A better watchdog for children’s aid
In about a dozen cities across the province this spring and summer, protesters have taken to the streets to bring public attention to the fact that Ontario is the only province in the country that does not allow its ombud to oversee children’s aid societies.
The issue has been coming up for more than 35 years, from sitting ombuds, and from successive private members’ bills, to no avail.
“These are highly important and emotional and technical matters that involve our children,” Child and Youth Services Minister Laurel Broten told the legislature as recently as May. The government prefers to leave the oversight to a little-known body called the Child and Family Services Review Board, which it says has the expertise to deal with such highly charged questions.
But the review board only deals with procedural matters: rather than review say, an allegation of abuse of a child under a society’s care, the board would either dismiss the complaint or order the Children’s Aid Society in question to respond. As well, the board will only consider complaints from only those who directly seek or receive services from a child protection agency; a grandparent or concerned neighbour, for instance, would be unable to appeal to the review board. An ombud can also take the larger view, highlighting trends or system-wide issues, rather than merely issuing decisions on individual cases.
The current ombud, André Marin, says his office has received more than 2,500 complaints about refusals to adequately investigate allegations of abuse or neglect, about concerns in the way children have been removed from a home, complaints about the care of children under the supervision of a children’s aid society, about inaccurate records or harassing behaviour by society staff.
There is no doubt the staff at children’s aid societies are committed professionals who perform a vital yet very difficult job under circumstances that are often fraught with emotion. That fact does not, however, erase the need for a transparent, easily accessible, arm’s-length system of oversight to which people can turn if they aren’t happy with the services they’ve received.
The province spends $1.4 billion a year on protecting some 18,000 vulnerable children through the services of 53 children’s aid societies. Such a broad function, consuming a significant amount of tax dollars, requires a clear system of oversight.
In 2009, the province set up a Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare, which is set to report in the fall of 2012. As a minimum, the commission should clarify what Marin calls the “somewhat murky status quo.”
The thousands of complaints that have made their way to Marin’s office, and the protesters speaking out across the province, are abundant evidence that the current system, despite the minister’s bland assurances, is inadequate.
Source: The Record
Children’s aid money serves many purposes
I am writing in response to the editorial of July 21, A Better Watchdog For Children’s Aid, which stated: “The province spends $1.4 billion a year on protecting some 18,000 vulnerable children through the services of 53 children’s aid societies. Such a broad function, consuming a significant amount of tax dollars, requires a clear system of oversight.”
I support the need for system oversight. The purpose of my column is not to debate the merits of each of the reviews that are done in a society. Accountability plays an important role in our work and I appreciate The Record’s coverage of this issue because I think it is important for those interested in this issue to have the full picture. I am writing to address the misconception that the government provides $1.4 billion to serve only 18,000 children. This is an error. The $1.4 billion provided to all children’s aid societies across the province was used in 2010 to:
The 18,000 children mentioned in the editorial is only the number of children and youth who are in the legal care of the society. This amounts to approximately 10 per cent of the children we serve. Approximately 90 per cent of the children served in our province remain in the care of their parents or other family members and the funding provided pays for a number of other critical services to support these children and their families. This is a critical point.
Assessing the needs of children who may be at risk involves careful consideration of the child’s needs during times when families may be at their most stressed. Given the emotional intensity and the complexity of the situation, it can be expected that there will be disagreements and different perspectives as to how a situation can best be managed in a way that addresses a child’s safety. When difficulties arise, as they most undoubtedly will, each society has an internal process for discussing concerns and resolving issues. The majority of concerns are resolved at this level, and those that don’t have other mechanisms in place for further review.
In addition to the Child and Family Services Review Board, there is also the office of the Provincial Advocate, a number of licensing and standards reviews and, of course, the family court system which ultimately determines whether or not a child is in need of protection.
As a community, we must do our best to understand the underlying issues that families face and come together as a caring society to develop supports and services that address the root causes of child abuse and neglect. It is important that we all understand the facts. We know that public education and awareness are key components of prevention. We also know that ready access to services and concrete supports are critical for families.
At Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region, we will continue to work with families and our community partners to provide a range of services that address risks and build on families’ strengths. We know we cannot do this without the help of an informed and caring community.
Alison Scott is the executive director of Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region.
Source: The Record
In response to Childrens Aid article
In this Waterloo Record newspaper article the Children’s Aid $ociety of the Regional Municipality of Waterloo’s (CA$ RMW) ex. dir. Scott is obviously tailoring her propaganda for an audience which doesn’t have true and accurate knowledge of the CA$s.
t is not just difficult but actually impossible to accept that Ms. Scott “support(s) the need for system oversight.”
In fact I know from personal experience and researched knowledge that her statement couldn’t be farther from the truth….
In example I know for a fact that Ms. Scott, who has a Master degree in Social Work, is not registered as a Social Worker (RSW) with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (the College):
Ms. Scott’s salary is a matter of public record:
In 2010 she is reported as making $156,538.19!
To the best of my knowledge, membership in the College is approx. $300.00/year.
However, the College has two very important features which, in my opinion, make College membership untenable for probably about 90% of the more than 8700 CA$ staff throughout this province:
1. Ethical and professional standards and codes:
2. the CA$ worker dreaded Complaints and Disciplinary Committee:
In my opinion Ms. Scott, like the overwhelming number ((90%!?) of CA$ RMW staff who do social work but refuse to register with the College, is unable to adhere to the College’s ethics and professional standards and is terrified of the College’s Discipline and Complaints Committee.
Here is what Mr. Vern Beck of Canada Court Watch has written about the subject:
As well, the CA$ RMW is well know to be one of the “most litigious” (if no the #1) CA$s of the 53 throughout the province (you know those financial donations you’ve made to the CA$ RMW over the years; well that money has gone into the pockets of the CA$ lawyers and, perhaps not directly but ultimately, their Ontario ‘court’ of ‘justice’ judges).
In fact the gov’t of Ontario and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services ( MCYS) were so worried about this issue that the MCYS, in one of its very 1st official actions after having been established in 2002/3, completed a 2003 “research project” titled: “A Review of the Legal Services of the CA$s of the Central West Region.”
The sole objective of this “research project” was to ascertain and correct the deficiencies and ugliness which were resulting in the CA$ RMW dedicating a greater percentage of its budget to litigation $$$$$$$$$$$$ than the other CA$s.
The project failed miserably and the CA$ RMW continues to be one (if not the) most criminal and destructive CA$s of the 53.
Note: when I attempted to obtain a copy of that document via a FIPPA request back in 2008, the MCYS senior freedom of information officer stated: “You’re wasting your time, more than 50% of the document will be blacked out.”
Everyone knows that these two aforementioned examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to CA$ fraud, malfeasance, criminality and ugliness.
For example I could raise issues like:
Finally, if you want to begin to get some real insight into the CA$ monster attend the Cambridge courthouse on the CA$ “child snatching Wednesdays” and the Kitchener courthouse for more of the same on Tues. and Thurs.; sit and watch the CA$ workers as they laugh at and mock the families who they’ve ripped apart (undoubtedly, as a result of this posting, a memo will be circulated throughout the CA$ RMW warning the workers to be on their best behavior, which they might be able to accomplish for a week or two but you know what they say about a leopard’s inability [or in this case its refusal] to change its spots).
Talk to those families about their cases and the CA$’s actions against their children.
Foster home hell $$$$$$$$$$$!
Don’t forget to visit the Argus Youth homeless shelter where the CA$’s former Crown Wards are unceremoniously tossed by the CA$ (that is if they ain’t already in a Youth or Adult jail where well over 50% of CA$ Crown Wards end up…ofcourse that’s better than the 120 CA$ babies and kids who ended up in graveyards in 2009!).
Then travel over to the Bridges shelter and speak with the staff and people staying there and ask them about their experiences with and opinions of the CA$.
After that, on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays, you can visit the very wonderful volunteers and people benefiting from the lunch provided at the Trinity Anglican Church over by the Cambridge Library.
Again, talk to these people about the CA$; I promise that they’ll share information with you in regards to the CA$ which Ms. Scott would and will never ever admit to.
Source: Cambridge Advocate