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Dangerous Girls Apprehended
February 28, 2011 permalink
US police, stymied in the struggle to track down Osama Bin Laden, succeeded in stopping another menace to the public safety: girl scouts selling cookies. The girls had to spend all afternoon at the police station.
Cops Shut Down Girl Scout Cookie Sale
Police in Villa Rica, Ga. shut down a local Girl Scout troop's cookie sale because the children did not have a permit.
"I was behind the table helping a few customers and the police showed up," said Breigh Anne Singleton. "I thought he was a customer."
The officer promptly informed the troop that they were breaking the law. He said the girls did not have a permit and they were selling too close to the road.
"My sister came up and said we were in big trouble," she said.
Source: Fox News
Bring Daniel Home
February 28, 2011 permalink
A rally occurred yesterday at Toronto's Huron Street Public School for "Daniel", the pseudonym of the boy in an article by Rosie DiManno. One of the speakers was MPP Rosario Marchese, here are several other pictures:    . A rally video (mp4) shows speakers Lyndsey King, Rosario Marchese, Margot Nelles, Jennifer M McLeod, (unknown). (Some of these names are guesses. Please correct mistakes by email). The Toronto Star report follows.
Ombudsman should oversee child welfare, MPP urges
The case of “Daniel,” who was removed from his foster parents’ home last year and placed in a youth treatment facility, illustrates why the provincial ombudsman should have the power to investigate children’s aid societies, an NDP MPP says.
At a rally in downtown Toronto on Sunday, MPP Rosario Marchese (Trinity-Spadina) said he has sponsored a private member’s bill to give Ontario Ombudsman André Marin that authority, a move he said Marin supports.
“When there’s a problem with children’s aid, you’re on your own. And there are many, many families that have experienced problems because I’ve met them . . . and they have nowhere to turn to,” Marchese said.
The rally was organized by Lyndsay King, who worked with Daniel, 11, for four years but felt “morally obligated” to resign from Jewish Family and Child Service of Toronto over its decision last May to remove him from his foster parents and place him in the Youthdale Treatment Centre. A spokesperson for the agency has said he is prohibited by law from commenting on Daniel’s case.
“Group homes are meant to be a last resort when loving homes cannot be found. It is clear that Daniel has a loving home waiting for him,” King said.
Star columnist Rosie DiManno reported earlier this month that his foster parents, who can only be identified by the pseudonyms, Rebecca and David, have not been allowed to see or speak with him since October. The couple, who have been trying to adopt him, have spent an estimated $50,000 in legal fees trying to bring Daniel home.
Daniel, who was taken away from his drug-addicted schizophrenic mother as a baby, has been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome — a developmental disorder — but has made progress while under his foster parent’s care, they told DiManno.
Margo Nelles, former executive director of the Aspergers Society of Ontario, said she knows the family well after the parents consulted her agency.
“They (parents) have worked tirelessly on his behalf. These people haven’t stopped fighting for him,” Nelles said, describing the child welfare agency’s actions as “sickening.”
“I know that when Daniel sees the support today, his healing process is going to be a better one,” she added.
Source: Toronto Star
Losing It All
February 27, 2011 permalink
Eileen Fairweather reports on a British mother's fight for her two children. When the mother devoted full-time to saving her family, she lost her university bursary and her home, and lost her children anyway. Middle class mothers make easy targets for social workers.
Social services took my children
Eileen Fairweather has investigated child care scandals for the past 20 years. But even she was shocked by the way an increasingly Stalinist state has torn apart one woman’s family.
A brilliant postgraduate recently asked me to attend a final care hearing in Britain’s notoriously secret Family Courts. She feared that social services were about to wrongly remove her children permanently from her care, and wanted a journalist to bear witness. I specialise in investigating social services, but refused. I thought this mother had a better chance of being reunited with her young children if she did nothing to provoke the authorities.
I was wrong. In January, the High Court made her daughter and son (both under 12) the subjects of a special guardianship order. They have now been placed with a distant relative they barely know and, under Section 34 of the Children Act 1989, the mother has been barred from contact until they are 18, on pain of imprisonment.
She has not been prosecuted for any kind of abuse, or committed any crime. She does not drink, smoke or use drugs, and has no mental illness. Numerous high-flying professional friends describe her as kind, stoical and a loving mother. However, her children were taken from her owing to psychological vulnerability, during a period of great stress. Social services concluded that this put them at risk of “significant harm”.
What does this tell us about modern Britain, and an arguably ever more Stalinist state? Court-ordered reporting restrictions mean that I cannot use identifying details. Charlotte, as I shall call her, was a former RAF cadet, law graduate and legal practitioner. After the court decreed that she should never see her children again, she said: “My children were deeply loved and privileged, and everything I lived for. I am trying not to remember anything because of the deep pain it causes me. I cry constantly.”
Intelligence tests place Charlotte in Britain’s top nine per cent. But she was adventurous and preferred the outdoors to offices: she had her own horse, skippered her first boat at 19, and later won a prestigious bursary enabling her to study for a vocational university degree.
She was thrilled. But she was also a single parent (to Emily and Oliver; not their real names) and struggled to cope at university. Charlotte moved to the town just before term began, with no nearby family or friends. Her ex-partner provided no support so she bought a wrecked house cheaply at auction. Her nanny proved unsuitable, so she spent hours driving between school, nursery and child-minder.
She was the only woman on her course. When a tutor postponed classes to the evening, after the nursery closed, she accused him of sexual discrimination. Her combative manner did not endear her. Her tutor accused her of “haughty” rudeness. She apologised, but felt unwelcome on the course. Meanwhile, a cascade of events brought her to the attention of social services.
Labour, in its dying days, used panic about child abuse to introduce continual monitoring of families. All state employees in contact with children are now expected continually to note and electronically pool their observations. The eight-page, 60-section Common Assessment Framework (CAF) asks invasive questions: how a child feels about its developing body; whether parents encourage cultural diversity; and if they work too hard to play with children. Labour recommended CAFs for the 50 per cent of British children it defined as “in need”.
Critics warned that this would produce a nation of snitches, and allow children to be removed through the accumulation of subjective judgments and untested tittle-tattle.
Charlotte’s plight amply illustrates this. Just before her first term began, a librarian expressed concern about Charlotte’s daughter being left in charge of her son. A police officer called shortly afterwards about her nanny’s lost passport. He reported the home’s poor condition, and an “unrelated male” on the premises (her builder).
A nursery worker noted that her son sometimes wore the same clothes as the day before, and arrived in a wet nappy (Charlotte had no hot water yet, and their morning journey took an hour). A teacher said that Charlotte’s queries about the quality of her daughter’s school meals meant that she did not cook enough at home.
A multi-agency CAF assessment was recommended. The first professionals were sympathetic. A health visitor in December 2008 described Charlotte “trying to juggle child care, studying, building work. Extra stressed this week: problems at university – timetable errors.”
Neither she nor the police saw any need for child protection, and a social worker confirmed: “Charlotte shows warmth and affection... she also has a good relationship with her health visitor and has acted on all advice given.”
Charlotte’s father’s died that Christmas. Her parents split up when she was tiny but she still mourned him deeply. She soldiered on, gained top marks and bought her daughter a pony. She wanted to provide a Swallows and Amazons childhood – she had roamed freely on her bike and horse from a young age. But that was in a vanished Britain. She could not understand why it was considered risky to let an older child temporarily mind a younger one in a library.
Grieving, isolated and exhausted, she asked the university medical centre for counselling. No one agreed who had responsibility for this incomer, who had a local and a university doctor. Ten months later, she was still not on a waiting list. On October 16 2009 she blurted out to her GP that sometimes she thought of suicide and taking her children with her, rather than leave them motherless. She says now: “I deeply regret that. My pain was acute, but I would never harm myself or my children. I had had thoughts of hurting myself – images but not plans, what is called 'ideation’, but no intent. I did not want to hurt myself so I was seeking help to deal with the images. I was desperate to stay healthy for the sake of my children.”
Her doctor alerted social services: Charlotte needed “extra support”. But new child protection procedures – over-cautious, inflexible and based on tick lists – mean that parents needing practical help increasingly find their children wrongly classified as “at risk” rather than “in need”. Adult and children’s social services have been separated, there is almost no budget for the former and no longer a holistic approach to families: a parent in need is often treated as a threat.
The council repeatedly sought to remove her children. They were initially deflected by a psychiatrist and by police, who described happy and safe children. But a child protection plan meeting found there was a “risk of neglect”.
By January Charlotte was so stressed that she feared she could no longer cope, and made the mistake of telling social services. She thought it might secure support; instead, every word was logged and used against her.
In February 2010, Cafcass – the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service – was enlisted. Britain’s secret family courts primarily rely on its judgments. If a solitary Cafcass guardian decides against a parent in a care or custody dispute, the parent is powerless. The guardians are unaccountable.
The guardian recommended within days that Charlotte’s children be removed and fostered. She was now allowed to see them only briefly once a fortnight at a “contact centre”. Three watching social workers critically analysed everything the family said and did.
On one occasion, she took her little boy to the lavatory. A male social worker ordered her not to shut the door – he wanted to watch to ensure the child’s safety. She slammed the door and was accused of assaulting the man.
Charlotte feared that the foster carer and Cafcass were asking her children increasingly leading questions about abuse. “I remember one contact session,” she says, “when Emily was crying and screaming, saying she wanted me and that I was not horrible to her. I did slap her once. It has haunted me ever since. Then they said that I’d dropped Oliver when I was feeding him and hit him round the head. It wasn’t true. I’d just told Emily jokingly once how he bit me when I was breast-feeding him and I tapped his cheek to make him stop. And there is no medical or other evidence that I ever hurt either child.
“The last time I saw them, Oliver became distressed and clung to me and made it very clear he wanted to come home with me. I believe this is the reason the Cafcass guardian claimed that she saw me pinch the children.”
Charlotte asked for further contact to be filmed, to protect her from further false allegations. Social services refused. That was the last time she saw her children, on April 28.
She felt that whatever she said was distorted. So she tape-recorded a phone call – heard by The Sunday Telegraph – asking why the guardian had removed her children. The woman said she lacked “boundaries”: Charlotte was not adept enough at hiding stress. On that basis, half Britain’s mothers might lose their children.
Cafcass commissioned a psychologist to evaluate Charlotte’s ability to parent her children. The psychologist had qualified in 2005.
The psychologist’s conclusions were not favourable. Charlotte countered by gathering dozens of letters of support. None of the witnesses were consulted or able to give evidence in court. In May 2010, Charlotte applied for the right to appeal. A local newspaper reported the court case: “Refuting the claims that she threatened to murder her children and attacked the social worker as 'entirely false’, the mother agreed she had been 'under great stress’.”
The court refused her permission to appeal. Charlotte was told she could write to her children weekly. “But whatever I wrote they vetted and would not send. My last letter to my daughter included memories of a day that was very special to her because she and her friends took the ponies swimming in the river. I was told off for being insufficiently 'upbeat’ and 'too emotive’.”
She then arranged for an assessment of her mental health by an experienced psychologist, who recommended a short course of therapy, family assessment and a gradual reunification with her children, but his advice was not taken.
Charlotte could no longer concentrate on anything save fighting for her children. She dropped out of her university course, lost her bursary – and her home. She discovered that spending on family proceedings and Cafcass has hugely increased. “Since 2008 [and Baby P], 2,000 more children are being taken by councils each year. Most councils confirm that they spend little, if anything, on residential family assessments – which case law says is mandatory to meet Article 6 of the Human Rights Convention.”
Charlotte fell apart after the final court decision over her children. “I cannot think of a way out. I have trapped myself inside a room just staring into a computer screen for eight months now because I cannot face the reality of my situation.”
The court order bars her from going within half a mile of her children’s new residence or schools. She may send cards four times a year.
“My case is a perfect example of how social services can literally take any child because there is no route of redress and no requirement for any real evidence. The courts are just there to rubber stamp whatever Cafcass recommends. There are no standards or safeguards. Any parent accused of abuse or neglect should be allowed a second, independent opinion.
“Every detail of my life has been analysed and distorted. I have been accused of enduring mental health problems simply because I left home young and for a time did not have a good relationship with my mother. I only went through normal ups and downs. But, although I briefly suffered a couple of times from depression, I was never hospitalised or medicated. I begged for my children to give evidence, a recorded contact session and a residential assessment. But everything was refused.”
I have investigated child care scandals for two decades, and am used to people contacting me with sob stories about “wicked” social services who turn out to be mad, bad or both. But Charlotte struck me as sane, decent and bright. I listened to her and talked to people who knew her case and concluded that a terrible injustice has been inflicted on her and her children.
The case against her seems a patchwork of trivial concerns, twisted together to reflect her in the worst possible light. How and why can such a thing happen? Some critics claim that children are being whisked into care to meet government targets for adoption. Conspiracy theorists talk of children being removed in order to supply paedophile or even satanic abuse rings.
Charlotte probably didn’t help her case by, in her despair, turning to this rag-bag movement and echoing some of their wilder claims on the internet and in her dealings with social services, who saw this as further proof of her instability. Yet many child care scandals have indeed revealed the presence of sex-offenders within the system: I myself exposed the shocking Islington children’s homes scandal in the Nineties. (Independent inquiries later confirmed that every one of the borough’s 12 homes included abusers, drug pushers or otherwise suspect staff.)
But just as often, it seems to me, injustices take place owing to human error – and moral laziness. At some point one key person decides to follow just one direction – the “bad mother” line – and every other professional falls into step.
Several factors, however, made Charlotte vulnerable to interference by the authorities. She was a bright, loving middle-class mother – often the easiest kind for social workers to deal with. She was no feckless, promiscuous single mother living off benefits. She was self-sufficient, Christian and celibate, and extraordinarily hard-working. She organised different activities every day for her children, fed them wholesome home-made food. But she was psychologically fragile, because of her background.
Her parents’ marriage broke up owing to her father’s drinking. Charlotte’s mother had to work hard to raise her children alone, and her feisty daughter admits that she became difficult in her teens. This culminated in her taking an overdose.
This may have weighed against her. “But,” she asks, “how many moody teenagers make half-hearted attempts like mine? I have sometimes struggled with depression, particularly after my father died, and I asked for help, but I never imagined it could be used against me like this.”
The earliest professionals involved with Charlotte’s case warmly backed her: she was a good mother doing her best. But the determination of the Cafcass worker to remove the children coloured everyone’s view. The course was set and no one dared challenge it.
Charlotte is now considering taking her case to Europe or even going on hunger strike. “That may seem crazy but legal action takes years and I don’t know what else I can do. The grief of losing your children is too much to bear.”
Hit and Run
February 26, 2011 permalink
People closely connected to children's aid, but posing as uninvolved persons, are entering Facebook discussions to be disruptive. The exchange below between Vernon Beck and Scott Lillow is not the first instance we have encountered.
Vernon Beck also commented on Scott Lillow's link.
"Its part of the "balanced" reporting that some news reporters feel obligated to work under. Even a person locked up in prison gets three meals a day. There is no doubt that CAS agencies do some good work. Some kids are taken for good reason. But just because CAS does some good work does not justify the very bad work they do. The vast majority of bad stories are avoidable.
Most of these bad stories are because of over-zealous workers who lie in court documents, lie to children and parents, threaten children and parents and commit unlawful and unethical practices, not to mention the CAS lawyers who lie in court to protect workers. What makes CAS so bad is that CAS agencies, including Muskoka CAS continue to break the law and refused to bring in measure which would fix the problem because they fear accountability and transparency.
In spite of the occasional good story, there is there room for significant improvement. In fact, I would challenge the CEO of the Muskoka CAS to engage members of the public in an open debate on this issue. They know my phone number."
Vernon Beck also commented on Scott Lillow's link.
"Scott, after I made my post above, I also noticed that you appear to be connected to workers with Muskoka CAS. Nothing wrong with that. I am a member of the CAS as well. Please pass on the message that members of the public would very much engage workers and the executive with the Muskoka CAS into a public debate on this issue. Not to criticize, but to point out how the problem of Muskoka CAS workers doing unlawful and bad things can be corrected. If you are interested in helping children, then please encourage your friends at the CAS to contact me personally so we can engage them in debate on how to fix the system. I'd be glad to meet you at such a public debate and to have you question me in front of an audience."
Scott Lillow also commented on his link.
"Vern- I have no connection with Muskoka CAS or it's workers. I am unable to assist in your desire for a public debate. My suggestion is that you contact them directly regarding this matter. "
Vernon Beck also commented on Scott Lillow's link.
"Scott, I was provided information from persons in Muskoka that one of the friends on your friends lists by the name of X.X. is/has been a worker with the Muskoka CAS. I was informed that you have been in a intimate relationship with this CAS worker. It was reported that you showed up at the rally in Huntsville during the summer and engaged protesters at the rally. Please correct me if the information I have been provided is wrong or contact me directly. Please ask your friend X.X. to contact me directly as well. Information has also been provided to Court Watch will supports claims that X.X. spoke out against her own CAS employer and that senior staff with her employer told her to remain silent.
Having senior staff order their own CAS workers to remain silent about child abuse is one the problems we want to see corrected."
Vernon Beck Just as a reminder to folks on this site that CAS workers and their friends are cruising this site and trying to discredit good parents in their efforts to bring in accountability and transparency to CAS. Just a few minutes ago, I just posted a response to a person who stated on his post that he had no connection to the Muskoka CAS or its workers. This person was outright lying to readers as a known CAS worker was on his friends list and he was engaged in an intimate relationship with.
As soon as I posted that I had a call from people in Muskoka that this person was in an intimate relationship with a CAS worker from Muskoka and that there was proof that senior staff with the Muskoka CAS had told their own employee to remain silent, he suddenly removed his post and all sub posts including my own. It all goes to show that most of these CAS workers and their friends when confronted with the truth that they have been caught lying, run away like a bunch of scared rabbits.
Vernon Beck In response to the previous post [now deleted] by the poster, let me only say that we have reasonable proof that one CAS worker in Muskoka was told to shut up about what she knew about the abuse of some children and I challenge anyone with the Muskoka CAS, its executive director or its board of directors to engage members of Court Watch into a public discussion on the issues.
I have the image of the posts made by this poster as a record of what was posted. One good thing about the modern world is that computers and electronic recorders are now able to maintain accurate records which aid in our battle for accountability and transparency.See More
Vernon Beck As another note, this friend of a Muskoka CAS worker went and banned others who had responded to his post. Just another tactic that these CAS supporters resort to when they get caught lying and become desperate.
February 25, 2011 permalink
The OACAS is planning a briefing at Queens Park on May 16. Only MPPs and staff are invited, but since the press will be there, this is a good opportunity to show up with signs telling the legislature and the press what CAS is really up to.
February 25, 2011 permalink
Arizona child protector Ariana Anton has been arrested for growing marijuana.
Child Protective Services investigator arrested in pot bust
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- A Child Protective Services investigator and two other people were arrested on drug charges after police found marijuana growing inside a Flagstaff home.
Flagstaff police Sgt. James Jackson said agents from the Narcotics Task Force executed a search warrant Wednesday morning at a home near Thompson Street and Mikey Drive after receiving tips about illegal marijuana sales and marijuana growing in the house.
The agents found approximately 2 pounds of cultivated marijuana and seized another 22 marijuana plants, which were in several stages of maturity, according to Jackson.
The agents also seized several items of paraphernalia, including lights used to assist in the growth of marijuana plants.
Jackson said the value of marijuana varies from $500 to $2,000 per pound depending on the potency.
Antonio Valdez, 30, and Ariana Anton, 27, were booked into Coconino County Jail on charges of cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Jackson said Anton has been employed by Child Protective Services since November 2006.
John Molina, 28, was later arrested and booked on charges of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Source: KTVK Phoenix
Addendum: There are too many drug busts of social workers to keep track of. Here is a cocaine case from Florida.
DCF investigator charged with cocaine possession
Deputies found a found a small bag containing white powder in Susan Cunningham's car.
A Florida Department of Children and Families investigator was charged Saturday with drug possession after she was seen leaving a motel suspected of drug activity by Orange County deputy sheriffs, officials said.
Orange County Sheriff's office spokesman Jeff Williamson said deputies were working a tip about drug sales in the 7400 block of South Orange Blossom Trail and arrested a woman about 5:30 p.m. for drug possession. They later discovered the woman is employed by DCF, he said.
Susan Gayle Cunningham, 39, of Orlando was charged with cocaine possession after she was seen leaving the Arrow Motel on South OBT and was pulled over, an arrest report stated.
DCF spokeswoman Carrie Hoeppner confirmed Cunningham has been an Orange County investigator since 2005. After hearing about the arrest Saturday, the agency began reviewing all of her open cases and reassigned them.
"An arrest of this nature is terribly concerning to me, it is especially bothersome when it pertains to an individual who holds a position of public trust, who is tasked to look after Florida's most vulnerable, " said DCF Central region director John K. Cooper.
Hoeppner said Cunningham will likely be fired. As a rule, all employees must submit to drug tests.
Deputy Alberto Matos had been watching the area when he spotted Cunningham enter the place and leave in her car. Matos gave a description of the vehicle.
Deputy Ronald Batista stopped Cunningham in the Sky Bowl parking lot for failing to signal when she changed lanes and asked to search her car.
Cunningham refused to give permission so Batista called a K-9 narcotics investigator. The dog alerted them to drugs and deputies found a small clear bag tied in a knot containing 15 grams of white powder in the car's center console.
The powder tested positive for cocaine, deputies said.
Cunningham's car was seized and she was taken into custody at the Orange County jail. She bonded out Sunday.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show that prior to this arrest, Cunningham does not have a state criminal record.
Source: Orlando Sentinel
Fifteen Minutes of Infamy
February 24, 2011 permalink
In British secret family courts, families are ruined in only fifteen minutes.
Family torn apart in 15-minute court case: Judge condemned for decision to remove children
A judge broke up a family in just 15 minutes, it was revealed yesterday.
Judge James Orrell ordered that three children should be taken from their parents after doctors gave evidence in his court about bruising to the ear of one young child.
The doctors said it was their opinion that the bruising could have been caused by pinching.
The ruling made at a family court in Derby was exposed after an Appeal Court judge overturned Judge Orrell's decision and condemned the way a family was nearly destroyed in a quarter of an hour.
Appeal Judge Lord Justice Thorpe said he was 'aghast' at the handling of the case.
The incident came to light amid continued controversy over the secrecy in which the family courts deal with cases despite repeated scandals over misjudgements or high-handed behaviour by social workers and wrong evidence by expert witnesses.
Last year Labour Lord Chancellor Jack Straw ordered the family courts to open their proceedings to outside scrutiny. But judges have been deeply reluctant to let anyone but lawyers, social workers and expert witnesses into the courts, and have effectively kept them closed all outsiders.
Judges and lawyers say the risk of the plight of vulnerable children becoming known to the public by name is too great and that such publicity would be greatly damaging to children.
As a result the public can know nothing of what happens, and must rely on regular assurances from judges and insiders that all is well and standards are maintained in cases that decide the future of parents and children.
Details often only become public if a family case comes to a criminal court - as happened when the circumstances of the killing of Peter Connelly, Baby P, were revealed when his mother, her boyfriend and his brother were tried at the Old Bailey in 2008.
In the Derby case social workers sent the evidence of the doctors to the court before Judge Orrell held his hearing. Their lawyers expected a preliminary hearing, but the judge heard the doctors and then ordered the social workers to remove the children from their home.
Lord Justice Thorpe said today: 'I am completely aghast at this case. There is nothing more serious than a removal hearing, because the parents are so prejudiced in proceedings thereafter.
'Once you have lost a child, it is very difficult to get a child back.'
He added of Judge Orrell: 'I know he is a very experienced judge and I know he has done wonderful work in Derby for many years.
'But there is a point where a judge’s brisk conduct of business in his search for protection of a child is just not acceptable.
'This does not seem to me like acceptable process or natural justice.'
Lord Justice Thorpe sent the case back to the county court in Derby, which handles the most serious local family cases, but he said any further decisions on the children's future should be taken by a different judge.
He added: 'Judge Orrell is a pillar of the family justice system, but I do believe it is important that the parents have confidence in the tribunal.'
Lawyers for the parents said the judge listened to evidence from the doctors but failed to hear what the parents had to say. He had also failed to listen to the bruised child, who is said to be 'of sufficient age and maturity' to speak for himself.
Source: Daily Mail
February 24, 2011 permalink
The court hearing of the Bayne case has been delayed to the end of the day, and will be heard then only if time is available.
THURSDAY-COURTROOM REPORT - Installment #1
It's 12:00 PM and we have a lunch break until 1:30 PM. When we return, the Judge has already told us that she will not revisit the Bayne case immediately, but if at the end of the day there is time then she will hear it.
Outside the courtroom is a list of the cases that Judge Arthur/Leung is hearing today. There may be 100 or more cases. There are expeditiously processed with very little time spent on each one. That is anticipated. The Bayne case was second or third on the list. We began close to 9:30 am. By “we' I mean at least 45 Bayne supporters all wearing black. The Judge, upon entering, could not have known we were all with Paul and Zabeth. She assumed we were there for one of the many cases scheduled during the morning hours. She expects as well that all these cases will simply move smoothly along without contest.
We were not in the court room very long. The Judge sent us out. That's right, sent Lawyer Doug Christie and the Baynes and all supporters out at around 9:55 am. This is the way it happened. A young confident lawyer introduced the Ministry case to the Judge, as well as Kim Tran, social worker who removed Josiah from Hospital. Doug Christie introduced himself and was permitted to speak to the matter. It became immediately clear to the Judge that he was contesting the facts that the case concerning Josiah was before a court in a different registry from the one where the prior case concerning the three siblings was heard, when in fact, the presenting reasons for this child's removal were the identical material heard by Judge Crabtree with regard to the three siblings.
Judge Arthur/Leung said she was not prepared to listen to this case if it was going to be contested because there were many cases to be dealt with today and her court room was packed and of course she didn't want all of these people having to wait to listen to the one Bayne case. So she dismissed us. The entire observer gallery stood and walked out. That was a bit of a surprise to the court I am sure. But also an indication of the public awareness and the network of support behind these parents. We all waited outside the court room.
At 11:30 AM we were permitted to come back inside. Doug Christie presented the Judge with a letter from Judge Crabtree that informed the court that Crabtree would deliver this coming Monday, his ruling concerning the three. In was a current matter soon to be settled. Christie pointed out that there was no new of different evidence presented in this new affidavit to justify taking the baby Josiah. He went through the Ministry affidavit paragraph by paragraph to emphasize that everything has already been heard by Judge Crabtree because all of it relates to the case concerning the three siblings, not this newborn child. He questioned how a Judge could be expected to rule upon such content when it was already heard and being deliberated upon by another Judge, and not just any judge but this judge's boss, the Chief Justice. Christie contested that in fact MCFD did not use a less intrusive means of protecting Josiah, which clearly would have been to leave him in hospital since his weight is 4 lbs. without an adequate immune system, but instead, Ministry has taken him outside in a car seat, placed him in a foster home where one of the other children has severe cold/flu symptoms. And why? Not for any justifiable reason that pertains to the parents with Josiah, but wholly because of MCFD's dealings with the parents concerning the other three children.
Okay, well back to the court house... stay tuned. I am not confident I will be happy with the outcome today.
Source: Ron Unruh blog
Addendum: The afternoon session set things over until March 3, which will not adjudicate the apprehension, but merely set the date for such a hearing. If judge Crabtree rules in favor of the Baynes next Monday February 28, the Josiah case may become moot.
THURSDAY-COURTROOM REPORT - Installment #2
Here is the Bottom Line.
With regard to the recent apprehension of their newborn son Josiah, Paul and Zabeth Bayne will be back in court on March 3rd.
No one said this would be easy. We know how long these legal tangles take to unravel. So we are going to know whether Josiah's three siblings are back with their mommy and daddy before we can do anything more for Josiah.
If you don't know anything about this case, quickly glance to your right and read the summary in that column.
Here is the deal. On Monday February 28th, perhaps by 9:00 AM or so, Judge Crabtree will have sent via fax, his ruling concerning Kent, Baden and Bethany, to both the Bayne legal counsel, Mr. Doug Christie, and to the MCFD legal counsel, Mr. Finn Jensen. As soon as this is sent to me you too will hear what that is.
Judge Arthur/Leung was determined not to hear a presentation as per a presentation hearing but she did grant Doug Christie some time to make his statements which I will later detail a bit more. She was there merely to process the order application to ratify the MCFD apprehension of baby Josiah. These matters usually are uncontested and take a couple of minutes. The Judge discerned quickly that Doug Christie was unwilling to allow this process which he believes to be an abuse, to proceed without Her Honour knowing his reasons. Fortunately she permitted him to speak. (More to come)
At the end of the afternoon, however, the Judge ruled that because of the baby's residential address, this is the Registry where this baby's case will be heard. She will not send it to another Registry. Further, at the March 3rd date, it will only be to set the date for a Presentation Hearing. This approach suggests this could be a prolonged waste of time and money once again. However, because of the insistence by Doug Christie that the rationale for seizing the baby was the identical explanation for the CCO (Continuing Care Order) concerning the other three children, and because Judge Crabtree has been listening to that and processing it for one year, and because he will deliver his ruling this coming Monday the 28th of February, Judge Arthur/Leung, probably through consultation with Judge Crabtree during breaks in the day, ruled that Crabtree will preside at the March 3rd date and further hear this case concerning Josiah.
It remains possible, even hopeful that Judge Crabtree in delivering his Monday ruling about the three children will speak to Josiah's seizure too. He could make it clear that in awarding the children back to Paul and Zabeth, he is discounting any merit to the MCFD allegations concerning the Baynes harming the children, or inability to protect and to care for the children, and therefore there is no foundation for any action concerning Josiah. That would be ideal.
More about today later, and more about the possibilities of Monday's ruling.
Source: Ron Unruh blog
Addendum: According to Ron Unruh, the decision by judge Crabtree in the primary Bayne case has been delayed again until Wednesday, March 2, mid-afternoon.
Source: Ron Unruh blog
Group Home Failure
February 24, 2011 permalink
A teenaged girl is out of control, clubbing a woman in Burlington Ontario and assaulting another woman in Moosonee. Since the Burlington incident was in the course of an escape from a group home, this girl is the dysfunctional product of CAS care. The courts have responded with the treatment least likely to cure: jail time.
Teen clobbers group home worker with figurine
TIMMINS, Ont. — A 16-year-old girl with a history of using ceramic items as a weapon, was warned by a Timmins judge that she might end up killing someone if she doesn’t change her violent ways.
The girl admitted to clubbing a group home worker in the head with a porcelain figurine to escape a youth detention facility in Burlington, Ont.
Also, in October, the teen came up behind an unsuspecting woman in Moosonee, Ont., smashed a bowl into her face and then started punching and kicking her.
Assistant Crown attorney Dale Cox said the victim had several deep gashes in her face and was “bleeding profusely” from the attack.
Cox said the incidents reflect a “troubling pattern of assaultive behaviour.”
Judge Ralph Carr agreed. “Someone could have been killed,” he said in court.
The teen pleaded guilty to two counts of assault and one count of breaching a condition of release requiring that she not consume alcohol.
The teen received a sentence of 74 days in custody to be followed by one year of probation.
Boy Arrested for Drawing
February 23, 2011 permalink
When a schoolboy drew a stick figure on advice from his therapist, he was arrested, handcuffed, fingerprinted held in jail.
Arvada Police defend arrest of 11-year-old over drawing
ARVADA, Colo. -- Arvada Police are defending the way they handled the arrest of an 11-year-old boy. The Arvada boy was arrested and hauled away in handcuffs from his home for drawing stick figures in school - something his therapist told him to do.
His parents say they understand what he did was inappropriate, but are outraged by the way Arvada Police handled the case. The parents did not want their real names used.
They say "Tim" is being treated for Attention Deficit Disorder and his therapist told him to draw pictures when he got upset, rather than disrupt the class. So that’s what he did.
Last October, he drew stick figures of himself with a gun, pointed at four other stick figures with the words "teachers must die."
The boy drew the pictures to let out angry emotions. "Tim," his parents, and his therapist say it was not a threat and that Tim would never hurt anyone.
He felt calmer and was throwing the picture away when the teacher saw it and sent him to the principal's office.
The school was aware that the boy was in treatment, determined he was not a threat, notified his parents and sent him back to class. His mother, "Jane" was shocked when Arvada Police showed up at their home later that night.
She says she told her son to cooperate and tell the truth, but was horrified when they told her they were arresting him and then handcuffed him and hauled him away in a patrol car. His mother says she begged police to let her drive her son to the police department and to let her stay with him through the booking process but they refused.
They put him in a cell, took his mug shot and fingerprinted him. He says he thought he was going to jail and would never be able to go home again.
According to the police report, "Tim" explained he made the drawing to release anger and would never hurt teachers or anyone. At first school officials did not want to press charges, but changed their mind when police called them later that night. A juvenile assessment report shows he's never been in legal trouble before and is at low risk to reoffend.
He's charged with a third degree misdemeanor, interfering with staff and students at an educational facility. The system says it's doing what's in the best interest of the child. But Tim's therapist says handcuffing an 11-year-old and putting him in a cell over something like this is "quite an overreaction" and does much more harm than good.
"Tim" is on probation and if he completes that successfully, the criminal charges will be dropped. But his parents say it has cost them thousands of dollars so far.
And if they had known that their son’s cooperation would be used as evidence against him, they would have hired a lawyer at the beginning and exercised his right to remain silent.
Source: KDVR-TV Denver
Social Worker Dead
February 23, 2011 permalink
Cleveland social worker Tashia Burch-York died Tuesday February 22. Five days earlier she was in a meeting with four or five adults and a teenaged boy who was a ward of Cuyahoga County. He assaulted her, and was quickly subdued. Tashia did not seem to be seriously injured and walked away from the incident. It is not known whether the death is the result of the assault.
Cuyahoga County case worker dies days after being assaulted, county says
CLEVELAND, Ohio --
The Cuyahoga County coroner is investigating the death of a children's caseworker who was assaulted days earlier by a boy in county custody, officials said.
Adoption supervisor Tashia Burch-York, 42, died Tuesday. She was assaulted Feb. 17 by a 15-year-old, 140-pound Cleveland boy at the county Children and Family Services headquarters in the Jane Edna Hunter building on Euclid Avenue, according to a sheriff's report.
Burch-York was among four or five adults meeting with the boy in a room on the building's first floor, officials said. Someone pressed a panic button that signaled security officers, but people in the room restrained the boy before security arrived.
Officials declined to discuss details of the assault or of Burch-York's injuries, though county Executive Ed FitzGerald said she left work Thursday on her own. Officials said they don't know if the assault contributed to her death.
The coroner's office found no evidence of trauma on her head or body, spokesman Powell Caesar said, though he said the cause of death won't be made until more tests are conducted,
Burch-York, of University Heights, had worked for 16 years as an adoption supervisor for the county child-welfare agency. Last year, she made $50,000.
"From our perspective, she really stood out," said Betsie Norris, executive director of Adoption Network Cleveland, a nonprofit agency that worked with Burch-York. "As many things as we hear about county employees and negativity swirling around out there, she was phenomenal. Our whole staff has been crying all day."
Burch-York's co-workers worried Wednesday about security at the county-owned Hunter building, where Burch-York met with the boy.
Sheriff Bob Reid increased security in county buildings a few weeks ago, said FitzGerald's spokesman, John Kohlstrand. Employees are now required to go through metal detectors.
Security desks are at the front and rear entrances of the building. At the time of the assault, eight security guards were on duty.
"I haven't seen anything yet that indicates to me that the security level was inappropriate," FitzGerald said at a news conference.
In a statement, FitzGerald said the assault is a "reminder of the difficult and often dangerous situations our social workers confront every day.
"It is important for all of us to take a moment to grieve the loss of an employee who was loved by her family, friends and co-workers," he said.
Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer
Addendum: The death was from heart disease, and unrelated to the attack by the boy.
Ohio social worker death not due to alleged attack
CLEVELAND (AP) -- An autopsy shows that the death of a Cleveland social worker five days after authorities say she was assaulted by a youth at work was not related to the alleged attack.
Cuyahoga County spokeswoman Nicole Dailey Jones says the coroner has ruled that 42-year-old Tashia Burch-York died of complications from heart disease.
Authorities say Burch-York was assaulted by a 15-year-old boy on Feb. 17 at the Cleveland building where she worked as an adoption supervisor for Cuyahoga County. Her body was found at her University Heights home by her husband on Feb. 22.
The Plain Dealer reports that Burch-York had said she was attacked after she told the boy he would not be moving out of a foster home. She had worked for the county for 16 years.
February 23, 2011 permalink
Rosie DiManno steps away from the best interest of the child platitude to show what happens to a real foster child. Foster care is a system in which the people who have day-to-day care of a child have no authority, while people who do have legal authority have almost no contact with the child. In Rosie's story notice how these two kinds of people meet destructively to ruin a child. Two earlier articles on Youthdale: 2009 2010.
‘I am praying to God for me to come back’
“Every morning, do you go downstairs to see if I’m there?”
“No, I know you’re not there.”
“What if I’m going . . . I’m going to run away from here?”
— Oct. 3, 2010, telephone conversation between 11-year-old “Daniel” and the woman he calls “Mom”
Daniel was seized at birth from his drug-addicted schizophrenic mother.
Last May 4, in a terribly disruptive repetition, he was seized from the foster family that has spent the past four years trying to adopt him.
Rebecca and David — a middle-aged observant Jewish couple — have not been permitted to see or speak with Daniel since October, despite glowing assessment reports by Jewish Family and Child Services, which has ward guardianship of the boy.
Daniel has lived for the past five months at the Youthdale Treatment Centre on Victoria St., a facility for children with mental disorders, occasionally restrained to manage his raging outbursts. He does not want to be there.
“I can’t live any longer like this,” Daniel told Rebecca in their last phone call, on Oct. 8, a conversation she tape-recorded. “And pretty soon I’m going to explode. I can’t take it. In two weeks I’m going to freak out so bad and I won’t be able to control myself and I’ll explode.”
It is a sad and maddening story between warring factions, all claiming to have Daniel’s best interests at heart. Yet while adults — lawyers, custodians, case workers, psychiatrists — hiss at each other in a quasi-judicial procedure that has grown increasingly toxic and unnecessarily prolonged, a little boy remains institutionally warehoused, crying himself to sleep at night.
“I am praying to God for me to come back,” Daniel wrote to his foster parents at one point. “Do whatever you can to get me back. Do not get another boy.”
No one has accused Rebecca and David of doing harm to Daniel. (All names are pseudonyms to protect their identity, as mandated by law.) Indeed, the child’s only periods of stability and calm came while in their patient, tender care. A youngster who would not even allow anyone to touch him had progressed to the point where he’d crawl onto Rebecca’s lap and nestle.
“He was absolutely a wild child when he came to us,” recalls Rebecca. “He had a youth worker with him at all times — what they call a shadow — to help control his behaviour.”
David: “He’d been bounced around for so long. No way this kid should be bounced around even more.”
The genesis of the conflict between this couple and the JFCS is difficult to comprehend. This narrative is their story and therefore one-sided because the agency says it can’t discuss the case.
Emails and letters provided to the Star make it clear the foster parents were stubborn advocates for Daniel. They clashed with the agency, most critically over the boy’s psychiatric diagnosis and which programs would allow him to best thrive.
The foster parents argued Daniel did best in public schools — which he attended for two years while living with them — in programs tailored to his needs, accessing the breadth of resources available from the Toronto District School Board, yet among his peers. The agency favoured institutionally-run behaviour modification programs which, the couple says, are inappropriate and counterproductive for a child with Daniel’s issues.
A pediatrician and, according to the foster parents, the agency’s own psychiatrist had determined that Daniel suffered from Asperger Syndrome, a neurobiological disorder in the “autism spectrum” that refers to a range of developmental disabilities, with symptoms of varying severity. Earlier diagnoses had pegged Daniel with attention deficit disorder and separation anxiety disorder. There was also speculation that he was bipolar.
He was originally put on Adderall, a psychostimulant. But as the foster parents later learned from Daniel’s cardiologist, that medication should not be prescribed to children who, like Daniel, had serious heart problems in infancy. Daniel underwent surgery for a defective aortic valve at 11 months. Sighs Rebecca: “He was born with a broken heart and has had to live with his heart being broken ever since.”
Fumes David: “Those drugs could have killed him.”
So there were pre-existing issues of contention between the foster parents and the agency. But the situation became hostile when the couple was summoned to mediation and conflict resolution sessions with the society. On their lawyer’s instructions, they refused to attend — at first.
“They wouldn’t even tell us what we were supposed to be mediating about,” David snorts. “We smelled a set-up.”
But, allegedly threatened with losing Daniel forever — indeed, never seeing him again — and being struck off the agency’s foster parent list as well, the couple acquiesced. Made no difference, as it turned out, because last spring Daniel was removed from their home and last fall, “they dumped us as foster parents,” says Rebecca. “They delivered the notice to our door, like a pizza flyer.”
That was one day after the couple declined an agency request to drop the complaint they’d filed with the Ontario Child and Family Services Review Board over Daniel’s seizure. The board ordered a hearing and the case has been moving sluggishly through the tribunal process, with a couple of hearing days — in camera — scheduled from month to month.
David owns a midtown business. He estimates the couple has already spent about $50,000 on legal bills.
Richard Cummings, executive director of the JFCS, told the Star the law forbids him from discussing any specific case.
“All I can say is that our efforts are always in the best interests of children. Those are the imperatives and values of our agency. And we are an eminently defensible agency.”
Generally speaking, Cummings emphasizes that the agency monitors relationships within all fostering families and maintains vigilance over the needs of the child. “Those needs may change from time to time. Our idea of the child’s best interests might not align sometimes with the opinion of others. But ultimately, our responsibility is to the child.
“Absolutely, a plan for permanency and continuity in the child’s life is the desired goal. But child welfare is an imperfect field. There’s no lack of complexity in cases that come within our reach.”
Back to the beginning, where Daniel’s tale of woe began, long before the afternoon in 2006 that his uncle dropped him off at the foster couple’s apartment, telling the boy flatly: “These are your new parents.”
Daniel’s biological father was unknown when he came wailing into the world in Toronto. Child welfare authorities turned the newborn over to his maternal grandparents, who formally adopted the baby. When Daniel was 5, however, his grandmother died suddenly. Three months later, grandpa moved out of the country with his new girlfriend, the foster parents say they were told. Daniel was farmed out to an uncle and aunt. But they were overwhelmed by the child’s needs, his temper tantrums, his bewildering emotional disorders and the high maintenance required. So they told the agency they were giving him back to JFCS.
Meanwhile, Rebecca and David had applied as foster parents with the agency.
“We met (Daniel) two days before his 7th birthday,” says Rebecca. “He was holding back tears.”
From those earliest days, and despite the clear challenge that it would be to raise Daniel, the couple had always planned to adopt him. The agency knew that and seemed approving, they say. “We were instructed to tell him this was his forever home,” says Rebecca.
Daniel sized up his new guardians and stated, according to Rebecca: “I’m a kid who needs parents and you’re parents who need a kid.”
With no direction on how to handle such a difficult child, the couple learned by trial and error. It quickly became apparent that there could be no reasoning with Daniel. They didn’t yet know Daniel had Asperger, but he didn’t respond to methods that might work with other troubled youngsters. The most effective tactic, when Daniel was at his furious worst, was to walk away, not engage, the couple discovered. The towering rages would eventually subside and Daniel would revert to “normal,” or what passed for normal with him.
As Rebecca tried to explain to a caseworker in one from among dozens of email exchanges, on this occasion objecting to a behaviour modification regime that had been proposed: “He becomes angry and frustrated in a heartbeat when he doesn’t understand what he is supposed to do. Once angry, it takes time for him to calm down. Often he does not understand what he is told even when it seems to a non A-S person to be so simple. The adult then moves forward assuming he can follow and when he can’t he acts out again.”
A breakthrough came when the family took a cottage vacation and Daniel’s prescriptions could not be immediately renewed by a local pharmacist. Suddenly, in the absence of those medications, Daniel’s conduct settled down. One day, he clambered into Rebecca’s lap. “He cuddled. That was the turning point.”
When Rebecca reported these developments to Daniel’s psychologist, suggesting perhaps the drugs had been aggravating the boy’s problems and asking whether she might cease administering them, the doctor purportedly responded: “Sounds like a no-brainer to me.”
In 2006, Daniel was accepted into a behaviour modification program at CAMH, a learning environment for kids unable to function in a normal classroom. He attended for five months as a day patient.
The following year, he was placed into day treatment at Hincks-Dellcrest Treatment Centre, a children’s mental-health facility.
“The teacher there told us, this kid has Asperger,” David recalls. “She said, ‘we’re not qualified to teach him and the other kids are torturing him.’ And Daniel hated it. He begged us: ‘Don’t make me go there!’ He was afraid of that place.”
The couple wanted Daniel in a regular classroom where he wouldn’t — as was his tendency — mimic the behavioural antics of emotionally disturbed classmates. “It is an obvious mistake to put him with kids who have abnormal behaviour issues,” Rebecca protested.
In another email: “Hincks was unable to provide the proper supports and thus (Daniel) was . . . moved to a (younger age) classroom where he has no opportunity to interact with his peers.”
He was, when adequately controlled, a bright, inquisitive and outgoing child with natural leadership skills, say the foster parents. What they were desperately seeking was a public school environment — as Daniel wanted — with an academic and socializing program tapered to the boy’s specific needs. It took a long time to coordinate this objective with the TDSB but, as of a year ago, it had been managed.
“He was doing well, better,” says David.
Last spring, a crisis occurred. Daniel, who’d continued irregular contact with his biological cousins, learned that his grandfather had returned to Toronto. The boy took it into his head that he would be reunited with this man; that they’d be a family again. When his grandfather didn’t even call, say the foster parents, Daniel became profoundly distressed.
A particularly bad episode prompted Rebecca and David, at their wits end, to call the agency, requesting some kind of expert assistance. A caseworker did come over and swept the boy to the hospital ER ward. There, a staff psychiatrist concluded there was no need for a fresh assessment, as the caseworker urged, or in-patient treatment. They sent him home.
In early May, the same caseworker reappeared, saying she needed to remove Daniel for assessment.
“But she told us to pack his clothes,” says David. “I realized this was a backdoor apprehension.”
As he was leaving, a suspicious Daniel asked the caseworker, according to the foster parents: “You’re not putting me in a group home, are you?”
In fact, that’s precisely what happened. Daniel was parked briefly with another foster family — “respite”, this intervention was called — and then moved to a group home.
Rebecca and David told the agency on Aug. 9 they were still intent on adopting Daniel. “This was greeted with resounding silence,” says David.
That month, Daniel attended a camp serving children and teens with complex multiple neurological disorders including Asperger and Tourette's syndrome. He’d long been on the waiting list. Yet, the foster parents say, this aggrieved his JFCS caseworker, who complained she’d not been forewarned. This summer idyll was followed by a second recreational excursion at a Youthdale-operated camp.
The director of the first camp wrote: “In my professional opinion, as a special-education teacher, cognitive behavioural therapist, and a camp director of 24 years, it would be disastrous for (Daniel) to attend Youthdale Camp. The children he would encounter would have issues unlike his own and he could be physically, emotionally and sexually vulnerable in such an environment.”
At the end of those two weeks, Daniel was moved into the Youthdale residential centre. Rebecca and David were permitted one-hour supervised visits. But those were halted, they say, after a caseworker claimed Daniel told someone his foster parents had instructed him not to cooperate with Youthdale staff. They deny this.
A short while later they were dropped as foster parents.
On Oct. 18, phone calls to Daniel were cut off. A week later, they claim, the agency threatened to shut down their foster home unless they dropped their Review Board hearing. With an hour, the formal notice arrived.
Daniel’s grandfather, who sees the boy occasionally, supports the foster parents’ adoption ambitions, they claim. In a February email to them, he wrote: “(Daniel) has suffered much trauma in his life and removing him from your custody would have the most traumatic experience on him mentally that I feel could not be reasonably resolved. You have worked wonders with him and for the first time in his life he feels ‘part of a family’.”
Rebecca and David are terrified what might become of Daniel if he remains at Youthdale for much longer. By law, he can be kept there against his will until age 16. “What impact will that have on his future?” Rebecca wonders. “What drugs is he on? I’m afraid he’ll grow up into a psychopath from all that anger, never experiencing love. He could end up institutionalized for life.”
Someone they know, who’s recently seen Daniel, reports the boy is bewildered and regressing.
“Not a day goes by when I’m not in tears,” says Rebecca. “We promised we’d never leave him, that he’d always be with us.
“We are a family. We won’t abandon him.”
Source: Toronto Star
Crown Ward Speaks
February 23, 2011 permalink
Here is a rare news article quoting a named crown ward, Khris Finley.
Crown kids have ‘different issues’
Local teens share their concerns about the education system
Khris Finley isn't a typical student.
He was put up for foster care at the age of 12. In the last four years, he's attended 15 different schools and has been in and out of countless foster families.
Finley, 16, was one of five Crown wards who gave school boards and social service agencies a glimpse into his life and how they can better help students like him. There are more than 100 Crown wards in the Nipissing, Parry Sound and Muskoka regions.
"The education view has got to change," Finley said Tuesday during a symposium sponsored by the Crown Ward Championship Team for the districts of Nipissing, Parry Sound and Muskoka.
He told the crowd of professionals from area school boards, Children's Aid Society of Nipissing and Parry Sound, Hands Family Health Network and Nipissing University and Canadore College, that a cookie-cutter approach doesn't work for all students.
"The biggest thing is for school boards to accept that students all have different issues."
Finley said he noticed there were problems when he started asking questions.
"I'm looking at attending university, but I need help with funding and support," he said. "What bursaries and grants are out there? And what options do we have? Kids in care don't have anyone to run too or someone to ask for a bit of cash to help them out. We're much more independent. We have to be."
Dr. Bruce Ferguson, an advocate for children and youth and director of the Community Health Systems Resource Group at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, was the event's guest speaker.
"We have to do everything we can to allow these young people to succeed despite the challenges they face," he said.
Ferguson said there are many reasons why children in care don't do well.
He said schools are dealing with children who have mental health problems.
"Students today have multiple and complex needs," Ferguson said.
"They live in a complicated world with a lot of uncertainty. Young people run on their hopes and dreams."
Katreen Wheeler, 16, is optimistic about her future but she didn't always feel that way.
She went into foster care at the age of seven was bullied in elementary school.
She said she was beat up because she was in foster care and was called "dirty" and "bad."
"My past is terrible, but that doesn't mean I don't deserve a good future."
The Crown Ward Championship Team was created by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Family and Youth Services and Ministry of Colleges and Universities.
Source: North Bay Nugget
Bring on the Ombudsman
February 23, 2011 permalink
Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiManno calls for ombudsman oversight of children's aid.
DiManno: Powerful child welfare authorities must be called to account
When Elaine Campione was on trial for murdering her two young daughters, the prosecution deliberately declined to call child welfare authorities to the stand.
In a strategic gambit to secure conviction — which did, in fact, result — the Crown attorney avoided diluting the case by spreading the blame to anyone other than the accused.
Yet the defendant’s own parents, and her estranged husband, had expressed their urgent concerns about Campione’s mental problems to the local Children’s Aid Society, long before the woman drowned her children in the bathtub in a horrific act of spousal vengeance. The CAS has never been held to account for its decision to return those kids to their mom following her psychiatric hospitalization.
Child welfare authorities in Ontario have immense powers yet are accountable to no one.
The incidents where a member of the CAS or the Catholic Children’s Aid Society or the Jewish Family and Child Service have been charged criminally in cases of youngsters dying or suffering unspeakable abuse while under their supervision can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
The roll call of the dead includes:
- Jeffrey Baldwin: A toddler who was given to his maternal grandparents in a “family adoption,’’ despite the fact his grandmother had been convicted of second-degree murder in the death of her first daughter many years earlier (two other children had been seized) and his grandfather had been found guilty of assaulting children only six years previously.
The emaciated 5-year-old died from shock and bacterial pneumonia brought on by malnutrition. Court heard he was locked in a room surrounded by his own feces and was made to drink from the toilet. At death, Jeffrey weighed just 21 pounds.
An entry from the boy’s case file noted that his grandmother operated as a Society-funded daycare provider “and her worker at the time had no concerns regarding this family.’’
- Randal Dooley: Beaten to death by his father and stepmother 11 months after arriving in their household, he had 13 broken ribs, a lacerated liver and fractured vertebra, and a tooth in his stomach. When his teacher had earlier brought the child’s bruises to the attention of the school principal, that man had called the CAS to report the suspected abuse and was told, as he recounted from the witness stand, that “the CAS was not going to attend.’’
Two weeks after Randal died, the CAS phoned the principal back and asked, retroactively: “Did you expect us to come?’’
- Jordan Heikamp: Five weeks old when he died at the native women’s shelter in Toronto where his teenage mother had been living. The baby had starved to death because his mom had not breastfed him sufficiently, overly thinned the milk formula Jordan was given and been wildly neglectful of the infant’s needs.
The mother afterwards complained that her social worker had not provided the help she required to take care of the baby.
A coroner’s inquest would ultimately rule the death a homicide, though charges against the mother and the social worker were dropped at the preliminary hearing phase. The coroner’s jury, among its recommendations, urged that child welfare workers be reminded it’s the child who needs protection, not the mother.
An internal email allegedly from an executive of the agency, posted online by a children’s advocacy group, describes his initial response to media coverage of Jordan’s death: “I could not understand why this case was causing such an uproar against CCAS.’’
A couple of weeks ago, a Hamilton couple were convicted of abuse and endangerment over two youngsters found living in a locked basement room, after police responded to a 911 call made by the younger boy, who was all of 2 years old. In that case, the social worker had been in the basement mere hours before police arrived and noticed nothing amiss — not the stench of feces and urine, not the two rats caught in a trap.
At trial, the worker said she’d had a bad head cold that day, so was unable to smell anything.
“Her testimony about the basement was not credible or worthy of belief,’’ the judge concluded. “I find that it defies logic that she would not have detected some of the squalor.’’
Yet the Hamilton Children’s Aid Society stands by its employee.
Kids in care, those under agency supervision, are among the most vulnerable human beings in society. And everyone claims their welfare is of paramount importance. In practice, however, there’s a turf war over authority and the playing field is tilted heavily toward the impenetrable secrecy of child welfare agencies.
A Children’s Aid complaint brochure specifically disallows complaints directed at the CAS or the Ontario Child and Family Services Review Board (CFSRB) in matters “currently before the courts or that the courts have already decided,’’ and “matters that fall under other decision-making processes under the Child and Family Services Act or the Labour Relations Act.’’
The province has a Child Advocate office but that department doesn’t possess any investigative powers. It cannot compel cooperation from any agency.
Ontario is the only province that does not grant the provincial ombudsman authority to investigate child welfare agencies such the CAS, the CCAS or the JFCS. Deaths are investigated by the coroner’s office — after the fact, its recommendations non-binding.
There is, essentially, no apparatus for determining whether case workers have been either overzealous or undermotivated in the management of any child’s file and precious little parents can do when faced with the monolith of a child welfare agency scooping up their kids.
“In Ontario, the child protection system is exempt from oversight,’’ says André Marin, the Ontario ombudsman whose annual report this year will again call for changes to the Ombudsman Act, pleading for child welfare agencies to be brought under his office’s jurisdiction.
Marin’s office received 306 child welfare complaints last year, none of which he has the legislative clout to pursue. Ironically, the ombudsman can oversee the policies of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services but can’t investigate how those policies are being applied. “So, we can look into the ministry’s glass tower in downtown Toronto but we can’t reach out to the community that’s being affected.’’
The ombudsman’s office also oversees the operation of the CFSRB — a quasi-judicial entity that reviews complaints made about a child welfare agency’s decisions but doesn’t probe the underlying issues.
“They’re one per cent of the solution, that’s about it,’’ says Marin. “And we have oversight for them. Whoop-de-doo.’’
When a specific case explodes in the public arena — a child’s death, especially — there’s wide discussion of bringing welfare agencies to account, and then the urgency fades away until next time.
“These are powerful agencies that get $1.4 billion a year from the government,’’ says Marin. “They get very defensive, ferociously defensive. And they bring out their well-oiled PR machinery.’’
Marin has long been crying out for government to “plug the hole’’ in the Ombudsman’s Act relative to child welfare agencies. “It’s a legal anomaly that has existed since the ombudsman’s office was conceived in 1975.’’
Last November, an NDP private member’s bill was introduced, yet again, at Queen’s Park to amend the act. “It never goes anywhere,’’ says Marin. “The government always vetoes it.’’
Citizen groups have also been fomenting for legislative changes, holding protests outside some particularly controversial regional CAS offices. “They’re usually portrayed as lunatics or a fringe minority,’’ observes Marin, “but they have legitimate issues.’’
Marin maintains he has the staff to do the job if the province would just remove the shackles.
“I can’t think of any area more ripe for oversight than child welfare. Children die and no one takes responsibility, no one answers the important questions.
“It’s just so sad.’’
Source: Toronto Star
The list of deaths cited by Rosie DiManno is short. Information released by the Pediatric Death Review Committee and child advocate Irwin Elman suggests that the real number of children's aid deaths is in the range of 50 to 100 annually. In twenty years over a thousand children have died in CAS care. Here are a few of the children who have died in Ontario after removal from their parents by force of arms.
Death for Cash
February 22, 2011 permalink
Another tragedy has been reported in Pennsylvania's kids for cash scandal. Leaving court after his conviction, judge Mark Ciavarella was confronted by the mother of one of his victims. Edward Kenzakoski was a champion athlete headed for a sure scholarship before being sentenced by judge Ciavarella. After his sentence, his life fell apart and he descended into depression and suicide. Using figures in the story, the judge's average take for Kenzakoski and others was $250.
'Cash for kids' judge took $1m kickback from private jail builder to lock children up
A former judge has been convicted of taking a $1million kickback from the builder of a juvenile jail in the notorious ‘cash for kids’ scandal.
Mark Ciavarella sent hundreds of children and teenagers to the private prison for minor crimes after being given the money by the company which ran it.
Some of the children jailed were as young as 10 and at least one killed themselves because the excessive sentences ruined their lives.
Ciavarella, 61, left the bench in disgrace two years ago after the allegations came to light and is now expected to be jailed for at least 13 years.
But instead of being caged immediately he was allowed to walk out of court - right into a barrage of abuse from the mother of an all-star wrestler who committed suicide after he sent him to jail.
Edward Kenzakoski, 17 was never the same after being jailed for a first-time minor drug offence, his mother Sandy Fonzo raged.
‘Do you remember my son? Do you remember my son? He was an all-star wrestler and he’s gone,’ she screamed.
‘He shot himself in the heart. You scumbag, you ruined my ******* life.
‘I'd like him to go to hell and rot there forever’.
The ‘cash for kids’ investigation has widely been seen as one of the worst cases of judicial malpractice in U.S. history.
Prosecutors said it involved Ciavarella and a second judge, Michael Conahan, 58, using juvenile delinquents as ‘pawns to enrich’ themselves to the tune of $2.3million.
Ciavarella worked in Luzerne County in Pennsylvania where he was known as ‘Mr Zero Tolerance’ for his tough sentencing.
But the court was told there was another reason for his hardness - he has taken nearly $1million from the owners and builders of a privately-run juvenile detention centre.
The court was told the two judges closed the existing youth jail in 2002 and arranged for the construction of the PA Child Care facility near Wilkes-Barre.
Ciavarella, who presided over juvenile court, ensured it was busy by sending hundreds of teenagers and children there, even if they had never been in trouble before.
Some were locked up even after probation officers recommended against it - one teenager was jailed for two years for joyriding with his parents’ car.
The extent of the scandal only became clear afterwards when a a court in Pennsylvania dismissed 4,000 cases of his judgements.
Now a jury in Scranton has convicted Ciavarella of 12 counts, including racketeering and conspiracy, and acquitted him of 27 counts.
Incredibly as he walked out of the courtroom his lawyer tried to pass it off as some kind of victory.
Al Flora Jr said: ‘There was never a bribe. This was not a "cash for kids" scandal.'
Ciavarella himself added that he ‘never took a dime to send a kid anywhere’.
Miss Fonzo ambushed him outside the court because she was furious he was allowed to walk free and return to his family and not be sent to jail.
She revealed that Ciavarella has sent her son to a four-month boot camp and 30 days in the youth jail for possession of drug paraphernalia, his first offence.
Afterwards he did not get the athletic scholarship he had been expected to get and his life spiralled into depression and crime. At the age of 23 he shot himself dead last June.
‘My son was my life. That’s all I had. Now it’s gone,’ Ms Fonzo said.
Conahan has already reached a plea deal in which he will admit to fraud fraud charges and be jailed for 87 months.
He will also resign his judicial position and be disbarred.
Charges have also been brought against nearly 30 officials including a string of court officials, a county judge and former State Sen. Robert Mellow, Democrat, Lackawanna.
Source: Daily Mail
February 21, 2011 permalink
A father used to whip his children to correct their behavior. One child that he whipped was still in diapers. The "large red whip marks" left on the toddler launched a criminal investigation. In one instance the father ordered one of his young boys into the basement after he had kicked his daughter. The father then headed downstairs with a leather belt and whipped his young son so severely that the little boy could not walk up the stairs after the assault.
How did this father avoid jail? He was a member of the Ottawa police force. The sentence imposed by the court will allow him to continue as a member of the force. The story does not say where his children are now.
Police officer avoids jail for child abuse
Given conditional discharge for whipping his children as form of discipline
OTTAWA — A disgraced Ottawa police officer, who pleaded guilty to severely whipping his young children as a form of discipline, has been spared jail.
Justice Gilles Renaud on Friday sentenced him to a conditional discharge in the child-abuse case.
"I find that the refusal of a discharge in this instance would be contrary to the public interest by depriving the community of the skills and talents of (the accused) as a police officer," Renaud ruled.
The judge also prohibited the officer from physically punishing his children for two years.
In court in Cornwall on Friday afternoon, Renaud acknowledged the sentence was lenient, but he said he sided with the officer's ex-wife who had pleaded for mercy in her victim-impact statement. She told the court she feared her four children would lose financial security if their father lost his job.
Crown Attorney Dan Brisebois argued that the public needed to be sent a message that "when you abuse a child, you seriously run the risk of going to jail." But the judge disagreed, citing past decisions that favoured leniency.
The officer, whose identity is shielded by a publication ban, used to whip his children to correct their behaviour.
One child that he whipped was still in diapers. The "large red whip marks" left on the toddler are what launched the criminal investigation.
In one instance documented at sentencing, the officer ordered one of his young boys into the basement after he had kicked his daughter.
The officer then headed downstairs with a leather belt and whipped his young son so severely that the little boy could not walk up the stairs after the assault.
The officer was originally charged with two counts of assault causing bodily harm and two counts of assault with a weapon. He pleaded guilty to assault at Christmas after the more serious charges were dropped.
It was his ex-wife who first called police about the abuse. She told court in a statement that she "never thought it would have resulted with criminal charges." She said she wanted only to improve the lives of her children.
The Ottawa police officer has taken parenting and anger management courses this past year.
In her victim-impact statement, the officer's ex-wife said: "If he is the changed person he claims to be then I cannot see any problems in the future."
In an agreed statement of facts filed in court, his ex-wife said she had always thought the officer's method of punishment was "too severe for children," but she said she was unable to stop (him).
The officer declined to speak at the hearing. Outside the courtroom, he could be seen laughing moments after the ruling.
According to his lawyer, the officer has expressed remorse.
"He has come to understand how criminal his behaviour was," Bill Carroll told court.
The court also heard that corporal punishment is acceptable in the officer's homeland though no evidence was entered to establish the statement. The prosecutor told the court that did not matter. He said the punishment meted out exceeded the Canadian standard. The prosecutor also reminded the court that "agents of the state" should obey its laws.
The officer's conditional discharge requires him to obey the law, and as the judge said, to "continue to prove himself" for the next two years. If he does, the officer will not have a criminal record.
The officer is suspended with pay and the Ottawa Police's internal-affairs unit is reviewing the case to see if charges under the Police Services Act are warranted in the child abuse case. The child abuse happened in 2009 and the criminal case was investigated by the Ontario Provincial Police.
Gary Dimmock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Ottawa Citizen
February 20, 2011 permalink
Last Monday, February 14, police found a pickup truck in Florida with a sick ten-year-old boy, Victor Doctor, and the body of his dead twin sister Nubia Doctor packed in a bag in the rear. Their adoptive father, professional exterminator Jorge Barahona, was unconscious nearby. The boy was hospitalized and owing to burns, possibly from Jorge's repertoire of pesticides, continued to deteriorate.
According to other news reports, the twins had blood relatives willing to adopt them, but the state of Florida instead went ahead with what we call a low-bidder adoption. They were placed with the Barahonas in 2004 as foster children and the fosters applied for adoption, which was granted in 2009. The Barahonas' bounty for the twins and two other children came to over $1000 per month.
When Paul Neumann, a volunteer guardian-ad-litem, opposed the adoption on grounds of abuse, the Barahonas complained to the governor:
In a series of three letters spanning the summer of 2007 through early 2008, the Barahonas accused Neumann of conspiring with employees of the Miami-Dade school system, “tampering’’ with witnesses and trying to snatch the twins from their custody. Neumann, they wrote, was violating their civil rights.
These accusations are true in thousands of other cases, so understandably, many believed they were true for the Barahonas as well. This case illustrates the importance of conducting child protection openly. That might embarrass workers into routinely telling the truth. Then no higher-ups would believe they were conspiring, tampering or violating parent's rights. The case also illustrates the dangers inherent in the low-bidder adoption system. There is too much danger that mercenary adopters will take in kids purely for cash, and cut their expenses by giving them no care at all.
CHILD ABUSE TRAGEDY
Home where abused twins lived was a house of horrors
Jorge and Carmen Barahona had custody of fraternal twin foster children for three years and were moving slowly toward adoption when they hit a formidable obstacle: a stubborn court-appointed guardian.
Paul Neumann, a volunteer guardian-ad-litem, had seen something in the West Miami-Dade couple that scared him, and he said so to everyone in the child welfare system who would listen.
The Barahonas sought help from an administrator with the foster care agency that oversaw their case. And when that fell short, they prevailed to a higher authority: then-Gov. Charlie Crist.
In a series of three letters spanning the summer of 2007 through early 2008, the Barahonas accused Neumann of conspiring with employees of the Miami-Dade school system, “tampering’’ with witnesses and trying to snatch the twins from their custody. Neumann, they wrote, was violating their civil rights.
“They have been deceitful with us all along,” the Barahonas wrote in a June 4, 2007 letter to Crist, “and we feel that we have been taken for fools.”
Florida child welfare administrators now claim that they were the ones who were deceived.
On Feb. 10, the Department of Children & Families’ child abuse hotline received a report that the Barahonas were binding the twins, Nubia and Victor Doctor, hand-and-foot and forcing them to stand in a bathtub for hours at the family home in West Miami-Dade. Investigators had yet to find the twins when Victor was discovered in a pickup truck on the side of Interstate 95 in West Palm Beach doused in chemicals and in the midst of seizures. Hours later, police found Nubia’s body in the truck’s flatbed, stuffed in a bag and drenched in chemicals. A source said Friday the children may have been sprayed with pesticides.
DCF administrators have declined repeatedly to release records on the couple, though they say some documents may be forthcoming.
But several records obtained last week by The Miami Herald, along with interviews of neighbors and child welfare workers, paint a portrait of a couple determined to raise their adoptive family their own way, shielded from the prying eyes of child-welfare workers, in a house cloaked by thick, overgrown shrubs.
“All roads lead back to that house,” DCF’s top Miami administrator, Jacqui Colyer, said last week.
Jorge Barahona was born in Nicaragua; Carmen in Cuba.
They married on Jan. 19, 1996, in Coral Gables. She was 45; he was 38.
Carmen Barahona has worked for several years for one of South Florida’s largest medical practices, Pediatric Associates. Her husband owned a pest control company, and operated out of a red pickup truck that carried lethal chemical in plastic jugs.
The couple had another, rather substantial source of income: state subsidies for the four foster children they adopted. In court last week, Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman ordered that the roughly $950-per-month in adoption subsidies for the three surviving children be immediately discontinued. The amount likely reached $1,200 when Nubia was alive.
The Barahonas lived in a typical western Miami-Dade suburb, close to a hospital, a public school and filled with families whose children move easily between English and Spanish.
The Barahona home, a three-bedroom, one-bath, at first glance passes for the best-kept home on their suburban block, with a gleaming front driveway of fresh pavers, a coat of light-colored paint and a lawn full of lush landscaping. But look closer, and it resembles a well-manicured fortress, armed with heavy shrubbery to keep away glancing eyes and cameras that peered out at visitors, showing those inside whoever came near the front door.
A black metal gate, more than four feet tall, keeps passersby from setting foot on the front yard. Tall wooden planks on the side of the house, bearing Beware of Dog signs, obscure any view from the side. Palm trees and tall shrubs line the front of the house, obscuring the windows.
Thick shrubs grown so tall they brush against the roof guard each side of the front doors like centurions. The heavy tangles of branches and leaves on both sides of the front entrance mean that neighbors like Leida Alonso, who has lived next door for more than five years, can glance over and not even see if the door is open.
What went on in the house was a “family secret’’ that was never to be discussed, one of the Barahonas’ surviving adoptive children — as well as the couple’s biological granddaughter — told investigators in recent days.
‘NEVER SAW A KID’
In all her years in the neighborhood, Alonso said, she saw Jorge Barahona maybe five or seven times. She never saw anyone else at the house at all, she said.
“I never saw his wife, never saw a kid,” Alonso said
Across the street, Hilda Duque said in five years in the neighborhood she only saw children with the couple once. About six months ago, she saw two small children. She thinks they were coming or going to the beach because a little girl was wearing a bathing suit.
But Duque said she never even knew the family’s name. When Duque went outside to water her plants, she would occasionally see Carmen Barahona, but Barahona kept quiet. She guessed Carmen worked as a nurse, based only on seeing her from afar in what looked like a nurse’s uniform.
Even the letter carrier was kept at bay. The couple placed their mailbox at the front gate, so mail could be delivered without a person stepping on the lawn.
The Barahonas became licensed foster parents in 1999, and had adopted their first child, a boy, by 2001. By 2004, the Barahonas had custody of four foster children, including the twins.
Within the next three years, Florida’s child abuse hotline received three reports on Nubia — all of them initiated by someone at the girl’s school. Several school employees testified at the Barahonas’ adoption hearing that they had serious concerns about the couple’s custody of the kids.
Under Florida law, teachers and guidance counselors are defined as “mandatory reporters” of child abuse and neglect, and they can be prosecuted for failing to report their suspicions. State policy grants professionals such as teachers, coaches and therapists great deference when they report suspected abuse, and investigators are taught to assume such reports are credible.
The first report arrived in January 2005: “My father is touching me,” Nubia reportedly disclosed to someone at school. Child welfare supervisors could not determine whether Nubia was referring to her birth father, who had lost custody at least a year earlier, or Barahona, although they suspected the girl meant her birth dad. They took no action on the report, The Miami Herald was told.
A little more than a year later, in February 2006, DCF received a second report. Nubia, the hotline was told, had bruising on her chin and neck and her teachers suspected she had been abused. DCF ordered the Barahonas to take the girl to the Department of Health’s Child Protection Team in Miami, but the couple did not arrive for the appointment for a week, The Herald has learned. By then, the bruising had largely disappeared. The state doctors concluded the bruising was consistent with the Barahonas’ contention that Nubia had fallen, and that no abuse had occurred.
In March 2007, DCF received a third report, that Nubia was dirty and unkempt, constantly complained that she was hungry and smelled badly.
School workers filed a strikingly similar report to the hotline again in June 2010, noting that Nubia was so “uncontrollably” hungry that she was stealing food. The 2010 report also included this detail: Nubia was losing her hair, and had become “nervous” and “jittery.”
In comments to reporters Thursday, DCF Secretary David Wilkins — who did not address the 2007 and 2010 reports directly — said agency investigators’ efforts were critically hindered by the Barahonas’ insistence that what appeared to be poor hygiene was actually the effects of a medical condition that affected the girl’s endocrine system. “The medical condition,” Wilkins said, “complicated the decision-making of investigators.”
The contention, Wilkins said, was one of several ways in which the couple had misled investigators, perhaps for several years.
“It’s always hard to deal with deception,’’ Wilkins said. “There are some assumptions we made that, in hindsight, we would look at differently.”
Sources say DCF did not refer the family back to the Child Protection Team either in 2007 or in 2010 for an independent opinion on the girl’s condition.
It was in 2007, records suggest, when the volunteer guardian, Neumann, became extremely concerned for the twins.
Though Neumann could not be reached for comment, the letters written by the Barahonas in 2007 and 2008 say the guardian had discussed Nubia’s welfare several times with employees of the girl’s school, including an assistant principal.
The school, they said, gave Neumann “a room alone with the children for the entire lunch time,” and allowed the guardian to interview them. “When we picked up the children from school they told us everything.”
Neumann also interviewed relatives of the twins who lived in Texas. A lawyer for the children’s aunt and uncle appeared in court last week and confirmed that the couple had raised “red flags” about the Barahonas during their attempts to gain custody of the children from the Barahonas.
In the letters, the Barahonas repeatedly denied allegations that they were “dirty and uncaring parents.” Though “we put our trust in the courts and the DCF attorney,’’ the couple wrote, “we were humiliated in front of everybody’’ at a court hearing in the summer of 2007.
The Barahonas reserved a special contempt for “Mr. Paul [Neumann], the guardian-ad-litem, with whom we have had a personality conflict since the beginning because of his arrogance and smart remarks, and we put up with this.’’
A June 4, 2007 letter to Crist also suggests the couple had refused to allow Neumann access to the children — a theme that would repeat itself again and again in coming years, and, perhaps, end in tragic results last week.
“We were … told that this is not a game and that Mr. Neumann does this out of the goodness of his heart because he doesn’t get paid. I guess the court believes that we must be doing this for the money,” they wrote in an Aug. 5, 2007 letter to the governor.
“If we have done anything wrong,” the Barahonas wrote, “let us be held accountable for it.”
Source: Miami Herald
Addendum: After the twins were taken by force from their father, there were other relatives willing and able to care for them, but Florida DCF insisted on foster care and adoption. The relatives now want the survivor.
Relatives who tried to adopt abused twins want survivor
In 2004, months after 4-year-old fraternal twins had been taken from their father and placed in the custody of Jorge and Carmen Barahona, relatives in Texas made an emotional appeal to a Miami judge: The children would be better off with them.
Financial statements, character references and a glowing home study, wrote real estate investor Isidro Reyes, represent "clear proof of our concern for the well being of those kids, and our desire to gain their legal custody way before the Barahonas knew about their existence."
Over the next five years, Reyes, 59, and his wife, Ana, 51, who is the sister of the twins' biological father, would persist in their efforts to gain custody and adopt Nubia and Victor Barahona. But two judges ruled against them, apparently finding no reason to uproot the children from the Barahonas' southwest Miami-Dade home — despite many warning signs of possible abuse.
Now only Victor is alive, and the Reyeses intend to seek custody of him. Victor, who is being treated for chemical burns at Jackson Memorial Hospital, continues to improve, according to DCF spokesman Mark Riordan.
Victor was found on Feb. 14 in the cab of his adoptive father Jorge Barahona's truck, parked alongside Interstate 95 in Palm Beach County. Later that day, the body of his sister Nubia was found in a bag in the back of the truck.
Barahona, 53, is in the Palm Beach County Jail, charged with attempted first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse. A judge in Miami-Dade County last week ordered his wife, Carmen, 60, to have no contact with Victor or two other adopted children.
On Tuesday, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sandy Karlan ordered that Carmen Barahona's 6-year-old granddaughter remain with her biological father and said that neither volunteer guardians nor foster care caseworkers could discuss what she may have seen in the Barahona home.
Through it all, questions persist about how the state agency and the court system allowed the Barahonas to gain custody of the four children in the first place.
Why was the Reyes' petition for custody denied, first by Judge Ellen Sue Venzer, and then by Judge Valerie Manno-Schurr, who approved the twins' adoption by the Barahonas in 2009?
"That is a piece of the puzzle that is not clear to me to this day, and I find it somewhat troubling," said Miami attorney Steven Grossbard, who began representing the Reyeses in 2007. "Family members should be considered and have some priority."
In their quest to adopt Victor, his aunt and uncle are prepared to come to Miami whenever they are permitted to visit him, said Grossbard.
The Reyes' frustration over the court's refusal to grant them custody of the children is laid out in several hundred pages of documents that were released Tuesday by the state Department of Children & Families.
The agency is starting to look at what went so wrong as to create a tragedy that has gained national attention. DCF has ordered an internal investigation and named an independent panel to hold public hearings that will begin on Friday.
Among those documents are results of a 2004 home study conducted by the Texas Department of Families and Protective Services, and two letters sent to Venzer, the first judge.
In one letter, Reyes said he and his wife recognized that uprooting the twins from the Barahonas' home should not be done precipitously, since the couple "have developed an emotional bond with them.
"We highly appreciate the love that they have shown for the kids, but our bond with them are both blood and emotional, bonds which are way deeper and stronger than any emotional bond."
Through questionnaires, the couple describe themselves as the financially comfortable parents of three grown children who live in a Houston subdivision, in a house with a big backyard just a block from a community center. He was a certified bilingual teacher, she a homemaker and beautician.
They had had contact with the children, and knew that the father, Ana Reyes' brother, and the children's mother were "irresponsible," troubled and could not care for them.
"We will teach them to love God and to love their friends and family as themselves," wrote Ana Reyes.
Grossbard said that in the absence of clear evidence of abuse, it is not unusual for family court judges to be reluctant to place children with guardians out of town, even if they are blood relatives.
"Unfortunately, the proceedings were too far along, and with the positive home study and the Barahonas' bonding, it was like trying to climb a mountain," said Grossbard. "We missed out on this one. And they are devastated, sad and very hurt."
Source: Sun Sentinel
This case has become the cause of a foster care panic in Florida, justifying taking even more children from parents. The press has overlooked the fact that the Barahona case started by taking two children from their real parents and placing them for adoption. After six months a Florida judge has found the safest refuge for the surviving boy Victor Barahona — with his natural family.
Child abuse survivor can return to Texas
A day after an unusual three-day hearing concluded, a Miami judge ordered that a victim of severe child abuse be returned to family members in Texas.
Victor Barahona, whose twin sister was killed after allegedly enduring years of horrific abuse, will return to Texas to live with an uncle who wants to adopt and raise him.
On Friday morning, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia signed an order returning the boy to Texas, where he spent most of the summer with his extended family. Victor told authorities he did not wish to live in Florida, but Sampedro-Iglesia ordered his return anyway, for a custody hearing requested by Miami prosecutors who will try his adoptive parents, Carmen and Jorge Barahona, for murder.
But Sampedro-Iglesia took additional actions, as well on Friday: She also announced she would launch an investigation to determine who discussed the boy’s case with The Miami Herald, which reported on the unusual custody battle Friday morning. A source told the newspaper Sampedro-Iglesia will swear in child welfare authorities involved in the case to determine who cooperated with the newspaper.
Weeks ago, Sampedro-Iglesia closed to the public all court proceedings involving the boy, saying she wished to protect his privacy.
On Friday, The Herald reported that Sampedro-Iglesia took testimony at the request of prosecutors who wanted Victor to remain in Miami, rather than be raised among his extended family in Texas. A psychological report presented at the hearing concluded the Texas relatives offered a loving and appropriate home for the boy, now 11.
“I think Victor will get his happy ending,” a source with knowledge of the case said Friday.
Victor and his twin sister, Nubia, entered the state’s foster care system in 2004 after his birth parents lost custody following an allegation of domestic violence. Jorge and Carmen Barahona adopted the twins in 2009, despite repeated warnings from teachers and school administrators that Nubia appeared to be the victim of both physical abuse and neglect while under their care as foster children. Nubia had told teachers she was starving, and once became hysterical when an administrator told the girl she was going to call Carmen Barahona. Nubia told the administrator her adoptive mother beat the soles of her feet with a sandal, records show.
In more recent months, a young relative told authorities that both Victor and Nubia had routinely been tied up and forced to live in a bathtub. Police alleged the twins were beaten and tortured..
On Feb. 14, Victor Barahona was found by a Road Ranger on the side of Interstate 95, drenched in toxic chemicals in the cab of his adoptive father’s red pickup truck. His sister was found hours later in the flatbed, nude and decomposing, and also steeped in chemicals. The Barahonas have been charged with aggravated child abuse and first-degree capital murder. They have pleaded innocent, and are awaiting trial.
Source: Miami Herald
Don't Look for Your Kids
February 19, 2011 permalink
After Emily Ward lost her children to Idaho child protectors, she tried to find them by interviewing students at a local school. Police claim she used force to detain the students have have charged the mother with kidnapping.
Mom charged with kidnapping says she just wanted to find her kids
COEUR D'ALENE -- A Coeur d’Alene mom has been arrested on kidnapping charges. Emily Ward picked up three teenagers in Rathdrum. She says she needed their help finding her kids, who have recently been removed from her care and put in a foster home.
35-year-old Ward was emotional in jail Friday. Police arrested her Thursday around 10 p.m. on kidnapping charges. Ward showed up at Lakeland Middle School on Tuesday and picked up three teenagers. Police say she ordered them into her car and asked them to show her where her own children lived now and where their bus stop was.
Police say she dropped the teens back off at school about 40 minutes later. Wards says she didn’t kidnap the girls. But police had to increase security at area schools when Ward showed up on Wednesday morning at Betty Keifer Elementary looking for one of her kids. Ward claims the girls helped her on their own.
Ward’s children have been removed from her care. Court documents show she was charged with injury to a child in January and her husband, Michael, was arrested for DUI last weekend.
Police say security has lightened up at Rathdrum schools now that Ward is behind bars. The school district did sent out letters to parents notifying them of the situation at the time.
Ward is charged with second degree kidnapping, which is a felony.
Source: Northwest Cable News
February 19, 2011 permalink
The case of newborn Josiah Bayne came to court for the first time on Thursday, February 17. Social worker Loren Humeny, whose schedule was flexible enough to seize the baby five hours after birth, could not find the time to get to the courthouse. MCFD lawyer Finn Jensen was also unavailable, so the hearing was postponed to February 24. Ray Ferris (below) has an opinion on why they played hooky. Enclosed is the blog entry by Ron Unruh along with the comments giving facts. Other comments on the original blog contain a debate between supporters and opponents of the Baynes.
I AM APPALLED / Part 436 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne
I am appalled to learn that just hours after Josiah's birth into this world, the director of MCFD social workers for Chilliwack ordered the case worker to take authority of Josiah.
I have been on the other side of the globe, without communication and therefore unable to engage this story, personally sympathize with Zabeth and Paul or express myself to Bayne supporters and to MCFD practitioners. I am grateful to all of you who have contributed comments to the Bayne Campaign Facebook page and to numerous other websites that have carried this distressing story.
It is certainly within the parameters of the director's authority to do what he did. However, from an emotional standpoint I view it as 'criminal'. But he was legally supported. Nevertheless, it is nothing short of 'slander' to infer that Paul and Zabeth are a danger to this infant for whom they have been eagerly waiting. On the morning of his birth, it was a virtual thievery of their joy to have that custodial interruption - the epitome of heinousness and stupidity. Heinousness because it suggests that all child protection is heartless, cruel and malicious. Stupidity because it will serve to castigate the director and his piteous employees in the public opinion but also fuel a judge's determination to make an example of this inept crew. I would love to write something commendable about public servants but how can you with this behaviour.
This is power gone mad. This is protocol without good judgement. What must some of you child protection workers be thinking of your superiors when you are required to follow orders that violate conscience and good faith.
I heard of other similar stories but naively believe it couldn't happen here. The Baynes are one of nicest couples one can know. Their case is high profile. The director did not need to do this. He will defend his action as imperative. He cannot do otherwise when his affidavit alleged that the Baynes are a risk and that is why he wants the Judge to give him control of the other three forever. So this deplorable, absurd, unreasonable apprehension of a baby is what was done to Zabeth and Paul.
That Mary Polak and Leslie du Toit have maintained solidarity with this director's case handling puts this entire ministry further under the darkest cloud of suspicion of ineptitude. Don't tell B.C.'rs that transformation is the goal of MCFD. It is tainted.
Ray Ferris said...
Welcome back Ron;you have been sorely missed. You have rightly used the verbal scourge, so more from me would be superfluous. I will heed the legal term "res ipse loquitor" and let matters speak for themselves. Here are some facts.
- Baby Josiah was born very small and must remain in the special care nursery until the end of February.
- He is perfectly safe in this environment and his parents have unrestricted access to him
- The physicians want Mrs. Bayne to breast feed her son and this is in his best interests, so she must have complete access.
- Obviously the child is already in a safe and non-disruptive situation and no action is necessary.
- The ministry has had an action against the other Bayne children for the last three years and all evidence was completed by August 13,2010.
- Provincial chief judge T. Crabtree was the trier of fact in the case and he has said that he will make his ruling before the end of February.
- There is no new evidence on Josiah Bayne and the only evidence that the director can claim to have is directly linked to the case on the other children.
- Should his honour Judge Crabtree rule against the director, their case about Josiah will collapse.
- Knowing that baby Bayne was in a perfectly safe environment, the social worker could have and should have awaited Judge Crabtree’s ruling before taking any further action. To do otherwise is unnecessary, hostile and a waste of court time.
- As Judge Crabtree has heard many days of evidence about the Bayne family, he is very familiar with all the circumstances. It is obvious that he would be the most suitable trier of fact for Josiah. He might well wish to reserve the case to himself if told about the situation and he should have been asked if he wanted to be seized. The director had ample time to do this and can still do it before Josiah is discharged from hospital.
- Under the circumstances the apprehension was not needed and interim custody to the director is not warranted. The child can quite safely be left in the custody of his parents and the judge should so order. The situation can always be reviewed after Judge Crabtree rules.
NOTE WELL. Humeny must swear an affidavit and a check box will show that no less disruptive plan was available. This is simply untrue and he did not even consider the matter. If he swears to this it will be tantamount to perjury. I will have much more to say later.
Rachel K said...
Good to have you back blogging Ron!
In Ray Ferris' comments, he spoke truth to the waste of time and money by the MCFD with drawing this court case on.
Today was another example of this waste of money. Today was the scheduled hearing for the application of the temporary custody of baby Josiah by the MCFD, but guess who didn't show up? That's right the social worker, Loren Humeny, and MCFD's lawyer, Finn Jensen, were not "available"! Unreal! They have time to show up and remove an infant after birth but cannot keep their appointment that they set to legalize their actions! Pathetic and obvious stall tactics!
The only redemption today was the look on the presiding judge's face when the whole packed courtroom stood and left as she adjourned this case. She was surprised to see so many people and questioned her staff why this was even in her court when it is really should be where it started....in Judge Crabtree's courtroom!
Ray Ferris said...
OOPS! OOPS! OOPS! TRIPLE OOPS!
HERE IS THE VERY LATEST ON THE BAYNE CASE'
When the MC&FD rushed in to snatch the Bayne baby on Feb 10th, they locked themselves into having to go to court and file presentation papers within one week. The case was set down for hearing this morning in the Surrey court. Conspicuous by his absence was the worker who swore the affidavit. This means that he could not be questioned on it.When the Baynes got to court they found that the director had already arranged to have the matter adjourned to Feb 24. The judge refused to let the Baynes speak, so once more the system is stacked against them. The judge did say that she recommended the case should be heard by Judge Crabtree, so someone is listening to me. Now I will tell you what is really happening here. The answer is simple DAMAGE CONTROL
You see it goes something like this. When director Bruce McNeill spent months and years trying to decide whether to follow his lawyer's advice to return the Bayne kids, he painted himself into a corner. If he backed out after all that time he would look bad. No matter because the Baynes had no more money for lawyers and would be defenceless. Then that darned Doug Christie ruined all the plans and people were saying unkind things on the Ron Unruh blog. People are so heartless you know. Then that wretched Bayne woman makes life even more complicated by getting pregnant again in the middle of the trial. Not only that it was a planned pregnancy! How could she do that to him? In defence of Mrs.Bayne, she feels that she has a lot of mother love to give and she always wanted another child. Nobody could believe that the trial would go past September and she would be delivered long after it was over.
Anyway, this left poor Bruce McNeill with a terrible dilemma.How could he possibly rant on for three years that the Baynes were totally unfit parents and then ignore this new child. He must show stern resolve and remove it at birth. If he did not, he would look weak and nobody would respect him. However, he is of course a man of profound compassion and he sought a way out for himself and the baby. If the parents would would work diligently and sincerely with his staff and allow them to help her with her pregnancy, then they might be able to agree on a parenting plan which would avoid apprehension and also demonstrate his benevolence.
This might have worked fine if that dreadful man Ray Ferris had not interfered and Ron Unruh had not backed him up. He actually told Mrs. Bayne to have no contact with him or his staff because it would put too much stress on her during her pregnancy. What a terrible thing to say and that wounded him deeply. What choice did that leave the poor fellow but to apprehend at birth?
So he summoned his trusty obedient servant Mr.Darth Humeny and said "Go to that hospital, grab the Bayne baby and do not come home without him." So Humeny jumped onto his black stallion, and galloped off to the Royal Columbian Hospital. He stormed into the nursery, spurs jingling and loudly announced that he was apprehending the Bayne child and that from now on he was Josiah's daddy.
Ray Ferris said...
Triple oops continued.
He paused only to drop by Zabeth's room and tell her what he had done.He asked her to understand that he was only obeying orders. Oddly enough, Zabeth was not in the mood for a chat.
He next went back to the nursing station and asked how soon he could come in with a foster mother to pick up the baby. It was only then that he found out that Josiah would take at least a couple of weeks to gain the necessary weight. OOPS! DARN. If only he had thought to ask on the way in. He could have phoned the boss for instructions, but now he had announced that Josiah was in care and he could not back out. The best that he and the boss could come up with was to try to see how they could restrict access to the Baynes in the special care nursery. Obviously the best thing for Josiah was mother's milk and the medical staff favoured breast feeding. Because he was so small Baby Bayne had to drink expressed milk for a few days. Bingo! They put a ban on expressed milk. These dangerous parents would probably poison the bottle.
They seemed to be back in control, but all hell broke loose. Facebook news travels fast.Soon the Rep for children and youth was being swamped with letters. Members of the legislature were getting an earful and so was the minister and the deputy minister. I was writing to everyone pointing out that there had been no less disruptive plan explored as requred by law. The child would be perfectly safe until Judge Crabtree ruled at the end of the month and the parents had unrestricted access to their baby and he was bonding with his mum. Now if the judge rules against the ministry, they will look even worse than they did before. The child was already in a safe and non-disruptive plan and all they had to do was sit tight and wait. That is why I told the rep for children and youth that the apprehension was reckless. I told Humeny that he could salvage the situation, by simply withdrawing his complaint and making up the sort of feeble excuse that they do so well
So this morning's court was an exercise in damage control. Everybody was saying to the director that he should get out of this before he did any more damage. Of course Bruce could not risk losing face by withdrawing the complaint, so he dashed off to his trusty lawyer, pleading for rescue. The lawyer did what all lawyers do when they are in a jam. You ask for an adjournment. So they got an adjournment with no change in the status quo. No interim custody order of any sort. Legal limbo. Judge Crabtree has given himself until the end of February to announce his ruling. There are only two more working days left after the scheduled court date, so it is virtually certain that the ruling will be out by then and all will be resolved. If the ruling is against the ministry there will be a media storm and this last piece of stupidity will be buried in the waves.
If only McNeill had listened to me in mid December when I urged him to be cautious and not to move before Judge Crabtree's ruling. If only Leslie Dutoit had followed my request to her to urge prudence on her director. As the due date drew nearer, I urged them again to be prudent. This reckless action gained them nothing and only added more difficulties for the Bayne parents When the Baynes are so distressed, all their supporters are also distressed.
Ray Ferris said...
Oh we all knew that Bruce McNeill was itching to get his hands on baby Bayne as soon as he was born. He had to do this to justify his three year campaign against the Baynes. However, to do it without reviewing the immediate conditions was reckless. When the baby would be in safe nursery care until the judge rules was just plain stupid. He was not compelled to apprehend, because the child would be totally safe. So he could have kept his hands off the child, remained true to his obsession and still stayed on the side of the angels. He should have used what little brain he had and come out ahead in every aspect. Instead he sent a man of very limited ability who rushed in where angels fear to tread, anxious only to please the boss. Any social worker with half a brain would have made an up to date assessment and sought a consultation before going ahead. Now they are into big time damage control and it was quite unnecessary. He did not have to give up any of his bizarre allegations and he would have saved a little bit of the sting when Judge Crabtree rules against him. I agree the apprehension was predictable,but safely avoidable for his nibs and exceedingly stupid. Darth Humeny dutifully swore that no less disruptive method was available, which was of course a perjury, but fortunately for him, approved by his boss.
Source: Run Unruh blog
Addendum: When radio station CHWK 89.5 Chilliwack tried to get the ministry side of the Bayne story, they got an email response showing that the Baynes are embedded in the boilerplate:
Got your media request re. MCFD process on child apprehensions – also, if you are asking about the Baynes case, we can’t comment due to privacy concerns and the fact this matter is before the courts.
That said, the safety and well being of any child is the ministry’s first priority and the first step to any child protection case is to assess and investigate if the child is in need of protection.
If it is deemed that a child needs protection, MCFD, through its legislation, must go before the courts within seven days, where a Judge will determine if a child is in need of protection. The Judge would then make a decision whether a child would remain in Ministry care or be returned to the parent.
Ministry of Children & Family Development
Source: CHWK Chilliwack
Addendum: The only newspaper coverage:
Child protection hearing adjourned
A court hearing mandated by legislation for the possible return of a newborn baby to a former Hope couple already fighting the B.C. children’s ministry for custody of three older children was abruptly adjourned last Thursday.
“I was prepared to argue a few points, but the ministry wanted it adjourned,” Zabeth Bayne said in a telephone interview Friday.
However, a ministry spokesperson said in an email Monday that in fact it was the judge who adjourned the hearing after receiving a report from the ministry director that included the circumstances that caused the removal, and an interim care plan.
“A copy of this is shared with the parents,” the spokesperson wrote. “It is the judge who makes the decision to adjourn a case.”
The Baynes could not be reached for comment by press time Monday.
But during the Friday interview, Zabeth said the Thursday hearing was adjourned for seven days without a request for an extension and without any ruling on who has custody of her infant son in the interim.
“There was no court ruling given ... it was crazy,” she said. “I don’t understand. We’re left in limbo.”
Bayne also said she and her doula were “cut off” from talking to the pediatrician who is looking after the baby, born premature on Feb. 10 and removed by the ministry several hours later.
The ministry refused comment on the latest removal because the Baynes are already in a court case with the ministry involving three older children, who were removed after allegations were made that an infant daughter was shaken causing brain injury.
The Baynes claim an older brother, a toddler at the time, tripped and fell on top of his sister. The couple has enlisted the support of medical experts to back up their claim in court hearings over the past three years.
A ruling from Chilliwack provincial court judge Thomas Crabtree is expected by the Baynes sometime this month.
Source: Chilliwack Progress
Addendum: On February 22 at age eleven days, Josiah was removed from the hospital and placed in foster care.
Human Rights Abuse Capital
February 17, 2011 permalink
George Mentis of CCHR once called Orangeville the human rights abuse capital of Canada. In Orangeville a death in police custody is being examined privately by the SIU, blocking the mandatory public inquest. A policeman advocating reform is being prosecuted for failing to make an arrest in a domestic violence case. In two other cases police have failed to investigate deaths. Fixcas previously mentioned the case of Jeanine Blanchette and Chantal Dubé, two young women who met through children's aid and were found dead on the premises of Dufferin Child and Family Services. The Toronto Star and Orangeville Citizen report.
Orangeville police under fire
ORANGEVILLE—These are tense times for police in this normally quiet small town. Controversy is swirling around how the police force is doing its job, pitting a decorated sergeant and community activists against the force’s chief and police services board.
Fuelled by allegations of poor training, sloppy work and mishandling of a high-profile murder case, a citizen’s group is calling for an independent review of the town’s force.
At the centre of the controversy is Sgt. Curtis Rutt, 52, a decorated officer who has suggested in a report obtained by the Toronto Star that police Chief Joseph Tomei be suspended, pending an independent review of his leadership.
In his report, Rutt accuses Tomei of providing inadequate training for officers, resulting in junior officers not conducting proper investigations before making arrests.
In December, Rutt delivered the report to the local police services board, calling for a citizen review of the force under Section 25 of the Police Services Act.
“That does not even merit a comment from me,” said Tomei.
He also pointed out that “this person is under Police Act charges and an ongoing investigation.”
The criticisms that Rutt levies against Tomei in his report relate directly to the charges is facing under the Police Services Act. Rutt has been charged with neglect of duty for not making an immediate arrest while investigating a domestic abuse allegation in February 2009, and a charge of insubordination. He has pleaded not guilty to both.
Those charges were supposed to be heard at a disciplinary hearing on Friday that was postponed at the last moment when the prosecutor called in sick. Activists who had banned together through Facebook had planned to show up en masse in support of Rutt.
Rutt declined to comment on either the charges he is facing or his report, citing breach of confidence rules.
Many locals call Rutt a scapegoat and a hero.
“He’s one of the good guys,” said Stephanie Cliche, 28, who has been circulating posters urging a review of the force. “He’s one of the ones who’s well-trained and who should be in the police force.”
Rutt won the Medal of Bravery in 2001 from then Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, while he was a member of the tactical unit of Waterloo Regional Police.
Cliche became energized to join the fight to overhaul the town’s police force after her friend, Adam Sprague, 25, died while in police custody last November.
Tomei said he can’t comment on the Sprague death, other than to say it was “very sad and very tragic” and that it’s under investigation by the provincial Special Investigations Unit (SIU).
“The matter is still under investigation by the SIU,” Tomei said. “All our members are cooperating with the investigation. I empathise with the people who are awaiting results from the SIU investigation. But we have to follow due process.”
A large number of the force’s critics want the entire 39-member force for the community of 27,000 to be disbanded, and replaced with the Ontario Provincial Police.
The local newspaper, The Orangeville Banner, recently ran a poll, in which 91 per cent of 2,350 respondents supported the local police force being replaced by the Ontario Provincial Police.
Cliche and other critics have drawn up a laundry list of complaints, besides a call for answers into Sprague’s death.
Those complaints include:
- the unsolved murder of nurse Sonia Varaschin in her home last summer. Her family reportedly learned key details of the investigation through the media.
- the unsolved assault of photographer Shelley Loder of neighbouring Mono Township in December.
- questions of whether police should have protected resident Heidi Ferguson, who was killed last September by her estranged husband, who then killed himself.
- the failure to search for two missing young women, which pushed their families to find their bodies themselves in November. They had committed suicide.
Rutt and other critics have called for an independent review of the force under the Ontario Civilian Police Commission.
Dissatisfaction with the force has spawned a number of Facebook pages, including “We want answers about Adam Sprague’s passing,” which was established by local resident Damian Huckle, 42.
“Adam was a friend,” Huckle said. “I was floored with what happened.”
The civilian police commission has the power to discipline individual officers, including a chief, as well as police services board members. It can also order restructuring and other changes on a force.
The city’s mayor, Rob Adams, who sits on the local police services board said Friday he will not comment until Police Act charges are resolved.
Source: Toronto Star
Police inquiry supporters turn heat up on council
A large contingent of irate Orangeville residents gathered at Monday’s town council meeting to voice their support for an external investigation into the Orangeville Police Service.
Meanwhile, 16 of the service’s front-line, uniformed officers have signed a petition and presented it to the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC), voicing their support for a probe under Section 25 (1) of Ontario’s Police Services Act.
The residents were also seeking a statement from council for, among other things, reports of low morale in the service and numerous complaints of unlawful detainment and alleged abuse by officers.
They were also parlaying their support for Sgt. Curtis Rutt, an officer facing disciplinary hearings who put forward the Section 25 (1) request in December.
Speaking at Monday’s meeting on behalf of the advocacy group Citizens to Reform the OPS, Damian Huckle said: “The catalyst for this group’s rapid and continued growth and activity was the in-custody death of Adam Sprague.
“But the concerns were already mounting prior to Adam’s death and have continued to do so.”
Mr. Sprague was arrested Nov. 10 and placed in a police cell. He died in the early hours of Nov. 11 and since then his death has been under investigation by the province’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU).
Mayor Rob Adams responded by saying that “during the course of everyday living, we put our faith and trust in our police services, and we take that protection for granted.
“So Adam Sprague’s death is made even more tragic by the fact that it happened while he was in police custody.”
He also stated that regulations in the Police Act prohibit him, council and the Police Services Board from publicly commenting on the matter.
In the case of Sgt. Rutt, who was suspended for neglect of duty after refusing to make an arrest he deemed unlawful, Mayor Adams said he was similarly not in a position to speak on it.
“As well as the ongoing hearing, it would be totally inappropriate for me, or anyone else on council, to comment on a personnel matter where charges have been laid.”
“With all due respect,” replied Mr.
Huckle, “you have one hell of a personnel problem.”
Information obtained by this paper showed that the group’s call for a Section 25 (1) investigation is backed by the 16 officers who signed the petition.
The petition, and an accompanying letter, was sent directly to OCPC chair Murray Chitra and to Ian Davidson of the Solicitor General’s office. According to sources, both received the letter by courier on Jan. 27.
The process circumvented the regular procedure of taking complaints to the town council and Orangeville Police Services Board (PSB).
“The PSB, town council and the OPS administration were not supplied a copy of the letter for two reasons,” said a source involved in preparing the letter. “Firstly, the PSB and town council have stated since the beginning that they stand behind the Chief and believe that the only problem is Rutt himself, which is clearly not the case.
“Because of this, there was no point in supplying either town council or the PSB with a copy of the letter, as all faith in them was lost.”
The Police Services Act requires that the chief of police conduct a parallel investigation into the death of Adam Sprague, to review the policies or services provided by the police force and the conduct of its police officers and to report findings to the Police Services Board.
So far, pending further investigation, one officer has been suspended in relation to his conduct at the time.
Section 10 of the Coroners Act of Ontario requires an inquest to be held whenever a death occurs to someone while in police custody.
The provision specifies: “Where a person dies while detained in and on the premises of a detention facility ... or a lock-up, the officer in charge of the facility or lock-up shall immediately give notice of the death to a coroner and the coroner shall hold an inquest upon the body. 2009, c. 15, s. 6 (4).”
The Act also specifies that when a coroner is informed “that there is in his or her jurisdiction the body of a person and that there is reason to believe that the person died in any of the circumstances mentioned in section 10, the coroner shall issue a warrant to take possession of the body and shall examine the body and make such investigation as, in the opinion of the coroner, is necessary in the public interest to enable the coroner ... to collect and analyze information about the death in order to prevent further deaths in similar circumstances. 2009, c. 15, s. 7 (1).”
Although traditionally such inquests were held as soon as possible after the death, the SIU probe has had the effect of postponing the cell death indefinitely, to the point where no date for one has been announced.
There is also the fact that the cost of a Section 25 (1) inquiry is borne entirely by the municipality, a point that Mayor Adams brought up at Monday’s meeting.
“We need to re-affirm that we have faith and confidence in the external agencies that are investigating this matter,” he said.
Source: Orangeville Citizen
Addendum: A hearing for sergeant Rutt will take place Wednesday, February 23 in Orangeville. Here is an invitation from Facebook.
Hearing for Sgt. Curtis Rutt
- Wednesday, February 23 · 1:00pm - 3:00pm
- Town Hall, Broadway, Orangeville
- Created By
- We want answers about Adam Sprague's passing., Damian Huckle
This is the re-scheduled final hearing for Sgt. Curtis Rutt. Both prosecutor and defense summarize their final arguments, so lot's of details will come out.
I hope this will give people some background on why it is important for us to show up in support of sgt. Curtis Rutt!! The man is a hero....
From the Orangeville Citizen:
In the case of Sgt. Rutt, documentation obtained by this paper indicates a discrepancy between OPS procedure policy in the case of domestic disturbance calls and those in the Criminal Code.
The charges against Sgt. Rutt stem from an incident where he did not make an arrest and was charged with neglect of duty for not doing so.
According to Orangeville police procedure: “In all cases of domestic violence where reasonable grounds that an offence has been committed exists, the officer shall lay relevant charge(s), including but not limited to an assault, breach of bail/parole/peace bond, criminal harassment, etc...”
Section 495 of the Criminal Code, on the other hand, states: “A peace officer may arrest without warrant (a) a person who has committed an indictable offence or who, on reasonable grounds, he believes has committed or is about to commit an indictable offence; (b) a person whom he finds committing a criminal offence; or (c) a person in respect of whom he has reasonable grounds to believe that a warrant of arrest or committal, in any form ... is in force within the territorial jurisdiction in which the person is found.”
In the parlance of acts and/or procedural policy, “shall” translates into “must,” while “may” tends to indicate a degree of discretion and consideration of circumstances.
This paper has obtained a copy of a March 18 letter to Julie Schlister, manager of the policing standards section of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services from Cst. Bill Morrison, then president of the Orangeville Police Association.
In it, Ms. Schlister is asked to “please find attached a copy of the Orangeville Police Service Procedure – Domestic Violence Occurrences/LE- 024.
“We, as an association, have some concerns that the aforementioned procedure that was completed by our Service in 2000 by our previous chief of police, has some areas that are not pursuant to the Ministry guidelines and the Criminal Code...”
The letter goes on to say: “Section 7(d), the wording restricts the officer to a ‘shall [...] make every effort to locate and arrest the suspect.’
“This is in obvious conflict with s. 495 of the Criminal Code where it uses the words “may arrest”.
We understand the Ministry guidelines for the mandatory laying of charges when reasonable grounds are present, but the officer is still obliged to follow the authority in section 495(1) and the limitations in section 495(2) of the Criminal Code.”See More
Addendum: When Ian “Damian” Huckle led a group urging reform of Orangeville's police, the cops knew what to do. They arrested him.
Citizen seeking police reform gets arrested
An outspoken proponent of an independent review into the actions of Orangeville police recently found himself behind bars, facing several charges.
Ian “Damian” Huckle was arrested on Feb. 20 and charged with sexual assault, disobeying a court order, mischief under $5,000 and three counts of assault. He was released on bail earlier this week.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Huckle is one of the founding members of the Facebook group We Want Answers About Adam Sprague’s Passing — he has since been removed as an administrator and from the group as a whole.
He was also instrumental in launching a petition signed by about 2,000 people calling for an independent review into the operation of Orangeville Police Service (OPS). Sprague died in an Orangeville jail cell on Nov. 11.
Less than a week before his arrest, Huckle addressed town council as a member of Citizens for OPS Reform, seeking council’s support for the involvement of the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC).
“He’s just one person. There’s several people out there in the community that are genuinely concerned about what’s going on,” commented Tim Callaghan, Sprague’s uncle, who has also publicly called for an investigation into the operation of OPS. “There is still a strong interest by the taxpayers of the town of Orangeville that they want results, they want answers.”
Source: Orangeville Banner
Addendum: Sgt Rutt was cleared of the charges against him. So is he in the clear? Nope. The cops just found something else to charge him with.
Rutt cleared of two charges; new ones laid
Supporters of Sgt. Curtis Rutt broke out into tears this morning (March 17), when he was cleared of neglect of duty and insubordination charges laid under the Police Services Act (PSA).
The Orangeville officer was charged in relation to his handling of a domestic violence complaint in 2009. While Rutt believed there were no grounds for an immediate arrest, Staff Sgt. Dan Maloney, who handled the internal investigation into what transpired, felt there was.
Following seven days of hearings spread out over nearly a year, Hearing Officer Supt. Karen Noakes of York Regional Police found Rutt “not guilty,” stating the evidence presented wasn’t “clear and convincing” enough to warrant conviction.
“He based a decision on the information he had at the time,” she said.
Not without criticism, she added, “Sgt. Rutt should have taken additional steps” to move the investigation forward and inform the complainant an arrest wasn’t made.
As for the insubordination allegation, Noakes stated there was no evidence presented to support the prosecution’s claim Rutt was required to file a supplementary report about a conversation he had with the accused.
Maloney declined to comment on the verdict as he left Orangeville town hall where the proceedings were held.
Outside the council chambers, Rutt’s daughter read from a prepared statement, with her father at her side.
“It’s quite obvious that this whole matter was a complete and utter abuse of the process, wasting everyone’s time and taxpayers’ money,” Olivia Rutt said. “Their persecution against my dad has cost the Orangeville taxpayers more money than the salaries of all town councillors combined.
“The taxpayers should be furious.”
The sergeant has become a controversial figure in town the past few months, following his request for a Section 25 review into the management and operation of Orangeville Police Service.
In a lengthy document delivered to the police services board and town council back in December, he called for an investigation by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC). Following a lack of response by the above parties, he then filed his request with the commission itself.
The request cites specific examples of what Rutt believes to be wrongdoing on the part of officers and management, alleged abuses of authority, poor morale within the force and more.
So far, his request has not been acted upon.
“I’m urging the police services board and the mayor not to further hide behind my father’s charges as an excuse not to call for a Section 25 review,” Olivia Rutt said, pointing to Noekes’ statement that at least one officer who testified against Rutt has an “incorrect” understanding of their legal authority to make an arrest.
“This underscores the need for a ... Section 25 review by an independent organization like OCPC.”
It’s not over for the embattled Sgt. just yet when it comes to a PSA tribunal. Just yesterday, five new charges were laid against him — three for discreditable conduct and two for neglect of duty — in relation to a citizen’s complaint made in April of last year.
Rutt declined to comment on the latest round of charges.
According to a news release from Orangeville Police Service, they are the result of a citizen’s complaint to the Special Investigations Unit and a “parallel” investigation conducted by York Regional Police at the request of Chief Joseph Tomei.
Rutt was placed on administrative suspension with pay.
The tribunal in that matter is scheduled to begin on April 27 at 11 a.m., inside the police station on C Line.
Source: Orangeville Banner
The SIU has completed its internal investigation of police conduct in the death of Adam Sprague. They concluded, no surprise, that the police did nothing wrong.
UPDATE: No criminal charges will be laid against an Orangeville police officer in relation to the Nov. 11 jail cell death of Adam Sprague, the province’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) announced Wednesday (April 20).
Family members declined to comment immediately following the report’s release, referring all questions to their lawyer, who couldn’t be reached by The Banner’s print deadline.
“This makes me so sick to my stomach it is unbelievable! Adam would have been able to get medical attention if he wasn’t being caged up like a wild tiger,” a person identified as Amy Hunter-Belic posted on the Facebook page We Want Answers About Adam Sprague’s Passing. “If this happened in a home there would have been charges laid.”
Sprague, 25, was arrested on a provincial offences violation — a relatively minor charge — on Nov. 10 and kept in jail overnight. He was found dead at 7:41 a.m. the next morning; according to the SIU investigation, Sprague's death fell somewhere within the previous three hours.
A post-mortem investigation revealed he died of a drug overdose, officially cited as “acute oxycondone toxicity.” Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
“The subject officer was in charge of the prisoners in the cells that evening, and it is clear that he did not ensure that Mr. Sprague was physically checked,” SIU director Ian Scott said in his announcement, noting the Criminal Code charges considered include failure to provide the necessities of life and criminal negligence causing death. “In my view, the omissions of the subject officer do not support either charge.”
The SIU has been under the gun in recent months for failing to lay charges against police officers. An investigative series published in The Star last fall found the SIU laid charges after only 95 of at least 3,400 investigations during its 20-year history. Of those, only 16 officers were convicted of a crime, and only three were sent to jail as a result.
A local man, who has identified himself only as Kevin, claimed to have been in the neighbouring jail cell to Sprague the day he died and publicly reported he tried unsuccessfully to get the attention of officers after he overheard Sprague in distress.
“The audio recording of the cell activities that night does not disclose any utterances from other prisoners that would have put staff on notice that Mr. Sprague was in distress,” Scott noted. “Further, the dispatchers who were monitoring the cell videos thought that the decedent was sleeping.”
While no criminal charges have been laid, a parallel police investigation is underway and the SIU subject officer, Sgt. Chris Dryden, remains on paid suspension pending the outcome.
“It’s really a sad situation, especially given the cause of death being what it is,” Orangeville police chief Joseph Tomei said, explaining the current investigation may result in Police Services Act charges and identify policy issues that need to be addressed.
“We will release the results of our investigation once it is concluded,” he said, adding he hopes to receive a final report on the matter within weeks. “Sooner than later. It’s not going to be as long as the SIU — that’s for sure.”
Sprague’s death remains the subject of a mandatory coroner’s inquest, which typically takes about two years before it begins and may take two more years to be completed.
Spurred by Sprague’s death and disputed allegations of misconduct within Orangeville Police Service made by Sgt. Curtis Rutt, several local residents have been calling for an Ontario Civilian Police Commission review of the department.
Those calls have so far gone unanswered.
Source: Orangeville Banner
Addendum: The Orangeville Police Service has handed out a penalty in the death in custody of Adam Sprague. Officer John Kennedy will work 24 hours without pay.
Officer ordered to work 24 hours without pay in case of jail cell death
The events leading to the jail cell death of 25-year-old Adam Sprague began with a concern for his safety.
Orangeville police Const. Jon Kennedy responded to a public complaint that a woman was in previously forbidden contact with another man on Nov. 10.
When Kennedy arrived at the Orangeville home, he met with the woman and a heavily intoxicated Sprague.
“Mr. Sprague was intoxicated, unsteady on his feet and unable to speak without slurring his words,” Bill MacKenzie, Kennedy’s attorney said during a Police Services Act (PSA) tribunal held at Orangeville town hall on Wednesday (Oct. 26).
The woman was arrested. The property owner, who was not to have contact with the woman, did not explain to police why Sprague and the woman were at his home.
“(The property owner) didn’t know what was going on,” MacKenzie said.
According to his lawyer, the property owner’s ignorance raised Kennedy’s concern for Sprague’s wellbeing.
“There was a safety concern Mr. Sprague couldn’t take care of himself if he wandered onto public property,” MacKenzie said. “(Kennedy) was not sure if anyone at the home was able to take care of him.”
Kennedy decided Sprague’s level of intoxication warranted arrest, despite the fact he was on private property.
The officer noted Sprague was about “five or six” steps from public domain prior to entering police custody.
Following his arrest, Sprague died of a drug overdose while in a holding cell at the C Line police station early in the morning of Nov. 11.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) launched a probe into the jail cell death. In April, it announced no criminal charges would be laid against the officer investigated; Kennedy was one of the SIU’s witnesses.
“Kennedy admitted the arrest on private property was unlawful,” prosecutor Ian Johnstone said during the tribunal.
Kennedy was served with PSA charges for unnecessary exercise of authority and discreditable conduct in May. The first charge was dropped in September. He officially pled guilty to the second charge on Wednesday.
PSA Hearing Officer Superintendent Morris Elbers ordered Kennedy to serve 24 hours of unpaid duty, as well as complete a training program assigned by Orangeville Police Service (OPS) Chief Joe Tomei.
The defence and prosecution submitted a joint statement recommending the penalty.
“It was probably a difficult situation that day, and it certainly got more difficult,” Elbers said. “Hopefully you’ve learned and will shed guidance to other members of the service.”
Kennedy, a six-year OPS veteran, has no previous incidences of formal discipline. Elbers said he understands the constable believed he was acting in good faith during the arrest.
“This is a blip on a radar screen,” Elbers said noting Kennedy still has a lengthy career in policing ahead of him. “You will learn from your mistakes.”
Before delivering his order, Elbers offered Kennedy the opportunity to address the discreditable conduct charge. Kennedy declined.
A mandatory coroner’s inquest, which typically takes about two years before it begins and may take two more years to be completed, will also be held.
Source: Orangeville Banner
Addendum: The vendetta against Sgt Curtis Rutt ends in August 2013 with his resignation from the Orangeville Police Service.
Rutt resigns from OPS, alleges ‘personal vendetta’ by chief
Orangeville Police Sergeant Curtis Rutt has resigned from the force, alleging he was constructively dismissed as part of a “personal vendetta” by Police Chief Joe Tomei.
(No claim has been filed and none of the allegations has been proven in court.)
In a news release running to more than 2,000 words, Sgt. Rutt said he submitted his resignation to the chief on Wednesday of last week.
“I also submitted it to the hearing officer, Superintendent (retired) Maurice Elbers. Superintendent Elbers then adjourned the hearing sine die, meaning the hearing is adjourned without a day on which to appear or assemble again.”
He said he took the action intending to follow through with the long-running Police Act hearing, “as I am confident that the Prosecutor, Ian Johnstone, has not proved, on clear and convincing evidence, that I committed any of the Code of Conduct offences as alleged.
“The allegations against me came as a result of my submission of a request for a Section 25 Review to the Orangeville Police Services Board, and it criticized the way in which Chief Tomei was managing the Orangeville Police Service. Chief Tomei hired Mr. Ian Johnstone to prosecute me, and hired retired superintendent Maurice Elbers to pass judgment on me. Despite this appearance to some would consider a reasonable apprehension of a biased hearing, I felt that I fared quite well in refuting all of the prosecution evidence.
“I was preparing to take the stand on August 28 and provide my full testimony, explaining in detail every bit of information I had compiled to submit the request for a Section 25 Review. But, on August 14, 2013, I was contacted by a friend from Fergus whom I had assisted in a minor court situation in Guelph court. She indicated to me that while she was preparing her two young children and her family dog to go out for a walk, a black, unmarked police vehicle screeched into her driveway scaring her family.” Two OPS officers had exited the vehicle and demanded that she speak with them. Under protest, she had allowed them access to her home, “where they sat at the kitchen table and recorded her answers to their questions.”
He said he was told that during that meeting she was warned not to let him (Sgt. Rutt) represent her “in any way because I had not ing she was warned not to let him (Sgt. Rutt) represent her “in any way because I had not sought out permission to do so from Chief Tomei.”
He said he met the next day with Deputy Chief Wayne Kalinski “and told him about the complaint I had received from my friend. I also told him that I felt [one of the OPS officers] was acting under higher direction and that this retaliation against me has become intolerable. Reluctantly, I told him that I will give my two-week notice to retire from the Orangeville Police Service. I then submitted to him, in writing, my notice that I will retire as of September 1, 2013.
“The next week, I received a letter from Chief Tomei indicating that, despite the fact that I submitted my resignation, they have initiated an investigation into my conduct. This meant that they had full intention to continue to harass my friends whom I’ve helped out by providing legal advice regarding simple traffic matters. I told Deputy Chief Kalinski that I have never received any money from providing any legal information and that not one matter had anything to do with the Orangeville Police Service. He told me he did not agree with serving me this letter from Chief Tomei, but that he had ‘lost the argument’ against doing so.”
He said that as a result of the chief deciding, a week prior to him taking the stand and testifying as to his request for a Section 25 Review, to direct a senior officer “to harass members of the public who are friends of mine under the pretense of a further investigation, and then go on to make further unfounded allegations against me, it became quite clear that I was being constructively dismissed.”
The sergeant said that he had continued to upgrade his legal education, attending a private college to obtain his paralegal diploma, “at no time during my term of suspension, where all powers as a police officer had been stripped from me, did I ever work as a paralegal or give legal information to any member of the public involved with any criminal or quasi-criminal allegation or issue that would involve the Orangeville Police Service.”
“Pursuant to this alleged investigation it became apparent to me that Chief Tomei and another OPS member were using the pretext of this investigation, to not just harass me in a continuing pattern of behaviour which sees Chief Tomei use the powers of his office to engage in personal attacks against his employees, but now to harass an innocent member of the public.
“It should be evident to all concerned that in the midst of this hearing Chief Tomei has now served a message he will continue to use police officers to intimidate me, and to harass members of the public he considers to be associated with me. I cannot stand by while Chief Tomei continues to use the taxpayers’ money not just to engage in a personal war against me, but now innocent members of the public.”
Asserting that his request for a Police Services Act inquiry into the OPS had never been investigated properly, he added:
“As this unfortunate personal vendetta by Chief Tomei against me has been played out we have seen ridiculous amounts of money wasted that would have been far better utilized engaging in upgrading police equipment, training and safety procedures; the very concerns I have had from the get go. It disheartened me to read the words of the Mayor a few weeks back telling the press he had no idea where the money was coming from being expended to engage in the proceedings against me.”
Suggesting it was obvious the Mayor must know, he added: “It is now clear Chief Tomei was going to use his office to keep attacking me and if he has to harass innocent members of the Orangeville community to do this, he would. I could not allow this escalation to sully the good name of the people of Orangeville.
“It has also become clear to me that Chief Tomei would have done everything in his power and to continue to be given unlimited access to taxpayers’ money as the Mayor continues to play ignorant to force me out of my job.”
Without elaborating, Sgt. Rutt said he plans to “use my new-found respect for the integrity of the law to ensure that Chief Tomei is held accountable for the actions he has engaged in to date. I will be reserving the right to pursue a constructive dismissal action against the Orangeville Police Service, and venture outside the tribunal process to other appropriate legal arenas to demand a full accounting of the money spent carrying out a vendetta against me.”
Chief Tomei confirmed Wednesday that he had received the resignation letter at the hearing but said a transcript of the hearing will establish that the resignation itself prevented the hearing from continuing, since the Police Services Act (PSA) requires such hearings to be against active police officers.
He said the sergeant initially said he was resigning as of Sept. 1 but later timed it as August 28 and ultimately as “forthwith.”
The chief also confirmed that the OPS had been investigating reports that the sergeant had been acting as a paralegal, noting that the PSA bars any police officer who is under suspension with pay from doing any such activity, whether or not he is being paid for it.
As to other matters raised in the news release, Chief Tomei said, “I don’t know how to respond,” in the absence of legal advice on whether he has grounds for suing for libel or defamation. “I’m in a bit of a quandary.”
Source: Orangeville Citizen
February 17, 2011 permalink
Now that the internet has contributed to the overthrow of governments in Tunisia and Egypt, authorities are catching on to its power. Enclosed articles show efforts in the US and Europe to shut down websites. The USA has just engaged in its third round of seizing domain names without legal process. Earlier seizures used copyright as the pretext, this round is for child pornography. A mistake in the seizure list crippled one domain hosting 84,000 innocent websites. The European article focuses on protection from kiddie porn. Swedish Pirate Party MEP Christian Engström regards appeals to stop child abuse as a pretext for introducing censorship generally.
Fixcas, and just about every other website critical of official policy, may be on a future seizure. While there is no child pornography here, administrators acting without legal process can easily find something offensive in one of the thousands of articles on children.
Another form of censorship is keeping websites out of a country through a national firewall. Examination of the leading Chinese search engine, Baidu, shows that fixcas, Canada Court Watch and bill131.ca are blocked, though afterfostercare is allowed in. The leading Russian search engine, Yandex, returns results for all four sites. Notwithstanding the censorship, China is a large consumer of the bandwidth delivered by fixcas. So far is has not been determined whether this is malicious hacking or consumers finding a back door.
U.S. Government Shuts Down 84,000 Websites, ‘By Mistake’
The US Government has yet again shuttered several domain names this week. The Department of Justice and Homeland Security’s ICE office proudly announced that they had seized domains related to counterfeit goods and child pornography. What they failed to mention, however, is that one of the targeted domains belongs to a free DNS provider, and that 84,000 websites were wrongfully accused of links to child pornography crimes.
As part of “Operation Save Our Children” ICE’s Cyber Crimes Center has again seized several domain names, but not without making a huge error. Last Friday, thousands of site owners were surprised by a rather worrying banner that was placed on their domain.
“Advertisement, distribution, transportation, receipt, and possession of child pornography constitute federal crimes that carry penalties for first time offenders of up to 30 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution,” was the worrying message they read on their websites.
As with previous seizures, ICE convinced a District Court judge to sign a seizure warrant, and then contacted the domain registries to point the domains in question to a server that hosts the warning message. However, somewhere in this process a mistake was made and as a result the domain of a large DNS service provider was seized.
The domain in question is mooo.com, which belongs to the DNS provider FreeDNS. It is the most popular shared domain at afraid.org and as a result of the authorities’ actions a massive 84,000 subdomains were wrongfully seized as well. All sites were redirected to the banner below.
This banner was visible on the 84,000 sites
The FreeDNS owner was taken by surprise and quickly released the following statement on their website. “Freedns.afraid.org has never allowed this type of abuse of its DNS service. We are working to get the issue sorted as quickly as possible.”
Eventually, on Sunday the domain seizure was reverted and the subdomains slowly started to point to the old sites again instead of the accusatory banner. However, since the DNS entries have to propagate, it took another 3 days before the images disappeared completely.
Most of the subdomains in question are personal sites and sites of small businesses. A search on Bing still shows how innocent sites were claimed to promote child pornography. A rather damaging accusation, which scared and upset many of the site’s owners.
One of the customers quickly went out to assure visitors that his site was not involved in any of the alleged crimes.
“You can rest assured that I have not and would never be found to be trafficking in such distasteful and horrific content. A little sleuthing shows that the whole of the mooo.com TLD is impacted. At first, the legitimacy of the alerts seems to be questionable — after all, what reputable agency would display their warning in a fancily formatted image referenced by the underlying HTML? I wouldn’t expect to see that.”
Even at the time of writing people can still replicate the effect by adding “126.96.36.199 mooo.com” to their hosts file as the authorities have not dropped the domain pointer yet. Adding mooo.com will produce a different image than picking a random domain (child porn vs. copyright), which confirms the mistake.
Although it is not clear where this massive error was made, and who’s responsible for it, the Department of Homeland security is conveniently sweeping it under the rug. In a press release that went out a few hours ago the authorities were clearly proud of themselves for taking down 10 domain names.
However, DHS conveniently failed to mention that 84,000 websites were wrongfully taken down in the process, shaming thousands of people in the process.
“Each year, far too many children fall prey to sexual predators and all too often, these heinous acts are recorded in photos and on video and released on the Internet,” Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano commented.
“DHS is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to shut down websites that promote child pornography to protect these children from further victimization,” she added.
A noble initiative, but one that went wrong, badly. The above failure again shows that the seizure process is a flawed one, as has been shown several times before in earlier copyright infringement sweeps. If the Government would only allow for due process to take place, this and other mistakes wouldn’t have been made.
Coverage on previous copyright related seizures can be found here, here and here.
Source: Torrent Freak
European Parliament Decides to Block Child Porn at Source
BRUSSELS — The European Parliament decided yesterday that European Union member states must attempt to block child porn images at the source rather than forcing complete Internet blocking.
Reports said that members of the Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee ruled that blocking access to websites is acceptable only in exceptional circumstances as when a host server from a non-E.U. member country refuses to cooperate or takes too long to comply.
The unanimous 40-0 vote sides with Internet rights activists and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who were concerned about Internet freedom.
"The new generation of MEPs has shown it understands the Internet and has courageously rejected populist but ineffective and cosmetic measures in favor of measures aimed at real child protection," said Joe McNamee, of the European digital rights movement EDRi.
He added, "This is a huge and implausible success for an army of activists campaigning to protect the democratic, societal and economic value of the Internet," he added.
The move supports the idea that simply blocking a website does not guarantee that some offensive images may remain in cyberspace. And blocking could mistakenly remove a site that supports child protection as was the case where a Dutch website reportedly campaigning against child abuse was blocked twice by mistake.
Blocking will be permitted under unusual circumstances but the ruling stated it "Must be set by transparent procedures and provide adequate safeguards, in particular to ensure that the restriction is limited to what is necessary and proportionate, and that users are informed of the reason for the restriction."
In addition, content providers must be informed of their right to appeal.
But some supporters of child protection are concerned. "MEPs seem more concerned with the rights of child pornographers than they do with the rights of children who have been sexually abused," said John Carr of the Children's Charities Coalition on Internet Safety.
The European Commission also suggested that sites hosted outside of the E.U. could be blocked by law enforcement agencies or that it may assist ISPs by developing codes of conduct and guidelines for blocking access on a voluntary basis.
The decision also calls for tougher penalties for those who sexually abuse or exploit children that include a minimum penalty for 22 criminal offenses, including so-called online "grooming" of children, and allowing E.U. member states to impose tougher measures and sentencing.
Source: XBIZ Newswire
False Kiddie Porn
February 17, 2011 permalink
Vuk and Verica Nastic, a Serbian couple living in California, lost their children Damjan and Nastasja for eight months after a computer repair tecnician found pictures of naked children. The most probable explanation is that one of the children was playing with a camera. The family has finallly been reunited. Below is an American news story and a Serbian blog entry (in English) with a picture of the family.
Couple reunited with children
Serbian pair living in Stockton have child porn allegations dropped
STOCKTON - After more than eight months apart, a Serbian couple living and working in the United States has been reunited with their son and daughter. The parents, Stockton residents Vuk and Verica Nastic, were separated from their 5- and 8-year-old children after allegations of child pornography.
According to a radio station in Belgrade, Serbia, the case against the Nastics was dropped. Robert Himelblau, a spokesman for the county District Attorney's office, said his office reviewed the case and decided not to file charges.
The children have been separated from each other and from their parents since June, The Associated Press had reported.
Last July, an office technician at Vuk Nastic's Modesto office found digital photographs of naked children on a computer that Nastic gave him. The technician reported them to the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office, according to an Associated Press report in mid-January.
Nastic said at the time that the photographs were not of a sexual nature, and that some were taken by his son.
The children had been under the care of the county's Child Protective Services agency, according to Serbian officials.
Every case handled by San Joaquin County Child Welfare Services is confidential, Division Chief Bea Gomez said. "I can't confirm or deny we have a case," she said.
In general, foreign involvement in child-protection cases is not unheard of, interim Deputy Director of Child Welfare Services John Greco said last month in response to inquires of the case. "It isn't uncommon in our work to have interaction with international consulates," he said. "Different cases illicit different levels of response."
Vuk Nastic told a Belgrade radio station this week that the family needed some time to "collect their thoughts" after receiving the good news that the case had been dropped.
Serbia's Chicago-based Consul Desko Nikitovic said the outcome is a victory for justice and "a great success of the Serbian authorities" who came to the couple's assistance.
"Obviously, (Child Protective Services) has been under great pressure to admit they made a mistake, from our lawyers and the Serbian diplomacy headed by Consul (Desko) Nikitovic and others. I understood that (Interior Minister) Ivica Dacic was here and that he was promised things would be sorted out in the foreseeable future," Vuk Nastic said.
He also stated that he and his wife received an apology from a lawyer acting on behalf of the county, who said they "only a few days ago had a chance to review all 7,000 photos found on the laptop and other memory devices."
The photos, Nastic said, showed that only 20 were contentious as potentially sexually "indecent," but that others showed the children knew how to use the camera themselves.
He also said the children were "very happy, at the same time a little confused, and a little traumatized."
Nikitovic said a civil rights investigation by U.S. authorities has been requested.
Source: Stockton Record
Children with their parents again
Nastices might request compensation of up to 5 million Dollars from USA
Children of the Nastices have been returned to their parents. After eight months Damjan and Nastasja are playing with their old toys again and sleeping in their own beds. The parents, Vuk and Verica Nastic are more than happy, but still in shock. Although many are advising them to sue the USA for illegal taking of their children away from them, they are still not thinking about that. Lawyers estimate that the Nastices can get from three to five million Dollars in compensation.
‘To our surprise, the chief prosecutor of the Agency for protection of children said at the beginning of the trial that only three days ago they had seen all of our photographs and that the Agency wanted the children to be returned to their parents and that they were giving up all of the charges.
The judge said it was so shameful what he had just heard and had he only known earlier what he had just heard, he would have never ruled the children be taken away from the parents. The prosecutor also addressed us at the end and said with some cynicism ‘to have seen the things in real light only three days ago’. I only said to be sorry that they had not seen them eight months ago’, Vuk Nastic told ‘Blic’ in a telephone statement.
Source: Serbian blog
February 16, 2011 permalink
The province of Newfoundland has found a way to cure the embarrassing revelations in the case of Dorothy and Bobby Rodgers: force the parents, and the press, to shut up. The province is applying for a gag order in the case.
Don't gag media, Port aux Basques family says
A family in southwestern Newfoundland that has alleged social workers were heavy-handed in removing children from their custody does not want the media to be prevented from reporting fully on their case.
Sources tell CBC News that the provincial government will go to court Thursday to seek a publication ban in the case of Dorothy and Bobby Rodgers of Port aux Basques whose two children were taken into care last year.
The Rodgers spoke out earlier this month when they could not get their two young children out of foster care in part because they scored poorly on a series of tests, including an IQ test. The case has drawn a strong public reaction.
Eileen King, Bobby Rodgers's sister, said the family believes the government wants media reports on her brother's case shut down.
"No names would be mentioned, that the Rodgers family name would not be mentioned," King told CBC News.
'Cover up what they have done'
A publication ban would mean that any media identifying the family would be breaking the law.
"I think it's just another way for them to cover up their track, to cover up what they have done," King said in an interview.
Child, Youth and Family Services Minister Charlene Johnson has suggested there is more to the Rodgers story than has been reported and has said government officials are bound by confidentiality.
King said her family would like to know what government means about what has not been disclosed.
"We have nothing to fear nor do we have anything to hide," she said.
The Department of Child, Youth and Family Services would not comment on the issue of a publication ban, and said it cannot comment on specific cases.
The Rodgers case involves numerous complicated factors, including Dorothy Rodgers's admission that she made false allegations when she stayed at a transition house. She has said she was coping with sexual abuse suffered years ago.
As well, Dorothy Rodgers says she did not trust social workers because of her own experiences growing up in foster care.
Addendum: The family is now anonymous.
Parents will get to argue kids’ return in court; Interim ban now forbids publication of family name
CORNER BROOK — An interim publication ban has been ordered until the merits of a more permanent prohibition on identifying the family involved in a high-profile case involving the removal of their children from the home can be argued in court.
The western Newfoundland family was in Corner Brook to attend family court Thursday morning.
As is the norm for any proceedings in family court, the media was not permitted to sit in on the matter in which the provincial government is seeking the ban that would effectively prevent the media from publishing the names or images of the family at the centre of the case.
In a more unusual measure, Justice Alan Seaborn, who presided over the matter in family court Tuesday, also prohibited the media from obtaining images anywhere inside the Corner Brook Law Courts building.
Arguments on a permanent publication ban will be heard in family court March 11, while a protective intervention hearing on the family’s situation itself has been scheduled for March 29 to April 1.
The mother of the two children told the media she thought they will still be able to tell their story and, more importantly to her, have their children returned to her and her husband.
“I am determined,” she said. “I will go every inch of this way — every peck — to get my kids back because they don’t deserve this.”
She said she is not aware of any problems created for her kids since their story was thrust into the public spotlight in early February. Her sister said the kids are too young to be subjected to teasing, as some have suggested they might be because of the media coverage.
“I think, honestly, that (other) children are going to applaud the fact that mommies and daddies ... have stood up for their children,” said the sister, who accompanied the parents to court.
In addition to fighting to get their kids back, the family is trying to form a group of other families who have had similar experiences in dealing with the provincial Department of Child Youth and Family Services.
“With all the support we get and some of the factors of people who have actually suffered through the same circumstances, and much the same circumstances, we are going to ... bring this together,” said the sister. “We are doing this positively and we want a positive outcome.”
The mother, urging anyone who would like to join their fight to seek them out, said she has already received an incredible amount of feedback and support.
“That’s what I’m looking for,” she said. “I want everybody to come forward. My phone has not stopped. My Internet has not stopped. I am very pleased to know the feedback we are getting and I want more feedback and more people to come forward and stand their grounds with my family and my children to get the children back to where they belong.”
In the meantime, the mother said she does get to talk to her children every day and has seen them regularly too.
“They are crying to come home, and I will do what it takes to see my kids come home,” she said.
Source: Western Star
Abuse in Muskoka Foster Care
February 16, 2011 permalink
The local Muskoka newspaper is running a series on children's aid. The first article today is on Gordie Merton, a recent graduate of foster care.
Those rallies last year did not wake up any politicians, but the small-town press has noticed, and is doing some real investigative reporting.
Teen says child welfare experience left him with nightmares
Families at Risk Series: This is the first installment in a three-part series looking at local children’s aid services.
- This week: Read about one man’s nightmare description of his provincial care.
- Next week: Facing violence and disruption, a local mom turns to children’s aid, which she credits with saving her kids and her life.
- On March 2: Looking at turmoil and change surrounding our children’s aid services.
MUSKOKA – Gordie Merton has nightmares.
When talking to Merton, 19, in his family’s comfortable and bright basement apartment in Gravenhurst, he seems well adjusted.
During the day he will watch televised parliamentary debates and energetically offer informed comment on each bill that comes to the floor. Then he goes to work at a nearby pizza place.
But ask him about the four years he spent as a Crown ward within the children’s aid society system, being jostled between foster care and group homes, and his expression changes.
And when talking in his soft voice about his final placement at a privately owned psychiatric treatment centre in southern Ontario, he will say, “That was worse than hell. I would have rather been in hell than that place.”
At age 12, Merton, who was diagnosed at a young age as developmentally delayed with attachment disorder and attention deficit disorder, had been in the care of his paternal grandmother.
When his mother tried to regain custody of her son, the court ruled that, because of a complex mental disorder, Merton would become a Crown ward, and he was placed under the guardianship of the government.
He started living in foster homes across northern Ontario, and Merton alleges he was mistreated to varying degrees in each of them. In one instance, he said he had a miniature statue of Buddha taken away because his foster parents practised Christianity. In another instance, he said his remarks about being sexually abused by a fellow student were seemingly disregarded both by his foster parents and by his children’s aid worker.
“I didn’t know who to go to, so I would act out in anger, so then they would listen to me. Unfortunately, they would listen to me too late,” he said.
In the Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka offices there are stacks of boxes containing hundreds of documents regarding Merton’s case. Interim executive director Marty Rutledge said the documents include incident reports, serious occurrence reports, case worker notes and medical and psychiatric records pertaining to Merton’s case.
“Gordie’s behaviour was not controllable in the community,” said Rutledge, stating Merton had a history of auditory and visual hallucinations and had threatened to hurt or kill himself on multiple occasions. “We had him placed in all levels of care — foster care, group care and institutional care.”
The psychiatric care centre Merton was sent to features individual rooms, psychiatrists on site and staff available 24 hours per day, among other services, said Rutledge.
“If you get (there), you’re a kid who has really got some serious difficulties that haven’t been able to be managed anywhere else,” said Rutledge.
By age 15 Merton was moved to the centre. While there, he alleges, he was restrained, over-medicated and physically abused.
Although he lodged several complaints, nothing seemed to improve, he said. Merton recounted a time when a staff member demanded he refold the clothes on a shelf in his room. As the teenager did so, the staff member would push the clothes off and make him start over.
Frustrated, Merton said he eventually tossed the clothes back in the staff member’s face. When he did, he alleges, the staff member hit him in the face, knocking him to the floor. The third time it happened, Merton took a swing at the staff member, he said. They were the only two people in the room.
The staff member then left and returned with other staff to restrain Merton to his bed for his violent outburst. But Merton said staff often improperly restrained him and at one point his forearm was cut open, creating a wound that would leave a permanent scar.
Rutledge said incident reports are filed each time a child is physically restrained and these are filed with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, which reviews them. The physical abuse Merton described above launched an independent child protection investigation into his case that involved the Ontario Provincial Police and the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth.
“The police laid no criminal charges and the child protection agency concluded there were no child protection concerns,” said Rutledge.
An independent review of Merton’s files and treatment was then conducted by a southern Ontario children’s aid society and Merton and his mother filed complaints with the Residence Placement Advisory Committee.
Through his time with the society, Merton was depressed and suicidal. He was prescribed several drugs. In his final placement the psychologist increased his medication dosages, including that of lithium, a drug used mainly to treat mania and bipolar disorder.
“Picture you’re in a house, looking out the window, and everything is going slow,” said Merton. “Really slow. And all of it is grey. That’s what I was seeing when I was on the medication.”
He said he blames the medication for his hallucinations.
Merton was able to visit his family one weekend a month and during one summer night at home things came to a head. Frustrated with the medication and his treatment in care, he said he grabbed a kitchen knife while his family wasn’t looking and went outside to kill himself.
“When the police got there, something changed in me. When I looked at the officer, he was holding back tears, so I knew somebody was listening,” he said. “I threw down the knife.”
He was taken to Sudbury Algoma Hospital, a mental health facility, where a doctor determined Merton had three times the recommended amount of lithium in his system. The doctor recommended Merton be taken off the drug.
Rutledge said Merton’s medication had been under constant review and the Sudbury doctor’s medical opinion had differed from those at the psychiatric institution and the surrounding area, including a hospital physician who had suggested another increase in Merton’s lithium dose to control his hallucinations.
“We have a number of medical professionals who had seen Gordie up to this point,” said Rutledge referring to Merton being admitted to Sudbury Algoma Hospital. “He (the Sudbury doctor) was the first one to say ‘I don’t think this medication regime is appropriate.’”
Rutledge said the children’s aid society “tried to insist” the doctors consult each other, but it did not happen. According to the society, Merton’s medication regime was reviewed twice annually and mental health risk assessments were also administered.
Meanwhile, Merton’s mother had been working with the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth and a lawyer to bring her son home. They, along with Family, Youth and Child Services, developed a plan of care, which involved house visits from the society and counselling.
Merton was home by his 16th birthday.
“When they walked out of the house and didn’t come back, that was the happiest day of my life. I cried. It was a huge weight gone,” Merton said.
However, he said he has constant nightmares and things such as music can trigger negative feelings and thoughts related to his time in care.
Rutledge said the psychiatric institution lodged a formal complaint with the Ministry of Social and Community Services, which existed at the time, about Merton’s discharge “to say that we (Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka) were acting irresponsibly, that Gordie was a high-needs kid with high-level psychiatric needs and that he was being discharged from (the centre) against medical advice.”
Merton said he wants to use his experiences to help others. He attends rallies in Ottawa and Queen’s Park and said he is drafting a bill to submit to the legislature that would create transparency within children’s aid societies.
“If I fight now, maybe in the future this will never happen again,” he said. “I want them to realize what they’ve done and admit it.”
He said he would like to see a full disclosure of the complaints made by children in care.
For those who are not satisfied with the service received from a children’s aid agency, there are options. They can lodge a client concern or complaint with the agency, contact the Child and Family Services Review Board at 1-800-728-8823 or contact the Residential Placement Advisory Committee at 705-476-9790 or 1-877-535-2299.
They can also contact a lawyer, their area member of provincial parliament or the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth by visiting www.provincialadvocate.on.ca.
Source: Cottage Country Now
Addendum: Comments from an expert on Muskoka:
Page 1 and 10 is a good article about the disgraced Muskoka CAS. They fail to mention that three workers quit after what happened to Gordie and the director at the time Allan Hogan cried to Gordie and said sorry. All of the case notes on this file also just disappeared???? Family youth and Child Services of Muskoka is a disgrace to all the other CAS's in Ontario. They need to be shut down and be taken over by the government. This is just one of hundreds of horror stories that have come forward about the Muskoka CAS since the rallies last year and the public meeting in November. Their days are numbered.
Anyone else with an experience from this particular agency, good or bad is urged to contact us at 705-242-1567
— the citizens committee on public accountability
Source: private Facebook message dated February 16, 2011
And here is a comment from Gordie himself, from the same source:
It is a shame, however He will not get away with the lies nor will any other worker, administrator, CEO, or any one for that matter. They are people just like us and the law dose not exclude us from consequences of any acts, and the law will not exclude them. I am planning to change Canada for the good. I am going to change the corruption and make these people pay for every child that has died in their hands and every child that has been abused and neglected while under their care. These people think because they are protected by the government that they can get away with anything. We you know when they attempted to kill me by over medicating me. I came out strong. And you know I will fight for every child whose blood has been poured on the children’s aid societies hands. I do not think for one minute that just because they are called children’s Aid society does not mean they can get away with murder and abuse. I will succeed in bringing charges upon them for what they have done and for what is to come in the future. You know I cried last night, not tears of Shame nor tears of sadness but tears of happiness. Now my story is out for the world to see. And finally they will see I am not going any where I am going to fight.
Addendum: Here is a positive story on children's aid from the same reporter. The family is anonymous, so the story is not subject to verification.
Woman grateful to children’s aid
In 1991, the lives of one mother and her three sons changed forever.
Suzy, whose name has been changed to protect her family’s privacy, had a terrible marriage. She said her husband beat her, verbally abused her and cheated on her, and she felt there was nothing she could do about it.
“When my husband was abusing me, I wanted to leave but I didn’t have the courage to. I felt like I was a prisoner and I was scared to leave in case he was going to kill me or come after me and the kids,” said Suzy as tears rolled down her face.
“I worked … but he drained my bank account. I had three kids and lived in a shack. I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
The petite, middle-aged woman said the physical abuse varied from her husband forcing himself on her, to threatening her with a knife, and everything in-between.
Traumatized by their home life, her sons began acting out in their Huntsville-area school, said Suzy, to the point where a worker, from what is now referred to as Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka, was called to the school to talk with her.
Anxious, as most parents are when they are approached by a children’s aid society, Suzy said her experience with the organization was positive from the beginning.
The person that met her at the school became her front-line worker, Suzy’s direct link to community-based programming. She said the worker introduced her and her children to a youth counsellor in Huntsville and was able to connect Suzy with the financial and emotional support she needed to leave her abuser.
Suzy’s front-line worker said she got involved when the abuse Suzy was suffering became evident.
“To start with, it was her abusive situation,” she said. “We were there to ensure the safety of her and her children and then we were there to help her with parenting and support.”
In 1991, Suzy divorced her husband.
“My marriage was falling apart and (my front-line worker) was there to help me through it. She supported me — I could have been dead, beaten — and she helped me through that. I’m here today and I believe a lot of it is because the children’s aid society and especially (my front-line worker) were there for me.”
But the cruel, emotional games Suzy’s ex-husband continued to play with his children destroyed their ability to trust people and threw them into behavioural problems that would continue to plague the family for years.
“I had kicked him out and after that he was never in contact with his kids, just when it was convenient for him. He would make a promise to the boys that he would come and see them but never show up. Or he would drop in for maybe five minutes just to let them know he was still alive, then disappear out of their lives for a few years.”
She said the children continued to act out at school, becoming bullies and getting into fights, actions that often resulted in suspension. Suzy said many schoolteachers and staff judged her.
“I felt uncomfortable going to the public school by myself. There were days I felt like I was being ganged up on because I had difficulty with my children. I felt like the finger was being pointed at me,” she said.
She asked her worker to come with her to meetings at the school. The worker did and that support helped her emotionally, she said.
“They were there every time I needed them.”
The society helped Suzy obtain an affordable three-bedroom apartment, which they lived in for over 10 years, and it also helped provide gift cards and food vouchers and helped send the boys to summer camps, among other things.
The boys received support at home from an intensive service worker. These workers generally work very closely with a family for a short period of time. With Suzy’s family, the worker started by coming every second day to talk with the boys about issues at school and help them build stability through routines and boundaries, such as finishing homework before going to play.
And Suzy said the boys needed that other voice to listen to, and she needed it for parenting support. She recalled a time when she told one of her sons to finish a chore at home, but instead he tore out of the house and went to meet a friend. Suzy said she followed him and, when he confronted her, she told him that he could go — but he would have to explain why his mother was hanging out with him.
Stories like this punctuated the family’s life for about a decade, but Suzy is adamant that Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka enabled the four to get over their hurdles and move on with their lives.
“They made me a stronger mom.”
By the time her youngest was 14, the family was able to move away from the society, though Suzy said she stays in contact with her front-line worker, whom she has come to trust as a friend.
“(Suzy) is a very strong parent. She has been very strong and she is very connected to her children and family. And she went through a lot,” said the worker.
And her family has become stronger. All three of her sons are getting closer to stable lives, which she said include committed relationships, jobs and children. She said one of her sons has asked her to move in with him and his wife.
“So much good came from it,” said Suzy of the society. “It bothers me because there are parents out there who need the support and they’re not getting it. I don’t believe it’s because children’s aid societies are not doing their part. I believe it’s because people just hear their children are going to be involved with the children’s aid society and it isn’t good. Well, they are good, and I am proof that it works.”
JP Arsenault, intake department manager of services for Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka, said domestic abuse is a widespread issue that all children’s aid agencies are required to investigate when they receive calls related to child welfare.
He also said the intake department is responsible for receiving calls and assessing the well-being of children. He said there is a myth that the societies primarily judge parents and apprehend children. That is often not the case.
“We don’t want to remove children unnecessarily from homes — that’s not our job. Only in those extreme cases where they can’t be protected in their families of origin do we have to intervene, and intervention doesn’t necessarily mean apprehension.”
Many of the society’s workers say they feel their roles are misunderstood by much of the public.
“There are a lot of myths, conceptions out there of what we actually do, so when we show up at the door, quite frankly, nobody is happy to see us,” said one worker, who noted that one of the biggest challenges she and her co-workers face is convincing families that they are there to help.
There are dramatic cases of abuse within children’s aid societies reported by the media, and workers say they worry these negative stories will prevent the people who need the society’s help from seeking it.
According to Marty Rutledge, interim executive director for Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka, the society provides services to approximately 2,000 families annually through its child welfare, children’s mental health and youth justice programs.
For more information call Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka at 705-645-4426 or visit www.fycsm.ca.
Source: Cottage Country Now
We Need Your Input
February 16, 2011 permalink
The Ministry of Children and Youth Services has a web page titled: We Need Your Input: Services for children and families. Click on the link and scroll down a few lines to a questionnaire. This is a chance to tell the government what you really think of CAS. Since they posted the page, someone in power wants to know.
February 16, 2011 permalink
If you have been following the rallies   across Ontario calling for ombudsman oversight, you will notice that newspaper reporters sometimes interview both sides. The children's aid answers are so uniform that they must be centrally planned: there is already oversight through regulations and through the Child and Family Services Review Board (CFSRB), and there is an internal complaint procedure. They almost always mention that the ombudsman has oversight over the CFSRB. Sometimes they add the ministry, the courts and the local membership that elects the board of directors, itself an oversight board. Rally participants who might be questioned about oversight should know what to say in rebuttal to the uniform CAS statements. John Dunn has prepared an excellent document copied below to do just that. Read it carefully before speaking to the press. If you want to be less technical than Mr Dunn, point out that the CFSRB will not listen to matters before the courts (that means all current child protection cases). When a court hands down a decision you have to comply with it before you can appeal. But when the CFSRB makes a ruling in favor of a family, children's aid does not have to comply, they merely file a few papers with another tribunal and ignore the ruling. Here is a case in which CAS ignored a ruling from the CFSRB.
OACAS Presentation to Finance Committee of Ontario Legislature.
I won't put the entire text of their entire presentation on here, however I do want to focus on the importance of us knowing how the CAS's make their presentations to the legislature, so that we can get the correct wording while we talk about the issues all year long. Because when MPP's ask them questions we need to show them that the responses the CAS's provide (via OACAS) are not always accurate.
For example, read the last question that MPP Norm Miller asked the OACAS during their presentation to the Ontario Finance Committee, and then read the very smooth response of the OACAS. I will then comment on their response and hope to get others speaking in the same terms throughout the year.
Ontario Finance Commitee:
MPP Mr. Norm Miller: There are groups out there that are asking for Ombudsman oversight of children’s aid societies. Do you have a perspective at all?
(OACAS) Ms. Mary Ballantyne: Children’s aid societies are very highly regulated. Most of our work is actually dictated through regulation standards. There are many, many reviews in ways that it is regulated. Also, there have been bodies such as the CFSRB, the Child and Family Services Review Board, that have been put in place to ensure that families do have their concerns heard and that those things can be rectified; there are complaint procedures within agencies. There is already a lot that is in place to ensure that things are happening the way they should be.
First of all the OACAS was very careful to avoid answering the question directly. The question asked by Mr. Miller was,
"Do you have a perspective at all" on groups asking for Ombudsman Oversight of Children's Aid Societies.
The closest they came to answering the question was;
"There is already a lot that is in place to ensure that things are happening the way they should be"
However, they were very careful not to say they do not want Ombudsman oversight because the public would wonder why among other reasons.
Also, the OACAS goes on to say, "Children's Aid Societies are very highly regulated. Most of our work is actually dictated through regulation standards."
When I contacted the Ministry to ask if they Ministry would enforce the "Standards" they said back to me that they do not enforce them, and that they are merely guidelines to the agencies. Remember this when you talk about CAS saying they are highly regulated. Mention it at Rallies and at Finance Committee presentations.
The OACAS said "there have been bodies such as the CFSRB, the Child and Family Services Review Board, that have been put in place to ensure that families do have their concerns heard and that those things can be rectified.
When the Ministry created the CFSRB in the legislation, they were also sneaky enough to add that the Board is exempt from the Statutory Powers and Procedures Act, which is an Act which gives most similar "Tribunals" which the Board really is, powers of enforcement and other powers similar to a court. By doing this the Ministry intentionally made the CFSRB toothless and ineffective. I have a letter from the Board itself stating the same thing. That they have no enforcement powers over CAS's because of them being exempt from the SPPA.
The OACAS mentioned in that quote that the CFSRB was put in place to ensure that families do have their concerns heard and that those things can be rectified. That too is inaccurate since the Board has no teeth and can not force a CAS to do what it requests they do.
Also, the OACAS failed to mention that a recent court ruling prevents the CFSRB from taking any cases that happen to be involved with a court. (every apprehension of a child automatically is involved with a court). This ruling is wrong, and the CFSRB has stated that they intend to appeal the court decision which prevents them from getting involved in any case that happens to be invovled with the courts. The Court ruling is wrong, because it is supposed to be that any ISSUES BROUGHT UP IN THE COMPLAINT WHICH HAVE BEEN DECIDED OR WHICH ARE BEFORE THE COURTS are outside of the Jurisdiction of the Board. Instead, this "bad ruling" by a judge says that anyone involved with a court can not use the CFSRB and that the CFSRB can not get involved with that persons complaint. Completely wrong.
The OACAS also says "there are complaint procedures within agencies"
The OACAS says "There is already a lot that is in place to ensure that things are happening the way they should be."
They say this all the time yet we never see what those tools are. Why does the Ministry not publish their Accountability Framework so the public can use it to ensure the Ministry holds the CAS accountable when it violates the Accountability Framework?
There are also "Annual Service Agreements" between the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and EACH CAS. That agreement says we give you money and you agree to X, Y, Z... however, they don't make those annual service agreements available to the public either, therefore, how can we contact the Ministry to tell them when the CAS is in contravention of those agreements and to ask the Ministry to enforce the agreements.
We need to focus on the Ministry. For decades, people have complained about the CAS's... we have protested at the CAS's... and that is great. But they are resilient to protest. They have preformed responses to the media, or they don't respond to the media at all and the pressure is off in a couple of days, and everyone goes home.
IF WE FOCUSED OUR PROTESTS ON THE MINISTRY, THE OPPOSITION CRITICS WOULD USE THAT PRESSURE IN THE COMING ELECTION TO START ASKING THE MINISTRY PUBLICLY (THE GOVERNMENT) WHY THEY ARE NOT ENFORCING THEIR OWN ACT? WHY THEY ARE NOT ENFORCING THEIR REGULATIONS, WHY THEY ARE NOT ENFORCING THEIR POLICIES, WHY THEY ARE NOT ENFORCING THEIR ACCOUNTABILITY FRAMEWORKS, WHY THEY ARE NOT ENFORCING THEIR OWN ANNUAL SERVICE AGREEMENTS FOR BILLIONS IN TAX-PAYERS MONEY, AND WHY THEY ARE NOT FULFILLING THEIR DUTY TO ONTARIO'S MOST VULNERABLE CITIZENS GENERALLY.
Then the pressure would mount. We need to refocus our energies to the Ministry. AT LEAST BETWEEN NOW AND OCTOBER'S ELECTION.
We also need people to go to All Candidates Meetings at election time just to ask the questions about what I just listed. Not about CAS's... but about the Ministry failing to live up to its own Annual Service Agreements, Policies, Accountability Frameworks and Regulations, Directives and more.
WHAT THE OMBUDSMAN CAN DO
REFOCUS YOUR EFFORTS ON THE MINISTRY AND IT'S FAILINGS. START COMPLAINING TO THE OMBUDSMAN ABOUT HOW THE MINISTRY IS FAILING IN THESE AREAS AND FILE COMPLAINTS ABOUT IT. HE HAS JURISDICTION OVER THE MINISTRY. A WHOLE NEW FLOOD OF COMPLAINTS WOULD BE LOOKED AT AND HOPEFULLY REPORTED ON BRINGING MORE PUBLIC REPORTS AND POLITICAL PRESSURE WHEN HIS NEXT REPORT COMES OUTSee More
Source: Facebook, private posting by John Dunn February 16, 2011
Rot Your Brain
February 15, 2011 permalink
Those psychiatric drugs prescribed for children and administered by force of arms will perminantly shrink the brain.
Mad in America
History, Science, and the Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders
Andreasen Drops A Bombshell: Antipsychotics Shrink the Brain
Should the prescribing of antipsychotics to children be banned?
In 1991, Nancy Andreasen began a long-running study of first-episode schizophrenia patients, which involved periodically measuring their brain volumes with magnetic resonance scans. In articles published in 2003 and 2005, she reported finding "progressive brain volume reductions" in her patients, and that this shrinkage was associated with a worsening of negative symptoms, functional impairment and cognitive decline. But the implication was that this shrinkage was due to the disease, and that the drugs simply failed to stop it.
"The medications currently used cannot modify an injurious process occurring in the brain, which is the underlying basis of symptoms," Andreasen wrote in her 2003 paper.
However, even as she was publishing those findings, other research--in animals and schizophrenia patients--indicated that the drugs might exacerbate this brain shrinkage (or be the primary cause of it.) Then, in a 2008 interview with the New York Times, Andreasen confessed that the "more drugs you have been given, the more brain tissue you lose."
This was something of a bombshell, particularly since it came from Andreasen, who was editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Psychiatry from 1993 to 2005. Now, in the February issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, she has published those findings, and thus the bombshell has officially landed in the scientific literature.
In this study, Andreasen took periodic MRI scans of 211 schizophrenia patients treated from seven years to 14 years. She found that long-term use of the old standard antipsychotics, the new atypical antipsycotics, and clozapine are all "associated with smaller brain tissue volumes."
Moreover, she found that this shrinkage was dose related. The more drug a person is given, the greater the "association with "smaller grey matter volumes," she reported. Similarly, the "progressive decrement in white matter volume was most evident among patients who received more antipsychotic treatment." Finally, Andreasen reported that this shrinkage "occurs independent of illness severity and substance abuse." Those two factors--illness severity and substance abuse--had "minimal or no effects" on brain volumes.
In this February report, Andreasen does not tie the drug-related brain shrinkage to an increase in negative symptoms, functional impairment, and cognitive decline. But in earlier articles, she did just that. And it is that larger context that makes this February report such a bombshell: When pieced together, this is a story of drug treatment that, over the long-term, causes long-term harm.
The other reason this is such a bombshell is that antipsychotics are widely prescribed now to children, often to control their "behavior," and to adults with bipolar diagnoses. They are being used to treat "non-psychotic" conditions. The risk-benefit analysis for those patients will be dramatically changed by the findings of this study.
One hopes that the study will be widely publicized in the media, and it will stir a vigorous discussion. Here are a few of the questions that I believe need to be asked:
- Does long-term use of antipsychotics for people diagnosed with psychotic disorders need to be rethought?
- Is there reason to prescribe these drugs to people with non-psychotic disorders?
- Should the prescribing of these drugs to children and youth, whose brains are still developing, be halted (or, in essence, banned?)
- Many adults diagnosed with psychiatric disorders are mandated by court orders to take antipsychotics. Should society have the right to require such treatment, given that the drugs shrink brain volumes and this shrinkage is associated with cognitive decline?
For some time, here has been reason to believe that antipsychotics shrink the brain, and I wrote about this in Anatomy of an Epidemic. But this worry has largely been kept out of the public domain. Perhaps now it will become a public concern, and in particular, one hopes that our society now takes a hard look at whether prescribing such drugs to children is a good thing to do.
Source: Psychology Today Magazine
Social Worker Penalized
February 15, 2011 permalink
When social workers are disciplined, it is always for failure to snatch a child. Mistakes of the other kind, snatching a child unnecessarily, never result in discipline, of if they do, the penalty is ultimately removed by union action or an appellate court. Here is a case of a Los Angeles social worker, Lorna Hornbeek, who received a thirty day suspension for taking a child without adequate justification. If past practice is followed, she will ultimately get her back pay.
Social worker suffers repercussions for removing child from family
Hospital officials had called to report that the mother of a premature newborn had tested positive for amphetamines and PCP. A second drug test, given 26 hours later, turned up negative.
For Lorna Hornbeek, an experienced social worker with the Department of Children and Family Services, the decision was clear - the baby and his 2-year-old sister needed to be removed from the family immediately while an investigation took place.
That decision, made nearly three years ago, resulted in a 30-day suspension without pay for Hornbeek, in part for "carelessness or negligence of duties resulting in improper service" rendered to county clients, according to her disciplinary letter. The letter also made mention of a "costly" civil lawsuit filed by the family, which the county by then had settled for $350,000.
Hornbeek, a DCFS supervisor in Torrance, hired a private lawyer and is now trying to clear her name. A trial over the circumstances of her case concluded last week before an administrative law judge, who is expected to make a recommendation to the county Civil Service Commission in March.
"What is she supposed to do?" said her lawyer, Rees Lloyd, a prominent Los Angeles labor attorney. "It's damned if you do, damned if you don't."
The case - believed to be the first in which a social worker was disciplined for removing a child - highlights the difficult and complex decisions social workers face in dealing with often murky and fluid circumstances.
"My clients are the children," Hornbeek said in a recent interview. "I have an obligation to protect them, first and foremost."
At the time of Hornbeek's decision three years ago, California law required a reasonable suspicion of harm to remove a child from the home. Now, the standard is even higher - the law requires clear evidence of imminent harm to the child.
"We're a big target for criticism," said Neil Zanville, a children's services administrator for DCFS. "But we are only legally empowered to act on evidence that we see. The courts require solid information to warrant removal of a child."
Due to confidentiality restrictions, the department declined to comment specifically on Hornbeek's case. Officials would speak only generally about the department and its practices.
Hornbeek provided a copy of her disciplinary letter, along with redacted notes and correspondence with department officials. The lawsuit filed by the family and the county's settlement and plan of correction are public documents.
In its suit against the county, filed in May 2008, the family argued that Hornbeek and others should have known that a positive drug test is not alone sufficient evidence for removing a child. Other evidence, such as lack of prenatal care, prior contact with police or DCFS, a disheveled home or visible signs of abuse, must also be present, social workers and county officials said.
The mother and father denied using drugs, and their criminal records were clear. They maintained a neat home with plenty of food, they said in court documents. The baby's urine and stool samples were negative for drugs.
The mother delivered on Feb. 7, 2008, three weeks early, in an ambulance headed to a Los Angeles-area hospital. Physicians noted suspicious signs and decided to screen her for drugs, which turned up positive.
The family contested the hospital's legal right to administer the initial test, and requested a second test. Given roughly a day later, the second test was negative. They argued the positive test amounted to an illegal search and should not have been reported to the county.
"The hospital has an obligation to report a positive test," said Jim Lott, spokesman for the Hospital Association of Southern California, a trade group. "It's up to the county whether or not they want to pursue it."
Hornbeek, then a supervisor with the county's emergency response unit, was not on duty that night. A few days later, when she learned the children had not been removed, she said she followed up with the case worker who responded and the hospital.
Hospital officials assured her the test had been handled and performed appropriately. She had them retest both samples, and the results came back the same. That, coupled with the fact that both of the mother's children were born premature and underweight, led her to remove them from the home.
"I believe I did the right thing," she said.
At a court hearing three days later, a judge decided - against objections by county attorneys - that it was safe for the children to return home, but agreed the parents should remain under county supervision. They were required to submit to random drug tests and other restrictions, which they completed.
In late March 2008, the case was closed.
Two months later, the family filed a lawsuit against the county, Hornbeek and the initial case worker for intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of mandatory duties and negligence. The county initially declined to settle, but in August 2009 agreed to pay the family $350,000.
Neither attorneys for the family, nor county lawyers, returned phone calls for comment. It is unclear why the county ultimately decided to settle the case.
In its required plan of correction, the county said the cause of the suit was, in part, due to "staff violations of established policies." They wrote that the case would be referred to "performance management" for review and action.
Hornbeek said no one in the county, including the judges who heard the case, ever suggested she had done something wrong. In May 2008, she received high marks on a performance review.
"They had to pay a settlement, then threw her under the bus," said Lloyd, Hornbeek's attorney, who is confident she will be reimbursed for her monthlong suspension. "I've never seen anything like this."
Hornbeek, who has two master's degrees and a doctoral degree, said the job of a social worker is difficult, and the stress of this ordeal has taken a toll.
If social workers fear repercussions for taking children away, children in abusive situations will increasingly be left to fend for themselves, she and her attorney said.
"If they can do this to Lorna, a good, competent woman, they can do it to anyone," Lloyd said.
Zanville, speaking generally, used the same phrase as Lloyd in describing the feeling of many social workers: "You're damned if you do, damned if you don't."
The ultimate goal of the county is to reunite children with families if it is safe, or to find permanent homes for them as soon as possible, he said.
The process often takes months, even years.
"It's really a shell game," he said. "We do the best we can under difficult circumstances."
Source: Daily Breeze
Three Generations of Intervention
February 14, 2011 permalink
Here is a story of three generations of abuse at the hands of children's aid.
Lei Lei Hopkins-Somerville I was forcibly confined by the CAS from age four to eighteen. I was in an orphanage, training school, 19 foster homes and three lock-down facilities. I survived sexual, physical, emotional and psychological torture at the hands of these so called qualified parents/staff. My daughter was stolen from me when she was three, because I had a history with them, not because I was a bad mother. She was molested by her adoptive parents, then abandoned back to the doorsteps of the CAS when she hit puberty.Then they stole my son, it took me six months to get him home, and the bonding period with him had been broken and stolen from us both. Now they have my grandson, and have given my daughter's adoptive father full custody of a three month old. Despite my cries of grave concerns, I was told by the CAS we weren't there to discuss history, but that they had apprehended the child from his mother (my daughter) because they had a history with her. What does a 62-year-old man, want with a small boy? I Support Bill 131!!!
Source: Facebook (private group, reposted with permission)
Port aux Basques Rally
February 14, 2011 permalink
After Newfoundland CYFS seized the children of Dorothy and Bobby Rodgers on grounds of intelligence, locals organized a rally in support of the family. Listening to the mother interviewed by the CBC shows heavily accented speech, but no mental deficit. The official response from Carol Chafe is to suppress the news for the protection of the children's right to confidentiality, privacy and safety.
Rally held to support parents
The wind and blowing snow didn’t keep people like Brenda Pieroway from joining a peaceful protest on Main Street in Port aux Basques to support the Rodgers’ family last Wednesday.
The Rodgers feel Child, Youth and Family Services overstepped its bounds after taking their children, in part, based on IQ test results.
About 30 people stood bundled in front of Family Services. Some held hand-made signs. Others chanted, “Bring the kids home.” Most cars that drove up Main Street past the protestors honked their horns and waved.
“We just wanted to show everybody that the support of the public and the community is here with the Rodgers’ family and that we all feel there’s been an injustice done and in our hearts we would really like to have those children back home with their parents,” said Mrs. Pieroway, who came up with the idea of holding the peaceful protest.
About 30 or 40 people came out to a meeting on Feb. 5. Mrs. Pieroway said there were a few things on the agenda, including how to get the public’s attention.
“This was the way we decided at the meeting to come up with this peaceful rally,” she said. “We’re not demonstrating, we’re just doing a peaceful rally.”
She said they planned to hold the rally for about 20 minutes just so everyone in town could see.
“As you can see, we’ve had a decent turnout despite the blizzard,” she said.
Carol Chafe, the province’s child and youth advocate is concerned with the media coverage and public disclosure relating to the Rodgers’ family.
She said when children are the central part of the story, their right to confidentiality, privacy and safety must trump all other interests.
“While most of us readily recognize the risk in providing children’s names and personal information in such circumstances, we may not be aware of other information which, if provided, points to the identity of the children,” said Mrs. Chafe in a news release.
Ms. Chafe said the situation of children being removed from a home is difficult and emotional. Her role as the child and youth advocate is to ensure children are protected.
Acting Opposition leader Kelvin Parsons says the two government ministers most involved in the Rodgers’ child custody case are avoiding the real problems and doing their best to avoid responsibility for the way the family was treated.
“Last week when the story of Dorothy and Bobby Rodgers’ case became public the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services, Charlene Johnson, called into every talk show to indicate the children were not taken from their families because the parents had low IQ scores,” said Mr. Parsons in a news release.
Mr. Parsons said since last week he’s been in contact with the family and reviewed the Parental Capacity Report. He said the minister can’t argue the fact that among other tests, an IQ test was an integral part of the assessment.
Mr. Parsons also wonders why the Department of Human Resources, specifically the Disability Policy Office, hasn’t said anything about the case. Its mandate is to promote the inclusion of people who have disabilities into society.
“What message is this giving the public on the status and rights of people with disabilities?” asked Mr. Parsons.
An advocacy group for people who have intellectual disabilities and their families says the Rodgers’ case is deeply troubling.
Ray McIssac, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association for Community Living, said there is no question Child, Youth and Family Services is not walking carefully in determining the suitability of parents by using IQ tests and other assessment tools that may be questionable.
Mr. McIssac said such tests are out of step with supportive family and social models.
“We will be pursuing several actions,” he said. “We will be writing Minister Johnson to express our concern and to address the larger question of departmental policy and practice.”
Source: Port aux Basques Gulf News
February 14, 2011 permalink
The scheduled Woodstock rally took place on Friday, and made the local newspaper.
Protest calls for more oversight
WOODSTOCK— A local grassroots group held a rally Friday calling for more accountability at agencies and facilities caring for the province's most vulnerable.
Advocates from throughout Ontario gathered in front of Oxford Children's Aid Society (CAS) on Light Street in Woodstock to raise awareness of Bill 131 — a private member's bill that would allow the Ontario ombudsman to investigate the CAS, along with hospitals, schools and long-term care facilities.
"Children and seniors are our most vulnerable and we need to protect them," said Christine Sorko of Tillsonburg, who organized the group Voices of Innocent Families.
"Families are broken apart needlessly, children are deprived of stable foster care, adoptions fail and children suffer abuse while in care."
In 2009-10, the Ontario ombudsman received 296 complaints about Children's Aid societies. In the past five years, his office has had more than 2,000 complaints about societies in the province.
"Ontario is the only province whose Ombudsman is not able to take complaints about child protection services, and ombudsmen have been calling for this to change since 1975," said Linda Williamson, director of communications for the ombudsman.
The executive director of the local Children's Aid Society said it is not up to the agency to decide who oversees its work – it's the Ontario government's decision.
"Children's Aid societies are very highly regulated by the government and there are a number of accountability mechanisms that exist currently," said Bruce Burbank of Oxford CAS. "There are standards and regulations we follow, and we have regular reviews by the ministry.
He added the agency also has a Child and Family Services Review Board, which clients have recourse through.
The courts and auditor general also act as watchdogs over the agencies.
Sorko, along with representatives from other advocacy groups, such as Protecting Canadian Children and Grandparents Rights, has travelled across the province holding more than 80 rallies to bring awareness to what they call "unlawful work of social work by CAS."
One passerby stopped to sign their petition.
"I agree with your theory 100 %," the man said, adding he would sign the petition five times if he could.
Source: Woodstock Sentinel Review
Ordered to Lie
February 13, 2011 permalink
Former social worker Tawnie Stewart quit when she was ordered to lie on the witness stand. In this article from a local Nebraska paper she reveals some of the tricks used by social workers to get parents to cooperate in the loss of their childrn.
Former HHS worker: 'This has to stop'
Tawnie Stewart was a caseworker for the state Child Protective Service but left the organization when, she claims, she was told to lie in court about one of her cases.
"That's when I quit," said Stewart, a caseworker for Health and Human Services from 1996-97. "I didn't like anything about it. I was supposed to be working for these mothers to help them get their children back, but I was being told to work against them. I worked with a case plan supervisor who wasn't familiar with cases, but would tell me what to put in it. But the last straw was when I was told I would have to lie on the stand."
Now Stewart is working with a mother who is locked in a battle with the Nebraska Health and Human Service Department to get her children back.
May Lynn Branson, a mother of two children ages 8 and 9, is locked in a dispute to determine if a foster mother in Broken Bow should get guardianship of Branson's children - a decision that could determine if Branson is allowed to see her children in the future.
Branson is supposed to have nightly telephone calls to her children, but phone records indicate the calls are completed only about six times per month. Branson said she is told by the foster mother that she has cell phone issues in her area, yet a check with the phone company indicates full coverage where the foster mom lives. The cell phone company states that no such issues should exist.
When the calls do go through, the foster mother listens on speakerphone. In one recorded conversation, Branson is heard to ask, "You have me on speakerphone again?" at which time the foster mother's voice rings out, "If you don't like, we can cut you off."
Child Protective Services came into Branson's life after a bruise was spotted on one of the children's legs at school. Investigators showed up at her doorstep and Branson, who has a mental disability, agreed to cooperate with requests to temporarily hand over her children.
Stewart said this is a standard practice.
"That's where they get you," said Stewart. "That's their tactics. They are told to tell parents like May Lynn that if they cooperate, things will go better, if not they will file criminal charges. Most people would be afraid at that point and the voluntary cooperation sounds easier, but in fact, it's better if you force them to pursue criminal actions. That way, they at least have to prove what they are saying. Otherwise, they can do what they want."
Workers trained to pressure parents, says whistleblower
Stewart said as part of her initial training, she was told, "Parents don't know their rights and you should take advantage of that by walking all over them," she said.
The Telegraph contacted the Health and Human Services Communications and Legislative Services Director Kathie Osterman for a response to Branson's case. Osterman was provided with these same details and after saying HHS would respond to what they could, did not meet a one-week deadline to provide a response.
Like Brandi Knutson's case (detailed in Saturday's story on the front page of the Telegraph), Branson was given a case plan to follow, but each time the goals of the case plan were met, the goals were changed, according to copies of the case plans. Branson has dealt with 10 different caseworkers over the last several months.
The children too have had a lack of stability, living with different foster families in different cities.
The final case plan written by Branson's current caseworker in December states, "Fair progress is being made to alleviate the causes of out-of-home placement."
Yet in the next paragraph, the caseworker recommends adoption.
Branson admits she needs to improve her living conditions. She said she is making progress with Stewart's help. She wants an opportunity to reunite with her daughters and fears a decision that could take them from her life until they turn 18.
Stewart has offered to become a guardian for the children and wants Branson to live with her and her husband. Branson's outcome will be determined by the court, but whether she has custody or not is the issue for Stewart, who said Branson certainly hasn't done anything to lose a relationship with her children.
"I've known these kids and May Lynn for a long time," said Stewart. "I have a relationship with all of them. She doesn't deserve to not have a relationship with her children. This has to stop. She hasn't done anything to deserve to have those ties to her children broken."
Source: North Platte Telegraph
Here is the earlier article mentioned in the story.
Mother calls out HHS for 'bullying tactics'
The Nebraska agency that oversees the state's foster care program has been depicted in legislative hearings as not working in the best interests of the children they serve.
Two North Platte mothers in unrelated Nebraska Health and Human Services cases say their experiences support this conclusion.
They have provided the Telegraph with documentation showing the challenges they have faced once the state took over control of their children.
In reports published today and Sunday, these women will share their stories.
Brandi Knutson admits the state had reason to initially step into her son's life. She is an admitted methamphetamine addict, but has been clean for more than three years. She hoped that her successful battle with addiction would lead to a reunification with her son. It has not.
Child Protective Services came into her life in September 2007 after reports were filed that people were coming and going at her residence at all hours of the night.
Investigators searched the home and found nothing. Knutson was not charged with a crime, but admitted to investigators that she had a problem. Her son was taken away in January 2008 and placed in the custody of Knutson's mother, Kris Snyder, who was unaware of her daughter's drug problem.
"I didn't know any of this was going on until that happened," said Snyder. "[The child] was placed with us, and we went through the process of becoming his foster parents, filing all the paperwork. But no paperwork was ever returned to us, so we just assumed that we were his foster parents and he was with us for the next six months."
Snyder, who already has legal guardianship over Knutson's daughter, took care of her grandson while Knutson began the process of following a plan dictated by Health and Human Services to regain custody of her son. The child's natural father was no longer living with Knutson.
According to the initial HHS paperwork, the father was listed as "not an option" for placement when the child was initially taken from the home and placed with Snyder.
He was on probation for DUI at the time and has a recorded history of domestic violence with arrests occurring in 2003 and 2007 and has at least two protection orders filed against him from previous girlfriends, according to court records.
Snyder said she was told she could likely have the child for up to two years, which the family thought was adequate time for Knutson to do what was necessary to get her son back.
By June 2008, Knutson was completing her in-patient treatment, as her case plan required, with an understanding that she would be able to get her son back.
"I had to do this for myself and my son," said Knutson.
Case spirals out of control
On her last day of treatment, Knutson attempted to call her caseworker several times with no returns. She eventually set up a scheduled visit with her son through a family support worker.
The visit went well, but the following day the child left for a scheduled two-week summer visit with his father, but never returned home. The child, as it turned out, had been placed into the father's custody with no notification to Knutson or Snyder. In July, a team meeting took place with Knutson, Snyder and the Health and Human Services caseworker, Melissa Betts, and Melissa Smith, the Health and Human Services supervisor on the case.
"I asked why they took [the child] out of our home after we were basically told we were the foster parents," said Snyder. "I obviously voiced my concerns about [the father] and his girlfriend, who my grandson doesn't know."
Snyder said she also voiced her concerns about the father's domestic violence history and said her daughter had done everything the state had asked of her.
"That's when Melissa Smith said, 'You are a negative person,' and slapped supervised visits on me on the spot," said Snyder, who noted that to this day she has never been told or provided information citing the reason for the supervised visits.
Knutson was devastated.
"I had worked so hard at getting at where I needed to be and this news was a slap in the face once again by HHS," said Knutson. "I did everything they had asked of me and this is the way they treat me and my mother."
The Telegraph contacted Health and Human Services Communication and Legislative Services Director Kathie Osterman on Feb. 4 with the details of Knutson's case, asking for a response by Feb. 9. Osterman said Health and Human Services would look into the case and provide what information they could.
To date, Health and Human Services has not responded.
An impossible obstacle
Knutson was granted supervised visits as well, but was told she would have to drive to Columbus, where the father lives, to conduct the visits. Knutson and Snyder complied with this order from July 2008 through May 2010, paying the expenses to drive 8 hours round trip, as well as the $150 fee to pay for the person doing the supervising.
Knutson continued her treatment and completed a 12-step program. She said she remains drug-free. Last October, as Knutson and Snyder prepared to fight a legal battle, the state cut off all visitation, according to Snyder. She said the Health and Human Services caseworker said the agency would continue that policy until her daughter signed the custody papers over to the child's father.
Last month, Knutson complied and signed custody over to the father. All restrictions and supervised visits were lifted, leaving Snyder to question the motives.
"If there was a reason for the supervised visits and then pulling any visitation, why would they agree to lift all of that once the custody papers were signed?" Snyder asked. "We were bullied and lied to every step of the way and it didn't matter what Brandi did to meet their goals because they changed them every time she met them."
Knutson said she ultimately signed away custody for the benefit of her son.
"He had gone through enough," she said through her tears. "He was being prevented from seeing my family and my family was being prevented from seeing him. He was the one suffering and at least now we all get to see him. I just don't want anyone else's child or family to have to go through what we did."
Editor's note: See Sunday's edition of the Telegraph to see how another mother's fight with HHS shows a similar pattern and hear from a former HHS worker who blows the whistle on HHS tactics.
Source: North Platte Telegraph
Social Work Refunds
February 12, 2011 permalink
Los Angeles social worker Trang Van Dinh found a unique way to supplement his income. He took the financial information he obtained from clients and filed income tax returns for them, keeping the refunds. In two years he collected over a million dollars.
Former L.A. County social worker pleads guilty in identity theft and tax scam
A former Los Angeles County social worker has pleaded guilty to an identity theft and tax scam that involved the filing of federal tax returns in the names of 197 different people in an attempt to steal over $2 million in refunds, authorities said.
Trang Van Dinh, 62, of El Monte pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of filing false claims, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for June 27. Dinh faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on June 27.
Between 1999 and 2009, Dinh worked for the county’s social services agency conducting home visits, interviews and other duties to determine whether applicants for public assistance programs like Cal Works were entitled to receive benefits, authorities said.
Dinh’s job gave him access to the names and Social Security numbers of a large number of people who were part of his caseload, authorities said. He used that information to file false tax returns.
Dinh admitted that he filed fraudulent tax returns in 2009 and 2010, authorities said. Some of the tax returns claimed business losses, while others claimed nonexistent dependents.
All of the returns were filed electronically and requested direct deposit of the federal tax refunds to a bank account controlled by Dinh, the U.S. attorney’s office said. Dinh then filed the false returns without the knowledge, consent or authorization of his victims.
The 197 tax returns filed by Dinh sought refunds totaling over $2 million, authorities said. The Internal Revenue Service issued refund checks totaling over $1 million.
Banks were alerted to the fraud and seized some of the funds but Dinh was able to access $667,000, authorities said.
Source: Los Angeles Times
February 12, 2011 permalink
Last year the Bayne family underwent a year-long trial in an effort to get back their three children seized by British Columbia MCFD. They are awaiting the decision of judge Crabtree, expected to come late in February. Meanwhile, Zabeth was pregnant with her fourth child. It was a tense race to find out whether the stork would arrive before the judge's decision. All of Zabeth's children have been born before the due date, and the latest, Josiah Magnus Idar Bayne, arrived on the morning of February 11, two weeks early. At 3 pounds 15 ounces he is a tiny baby, healthy but in need of mother's love. He won't get it. Just a few hours after birth, MCFD seized the baby. MCFD is taking the precaution of placing the proceedings in the Josiah case in a different court, so even if judge Crabtree returns three children later this month, MCFD might still hang on to Josiah.
Update on the Bayne family by Christine Veenstra
This is an update for all of Paul and Zabeth's friends and supporters and people following their case. It includes an urgent appeal to help by means of phone, letters and e-mail or Facebook contact to people of influence such as government members who should be concerned about child welfare in the province of British Columbia.
Paul and Zabeth welcomed the newest member of their family into their eagerly waiting arms yesterday morning. Josiah Magnus Idar Bayne came into the world weighing 3 lbs. 15 oz. He is healthy, but very tiny. Their joy at his safe arrival was nearly immediately overshadowed by a social worker announcing that he would be removing Josiah from their custody, and then proceeded to do so. Josiah is presently in a nursery where he will be monitored because of his small size. And he will need to remain there until his weight increases to a safe level-probably another two weeks. The ministry of course is aware of this, and could've chosen to back off and take a much less intrusive approach to the situation, but they continue to take an adversarial, heavy-handed approach instead.
Zabeth has now been discharged from hospital, and while she and Paul will visit with Josiah as much as humanly possible, the situation has forced the physical separation between the three of them.
Paul and Zabeth are holding up as well as could be expected but of course this is an extremely difficult and emotionally trying time for them. They are physically and emotionally exhausted. The social worker from the ministry has advised them that they need to appear in a Surrey court next Thursday morning regarding Josiah's custody. This is a different court, and would be a different judge than the one who is overseeing their present case. It is out of jurisdiction, and they're hoping that the long-awaited decision from Judge Crabtree arrives before that time or that at least, Judge Crabtree will oversee the hearing regarding Josiah. It only makes sense as he is completely aware of everything that has transpired up until now.
Please read the message below to find out how you can help. This is a very critical time to act and help Paul and Zabeth.
Please feel free to forward this message to your friends and get them involved as well. If anyone is interested in helping defray some of their extraordinary costs right now, please contact myself [Christine Veenstra] or Mary Ellen Kragh through Facebook for more information on how to do that.
Paul and Zabeth are incredibly grateful for all the support and encouragement they are receiving. Let's keep up the pressure and help them get the kids back.
URGENT APPEAL REGARDING PAUL AND ZABETH BAYNE - Please Help!
I need to share an urgent prayer request for my friends Paul and Zabeth Bayne (and a plea to help!). Their fourth child, Josiah was born yesterday morning and then removed from their custody by the MCFD hours later. This is beyond cruel and totally unnecessary. Please read the post below by Mary Ellen and follow the link above to hear more of their story. This site is a blog, you can go into past history there easily. They are also on Facebook: search for The Bayne Campaign for Justice. If you care about children, learn what IS happening right here in our town, it is chilling. This affects us all - having a children's ministry which is seemingly unaccountable to no one and doesn't even follow their own guidelines - they certainly have not demonstrated putting the children's best interests first and have kept this family separated for over 3 YEARS!
Although Paul and Zabeth have done everything humanly possible to regain custody of their children, it has been a long and costly battle. They have gotten through this ordeal because of their faith and they have continually exhibited grace and integrity.
The Baynes need all the help they can get as the MCFD is seeking to have PERMANENT custody of their children! Please pray and act. Send a letter or phone your MLA, MP, the BC Advocate for Children and Youth, anyone with influence you can think of. Read the blogs. Get informed please and call or e-mail me or Mary Ellen Kragh if you have any questions or suggestions. Please share this with your friends. Thank you for caring!
Here are three people important to contact. Just tell them you're concerned about the Bayne custody case and the outrageous way it is being handled - and whatever else you want to say.
Mary Polak is the BC Minister of Children and Family Development and Minister Responsible for Child Care
MaryEllen Turpel-Lafonde is the BC Representative for Children and Youth
website with blank area to make comment of concern
or phone 1-800-476-3933
Barry Penner is the Chilliwack MLA AND The Minister Attorney General of BC
website with blank area to submit comment
phone 1-250-387-1866 or 604-858-6202
Source: Facebook private messages
Addendum: The only newspaper coverage:
Newborn taken from Hope couple
A premature baby born to former Hope couple Paul and Zabeth Bayne was removed from their care by the B.C. child and family ministry last Thursday.
"We're just devastated," Zabeth Bayne said in a telephone interview from her hospital room the next day.
"It was a traumatic and cruel experience, the way it was done," she said.
Ministry officials declined comment because the case is before the courts, but in an email explained that in any child protection case, the ministry's first priority is to make sure the child is not in danger.
"If it is deemed that a child needs protection, (the ministry), through its legislation, must go before the courts within seven days," the ministry said, where a judge will decide if the child should remain in ministry care or be returned to the parents.
But to the Baynes - and to supporters who contacted The Progress - removing the baby born prematurely put his health and safety at risk and robbed him of the chance to bond with his mother.
"How is this in the best interest of the child?" supporter Rachel Kragh asked in an email. "Anyone with an inkling of a brain knows that a baby needs that bonding time with his mom, especially if he is small and earlier than most normal births."
The Baynes' baby boy weighed in at 3 lbs 15 oz when born at 6:30 a.m. Thursday.
Zabeth Bayne said she pleaded with the social worker to let the baby stay with her until he gained weight.
"But (the social worker) said he had orders from above that he had to remove the baby from us," she said.
The couple, who now live in Surrey, have been in a much-publicized court fight since 2007 with the ministry for the return of their three older children after allegations were made that they had shaken a baby daughter, causing brain injury.
The couple claimed the child was injured after an older brother, a toddler at the time, tripped and fell on top of her.
Chilliwack provincial court judge Thomas Crabtree is expected to make a ruling on the case sometime this month.
Supporters of the couple accuse the ministry with dragging out the court case because the Baynes embarrassed officials by going to the media with their story.
Source: Chilliwack Progress
February 11, 2011 permalink
The Minnesota Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2, or MMPI-2, is a tool used by psychologists and psychiatrists to diagnose psychiatric disorders. It consists of 567 questions to which the patient is required to answer True or False. But there is no such thing as normal on the scoring of the test. About a third of the questions associate both of the responses with one or more disorders. An example:
412. When I was young I often did not go to school even when I should have gone.
On this question, you get tagged with two disorders for True, and two others for False. Other questions are construed in groups. The patient may be marked down for giving inconsistent answers (both right- and left-handed), or a combination of two questions may trigger some mental condition. No matter which combination of answers the patient selects, he will be tagged as mentally ill.
The press release below from the Sociology Center points out that the MMPI-2 test is a deceptive trade practice.
Fixcas used to have a copy of the full MMPI-2, but a legal nastygram forced us to remove it. The nastygram did serve as a ratification of the authenticity of the former posting. Here is a nearly identical copy on a Russian website (in English). The same lawyer who forced the MMPI-2 off of fixcas bullied the analysis by James Roger Brown of the Sociology Center, but it has found a refuge at cryptome. It is too dangerous to post a local copy.
Psych Testing Services Using Test Rigged For False Positives Complaint
Deceptive Trade Practices Consumer Fraud Alert! - Psychological Disorder Diagnostic Testing
DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICES CONSUMER FRAUD ALERT!
February 4, 2011
As if you did not already have enough to worry about, a new type of deceptive trade practices consumer fraud has been documented. Organized crime elements operating in the child protection, mental health, and social work systems are exploiting design flaws in psychological testing that produces false positives for anyone administered one of the defective tests.
In the 1930s and 1940s when the psychological testing protocols causing the problems were developed, the false belief that all living persons had physiological disorders causing psychological disorders was almost universal among Freudian mental health practitioners. If everyone had psychological disorders, there was no need to construct diagnostic test scoring protocols that allowed for the possibility that the person tested had no psychological disorders.
The resulting “diagnostic tests” were never intended to nor designed to determine that the person tested DID NOT have psychological disorders. They were only designed to CONFIRM which psychological disorders afflicted the person administered the test. Therefore, no set of responses exist for the items on these defective “diagnostic” tests that would be interpreted as indicating the tested individual has no psychological disorders. To put it in simple English, such tests are rigged to produce false positive results that you have psychological disorders.
The psychological tests afflicted with the resulting design flaws are scored using sets of psychological disorder scales. Scores on each of the disorder scales are incremented by the “True” or “False” response to each item on the test. For your responses to be interpreted as indicating you have no psychological disorders, your score on all the disorder scales would have to be zero.
The fundamental testing protocol design flaw is that the defective tests do not allow you to score zero on all the disorder scales. Remember, these were designed when it was falsely believed there was no possibility that you have no psychological disorders. The design flaws are that selecting either “True” or “False” to a specific item will increment your score on a disorder scale and that on some items your score will be incremented on multiple disorder scales.
The following example demonstrates the design flaws documented in the Science Fraud Section (p. 123) of the Congressional Evidence Book Compendium of Documentation of Organized Crime Methods and Procedures Integrated into State and Federal Agencies for the Purpose of Political and Economic Exploitation of Children and Families Through State and Federal Child Protection, Mental Health, and Social Work Systems.
(Page 148-150, Compendium)
To demonstrate how all these fatal flaws interact, the following three-item test and sample interpretive structure incorporate all the pseudoscience, pseudologic, and patterns of questionable statistical associations incorporated in the MMPI-2.
1. I am right-handed.TRUE
Spouse Abuse Potential
Child Abuse Potential
Committed Child Abuse
Committed Spouse AbuseFALSE
Deviant Life Style
Work Problems Scale
2. I am left-handed.TRUE
Spouse Abuse Potential
Child Abuse Potential
Deviant Life Style
Work Problems Scale
Committed Child Abuse
Committed Spouse Abuse
3. I am breathing.TRUE
Spouse Abuse Potential
Child Abuse Potential
Committed Child Abuse
Committed Spouse Abuse
Deviant Life Style
1. I am right-handed. TRUE
2. I am left-handed. TRUE
1. I am right-handed. FALSE
2. I am left-handed. FALSE
[Responding TRUE to both items or FALSE to both items would score one point on the Inconsistency/Deception Scale. This sounds reasonable until one considers how special populations could respond. An ambidextrous individual could honestly answer TRUE or FALSE to both questions. Persons without limbs, by accident or birth defect, could answer FALSE to both questions.]
A person answering TRUE to item one would be "diagnosed" as follows:
Respondent's answers indicate past acts of both child abuse and spouse abuse. Potential to engage in child abuse and spouse abuse is indicated, as are ego strength problems.
For complete documentation of how these design flaws are integrated into the interpretive structure of the MMPI-2 and into the organized crime problem, access the entire Congressional Evidence book Compendium of Documentation of Organized Crime Methods and Procedures Integrated into State and Federal Agencies for the Purpose of Political and Economic Exploitation of Children and Families Through State and Federal Child Protection, Mental Health, and Social Work Systems at either of the two following web sites:
Anyone who has been administered a purported “psychological diagnostic test,” such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Test 2 (MMPI-2), using this defective interpretive and scoring methodology originally developed in the 1930s or 1940s should file a Deceptive Trade Practices Consumer Fraud complaint with the Consumer Protection Division of your State Attorney General’s Office. If you have not been administered one of these defective psychological disorder diagnostic tests or are not certain if you have been administered a defective test, you should contact your State Attorney General and request that the Consumer Fraud Division investigate the psychological testing services in your State to identify and remove these defective “diagnostic” tests. If the “diagnostic test” does not include the possibility that you have no psychological disorders it is NOT a true diagnostic test. It is important that you contact the Consumer Protection Division of your State Attorney General’s Office and file a complaint or request the problem be investigated to ensure that you, your family, and the other citizens of your State do not become victims of the child protection, mental health, and social work systems organized crime elements exploiting the false positives produced by these defective tests. It is vital to public interest that these defective purported “mental health diagnostic tests” are identified and taken off the market to prevent their further exploitation by organized crime elements for multiple criminal purposes in the child protection, mental health, and social work systems. Contact links for all State Attorneys General may found at:
For media interviews, questions, or additional information, contact:
James Roger Brown
(Sociologist, Intelligence Collection and Analysis Methodologist)
THE SOCIOLOGY CENTER
P. O. Box 101
Worthington, KY 41183-0101
Truth in Adoption
February 11, 2011 permalink
In low-bidder adoptions, the kind where the adoption agency has to offer incentives or compensation to get rid of a hard-to-place child, the agency often withholds negative information from the prospective adopters. A proposed law in Nebraska would allow the adopters to look at the entire case file.
Legislature advances bill to give case file information to adoptive parents
The mother of four foster children was aware the child she and her husband adopted in July 2008 had cerebral palsy and was mildly mentally handicapped.
They were aware she may have been sexually touched inappropriately. But a year or so after the adoption, they learned the abuse was much worse -- that the girl's biological mother may have been paid to allow older men to have sexual contact with her.
Denise Powell believes that if she had been able to read her daughter's case file, she could have gotten her the help she was not able to find when serious problems surfaced.
In an effort to help other adoptive parents avoid these barriers, she supports a bill advanced Thursday by state senators to second reading.
The bill (LB94) would ensure that parents petitioning to adopt a state ward have all the information they need by being allowed to read, if they so choose, all information allowed by law in the child's case file.
Powell later found out there were notations in her daughter's file about previous diagnoses of reactive attachment disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Because of the aggressive and sexual behaviors the girl began to exhibit, Powell has to watch her constantly to ensure the family's other children are not harmed.
Powell testified last month in front of the Judiciary Committee that in spite of numerous appeals for services to help their daughter, the family has been unable to get them because they didn't have all the information they needed about her past.
They had looked at the case files of their other three children and knew what to expect, she said. As a result, they were able to get the services they needed.
She knows her experience is not uncommon, she said.
Omaha Sen. Gwen Howard, the bill's introducer, said not knowing what's in a case file can lead to mistrust of the state Department of Health and Human Services and can lead to families seeking to surrender children back into state care.
The bill, as amended, would allow the case file to be available to adopting parents upon written request to HHS.
During debate on the bill, Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton said she has spent a great deal of time talking with foster parents who are given little background on the children they are adopting, and they are not fully prepared -- mentally, financially or emotionally -- for their problems.
The bill advanced from first reading on a 38-0 vote.
Reach JoAnne Young at 402-473-7228 or email@example.com.
Source: Lincoln Journal Star
Zap their Ovaries
February 11, 2011 permalink
For parents who have lost their children to social services, Dutch professor Paul Vlaardingerbroek, supported by some political parties, has the solution: sterilization. When using cases without names, it is easy to fabricate horror stories like the woman overfeeding her fourteenth child. Canadian superstar Celine Dion is her parents' fourteenth child.
In other Dutch news, one of the children seized by Dutch child protectors, Laura Dekker, has reached Bonaire in the Caribbean on her attempt to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world.
Contraceptive injection for failed parents
Parents who have failed should not be allowed to have more children. A compulsory contraceptive injection could prevent the birth of children who can expect to be abused, ill-treated or neglected. There is increasing support for this controversial proposal in the Dutch Lower House.
A woman whose first 13 children were taken away by the Child Protection Board was allowed to keep her 14th child, but she spoiled it so much by giving it cola, chips and crisps that, by the age of nine, the child weighed 70 kilograms.
A distressing example of parental 'failure'. So would it be more sensible if parents like this didn't have any more children? Especially when there is a real risk of them re-offending?
"Yes", says Paul Vlaardingerbroek, professor of family law at the University of Tilburg. Professor Vlaardingerbroek believes certain parents should be denied the right to have more children. And he doesn't mean parents with a mental handicap.
"We're talking about parents who have badly abused, ill-treated or neglected their children at a very early age. Parents who have already had their children taken away from them. Or in cases of infanticide, when there is a major risk of re-offending. Extreme cases. These failed parents should be denied the right to have children."
One of the options is giving the mother a mandatory contraceptive injection. A court would determine whether a parent had failed and whether the mother should be given this injection so that - temporarily - she cannot conceive any more children. The need for a further contraceptive injection would be reviewed after three months.
Politicians have been discussing the issue for some time. Since 2004 the Labour Party has been working on a law allowing mandatory contraceptive injections. The governing Christian Democrats also support this proposal.
However, to date there has never been a majority in the Lower House in favour of the law. There were always legal and ethical objections. The senior coalition party, the conservative liberal VVD, objects to mandatory contraceptive injections. VVD member of parliament Anouchka van Miltenburg:
"No one can be forced to do something to their own body. That's a fundamental right. In this country, you can refuse medical treatment. A compulsory contraceptive injection is a physical assault on a mother. Administering it is simply not allowed."
The VVD says there are limits to what the government can and should do - especially when the issue interferes with people's personal lives.
Taking children into care
"It's a delicate issue," says Professor Vlaardingerbroek. But the debate has to take place.
"Are there any conceivable alternatives to just taking the children away from their parents again? It causes both parents and children great suffering. Why not intervene at the start? Prevent children being born and landing in different homes."
In the Netherlands, hundreds of children are taken into care each year. Often, they are from families where drug addiction and psychiatric problems play a part. Next month, a parliamentary committee will hold a hearing into the issue.
Source: Radio Netherlands Worldwide
February 9, 2011 permalink
Paul and Zabeth Bayne are organizing the Evidence Based Medicine and Social Investigation Conference 2011 (EBMSI). Eleven speakers have been announced, more may follow.
- Ms. Christina England
UK Journalist with a HND in Media and Journalism
- Dr. John Plunkett
Anatomic Pathology & Clinical Pathology, Forensic Pathology from Hastings, MN
- Dr. John Galaznik
Pediatrician MD Alabama
- Dr. Horace B. Gardner
Opthalmologist, Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Dr. Patrick Barnes
Pediatric Radiologist Palo Alto, CA
- Dr. Harold Buttram
MD, FAACP Quakertown, PA
- Dr. Chris Van Ee
- Dr. Viera Scheibner
- Mr. Mark Freeman
Legal Counsel PA
- Mr. Zachary Bravos
Legal Counsel Wheaton Illinois
- Mr. Ray Ferris
Retired Social Worker Victoria British Columbia
The conference will take place Thurdsay August 4 through Saturday August 6, 2011 at the Pacific Life Bible College, 15030 – 66 A Avenue, Surrey British Columbia V3S 2A5, Canada. Registration fee is $195 before May 31, or $250 thereafter in Canadian funds. The conference website provides all details.
February 8, 2011 permalink
Here is an example of the love your teen can find in her foster home.
I Hate My Foster Sister, how Can I Get Rid Of Her?
Ok so my mom became a foster parent 3 years ago now I am 14 and I’m so pist off I hate my life I hate haveing a random girl she is also 14 liveing in MY home,she calls my mom mom and I get so mad and she tells MY mom she loves her also she is always saying she kind of looks like my mom becouse she is white and so is my mom and I’m mixed ahe is also a ungrateful little ***** my mom buys me name brand and more expensive clothes becouse she is my mommy and the girl get clothes from walmart and she just got shoes from payless and she was so ungratful she was like why do I not get nikes like susy(me)and it pisses me of becouse she does not realize that my mom loves me more evan tho my mom says she loves us both in differnt ways… I really really hate her I wish she would go away,also she told My mom that I was rude to her.and she told her social worker that my dad got me a blackberry but she got a flip phone and that it was not fair evan tho my dad does not live with us and is not her dad so I broke her cellphone…….what can I do to get rid of her????
found by LK
If you liked this item, you will love the comments on the original.
Children Saved from Abduction
February 7, 2011 permalink
In cases of a marriage between parents of different nationalities, the mother sometimes flees to her native country, depriving the father of his children. The host country is rarely interested in deporting the children of one of its own nationals even when required by the Hague Convention. Senator Anne Cools told of a father who caught up with his family after ten years separation, but could not talk to his children because they did not speak English.
Today the press reports that a woman fleeing Canada with her two children and a man not their father has been arrested and CAS has taken custody of the children. This is a case of CAS doing it right. They will be doing even better if they return the children promptly to dad.
North Bay Police nab couple accused of abduction from Quebec
North Bay Police Service nabbed a man and woman Saturday accused of abduction from Quebec and trying to flee Canada.
Montreal Police Service passed along information that led to local police arresting the couple at a North Bay motel in the company of two children belonging to the woman.
The couple are accused of fleeing Quebec and intending to fly to India to deprive access to the to the biological father.
The Children's Aid Society took custody of the children, and the adults were arrested for abduction and held in custody for their return to Montreal.
Source: North Bay Nugget
February 6, 2011 permalink
Billionaire John MacBain has donated $750,000 to Niagara children's aid.
FACS gets a $750,000 windfall from MacBain
When it comes to Christmas gifts, Santa has nothing on John MacBain.
On Wednesday, the billionaire former Niagara Falls resident stunned Family and Children's Services (FACS) Niagara with a $750,000 pledge towards the agency's massive expansion on Canadian Drive.
The news left fundraisers for the project speechless, including longtime United Way advocate Janie Palmer.
"I was with the United Way for 12 years, and this doesn't happen," she beamed.
Palmer said the FACS fundraising team, which includes Ann-Louise Branscombe and Anne Kemp, had a goal of $1 million for the project, of which it took a year to raise $655,000. MacBain's gift ends the campaign on a spectacular note, going $405,000 over the target.
The additional funds will make it that much easier to pay for the $3.4 million building, which opens in May. The project has already received $1.6 million in federal and provincial funding.
MacBain's donation also gave him naming rights to the building. It will now be known as the Shelley MacBain Centre of Family and Children's Services, named after his adopted sister.
"Mr. MacBain just amazed us," said Palmer.
The son of former Niagara Falls MP Al MacBain, John made a fortune with his chain of Auto Trader magazines, owning all of them except Ontario's. In 2006, he sold the company for $2 billion. The A.N. Myer grad currently lives in Switzerland.
The MacBain Community Centre, to which he gave $1 million, is named after his parents Al, who died in 2003, and Viola, who died in 1999.
Because he had made such a huge donation to the community centre, Palmer was hesitant to ask the wealthy entrepreneur for a FACS contribution despite the fact he created the McCall MacBain Foundation with his sister in 2007 to benefit community resources.
It was city alderman Wayne Thomson, a longtime friend of Al, who encouraged her to reach out.
"I asked Wayne, 'What do you think?,' and he said, 'It can't hurt to ask.'"
"Al never said 'no' when asked to support local people," said Thomson in a statement. "He was the soul of generosity and hard work. You could always count on him to come through. John and Shelley have inherited their parents' huge hearts."
The expanded FACS building will include new indoor and outdoor play areas, a family visiting room, more meeting space and improved privacy. In total, the space will increase by 9,000 square feet.
Construction began in June.
An elated Palmer said MacBain's phone call on Wednesday left everyone shocked. In a good way.
"This was the gift of all gifts," she said. "I've never been involved in anything like that.
"When he said, 'It's been approved,' everybody was looking at each other going 'Wow!' And there's some seasoned fundraisers in that room. It was amazing. He's a very compassionate man, and we're thrilled he's named it for his sister."
Source: Niagara Falls Review
Court of Protection
February 5, 2011 permalink
The most feared legal action in Britain is not criminal prosecution, but being "sectioned", put away as legally incompetent on the word of a doctor, or in the current article, on the word of a social worker. John Hemming comments on the need for the courts overseeing the process, the Court of Protection. Once put away, many British prisoners are held in secret, without disclosure of their names.
John Hemming MP: Court of Protection must be reformed
The Court of Protection suffers from the same procedural problems as the rest of the Family Division. The first problem is the secrecy of the process.
The lack of transparency conceals the second problem with the Court of Protection, which in the same way as much of Family Law relies upon the opinions of individual experts. The opinion of a single social worker that someone does not have the capacity to decide where they live is sufficient for someone to lose their freedom, in secret and without the right to a second opinion.
This problem of process and the appointment of the Official Solicitor as a litigation friend is not limited to the Family Division.
It also happens in other areas of the justice system. What happens when the Official Solicitor is brought in is that a party to a case loses their ability to decide what is done about their case. This, again, is done on the advice of a single expert. I am currently in touch via email with someone who lives in Bristol who quite clearly understands their case. However, they seem to find it impossible to get rid of the Official Solicitor.
I have been asking Parliament to establish an inqury into the number of secret prisoners that there are in the UK. I am aware of one case where a girl has been drugged and imprisoned where she has no right to decide whether she is forcibly medicated and no right to decide where she lives, but this is argued to be justified in order to protect her from her father who is now dead.
The Court of Protection needs urgent action in two areas. One is accountability. It also needs the publication of anonymous judgments and an independent inquiry by Parliament into the numbers of secret prisoners.
The second area is a more general one of the reliability of expert opinion. It cannot be right for someone to be imprisoned merely on the say-so evidence of a single council officer. The local authority must be prevented from deciding which expert is appointed to give an opinion on an individual case. He who controls who the piper is calls the tune. The tune called by the local authority is "go to jail, go directly to jail and do not collect an independent opinion on the way".
John Hemming MP is Chairman of Justice for Families and Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Family Law and the Court of Protection.
February 5, 2011 permalink
Three girls escaped from a group home in Kentucky.
Three girls escape group home
MURRAY, Ky. — Three juveniles escaped from the Murray Group Home in Murray, Kentucky, Friday. The caretaker noticed the three were missing around 5:15 p.m.
The juveniles escaped out a window from the one-story facility.
The three juveniles are identified as Jeriah Ishmael, Kaitlin Wells and Kimberly Higgins.
Jeriah Ishmael is a black female, 5 foot 9 inches tall, 138 pounds, with black hair and black eyes. Ishmael was last seen wearing a black UK hoodie, blue jeans and tennis shoes.
Kaitlin Wells is a white female, 5 foot 2 inches tall, 135 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes. Wells was last seen wearing a blue hoodie and purple, white and pink Michael Jordan tennis shoes.
Kimberly Higgins is a white female, 5 foot 2 inches tall, 130 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. Higgins was last seen wearing a blue Aeropostle hoodie and blue jeans.
If you have information, please contact the Kentucky State Police at (270) 856-3721.
CAS Strikes Back
February 4, 2011 permalink
An event was scheduled on February 12 at the Woodstock Public Library on How to EFFECTIVELY & EFFICIENTLY deal with the Children's Aid Society. It has been canceled:. Reason? After confirmation by organizer Lillian Christine Sorko-Houle the library revoked permission to use their facility. The event had to be replaced by another the same day.
This should act as a warning to others planning meetings. Get an ironclad contract before announcing a meeting.
February 3, 2011 permalink
Matthew I Fraidin has published an article in the Maine Law Review titled STORIES TOLD AND UNTOLD: CONFIDENTIALITY LAWS AND THE MASTER NARRATIVE OF CHILD WELFARE (pdf copy). The confidentiality of family courts allows for an unchallenged view of parents as abusers of their own children, a view he calls the master narrative. The master narrative of child welfare depicts foster care as a haven for child-victims savagely brutalized by “deviant,” “monstrous” parents. As an example of the master narrative he comments at length on a New York Times article published in September 2010, though without including the whole article. It appears here in the expand block. Court secrecy rules effectively outlaw the presentation of contrary stories in the press. Investigative journalists more often than not give up their efforts to tell stories from a different point of view owing the the obstacles that confidentiality puts in the way. The dominance of the master narrative leaves the public ignorant of the abuses conducted in the name of child protection.
The master narrative shapes the actions of all persons working in the child welfare system. Judges, social workers, legal guardians and doctors are all predisposed to view the parents involved in any child welfare case as monsters. In one small but important way his view differs from parental experiences reported to fixcas. In Ontario, front-line caseworkers are quite candid with parents. They let parents know in no uncertain terms that they have come, not for the welfare of children, but to destroy the family. But aside from front-line workers, the distortions of the master narrative largely control the actions of of judges, doctors and elected politicians having responsibility for the child welfare system. Judges ignore parents as biased, and rely on social workers as neutral observers.
Mr Fraidin ends his article with a number of cases of tragedies within the child welfare system, such as the double homicide of adopted children by Maryland mother Renee Bowman. The sealed court records in these cases lock up a large amount of evidence that, in the absence of secrecy, could be used to develop polices to remediate the abuses.
Prosecutors Detail Abuse in Brooklyn Girl’s Last Days
Two days after the bruised, emaciated body of a 4-year-old girl was discovered in a Brooklyn apartment, new information from officials emerged about her life and death as her mother on Saturday made her first appearance in court to face criminal charges.
In a criminal complaint, prosecutors outlined a fearsome litany of abuse that they said the girl, Marchella Pierce, suffered in her final days at the hands of her mother, Carlotta Brett-Pierce, 30. The girl, who had been plagued by severe health problems since her birth on April 30, 2006, weighed 18 pounds when she died, according to the complaint.
Ms. Brett-Pierce repeatedly struck the girl with a belt and a video box at their home on Madison Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, the complaint said, citing a witness account. The mother lashed the girl to a bed with twine and forced her “to take blue sleeping pills,” the complaint added.
The girl’s body was emaciated and covered with bruises on her head, torso and limbs, and “ligature marks” were found on her feet, apparently from where her mother affixed them to the bed’s footboard with twine, the complaint said.
In interviews with detectives, Ms. Brett-Pierce admitted tying the girl down on Wednesday, “because the child was wild,” Tracey Downing, an assistant district attorney, said at Ms. Brett-Pierce’s arraignment in Brooklyn Criminal Court.
“The mother said she tied the child because the child got up at night and ate from the refrigerator and made a mess,” Ms. Downing said.
The abuse took place when, in the opinion of a physician for the medical examiner’s office, the girl’s state of malnutrition “put her at a grave risk of death,” the complaint said.
In an arraignment that lasted about 10 minutes, Ms. Brett-Pierce stood silently, dressed in a hooded white sweat shirt, blue jeans and white sneakers. She clasped her hands behind her back. At one point, she smiled and waved to her mother, Loretta, and to her brother, Brian Colas, who sat together in the courtroom. Her mother waved back.
The case is still under investigation by law enforcement and medical authorities, as well as by the city’s Administration for Children’s Services, which had been monitoring the family since at least November, officials said.
Ms. Brett-Pierce’s lawyer, George Sheinberg, pointed out that his client had not been charged with homicide and said she should be released on her own recognizance. But Judge Leonard P. Rienzi ordered Ms. Brett-Pierce held on $300,000 bail, which appeared to visibly distress her relatives.
“My sister loved her kids,” Mr. Colas, 23, said outside of court after the hearing. He said the proceeding was the first time he had ever heard allegations that his sister had restrained or beaten her child.
“The media’s trying to make her into an animal,” added Mr. Colas, who the prosecutor said lives in the apartment with Ms. Brett-Pierce.
After the arraignment, Mr. Sheinberg said, “There is nothing to defend until I get the preliminary reports and autopsy reports.” He added: “The complaint can say many things, but until we have evidence of what happened, if anything happened, I have nothing before me. We don’t even have a medical examiner’s report; we don’t have hospital reports.”
A spokeswoman for the child welfare agency said workers were still examining records for information on the case.
An autopsy conducted Friday was inconclusive, and Ellen S. Borakove, spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office, said Saturday that further studies, including forensic testing, investigations and an analysis of medical records, could take a week or more.
The girl’s plight became public after her mother dialed 911 on Thursday morning, saying her daughter was unresponsive when she tried to wake her. Ms. Brett-Pierce told investigators her daughter had fallen down stairs, but the bruises on her body were inconsistent with a fall, Ms. Downing said.
Ms. Brett-Pierce was charged with second-degree assault, endangering the welfare of a child, unlawful imprisonment and reckless endangerment, according to the complaint. Mr. Sheinberg said a grand jury hearing would probably take place on Thursday.
The girl’s father, Tyrone Pierce, 30, who is separated from Ms. Brett-Pierce, was present in court on Saturday but declined to comment.
The complaint said a broken video box “with what appeared to be blood on it” was found at the family’s home. An official said a plastic container used to hold a VCR cassette was found in the garbage at the home.
Source: New York Times
February 3, 2011 permalink
Former lawyer Harry Kopyto is struggling with the Law Society of Upper Canada to maintain his right to practice as a para-legal. Cutting down on para-legals will increase the business of lawyers, but impose high costs on clients making access to courts impractical for most Canadians. His remarks are on YouTube or our local copy (flv).
Addendum: The Law Times (flv) coverted the story.
Newfoundland Steals Kids
February 2, 2011 permalink
In Port aux Basques Newfoundland parents Dorothy and Bobby Rodgers are trying to get their two children back from CYFS. The province is demanding hiring a full-time live-in nanny as a condition for returning the children.
Parents want children out of foster care
A Port aux Basques family feels Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS) has overstepped its bounds after taking their children, in part, based on IQ test results.
Documents from CYFS suggest the children’s mother is mentally unstable and cite that as another reason for taking custody of the children.
Dorothy and Bobby Rodgers say they have done nothing wrong and have provided a clean, loving home for the two children, a son and daughter aged 5 and 4.
The son has an undiagnosed learning disability. Mrs. Rodgers said she has been trying to have that disability diagnosed so he can begin treatment.
The past four months have been hard for the couple. Mrs. Rodgers said her husband is losing weight and often breaks down in tears.
The inside of their home is spotless. Parked outside is a Pontiac Montana with a few colourful stickers on the windows. Each door is monogrammed with a family member’s name.
“I have nothing to hide,” said Mrs. Rodgers, who admitted her life has not been a bed of roses. She freely shared all documents given to her by CYFS.
A report from a psychologist suggests the two parents should only get the children back if a full-time live-in caregiver is found to stay in the home. Mrs. Rodgers said such a demand is unreasonable and a violation of her family’s rights.
The report cites the mental aptitude of the parents as one of the reasons for preventing them from having custody of the children, but it also points to Mrs. Rodgers mental health as a possible concern.
Child Youth and Family Services Minister Charlene Johnson could not comment on the case specifically, but said in general, the department has trained professionals who look at a whole host of factors - including physical, emotional and cognitive - when deciding if intervention is needed.
She said IQ tests are one component of the cognitive aspect of risk assessments, but that would rarely be the only factor.
She said the decision to take a child out of a home is not taken lightly. She said a Judge is involved and he or she does not simply rubber stamp cases. Judges ask questions and often order assessments.
Source: The Gulf News, Port aux Basques Newfoundland
Addendum: Ted Blades of the CBC interviews the mother (mp3). The treatment of this mother is typical of the abuse of families by children's aid societies. Newfoundland CYFS has used biased assessments, untrue reports and burdensome appointments to harass the mother. They held the mother's own childhood in foster care against her. The low-IQ allegation arose because the mother viewed the parenting-capacity assessment as an IQ test.
Falsely Accused Cabbies to be Fired
February 2, 2011 permalink
Did a family court proceeding demote you from your professional job to taxi driver? You won't even be able to do that work in Winnipeg. Taxi drivers will have to clear a child abuse registry check. Unlike the current criminal check most persons on the child abuse registry are there on account of false allegation, and there is no procedure for clearing a false entry.
City taxi drivers protest mandatory child abuse checks
Another battle is brewing between Winnipeg taxi drivers and those who are suppose to regulate the industry.
Starting April 1st, child abuse registry checks will be mandatory for all cabbies to make sure they've never been convicted of an offense against kids, in addition to the criminal background checks that are already in place.
Some taxi drivers are upset they will soon have to undergo more criminal background checks.
"We already have criminal background checks every four years," said Unicity Taxi manager, Gurmail Mangat.
The new rules were ordered by the province to ensure the safety of all passengers including children.
In a statement to Global News, a provincial spokesperson said: "Taxies and limos can be called upon to transport children in CFS care... and they can be called upon to transport vulnerable children to school or medical appointments."
Officials deny the changes were triggered after two Winnipeg cabbies were accused of sexually assaulting passengers last year.
Mangat says the move is unnecessary because drivers rarely pick up children under 12-years old.
"First, any child under twelve that we drive has a staff member with them every time," said Mangat. "And number two, we don't have very many calls."
Unicity says it won't comply with the new rules until it meets with the Taxi Cab Board to discuss its concerns.
Meanwhile, the Winnipeg School Division supports the new changes.
Thirty of its 2,100 students rely on taxis to get to school every day.
"We do have some students that we do have to provide different access to schools,” said WSD chair, Suzanne Hrynyk. “We do that through taxi cab service."
While criminal back ground checks are required, it's still unclear whether that already includes child abuse registry checks.
"It's our expectation, through our contract holder, that they would be following all of the provisions in the statute," said Hrynyk.
Source: Global Winnipeg
Spectral Evidence Returns
February 2, 2011 permalink
Scottish psychotherapist Debbie Hindle knows how to find evidence of child abuse: by telepathy. Based on a telepathic communication from her client D, she gave evidence justifying removing a girl from her father's care.
'Telepathy' of child used as evidence in abuse case
AN OFFICIAL report into the future of a child's welfare used evidence based on telepathy, in a move criticised by a sheriff as "dangerous".
A psychotherapist told a court an eight-year-old boy mentally communicated feelings of fear through his bad behaviour, leading her to believe he had been abused. The evidence was put forward by a children's reporter to support separating a baby girl from her parents.
Sheriff Alistair Watson, sitting in Kilmarnock, said calling Dr Debbie Hindle as an expert witness had been "diametrically opposed to that of the responsible investigator".
It came as a senior QC warned children's reporters, who protect youngsters vulnerable to abuse, are increasingly from a social work or administration background, rather than a legal one.
Sheriff Watson said: "The danger of relying on evidence of this (telepathic] evidence should be self evident, but apparently is not to the reporter or Dr Hindle."
Dr Hindle provided therapy for the boy, named in court as D, who had been abused by his mother's partner, DC, in 2006. Her evidence was used to support an application for child protection order for a baby girl born to the sex offender and his partner. Despite approving the order as the father of the child was a section one offender, Sheriff Watson took the unusual step of criticising the reporter.
He said: "Sadly, the interventions of clinical or therapeutic professionals have had disastrous results in notorious cases, and it was to be hoped that lessons were learned, such that this type of evidence would not be produced subsequently. Sadly, it appears the lessons of the past are easily forgotten."
He added: "The role of the reporter is a highly important one in terms of child protection, but it is also an important one in relation to the public interest, which requires that professional judgment be applied before the presentation of materials in court. To suggest that one might take three or perhaps four wholly unreliable pieces of evidence and ask the court to conclude that between them they form one reliable source is a most dangerous approach."
Allegations D had been abused first surfaced in 2002, when he was four. He was interviewed jointly by police and East Ayrshire Council social workers, who also came in for criticism from the sheriff for "a very poorly conducted interview".
D and two siblings were taken into care in 2004. The court heard their mother, JC, had "considerable lifestyle difficulties". The three were adopted in 2006. It was then that D, now eight, made comments to his adoptive mother that made her believe he had been abused.
He was interviewed again by police, and this time DC was convicted.
It was in 2006 that D started receiving therapy from Dr Hindle, who saw him for weekly sessions for two years. She worked for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde but is now retired. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it was unable to comment.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA) said the sheriff's observations and the outcome of the case were under review by the head of practice.
She was unable to say who the reporter was, whether they were still working on cases, what the SCRA's policy was on bringing cases based on telepathic evidence or whether Dr Hindle had given evidence in previous cases.
Janys Scott, QC, who specialises in family law, said legal experience among children's reporters had reduced. "Now those at the head of the organisation tend to have an administration background," she said. "With less emphasis on the legal part of things, that is leading to a lack of a critical look at what evidence is going to stand up in court."
Anne Houston, chief executive of Children 1st, said: "We do know that the experiences a child has during the child protection process can have a very serious negative impact if not handled sensitively and consistently."
Source: The Scotsman
February 1, 2011 permalink
Dr Charles Smith has been stripped of his license to practice medicine in Ontario. Fitting in view of the number of people falsely convicted on his testimony, and the larger number of children deprived of their parents. Of course, many other medical professionals and legal professionals participated in the witch-hunt that tagged every parent as a child-abuser. The rest of that juggernaut remains intact after dismissing Dr Smith.
Disgraced pathologist in Mullins-Johnson case has licence stripped
Disgraced pathologist Dr. Charles Smith has been stripped of his licence to practise medicine by Ontario's College of Physicians and Surgeons.
And the disciplinary panel has ordered Smith to appear in person to receive his stern reprimand.
After hearing six emotional victim impact statements from people wrongfully convicted on the basis of Smith's "erroneous" findings, the regulatory body threw the book at the discredited forensic pathologist.
"Charles Smith is a disgrace to the medical profession and humanity itself," wrote Maria Shepherd, who was convicted of manslaughter in the death of her stepdaughter Kasandra.
"Because of him, my life and the lives of my family would never be the same. "
Added Brenda Waudby, wrongfully arrested in the death of her daughter Jenna Mellor, "the College cannot punish you enough for what you have done. "
Smith failed to show for his disciplinary hearing Tuesday morning.
"This man should be here," said Randy Mellor, father of 21-month-old Jenna who died in 1997.
Smith's lawyer Jane Langford indicated that he will plead no contest to charges of professional misconduct and incompetence as a former pediatric pathologist in criminally suspicious deaths of children.
In the agreed statement of facts, Smith admits he displayed a "lack of knowledge, skill or judgment" as a forensic pathologist relied upon to send many to prison.
His conclusions were "contrary or not supported by the pathological findings" and he "misinterpreted autopsy findings. His victims were angry that Smith did not show up to face the hearing in person.
Smith will receive his reprimand at the college on March 25 at 9 a.m.
Source: Sault Star
Save the Internet!
February 1, 2011 permalink
Bell Canada is imposing usage fees on the internet. The fee will be $2 per gigabyte. This is small for users loading text, but for users relying on the internet for pictures, and expecially video, this will run into hundreds or even a few thousand dollars a month. Don't use Bell Canada? Too bad. Your smaller ISP has to buy from Bell, so you will be paying anyway. Competition will keep the price down? Not in Canada. There is no real competition. Link here to sign a petition opposing the charges.
January 31, 2011 permalink
Here is the clearest statement yet of what fixcas has been saying for years: Parents are induced to plead guilty to criminal charges by the threat of child removal. Dinesh Kumar was offered two alternatives: plead guilty to killing his child, serve 90 days on weekends and get his other child back. Or, plead not guilty and lose his family. From years of interviewing parents, we can say that the threat of family destruction was no bluff. The child would have been irrevocably gone long before the criminal charges came to trial.
As long as the state practices child removal on whim, all court processes between the state and private citizens are a sham. There is no rule of law in Canada.
Guilty plea a miscarriage of justice: Shanoff
What can we learn from the recent acquittal of Dinesh Kumar?
He is the father who was charged with the second-degree murder of his five-week-old baby in 1992.
He chose to plead guilty to a charge of criminal negligence causing death as part of a plea bargain that included a 90-day sentence to be served on weekends.
Had he been guilty of murder, it would have been the deal of the century. But he wasn’t.
So what could possibly motivate a father to falsely accept criminal responsibility for the death of a child and what can we do to prevent such miscarriages of justice?
Kumar had another child, a one-year-old who had been taken in protective custody following the death of his sibling.
Incredibly, part of the deal was an assurance the child would be returned after Kumar completed serving his sentence.
Think about that for a minute.
Plead guilty in exchange for the return of a child, or plead not guilty and risk losing your child indefinitely.
In order for a confession to be admissible it must be voluntary “in the sense that it has not been obtained ... either by fear or prejudice or hope of advantage exercised or held out by a person in authority”.
Suppose Kumar confessed to causing his infant’s death after being threatened with the loss of his one-year-old son.
Surely such a confession would have been deemed involuntary and would have been inadmissible at any trial. So why, then, was it permissible to use the same inducement to extract a guilty plea?
At the same time, isn’t it rather odd that a murder charge with an automatic life sentence upon conviction would be bartered down to a criminal negligence charge with an agreed 90-day sentence?
If the prosecution had sufficient evidence to justify a murder charge, how could it agree to a criminal negligence charge and a 90-day sentence?
And how could it agree to return the one-year-old to a murderer?
So, either the initial charge wasn’t warranted or the prosecution was willing to punish a baby murderer with a slap on the wrist and permit him to regain custody of a toddler.
This doesn’t make much sense to me.
But even if the prosecution’s position was deeply flawed, why wouldn’t the trial judge have inquired into the propriety of the deal?
Shouldn’t the trial judge have made probing inquiries into whether any improper inducements or threats had been made to seal the deal?
Apparently, Kumar also pled guilty because Dr. Charles Smith was the star prosecution witness and it would have been impossible to challenge his expert opinion on the cause of the infant’s death.
We now know Smith had no training in forensic pathology. But shouldn’t that have been known or easily ascertainable in 1992?
In 1991, Justice Patrick Dunn acquitted a babysitter charged with manslaughter in the death of a 16-month-old child.
In the course of giving his reasons for acquittal, Justice Dunn was highly critical of Smith, pointing out that he wasn’t familiar with the scientific literature, failed to conduct a thorough investigation, gave unscientific evidence and was dogmatic in the presentation of his evidence.
So why would Smith have been considered “like a God” — reportedly even by Kumar’s own lawyer — when Kumar made his deal in 1992?
I don’t blame Kumar for having pled guilty.
Who wouldn’t have done the same in order to get his son back, particularly when faced with the incriminating evidence of an apparently God-like expert?
But if we want to prevent innocent people from pleading guilty or confessing to crimes they haven’t committed we need to examine this case carefully and learn from our mistakes.
Source: Toronto Sun
January 30, 2011 permalink
Poison Pen Letter
January 30, 2011 permalink
We have no comment on the arrest of Martin Calvin Yarbrough Jr for sending letters containing poison to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and a children's court. It appears as a matter of record only.
Department of Justice Press Release
For Immediate Release
January 28, 2011
United States Attorney's Office
Central District of California
Contact: (213) 894-2434
Claremont Man Arrested for Sending Threatening Letters to L.A. County Dept. of Child and Family Services
LOS ANGELES—Special Agents with the FBI and the United States Postal Inspection Service arrested a Claremont man this morning on federal charges of sending threatening letters containing a powdery substance to multiple offices of the Department of Children and Family Services and the Los Angeles County Children's Courthouse over a period of approximately 18 months.
Martin Calvin Yarbrough Jr., 48, was taken into custody at his residence this morning without incident after being indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday. The indictment charges Yarbrough with 13 counts of making threats and hoaxes.
The arrest of Yarbrough was announced by Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles; B. Bernard Ferguson, Postal Inspector in Los Angeles; and United States Attorney André Birotte Jr.
According to the indictment, Yarbrough sent a series of envelopes through the United States Postal Service to various offices of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the Edmund D. Edelman Children's Court in Monterey Park. Each letter contained either a white powdery substance or a bluish granular substance that was determined to be a chemical poison. Mailed between November 2008 and May 2010, the letters were sent to DCFS offices in Covina, Lancaster, El Monte, Chatsworth, Los Angeles, Santa Fe Springs, Pomona and Monterey Park.
Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles, said: "Using threatening letters and hoax powders to convey discontent is a serious crime and, as evidenced with the arrest of Mr. Yarbrough, has significant consequences. The major law enforcement response generated every time such a letter is received is time-consuming and accomplished at the expense of costs taxpayers. Furthermore, the painstaking field and lab testing takes precious time away from Hazmat experts and public health officials whose time would be better spent investigating legitimate threats."
When employees at each of the facilities opened the envelopes and discovered the powder, several people in the facilities were evacuated. During each incident, hazardous materials teams from multiple agencies, as well as the FBI's Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordinator, responded to conduct field testing to determine if the powder represented a threat. The Los Angeles County Public Health Laboratory processed and evaluated the contents of the chemical material contained in the envelopes for the presence of bacterial biothreat agents and other toxins, with negative results.
B. Bernard Ferguson, Inspector in Charge - U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Los Angeles Division, stated: "Postal Inspectors are committed to enforcing those laws that defend the nation's mail system from illegal or dangerous use. We will aggressively investigate those who violate the laws meant to protect the Postal Service, its employees, and our nation's citizens."
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
Yarbrough will be arraigned before a federal magistrate in United States District Court in Los Angeles this afternoon.
If he is convicted, Yarbrough would face a maximum statutory penalty of five years in federal prison for each count.
The investigation of Yarbrough was conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Los Angeles Field of Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Considerable assistance was provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services and Hazardous Material Teams with the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the Los Angeles County Fire Department, and the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The Los Angeles County Public Health Laboratory also provided substantial assistance.
"We are appreciative of the hard work that went into this investigation," said Antonia Jimenez, Interim Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. "We sincerely thank the FBI and other investigating authorities for their prompt and thorough response, and now the arrest of a suspect, in this matter."
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Sherilyn Peace Garnett
National Security Section
January 29, 2011 permalink
In the expand block is the mugshot of a wanted criminal. Her crime? Taking her own son from North Carolina to Florida. Cynthia Laverne Blume is charged with abduction. Today, most charges of kidnapping, abduction and stalking are against parents trying to see their own children.
Mother faces abduction charge
Resident flees to Florida with 14-year-old son.
A Clay County woman accused of abducting her 14-year-old son during a planned visit at the county’s Department of Social Services was found, along with her son, four days later at a residence in Florida, said Sheriff Vic Davis.
Cynthia Laverne Blume, 40, of Hayesville, who had lost her parental rights five years ago, was arrested, ironically in Clay County, Fla. on Tuesday, Jan. 25 and charged with child abduction, Davis said in a press release.
The planned visit had been arranged for Blume and her son at the Department of Social Services on Friday. The boy’s grandmother, Joy Hazouri Blume, who has full custody of the child, accompanied the teen from their home in Asheboro, N.C. to visit his mother in Hayesville. Clay County DSS was not involved with the visitation arrangements and only provided the conference room as a courtesy, Davis said.
Source: Clay County Progress
January 29, 2011 permalink
Instead of getting certified by the Ontario College of Social Workers, Muskoka CAS workers are certifying themselves.
Muskoka, Ontario CAS worker claims - Our workers CERTIFY OURSELVES!
(Jan 28, 2011) In recent months, Canada Court Watch has been reporting on a number of flagrant violations of the law by CAS workers with the Muskoka CAS. Some workers with this agency continue to break the law to make fools of themselves in the eyes of the public.
Evidence from a number of sources has been provided to Court Watch to show that most of their employees are breaking the law! In fact one worker reported that she had received her training in the United States and did not need to be registered in Canada to practice Social Work. In one statement, the worker stated that CAS workers now "certify" themselves. What a JOKE! Some CAS now believe that they are qualified to do social work because they "Certify" themselves.
Any MPP who wishes to review the evidence that Canada Court Watch has to show how CAS workers in Muskoka are now claiming to be training themselves and claiming that they don't need to be registered in Ontario are most welcome to contact us.
Readers are urged to email a link to this post to the own MPP and to ask their MPP to contact Canada Court Watch. Violations of Ontario law by CAS workers who are making fools of themselves must be stopped now.
Source: Canada Court Watch
Drugged into Obedience
January 29, 2011 permalink
Here is a report about a Southern Ontario family that is banned from speaking its name in public.
CAS stepped into a high-conflict divorce, cheating BOY out of a relationship with DAD and angering BOY in consequence. A year and a half ago a psychiatrist informed CAS that BOY was being defiant toward MOM because she was preventing him from having a relationship with DAD. CAS saved BOY from his own anger by drugging him into obedience with a prescription for Ritalin. All despite BOY's repeated admissions that MOM abuses him and his siblings regularly.
Source: Can't say in this kind of report.
Real Child Protection News
January 29, 2011 permalink
While the major media show only puffery on child protection, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) tells it like it is. Yesterday Cheryl MacKenzie anchored an investigative report. Here is the program posted by Neil Haskett, and our local copy (wmv).
Too Many Parents Spoil the Broth
January 29, 2011 permalink
When parents are unable to care for their children, one of the best available alternatives is the grandparents. But what about cases where the parents are well able to care for the children? Imposing access rights for grandparents does the children more harm than good. An Australian newspaper reports on some cases.
Grandparents 'steal' kids from parents
THE Family Court is "creating a new stolen generation" by placing children with their estranged grandparents.
An angry Adelaide mother claims federal laws eroded the rights of parents and favoured grandparents, who had the time and money to fight long, expensive legal battles.
She said the system left children as young as four at the mercy of neglectful older relatives, risking their psychological wellbeing.
"The family law system is driven by money and if you cannot afford it, then you have no hope of justice," she said. "Why should any mother be forced to give their child to a person they do not trust to keep them safe?"
In 2000, the Howard government changed the Family Law Act (1975) to emphasise "shared parenting" of children. Amendments gave grandparents the right to seek overnight, partial or total custody of a child.
Parents are required to leave children at "contact centres", monitored by social workers, so a relationship can develop with the grandparents.
Those who refuse risk jail and appealing against a Family Court decision costs in excess of $6000.
This month, The Advertiser reported a grandfather was given access to his dead son's daughter - a child he had not seen since the day she was born. His application was granted despite the objections of the girl's mother.
That decision has prompted another mother - who cannot be identified - to speak out. "The court is creating a new stolen generation due to the forcible removal of children from their parents," she said.
"Why are children as young as four being forced away from their parents in confusion?"
She has written to federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland, asking that he change the law so grandparents cannot seek custody until children turn 12.
"The law as it stands gives a grandparent power and control over a parent's life," she said. "At a time a person should be raising their child, they are consumed with fighting to prevent parenting orders being given to a stranger."
SA Law Society president Ralph Bonig said imposing age restrictions would harm, not help, children.
A spokesman for Mr McClelland said the Federal Government was "confident" the system "adequately" catered for the individual circumstances of each case.
Source: The Advertiser
Cororner's Jury Sham
January 29, 2011 permalink
Saskatchewan conducted an inquest this week into the death of a child in foster care. Like other inquests into the death of a child, this was not an open inquiry to expose the facts so the body politic could craft solutions. Instead, it was carefully choreographed to produce the result desired by the convenors, and nothing else.
The name of the dead child? A secret, though before the inquest started we found that it was Ashton Pryde Gambler aka McKay, a three-year-old boy who died in Pense Saskatchewan on December 17, 2009. The jury deliberations? There were none. The recommendations came back on the final day of the inquest, clearly adopted without deliberation from suggestions offered by the lawyers. The last recommendation looks like a money grab by social services: foster families should receive extra fees if they have a ward with special needs.
Jury makes recommendations in foster care inquiry
Recommendations have been put forward on how to keep children safer in foster care. It follows a week long inquiry into what lead to the death of a three year old boy in December of 2009. After deliberating for several hours today, a jury made eight recommendations on how to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future. Two have been amalgamated into one. The final draft of seven recommendations includes:
- more thorough safety checks in foster homes
- legal tender out jobs for foster care homes requiring extra services like handymen or cleaners
- provide for supports for foster families in rural settings
- closely monitor foster kids
- establish clear obligations for front line workers to ensure their concerns reach supervisors & foster parents should attend age-appropriate classes regarding their wards
- high-risk children should be placed in appropriate homes, especially those requiring specific medical treatment & all medical information should be shared with the foster parent as soon as the child enters their home
- foster families should receive extra fees if they have a ward with special needs
Some are very basic -- such as a blanket suggestion to closely monitor foster children, and to provide supports for foster families living in rural settings. A handful, however are specific to the boys case.
Earlier this week the forensic pathologist that conducted the autopsy testified the boy died of a severe case of pneumonia made even worse by a rare form of influenza. Te infection was found in both of his lungs, and his chest cavity was filled with puss. Se also said that had he been taken to the hospital, it's very likely he would not have died.
The boy’s foster father testified that the boy had been vomiting and running a temperature in the days leading up to his death, but they thought he was just suffering from the flu. He said because they only had one vehicle working at the time, they weren't able to take him to the doctor.
The purpose of the inquiry was not to assign blame, but to help hammer out preventive measures.
Source: Global Saskatoon
CAS Supported Home May Close
January 28, 2011 permalink
Rosewood House, a non-profit home in Brantford, may have to close after the withdrawal of $150 per child-day funding from children's aid. The home is looking for local government funding instead. One alternative never mentioned: leaving clients with mom and dad.
Rosewood House seeks funding
Rosewood House may have to close its doors in 2011 if a new stream of funding is not found for the home that serves Brantford residents with mental health issues.
"Unless this issue is addressed, I am going to be advising the board at some point this year that Rosewood House may have to close,” executive director Tim Philp told city council at this week’s budget meeting.
Philp said the not-for-profit organization found itself in dire straits when a funding arrangement for $150 per day, per resident with the Children's Aid Society was no longer available. That funding arrangement was ended during the summer through a provincial policy decision.
Rosewood House currently offers programming for 15 residents.
“We found ourselves in an embarrassing financial situation and that has caused us to take a lot of rather drastic steps,” Philp said. “I had to do a lot of layoffs and cutbacks.”
Philp said the funding gap has not been made up and Rosewood House is turning to the city for help. He asked that the rate the city pays to Rosewood for a client be increased from $73 to $90 per day.
The home receives the funding only if there is someone occupying a bed. The annual funding could add up to a maximum of $492,000, if Rosewood House is at capacity all year.
“Rosewood serves some of the most vulnerable in our community,” Philp said.
The director of another mental health home in Brantford followed up Philp’s presentation to council with a plea of her own.
George Street Manor director Carol Ann Woods said her facility does not provide programming for clients, but houses 17 special needs residents on a much tighter budget.
“We’ve been running on $30 a day per client,” Woods said. “I’ve tried every avenue I’ve every known to get help.”
Woods said she was shocked when she recently found out that the city funds Rosewood House. She had a single request for councillors.
“I’m here to ask for, please, just the same,” Woods said. “Please.”
Mayor Chris Friel asked Woods to provide the city with financial records and other relevant documents as soon as possible.
Source: Brant News
From Bad to Worse
January 28, 2011 permalink
When child protectors found a girl being sexually abused by her stepdad they removed her to a group home, and soon to another. According to a lawsuit filed by her real father, in her new homes she was gang-raped by a total of five boys. The French version of the story describes the perversity of the acts.
Dad sues agency after girl allegedly gang raped
MONTREAL – A child-protection agency near Montreal faces a $408,000 lawsuit amid allegations that a 10-year-old girl was repeatedly raped by five boys aged 10-12 while under its care.
The lawsuit, filed by the girl’s father, says young assailants performed numerous sex acts on the girl inside a school bus and at a group home. The man is seeking damages and accusing child-welfare officials at the Centre jeunesse de la Monteregie of failing to protect the girl.
The child’s ordeal was painstakingly recounted in the lawsuit, filed last week in Longueuil, a suburb of Montreal.
The suit says the girl, nicknamed Amanda (fictitious name), moved to the group home, L'Amaryllis, in 2008 just after her 10th birthday. She had been placed in the home after she was molested by her step-father.
The girl expressed concerns at the time that she could be molested again, said the suit. Not long afterward, she was sexually assaulted at night “on several occasions” by two boys, aged 10 and 12.
The court documents allege that Amanda told her mother about the assaults and that the woman notified agency officials, but that “nothing was done to deal with (the) abuse.”
The girl began to show behavioural problems and ran away several times, leading officials to move her to another group home.
It was at the second home that she was abused again, the lawsuit alleges. Three boys, between the ages of 11 and 12, would corner her inside a school bus on the way to class and force her to submit to various sex acts.
The suit says years of abuse had rendered her unable to defend herself against the sexual assaults.
The regional youth-protection agency says all children have since been removed from L’Amaryllis group home and another centre belonging to the same owner.
The lawsuit's allegations have not been proven in court.
Source: Toronto Sun
January 27, 2011 permalink
When a thirteen-year-old Ottawa girl kicked out the rear window of a police cruiser she was diagnosed with oppositional defiance disorder, ADHD, sensory and self-regulation disorder, disruptive behaviour disorder and a non-verbal learning disability. She was sent to treatment in Utah, but returned to Canada after nine days. CAS seized her on return, and as usual, they are saying nothing about their intentions for the girl.
Children’s Aid takes teen returned to Ottawa from Utah treatment program
OTTAWA — A mentally ill 13-year-old Ottawa girl who was returned from specialized treatment in Utah because she was deemed too violent has been seized from her parents by the Children’s Aid Society.
The girl was taken into CAS custody following a hearing at the Ottawa courthouse Wednesday.
The girl had been transferred to the U.S. facility this month after being placed on a peace bond following charges of mischief for kicking out the back window of a police cruiser. She can’t be identified due to provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. She was returned to Ottawa on Tuesday after spending only nine days in treatment.
The courts and the province’s Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, which has funding arrangements with U.S. facilities to provide residential treatment to Ontario residents, determined that the Utah centre was best equipped to treat the girl, who suffers from a variety of conditions, including oppositional defiance disorder, ADHD, sensory and self-regulation disorder, disruptive behaviour disorder and a non-verbal learning disability.
Her parents have since appealed to Premier Dalton McGuinty for help finding treatment for their daughter in Ontario.
Following the hearing, the girl’s mother said the CAS has no treatment plan for her daughter and intends to put her in a group home instead.
The CAS did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.
Source: Ottawa Citizen
Addendum: An in-depth interview with the parents of the girl by Anna Maria Tremonti of the CBC (mp3 Feb 1) reveals the true depth of the problem. Starting at age three the parents noticed behavior problems in the girl. They have spent a decade watching helplessly as their daughter descends toward a fate that will reach homelessness, the criminal justice system, and possibly early death. No facility inside or outside Canada offers any real help. The CAS has grabbed their daughter, but she has no prospect of help from them. A judge told the parents that he has no control over what CAS does.
Brantford Rally Tomorrow
January 27, 2011 permalink
For more on the rally, check the announcement.
RALLY TO HIGHLIGHT CAS CONCERNS
A rally organized by people with concerns about the Children's Aid Society is planned for Friday from noon to 3 p.m. at Market and Wellington streets.
Called a Brantford Accountability Rally, the event is designed to raise awareness about Ontario's Children's Aid Societies, the Children's Aid Society of Brant and Ontario Bill 131.
The private member's bill, if passed, would expand the powers of the ombudsman in respect to hospitals, long-term care homes, school boards, children's aid societies and retirement homes.
Information on the event can be found on a Facebook site called Stop the Children's Aid Society from taking Children from Good Parents.
Source: Brantford Expositor
Real Child Abuse
January 27, 2011 permalink
Think angry dads commit child abuse? Here is a case of real child abuse, not from dad, but an adoptive dad.
Trial begins for man accused in adopted son's brutal beating
El Paso County sheriff’s investigators thought at first they had seized a painted wooden rod from a man accused of using it to beat his adopted teenage son.
Later they realized it wasn’t paint. The rod was coated in the 15-year-old boy’s blood, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Deputy District Attorney Mike Ringle told jurors that Jeremiah Lovato used the club, his belt, a meat tenderizer and his fists to routinely beat the youngster over a two-year period that ended Jan. 3, 2010, when the boy fled to neighbors for help.
Ringle called it “the epitome of child abuse” showing jurors pictures of the boy’s bruised back and bloody buttocks and telling them of an untreated broken arm. After the last beating, the boy had to be hospitalized.
A defense attorney for Lovato quickly conceded that the pictures jurors saw were “horrible” and that his client, a 40-year-old maintenance worker with the Colorado Department of Transportation, bears some responsibility for what happened to the boy.
“We’re not going to dispute that,” attorney Shimon Kohn told jurors.
But Kohn said Lovato is not guilty of all the 24 counts prosecutors have filed against him, including first-degree assault and sexual assault on a child. The sex charge stems from an accusation that during the beatings, Lovato stomped on the boy’s testicles.
The Gazette, which normally does not identify alleged victims of sex assault, is withholding the boy’s name. The boy is currently in the custody of the county social services department.
“Mr. Lovato is not a monster.” Kohn said in his opening statement. “He did what he did based on his life experience and what he thought was best for (the boy.)
Kohn argued that as a single father with limited parenting skills, adoption officials should have never matched Lovato with a boy who had been through 20 foster homes, had undergone psychiatric treatment and suffered from depression and behavior disorders.
The defense attorney also said the boy’s description of the abuse grew more severe each time he retold it to authorities.
“What started out as good intentions, ladies and gentlemen, ends here with you,” Kohn told the jury.
Ringle, however, said the abuse Lovato inflicted on the boy escalated over time.
It first surfaced soon after the adoption when Lovato and the boy lived in a small apartment in Craig. When school officials there began to question bruises they saw on the boy, Ringle said Lovato asked for a job transfer to Colorado Springs.
At first, Lovato would let the boys wounds heal between beatings, but then they became almost daily, Ringle said.
On the day it ended, Ringle said Lovato beat the boy then instructed him to go out to the wood pile and pick a piece of lumber to be hit with. Instead the boy jumped a fence and ran to neighbors.
For more court coverage, visit “The Sidebar” blog at gazette.com
Source: Colorado Springs Gazette
Victory over CAS (Maybe)
January 27, 2011 permalink
A Durham mother named only as Wendy reports on her increased success with CAS since shifting from compliance to legal opposition.
Hello Again Tortured Families,
Thought I would update you all with some good news and some info about Durham CAS/Children's Aid Society in Ontario, Canada.
If know the name, you know the corruption level that oozes out of that place.
I recently took some advice to request my Son's POC/Plan of Care files for the entire time he has been in care as well as my CAS file. I have also instructed my Son to ask for his file. He is coming to live with me Mar 4, this year, finally, though I'm not celebrating that until he's in the door....you know CAS.
I vocally requested this information from my son's worker, Jacquie Yeboah, then her supervisor, Carrie Shannon and then sent in a written email request to follow up in a week. I was granted both requests for my Son's POC file and my CAS file in writing.
I have just received the 8 years of POC files via purolator this morning and my CAS file is being "prepared"!
I am putting together a formal complaint about CAS, the workers that have been involved and the homes he's been in and this information is just so vital and legally ours to view! Everyone should request their files!
Push them to their legal limit! Turn their game around on them. Don't let them drown you in policies! They have to follow them too! For years they manipulated me and degraded me but since I started to push back legally, respectfully and CONSISTENTLY, I have made more progress than years of doing what CAS instructed.
Power to you! Thanks LK for having a place to put this!
Love and Light,
Source: Legally Kidnapped
Barrie Social Worker Embezzles Funds
January 26, 2011 permalink
Police in Barrie have arrested CAS worker Steven Piche. According to the report, he put in work related invoices and receipts for money and services that were to be used for programs offered by CAS, but pocketed the money. The loss is over $10,000.
Ghoul Feeds on Dead Parent
January 26, 2011 permalink
When a foster/adoptive mother found she was dying of cancer, she established a trust fund for her son. Where did the money go? It was embezzled by social worker Kimberly Coelho.
DA: Social worker stole death benefits from foster child
A social worker from White Plains has been accused of stealing $16,260 worth of death benefits from a 16-year-old client who was under her supervision.
Kimberly Coelho, 46, of 37 Waldo Ave., was charged with third-degree grand larceny, a felony, after her arrest Monday by investigators from the Westchester County District Attorney's Office.
Coelho, a social worker at the Irvington-based Abbott House social service agency, is accused of making numerous withdrawals from a Social Security Death Benefit fund account that was set up for the 16-year-old boy last year by his foster mother. Authorities said the foster mother had adopted the boy and was dying of cancer when she started the account and gave Coelho access to it.
Following the adoptive mother's death, the boy was sent to another foster home and his new foster parent reported in November that money was missing from the account.
An investigation by the DA's office revealed that Coelho allegedly withdrew money several times last year between April and November.
Coelho, who is to be arraigned in White Plains City Court on Feb. 7, faces up to seven years in state prison if convicted.
Source: Hudson Valley Journal News
Judge Cheats Child Protectors
January 23, 2011 permalink
An Oklahoma judge has been arrested for bilking the state of $22,000 in a foster/adoption scam. The judge placed twins with the sister of her bailiff as adopted children, without state reimbursement. But the paper record showed the judge herself as the foster mother, so she got foster payments for caring for the twins. From the looks of the article, this is a high-living judge who erased a million dollars in debt in a recent bankruptcy. The mother of the twins is named in other sources as Capri Whitehead.
Oklahoma County district judge charged with fraud, perjury
Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure secretly gave adopted twins to bailiff's sister, kept state funds intended for their care, prosecutors allege.
Oklahoma County District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure was accused in a felony fraud charge Friday of collecting state funds to care for twins that she secretly gave to her bailiff's sister.
Bass-LeSure, 43, and her husband, Karlos Antonio LeSure, 46, cheated the state out of public funds for three years, prosecutors allege.
The judge faces 30 counts of making a fraudulent claim and two counts of perjury. Her husband faces two counts of making a fraudulent claim and two counts of perjury. She said Friday at the courthouse the accusations are not true.
Prosecutors allege the judge and her husband contracted with the state to become foster parents of a twin boy and girl in January 2008. They adopted the children in May. The children are now 3.
Prosecutors allege the children actually have been with the sister of the judge's bailiff since January 2008. The bailiff, Lania Davis, and her sister, identified only as R.E., have not been charged.
The judge has been paid more than $22,000 in public funds already for caring for the children, prosecutors allege. Monthly subsidies continue until the children's 19th birthdays.
Some of the foster care payments may have been passed on to the bailiff's sister, records show.
But the judge used adoption payments last year to make purchases in Texas and Maryland and “at spas, nail salons and casinos,” the district attorney's chief investigator reported in an affidavit attached to the charge.
The judge is accused in the charge of taking repeated actions to suppress the truth about who was really caring for the children. The judge and her husband are accused of deceiving DHS and court officials “through trick, false appearances and/or other unfair acts.”
Bass-LeSure first was elected as a district judge 12 years ago and spent most of her time handling criminal cases. She decided to move to probate, guardianship and adoption cases last year after she stepped down from a high-profile murder case against a pharmacist.
She stepped down from overseeing the murder trial after prosecutors complained of misconduct. She began her new probate docket this month and was hearing a case Friday afternoon after she was charged. The judge and her husband are being allowed to turn themselves in. She left the courthouse Friday, escorted by a sheriff's deputy away from the media.
She can continue to serve as a judge while the charge is pending unless the Court on the Judiciary takes action against her, officials told The Oklahoman. She is likely to be reassigned to handle civil cases.
The children were put into DHS custody because their mother tested positive for illegal drugs at the time of their births. The mother said R.E., who was then a DHS worker, contacted her a month later to tell her Tammy Bass-LeSure wanted to adopt the children “and could offer her children a better life,” the district attorney's investigator wrote.
Oklahoma County prosecutors learned of the alleged deception after R.E. became a suspect last September in an arson case, according to the court records. A fire investigator reported “this situation involving these children is common knowledge among people who know Judge LeSure in the community.”
The judge and her husband live in Oklahoma City and have had money problems. They filed for bankruptcy in June 2009, reporting debts of more than $1 million, records show. They acted after banks foreclosed on six modest Oklahoma County houses they owned. The judge gets more than $120,000 a year in state pay.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater signed the charge.
Addendum: Back to Work! The services of a judge cannot be lost for the mere impropriety of embezzling public funds.
Accused Oklahoma County judge back at work
Oklahoma County District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure, 43, accused of fraud in a child-care case, was going to take an extended leave of absence. She returned to the courthouse Thursday morning instead.
A judge accused of fraud is back at work.
Oklahoma County District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure, 43, was going to take an extended leave of absence. She returned to the courthouse Thursday morning instead.
“I'm doing what the citizens elected me to do, and I will continue to do so. I will continue to fight to clear my name and to work hard,” she said from her desk in her chambers.
She declined to discuss her defense, saying she was prohibited by canons that control judicial conduct.
The judge is accused in the fraud case of secretly giving away twins placed in her care. She is accused of giving the children to her bailiff's sister, Ravonda Latrice Edwards, of Oklahoma City.
The judge also is accused of misusing some of the state funds paid to her for the care of the boy and girl. Prosecutors allege she spent some of the money at nail salons, spas and casinos.
She was charged Jan. 21 with 30 counts of making a fraudulent claim against the state and two counts of perjury.
Her husband, Karlos Antonio LeSure, 46, was charged with two counts of making a fraudulent claim against the state and two counts of perjury.
The judge in January began handling probate, guardianship and adoption cases. She will continue to handle probate and guardianship cases but will no longer oversee adoption cases. The judge spent the previous 12 years on criminal cases.
Probate cases involve settling a person's affairs after death. In most cases, there are no issues in dispute.
The judge took off last week at the request of Oklahoma County's presiding judge. She told others Jan. 27 she was extending her paid leave.
Only the state Court on the Judiciary can suspend or remove an elected judge from office.
Edwards, 41, faces three unrelated felony charges accusing her of violence against a former girlfriend. The latest charge, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, was filed Monday. Prosecutors allege Edwards stole the ex-girlfriend's car Oct. 6 and crashed it twice into a nearby house.
The children, now 3, are in Department of Human Services custody.
Addendum: The judge resigns.
Okla. judge accused of fraud announces resignation
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma County judge facing felony counts of fraud, perjury and conspiracy said Friday she will resign on March 1, a day before she is scheduled to be formally arraigned on the charges.
District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure submitted a one-paragraph letter to Gov. Mary Fallin announcing her resignation and expressing gratitude to Oklahoma County residents "for allowing me to serve my 13 years."
Bass-LeSure is accused of claiming payments for two foster children who prosecutors allege did not live with her. Last month, Bass-LeSure and two co-defendants — her husband, Karlos LeSure, and Ravonda Edwards, the sister of Bass-LeSure's bailiff — waived their right to a preliminary hearing on the charges and agreed to appear before Garfield County District Judge Paul Woodward on March 2 to enter pleas. All have denied wrongdoing.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, whose office is prosecuting the case, declined to comment on Bass-LeSure's resignation from the bench. Her attorney, Richard Anderson, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment. Anderson has said he is involved in ongoing negotiations with the district attorney's office about how to resolve the case.
The judge and her co-defendants agreed to waive their preliminary hearing following three days of testimony in which day care workers and other prosecution witnesses testified that Edwards consistently dropped the children off and picked them up from day care centers, claimed to be their foster mother and referred to them as "her kids."
An affidavit says Bass-LeSure received more than $19,000 in foster care reimbursement payments over two years, as well as adoption subsidies amounting to more than $3,000. It also says the adoption petition filed by the LeSures claims the children — a boy and a girl who are twins — had lived at their home in Forrest Park from January 2008, when the children were infants, through the filing of the petition in May 2010.
Prosecutors allege the twins actually lived with Edwards. Defense attorneys have denied that the children's adoption was a sham and that the LeSure's merely pocketed the money.
Leasing agents testified that they saw the children and evidence that the children were living with Edwards after she moved into apartments they leased to her. They also testified that Edwards and the children were evicted at least twice for not paying rent and that a variety of items, including children's toys and clothes, were left behind.
Source: New England Cable News
January 23, 2011 permalink
Brantford is building a new elementary school. The last sentence of the news article is the important one: "The Children's Aid Society of Brant also will have an office in the building." Two cooperating Catholic school boards are still looking for a name for the school. We can suggest Gestapo school, or more in the Catholic tradition, Purgatory school
Boundary talks underway for joint schools project
Work is underway to establish attendance boundaries and give names to a new elementary school facility in southwest Brantford that will be shared by the local school boards.
The $14.5-million building, under construction on Blackburn Drive west of Conklin Road, will be operated jointly by the Grand Erie and Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic district school boards.
Two schools will operate in the building.
Construction of the building, originally scheduled to open in September, was delayed when it was discovered that the site had inadequate soil to support it. Work was done to fill the site with compacted soil and crushed stone.
Jamie Gunn, superintendent of business for the Grand Erie board, said construction is now moving along well. The foundations are complete and ground floor walls are almost up.
Both schools are now set to open next January, with 255 of the 760 students now attending Ryerson Heights School on Dowden Avenue transferring to the Grand Erie portion of the new building.
About 225 students will transfer to the new Catholic school from St. Gabriel's School on Flanders Drive.
That will leave about 375 students at St. Gabriel's, which is still slightly over capacity, said Wally Easton, associate director of the Catholic board.
Easton said input is now being sought from parents about attendance boundaries for the new Catholic school. A report will be presented to the board in February.
Gunn said that, in September, students at Ryerson Heights will be organized so that whole classes, and their teachers, will move as a unit to the new school.
Gunn said the plan is to have the new public school reach its student capacity of 430 within about five years.
Easton said that new Catholic school will follow a similar plan.
"We'd like to leave some room in the school, because this area is still under development," said Gunn.
There are plans to construct another 1,900 homes in southwest Brantford over the next few years.
Gunn said he hopes that, by 2020, the Ministry of Education will have approved the construction of another elementary school for the subdivision.
The Grand Erie board will form a transition committee, made up of principals, school council representatives, a teacher, a trustee, and others, which will give the new school a name.
The committee must come up with three names for the board to consider.
The Catholic board is also looking at names for its school. All board employees were asked for suggestions and a school naming committee reviewed 60 recommendations.
Three names were short-listed: All Saints Catholic Elementary School, St. Basil Catholic Elementary School, and St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Elementary School.
The matter will be discussed at the Catholic board's next meeting on Tuesday.
The new school facility will include two wings -one for each board -with a common foyer, gym and library.
It has been more than 20 years since Grand Erie and the Catholic board opened their first shared facility on Brantwood Park Road. The Branlyn Community Complex houses both Branlyn Community School and Notre Dame Catholic School.
The new shared facility will have cost benefits. A smaller parcel of land, in this case 10 acres, is needed compared to building two separate schools. Students will share two large soccer fields at the site.
A joint building also reduces tendering, architectural and contractor costs, and can tap into discounts as large consumers of electricity and heat.
The Children's Aid Society of Brant also will have an office in the building.
Source: Brantford Expositor
Thanks to Rob Ferguson for the referral
January 23, 2011 permalink
About sixty people attended the meeting at the Newmarket Newmarket Legion Hall. The master of ceremonies was Attila Vinczer, speakers included Vern Beck, Neil and Tabatha Haskett, Stephen Watkins, Sarolta Mayer and Dan Major.
Vern Beck discussed his examination of the laws requiring registration of social workers and child protection workers. In order to use the title social worker it is necessary to register with the college of social workers. A decade ago when the requirement was enacted children's aid societies instructed their staff to replace their title social worker with child protection worker. But section 40 of the Child and Family Services Act defines the functions that can be carried out by a child protection worker narrowly. They can apprehend a child and bring it to a place of safety. But other functions, such as searching the home to assess the living conditions of the child or expressing a professional opinion, are not authorized functions. Pointing this out the child protectors while they are entering your home with police escort won't get them to listen, but in the hands of a good lawyer this could get the evidence collected by non-social workers thrown out of your case.
Below is press coverage.
Canadian Maltese group hosts public meeting on CAS
When faced with a situation involving the Children’s Aid Society, many parents don’t know their rights.
The Newmarket chapter of the Canadian Maltese Charitable Service Trust hosts a public meeting for families to educate them and discuss the effectiveness of the CAS, Jan. 22, 4 to 8 p.m. at the Canadian Legion, 707 Srigley St., Newmarket.
“The CAS is a very important component for child protection,” trust secretary Attila Vinczer said. “But there are serious deficiencies.”
There is a disconnect between law enforcement agencies and child protection agencies, Mr. Vinczer said.
That was the case for Stephen Watkins, whose two sons are still missing and believed to have been abducted by their mother, his estranged wife Edyta (Ustaszewski) Watkins.
Mr. Watkins will make a special presentation on the flaws in Canada’s judicial system and the disconnect between child protection agencies and law enforcement.
The Canadian Maltese Charitable Service Trust is also pushing for all 53 Children’s Aid Societies across the province to come under the Ontario Ombudsman.
“Ombudsman oversight will give families somewhere to go other than the expensive courts,” Mr. Vinczer said. “Parents are powerless. The only option is to go to the courts and litigate.”
The meeting will feature guest speakers, including local sports coaches, registered nurses, lawyers and parents involved in CAS cases. They will touch on the topics of positive social impact of sport and the short and long-term effects of stress on children subject to CAS investigations.
At the meeting, the trust will also announce its plans for an interactive park in Newmarket, where there will be permanent supervision and interaction with youth.
Interactive parks have been installed in seven parks in Hungary and have proven to help reduce youth crime dramatically, Mr. Vinczer said.
“It’s not babysitting or day care,” he said. “It’s supervision. It’s interacting with the youth to take away loneliness that may lead them to drugs or vandalism.”
For more information, visit www.canadianmaltese.org or e-mail Attila Vinczer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Metroland York Region
Addendum: The children of Stephen Watkins have been found in Poland.
Watkins boys found safe in Poland after 2 1/2 years
Dec 7, 2011 - 12 hours ago in World
Two missing children from Toronto, Christopher and Stephen Watkins, have been found safe in Poland. Their mother is not in custody at this time.
The boys have been found after two and a half years. Their father Stephen Watkins is in Poland reuniting with his precious boys.
The Watkins boys were taken from Toronto by their non-custodian mother during a planned visitation. Mr. Watkins had feared that the mother would take the boys prior to their abduction and requested that their passports be suspended. It didn't matter, using the suspended passports Edyta (Ustaszewski / Ustaszewska) Watkins flew to Germany from the United States.
It was believed that they were in Poland where they were found on Wednesday.
The boys were removed from their mother in Poland by authorities after the children's school made a request. At this time Mr. Watkins has not been able to return to Canada but court proceedings have started.
I have been in contact with Stephen since the beginning of his nightmare. This is a breaking news story and a follow-up story will take place when Mr. Watkins has time for an interview.
Source: Digital Journal
Commit to Kids
January 22, 2011 permalink
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair wants to stamp out sexual abuse of children. There is little to disagree with in his statements. The disagreement is with what he did not say. The main form of "protection" offered to children is taking them away from mom and dad. As shown many times in these columns, the main danger of sexual abuse for children comes not from parents but from childcare workers — social worker, foster parent, psychiatrist, group home staff. These are logical career choices for pedophiles. Mr Blair will not be tracking down pedophiles in these trades, instead will be educating childcare workers to get their help in the struggle to separate children from parents.
Cops step up child abuse fight
Toronto child exploitation officers are taking the fight against sexual abuse one step further.
The Commit to Kids public awareness campaign, designed for front-line childcare workers to determine if their children are being sexually abused, was launched Thursday at the Toronto Police headquarters.
Chief William Blair said “one of the greatest challenges we face in our society is protecting our most vulnerable members.”
The program aims to prevent child abuse by creating policies and procedures that educate childcare workers about the signs of sex abuse.
Child offenders seek out organizations that deal with kids in order to gain easy access to them, Sex Crimes Unit Det. Sue Burke said.
Commit to Kids aims at stopping child offenders before sexual abuse occurs, Burke said.
Discussing the issue of sexual abuse is embarrassing for victims, therefore the need for this program is imperative, Canadian Centre for Child Protection director Signy Arnason said.
“This program will make sure offenders won’t have the time or access needed to harm another innocent child,” she said.
Although childcare workers strive to protect and maintain a safe environment for children, they’re not always successful in identifying the early stages of child abuse.
This program helps organizations deal with grey areas of misconduct and catch abuse before it happens Burke said.
Arnason’s hope for the future is that all child-serving organization uses Commit to Kids program and so far, 10,000 education kits were sent out to community and childcare groups.
Source: Toronto Sun
Donation to CAS
January 20, 2011 permalink
ACTS, a Dufferin fitness club, has tried to buy goodwill by donating to the children's aid society. They have done it before.
Source: Orangeville Citizen
More Delays for Baynes
January 20, 2011 permalink
The Bayne family had been expecting a decision on the fate of their family from judge Crabtree today. Instead they received a communication offering a decision by the end of February.
IT'S FEBRUARY NOW/ Part 425 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne
The court did communicate with the Baynes mid afternoon yesterday but of course they were out. What the Baynes learned after they returned home yesterday from their afternoon visitation with their children was this. The Baynes have told me that the Judge's decision will be ready no later than the end of February 2011.
Yes! You read that correctly. But you weren't ready for it were you? Neither were the Baynes. We were not expecting that. Disappointed is not an adequate descriptor for the way that this news impacts the Baynes and their immediate family and certainly none of their supporters. After three and one half years, this is dreadful.
Alright so let's look at this. Judge Thomas Crabtree is an intelligent and a good man. Yes I believe that. I also believe that he is a responsible man and a good judge of both character and truth as it pertains to distinguishing evidence and collateral content. We have yet to hear his decision. It is coming. I am confident that he fully understands how this delay affects Paul and Zabeth. Further, when Judge Crabtree spoke at the end of the last day in court, his proposed date for delivering a ruling was a projection rather than a firm commitment. The date of the 19th was mentioned in his comments as an outside date and we naturally have hung on to that. Not mistakenly mind you, as verified by the court communication today on the 19th. This time the forecast carries the element of commitment. I surmise that he regrets dragging this on longer yet.
Well then, why has he given himself more time. Some of you will be quick to recite your stupid conspiracy theories once again so I feel compelled to speculate too. It could be that having been newly appointed as the Chief Justice of B.C. he found that the transition and the obligations are more demanding than he anticipated. It may be that in his personal review of all of the CFCSA/Bayne case material he found that he requires more time to write exactly and precisely. Why the concentration on precision? Because his decision will reach beyond the Bayne Family reunion to speak to the way cases are being managed, people are being treated by the Child Protection network of social workers in this province. His decision will require the attention of the Ms. Du Toit, Ms. Polak and Ms. Turpel-Lafond. It has the potential for affecting the lives of countless other people.
I'll tell you what. That makes a great deal more sense than surmising some grand collusion between the judicial system and MCFD. Further, when Paul and Zabeth last evening through tears, considered the possibility that the delayed decision might help other parents eventually, they said that their pain for another month would be worthwhile if that were the outcome. That is the character that will be unmistakable to Judge Crabtree.
And if this Fraser Valley MCFD Team makes further overtures into involvement in the newborn Bayne child's life before this decision comes down, this may not only be unwise but also be career altering for some people when the press and when the Ministry in Victoria have to sort this out. I am aware of journalists clamouring to jump all over this story.
So many people were anxious to hear good news for the Baynes yesterday that there were over 2000 hits to this site in that 24 hour period. Good for you. You care. I do too.
Source: Ron Unruh blog
Foster Abuse Understatement
January 19, 2011 permalink
This year's US report on child maltreatment is in, covering the year 2009. Chapter 4 deals with fatalities. It reports 1676 fatalities in the US. The detailed table on Table 4–6 Child Fatalities by Perpetrator Relationship, 2009 is the only place where foster numbers are presented. Just 42 states with 1247 fatalities contributed to the numbers. They show seven categories that represent deaths after removal from parents by force of arms.
|Foster Parent (Female Relative)|
|Foster Parent (Male Relative)|
|Foster Parent (Nonrelative)||3|
|Foster Parent (Unknown Relationship)||2|
|Legal Guardian (Female)||1|
|Legal Guardian (Male)|
|Group Home Staff||2|
In addition, there is the catchall category called More than One Nonparental Perpetrator with 38 deaths. There is no telling how many of those were in foster care. Our list of foster and adoptive fatalities shows 83 deaths in the US during 2009. Since the list, drawn from press reports, has only one out of 20 foster deaths, it is safe to say that the official report is grossly understating the level of American deaths in foster and adoptive care.
In the category Foster Parent (Female Relative), foster aunt Jennifer Campbell and her partner Louis Ross are both suspected in the disappearance of five-year-old Hassani Campbell, an autistic boy missing since August 2009 from Oakland California. Aunt (or sister) Katie Payne and foster aunt Sharon Payne Turnell and her husband Charles Turnell are all accused in the multiple-injury death of four-year-old Landon Payne in Kearney County Nebraska. And foster grandmother Angela Barksdale is accused in the battering death of four-year-old Kevion Shand aka Smith of the Bronx New York. The report showed no deaths in this category.
In the category Foster Parent (Male Relative), foster uncle Ayrin Vick was accused in the battering death of three-year-old Natalia Santillan in Peoria Arizona. Foster cousin Kevin Buehler is accused in the battering death of eight-month-old Iyana Perez in Pueblo Colorado. Foster uncle Matthew Wyrosdick is accused in the shaken baby death of seventeen-month-old Zachary Cole Johnson in Lakeland Florida. And finally foster uncle Jamal Anderson is accused in the shaken baby death of Keisha Tate in Milwaukee Wisconsin. The report showed no deaths in this category.
In the category Foster Parent (Nonrelative) foster mother Christy Shaffer is accused in the death of one-year-old Alissa B Guernsey in Topeka Indiana. Foster mother Mary Katherine Downing is accused in the battering death of one-year-old Heaven Arizmendi Hernandez in Livermore California. Foster mother Angela Deniece Dukes is accused in the death by taped pacifier of nine-month-old Curtis Terelle Jivers aka Williams in Columbia South Carolina. Foster father Robert L Clark Jr is accused in the shooting death of six-year-old Michael Douglas Levigne in Commerce Georgia. The real parents sued foster mother Gwendolyn Williams for causing the death by chest injury of three-year-old Kennedy Compton in Alexandria Louisiana. Foster mother Cynthia Marshall and her partner Darrell Spencer are accused in the knifing death of seventeen-year-old Jamia A Hazel in the Bronx New York. The real mother sued foster agencies for repsonsibility for the death by automobile of fifteen-year-old Catherine or Katherine A Willis in Queens New York, driven by Sheila Bethea, a relative of foster mother Genevieve Bethea. Foster mother Bonnie Pattinson is accused in the battering death of one-year-old Tiffany Sue Banks-Cross in Champion Ohio. And finally, foster mother Amy Holder is accused in the battering death of two year old Naomi L Whitecrow in Edmond Oklahoma. The report showed only three deaths in this category, well short of the nine here.
In the category Legal Guardian (Female) adoptive mother Gloria Grayson is accused in the battering death of five-year-old Kevin Michael King né Daniel Adkins in Bakersfield California. Adoptive mother Sabrina Banks aka Sabrina Stafford is accused in the death of three-year-old Lavender Banks in Elk Grove California. Aunt and adoptive mother Lorrie Mae Thomas is accused in the starvation death of nine-year-old Shylae (Shylea) Myza Thomas of Flint Michigan, found in a storage locker in Vienna Township. Adoptive mother Alfreedia Leona Gregg-Glover is accused in the drowning death of thirteen-year-old Alexis (Lexie) Agyepong-Glover in Manassas Virginia. The report showed only one death in this category.
In the category Legal Guardian (Male) Robert Blurton, nephew of adoptive parents and grandparents Donnie Luetjen and Sharon Luetjen, is accused in the shooting death of fifteen-year-old Taron D Luetjen in Cole Camp Missouri. Christopher Brian Gilreath, the partner of adoptive mother Miriam Pinckney, is accused in the battering death of two-year-old Joshua Pinckney of Cumming Georgia. And Nanette L Craver and Michael J Craver are accused in the battering death of their seven-year-old adopted Russian son Nathaniel Michael Craver né Ivan Skorobogatov, Dillsburg Pennsylvania. The report showed no deaths in this category.
In the category Group Home Staff seventeen-year-old Alexis Evette Richie died of restraint in the SSM DePaul Health Center in Saint Louis Missouri. The report shows two deaths in this category, the only one where the report shows more than the press.
January 19, 2011 permalink
In Christopher Booker's report a judge was determined to return children to a family, but social services got a delay. During the delay they convinced the judge to change his mind with evidence the family is not allowed to question.
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.
January 18, 2011 permalink
According to Mary Callahan, Maine has dramatically improved its child protection system in the decade following the death of Logan Marr. This is no puff piece. Mrs Callahan is a long-term critic of her state's child protectors, starting with her book Memoirs of a Baby Stealer.
Maine Voices: Decade of change in protecting children
Former Gov. Baldacci was among those who repaired a child protective system that was not safeguarding children.
LISBON — I saw a promo for the TV news where outgoing Gov. John Baldacci said he wished he had communicated better with the people of Maine. I am not sure what he meant, but I have wished the same thing. I wish he had tooted his own horn a little more about the improvements his administration made in the child protective system.
Before Baldacci, there were more than 3,000 children in foster care in Maine -- percentage-wise, the fourth-highest amount in the nation. Now there are 1,569.
Before Baldacci, fewer than 4 percent of our foster kids were in kinship placements with relatives who already knew and loved them. Workers at the old Department of Human Services took pride in repeating, "In Maine, we believe the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" -- even though studies showed that kinship placements were far safer than placements with strangers.
Now 30 percent of our foster kids are with relatives, many going directly to those relatives without a single night spent in foster care.
Now the emphasis is on keeping families together to weather life's storms with the support of Family Wraparound Teams. And our safety numbers have never been better.
It wasn't all Baldacci's doing. As he said when I met him at the State House, "Changing DHS is like turning around a steamship at sea. You need a lot of people pushing and you can't stop for a minute or it will drift back." He put the right leaders in place and then encouraged and supported, while they pushed and pushed and pushed.
Obviously those leaders he put in place deserve credit and thanks. Jack Nicholas came out of retirement to lead DHS as it merged with the Department of Behavioral and Developmental Services to create the Department of Health and Human Services, and reformed its child protective system. Nicholas met with our group, the Maine Alliance for DHS Accountability and Reform, three days after he was named commissioner. When he went back into retirement, Brenda Harvey took his place and continued his good work.
Jim Beougher moved here from Michigan with the sole purpose of making our child protective system actually protect children and their families. He understood from his experience in Michigan, as well as from all the recent studies, that children do better with their birth families in all but the most severe circumstances. And that keeping families together is cheaper than ripping them apart.
His proudest accomplishment may be getting Maine kids out of the group homes and institutions, now considered to be ineffective at raising kids, but great at raking in money. My last two foster kids were great examples of that. Brother and sister spent three years in separate institutions when they had a perfectly good grandmother across state lines who was a nurse and a licensed foster parent. That cost the state of Maine close to a million dollars.
Maine's success has been so dramatic that we were finalists for Harvard's prestigious Innovations in American Government Awards last year. Other states now come to Maine to learn how we did it.
That is why the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform calls Jan. 31, 2001, "the day child welfare changed" and adds "and not just in Maine." Because that day, 10 years ago this month, is the day a 5-year-old girl named Logan Marr died at the hands of her foster mother.
Logan is the other person these reforms would not have happened without.
MAKING THEM LISTEN
It is not that no one noticed that DHS was out of control before Logan died. Many good people were trying to bring attention to the problem without success. Logan's death made lawmakers listen. Her sweet face made the public care.
But Logan died 10 years ago and John Baldacci became governor eight years ago. For two years there was plenty of talk but no action. It took the new governor to turn emotion into action and get Maine on the road to reform.
All the players in these reforms, including the frontline workers, can pat themselves on the back for a job well done. But Logan's family is still living without her.
I am sure they would rather have her back than hear how important she was to the state of Maine but no one can do that for them. All we can do on the 10th anniversary of her death Jan. 31 is thank them for their dignity and say we are sorry.
Source: Portland Press Herald
January 18, 2011 permalink
The inquiry into the death of Samantha Martin has begun in Edmonton.
Inquiry into disabled girl's death begins
A fatality inquiry into the death of a severely disabled 13-year-old girl is so emotionally charged that it drew placard-carrying activists all the way from Ontario to an Edmonton courtroom Monday.
“We’re here for Samantha,” said Linda Plourde of Protecting Canadian Children, a group that advocates for kids who are wards of the state. “Her story is all over the Internet.”
Somehow, Plourde and Margaret Steiss managed to carry several placards and banners with Samantha Martin’s picture into the courtroom before sheriffs ordered the women to take them out of the building.
“Why aren’t you protecting the children?” Plourde demanded of the sheriffs.
Samantha Martin died in December, 2006, of cardiac arrest, six months after she moved back into her St. Albert parents’ home after more than a decade in foster care.
She had a rare genetic disorder called Tetrasomy 18p, which left her mentally and physically disabled. She lived in a foster home that specialized in children with disabilities not far from St. Albert.
Samantha’s parents, John and Velvet Martin, are convinced that her time in foster care contributed to her death.
“Our daughter was ill-treated,” Velvet told the inquiry. “There were things going on with our daughter that were not good.”
No criminal charges were ever laid in connection with Samantha’s death, and an internal review by children’s services in 2007 concluded there was no link between the foster system and the tragedy.
Since then, Velvet pushed for a public fatality inquiry. They do not look for blame, but want to examine the circumstances surrounding a death to see if there’s anything that can done to prevent similar tragedies in the future.
Velvet said shortly after Samantha died she found documents showing the foster home (which cannot be identified under the law) had been investigated for something not connected to her daughter.
She also said she found that the school had several “incident reports” about Samantha, but their details were not revealed Monday.
Velvet also accused Samantha’s caseworker with children’s services of failing to keep proper records, describing the child’s file as “skeletal.”
She said the foster family ignored concerns from the school that Samantha was having frequent tiny seizures.
Velvet testified that when it was clear shortly after Samantha was born that she was severely disabled, social workers urged the Martins give their child over to foster care.
They were told that if Samantha was in care she’d get full access to programming she needed, which they would have to pay for themselves if she lived with them.
They signed a voluntary “permanent guardianship agreement” an order they could have cancelled with 10-days notice, but Velvet said, “we thought (if we did that), Samantha wouldn’t get what she needed.”
In 2005, children’s services was reorganized and Samantha’s file was transferred to another office, Velvet said.
“They said, ‘oh my God, this is a mess. We don’t know what to do with you.’ ”
She was told the permanent guardianship agreement had been done away with previously and it “doesn’t exist under law,” but no one had told them.
Velvet continues to testify Tuesday, when she’s expected to be cross-examined by lawyers for the foster family and children’s services. The inquiry is expected to last three weeks.
Source: Edmonton Sun
Addendum: Here is a photo from the family. (Deleted by family request, to avoid impairing their case).
Newmarket Meeting Call
January 17, 2011 permalink
There will be a public meeting to bring awareness about community family matters held in Newmarket on Saturday afternoon/evening January 22. The meeting will feature speakers Brad Jones, Alfredine Linda Plourde, Vernon Beck, Neil Haskett, Tabatha Bertrand-Haskett, Sarolta Mayer, Chris Carter, Stephen Watkins, Dan Major and Attila L Vinczer. The announcement from Canada Court Watch is in the expand block, detailed directions are in the Facebook invitation from Attila Vinczer.
Public Justice Meeting to be held in Newmarket, Ontario Saturday Jan 22, 2011 4-9 PM . Please plan to attend.
The Canadian Maltese Charitable Service Trust is inviting all concerned members of the public to attend a public meeting on Saturday January 22, 2011 regarding issues affecting justice for all families and citizens.
Meeting time: 4 to 8 PM
Location: Canadian Legion, 707 Srigley Street, Newmarket Ontario
Contact Person: Attila Vinczer (905) 895-4029
Some of the issues to be discussed at this public meeting will include:
- The impact that Children’s Aid Societies have on our children and families.
- How the CAS, police, judicial system, lawyers, schools, shelters, foster homes provide sensitive social services and how many times they discriminate and seriously fail us to the point that some are wrongly convicted while others have their children die in CAS care.
- How the vast majority of CAS workers working in the province on Ontario are violating the law.
- A public announcement regarding The Canadian Maltese Charitable Service Trust financially supporting AIDWYC -The Association In Defense of the Wrongly Convicted, by way of new fund-raising endeavors.
- The very strong need for Ombudsman Oversight of all 53 Children’s Aid Agencies in Ontario. How children needlessly suffer and in some cases die in the care of CAS every year in Ontario
- How CAS is involved with having innocent parents charged with crimes they did not commit.
The Canadian Maltese Charitable Service Trust along with it’s counterparts collectively operate in 103 countries providing help to those who need it most. We have announced setting our roots in Newmarket by way of a Public Deputation in September of 2010. As such, we are hosting a public meeting on January 22, 2011 as our first public engagement with major announcements. We strongly stand for the rights of children and a sound family structure.
One of our special guests is Ms. Win Wahrer of www.AIDWYC.org possibly accompanied by world renowned criminal defense lawyer, Mr. James Lockyer who uncovered matters concerning the disgraced Pathologist, Dr. Charles Randal Smith who corroborated with CAS in having innocent parents charged and convicted of crimes they did not commit such as Brenda Waudby and William Mullins-Johnson who was recently awarded $4.25 million for being wrongly convicted and jailed for over a decade. In both cases CAS was strongly involved in these travesties!
The Canadian Maltese Charitable Service Trust will be making a major public announcement at this event in supporting AIDWYC significantly financially so they may better assist our fellow citizens who have been wrongly convicted. There have been far too many cases where our judicial system has seriously failed. Not because our laws or our judicial process is flawed, but more so because of those who do not take adequate care in applying the proper process of law in a just manner, often influenced with ulterior motives. We will be addressing ways to avert such terrible calamities and gross miscarriage of justice.
There will be an array of affluent guests and speakers.
- Brad Jones - Positive social impact of sport in the community.Owner of Brad Jones Karate-do - celebrating 35 years of existence. Former Coach of Canada’s Karate team and recipient of countless awards, trophies and medals. Author of Detour On The Path-A thriller taking you through Afghanistan to the jails in France.
- Alfredine Linda Plourde - Impact of CAS with 120 children dying in their care each year in Ontario. CAS coverups exposed. Author of Protecting Canadian Children and founder of the Protecting Canadian Children foundation.
- Vernon Beck - Unlawful practice of social work by CAS workers in violation of Social Work and Social Service Work Act (1998) Founder of www.CanadaCourtWatch.com - Advocating for the rights of children and families for over 15 years. Author of HAP-Hostile Aggressive Parenting and many other documents. Video interviews of hundreds of victims exposing concerns with CAS, Women’s Shelters, OCL and the judicial system.
- Neil Haskett - The desperate need for Ombudsman Oversight of all 53 Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario. A brutal witch hunt by perjured CAS and Police against him to take their children. Advocate of Children’s Aid accountability - www.Bill131.ca
- Tabatha Bertrand-Haskett - Husband and wife discussing serious issues within CAS. Student Nurse-Advocate of Children’s Aid Accountability - www.Bill131.ca
- Sarolta Mayer RN - discussing the short and long-term effects of stress on children and families who are subject to CAS intrusiveness. Use of drugs to mask symptoms caused by CAS stress on children. Over 25years nursing experience working 6 years in various hospitals in Hungary and 20 years in Canada including many of those years in the OR. Knowledgeable in Homeopath, Acupuncture and Alternative Medicine.
- Chris Carter - Matters concerning CAS, Family Court, Police and the Judicial System. Advocate for the rights of Children and Families. Need of Ombudsman Oversight, Bill 131.
- Stephen Watkins - Flaws with Canada’s systems and controls enabling child abductors. Judge overruling CAS’s recommendations enables the abduction of Stephen Watkins’s two children Christopher and Alexander missing for nearly two years believed to be somewhere in Europe, Poland, Germany. www.watkins-missing-children.com A father and victim of one of the worst child abduction cases in Canada. The father in-law was charged with child kidnapping is scheduled to appear in Newmarket Court on January 28, 2011
- Dan Major - Problems with CAS, OCL, Police and the judicial system. Had his children abducted and missing for 6.5 years. Disgraced YRP officer Terry Jordan admitted having an affair with his wife the same officer who investigated Mr. Major charged 5 times with crimes he did not commit spending over 6 months in jail and 9 months of house arrest. Advocate for the rights of children and families. Multimillion dollar lawsuits against YRP and York CAS.
- An anonymous Canadian Citizen - a Canadian citizen talks about the effect of being wrongly convicted of very serious and heinous crimes subject to a maximum jail term of 44 years. Strongly driven by CAS to destroy this individuals life and family. Conviction to be appealed.
- Attila L. Vinczer - Matters concerning Domestic Violence. Concerns with CAS, Police and the Judicial system. Nine suicides per day in Canada due to stresses induced by divorce. Father of two children. Secretary of The Canadian Maltese Charitable Service Trust. Supporter of Bill 131, for the need of Ombudsman Oversight.
Source: Canada Court Watch
Bracebrige Children Stolen
January 17, 2011 permalink
Canada Court Watch posts the story of a Muskoka mother stripped of her children by CAS in Bracebridge Ontario. The mother names herself in the video as Terry Wheeler.
Another story of abuse of a family by the Muskoka CAS
(Jan 7, 2011) For the past few months Canada Court Watch has been reporting on the story of three children who were wrongfully taken from their loving family by the Muskoka CAS.
Since the public meeting was held in November at the Canadian Legion, other parents, children and family members have contacted Court Watch to report abuse of their families by the same Muskoka CAS. Many of the workers at the Muskoka CAS are working in violation to the Social Work and Social Work Act (1998) in Ontario.
A new video of a parent who is still fighting for justice after having her children taken from her by the CAS has just been posted by Canada Court Watch. Visit the link below to see this mother's video interview outside of the courthouse in Bracebridge, Ontario.
Viewers should stay tuned as more interviews of others who have been wrongfully abused by the system will be posted in the weeks and months to come. Changes to Ontario's child welfare system are most desperately needed.
Source: Canada Court Watch
Sailing Around the World
January 17, 2011 permalink
Laura Dekker waited out the hurricane season in the Canary Islands and Cape Verde Islands. After spending a year getting free of Dutch child protectors, she crossed the Atlantic in early December in two weeks, arriving at Sint Maarten. She plans to go through the Panama canal to Galapagos, the jumping off point for the largest hop of her trip, across the Pacific.
Source: Laura Dekker blog
Accidental Fall into Child Protection
January 16, 2011 permalink
Christopher Booker tells of an unnamed mother who lost her child after an accidental fall.
A mother's fall causes her to lose her child
A woman who was temporarily paralysed in a fall had her baby taken into care while she lay in hospital, writes Christopher Booker
In recent months, I have reported on many disturbing examples of how our system of “family protection” has gone horribly off the rails, but none is more bizarre than this week’s. As usual, I am legally barred from identifying the mother at the centre of this case or giving many other details, but she is in her mid-thirties, has various academic qualifications and some time back returned to England after 10 years working in America. There, among other things, she had worked as a counsellor in Guantanamo Bay, but what she saw there led her to start a new career as a financial adviser.
In September 2009, after a difficult pregnancy, she gave birth to a daughter, by an old friend with whom marriage was not possible. Two months later, she was sitting on her mother’s windowsill, dressed in a coat and hat ready to go out, when she fell, snatching at a curtain in a vain attempt to save herself.
She woke up in hospital, paralysed from the neck down. Soon afterwards, a nurse handed her a phone. It was a social worker from the local council, to tell her that her daughter – who was being looked after by her sister – was to be placed in care and put up for adoption within six weeks. “I was so paralysed,” she says, “that I couldn’t wipe the tears from my eyes.”
Because she was very fit (having been something of a star athlete), she made a miraculously quick recovery, and was discharged from hospital – after a psychological evaluation which confirmed that her fall was accidental and that she posed no risk to herself or anyone else. Still, in January last year the social workers applied for an interim care order. She was told that this was because her baby was at “potential risk of harm” due to her “suicide attempt”, and that she was in a “violent relationship” – whereas there had been no man in her life for over a year.
The interim order was issued, as is routine, but the social workers were told to produce evidence for their case, and the baby was allowed to remain with the mother’s sister’s family. The mother was given a hair-strand test which, she was startled to be told, showed “traces of cocaine” and “chronic excessive drinking”, though she rarely drinks, and a re-test for cocaine was negative.
January 16, 2011 permalink
Neil Haskett Effective Jan 17, 2011 Larry Marshall, from Children's Aid Society of London-Middlesex, will be taking over the Huron-Perth Children's Aid Society and it will transition to governance by a new board of directors. Does this transition mean that your office will no longer be able to investigate complaints against HPCAS? January 14, 2011 at 3:19am
The ombudsman replied to the Facebook posting saying that he will keep an eye on what happens.
Source: Facebook, Ontario Ombudsman page
Addendum: The press has picked up the story.
Marshall moves to Huron-Perth
A man described as the point person for the Children's Aid Society of London and Middlesex on children's service is the new supervisor of the cash-strapped Huron-Perth CAS.
Larry Marshall, associate executive director of the London- Middlesex CAS, begins his new job at the Stratford-based CAS Monday.
He takes over from Vince Tedesco, who was appointed interim supervisor in October after Youth and Children's Services Minister Laurel Broten fired Huron-Perth CAS executive director Tom Knight and dissolved the board of directors.
Broten stepped in after Knight and board chairperson Vince Judge held a news conference to announce the agency would lay off 125 staff and close its doors Dec. 15 due to a lack of funding. The agency had $870,000 in past debt and was expected to run a deficit of $1.3 million for 2009-10.
The London-Middlesex CAS was facing a deficit of $4.2 million. The agency had to reduce the number of kids in its care by 25% -- about 220 -- over the next four years to keep its doors open in a deal struck with Queen's Park.
It was the failure to reach that kind of deal that led the province to step in with Huron-Perth.
The Beacon Herald was not able to reach Marshall Friday.
A ministry announcement said Marshall has 33 years of experience in the child-welfare sector and has received community recognition awards for his work towards ending abuse against women.
Youth and Children's Services spokesperson Peter Spadoni said Marshall's appointment is interim.
"The new supervisor of Huron- Perth CAS has been appointed to lead the society through the next phase and the transition to board governance. During this phase, the supervisor will also lead a review of how the agency delivers its services. Once a new board of directors is in place, it will be responsible for governance," Spadoni said.
Tedesco was put charge of operations and was to conduct a financial review of the organization.
The Beacon Herald was unable to reach Tedesco yesterday. He is set to resume his duties as the regional director for the ministry's Central West Region.
The financial review was completed in November, Spadoni said. It identified the extent of the society's deficit and made recommendations to achieve efficiencies.
"Thanks to measures taken over the last three months, the financial situation of the Huron- Perth CAS has improved and the society is on the road to financial stability," Spadoni said.
However, as the review contains sensitive labour relations information and could compromise the privacy of individual staff, it will not be released publicly, he said.
Before he was let go, Knight said the Huron-Perth CAS was one of the lowest-funded agencies in the region. Agencies serving a slightly lower population had double the funding at $34 million compared to $17 million locally.
At the time, the Huron-Perth CAS was serving an estimated 450 families a month and conducting more than 1,600 abuse investigations annually. There were 200 children in its care.
The ministry said the Huron- Perth CAS has an approved budget of almost $17 million for the 2010-11 fiscal year.
Source: Stratford Beacon Herald
Killer liked Social Work
January 15, 2011 permalink
Jared Lee Loughner became an instant anti-hero on January 8 when he shot 20 people at a political meet and greet in Tucson Arizona killing six and wounding congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. When a mass killing occurs, authorities work quickly to eradicate the online presence of the perpetrator. Some internet sleuths have recovered the Facebook information he posted before the shooting. He said he had been employed at Child Protective Services.
Arizona shooter allegedly worked for Child Protective Services
According to several websites that managed to save personal information from Arizona shooter Jared Loughner's internet presence, Loughner claimed to have worked for Child Protective Services.
Below is the information that was allegedly scrubbed from his facebook page within minutes of the shooting.
♦ Jared Loughner ♦ Has worked at Child Protective Services ♦ Studied at Pima Community College ♦ Lives in Tucson, Arizona
- Education and Work
- Child Protective Services
- Pima Community College
- High School
- Mountain View High School Class of 2006
- Basic Information
- About Jared
- Love hunting trolls and children, I want to be a woman one day...
Most people just don't seem to understand me, but I'm gonna prove to you all how wrong you are...
My favorite interest was reading, and I studied grammar. Conscience dreams were a great study in college!
Fools who don't understand the law are bound to suffer under it!
- Interested In
Jared only shares some profile information with everyone. If you know Jared, add him as a friend or send him a message.
Facebook © 2011 • English (US)
Whether Loughner actually worked for Child Protective Services or the mention of CPS is simply part of his mental illness has not been confirmed at this point.
Source: National Examiner, Daniel Weaver
Walking in a Winter Wonderland
January 14, 2011 permalink
Latest excuse for taking your children? Walking in cold weather. Real trouble when this practice reaches Canada.
Police arrest woman walking kids in snow
Authorities took custody of a Tennessee woman’s children Tuesday night after police reported finding the woman and children twice walking the streets of Columbia in sub-zero temperatures.
Columbia police initially made contact with Keshia R. Wilson, 21, on Worley Street near Providence Road around 7:30 p.m. as she pushed a stroller through the snow with a 3-month-old and a 1-year-old, Columbia police Officer Jill Wieneke said. The officer gave the family a ride to an address in the 300 block of Sanford Avenue.
The officer warned Wilson not to be back out in the dangerously cold conditions with the children, Wieneke said.
Around 10:20 p.m., officers found Wilson pushing the children in the stroller on Worley near West Boulevard. The officer noted the conditions at the time were 9 degrees with a wind chill of 14 degrees below zero.
Officers mapped the route Wilson described, which added up to 5.5 miles over a two-hour period, Wieneke said. She told officers she left the children’s grandmother’s residence on Sanford because she felt uncomfortable.
Family services authorities took the children into custody, and Wilson was arrested on suspicion of two counts of second-degree child endangerment. She remained in the Boone County Jail today on a $1,000 bond.
Source: Columbia Daily Tribune
Carter Partially Cleared
January 13, 2011 permalink
Fake shrink Gregory Carter is in slightly less trouble now. The prosecutor has dropped perjury charges against him.
Crown drops perjury charges against Whitby man
WHITBY -- The office sign of Gregory Carter in the Dundas-Centre Medical building at 220 Dundas Street West. Mr. Carter has been charged by the Durham Regional Police. January 26, 2010.
Greg Carter still faces fraud prosecution
OSHAWA -- Perjury and obstruction of justice charges against a Whitby psychologist accused of falsifying his credentials in family court have been dropped by the Crown.
Tuesday morning prosecutor Michael Gillen asked that 28 charges against Gregory Carter be withdrawn. A new indictment, with six counts of fraud under $5,000, has been filed with the court.
Outside court, Mr. Gillen wouldn't comment on the reason for the withdrawal of the original charges.
The development is significant for Mr. Carter, 64, who has been the subject of criminal and professional investigations since complaints came to light in January of 2010. Durham police charged him with perjury, fraud and obstruction of justice, alleging he had exaggerated his credentials while testifying in child custody cases.
An investigation revealed that Mr. Carter is registered with the Ontario College of Psychologists as a psychological associate, and that his doctorate had not been recognized by the college, police said.
In June 2010, Mr. Carter was suspended from practising for three months after pleading guilty to exceeding limitations on his practice. During a hearing before a College of Psychologists disciplinary panel, Mr. Carter admitted that in the course of his work as a witness in family court, he had made diagnoses he was not qualified to make, and claimed he had a doctorate in psychology although his credentials were never accepted by the college.
One of the complainants who pushed for charges said it can't be proven that Mr. Carter inflated his credentials in court. Several complainants were informed of the decision to drop the perjury charges in December, he said.
The College of Psychologists disciplinary panel found last June that Mr. Carter had properly identified himself as a psychological associate while testifying in a court case that led to a complaint against him.
A lawyer for Mr. Carter said then he had never acted illegally in calling himself a doctor.
The fraud charges are to be spoken to in court in Oshawa Jan. 27.
Source: Metroland Durham Region
January 9, 2011 permalink
After charitable neighbors bought Christmas gifts for Arkansas foster children, the social workers responsible for the kids took the gifts back to their point of purchase to exchange for cash. The article does not say where the cash went, but it is a safe guess it did not go to the foster kids. Lame excuse: social workers were trying to level the playing field by getting equal gifts for all.
Investigation launched into gifts for Craighead County foster children
JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - There are questions surrounding Christmas presents intended for children in Craighead county foster care.
An investigation is underway by the Jonesboro Police Department to determine if there was wrong-doing by individuals whose job is to protect, care and find permanent families for children in state custody.
"They were taken back before they were ever delivered," said Dia Sawyer, a Jonesboro woman who recently sponsored, or bought presents for, three children in foster care. She bought and wrapped clothing, a comforter, digital camera--even a remote controlled helicopter. All of the items were on wish lists made out by the children.
"I delivered my gifts on the 20th," said Sawyer. That same day in fact just hours later, nearly all of the items she purchased were returned to the individual stores they came from: Wal-Mart, Kohl's and TJ Max.
"Every single item, every single store had been returned on the 20th," said Sawyer. They were returned at one store at 6pm that night and the other two stores were returned on the 22nd."
Receipts document every return made by the Department of Children and Family Services employees. Sawyer tracked the paper trail after the digital camera was returned to Wal-Mart for cash. Then, she called police.
"Nobody is denying that this actually happened," said Detective Mike Branscum of the Jones Police Department, Criminal Investigation Division. "The big question is what the motive was behind exchanging the presents."
Detective Branscum says DCFS employees working out of this office scanned price tags on gifts to see where they came from and returned them. That's not a crime, but where the money went raises some eyebrows.
"We have one situation where one of the DCFS employees used the remainder of one of the gift cards to purchase some personal property for themselves," said Det. Branscum.
Det. Branscum says there's no written documentation of where money was spent once it was received from a returned item. Branscum says DCFS employees interviewed so far about the returns say they were "leveling the playing field" and trying to make sure siblings got equal amounts of gifts. But, Sawyer says two of the children she bought for live at Consolidated Youth Services and are not related.
"There were some things that were taken back and either exchanged or refunded that I'm unclear as to why they would have done that," explained Det. Branscum. "Because they are at CYS. They don't have any siblings and didn't really have a good reason for why that stuff was taken back."
Det. Branscum isn't sure what charges, if any will be filed. The Prosecuting Attorney's office will decide.
In the meantime, he hopes to hear from anyone else who bought gifts. Sawyer says she spent $500 dollars and wonders if any of it made it to the kids.
"I don't think anyone has the power to open a gift and decide whether it should be given," said Sawyer, as she looked over pictures of gifts she had purchased for foster children this Christmas.
Source: KAIT-TV Jonesboro
January 8, 2011 permalink
Gao Zhi Xin, eight years old, fled Chinese persecution to come to Canada with his mother. His mother died and the orphan boy cannot return to China because he is a refugee. He has two other relatives in Canada, but they are both being deported. Children's aid will pick up the boy and turn him into a crown ward.
Orphaned Chinese brothers face separation
Gao Zhi Xiang doesn’t know how to break the news to his 8-year-old brother, Zhi Xin, when the day comes for his deportation.
The 19-year-old, who arrived in Toronto last year on a visitor’s visa from China to see their dying mother, is faced with the difficult decision of leaving his orphaned brother, a permanent resident in Canada, to the care of Children’s Aid.
Their deceased mother, Lin Mei Zhang, had been granted asylum in Canada from religious persecution but died of colon cancer while her application for permanent residence was still in process.
“We only have an uncle in Toronto, but he is illegal here and is facing deportation as well,” said an anxious Gao, speaking in Mandarin. He is scheduled to meet with border enforcement officials Tuesday to arrange for his removal. “We don’t have other family or relative here. We only have each other.”
In fact, Gao and his mother would have obtained permanent resident status back in March 2009, if an immigration officer had not put their application on hold because the gaunt, dying woman who appeared for an in-person interview did not look like her photo in the application, taken when she was healthier.
Zhang, a native of China’s Fujian province, died at age 41 on Oct. 4, 2009, a day after Gao arrived on a one-month visitor’s visa to see her on her deathbed. She was already too sick to pursue her appeal with immigration.
Gao and his soon-to-be-deported uncle have since become the sole caregivers of Zhi Xin, a Grade 3 student at Toronto’s Charles G. Fraser Public School.
Gao’s visa expired at the end of 2009 and he has stayed in Canada illegally since then. Although he has had an application in process since May to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, Gao was notified in December that he would be removed from the country.
Avvy Go, Gao’s lawyer, said the mother and younger son came to Canada in early 2007 and had their separate asylum claims accepted the following year. Zhi Xin got his permanent resident status in August.
“As a protected refugee, Zhi Xin cannot return to China with his elder brother,” said Go. “Given he is only 8 years old and has no other family here, his only choice is to become a Crown ward.”
Gao, who dropped out of school and worked in retail in China, said his mother was a member of an underground church.
“I know Mom would have liked to see all of us start a free life in Canada. It’s just too bad that she never got to see that,” said Gao, who complains that Zhi Xin doesn’t like his cooking because it’s nothing like their mother’s.
“We just hope that immigration officials will open their hearts and not separate me and my brother. We were abandoned by our father. We have lost our mother. It is just he and I now.”
Source: Toronto Star
Power-Crazed, Off Their Rockers
January 7, 2011 permalink
We would be sued for that kind of language, but British MP John Hemming says: “Some social workers are power-crazed individuals who want to mess up people’s lives and they are allowed to get away with it. They’re off their rockers." One of his teenaged constituents was put in foster care after a fight with her mother. There she was seriously harassed and is now pregnant.
Birmingham MP John Hemming blasts 'power-crazed' social workers
BIRMINGHAM MP John Hemming has blasted social workers as “power-crazed individuals” intent on messing up lives.
His outspoken comments came after Birmingham City Council unveiled plans to axe almost 900 jobs and save £62 million in children’s services.
Radical reorganisation including a cull of management posts and a 30 per cent cut in back-office administration are proposed for the Children, Young People and Families Department, where the protection of youngsters at risk of sexual and physical abuse has been condemned as inadequate by Ofsted.
A radical shake-up of the department will see social services working more closely with GPs, hospitals, health centres and the police to prevent family breakdown and stop children from reaching the stage where they have to be taken into expensive care.
But Mr Hemming, (Lib Dem, Yardley), who is chairman of the Justice for Families campaign, said the changes would not prevent social workers from making “stupid decisions” by wrongly taking children into care.
He gave the example of a teenage girl in his constituency placed in a home after a row with her mother.
The girl was “seriously harassed” at the home and is now pregnant, he added.
He added: “Some social workers are power-crazed individuals who want to mess up people’s lives and they are allowed to get away with it. They’re off their rockers.”
Source: Birmingham Mail
Foster Parent Honored, Arrested
January 7, 2011 permalink
What's the difference between a sex-criminal and a foster parent? In Welland Ontario, nothing. Award-winning foster parent Maurice Lavigueur has been arrested and charged with sexual assault, sexual exploitation and juvenile prostitution.
Foster dad charged with juvenile prostituion
WELLAND — A man once honoured by Family and Children's Services Niagara for his commitment to foster parenting has been charged by Niagara Regional Police with six sex-related offences involving minors.
Maurice Lavigueur, 52, was arrested and charged Thursday with two counts each of sexual assault, sexual exploitation and juvenile prostitution.
Police provided no information regarding the victim.
Lavigueur, and his wife Lynne, have been foster parents to nearly 90 children over the past 20 years in their Welland home, according to a Tribune story published in 2008.
Ann Godfrey, FACS' director of development and public relations, said Thursday's arrest was "shocking and disturbing and a very serious matter."
"We would co-operate jointly with police … we're looking for a thorough investigation to get to the bottom of this matter," she said.
While not being able to comment directly on whether there were foster children still in the home, she said when there are allegations of a serious matter regarding foster children, the children would be removed by FACS as a safety matter until an investigation is complete.
In 2008, the Lavigueur family was given a special certificate and a plaque for being outstanding foster parents.
At the time, Godfrey said, "I think with the Lavigueurs … they're just so consistent and reliable, but more than that, they just go beyond their role as foster parents."
Godfrey heard the Lavigueurs treated their foster kids like one big extended family: "they're very non-judgmental and easy-going, they handle problems that come their way and they even help mentor biological parents."
She'd also heard that kids who leave their home continue to keep in touch with the Lavigueurs even after they go on to start their own families.
Maurice Lavigueur remains in custody and is scheduled to appear at a bail hearing at the Robert S. K. Welch Courthouse, in St. Catharines Friday at 10 a.m.
Niagara Regional Police continue to investigate this matter and urge anyone with information to contact Det. Ken Wegelin of the sexual assault unit at 905-735-7811 ext. 5122.
Source: Welland Tribune
Addendum: There are more accusations.
Another alleged victim of foster dad steps forward
WELLAND -- Less than a week after Maurice Lavigueur was released on bail, police have arrested him again and laid additional sex-related charges against the one-time model foster parent.
The 52-year-old Welland man, whom Family and Children's Services Niagara honoured in 2008 for his commitment to foster parenting, was first arrested Jan. 6 and charged with two counts each of sexual assault, sexual exploitation and juvenile prostitution.
Since news of his original arrest was published, Niagara Regional Police spokesman Const. Nilan Dave said, another alleged victim has been identified, leading to additional single counts of sexual assault, sexual exploitation and juvenile prostitution being laid against Lavigueur.
"This second victim did see media coverage and came forward, contacted investigators," Dave said.
"We appreciate the coverage and obviously if there are any other victims, we encourage them to come forward."
He said people with any information regarding the case should contact Det. Ken Wegelin of the sexual assault unit at 905-735-7811, ext. 5122.
Lavigueur was released from custody on a $20,000 surety bond following a hearing Friday at the Robert S.K. Welch Courthouse in St. Catharines.
FACS spokeswoman Ann Godfrey said there "are many checks and balances in place" for foster parents.
"There are many steps and a very vigorous screening process when people make application. There's ongoing monitoring of the foster homes and also the children in the homes, and that's done separately and independently," she said.
She said foster parents are also assigned FACS workers who support them. Each of the children living within a foster home has a worker assigned to them, "who meets with them regularly and in private."
Godfrey said that level of oversight is mandated by Ministry of Children and Youth Services guidelines and legislation.
"So yeah, you do question how something likes this could happen with all those checks and balances in place. It's something we're looking at very closely and hopefully we'll be able to find out," she said.
"It's very distressing to contemplate that something like this might have happened while a child or young person is in our care."
Godfrey said FACS will work closely with police until the situation is resolved.
Lavigueur's next court appear-a nce will be on Feb. 25 in Welland.
Source: St Catharines Standard
Policy and Procedure Manual
January 7, 2011 permalink
After the provincial takeover of Huron-Perth children's aid by the ministry in October, the internal documents of the agency became accessible to freedom of information requests. John Dunn applied for a copy of the policy and procedure manual, and got results. His original file is available as HPCASPP (zip). When expanded, it has hundreds of MS-word (doc) files.
Since this is an important disclosure, it is worth converting into a form easily read on the internet. Technically, the document is a mess. It contains two to four copies of each file, it is riddled with technical errors, for example, some document numbers in the files don't match the file names, some page numbers are non-consecutive many paragraph numbers have duplicates or missing numbers. As a rule, a product this sloppy indicates lack of pride in the work product, not surprising from the CAS culture. Html needs a perfect document to keep the original paragraph numbers, requiring a week of effort developing a conversion of a thousand lines of Python. The final product fills in or removes sections by inserting the words elision or epenthesis, terms beyond the vocabulary of social workers.
Here is the link, Huron-Perth Children's Aid Society, Policy and Procedure Manual The version posted today is preliminary. Adding a few lines to the conversion program should allow the cross-references to show up as html links, easing the study effort.
So far there has not been enough time to study the content of the manual. A random stab is section 5.1 - 002.030, Public Criticism of the Society.
When the services of the Society are publicly criticized, the caseworker will:
- inform his/her manager immediately;
- review the casefile to determine the particulars of the issue(s) being criticized;
- prepare a case summary for the manager; and
- if requested, prepare a serious occurrence report (5.9 - 002);
- the manager will inform the Executive Director.
Muskoka Policeman Charged
January 7, 2011 permalink
One of the policemen who work closely with children's aid in Muskoka has been charged with domestic assault. The name of the accused is confidential. Recently Muskoka has been a hotspot for abuse by children's aid
Officer charged with domestic assault to appear in court
The Ontario Provincial Police will not release details surrounding the identity of one of its officers charged in connection with a domestic dispute.
The officer was arrested and charged with two counts of assault and one count of threatening death, according to a release from the OPP’s Central Region office on Dec. 29.
The charges are the result of a complaint that stemmed from a number of domestic-related incidents that occurred within the region, according to the release.
Members of the OPP Central Region crime unit and the OPP Professional Standards Bureau investigated the incidents, which occurred in December.
The officer, who was off duty at the time of the incidents, has 13 years of service with the OPP and has been suspended from duty. He has been released from custody and is scheduled to appear in Huntsville court on Feb. 2.
However, the name of the officer or where he is from will not be made public, according to Const. Peter Leon, the media relations officer for the OPP Central Region office.
He said that with all domestic incidents, the name of the charged person is not released in order to protect the identity of the victim.
Source: Huntsville Forester
Children of the Untouchables
January 6, 2011 permalink
In Scotland a hundred babies have been slated for seizure before being born.
100 babies put on child protection list before they're born
NEARLY 100 babies in the Lothians are on the child protection register - before they are even born.
It has emerged that across the area there are 96 infants who have been flagged up as a concern to social workers while in the womb.
The revelation has shocked health chiefs and politicians, but charities have emphasised that being on the register gives vulnerable infants the best chance in life.
Children across the Lothians who are on the council registers are deemed to be at "significant risk" of harm once born, including the possibility of being exposed to drug abuse, sexual abuse, physical harm or emotional conflict.
In some cases the baby will be taken straight from the mother after birth, but it is understood social workers' preference is to work with families to reach a more amicable solution.
The city's children and families leader, Councillor Marilyne MacLaren, said: "In Edinburgh we have seen the figures stabilise over the years.
"Early intervention in these cases is absolutely key and we have measures in place to identify mothers and families who have problems. In some cases we need to give parental assistance, in others the baby has to be taken into care.
"The child is the absolute priority. We have to be hard-nosed and it's no use being sentimental about it. When you have a baby born to mum who is an addict, the baby is very ill, not sleeping or feeding and in great discomfort.
"A great deal of hard work goes into the whole system to make sure it works."
There are currently 62 pregnant women in Edinburgh whose unborn baby is on the register.
In West Lothian that figure is 19, 11 in Midlothian and four in East Lothian.
The total rise in the Lothians is notable, from 64 in 2006 to a present total of 96. In total, 509 youngsters not yet born have found themselves on the register in that five-year timeframe.
Social work concerns over physical harm or neglect make up the majority of cases.
NHS Lothian and the four local authorities have worked hard over the years to boost links, meaning midwives and nurses can spot potential problems and alert social work departments instantly.
Real, Live Practice Babies
January 4, 2011 permalink
College girls who needed babies for practice during a home economics class borrowed them from a local orphanage for a semester. This story will make you laugh and cry at the same time.
Real, Live Practice Babies
Once upon a time, infants were quietly removed from orphanages and delivered to the home economics programs at elite U.S. colleges, where young women were eager to learn the science of mothering. These infants became “practice babies,” living in “practice apartments,” where a gaggle of young “practice mothers” took turns caring for them. After a year or two of such rearing, the babies would be returned to orphanages, where they apparently were in great demand; adoptive parents were eager to take home an infant that had been cared for with the latest “scientific” childcare methods.
This scenario is the premise of The Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald. The lovely novel, which I had the delight to read over my holiday vacation, charts the life of Henry, a orphan who started his life as a practice baby at a women’s college. But the “practice baby” idea is more than just a fictional device–it is, bizarrely enough, a historical fact.
I didn’t know that until I had reached the end of the book and saw “A Note From the Author.” “This novel,” Grunwald writes, “started with a real photograph.” Then, she includes the following image.
Grunwald’s author note continues:
I found it, quite by accident, on a Cornell University website about the history of home economics. On the opening page of the online exhibit, among other thumbnail images, was the captivating snapshot of a baby with a beguiling smile and roguish eyes. I clicked on the photograph and learned that “Bobby Domecon” (the last name short for Domestic Economics) had been a “practice baby”…
As Grunwald discovered, practice baby programs were in place not only at Cornell but at all sorts of other colleges. As she did her research into this phenomenon, she discovered “one case that drew national attention when an Illinois child welfare superintendent questioned what the effects of this kind of upbringing might be. My wish for an answer is what inspired this book.”
As Grunwald tries to provide an answer, she delves into plenty of science, ranging from the influence of the famous Dr. Spock to the attachment experiments run by Harry Harlow. The novel’s a great read, but it also inspired me to want to know more about the whole practice baby phenomenon, so I did a little reading of my own.
My first stop was the online Cornell exhibit that Grunwald mentioned. The material is all still online, and I encourage you to check it out. Cornell’s program ran from 1919 to 1969 (which strikes me as incomprehensibly recent). At Cornell, eight female students at a time spent a full semester living in a fully-kitted out practice apartment. The women were there to learn the entire spectrum of homemaking skills, and, the exhibit says, “an early proponent of the program, believed that babies were essential to replicate the full domestic experience. Albert Mann, Dean of the College of Agriculture, called the apartments ‘essential laboratory practice for women students.’”
The Cornell exhibit has more photos of Bobby Domecon, as well as several other practice babies: Edna Mae, Denny, and Troy Domecon. You can also find pages from the baby books that the student mothers kept for each child, meticulously charting their development.
During this time, homemaking (as the name home or domestic economics makes clear) was considered to be something that could be conquered by science. Running a home based on instinct was considered to be woefully old-fashioned; the idea that raising a child and maintaining a home could be optimized by following a set of scientific rules was gaining currency. And these practice apartments were designed to teach young women the latest, scientifically “proven” techniques for running a home.
Accordingly, the practice babies were raised according to strict rules that governed everything from naps to diets. A paper published in The Journal of Home Economics in 1920, reveals this kind of thinking. The report, called “The Training of Children as A Part of Laboratory Work in Home Management,” chronicles the practice baby program at the University of Minnesota during the 1918-19 school year.
The work was undertaken (1) to show that laboratory work in the care of children can be fitted into a college program; (2) to demonstrate methods of child care, both physical and mental, which are known to result in the well-being and development of the child; and (3) to work out some management problems involved in the care of children.
The paper details the strict rules that governed the care of the babies. Consider the daily schedules to which the babies were held:
METHODS OF CARE EMPLOYED
Russell Earl Waken 6:30 Waken 6:00 Breakfast 6:30- 7:30 Breakfast 6:00- 6:00 Quiet play in crib 7:30-8:30 Quiet play in crib 6:30-7:30 Bath 8:30- 8:50 Bath 7:30- 8:00 Play 8:50-9:30 Play, ride 8:00-11:00 Sleep 9:30-12:00 Dinner 11:00-12:00 Dinner 12:00- 1:00 Sleep 12:00- 3:00 Play, ride 1:00-5:00 Play, ride 3:00- 5:00 Supper 5:00- 6:00 Supper 5:00- 6:00 Bed 6:00 Bed 6:00
The babies’ diets are similarly specific. Here, for instance, is what baby Russell, 13-months-old, ate every day:
Milk (skimmed), one pint.
Toast, crackers, both white and graham.
Cereal thoroughly cooked but not strained.
Fruit juice and pulp, two kinds each day, especially orange juice and prune pulp.
Potatoes, mashed or baked, served without butter.
Vegetables other than potatoes, almost any kind, especially spinach, carrots, tomatoes.
Meat in the form of scraped beef, veal, or chicken, two or three times per week or
Eggs 2 or 3 times per week or
Custards 2 or 3 times per week.
Cod liver oil, 3 tsp. per day.
Of course, these sorts of practice baby programs would not last. As the Cornell exhibit puts it, “As time passed, however, new research in child development pointed to the need for a primary bond with a single caregiver, and social changes in the lives of women made the practice house focus on domesticity seem old-fashioned.”
And a Time article from 1954 reveals some of the doubts experts were beginning to have about such programs.
“Imagine,” cried Mrs. Babette Penner, director of the Women’s Services Division of United Charities, “what anxieties there are in a child who is given a bottle in twelve or more pairs of arms.”… Meanwhile, as the experts wrangled, little David went right on risking future neuroses, and his assorted mothers went right on gaining some worthwhile “practical experience.”
Indeed, though the minutiae of the infants’ lives were recorded while they were practice babies, it doesn’t seem as though anyone thought to follow up on these children after they were adopted. So we’re left to wonder about the big questions: How did these babies actually turn out? What were they like as adults? Did they bear any evidence of their early upbringing? The best we may be able to do is read Grunwald’s imaginative take on these questions. The Irresistible Henry House is a great novel but it is, obviously, fiction. How I’d love to know the facts.
Cornell University Library’s online exhibit about practice apartments and babies.
“Babies Serve as Laboratory Material at ‘U’: Home Economics Classes Will Use Babies to Practice On.” Minneapolis Sunday Tribune. March 23, 1919.
“The Training of Children as A Part of Laboratory Work in Home Management,” The Journal of Home Economics. 1920.
“Education: Case of the Resident Baby.” Time. January 25, 1954.
Grunwald discusses her discovery of the Cornell practice baby program.
The New York Times review of The Irresistible Henry House.
Source: Plos blogs, Emily Anthes
No Hobbies Allowed
January 1, 2011 permalink
Here is an example of a parent placed on the fringe of respectability for perfectly acceptable behavior — toy collecting.
Still fighting after all thease years
D&D and roleplaying has been in the public eye for over three decades. Yet somehow the public still hasn't inderstood or even been made more aware of it. My case in point from my personal experience. I have been for sometime trying to get custody of my children. A few months ago the local branch of the Children's Aid Society sent a woman out to do a Parental Assesment of me. We met twice and she asked questions and filled out a questionaire. Later she wrote in her report that I was an "avid collector of children's games and action figures" She has decided that my apartment is "cluttered with his collection of games and figures" And somehow also has stated that I alluded to the fact that I am a vampire. I am stunned, such a biased and incorrect view of my hobby I have never encountered. None of the games in my collection are "children's games" and I don't own any action figures. As for the vampire thing I can only think it be from a reference to roleplaying I made. Clearly this woman had no idea what she was talking about but presents her opinion as if she did. I am being painted in a negative light because of a hobby that most people don't know much if anything about. She could only do this due to the detrimental way in which this activity is viewed by a largely uninformed public. The media coverage has done nothing to change this. We are being marginalized in the pubic eye as a lunatic fringe. Back in highschool I had expected this kind of thing but that was 25 years ago. To face it again was surprising. Its a sad commentary on our society. I thought the anti-roleplaying hysteria had died down.
Source: Kevin Brooking