafka
March 6, 2010 permalink
The Alberta Kafka case will get a new trial.
Foster mother to get new trial in child's death
Alberta's Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial for an Edmonton foster mother who was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of a three-year-old boy in her care.
The woman cannot be named under Alberta's child welfare legislation. She was originally charged with second-degree murder, but a jury found her guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter at her trial in November 2008. She was sentenced to three years in prison.
Both the Crown and the woman's lawyer appealed the outcome of the trial to the Alberta Court of Appeal. The defence asked for an acquittal on the manslaughter conviction. The Crown appealed her acquittal on the murder charge.
In a ruling released Friday, the appeal court judges ordered a new trial on the original second-degree murder charge after finding that the trial judge made a "legally incorrect exhortation" to the jury to reach a verdict after they said they were deadlocked.
The exhortation had elements in it that contravened policy set out in a 1996 court ruling, the appeal court judges found.
"Those elements involved references to the need to re-try the case with its associated inconvenience, expense and hardship for the Crown and the defence, and the association of that negative result with 'the unwillingness of one or more of their number to listen to the arguments of the rest,'" the ruling says.
The little boy died in January 2007 of a massive head injury, the court heard during the trial. The child also cannot be named under Alberta legislation.
Fake Social Worker Takes Baby
March 5, 2010 permalink
When Florida teenager Jasmine Marie White needed a baby, she found an easy way to get one. She impersonated a social worker and took three-week-old Melvin Duclos from his family. White had falsely told her family she was pregnant, and needed the baby to make good on her due date.
Jacksonville woman accused of abducting baby Melvin Duclos faked pregnancy
Family members say she acted and looked pregnant, and 'needs help'
The 19-year-old charged with abducting 3-week-old Melvin Duclos remains in jail this morning after a judge granted no bail in her first appearance on the kidnapping charge.
But as soon as Jasmine Marie White was walked out of the courtroom in shackles and a gray jumpsuit, family members said she had told them last week that she was pregnant and expecting a baby this week.
White spent about two minutes in front of Circuit Judge Kevin Blazs as a long line of family members, including her mother, watched from the back of the packed courtroom.
Afterward, her mother wouldn’t comment. But one aunt, Teresa Thomas, said White told her she was pregnant and acted like it, throwing up and “she was showing, her stomach was big.”
“She came to my home on Friday and said she was going to have a baby on Tuesday, and they would induce labor," Thomas said. "We thought she was pregnant. She told everybody she was pregnant. We had no idea that this was going to happen and we are sorry for the family.”
She said the whole family assumed she was pregnant.
"It blew all of us away because we had seen no mental problem,” Thomas said.
Another aunt, Antoinette Canales, said White had numerous miscarriages and couldn’t take losing those babies.
“Don’t throw her in jail, she needs help," Canales said. "She is only 19 and she’s only a baby. She’s lost three babies and needs help. She didn’t hurt the baby.”
Sheriff John Rutherford also said that White had faked a pregnancy. He said in the brief time White had the child Tuesday and Wednesday, her mother was told he was a girl. Melvin also was dressed in pink to further draw away any attention to an Amber Alert issued for an abducted 3-week-old boy.
Authorities tracked a single fingerprint from a fake document given to Melvin's parents Tuesday after they were followed home from a Shands Jacksonville doctor's appointment, the sheriff previously said. A woman posing as an official with the Department of Children and Families told the Ducloses, Haitian immigrants, they were being investigated for possible abuse and needed to hand over the boy.
After realizing it was a ruse, the Ducloses called police. The fingerprint matched White's from a juvenile auto theft arrest and authorities soon figured out possible addresses. They located her and the unharmed child about 13 hours later sleeping in the home White shared with her mother on North Cabot Drive.
Outside the home were empty boxes for a child car seat, a bouncy seat and a baby care cart.
The sheriff said her mother was apparently unaware of the kidnapping 2 1/2 miles away on North Ironside Drive.
Melvin’s father, postal worker Augustin Duclos, credited investigators for a miracle.
White is charged with kidnapping, interference with custody of a child and two unrelated counts of fraudulent use of personal identification information.
Source: Florida Times-Union
Addendum: Eighteen years for kidnapping under pretense of child protection. But this only applies to outsiders.
Kidnapper sentenced to 18 years in Baby Melvin Duclos case
Years from now, Melvin Duclos will learn about the frenzied search that ensued when a Jacksonville woman posing as a child welfare agent snatched him away after stalking his parents.
He’ll hear about how investigators, fearing the worst, rummaged through trash bins and combed a landfill looking for his then 3-week-old body. He’ll hear about how his kidnapper was in her late teens and faked at least one of the four pregnancies she’d reported to friends and family since 2006 — the one where she claimed she gave birth to Duclos while out of town.
The now-10-month-old’s father, Augustin Duclos, said outside Circuit Judge Mark Mahon’s courtroom that one day he’ll give his son any detail he wants to know about the early March abduction. For now, the elder Duclos said he cherishes every time he hears the infant utter “Dada.”
“I think if I didn’t have my son, how would I live?” Duclos said.
The kidnapper, 19-year-old Jasmine Marie White, was sentenced Friday to 18 years in prison to be followed by 10 years of probation. She faced a maximum of 40 years.
“I want you to know how sorry I am for all the trouble I caused,” White told the judge. “I’m not a bad person. ... I made a mistake.”
White sobbed while asking Mahon for probation only. As the bailiffs led her out of the courtroom, White bawled. Her screams echoed through a back hallway.
Augustin Duclos dismissed the crying as an act. He said White only felt bad because she got caught. He said he would have liked a tougher sentence.
“I’m still scared,” Duclos said. “After she comes out, what else will she do?”
Prosecutor John Rockwell argued that White preyed on the Duclos family because they are Haitian immigrants who didn’t have strong English language skills. Security footage obtained during the investigation shows White followed the Ducloses to Shands Jacksonville hospital, a grocery store and a family clinic before she showed up at the couple’s doorstep with a fake badge and an even faker story about being from the Florida Department of Children & Families.
White said she was there to investigate child abuse. She then left with 3-week-old Melvin. As part of the ruse, she left behind paperwork that she claimed was part of the case.
Had it not been for a fingerprint on those papers — which led investigators to find the baby 13 hours after the abduction at White’s mother’s house roughly 2½ miles from the Duclos’ Westside home — authorities said it’s unclear if they would have cracked the case.
White had even dressed Melvin Duclos in girl’s clothing to help conceal his identity.
Stephen Bloomfield, a Jacksonville psychologist commissioned by White’s defense team, said he thought the risk of White kidnapping again was low but that she would need intensive psychotherapy.
“She appears to have an uncontrollable desire for children,” Bloomfield said.
In an unrelated identity fraud case, prosecutors said White posed as another person — using a woman’s personal information to get a Florida ID card — to sign an apartment lease.
White pleaded guilty to the fraud and kidnapping charges in November. Rockwell said the fraud case helped show that White’s dishonesty was not limited to the kidnapping.
At the end of the two-hour sentencing hearing, Mahon said he was curious as to what went haywire in White’s mind. She seemed so fond of children, the judge said, yet she saw fit to steal one even if it meant terrorizing a family.
White had a fast-food job but also worked at day-care centers. Her mother and stepfather told the judge that she struggled in school but has a strong work ethic.
White’s lawyer, Travis Reinhold, said he respected Mahon’s ruling.
“It was a very difficult case. There was the shock value of the kidnapping but also her psychological problems,” Reinhold said.
Source: Florida Times-Union
Parents Not Notified of Child Death
March 4, 2010 permalink
After Calel Mayland Wheeler died in the care of New Jersey DYFS, they failed to notify the parents until the next court hearing. They did though find time to apply (unsuccessfully) to the court for a gag order preventing the parents from discussing the case with the press.
A DYFS lawyer told the mother: "In 22 years we have never had this happen." Here are 1384 cases in which this happened, 29 of them in New Jersey, drawn from reports in the press. And only one foster death of every twenty gets into the press.
Baby in Brick foster home suffocates; parents told in court
BRICK — A 17-month-old boy in the care of the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services suffocated overnight in his foster home, and his parents were told of the death when they went to court to try to regain custody of him.
Calel Mayland Wheeler died early Tuesday after apparently becoming trapped between the mattress of the toddler bed in which he was sleeping and the bedroom wall.
His parents, Carmen E. Cotting, 24, and Timothy J. Wheeler, 34, both of Claremont, N.H., are blaming the child welfare agency for their son's death.
"This is negligence," Wheeler said. "DYFS was negligent."
Cotting and Wheeler were scheduled to appear before state Superior Court Judge Robert A. Coogan on Tuesday morning.
"Our intention was to bring our kids home," Cotting said.
Instead, they were ushered into a room off of the courtroom and told the boy had died just hours before.
"Why weren't we called when this first happened?" Wheeler asked. "Why did they wait to tell us in court?"
Cotting says Calel and a 5-year-old son of the couple were placed in DYFS custody on Nov. 2, after she had come to New Jersey from New Hampshire but then was left homeless.
She had become embroiled in legal issues involving Carl Ray Smith, 53, of Laconia, N.H., whom Middletown police have accused of trying to pass a bad $54,000 check. Police say the check was from a closed account of Cotting's, and she had disposed of it in a Dumpster. Both are facing charges in the case. Smith is in the Monmouth County Jail in Freehold Township on $20,000 bail, and Cotting was released on a summons.
Wheeler said he was unable to take custody of the boys in November because he was in a New Hampshire jail on a simple assault charge. He was released at the end of January.
Meanwhile, the boys were placed in a foster home in Brick. Wheeler said he learned a DYFS worker recently told the foster parents to remove the boy from a crib because it was on a recall list, but a new crib was not brought into the house.
Wheeler says his 17-month-old son apparently was put to sleep with a blanket in a toddler bed Monday night. Around 6 a.m. Tuesday, the boy was found dead in that bed.
Brick Detective William Ruocco and Ocean County Prosecutor's Office Detective Thomas Tiernan handled the investigation into the child's death.
An autopsy determined the death was accidental, caused by positional asphyxia, said Prosecutor's Office Deputy Chief Michael Mohel.
He said no foul play is suspected.
Federal and state laws require DYFS to release certain information about child deaths or near-fatalities that result from child abuse or neglect, according to a news release issued by DYFS in July.
A DYFS spokeswoman declined to comment.
"Under state and federal law, only under specific circumstances can we acknowledge or discuss any involvement with a child in the child welfare system," Lauren Kidd said. "At this point, there is no comment or information we can offer."
Wheeler says he was given the same information on the boy's death by DYFS. But the parents want more answers.
"Why did they have a 17-month-old baby in a toddler's bed? And why was a 17-month-old baby alone in a room without a baby monitor? He should have been in a crib," Wheeler said, demanding answers about his son's death.
Instead, Wheeler says DYFS officials tried to get a gag order to keep him from speaking to the media.
He vowed, "Somebody is going to pay for this."
Cotting's father, who lives in in New Hampshire, was awarded temporary custody of the couple's 5-year-old son Wednesday afternoon, and the pair returned to their home state Wednesday evening to begin making arrangements for Calel's funeral. They are waiting for their youngest son to be picked up by a New Hampshire funeral home.
The couple say they are troubled by the way DYFS handled the situation.
"I knew before they told us because of the way they were acting," Cotting said in explaining the chain of events leading up to DYFS officials giving her the news.
She said a DYFS lawyer told her, before breaking the news, "In 22 years we have never had this happen."
Source: Asbury Park Press
March 4, 2010 permalink
A foster child has died in Alberta, the second in a week. In future references we will use the alias "Morinville girl" (Morninville in the article is a typo).
Foster child dies in Edmonton hospital
CTV News has learned an 18-month-old child passed away at the Stollery Children's Hospital Wednesday, two days after an alleged incident at her foster home in Morinville. The child's biological family says it may be a case of shaken baby syndrome.
The biological family tells CTV News the toddler had only been in foster care for about two months. They say the little girl suffered severe brain damage, and that doctors told them the toddler may have been shaken to death.
The toddler was rushed to hospital less than two days ago, and on Wednesday, family and friends confirmed the foster child died because her brain damage was too severe.
The minister of children and youth services confirmed to CTV that an investigation has now been launched.
"It is very heartbreaking when any child is in a life-threatening situation and our thoughts are with this child's family -- that is our foster family and this child's biological family," said Yvonne Fritz.
RCMP in Morninville opened a file into the severe injury of a child on the same night as the alleged incident. So far, no charges have been laid.
This recent occurrence is just the latest facing Alberta's foster care system.
Just last week, a Calgary foster parent was charged with a range of sex crimes against children in his care.
Then in June, an Edmonton foster mom was sentenced to three years in jail for the death of a toddler.
And one year ago, a four-year-old girl in the care of children's services died from head injuries -- her aunt was later charged with murder.
NDP Leader Brian Mason says they've been calling on the government to make improvements.
"They need to improve the recruitment and screening of foster parents; they need to make sure there's enough supervision that's taking place."
The province won't speculate on what caused the latest death, but Fritz admits the system needs to be better.
"It doesn't mean we've done all that we can do to strengthen in our screening process, but that's something the senior staff evaluate on a continual basis."
The child's biological family says the little girl was in foster care because her mother was dealing with some medical health problems.
The province claims privacy laws prevent it from disclosing how long the foster parents have been in the system, or if there are currently other foster children residing in the same home.
With files from CTV's Scott Roberts
Source: CTV Edmonton
The mother of the dead girl is being effectively gagged by a law preventing publication of her name. She says she provides a good home for her children, some still in her own care, and did not voluntarily give up her daughter.
We invite the mother to tell her story in full. If you are, or know of, this mother, please send notice to Dufferin VOCA by email to [ rtmq at fixcas.com ] or phone 705-744-6274.
Mother of dead foster child breaks her silence
The biological mother of a 21-month-old girl who died Wednesday while in the care of foster parents, says her daughter was murdered and was wrongfully placed in the foster care system.
The mother, who cannot be named, believes her daughter was unjustly taken from her and adds that she was working with a lawyer to get custody of her daughter.
"Someone murdered my daughter," she said in a written statement to CTV News. "I have other children in my care. I am standing here looking at my son."
She says her daughter was under a temporary guardianship order for three months, but insists she never signed the papers.
"I was going to court on March 8 to get her back. She was not supposed to be in the foster care system," said the mother. "Something is wrong with the system."
The mother goes on to say that her family has a good home and that she had the support of her family members.
Police have not released the child's cause of death, but they are investigating it as a homicide.
Biological family members believe it may have been a case of shaken-baby syndrome.
They say the little girl suffered severe brain damage, and that doctors told them the toddler may have been shaken to death.
The 21-month-old girl was in the care of a Morinville-area foster family when she died at the Stollery Children's hospital Wednesday, two days after she had been admitted.
The little girl's family released a statement saying, "What we know is that the baby was brought to the Stollery on Monday, March 1st and was in a coma. After 2 days, the baby succumbed to her injuries with her family at her side."
The death comes two weeks after the Minister of Children and Youth Services met with foster-care workers to discuss some of the challenges they face.
Janet Ryan-Newell, the executive directive of Crossroads Family Services, a non-profit organization that provides foster care for children in the Edmonton area, says she was sad to hear about the death, but suggests the tragic story overshadows what she believes to be the wonderful work foster families do.
"Every month, thousands of successes -- they never hit the news and they can't, so it is very frustrating," she said.
Privacy laws prevent foster parents from sharing their successes, until the child is an adult.
A memorial service for the child will be held next week.
Source: CTV Edmonton
Lawyer in Greg Carter Case
March 4, 2010 permalink
Toronto lawyer George Callahan is organizing a civil suit against phony doctor Greg Carter. If you wish to join in, get in touch with David Bulmer.
Class action suit possible in Carter case
Whitby man accused of false testimony in family court
DURHAM -- As criminal charges proceed against a Whitby man accused of falsely portraying himself as a clinical psychologist in family court cases, a move is afoot to launch civil action.
Toronto lawyer George Callahan said Tuesday he's consulted with a number of potential clients in the wake of revelations that Greg Carter conducted assessments and offered opinions in family court proceedings that involved child custody matters.
"I can confirm that there are a number of victims coming forward in the Carter matter," Mr. Callahan said. "We are actively considering a class action suit."
Mr. Carter, 63, was charged in January with perjury, obstructing justice and fraud. Durham police allege he falsely claimed to be a clinical psychologist while testifying in court and preparing parental assessments for agencies such as the Children's Aid Society; Mr. Carter was a contract employee with Durham CAS from 2003 to 2009.
Mr. Carter's opinions were considered by judges making rulings about child custody, police said. The Whitby man is registered with the Ontario College of Psychologists as a psychological associate. His practice is limited by the college and he is prohibited from independently making diagnoses.
Mr. Carter has not responded to requests for comment and the case against him has not been proven in court. He was scheduled to appear in remand court in Oshawa Wednesday.
Mr. Callahan said that in light of the accusations levelled against Mr. Carter, lawsuits by individuals who feel they've been affected by his alleged misdeeds are inevitable. Court approval would be required for claimants to come together to launch a class action suit.
And when lawsuits do start flying they'll allege liability well beyond Mr. Carter himself, Mr. Callahan predicted.
"It's a disastrous mess," he said. "There are no winners in this. There are only people who have suffered loss."
Pushing for a lawsuit is a Clarington man who claims he lost custody of his granddaughter because of a report authored by Mr. Carter. The man, whose name can't be published to protect the child's identity, first blew the whistle on Mr. Carter by calling police and is now trying to organize people affected by the case.
He said a system-wide review ought to be conducted. "This is gross incompetence."
Also watching developments closely is a Whitby woman who said she abandoned her court battle for custody of her two children after a scathing assessment authored by Mr. Carter.
"He was the assessor recommended by the court," the woman said. "This report would have influenced the judge."
The woman now lives in a different town than her children and sees them only occasionally. She said the decision to give up her custody fight was excruciating. And now that it's alleged Mr. Carter wasn't qualified to offer an opinion in the case, she's shocked and angry.
"My whole life has changed because of this," she said. "You trust this person has the credentials needed to perform this important function.
"I put my trust in the courts; I put my trust in my lawyer. I put my trust in this man."
Mr. Callahan said it's essential that witnesses offering expert opinions in court cases be vetted to ensure their capability and credibility.
"These assessors have such sway in the courts that often judges will follow their recommendations," he said. "And that appears to be the case with Mr. Carter."
Source: Metroland Media
Woman charged with killing husband is lobbyist
March 3, 2010 permalink
Arelisha Bridges was a lobbyist for The National Declaration for Domestic Violence Order, a group dedicated to ending domestic violence. So what did she do when she had an argument with her husband? She killed him.
Woman charged with killing husband is lobbyist
A 45-year-old woman, charged with ending a domestic dispute by killing her 26-year-old husband of five days, is a registered lobbyist for a group fighting domestic violence.
Arelisha Bridges was ordered held without bond in the Fulton County Jail. She is scheduled for a preliminary hearing later this month on charges of felony murder, murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
Officials said Bridges claimed she was unemployed. But records show she is a lobbyist for an organization called the National Declaration for Domestic Violence Order; its Web site says the group is pushing legislation to create a database of those convicted of sex crimes or domestic abuse.
Usually an accused felon will appear at a preliminary hearing a day later, but Bridges' hearing was within hours of the shooting death of Anthony Rankins. Officials said the court appearance was moved up because of the unusual circumstances around the crime.
Witnesses told police that Bridges was wearing a nightgown and a shower cap as she argued with Rankins on the sidewalk on North Avenue near West Peachtree Street around 10:45 p.m. Monday.
And moments later, witnesses said, they heard shots. They said she then "calmly walked away."
A MARTA police officer stopped her as she was getting into her car, perhaps to return to her home nearby on Centennial Olympic Park Drive.
According to Atlanta police, Bridges told investigators that she and Rankins had been dating for a few months and were just married on Feb. 24.
Bridges' group isn't among the prominent domestic violence lobbying groups in Georgia, said Kirsten Rambo, the executive director of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence.
"This is the first I've heard about that organization," Rambo said. "I certainly couldn't say if they were legitimate or not," she said, adding, "It's certainly a new name to me."
Bridges has filed sparse lobbying expenses, according to State Ethics Commission records. So far this year, she's reported spending $20 -- for parking while lobbying for the abuse database.
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Addendum: The victim Anthony Rankins was Bridges' sixth husband. On December 13, 2012 Bridges was convicted by a jury and sentenced to life behind bars.
Jury of Yes-Men
March 3, 2010 permalink
The coroner's jury in the Matthew Reid case has returned 45 recommendations, all originating from the social services system, and all suggesting more power for, or scrutiny by, social services as the way to protect children. Overlooked by the jury: if Matthew Reid had been left with his natural family he would still be alive.
Examination of the recommendations suggests that the coroner's jury was composed of social workers, or yes-men who uncritically adopted suggestions from social services lawyers. Many of the recommendations are from a CAS wish-list, and unrelated to the Matthew Reid case, such as parental computer controls to keep pornography away from Matthew.
Addendum: A non-authoritative source identifies Matthew's foster mother as Margaret Barrow.
March 3, 2010 permalink
A story posted to an open Facebook group shows how children's aid routinely breaks up relationships between mothers and fathers who want to cooperate in raising their children. In today's case they find an easy target in a relationship that is new, only eight months old. Sadly, contrary to the expectations of the mother, there is no law against children's aid breaking up families and no worker will be fired for this atrocious conduct.
Coercion - CAS LIES
Kayla Marie Stone My boyfriend and I are still fighting for our relationship, as we have been living together for eight months now, my children are healthy and well, as usual, and his son is doing better now then he ever has been.. So now with that said, with childrens aid workers combining our file (mine is voluntary, his was court ordered but was supposed to be switched to voluntary) Two months ago at a mediation meeting for visitations between for his ex to see their son, both his and her workers proceeded to tell my boyfriend that if he did not move out of my residence they would apprehend his son. His ex, who witnessed everything, didn't think much of it at the time, she just thought that maybe he wasn't following the court order, now that the truth is out, I want to take them to court, but my boyfriend is afraid that they will bury the truth and it will make our situation more difficult. What more can I do to convince him that what His worker is doing is AGAINST the damn law and she can be fired!!
March 2, 2010 at 1:59pm
Boy Dies in Alberta Foster Care
March 3, 2010 permalink
A toddler boy has died in Calgary, shortly after being placed in foster care. We are not permitted to see anything of the family except the backs of the parent's heads. In case this story appears in the news again, we will refer to the deceased boy as "Calgary toddler".
Parents devastated after baby dies in foster care
Police say case not considered a criminal matter
A Calgary couple is devastated their one-year-old son died within days of being placed in a foster home and frustrated by the lack of answers from officials.
The parents cannot be identified under provincial child welfare law.
They were waiting for a home visit with their three boys Monday morning when a case worker and three police officers knocked on the door and gave them the terrible news.
"I saw him on Thursday and he was perfectly healthy," said the 31-year-old father, adding the baby had suffered five seizures in the past.
Police say the baby's death is not considered criminal -- the medical examiner's office is investigating to determine whether sudden infant death syndrome could be to blame.
Clinging to her son's quilt for comfort as she wept, the boy's grieving mother told the Herald she's frustrated at finding few answers to their questions from Children's Services Monday.
"I just want to know what's going on," the 29-year-old said.
The parents say they were told by the medical examiner's office they'd have to wait view their child's body at a funeral parlour.
"I wanted to hold him," the mother said.
The couple asked to visit their newborn and two-year-old Monday after learning their son had died, but were denied, they say.
A scheduled visit today will go ahead, they were told.
On Feb. 19, the couple's newborn, one-year-old and two-year-old were seized by Children and Youth Services. For the past 10 days, they have had supervised visits in their northeast home. The family did not say what led up to the seizure of their children.
"It's very sad, such a loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and care workers," said Children and Youth Services Minister Yvonne Fritz.
Fritz said counsellors are available for both the biological and foster families.
"We have many knowledgeable people that are experienced with this kind of experience. This is about supporting the parents."
Because the matter is not being investigated by police, there will be no inquiry by the ministry, she said.
Source: Calgary Herald
March 2, 2010 permalink
The Cambridge rally in support of bill 93 went well. Two news articles are enclosed.
Bill 93 protest
Two dozen protesters in Cambridge today tried to draw attention to a bill they want passed for more oversight of Children's Aid Societies.
Bill 93 would allow the province's Ombudsman to investigate the CAS.
Tanya Coch was a CAS client who recently had her file closed.
She says the current process for getting complaints dealt with can take several months.
Alison Scott is the head of Family and Children's Services of Waterloo Region.
She says she is not opposed to the bill, but says there are already several safeguards in place to deal with complaints.
Her agency has 12 hundred ongoing family service files and she says they had six complaints that went to the complaints review board in the past year.
Group wants CAS accountability
Approximately 30 people representing a number of parent groups from across southern Ontario converged on Cambridge Monday to rally support for Bill 93.
Groups gathered at MPP Gerry Martiniuk’s office and the local office of Family and Children’s Services of Waterloo Region.
The provincial bill, which could be killed by the McGuinty government Thursday as parliament is prorogued, would implement oversight by Ontario Ombudsman and hold Children’s Aid Societies more accountable.
Activist Brian Caldwell told the Times that in Waterloo Region it is almost impossible to find out the number of children taken away from their families by local family and children’s services.
He also stated that in 2003 the Ministry of Child and Youth Services undertook a review to determine why the legal services required by Waterloo Region Family and Children’s Services, are higher than in other parts of the province, yet information on that review “is impossible to find”.
Bill 93 is a private members bill put forward by Hamilton East MPP Andrea Horvath. It was first read in June 2008 and if passed would allow families whose children have been removed by the province’s children aids societies a chance to be heard.
It would empower Ontario’s Ombudsman to investigate decisions or the recommendations of the children’s aid societies.
Source: Cambridge Times
Addendum: Chris Carter attended a group outside the riding office of MPP Gerry Martiniuk. His report is below.
Chris Carter Here we outside of Cambridge Ont. MPP Gerry Martiniuk's office on the day of the most recent anti-CAS Rally on March 1, 2010. Not only wouldn't Martiniuk speak to any of us (even though he was in his office), when he left he drove right by us without so much as glance. WE WERE RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIS OFFICE WITH "CHILDREN...'S AID DESTROYS FAMILIES" SIGNS AND MARTINIUK COULDN'T EVEN BE BOTHERED TO GIVE A MINUTE OF HIS TIME. Considering that the Waterloo Regional is widely recognized as one of the most aggressively destructive CASs in this province: MARTINIUK YOUR SILENCE IS (AND HAS BEEN FOR MANY YEARS) DEAFENING!
March 2, 2010 permalink
The government may be ridding itself of André Marin, not by firing him, but by letting his contract expire. Look for a more tame replacement.
Dalton McGuinty dodgeball: Blizzard
Critics Andre Marin and Gord Miller exposed the premier, now their jobs are in jeopardy
Watch for this ad coming soon to the Help Wanted section of the Ontario government website:
Salary: $228,000-plus per year.
Job Description: Once seen as a pitbull crusading for the rights of the little guy, the McGuinty government would like to return the job to the role of lapdog.
Attack dogs need not apply. Successful candidate must enjoy rolling over and having tummy tickled.
Qualifications: Must speak fluent bafflegab. An ability to communicate clearly and directly with taxpayers and the media will be regarded as a definite no-no.
And adherence to “rulitis” is a must. For those of you with short memories, “rulitis” is the name given to lazy, uncaring or incompetent civil servants who stick to the rules even when the sensible or compassionate thing to do was to use common sense.
The person who invented that word was Andre Marin, who presently holds the ombudsman’s job, but who, along with Environment Commissioner Gord Miller, has been told his five-year contract will not automatically be renewed.
They will both have to re-apply for their own jobs.
Opposition critics say Marin’s and Miller’s outspoken criticism of the government has prompted the review.
In the legislature on Thursday, Tory critic Ted Arnott asked if there was a connection between this move and a report that Marin has in the works into the government’s Local Health Integration Networks, specifically into the decision-making process that went into hospital closures in Niagara. The Tories have been slamming the Liberals over “sweetheart deals” with regards to the LHINs.
Arnott quoted Marin saying, “There is a lot of public concern about the accountability and transparency of the LHIN.
“Now this move comes just before the ombudsman reports on the premier’s special pet project. Why is shining a light on the Liberal government’s dirty secrets a firing offence, while handing out millions of dollars in untendered contracts gets you promoted?” Arnott asked.
Premier Dalton McGuinty says opening up the jobs to all applicants is fair.
“There’s a lot of Ontarians that are interested in those jobs,” McGuinty told reporters on Wednesday.
“I think the fair thing to do in the circumstances going forward is to have an opportunity for folks who already have these jobs to reapply and for others who are interested on the outside to get a shot at this as well,” he said.
That’s a little feeble, if you ask me.
Marin has been a pain in the butt for the Liberals. Then again, he’s a non-partisan pain. He’d skewer any government, regardless of stripe. Taxpayers, cancer patients, lottery players, crime victims — and countless others — thank him for that.
Someone has to speak for those who have difficulty speaking for themselves.
Marin’s reports have taken a bite out of the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, they’ve slammed the uncaring treatment victims of crime received from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.
And when the government dragged its heels fixing the mess with the lottery corporation, it was Marin who prodded them into it.
Ditto for funding the cancer drug Avastin.
I understand getting a plum government job shouldn’t be a shoo-in. The process should be transparent.
But neither should independent officers of the legislature fear for their jobs if they are outspoken in their criticism of the government.
McGuinty is sending a chilly message: Yes men only need apply.
What person with any integrity would take either the environment commissioner’s or the ombudsman’s job when that writing is on the wall?
Of course, Marin has one option. The premier himself is on a renewable contract. Marin could run for office next year.
Think about it. He’s feisty, outspoken and fearless.
He’d be a breath of fresh air around here.
Source: Toronto Sun
March 1, 2010 permalink
The final response to the death of Katelynn Sampson is, guess what? More power for children's aid!
The Katelynn Sampson case resembles a pattern in a few other cases such as Bertha Gonzales in California, in which child protectors wish to place a child with a foster parent known to be disqualified by the law. Since applying to a court will be futile, the child protectors instead threaten the mother with foster care to get her to voluntarily consent to the placement.
Ontario's political response to the failure of this technique in the Sampson case is not to eliminate threats by children's aid, but to expand their power. Now when a mother wants to let her sister care for her kids, children's aid will get a veto over the decision.
New Ontario child custody rules start today
New provincial rules for child custody that take effect Monday will require every person applying to complete a "parenting affidavit."
Non-parents who apply for custody will need to provide a police record check and a Children's Aid Society record report.
"Families need a justice system that supports them and their children," Attorney General Chris Bentley said.
The government actions appear to be a response to the horrific death of seven-year-old Katelynn Sampson, while in the custody of a legal guardian.
"The terrible tragedy that is Katelynn Sampson's death caused me, and I know everybody, to sit back and say is there something more that we should be doing," Bentley said when he first introduced the changes in November 2008.
"I was struck by the fact that there is very little required (for custody) beyond an application form."
Source: Toronto Sun
March 1, 2010 permalink
In Ireland the problem of child abuse by insiders is widespread. The (Dublin) Sunday Tribune reports that in just one region there were 33 complaints over three years, yet not one was prosecuted. Based on circumstances in other jurisdictions, child protectors and police cooperate at every level from the board of directors to the marital bed. The large number of conflicts of interest make prosecution of child abuse within the system impractical.
Foster care child abuse claims not prosecuted
Children in foster care have made repeated complaints of physical and sexual abuse in the HSE's Dublin north-east region over a period of three years, but none of their alleged abusers has been prosecuted, the Sunday Tribune has established.
In two of the most serious instances, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) opted not to pursue a criminal case despite HSE and garda investigations into the complaints and the removal of one of the foster couples concerned from the HSE's fostering register.
At least seven other allegations of physical or sexual abuse were also noted as "confirmed" following investigation by the HSE's own childcare experts. But none led to a criminal prosecution or conviction.
The revelation has prompted the Children at Risk in Ireland (CARI) charity to express concern that the alleged offenders may be free to continue their abuse.
HSE documents obtained by this newspaper reveal that the HSE's Dublin north-east region alone received 33 complaints of physical or sexual abuse from children in foster care between 2006 and 2008.
Yet despite the HSE's own assessment that allegations of "contact of a sexual nature by a foster father" received in 2008 were "credible" – prompting it to state that the foster carers were "no longer fostering for the HSE"– the DPP decided not to prosecute.
In a separate 2007 case, the HSE investigated an allegation by two children that they had been subjected to physical and emotional abuse by their foster mother.
"A previous child made allegations of sexual abuse by the foster father," the response notes.
However, although a social work investigation and a garda investigation of the other child took place, the DPP again decided not to prosecute.
The seven additional "confirmed" complaints included a 2007 allegation where a child alleged sexual abuse by a 17-year-old male friend, and another allegation where a child alleged sexual abuse by a foster sibling.
It also includes a 2008 allegation in which a child complained of physical abuse by an uncle, and another where a child alleged that their mother hit them.
In 13 other instances, the status of the complaint is listed simply as 'Social work investigation completed', with no other information provided.
However, the response states that none of the 33 complaints led to a prosecution or conviction.
A spokeswoman for the DPP declined to comment on individual cases.
A HSE spokeswoman said that, where an allegation of sexual abuse is made by a child, a full risk assessment is undertaken, including notification to gardaí.
Dr Niall Muldoon of CARI said the cases once again highlighted the urgent need for a constitutional referendum on children's rights and more vetting of foster carers.
He added that the complaints also show that the abuse portrayed in the recent Ryan and Murphy reports is by no means a thing of the past.
"The majority of children we would work with who make a complaint would be focused on ensuring this doesn't happen to anyone else. But we can't be sure this is not happening," he said.
Source: Sunday Tribune (Dublin)