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December 31, 2010 permalink
The Peterborough rally drew about 25 people. Here are three articles from the press and a video from CHEX-TV (flv). The Peterborough examiner article links to ten pictures, here are three more from Chad Wells.
CAS focus of protest
People calling for more accountability from Children’s Aid Society
(PETERBOROUGH) Protestors chanting and waving signs gathered in front of the local Children’s Aid Office (CAS) Thursday, demanding more accountability.
Among the protestors was Brenda Waudby, who claims if the CAS had received a second opinion on the findings of Dr. Charles Smith, her children may not have been taken from her.
“Life is still a fight,” she says.
Ms Waudby was charged with murdering her 21-month-old daughter in 1997 but the charge was dropped two years later after she pleaded guilty to child abuse. She is currently trying to have the conviction overturned since she says, in a court affidavit, she was pressured into pleading guilty.
“They have nobody to answer to,” she says of the CAS.
“I want everybody to play fair.”
She says it was difficult to watch someone else raise her two remaining children after the CAS temporarily took them away from her.
Nathalie Fouquette, director of services at the CAS, says they have oversight but if the government decides to pass a bill allowing the Ombudsman to hold them accountable, she is fine with that. She says the CAS welcomes feedback on ways to improve.
Currently, she says people can take a case to court, file a complaint that will go to the child and family services review board, adding the CAS is accountable to the Province.
Chad Wells says one of the issues is if you file a complaint, the CAS takes people to court, halting the complaint process.
Janet Johnson believes she was set up when she lost custody of her child in 2009.
Neil Haskett helped organize the protest to highlight there is nothing families can do in some situations.
“They’ll say they’re accountable,” he notes.
He says he has been waiting four years for justice in his own personal matter.
Mr. Haskett made the trip from Sudbury and has helped with protests around the province.
Protesters demand more accountability for province's children's aid societies
Brenda Waudby speaks at rally held outside Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society
Brenda Waudby joined a rally outside the Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society office on Chemong Rd. on Thursday to encourage the provincial government to provide greater oversight of the agency.
The agency took Waudby's two children away from her after she was charged with murdering her daughter, Jenna Mellor, in 1997 based on the erroneous findings of pathologist Dr. Charles Smith.
The murder charge against her was withdrawn. Jenna's babysitter, who was 14 at the time of the killing, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in December 2006.
The Children's Aid Society needs to be held accountable for every action, Waudby said, supporting Bill 131, a private member's bill calling for the province's ombudsman to be allowed to investigate complaints against the agency.
"They have nobody to answer to at this point. They don't answer to anybody in the government and they need to," she said. "In my own situation, I believe … if the CAS had have gotten a second opinion on Dr. Smith's work, I don't believe my two children would have been taken into foster care.
"You're talking about children. They don't get a voice in all of this…. Children's Aid doesn't allow children's voices to be heard, they silence the kids."
In a sworn affidavit filed with Superior Court of Justice, Waudby alleges she was bullied by the Crown attorney, police and the Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society into falsely confessing to abusing Jenna.
Waudby wouldn't comment Thursday on the status of her ongoing legal struggle to clear her name.
As Waudby spoke to the media, 13 people participated in the rally, walking next to the intersection of Chemong and Towerhill roads with signs.
Similar rallies have taken place at some of the other 53 Children's Aid Society offices across the province over the last several months.
There are many accountability mechanisms for the Children's Aid Society, said Nathalie Fouquette, services director of the Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society.
"I don't know if the public realizes that actually we do have many reviews and mechanisms of accountability for CAS. We have actually the Child and Family Services Review Board, which is an independent board. Of course the courts. We have Crown ward reviews. We have auditor general's audits," she said. "It (the ombudsman) would be one more mechanism of accountability."
Hopefully the public remembers there are two sides to a story when it hears the comments made by people at the rallies, Fouquette added.
"Staff come into this business because they want to do a good job and they care for kids and people and they do the best possible to help families," she said.
There are about 270 children in the Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society system, Fouquette said.
It's up to the government whether to add another accountability mechanism, she said.
There have been some incidents with the Children's Aid Society in other parts of Ontario, Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal said.
"The Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society has been most transparent in their workings and certainly any dealings I've had with them have been first rate," he said. "We have one of the best Children's Aid Society agencies in the province of Ontario."
Leal said that when he was a city councillor he served as council's representative on the local Children's Aid Society board of directors from 2000 to 2003.
Last year, the provincial government launched a commission to review the child welfare system. The minister of children and youth services gave the Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare a three-year mandate to develop and implement solutions to promote the sustainability of child welfare.
Part of the investigation is on how to make the welfare system, including Children's Aid Society agencies, more accountable, efficient and sustainable.
Chad Wells, of Huntsville, participated in the rally at the local Children's Aid Society office.
"These kids are being drugged, they're being medicated and it's all about the money," he said. "It's scary what really goes on and what really happens. They target families that don't need to be targeted … and the families that do need Children's Aid involved in their lives, it's minimal involvement."
Wells said he has personal experience with the Children's Aid Society but he didn't want to talk about his situation.
"I agree with what they do. I'm a supporter of Children's Aid Society. I'm actually a member of the Kawartha-Haliburton Children's Aid Society … but they need to be accountable," he said. "There are some major problems within the Children's Aid Society and we're not stopping until we find them accountable, make them accountable."
Source: Peterborough Examiner
Addendum: One more picture in front of Wendy's. Chris Carter and Brian Caldwell hold a sign, the tower is marked Kelly Mackin. Not sure whether she owns the Wendy's, or just a computer with Photoshop.
Addendum: A brief video of the rally.
Brenda Waudby to Speak in Peterborough
December 30, 2010 permalink
Brenda Waudby, a mother falsely accused on the defective evidence of Dr Charles Smith, will be a speaker at today's rally in Peterborough. On January 22, 1997 her 21-month-old daughter Jenna died at the hands of 14-year-old babysitter JD. Brenda pleaded guilty to a crime to avoid a life sentence, though eventually JD was convicted of the crime. CAS claimed Brenda's older children Mac and Justine during the ordeal.
Group protesting at CAS offices Thursday
A rally taking aim at the practices and accountability of the Children's Aid Society takes place Thursday and features Brenda Waudby as a guest speaker.
The protest runs from noon to 3 p.m. outside the Kawartha- Haliburton Children's Aid Society's office on Chemong Rd.
Waudby was wrongly charged with murdering her 21-month-old daughter Jenna in 1999.
That charge was dropped, shortly after Waudby pleaded guilty to a charge of child abuse.
She's now fighting to appeal that conviction. Her application, filed with the court, takes issue with the practices of the CAS and its heavy involvement in the police investigation against her.
Neil Haskett, one of the rally's organizers, said similar events are taking place Thursday across Ontario.
Part of the goal is alert the public to the lack of accountability within the CAS, he said.
Too often innocent people are charged or face legal challenges through the CAS, he said, and there's virtually no way for parents to fight back.
"It's a systematic issue with all Children's Aid Societies," he said.
Though many similar protests have taken place across Ontario in the past, this is the first one to be held in Peterborough.
Haskett said the goal isn't to shut down the CAS.
But many aren't aware that Ontario is the only province that doesn't allow its Ombudsman to investigate complaints brought against the CAS, he said.
In addition to Waudby's speech, organizers will hand out information and speak to anyone who wants to listen, he said.
Haskett said hundreds of people stopped by for information at a similar rally in Sudbury.
Source: Peterborough Examiner
An Apple a Day Keeps the Teacher Away
December 29, 2010 permalink
North Carolina student Ashley Smithwick is suspended from school for most of her senior year for mistakenly bringing a small knife to cut her lunch apple.
Small Knife in Lunchbox Gets N.C. Student Suspended, Charged With Weapon Possession
A standout North Carolina high school student has been suspended for the remainder of her senior year and charged with a misdemeanor for having a small paring knife in her lunchbox.
Ashley Smithwick, 17, of Sanford told WRAL she accidentally took her father's lunchbox to Southern Lee High School in October instead of her own when school officials searched the lunchbox, along with several other students' possessions, possibly looking for drugs.
Ashley's father, Joe Smithwick told the station the lunchbox had a paring knife inside so that he could slice up an apple that accompanied it.
"It's just an honest mistake. That was supposed to be my lunch because it was a whole apple," he said.
But school officials didn't see it that way.
The athlete who takes college-level courses was suspended for the remainder for the school year, banned from campus and this month was charged with misdemeanor possession of a weapon on school grounds, WRAL reported.
Ashley says she finds the punishment particularly alarming because she's never been in trouble before.
"I don't understand why they would even begin to point the finger at me and use me as an example," she told the station.
Lee County Superintendent Jeff Moss told the Sanford Herald that he couldn't discuss the specifics of Ashley's case, but that under school policy principals can determine discipline on a case by case basis and that discipline is usually less severe if a student who accidentally carries a weapon to school reports it rather than having a teacher find it.
"When the principals conduct their investigations, what typically is fleshed out is the true intent," he told the paper. "Bottom line is: We want to ensure every child feels safe on our campus."
Despite the suspension, Ashley is completing her coursework though online courses at Central Carolina Community College but says she worries how the incident will affect her college prospects.
"When you have a criminal record no school's going to look at you," she told WRAL. "I have a pretty nice talent. I'm good at playing soccer and that talent is just wasted now."
British Refugees Listed
December 29, 2010 permalink
Here is a British blog that names names of families exiled from the UK to protect their children. Following the article is a pair of contrasting pictures from the same blog.
John Hemming Talks About Our Cases In Parliament
Our son Ben who was targeted by Fife Council
John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham and Yardley has been campaigning for Justice in the family courts for an awful long time and recently brought up our cases in the Houses of Parliament.
"The children themselves are asking why their families have been split up. There was a meeting recently in the House, attended by the Minister of State with responsibility for children and families, at which a girl asked why her sister had been adopted and she had been banned from seeing her. Additionally, as children such as Winona Vamey and Tammy Coulter get older, they are acting to reverse the adoptions.
The aggressive way in which the courts have gone after families has created many refugees from the UK—mainly from England although there is one from Scotland. Susen McCabe, Kiel and Lucille O’Regan, Fran Lyon, Kerry and Mark McDougall, Sam Thomas, Emily Burgess, Sam and Vanessa Hallimond and Angela Wileman are only a few examples for whom emigration was necessary to fight the system. Sam Thomas made the mistake of coming back to England—Somerset—and her daughter has now been put up for adoption."
Source: State Itervention blog
Private Child Protection Illegal
December 27, 2010 permalink
Child protectors routinely commit crimes in the name of child protection, such as perjury. But that is not allowed for ordinary folks.
Clara Walker had been married three times. Mr One was the father of her child and Two had been arrested for beating her. Three logged into her computer and found that she was having an affair with Two. Seeking to protect the child from harm by Two, Three sent copies of Clara's emails to One, who used the information to apply for full custody of the child. In due course, the police charged Three, Leon Walker, with a crime for hacking into his wife's computer.
Is reading wife's e-mail a crime? Rochester Hills man faces trial
A Rochester Hills man faces up to 5 years in prison -- for reading his wife's e-mail.
Oakland County prosecutors, relying on a Michigan statute typically used to prosecute crimes such as identity theft or stealing trade secrets, have charged Leon Walker, 33, with a felony after he logged onto a laptop in the home he shared with his wife, Clara Walker.
Using her password, he accessed her Gmail account and learned she was having an affair. He now is facing a Feb. 7 trial. She filed for divorce, which was finalized earlier this month.
Legal experts say it's the first time the statute has been used in a domestic case, and it might be hard to prove
"It's going to be interesting because there are no clear legal answers here," said Frederick Lane, a Vermont attorney and nationally recognized expert who has published five books on electronic privacy. The fact that the two still were living together, and that Leon Walker had routine access to the computer, may help him, Lane said.
"I would guess there is enough gray area to suggest that she could not have an absolute expectation of privacy," he said.
About 45% of divorce cases involve some snooping -- and gathering -- of e-mail, Facebook and other online material, Lane said. But he added that those are generally used by the warring parties for civil reasons -- not for criminal prosecution.
"It is an indication of how deeply electronic communication is woven into our lives," Lane said.
Leon Walker was Clara Walker's third husband. Her e-mail showed she was having an affair with her second husband, a man who once had been arrested for beating her in front of her small son. Leon Walker, worried that the child might be exposed to domestic violence again, handed the e-mails over to the child's father, Clara Walker's first husband. He promptly filed an emergency motion to obtain custody.
Leon Walker, a computer technician with Oakland County, was arrested in February 2009, after Clara Walker learned he had provided the e-mails to her first husband.
"I was doing what I had to do," Leon Walker told the Free Press in a recent interview. He has been out on bond since shortly after his arrest. "We're talking about putting a child in danger."
Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper defended her decision to charge Leon Walker.
"The guy is a hacker," Cooper said in a voice mail response to the Free Press last week. "It was password protected, he had wonderful skills, and was highly trained. Then he downloaded them and used them in a very contentious way."
Walker's defense attorney, Leon Weiss, said Cooper is "dead wrong" on the law.
"I've been a defense attorney for 34 years and I've never seen anything like this," he said. "This is a hacking statute, the kind of statute they use if you try to break into a government system or private business for some nefarious purpose. It's to protect against identity fraud, to keep somebody from taking somebody's intellectual property or trade secrets.
"I have to ask: 'Don't the prosecutors have more important things to do with their time?' "
Clara Walker, through her attorney, Michael McCulloch, declined an interview with the Free Press.
In the preliminary exam, Clara Walker testified that although Leon Walker had purchased the laptop for her, it was hers alone and she kept the password a secret.
Leon Walker told the Free Press he routinely used the computer and that she kept all of her passwords in a small book next to the computer.
"It was a family computer," he said. "I did work on it all the time."
A jury ultimately will decide.
Several area defense attorneys were astonished by the filing of the criminal charges.
"What's the difference between that and parents who get on their kids' Facebook accounts?" attorney Deborah McKelvy said. "You're going to have to start prosecuting a whole bunch of parents."
Source: Detroit Free Press
Appeals are Futile
December 26, 2010 permalink
The Ron Unruh blog, focusing on the Bayne case, attracts well-informed comments. Here is one from Ray Ferris on the futility of applying for relief from child protectors.
Ray Ferris said...
Victoria columnist, Les Leyne wrote an article today in which he referred to the Hughes report as a road map. Well a road map for Leslie Dutoit could be useful, providing that it is written in braille.
You recently asked me about the various places where you can go to ask for help against MCF injustices. Well, I am happy to say that there are lots of them, but they are all pretty well useless. I think we need to start off by looking at the culture in the courts and the legal system. For centuries the legal system has developed rules and procedures aimed at the truth and the purity of the court's concluisions. The problem is that the process is based on an adversarial system and it is full of ritual, precedent and process and it is ruinously expensive. Only too often justice is drowned in process. Courts do not dispense justice,they dispense law.
When we look at the various watchdog agencies like the Ombudsbody office, of the YCR, we see that they are quasi-legal bodies which are run by lawyers. As soon as lawyers run things, they become obsessed with procedures and processes and they tend to become adverarial They work under strict and rigid rules and if you do not fit precisely into the right pigeon holes you are totally out of luck. "My heart bleeds for you, but you do not really fit our mandate so will you please get lost."
The ombudsman will look at your case, but they may take a year to do the job and they touch nothing that is before court. I have usually found that by the time they conclude it is far too late to do anything. Mostly they produce frustration for clients who go to the office full of false hope. They do not have the hope dashed--it slowly ebbs away. In preparing people to go to the ombudsmman I have found it useful to anticipate the barriers and to prepare arguments as to why it fits the mandate
The first registrar and the board of registration for social workers much preferred to use the mediation clauses of the social workers act and to settle complaints to the mutual satisfaction of social worker and client. After the Board contracted a lawyer, everything changed. Complaints were all addressed in an adversarial manner. Forgotten were the mediation clauses and complaints small and large were given the sledgehammer treatment. Many people preferred to quit registration, rather than go broke paying legal fees. The budget of the board went up every year becaus of legal costs.
There are numerous internal review people and most of them cannot do anything. One of the devices is that a client can ask to have a director's review. This is an investigation ordered by the director.It is a confidential report made to the director. In these cases (like the Baynes) it is usaually the director who is calling the shots, so a director's review is to have him examining himself. The narrow scope of the review is to see if all proper procedures have been followed. Guess what? They always clear the worker. You got screwed with proper process, so what is your problem? I have already mentioned that in the closure of one foster home, no fewer than 22 ministry bureaucrats put in their oar. The dreaded John Fitzsimmons was one of these bureaucrats, only this time he was on the side of the angels He was given the responsibility of doing a director's report. He did a fair and balanced report, which recommended that the 12 year old child be returned to the only home she had known for the last 10 years. The foster parents were not allowed to see the report and they only got it filtered through Bruce McNeill and his boss Les Boon. It took them a year to see the Fitzsimmons report through the privacy commissioner.
In short dear bloggers, most of the helping resources are there in theory only. I can guarantee that you will get a ton of process, but no results. Actually, none of these people can tell the difference.
Source: Ron Unruh blog
Never-born Baby Scam
December 26, 2010 permalink
Australia had a way of stealing babies from their mothers even more thorough than the dead baby scam. They eradicated all record of the birth, even suggesting to the mothers that the birth had never taken place.
'Your son is gone. He's with his adoptive parents'
"The room was blacked out. There were no windows and just one door.
"They tied my hands and feet to the bed. I was in agony. I was screaming out in pain.
"Then there was silence.
"No one would have known a baby had been born. But I did."
There, in an isolated delivery room of the Royal Brisbane Hospital, Trish Large's quest to find the son taken from her at birth began.
Trish would be among 250,000 unwed mothers of the "white stolen generation" in Australia.
The young women were drugged, tethered to beds, and never allowed to see their babies.
It was a practice which has been described as 'institutionalised baby farming', whereby babies born to unwed women were forcibly taken from them and illegally adopted to infertile couples.
This was the accepted practice at the RBH for up to five decades from the 1930s.
As she prepares to celebrate Christmas with her family tomorrow, Trish remembers a time when her family was incomplete.
“The nurse told me I was unfit to be a mother ... that I didn't deserve to see my son,” she said.
“My son was whisked away out of the delivery room and I was taken to an unmarried mothers' ward in the hospital.
“I demanded every day to see my son ... for every day that I was in that ward.”
However Trish, at 20 years old with no family for support, was no match for the system.
“The next day my milk came flooding in. So they forced me to wear an extremely tight elastic bandage that covered my entire chest right down to my hips," she said.
“It was so tight I could barely breathe.
“They also gave me the drug stilboestrol to dry my milk, but it also made me very calm and very quiet, just as they wanted me.”
Trish has since learned the drug is used to treat incontinent female dogs.
“The next morning a social worker came in and demanded that I sign an adoption form. When I refused she told me I would be charged with 'seduction' and deported back to England and never allowed in the country again with no chance to see my son,” she said.
The same happened the following morning, and the following.
Finally, the seemingly exacerbated social worker told Trish she could sign a hospital release form and take her son home.
“I was so excited. I thought I had won. I thought I had beat them at their own game,” she said.
“The social worker came with some forms on a clip board and I signed them. Then I sat on my bed and waited and waited for them to bring me my son.
“I sat there until they put another woman in my bed.
“At five o'clock I asked the nurse for the final time when my son would arrive.
“She turned to me and said: 'Your son is gone. He's already gone with his adoptive parents'.”
The following morning Trish – now a desperate mother – went to the Department of Child Services seeking help. Her plight fell on deaf ears.
“So I marched right to the police station on Roma Street and told them my baby had been stolen from me," she said.
“The policeman at the desk said he would need some proof that I had in fact had a baby.
“So I went back to the Royal Brisbane Hospital. I said to the woman at reception, 'I had a baby here, I would like my records'. I gave her me name.
“She said, 'Are you sure you had a baby in this hospital?'
“She said there was absolutely no record of me ever having been admitted to the hospital. And there was no record of my baby being born.”
Two years earlier Margaret Hamilton, now 64, delivered her son in the same ward.
“But I have absolutely no memory of giving birth. I have no idea how my son came into this world,” she said.
“Perhaps it was such a traumatic experience I blocked it out ... perhaps I was drugged.
“I was 19 years old. I was engaged and pregnant, but my fiancé called it off. I was to be a single mother, so I went where all single mothers went ... to a home.”
There, Margaret lived with 50 other young women, all pregnant and unmarried.
“No one asked me what I wanted to do,” she said.
On May 11, 1966 Margaret was admitted to hospital.
“I was left on a bed in a corridor. I heard another woman scream and I thought, 'Oh I don't want to be like that',” she said.
“My friends tell me I must have had such a traumatic experience there I have blocked it out. But I can't imagine I would do that,” Margaret said.
“It's not unlikely I was drugged, but I have no medical records.”
Like Trish, Margaret was forced to sign adoption papers, but not before she caught a glimpse of her son in the hospital nursery.
“Yes, I saw him through the window ... but I was never allowed to hold him, or touch him,” she said.
“The adoption was illegal. I was only 19. It was not legal for a woman to consent to adoption until they were 21.
“My son was stolen from me.”
Once Margaret signed the adoption papers she was told she needed to leave the hospital.
“I was expected to return home, return to my job and never speak of it again,” Margaret said.
“I couldn't do that.”
In the weeks following the birth Margaret became increasingly depressed.
“I didn't care whether I lived or died,” she said.
“I would walk across the road without looking, hoping a car would hit me.”
Eventually Margaret could not bear her life in Brisbane.
“The streets were too familiar. Not only had I been abandoned by the man I loved, I had lost my child.”
Margaret moved to Melbourne where she regained some semblance of a normal life.
It was not until she returned to Brisbane, married and with two children, in 1990 that she once again yearned for her lost son.
“I wasn't coping. I had to find him,” she said.
Margaret, like Trish, found an ally in ALAS Queensland – Adoption Loss Adult Support – for mothers searching for their lost children.
One year later Margaret saw her son again for the first time.
“He was not the baby I saw in the hospital. He was a man. He was 25 years old,” she said.
The pair met at a country fair in regional New South Wales.
“There were people everywhere and I was so scared I would miss him," she said.
“Then I saw a man walking across a field. I recognised him by his walk. He has the walk of my family.”
There for the very first time Margaret held her son.
Margaret and Trish are among the fortunate few who have been reunited with their children, but their grief for the babies they lost has never faded.
“The grief never goes away. Adoption is a life sentence,” Margaret said.
She finds comfort remembering walking the streets of Brisbane's CBD when she was pregnant.
“I loved being pregnant, because then my baby was mine and no one could take it from me," Margaret said.
“I love my son, but I still grieve for my baby.”
For this, a formal apology from the federal government is crucial.
Margaret made a personal request to Prime Minister Julia Gillard at a community cabinet meeting at Clontarf, north of Brisbane, last month.
"My name is Margaret Hamilton," she began.
"I'm from ALAS - Adoption Loss Adult Support. There are over 250,000 white mothers who lost their babies to forcible removal at birth by the same past illegal adoption practices as Aboriginal mothers.
"How do you feel personally? Should they receive an apology?"
Ms Gillard replied: "I see in the media - and have heard sometimes face to face - some of the stories of women who face very devastating circumstances of having children taken, or being put under intolerable pressure to relinquish their children, in a different age and a different time.
"So, as a human being, of course you extend your sympathy to anybody who lived through that and through years of not knowing what happened to their child. So I think it's something we can all say, we're sorry that ever happened in Australian history."
Although this was cause of much excitement for Margaret and Trish, this personal “sorry” from the Prime Minister was not enough.
“We want our children to know that we did not give them away. We want them to know that they were loved and wanted,” Trish said.
“We do not want compensation, we just want healing.”
The "white stolen generations" are so-called to distinguish them from the indigenous stolen generations, but their suffering is shared.
Margaret last year received a handwritten letter from an indigenous elder.
"I applaud the Prime Minister's apology to our mob. But what about the white stolen generations that have suffered the same fate," the elder wrote.
"I know many white people who went through the same pain. So why can't the government do its healing again and apologise to the white stolen generation to bring closure to all this suffering.
"As we walk the same land. Breathe the same air. Drink the same water."
Source: Brisbane Times
December 24, 2010 permalink
A merry Christmas to all.
Many of the people followed in these pages will be with their families for Christmas, such as Neil Haskett, Attila Vinczer and the recently reunited Catherine Frei. Others will not, such as Chris Carter or Bonnie Hines.
One special family is the Baynes, Zabeth, Paul, Kent, Baden and Bethany who have been separated for two and a half years by British Columbia MCFD. The family lives in the entangled state of Schrödinger's cat, a duality that should be resolved when Judge Thomas Crabtree renders a decision after their year-long trial. The judge recently denied a request for an unsupervised Christmas with their children, so they will have to endure a social worker watching them in their own home. Zabeth is in a race to find out whether the ruling will come before the birth of her next child, Josiah. The Baynes have shared a Christmas card (power point), of which the picture above is part.
December 22, 2010 permalink
Copied below are two articles about purely verbal outbursts, one by a social worker, the other by a client. Of course, it is the client who has been charged with a crime, the victim of the social worker is begging for remedial action. The social worker in the first story expressed hatred for Islam. Note though, that Christians get a raw deal from social services as well.   
NJ Dad: I Was Denied Custody Of Son For Being Muslim
PATERSON, N.J. (1010 WINS) — A New Jersey father says he’s being denied custody of his young son solely because he’s a Muslim.
At a news conference Tuesday, Muhammed Khalil told reporters including 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg that a Division of Youth and Family Services worker unleashed a barrage of insults at him in a crowded Paterson restaurant.
1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports
Khalil, a green card holder originally from Egypt, said the case worker asked him “where is your knife? You’ll slit my throat” and also asked “where is your bomb strapped on you?”
Another Muslim woman, Sandy Dahmra, who was with Khalil at the restaurant, was allegedly told “go back to your country.”
Both Khalil and Dahmra said they had other comments directed toward them including “terrorist,” “Bin Laden lover” and “why don’t you call your Allah.”
The case worker also publicly declared he would never get his boy back, Khalil said.
Khalil has not seen his 6-year-old son since he was taken from his mother’s home a year ago and placed with foster parents for reasons unknown because of privacy laws. Khalil was not living there at the time and is separated from the boy’s mother.
Khalil wants an investigation and said the worker also violated privacy laws by disclosing the case in public. Ultimately, though, Khalil said he just wants his little boy back.
“I only want my son. I want my son,” he said, breaking into tears. “I think I have all the reason to have my son with me, give him toys, enjoy with him.”
Khalil claimed he has had run-ins with the case worker before, but that there were never any witnesses.
The Department of Children and Families said it was “aware of the alleged incident” and “is looking into this allegation.”
The agency said it “continues to have an ongoing dialogue” with CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations), which is supporting Khalil in his fight.
Source: WCBS New York
Police: Man arrested for threatening to punch female investigator
NORWALK -- A city man under investigation by the state Department of Children and Families was arrested Monday after he allegedly threatened to punch a female DCF worker in the mouth at a meeting at his children's school.
Jerome Singletary, 57, of 306 Flax Hill Road, was charged with second-degree threatening and second-degree breach of peace and released on a written promise to appear in court.
Lt. Timothy Murphy said Singletary threatened to punch the investigator's teeth down her throat.
Singletary, the investigator and his two children -- ages 6 and 8 -- were meeting at the children's school Monday to discuss the children came to school that day with cuts and bruises, Sgt. Lisa Cotto said.
During the meeting, Singletary became upset and began yelling at the investigator. He even grabbed one of the children by the collar and yelled at him for talking to the DCF investigator, Cotto said.
Singletary then made the threat against the investigator before removing his children from the meeting and leaving the school, Murphy said.
Detectives went to Singletary's home a short time later and arrested him on the threatening and breach of peace charges, Murphy said.
The two children were then removed from the home by DCF workers and kept on a four-day hold.
Singletary is to be arraigned Dec. 28 at state Superior Court in Norwalk.
Source: Connecticut Post
Misuse of Government Property is Private
December 22, 2010 permalink
Rick O’Connor is the Ottawa city solicitor and also serves as a board member of Ottawa children's aid. He used computers at his city job to exchange emails with CAS. In October 2007 John Dunn realized that the emails were stored on government computers, making them accessible to the public under freedom of information laws. He requested that the city of Ottawa give him copies of the emails   . The city refused and a hearing ensued before Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC), which ruled in favor of Mr Dunn. The matter has now been taken to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, where Judge Anne Molloy has reversed the ruling, making the emails private.
This unfortunate decision has implications far beyond the case of John Dunn. Every private employer that uses capital equipment has rules preventing employees from using that equipment for personal business. Don't use the company machine tools for your hobby work, don't drive the company bus for shopping, don't use the company phone for private business. With the Molloy decision, the door is open for government employees who want to use public resources for their private purposes. No one beside their immediate supervisor will ever know about it. Furthermore, from now on any civil servant with something to hide from a freedom of information request will claim that the requested material is personal. Far better to treat this in the manner of a private employer — if you use the company/government phone for private business the company/public can listen in or deliver a reprimand.
It is possible the Information and Privacy Commissioner may further appeal the decision of Judge Molloy. Public reaction may influence whether the appeal takes place. An incensed fixcas reader suggests calling: 1) the Federal Information Privacy Commissioner at toll-free: 1-800-282-1376 Phone: (613) 947-1698 or 2) the Provincial Information and Privacy Commission at 416-326-3333 (Toronto area), long distance: 1-800-387-0073 (within Ontario).
Access law does not cover personal emails stored at work
Personal emails stored on workplace computers are not covered by access to information laws, an Ontario judge has ruled.
In overturning a decision of the province's Information and Privacy Commissioner, which granted an Ottawa resident access to the personal emails of a city solicitor, Madame Justice Anne Molloy said the purpose of Ontario's access to information laws is not to provide unfettered access to any document within a government office, but rather "to enhance democratic values by providing its citizens with access to government information."
"It can be confidently predicted that any government employee who works in an office setting will have stored, somewhere in that office, documents that have nothing whatsoever to do with his or her job, but which are purely personal in nature," the judge wrote.
The case arose from a 2007 request by John Dunn to the City of Ottawa for all emails sent by the executive director of the Children's Aid Society to various CAS personnel, including Rick O'Connor, since February of that year.
Mr. O'Connor, the judgment says, volunteers as a board member with CAS, and his position there is entirely unrelated to his job as city solicitor. He kept correspondence relating to the CAS in a separate folder on the city's email server.
Ontario law states that residents may access records "under the control" of public institutions, with certain exceptions. Judge Molloy decided the City of Ottawa did not have "control" of the files.
"The Children's Aid Society is not an agency subject to freedom of information legislation," she wrote. "Mr. O'Connor, in his personal capacity, is also not subject to having his personal documents seized and passed over to any member of the public who requests them."
Source: National Post
Child Gone (except for Bills)
December 21, 2010 permalink
Have your parental rights been terminated? Are you the parent of a crown ward? You will never see your child again, and if the child dies, you will not be told. But one relic of your parenthood survives. You will still have to pay child support. Enclosed is an article about a Michigan Supreme Court decision.
Mich. Supreme Court: Loss of parental rights doesn't end support
The Michigan Supreme Court says a loss of parental rights doesn't automatically mean an end to child support.
In a rare unanimous opinion, the court says a father or mother can be ordered to support a child financially even if he or she has no other role. The justices ruled in a case from Oakland County in which Lawrence Beck's parental rights were terminated in 2009.
A judge still required Beck to support two children under the terms of a divorce from his wife.
The Supreme Court said Monday that Michigan law requires financial support unless a judge modifies or terminates the obligation.
Justice Alton Davis did not participate in the 6-0 decision because he reviewed the case when he was a member of the state appeals court.
Source: Detroit Free Press
PART with your Money
December 21, 2010 permalink
While Ontario's children's aid societies have been publicly pleading poverty they have found a way to chip in $15,000 each to fund a program called Practice and Research Together, PART.
Ontario CAS - $15,000 Each on P.A.R.T. Membership Fees
Ontario's Children's Aid Societies, Which have been complaining about the Ministry allegedly reducing their funding and closing their doors in some cases, have been spending approximately $15,000 per year in "Membership fees" for a province wide program known as "Practice and Research Together" or "PART".
PART was incorporated on October 15th of 2009 and currently consists of a Board of Directors made up of various Executive Directors of Children's Aid Societies across the province, and a staff member of the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies (OACAS)(which also collects approximately 3 Million dollars a year from CAS's for their membership fees)
PART started out in September of 2007 with a membership of 18 of 53 Societies at a cost to Ontario Tax-Payers of $270,000 @ $15,000 each
By January of 2009, PART was joined by over 36 Societies, therefore increasing the cost of PART memberships to Ontario tax-payers to over $555,000 (half a million)
Source: Foster Care News, John Dunn
Assange Lost Son to Child Protectors
December 21, 2010 permalink
By disclosing the secrets of America, and the world's diplomats, Julian Assange has become simultaneously the world's most adulated hero and its most hated villain.
An article in Macleans looks into how Mr Assange got into the business of uncovering secrets. As a teenager Assange became a hacker, penetrating the computer system of Canada's Nortel, and according to other sources, many other prominent companies as well. He also married and had a son, Daniel.
But the marriage ended after his arrest for hacking.
His wife left him and took their son. While awaiting trial, he fell into a depression and was hospitalized. And once the legal troubles were over, he focused on getting his son back, launching a bruising custody fight that lasted nearly a decade and eventually pitted Assange and his mother Christine against Health and Community Services, the Australian child protection agency.
During that battle, they alleged that Assange’s girlfriend’s boyfriend was a danger to the child, but had trouble getting the bureaucracy to intervene. The custody proceedings involved more than 40 legal hearings and appeals, according to the Brisbane Times. The Assanges started a group, Parent Inquiry into Child Protection, to campaign for changes to Australian law. Their investigations into Health and Community Services included a low-tech rehearsal for WikiLeaks: asking social workers to leak internal documents for the creation of a central database. They were able to obtain some internal documents, including a manual, that helped in their advocacy efforts. “What we saw was a great bureaucracy that was trying to squash people,” Christine Assange told The New Yorker magazine this year. She said the emotional toll left her son’s brown hair drained of colour, and left him scarred by what she called post-traumatic stress disorder. In 1999, he finally got a custody agreement for Daniel.
So far all appeals from parents and grown children for relief from family law have fallen on deaf ears. Perhaps with the Assange case the political class will wake up to the fact that routine separation of parents and children by force of arms engenders the kind of opposition that leads to exposure of their corrupt practices and even their downfall.
Julian Assange: The man who exposed the world
Crusader. Hacker. Megalomaniac. Extortionist.
When Julian Assange was finally arrested in London on Dec. 7, it was on allegations of having had unwelcome, unprotected intercourse with two Swedish women, and not for convulsing global diplomacy with his slow, controversial leak of diplomatic cables that infuriated allies, embarrassed kings and princes, were condemned by Washington for endangering lives, and dismissed by Tehran as a CIA plot. In a story worthy of a bestseller by Stieg Larsson, with its mix of state secrets, sex, and self-righteous computer geeks, it could come to pass that the man at the helm of WikiLeaks, who could not be pinned down by the U.S. Espionage Act, is vulnerable to a Swedish law against “sex by surprise.”
Assange, with his pale Warholian looks, is now a world hyper-celebrity or international super-villain, out of hiding and in custody, but still defiant. The Swedes may be the first to get him, but many more governments would like to get their hands on him. It has been a remarkable journey for someone who started out as a teenage hacker in his native Australia but became one of the most notorious men in the world—an individual who may have drastically altered the rules both in the world of diplomacy and the business of journalism. It is a story that has left people wondering about his motives, and pondering the question: what drives Julian Assange?
Assange’s first encounter with the law, and his first fight for the secrets of a government bureaucracy, trace back to 1990, when the then-20-year-old Australian hacked into the Melbourne computers of the Canadian company Nortel.
Assange had been hacking since he was 16, an escape from a childhood that could charitably be described as unstable. He was born in Townsville, a small city on the northeastern coast of Australia, and grew up, among other places, on Magnetic Island—a coastal island named for its mysterious interference with Capt. James Cook’s ship’s compass in 1770. His mother Christine was a roving, bohemian artist who moved her son through dozens of homes and schools before he was 15 (Assange’s parents split shortly after his birth, and his mother married a fellow artist when he was two).
The Townsville Bulletin reported in July that school friends “described Mr. Assange’s family as very alternative, borderline hippies, adding it was: ‘quite exciting to go to their house, so many different things were happening.’ ” Sometimes Assange went to school, sometimes he didn’t, but he was self-taught in a variety of subjects and had a passion for computers. His mother and stepfather travelled around Australia, putting on theatrical plays—his stepfather directed and his mother designed the sets.
They divorced when Assange was nine, and his mother took up with a musician whom Assange would later describe as “a manipulative and violent psychopath.” By his teens, mother and son were on the run from the abusive ex-boyfriend, criss-crossing Australia, and hiding under assumed names. They finally settled on the outskirts of Melbourne, in a rural town called Emerald. There, when he was 17, Assange married his girlfriend, whom he has described as “an intelligent but introverted and emotionally disturbed 16-year-old he had met through a mutual friend in a gifted children’s program.” A year later, they had a son, Daniel.
It was in Emerald that Assange, under the handle “Mendax,” turned a $700 Amiga computer from his mother into a portal through which his roving mind could reach into the outside world. The details of Assange’s childhood and his hacking exploits are detailed in a 1997 book entitled Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier, by Australian academic Suelette Dreyfus (on which Assange is credited as a researcher).
According to the book, the young Assange worked as part of a trio of young hackers who called themselves the International Subversives, and infiltrated computers around the world. They bragged of carrying out cyber “assaults” on what they called a “who’s who of the U.S. military-industrial complex,” from the 7th Air Force’s command group headquarters in the Pentagon, and Lockheed Martin’s Tactical Aircraft Systems plant in Texas, to corporations such as Motorola and Xerox. On one such occasion, Mendax discovered Pentagon hackers infiltrating military computers on what he surmised to be a practice mission. The possibility disturbed him. “Hackers, he thought, should be anarchists,” wrote Dreyfus. “Not hawks.”
Assange and his friends hacked for sport and bragging rights, following a credo of not damaging the computers they infiltrated and not proﬁting from the information they found. They used technical prowess and, at times, human deception. On one occasion, Assange resorted to calling a user of a computer system he was trying to hack, posing as a computer technician and asking for his account password, ostensibly to perform maintenance. To make the call credible from his country perch, he recreated the buzz of a Sydney office building by tape-recording a soundtrack of printer noises, his own typing, and the background murmur of his own voice reading out lines from Macbeth.
The undoing of the International Subversives would be Nortel, which sold high-tech equipment that ran some of the world’s largest telephone companies, including Australia’s. Mendax set his sights on Nortel in order to find documents that would help him manipulate telephone exchanges, or to install “back doors” in the company’s software that could enable him to control telephone switches installed by Nortel all over the world. “What power! Mendax thought, what if you could turn off 10,000 phones in Rio de Janeiro, or give 5,000 New Yorkers free calls one afternoon, or listen into private telephone conversations in Brisbane. The telecommunications world would be your oyster,” the book recounts.
Once he hacked into the system, Mendax started playing. One of his first acts was to instruct the computer to make 1,000 telephones all ring at once. He found internal security to be relaxed. “By sneaking in the back door, the hackers found themselves able to raid all sorts of Nortel sites, from St. Kilda Road in Melbourne to the corporation’s headquarters in [suburban] Toronto,” wrote Dreyfus. “One of them described it as being ‘like a shipwrecked man washed ashore on a Tahitian island populated by 11,000 virgins, just ripe for the picking.’ ”
They used a password-cracking software, which they set up on computers they believed to be located in Canada, and cracked 5,000 passwords, giving them access to thousands of Nortel computers across the globe. The hackers mused that they could dig up information on new product development or business strategies or internal memos and sell them to competitors or manipulate stock prices. But they considered themselves explorers, not spies, and such a move would have violated their ethics. And rather than get rich, they got caught—the Nortel hack led to the arrest of Assange and his friends. By May 1995, the three hackers faced 63 charges in total, 31 of them for Assange.
On Dec. 5, 1996, Assange pleaded guilty to charges, and got off with a good behaviour bond for three years and a $2,300 fine. But the consequences were severe. In the months leading up to his arrest, Assange had become paranoid, dreaming about police raids, “of footsteps crunching on the driveway gravel, of shadows in the pre-dawn darkness,” and of gun-toting police bursting in, according to Underground. His personal life fell apart. His wife left him and took their son. While awaiting trial, he fell into a depression and was hospitalized. And once the legal troubles were over, he focused on getting his son back, launching a bruising custody fight that lasted nearly a decade and eventually pitted Assange and his mother Christine against Health and Community Services, the Australian child protection agency.
During that battle, they alleged that Assange’s girlfriend’s boyfriend was a danger to the child, but had trouble getting the bureaucracy to intervene. The custody proceedings involved more than 40 legal hearings and appeals, according to the Brisbane Times. The Assanges started a group, Parent Inquiry into Child Protection, to campaign for changes to Australian law. Their investigations into Health and Community Services included a low-tech rehearsal for WikiLeaks: asking social workers to leak internal documents for the creation of a central database. They were able to obtain some internal documents, including a manual, that helped in their advocacy efforts. “What we saw was a great bureaucracy that was trying to squash people,” Christine Assange told The New Yorker magazine this year. She said the emotional toll left her son’s brown hair drained of colour, and left him scarred by what she called post-traumatic stress disorder. In 1999, he finally got a custody agreement for Daniel.
Whether his child custody battle left him with a permanent hostility to government institutions, only Assange knows for sure. But in 1999, the same year he reached the settlement, he registered the website that would later become WikiLeaks. Through the 1990s, he had been concerned with free speech and technology. In 1993, he’d started a free speech Internet service provider in Australia. In 1997, he co-invented a form of encryption that helps human rights workers protect sensitive data. He studied math and physics at universities in Australia for several years, but became disenchanted, he told the Age newspaper, with how many of his fellow students were conducting research for the U.S. defence system. In 2007, he quit his studies and went to work with an international group of dissidents, mathematicians and academics to create WikiLeaks. “Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East,” the website said. “But we also expect to be of assistance to those in the West who wish to reveal unethical behaviour in their own governments and corporations.” Assange was then described in the media as a WikiLeaks official and cryptographer.
According to The New Yorker, the first document posted on the website was a Somali rebel leader’s call to use criminals to assassinate government officials. WikiLeaks went on to post a procedural manual for the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba in 2007. In 2008, it released documents alleging wrongdoing at the Cayman Islands branch of the Julius Bär banking group of Switzerland, internal documents from the Church of Scientology, and the contents of Sarah Palin’s private emails during the 2008 presidential campaign. In 2009, it released correspondence relating to climate change research at the University of East Anglia. WikiLeaks was honoured by Amnesty International for the 2008 publication of a suppressed ofﬁcial report about police killings in Kenya.
Assange has often discussed authoritarian conspiracies, but he has not specified whether he considers the United States to be among them. Eventually, though, WikiLeaks did come to focus on American actions—based on a huge cache of hundreds of thousands of secret government documents allegedly downloaded by a low-level military analyst. Last April, WikiLeaks posted a video of U.S. soldiers firing from a helicopter on a group of men in a Baghdad street, in an attack that killed at least 12 people, including two journalists, and injured two children. It was the beginning of a deluge of U.S. documents, all allegedly leaked by Bradley Manning, a low-ranking Army intelligence analyst who confessed in online chats to a former hacker that he downloaded them from army networks.
In July, WikiLeaks released more than 90,000 American documents, most of them classified secret, detailing six years of the war in Afghanistan. Reaction was furious: the U.S., Canada, allied governments and various human rights groups including Amnesty International condemned the release, saying that Afghan informants were endangered. But Assange has insisted there is no evidence the documents led to any harm.
After the Afghan controversy, WikiLeaks released the “Iraq war logs” that detailed the U.S. war effort. This time they were more vigorously redacted, by both the website and a consortium of international news outlets. In a deal that had started with the Afghan documents, the outside journalists would sift through the documents ahead of time, writing articles and posting a sampling of the documents that the journalists had contextualized on their own websites.
Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a former associate of Assange’s who served for several years as the spokesman for WikiLeaks, told Maclean’s that WikiLeaks has evolved its methods through a process of trial and error. “WikiLeaks is working on a very new terrain of society,” he says. “No one has worked in that field in that way.” One decision was to release the leaks only to that small consortium of international news outlets before they were made public—a process that was itself cloaked in secrecy and left the news media of entire countries such as Canada out of the initial loop. “It was a natural consequence of what we learned: if you just put out information, people won’t touch it,” Domscheit-Berg says. “The news media wants exclusive access, they want the scoop, they want to be the first to publish, and so you have to meet that economic consideration.” By making the material exclusive to certain organizations, WikiLeaks was able to “get more resources” dedicated to analyzing the documents, Domscheit-Berg says.
While Wikileaks published all the Iraq documents—albeit heavily redacted by a computer program that left many indecipherable—it is unclear whether or when it will release all of the U.S. diplomatic cables. To date, only a small fraction have been reported on by the press and released by WikiLeaks. According to Assange, he is also in possession of documents relating to corruption in Russia, and is planning another “mega-leak” in 2011 concerning a “big U.S. bank.”
Assange has also said, even before the release of the U.S. cables, that his goal is to expose wrongdoing. At a July conference in Oxford he said that such documents would expose “the true state of, say, what Arab governments are like. They prove human rights abuses.” Asked about his values, Assange once described himself as a “combative” person who seeks to “police perpetrators of crime.” And since the cables have started to be released, he has called on President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to resign, on the grounds that some of the released documents allege they instructed U.S. diplomats to spy on foreign dignitaries at the UN (an accusation U.S. officials deny).
Clinton has called WikiLeaks’ disclosures “an attack on the international community” that puts lives at risk. Defense Secretary Robert Gates played down their impact. “Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes,” he told reporters. “Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.” Gates’s sanguine attitude aside, there is no question that American diplomacy, which the Obama administration had been trying to shore up, has been damaged.
Personal relationships have been strained; relations with the leaders of countries such as Russia and Turkey have become more difficult (some released documents were heavily critical of Vladimir Putin’s regime in Moscow, while others were critical of the Turkish government). Public opinion in some countries may nurse insults long into the future: witness the angry British reaction after the release of cables with U.S. officials criticizing the effectiveness of British troops in Afghanistan. There is also the cost of time and effort as diplomats scramble to do damage control rather than proceed with their work.
The cables have illustrated some instances of wrongdoing, or, at the very least, grey areas. They showed that the government of Yemen was claiming responsibility for bombings aimed at Islamic terrorists that were secretly carried out by U.S. forces; Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh told U.S. Gen. David Petraeus: “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours.” In Spain, El Pais newspaper reported that the cables showed the role of high-level U.S. officials in trying to stymie Spanish criminal investigations into incidents of alleged torture by the United States, violations of the laws of war in Iraq, or kidnappings in connection with the CIA’s extraordinary renditions program. And Obama was criticized in Israel for telling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu it was essential to make progress on the Palestinian issue in order to build up support among Arab states for putting pressure on Iran: in fact, he was already in possession of the cables in which King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called on the U.S. to “cut off the head” of the Persian “snake.”
But the leaks have also shown diplomats doing their jobs, with some instances of success: the Obama administration put together a coalition—including a previously recalcitrant China and Russia—to impose harsh economic sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. The cables suggest U.S. diplomats got Russia on board by moving Bush-era plans for a missile defence system out of Eastern Europe and onto ships closer to Iran. China’s co-operation was achieved by brokering an agreement in which Saudi Arabia guaranteed a supply of oil if the Chinese lost their Iranian energy source.
The cables also showed that the U.S. resisted calls from Middle Eastern leaders to attack Iran. “In the Middle East, we are portrayed as these gunslingers who shoot up Iran and Afghanistan, but what comes across is that we are playing a moderate role,” says Fariborz Ghadar, a senior adviser to the Center for Strategic International Studies, a Washington think tank. “Where Arabs and the Israelis want to bomb Iran, we are basically holding everyone back. The silver lining in the Middle East is that in the public’s eye we are more reasonable than they are.”
On the other hand, the cables and the coverage they have received in the U.S., taken as a whole, paint a grim, Hobbesian picture of a world full of threats, unstable leaders and unreliable allies—some with ulterior motives, as alleged by the cable describing a cozy and lucrative relationship between Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Putin. They suggest that no country, not even China, has a reliable window into the regime running North Korea. Foreign policy hawks see in the bleak picture painted by the documents an affirmation of their hardline positions. “The cables show a world with a lot of threats and challenges for the United States,” John Bolton, who served as U.S. ambassador to the UN under president George W. Bush, told Maclean’s in an interview. Bolton added that President Obama’s efforts to curtail Iran’s nuclear program “have failed badly” and, “absent some pre-emptive military action, Iran will get military weapons.” The cables also show, he contended, that “the whole idea that a military attack on Iran’s nuclear weapons program would somehow cause chaos in the Middle East has not been the correct analysis.”
It is unlikely that Assange’s goal was to embolden American foreign policy hawks. In a letter to the Australian newspaper published on the day of his arrest, he wrote, “People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies.”
It is far too early to judge the full impact of the leaked cables. One unintended consequence may be to make the U.S. more cautious in pressing the issue of press freedom abroad. On the same day Assange was arrested, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley announced that in May, Washington would host a three-day UNESCO meeting to mark World Press Freedom Day. “The theme for this commemoration will be ‘21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers,’ ” announced Crowley. But, he added, “Obviously, we decided upon this before the latest round of news.”
Meanwhile, Manning, 22, the alleged leaker, is being held at the military brig at Quantico, Va., facing a possible 52-year prison term. The U.S. Justice Department is looking for charges to bring against WikiLeaks. But whatever his personal fate, Assange’s work is now bigger than himself. He has distributed the contents of other document caches to his supporters in encrypted form, and has threatened that if something happens to him, he will release the key and they will flood the Internet with their unredacted, and presumably very dangerous, contents.
Moreover, the phenomenon is about to become bigger than even WikiLeaks. Assange’s former associate, Domscheit-Berg, says he is planning to launch his own site next week. It would provide a secure way of sharing leaked documents online without publishing them on the website, he said. “Analogous to the world where you as a journalist can have someone send you a document, you should have the possibility in the digital age to receive documents via an online mechanism,” he said.
Domscheit-Berg—who left WikiLeaks after three years due to differences with Assange over the way the organization was being run—says he wants to see the proliferation of more whistle-blower websites. “I do not believe that there should be a single monolithic website that deals with this need for society to handle information. I believe in decentralization. I think we should have plenty of these sites,” he told Maclean’s.
He says he regrets that WikiLeaks has become what he calls “a pop culture phenomenon.” Public attention should focus on the documents, not the organization, Domscheit-Berg says. “The form is distracting from the content in some way which I think is sub-optimal.” Assange held on to power too closely, he said—putting himself in danger and hurting the organization. “I do not think this should be in one man’s hands—that’s partly why I left.” But as long as the focus is on the group, Domscheit-Berg plans to have his own say. The German says he is writing a book about his WikiLeaks experiences that is to be published in Germany in January.
Assange, meanwhile, is making the high-stakes case that WikiLeaks is a journalistic organization and entitled to the same legal protections as the free press. He pointedly calls himself the “editor-in-chief” of WikiLeaks, and says his group has created “scientific” journalism. “Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on,” he wrote in the Australian. “That way you can judge for yourself: is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?”
But Assange has also distanced himself from the profession. “It’s a worry, isn’t it, that the world’s media is doing such a bad job that a little group of activists is able to release more [classified] information than the rest of the world’s media combined,” he once said. But pressed further by an interviewer who described him as a former teenaged hacker, Assange shot back: “I was a young journalist/activist at an early age. I wrote a magazine and was prosecuted for it when I was a teenager. You have to be careful with ‘hacker.’ ”
According to the account in Underground, the book Assange himself helped author, that electronic magazine he edited, “The International Subversive,” recorded modem numbers and passwords collected by Assange and his two collaborators, and compiled instructions on hacking. Prosecutors used it as evidence of “incitement” to hack. It had a circulation of three.
Drug Your Kid
December 19, 2010 permalink
A US program called Supplemental Security Income provides regular cheques to mothers provided their child is diagnosed as disabled. Psychiatric disorders are the most common form of disability subsidized. In practice poor mothers have to give their children psychotropic drugs to get paid. The long enclosed article also gives another side to the death of Rebecca Riley.
The other welfare
A legacy of unintended side effects
First in a three-part series.
Geneva Fielding, a single mother since age 16, has struggled to raise her three energetic boys in the housing projects of Roxbury. Nothing has come easily, least of all money.
Even so, she resisted some years back when neighbors told her about a federal program called SSI that could pay her thousands of dollars a year. The benefit was a lot like welfare, better in many ways, but it came with a catch: To qualify, a child had to be disabled. And if the disability was mental or behavioral — something like ADHD — the child pretty much had to be taking psychotropic drugs.
Fielding never liked the sound of that. She had long believed too many children take such medications, and she avoided them, even as clinicians were putting names to her boys’ troubles: oppositional defiant disorder, depression, ADHD. But then, as bills mounted, friends nudged her about SSI: “Go try.’’
Eventually she did, putting in applications for her two older sons. Neither was on medications; both were rejected. Then last year, school officials persuaded her to let her 10-year-old try a drug for his impulsiveness. Within weeks, his SSI application was approved.
“To get the check,’’ Fielding, 34, has concluded with regret, “you’ve got to medicate the child.’’
There is nothing illegal about what Fielding did — and a lot that is perhaps understandable for a mother in her plight. But her worries and her experience capture, in one case, how this little-scrutinized $10 billion federal disability program has gone seriously astray, becoming an alternative welfare system with troubling built-in incentives that risk harm to children.
A Globe investigation has found that this Supplemental Security Income program — created by Congress primarily to aid indigent children with severe physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and blindness — now largely serves children with relatively common mental, learning, and behavioral disorders such as ADHD. It has also created, for many needy parents, a financial motive to seek prescriptions for powerful drugs for their children.
And once a family gets on SSI, it can be very hard to let go. The attraction of up to $700 a month in payments, and the near-automatic Medicaid coverage that comes with SSI approval, leads some families to count on a child’s remaining classified as disabled, even as his or her condition may be improving. It also leads many teenage beneficiaries to avoid steps — like taking a job — that might jeopardize the disability check.
The latest federal statistics, obtained by the Globe through a public records request, show a stunning rise over the past two decades in the number of children who qualify for SSI because of a variety of mental disabilities.
Of the 1.2 million low-income children nationwide who received SSI checks last year, 53 percent, or 640,000, qualified because of mental, learning, or behavioral issues, up from 8 percent in 1990. By significant margins, the top two disorders are Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, and delayed speech in young children, followed by autism spectrum disorders, bipolar illness, depression, and learning problems, according to the Social Security Administration, which runs this program and the $55 billion SSI system for adults.
In New England, the numbers are even higher — 63 percent of children qualify for SSI based on such mental disabilities. That is the highest percentage for any region in the country. And here and across the nation, the SSI trend line is up, with children under 5 the fastest-growing group. Once diagnosed, these children often bring in close to half their family’s income.
“This has become the new welfare,’’ said MIT economics professor David Autor. “This is a very valuable resource to families, but you’re providing incentives for them to produce a diagnosis for their children to be part of this program, and there’s also incentives to medicate them. This is a substantial public policy problem.’’
This transformation of the children’s SSI program is viewed as a victory by many disability and mental health advocates, who have long pressed for serious cases of depression and learning disorders to be recognized alongside cerebral palsy and Down syndrome as major disabilities. The program’s expansion has also undoubtedly helped many new families cope with the exhausting needs of deeply troubled children.
“A few years ago, we never saw a bipolar diagnosis in a child; now we do,’’ said David Rust, a top Social Security official who defended the agency’s handling of the SSI children’s program in an interview with the Globe. “The world is changing in terms of who we serve and the kinds of conditions we see.’’
But, the Globe review found, the changing nature of the SSI program has had some disturbing side effects. Many cash-strapped parents have come to believe that if only they can muster the necessary array of medical records, their children have a good shot at this benefit, even if it means carrying the stigma of the word “disabled.’’ And while some parents see their children’s behavior improve from psychotropic drugs — as has been the case so far with Fielding’s youngest boy — they bristle at the outsize role that these medications seem to them to play in securing SSI approval.
For many, the motivation to apply comes down to economics: SSI payments can be a lifeline in a bad economy, and they beat welfare checks in almost every way. For a Massachusetts parent with two children, welfare pays a maximum of about $600 a month. If one of those two children is approved for the SSI program, the total government benefit can be twice as much.
“Everybody’s poor, everyone’s got issues,’’ Fielding said, as she sat in her family’s apartment near Madison Park. “People are going to try to get a check.’’
Learning the system
At the beginning of every month, postal carriers drop more than 21,000 SSI checks on behalf of children into mailboxes across Massachusetts, mostly in distressed areas of Springfield, Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, and New Bedford. Only youngsters living around the poverty level are financially eligible, and many of their parents, out of work or maxed-out on welfare benefits, have grown resigned to homeless shelters and food pantries.
The children on SSI represent a cross section of the poor. Federal data show that roughly half identified as white, half as black; some 16 percent self-identified as Hispanic. Two of every three recipients are boys, in part because ADHD diagnoses skew heavily male. And ADHD is the top diagnosis, constituting 31 percent of all children on SSI for behavioral, learning, and mental disorders.
As the Globe investigated the surge in SSI cases — mostly by visiting housing projects, Social Security offices, and downtown districts — many parents were reluctant to talk, fearful of losing this coveted benefit. Still, some two dozen families agreed to be interviewed, in part to vent their frustration at what they perceive to be the government’s arbitrary approval process in mental disability cases. Some wanted only their first names to be used as they described their persistent efforts to figure out what Social Security wanted, and their growing conviction that medication for the child was a critical step.
Waiting on a bench in a rundown commercial strip of Lawrence, Yessenia was among the frustrated.
The 28-year-old woman said late last summer that she will be trying, for the third time, to obtain SSI payments for her 7-year-old son based on his ADHD symptoms: impulsivity and inattention.
Yessenia said she is convinced her son’s first two applications were rejected because she had nothing to list in the section labeled “medications.’’ But in recent months, she has convinced the boy’s doctor to write a prescription. Her son is now taking a stimulant often used for ADHD.
“If you child doesn’t have medications, the SSI office thinks he doesn’t have any big problem,’’ she said.
Yessenia and her extended family have long experience with the SSI program. As a child, she said, she qualified for SSI based primarily because of learning disabilities, and after her 18th birthday, she requalified as an adult on the same basis. Her older sister, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, has been receiving SSI benefits since childhood.
Yessenia said she has other reasons to be optimistic that her son’s new application will be approved.
“Since he was denied all the time, the therapist said she’d give him another diagnosis, and that’s when she said he’s got depression,’’ said the mother, who has yet to submit the new application. “She’s also recommending another drug.’’
Yessenia, and the others interviewed, insisted that they do only what is best for their children’s health and would never medicate purely to boost their SSI application. But some of the parents said they know of others who exaggerate their children’s symptoms so that clinicians prescribe medications or add additional psychiatric diagnoses.
“A lot of people do it,’’ said Makeysha, a Jamaica Plain mother whose child is on SSI for ADHD. “A lot of people don’t have income coming in.’’
A special education teacher at Holyoke High School with two decades of experience said it is clear to her that indigent parents learn, through word of mouth, the strategic “ins and outs’’ of the SSI system. The teacher, who asked not to be named because she is not authorized to speak about student records, said she has seen hundreds of teenagers on SSI for mental disabilities.
“I don’t know anyone who isn’t on drugs,’’ she said.
She also said she is frequently asked by parents to complete SSI paperwork about a child’s academic level, in hopes that it will confirm a diagnosis for some kind of mental disorder.
A horrifying case
The incentives built into the SSI program and their potential hazards came into starkest relief in the case of a South Shore couple, Carolyn and Michael Riley.
Their story was horrifying and far from typical, but also telling about how a child’s mental health diagnosis can be abused in the name of money.
Each of their three children was, according to medical records, diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder, and prescribed three powerful drugs. The parents made sure to highlight the youngsters’ prescription data in their SSI applications: “If not for medication, my son would not be able to sleep more than 3 hours in a 24-hour period,’’ Michael Riley wrote. The parents obtained SSI benefits for the oldest two children, and for themselves through the SSI program for adults. They were applying for benefits for 4-year-old Rebecca, when the girl turned gravely ill sometime after midnight on Dec. 13, 2006.
Rebecca had been sick with an respiratory infection, but the Rileys did not take her to a doctor. Instead, they fed her excessive amounts of clonodine, a sedating medication often prescribed for ADHD, to get her to sleep. She ultimately died of a drug overdose, and jurors this year convicted her parents of killing Rebecca with their reckless care. Records made public during the murder trials showed the parents’ casual approach to medication over years, and how their calculated pursuit of SSI checks and psychiatric pills caused them to exaggerate their children’s behaviors to clinicians, including a Tufts Medical Center psychiatrist.
Until the day Rebecca died, the family depended largely on SSI checks totaling roughly $30,000 a year.
As extreme as their case proved to be, the way this family sustained itself financially is far from rare. As more families are cut off from the nation’s welfare benefits, millions of indigent parents have turned to SSI.
Said Williams College economist Lucie Schmidt: “It’s become the de facto backup safety net.’’
Top officials in the Social Security Administration, in an interview this fall at the agency’s headquarters just outside Baltimore, insisted they do their best to implement the Congressional mandates for the SSI children’s program, which require sensitivity to a wide range of physical and mental disabilities, while approving only those children with severe impairments.
Art Spencer, associate commissioner in the agency’s office of disability programs, said he was disturbed to hear that the Globe’s review found that many indigent families are convinced that psychotropic drugs are critical in obtaining SSI benefits.
“Medication helps confirm a diagnosis, but most of the decision is going to be based on the child’s function,’’ said Spencer, whose agency’s primary job is overseeing the nation’s $800 billion program for retirees’ and other workers’ benefits.
Rust, deputy commissioner in the office of retirement and disability policy, said each child’s case is carefully reviewed by a disability examiner, as well as an in-house pediatrician.
He said that the agency does not currently track how many children on SSI are prescribed psychotropic medications, but that a new computerized record-keeping system may give them the ability to do so. Rust emphasized that, ultimately, awarding benefits rests largely on what the child’s doctors and clinicians say about the child’s impairment, and that the agency needs to trust that information. He said, on occasion, disability officials have spotted clusters of SSI families with the same doctors, and with strikingly similar diagnosis and treatments, and referred those for possible fraud prosecution. But mostly, he said, “We work off the medical evidence we get.’’
Rust, a former high school teacher, acknowledged, however, the risk that long-term SSI enrollment may exact a psychic toll.
“One of my concerns about the program is that by designating a child as being disabled, it creates a certain mindset with the child, with the family, with the schools. . . . You’re disabled. You are unable to do certain things,’’ he said. “I really do wor ry, in the program’s attempt to help children, and that’s what we’re trying to do, we can create a certain psychology of disability that is hard to break. ’’
A subjective scale
It is easy to see why indigent families are confused by eligibility rules — and looking for a shortcut to SSI approval.
On paper, the eligibility requirements are daunting. According to the most recent Social Security rules, passed in 1996, a child can be approved for mental disability benefits only if he or she has a “medically determinable impairment that results in marked and severe functional limitations.’’ The impairment should be one that persists for at least a year or may result in death.
In some instances, a specific diagnosis for a severe condition — schizophrenia, for example — is a virtual and uncontroversial guarantee of benefits. But most diagnoses are not of that severity and SSI approval hinges on the highly subjective determination of whether a child’s condition, or cluster of conditions, amounts to a “severe’’ impairment.
Officials wade through piles of medical, clinical, pharmacy, and school records, some haphazardly or partially completed, to determine how a child functions in six designated “domains,’’ such as how well he or she communicates, or gets along with peers, or can take care of his or her own basic needs. One “marked’’ impairment is not enough for SSI approval, but a “severe’’ impairment in one domain, or, alternatively, “marked’’ impairments in two domains, is.
Officials may also rely on standardized neuropsychological and other tests or hire an independent medical expert to evaluate the child. Nevertheless, in many cases, diagnoses are based largely on a parent’s account, and disability evaluators never meet the child face-to-face.
Jennifer Erkulwater, a coauthor of the Harvard University Press book “Medicating Children,’’ about the rise of ADHD diagnoses nationwide, said it is easy to see how psychotropic drugs have turned into a potential marker of a mental disorder’s severity.
“If the doctor says it’s serious, he’s giving a prescription,’’ said Erkulwater, a political science professor at the University of Richmond.
She said it is unclear whether the SSI approval process is a factor behind federal data showing that indigent children are diagnosed and prescribed psychiatric drugs at a higher rate than more well-off children. A 2008 study found, for example, that 12 percent of children on Medicaid were diagnosed with ADHD, compared with 8 percent of children on private insurance. Other national studies using Medicaid data have found that poorer children with behavioral and mental diagnoses are also medicated with ADHD drugs and antipsychotic medications at higher rates.
Erkulwater said researchers have cited many explanations for this difference, including the possibility that doctors are more inclined to medicate poor children or that higher rates of mental disorders exist among the destitute. She said that “among the nexus of reasons’’ is that indigent families may be more open to psychotropic drugs if they believe a prescription will help a child’s SSI application.
Patrisha Thompson, a Fall River mother of two, cited another reason why poor families may be quicker to medicate their children for behavioral problems: They don’t have the time for bus or subway rides to talk-therapy sessions, and they know that counseling sessions are unlikely to impress a disability examiner.
Thompson, 28, said her job in the health care industry made her realize the importance of trying behavioral therapy. She took her sons to such sessions before agreeing reluctantly last year to let her sons start a prescription of an ADHD medication. She has since put in SSI applications for both boys, ages 7 and 10, whose diagnoses also include depression, anxiety, and learning disorders. But many indigent parents, she said, do not realize that there are alternatives to drugs, or don’t have the time to pursue them.
“It’s easier to medicate,’’ said Thompson, recounting what she hears from other parents.
Thompson is still waiting to hear how SSI rules on her oldest boy’s application. Her 7-year-old boy was denied, she said, adding that she was not given a reason.
She said the denial may indicate that drugs are not a decisive factor. But she said that, based on her knowledge of other cases, an application with no mention of drugs has “little to no chance’’ of success. Even if both sons’ applications are denied, she said, she is grateful that her job gives her enough income to provide the basics. But she can understand why others, more impoverished, seek SSI approval.
“Money determines everything,’’ she said. “It determines how much you eat, what you eat, and how you treat your kids.’’
The federal disability program for poor children was born four decades ago, shortly after Congress rejected President Nixon’s groundbreaking 1969 proposal for a guaranteed minimum income for the poor.
Instead, as a compromise of sorts, federal lawmakers approved the Supplemental Security Income program for the elderly, as well as for blind and disabled adults. Some early drafts of the proposal made no mention of children. But at the 11th hour, and virtually as a footnote, lawmakers in 1972 designated disabled children eligible for SSI payments.
The idea was that the benefit would help replace wages lost by indigent parents as they took time out to care for children with severe physical and congenital disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and deafness, or those with life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer. The money was also seen as a way to help families with extra expenses, such as wheelchairs or taxi rides to hospitals.
It remained for many years a relatively small, highly restrictive program; as late as 1990, it served fewer than 300,000 children, and only 8 percent qualified based on behavioral or mental disorders.
Then, after a landmark legal ruling, the ground began to shift.
The case grew out of a campaign in the early 1980s under President Reagan to reduce SSI rolls. Social Security officials, responding to the new mandate, cut off Brian Zebley, a boy who had been receiving benefits since he was toddler, ruling that he was no longer disabled despite a variety of physical and intellectual disabilities. His family’s lawyer challenged the fairness of the eligibility rules, arguing they were too adult-oriented and rigid, and in 1990, the US Supreme Court agreed. Social Security authorities then rushed to implement new, looser rules, and also widened eligibility for children’s behavioral and learning disorders.
A subsequent spike in mental disability cases led to a national uproar. Media accounts described parents coaching their children to misbehave or flunk tests. Some of those who desired change wanted ADHD cut from the list of allowed SSI diagnoses, arguing that the condition was not typically severe, and that its inclusion was leaving the system vulnerable to an explosion of claims. But they were drowned out by advocates for the disabled. Meanwhile, some federal authorities raised concerns about the program’s potential to harm children.
“Here the moral hazard is that the family may become dependent on SSI, and in order to continue to receive payments, decline to seek treatment aggressively or fail to encourage a child to do his or her best to overcome a disability,’’ said Jim Slattery, a former congressman and chairman of the National Commission on Child Disability, during a 1995 hearing.
By the mid-1990s, federal lawmakers were cracking down.
Congress passed tougher standards for SSI mental disability disorders, saying a child now had to exhibit a “medically determinable’’ disability with “marked and severe’’ limitations. These changes were included as part of sweeping 1996 welfare reforms.
The children’s SSI disability rolls instantly shrunk — but the decline would be short-lived. Families and clinicians began to adjust to the new rules, which emphasized extensive medical records for any claimed disability. From 1997 to 2007, the number of children who qualified under behavioral, mental, and learning disorders more than tripled from 180,000 to 562,000. By last year, more than 639,000 children were on SSI, 53 percent of all cases.
This abrupt climb in cases is a sign, some researchers say, that the SSI program has veered far from its original purpose.
Dr. James Perrin, a Massachusetts General Hospital pediatrician who has served on federal panels evaluating the SSI program, defended the program, saying it cares for many of the most vulnerable youngsters. One of SSI’s main benefits, he said, is providing near-automatic Medicaid coverage for disabled children. But he said some aspects of the program may need to be reconsidered, including the no-strings-attached cash benefit.
“Families with children with disabilities have real needs for additional income - but perhaps that money should be linked to meeting the specific needs of the child’s disability and, where possible, to supporting that child’s transition to productive adult life.’’
‘Driven by the dollar’
The pressure on medical professionals to help families make the case for SSI approval can be considerable.
One nurse practitioner in a large urban clinic who asked to be unnamed because she is not authorized to speak about her patients said she recently faced the wrath of a parent whose 4-year-old child’s SSI benefits, granted at birth due to prematurity, were cut off because the child was much better now. The nurse said she had candidly filled out the SSI form about the child, saying the boy had caught up with his peers and had only “minimal deficits.’’ The mother was livid, shouting at her, “Don’t you think this child’s disabled?’’
“They get angry with us,’’ the nurse practitioner said.
One diagnosis she believes is seriously overused is “the whole vague developmental delay’’ category for young children, often preschoolers who are behaving badly at home or in day care for undetermined reasons. She said clinicians often attribute such behavior to developmental delay, especially if they are sympathetic to that family’s needs for SSI payments.
“It’s all driven by the dollar,’’ she said.
Many doctors, therapists, and social workers say they are well aware of the impact SSI benefits can have on indigent families. Indeed, some clinicians said they often feel pressure to upgrade a diagnosis or tailor the SSI paperwork to increase the odds of approval. Some say they go that extra mile because they believe that furthering the financial stability of needy families is essential in helping a troubled child.
“Some psychiatrists do feel these people are entitled to benefits,’’ said Judy Rolph, a pediatric psychiatric nurse in Boston for more 30 years. “You know these people are poor.’’
Also pushing hard for SSI approvals is the growing number of for-profit firms that specialize in helping poor families tap into SSI benefits. These companies, which call themselves “eligibility service providers,’’ are hired by hospitals, which stand to lose money when caring for uninsured patients. If these firms successfully obtain SSI benefits for an uninsured child, the youngster’s medical bills are paid by Medicaid. The reimbursement rates are even higher if the child is deemed disabled.
Health insurance companies, which administer Medicaid plans, also sometimes hire these firms, for similar financial reasons.
State welfare department officials also often urge poor families to apply for SSI benefits on behalf of their children. There, too, money is the motivation. An indigent child cannot be on both welfare and SSI at the same time, so states save money if a child goes on SSI, which is entirely paid for by federal funds. The cost of traditional welfare is covered by state and federal money.
Such help with the SSI application can be critical for parents, many of whom are at a loss to complete the complex paperwork.
Giselle Cabrera, a family services coordinator at the Head Start preschool in Holyoke, who helps families with SSI applications, sees firsthand how parents struggle to complete certain SSI forms and wonder how candid to be about their children’s symptoms. They are often desperate, she said, and often medication is what they believe will help their child’s case.
“It’s very frustrating for parents,’’ she said.
‘It’s all about surviving’
Sitting in her apartment near Madison Park, Geneva Fielding is surrounded by stacks of well-organized SSI files for her three sons. She continues to be torn about medicating her youngest. Tucked among her thick files is a favorite article, titled, “What if Einstein had been on Ritalin?’’
She acknowledges that her youngest boy is focusing more on his schoolwork, and that doctors say his dosages of Concerta are safe. But still, she says, she wants to stop these drugs as soon as possible. She says she does not worry if her benefits, in the future, are cut.
“God’s been good to me. If they cut me off, I’ll be all right,’’ says Fielding, who is active in parent and neighborhood groups.
As she folds laundry in her three-bedroom apartment, she says she believes her middle child, the 14-year-old, has the greatest mental disabilities. He has been diagnosed with dyslexia, and he struggles with reading. He also has asthma and emotional issues. She worries he will wind up illiterate, like her father. His SSI application has been rejected, but she is appealing.
Fielding says the SSI checks have helped get her through difficult economic times, but she has mixed feelings about the role they play among poor families. She says she decided to speak to the Globe to highlight the worrisome incentive to prescribe children drugs.
“Sometimes I don’t know why we get a check for this,’’ she said, referring to her youngest son’s case. “But if someone says you have ADHD and you’re depressed and you can get a check, they’re going to try to get a check. The poor people will take that every time. It’s all about surviving.’’
Source: Boston Globe
Hastings CAS will Survive
December 18, 2010 permalink
The problem-prone Hastings CAS will not be absorbed in next year's amalgamation drive, but may take over one of its neighbors instead.
Children’s Aid Society Consolidating
The Ontario government’s plan for cost-cutting includes consolidating a dozen Childrens Aid Societies…effective in 2012. The Hastings CAS is not on the list , but has been asked to co-operate in “taking in” other agencies, probably those in Northumberland and Prince Edward County. Local CAS executive director Len Kennedy says a completely new organization would be created with a central administration but not likely changing the branch locations. Kennedy says it’s too early to determine if any positions would be lost, but the quality of service to children would not be affected.
Source: Quinte News
December 18, 2010 permalink
On September 28 1953, six-year-old Bobby Greenlease was taken from his Catholic school in Kansas City by a woman impersonating his aunt. A few days later, the family received a ransom demand for $600 thousand (in a day when a new car cost two thousand dollars). The father, businessman Robert C Greenlease, paid the ransom, the largest ever up to that time. The boy was not returned. The kidnapers, Carl Hall and Bonnie Heady were caught within a few days. The inhumanity of the crime shocked the nation, a shock expressed through the legal system 81 days after the crime by putting the kidnappers to death in the Missouri gas chamber.
In one generation the meaning of kidnapping has been turned on its head. Today social workers who are kidnappers in substance, but not in law, are immune from prosecution. Kidnapping charges are instead directed toward parents, when they try to exercise their normal responsibilites. Today's example is from Jay New York, where parents James Drake and Maria Trombley took their baby girl from her foster home on July 2 and fled to Tennessee. They were arrested two days later and returned to New York. Maria has been released temporarily while she is too pregnant to flee again.
Mother released from jail for now
Facing 25 years on felony kidnapping, burglary charges
ELIZABETHTOWN - Maria Trombley will be released from jail, and a hearing to dismiss her baby-kidnapping case has been pushed back two months.
Trombley, 23, of Plattsburgh, has been indicted on felony kidnapping and burglary charges for allegedly breaking into her then-five-month-old daughter's foster home in Jay and taking her. She could face a maximum of 25 years in state prison plus five years' post-release supervision on the kidnapping charge, a Class B felony.
The father of the child, James Drake, 24, of Morrisonville, also broke into the foster mother's home with Trombley to take their daughter Naomi Drake. He pleaded guilty to custodial interference as a Class E felony recently. The Essex County district attorney's office is recommending six months in county jail and five years' probation for him.
Reginald Bedell, Trombley's lawyer, said at Thursday afternoon's hearing before county court Judge Richard Meyer that the DA's office has offered to allow Trombley to plead to attempted burglary, a Class D violent felony, and first-degree custodial interference. Bedell said he thought his client should be allowed to plead to the same charges as Drake, saying he saw no difference between their conduct.
Assistant District Attorney Michael Langey said both had been offered the same sentence. However, Langey said Trombley's conduct during the break-in was different. The DA's office wouldn't provide a copy of the indictment Thursday afternoon, but Langey said in court that Trombley allegedly used force during the break-in and Drake didn't, and that the victim listed in count four of the indictment is a 5-year-old child.
Bedell had subpoenaed two witnesses for the "Clayton hearing," a hearing to dismiss charges in the interest of justice. One, Drake's mother who lives in Texas, couldn't appear. The second was Drake, who Bedell said has been dodging his subpoenas. Bedell says Drake is afraid his testimony could negatively impact his pending sentencing.
The DA's office didn't object to Trombley's release on her own recognizance. She is eight months pregnant, and Langey said this would make it difficult to flee, as she and Drake did in July after they allegedly kidnapped Naomi.
The terms of release include orders of protection for James and Brenda Rushia, Naomi's guardians when she was taken. Trombley can only visit Naomi under the supervision of Ernest and Valerie Drake, Naomi's current guardians.
The Clayton hearing was delayed to 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 24.
Source: Adirondack Daily Enterprise
Calling Foster Children and Broken Families
December 18, 2010 permalink
Canada Court Watch wants to hear from foster children who have been blocked from seeing their parents. In another posting, CCW says a lawyer is contemplating suing the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers for allowing unlicensed workers to practice social work for Ontario's children's aid societies. Families members harmed by an unlicensed CAS worker are invited to join. Possibly families could be helped if a turf war develops over who can work in children's aid societies. But if the College gets full control over social work, skepticism is warranted. The social workers union will do little to protect families from abuse at the hands of its own members.
Kids robbed of their parents by the family court or CAS wanted
Canada Court Watch is looking to speak to children and young teens who have been victimized by the Children's Aid Society or the family courts and prevented from seeing one or both of their parents.
If you have been victimized or know of someone who has and who who would be willing to speak up about the experience on video or audio, then please contact Canada Court Watch at email@example.com. Canadians must see and hear about what the courts are doing to children.
Source: Canada Court Watch
Class Action Lawsuit against the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers
A lawyer has approached Canada Court Watch interested in seeking out those in Ontario who feel that their families have adversely affected as a result of CAS workers who are not registered with the Ontario College of Social Workers.
Under law, all CAS workers engaged in the practice of social work must be registered with the College. Most in Ontario are not. The Ontario College of Social Workers has the fiduciary duty to protect the public by ensuring that all CAS workers who engage in social work are registered.
Many, including a number of lawyers, feel that as a result of the College not fulfilling its fiduciary duty to the public that the time has come for the College to be taken to court by those who have been affected. It is time for the College to live up to its obligations to the public or to be shut down and put out of business.
If you feel that your family has suffered harm as a result of CAS workers who are not registered with the College, then please contact Canada Court Watch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Canada Court Watch
December 17, 2010 permalink
Saskatchewan has produced a mind-numbing report on its child welfare system, For the Good of our Children and Youth (pdf). Examination of the list of participants shows dozens of child welfare agencies, no representatives of parents. The report rambles on with an around-the-world look at welfare in France, Germany and Belgium, while avoiding the main resource for children, mom and dad. In our standard word search of this kind of report looking for for mother, father and love there was just one hit, a reference to mother:
As stated by the World Health Organization in its publication The Solid Facts, 2003, people further down the socio-economic ladder are twice as likely to suffer serious illness and premature deaths as those near the top, and a good start in life depends on supporting mothers and young children.
The real problems in Saskatchewan child welfare are shown by two charts reproduced here at the end of the enclosed article. The province is taking too many children, or stated another way, child welfare is kicking too many moms and dads out of their kids' lives.
A scribe who got an A in Obfuscatory Writing 101 wrote recommendation 12:
Develop and implement a strategy to attract and retain child protection workers to deliver the new vision for child welfare and preventive family support programs
That might solve the problem, if we could figure out what it means.
Saskatchewan child welfare system needs dramatic overhaul: Report
A new report is painting a grim picture of Saskatchewan’s child welfare system, saying it is deteriorating and cannot continue as it exists.
The report, titled For the Good of Our Children and Youth, finds that the average caseload of children living out of home jumped 77 percent between 2000 and 2009, growing by nine percent in each year since 2005.
It warns that the foster care system is in crisis, and the outcomes for children and families are not acceptable. There is a lack of confidence in the system and child welfare workers are stressed and frustrated.
There are twelve recommendations that range from implementing fundamental changes that will create an easily accessible family support stream, to giving First Nations and Metis leaders a greater role in the system.
"As a panel, we hope and pray these recommendations will mobilize all of us to work together to create the necessary changes in our child welfare system, for the good of our children, youth and their families," Panel Chair Bob Pringle said in a release. "This is not a time for blame, but a time to move forward toward a more positive future. Our panel has done its best to capture what we clearly heard and to offer a new direction."
The Wall government plans to release how it plans to respond to the report in the spring of 2011.
The twelve recommendations are as follows.
- Implement fundamental changes to the child welfare system: create an easily accessible preventive family support stream for all families who need it and a much smaller formal child welfare stream for families where the authority of the courts is required.
- Make safe, culturally appropriate care for all Aboriginal children and youth a priority through a planned and deliberate transition to First Nations and Métis control of child welfare and preventive family support services.
- Include concepts contained in the Child and Youth First Principles and the Touchstones of Hope for Indigenous Children, Youth, and Families in legislation, and use these principles to guide planning and decision-making for children and youth.
- Develop and implement a Saskatchewan Child and Youth Agenda that guarantees children and youth become a high priority in the province and that all children get a good start in life.
- Acknowledge at all levels of government that poverty-related conditions drive child neglect and other social problems. Make significant improvements to the income support, affordable housing, and disability service systems used by Saskatchewan families.
- Emphasize collaborative approaches to child welfare and preventive family support services within the Ministry of Social Services, across Ministries, and with community partners. First Nations and Métis governments and their agency leaders must be involved.
- Establish family violence, mental health, and substance abuse services, available without delay, for families receiving child welfare and preventive family support services.
- Ensure the court system works better for families: minimize the number of child welfare cases that go before the courts, move cases to resolution more quickly, and ensure that families, children and youth have accessible legal advice.
- Take special measures to ensure children and youth in foster care and other specialized resources are safe and well cared for.
- Improve the existing system in areas where there is an urgent need for change.
- Develop court-recognized custom adoption processes for First Nations and Métis children and youth.
- Develop and implement a strategy to attract and retain child protection workers to deliver the new vision for child welfare and preventive family support programs.
Source: Global Lethbridge
December 16, 2010 permalink
Think those toys you drop in the Christmas donation box go to kids? Think again. In Middletown Pennsylvania a costumed Santa returning from a toy drive offered a few of them to young kids. They ran to police and had him arrested. Expand for the text story, here is the video (flv).
UPDATE: 'Suspicious' Santa misguided, but well-intentioned
Two Dauphin County boys ran to their parents after a Santa Claus look-a-like offered them toys out of a van. It sounds like a case of stranger danger, but police say it was all a big misunderstanding.
A CBS 21 News viewer recognized the description of the man after the story aired Tuesday night and called him. Then, the man turned himself in. The situation initially seemed shady and his description made police think he was taking advantage of Santa.
Sunday on Columbia Street in Middletown, two boys were approached by a white van. A man opened a door and asked their age, then offered them gifts. The kids do the right thing and get police.
"The description given is an old man, white with white beard, jeans and a baseball cap. He may look like Santa Claus and may be using that to get kids in the van," said Det. Dave Sweitzer, of the Middletown Police, in an initial reaction.
It turns out the man is part of a church group. On that day, he had leftover toys and was handing them out to underprivileged kids.
"He looks at it now and says, 'I made a bad choice.' He was extremely sorry. He wanted to press that upon us and the people alerted," said Sweitzer.
Police are not releasing the man's name and no charges will be filed. In the future, he said he will notify police and come up with a better way to give away presents.
Police do want to let kids know that although this situation turned out to be innocent, in situations like this, kids should get away and call police.
Police in Dauphin County are warning parents about a suspicious vehicle that was spotted approaching children.
Middletown Borough Police say on Sunday, a white full size van drove up to 2 boys playing outside on Columbia Street.
Officers tell us that the driver was an older man who asked the boys how old they were, and offered to give them a present.
The boys walked away and weren't hurt.
They told police they thought a child was in the back seat.
Source: WHP-TV Harrisburg
Support for Ombudsman Oversight
December 15, 2010 permalink
Neil Haskett The growing list of MPP's who've confirmed with us they are supporting Bill 131.
|Horwath, Andrea||Hamilton Centre||NDP||11/15/2010|
|Bisson, Gilles||Timmins-James Bay||NDP||11/15/2010|
|DiNovo, Cheri||Parkdale-High Park||NDP||11/15/2010|
|Gélinas, France||Nickel Belt||NDP||11/15/2010|
|Hampton, Howard||Kenora-Rainy River||NDP||11/15/2010|
|Miller, Paul||Hamilton East-Stoney Creek||NDP||11/15/2010|
|Prue, Michael||Beaches-East York||NDP||11/15/2010|
|Miller, Norm||Parry Sound-Muskoka||PC||12/03/2010|
|Murdoch, Bill||Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound||PC||12/15/2010|
please support them in the October 2011 election
Facebook, Neil Haskett
entire post from Neil
Cute Girl For Sale
December 15, 2010 permalink
Ellie-Jay Thomas was born in Dublin Ireland on September 30, 2008. Irish social services were satisfied with the care given by her mother, but on November 19, 2009 while returning from a visit to England the baby was seized by authorities in Wales. Through the British courts the girl has been separated from her natural family and is headed for long-term foster care or adoption.
This case has not been in the press. Unlike most of the press accounts, this is a typical case. The grandmother's story is at Born in DUBLIN, raised in WEXFORD, STOLEN by the UK! It links to two YouTube videos. An earlier Facebook page was deleted, the family suspects at the request of social services, the current Facebook page is: FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS A JOKE!! Persons outraged by this case can sign the web petition. ELLIE-JAY IS AN IRISH NATIONAL.
Child Abuse Acknowledged
December 15, 2010 permalink
Official acknowledgment of atrocities against children has to wait for a generation. Germany is just now owning up to maltreatment of teenagers in the 1950's and 60's. Conscience money doled out to victims over 60 cannot repair the damage of a life lost to childhood abuse. The story below from Britain's Independent ends with brief mention of other countries. In Canada the prime minister has apologized for past seizure of native children, while even more numerous seizures are going on today, not restricted to natives. We will have to wait another generation to get another empty apology and trifling compensation.
Germany admits enslaving and abusing a generation of children
Government agrees up to €120m in compensation for three decades of post-war 'Nazi-era' brutality in foster homes
Germany has owned up to one of the most disturbing examples of mass child and youth abuse in its post-war history, some 60 years after the first teenagers started being locked away and mistreated by supposedly "caring" foster homes.
The country agreed yesterday to provide a €120m (£101m) compensation fund for the estimated 30,000 victims who were among the 800,000 children in German foster homes in the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies.
Institutions that for decades meted out inhuman treatment – including ritual beatings, periods of solitary confinement, forced labour and sexual assaults – were not youth remand centres or borstals as might be expected, but homes run by nuns and priests in former West Germany's Catholic and Protestant churches, as well as state-run homes.
Antje Vollmer, a Green Party politician and former German parliamentary president, announced the establishment of the fund yesterday after two years of round-table discussions with victims, politicians and church leaders in an attempt to provide some form of retrospective justice for those who were abused.
Ms Vollmer said that by setting up the fund, Germany was finally "recognising the suffering of the victims", which had been perpetrated by a nation which – at the time – had an "immature justice system" and was still trying to shake off attitudes inherited from a totalitarian Nazi regime.
Der Spiegel magazine, which broke the story of widespread abuse in German foster homes in 2003, concluded that the mistreatment was systematic: "Between 1945 and 1970, the worst educational practices of the Nazi era continued virtually unabated in these barrack like foster homes."
Those Nazi-era practices included beatings for petty offences like using too much soap or "nose picking" and incarceration in solitary confinement cells for "daring to hum" pop songs.
One victim, who refused to be named, recalled in a radio interview this week that a standard foster home punishment for talking at night was being made to stand naked in an unheated corridor until a freshly lit new candle had burned itself out. "It meant standing naked all night," he said.
Forced unpaid labour included ditch digging, turf cutting and being sub-contracted out to construction firms to hump bricks. For adolescent girls, the favourite form of unpaid labour was carried out in laundries, where they had to work for hours washing by hand and ironing.
Eleonore Fleth, now in her sixties, was sent to a church-run foster home as a teenager. Interviewed yesterday, she said she had been so traumatised by the experience that she had mentally blanked out much of her home experience. "I only know from my home records that I was contracted out and used as a part-time labourer for a building firm," she said.
"I still suffer bad attacks of claustrophobia from being locked up in solitary confinement. The worst thing was being so powerless."
In thousands of cases, teenagers were dispatched for long periods of incarceration in foster homes for committing offences that nowadays would be passed off simply as part of growing up. One woman victim, now in her mid-sixties, was shut away in a Catholic -run home at the age of 15.
Her crime was that she spent the night with her boyfriend and had failed to return home. Her mother convinced the local youth authorities and the courts that she was a danger to herself and society.
Shame and fear of further discrimination meant that the former inmates of Germany's foster homes of the Fifties and Sixties remained silent about the abuse they suffered for decades. When they approached their former homes, they were stonewalled and told to go away.
However, a handful were encouraged to come forward and tell their stories in 2002 after the release of British director Peter Mullan's acclaimed film The Magdelene Sisters, which exposed the plight of supposedly "fallen" girls held in Catholic-run foster homes in Ireland in the 1960s.
Peter Wensiersky, a journalist writing for Der Spiegel, started publishing their stories of abuse in 2003. "I didn't realise it at the time, but it was just the tip of an iceberg," he said.
Thousands more came forward and forced the German government to take notice. Yesterday's compensation deal follows profuse apologies from Germany's Catholic and Protestant churches for their role in the running of foster homes in the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies. Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, the head of the German Catholic church, said he bitterly regretted the injustice. "With all my heart I beg those affected for forgiveness for these sad events," he said.
However, the sense of injustice felt by foster home victims remained intense more than half a century later. Yesterday one of the main foster home victims' groups, the Association of Former Home Children, condemned the fund as being utterly inadequate. The association's chairman, Monika Tschapek-Günter, herself a victim, described its provisions under which victims would obtain around €2,500 each, as a "humiliation". She said her group would challenge the fund's provisions in the courts.
Gisela Nurthen: 'We were juvenile slave labourers'
Gisela remembers being locked up in solitary confinement at the age of 15 for having the audacity to hum an Elvis Presley song. For two years she worked for 10 hours a day folding sheets and ironing. There was no pay.
"We were juvenile slave labourers," Mrs Nurthen, now in her mid-60s, said. "We were given numbers and only allowed to move about in pairs, to church, to the lavatory and to meals," she said.
Mrs Nurthen spent two years in a Catholic Church-run foster home in Dortmund during the 1960s. "The people who ran these homes, the religious orders, Germany's juvenile justice authorities and the churches – they all owe us an explanation," she said.
She was sent to the home run by the Charitable Sisters of the order of St Vincent de Paul. Her crime was that she had failed to return home after a night out dancing with her boyfriend.
She was picked up by the police the following morning trying to hitch hike back to her single parent mother. Her mother informed the local authorities and 24 hours later a juvenile court dispatched her to the home after ruling that she was "in danger of committing further acts of depravity".
She remembers being taken into a room by a nun and ordered to put on one of the institution's grey uniform dresses. The slightest transgressions brought beatings and other punishments from the nuns. "We were watched over every minute of the day. When we undressed for the night the nuns stared at our private parts and checked that they were 'washed clean'," she said.
Seven years ago, Mrs Nurthen and some 30 other former home inmates tried to obtain church documents relating to their time spent in the institutions, in order to expose the scandal and obtain some form of financial compensation.
She was told by the civil authorities that all documents relating to her case had been lost or destroyed. She contacted the Paderborn headquarters of the Charitable Sisters order that ran the home where she was held. She was told: "We have no documents. Our old sisters who were in the homes want to be left in peace. We don't want to get them involved in discussions of this nature."
Publication of Gisela Nurthen's story led the German parliament to set up a review which yesterday agreed to give compensation for foster-home victims.
Abuses of trust
Magdalene laundries, Ireland
Rights groups continue to fight for women who stayed at workhouses for "fallen women" dubbed "Magdalene laundries" that operated for more than 100 years until 1996. Nuns who ran them were accused of systematic abuse.
Boston diocese sex abuse scandal
The conviction of Catholic priests in Boston for child abuse triggered a crisis in the Catholic Church in the US and led to a series of payouts to their victims.
North Wales care homes
Some 200 youngsters were abused in children's homes in the 1970s and 1980s in North Wales. The Waterhouse Report, ordered in 1996 by William Hague to look into the scandal, spoke of systematic abuse and a culture of secrecy and violence at homes in Clwyd and Gwynedd. The abuse came to light when the head of one of the homes came forward with her concerns.
Source: Independent (UK)
December 15, 2010 permalink
Ontario finance minister Dwight Duncan says the province will be cutting back in many areas including children's aid.
Ont. to cut agencies, perks for public servants
Taxpayer-paid perks 'drive me crazy:' finance minister
Ontario's Liberal government plans to get rid of at least 12 of its 259 agencies and eliminate perks like golf club and gym memberships for public servants, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said Tuesday in Toronto.
The number of government agencies will be reduced by five per cent as part of the government's cost-cutting plans to trim the near $19-billion deficit, Duncan announced in a speech to the Canadian Club.
"In these difficult times, we need to look under every stone to cut back on agencies with overlapping functions or agencies whose function could either cease to exist or simply be performed more efficiently by other means," he said.
"We are looking in our own backyard, and we are also working with our partners to manage even better, together, in lean times."
The government has already identified more than a dozen children's aid societies that will be consolidated into half that number, and other CAS agencies have asked to be added to the list, said Duncan.
"Change can be difficult, but these changes are essential," he said.
However, the Opposition said there are much bigger agencies that should be eliminated, such as the Ontario Power Authority and Local Health Integration Networks set up by the Liberals across Ontario.
"Honest to God, you could take any three letters of the alphabet, put them in any order that you want to, and you'll get some Ontario government agency, board or commission that you've never heard of but you're paying tens of millions of dollars a year to sustain," said Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.
"We need to do a sunset review process on all agencies, boards, commissions and government programs to justify their ongoing value, and if they can't, you close them down."
'No money for executive luxuries'
Duncan also announced a ban on golf club and gym memberships, season tickets to sporting events, and lump sum payments for travel without receipts, throughout the broader public service.
"This government wouldn't put up with the box at the Air Canada Centre, and we won't put up with unacceptable perks paid for with hard-earned taxpayer and ratepayer dollars," he said.
Auditor's reports pointing out frills and perks paid for with tax dollars "drive me crazy," admitted the finance minister.
"We don't want to be spending time dealing with ACC boxes, nanny fees and dry cleaning," said Duncan.
"There is no money for executive luxuries."
The rule restricting perks will affect hospitals, universities and all Ontario government agencies, as well as the direct civil service.
"It's important to say that, in my view, the vast majority of public sector workers are very responsible and prudent," said Duncan.
"And they don't take or receive these perks. Now is the time to be extra clear about unacceptable perks, and to specify taxpayer expectations in law."
There was no word on how much trimming the number of agencies and cancelling the perks will save the cash-strapped government, which has also imposed a two-year wage freeze on the public sector.
The province is also cancelling two different awards programs set up in Premier Dalton McGuinty's name, which Duncan said will save about $2.5 million a year.
"Yes, these awards were created by our government, and while innovation is still a priority, these awards are not," he said.
December 13, 2010 permalink
The first report on the Cambridge rally is:
Catherine Frei It was at least -20 with the wind but we stood out there for 2hrs. There were 7 of us and 1 down the road at the MPP's office. We got lots of horns on their way by and a few that stopped to talk. 570 News will be airing the story 1/2 hour for 24hrs, but the first airing has not taken place yet as they can't reach the CAS... imagine that! I can't wait to hear it though. Thanks to those who came :)
Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
Expand for pictures.
Through the miracle of computer image processing one was transformed from a gloomy day to a bright sunny day. Not much we can do for the other.
Source: Facebook, Catherine Frei
December 13, 2010 permalink
Hamilton CAS can no longer afford to send social workers in pairs, so they are outfitting them with communicators to beam them up in case a bullied family member decides to act insubmissively. Not being considered — using a level of common courtesy that avoids provoking the urge to kill.
CAS to issue high-tech safety gadgets
The Hamilton Children’s Aid Society is introducing hand-held devices equipped with panic buttons and GPS locators, connected to a 24-hour monitoring centre, to strengthen security for child-protection workers confronting danger.
“Our staff sometimes are in volatile situations and we worry about their safety,” said Dominic Verticchio, executive director of the first children’s aid in Ontario to take advantage of high-tech tracking technology for lone workers in potentially dangerous, emotionally explosive circumstances.
“They may go out in the middle of the night,” Verticchio said. “You never know what you’re going to find out there.”
The CAS has issued a request for proposals from companies to supply a lone-worker safety monitoring and emergency response system to lower the risks of harm for its approximately 185 front-line child protection workers.
“This technology will not only raise an alarm, meaning someone will be notified, but there’s also the GPS, so we know exactly where they are,” Verticchio said.
“There are not a lot of incidents, but we’ve had some staff assaulted in a client’s own home, we’re dealing with high emotions, and a lot of times with mental health issues. We’re just being proactive, now that the technology is available.”
Kathy Johnson, social services coordinator for the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents CAS workers, said the move is “a pretty significant step.”
“We hope it will be something that is looked at for CASes across the province,” she said.
Although only a small percentage of visits presents problems, workers can find themselves in the same personally threatening circumstances faced by police.
“If a worker goes out to a family they have never met before, there may be anger management issues, substance abuse, the child is at risk and the family is really not happy about CAS showing up on their doorstep.”
Johnson, a former CAS worker, said she’s had “knives flashed at me, then had to leave, call the police, and get back in.”
“The problem is, what if you’re already in the house and the door is locked behind you? How do you get out then? If this is going to be implemented 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it’s going to be important for workers and for families.”
CUPE says chronic underfunding has made it impossible for societies to send workers out in teams, although police can be called to accompany workers going into situations known to be potentially dangerous.
“Technology should never replace appropriate staffing,” Johnson said. “But this is a good tool for workers who may walk into situations that could jeopardize safety.”
Source: Hamilton Spectator
December 13, 2010 permalink
British MP John Hemming raised an issue in parliament mentioned several times before on fixcas — jailing people while keeping their names secret. This is never done with the likes of Charles Manson, since jailers have pride for keeping this monster off the streets. Secrecy hides the jailers' shame for incarcerating an innocent person. Before getting to that issue, Mr Hemming mentions some constituents who have been threatened for speaking to their elected representative, Mr Hemming himself.
Taken before the Backbench Business Committee on Monday 29 November 2010
Members present: Natascha Engel (Chair), Jane Ellison, John Hemming, Philip Hollobone, Ian Mearns
[ discussion of other topics skipped ]
John Hemming: I am looking for two different substantive motions to address two important issues. We don’t have time before Christmas, so this is obviously an issue for us to consider for after Christmas. Because I am a member of the Committee and cannot participate in the discussions, now is a good opportunity for me to present evidence and talk about the issues. At a later stage, the Committee can consider the matter without me being present. Obviously, if you need me for the quorum, this proposal cannot be put forward.
I am sure that colleagues are aware of the problem of bullied constituents, and I have two particular cases-that of Andrew France who has been threatened by Birmingham City Council and was told that his daughter will be taken into care if he continued to talk to me; and that of Noreen Akhtar, who has also been very badly treated by Birmingham City Council. The City Council threatened one of my constituents and her sister that if they continued talking to me about her case, which is in the Court of Protection, they would be jailed themselves. Both cases are dreadful. I’ve circulated information to many hon. Members about this, and a number have come back to me, expressing concern because they, too, have encountered situations in which constituents have been threatened in an attempt to stop them talking to their MP. Jim Dobbin also had this with a family court case. Another colleague told me today about a family court case in which the local authority said, "You can’t talk to your MP." Richard Bacon had this with a different sort of case. They are working quite closely with me on these issues.
I would like to put forward a substantive motion to refer both the France and Akhtar cases to the Standards and Privileges Committee. A discussion on this issue has been going on for some time. What I’m talking about would take only 15 minutes, so a large amount of time is not required. I’m now doing a petition in support of this around the House and so far I have about 40 responses in support, without trying particularly hard. I’m working towards getting majority support from the House to achieve this.
That’s the first matter. Would you like me to tell you what the second one is before I-
Q11 Chair: Yes.
John Hemming: I’ll explain the second one. Noreen Akhtar is a good example. This is a lady who has mild learning disabilities, and when I looked at the court paperwork, it was clear that the Mental Capacity Act 2005 hadn’t been followed. These are all historic decisions. There is an element of there being future decisions on this case, but the historic-
Q12 Chair: John, as you know as a member of the Committee, what we’re really interested in is a pitch for what it is that you’re after, because we have the motion here.
John Hemming: What I’m after is setting up a committee to investigate secret prisoners, because there are a lot of secret prisoners in this country, in various categories. You get those who are jailed for criminal offences but whose names are not allowed to be revealed, such as Martin McCabe, who has now been released. You get those such as Yvonne Goder who are jailed for contempt of court in the Court of Protection. You get people, such as Noreen Akhtar and Matthew Hawkesworth, whose liberty is removed for care reasons. These processes are not properly held to account and it is Parliament’s job to do that. If we establish a parliamentary committee-a committee of investigation-to look at these issues, we can hold the system to account properly.
Q13 Chair: So the representation that you’re making to the Committee now is for a short debate?
John Hemming: A motion and a short debate on secret prisoners, to establish a committee of inquiry for us to look at secret prisoners, in the various categories.
Q14 Chair: Which other Members are supporting you?
John Hemming: On that issue, I would have to do a bit more work. I thought that now was a good opportunity to mention this matter-even though, obviously, we can’t do anything until the new year-simply because there aren’t any other people at the Committee. I think the issue of people being jailed in secret and the banning of the reporting in the media of what’s going on and why they’re in prison-why their liberty has gone-is one that Parliament should look at. I am well aware of other hon. Members who are concerned about these issues. I intend to circulate information and find out who else would wish to sit on such a committee.
Q15 Jane Ellison: As you know, one of the questions we ask people is whether they have sought another route. Would the issue of secret prisoners not be appropriate, potentially, for a select committee inquiry?
John Hemming: The difficulty with a select committee inquiry is that if the Ministry of Justice wanted, say, to look at the Official Solicitor’s office, it can’t look at individual cases, and the Official Solicitor refuses to respond to correspondence from me on individual cases. His argument is that he’s not accountable to Parliament. So it needs the collective authority of a committee to get answers from the Official Solicitor.
Q16 Chair: Have you put in for an Adjournment debate on this?
John Hemming: That wouldn’t achieve anything, because it’s just a debate and we need a committee of inquiry with the ability to send for papers.
Q17 Jane Ellison: But you are the master when it comes to procedure. I’m surprised that you think that we could have a debate and pass a motion setting up a new committee. I’m obviously a new Member and I don’t know, but I would have thought that you needed to do that through other channels.
John Hemming: No, it is done through a substantive motion. I’ve drafted the form of words. It’s based on the form of words used for the committee of inquiry into the arrest of Damian Green.
Chair: Is there anybody else who wants to ask a question? No? Thank you very much.
John Hemming: I presume that goes into the pending box until I’m not here.
Chair: That concludes the representation session.
Source: British Parliament
A Swindle a Day Keeps the Worker Away
December 13, 2010 permalink
A New York family has found the way to keep child protectors away. When a father killed himself leaving his two-year-old son alone in the next room, police did not hand the boy over to New York ACS, but instead let his grandfather take him. His mother is returning to New York and will likely take custody of her son as soon as she gets home. The child protectors for once did the right thing and left a child with his family.
What makes this family so special? The boy's other grandfather is Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff. Bernie's son Mark Madoff hanged himself on December 10. The boy is Nicholas Morgan, name changed from Madoff to escape infamy. It would be nice if the rest of us got the same courtesy as the family of an $18 billion swindler.
There is no single news source on this story, Richard Wexler put the pieces together.
Saskatchewan Welfare is Out of Control
December 13, 2010 permalink
Tim Korol was hired by the Saskatchewan ministry of Social Services to fix the provincial welfare system, especially child protection. After a year of seeing everything from the inside, he was forced out. In an interview with the CBC he details the problems. The emphasis is on apprehending children, then warehousing them in risky environments. The out-of-control bureaucracy ignores directives from the ministry without consequences.
Social Services Ministry 'out of control', ex-official claims
A former assistant deputy minister in Saskatchewan's ministry of Social Services is lashing out against his former employer, claiming the department is dysfunctional and children are routinely placed in risky environments.
"I can tell you, from a person who had access to every document [and attended] every meeting .... that it is a ministry out of control," Tim Korol told CBC News Thursday.
Korol was a top official in the ministry for just under 12 months before he left in June of 2009. He was originally hired, he said, to provide advice on how to improve the province's child welfare system, especially family interventions and placing children in foster homes.
"The bureaucracy did not appreciate a person from the outside coming in to make change and to force change," Korol said of his relatively brief tenure in the ministry. "The bureaucracy eventually got their way and had me terminated."
Korol is a former Saskatoon police officer where he worked for 16 years. He also worked for the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission for ten years.
Today, Korol says he wants to create an advocacy group to push for changes in the ministry. He said he has not yet decided on a name for the organization, which he said would be made up of people with a keen interest in child welfare.
"The organization is going to use good investigation, documentation, good child psychology, good child welfare, and then ultimately the courts, the power of the courts to force change in our system," Korol said.
He said it may be possible for some child placement issues to be taken to the courts, for judicial review.
Korol claims that when examples arose of civil servants not following proper policy on child welfare cases, the ministry did not follow up.
"What has happened to these people who are breaking policy? Nothing," Korol said. "I can tell you nothing happens to them."
Korol pointed out that Saskatchewan's auditor and the province's Children's Advocate have both produced reports that were highly critical of the Social Services Ministry, but little has changed.
"The emphasis is on apprehension," Korol said of the mind-set of social workers. "And then warehousing the children. It's absolutely wrong. It's out of control."
Not motivated by revenge
Korol, who now lives a rancher's life outside of Saskatoon, said his goal is not to seek revenge for his treatment at the ministry.
He said he has a "moral responsibility" to speak out about the problems he has seen, and try to fix them.
June Draude, the minister responsible for Social Services, told CBC News Thursday that a province-wide review of the child welfare system will be released before Christmas.
Good News, Maybe
December 13, 2010 permalink
London-Middlesex CAS has averted a crisis by agreeing to reduce its foster population by a quarter, from 886 to 666. That's good news for 220 kids. But the reduction is to take place over four years. Next year there will be a provincial election, and London CAS may get a second chance to keep its numbers high with a new minister.
CAS fiscal crisis eases
Funding: The province will cover the $4.2 million deficit, but number of kids in care must be cut by 25%
The cash-strapped local children’s aid society will reduce the number of kids in care by 25% in order to keep its doors open.
A deal reached with Queen’s Park ends the threat that funds would dry up early next year at the Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex, which otherwise faces a $4.2 million deficit.
It was that sort of fiscal crisis that led the Ontario government to sack a neighbouring CAS in Huron and Perth counties.
“Will the doors to children’s aid in our community remain open? The answer is they absolutely will,” said Jane Fitzgerald, the London-based agency’s executive director.
Although the province has agreed in principle to cover the agency’s costs, it did so with big strings attached.
The local CAS must reduce the number of children in its care during the next four years by about 220 from its current caseload of 886.
It was just such a cut that led the provincial NDP to accuse Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals of gutting children’s aid and placing kids at risk.
But Fitzgerald insists cuts will be achieved in ways that enhances rather than hurts the welfare of children.
“The motivation is to get better outcomes for kids. That’s what it’s all about,” she said.
In an interview with The Free Press, Fitzgerald and her point person on children’s service, Larry Marshall, laid out a four-year-plan they’ll unveil this week to the community.
To reduce the number of kids in its care, the agency has three strategies but only the first doesn’t require significant changes.
Among the children in the agency’s care there is a bubble of older children who in the next four years will turn 21 and no longer be under the care of CAS.
That bubble alone will enable the agency to reduce the number of kids in care by between 10 and 15%, Marshall estimates, enough to achieve roughly half of the target reduction.
It’s the other half of the reduction, somewhere between 80 and 125 kids, that will prove challenging.
The agency will tackle it on two fronts:
The agency will try to take fewer kids into its care by keeping more of them with their families.
Once kids are in the agency’s care it will try to find permanent homes for them more quickly, with extended family or adoptive parents.
Though the agency will try to keep more kids with their families, Fitzgerald said none will be placed in harm’s way. Kids who have been abused will be removed from the home but the agency will do more to help families that can’t provide basics such as shelter, placing such a family in a motel and trying to find them accommodation, she said.
That effort to keep kids with family will get provincial funding but Fitzgerald isn’t sure how much.
The agency has already taken steps to seek adoptive parents by seeking judicial orders that cut off access to kids by their biological family — generally a prerequisite to adoption.
Five years ago only 10% of kids under the agency’s care were cut off from their biological family.
But now 70% of all new kids taken into agency care are cut off from biological family.
The kids aren’t cut off right away but legislation requires the agency to make a decision within one year for kids under age five and within two years for older kids.
Though cutting off biological family from a child may seem harsh, research shows that it’s generally best for the child to have a permanent family he or she can rely upon, Fitzgerald said.
The cash crunch for children’s aid has been province-wide and its trigger was from 1998 to 2004, when the cost of children’s aid in Ontario nearly doubled, growing more than three times as fast as the provincial government as a whole, she said.
Since 2004 the pace of growth has slowed to that of government overall — about 5% a year.
The new approach in London will slow growth further but it’s too soon to say how much when the number of children in need will be affected by issues outside the agency’s control such as poverty, she said.
Source: London Free Press
December 12, 2010 permalink
Tomorrow's rally in Cambridge will be covered by the press. Both 570 NEWS and CTV have plans to attend. That makes it doubly important to get a good crowd. If you are anywhere near Cambridge do you best to show up with warm clothing and signs, or props such as a doll or an empty baby carriage.
Stood Up Again and Again and ...
December 12, 2010 permalink
The family stood up in Christopher Booker's report has been victimized six times in two weeks.
Social workers' cruel game with children in care continues
Why can a mother not be told her children are unavailable before she makes an epic journey to see them, asks Christopher Booker.
Last week I reported on the cruel cat-and-mouse game a north London council is playing with the parents of five children who, against court orders, have been kept in foster care miles from their home. Several times a week, at a cost of more than £40, including taxis, the mother, carrying her five-month-old baby, travels to an agreed contact with her unhappy children, only to be told on arrival that they are not available. In the past fortnight this has happened six times.
Why cannot the mother be told this before she leaves home? Last week, the fostering agency Capstone Vision claimed that the fault for this outrageous behaviour lies with the council social workers, who seem determined to punish the mother for the fact that all their original excuses for seizing the children have been exposed as malicious fictions.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
December 12, 2010 permalink
John Dunn found a copy of a CBC radio broadcast December 10 in which Thunder Bay lawyer Francis Thatcher of Bird and Thatcher was interviewed on children's aid. Mr Thatcher thinks CAS should not be reformed, but abolished. He is conducting a legal action that he hopes will lead to a public inquiry into CAS.
December 11, 2010 permalink
Tara Ammons Cohen was born in Mexico and adopted by an American couple at the age of five months. As an adult she was cought with a stolen purse and bullied into pleading to a trafficking charge for drugs that were never sold. At the age of 38 she is being deported to Mexico. She speaks no Spanish and will be unable to function in Mexico.
Fed. judge orders adopted woman deported
TACOMA, Wash. – A federal immigration judge has ordered a 38-year-old woman adopted by an American couple from Mexico when she was 5 months old to be deported back to her native country.
Tara Ammons Cohen, who has been in the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma since July 8, 2009, has been fighting to stay in America ever since. She fears being deported to Mexico where she hasn't lived since she was an infant, doesn't speak the language and knows no one would place her in danger.
"Basically, the judge found her not eligible for withholding of removal (deportation) and found it more likely than not she wouldn't be persecuted" in Mexico, her attorney, Manuel Rios of Seattle, said Thursday.
Immigration laws do not recognize adoption as a special circumstance in deportations.
Judge Tammy Fitting's ruling essentially denied every aspect of Cohen's appeal except to agree that a drug conviction that led to her deportation problem was not a serious crime requiring her automatic removal.
Cohen's predicament was the subject of a News Tribune story in March that detailed her odyssey from adoption as a baby in a Mexico orphanage to her troubles with the law in 2008 that led to her detention in Tacoma by immigration officials.
The ruling this week stunned Cohen and Rios. After an October hearing, both had hoped she might be home with her husband and two young children in Omak for the holidays.
"I'm devastated," Cohen said Thursday in a telephone interview from the detention center. "My husband (Jay) is appalled by the system and angry the system says his wife is not going to be in danger if she goes back to Mexico.
"I know nothing about Mexico."
Cohen said that despite the immigration laws, she feels she is as American as anyone else is this country because she was brought here by her American parents and raised as an American.
Her parents didn't get her naturalized, nor did she when she had the chance. By the time she tried to get citizenship as the spouse of an American, she was already in trouble with the law.
Cohen was arrested in 2008 on theft and drug-trafficking charges. She pleaded guilty to stealing a purse containing two bottles of prescription pills and to the trafficking charge, though she never sold a pill.
She served three months of a one-year-and-a-day sentence in prison and federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents took her into custody when she got out.
Because she was not considered a citizen or a legal resident, her drug charge made her an automatic candidate to be deported.
Cohen said she knows her immigration troubles are mostly of her own making but doesn't feel it is fair for her or other child adoptees. "I can't go back to Mexico," she said.
She said she plans to appeal the deportation decision again to the federal Bureau of Immigration Appeals. An earlier first appeal led to a hearing before Fitting.
The Mexican Consulate in Seattle thought enough of Cohen's case to ask Rios to be her attorney. The small fee he received came from the Mexican government through a program for Mexican nationals in the United States who need legal help.
Fitting initially ordered Cohen deported in October 2009. She appealed and the immigration appeals panel sent the case back to Fittings to review the seriousness of the drug charge.
At a hearing in October 2010, Fitting agreed the drug charge did not appear to be a "particularly serious" charge that would require her automatic deportation.
That verbal ruling and what Cohen and Rios felt was Fittings general sympathetic comments about the case gave them hope.
To stop the removal, however, Rios also argued that his client needed asylum because she would face persecution in Mexico.
Rios contended Cohen's particular circumstances white, a woman, poor would make her like an immigrant and subject to abuse and violence. She also suffers from a bipolar disorder and has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder stemming from an assault when she was a teenager.
"Six out of 10 migrant women and girls experience sexual violence in Mexico and all such women face this serious risk of trafficking," Rios said in his legal brief. "... Kidnapping of migrants for ransom reached almost 10,000 in 2009. ...
"Additionally, there is documentary evidence that (Cohen) would be persecuted in Mexico on account of her mental illness."
Besides violence, Rios said Cohen's circumstances would make it impossible for her to make a living and support herself in what would be essentially a foreign country.
Cohen also told the judge her husband and children wouldn't be able to be with her in Mexico. They, too, fear a life there, she said.
In her lengthy ruling, Fitting examined each of Cohen's fears and ruled she had not established that it is "more likely than not that she would be persecuted because of her circumstances."
Fitting noted the Mexican government has criminal laws and rules about women's rights and pay in the workplace as well as medical treatment for its citizens.
Though Cohen hasn't been in Mexico since she was a baby, Fitting noted that there was no evidence showing Cohen was persecuted by the Mexican government in the past.
"Not every act of discrimination or harassment rises to the level of persecution," the judge said.
Source: The Olympian
We Hire Anybody
December 11, 2010 permalink
While social services boast of carefully vetting foster parents for suitability and giving them specialized training. the reality is that fosters are hired with no vetting and no training. Saskatchewan foster parents Carol and Mathew Bird are examples. They are conscientious only through accident.
Saskatchewan couple asked to take foster kids with little warning, no records check
They could have been anybody. Carol and Mathew Bird unexpectedly became foster parents last spring, without a criminal record check or a social worker inspecting their home to determine if it was safe, or appropriate, for the three children they were asked to care for on short notice.
"We were clueless, we didn't have any idea what we were doing. We just pretended it was like a long-term babysitting job," said Carol.
"We thought, 'Oh, they must just trust us because we run the Lighthouse (youth centre) and have a good reputation in the community.
"Then we thought about it and said, 'Wait a minute. We could have been anybody.' "
A few months after the Birds applied to the province to adopt a child, they received a phone call from a social worker asking them to care for three foster children on an emergency basis. Within hours, the siblings, all under the age of 10, arrived at their door.
The Birds and their own four children were living in and renovating a 10,000-square-foot youth facility outside Rosetown and had a lot of space, though no extra bedrooms. The foster children were sleeping on mattresses on the floor in "attic-like" storage spaces and some of the rooms did not have windows or proper fire exits.
The home later passed inspection by Social Services and the couple was told because their home was an emergency placement, regulations were more flexible.
A week after the children were placed the Birds were asked to get criminal record checks. Mathew completed his quickly, but Carol's took weeks because she was at home caring for seven children.
Andrea Brittin, executive director for service delivery for child and family services, said when children are placed in emergency situations by the government, there is a home safety assessment, and anyone over 18 in the home must sign a temporary criminal record declaration, declaring they have no record, before an actual criminal record check is done.
Brittin could not say whether those procedures were followed in the Birds' case.
No training was given and there was no further instruction to the Birds, only to supervise the children at all times, with specific attention paid to one of the children, who had spoken up about a sexual abuse.
This child was not allowed to be left alone with any other children at any time. The Birds were never asked to take the children to a sexual assault centre, a counsellor or a doctor's office for investigation.
Throughout the children's stay, the Birds became acquainted with the children's mother. Six of her 10 children had been taken away after the reported assault.
The mother of the children then did everything the ministry asked her to get them back, and the Birds believe the children should be returned home.
The Birds hope taking their story to the media may force Social Services to re-examine the case.
Source: The Regina Leader-Post
RONA helps CAS
December 10, 2010 permalink
Again this year RONA is helping CAS with its JJ Bear promotion. You can help children's aid by shopping at RONA. Or you can help children by shopping at Home Depot.
Teddy sales aid children
There's almost always someone on the Christmas list who loves teddy bears.
RONA stores in Mississauga and across the province are selling JJ Bear for $10, with all proceeds benefiting at-risk children and youth.
For the third year, RONA has partnered with the Children's Aid Foundation to sell the cuddly bear. Money raised helps support education programs for children, with funds directed back to the communities where they were donated.
JJ Bear is being sold until Dec. 31 (or until they sell out) at stores and online at www.cafdn.org.
RONA stores are also accepting donations on behalf of the non-profit group, which helps young people achieve their potential and access the job market.
"The JJ Bear campaign is more than raising funds for the Children's Aid Foundation and the children and youth we help," said Luc Rodier, RONA vice-president of operations, big-box stores, Ontario. "The bear represents comfort, support and security, which all children and youth should have in their lives."
December 10, 2010 permalink
Windsor grandparents are holding a vigil in support of pending bill 22, which gives grandparents a right of access to their grandchildren.
There is good and bad in this bill. It might help some families whose children have been seized by CAS claiming the parents are no good. Unless CAS asserts the grandparents are no good as well, the children will keep at least some connection with their family. The bad part is what happens when a child is living happily with mom and dad. The aphorism that too many cooks spoil the broth means trouble when a child's parentage expands from two to six. And beyond that, some grandparents have serious faults, best known to their own children. Without bill 22 a parent with a good-for-nothing dad can just say no to grandpa. With bill 22, a court challenge will bring the family dirty laundry into the courthouse to keep grandpa away from the kids.
Grandparents rally for child access rights
Sunday vigil to draw hundreds
Dr. Robert Drake and his wife, Susan, miss their granddaughter terribly.
The 16-year-old girl lived with them for three months earlier this year when neither of her divorced parents wanted her. The courts held a hearing which resulted in the girl being placed in a group home in Dundas, Ont. The Drakes were barred from the courtroom, because as grandparents, they had no legal standing.
"It's as if grandparents don't even exist," said Robert Drake of how the law treats child custody cases.
The Drakes plan to attend an event at City Hall Square Sunday to raise awareness of the lack of grandparents' rights. Called "Grandparents Missing Grandchildren," the candlelight vigil is expected to draw hundreds.
Organizer Darlene Hachey said she's been inundated with phone calls since circulating flyers about the event. "Grandparents have no rights whatsoever," she said of the heart-wrenching stories from grandparents who are being kept from the children they helped raise.
Hachey is the local force behind Bill 22, proposed legislation introduced by a Niagara Falls MP that would amend the Children's Law Reform Act. The bill enshrines the right of grandparents to have contact with their grandchildren in the case of divorce and other custody disputes.
Hachey has collected more than 10,000 signatures petitioning the government to support Bill 22, and is doing a circuit of town council meetings to get municipalities to write letters of support as well.
The candlelight vigil is more personal. There, people will have the opportunity to share their stories of heartache.
One couple who contacted Hachey said they've lost all contact with the grandbaby they helped raise. They took in the baby's mother after she gave birth. After seven months, the mom put the child up for adoption.
Another couple's son died unexpectedly. Without a will naming his parents as his choice of guardian for his children, the kids were shipped to another province to live with their mother, who refuses the grandparents access.
"Laws need to be changed," said Hachey. Often it's grandparents who call authorities in the case of abuse or drug addiction or alcoholism that threaten their grandchildren. If one of the parents cleans up their act and regains custody, they can be "vindictive," punishing the grandparents by denying access to the children, Hachey said. "Times have changed. Children need their grandparents more than ever."
Bill 22 passed unanimously through second reading. It's now being studied by the standing committee on social policy before, its backers hope, it gets third reading and is passed into law. Hachey said it's important to pressure the government to move quickly, since an election call would kill the proposed legislation.
The bill includes a clause that recognizes "the importance of maintaining emotional ties between the child and his or her grandparents," and says judges deciding custody cases must assess the "willingness" of a person applying for custody to facilitate contact between the child and his or her grandparents.
The Drakes have hired a lawyer to try to convince a judge to let their granddaughter live with them. But they've been warned the case may not be heard before she turns 18 and can decide for herself. the details
Event starts at 5 p.m. The candlelight vigil, sponsored by CAW Local 444, will be held Sunday at 350 City Hall Square from 5 to 7 p.m.
Candles will be provided and there will be free hot chocolate donated by the Tim Hortons on Park Street East.
Source: Windsor Star
House of Horrors
December 8, 2010 permalink
After enduring neglect and abuse in families with drug and alcohol problems, Scottish children were sent to a home where vulnerable teenagers had to take cold showers for more than a year due to problems with the heating system. Chapel House was blighted by violence, bullying and drug abuse and suffered from chronic failures in leadership and basic social care practice. The home was cold, dirty, vandalised and had pest infestations, and windows and furniture in some bedrooms were broken. Children told of ant infestations in the kitchen and filling baths with kettles because the heating often failed. Children’s possessions were kept in staff offices because of thefts.
Children’s home is worst in country
A children’s home where vulnerable teenagers had to take cold showers for more than a year due to problems with the heating system has been ranked the worst in Scotland.
Chapel House, a Paisley care home run by Renfrewshire Council, was blighted by violence, bullying and drug abuse and suffered from chronic failures in leadership and basic social care practice, reports said.
Most of its residents have behavioural problems after enduring neglect and abuse in families with drug and alcohol problems.
In a series of bleak reports issued in April 2009 and March and September this year, Care Commission inspectors said staff working night shifts were untrained in crisis intervention and not known to the teenagers.
The home was cold, dirty, vandalised and had pest infestations, and windows and furniture in some bedrooms were broken.
“It is of considerable concern that the child has slept in these conditions for a number of days,” Lynne Thow, the head inspector, said of one boy’s room.
In September, the home was ranked “unsatisfactory” in three categories and “weak” in a fourth. It had the worst rating of Scotland’s 211 children’s homes, according to league tables obtained under Freedom of Infor- mation legislation. Four other homes were weak or unsatisfactory in at least one area.
Renfrewshire Council’s director of social work, Peter MacLeod, said yesterday that Chapel House had “significantly improved” since then and insisted conditions had never been “dramatically different” from those in other homes. He said the council’s social services have been rated the best in Scotland.
Children told inspectors of ant infestations in the kitchen and filling baths with kettles because the heating often failed. Personal files were insecurely kept and children’s possessions were kept in staff offices because of thefts.
Inspectors said there were high levels of violent attacks on staff, as well as bullying, anxiety and drug abuse. They questioned whether the home was an appropriate place for some of the more disturbed children, whose recent arrival created a “volatile mix”.
One child said: “The house is cold. Staff say they’re doing something but nothing is done.”
Another told inspectors: “Night shift is terrible. There’s sometimes a stranger we don’t know outside our door and sometimes two strangers.”
Ms Thow wrote in September: “We found a physical environment that in many places was damaged, unkempt and lacking in a homely atmosphere.
“We saw evidence of graffiti internally and externally. The entrance to the house was dirty and the outdoor area damaged and unsafe.”
In 2008, Chapel House received good reports from inspectors and was praised by children. But the sudden departure of a manager, followed by the loss five other staff, led to low morale and fears about “the lack of direction and leadership in the service,” inspectors found.
The reports describe children barricading themselves in rooms and staff “constantly” locking doors behind them – a practice deemed inappropriate and “institutional”. “Staff acknowledged that they do not have the time they require to spend with individual young people and describe a constant stream of incidents to manage, including violent incidents, assaults on staff and missing persons,” Ms Thow said.
Renfrewshire’s principal officer for child care, Michelle McCargo, said the council had repeatedly tried to fix the ageing boiler which “struggles to cope with a group living situation”.
She said its failures had “unfortunately coincided” with inspection visits. Residents were responsible for graffiti and broken windows, she added, and the atmosphere had improved after an older “bully” left.
Ms McCargo said a new, more experienced team was now in place and consultants were providing child protection training.
A Care Commission spokesman said it had noted improvements and will consider regrading the home after future inspections.
Source: Herald Scotland
December 7, 2010 permalink
An attack by a Manitoba foster child has terrorized parents of school children in the town of Gladstone.
Parents afraid after child clobbered by classmate
A group of Manitoba parents say they're afraid to let their kids go to school after a boy was clobbered with a hockey stick by a fellow student last week and briefly hospitalized.
Richard Tower told CBC News he got a call Friday from a local hospital saying his son was admitted with with a head injury after an incident at Gladstone Elementary School in Gladstone, Man.
According to Tower, the boy had been hit in the head with a hockey stick and needed six stitches to close the wound.
The stick broke from the force of the blow, the father said.
"He was bleeding profusely from the head, dazed, in pain," Tower said.
"The force of the blow, to shatter one of these hockey sticks over a child's head and shoot blood all over the gym walls, was considerable."
Tower alleged this wasn't the first time the student accused of striking his son has attacked another child.
On Monday, Tower and seven other parents in the community of Gladstone, located about 130 kilometres west of Winnipeg, went to the school to address the matter with administrators.
"We all felt that if this child was going to be in school we weren't going to send our kids because we were scared for their safety," said parent Corey Fehr.
The foster parents of the boy who hit Tower's son, say the boy has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. And in an interview with CBC News, they said their son was provoked.
The superintendent of the Pine Creek School Division, Brian Gouriluk, would only say the incident was under review and refused any other comment.
Tower thinks the elementary school and the division will try to downplay the incident.
"I don't think there is any way that they can assure safety or that this incident won't happen again. I just hope it doesn't take something more serious in order for this school board to take action," he said.
December 6, 2010 permalink
Facebook users around the world are changing their profile pictures to their favorite cartoon character to raise awareness of the problem of child abuse. The campaign has even made it to a TV news item (flv).
Fixcas is proud to participate in this campaign. Below is a cartoon of a children's aid worker on the job.
Hepatitis for All
December 6, 2010 permalink
A twelve-year-old student in Bowmanville Ontario did not want to be vaccinated against hepatitis B. It is a blood-borne disease transmitted by sharing hypodermic needles or promiscuous male homosexuality. For persons not making these life choices, the vaccine is irrelevant and possibly even harmful. Today's homosexual zeitgeist promotes some of the choices spreading hepatitis B, making it logical to force the vaccine on everyone. The boy in this case did not express his objections with the maturity of an adult, but in the manner of a child. Police have charged him with a crime for his outburst.
Boy didn’t want needle, throws tantrum, charged with threatening
Police say they take school threats seriously — so seriously they charged a 12-year-old boy who threw a tantrum in his elementary school because he didn’t want to take a vaccination needle.
Durham Regional Police said officials from Ross Tilley Public School in Bowmanville, an hour east of Toronto, called them around 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The school had been administering vaccinations for hepatitis B and a boy had become upset at the prospect of a needle.
While talking to school staff he “threatened to cause damage to the school,” police said in a news release. Officers consulted with the Crown attorney’s office and charged the boy with threatening, a criminal charge police said was justified: “due to the age of the child and concerns over public safety.”
The boy, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, made a verbal threat against the school, police spokesman Dave Selby told CTV.
Mr. Selby told the broadcaster that officers do have the discretion not to lay a charge but decided the alleged threat was serious enough to be considered criminal. “Police take all threats to teachers, administration and school students seriously and advise that anyone over the age of 12 could face criminal charges,” police said in a statement.
The boy faced a bail hearing Wednesday after police went over the situation with the youth’s family.
Source: National Post
December 5, 2010 permalink
Christopher Booker reports on a common practice in child protection — setting up a visit with children then standing up the parents. An Ontario example is the Skinner family.
Child protection: how a cruel council plays its cat-and-mouse game
One distraught family's experience is typical of our warped system of child protection, says Christopher Booker.
Last Tuesday I dined in a smart Knightsbridge restaurant with Ian Josephs, who runs the Forced Adoption website, his wife, a mother whom I cannot name and her delightful five-month-old baby, who sat in a high chair perfectly behaved throughout. This was the baby who, shortly after she was born in June, was torn from her mother’s arms in hospital at 3am by six policemen and three social workers. Two months earlier, social workers had also snatched the mother’s five older children, to put them in foster care, costing taxpayers more than £2,000 a week.
On Tuesday afternoon, the mother had been unexpectedly told that she could have contact with two of her children, miles from north London where she lives. Yet again, when she arrived at the contact centre, she was told that the children were not coming, although apparently they long to see her. On returning to the station with her baby, given back to her by the court six weeks ago, she found that all trains had been cancelled because of the snow, forcing her to return to London by taxi at a cost of £50.
This was yet another instalment of a cat and mouse game the council has been playing with the parents for months, telling them they can see their children, only for them frequently to hear, after their long journey, that some or all of the children were not available after all. (It happened again last Friday.)
Months ago the court ordered that the children should be brought back into London, nearer their home. Meanwhile, the council should give the parents a travel voucher, worth more than £30 a time, for their journey. Only once did the council provide a voucher, which the parents discovered on the return journey was one-way only, costing them £100 in penalties.
Since then the court order has been ignored and the parents have had to pay up to £150 a week to see their children, only to be told on arrival that the agreed contact has been cancelled.Meanwhile, the case used to justify the seizing of the children has been collapsing in all directions, although the parents have not once been allowed to challenge the extraordinary statements made about them. Not until next year, 10 months after this family was ruthlessly broken up, will there be a final hearing to decide whether this utterly heartless farce can at last be brought to an end. If and when the facts about this barely credible story can be reported, it will be worthy of the front page.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Social Worker Killed
December 5, 2010 permalink
British social worker Grace Emily Davies Jones was stabbed to death in her home in Surrey, England.
Man held over stabbing death
A social worker found stabbed to death inside her own home had moved into the rented property just days before she was killed, neighbours said.
Police discovered the body Laura Grace Emily Davies Jones, 31, on Wednesday after being called to an address in Woodfield Lane, Lower Ashtead, Surrey.
She had suffered serious injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene at around 2.30pm.
A police spokesman said: "A post-mortem examination carried out today found the cause of death to be a stab wound to the throat."
A 33-year-old man, who had also received injuries, was arrested on suspicion of murder and was taken to hospital where he was in a stable condition, added the spokesman.
The victim had only moved in to the rented property last weekend, according to neighbours.
A van was seen delivering furniture to the house - which had been empty for some time - on Saturday.
Eleanor Deighton said: "We hadn't even met them. All we knew was that tenants had moved in and the only thing we saw was a van last Saturday.
"I suppose we thought we would meet them in the fullness of time.
"It was a fairly major shock."
Source: Press Association (UK) hosted by Google
Addendum: Her husband has been accused. No word on whether her profession had any connection to the killing.
Junior City associate charged with murder of his wife
Law firms: Berwin Leighton Paisner
A Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) lawyer has been charged with killing his wife.
BLP tax associate Richard Davies Jones, 33, of Ashtead, Surrey, appeared before Guildford Magistrates Court earlier today (14 December) after being charged with his wife's murder on Monday (13 December).
According to a report on the BBC, Davies Jones' wife, Laura Grace Emily Davies Jones, died earlier this month from a stab wound to the throat. Police were called to the couple's address in Surrey but medical staff were unable to revive her.
The case has now been committed to Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court, where it is due to face a hearing tomorrow (15 December).
Davies Jones joined BLP as a trainee in September 2008 before qualifying in September this year, when he was taken on by the firm as an associate in its tax department.
He is being representing by Lionel Blackman Solicitors in Epsom.
BLP declined to comment.
Source: Legal Week
Notice of Apprehension
December 4, 2010 permalink
Chris Carter points out a provision in a private members bill introduced May 31 by Garfield Dunlop, Bill 84, Child and Family Services Amendment Act (Protection of Drug Endangered Children), 2010 In addition to the provisions to take more children, it requires a notice to parents.
Notice of apprehension of child: 45.1
(1) As soon as practicable after a child protection worker brings a child to a place of safety under section 40 or a peace officer apprehends a child under subsection 79 (6), the worker or the peace officer, as the case may be, shall give notice of the apprehension to the person who last had charge of the child and, if known, to the persons last having lawful custody of the child.
Reasons: (2) The notice shall include a statement of the reasons for the apprehension and the telephone number of the office of Legal Aid Ontario that is nearest to the last known residence of the person receiving the notice.
Method of giving notice: (3) The notice may be given orally or in writing.
Saving: (4) The validity of proceedings under this Act is not affected by reason only that a person who is required to give the notice is unable, after reasonable effort, to do so.
There is the germ of good policy here. Old reports deal with Madelene Monast,   , a woman who lost both hands in a machete attack after a misinformed neighbor suspected her of being a CAS snitch. Immediate disclosure of the facts to mother Marguerite Dias would have allowed Monast to keep her hands. In the Dunlop bill, paragraph four is the important one. If the caseworker fails to disclose the reason, there is no legal consequence. So if she says: "We are taking your kids because you are ugly", one of the few bad reasons, CAS keeps the kids. If this provision is to work, the social worker must be required to provide a written document with the reason and names of supporting witnesses. At the court hearing to ascertain the legality of the apprehension, only that reason could be cited, supported only by the named witnesses.
Beware of Social Workers
December 4, 2010 permalink
Police in DuBois Pennsylvania are warning parents not to allow child protection workers into their home. Same advice we have been giving for years. In Pennsylvania a suspicious man with an eye for little girls has been claiming to be a child protection worker.
DCPD Probes for “Suspicious Male” Posing as CYFS Employee
DUBOIS –The DuBois City Police Department initiated an investigation Thursday night into a “suspicious male” who reportedly posed as a Children, Youth and Family Services employee.
According to the incident report, the male arrived at a residence around 5 p.m. Thursday in the 700 block of Maple Avenue. He claimed to represent CYFS, police said.
Further, police said the male reportedly advised he was there at the request of the school district and was to take the children into his custody. The male neither presented a CYFS identification card nor any sort of badge.
Police said the homeowners questioned the male and then closed the door. They also told police about remembering the male from a similar incident. Sometime in July, the male reportedly arrived at the residence and presented a badge to the homeowners’ young daughter. When questioned, the male left, police said.
In both incidents, police said the male left on foot. A vehicle wasn’t present at the residence. This time, police observed footprints in the snow, leading to the side of the residence.
“It appeared as if someone had been standing in front of the dining room window,” police said.
Police described the suspect as a white male who is in his 50’s. He stands approximately 5 feet, 7 inches to 5 feet, 8 inches tall with a slim build. He has short, grayish hair and mustache and was wearing a blue, trench coat and ball cap.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the DuBois City Police Department at 814-371-2323.
Source: Gant Daily
Your Bra or Your Kids
December 3, 2010 permalink
Los Angeles social worker Eddie Lorghaba told a mother to let him inside her bra or he would take her kids.
Social worker charged with sexually assaulting woman
Authorities say L.A. County child abuse investigator's saliva was found on the woman's bra, and she reportedly told him she'd do anything to keep her child. He could face up to four years in prison.
A Los Angeles County child abuse investigator was arrested Wednesday after authorities said they found evidence that he sexually assaulted the mother of a child whose safety he was assigned to assess.
Yadullah "Eddie" Lorghaba, 53, turned himself in at the L.A. County Superior Court in Van Nuys under an agreement reached between his attorney and police. He was released about eight hours later on $75,000 bail.
He faces a single felony count of sexual battery with prior restraint, according to Los Angeles County district attorney officials. If found guilty, he would face a maximum sentence of four years, according to the complaint filed against him.
The welfare of the child was under investigation after the mother was arrested on shoplifting charges in September, according to county records.
According to police, the 30-year old woman said Lorghaba "forced her to submit to unwanted sexual advances after threatening to remove her children from her home."
"After the assault, the suspect told her he would not be removing her children that day; however, he would be returning the following week for another follow-up visit," according to an LAPD news release about the case.
She reported the alleged assault at her Woodland Hills home to the county's Department of Children and Family Services and law enforcement. According to county records, she reported to authorities that she told Lorghaba she would do anything to keep her child with her.
Police discovered Lorghaba's DNA in saliva found on the woman's bra.
Lorghaba was originally scheduled to surrender to authorities Tuesday under an agreement worked out by his attorney, but it was postponed for unknown reasons. The felony complaint was filed Monday, said a spokeswoman for the district attorney.
Lorghaba, of Valley Village, did not return a phone call seeking comment. He was most recently assigned to the West San Fernando Valley office.
"The county is obviously embarrassed by this type of conduct," said Ryan Alsop, a county spokesman who said the department is moving to terminate Lorghaba.
After the alleged sexual assault, he was placed on desk duty. On Tuesday he was placed on a 30-day unpaid administrative leave.
LAPD detectives said Wednesday that they were trying to determine whether the alleged incident was isolated and asked anyone else with allegations against Lorghaba to come forward.
Child welfare department officials said no prior complaints about his performance or conduct had been filed. The department's internal affairs unit, however, has already found serious problems in his management of cases involving abused and neglected children. In three instances, the unit believes he falsified investigation reports, according to county records.
Source: Los Angeles Times
December 2, 2010 permalink
A mother of crown wards has been threatened with even more separation from her family for speaking privately on Facebook about this spring's rally in Walkerton. Her own lawyer has scolded her for speaking about her case. What does it mean?
Yvonne Craig December 1 at 12:16pm
I need you & others to send a viral message to the foster care council network. I'm not kidding. I have to shut down my facebook profile for child welfare advocacy & legislative reform. Bruce CAS with Windsor-Essex CAS has invaded my privacy. They have filed copies of my facebook communications with the court. They are trying to use it against me in court for access to my sons. The lawyer is kind of angry about this & says, "injustices abound, you want to advocate, do it AFTER your children are 18 & this case IS NOT on-going!" or he's said he will remove himself as my counsel. People on the network have had their security compromised....the one's involved in the Walkerton rally (May/2010). Bruce County is where my boys are at!
ps. Tammy [McIntyre] your name is one of the ones in the court record. CAS has you on file from the Walkerton rally (may/2010). Anyone associated with CAS rallies; speaking out for reform, on my friends list is compromised.... CAS has invaded my privacy/cracked my account & is recording any communications about my activities to use in court.
Source: Facebook, private message
John Dunn's CAS Prosecution Ends
December 1, 2010 permalink
John Dunn's prosecution of Ottawa CAS for failure to provide him with a membership list came to an end today because of a thirty minute mistake.
CAS membership case dismissed when plaintiff fails to show up
John Dunn's attempt to prosecute the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa crashed and burned before it even began Wednesday.
Dunn, an activist who runs an advocacy group called the Foster Care Council of Canada, filed charges last year under the Corporations Act after the CAS refused to release its membership list to him, citing privacy concerns.
The case was scheduled to be heard in provincial court at 9 a.m. Wednesday, but the charges were dismissed when Dunn failed to show up.
A chagrined Dunn later explained that he thought the case was scheduled for 9:30 a.m., even though the Foster Care Council's own website listed the correct time.
Dunn wanted the membership list so he could lobby CAS members to create a new class of members for the society's former wards, even if they live outside its area of jurisdiction.
Dunn said he will consider appealing the dismissal if he is legally able to do so.
Barbara MacKinnon, the Ottawa CAS's executive director, said the society's board "really would like to have a constructive relationship with Mr. Dunn.
"We don't want any adversarial relationship with Mr. Dunn at all," she said. "We're very open and recognize that every voice is important in this community."
MacKinnon said the CAS has offered to send letters from Dunn to CAS members, and is still willing to do so.
Source: Ottawa Citizen
December 1, 2010 permalink
Fifteen people conducted a rally in Sudbury supporting bill 131, to give Ontario's ombudsman authority to look into the MUSH sector, including children's aid societies. Passersby were invited to sign the petition. In two hours 330 signatures were collected and taken to the nearby office of MPP Rick Bartolucci. He declined to present them to the legislature since he is a cabinet minister. Below is an article from Sudbury Northern Life. Here are three pictures. The rally was covered by CBC radio (mp3), EastLink TV (wmv) and Sudbury Northern Life, below.
Group rallies for change to Ombudsman power
A small group of men and women gathered in downtown Sudbury during the morning of Dec. 1 to raise awareness and support for Bill 131.
The private member's bill, put forth by MPP Rosario Marchese (NDP - Trinity-Spadina), would give power to the Ontario Ombudsman to investigate complaints against government organiazations, including Children's Aid Societies.
The group of about 12 people held posters and toy dolls with signs saying “Children's Aid Destorys Families” and “Save me from CAS.” They chanted “No More CAS!” outside of Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci's office on Cedar Street.
Samuel Fragomeni, a single father who said he hasn't seen his son in five years, said he was there to protest against the Children's Aid Soceity.
“My son has indicated to me over the past years that he wants to see me and that he doesn't appreciate what the CAS is doing,” he said. “I am even being denied a supervised visit. What kind of family-oriented community organization is this when they tear families apart rather than help them stay together?”
The protesters brought a petition with them, and invited passers-by to sign it.
Angela Cappellani stopped to sign the petition. “I've been dealing with the CAS for almost two years now,” she explained. “They're just not helping me in any way to try and get my kids back with me.”
Bartolucci was not in Greater Sudbury during the rally, as he was at Queen's Park in Toronto. In an e-mail to Northern Life, he said the bill in question hasn't come up for debate at Queen's Park yet, adding he looks forward to engaging in discussion with political counterparts as well as the people of Ontario.
“While there is always more to do, it's important that we strike the right balance with regards to accountability in public agencies,” he said in his e-mail. “Since our government came into office in 2003 we have expanded the powers of the Ombudsman, significantly increased the mandate of the Child and Family Services Review Board and have also established the Independent Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth.”
Colette Prevost, the executive director for Children's Aid Society for Sudbury-Mantioulin, said her organization is very conscious about its accountaibility in all matters where children and families are concerned.
“It's improtant to note that oversight is not something that is unfamilar to Children's Aid Societies," she said. "In fact we are probably one of the most legislated and regulated systems in terms of social services. We understand the complexities of the work that we do and we certainly understand the call for ensuring we have the capacity to perform the work as best we can.”
Source: Sudbury Northern Life
Divorced From Reality
December 1, 2010 permalink
Professor Stephen Baskerville writes that the issue of same-sex marriage cannot be defeated, or even understood, while treated in isolation. It is part of a larger set of issues, all connected, that end the institution of fatherhood.
Divorced From Reality
Don’t blame the gay lobby for the decline of marriage.
Defenders of marriage must face some hard facts or they are going to lose their fight—and with it, quite possibly, their religious freedom as well. Federal judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling nullifying Proposition 8 in California illustrates that, unless we can demonstrate very specific reasons why same-sex marriage is socially destructive, it will soon be the law of the land.
With conservatives as prominent as Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter joining those “influential Americans,” in the words of the National Review, who “have been coming increasingly to regard opposition to same-sex marriage as irrational at best and bigoted at worst,” we can no longer rely on vague assertions that homosexual marriage weakens true marriage in some way—which in itself, actually, it does not.
Considerable nonsense has been written by some opponents of same-sex marriage, while some critical truths are not being heard. Confronting the facts can enable us to win not only this battle but several even more important ones involving family decline and the social anomie it produces.
First: Marriage exists primarily to cement the father to the family. This fact is politically incorrect but undeniable. The breakdown of marriage produces widespread fatherlessness, not motherlessness. As Margaret Mead pointed out long ago—yes, leftist Margaret Mead was correct about this—motherhood is a biological certainty whereas fatherhood is socially constructed. The father is the weakest link in the family bond, and without the institution of marriage he is easily discarded.
The consequences of failing to link men to their offspring are apparent the world over. From our inner cities and Native American reservations to the north of England, the banlieues of Paris, and much of Africa, fatherlessness—not poverty or race—is the leading predictor of virtually every social pathology among the young. Without fathers, adolescents run wild, and society descends into chaos.
The notion that marriage exists for love or “to express and safeguard an emotional union of adults,” as one proponent puts it, is cant. Many loving and emotional human relationships do not involve marriage. Even the conservative argument that marriage exists to rear children is too imprecise: marriage creates fatherhood. No marriage, no fathers.
Once this principle is recognized, same-sex marriage makes no sense. Judge Walker’s “finding of fact” that “gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage” is rendered preposterous. Marriage between two men or two women simply mocks the purpose of the institution. Homosexual parenting only further distances biological fathers (and some mothers too) from their children, since at least some homosexual parents must acquire their children from someone else—usually through heterosexual divorce.
Here is the second unpleasant truth: homosexuals did not destroy marriage, heterosexuals did. The demand for same-sex marriage is a symptom, not a cause, of the deterioration of marriage. By far the most direct threat to the family is heterosexual divorce. “Commentators miss the point when they oppose homosexual marriage on the grounds that it would undermine traditional understandings of marriage,” writes family scholar Bryce Christensen. “It is only because traditional understandings of marriage have already been severely undermined that homosexuals are now laying claim to it.”
Though gay activists cite their desire to marry as evidence that their lifestyle is not inherently promiscuous, they readily admit that marriage is no longer the barrier against promiscuity that it once was. If the standards of marriage have already been lowered, they ask, why shouldn’t homosexuals be admitted to the institution?
“The world of no-strings heterosexual hookups and 50% divorce rates preceded gay marriage,” Andrew Sullivan points out. “All homosexuals are saying is that, under the current definition, there’s no reason to exclude us. If you want to return straight marriage to the 1950s, go ahead. But until you do, the exclusion of gays is simply an anomaly—and a denial of basic civil equality.”
Feminist Stephanie Coontz echoes the point: “Gays and lesbians simply looked at the revolution heterosexuals had wrought and noticed that, with its new norms, marriage could work for them, too.”
Thus the third inconvenient fact: divorce is a political problem. It is not a private matter, and it does not come from impersonal forces of moral and cultural decay. It is driven by complex and lucrative government machinery operating in our names and funded by our taxes. It is imposed upon unwilling people, whose children, homes, and property may be confiscated. It generates the social ills that rationalize almost all domestic government spending. And it is promoted ideologically by the same sexual radicals who now champion same-sex marriage. Homosexuals may be correct that heterosexuals destroyed marriage, but the heterosexuals were their fellow sexual ideologues.
Conservatives have completely misunderstood the significance of the divorce revolution. While they lament mass divorce, they refuse to confront its politics. Maggie Gallagher attributes this silence to “political cowardice”: “Opposing gay marriage or gays in the military is for Republicans an easy, juicy, risk-free issue,” she wrote in 1996. “The message [is] that at all costs we should keep divorce off the political agenda.”
No American politician of national stature has seriously challenged unilateral divorce. “Democrats did not want to anger their large constituency among women who saw easy divorce as a hard-won freedom and prerogative,” writes Barbara Dafoe Whitehead. “Republicans did not want to alienate their upscale constituents or their libertarian wing, both of whom tended to favor easy divorce, nor did they want to call attention to the divorces among their own leadership.”
In his famous denunciation of single parenthood, Vice President Dan Quayle was careful to make clear, “I am not talking about a situation where there is a divorce.” A lengthy article in the current Political Science Quarterly is devoted to the fact—at which the author expresses astonishment—that self-described “pro-family” Christian groups devote almost no effort to reforming divorce laws.
This failure has seriously undermined the moral credibility of the campaign against same-sex marriage. “People who won’t censure divorce carry no special weight as defenders of marriage,” writes columnist Froma Harrop. “Moral authority doesn’t come cheap.”
Just as marriage creates fatherhood, so divorce today should be understood as a system for destroying it. It is no accident that divorce court has become largely a method for plundering and criminalizing fathers. With such a regime arrayed against them, men are powerfully incentivized against marrying and starting a family. No amount of scolding by armchair moralists is going to persuade men into marriages that can mean the loss of their children, expropriation, and incarceration.
The fourth point is perhaps the most difficult to grasp: marriage is not entirely a public institution that government may legitimately define and regulate. It certainly serves important public functions. But marriage also creates a sphere of life beyond official control—what Supreme Court Justice Byron White called a “realm of family life which the state cannot enter.” This does not mean that anything can be declared a marriage. On the contrary, it means that marriage creates a singular zone of privacy for one purpose above all: it is the bond within which parents may raise their children without government interference.
Parenthood, after all, is politically unique. It is the one relationship in which people may exercise coercive authority over others. It is the one exception to state’s monopoly of force, which is why government is constantly trying to undermine and invade it. Without parental and especially paternal authority, legitimized by the bonds of marriage, government’s reach is total. This is already evident in those communities where marriage and fathers have disappeared and government has moved in to replace them with welfare, child-support enforcement, public education, and tax-subsidized healthcare.
Marriage is paradoxical in a way that is critical to our political problems—and that causes considerable confusion among conservatives and libertarians. Marriage must be recognized by the state precisely because it creates a sphere of parental authority from which the state must then withdraw. Government today can no longer be counted upon to exercise this restraint voluntarily. We must all constantly demand that it do so. Marriage—lifelong and protected by a legally enforceable contract—gives us the legal authority and the moral high ground from which to resist encroachments by the state.
Prohibitions on homosexual marriage will not save the institution. As Robert Seidenberg writes in the Washington Times, “Even if Republicans were to succeed in constitutionally defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman, some judge somewhere would soon discover a novel meaning for ‘man’ or ‘woman’ or ‘between’ or ‘relationship’ or any of the other dozen words that might appear in the amendment.”
This is already happening. Britain’s Gender Recognition Act allows transsexuals to falsify their birth certificates retroactively to indicate they were born the gender of their choice. “The practical effect will inevitably be same-sex ‘marriage’,” writes Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail. “Marriage as a union between a man and a woman will be destroyed, because ‘man’ and ‘woman’ will no longer mean anything other than whether someone feels like a man or a woman.”
So what is the solution? A measure already before Congress may show the way. Though not intended primarily to save marriage, the proposed Parental Rights Amendment is the first substantial step in the right direction. It protects “the liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children.” How does this strengthen marriage?
Reaffirming the rights of parents—married parents particularly—to raise their own children would weaken government interference in the family. Especially if worded so as to protect the bond between children and their married fathers, such a measure could undermine both the divorce regime and same-sex marriage by establishing marriage as a permanent contract conferring parental rights that must be respected by the state. Within the bonds of marriage, it would preserve the rights of fathers, parents of both sexes, and spouses generally, and it would render same-sex marriage largely pointless. Marriages producing children would be effectively indissoluble, and there would be fewer fatherless children for homosexuals to adopt. Men would come to understand that to have full rights as fathers they must marry before conceiving children, and they would thus have an interest in ensuring the institution’s permanence.
This is not a small undertaking. It would mean confronting the radical sexual establishment in its entirety—not only homosexuals but their allies among feminists, bar associations, psychotherapists, social workers, and pubic schools. It would raise the stakes significantly—or rather it would highlight how high the stakes already are. It would also focus public attention on the interconnectedness of these threats to the family and freedom. It would foster a coalition of parents with a vested personal interest in marriage and parental rights.
The alternative is to continue mouthing platitudes, in which case we will be dismissed as a chorus of scolds and moralizers—and yes, bigots. And we will lose.
Source: The American Conservative
Babies for Adoption: 15% off!
Minorities: 20% off!
November 30, 2010 permalink
These offers are not a spoof, but real babies placed for adoption.
Consulting Package Discounts! :)
As someone who has adopted once and is going through the process a second time, I know how difficult the financial aspect of things can be, which is why I'm so excited to tell you that from now until the end of the year we are offering a discount on of all of our consulting packages! :)
We are offering 15% off our consulting services (does not include the Do-It-Yourself package) and 20% off consulting services for those open to our Minority Program.
Email me anytime if you have questions! Hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving and are enjoying your Christmas preparations!! :)
Source: Adoption: A Path of the Heart
Don't Tell the TSA
November 30, 2010 permalink
The Council of Europe is promoting an Underwear Rule with a public awareness campaign featuring a website and a video featuring Kiko (flv). The rule is: a child should not be touched by others on parts of the body usually covered by their underwear. And they should not touch others in those areas.
Click on the cartoon below for a larger version of the American side.
Youth Worker Collects Kiddie Porn
November 29, 2010 permalink
Bartosz Furmanek, a worker at the Roy McMurtry Youth Centre, has been arrested for possession of child pornography. This facility has been in the news before, when the Toronto Star did an exposé and when child advocate Irwin Elman issued a report.
There is now an opening for a new guard. Do you covet the chance to watch young people of both sexes drop their pants, bend over and spread? If so, you are the perfect candidate to replace Mr Furmanek.
Youth jail guard charged over child porn
Brampton’s controversial superjail for teens is under fire again after police charged a youth services officer with possession of child pornography.
The Peel Regional Police child-exploitation unit seized a personal electronic device containing graphic images from the employee’s work area at the Roy McMurtry Youth Centre after receiving a call to investigate.
“We had enough with just what we took at the scene to lay charges,” Const. George Tudos told the Star. Police said the device seized at the workplace was an iPod. Police also seized the employee’s home computer.
The Ministry of Children and Youth Services, which oversees the youth jail, said it is cooperating with authorities. The facility holds youth ages 12-17.
Images found on the device were not related to youth inmates, police said.
Last November, the Toronto Star reported allegations that youth at the newly built, $93-million facility were deprived of food, programming and subjected to beatings and questionable body-cavity searches.
The latest charges are a “huge blow to the organization and its plans to turn things around,” said Irwin Elman, Ontario’s children and youth advocate.
“We’ll make our own inquiries and try to understand what happened.”
The centre, which opened in the summer of 2009, was supposed to offer “state-of the-art” programming to empower troubled teens and discourage them from becoming repeat offenders. Highly-trained staff were supposed to “see youth as having a problem, not being one,” as former chief justice Roy McMurtry noted in a report he co-authored on the roots of youth violence.
Prompted by scores of complaints from young detainees last year, Elman’s office launched a review into the facility just months after it opened.
“They talked to me about a lockdown,” Elman told the Star at the time. “They were telling me that there was a strip search because there was a DVD missing. There had been a strip search and a full-cavity search for the DVD.”
Others complained about violent hazing rituals performed within earshot of staff. One Toronto teen arrived for his court hearing with blackened eyes and bloodied clothing. He said he was brutally beaten by other inmates throughout the 13 days he spent at the jail awaiting a bail hearing. His lawyer said staff turned a blind eye.
A senior jail guard at the facility told the Star the institution was severely understaffed and lacked managerial direction.
The advocate’s report concluded the facility wasn’t safe for employees or young people.
Premier Dalton McGuinty vowed to address the problems.
Elman’s office will launch a second, more wide ranging review of the facility in the early New Year when the 192-bed jail is expected to be operating near capacity.
In a written statement to the Toronto Star, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Children and Youth said Minister Laurel Broten “fully supports individuals who report on these issues in the workplace . . . The Minister's interest always is ensuring that young people in care, including those in Youth Justice facilities are safe.”
Bartosz Furmanek, 25, the guard charged, is scheduled to appear in Brampton court on Dec. 6.
The jail would not say what action it has taken.
“Unfortunately, we can't release any details about employment or payment of any past or present employees,” a ministry spokeswoman said.
The Star tried to talk with Furmanek at his apartment in Georgetown. He would not comment. Brampton lawyer John Thomas Wiley told the Star his client is innocent until proven guilty.
Diana Zlomislic can be reached at email@example.com or 416-869-4472.
Source: Toronto Star
November 29, 2010 permalink
Ontario is proposing to subsidize adoption. The 18,000 foster children in the province, about half crown wards, are a financial burden that the government is desperate to reduce. Getting a large number of these kids adopted would save money for the taxpayers, since subsidy payments to adoptive parents would be less than the cost of the CAS bureaucracy to supervise and pay foster parents. A story promoting adoption in the liberal Toronto Star uses the example of Kacey Daniels, a girl in love with horses.
What the proponents miss is the distinction between the caliber of person who adopts for love of the child only versus the person who does it for the money. An earlier article explains the distinction between high-bidder and low-bidder adoption. Pushing crown wards out the door to low bidders will not put them on equestrian ranches, but in homes with the minimum possible level of care. Sooner or later, scandals will emerge of a half-dozen to a dozen children locked up in some hellhole.
Almost every child in foster care has a natural family willing to care for the child at a cost to taxpayers of zero. The real solution to the financial burden is to use this resource by turning kids back to their families, or even better, by not taking them in the first place.
The case for adoption subsidies in Ontario
As a golden fall sunset spills across the Stouffville-area paddock, 12-year-old Kacey Daniels mounts Stevie for an early evening ride.
It is a school night and the Grade 8 student has homework to do.
But her parents Mark Daniels and Andrea Weissman-Daniels know this is just as important — maybe more so — for the daughter they adopted four years ago at age 8.
“We tried ballet, hip hop and even drumming. But no, it was horses . . . she just loves them,” says Mark, adding he has zero affinity for horses.
The couple is amazed that after just three years of riding, Kacey is winning first-place ribbons at equestrian competitions. Last weekend, in addition to winning two “hunter” fence-jumping events, she was the top point-scorer of the day, beating out more than 40 riders from across the GTA.
“When I ride, I feel so free,” says Kacey, who became a Crown ward at age 4. “I feel it is my thing. It is something I can call my own.”
After seeing Kacey emerge from her shell through riding, Andrea and Mark are convinced every adopted child should have access to enrichment activities because of their history of neglect and abuse.
They believe Queen's Park should offer subsidies to adoptive parents to ensure money is never a barrier.
Adoption subsidies were one of the key recommendations of the province's 2009 Expert Panel on Infertility and Adoption.
Foster parents receive an average $18,000 a year, and all medical, dental and therapy costs are covered for a child in their care. But if they or anyone else wants to adopt, they get nothing. Only if the child has an identified disability can they receive a small subsidy.
The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, which represents 51 of the province's 53 local societies, and the Adoption Council of Ontario, which provides education, support and advocacy on the issue, are also pressing Queen's Park to act.
Of Ontario's 8,300 Crown wards, only 993 were adopted last year, meaning many will grow up in foster care and never experience the special love and guidance of a permanent or “forever family.” When they age out of the system, they are more likely to end up in homeless shelters, the criminal justice system and mental health programs, studies show.
To combat this suffering, the expert panel is challenging Ontario to overhaul its adoption bureaucracy with a goal of doubling the number of children adopted within five years.
The overhaul would include an annual $9,000 to $15,000 adoption subsidy per child — 50 to 80 per cent of what foster parents now get — and save Ontario taxpayers as much as $28 million within five years, the panel said.
After that, annual savings could amount to as much as $36 million — not including savings to the social service, criminal justice or health care systems.
The panel's analysis is backed up by several recent American studies, one of which calculated public savings of $3 for every $1 spent supporting adoption.
“I'm sure no one would dispute the idea that children develop into more compassionate and confident adults when raised within a loving permanent family environment,” Andrea says.
“If a subsidy is the difference between a child being adopted into such a nurturing home or remaining in foster care indefinitely, then, as a community, we should want that subsidy to be available.”
Right now , some families in some parts of the province receive adoption subsidies for children with special needs from their local CAS. But the average annual payment is just $3,700. And all subsidies are time-limited meaning that prospective adoptive families cannot count on ongoing help, the panel found.
Since there is no provincial funding earmarked for subsidies, the money must come from a society's general revenues on a case-by-case basis. And some societies can't afford to offer them, says Marcelo Gomez-Wiuckstern of the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies.
Annual costs to keep a child in foster care are about $44,000, which includes social work visits, medical expenses and the $18,000 in payments to foster parents, Gomez-Wiuckstern says.
At the very least, the association wants the province to provide dental, medical and educational support to adoptive parents.
In Alberta and many U.S. states, all families who adopt a child from public care receive a monthly subsidy — regardless of the child's needs.
“Ontario is out of step. It is urgent that we develop a provincial subsidy system,” the panel said in its Raising Expectations report.
When expert panel member William Falk and his wife, journalist Kate Fillion, adopted a 3-year-old boy in Philadelphia nine years ago, the state foster care payment of $12.50 per day was transferred to the family. The couple, now living in Toronto, still receives that money. But three years ago when they adopted a “high-risk” one-year-old from the Toronto CAS, the family received nothing.
While money isn't an issue for the couple, they know that's not the case for most adoptive parents. Many have to quit jobs and pay for assessments, tutoring and therapy to meet the needs of foster children with histories of abuse and neglect.
Falk says the panel met numerous foster parents who said they would love to adopt some of the children in their care, but couldn't afford to lose the CAS funding. Between 15 and 20 per cent of foster parents would adopt if they could keep a portion of their fostering payments, he says.
Falk recalls one foster family that wanted to adopt two teenage brothers with developmental delays. But adoption would mean losing almost $25,000 a year — money that helped pay for special programs and therapies for the twins.
“What family do you know can afford to lose that kind of money overnight?” Falk says.
Provincial Children and Youth Services Minister Laurel Broten said she takes the commission's recommendations “very seriously” and is “trying to figure out a pathway forward.”
The province increased adoption support to CASs by 8 per cent last year resulting in a 21 per cent increase in adoptions over 2008, she noted. She couldn't say if any action will be taken on the subsidy issue.
Andrea and Mark Daniels aren't waiting for government to act.
Andrea, a former film producer with Alliance Atlantis Communications and Mark, a real estate developer, are launching the Ignite the Spark Fund. The goal of the fund, which will be administered by the national Children's Aid Foundation, is to make enrichment money available for children served by child welfare organizations across the country.
Although some money is available in some cities, the couple hopes to raise at least $2.6 million to create a national fund for all at-risk children, including those in agencies not receiving funding in Toronto.
According to the foundation, only 2 per cent of the 300,000 Canadian children receiving child welfare services have access to dance, music, visual arts, athletic and other enrichment programs that are so important to healthy child development.
“Surviving disruption, healing past traumas and worrying about what tomorrow will bring, are the extra curricular activities (foster) children are usually occupied with,” Andrea says.
“Our daughter was no exception. She knew nothing about the person she was inside. All she knew was that she was a foster child,” she says.
“It wasn't until she discovered her passion, and I do mean passion, for horses, music and the visual arts, that her outlook on life, love, family and the future changed.”
Source: Toronto Star
November 29, 2010 permalink
A mother has lost her daughter, apparently for truancy.
Sandra Haynes My daughter was taken from me just this past Wed out of no where :( I had a meeting with my daughters school because of her not going to school. The school board was there in the meeting and they acted like nothing was wrong talking with me, my daughter and asked her that she needs to go to school or I could get fined and she said she would go. the next day after school they held her there until I got there and 2 workers came up and told me that I couldn't have my child and that they have a warrent I was freaking out and they wouldn't give me my child :( she has been with me since birth and now they ripped a bond apart from a mother and child I need a good lawyer please :(
Queens Park Rally
November 28, 2010 permalink
About two dozen people participated in a rally outside Queens Park (picture link) on November 25.
We Don't See Anything Wrong
November 28, 2010 permalink
A mother asks social services for help, they confiscate her little girl, her social-services-appointed lawyer fails to help her, at visitation mother and daughter are forbidden to express love for each other, courts rubber-stamp social services applications, courts act on evidence concealed from parents. Just more routine, but British Children's Minister Tim Loughton says horrors develop in less than ten percent of cases. While the minister keeps his head in the sand, the second article by Belgian Radio tells it like it is (in French).
Forced adoptions get no sympathy from the ministry
While loving families are torn apart, Whitehall insists the system is working fine, says Christopher Booker
Last week I listened for an hour to a sobbing mother describing how she recently lost the six-year-old daughter who is the centre of her life. Her fatal mistake was to ask social workers for advice when she was being troubled by "harassment" from the child's father, from whom she parted some years ago. Within days, although it was never suggested that she had harmed her daughter in any way, she found herself facing a "case conference" of 20 people at the local council offices, the conclusion of which was that her child must be placed in foster care.
The solicitor she was given by the social workers refused to oppose the care order. At a "contact" session, when she and her bewildered daughter emotionally expressed their love for each other, the interview was halted. She has not been allowed to see her child again.
Having followed dozens of such cases in recent months, which suggest that something has gone horribly wrong with our child protection system, I was recently invited for an off-the-record ministerial discussion about what I have been reporting. But far from recognising that anything might be astray, the official line, it seems, is that the horrifying cases I have covered represent only an untypical minority of the total – "less than 10 per cent". In general, the system is working fine.
This line seems to be confirmed by the latest guidance issued to local authorities by the Children's Minister, Tim Loughton, who says that too many councils are failing to ensure that enough children are being adopted, and that the backsliders must speed up their flow of adoptions. No question as to whether social workers might be snatching too many of the wrong children in the first place – or why the courts seem so eager to support them that, of around 8,000 applications made each year for care orders, only one in 400 is refused.
I shall give just one disturbing instance of the latest developments in a case I have been following for months. Like many others, this came to me through the Forced Adoption website, run by former councillor Ian Josephs. It involves a married couple whose five older children were seized earlier this year, subsequent to which their latest baby was torn from its mother's arms only hours after it was born.
The bizarre story originally stated by the social workers to justify their ruthless intervention in this family's life seems to have collapsed. At a recent court hearing, I am told, the judge seemed disposed to reunite the family as soon as possible. The baby was returned to her parents later that day. But the council asked for 21 days' stay of execution before returning the five older children, three of whom the parents had not been allowed to see for weeks. The judge apparently agreed but insisted that an independent social worker should interview the children.
The independent social worker eventually managed to interview four of the children, apparently reporting that they all wished to be allowed to go home to their parents. But the court refused to give the parents a copy of the judge's ruling, and on Friday they were summoned back to hear from him that he had now seemingly changed his mind and that the children did not wish to come home after all. According to the parents, they were not allowed to question the evidence on which he based his new ruling, although they were told they could appeal.
What on earth is going on here? Even from the little I am permitted to report of this case, it seems evident that something seriously odd is afoot.
But this is merely one of far too many cases where families are being heartlessly torn apart, often without the parents even being allowed to question the evidence or to speak for themselves. To hear such horror stories being dismissed as representing "less than 10 per cent" of all the cases where children are seized is simply not good enough. Each is shocking enough in its own right. But when every week brings news of a dozen more, this only confirms that we indeed have a national scandal on our hands.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
En Grande-Bretagne, des milliers d'enfants volés par le gouvernement
Les services sociaux britanniques enlèvent des milliers d'enfants par an à leurs familles. Sans raisons apparentes, ces enfants sont remis à l'adoption. Des assistants sociaux qui n'ont "pas besoin d'avoir une raison, ils ont seulement besoin d'une excuse".
Le 24 février 2010 à la Chambre des Communes, le Premier ministre Gordon Brown et les deux leaders de l'opposition présentent des excuses aux milliers d'enfants britanniques arrachés aux familles pauvres pendant des décennies. Des enfants alors déportés en Australie et dans d'autres pays du Commonwealth.
Ces familles méritent des "excuses illimitées", disent les hommes politiques. Et pourtant, plusieurs mois plus tard, rien n'a vraiment changé. Les services sociaux poursuivent leur mission, quasiment en toute impunité. Au début de la décennie, le gouvernement de Tony Blair avait même accordé des "primes au rendement" aux assistants sociaux, pour stimuler le marché de l'adoption. Depuis 1967, les enfants ne sont plus envoyés en Australie, mais ils sont toujours "volés" et placés sur le marché de l'adoption, presque sans aucun droit de recours. Des pratiques proches du kidnapping.
Les services sociaux, les "SS"
Les familles n'hésitent pas à appeler les services sociaux par leurs initiales, les "SS". Des "SS" qui enlèvent les nourrissons à l'hôpital. Ou dans le foyer familial, avec l'aide de la police. Pour quelles raisons ? Elles semblent en général peu claires. Le choix est motivé par les assistants sociaux. Mais les parents n'ont pas accès à ces dossiers. Ils ignorent tout ou presque des charges qui sont retenues contre eux. Les voilà définis comme étant "inaptes à éduquer leurs propres enfants".
Parfois, ces services sociaux profitent de problèmes familiaux d'une famille. Une dépression, une rupture, et les enfants sont retirés à leurs parents. Une loi oblige même les parents à se taire lorsqu'on enlève leurs enfants. Et en particulier vis-à-vis des journalistes. Pour les journalistes, justement, s'ils sont Britanniques, le fait de nommer les familles est un toboggan vers la prison car "c'est dans l'intérêt de l'enfant de ne pas être nommé".
Les parents narcissiques, colériques, violents ou gros ne peuvent garder leurs enfants.
Certaines catégories de parents ont été définies comme "à risque". Ils n'ont pas le droit de garder leurs enfants, selon les services sociaux. C'est notamment le cas des parents narcissiques, colériques ou catégorisés comme violents. Voire ceux qui souffrent d'obésité. Et puis, il faut évoquer cette affaire de fécondation in vitro qui a donné un résultat étonnant : une personne d'origine indienne a donné naissance à une petite fille blonde. Les "SS" n'ont pas apprécié. La petite fille a été enlevée à ses parents. De même que les deux enfants qui restaient à la maison.
Les services sociaux n'hésitent pas non plus à catégoriser publiquement tel père ou telle mère comme abuseur sexuel. Des fausses accusations qui détruisent ainsi plusieurs vies.
Pas autiste, mais "victime des négligences de sa mère".
Malgré des dossiers médicaux complets, une mère d'un enfant autiste s'est vue retirer la garde de son enfant. Selon les services sociaux, l'adolescent n'est pas autiste, mais est "victime des négligences de sa mère". La maman est mise sur la liste des abuseurs, perd son emploi et n'est même pas acceptée en tant que femme de ménage dans un supermarché. La prostitution devient pour elle le seul moyen de ne pas aller habiter dans la rue.
Aujourd'hui, quelques voix s'élèvent pour dénoncer ces pratiques d'enlèvement où des bébés sont littéralement arrachés aux bras de leur mère, où des enfants plus âgés sont enlevés au domicile de leurs grands-parents.
Ian Josephs, un ancien conseiller municipal expatrié dans le sud de la France, organise la "résistance" contre ces services sociaux via un site internet. Il a constitué un véritable manuel de combat pour les familles. Il explique aux familles la marche à suivre. Ou fournit directement les billets pour l'Irlande, comme cette femme enceinte elle-même adoptée. Jugée "pas assez intelligente" pour se marier par les autorités, elle a filé en Irlande pour se marier et mettre au monde son enfant.
Il est presque impossible de revoir ses propres enfants
Parce qu'une fois les enfants retirés à leurs parents, parfois à leur insu, c'est la croix et la bannière pour pouvoir espérer les revoir. Certains parents ne peuvent retrouver leurs enfants qu'à de rares moments. Des moments sous haute surveillance. Les pleurs des enfants qui retrouvent leur mère sont vus par les "SS" comme des pleurs de douleurs. Des rapports tronquant la réalité sont ainsi produits et renforcent le sentiment d'injustice qui habite des milliers de familles.
Ou alors, les enfants placés isolés. Certains ne reçoivent jamais les nombreuses lettres envoyées par leurs parents.
Certains enfants n'attendent que leurs 16 ans pour partir à la recherche des parents auxquels on les a arrachés. Certains parents osent timidement utiliser les réseaux sociaux pour espérer retrouver leurs enfants volés.
Depuis plusieurs mois, Florence Bellone, la correspondante de la RTBF à Londres, mène l'enquête : les témoignages qu'elle a recueillis sont à la fois choquants et bouleversants.
Elle rompt ainsi la barrière du silence, en faisant témoigner des familles qui n'ont pas officiellement le droit de s'exprimer devant la presse.
Ce récit, par moments, surréaliste se passe ici, en Europe, à une heure et quart de Bruxelles. Ecoutez-le ici.
Source: Belgian Radio
Addendum: Tim Loughton wrote a letter to the editor of the Telegraph. According to Christopher Booker, they did not print it because it was too long, and because it contained factual errors about their meeting. Another publication, Community Care, did print it, and it is in the expand block. The error is in the second sentence:
I requested the meeting because I was keen to find out more about the cases he has raised where there are clear concerns over the legitimacy of the way certain adoptions have taken place.
When I met the minister, however, I was disturbed to find that he did not seem to want to discuss what my researches had brought to light. His only concern seemed to be to dismiss the cases I had reported as being a tiny minority of exceptions, wholly unrepresentative of a system which is otherwise working fine.
In the letter below Mr Loughton shows no interest in correcting the cases that have gone wrong. Instead he says that the horror stories are few, overwhelmed by the large number of cases in which children have been helped by the adoption system. Your editor has spoken to hundreds of families affected by the child protection system in Canada and can say from experience that cases in which children are helped by the intervention are few in number, only one case in fifty.
I was surprised to read about my private meeting with Christopher Booker in his column last week (28 Nov). I requested the meeting because I was keen to find out more about the cases he has raised where there are clear concerns over the legitimacy of the way certain adoptions have taken place. For these it is certainly not a case of 'the system is working fine' and I have a responsibility as children's minister to make sure we do better for the families involved.
If the system were 'working fine' I would not have set up the review by Professor Eileen Munro to look at the whole issue of child protection and how social workers go about their job, or indeed strengthened the review into the workings of the family courts which is also doing some important work for us.
But I also have a responsibility as children's minister to make sure we do a lot better for the thousands of children who end up in the care system through no fault of their own, either to pave a safe way back to live with their own family or prepare for the longer term with alternative parental responsibility if that is not possible. Last year 3,200 children were adopted. Many came from deeply traumatic backgrounds; many were given up for adoption uncontested.
Yet despite a sharp increase in children in care post-Baby Peter, adoption figures show a worrying decline of 4% and the downward trend continues despite Mr Booker's alarmist comments about wide scale 'snatching'. His views are based on a few dozen high profile, though worrying, cases. Trying to tarnish the whole adoption system in this country undermines the work of professionals we rely on to keep vulnerable children safe, but worst of all risks damaging the chances of many thousands of children who would greatly benefit from a second chance of a stable family upbringing. I will certainly not be complacent about the scale of the problem; Mr Booker should not be so irresponsible about the solutions.
Source: Community Care
Parents banned from taking photos and pupils' eyes covered up
November 27, 2010 permalink
A British school forbids parents from photographing children and blots out the eyes of children in the school yearbook.
Nativity blackout: Parents banned from taking photos and pupils' eyes covered up... all in the name of child protection
Their eyes crudely blacked out to disguise their identities, these little girls look as if they might be the victims - or perhaps perpetrators - of a crime.
But this disturbing image was actually issued in a school yearbook.
It is the result of the bizarre ‘photography policy’ of headmistress Vicky Parsey, who bans parents from taking pictures in school for fear children’s faces will be superimposed on obscene internet images.
Now two mothers of pupils at the school are stepping up their campaign against the ban in the hope they will be able to take photographs of the school’s nativity play.
Last night local MP Grant Shapps said the ‘absurd’ ban created a ‘climate of fear’ that effectively branded all parents paedophiles.
Housewife and part-time exam invigilator Natasha Stannard, 39, and husband George, 42, have two children among the 450 pupils aged three to 11 at Applecroft primary school in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.
They used to enjoy sending photographs of school pantomimes and sports days to grandparents in South Africa – but three years ago Mrs Parsey declared it had to stop.Mrs Stannard said: ‘I was looking forward to taking photographs at the school’s annual Christmas performance.
‘We were told in a newsletter “We will no longer permit the use of videos, photographs or mobile phone camera pictures of any children by parents/carers/visitors during performances and school events”.’
Mrs Stannard and her friend Caroline Baynes, 44, a project manager whose two children also attend Applecroft school, began lobbying the school to relent.
Instead, the school produced a 17-page ‘photography policy’ which states: ‘The proliferation of internet web pages and social networking sites has given rise to increased concerns that images will be misused and that a child’s face or body could be used to represent matters wholly contrary to the wishes of their parents.’
The photographs of children with eyes blacked out were issued in ‘yearbooks’ given to the parents of four-year-olds in the school nursery.
Photographs of classroom activities were enclosed, but teachers had blacked out the eyes of all children other than the parents’ own. In effect, each parent got a customised yearbook.
Mrs Baynes said: ‘This “photography policy” has created an unnatural situation where you can’t take a photo of your own child. It’s the nanny state gone mad.’
Mr Shapps, a Conservative, said he had taken up the issue with the school with no effect. He said the blacking out of eyes was ‘creepy’, adding: ‘This is absurd – these pictures look like the kids have been taken prisoner. They have created a climate of fear, suggesting that every parent is a paedophile.’
Mrs Stannard and Mrs Baynes are surveying all parents’ attitudes to the draconian policy. They are being supported by campaign group the Manifesto Club, which warns there is a national problem with schools imposing such restrictions.
Manifesto Club director Josie Appleton said: ‘There is no law banning nativity photos. Parents and children now have massive gaps in their family photo album.’
Mrs Parsey, 43, was not available for comment yesterday.
Source: Daily Mail
November 27, 2010 permalink
You can now read the ordeal of the Tomkinson family with Muskoka CAS.
November 27, 2010 permalink
A rally was held outside CAS in Stratford on November 26. According to participant Lillian Christine Sorko-Houle the police told the demonstrators that using the washrooms would be construed as trespass. A radio station interviewed Chris Carter and the press came out to speak to Lillian. The reporter could not understand how the society is a private corporation even though she provided him with supporting information. The local newspaper reported:
Travelling protesters demand oversight of CAS
A handful of protesters waving placards and using a bullhorn outside the Huron-Perth Children's Aid Society offices Friday said they were there to draw attention to secrecy and corruption within the 53 CAS agencies across Ontario.
They were also calling for support for a bill introduced in the Ontario legislature Nov. 15 by NDP member Rosario Marchese that calls for ombudsman oversight of CAS agencies, hospitals, long-term-care facilities, retirement homes and school boards.
Christine Sorko-Houle, a spokesperson for Voices of Innocent Families in Ontario based in Tillsonburg, said the demonstration was one of many being held across the province.
"I personally have had 400 complaints (about the CAS) from people in Huron and Perth," she said.
Sorko-Houle said complaints included those about CAS services and about access to children placed under the care of the agency.
The demonstrators have been petitioning for transparency within CAS agencies provincewide and particularly want to see an end to CAS workers approaching children in schools without consent from parents.
The 43-year-old grandmother said that while she agrees with the need for the CAS, she is still dealing with the effects of her own experience with the agency seven years ago.
Signs carried by demonstrators said "CAS Corrupt & Secret" and "Ontario Only Province That Has No CAS Oversight."
Sorko-Houle acknowledged some children need CAS care, but she suggested children from native and poor families are unfairly targeted.
"A lot of good people come from poor families," she said.
Sorko-Houle said the Huron- Perth CAS -- whose administration was recently directly taken over by the province -- is the only CAS agency that is subject to oversight.
When asked, she did not cite any specific allegations of secrecy or corruption that involved the Huron-Perth agency.
Under the Child and Family Services Act, child protection workers with the CAS have the right to investigate possible abuse and neglect of children and to take action to protect children from abusive situations. Their powers include apprehending children from their parents or caregivers where there is a high risk of harm.
Vince Tedesco, supervisor with the CAS in Stratford, did not immediately return a phone call Friday.
Complaints about CAS services may be made to the Child and Family Services Review Board if a person believes the CAS refused to proceed with a complaint, didn't follow the complaint review process or hasn't given reasons for a decision.
The board is required to respond within seven days with a decision or with notice of a hearing.
The review board website says the CAS and board review processes cannot consider matters currently before the courts or that the courts have already decided.
Source: Stratford Beacon Herald
Community Forum on Ombudsman Oversight
November 25, 2010 permalink
Rosario Marchese invites everyone to a community forum to discuss his bill 131 providing for ombudsman oversight of children's aid.
Community Forum: Ombudsman Oversight
Everyone is welcome to attend a Community Forum on Ombudsman oversight, being held on:
Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 6:45 PM in the Palmerston Library Theater.
On Tuesday, November 30th at 6:45 PM, I will be hosting a Community Forum at the Palmerston Library Theater to discuss how Bill 131 addresses the lack of Ombudsman oversight of critical government services. Ontario is the only provice that does not allow Ombudsman oversight of hospitals, long-term care facilities, retirement homes, CAS and school boards. Let's work together to change this. I hope to see you there!
Source: Rosario Marchese
Palmerston Library Theater, 560 Palmerston Avenue, Toronto
Father Sentenced for Anger at Child Snatchers
November 25, 2010 permalink
Father Jamie Lee Gubbins has been sentenced 18 months supervision and other punishments for showing anger to the Welsh social workers who took his children. Social workers expect a father to thank them for removing his children.
Man threatened to kill social worker
A LLANDRINDOD Wells man who threatened to kill a social worker and burn his office to the ground has been given an 18-month community order by magistrates.
Jamie Lee Gubbins, of Troedyrhiw, Llandrindod Wells, pleaded guilty to using threatening behaviour and harrassment towards a social worker, and failing to surrender to custody in Brecon.
On Wednesday, November 24, Llandrindod Magistrates’ Court heard how Gubbins, 23, had been shouting at the top of his voice, foaming at the mouth when addressing the social worker.
Prosecuting, Kevin Challinor told the court that on July 26, Gubbins had visited the social worker’s offices and is alleged to have threatened to kill the man and burn the building to the ground.
Gubbins is alleged to have encouraged the man to call the police and said he would kill officers as well if they arrived.
Mitigating, Owain Jones said that Gubbins’ children had been taken away from him and “bad feeling had been running high”, causing him to visit the social worker’s offices.
“He is a man of previous good character and it is unusual for him to act aggressively,” Mr Jones added.
Magistrates sentenced Gubbins to 80 hours of unpaid work with a supervision order. He was also ordered to pay £54 costs.
Source: County Times (Mid Wales)
Baby Seized at Birth
November 24, 2010 permalink
A couple lost their baby yesterday in the delivery room, seized by the children's aid society two minutes after birth. There are no names or circumstances, just these pictures, posted by Linda Plourde
Anne Patterson on CAS
November 24, 2010 permalink
In an addendum Ian Gillespie wrote about last week's rally in London. He has published a response from Anne Patterson. Links to some of the stories she mentions have been added by fixcas.
CAS Controversies Abound
Further to my column today, reader Anne Patterson forwarded me a letter she wrote a few months ago, cataloging some of the controversies surrounding the Children’s Aid Society.
Here’s an edited version of Patterson’s letter:
“I’ve been fighting to get the Ontario Ombudsman to have oversight of the CAS, which is exhausting. Some of the following cases and situations further explain why:
- The Jeffrey Baldwin case . . . What happened to him will haunt me, I think, forever.            
- The Katelynn Sampson case.      
- “Finding Normal,” (CBC) a documentary where a child was living in a group home, and was drugged enough to kill a small horse on medication while being sexually abused. His grandparents were able to finally rescue him with the help of a proper doctor – he should not have been in the system in the first place. 
- The shocking Globe and Mail report, citing over half of crown wards are on medication not approved for adults.
- The Randal Dooley case.
- The Toronto Sun group home article, where a group home was so bad, it was covered in feces, littered with pornography. . . . It was closed down, but that it was allowed to even reach that point is simply horrifying.
- The Elman report, citing a list of 90 dead children killed in one year under CAS, and a list that the McGuinty government refuses to let anyone investigate as well. 
- The Matthew Reid case.           
- The Douglas Moore case. 
- The baby Jordan case.
- The horrifying series of articles from the Hamilton Spectator last month, where two little boys were involved with both CAS agencies in the area. A social worker had been in the home the very day one of the little guys had to dial 9/11. The police testified that it was a vile, putrid, deplorable dungeon that these children were living in. . . .dead rats, and two filthy, urine soaked bunk beds. . . . Too close to the Baldwin case as well. Haunting.
- The Cornwall sex abuse report, which is historical, and conveys serious allegations of sexual abuse.
- The two Windsor sex abuse cases involving yet again foster parents.
- The Toronto CCAS foster pedophile case, where again CAS staff were involved.
- Oh, and the Ontario audit in which 4 CAS agencies were audited. 
There is much more, but this gives you a glimpse into the horrifying catalogue of things that have transpired with the 53 CAS agencies. That the McGuinty government has left such a mess, has allowed it to continue, and that he blatantly refuses to have the Ontario Ombudsman sort this out is beyond bad politics, it is to me negligent at the highest level of government, and it is a despicable, pitiful, disgusting shame.
The past is a very wicked ghost when it comes to those agencies, but that it is still going on after this many years is beyond unacceptable. It says to me that the government, Ministry, and their respective counterparts have much to hide.
Above all kids are suffering the most and surely Ombudsman oversight at the very least is long overdue. ”
(signed) Anne Patterson
Source: London Free Press
CAS Responds to Criticism
Last week, I wrote a column about a group of protesters gathered at the Children’s Aid Society headquarters on Oxford St., (beside Fanshawe College).
In essence, the protesters were lobbying for support of Bill 131, a private member’s bill (introduced by NDP MPP Rosario Marchese) that would allow the provincial ombudsman (Andre Marin) to investigate complaints about hospitals, long-term care facilities, retirement homes, school boards and Children’s Aid Societies.
After the column ran, I got a call from local CAS executive director Jane Fitzgerald, who invited me to sit down with her for a chat. So I did.
Our meeting lasted about 90 minutes, but the essence of Fitzgerald’s message was this: 1) In order to do its job (and protect vulnerable children), the CAS needs the community’s trust. 2) The CAS doesn’t oppose oversight by the ombudsman (in fact, that will be a political decision), but there are already a number of checks and balances in place to deal with complaints.
Fitzgerald outlined some of the oversight tools that are already in place:
- Unlike some CAS agencies in other provinces, the Children’s Aid Society of London & Middlesex is governed by a community-based board.
- The CAS is under the legislative oversight of the court system. The agency, for instance, is required to go before a judge and show just cause whenever a CAS worker believes a child needs protection.
- Anyone experiencing problems or concerns with the CAS can discuss the matter with their CAS worker, the worker’s supervisor and then the program manager/department director.
- If those efforts don’t bring satisfaction, the complainant can make a formal request (in writing) to the Society’s Internal Complaint Review Panel.
- If still unsatisfied, a person my apply for a review by the Child and Family Services Review Board, which is an independent, external panel that reviews complaints concerning child welfare services in Ontario.
On top of all this, Fitzgerald said the CAS may also be investigated and reviewed, in the case of a death, by the coroner’s office and the province’s Pediatric Death Review Committee.
Fitzgerald said the checks and balances already in place are “comprehensive” and expressed concern that another level of oversight might add another level of “administrative burden” that would detract from the time and efforts spent dealing directly with foster children and their families.
“We live every day with the realization that not everyone is going to be happy with what we do,” said Fitzgerald. “My fear is that we keep adding more and more layers of oversight, and less and less people are doing the work (of protecting vulnerable children).”
But Fitzgerald (pictured below) also stressed that she supported the protesters in their attempts to protect vulnerable children.
“I love that I live in a country where people are allowed to speak out for the rights of children,” she said.
Source: London Free Press
Response from fixcas:
It is good to see that Jane Fitzgerald does not oppose oversight by the ombudsman.
- CAS is run by a board of directors, but that is not a form of community control. CAS boards are tightly controlled by management, often staffed with employees as puppets. Efforts to get true community representatives elected to the board have been stonewalled by refusing membership, refusing membership lists and failure to announce the time and place of board meetings.
- Almost totally false. CAS should get court approval prior to child removal, but does not need it in case of emergency. Guess what? Every case is treated as an emergency. When the case gets to court, the issue is not whether the child should be removed, but whether parents are fit enough to get him back.
- Unhappy parents can discuss their concerns with CAS. Yes, but when unhappy with a neighbor, you can discuss the problem with the neighbor, and on not getting relief you can appeal to the civil courts or report the matter to the police. No such additional relief is available for CAS matters.
- A reader with screen name hebbs commented: Ms. Fitzgerald. Should you ever have a complaint about me and or my conduct, please submit it directly to me and or one of my family members and I’ll be sure to deal with it as efficiently as I can. Remember, once the complaint is denied… That’s it, you have nowhere to turn for appeals. Good Luck with that! Complaining to the society is just another form of appeal to the person causing the problem.
- The Child and Family Services Review Board will deal only with certain kinds of complaints. But worse, in a recent Muskoka case the CFSRB ruled that the children's aid society had acted improperly and ordered it to make changes. Instead of complying, CAS just filed papers in a court and ignored the CFSRB decision.
Deaths in CAS care are tightly guarded secrets. Only about one name a year gets into the press, for the rest even the number of deaths is in dispute.
November 22, 2010 permalink
Arkansas DHS supervisor Dustin Horn has been arrested for rape of a woman and sex with a 17-year-old foster girl. In Arkansas family services means the kind of service a bull provides for a cow.
Polk County Social Worker Accused Of Sexual Assaulting Child In Foster Care
An Arkansas Department of Human Services supervisor has been arrested on sex charges in Polk County.
Arkansas State Police arrested Dustin Horn on Friday. He's charged with one count of rape and one count of sexual assault. Horn allegedly raped an adult woman and had sex with a 17-year-old teenage girl in foster care. Both incidents allegedly took place in 2009. Horn was over the Division of Children and Family Services, the branch of DHS responsible for foster care.
He was arraigned Monday and is being held on a $100,000 bond in the Polk County Jail. The court entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Circuit Judge J.W. Looney requested the Arkansas Public Defender Commission appoint an attorney to represent Horn.
Prosecutor Tim Williamson says the investigation is ongoing and encourages any person with additional information to contact his office in Mena at (479) 394-6114.
DHS spokeswoman Julie Munsell would only confirm that Horn has been fired.
Source: KFSM-TV Ft Smith
Lawless Child Snatching
November 21, 2010 permalink
When a police raid turned their home into a mess, social workers used the mess as a pretext to take a five-year-old girl from Debbie and Tony Sims for adoption. The ordeal also caused Mrs Sims to miscarry five months into pregnancy. Enclosed is a note by MP John Hemming and the article by Christopher Booker.
Christopher Booker on The Sims
Those interested in the issue should see the effort that the Civil Servants are putting in to refuse to admit the truth about adoptions from care. Something like 40% of the children leaving care (defined as subject to a care order or police protection) are leaving through adoption.
When you consider the children under 10 then it is a majority. That is not supposed to happen.
See this written question as an example.
Source: John Hemming blog
Forced adoption: another win for the child snatchers
The case of Tony and Debbie Sims illustrates the cruelty of our child protection system, says Christopher Booker.
In 43 years of medical practice, said the family’s GP, he had “never encountered a case of such appalling injustice”. To their neighbours, it was so shocking that up to 100 of them were ready to stage a public protest, until being banned from doing so by social workers and the police.
This was the case of Tony and Debbie Sims, which I first reported in July 2009 under the headline “ 'Evil destruction’ of a happy family”, and whom I can now name because their daughter, torn from them for no good reason, has finally, after three years of misery in foster care and 74 court hearings, been adopted.
The story of Mr and Mrs Sims was my first introduction to that Kafka-esque world of state child-snatching which I have so often reported on since. It illustrates so many of the reasons why, hidden behind its self-protective wall of secrecy, this ruthless and corrupt system has become a major national scandal.
Until April 2007, Mr Sims, a professional dog breeder, and his wife, then a branch vice-chairman of the local Conservative Party, were a respectable middle-class couple living happily with their five-year-old daughter, who was the apple of their eye. Shortly after Mr Sims was interviewed by the RSPCA over his unwitting infringement of a new law banning the tail-docking of puppies, their home was invaded by two RSPCA officials and 18 policemen, who had been given a wholly erroneous tip-off that there were guns on the premises.
When the dogs were released from their kennels and rampaged through the house, ripping apart his daughter’s pet boxer, Mr Sims strongly protested – verbally but not physically. He and his wife were arrested and taken away, leaving their little girl, aged five, screaming amid the chaos. Social workers were called and the child was removed into foster care. While Mrs Sims was being held for several hours in a police cell, she had a miscarriage. She returned home that night to find her daughter gone.
When the couple next saw their child – months later, at a “contact” – she said she had been told they were dead and had gone to heaven. For three years they tried to get her back through those 74 court hearings. The social workers claimed the child had been maltreated, because her home was an unholy mess. But this was only because of the police raid and the dogs – a WPC who had visited the house a month earlier on other business reported that it had been “neat and tidy”.
The child could not understand why she was not allowed to go back home with her parents. The courts were unable to consider a report by an experienced independent social worker which the couple were told described them as responsible and loving parents. The only evidence the court heard was that from the social workers and their own “experts”.
When the couple were eventually told that their child would be adopted, they appealed. In a judgment last year, which the media were permitted to report, Mr Justice Boden ruled that because the parents had not shown sufficient co‑operation with the authorities (after four psychiatric assessments of the couple, the father refused to submit to a fifth), the adoption had to go ahead.
One of the first people to contact the parents when this was made public was that independent social worker, who expressed astonishment, saying he had assumed that, because the social workers’ case seemed so flimsy, the family would have long since been reunited. Last week, however, Mr and Mrs Sims had a two-sentence note to say their daughter has now been adopted.
Since I first wrote about this case in 2009, I have come to recognise many of its features in dozens of others I have followed: the mob-handed involvement of the police; the seizing of children for no good reason; the inability of social workers to admit they have made a mistake; the way lawyers supposedly acting for the parents seem to be on the other side; the refusal of judges to look objectively at all the evidence, and their willingness to accept nonsense if told to them by social workers and their “experts”. Too often, these proceedings get away with standing every honourable principle of British justice on its head.
Such is the Frankenstein’s monster created by Parliament in the 1989 Children Act. Yet apart from the tireless John Hemming, and a handful of other MPs shocked into awareness by individual cases in their constituencies, the majority seem wholly unconcerned. So what do we pay them for?
Source: Telegraph (UK)
November 20, 2010 permalink
Brian Caldwell has scheduled an information session for Simcoe Ontario on December 7.
Information Session Regarding CAS
- Tuesday, December 7 · 6:00pm - 10:00pm
- Simcoe Library 46 Colburne Street South Simcoe, ON
- Created By
- Brian Caldwell
- More Info
- Any questions call or email: 519-842-6217 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Dufferin CAS to Continue
November 20, 2010 permalink
Dufferin CAS will not merge with a surrounding CAS, contrary to an earlier report.
Province says it will leave DCAFS as it is
After meeting with staff and clients of Dufferin Child and Family Services (DCAFS) last week, the provincial Commission for Sustainable Child Welfare assured the agency there will be no move to integrate it with similar children’s aid organizations funded by the province.
DCAFS executive director Trish Keachie hailed the news as “good for Dufferin County.
“As a smaller children’s aid society, we knew we were being looked at (for integration),” she said in an interview.”
Appointed by the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services in November 2009, the commission has a three-year mandate to develop and implement solutions to promote the sustainability of child welfare in Ontario.
The Nov. 10 meeting was with Ene Underwood, one of the three commissioners.
In its July 2010 report, Towards Sustainable Child Welfare in Ontario, the commission wrote that a “sustainable child welfare system should be dynamic and self renewing.
Ms. Keachie says DCAFS, as it is, has already integrated child protection, mental health and developmental support services under one roof.
“One of the key reasons for not asking us to merge with another agency) is the integrated nature of the service we already have,” she said. Thus, with the consent of his/her family, DCAFS professionals can work in concert with each other to service a child’s needs.
“It’s like a rapid response team,” she noted.
Sylvia Jones, Dufferin- Caledon MPP and Opposition Critic for Children and Youth Services, has chided the ministry and the commission for what she sees as a lack of transparency.
She said the ministry sent out letters to all 53 Children’s Aid Societies in the province and asked over one-quarter of them to consolidate with a neighbouring agency.
“There has been no transparency in this process. There has been no formal announcement, no press release, no press conference, no ministerial statement – not even a single tweet from the Ministry or the Commission to let Ontario families know that a consolidation of child protection services is in the works.”
Ms. Jones has asked the minister to release the list of agencies that the Commission has asked to consolidate, but says she was refused one.
Source: Orangeville Citizen
Foster Care = Criminal Training
November 20, 2010 permalink
Figures from Scotland show how bad foster care is. Of children who were in foster care at age 16, by age 22 77% will have a criminal conviction and 31% will have served prison time.
Three in four teenagers in care will have criminal conviction by age 22
More than three-quarters of children who are in residential care by their 16th birthday will have a criminal conviction by the age of 22, according to damning new figures.
Research has found that 77% will have a conviction and 31% will have spent time in prison.
The figures come from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, a research project following 4300 young people since 1998. They also show that 80% of young people who were in jail by the age of 18 will have a further criminal conviction by 22.
Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People
The prognosis for children in care has traditionally been poor, with lower-than-average educational attainment and high levels of mental health problems. But this is the first time the stark link between care and crime has been calculated in this way.
Professor Lesley McAra, of Edinburgh University, said the data suggested residential care should be avoided if necessary.
Childcare experts are agreed that children’s offending behaviour and wellbeing is adversely affected by a lack of stability in their care, and the aim is for children to have three or fewer placements. The Herald has learned, however, that at least 1500 children in care have had more than three different placements. Figures obtained under Freedom of Information legislation reveal that some vulnerable young people have had as many as 18.
Across the country, some 84 children have had 10 or more placements. The highest number was in the Highland area but other local authorities, including Glasgow, had children in care who had undergone 13 changes in placement.
In one case, a child had more than four placements by the age of four and was later repeatedly referred to the Children’s Rep-orter for offending behaviour.
Children are sometimes moved for their own safety, but the Social Work Inspection Agency has voiced fears about a lack of planning by councils which can result in some being moved too frequently or given unsuitable placements.
Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, said: “Placing a child in care disrupts their lives, so we need to ensure that it results in stability rather than further disruption. We know from research that multiple moves for children in care negatively impact on their mental health, their educational outcomes and their capacity to make and sustain relationships.”
Fred McBride, convener of the children and families committee for the Association of Directors of Social Work, said: “I would not deny that there is an issue about children moving too often. We need to do more in terms of placement stability.”
A new report from the Social Work Inspection Agency shows there has been a significant increase in children looked after in Scotland in the past five years – a 28% rise for those looked after at home and a 27% rise in those away from home. There has been a particularly marked increase in those under four.
Alexis Jay, head of the agency, said: “Many looked-after children feel their parents have rejected them. Any subsequent loss of significant adults can further undermine their self-esteem, and this will be made worse by being moved frequently.”
The Herald revealed earlier this year that, in a Glasgow pilot, parents who fail to look after their children will be given just months to improve or their child will be adopted. The scheme is already in place in the US, and there is evidence that children who are fast-tracked for adoption are more settled and suffer fewer problems.
‘I told them but no-one listened’
Michael Kerrigan, 18, was about two months old when he went into care. He says he has had more than 30 different foster placements.
Kerrigan, pictured above, has also spent time in at least two different children’s units, plus kinship care and a homeless unit. He admits he has been convicted for a long list of offences.
“I have done a lot of moving and I guess sometimes it makes it hard to build up trust with people,” he says. “Social work don’t seem to spend enough time working out how certain foster carers will cope or whether we’ll be compatible. They don’t cope and then we get moved on.
“You get moved around all the time unless you get adopted. At school I had no confidence and really struggled. I remember being sent to foster care and then back to my mum over and over. I told them I didn’t want to go back to my mum’s but no-one listened.
“I’ve been a regular visitor to children’s hearings and I’ve been in a lot of trouble with the police for a lot of different offences. Nothing has really helped.
“With help from the organisation Who Cares? Scotland I’ve got the confidence to speak to college students and student teachers about care, and I’ve helped with workshops. I’m also a board member with Who Cares?”
Ashley Walker, 21, was between three and five years old when she first went into care. She suffers from a genetic disorder that means she has to eat a very specific diet, and her mother struggled to care for her.
“I spent time in at least two different units and the rest was with foster carers and respite carers,” she says.
“At primary school my grades were great and in the first year at secondary they got even better. But then they moved me.
“I spent a year at another school and did OK but they moved me again and my grades went right down. I didn’t want to keep moving but the social work department sent me to different carers.
“You settle in one place, then they move you and you try to settle, and then they move you again and you just give up trying to settle in.
“Sometimes it was my own fault I got moved but they’ve got to find a way of improving the system.”
Urgent call for fostering
- Scotland is short of 2000 foster carers, according to the charity Barnardo’s.
- Fostering can involve caring for a child for anything from a few day to many years.
- Carers must be at least 21. They must have experience, be able to provide full-time care and have a spare room.
- Fosterers receive an allowance that covers the cost of food, clothing, household expenses and other costs.
- For more information visit www.barnardos.org.uk/fostering, or contact your local council.
‘They deserve every chance to reach their full potential’
Comment: Pauline Boyce
Young people who come into care may have experienced adverse life circumstances and it may not immediately be clear whether their placement in care is long or short term.
However, young people who are looked after away from home deserve the same opportunities as other children to reach their potential.
They have the same need for a warm and caring place to live, access to and continuity of education and relationships with family and friends. Therefore we need to ensure that we make the right choice of placement for young people and enhance their potential.
At Who Cares? Scotland, we know that some young people experience multiple placements which can be inappropriate.
This year, concern about their placement was one of the top reasons young people asked for our help. They often felt it was not a good match for them or too far from family and familiar surroundings.
It can be the case that when a young person comes into care their placement is made in an emergency and matching may be difficult, meaning that future changes of placements are likely. This is one of the challenges facing residential childcare and needs to be addressed. There is recognition that periods of transition can impact on existing mental health issues for young people.
Where there is scope to plan placements, factors that may need to be taken into account include young people being placed with siblings; being placed near their home area or sometimes more appropriately at a distance; and the need for young people to continue at the same school.
Effective commissioning of services to meet needs so that the right services are provided when and where needed is essential and, in line with legal requirements, young people should be fully involved in planning their placement.
Their views should be taken seriously and any choice of placement should take account of the young person’s needs to achieve identified outcomes in line with wellbeing indicators including safe, healthy, active, nurtured, achieving, respected and involved.
Source: The Herald
London Rally in Support of Bill 131
November 20, 2010 permalink
Yesterday OPSEU planned a march outside London and Middlesex CAS asking the government to provide more money for children's aid. After the announcement of bill 131 proponents of CAS reform organized a flash mob in support of the bill. Based on the photographs by Chad Wells, the CAS opponents seem to have carried the day. So far there is no press coverage. Expand for the OPSEU press release and a report from Chad Wells.
ONTARIO PUBLIC SERVICE EMPLOYEES UNION (OPSEU)
MEDIA ADVISORY - Children's services workers plan 'Block Walk' to mark Blue Ribbon Day in London, Nov. 19
LONDON, ON, Nov. 18 /CNW/ - Staff at London and Middlesex Children's Aid Society, will be taking part in a 'Block Walk' on Friday Nov. 19 to protest against chronic underfunding of children's services in London and area and elsewhere across Ontario.
The Walk is part of Blue Ribbon Day across the province, organized by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and the Ontario Division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Blue Ribbon Day seeks to draw public attention to the failure of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to put into place long-term, sustainable funding for children's services.
- Friday Nov. 19
- 12:00 noon
- 1680 Oxford St. E & 493 Dundas St.
For further information:
ONTARIO PUBLIC SERVICE EMPLOYEES UNION (OPSEU)
Source: Canada News Wire
I attended the rally today in London Ontario and it was a great success. Two reporters from two different news stations attended as well. The excutive director came out with her two managers and told us she supported what we were doing, I got a picture of Christine and myself with the director holding a sign saying support bill 131. I will upload the pictures tonight and send them to you. CAS also decided to have a march on the same day to raise money for CAS (about 30 people). We joined in their walk and held our signs high with the police following of course.. There was lots of police presence and I spoke with one officer that totally supported what we were doing and knew of the corruptions within CAS. At the end of the rally three police came flying into the CAS parking lot and went inside. I also got some pictures of the three cop cars parked in (foster care parents parking only) in front of the London CAS. Will email you later with more updates and pictures for your site. Many people stopped and came out of CAS to talk about the abuses they have faced and LOTS of foster parents as well.
Source: email from Chad Wells
Addendum: The London Free Press covered the rally.
Children’s Aid must have oversight
Ombudsman should be given the legal authority to look into CAS operations across Ontario
According to the protesters, CAS doesn’t stand for Children’s Aid Society. Instead, their homemade signs deliver a darker message: “CAS: Child Abuse Society,” states one placard. “CAS = Corrupt And Secret,” reads another.
Those are serious allegations. And they may be completely unfounded and untrue.
But that’s the problem: We don’t know. And we can’t find out.
That’s because Ontario is the only province that hasn’t granted its ombudsman the power to investigate Children’s Aid Societies.
And that’s precisely why Christine Sorko-Houle and a handful of other protesters were milling around the entrance to the CAS of London and Middlesex on Oxford St. E. on Friday.
“I’m not in any way minimizing that Children’s Aid has a very hard job to do,” said Sorko-Houle, who’d driven in from Tillsonburg for the demonstration. “However, I am opposing the fact they’re resisting oversight by the Ontario government.
“There are a lot of complaints swept under the rug, because the ombudsman can’t do anything about them,” she added. “And it makes no sense.”
According to the 2009/2010 annual report released by the office of Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin, his office received 2,201 complaints about Children’s Aid Societies in this province between 2005 and 2010. Those complaints included CAS refusal to thoroughly investigate allegations of abuse and neglect, concerns about CAS apprehension of children and the care of children in CAS custody or supervision, inaccurate CAS records, threatening and harassing conduct by CAS staff and CAS refusal to permit access to children in their custody.
As the report stated, all those complaints were turned away, because the ombudsman “does not have oversight of child protection services.”
Outside the London CAS offices on Friday, the protesters were joined at one point by two foster parents. And all of them said that CAS officials have made false allegations, aren’t accountable and generally behave in a condescending manner towards clients and their families.
“Families are broken apart needlessly, children are deprived of stable foster care, adoptions fail, children suffer abuse,” said Sorko-Houle. “(The CAS) is miserably failing our children in Ontario.”
Jane Fitzgerald, executive director of the Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex, was unavailable to comment on those accusations. But an assistant speaking on her behalf said, “Our shared interest (with the protesters) is in protecting our community’s vulnerable children.”
More answers might surface if Rosario Marchese gets his way. The NDP MPP for the Toronto riding of Trinity-Spadina introduced a private member’s bill (Bill 131) last week which, if implemented, would allow the provincial ombudsman to investigate complaints about hospitals, long-term care facilities, retirement homes, school boards and Children’s Aid Societies.
As it stands now, complaints about the CAS are handled by the Child and Family Services Review Board. But it focuses on procedural issues, and its recommendations don’t have to be followed by the 53 Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario.
The bottom line is this: The CAS is an incorporated, not-for-profit agency governed by volunteer boards and funded by the provincial government. In 2008, there were nearly 18,000 children under its care and supervision.
Surely, those children — and their families and foster care-givers — deserve some answers when things go awry.
Source: London Free Press
Support Bill 131
November 19, 2010 permalink
Neil Haskett has opened a new website in support of Bill 131, Ombudsman Amendment Act. It is at Ontario's Bill 131. He urges everyone to sign a petition in support of the bill. Details are in the expand block.
Neil Haskett November 18 at 9:04pm
Please download the Bill 131 petition and the petitions instructions below. Petitions make a difference and it's for the kids in care!
We are challenging everyone to get at least 10 friends or family send in as many petitions as possible.
Petitions may be signed by people under the age of majority. If you bring them to your MPP you won't need to pay postage. If you can't afford postage message us and we'll make arrangements.
It's also suggested that we contact our MPP's and ask they support Private Member Bill 131 and maybe get them to sign when your there!
Source: Facebook, Neil Haskett
Girl Removed from Thunder Bay
November 19, 2010 permalink
A dozen protestors showed up at the offices of children's aid in Thunder Bay after a four-year-old local girl was taken from her grandmother and relocated 1546 km away to Stirling Ontario.
The little girl flown from Thunder Bay to southern Ontario by the Children’s Aid Society last week should have stayed home, says a group of community members.
The four-year-old disabled girl was under the care of her grandparents until Nov.8 when CAS forced the grandparents to surrender her to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. She was then airlifted from the regional hospital to Sterling, Ont.
Sue Gammond was one of a dozen protesters at CAS’s Jade Court offices in Thunder Bay Thursday morning. She said the girl should not have been sent south and should have stayed with family in her own community.
"They took her away from her family, they took her away from her support group. She was going to school two days a week," Gammond said. "She has all the resources she needs for support her and they still sent her away."
Thunder Bay CAS director Rob Richardson said he couldn’t discuss the specific case, but did say his organization is legally obligated to act in the best interests of a child. While staying with relatives in the child’s own community is preferred, Richardson said when a child has special needs the agency will sometimes have to move him or her to a place where those needs can be met.
"That is a last resort for us," he said. "We do not like the idea of moving kids out of our community unfortunately for a few children that is the best resource for them."
But Gammond, who was surrounded by the child’s extended family, said based on information she’s received the child isn’t at a special facility where her needs are met. Instead, the young girl is said to be at a CAS-run group home.
"CAS has missed the mark at looking after the child’s needs first. For some reason they have a different agenda," she said. "The little girl is not being served properly by our community by taking her away from the community it’s that simple."
An entire team at CAS makes the decision in cases such as this, but eventually the courts have the final say, Richardson said. A child would not be removed from a community or home unless it was in the child’s best interest to do so, he said.
"It obviously would be better to have the child in our community, but protection concerns would trump family concerns," he said.
Gammond said the child was injured last February and the mother is facing criminal charges.
Gammond believes the mother is innocent, but even still the child has two sets of grandparents and over 30 extended family members in Thunder Bay who are willing to open their homes while the matter is settled.
Source: TB News Watch
Addendum: The year-long ordeal of the girl in the article has prompted the creation of a new website/blog, Reform the Children's Aid Society in Canada.
Sorry, Wrong Children
November 19, 2010 permalink
When social workers went to a school in Alaska to pick up two kids, they got the wrong girls.
Social worker picks up wrong kids at elementary school
For a time Wednesday, Kimberly Booth thought her two little girls had been kidnapped.
When she went to pick them up from school, Muldoon Elementary staff members told her a state children's services worker had taken them. But she called the state Office of Children's Services and got a chilling answer.
"They said, 'We don't have a case on your children. We don't know what the school is talking about. We don't have your kids,' " Booth said Thursday.
That's when her fears peaked and set her on a frantic course to find her children.
She went back to talk to school officials and was told the same story: a state worker had picked up her kids. She called OCS again. After 30 minutes on hold, she said, a supervisor came on the phone and told her the state had her kids and that the children's services worker had picked up the wrong children at the school.
"It's very upsetting," said Booth, in describing the experience on Thursday.
Christy Lawton, acting director of the state Office of Children's Services, said it's true that a state social services associate drove away with the wrong children.
"We had a worker out sick, another worker covering, two families with similar names. The children were being picked up for a visitation with another parent. He simply got the names wrong," said Lawton.
"It doesn't change the terror factor. But the kids at least were calm," she said.
The state worker didn't figure out that he had the wrong kids until he got to the parental visitation site, Lawton said. Then he called Muldoon Elementary, told school staff of the mistake, and brought the girls back.
The children were away from school for about 45 minutes, Lawton said. The worker apologized to Booth, and the regional manager called and apologized again, said Lawton.
She and Anchorage School District officials said they can't remember another case of OCS removing the wrong children from a school.
From the school standpoint, it was "all standard operating procedure," said Heidi Embley, district spokeswoman.
"An OCS person showed identification, gave the names of the kids they needed to the school and the school got the kids," said Embley. "Typically, OCS doesn't share information about the case."
The girls, Na'dasia, 6, and Dari'jae, 8, didn't know what to do when a stranger picked them up, Booth said.
"The school's authorized them to take them, so nobody's there to help them," she said.
"They were scared. They told me they didn't cry. ... All they could do was just go."
Booth, a customer service agent at a GCI call center, and a single mom, isn't sure what to do about the mixup. Co-workers told her she should be "banging somebody's head in," she said. "I'm pregnant. I work hourly. I'm going to file a police report."
Source: Anchorage Daily News
National Adoption Day
November 19, 2010 permalink
Tomorrow, November 20, is National Adoption Day. Richard Wexler gives his comments on its real meaning. The social services establishment glorifies adoption while natural parents get short shrift. A few reservations follow the article.
Adoption of children from foster care: National Child Welfare Hypocrisy Day, 2010
This is part of a post that originally appeared in 2008. Since the event is annual, I plan to reprint the post each year as well, with updates as appropriate.
How do we know what's really important to a person, or to a corporation, or to an institution?
One way, of course, is how we choose to spend money, and I've written before about how child welfare agencies do that. But there's also another good measure: what we choose to celebrate.
The father who has memorized the schedule of his favorite football team but always forgets his children's birthdays is sending a message. So, too, is the child welfare agency which claims that its first priority when a child is taken away is to reunify that child with her or his birth parents, with adoption as the second choice, but chooses to celebrate only the supposed second choice.
In general, adoption is the right second choice; for some children it is the right first choice. Adoption can be, both literally and figuratively, a life saver for a child; it should be one important component of any good child welfare system; and there is nothing wrong with celebrating it as one avenue to permanence.
But if the true intent of child welfare systems is revealed by what they celebrate, then one of the most noble concepts in child welfare, giving children permanence, has been perverted into a synonym for adoption and only adoption. Reunification gets lip service until everyone in the system, from frontline workers, to agency chiefs to top judges can get what they really want: children taken from poor people and placed with middle class families; families like their own. The real agenda of most child welfare systems, and most of the people in them, is made apparent every year on National Adoption Day; or, as it should properly be called, National Child Welfare Hypocrisy Day.
EVERYBODY KNOWS THE DRILL
The day actually is celebrated on different dates in different states, but it's always in November and most places will hold their celebrations tomorrow. You know the drill. Open the court on a Saturday, bring in cake and balloons, finalize foster-child adoptions en masse – and reinforce every stereotype about how the system rescues children from horrible birth parents and places them with vastly superior adoptive parents. And, of course, get a guaranteed puff piece in the local newspaper, with no tough questions. This one, from the St. Petersburg Times in 2008, is typical:
In general, a courthouse is not a happy place. People go there to get divorced, to fight eviction, to file for bankruptcy, to watch loved ones sent away to prison. You see a lot of suffering, and you hear it in the cries and cursing that echo through the hallways. Forty children, sugar-laden with sheet cake and bouncing around a lobby with balloons, made Friday an exception at the county courthouse in Tampa. As part of a National Adoption Day celebration, they were legally united with "forever families," mothers and fathers giving them a one-way ticket out of the foster care system. …
The treacle aside, it's almost certainly inaccurate. Given what we know about adoption "disruption" for some of the children, it may well be round trip. And, as is discussed below, stories like this one make such tragedies, and others, a little more likely.
If nothing else, this is the day when almost all the people in almost every child welfare system in the country, from frontline workers to agency chiefs, show their true colors. This is the day that makes them genuinely happy. Yet all these same players will turn on a dime and blather on about how their first priority is reunification. Well, if that's your first priority, why aren't you celebrating it? Why did so many fewer communities take part in the first National Reunification Day in 2009? Why is there no happiness expressed over doing what you yourselves claim is priority #1? Why don't reporters note that, when a child finally gets to return to the birth mother she loves after months or years needlessly separated, that, too, can bring some happiness to a courtroom?
Clearly, reunification is not priority #1. Priority #1 is carrying out those middle-class rescue fantasies – taking children from people like them and placing them with people like us; people of the same race and, especially the same income level, as your average caseworker, judge, lawyer – or reporter. (No newspaper took the whole "people like us" thing as literally as Foster's Daily Democrat and its sister papers in New Hampshire. In 2008, a four story 4,900-word Sunday package of glop and goo about adoption day included a sidebar in which the saintly foster mother –who kept complaining about not getting enough taxpayer money for her adoptions – was none other than the newspaper's managing editor!)
For almost everyone working in the system, the truth is that keeping families together is the broccoli on the child welfare menu and adoption is the dessert. National Child Welfare Hypocrisy Day is another way to bring out the dessert tray before anyone's eaten their broccoli.
The exceptions are few and far between. The first to recognize the hypocrisy was Marc Cherna, long-time reform-minded leader of the human services agency in Allegheny County, Pa. He was the first to create an annual celebration of reunified families and push it at least as hard as the adoption celebration. After NCCPR started spreading the word about this, a few – very few – other communities followed suit. New York City has done it for the past few years (though their effort is tarnished by other statements and actions undercutting their own reforms). New Jersey has done it at least twice, and the Miami region of the Florida Department of Children and Families is doing it regularly.
This year, the Parents’ Representation Project of the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law sponsored the first National Reunification Day – but few places took part, compared to the hundreds of Adoption Day events.
THE DANGERS OF ADOPTION DAY
It's not just hypocritical, it's also dangerous.
When the only kind of "permanence" that receives any reward is adoption, the message to the frontlines is obvious: Don't try to reunify, rush to terminate parental rights. And that's exactly what happens. In Kentucky it led to a scandal, as the Lexington Herald-Leader exposed "quick trigger adoptions" with workers rushing to terminate parental rights in cases where children may never have needed to be taken from their parents. The only difference between Kentucky and the rest of the nation is, in Kentucky, the Herald-Leader was paying attention. That caught the attention of NBC Nightly News which offered an excellent overview of the Kentucky scandal.
But there are other dangers as well. Year after year, terminations of parental rights outrun actual adoptions. The result: A generation of legal orphans with no ties to their parents and little or no hope of adoption – with or without cake and balloons - either. The combination of these non-financial incentives, plus the adoption bounties paid by the federal government goes a long way to explain why the number of children who "age out" of foster care each year with no home at all has soared 41 percent since 1998.
And then there is the matter of where these children wind up.
Another reason for the mad rush to adoption-at-all-costs is the fact that getting those adoption numbers up is the one time a child welfare agency is guaranteed good press. Everyone knows the reporters will write a story like the one quoted above and not ask any tough questions about whether the children really needed to be taken, and how carefully the adoptive parents were checked out. And then, the same journalists will wonder how it could happen that children like Ricky Holland and Timothy Boss in Michigan and others across the country could be murdered by adoptive parents - in effect, adopted to death.
Of course abuse in adoptive homes is rare – just like abuse in birth parent homes. The bigger problem is adoption "disruption," when agencies rush children into a bad match and the parents change their minds. No one really knows how often that happens – child welfare systems almost never ask questions to which they don't want to know the answers. Some rough estimates are in NCCPR's Issue Paper on adoption.
But whether the problem is legal orphans, disruption or, rarely, severe, even fatal abuse in adoptive homes, it's all encouraged by adoption bounties and the adoption day mentality, both of which promote quick-and-dirty, slipshod placements. Even Marcia Lowry, who runs the group that so arrogantly calls itself "Children's Rights" has said that "… Congress should realize that far too many states … when they do, for example, raise their adoption numbers, are doing so by including many clearly inadequate families … along with the genuinely committed, loving families who want to make a home for these children, just to 'succeed' by boosting their numbers." That her own lawsuit settlements have been known to push states the same way is a contradiction someone might want to ask her about someday.
Source: Richard Wexler blog
The comment that adoption takes children from poverty to middle class life is not always the case. It is now commonplace for child protectors to take children from middle class families and place them in foster care. Since foster care is purchased from the low bidder, they usually go downscale socially and financially. As for adoption, the Wexler version only applies to what we call high bidder adoption. The direction again is downscale for the low bidder adoption. Link for a discussion of the difference.
Fake doctor jailed for giving breast exams in bars
November 18, 2010 permalink
A trans-gender woman impersonated a plastic surgeon so she could give women breast-exams.
Woman pretended to be a plastic surgeon to conduct bar-room breast exams (and the biggest surprise came after her arrest)
Police in Idaho have arrested a woman who impersonated a plastic surgeon so she could carry out breast exams to random strangers.
And the biggest surprise came when the arresting officers were booking the 37-year-old back at the station.
Kristina Ross, 37, was arrested on Tuesday after allegedly conducting exams on at least two women in bars and nightclubs.
Yesterday, a judge set her bond at $100,000.
Her cover was blown when prospective patients kept calling a Boise, Idaho, licensed cosmetic surgeon's office asking to see a Dr Berlyn Aussieahshowna.
But no doctor by that name existed and the police were alerted.
Ross was held after detectives interviewed one of the women, who had been trying to contact the fake doctor after her initial 'evaluation' for breast enhancements.
The victims said they believed Ross because she used medical vocabulary.
She said Ross even gave them a phone number to an actual plastic surgeon's office in order for them to make follow-up appointments.
But when Ross was being processed at the station, officers discovered their female lawbreaker used to be a man.
Ross served a prison sentence back in 2004, stemming from an aggravated battery charge in Twin Falls county.
The documents from that prison stay lists Ross in the gender category of 'M-T-F' or 'male to female'.
Little wonder then, that she knew so much technical jargon for breast augmentation.
She was charged with practising medicine without a licence, which is a felony as Ross is not a medical doctor.
Detectives said they fear more women may have been subjected to Ross's bar-room breast examinations but have not come forward.
Source: Daily Mail
Political Correctness Kills
November 18, 2010 permalink
After breaking up with his wife Leo Campione tried every possible route to get custody of his two daughters away from their unstable mother, but the courts and CAS rebuffed him. On October 4, 2006 she killed both girls, leaving father Leo only grief. Previous articles are:       .
This week a jury convicted mother Elaine Campione of the crime of first-degree murder. After the trial the judge had some words. Who did he chew out? Dad. Barbara Kay opines on the domination of the courts and social service agencies by political correctness. Faulty ideology blocks out common sense, leaving dead children as victims.
Barbara Kay: When a mother is on trial, the father is the accused
He just couldn’t leave well enough alone. Judge Alfred Stong, I mean, who presided over the Elaine Campione murder trial. Two days ago the jury brought in a decision of first-degree murder and a 25-year sentence against Elaine Campione, who freely confessed to drowning her two little girls in a bathtub, and who freely stated in a videotape that her motivation was hatred for, and revenge against her husband Leo.
The trial was over, But Judge Stong added comments after the verdict announcement suggesting that if had the power to overturn the jury’s verdict, he would. He said, “It is more than disconcerting to think that if Campione had not been so abused, so used and discarded as a person, her two daughters could still be alive…” Judge Stong was determined that even if it is Campione that gets locked up, Canadians would know that the real villain, morally speaking, is Leo Campione, the father of the dead girls (even though his alleged abusiveness was entirely based on his wife’s allegations and never proved), and it is actually the “discarded” Elaine Campione who is the victim.
Judge Stong felt such personal animus against the grieving father that he wanted to deny Mr. Campione and his parents their opportunity to read a victim-impact statement, standard practice even with mandatory- sentencing cases. He only relented under strong pressure from the prosecutor, who reminded the judge that the murdered girls had been “an extremely important part of [Mr. Campione's] life.”
The judge’s attitude is shameful. But what can you expect from someone who has been trained – literally, judges take structured learning programs steeped in feminist myths and misandric conspiracy theories – that women are never abusive or violent unless they have been driven to it by an abusive male. Judge Stong just could not get it into his head – he alluded to the “unimaginable facts of this case” – that a woman could kill her children without a motivation involving a controlling male that somehow drove her to the act.
Why did it not occur to the judge to blame the CAS? The CAS was well aware of Elaine Campione’s quixotic and alarming history. They knew that Campione had exhibited many signs of psychosis, that she had been hospitalized in psychiatric wards, believed people were out to kill her and kidnap her children, and exhibiting such bizarre and/or negligent behaviours toward her girls that mother-substitutes, including her own mother, had to be constantly parachuted into her household if it was to function at all.
Yet the CAS decided the mother was the “safe parent.” Mr. Campione fought like a tiger and indebted himself trying to wrest control of the children from a woman he knew to be unstable and a potential risk to them, but nobody listened to him. Why? Because everyone licenced to deal with family issues on behalf of the state – social service agencies, police, lawyers and judges – are trained in the same mythology about women as Judge Stong was. They are all singing from the same hymn book: trust the woman, suspect the man, even when the evidence screams not to.
Let a man raise his hand once to a woman (or not, but simply be accused of doing so), and he will be whisked out of his children’s lives for a year at least. You can be sure that if the father of these children had exhibited one-hundredth of the myriad clues to Elaine Campione’s potential risk to her children’s safety, the CAS would have eaten him for breakfast.
The “system” didn’t fail Elaine Campione. The system failed those two little girls by enabling a woman’s psychosis at the expense of her children. There is nothing “unimaginable” in this case at all. It has all happened before.
Everyone involved in this fiasco should be locked up in a room and forced to review the case of Zachary Turner, the thirteen-month old baby who was drugged and drowned in Newfoundland in 2003 by his psychotic mother, Shirley, while she was out on bail for the third time on charges of murdering Zachary’s father. And after that forced to review the case of Toronto baby Jordan Heikamp, who in 2001 was starved to death by his mother under the blind eyes of the Catholic Children’s Aid Society (no jail time) and Toronto baby Sara Cao, abused to death in 2001 by her mother Elizabeth. Christie Blatchford, who covered that case, said the mother (again no jail time) “was treated by the system, and in the main by the media, as a pitiful [woman], worthy of sympathy.”
Sound familiar? Plus ça change. When fathers kill, they are not assigned any motivation but their own evil impulses. When mothers kill, everyone in the system kicks into denial mode, and assumes the fault has to lie elsewhere – anywhere, as long as the woman doesn’t have to take responsibility for her actions, and can be offered sympathy. When fathers show disturbing tendencies, the system acts, or tries to. When mothers show disturbing behaviour, the system protects the victimizer.
Little Sophia and Serena Campione did not have to die. They were allowed to die because of a belief system that denies the truth of human nature. Both men and women are capable of aggression.
Statistically in Canada, mothers abuse their children more than fathers. When will our society really consider the “best interests” of the child rather than throwing them under the bus of a superannuated and pernicious ideology?
Source: National Post
Addendum: Charles Adler is even more outraged.
The man is blamed
Wife murders kids, yet her husband is vilified, based on untested evidence
The more you read about Elaine Campione, the Barrie, Ont. baby killer, the more you want to scream bloody murder.
You want to scream at the judge. You want to scream at the Children’s Aid Society.
You want to scream at feminist fossils who seem to have the legal system in a headlock.
No-fault divorce has turned into man-fault custody battles. This week, even though the jury convicted a mother of first-degree murder and she was sentenced to life in prison, the judge attacked the girls’ innocent father, Leo Campione, in his closing remarks.
The default position of the Canadian bench is whatever crime a woman commits it’s probably the man’s fault. And it makes you want to scream. Please know you are not alone.
Everyone, except the herd of usual suspects — Sun Media haters, knee-jerk contrarians, feminist ideologues — is screaming. In this wonderfully democratic medium, the suspects can post their venom online, below this column.
While the country needs to have a real coast-to-coast primal scream, we also need to quietly ask disquieting questions.
- If Russell Williams was a woman would her husband be blamed for the deaths of two women?
- If Russell Williams was a woman, would such little national media attention paid to that case as there has been to the Campione killings?
- If Russell Williams was a woman would there be silence instead of a great deal of media psycho babble about how men have made women hate themselves so much that some can’t help but act out by murdering other females?
- Does anyone think some of the ancient bra-burning feminists might, before they go to the other side, offer a death-bed confession?
- Might they confess that some of the man hatred they’ve unleashed resulted in a lot of damaged families and abuse against men and children?
- Would such a confession be enough to allow us to do something truly progressive, like have courts treat men as the equals of women?
- What was Justice Alfred Stong thinking when he said this about Leo Campione, a man never convicted or cross-examined on abuse charges? “It is more than disconcerting to think that if Ms. Campione had not been so abused, so used and discarded as a person, her two daughters could still be alive.’’
- My final question is for the judge himself. Mr. Justice Stong, I need to ask you the same question once asked of another bully from a bygone era. U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, a man who wanted to condemn people without being encumbered by the need for evidence was asked: “Have you no sense of decency, sir?”
As they say in court, those are all my questions.
Source: Toronto Sun
November 17, 2010 permalink
Between complaints that social workers are overburdened is a disclosure that in Newfoundland alternative living arrangements cost between $157,000 and $615,000 annually per foster child. Only a tiny portion of this can be going for food, clothing and shelter. The rest is lining the pockets of the social services bureaucracy.
Emergency child placements cost N.L. millions
Advocates say the Newfoundland and Labrador government is sheltering children in hotels and motels in a system that costs millions of dollars and burns social workers out.
As well, the practice may be jeopardizing normal development of the children the government is seeking to protect, advocates tell CBC News.
Because of a lack of foster homes, the government has for several years been placing children in local hotels, as well as paying for round-the-clock care.
Often, the caregivers are social workers who have already completed a day on the job, and their union says the practice has become too much to bear.
"They're concerned that they're run down and that they're tired," said Carol Furlong, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, which represents them.
"They've already worked their regular job. This is in addition to the hours they've already put in that day. … They just can't keep it up."
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said social workers have told her they are afraid of being disciplined if they refuse the assignments.
"It's just not acceptable. The minister could have taken action before now to aggressively go after more foster families," she told CBC News.
In his latest report, Auditor General John Noseworthy said the practice — known as alternative living arrangements — has been expensive, with the government spending between $157,000 to $615,000 per year, per child.
Joan Burke, minister of the recently formed Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, said the government recognizes there is a problem and new foster families - 143 in the last year - are being recruited.
"I understand their issues and their concerns and I can assure them that we're working towards options that will eliminate that," she said.
Lawyer Brian Wentzell, who represents parents who have had children in alternative living arrangements, calls the system "farmed-out" care.
"I've had situations where children have been in ALAs for as much as a year," he said.
Wentzell said the response requires more than just new foster parents, but a more thorough approach to working with the family.
"More foster homes would help, but I think that's more treating the symptom than treating the problem," he said in an interview.
"It seems more focused on getting the children out of the risk situation, which I applaud. Don't get me wrong, that has to happen," he said.
"But then the focus doesn't shift to the same intensity in doing what needs to be done to get the children back home."
Melba Rabinowitz, a retired St. John's social worker, said she is concerned most about the welfare of the children, some of whom are infants, who are placed in alternative living arrangements and must deal with an endless stream of adults looking after them.
"I just can't imagine what it would be like for a child to have that kind of change systematically. It doesn't matter how nice the people are," Rabinowitz said.
"It doesn't matter what we're doing in terms of changing policy. We're gonna lose most of these children where they're gonna have emotional illnesses," she said. "I know that. I've seen it and I know it."
Father Molests Social Worker
November 17, 2010 permalink
When a social worker came to visit the children of Shawn Fowlston in Norwich New York he sexually molested her.
This subject is too hot for fixcas. Make up you own comment.
Norwich man charged with sex attack on social worker
NORWICH –The Norwich Police charged a city resident with a number of crimes Friday after he allegedly assaulted and sexually accosted a social worker sent to visit his children.
Officers arrested 26-year-old Shawn Fowlston of 58 Birdsall St., Norwich, Friday afternoon and charged him with first degree sexual abuse, a D class felony, forcible touching, second degree unlawful imprisonment, third degree assault and fourth degree criminal mischief, misdemeanors.
Appearing briefly in Norwich City Court Tuesday, Fowlston waived his right to a felony hearing and is now scheduled to go before a Chenango County grand jury.
First Assistant District Attorney Stephen M. Dunshee said the victim in the case was a “social worker visiting the defendant’s home to meet with his children.”
Dunshee explained the victim was working for a local organization and was scheduled to meet with the defendant’s four and six year-old children in relation to a school program. During the visit, Dunshee claims Fowlston, who is married, engaged the victim in “suggestive conversation.”
According to the felony complaint filed by authorities, Fowlston lost control at some point during the incident and grabbed the woman, ripping her shirt, covering her mouth and sexually molesting her. Dunshee also said that during the struggle, Fowlston kept her from leaving the residence.
Source: Evening Sun
Scared to Death
November 17, 2010 permalink
Child protectors are so fearsome that a mere visit can induce a murder-suicide.
Indian-origin mum killed autistic son fearing that UK social services would take him away
London, Nov.16 : An Indian-origin mother killed her severely autistic son by force-feeding him bleach just hours after being told he would be taken away by social services and put in care.
Satpal Kaur-Singh, 44, poured a cup of bleach down 12-year-old Ajit’s throat after a meeting with social services, the Daily Star said.
She then drank a cup and a half herself before dialling 999 two hours later.
She told the operator: ‘I’ve just murdered my son and I’ve tried to kill myself … I’m drinking bleach but nothing is happening.’oday, Kaur-Singh admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility at the Old Bailey.
Police and paramedics found Ajit lifeless on the sofa and were almost overpowered by the smell of bleach at the house in Barking, East London.
The boy, who depended on his mother for all his needs, had burns on his mouth, chin and neck where the liquid spilled on to his face.
Hospital staff, who wore masks because of the overwhelming smell of bleach, tried in vain to save him. (ANI)
Source: India Talkies
November 16, 2010 permalink
According to leader John Fox, the scheduled rally at Queens Park set for November 25 is canceled. The replacement, not yet scheduled, can be expected for next spring. But others still plan to attend on November 25.
Source: Facebook, John Fox
Correction: John Fox plans to go ahead with the rally.
As most of you know, we have had these CAS campaigns all spring, summer and well into the late fall. Our last march will be on Nov 25th. To date I believe, we have accomplished education, knowledge, insight and have done this without any police involvement to our members. Our movement has been credible, respected and we have a large following not only in Ontario but right across the country. I am proud to say, we are the grass roots people who have made the difference and will continue to do so. At this time, the message were getting is to be patient as some of our leaderships are working on items which will effect all of us. Namely, a child welfare law being developed. Secondly, have we made an impact of our campaign of marches, protests and raising awareness on the CAS operations in our communities? If so, what else can we do to make our work more effective for change? Thirdly, as winter approaches we will be on a short term break but we need to meet, plan and organize for 2011. Fyi, i watched with high interest on the APTN news/in focus about the native child welfare aired this week. It is heart breaking to see so many kids in State care and it is equally concerning we have no control what happens to our children once there in that system. As one of the panel speakers mentioned, it is true that "loneliness" is a big factor while in the CAS foster home. As it is now and was then, many of our foster homes are overcrowded and as many as 3 to 7 children/youth can be in one foster home. That is not proper! For me, i have shed many a tear, i went throught the "blame stage", i went through my bout with alcohol and i went through tremendous and painful grief experiences. There wasnt a day i did not think of ending it all. Somehow, i managed to come through but at tremendous cost to me personally. First, i had to acknowledge that pain, get help for it and maintain what i decided to undertake for my own survival. Yes, my own survival. Without that healing, i would not be where i am at today. In the end, i came through somehow. Today, i dont blame, i try not to shout at anybody for my problems because the only problems i have today are the ones i created for myself. I have no one to blame. I dont resent, i dont hate but i do try to live a balanced lifestyle of work, laughter, rest and all the other things which make us all enjoy lifes gifts, mysteries and wonders. I hope you can join me in wlecomg this new life everyday. We need each other and it's best we surround ourselves with good people. I am proud of my people, we have a history and we should express that to our children and where we've been. Teach your children being Anishnawbe is what were all about! Lets not forgot about the people were speaking for because for whatever reason, they cannot speak for themselves. We need to be that voice. Keep up the struggle as your all in my heart.. John
November 20, 2010
Ombudsman Oversight Bill Introduced
November 15, 2010 permalink
Today Rosario Marchese introduced his private members bill to expand the role of Ontario's ombudsman to cover new areas including children's aid societies. Witnesses who were present in the legislature confirm on Facebook that the bill was introduced as planned.
Expand ombudsman powers: Ont. NDP
Private member's bill to be tabled Monday
Vulnerable seniors in long-term care homes and families torn apart by social workers are just two reasons why Ontario's ombudsman needs expanded authority similar to his counterparts in other provinces, say social activists and the NDP.
The Advocacy Centre for the Elderly, a legal aid clinic that helps low-income seniors, finds half its practice involves problems with people in long-term care facilities, hospitals and retirement homes, said executive director Judith Wahl.
"We get thousands of complaints a year, so we would welcome the addition of the ombudsman looking at some of these issues and providing some remedies," said Wahl.
There are plenty of regulations governing the health-care sector, but they don't always protect patients, Wahl added.
"Despite the fact there is a great deal of legislation that governs all of these health bodies, we see the phenomenon of good law/bad practice, so the systems do not reflect the law," she said.
"We see policies and practices that take away people's rights, or do not provide the whole scope that is afforded by the legislation."
The Foster Care Council of Canada said workers at Children's Aid Societies in Ontario are burdened with heavy caseloads and often have little time for the clients they are supposed to serve.
"As a former Crown ward, I experienced a great deal of frustration with CAS workers," said council spokesperson Michele Farrugia.
"Some foster children fight for more than 10 years to get copies of their own personal records from a CAS. Sometimes, Children's Aid Societies take away children for very little reason."
There are family situations that the Ombudsman could quickly address before they take tragic turns, added Farrugia.
"We also know of siblings who were separated when taken into care and only discovered each other late in adult life, despite the fact they were never adopted," he said.
"Ombudsman's oversight is vital to ensuring the best interest of Ontario's vulnerable children and youth."
Problem 'not going away'
New Democrat Rosario Marchese plans to introduce a private member's bill Monday to give the ombudsman the power to investigate hospitals, long-term care homes, school boards, municipalities, and Children's Aid Societies.
The ombudsman's office already receives complaints about these institutions each year but is powerless to help, Marchese said.
"This problem of complaints is not going away," he said.
"Problems are happening in every one of the institutions … and we believe there is no downside to having an ombudsman have oversight into these institutions."
The ombudsman could find out why there are 9,000 children in Ontario waiting to be adopted, added Marchese.
"For some reason in Ontario we're having a hard time making sure that these kids get adopted," he said.
"Maybe there's a good reason, but someone like an ombudsman would be able to get in there, review the matter and recommend changes in a very expeditious matter."
Marchese isn't the first to introduce such legislation. Liberal backbencher Mario Sergio introduced his own private member's bill in 2008 to create the office of the seniors' ombudsman.
"Every day, there are seniors whose rights, whose dignity, whose quality of life is trampled upon, threatened by negligence and uncaring government bodies, and by others as well in the private sector," Sergio said before his bill went down to defeat.
The Progressive Conservatives said they were open to Marchese's legislation, noting the province spends $60 billion on health care and education each year.
"We'll look at all avenues wherever the public's dollar is spent to make sure is has the proper oversight and accountability," said Opposition critic Jim Wilson.
"If we need officers of the legislature to help us with that, then I don't think we would rule that out at this time."
No oversight of hospitals
Private member's bills rarely become law in Ontario, and even Ombudsman André Marin admits his office has been pushing for the expanded oversight powers for decades.
"Our annual reports for the last 35 years have consistently called for the ombudsman's mandate to be modernized to include the MUSH [municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals] sector," Marin said in an email.
Ontario is the only province whose ombudsman has no oversight of hospitals, but the office still gets complaints.
"They focused on issues ranging from complaints about poor communication by administrators to serious allegations of abuse and substandard care," Marin wrote in his 2010 report.
The province created the Family Services Review Board as an arms-length body to oversee complaints about Children's Aid Societies, said Children and Youth Services Minister Laurel Broten.
"It's incredibly important that we have oversight and that Ontarians feel there are mechanisms for them to raise issues of concern, and those processes have been put in place by our government," Broten said in an interview.
"The steps our government has taken have vastly improved the oversight and put in place a very specialized approach when it comes to kids and families."
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs said provincial law allows every municipality to appoint an ombudsman, integrity commissioner, auditor general and lobbyist registry if they wish.
The Ministry of Health said it has proposed legislation which would expand freedom of information legislation to hospitals and will require them to post expenses and attest to their use of consultants.
Addendum: The proposed law is Bill 131, Ombudsman Amendment Act (Designated Public Bodies), 2010. The introduction appears in the Hansard:   . Here is a radio interview of Rosario Marchese (mp3) by Rita Celli of CBC Ottawa.
November 15, 2010 permalink
Canada's immigration is about to create three orphans, as mother Paula Terry, lacking proper credentials, has been ordered to leave the country by today. She will be abandoning her Canadian-citizen children ages 8, 4 and 3. Since mother and children are citizens of different countries they cannot legally live together.
Breast-feeding mom told to leave Canada
A Ladner woman, who says she’s being forced to leave the country by noon Monday despite being married to a Canadian and having three Canadian-born children, is worried the federal order will split her family apart.
Paula Terry, 48, said she’s been issued an exclusion order by Canadian Border Services Agency that prevents her from returning to Canada for a year.
“They said they can arrest me if I don’t leave or they will issue a warrant for my arrest,” she said.
The mother of nine children, four of whom are adults living in the U.S., moved to Canada about 10 years ago. She married Ken LaBossiere, 55, an ironworker in 2004.
The couple have three children, ages eight, four and three, and live in Ladner with Terry’s two teenaged children from previous relationships.
She assumed she had the legal right to live in Canada, until this past summer.
“As soon as I got married and had Canadian kids, I stopped worrying [about my citizenship],” she said. “I really didn’t think I was here illegally. Until they came here in the summer. It was a bit of a shock.”
She said she paid the $500 fee to begin the sponsorship process, but suffers from dyslexia and post-traumatic stress disorder from living in an abusive relationship with her first husband and had trouble with filling it out.
The application, which required FBI checks among other data from the several states she has lived in, was returned as incomplete.
“I’m not really good at filling out forms,” she said. “If you saw the list of what they wanted you to do, it’s really daunting.”
She enlisted the help of a University of B.C. law student, who wrote that Terry’s removal from Canada would cause “undue hardship and irreparable harm” to the school-aged children and the three-year-old, who is still breastfeeding, as well as to LaBossiere.
Her children’s school principal wrote a letter urging officials to consider delaying the order until the end of the school year because “her absence from the family will bring disruption of routines, school attendance and emotional support provided by a mother for all the children.”
CBSA formally rejected Terry’s request for a deferral of the removal order on Nov. 9.
Terry said she doesn’t have friends or relatives to stay with in the U.S. and will likely check into a YMCA in Bellingham with her three-year-old.
Immigration and Border Services spokesmen weren’t available for comment Sunday.
Source: The Province (Vancouver)
Courts Take on Sixties Scoop
November 13, 2010 permalink
An Ontario court has allowed a class-action lawsuit for victims of the 60's scoop, large-scale removal of Indian children from their families. Leader John Fox, mentioned in the article, has been in these columns before:   .
Aboriginal kids form legal class
TORONTO -- An Ontario court ruling means a class action suit by aboriginal children placed in foster care would be the first time a case based on loss of culture as a wrongful act will be litigated in western legal history.
Activist John Fox, from Wikwemikong and currently living in Ajax, is one of an estimated 16,000 victims of the so-called Sixties Scoop in Ontario that saw the Children's Aid Society place aboriginal children up for adoption or in foster homes with non-aboriginal families.
On Oct. 18, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice certified a class action against the Attorney General of Canada for the impact of the practice that made aboriginal children Crown wards between Dec. 1, 1965 and Dec. 31, 1984.
This is a major victory for aboriginal CAS survivors everywhere," said Fox. We are now asking survivors to register with this class action."
Toronto lawyer Jeffrey Wilson said Canada will likely appeal the lower court decision, but plans are going ahead to establish a website and Facebook page to inform possible plaintiffs.
Fox said the case will benefit all First Nations future generations.
My next goal is to have CAS off all reserves and we run our own child welfare authorities in our communities; this includes the urban areas."
Anishinabek Nation Deputy Grand Council Chief Glen Hare says that he's supportive of this class action suit.
It's unfortunate that we're having to go down this road," said Hare. Hopefully we can take care of our own and come out in big numbers."
Source: North Bay Nugget
November 13, 2010 permalink
Under the American constitution all persons born in the United States are citizens, even if their parents are illegal immigrants. Pop culture derides these kids as "anchor babies", believing that once a family has one citizen, all the rest can get into the country. Conservatives even want to change the constitution to restrict citizenship.
Today's story shows the reality of life for children of illegal immigrants. Guatemalan mother Encarnacion Romero give birth to a boy in the United States. In May 2007, when the boy was one year old, she was caught in an immigration sweep and jailed for two years. Her son was left with relatives, soon to be adopted by Seth and Melinda Moser. Now the Missouri Supreme Court is dealing with the question of what to do with the boy. The mother is returning to Guatemala in any case, the issue is whether she will go alone or with her son.
Adopted boy at center of immigration dispute
JEFFERSON CITY • Backed by her country and a horde of supporters, a Guatemalan woman living in southwest Missouri sat before the Missouri Supreme Court Tuesday afternoon seeking custody of the child she hasn't seen in nearly four years.
The woman, Encarnacion Romero, sat in the front row, her pitch-black hair pulled back in a ponytail, unable to fully follow the proceedings. Romero doesn't speak English. A few rows back sat Seth and Melinda Moser, the Carthage, Mo., couple who adopted Romero's then 1-year-old boy after Romero was arrested and jailed in an immigration raid on a Barry County poultry plant in 2007.
The Mosers argue that even if their adoption wasn't proper — which is key to Romero's case — it wouldn't be in the best interest of the child to take him away from the parents he knows now and send him to another country.
The boy, who is a citizen of both the U.S. and Guatemala, speaks only English. Romero is awaiting deportation.
"This is a tragedy," Judge Richard Teitelman said during questioning in the case Tuesday. "The longer the case goes on, it's a case of justice delayed is justice denied."
The case is more than tragic, argued the Guatemalan ambassador to the United States — it's a symbol of the ongoing national and international debate about what to do with immigration policy in America.
"We believe this is a very unfortunate result of the problems of immigration policy in this country," said Ambassador Francisco Villagran de Leon, who attended the arguments before the court and has been providing support to Romero. "Children of undocumented immigrants should not be given up in adoption just because they are here illegally."
Romero was one of 136 alleged undocumented immigrants picked up at a raid of a Barry County chicken processing plant in May 2007 and later charged with various offenses related to the illegal use of false or stolen Social Security numbers.
While Romero was in jail, her child, an infant at the time, was passed around among family members before eventually being adopted privately by the Mosers.
In court documents and arguments in court today, Romero's attorneys argue that she was denied due process rights because the adoption took place while she was in jail, where she lacked proper legal representation. A state appeals court has previously ruled in her favor.
The case has drawn widespread attention nationally and internationally. It's a clash of two seemingly unrelated interests — those concerned about the aftermath of immigration raids that often lead to split families, and those who are fighting for the rights of adoptive parents. And both sides argue they only have the best interests of the child in mind.
Rick Schnake, the Joplin, Mo., attorney representing the Mosers, said that removing the child from the family he has known for the past few years would only compound the tragedy.
"This little boy is 4 years old. He doesn't speak Spanish, he speaks English," Schnake said in making his case to the seven-judge panel. "I don't mean to be caustic about it, but it's not the child's fault she was (in jail)."
But a ruling in favor of the adoptive parents would deeply impinge on critical parental rights, said Tony Rothert, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri.
"If the adoption is allowed to stand, it would set a dangerous precedent," he said in a phone interview Tuesday, noting birth parents are entitled to legal counsel at hearings and contact with their children throughout the custody proceedings.
"When these are just discarded, as they were in this case, the whole system would fall apart," he said.
In its brief, the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri said the birth mother was denied proper legal representation because the adoptive family took it upon itself to hire an attorney to act on behalf of the birth mother during court proceedings intended to both terminate her parental rights and OK the adoption.
In questioning, it's clear that several judges questioned that apparent conflict of interest.
"There's a legion of cases under Missouri law that you can't have that kind of conflict," said Judge Laura Denvir Stith.
What complicates Romero's case, as her attorneys argued Tuesday, is that she served two years in prison for violating a law that was determined unconstitutional by the Supreme Court shortly after she was incarcerated.
"That just compounds the tragedy here," Rothert said. "She probably never should have gone to prison."
And further, the adoptive court apparently ignored questions raised about the Mosers when the couple had applied to the state of Missouri to become foster parents, including the father's criminal record and a history of abuse on the mother's side of the family.
For all the emotion behind the arguments in the case, the state's high court could decide it on the mundane matter of court rules. The Mosers argue that Romero filed her paperwork seeking to overturn the adoption after the time limit allowed by the courts, leaving the Supreme Court with no jurisdiction in the case.
Several judges made it clear in their questioning during the case that they had concerns with how the adoption was handled, but the balancing act for the court, Chief Justice William Ray Price Jr. indicated, would be weighing the best interests of the child against the rights of Romero.
The court could return the case to the trial court level, or it could award custody to Romero or the Mosers.
In their legal briefs filed with the court, the Mosers argue that giving the child back to Romero could in effect make the boy a victim of his mother's deportation.
"He faces involuntary deportation to Guatemala if this adoption is undone and he is forced to follow appellant when her deportation occurs," wrote attorneys Schnake and Joseph Hensley.
But an advocate for female immigrants said such an argument shows that child custody decisions regarding their U.S. born children are too often based on unfair biases without properly taking into account whether the illegal immigrants are adequate parents.
"We have people in the child welfare system unfairly saying we don't think it's a good idea for the child to be reunited with the parent in the parent's country because we don't think the country is a good place for the child to grow up," said Emily Butera, a program officer with the Women's Refugee Commission, which filed a brief in support of Romero.
Since Romero was released from prison, she has been living in southwest Missouri not far from the Mosers but has still been unable to see her son. Attorneys for both sides disputed whether an attempt had been made for mother and son to meet.
The Guatemalan ambassador said the U.S. government has agreed to delay Romero's deportation until the case is resolved, but that she plans to return to her home country — hopefully with her son — once the case ends.
"She has a lot of faith," said Omar Riojas, one of Romero's Seattle-based attorneys. "She's a strong, strong woman."
Source: St Louis Post-Dispatch
Addendum: Three Missouri supreme court judges wanted to send the boy back to mom immediately, but a majority of four sent the case back to the family court for more proceedings.
Disputed adoption gets new hearing
JEFFERSON CITY • An international custody battle between a Guatemalan mother and a Missouri couple who adopted her son while she was detained after an immigration raid will go back to a lower court to be resolved.
In a decision released Tuesday, the Missouri Supreme Court unanimously agreed that Encarnacion Romero's legal rights as a parent were unfairly terminated when a lower court failed to take proper legal steps.
The "manifest injustice" resulted in the adoption of the child to Seth and Melinda Moser, of Carthage, Mo., who have cared for the boy since he was an infant, the court said.
But the court was passionately split 4-3 on how to resolve who should get custody of the boy and when.
Most of the judges ruled that a lower court should rehear the case with new evidence before weighing whether to remove the child from the only parents he has known for most of his life.
The decision would ensure "that both mother and adoptive parents will have a full and fair trial that respects mother's fundamental rights and the best interests of the child," read the 46-page majority decision, written by Judge Patricia Breckenridge.
But three judges argued that the mother should have her child back immediately. They lashed out at circuit court proceedings that they said failed to demonstrate Romero was unfit to keep her child.
Judge Michael Wolff argued that those failures demand she be reunited with the boy "not in 90 more days or 900 more days, but now."
Romero was arrested and jailed in an immigration raid on a Barry County poultry plant in May 2007. She was later charged with offenses related to the illegal use of false or stolen Social Security numbers. While Romero was in jail, her child was passed around among family members before being adopted privately by the Mosers.
Romero's attorneys argued that she was denied due process because the adoption took place while she was in jail, where she lacked proper legal representation. A state appeals court had previously ruled in Romero's favor.
The Supreme Court ruling restores Romero's parental rights, giving legal standing to seek visitation and full custody. But it also allows the lower court to again consider taking away those rights.
One of the attorneys for the adoptive parents said Monday that his clients would continue to press for the termination of Romero's rights in the circuit court.
"I think it's a foregone conclusion that they are going to try and keep their son," said Richard Schnake, of Springfield.
William Fleischaker, a Joplin-based attorney for Romero, said he was very pleased with the ruling.
"That's all we ever wanted was to have this lady's day in court to make her case, and we've got that now," he said. "This time the court will have an opportunity to hear all of the evidence."
Romero's case drew support from various national and international women's and immigration rights groups, which filed several briefs to the high court in her support.
Francisco Villagran de Leon, the Guatemalan ambassador to the United States, who attended the Supreme Court arguments, offered support to Romero and said publicly that the case highlighted the ongoing international and national debate surrounding immigration policy in America.
"We are pleased the court recognized that the mother's rights had not been respected and the state's own laws and due process were not followed," said Fernando de la Cerda, minister counselor for the Guatemalan Embassy. "We hope that in a new court trial, these errors will be corrected so that Ms. Romero will receive justice and have her parental rights restored."
Anthony E. Rothert, of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, which filed one of the briefs in Romero's support, said Tuesday that it was a relief that all of the judges agreed Romero's due process rights had not been met.
"This never would have happened had she been a citizen," Rothert said. "She was treated differently by the lower courts."
Rothert said he was confident Romero would retain her parental rights if a lower court trial were to take place because the court now had a complete record of evidence indicating that the birth mother had not abandoned her child.
"Some of this information wasn't in the record because she was not adequately represented, but it's in the record now," he said. "If the adoptive parents decide to go forward with that, we know what the evidence is going to be, and they're not going to win."
In the Supreme Court ruling, the majority states that it "makes no suggestion as to who will or should prevail."
And while the majority faults the lower court for failing to meet investigation and reporting requirements before denying Romero her parental rights, the opinion also finds fault with the birth mother.
The high court said Romero failed to act quickly and aggressively enough to assert her legal rights. And it found substantial evidence in the lower court record to show she was negligent in seeking to ensure her son had adequate care while she was incarcerated, demonstrating a "lack of maternal affection for and involvement with her child."
But Wolff and Laura Denvir Stith wrote two dissenting decisions. Both argued that there was enough evidence on record for the court to reverse both the termination of the mother's parental rights and the Mosers' adoption without requiring a new hearing. Wolff argued that there was no evidence that the birth mother willfully and continuously neglected the child for six months prior to the hearing.
Romero is currently living in Carthage awaiting deportation.
One of her attorneys, Omar Riojas, said Tuesday that Romero would immediately seek visitation rights with her child.
He said he was unable to speak to her about the ruling Tuesday because she was still at her job at a poultry plant.
"She is working. Providing for herself and her family, and she has living arrangements and can provide for Carlos," Riojas said.
The judges' passionate written arguments released Tuesday agonized over the welfare of the child and the fate of all the parents.
"Every member of this court agrees that this case is a travesty in its egregious procedural errors, its long duration, and its impact on mother, adoptive parents, and, most importantly, child," the majority ruling stated.
Wolff painted the case in biblical terms, referencing the story of Solomon who was called upon to resolve a child custody dispute.
"At least Solomon had the option to decree that the child be cut in half," Wolff wrote in his separate opinion. "All we lesser judges have is the law, and it is our duty to make sure that the law is obeyed."
Source: St Louis Post-Dispatch
Addendum: Back in the trial court, the mother loses again.
Judge gives Mo. couple custody of illegal immigrant's child
A Greene County juvenile court ruled Wednesday in favor of a Missouri couple seeking to adopt the child of a Guatemalan woman who had been arrested and detained for working in the country illegally.
The decision culminates a lengthy international custody dispute over the child that put American immigration policies under scrutiny and drew outrage from a Guatemalan diplomat and others fighting for immigrant rights.
Judge David Jones ruled in a closed Springfield, Mo., courtroom that the 5-year-old boy's birth mother, Encarnacion Bail Romero, had abandoned the child. The ruling terminated the birth mother's parental rights and paved the way for Seth and Melinda Moser of Carthage, Mo., to formally adopt the child.
The couple have raised the boy since he was an infant. The boy, Carlos Jamison Moser, who goes by the name Jamison, just completed preschool, said the family's attorney, Joe Hensley.
"The Mosers are very happy," Hensley said. "This is something that's been hanging over their heads for years. They're ready to close that chapter of their lives and move on."
Romero, who has been allowed to remain in the country awaiting the outcome of the dispute, was present in the courtroom. Neither she nor her attorney could be reached for comment.
Those working for immigration rights who had watched the case closely said they were disappointed.
"Cases like these are the byproducts of fundamental gaps in the immigration and child welfare systems that make it all but impossible for parents in immigration detention to participate in proceedings affecting custody of their children," said Emily Butera of the Women's Refugee Commission's detention and asylum program.
The case garnered international attention in 2008 after Romero challenged the Mosers' adoption of the child. At the time of the adoption, Romero was in detention awaiting potential deportation to Guatemala after being arrested in May 2007 during a raid on illegal workers at a poultry plant in Barry County.
While Romero was in custody, her child, an infant at the time, was passed around among family members before eventually being adopted privately by the Mosers. That adoption was overturned in the appellate court.
The decision Wednesday follows the January 2011 Missouri Supreme Court ruling that sent the case back to the circuit courts after finding that the mother's rights had not been upheld in a Jasper County court.
During that Supreme Court hearing, the Mosers argued that even if their adoption wasn't proper — which was key to Romero's case — it wouldn't be in the best interest of the child to take him away from the parents he knows now and send him to another country.
The boy, who is a citizen of both the U.S. and Guatemala, speaks only English.
Attorneys for Romero, who does not speak English, said she was not given proper legal counsel or proper communication with the court, nor did she fully understand her rights and the proceedings of the juvenile courts and the adoption process.
They further argued that she served two years in prison away from her child for violating a law that was determined unconstitutional by the Supreme Court shortly after she was incarcerated.
At the time of the Supreme Court arguments, the situation drew criticism from Guatemalan Ambassador to the United States Francisco Villagran de Leon, who said children of undocumented immigrants should not be given up for adoption just because they are here illegally.
Although justices on the Supreme Court unanimously agreed that Romero's legal rights as a parent were unfairly terminated when the Jasper County court failed to take proper legal steps, the court split 4-3 on how to resolve who should get custody of the boy and when. The majority ordered the case back to the lower courts.
One justice cast the case in biblical terms, referencing the story of Solomon who was called upon to resolve a child custody dispute.
"At least Solomon had the option to decree that the child be cut in half, " Justice Michael Wolff wrote in a separate opinion. "All we lesser judges have is the law, and it is our duty to make sure that the law is obeyed."
Romero's attorney, Curtis Woods, said that his client was "very upset" and that he planned to appeal Wednesday's ruling..
Source: St Louis Post-Dispatch
In a decision the Moser's describe as a Christmas gift, the Missouri supreme court has put the last nail in the coffin for mother Encarnacion Romero. She will not see her child again.
Missouri Supreme Court refuses to hear challenge to adoption decision
A Guatemalan woman seeking to overturn the adoption of her biological child by a Carthage couple has exhausted those efforts — unsuccessfully — in the state court system.
The Missouri Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal filed on behalf of Encarnacion Romero that challenged a Missouri Court of Appeals decision terminating her parental rights.
The decision came on Christmas Eve and was characterized as “a Christmas gift” by Joe Hensley, attorney for Seth and Melinda Moser, of Carthage.
The ruling means that there are no more options for the biological mother in state courts, Hensley said, and that any further appeal of the adoption would have to go to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Mosers have raised the child — now 7 years old — since he was a year old. Legal battles have gone on since 2008.
Supporters of the biological mother have argued that Romero lost custody of the child because she is an immigrant in the country illegally.
The appeals court upheld arguments on behalf of the Mosers, finding that the natural mother had forfeited her rights because she abandoned and neglected the child.
Bill Fleischaker, of Joplin, who is among several attorneys volunteering in the case on behalf of the natural mother, said he had been notified of the decision. He said there has been no decision with his co-counsel on potential options or how to respond to the ruling.
Attorneys for Romero had requested that the high court hear their challenge of an appeals court decision handed down in October that terminated Romero’s parental rights and upheld the child’s adoption by the Mosers. The appellate court ruled in a unanimous, 81-page decision.
Romero, who had been arrested on immigration violations, challenged a July 2012 decision that she had forfeited her rights because she had abandoned and neglected the child.
That decision marked the second time the adoption had been before the Missouri Court of Appeals. The same panel of judges earlier had ruled against the Mosers and found that the adoption approved in Jasper County Circuit Court should be reversed. The Mosers appealed that decision to the Missouri Supreme Court, which ordered a new trial on the adoption and parental rights issues.
That case was heard by Greene County Juvenile Court Judge David Jones in a two-week trial. In a 62-page ruling, he terminated the biological mother’s parental rights on the grounds of “abandonment, neglect and parental unfitness.”
Issues surrounding the case have attracted international attention. The Guatemalan ambassador to the U.S. attended an earlier hearing when the case was before the Missouri Supreme Court.
The child was 11 months old when the mother was arrested in May 2007 in an immigration raid while she was working at a Barry County poultry processing plant. She left her child with her brother, who turned him over to a sister. She then left the baby with a Carthage couple who agreed to the adoption by the Mosers.
The mother’s parental rights were terminated based on arguments that the child had been abandoned because the mother made no attempt to maintain contact with or provide for the boy during the two years she was incarcerated, even though she had the means to do so.
Though much of the arguments focused on the time when the mother was in jail, the court also found that she left the child in a hospital after giving birth, that she failed to keep doctor appointments or obtain baby formula or other help available for the child, and that she made no arrangements to ensure that the infant would be cared for in case she was arrested. The court found that the biological mother was an unfit parent and that a change in custody would not be in the best interests of the child.
Source: Joplin Globe
Courtroom Recording Permitted
November 12, 2010 permalink
Charles Michael Wheeler, mentioned here in September, has been acquitted of charges for using a recording device in his own court case. While the reporter writes as if Mr Wheeler was excused for technical reasons, recording in the courtroom by a party is an act specifically permitted by Ontario law though hated by judges.
Recording in court charge tossed
A 44-year-old Guelph man charged with using a recording device in a local courtroom had the charge withdrawn Wednesday.
Assistant Crown attorney James Boonstra withdrew the charge against Charles Michael Wheeler because of a procedural error.
"Mr. Wheeler was initially arrested and released by police," Boonstra told the court. "That is not a proper process."
Following court, the Crown told The Chatham Daily News using a recording device in court is not an "arrestable offence."
He said he had to throw out the charge because "without the proper process, the accused isn't validly before the court."
Wheeler was not in the courtroom Wednesday when the charge was dismissed; he couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
According to previous reports, Wheeler was in provincial offences court on Sept. 14 to contest a charge of disobeying a stop sign.
He brought a video camera with the intention of using it to make an audio recording of the proceedings.
In a previous interview, Wheeler said he placed the video camera on a table in the courtroom and turned the power on, but it wasn't recording.
He planned to ask for permission to use it but was told by the municipal prosecutor to turn it off.
"He was requested several times, by the Crown and Justice of the Peace, to cease recording," Sgt. Gary Conn said Wednesday. "He refused to comply at which time the prosecutor directed our officer to arrest him."
He said the actions of the officer were reasonable given the circumstances and Wheeler was arrested "in good faith."
Conn added the Crown has jurisdictional control over whether it proceeds with charges.
Source: Chatham Daily News
Ombudsman Bill Announced
November 9, 2010 permalink
Today's press conference announcing the new bill for ombudsman oversight of children's aid is not in the press, but we enclose two photographs taken by participants. According to the announcement also enclosed, the actual bill will be introduced in the legislature on November 15.
Click on photos above for more resolution
November 9, 2010
Let the Ombudsman in: NDP
QUEEN'S PARK - NDP MPP Rosario Marchese wants to expand the mandate of the Ombudsman so that he can do more to protect Ontarians.
Marchese is introducing a bill to allow the Ombudsman to investigate complaints about hospitals, long-term care facilities, retirement homes, school boards and Children's Aid Societies.
"There's this enormous frustration out there. When people with complaints about these public institutions try to get answers, they hit a wall. Ontarians need somewhere to turn when no one else is listening," said Marchese.
Indeed, over the last five years, the Ombudsman has been unable to investigate any of the more than 4,000 complaints he has about the following institutions:
Health Care - Year after year, the Ombudsman receives complaints about administrative issues, substandard care, and patient abuse in Ontario's hospitals, retirement homes and long-term care facilities. Yet "the province remains without an independent, effective oversight mechanism to deal with individual and systemic issues in the health care field," said current Ombudsman Andre Marin. With an aging population and a strained health care system, oversight is now more important than ever.
Schools - Too often, complaints regarding Ontario's schools are swept under the rug. When children are bullied or when students with special needs don't get the resources they need parents have nowhere to turn. "Every week I get calls from parents that are frustrated. They call the Ombudsman and he can't do anything for them. It makes no sense," said Marchese.
Children's Aid Societies - Ontario is the only Canadian province not to grant the Ombudsman the power to investigate Children's Aid Societies. When Children's Aid Societies fail to carry out their duties, "families can be broken apart needlessly or children can be deprived of stable foster care or adoptions can fail, or, at times, children can suffer abuse or even die," noted Marin.
Marchese's bill will be introduced when the Legislature resumes on Monday, Nov. 15.
Media Inquiries: Sasha Tregebov 416-325-9092
November 9, 2010 permalink
Police in Los Angeles are searching for a mother and daughter. The mother took her daughter from school so she would not return to her foster home.
There is nothing really newsworthy in this routine story. It is just one more illustration of the absurdity of today's family law that cops have to waste effort on a manhunt for a mother caring for her own daughter.
Police seek foster girl taken by biological mother
Police continue to look for a 6-year-old foster child considered missing because she was taken from her Reseda-area school by her biological mother.
Kelly Funes, described as 3 feet tall, 45 pounds, Latina with brown hair and brown eyes, was dropped off Friday morning by her foster parent at Cantara Street Elementary School, police said.
About 5:30 p.m. Friday, before Kelly's foster parent arrived, Kelly was picked up at school by Crystabel Funes, who is her biological mother, police said.
Crystabel Funes apparently forged the foster parent's signature and took the child from the school, police said.
Kelly was last seen wearing a school uniform that included navy blue pants, a white shirt and black headband. She was also carrying a black and pink "Barbie" backpack.
Crystabel Funes was described as a 29-year-old Latina, with brown hair and brown eyes, 5 feet 1 inch tall, about 120 pounds. She was last seen wearing a royal blue shirt, blue jeans skirt, with sunglasses and her hair was pulled back in a ponytail.
She is known to frequent the areas of Van Nuys and Reseda, police said.
Anyone with information about Kelly Funes was urged to contact the LAPD's West Valley Station at 818-756-8861. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls can be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7.
Anyone wishing to remain anonymous can call Crimestoppers at 1-800-222- TIPS. Tipsters can also contact Crimestoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters "LAPD." Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on "webtips' and follow the prompts.
Source: Los Angeles Daily News
November 9, 2010 permalink
Two British articles deal with forced adoption. In the first, Christopher Booker tells of a couple forced to flee England to refuge in North Cyprus. In the second, the Guardian tells the story of four mothers all losing their children to the adoption system.
Refugees flee the tyranny of social workers
Cyprus has proved a haven for a family fleeing forced adoption, reports Christopher Booker.
There was a time when Britain took pride in offering a safe haven to the victims of tyrannies in other countries. Today we see this in reverse, with scores of families each year fleeing this country as the only way to escape a vicious system bent on seizing their newborn children for no good reason. Last week I heard two more such horror stories and this week I will relate the first, in which I am legally compelled to disguise the names.
Roger and Carol lived happily in Doncaster with their five-year-old daughter. One day last November they had a marital disagreement, involving no more than raised voices. They were overheard by a neighbour who called the police. The couple were arrested and held for nine hours before being released without charge. But the police had summoned the social workers to remove the child, who had not been harmed in any way other than hearing her parents having a row – as countless children do every day.
The social workers obtained an interim care order, on the grounds that the child was “at risk of emotional harm”, and gave her to Roger’s parents, both of whom have worked for the police. Relations were amicable, but the grandparents insisted on working closely with the social workers. The parents were only allowed contact with their daughter in a filthy little “contact room” in the local social services office. As is usual, the parents were told that if they showed any emotion their contact would be stopped. In February, under this strain, Carol had a miscarriage.
Last June, puzzled at why the interim care order had not been renewed as the law requires, Carol called the court. She was told that the order had lapsed three months earlier. When her husband confirmed this by a second call to the court, Carol drove to her in-laws’ home to explain that there was no longer any legal reason why her daughter could not be returned to her. Her mother-in-law protested, but the child was so overjoyed to go home that she ran to get into her mother’s car. The mother-in-law stood in front of the car but Carol reversed and drove off.
When her daughter said she was hungry, they stopped at a motorway service station. The grandmother had alerted the police, the car number was picked up by a camera and before long Carol (who was pregnant again) was arrested, handcuffed and pushed into a police van. At the police station, she collapsed and was taken to hospital. Next day she was driven back to Doncaster and interviewed four times. The police confirmed there was no care order in place but, to her astonishment, Carol was told she would be charged with assaulting her mother-in-law, although there had been no physical contact between them. She was released after midnight.
When the social workers applied for a new care order, the judge reproved their “slipshod work” but granted the order on the grounds that Carol had taken back her child “without thought”.
Before the next hearing, the parents’ solicitors advised them to undergo psychological assessments. The psychologist found nothing wrong with Carol, but Roger had “narcissistic personality traits”. They then underwent a second assessment, based on “true or false” responses to 170 statements (such as: “Last week I flew the Atlantic eight times”). This time, Roger was normal, but Carol showed “high probability of being a borderline alcoholic” – though she hardly ever drinks.
Eventually, the court ruled they could have no further contact with their child. In September, Carol was in court to face the assault charges. The magistrates found, by two to one, that though there was no direct evidence she had assaulted her mother-in-law, she had been “emotional” in court which indicated the “possibility” that she might have been similarly emotional during the confrontation. They therefore found her guilty, ordering her to return for sentencing in October.
Two days later, it transpired that the hospital she had visited for ante-natal tests had told the social workers she was pregnant. Her daughter’s guardian told her that, when the baby was born, the social workers would seize it. At this point, Carol decided she could take no more. “I had already lost one child,” she says. “I had suffered a miscarriage of justice. After all I had been through, there was no way I was going to lose another child.”
She did her homework on the internet, not least through the Forced Adoption website run by Ian Josephs, a businessman living in the south of France, where she read many stories similar to her own. She discovered that a possible escape route was Northern Cyprus, which has no extradition agreement with the UK.
Without telling her husband, she sold one of her cars to raise money for the journey, and travelled overnight in a coach down the motorway, passing the place where her daughter’s last sight of her mother had been of her being bundled into a police van. At Heathrow she waited hours for her plane, terrified she might be arrested. After 24 hours she arrived in Cyprus in the middle of the night, alone in an unknown land. But she had made it. The next day, being a resourceful woman, she began to find her feet, amazed at how friendly and helpful everyone was, including the authorities. Two days later, her husband flew out to join her.
Now, after a month, set up in a spacious villa, surrounded with friends, they cannot believe their good fortune. A scan in the efficient local hospital confirms that they can expect the birth of a healthy son. As they begin to build a new life, Carol told me last week: “We feel we have escaped from hell into heaven. The only thing that matters to us is that we have managed to protect our baby and future children from an outrageous, heartless business, built around treating children as a commodity. Any other family in our situation really needs to take heed and get out. I don’t feel proud to be a British citizen any more because of what happened to us.”
Meanwhile, back in Britain, The Sun and ITV’s This Morning were celebrating National Adoption Week by advertising a row of available children, complete with names and winsome pictures. What neither would be allowed to do, though, is to report how those children came to be parted from their parents. In some cases it may genuinely have been in the child’s interests. But in too many others the reality of how cruelly children in Britain can be snatched from loving parents might make The Sun’s readers very angry indeed.
Families divided by the care system
Ex-drug addict Natalie's children were forcibly adopted, Amy was never allowed to take her babies home, and Jayne had 12 children removed from her care. But when is it appropriate for the state to come between mother and child? And is the fundamental right to have children now coming under threat?
Last month, American organisation Project Prevention announced it had paid British heroin addict "John" £200 to have a vasectomy. The charity's founder, Barbara Harris, has bought the fertility of nearly 3,500 people in the United States over the last 13 years in her quest to prevent children being born to drug-addicted parents. Now she's rolling out her services in the UK, and her presence raises fundamental questions about an individual's right to have children.
People like former heroin addict Natalie Lawrence, whose three children were placed with adoptive parents before she turned her life around with the help of After Adoption, a charity that supports birth mothers who have had children removed. She gave birth to her fourth child, Angel, a year ago. Sitting in her bright back yard, Angel gurgles for attention and Natalie pauses mid-sentence: "When she was born, I couldn't sleep in case she wasn't there when I woke up. Even today, if there's a scratch on her I get worried she's going to be removed."
At a time of budgetary constraints, the care system creaks under the pressure to keep families together when the number of referrals is surging in response to high-profile cases such as Baby Peter. Some 64,000 children are looked after by the state, an increase of 13% over the last four years, and at an annual cost of £1.6bn. Barbara Harris has said: "We don't allow dogs to breed. We spay them. We neuter them. We try to keep them from having unwanted puppies, and yet these women are literally having litters of children."
Amy Samuels (whose ongoing legal issues mean she can't appear in this article) shows us the nursery prepared five times for the arrival of children who never returned with her from the maternity ward, taken by social services at birth. Photographs of newborn babies she will never see grow up adorn the walls. The front door is a matrix of locks fitted after local vigilantes turned up one night accusing her and her husband of being paedophiles. And yet Amy insists: "While there is a breath left in my body I will carry on getting pregnant."
Should women like Amy, or Jayne Louise Johns, who has had 12 children either adopted or put in foster care and is defiant that she is the best person to bring them up, be in control of their own fertility? We spoke to four mothers who have had babies forcibly removed.
ANGELA WILEMAN, 33
In 2007 Angela abducted her son from foster care and fled to Spain
I said to my son, "Do you want to go on holiday?" then left my mum a note and drove to the port. Lucas held my hand all the way, saying, "I don't want you to leave me again." We were on the ferry to France within hours.
I'd fallen pregnant with Lucas about a year and a half after me and Matthew got together. We wanted a big family, but Matthew developed a drink problem and started getting aggressive. We separated in March 2006.
A psychological report on me said I had "underlying problems". It said I might go on to date violent men and the children should be adopted, yet Matt was the only guy I'd been with like that. I was told that if he came to the house, I needed to call the police otherwise my children (including my eldest son from my first marriage who was living with me at the time) would be taken away. Although we were separated, he would still sometimes turn up, wanting to see the kids, but in early 2006 Matthew went to prison for fraud and assault. I moved to Devon, where my family are. For four weeks everything was absolutely great.
I saw Matthew next in September 2006. I'd been under the impression he was going back to Leicester, but then there was a police raid on my house. Matthew had absconded from probation. I said to the social worker, "Why are you penalising my son just because of my ex-partner?"
Leicestershire social services ordered Lucas to live with my mum for a month and said that if there was no new evidence after that time he'd be returned to me. During my case I had 11 different judges. I believe that had it been the original judge at the hearing I'd have got my little boy back.
Then I got a call from a social worker saying they'd taken my son into foster care. I was devastated. I tracked the foster carer down. I needed to see that Lucas was OK. Lucas was dazed, like someone had given him a tranquilliser. I believe the carer had an unhealthy relationship with him. He told me she sexually abused him. I reported it to the police but was told I was being vindictive. It felt like a conspiracy.
By March 2007, I'd lost my child, my home and I was back in Leicestershire. By this time I'd done a lot of research, and people opened my eyes to the fact that my son was being prepared for adoption. It was then that I thought: I have to take him.
I was also pregnant with Marco; I think every woman who loses a child craves another one. The final hearing for Lucas was due in September 2007. Devon was seeking a full care order for him, and Leicestershire let me know they'd be seeking care of the baby when he was born. My reaction was: "I'm getting my son back and I'm having this baby abroad and we're going to live happily as a single-parent family."
When we got to Spain it was a massive relief, although I knew the police would be after me. Life was good. Lucas settled in at school and learned Spanish. I'd worried he'd be jealous of Marco but he was lovely. We had our little family unit and everything was going to plan.
When the police found me I thought, "We need to run." I went first to Sweden, then Ireland, where I am now. The Irish judge threw the case out. Social services in the UK spent £100,000 chasing me to Spain and then Ireland, and didn't even turn up to the final court hearing.
I don't believe in forced adoption. It's absolutely evil. It feels like something from the 1950s where babies of single mothers were put straight up for adoption and no one would talk about it again.
JAYNE LOUISE JOHNS, 43
The mother of 12 children, all now adopted or in the care system
Once you're in the care system, you never really leave. I lived with my aunt until she died when I was 15, then went to find my mum. I was always running away, living on the streets. When I told my mum that my stepdad had been sexually abusing me, she kicked me out and I went into care. She didn't believe me; social services thought I was attention seeking.
I had my first child, Sam, when I was 18. He had a bone deficiency, but it went undiagnosed for six years and it was thought he wasn't developing properly from neglect. After that, every time I got pregnant the child went straight on the At Risk register.
The children started being removed from me in 1996. They'd been staying with my mum and in respite while I went to AA with my partner, who was an alcoholic. When we got back, they told me each child needed a residence order from the court to say who the child should live with.
Sam and my daughter Katy went to my mother's. I told social services what had happened between my stepfather and me, and that I felt the same would happen to Katy. They told me I should support my mother. My stepfather went on to abuse Katy for many years.
I don't blame my mum for what happened, because I've been in violent relationships myself. She was naive and under the influence of her partner. When he died, it was almost a relief for her and we get on brilliantly now.
Every child that was removed from me, apart from the two that were adopted, was returned to me by 2000. And every one of them came back abused.
The second set of removals happened in 2008. On the Saturday, my partner, Ben, and me got married. On Monday, the children were removed on a police protection order, on the basis that the children were at risk.
By this time I was pregnant with Rachel. And I had Michael in the pram. The police came to me and said, "Give us that baby now." I went to grab him and they smacked me against the wall and took the baby. He was screaming and crying. On the day of the court case, I was a wreck. Four weeks earlier, Rachel had been taken from me at six days old.
My ex-husband, Rob, the father of my two youngest sons, turned up at the court hearing. He wanted custody of the boys, but seeing him made me feel sick. He'd been so controlling and emotionally abusive. Eventually we got a police protection order and planned to move away from Worcester.
People do change. I've changed. After 2000, I worked hard to keep my family together. I kept any violence out of the home. I was working with my social worker. The other kids had been placed back with me and things were good. Yet in that courtroom last year, everything was used against me. They used where I was living, they used my past domestic violence.
I last saw the two baby boys in October 2009 after the adoption hearing. They cried and said they wanted to come home. I had those children and they're still my responsibility. I won't give up fighting for them until the day I die.
TRACEY MCEWAN, 26
After her children were taken in 2008, Tracey fought to get them back
I met Connor's dad when I was 16 and he was 22. The violence got really bad just before I got pregnant. He would smash the house up and pull the phone out of the socket so I couldn't call the police. We split up once, when I was 18 and he'd gone to prison, but we got back together a few months after he got out.
We were using drugs recreationally when I fell pregnant. I didn't want to bring a child into the relationship, but once he'd told his mum I was pregnant, the decision was made.
I've got a liver condition that has a risk of stillbirth, so I have to be induced early. But the night before I was due, my boyfriend got locked up. He'd been violent, and his mum had called the police.
I did give him another chance when he got out, so we could be a family, but he was the same. He kept selling and using drugs, while I'd stopped. I gave a statement to the police about the violence and he went back to prison, and I moved in with my mum.
I was good at being a mum. I loved it. I met Euan and Declan's dad on my birthday. I was scared to go into town, because I was using again and paranoid. But I went for a drink locally and he walked me home. Soon after we moved in together, the violence started.
At first it was just shouting and slamming doors. Then he started with the punches. It was 10 times worse than with my first partner, but I kept it quiet. I was ashamed that I'd got myself into the same situation.
I had no self-worth. The drugs left me open to the sort of man who would just beat down my self-confidence. He was over the moon when I got pregnant but even then he didn't let up. I was quite far gone and he was hitting me with the pram. Early on in the pregnancy, I'd moved back in with my parents. He was living in a caravan in the middle of nowhere, and one day he took me there and wouldn't take me home. There was no signal on my phone, no buses, and he had my cash card. I was stuck there for months. One day while he was at work I walked the six miles home, pushing Connor. I was six months pregnant.
We got back together after the birth. I wanted to give it another shot because I didn't want to have two kids without a dad in their lives. We got a house together, and the violence got worse and worse. I just thought domestic violence was normal. I would brush myself off and forget all about it. When you're using amphetamines you don't question things.
Euan's dad threatened to call social services and get the children removed if I ever left him, but it was after I'd left and Connor's dad broke my arm that social services got involved. He'd started coming to the house, inviting people over who I didn't want in.
Social services found nothing wrong and said they would close the case. I asked them to keep it open, because I was a single parent and might need help. I didn't know that I was pregnant with Declan. I was allowed to move into my mum's with the children, but just before I was due to give birth, we were told that if we didn't find a bigger house the baby was going to be taken off me before we got home.
My mum and me decided we'd move back into my house with the children when Declan was born. But when we got home I was told the children were being twin-tracked for adoption. I had postnatal depression and went back to the drugs. They come at you with technical jargon that I didn't understand. It was at one of the court conferences that my midwife put me in touch with Addaction (a drug and alcohol treatment charity). A support worker was sent to me, and it just felt like there was someone behind me to help and explain everything.
In one case conference, I admitted I'd used drugs. They said, "We'll wipe the slate clean from now. If you use in the future we'll take the children." But a couple of days later they said the children were being removed from my care because I had used in the past.
I was allowed to see them once a week, but I had to be supervised at all times. The best thing about visits were the cuddles, the worst was leaving. You feel like part of yourself is lost.
An adult social worker got me into rehab. It was hard. I'd always thought there was no point in talking about things, it's not going to make anything better, but it does.
We finally won the case to keep the kids with my mum and dad. I felt that I had something to live for. When I got out of rehab, my children would still be there. My life wasn't pointless.
When I went home, I got to see the children more and more. Six months ago I got unsupervised visits and four weeks ago I got a job at the local factory. I've been in a brilliant, nonviolent relationship for two years.
It could be three years before I get the children back full time. I could apply today, but I've got to think of how it's going to affect them. But I've always felt they are my children and I will definitely be getting them back.
A woman's children shouldn't be taken off them for being in a violent relationship. I'd think twice about going to the authorities now. I was already making the separation from the boys' fathers and if I'd done that I think I'd have been able to stop the drugs soon after. But taking the children? That was the worst thing anyone could have ever done to me.
NATALIE LAWRENCE, 28 Three of Natalie's children were forcibly adopted. She has since had Angel
I knew when I wrote back that I had to mean what I said. I hadn't been in contact with my kids since they'd been adopted. I told them I'd been on drugs and in prison for a long time, and that I'd had time to think about the letters I received from them. I said I wanted them to meet me when they were older and for them to be happy to see me. That was when I knew I was going to change my life.
I had Louise when I was 15. The father was my mum's ex, Stephen. My mum had six children and he was like a dad to my little brother and me. When they split up he stayed in our lives. Then he started abusing me. When he found out I was pregnant, he told my mum a young lad was the dad.
Louise was beautiful when she was born. I loved my daughter but I didn't know how to be a mum. The social workers were right when they said we had a chaotic lifestyle. Sometimes I had to shoplift for Louise's nappies.
She was two when she went into foster care. She was placed miles away from me, so I missed most of the contact visits.
Three weeks before the final court hearing, I moved into a house with my partner, Paul. All I needed was Louise, but she was freed for adoption. I should have appealed, but I was just a young girl. Despite this, I liked Louise's adoptive parents. They told me they'd give her a good home and that they'd make sure she knew I loved her.
It wasn't like that when Deborah and Tom were adopted. I felt like they weren't the right people for them. I didn't think I had anything to live for until I got pregnant with Deborah. I was involved in crime but I cleaned myself up when Paul went into prison. I wanted to prove I could be a good mother. When Paul got out we found a place of our own, but I'd changed and he hadn't. He was jealous of me giving the baby attention. We argued, and he told social services a bunch of stories about me. I remember the day Deborah was taken. She was teething, and the police came for her. I'd ignored the social workers when they knocked. I thought they had it in for me.
Tom was born 10 weeks prematurely and was taken as a newborn into foster care. He was in a neonatal unit for six weeks before foster care. We both nearly died during the birth. I was there every day by his side, trying to also be there for Deborah at the foster carer's.
That was when I got into heroin. Every time I saw Deborah she screamed for me. I'd just lost Louise and it was happening again. I went into prison just after they were put up for adoption. I was in and out after that.
I'd use drugs when someone mentioned the kids. I couldn't bear it. I didn't care about life. I was selling drugs to feed my addiction. I'd never have touched them if my kids hadn't been taken off me.
When I left prison, I felt stronger. I knew my kids were happy and I accepted that they probably had a better life than I could have given them. I'd only been out of prison five months when I fell pregnant with Angel.
I'd met Andrew soon after leaving prison. We were visited by Families First (an intervention service for families where there are concerns related to parental substance misuse). They warned us we'd need serious assessment, but said they'd help. We lived with a relative but it was overcrowded and didn't work out, and Angel went into foster care for two weeks.
We learned so much from Families First: we got the chance to prove we were good parents. Louise is 13 now and has started writing to me. I feel guilty that I let those children down. I hope they will understand I only knew how to live chaotically. But things changed. I faced up to my past. When Angel went into foster care, I thought I couldn't cope, but I stayed strong and got her back. I did that because I promised the other kids I was going to change my life.
Some names have been changed
November 9, 2010 permalink
Yesterday about 90 people packed into a Legion meeting room in Huntsville to discuss the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) and family courts.
Attila Vinczer acted as master of ceremonies, and told of the detention of his two sons.
Vernon Beck spoke at length about his collection of outrageous actions by CAS collected over fifteen years. Many of them have been covered before in this blog.
Larry Killens, former policeman and former CAS director, spoke on what he had seen in his career. One comment: When going to a funeral, he usually sees some laughter, of people remembering the good times with the deceased. At this meeting, there was no laughter. There is no joy at all in an encounter with CAS.
Lisa Porter recounted her efforts lasting more than a year to get a copy of her case file, still without success.
Kim Rheubottom took an interest in neighborhood children being abused at home, and gave the kids a cell phone to be used only in case of emergency. The first call came that night, the kids were being held in a closet. The CAS response? They took the cell phone from the kids.
Kelly Mackin went over about a dozen cases of CAS misconduct drawn from the press.
Chris Carter made it to age 42 without ever seeing a jail cell from the inside. In the last two years, his efforts to protect his own children from CAS have resulted in several incarcerations.
Tabatha Bertrand Haskett spoke on past efforts to get accountability for CAS.
Neil Haskett spoke of his own case. In June it was revealed that Douglas Klasges had raped his foster daughter and that she had given birth to his child. The matter was published over the objections of children's aid, which wanted to keep the matter confidential. Neil has recently found out about another case of a convicted pedophile. He violated a gag order by telling the meeting about the incident, challenging CAS to jail him for revealing a crime against a child.
Here is a collection of meeting photos
November 6, 2010 permalink
Seventy five people attended the Summit on Connecting for Change on Family Preservation yesterday in Hamilton. The first report is from Mary Janiga. Also, pictures
DAY 2052 and a great conference Success
I have been waiting in anticipation for the conference all week and I was off to the conference this morning for Protecting Canadian Children at the Banquet Center in Stoney Creek.
My friend and guest Sandra and I got there at 10:00am and we signed in and waited for the day’s events to start.
Linda Plourde was the host and the master of ceremonies was Chris Carter a fellow advocate.
Ed arrived later on and we all sat together at the middle table.
There were approximately 75 people in attendance. All there for one common goal to unite and fight against a tyranny called the Children’s Aid Society.
There were grandparents and single mothers, divorced fathers and two special guests that arrived from Calgary Alberta Velvet Martin, the mother of her deceased daughter/angel Samantha Martin and a father from New Brunswick. Both had stories to tell of the failure of the CPS/CAS system and the Family Court system in their provinces.
There were 24 speakers in total.
We had a nice lunch and had coffee and water throughout the day.
I met a lot of acquaintances and people I talk with on Face book and it was great to put a name to a face that is on Face book.
I heard stories that brought a few tears to my eyes and there was a lot of sadness in the room.
I have heard a lot in my years of advocacy and this brought a lot of families together to share their pain.
I took a lot of pictures.
My friend Sandra left and brought her two children back for the remainder of the conference.
It was a successful and eventful day of stories and an educational experience to learn about the Children’s Aid Society that is not there to protect families they are there to destroy them.
I am grateful to be a member of such a group of elite and humble body of advocates that strive to fight for the children and families of our Province.
We must continue the fight and have many more meetings in the future in our respective communities to bring accountability to the system.
I would like to thank Linda Plourde for inviting me, Ed and my friend Sandra.
She is to be commended on a job well done.
It took a lot of planning and organization to hold a conference for a complete day’s event.
We are here to protect children and families from the Children's Aid Society.
Thank you for your support
Source: Mary Janiga blog
Highway 6 Blockade
November 4, 2010 permalink
On October 29 the protest march-CAS office (Little Current) temporarily blocked off highway 6 south of Birch Island Ontario. The Manitoulin Expositor covered the story below, and there is a collection of photos drawn from Facebook.
First Nations protestors block Hwy 6, seek redress from CAS
WHITEFISH RIVER—A rally calling attention to the dissatisfaction of First Nations people with the Children's Aid Society (CAS) and its policies temporarily stopped the flow of traffic on Highway 6 last Friday afternoon, as protestors blocked the road, demanding that the CAS be held accountable for the alleged mistreatment of Aboriginal wards.
Traffic came to a stop on the Whitefish River First Nation, just south of Birch Island, for about 15 minutes last week, before police were called in to free up the thoroughfare. Upon their arrival, protestors agreed to open up one lane to traffic, at which time vehicles from alternating directions were directed through the protest area, and representatives with the OPP and the UCCM Anishnaabe Police remained on site to ensure the safety of protestors and drivers. The protest ended without incident, and traffic was returned to normal at about 1 pm.
The rally had originally been planned to take place outside the CAS Little Current office, but when demonstrators' pleas went unanswered by CAS representatives, organizers moved the protest to the Whitefish River First Nation where they parked vehicles across the highway in a bid to stop traffic altogether.
Protestors had intentionally relocated to the Birch Island area because of the belief that there would be no interference from police and other non-Native influences.
One of the organizers, John Fox of Wikwemikong, said the rally was precipitated by a lawsuit filed with the Superior Court of Ontario in February that seeks roughly $1.5 billion in compensation for the children of the "1960s scoop"—a policy initiated by the federal government between the 1960s and 1980s that approved the "scooping up" of Aboriginal children from their families for placement in non-Native adoptive or foster families.
Thousands of children are estimated to have been affected by the policy, which many claim robbed them of the opportunity to preserve their culture, language, and heritage. Some First Nations have claimed that, in many cases, consent for placement was never given by the families.
"Their genocidal, oppressive policy against our people will not be accepted anymore," Mr. Fox said during the rally. "We want to make that very clear to them."
Mr. Fox argues that the policy of mistreatment of First Nations peoples remains in place today, and that Aboriginals across the country are seeking a stand-alone organization to take the place of the work currently done by the CAS.
Whitefish River Chief Shining Turtle (Franklin Paibomsai) said he was given no foreknowledge that the rally would be taking place in his community, and he expressed disappointment at the way the incident was handled.
"This is not sanctioned by the Ojibways of Whitefish River First Nation, and so I've invited the OPP to come and deal with this," he said, upon arriving at the scene.
The chief had been informed by a band council member, who happened to be near the site of the rally, of what was taking place, and was called out of a ceremony honouring a recently deceased community Elder to address protestors.
Not only did the organizers not request permission to hold the rally on band land, but they also didn't approach the UCCM Tribal Council—of which Chief Shining Turtle is chair—for direction on how to address their concerns, he said. The chief was especially disappointed by the lack of respect shown by organizers.
"If they had shown respect, I gladly would have helped in a different situation," he said. "But I'm absolutely disappointed for more than one reason."
Constable Al Boyd, community services officer with the Manitoulin OPP, said the police service recognizes that all Ontario citizens have the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, but emphasized that a balance must be struck between those rights and the need to maintain public order and movement.
"Whether they're First Nation or not, you cannot impede traffic flow at all," Constable Boyd said. "Protestors' activities may interrupt normal traffic flow, whether they're Native or non-Native; however, it's usually advised so that it's less inconvenience to the public, so they know that if they're travelling through that area there may be some traffic slowdowns. But they can't stop traffic 100 percent; if that happens, and it can't be negotiated peacefully, it's quite possible that arrests can be made and the protestors would be moved."
Constable Boyd noted that the police had not been advised of the protest, so were unable to get the word out to the public, and as a result, both the public and police services were caught off guard with the protest.
However, Friday's protest was negotiated peacefully, said Constable Boyd, and traffic was rerouted along Old Village Road, which skirts Highway 6, and drivers were able to continue on their way unimpeded, the result of a co-operative effort between the OPP and the UCCM Anishnaabe Police Service.
Protestors remained undaunted, however. After moving their vehicles into position across the road, they marched along the highway with signs reading, "Fight for CAS oversight" and "Baby stealers not wanted on our rez." While a drum group led the gathering in song and flags were raised, many ralliers approached parked vehicles directly, shouting their concerns with the CAS.
"I'm not eight years old anymore!" shouted an angered Rose Beaudry of Wikwemikong. "I'm 42 and I can speak for myself."
Ms. Beaudry says she was sexually abused while a ward of the CAS in the 1970s, suggesting that the agency sweeps the unsavoury aspects of its role—such as death, abuse, and assimilation of wards—under the rug, creating monsters of the kids who endured the organization's policies.
"Care and protection my ass," she fumed. "How many kids died in protection? We're not gonna be your mortgage or car payment no more. Our kids aren't going to be your bread and butter no more."
Cheyenne Fox, the daughter of organizer John Fox, said she's heard too many horror stories of loved ones facing abuse and neglect while in the care of the CAS, including that of a 13-year-old relative who she says died while in the care of the agency.
"I'm sick and tired of it," she said, tearing up. "She could have been going to school, she could have been having fun, but they took her life away because she went to see her mom."
Ms. Fox has herself been a ward of the CAS, and now, as a young mother, says she has a hard time trusting other people with her child, because she's concerned he'll be taken away.
"We're just like you—we're people—we just have a different colour of skin, that's all," she said. "I'm scared for our people. You hear so many stories; I'm going to fight with my people until it's clear."
Some of the more moderate ralliers chose not to participate in the protest at Whitefish River, but are equally apprehensive about the role the CAS plays in First Nations child welfare systems.
Janet Solomon of Sagamok First Nation became a ward of the Crown in 1973, and saw first-hand how the scoop policy affected her family.
"They scooped me from my community, and all seven of my siblings were taken out of our home," she said. "We were all separated and placed in foster homes, and we feel that our culture, identity, and ways were taken from us."
Today she serves her community as a child welfare representative, and believes strongly that the children should remain in the community, in First Nations homes, so that they can maintain their heritage and traditional ways. To help facilitate that, Sagamok is in the process of opening its own group home, she noted.
"I'm here to be proactive, not only for our families, but for the children and the families in other First Nations communities, and to support other First Nations communities," she said. "Nothing has changed; we're still seeing the abuse of children."
Marsha Solomon of Saugeen First Nation, who is of no relation, felt a strong need to attend the rally to create awareness amongst the general population about what First Nations families have endured.
Though she believes the CAS will likely always have some role to play in the child welfare system, she believes drastic changes are needed so that First Nations peoples are treated more fairly.
"It's still happening in our communities," said Ms. Solomon, who is currently training to become a child welfare worker. "We as a people are standing up for our rights."
Protesting is one way in which the women of First Nations communities can make their voices heard to elicit change, she added.
Chief Shining Turtle said he is aware of the ongoing struggle for independent child welfare agencies in First Nations communities, and has met in the past with Mr. Fox and other concerned citizens about effective strategies. The tribal council is currently working on ways to make the role of Kina Gbezhgomi, the Manitoulin-based First Nations child welfare agency, more prominent in local communities.
"We all have to be patient," said the chief, whose threat of a highway blockade on the Labour Day weekend was successful in regaining a point-of-sale HST exemption for First Nations people. "We're working with government to staff Kina, but that takes time. We can't snap our fingers and make it happen right away. I'm really, really disappointed."
Still, Mr. Fox said he was pleased with the outcome of the protest, and vowed that the protestors would continue to rally until they start to see change.
"We're sending a clear message to the CAS that their practices are not going to be tolerated anymore," he said. "They locked their doors and wouldn't talk to us, so we had to resort to this."
That change may be on the way. Rosario Marchese, the MPP for Trinity-Spadina, recently announced he will be reintroducing the former Bill 93—which would give the Ontario ombudsman oversight of CAS organizations across the province—into parliament next week.
The bill, which was originally introduced by Ontario NDP leader and Hamilton Centre MPP Andrea Horwath, received its first reading in June 2008, but it died after parliament was prorogued in February.
Mr. Marchese has scheduled a press conference to discuss the bill in more detail on November 9 at Queen's Park.
Sudbury-Manitoulin CAS executive director Colette Prevost was unavailable for comment by press time, but she has stated in the past that the CAS remains opposed to the bill, since the organization is already subject to oversight through the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. In addition, complainants can address concerns directly to an executive director of any CAS office across the province.
"We understand the Ombudsman to have oversight on Child and Family Service Review Board, which is a third-party review," Ms. Prevost said earlier this year. "The auditor general has oversight on any organization as far as the financial (aspects)."
Source: Manitoulin Expositor
Muskoka Meeting Invitation
November 3, 2010 permalink
The press announces the upcoming meeting called by the Citizen’s Committee for Fairness in Ontario Courts (Muskoka) taking place in Huntsville on November 8. Doors open at 5:30 pm for refreshments, the presentations start at 7 pm. Refer to Canada Court Watch flyer (pdf) or our earlier article for details.
Children’s aid societies to be focus of public meeting
HUNTSVILLE – While children’s aid societies are important there are some things that need to change, says critic Vern Beck.
Beck is one of the organizers of a public meeting that will discuss what he and others, critical of the way children’s aid societies are run in the province, consider problems inherent with the organizations. The meeting will be held in Huntsville on Nov. 8 and will include guest speakers such as a former children’s aid society board member, a former Ontario Provincial Police officer and a teenager with experience regarding the society.
“I’m going to be one of the key guest speakers there to address the people about some of the problems with their children’s aid society and with the Children’s Aid Society in general,” said Beck.
Beck said his parents acted as foster parents for 30 years for children who were in the care of a children’s aid agency in the province. He said his parents provided a safe home but he remembered some of the foster children telling stories about the “horrific” things they had been subjected to in foster homes.
“There are definitely good experiences but unfortunately there are too many bad experiences out there for kids and for families,” he said.
For the past 15 years, said Beck, he has been investigating what he calls the abuses of various children’s aid societies through his work with Canada Court Watch, a non-profit organization asking for greater accountability and transparency for children’s aid societies throughout Ontario.
Canada Court Watch was one of the groups involved in two rallies held in Huntsville as part of a province-wide “movement for accountability,” said Beck. Several other grass roots groups have also come to support each other during the rallies, he said.
The group hosting the public meeting is the Citizen’s Committee for Fairness in Ontario Courts (Muskoka) and it includes several community members who have similar concerns about the area’s children’s aid agency called Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka.
Topics at the meeting will include Muskoka-based concerns as well as issues surrounding the “abuse of tax dollars by child protection agencies and the family courts,” states a media release.
Beck said the movement, rallies and meeting are not about abolishing children’s aid agencies but are instead about increasing their transparency and accountability to those they serve.
“We need that organ of society to protect vulnerable children. There’s no doubt about that. We need a children’s aid agency. But it’s not about whether we need them or not. What this effort is about is we’re trying to promote accountability,” he said.
While not every child and family has had bad experiences with these agencies, said Beck, the movement is about supporting those who have and safeguarding others in the future.
The public meeting will take place Monday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. at the legion, 21 Veteran’s Way, Huntsville. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for refreshments. Parking is available.
A question and answer period will follow the presentation by guest speakers.
Source: Cottage Country Now
Iowa Fires Same-sex Judges
November 3, 2010 permalink
On April 3, 2009 Iowa legalized same-sex marriage through a unanimous ruling of the state supreme court. Yesterday three judges of that court were the subject of a retention election. The voters rejected all three.
While voters in some American states have approved equal rights for homosexuals, no state has approved same-sex marriage by referendum. Yet in the face of universal disapproval by the voters, the political elites, drawing much of their strength from the money flowing into the family destruction system, continue to impose same-sex marriage through the courts.
In the state of Washington, voters reelected state senator Pam Roach. She has appeared many times in this blog in her role as advocate for families threatened by child protectors.
Iowans vote to oust all three Supreme Court justices
All three Iowa Supreme Court justices up for retention election have been ousted from the bench.
Around 54 percent of Iowans voted not to retain each of the three judges: Supreme Court Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and associate justices Michael J. Streit and David L. Baker. The campaign for the judges ouster was based on the court’s unanimous 2009 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa.
There were 74 judges, including three Supreme Court justices, on the ballot Tuesday. Only the Supreme Court justices, however, came anywhere close to being removed from the bench.
The highly charged campaign featured more than $1 million in spending against the judges from national anti-gay organizations like the Mississippi-based American Family Association, Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council, Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, Georgia-based Faith & Freedom Coalition and New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage. The campaign culminated in a 20-city bus tour across Iowa.
The groups pushing for ouster promised that this was simply the first battle in a nationwide war against gay marriage and gay rights.
“If you rise up you will see states calling, other people from other states phoning and e-mailing and coming to find out how you did it because they too want to take their state back,” said Tamara Scott, of the Concerned Women of America’s Iowa chapter and a participant in the bus tour.
Despite the ouster of the judges, though, same-sex marriage continues to be legal in Iowa, and outgoing Democratic Gov. Chet Culver has the authority to appoint the judges’ successors.
Source: Iowa Independent
Police and CAS Protocol
November 2, 2010 permalink
A short news note shows that children's aid and the police cooperate according to the terms of a protocol.
Don't try to read the actual protocol. Chris Carter says he applied for a copy and got one that was about half blacked out.
Cooperation runs deep. Attila Vinczer says: [Police] Chief Armand La Barge spoke of the CAS as "Our friends!". The members of the CAS board and police service board often include employees of the other agency. In Dufferin, there have been several marriages between policemen and children's aid workers.
DURHAM POLICE AND CHILDRENS AID SOCIETY, MAKE CHANGES TO BENEFIT VICTIMS
A new protocol between Durham Police and the Children’s Aid Society was signed Thursday at Police Headquarters in Whitby. The updated Child Abuse Protocol outlines how the 2 organizations work together as a joint team, minimizing the impact of the investigative process on victims. Police Chief Mike Ewles says these cases are never easy. Executive Director of Durham Children’s Aid, Wanda Secord, says although Durham Police and CAS have been working closely and successfully together for years, the older agreement needed updating. Secord says some of the highlights of the protocol include reciprocal reporting of suspected abuse and neglect cases, a commitment to use joint investigative teams, and rules that govern how joint interviews take place.
Source: Durham Radio News
Addendum: John Butts requests a copy of the protocol for Huron-Perth (jpg) , subject to freedom of information since the ministry takeover of management.
Make CAS Follow the Law
November 1, 2010 permalink
The Ottawa Citizen has reported on John Dunn's efforts to get the list of members of Ottawa children's aid.
The article contains an example of child protectors saying in public the exact opposite of what they do in private. [CAS executive director Barbara] MacKinnon says it’s easy for former Crown wards to get their personal histories. “We err on the side of giving more.”
CAS under threat over list of members
Advocate wants to lobby children’s aid society members to create membership class for former Crown wards
OTTAWA — A former Crown ward is threatening to drag the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa into court unless it hands over a copy of its membership list.
John Dunn, founder and volunteer director of the Foster Care Council of Canada, wants to lobby CAS members to create a new membership class for the society’s former wards, regardless of where they live.
That, he says, “would enable people whose lives have been affected by that agency to advocate for changes in how they operate.”
Dunn, an activist who has been pushing for improved transparency and accountability of children’s aid societies in Ontario for years, asked for the membership list in June 2009. But the Ottawa CAS has steadfastly refused to give it to him.
That led him to file private charges last year against the agency and its executive director, Barbara MacKinnon, under a section of the Corporations Act that requires the release of shareholder or membership lists.
The case is scheduled to be heard in provincial court Dec. 1.
In a failed attempt to dismiss the charge this summer, lawyers for the CAS argued providing the list to Dunn would “cause the society to be in violation of privacy laws.”
Their motion called the charges “malicious” and said Dunn was acting in bad faith, claiming he had laid the charges “to obtain a ‘conviction’ so that he might convince the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to investigate” the Ottawa CAS.
When the motion was argued in provincial court in August, Dunn wasn’t even there to make representations.
“I actually slept in, believe it or not,” he says sheepishly. “And they still lost the motion.”
Dunn, who turns 40 on Nov. 16, has twice been turned down for membership in the Ottawa CAS.
In an interview, MacKinnon declined to discuss the court case or the reasons for rejecting Dunn’s membership applications. “It’s his story to tell, not ours,” she says.
But Dunn, who spent more than 16 years in foster care in North Bay, Toronto and Belleville, says the CAS told him he had “acted in ways that don’t support the objectives of the society.
“If you’ve attempted to advocate legitimately,” he says, “you tend to get the wall.”
Anyone 18 or over who lives within Ottawa CAS jurisdiction is eligible for membership, provided they have the best interests of the society at heart.
That includes former CAS wards. “We have former wards who are on staff here,” MacKinnon says. “We have former Crown wards on our board of directors.”
The membership base is small — just 50 or 60 members. They elect the non-profit agency’s 16-member board of directors.
Dunn acknowledges that children’s aid societies “generally do good work. But no system’s perfect, so whatever issues arise, they should be addressed.”
Expanding the membership base by creating a new class of former wards would make the agency more accountable, he says.
MacKinnon says the society has never been asked “in any formal way” to create a membership class for former wards.
“We’d have to think that through,” she says. “It’s not something we’ve addressed as an organization.”
Dunn also laid charges against the Ottawa CAS in 2007, when it refused an earlier request to provide him with its membership list.
At that time, he wanted to contact members to propose creation of a new, non-voting membership class for current Crown wards.
He withdrew the charge after the CAS agreed to give envelopes addressed to members to the assistant Crown attorney in the case. She mailed out Dunn’s letter, and passed on the responses.
Only one CAS member supported the idea of extending membership to current Crown wards.
Dunn’s latest campaign was triggered by the case of 67-year-old Gary Curtis, a former Crown ward who lives near Winchester.
Curtis had asked to see his CAS file, but says he was only given about 60 per cent of the material in it. “We know they took stuff out.”
Hoping to push for changes to CAS policies on information disclosure, Curtis applied for membership, but was turned down because he lives outside Ottawa.
“They told me I could join Cornwall. What the hell do I want to drive to Cornwall for?”
Curtis is now a director in Dunn’s organization. “We’re not going in to stir up trouble or anything,” he says. “We just want to get them to change their bylaws so people like myself, like John — and there are hundreds of them out there — have the opportunity if they want to join.”
MacKinnon says it’s easy for former Crown wards to get their personal histories. “We err on the side of giving more.”
Only material that deals exclusively with third parties and isn’t relevant is held back, she says.
But Dunn says access to records is a major concern for former wards. Abuse in care is another, though he personally doesn’t have a problem with the processes for screening foster parents or CAS workers.
He’d also like the CAS to make its policies and procedures manual public. “It’s about the way things are supposed to be done, so how are people supposed to know unless that’s made public?” he asks.
The CAS has offered to mail one letter a year from Dunn to its members. But Dunn is resolute. “I won’t be accepting any deals at this point,” he says.
Even if the CAS is found to have violated the Corporations Act, it still wouldn’t have to give Dunn its membership list. At most, it would be fined. “It’s just a slap on the wrist,” Dunn says.
Despite taking a law clerk course at Algonquin College a few years ago, he’s concerned about how he’ll perform in front of the judge.
“I may surprise the hell out of myself and be fine,” he says, “but I’ll probably choke up a lot. I’m hoping I don’t make a total mess of it.”
Source: Ottawa Citizen