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April 30, 2011 permalink
Two weeks ago Christopher Booker exposed the case of a pregnant celebrity jailed and threatened for attending a parliamentary meeting. John Hemming used parliamentary privilege to identify her as Vicki Haigh. Now the expectant mother has fled England to protect herself and her baby.
Vicky Haigh flees the babysnatchers
Using parliamentary privilege, John Hemming MP has named renowned jockey and trainer Vicky Haigh as the woman threatened with imprisonment for speaking to him, writes Christopher Booker.
Last week brought two further startling developments in a story I reported a fortnight ago, concerning a heavily pregnant mother summoned at very short notice to the London High Court to show why she should not be imprisoned. Among the charges against her were that she had spoken at a meeting in Parliament convened by the All Party Group of MPs on family law related issues.
On Tuesday, the convenor of that meeting, John Hemming MP, who has been at the centre of the much-publicised campaign against excessive court secrecy and “super-injunctions”, used parliamentary privilege to name the mother on the floor of the House, which is why it can now be reported. On a point of order, he referred to “Vicky Haigh, a horse trainer and former jockey” as the subject of “an attempt by Doncaster council to imprison her for speaking at a meeting in Parliament”.
We can still say nothing about the case which led to the increasingly controversial order Miss Haigh was alleged to have breached. But it may be added that her successes as a trainer and a jockey have made her very well-known in the racing world.
The other new twist to this story, which I can also report because it is a wholly different case, not yet the subject of legal proceedings, is that last week Miss Haigh took flight from Britain to Ireland, because she had apparently been forewarned that the social services of another local authority, Nottinghamshire, were planning to seize her baby when it is born in two weeks’ time. Her new child is by a partner with whom she has lived happily for six years, as a loved stepmother to his three children. They were all much looking forward to the new addition to the family.
It is hard to imagine the ordeals to which this prospective mother has been subjected in the final stages of her pregnancy, which, as I reported earlier, included being arrested and held for much of 65 hours in fetid police cells. Three times she had to be rushed to hospital because of complications with her pregnancy, but each time the police took her back to the cells. They finally released her, exhausted, three days after her arrest.
In escaping abroad to evade England’s “family protection” system, Miss Haigh is following the example of an increasing number of parents desperate to avoid their loved children being seized. Dozens of others have fled, often at great personal cost, to foreign jurisdictions such as Ireland, Sweden, Spain, Uganda or northern Cyprus (though councils have been known to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money trying to get the children back).
The excuse social workers increasingly favour to justify seizing newborn babies from parents is that the child might be “at risk of emotional abuse”. This is an innuendo so vague and emotive that it can be made – and too often accepted by judges – without social workers having to produce any evidence that can be proved or disproved. “Emotional abuse” is now used in more than 50 per cent of cases where children are taken into care.
Fortunately for Miss Haigh, as she prepares for her child’s birth, she has many friends in the Irish racing world who have given her a warm welcome. She is a strong woman – a quality she may have inherited from her father, the footballer Jack Haigh, much respected in his day – and she is determined to fight for the right to have her family. We have not heard the end of this disturbing story.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
April 29, 2011 permalink
Child protectors put parents, and sometimes others, on a child abuse registry through accusation only, there is no hearing. Even when a court dismisses the protection case names remain on the registry. Within days of the the seizure of children from the Gates family in Texas a judge dismissed the case and their children returned home. But when they asked to get off the registry, CPS made them wait eight years for a hearing, then turned them down. They have spent over $500,000 trying to clear themselves.
It’s been more than a decade since Child Protective Services entered Gary and Melissa Gates’ Houston-area home and removed their two biological kids and 11 adopted ones, following an allegation the pair had emotionally abused one of their children. Within three days, a judge had returned all the children to their parents; within eight months, the child welfare agency had dropped its case.
But the Gateses, along with half a million other people, remain listed in a statewide database of people who mistreat children — a registry that often precludes child care jobs, foster care and their life’s work, adoption.
“From my side of the socioeconomic scale, this is nothing you’d ever think would happen,” said Gary Gates, who has spent “well north of $500,000” trying to get off the registry, and to hold CPS accountable for the trauma he says his family has endured. “The reality is, very few people have the emotional and financial fortitude to fight this.”
CPS officials, who say they must walk a fine line between keeping children safe from harm and protecting the rights of those accused of abuse, are prohibited from speaking about the Gates case. Meanwhile, more than 2,000 people are caught in a backlog of cases awaiting administrative appeals, many with their careers and families hanging in the balance.
Minors on the
10 42 11 126 12 224 13 396 14 721 15 958 16 1,318 17 1,884
Texas’ “central registry” was created in the 1990s as a repository for reports of child abuse and neglect — a database maintained so child welfare workers and job placement offices could run background checks or further investigations. There are roughly 325,000 central registry checks each year.
But the confidential registry is largely made up of people who are not convicted criminals or registered sex offenders. It contains more than 500,000 people — 5,700 of them between the ages of 10 and 17 — who state investigators have found “reason to believe” sexually abused, physically harmed or neglected a child.
Their acts are listed as moderate, serious or severe — subjective, undefined determinations made by individual caseworkers. (More than half are classified as “moderate.”) And once on the registry, it is very difficult to get off. Those on the registry can wait anywhere from five to 99 years for their designation to expire. Or they can appeal to CPS — the same agency that made the initial determination — to be removed from the list.
Just a third of alleged perpetrators who appeal to CPS are successful. The others can pursue a review from the State Office of Administrative Hearings — which can take years because of a shortage of lawyers in CPS’s legal division. At the end of 2010, more than 2,100 people were awaiting these reviews. More than 1,000 of them had been waiting for more than a year; nearly 200 had been waiting three or more years.
In the meantime, child welfare officials say, people accused of abuse or neglect and placed on the registry can continue to work with children as long as they go through a review and are not determined to be an “immediate threat” — a classification doled out in 7.5 percent of cases. But they cannot foster children. And they cannot adopt.
“We consider this backlog a safety issue,” said Anne Heiligenstein, commissioner of Texas’ Department of Family and Protective Services, which oversees CPS. "We remain concerned about the risk.”
Allegations Against Minors on Registry
Allegation Total Confirmed Percent
Abandonment 7 0.11% Emotional Abuse 24 0.39% Medical Neglect 60 0.98% Neglect (MH&MR Facility) 1 0.02% Neglectful Supervision 861 14.10% Physical Abuse 761 12.46% Physical Neglect 112 1.83% Refusal to Accept
5 0.08% Sexual Abuse 4,277 70.02%
For the Gateses, being on the registry is akin to being blacklisted. The deeply religious couple had two biological children, one of them disabled, before adopting 11 others “at God’s direction” throughout the 1990s — including sibling groups and troubled older children, some of the hardest to place. The Gateses' many supporters describe their sprawling household as a place of deep love and strict discipline, where troubled children were taught structure and proper behavior through church, exercise and punishment, some of it unconventional.
On a Friday in February 2000, CPS workers came to the Gateses’ home and removed all of their children after a phone call alleging emotional abuse. The couple’s adopted fourth grader had arrived at school with a plastic bag of cookie wrappers stapled to his shirt — his punishment, the Gateses said, for breaking into the kitchen late at night to binge on a bulk box of Fig Newtons.
The following Monday, in a courtroom packed with the Gateses’ friends and family, CPS alleged that the couple — and in particular Gary — were frightening disciplinarians, who forced their children to haul bricks and miss meals as punishment and who resorted to physical violence when the children acted out. (In years of media reports, the Gateses have never denied being strict, or taking an aggressive, physical approach to disciplining their kids. But they say the average parent's scolding has no effect on the most troubled child — and argue that any suggestions of violence are preposterous.)
The judge returned the children to their parents. CPS dropped the case several months later, after the Gateses hired high-profile attorneys, demanded records and resisted state services. But the battle did not stop there. The Gateses have spent much of the last decade tying CPS up in court, alleging the agency abused its power and unlawfully encroached on their rights and their home. As recently as 2008, a federal appellate court dismissed a suit alleging that the state had violated the Gateses’ constitutional rights — but insisted that CPS overhaul how it removes children from their homes, including getting a court order first unless a child is in imminent danger.
Today, most of the Gates children are fully grown. But the couple remains on the central registry after losing an administrative review for which they say they waited more than eight years. Now, they are pursuing legal remedies to try to get off of the registry. “There’s no accountability in the system,” Gates said of CPS. “They make up the rules as they go along.”
Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, has filed legislation backed by the Gateses that would ban CPS from adding someone’s name to the central registry until the individual had time to appeal it and until the abuse finding has been upheld in an administrative hearing. But with four weeks left in the legislative session, the bill still has not gotten a hearing. CPS officials say the measure would increase the agency’s costs and potentially endanger children by allowing someone who ultimately ends up in the database to be around children while the administrative process plays out.
“The department would not know that a person applying to work in child care or who is applying to become a foster or adoptive parent has been determined to have abused or neglected another child,” said Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the agency.
Meanwhile, state child welfare officials came before lawmakers this winter to request 25 additional attorneys to clear the administrative hearing backlog. But the House version of the tightened up budget does not include the funding — and the Senate draft only includes enough to get the backlog down to 1,300 by the end of fiscal year 2013.
Source: Texas Tribune
Door Closed to White Men
April 28, 2011 permalink
The Serpent River First Nation has closed its doors to the Algoma Children's Aid Society.
Serpent River seeks movement on First Nation Child Welfare Services PDF Print E-mail
(April 27, 2011 Serpent River First Nation) Effective immediately Serpent River First Nation has closed its doors to Algoma Children’s Aid Society. This ends many years of child welfare service that has been overshadowed by a stressed relationship of child apprehension and displacement of many First Nation children.
The community has begun engaging discussions with a First Nation organization that is mandated in Ontario to deliver its child welfare services. The intent will be to have services delivered that are culturally relevant and most importantly, delivered to meet the highest benchmarks and standards of child welfare.
Last week Serpent River First Nation Chief Isadore Day says that the community was faced with yet another situation with respect to Algoma Children’s Aid Society, where the parties appeared to be at odds on issues surrounding a child welfare matter.
“What’s significant about the types of issues we are facing with the agency is that we don’t have this type of break-down with any other child welfare agency. Clearly our people are saying that they want an alternative to a non-native agency” say Chief Day. The chief also indicated that after observing this erosion with Algoma Children’s Aid Society over the last decade, it is time to make a move towards asserting it’s responsibility on child welfare.
In recent years, the First Nation communities on the North Shore of Lake Huron have all formally declared that it is time to move towards becoming mandated to deal with child welfare. The change will be that services shall be provided by a First Nation organization and that the Ontario Child and Family Services Act and its policies will be implemented by that agency. “This is a necessary first step in asserting our jurisdiction, essentially our responsibilities must be reclaimed by our people – we never signed treaties to give our children to the crown, we must chart a path that removes this incursion” says Day.
Chief Day further comments, “The bottom line here is that our First Nation communities never gave away this jurisdiction. We will rely on our own professionals, we will build our process and a child welfare safety net upon our own values and strengths, and we will conduct child welfare in a manner that heals and strengthens our communities. We can no longer accept non-native agencies and homes taking our children. We must accelerate movement and progress on the establishment of our mandates on child welfare.”
Serpent River First Nation has indicated that the first order of business in moving forward will always be that child welfare and wellbeing remain of paramount concern. The leadership in the community is committed to working with other First Nation organizations to ensure those standards are upheld during this transition and that any matters of child welfare requiring intervention are provided priority consideration.
The Chief and the community of Serpent River First Nation are only one among many First Nation leaders and their communities that are discontented and determined to restore jurisdiction over child welfare.
For more information contact:
Chief Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini
Serpent River First Nation
Source: First Perspective
Petition Your Legislators
April 28, 2011 permalink
A website lets you easily send emails to Ontario MPPs Laurel Broten, Sylvia Jones, Michael Prue and Rosario Marchese giving your opinion of recent private member's bills 179 and 183. The text of the email and a non-commital reply from Sylvia Jones are enclosed.
Hon Laurel C. Broten, MPP:
I'm pleading with you to stop Bill 179. I fear that this bill was conceived without enough public consultation. Prior to passing this bill, we urge that you look into the matter yourself to guarantee that there will be no adoption of any children who are or maybe wrongfully apprehended in order to prevent children from being stripped of good parents, extended family and their friends.
Furthermore, I am writing to you asking for your support of Private Member’s Bill 183. The purpose of this Bill is to protect Ontarian's and I want you and your party to commit to expanding the Ombudsman’s mandate to have the ability to investigate those public bodies listed.
cc: Sylvia Jones, MPP Michael Prue, MPP Rosario Marchese, MPP
Source: Neil Haskett
Thank you for your email about Bill 179. I absolutely believe there needs to be more public consultation on this bill. During debate of this bill I have been calling for public input, and I look forward to being a part of that process.
In regards to Bill 183, the Progressive Conservative Caucus supports bringing more accountability to the agencies, boards and commissions which are publicly funded.
Sylvia Jones, MPP
Source: email from Sylvia Jones
Tasha Lavigne R.I.P.
April 28, 2011 permalink
Tasha Lavigne, a ward, or former ward, of the Muskoka children's aid society, has been found dead in Campbellford Ontario. She was sixteen years old at the time of her death. Nearly four years ago, she was the subject of a manhunt when she ran away from Huntsville.
Police release name of girl found dead in B&B
Investigation ongoing, OPP say
Campbellford — The Northumberland OPP has released the name of a 16-year-old girl found dead in a Campbellford bed and breakfast establishment.
A media release Wednesday said the OPP is investigating the unexpected death of Tasha Lavigne of Campbellford.
Police are conducting a criminal investigation in conjunction with the Office of the Chief Coroner to determine the circumstances surrounding her death.
The OPP said it is believed there is no risk to public safety. Earlier this week a source, who wished to remain anonymous, said the teen was thought to be found dead Sunday at the Emilyville Inn.
Media officer Const. Chris Dewsbury told The Community Press Tuesday although police are investigating the death, no details will be released until results of the post-mortem are known.
"We can't release any information until we get the information from the autopsy," he said.
Dewsbury said police must withhold the details of the investigation at this point because the death could turn out to be an accident or suicide.
"And we don't release information to the media on those," he said.
Police are asking anyone with information related to the death to call the department at 613-475-1313.
Source: Trenton Community Press
Addendum: Police acknowledge that Tasha was a CAS ward.
'No anatomical cause' in teen's death
'No anatomical cause' in teen's death
CAMPBELLFORD -Police are continuing their criminal investigation into the "unexpected" death of a teenager found in a Campbellford bed and breakfast on April 24.
Northumberland OPP Crime Unit Detective Constable Jamil Ali said a post mortem performed at the Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto last Tuesday determined "there was no anatomical cause" in the death of 16-year-old Tasha Lavigne.
Lavigne was found dead at the Emilyville Bed and Breakfast on Grand Road in Campbellford on Sunday, April 24.
Police have revealed that Lavigne was a ward of the Children's Aid Society. Her mother, who is not from the area, was staying at the bed and breakfast with her daughter.
The business's website states the bed and breakfast has five themed rooms, with twin and queen beds available. Rooms range from $80 to $125.
Although police wouldn't confirm, reports indicate the group home at which Lavigne had been staying, and the bed and breakfast are owned by the same individual.
Ali said toxicology results on the teen could take a number of weeks.
"I spoke to the pathologist and asked him to put a rush on the report, but that still means weeks," Ali said.
"The toxicology will say how much alcohol or drugs, or both, if any, and that will guide us."
Though an inquest is a normal course of action for the death of a child in the care of the Children's Aid Society, Ali said the decision is up to the Coroner's office.
It is believed that there is no risk to public safety and police are seeking any assistance from members of the public who might have information that could assist in this investigation.
A funeral service for Lavigne was held on Friday.
On the funeral home's guest book a message from someone in Cambridge stated, "Tasha was an amazing young woman and touched many peoples hearts, especially mine. I know that they say she is in a better place but I wish we could be selfish and have her still with us. I feel deeply for your loss and my prayers are with you."
Lavigne was the daughter of Cindy and the late Yves Lavigne. She is also survived by her two sisters, Jessica and Rebecca Lavigne.
Source: Northumberland Today
Addendum: Tasha's mother has been accused of causing the death. According to another news report:
There was no anatomical cause for her death an autopsy has determined, police have said.
Is this brilliant detective work, or a CAS attempt to deflect blame for a dead foster child? The accused mother lacks the means to defend herself and based on past experience will be bullied into a plea.
Mother charged in death of daughter
A 46-year-old North Bay woman has been charged with manslaughter in the death of her 16-year-old daughter Tasha Lavigne of Campbellford.
Northumberland Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police arrested Cindy Lavigne Monday. She also faces drug charges.
Lavigne appeared for a bail hearing in Cobourg Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.
As Lavigne arrived she blew a kiss to her father and boyfriend who were in the courtroom.
When asked if she understood the charges against her she nodded.
A request was made to adjourn and set a date for her next appearance.
"I love you Dad," she said as she was lead out of the prisoner's box.
Duty counsel Steve Gilding requested an adjournment to Monday saying that Lavigne had applied for Legal Aid and was in the process of looking for counsel.
She is scheduled to appear via video Monday.
Lavigne's daughter Tasha was found dead on April 24 at the Emilyville Bed and Breakfast in Campbellford, 180 kilometres northeast of Toronto. The teen was staying there with her mother in a scheduled visit.
A post-mortem examination was conducted April 26 at the Office of the Chief Coroner in Toronto.
The teenager is survived by two sisters, and predeceased by her father, the late Yves Lavigne.
Source: North Bay Nugget
Lie in Court
Get a Promotion
April 25, 2011 permalink
Lying social worker promoted, now trains others
An Orange County social worker who lied to a juvenile court commissioner in order to take away a woman’s two daughters — and cost the county $4.9 million in a court judgment — was later promoted to a supervisor, county officials confirmed.
She now trains other social workers.
It took Seal Beach mother Deanna Fogarty-Hardwick six-and-a-half years to regain custody of her children, who were 6 and 9 when they were taken from her in 2000.
Fogarty-Hardwick’s oldest daughter, Kendall, is now 20, and filed her own lawsuit against the county and three of its social workers for depriving her of a relationship with her mother.
Orange County Social Services social workers Marcie Vreeken and Helen Dwojak filed false reports and held back evidence which would have cleared Fogarty-Hardwick, an Orange County jury found in 2007. A third social worker was cleared of liability.
The jury awarded Fogarty-Hardwick $4.9 million in damages, with the county responsible for the bulk of the award. The county appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied the county’s request to be heard last week.
Vreeken and Dwojak were never disciplined.
In fact, Vreeken was later promoted, according to county records. She earned $103,441.48 last year as a senior social services supervisor, according to county records.
Dwojak, who was Vreeken’s supervisor, retired from the county in 2006, according to county records.
“I am certain and I stand by my social workers that they did not fabricate, they did not suppress any information and they did not perjure themselves,” said Dr. Michael Riley, director of the Orange County Social Services Agency. “If they had I would have dismissed them.”
Social Services conducted an investigation into how the social workers handled the case and found no wrongdoing, Riley said. “This woman is the epitome of integrity,” Riley said of Dwojak. “They did nothing wrong.”
According to court papers, Vreeken threatened that if Fogarty-Hardwick did not “submit” to her will, she would never see her children again. The social workers also tried in 2000 to coerce Fogarty-Hardwick to sign a document saying she was a bad parent by threatening to take her daughters away, Fogarty-Hardwick alleged.
According to daughter Kendall Hardwick’s lawsuit, Vreeken “attempted to coerce Kendall into visiting her father by threatening that if Kendall did not visit with her father she would be taken away from her mother and ‘put in a home.’ ”
Kendall Hardiwick’s lawuit accuses Vreeken of lying in a Feb. 17, 2000 court report, including failing to disclose her threats against Kendall and her sister that left the two girls in tears and a subsequent argument between Vreeken and Fogarty-Hardwick.
A county commissioner ordered Fogarty-Hardwick’s daughters taken from their mother and put in Orangewood Children’s Home immediately. Vreeken and another social worker went with a uniformed police officer to to take Kendall’s younger sister, who was “screaming and crying for her mother as she hid under the principal’s desk,” according to Kendall’s lawsuit. Kendall was also forcibly removed, leaving her “devastated.”
The girls were later put in foster care.
Kendall Hardwick’s lawsuit also accuses Vreeken of repeatedly lying in court reports and on the stand to thwart Fogarty-Hardwick’s attempts to regain custody of her daughters.
In a March 31, 2000 letter, a therapist wrote to the agency that “Kendall … shows signs of emotional regression. She was tearful throughout the session, begging to go home. … She doesn’t know how much longer she can cope and visibly shook while relating this.”
“Defendants knew of Plaintiffs emotional collapse,” the suit reads. “Yet, while testifying in the juvenile court trial, Vreeken refused to acknowledge the children were mentally deteriorating.”
The social workers instead reported the children “were doing well,” according to the lawsuit.
Fogarty-Hardwick gave her ex-husband full custody in 2002, hoping to protect her daughters. She was then allowed two supervised visits a month for two years. She eventually won 50-50 custody in 2006.
Fogarty-Hardwick sued the county in 2002, arguing the Social Services Agency and its two social workers violated her civil rights. A jury ruled against her.
She sued again, arguing this time county’s policies violated her constitutional rights, including her Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Fogarty-Hardwick’s accused the county of violating her constitutional rights by removing her children without making a finding of imminent danger or serious physical injury; interviewing her daughters without a parent present; holding her children without cause; fabricating evidence; and failing to properly train employees about parents’ constitutional rights.
The jury voted 10-2 in favor of Fogarty-Hardwick. The county appealed.
In the Fourth District Court of Appeal opinion, Justice William Bedsworth wrote, “the evidence adduced at trial obviously caused both the jury and the judge to conclude not only that something seriously wrong was done to Fogarty-Hardwick in this case, but also that the wrongful conduct was not an isolated incident.”
“Despite Fogarty-Hardwick’s complaints, and the concerns expressed by others about the handling of this dependency case, SSA did not investigate the situation or consider assigning different social workers to the matter. Neither of the social workers involved was disciplined. Instead, Vreeken was promoted to supervisor in 2001,” Bedsworth wrote.
Child Protective Services cases are not open to the public, a fact which Riley says prevents him from providing the whole picture.
“We have no agenda to disrupt families,” Riley said. “Our goal is to keep families together.”
Source: Orange County Register
April 25, 2011 permalink
Police have issued an Amber alert for Leila Elizabeth May, born January 18, 2008 (age 3), taken by her mother from custody yesterday in Sault Sainte Marie Ontario. The report does not say what kind of custody, but an abduction from children's aid is likely. When you see a mother with a small child, call the police.
Amber alert issued for missing Sault child
The Sault Ste. Marie Police have issued an amber alert for an abducted child in the Sault area, a press release stated.
Leila Elizabeth May, age 3, is believed to be in the company of her mother, Kristy Ann Barsanti, age 21.
The child was dropped off for a scheduled visit with Barsanti on April 25, but was not returned to her legal guardians at the scheduled time.
May was last seen wearing a green sweatsuit, pink rain boots with rabbit faces, Spiderman underwear and socks.
The child is 39 inches tall, weighs 40 lbs. and has long blond hair.
Barsanti is described as 5-2, 115 lbs, above shoulder-length dark-brown hair with a red streak and green eyes but wears blue contact lenses.
Police do not know if a vehicle is is involved.
Anyone with information is asked to phone the Sault Ste. Marie Police service at 705-949-6300.
Source: Sudbury Northern Life
Addendum: Just after noon the Amber alert was called off, thought the child has not been found. Have the cops figured out that this mother is not a danger to her own child?
Addendum: The mother turned herself in to police later the same day.
Missing girl, 3, found after mother turns herself in 0
TORONTO - Police have located the missing three-year-old girl for whom a province-wide Amber Alert was called Monday.
Three-year-old Leila Elizabeth May was found in good health and unharmed.
Kristy Ann Barsanti, Leila's 21-year-old mother, turned herself into police Monday night. She has been charged with one count of abduction in contravention of a custody order.
She will be appearing in bail court April 26, 2011 at 10am.
Source: Toronto Sun
Career for Child Abuser
April 23, 2011 permalink
After Kylie TeKani was convicted of three charges of cruelty to a child and assault with a weapon, she enrolled in a training course for New Zealand social workers. Children in her care, aged 5, 6 and 8 years, were beaten with a broom handle, had to rummage in rubbish bins for food and were often locked outside of their Penguin Grove home until dark.
Abuser let into social work course
Te Wananga o Aotearoa has admitted its vetting system failed after a woman who had been convicted of cruelty to a child was allowed to enrol in a social work degree.
Kapi-Mana News was contacted by a former student at Te Wananga, concerned that tutors of the first-year certificate in social service (biculturalism in practice) and follow-up bachelor of social work (biculturalism in practice) courses were unaware that Kylie TeKani was taking classes at the Porirua campus.
Ms TeKani was sentenced to eight months' home detention in 2008 after pleading guilty to three charges of cruelty to a child and assault with a weapon.
Children in her care, aged 5, 6 and 8 years, were beaten with a broom handle, had to rummage in rubbish bins for food and were often locked outside of their Penguin Grove home until dark.
Ms TeKani's partner, Norman Makai, received five years in prison.
The person who contacted Kapi-Mana News did not want to be identified, but knew of at least one other student that had withdrawn from the social work course, who had been "struggling to sit in the same room as her [Ms TeKani]".
"I can understand all this about people having second chances in life, I really do, but studying to become a social worker? That's not right, considering the offences against children."
The former student said the "bigger issue here" is that of police vetting. It states on the relevant webpage for the Te Wananga social work courses that police background checks are carried out.
"No police checks were ever done on me, I know this for sure.
"If they had been done properly on everyone, they would have found the information out about Kylie.
"The tutors were not aware of this. How many others [enrolled] have serious convictions? There needs to be some answers."
A spokesman for Te Wananga confirmed the 2010 social service certificate applicants were not given mandatory police checks by the tertiary provider as per procedure due to a "human error", thus some of these people are now students of the bachelor course.
"We have instigated a complete review around this blatant breach of policy ... to ensure this cannot happen again. The staff member concerned has been reprimanded and will undergo intensive training around the importance of adhering to our policies."
The spokesman added there had been "disruption" of police vetting due to a new system being used, but was confident a more efficient checking process was now in place.
Claiming privacy reasons, Te Wananga would not say whether Ms TeKani was still studying at the campus, but reiterated,
"We are in the process of completing police checks on all first-year [bachelor] degree students".
"We are the largest provider of social service degree graduates in the country [and] there is high demand for [them].
"There are criteria which exclude those with certain criminal convictions from being approved by the Social WelfareRegistration Board and police checks are also required prior to students being approved placement."
Sensible Sentencing Trust's Garth McVicar said he was "appalled" by the situation.
"The question has to be whether [Ms TeKani] is suitable material to be a social worker? The answer is obviously no, she's not, and that's why police checks are in place."
April 23, 2011 permalink
A disillusioned social worker tells what really goes on inside British care homes for teenagers.
The untouchables: How violence and drugs go unpunished in Britain's care homes where all that matters are children's rights
When Winston Smith became a youth worker after leaving university, he was an idealistic liberal. But after ten depressing years of seeing disruptive children in care being indulged rather than disciplined, he’s written a devastating book exposing the truth about the anarchy in this country’s care homes.
Well past midnight, a thuggish teenager called Liam is playing music in his bedroom at full volume. Three adults have spent 20 minutes cajoling him to ‘make the right choice’: in other words, to turn it down and let everyone get some sleep.
As they’ve been trained to do, they’ve praised him for those few hours in the past week when he wasn’t causing mayhem. But none of this works. It rarely does.
Liam has an angry, vacant look in his eye. Even threats don’t work. When I tell him he risks not going to Alton Towers this weekend, as planned, he roars: ‘B******s! I’ll be f***ing going. I’d like to see you try and stop me.’
If I dare to come into his room, he adds, ‘I’ll f***ing smash you right up!’
Everyone in the care home is awake now. Suddenly, a semi-feral 15-year-old appears at Liam’s door and hurls a 4kg dumb-bell at him, narrowly missing.
Provoking Liam — who, at just 15, is 6ft 2in and weighs 15st — can be unwise. In the past, he’s assaulted staff and gone on a wrecking spree simply for being asked politely to go to school.
What follows now is a hellish chase down a corridor. Fortunately, the dumb-bell thrower manages to barricade himself in a bedroom, along with two care-home workers and a pregnant teenager.
Liam starts furiously kicking the door down with his steel-toed boots. He’s also grabbed a frying pan from somewhere and is clearly intending to clobber the people cowering inside.
The door’s splintering and nearly off its hinges, but there’s nothing I can do except call the police. If I try to intervene physically, one of us will probably end up unconscious — and if it’s Liam, I know I’ll never work in social services again, regardless of the mitigating circumstances.
Welcome to the topsy-turvy world of care homes, where boys like Liam regularly get away with everything short of murder. During the many shifts I’ve worked at Charrington Place care home, he’s spat on me, threatened me with a home-made flame-thrower, thrown a clock at me and pelted me with eggs. He’s done variations of the same to pretty much everyone else.
On this particular night, the police arrive just in time to prevent a bloodbath, but conclude that there aren’t sufficient grounds for arrest.
The next day, Liam refuses to go to school. Instead, he’s taken for a walk in the countryside and then a row round a lake in the grounds of a stately home.
You might think this a highly inappropriate reward for attempted murder, and you’d be right. But the care system prefers always to look on the positive side. In the paperwork we have to fill out, Liam’s relaxing day is magically transformed into an ‘educational outing’.
On his return, he announces that he wants to go into town. ‘I don’t want to f***ing walk,’ he tells the care home manager. ‘Get me a car.’ The car isn’t available, so Liam begins rampaging around the house. He tears several paintings off the wall, throws a plate at me, slaps the manager, spits in my face, grabs me by the throat and spends a good hour trying to kick the office door down.
Later, he threatens to ‘mash’ me up while I’m asleep.
At the end of all this, he’s solemnly informed that he’s lost his £1 good behaviour incentive money for that day. Beyond that, though, he escapes censure; indeed, he’s told that if he behaves until Saturday, he’ll be taken to a nearby leisure centre.
Madness? Of course it is. Right across the country, the residential care system has been infected with an institutional and ideological form of insanity. As many as 90,000 children and young people pass through the care system in England every year, and 28 per cent are looked after in dedicated children’s homes. The average care home is small, with ten children or fewer, but I’ve seen some trying to keep tabs on more than 60 teenagers.
Many children have suffered appalling abuse and neglect, and some will have been placed with 50 different foster families before being moved to a care home at the age of 14. Forty-five per cent of children who arrive in care are assessed as having a mental health disorder.
In a sane world, they would receive the discipline and strong authority that would give them some chance of becoming decent and productive members of society. Instead, teenagers like Liam are indulged at every turn.
For the few minutes or hours that they aren’t misbehaving, they receive cash bribes and other awards. Violent rages go unpunished — a policy known as ‘positive reinforcement’. Far from receiving much-needed guidance, semi-feral kids are dictating the agenda.
Don’t want to go to school today? No problem — we’ll let you sleep in because we can’t force you. On top of that, we’ll act as your cook, butler, driver and slave.
The children are fully aware of their power. Take Wayne, a small, skinny 14-year-old who regularly leaves his breakfast bowl on the table in a puddle of milk.
The first time he did this, I asked him to put the bowl into the dishwasher.
‘We don’t f***ing do cleaning up,’ he said, smirking. ‘We’re not skivvies. That’s the staff’s job.’
There was no point arguing, because social services object to anything that even hints at criticism of the young people in our charge. Instead, we’re expected to inhabit a morally neutral universe, without judgments or standards.
How on earth did I end up here? Well, like most people in this field, I was an unquestioning, Guardian-reading liberal — in my case, with a first-class degree in politics, philosophy and sociology and a Masters’ in international relations — who wanted to do something meaningful with his life.
On top of that, I’d had personal problems during my own youth, when I was a very heavy dope smoker. So, from my own experience, I knew that no matter how low you get, most problems can be solved by a combination of hard work and tough love.
Then I got mugged by reality.
Here’s what happens when a 16-year-old called Rachel smashes up the TV set in her bedroom during a temper tantrum. She’s told that the TV won’t be replaced for a month, so she immediately appeals to head office.
And what do head office do? They order that the TV should be replaced immediately, as it’s Rachel’s ‘right’ to have one.
Another day, Rachel phones to say she needs a lift back from a town 12 miles away. After all, it’s so much easier to call out a chauffeur than catch a late train.
Plonking herself in the back of the car, she then repeatedly kicks the driver’s seat with all her might, causing him to jerk forward. We’re lucky to make it home in one piece.
Her punishment for putting all our lives at risk? Two days without a chauffeur. When I ask why she hadn’t lost other privileges, I’m told: ‘Rachel has her rights, and we have to be careful.’
As for Wayne, he’s just lunged at my face with a broom. A ten-minute tussle ensues as I try to wrestle it out of his grasp.
Later, he says he’s off into town ‘to get stoned with the lads’ — and although he’s under-age and bunking off school, there’s nothing I can do to stop him.
I can’t touch him. I’m not allowed to lock doors.
So neither can I prevent two highly vulnerable 14-year-old girls from also strolling out. They usually disappear for two days at a stretch and are sometimes brought back by the police.
'The children know their power over us'
These, then, are just some of the sorry results of a profound shift in power away from adult authority. Instead of teaching these children values (so Victorian), we’ve empowered them to live pretty much as they please, irrespective of the damage they’re doing to themselves.
And, tragically, the same thing is happening in the homes designed as a staging-post for disadvantaged older kids and young adults. There are now more than 10,000 of these ‘supported housing’ projects in the country, costing us billions a year.
Yet few people are aware of their existence. Unless, of course, you happen to live next door to one.
As you approach the Emmanuel Goldstein Project, which is situated in a quiet residential street in a small English town, you soon pick up the trail of beer cans, fast-food cartons and cigarette butts leading to the front door.
Within the imposing three-storey building are 66 people aged 16 to 25, who are unable, for whatever reason, to live with their families. The idea is to give them a roof over their heads, some freedom and responsibility, and a little help in making the transition to living independently.
In fact, these homes are perpetuating the exact problems that they were designed to eradicate. Even if the kids are decent to start with, most are soon sucked under by the prevailing culture of drug-taking, drinking, slovenliness, violence and teenage pregnancy.
Typically, they’ve flunked all their exams. Failure is a badge of honour, and the ‘three Rs’ have been replaced by the three Is: ignorance, indolence and illiteracy.
They’re Generation F: failed, failing and f***ed up.
It’s not that they’re inherently stupid: it’s just that their parents and teachers have been unable or unwilling to instil in them any personal discipline or self-control. And, sadly, they won’t learn any of that here either.
That’s because they’re allowed to do exactly what they like. Indeed, any attempt to inflict rules (called ‘policies’ in some projects because the word ‘rules’ is too oppressive) results in a series of complaints and weeks of paperwork for the staff.
At the Emmanuel Goldstein Project, where I spent a year, the residents were each given freshly decorated bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms and shared kitchens — far nicer than anything I could afford. As well as TVs and gaming consoles, most of them also had more disposable income than I did.
As one of several ‘key workers’ on the premises, my job was to monitor their behaviour, write up endless reports, and meet with them regularly to help them achieve their goals — which, for most of them, is merely to sign on the dole.
For the residents of this project, the taxpayer is shelling out £196,560 a year in housing benefits alone. If you multiply that by all the projects in the country, the bill comes to an incredible £2 billion.
Even so, most of the ‘clients’ — as we’re told to call them — can’t be bothered to fill in their housing benefit forms, so we have to do it for them. Nor do most of them pay the £7.50 they’re supposed to contribute towards the rent from their other benefits.
One girl, 16-year-old Krystal, came crying to me once because she hadn’t received her Jobseeker’s Allowance. Despite the fact that it was 1pm on Tuesday, she was still wearing pyjamas.
‘I did miss signing-on yesterday,’ she admitted, ‘but that was because it was at 9.45 in the morning. It’s too early for me.’
To be fair, that’s like 3 am for many of the residents, who like to sleep much of the day and party all night. I called the Jobcentre on Krystal’s behalf — yes, that’s part of my job, too — only to be told that they’d changed her signing-on time to the afternoon.
‘Surely she should be up in the morning, looking for a job?’ I said, surprised at this decision.
‘Well, we have to be responsive to young people’s needs,’ was the reply.
Naturally, the residents also require rewards for things they should be doing in the first place. So, they get ‘points’ (which can be exchanged for cash) every time they apply for a job or enrol on a training course.
In other words, the taxpayer has to reward unemployed teenagers simply for trying to find employment.
Nor does this state-sponsored bribery stop at points: to get them to attend workshops or seminars, they’re given free take-away pizzas, sweets and soft drinks. These classes include a two-hour session entitled ‘Benefits’, for which an expert on scrounging comes in to instruct our clients on any additional payments that they might be entitled to.
Assuming you’re a taxpayer, this means you’re not only paying the benefits officer to turn up, you’re also bribing teenagers to learn how to sponge off the state.
Even those who land a job interview don’t necessarily get their act together. One morning, as I sat in the office downstairs, an obese girl in a tracksuit stormed in.
‘This place is a f***ing joke,’ she yelled.
It turned out that she had put in a request for a wake-up call with the night worker — but he’d only called her once.
‘I had a job interview this morning, and now I’ve missed it. I specifically said I wanted to be called three times between 8 am and 8.30,’ she ranted.
As mildly as I could, I pointed out that she wasn’t living in a hotel. Plus she could have used the alarm on her mobile phone.
She stared at me, nostrils flaring like a bull about to charge. ‘I’m putting in a f***ing complaint form about this,’ she said, wobbling out of the office. ‘It’s not on.’
All the residents are familiar with the nationwide complaints charter, which gives them a licence to moan incessantly. Filthy kitchen, with mould growing on the dishes? No problem: the taxpayer will pay to send in the cleaners.
Each teenager quickly learns how to work the system. For instance, one handy weapon is to accuse a key worker of being ‘judgmental’ — a failing to which I’m regrettably prone.
One day, when Kacey, an 18-year-old former burglar, was telling me about his latest shop-lifting spree, I couldn’t stop myself from expressing disapproval.
‘You’re having a right go at me,’ he whined. ‘I feel very judged.’
Now, being judgmental, in social work, is considered a far worse offence than theft. Fortunately, another member of staff, Nicola, was on hand to reassure Kacey that he wasn’t really being asked to examine the morality of his behaviour.
‘No one’s judging you, Kacey,’ she said. ‘I think Winston’s just concerned that you may get into more trouble. Of course, we acknowledge that you’ve done remarkably well and improved so much during the past year. Well done on that score.’
This is classic positive reinforcement: you congratulate a youth for refraining from breaking into people’s homes and businesses — and ignore the fact that he’s stealing from shops.
On top of that, staff are required to ask residents for their views on how the project could be better run. Since they lie in bed all day, playing violent war-themed video game Command And Conquer and getting smashed on cheap alcohol, they have to be tempted to the common room with boxes of Snappy Tomato Pizza. ‘How do you think we could make living here more fun?’ asked the manager, once they’d all assembled. By the end of the session, he’d committed to a karaoke night, a weekly DVD evening and the purchasing of a communal Nintendo Wii.
Never mind that the whole charade has taken place during the day, when these young adults should have been working or training; by getting a few of them to agree to stick up posters for a DVD night, the manager was able to tick a box labelled ‘resident involvement’.
Communal living, though, can definitely have its drawbacks. Particularly for the few who are actually trying to study or hold down a job, and don’t appreciate the constant rows and loud music.
Memorably, some residents kicked up a fuss about food being filched from the large communal fridge-freezers. The manager immediately went into action.
Using roughly £4,000 of taxpayers’ money, he ordered 31 brand-new Amica fridges (one for every two children), with a further £1,800 going on seven large freezer units. The large fridge-freezers, which worked just fine, were discarded.
Was this money well-spent? Don’t ask me — I might get judgmental.
In the end, I handed in my resignation because I didn’t think anything we were doing was actually helping anyone. I felt helpless, mired in a system built on lies.
The week I left, most residents were still not paying the £7.50 share of the rent from their benefits, choosing instead to spend it on super-strength cannabis and cheap booze.
Of the few who were working, several had not paid any rent for some time, and several more had been issued eviction notices for non-payment of rent or for anti-social behaviour. They were confident of winning their appeals.
Far from helping them to live independently, I’d helped create a new generation of crooks and scroungers.
n All names have been changed. Winston Smith is a pseudonym.
Extracted from Generation F by Winston Smith, published today by Monday Books, £8.99. © 2011 Winston Smith. To order a copy (p&p free) call 01455 221752. www.mondaybooks.com
Source: Daily Mail
April 22, 2011 permalink
On April 19 MPP Rosario Marchese introduced bill 183, Ombudsman Statute Law Amendment Act. It is similar to his earlier bill 131 providing for ombudsman oversight of five kinds of agencies including children's aid societies. The new bill 183 is similar, but adds universities and the office of the Independent Police Review Director to the list of agencies the ombudsman can review. Here is the text of bill 183 (pdf) and a video of the ceremony introducing bill 183 (mp4).
April 22, 2011 permalink
baby Kaylee has been stolen by the C.A.S!, apparently her father has been providing total care for her, backed by surgeons at sick kids Hospital, this however is not good enough for the CAS, on April 15 they snatched her from her loving father. We do not know complete details as of yet, all we know is her father is devastated, crying out for help, and is seeking help from all of us advocates in this matter, and that he wants his daughter home within his loving care and hands.
Source: Facebook We are not sure the source wants to be named.
Adopt a Concubine
April 22, 2011 permalink
A Calgary father got his adopted daughter pregnant three times. By age 16 she had one live birth and two abortions.
Dad got adopted daughter pregnant three times
CALGARY - Psychiatric testing has been ordered for a Calgary man who got his adopted daughter pregnant three times - one which ended in childbirth.
The man, who can't be named to protect his victim's identity, pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of sexual assault and sexual exploitation.
He admitted having a regular sexual relationship with a young girl he and his wife took in when she was abandoned by her mother.
Crown prosecutor Pam McCluskey told Justice Kristine Eidsvik the abuse began when the victim was 14 years old.
"The accused asked her to have sex with him," McCluskey said.
"The first time he asked she 'chickened out'," the prosecutor said.
Eventually, they began having unlawful sex, which ultimately resulted in the girl becoming pregnant in 2006.
The victim "did not realize she was pregnant until she went into labour," McCluskey said, reading from an agreed statement of facts.
The girl kept the baby, who ended up being cared for by the offender and his wife, she said.
After the victim recovered from childbirth the offender continued his predatory ways, resuming the assaults within three months.
She became pregnant a second time in spring 2007, but this time the fetus was aborted.
She also got pregnant a third time, but instead of going to the offender she went to his wife, who reported it to Child and Family Services and the police were brought in, McCluskey said.
The girl had her second abortion in June 2008 when she was 16 years old.
Eidsvik, who detained the offender pending sentencing, ordered a psychiatric and risk assessment be completed.
A sentencing date will be set May 20.
Source: Toronto Sun
Watch for Fakes
April 22, 2011 permalink
The Iowa Department of Human Services has issued a warning against fake social workers entering homes. Aside from a state-issued badge, there is no way to distinguish real and fake social workers.
Ottumwa, Ia. — The Department of Human Services is warning Ottumwa residents to be wary of people claiming to be social workers knocking on doors.
The agency told police on Thursday that three residents in the last several days have allowed impostors into their homes after they identified themselves as department workers, spokesman Roger Munns said.
DHS social workers who ask to interview people are required to display a state-issued identification badge. Workers won’t enter a home without permission except in an emergency, in which case they will be accompanied by police.
Source: Des Moines Register
Vote to Fix CAS!
April 21, 2011 permalink
Andrew Skinner is running in the May 2 federal election to represent the riding of Prince Edward-Hastings. Mr Skinner's family was attacked by CAS in the past. Two press articles are enclosed.
Candidate wants investments in education, not prisons
EMC News - Belleville - While he doesn't like labels, Progressive Canadian Party candidate Andrew Skinner would consider himself an average blue collar worker and a red Tory. This is the 39-year-old's first foray as a candidate in the electoral process which he sees as an opportunity to move away from American style politics. He hopes voters will embrace what he calls Canadian values, which is what he sees this election is about.
"We've seen since Harper's been in power, it's almost an American style of politics," he said.
The PCP is a national party born out of what Skinner calls the "hostile take over" of the former Progressive Conservatives when they merged with the then Canadian Alliance party which was the renamed Reform Party. The more left leaning Tories who didn't want to follow the hard-right shift instead formed the Progressive Canadian Party, which is left leaning on social issues and conservative on financial issues.
"People ask if it's a new party and I say no. It's not a brand new party, it's a party based on old values that we trace back to Sir John A. Macdonald," he said.
Skinner believes the core issues of this election are the direction and values of the Canadian voter. He sees the issues as a choice of priorities. The proposed get-tough-on-crime legislation by the previous government for longer prison sentences and the mega prisons they would spawn is an issue cited by Skinner. The Harper government said $6 billion in prison infrastructure would be needed as a result of more inmates, critics have claimed that number to be several times higher. Skinner said the direction is the result of an American ideology and isn't supported by Canada's dropping crime rate statistics. "Is this a direction that Canada want's to go? I don't think so," he said. "Six billion is better spent on education than prisons. The PCP party's platform includes universal access to postsecondary education. Skinner believes education and crime are directly linked through the cycle of poverty.
"One of the best ways to get rid of crime is to eliminate poverty" he said. "Education is the best way to do that."
He sees an educated workforce as a sound investment by government, helping boost the economy and thus government revenues.
Skinner was born in Napanee and raised in the Quinte area in a military family. As a child he spent four years living in Germany when his father was stationed there. Once his father was released from the military his family relocated to Trenton where Skinner attended Trenton High school. In the mid 1990s he attended the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, taking Avionics Engineering Technology. After working for SPAR aerospace where he worked as an avionics technician implementing the Avionics Update Package on the Canadian military fleet of C-130 Hercules aircraft. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the downturn in the aviation industry, Skinner joined the Canadian Forces.
After finishing at the top of his class at the Borden military school he was given his choice of postings, he chose to return to the Quinte area and was posted at CFB Trenton.
After his release from the military in 2006 he began turning his attentions to social advocacy and politics. Skinner has three children with his partner Lindsay.
Source: Belleville EMC
Six candidates, but debate has definitive blue and red tinge
Prince Edward-Hastings all-candidates debate
There may have been six candidates on the stage but crowd reaction indicated there are only two parties in the race to represent the people in Prince Edward-Hastings.
The first federal election debate in the local riding had the crowd of roughly 200 people reacting strongly to comments made by Conservative incumbent Daryl Kramp and Peter Tinsley, his Liberal opponent. While NDP candidate Michael McMahon and The Green Party's Pat Larkin each scored applause and the occasional laugh at the Empire Theatre, the debate had a strong red and blue tinge throughout the evening.
It took only minutes for the crowd to become vocal Monday night as Kramp was booed seconds into his opening statement saying he is not in favour of "an election forced upon us by the opposition." He told the crowd the election prevents Canada from moving forward as the Conservative government has had to stop its work.
Kramp was also called a "liar" by one man in the audience as he talked about the need for environmental stewardship, something his government has been instrumental in providing.
The Conservative government was criticized only minutes later when McMahon said he was proud to be involved in the "necessary election" as parliament has become an embarrassing "gong show."
In a theme that would rear its head often throughout the night, McMahon questioned Prime Minister Stephen Harper's approach to governance and his values.
"Stephen Harper's conservative values aren't my values," he said.
Progressive Canadian Party candidate Andrew Skinner carried on with McMahon's criticism of Harper's approach comparing it to an "American style" of politics. He said Canadians have grown tired of the "force, deception" in Ottawa and the "erosion" of Canadian values.
Tinsley was rewarded with applause and some laughs as he looked out at the crowd and said he was happy "no one's been thrown out tonight or vetted out by Facebook." He said he had nearly become a Canadian disengaged with the country's political system due to Harper and the Conservatives but was prompted to seek office due to a fear of Harper's politics.
Larkin was less critical of the current government as he said there is a need for Canada to return to the grassroots level. There was a time, he said, when Canada was a world leader and it is time the country reclaim that title, one that can be achieved through a Green government.
However, as he did in his closing remarks, Larkin told the crowd the most important thing residents can do on may 2 is to simply vote.
"The key to this election.... no matter who you choose to support, is that you get out and vote," he said, a comment met with loud applause from the crowd.
That was similar to independent candidate Tim Hickey's opening remarks as he told the crowd "this election is about you." He too touched on low voter turnout stating people have become "uninspired and disenfranchised."
"That is a vote of non-confidence," Hickey said.
Though the crowd settled down as the debate continued there were reactionary moments. Kramp was booed again later in the evening as candidates were questioned about their views on coalition governments.
The incumbent MP said while coalition governments are allowed and recognized in Canada's political system he cannot support a coalition that would involve the Bloc Quebecois, a party aimed at breaking up the nation, he said. Canadians who want to "prostitute" their principles can support such a government but he will not, Kramp said resulting in numerous attendees booing and one man hollering "Shame."
While the other candidates all expressed their willingness to work with a coalition government, McMahon said the issue is not with all parties working cohesively, it's with Harper who, he added, doesn't want to work with others.
"We don't need to keep having elections. The problem is Stephen Harper," he said.
One point all candidates did agree upon is the inclusion of ballot boxes at post-secondary institutes. Asked to express their views all said it is imperative to get young people involved in the political system and to have them vote during elections.
Kramp said young people "have an amazing ability" to set the path for Canada's future and could do so if they would only vote.
Hickey said it would be "great" to see ballot boxes at colleges and universities as low voter turnout is a growing problem across the country. That low turnout, he said, is directly related to "the trust, the confidence has been broken. We have to generate some serious debate. The answers aren't in Ottawa."
Learning to speak to those younger Canadians in a language they understand is key, said Larkin. He said people can do their banking over the Internet and people should be able to use the same tool when it comes to voting.
The crowd, however, gave McMahon the most positive response when he said he absolutely supports the idea of ballot boxes at universities. Such a step, he said, would engage younger people who, currently, allow the older generation to select their government.
"They wouldn't let their grandparents choose their dates. At least, they shouldn't," he said.
Source: Belleville Intelligencer
Andrew Skinner commented on the debate:
During a live TV debate, I made specific references to federal transfer funds and one specific corporation that is funded through these funds to the tune of $1.4B.
Part of the issue in dealing with this is the Federal transfer funds that provide the provinces and municipalities money to carry out conditional funding incentives.
One of these is the incentive to apprehend children.
Source: Facebook private message
April 20, 2011 permalink
Former foster child Paul Williams is suing the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto and Nairn Family Homes Inc. for his treatment while in care.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
RE: Former foster child initiates legal action against a Children's Aid Society for years of abuse and neglect in foster care while the Ontario Government opposes independent Ombudsman Oversight of Children's Aid Societies
TORONTO, ON – (Wed. April 19, 2011) Paul Williams, a former foster child (Crown Ward) who lived under the legal custody and control of a Children's Aid Society has retained the services of a lawyer (Loretta Merrit of Torkin Manes Barristers and Solicitors in Toronto) who specializes in historical and recent sexual, physical, and emotional abuse cases caused by members of clergy, doctors, police officers, teachers, group homes, and, privately incorporated Children's Aid Societies to name a few.
Although still in its early stages at this time, the suit seeks in part, damages for the time Williams was in foster care from the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto and Nairn Family Homes Inc. for;
- breach of duty of care and fiduciary duty;
- breach of non-delegable duty;
- negligence; and vicarious liability
The suit also seeks in part, damages from individuals, including;
- physical assault and battery;
- psychological abuse;
- breach of fiduciary obligations;
- sexual assault, and/or infliction of mental distress
When Merritt was asked why people sue and what they hope to gain she said: “Sexual abuse has a devastating effect on all areas of a survivor's life. It hurts their self esteem, their relationships, their ability to trust others and in some cases leads to problems with substance abuse. She says people sue because they are looking for compensation for the injuries they have suffered. Money can’t make it all better but it can help fund therapy etc. Also, they want to help raise public awareness so that hopefully others will be encouraged to come forward. Ultimately survivors want to do anything that might prevent another child from being abused. It takes a lot of courage to come forward after years of silence.”
When Williams was asked why he initiated this legal action he said “It is a means for me to have a meaningful, productive life, hold them accountable for their neglect, and closure for years and years of anger and frustration. Additionally, since having joined a social activist group calling on Children's Aid Societies to be responsible for kids in their care, it's about ensuring kids in the system don't come out scarred like I am ”.
Over the past few years, Ontario's NDPs have introduced a series of bills in the legislative assembly which seek to provide vulnerable children and youth in foster care with independent, Ombudsman Oversight over Children's Aid Societies, only to have those bills met with extreme resistance from the Ontario government.
Ombudsman oversight is needed because currently, the Ministry fails to publish its Directives which are issued to Societies regarding corrective measures they are ordered to take, the Ministry does not publish statistics obtained from Societies through Serious Occurrence Reports regarding the number of children and youth who are abused while in foster care, the Ministry also fails to publish the number of law suits which are settled out of court with gag-orders forced on the victims preventing them from speaking freely about their settlements, and the Ministry and Societies fail to publish detailed budgets and financial reports revealing expenditures of Societies, and more.
The Foster Care Council of Canada is a non-profit group made up of former foster children and their supporters whose mission includes “Involving current and former foster children and their supporters in the process of improving the transparency and accountability of child-welfare services through a strong and united voice”.
Source: Foster Care News (John Dunn)
Social Worker Attacks Own Bodyguard
April 20, 2011 permalink
When Ohio social worker Staci Johnson went on a field trip to visit a family, she asked for a cop to act as her bodyguard. She attacked the cop and he arrested her.
Richland County Children Services caseworker arrested
MANSFIELD -- A Richland County Children Services caseworker was arrested Sunday during a reported dispute with a city police officer.
Staci Johnson, 26, was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest for the incident, which happened in the 700 block of Burns Street. Johnson was there for a well-being check and requested police backup, which Chief Dino Sgambellone called a common practice.
Children Services Executive Director Randy Parker declined to comment.
The general offense report was brief.
"While on a call, the offender became upset about the service she was receiving," the officer wrote. "The offender was advised to stop yelling, and while this officer was climbing the stairs at the place of occurrence, the offender pushed this officer.
"The offender was advised that she was under arrest but had to be physically restrained to be placed in handcuffs. The offender was transported to the Richland County Jail and incarcerated until the posting of bond or court appearance."
Johnson did not return a phone message. Her case was not listed in Mansfield Municipal Court's online records.
"At this point, I would let the general offense report speak for itself," Sgambellone said. "It's an issue we're examining.
"I've been in contact with Children Services, members of my department and the law director's office. We haven't concluded the examination of the incident."
Source: Mansfield News Journal
End to Open Adoption
April 19, 2011 permalink
Last week Laurel Broten, Minister of Children and Youth Services, proposed new legislation in the provincial parliament, bill 179. It is promoted with the goal of increasing adoption, even in cases where there are now access orders providing for continuing contact between foster children and their real parents. The Toronto Star, the closest press organ to the government view, lauded it as a step forward. But fixcas readers are aghast. Following the enclosed Star article are the statement of Laurel Broten to the legislature and an analysis by John Dunn. A reader draws attention to the fourth paragraph of Mrs Broten's Statement:
Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, 75 per cent have access orders that, for more than 30 years, have legally prevented children and youth from being eligible for adoption.
Ah yes, those pesky natural parents stand in the way of the adoption machine by demanding to see their own children. John Dunn has read and analyzed the whole proposal. He says the purpose is to negate the reform of 2006 that allowed for open adoptions. Once one of the new adoptions with residual parental contact is finalized, the adoptive parents can, and likely will, take steps to cut out the real parents entirely.
The bill also provides for care of children past the age of 18 in some cases. Sold as a benefit to those kids who would otherwise become homeless, it will also delay the family reunification that now commonly occurs at age 18. It's a good guess that any benefits will not be paid to the children, but to social workers and foster parents purportedly on behalf of the children.
Michael Prue (ogg), representing Beaches-East York (NDP), spoke in the legislature on this bill
Law could ease adoption of Crown wards
Long-awaited changes to adoption laws in Ontario were heralded Wednesday, but subsidies to encourage parents to adopt are missing from the package.
Children and Youth Services Minister Laurel Broten introduced sweeping changes to help more kids find permanent homes by removing legal barriers to adoption.
Broten also committed to reform subsidy programs to make it financially easier for parents to adopt older Crown wards, who often have complex social or medical needs.
There are 46 children’s aid societies with 2,000 subsidy agreements in place. No additional money was provided to tempt prospective parents to adopt.
About 18,000 kids in Ontario receive services from children’s aid societies and about half of them are Crown wards.
But only 10 per cent of these kids are ever adopted. The main reason is because 75 per cent of Crown wards have access orders or legal agreements detailing what kind of contact the children can have with their birth families. Kids with access orders can’t be adopted under the current system.
This new legislation, if it is passed before the Legislature rises for the Oct. 6 provincial election, would increase the number of kids eligible for adoption by terminating these prohibitive access orders.
“This will make a difference in the lives of thousands of kids who want forever families, who want to come home from school and hug a mom or play catch with a dad,” Broten said.
Removing access orders is a needed change, said Mary Ballantyne, executive director of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies.
But adoption is not in every child’s future, Broten said.
To make life easier for older wards, the bill allows a 16- or 17-year-old who has left care to return to the system voluntarily and be eligible for financial support until age 21.
Many of the reforms come from recommendations in a 2009 report done by the province’s Expert Panel on Infertility and Adoption.
Sylvia Jones, the Progressive Conservative MPP for Dufferin-Caledon, said she liked the announcement in principle, but she wants to know why Broten took so long to act. “She’s had this report for two years less a month. Some of these things could have been dealt with in a more expedited manner.”
The changes don’t make it easier to adopt a child with special needs, Jones said. Families have more funds available in foster care, she said, “but when you make the transition to adoption that money can disappear.”
Source: Toronto Star
Statement to the Legislature By the Honourable Laurel Broten, Minister of Children and Youth Services On the Introduction of the Building Families and Supporting Youth To Be Successful Act, 2011
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
There is nothing more critical to a child’s well being than knowing he or she will always have a place to call home.
At any given time in Ontario, 18,000 children and youth are receiving services from a children’s aid society. Roughly 9,000 of them are Crown wards in the care of the province.
These kids come into the care of a CAS for a variety of reasons, but they all have one thing in common…their best chance of success is with a safe, stable and permanent family to call their own.
Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, 75 per cent have access orders that, for more than 30 years, have legally prevented children and youth from being eligible for adoption.
At the same time, we have many prospective parents who long to bring a child into their lives to love and support.
That is why I rise in the House today to introduce the Building Families and Supporting Youth to be Successful Act, 2011. Because, as a government, we must make it easier to bring these children and these parents together.
Together with other initiatives being announced today, we are taking an important step toward improving the lives of children and youth in the care of a CAS and making it easier for Ontario families to adopt a child.
These amendments to the Child and Family Services Act would remove the legal barriers I mentioned earlier that prevent Crown wards from being eligible for adoption.
This will make a difference in the lives of thousands of kids who want forever families; who want to come home from school and hug a mom or play catch with a dad.
Adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents have also told us that finding reliable information, no matter what adoption stream they are interested in – public, private or international – is a challenge.
With that in mind, we will provide online information that is easy to navigate - and guidance about all types of adoption, so parents know what option is right for them.
To match adoptive parents with Ontario children who need a permanent home, we will double the number of Adoption Resource Exchanges – forums that help match adoptive families with children needing adoption – from two to four across the province.
We know that adoption home studies should be completed in a time frame that is clear and without delay. So, we will reduce the waitlist for homestudies and establish timelines.
We will train all CASs to ensure Aboriginal children are cared for AND stay connected to their culture and traditions through customary care.
In fact, customary care will be a central part of the discussion we will be having at a Summit on Aboriginal Child Welfare at Fort William First Nation next week.
Mr. Speaker, while we aspire to secure permanent homes for every child in our care, we know that for some, adoption may not be in their future and we need to support them into adulthood.
Think about it.
We know that almost half of Canadians in their twenties live at home and enjoy all the support that comes with that. Yet, right now, a youth who leaves the care of a CAS is not allowed to come back for services.
The Act, if passed, would allow those youth whose CAS care or customary care ended at age 16 or 17, to return to their CAS and be eligible to receive benefits until age 21.
We will also make it easier for a youth receiving financial support from a CAS to go to college or university by exempting that income from the OSAP assessment.
Mr. Speaker, these are important steps. But we will work to do more. We have seen many innovative approaches from CASs and we want to build on them.
Some CASs are currently providing targeted subsidies to make it possible for families to adopt children in care. We will seek their advice and that of other experts and consider how we can best build on this experience across the province in a fiscally neutral way.
We began transforming the child protection sector and strengthening adoption in 2006.
Thanks to the hard work of children’s aid societies, fewer kids are now coming into care and more kids are getting the chance to succeed in a permanent home.
Last year, we increased adoptions in the public system by 21 per cent over the year before. With these proposed changes, we strive to increase that number.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to call on all families in Ontario to consider whether they have room in their hearts and in their lives to give a child a forever family.
Today, I call on all members to support this important legislation that will improve the lives of thousands of kids and families across this province.
Source: Ministry of Children and Youth Services
Regressive Bill Introduced by Ministry of Children and Youth
A Bill has recently been introduced by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services which appears to be dangerously regressive in nature.
In 2006 Bill 210 was passed which had as one of its goals, keeping children and youth in touch with their family members even after they become adopted. It has been repeatedly proven that is it harmful for a child to lose contact with their family if that is something the child or youth still wishes to do.
However, on April 13, 2011, the Ontario Government introduced a Bill which contains dangerous provisions which will permit the courts to ram adoptions through at the request of Children's Aid Societies and to permanently terminate any relationship the youth may wish to keep with their natural parents, brothers or sisters even past their 18th year due to restrictions in place from adoption legislation which imposes up to $50,000 fines for those who attempt to contact each other when an adoptive parent may have placed a 'no-contact' veto with the Ministry's registry.
The new Bill contains various "well intentioned" provisions which offer the Societies the option of verifying that they "tried" to contact natural family members to notify them of the pending adoption proceedings in court which will allow them to proceed with the adoption and terminate relations between natural families without giving notice to the families.
Children's Aid Societies have played such tricks as telling the court that they attempted to contact someone to notify them of a court matter and that they could not do so for lack of contact information when in fact they had the e-mail address of the person they claim to have attempted to contact and did not send any e-mail to this person, moving an adoption hearing through and having the child moved to B.C..
These adoptions are even going to terminate the 2006 progressive steps of keeping family contact after adoption through "openness orders" which is said to be in the best interests of children and youth.
Please read this Bill, and get involved. This type of thing already has a HUGE lobby group of adoptive parents and professionals who profit from adoption behind it. Millions of Dollars are involved, so contact your local MPP and ask for a meeting to discuss this new and insidiously dangerous and powerful Bill which will have many implications, including the sealing of records which are already hard enough for people to review in the child welfare sector.
Source: Foster Care News, John Dunn
Addendum: Here is an opinion on the bill by Anne Patterson.
Bill 179, The Trojan Horse of Family Destruction
The departing McGuinty Liberals have a series of secret bills that they are trying to ram through, one in particular is like something out of Germany in the 1940’s.
Bill 179: Building Families and Supporting Youth to be Successful Act, 2011.
Their slogans are meant to be catchy, and captivating, and if you wish to literally capture a child they are.
Building families’, not exactly to those being robbed of their children. Women, men and grandparents.
The bill removes access orders to children that are in the CAS system, and will allow a fast track adoption system. For those concerned about the cavern of hell that is referred to as foster “care”, your concerns are valid. But this bill is not going to be about finding homes for older children as the clientele that the bill caters to is more interested in babies. Caught in the blank slate theory that we are environmental Petri dishes to be tinkered with and tampered with accordingly, those who wish to adopt believe the age old nonsense that children will be just like them. They are missing the value, importance and reality of nature; they are missing in fact any common sense.
While those in foster care will continue to be shipped around like ping-pong balls being batted from pillar to post, the facts are this bill is a guise to create a system where CAS can take your child, remove access orders for parents and fast track the child into adoption before the parent can either fight them, hire a lawyer or deal with them.
It gives these agencies more power and control than they have had before, and it also makes the whole issue of access orders a total charade. Ask those in foster care long-term if they were even allowed to see their families, and the majority will out right say they have not been. That they are using this as an argument for this new bill is patently false.
Access orders themselves are a nightmare in the system; CAS often removes children to other jurisdictions making it impossible for the family or parent to travel to visit them. They routinely change appointment times for parents who have juggled work schedules to visit their child, and they have above all no meaningful or real accountability to speak of.
Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin has long wanted oversight of these agencies, along with a mounting number of those direly concerned with the state of CAS. And while these agencies can easily sell this Bill as being a way for older fostered children to find homes, it does not address the lack of any tangible or meaningful accountability or transparency of them what so ever. In contrast Bill 131 to have Ombudsman investigations into the cesspool referred to as child welfare is being vehemently opposed by the network of secret CAS agencies, and the Liberal party.
Along with this bill and at its height of arrogance is the “forever family” catch phrase nonsense of this experiment, the notion being that once adopted a child goes off into a land of wonder and merriment. Not so fast though; there have been no real studies into adoption by the industry at all. It cherry picks from the brew of utter nonsense and propaganda what it deems as being good, and blatantly ignores other darker realities such as the overwhelming numbers of those who have been adopted and abused; those who have been adopted by everything from pedophiles, thieves, mentally ill nutjobs and everything else under the sun.
We do not have such a thing as a “forever family” and marketing one group above reproach to another is simply false. It leaves those who have been adopted at risk of living in invisibility while they are being abused; after all, those forever safe forever families never abuse children do they.
Those behind this bill are not child advocates, they are a lobbying group that is advocating on behalf of infertility networks, gay activist groups and everyone else that seem to have the mistaken belief that they have a right to someone else’s child. Missing is the right for the child to their family, and the age old natural God given right of parents to raise their own children.
This bill will create a massive baby farm for anyone that moves, and will lead directly to families not being “built” but being destroyed instead, worse it will lead to children being abused. CAS taking thousands of children for this baby farm will increase adoption, fast track children into homes without proper checks being done, and rob families and parents under a ruthless guise.
False allegations of child abuse are rampant in the system to start with. A fake child abuse allegation can now with this bill lead to a child being taken by CAS, denied access to ones parent and vice versa, and ultimately and very quickly procure that child for adoption with no legal mechanism to repeal it. The bill will void access orders once an adoption is ordered by a society, and it will leave adopters solely in power along with CAS. As it is these agencies allow their own employees to adopt, which is in and of itself totally unethical. It gives parents a 30 day window to fight an agency with no accountability, transparency, or oversight to speak of. Bill 179 is a Trojan horse of massive proportion, it needs to be stopped!
Source: Facebook private page
April 18, 2011 permalink
The Dinwiddie family is suing Virginia child protectors who took their five children. After the family won a fight costing over $200,000, the child protectors want to dock them $80,362 for the eight months the children were in foster care. It looks like the Dinwiddies have a good case. Of course, they will be outgunned by the county legal staff.
Family Sues Child Protective Services for Parental Rights Violations
ROANOKE, Va., April 18, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- A lawsuit has been filed Virginia Federal Court concerning violations of Parental Rights by a Virginia couple. Fred and Michelle Dinwiddie formerly of Giles County, Virginia have filed the lawsuit against 30 defendants regarding the removal of their children in March of 2008 for allegedly abusing and abandoning their children.
The Dinwiddie's children were removed for 8 months total and placed in foster homes throughout the New River Valley some up to two hours away from they're home. Although the Dinwiddie's were found to be innocent of the charges at tax payer expense the local Department of Social Services chose to keep their children and impose a host of "Community Services" upon the parents and their children in a prolonged effort to keep them separated rather than reunify the family.
Details of the lawsuit show that while the parents were suffering at the hands of authorities, the children were suffering at the hands of social workers, foster parents, therapists, foster care agencies, and even other foster children. In a 36 page document filed in Federal Court the Dinwiddie's assert that the Defendants violated their Constitutional Rights and accuse the defendants of Fraud, Defamation, Tortious Interference with Custodial Rights, Breach of Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Breach of Lawful Duty (Negligence), Breach of Written, Oral, and Implied Contract, Common Law Conspiracy under Virginia Law, and lastly Business Conspiracy.
"Before my children were taken into foster care they were polite and respectful towards each other and ourselves as parents but after their foster care experience we noticed a marked change for the worse regarding their attitude and behavior," said Fred Dinwiddie. "It took a long time for them to readjust and tell us their experiences, fears, and apprehensions related to being in foster care. They had lost respect for us because they felt we couldn't protect them anymore."
Michael Dinwiddie also listed as a Plaintiff in the suit is serving in Afghanistan.
Source: Christian News Wire
The Billion Dollar Drain
April 18, 2011 permalink
One reason lawyers don't push for meaningful reform of family law: it's a goldmine for them. In Britain, just the small proportion of family lawyers funded by legal aid runs up a tab of a billion dollars a year, mostly on child custody cases.
Lawyers claim £645 million family breakdown legal aid bill
Legal aid lawyers are making £645 million from taxpayers over family breakdowns each year - £28 for every household in England and Wales.
New figures obtained by The Sunday Telegraph show hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money is spent on legal advice to divorcing couples, helping parents fight child custody battles, or trying to restrain violent partners.
Warring families are also using the civil legal aid system to sue over contested wills, argue between siblings over inheritance and even argue in court about the names of their children after divorces.
Critics said the figures revealed the true cost of "broken Britain", and how lawyers were profiting from family separations.
The cost of family breakdowns has risen dramatically over recent years. Lawyers representing parents in child custody cases against each other or the state now charge £468 million in legal aid fees each year.
In total just over £2.1 billion is paid to lawyers from the legal aid budget, £1.2 billion of it to defend criminals, the rest to advise people on civil cases, which as well as family law include aid for immigrants trying to stay in the country, people suing over alleged mistreatment at the hands of the NHS or the police, and prisoners upset at jail conditions.
Ken Clarke, the Justice Secretary, has promised to dramatically cut the total amount spent in the teeth of major opposition from lawyers.
Many lawyers are almost entirely dependent on legal aid work and a list released by Mr Clarke's department shows that some firms make millions each year from charging the state for their clients.
The ten biggest recipients of legal aid, all of them large law firms, received £45.6 million.
Jonathan Djanogly, the justice minister, said: "At more than £2 billion a year, we pay far more per head than most other countries for legal aid.
"The current system encourages lengthy, acrimonious and sometimes unnecessary court proceedings, at taxpayers' expense, which do not always ensure the best result for those involved.
"We need to make clear choices to ensure that legal aid will continue to be available in those cases that really require it, the protection of the most vulnerable in society, and the efficient performance of the justice system.
"Our proposals aim to radically reform the system and encourage people to take advantage of the most appropriate sources of help, advice or routes to resolution - which will not always involve the expense of lawyers or courts."
The figures show that in total £645 million was spent on family law - out of a total of £940 million spent on civil cases and advice.
And most of that - £468 million - was spent on custody disputes over children, which can be extremely bitter and lengthy.
The total number of children involved is unknown but there are around 55,000 divorces each year where the couple have children - although not all will mean a state-funded custody dispute.
And the number of custody battles arising from legal separations or cases involving unmarried parents is not known, but is likely to account for a significant part of the £468 million legal bill.
The taxpayer is also paying £25 million for lawyers' fees in divorce cases - and £350,000 for lawyers seeking to have children's names changed in the aftermath of disputes.
Before gaining power Conservative politicians frequently warned that Britain's broken families were putting a strain on public finances and pledged to tackle the problem, including then opposition leader David Cameron.
Mr Cameron said: "Actually we need to have a more pro-family country, we need to get behind marriage and commitment and fatherhood and we need to have much more discipline in our schools and we need to have a revolution in the way that we provide welfare and education that will really mend the broken society."
The Government announced in November that it considered many of the claims to be unreasonable, and drew up plans to cut the civil legal aid bill dramatically.
It promised restrictions on the type of family cases that would receive support, and said couples would be forced to undergo mediation before becoming eligible for legal aid.
The changes will mean child residency disputes between parents, or arguments over money, including divorce settlements, will no longer be funded unless domestic violence is involved.
Cases of children being taken into care, forced marriages, and international child abduction will still be funded, but the rules about who is entitled to legal aid will be tightened, meaning no homeowner will be able to claim support.
Currently to qualify for either civil or criminal legal aid claimants need to provide evidence that they have less than £8,000 in cash and savings.
Even with large cuts the cost of family cases is still expected to reach more than £450 million annually.
One area of expenditure which will raise concern that taxpayers' money is being used to help individuals become wealthier is the more than £2 million spent on inheritance disputes and relatives suing each other over the outcomes of wills.
The plans, which are currently being finalised, will also see all assistance withdrawn in areas including clinical negligence claims, consumer disputes, and arguments about welfare payments.
The figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that as well as family law, £89 million was given to lawyers for immigration and asylum work, virtually all of it to help immigrants stay in the country, £52 million was handed over to sue the NHS and healthcare providers, £60 million to aid tenants arguing over housing, much of it public-sector, and £33 million for fighting against clients' debts, £28 million for disputing welfare payments and £1 million for taking action against police forces and prisons.
Emma Boon, campaign director at the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "Our legal aid bill is excessive and needs to be better controlled.
"The gigantic family cases figure reveals the true cost of broken Britain and shows that too many lawyers are profiting at taxpayers' expense."
In the last recorded year Duncan Lewis Solicitors recorded the highest claims for civil legal aid, making £9.9 million.
Adam Makepeace, the firm's practice director, defended the income, saying: "Two million people depend on legal aid for access to justice, a democratic right first enshrined in Magna Carta.
"Whilst undoubtedly savings can be made in the budget, taking certain types of family and children cases out of scope will not necessarily achieve this. Representation in person - without the aid of a lawyer - will add considerably to the courts time and costs."
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Jail for Democrats
April 17, 2011 permalink
If you live in a country with an elected government, you probably think your ultimate appeal from wrongdoing is to your elected representative. He can advocate for your case or craft corrective policies. Well, don't try that in England. According to Christopher Booker talking to your MP can get you in jail even during pregnancy. It is one more example showing that child protectors have the kind of power that allows them to scoff at elected politicians.
A mother is threatened with imprisonment for talking to her MP
The high-handed power of social workers and the courts, working in tandem, threatens even the privileges of Parliament, writes Christopher Booker.
Last week a heavily pregnant woman, whose name is known to millions but whom I am forbidden by law to identify, was summoned to the High Court at very short notice to show why she should not be imprisoned. The charges against her, brought by a local authority I cannot name, were that she might or might not have been in breach of a court order restraining her freedom to speak about a matter which, again, I am prohibited from identifying.
One of these charges was that she attended a meeting, held last month in Westminster Hall, of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on family protection issues, at the invitation of John Hemming MP. He has been campaigning for greater justice and transparency in our highly secretive family protection system, on behalf of families torn apart by social workers for what appear to be no good reasons.
The main speaker at the meeting, the theme of which was transparency in the family courts, was Anthony Douglas, the chief executive of Cafcass (Children and Family Courts Advisory and Support Service), the state body which purports to represent the interests of children. When the woman raised concerns over the conduct of her case – which, as she understood it, was the meeting’s purpose – it was reported back to the council concerned. This contribution was listed among her alleged breaches of a court order which dictates that she must say nothing about her case to anyone outside the system.
In open court last week, it was stated that the local authority had agreed not to demand her imprisonment, providing that she also obeyed new conditions that forbid her to speak about her case to the media or to any “other persons as the parties may think fit”.
In addition, as I learned from John Hemming, a letter “agreed by all the parties” was sent to him by the woman’s solicitors, requesting him not to make any reference to her case in Parliament. By ancient parliamentary privilege, MPs are entitled to raise in Parliament cases where they believe that the conduct of authorities or the courts has been so questionable that normal rules of secrecy should not protect them from public disclosure. Mr Hemming replied to the lawyers that they were “clearly seeking to influence what I say in Parliament. The case already has aspects which are in contempt of Parliament” and their letter added a further element which “I am inclined to ask should be referred to the Standards and Privileges Committee”.
It is difficult to believe, he continued, “when a mother has been threatened with imprisonment for talking to me, that an agreement come to in a court is come to willingly by all parties. It strikes me as an agreement arising as a result of duress.” Mr Hemming went on to say that, before referring to the Speaker a letter which he saw as being “in contravention of the law of Parliament”, he wished the lawyers to explain why he should “feel comfortable that this is something your client should have agreed to without having been threatened with imprisonment and/or the removal of her child at birth”.
He emphasised that he had no intention of disclosing any “information relating to the care proceedings which could be linked to your client or the child”. But from long experience of such cases, he saw the letter “as an attempt by the system to bully your client in an attempt to influence proceedings in Parliament”. He concluded that he would be entitled to “debate the constitutional issues raised simply by naming your client and raising the issues of her treatment by the police and the authorities’ attempts to punish her for her comments to the All-Party Parliamentary Group” .
The mention of the police referred, inter alia, to a recent episode where the mother, who is seven months pregnant, was arrested and held on and off in police cells over a period of 60 hours. Three times she was rushed to hospital in serious distress due to complications in her pregnancy. She was then dragged from her hospital bed after midnight to spend several more hours in a dirty cell, before finally being released.
As Mr Hemming sums the situation up: “There are many very disturbing aspects of this case, about which I cannot yet say as much as I would like. But it appears to be a very extreme example of the lengths to which the family protection system will go to hide its activities from responsible scrutiny by Parliament and the media.”
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Addendum: John Hemming used parliamentary privilege to identify the pregnant celebrity as former jockey and horseracing expert Vicky Haigh.
MP uses privilege to name woman council tried to gag
A Liberal Democrat MP yesterday used Parliamentary privilege to name a woman he said a council tried to jail for speaking in Westminster.
John Hemming, who previously used privilege to name former Royal Bank of Scotland Sir Fred Goodwin as the subject of a High Court super-injunction, has spoken out again about the use of injunctions, censorship and creeping privacy laws.
Hemming told MPs: "Vicky Haigh, who is a horse trainer and previously a jockey, was the subject of an attempt by Doncaster Council to imprison her for speaking at a meeting in Parliament.
"There was some discussion earlier today about whether that case was sub-judice. An application was made to the court, a copy of which I have provided."
Hemming said the court ordered she should not be jailed, adding: "I assume therefore the case is not sub-judice."
The MP did not give any further details about why Doncaster Council tried to have Ms Haigh imprisoned, or the subject of her controversial Parliamentary speech.
Speaker John Bercow urged Hemming to speak to him privately, telling the MP: "I don't intend to have a discussion on the floor of the House.
"One of my duties is to uphold the resolution of the House with respect to sub-judice. As far as this particular matter is concerned, I am perfectly prepared to discuss the issue privately."
Hemming later raised another point of order about injunctions in the Commons, addressing temporary gags which prevent certain issues being aired in public.
He said: "There is a tendency for people to issue injunctions on the basis of a claim they intend to issue proceedings, but not actually to issue those proceedings.
"One would presume therefore that never becomes sub judice."
Bercow again silenced Hemming saying: "The issue is one for consideration at our private meeting."
Meanwhile, in the Lords Tory ex-Cabinet minister Lord Tebbit sought clarification on whether injunctions could prevent people discussing matters with MPs, peers, the police or the security services.
Justice minister Lord McNally told himin a written reply that "to protect the interests of justice" the courts could prohibit the disclosure of information to anyone other than the defendant's legal advisers.
The Liberal Democrat minister added: "The defendant is always at liberty to apply for the order to be made in different terms (if he or she is represented at the hearing), or subsequently for the terms of the order to be amended (for example to permit disclosure to specific individuals or bodies for specific purposes)."
Source: Press Gazette
Early End to Bayne Supervision (Maybe)
April 16, 2011 permalink
The Bayne family supervision order is now scheduled to end on June 2. That is good news, since it shortens the period of the order from six months to three. But what happens after June 2? Ron Unruh speculates below. In Ontario,whenever a supervision order is about to expire, children's aid applies for another one for a similar period of time.
Complicating the Bayne case is news from case worker Matthew Walker that baby Josiah, age two months and five days, may need a hernia operation.
Yes it's Official! It is Three Months. Temporary Care Ends June 2, 2011 / 503
Written on behalf of the Bayne Family and looking forward to the day of their reunion.
Yes we have known for a couple of weeks now.
The word is official that the temporary custody order that Judge Crabtree granted to the Ministry of Children with regard to Kent, Baden and Bethany Bayne, an order which began therefore on March 2, 2011, the day the judge's ruling was released, will come to an end on June 2, 2011. That's right, three (3) months of further care for the children outside the Bayne home. The date has been quietly changed. What happens next?
For some time we all thought that the Baynes three children would remain in government care for another six (6) months. That is because six months was expressly stated in the concluding remarks of Judge Thomas Crabtree's case decision. “ In the circumstances of this case I conclude that an order pursuant to s. 41 (1 )(c) for a period of 6 months is warranted.”
That section of the Child, Family and Community Services Act states: “41 (1)Subject to subsection (2.1), if the court finds that the child needs protection, it must make one of the following orders in the child's best interests: (c)that the child remain or be placed in the custody of the director for a specified period in accordance with section 43;” and section 43 states: “43 If a temporary custody order is made, the term of the order must not exceed (a)3 months, if the child or the youngest child who is the subject of the hearing is under 5 years of age when the order is made, (b) 6 months, if the child or the youngest child who is the subject of the hearing is 5 years of age or over but under 12 years of age when the order is made, or (c)12 months, if the child or the youngest child who is the subject of the hearing is 12years of age or over when the order is made.”
But Judge Crabtree was in error. Reference to six months appears frequently in these related subsections and it is understandable that the specification for the term relative to these children aged as they are, might be confused. I understand that the Baynes' Legal Counsel Doug Christie discreetly communicated to Judge Crabtree his concern about this possible error.
The TCO (Temporary Care Order) duration is now technically true, having been altered from the mistaken time allowance of six months that was cited in Judge Crabtree's conclusion, to the time prescribed for a TCO in the Child, Family and Community Services Act. This is now official. Mr. Finn Jensen communicated this to the Baynes' legal counsel, Mr. Doug Christie. It was also stated in the affidavit presented by Loren Humeny at the April 1st 2011 court hearing regarding custody for Josiah Bayne. Further it has been changed for the official and published copy of Crabtree's 'Reasons' ruling that appears on the Provincial Court site. And why was Doug Christie not notified personally by the Judge to whom he respectfully drew attention to the clerical error?
What happens on June 2nd?
Do you realize that no one outside the MCFD and/or its legal counsel knows the answer to that question. Well perhaps Judge Crabtree knows but then why did he not communicate more intelligibly in his conclusion? Why is something so consequential to the Bayne family left in indiscernible cloud. After all, it is toward the end of the time of the temporary care order that the Baynes are working hard to demonstrate their earnestness and purpose to be regarded as parents deserving of the custody of their children. They want to know what happens when the term of the order runs out. They were not even giving up hope when they thought that the judge truly meant six months. Yet in even that instance, they did not know how it would be determined and by whom it would be determined that they are fit parents.
Can someone tell me why we do not know this? This is yet another feature of our present system that is wrong and must be improved.
Perhaps we are making it more complicated than it actually is. In his 'Reasons' document, Judge Crabtree stated that it was the Court that had to be satisfied that the children should be returned to the care of the parents. Here is the way he wrote that. “ As s. 2 of the Act provides, the family is the preferred environment for the care and upbringing of the children, but children are entitled to be protected from abuse and neglect and this must be the overriding concern of the Court. The opportunity is now in the hands of the parents. The children are in need of protection. Now is the time to move beyond this question and to take the appropriate steps to address and remedy the situation to satisfy the Court that the children should be returned to their care and custody.” (the underlined is my emphasis)
So, if it is the court that must be satisfied, that is presumably Judge Crabtree who is seized with this case, will he set a court date for a report? Or will it be the MCFD counsel's responsibility to ask for a date? Are we to assume that MCFD must decide by then, either to return the children or to seek an extension of time of care, and for either decision to make application for a hearing? Why must Doug Christie make inquiry about the next steps? Why was he not already informed? Why is this not clear? How feeble-minded is this system? We have a family here. The best interests of the children is paramount. It has been evidenced by now that the best interests of these three children has not been served for the three and one half years that they have been withheld from their parents. As Crabtree's own 'Reasons” document restated, “ As s. 2 of the Act provides, the family is the preferred environment for the care and upbringing of the children,...”
Source: Ron Unruh blog
Fresh Medical Concern / 505
Today's previous blog post's good news is tempered by a new issue. Case worker Matthew Walker called to inform the Baynes that their baby's doctor believes Josiah may have developed a hernia. If so, surgery could be required. Paul and Zabeth are worried and ask for prayer once again. They will be permitted to attend doctor's appointments related to this. Josiah is now two months and five days old.
Source: Ron Unruh blog
Less Humiliation for Boys
April 16, 2011 permalink
British Columbia has been using the penile plethysmograph, the infamous "peter-meter" used to test, and humiliate, men and boys accused of sexual offenses. By announcing the end of the test for children, the government sidestepped the question of why it was introduced in the first place.
B.C. scraps 'peter meter' sex test
VANCOUVER - The B.C. government has agreed to never bring back the controversial “peter meter” test.
On Thursday, the B.C. children’s watchdog released a report calling for a permanent stop to penile testing on young sex offenders, because there’s no way to determine if the examination works or if it’s harmful to young boys.
“If there is more evidence in the future that proves the test reliable, it could be reinstated, (but) only with steps taken to strengthen supports for young people,” Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said.
The B.C. Liberal government stopped the test last year on sex offenders as young as 13. It required them to look at images of nude and semi-nude children, and listen to audio descriptions of forced sex. The physical responses of the boys were then measured.
“This was only one test and they certainly didn’t use it in all the cases,” said Children and Family Minister Mary McNeil. “It wasn’t a clear-cut issue and the professional opinion is mixed.”
The test designers argued it could prevent young sexual offenders from re-offending.
Source: Pacific Psychological Assessment Corporation, website selling images for testing sexual suspects
Guilty After Proven Innocent
April 15, 2011 permalink
Victor Fakoya of Las Vegas was accused of killing a child. After two years in custody, he was acquitted by a jury. When he went home to his wife and children, CPS forced him out of his home. He will not be allowed to see his own children until he completes a child abuse class that includes the requirement to admit responsibility for the crime.
Father forced to fight for parental rights after murder acquittal
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) – A man cleared of murder by child abuse charges in two criminal trials has found himself in Family Court, and prosecutors say they won't let him live with his own children until he admits his guilt.
The Family Court case against Victor Fakoya was set before the criminal trials. But his attorney says after the first trial ended in a hung jury and Fakoya was acquitted of criminal charges in the second trial, Child Protective Services showed up at his door and told him to get out.
CPS reportedly told Fakoya that he couldn't live with his two daughters until he takes a child abuse class that ends with an admission of guilt.
Meaning, Victor Fakoya could lose his parental rights if he doesn't admit to a crime for which he's been cleared.
"Should he not admit that he's responsible for killing a child," says defense attorney Kristina Wildeveld, "his children, his rights to his children will be terminated. And that is the ultimate tragedy. This, I actually think is worse than the murder trial."
The arrest report revealed a roommate's toddler died while in Fakoya's care. Court testimony, however, revealed the child had been sick for some time.
"After he was released from the criminal trial, he was released from jail," says Wildeveld. "He went home and CPS showed up at his door and told him there was an active CPS case and he wasn't allowed to reside in his home."
Fakoya's attorneys and jurors from both trials are furious that he's being tried again, showing up to support him in Family Court.
"I think that this is just uncalled for," says former juror Hale Benton. "The man's been found not guilty and he was acquitted, and they're going through this. It wasn't a murder. If anything it was an accident. But it wasn't Mr. Fakoya."
A judge denied prosecutors' request to close the Family Court proceedings. A hearing is set for Friday for a court-appointed attorney since defense attorney Kristina Wildeveld says Fakoya can't afford her private fees.
Monday Fakoya is scheduled for the Family Court's version of a preliminary hearing. Wildeveld says he is willing to take the abuse class without the graduation requirement.
Fakoya's wife has been caring for their two children since he first went to jail in 2008.
Source: KTNV ABC, Channel 13,Las Vegas
Father Victor Fakoya is suing Clark County. A law journal reports.
It sounds like something out of the Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials or modern-day North Korea: Authorities separate a husband and father from his family, warning that he can live with them only if he confesses to a crime he didn't commit.
This kind of twisted justice was repudiated by our Founding Fathers, and as a result, the United States legal system is the gold standard of the free world.
Yet this unconscionable scenario played out right here in Clark County over the past few years. And very soon, Southern Nevadans likely will pay dearly for it.
A Nigerian immigrant announced Tuesday that he has filed a federal civil lawsuit against Clark County for keeping him separated from his family for five months after a jury acquitted him of murder and abuse charges in the 2008 death of a 2-year-old boy. Victor Fakoya was not allowed to live with his wife and two daughters unless he admitted responsibility in Family Court to the charges he was found not guilty of in District Court.
"What has been lost in time and the joy of parenting my children is something I will never again regain," he said.
The lawsuit, which seeks $10 million in damages, alleges Child Protective Services employees tried to use the forced separation from his family to coerce Mr. Fakoya into admitting he caused Daniel Jaiwesimi's death.
"It seems morally incongruous for prosecutors to demand of Mr. Fakoya that, in order to settle his Family Court case, he confess to something for which he was acquitted," we wrote in this space in April 2011 - more than a year and a half ago. "It smacks of vindictiveness. There is no rational basis for the demand. The safety of Mr. Fakoya's children can be monitored without demanding a confession that would hang over his life forever, even if he is completely innocent."
Mr. Fakoya, a principled and observant Christian, has steadfastly refused to comply with the prosecutors' demands, even though doing so meant he had to live separately from his wife and two daughters.
A Department of Family Services caseworker recommended dismissal. "In light of the outcome of Mr. Fakoya's criminal trial ... it is respectfully requested and recommended that this matter be dismissed and the case closed," the caseworker wrote in a letter to the court, almost two years ago. But District Attorney David Roger's office pressed on, demanding the confession. (Mr. Roger has since left office.)
Although Mr. Fakoya has filed only against the county, individuals within Child Protective Services and the district attorney's office probably will be named later, says Mr. Fakoya's civil attorney, Brent Bryson.
"The mandate of Child Protective Services is, one, to protect children, and two, to reunify families together. We believe that mission was abandoned in Mr. Fakoya's case," Mr. Bryson said Tuesday.
Indeed. The two missions can sometimes appear to be in conflict. But children fare best within their own families - with both parents, when possible.
The conduct of the agencies in this case went beyond mere caution. They seemed unwilling to accept the verdict of a jury of Mr. Fakoya's peers, determined to use their power over the custody of the children to force a different outcome.
Now, in all likelihood, taxpayers will pay for that intransigence. And what measure of accountability might they get in the face of a multimillion-dollar judgment or settlement? Will anyone within Clark County government face suspension or termination? Will anyone step forward to renounce such Draconian tactics and vow that it will never happen again?
Meantime, as Mr. Fakoya notes, how can he ever be given back those months with his growing children?
Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal
More Trouble for Mom and Dad
April 15, 2011 permalink
Windsor grandmother Darlene Hachey is determined to keep alive a bill allowing grandparents to force access to their grandchildren, even against the wishes of the parents. Earlier article on the same topic.
Windsor woman organizes rally in T.O. for grandparents' rights
WINDSOR, Ont. -- A provincial election this fall could again foil the long fight to enshrine grandparents’ rights in legislation, but not if Darlene Hachey can help it.
The Windsor grandmother has helped organize a rally Tuesday at Queen’s Park. The goal is to spur the McGuinty government to pass Bill 22 before the fall election. The bill, which amends the Children’s Law Reform Act to emphasize the importance of children’s relationships with their grandparents, has died before third reading three times in the past.
“We need this law now,” said Hachey, who lists herself among thousands of “blocked grandparents” across the province. “We don’t want to start over.”
The proposed amendment requires parents and others with custody of children to refrain from hindering relationships between children and their grandparents. It further requires judges presiding over child-custody cases to consider the willingness of the person seeking custody to facilitate contact between the child and grandparents. “The court shall give effect to the principle that a child should have as much contact with each parent and grandparent as is consistent with the best interests of the child,” the proposed amendment reads.
The rally, expected to draw supporters from across the province, will run from 2 to 4:30 p.m., rain or shine. Hachey is asking people to car pool.
“We are sending Dalton McGuinty a message. Listen to families,” she said.
Source: Windsor Star
Addendum: Grandmother Betty Cornelius posted this note go Facebook:
Betty Cornelius Thanks to all who came out. Some drove 7 hours to be part of this. Was a small but mighty crowd outside freezing our butts off to fight for our grandchildren. I just got home an hour ago and am exhausted. Were two or more are gathered so I know the Lord hear our pleads and prayers!
April 14, 2011 permalink
A coroner's inquest is hearing of the case of Diane Anderson. Her fiancé was shot to death and on the day of his funeral her baby was stillborn. She understandably became depressed, but her calls for help to police and social workers were rebuffed. Eventually her children started a fire that killed Diane and two of her five children.
If this case is anything like the past, children's aid will take advantage of the tragedy to get the jury to recommend more money and power for children's aid.
CAS failed to answer mother’s cry for help
The Children’s Aid Society of Toronto received a reliable report that Diane Anderson was depressed, even suicidal, but the case was “lost” and “didn’t get assigned to anyone.”
The stunning revelation on Wednesday was more shocking because it came in the middle of a dry slide presentation at the coroner’s inquest now probing the Dec. 22, 2007, fire deaths of Ms. Anderson and two of her five children.
David Fleming, the agency’s intake and emergency after-hours director, was being questioned by coroner’s counsel Rebecca Edward about CAS involvement with the struggling family.
Mr. Fleming acknowledged the agency didn’t discover the error until 2009, when the coroner’s investigation into the fire began.
It was on the night of April 13, 2006, or about nine months after Ms. Anderson had suffered a double blow – her fiancé Leroy Whittaker was shot to death in the presence of her 10-year-old son, and the couple’s baby, named Beautiful, was delivered stillborn on the day of Mr. Whittaker’s funeral – that the 35-year-old single mom phoned Toronto police.
She told a police dispatcher she was having trouble coping, couldn’t stop thinking of her twin losses, and was referred to victim services. Ms. Anderson said she didn’t need an ambulance because she didn’t want to leave her children alone.
The same night, victim services made the formal referral to the Toronto CAS, where the call was assessed as not needing urgent action, but as one that nonetheless should be followed up within a week.
What was supposed to happen the next day, Mr. Fleming told the jurors, was that a supervisor would print off the referral and assign it to a child protection worker.
“This referral either was never printed or never assigned,” Mr. Fleming said. “It should have been investigated within seven days, but it wasn’t because of human error.”
The lost referral was significant for a couple of reasons, first because the family already had a history with the CAS, and Ms. Anderson’s desperate reaching out that night appeared to be an escalation and might have raised alarm bells that she was having real trouble managing.
The jurors have heard that in two earlier instances – one an occasion where Ms. Anderson begged a neighbour to call police during an argument with Mr. Whittaker, the other a case where an injury to one of her boys saw his school call the CAS – the agency had reason to suspect that she was overwhelmed.
This third call, with Ms. Anderson admitting she was feeling desperate and suicidal, could have sparked official recognition that she was in dire straits and needed help – and, more important for the agency whose mandate is to protect children, that perhaps her youngsters were at risk because their mother was losing her ability as a parent.
It was two of Ms. Anderson’s three boys who, on the night of the fire, were playing with her lighter, set papers alight and accidentally started the blaze which within minutes “flashed over” and engulfed the small townhouse on Grandravine Drive in the Jane Street-Finch Avenue West part of Toronto.
That a single mother of five could be by her own admission depressed and thinking of suicide and the call wouldn’t be deemed as requiring fast action prompted Suzan Fraser, lawyer for Ontario’s provincial advocate for children and youth, to ask Mr. Fleming if it was an “appropriate” response.
Because victim services “had spoken directly with her” and she didn’t want to leave her kids alone suggested, he said, that an immediate “call from CAS might not be something she’d welcome.”
But on a whole other level, the fact that Ms. Anderson, a fiercely proud and private woman, phoned the police to ask for help is also at odds with the portrait that lawyers for some of the agencies represented at the inquest appear to be trying to paint.
The jurors have heard from witnesses from the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, which owns the townhouse complex where the family lives, and have been given documents which suggest Ms. Anderson was repeatedly offered help but either refused it or screwed things up.
She was desperate, her sister Sophia Anderson and daughter Ieisha Simpson have testified, to get out of her cockroach-infested, too-small and decaying townhouse.
Yet documents introduced through Steve Floros, a housing director with TCHC, show that Ms. Anderson was quickly approved for a transfer to a bigger unit out of the Jane-Finch area, but that some offers fell through because she was behind in her rent, and arrears disqualify tenants from being moved.
Ms. Anderson didn’t reply to one offer, and failed to show up for an appointment to see a second unit.
Other records show that after complaining about the cockroaches in her townhouse, when pest-control people showed up to spray the house, Ms. Anderson hadn’t managed to “prepare the unit” by emptying cupboards and moving furniture.
Yet that woman’s hands weren’t full, but overflowing: She had one toddler, another child with behavioural difficulties, a teenage daughter and two other youngsters to manage, as well as a dead fiancé, a lost baby and a growing drinking problem.
By the time she called the police that April night, life had almost completely knocked the stuffing out of her. Yet still, she called, and still, she was thinking about her kids.
Source: Globe and Mail
Addendum: The Verdict of the Coroner's Jury contains thirteen recommendations from the CAS wish list.
U Fell 4 a Scam
April 14, 2011 permalink
Roxanne Jones is an obese woman who looks like she is pregnant all the time. She duped many couples with the prospect of adopting her babies at birth, getting them to give her hundreds of dollars each to cover her expenses during pregnancy.
Caught on tape: Woman 'posed as pregnant mother to con desperate couples in adoption scam'
A woman has been charged with fraud and identity theft after she was caught on camera posing as a pregnant mother in an adoption scam.
Roxanne Jones, 34, allegedly preyed on at least ten couples across the U.S. who were desperate to have children, by pretending to be a birth mother willing to give up her newborn babies.
She allegedly demanded hundreds of dollars in living expenses, rent and groceries during her fake pregnancies.
Jones was arrested in Kansas City last month following an undercover investigation by CBS News after she allegedly defrauded one of their employees.
A producer posed as an adoptive mother and contacted Jones, then using the name Cindy Stevens, who allegedly said she was pregnant with twins and was willing to give them up.
Over three weeks, the producer said Jones allegedly sent her more than 120 texts and called her dozens of times, demanding cash for food, bills and rent.
The investigation culminated in a secretly-filmed meeting at a Kansas City hotel room, in which Jones is seen telling the producer she is pregnant with twins due in four days time.
But she changes her mind about the gender, originally saying she was having two girls but then switching to a boy and a girl.
When a CBS producer arrived and she realised what was going on, Jones tried to leave - but police seized her on her way out of the hotel.
Yesterday federal prosecutors charged her with 12 counts of identity theft and wire fraud after another alleged victim, known only as J.B., came forward when they saw the CBS programme and recognised Jones.
Police say she confessed soon after she was arrested. According to court documents, she admitted 'pretending to be pregnant in an attempt to get money for rent, groceries, utilities, and other living expenses.
'The defendant admitted that what she did was wrong, and said she was untruthful.'
Officers claim she used four different aliases: Roxanne Melissa Farris, Stephanie Isaiah, Jayme Furney and Kristy Bennett.
Her alleged victims include Kansas City couple Holly and Mark Gonzales, who turned to adoption after spending four years and $120,000 desperately trying to conceive through fertility treatment.
In February, they received a phone call from their adoption lawyer saying he had found a birth mother pregnant with twins due on Friday.
They spoke to the woman, allegedly Jones posing as 'Kristy Bennett', and just half an hour later she sent Mrs Gonzales a text saying 'I think you're going to be great parents to the twins'.
The couple began preparing a nursery for the babies, but then Bennett began asking for money and a few days later, the lawyer called again.
She had checked Bennett's background, and found the doctor had no record of her, so the heartbroken couple cut off all contact.
On the day the twins were supposed to be born, she sent them a photo of two newborn babies and a text which added to their heartbreak.
It read: 'The girls were born today. I'm sorry you felt you couldn't be here. They are two very precious babies that are going to foster care.'
CBS claims its investigators tracked down victims of the scam in New York, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota and California.
Detectives in Kansas City are working with the U.S. Secret Service to find anyone else who was defrauded, and are urging couples to come forward.
If convicted of the 12 charges against her, she could face up to 22 years in prison.
Source: Daily Mail
Mama Bear Defends Cubs
April 13, 2011 permalink
When two Florida DCF workers showed up at the home of Caneema Atkins and announced they were taking her five children, she lunged at Lovern Alleyne-Babb punching her in the nose and stomping on her eyeglasses.
Police: Mom Assaults DCF Worker, Flees With 5 Children
MIAMI (CBS4) – City of Miami Police are desperate to find a mother and her five children after she allegedly beat up a Department of Children & Families case worker coming to take away the kids.
Authorities say DCF worker Lovern Alleyne-Babb, along with another co-worker, went to the home on the 400 block of Northwest 6th Street on April 8 with orders to remove the children from the home.
Once inside, police say the children’s mother, Caneema Atkins, lunged at Alleyne-Babb punching her in the nose and stomping on her eyeglasses.
“Unfortunately, this is something that our investigators face every day. They walk into these houses, they don’t have a badge, they don’t have a gun, they have their ID. They come in there into situations which may be dangerous,” said Lissette Valdes-Valle, a spokesperson for DCF.
After the attack, police say Atkins grabbed the children and fled the home in an unknown direction. She is considered to be dangerous.
The missing children are twins Brooklyn & Kaitlyn Dennis, 2, Saniya Eliott, 4, and Tre’Mari Dennis, 3. An infant of unknown age is also missing.
“We need to know where they are to make sure that they are safe, so we ask the community to please call Crime Stoppers and make a difference in the lives of these children and of this mother,” said Valdes-Valle.
Anyone with information is urged to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS.
Source: WFOR-TV Miami
Addendum: Even before the mother was found, bloggers were suggesting that the social worker was the one doing the punching, and lied about the incident. The news report below of the mother shows no indication that she is prone to violence or defiance of authority.
Mother who fled DCF worker with kids found
MIAMI (WSVN) -- A mother accused of attacking a Department of Children and Families worker and running away with her kids has been found.
The mother, 23-year-old Caneema Atkins, was accused of punching a DCF caseworker and fleeing with her five children earlier this week.
City of Miami Police interviewed Atkins at their headquarters, Friday afternoon, and she was released without an charge before the end of the day. DCF has reported that all five children are currently in DCF custody and in good physical condition. DCF said they spoke to Atkins earlier in the day and convinced her to show up to court with her five children.
On April 8, Police said, Atkins lunged at a DCF worker who was looking for her at a relative's house in order to remove the kids from the home. The DCF worker said Atkins punched her in the face and stomped on her eyeglasses before corralling her five children and taking off. She had been on the run with her children until now.
Police said Atkins has been cooperating, and detectives still have not heard from the case worker. They said Atkins is giving her side of the story, and it is reportedly very different from what the case worker had alleged. Miami Police Commander Delrish Moss said, "At this point, we can't say there was anything criminal because the victim's not come and talked to us, for one, and of course mother's story is going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of: 'I didn't attack her ... This happened,' so we need to sit down and talk to everybody, especially the professionals that started this investigation and see if we could move forward."
Miami Police Officer Kenia Reyes said, "Detectives are saying nothing criminal yet, so the investigation is still open as to what happened back on April 8th, but the most important thing here is that all five children have been recovered. As to what took place, as to the DCF worker being hit, that's something that detectives are still looking at."
DCF said their caseworker does not want to leave her home because she is afraid. The department said she has been hounded by the media and does not want to talk about the encounter, but she has nothing to hide.
Child Welfare Worker
April 12, 2011 permalink
A reader complained that we are not showing enough ads for CAS workers. Here is one for Kawartha-Haliburton. Earn $57k to $70k.
Child Welfare Worker
We are currently seeking candidates to fill permanent full-time positions in child protection.
Responsibilities may include providing investigation, assessment, and ongoing protection services to children and families in partnership with other community agencies. The role may also include working with and supporting foster families.
MSW or BSW preferred
Will consider educational equivalency within the following criteria:
- University Degree with such courses as psychology, sociology, child development, family studies, etc. and
- A two year diploma in social service, child development, etc. and
- Experience in child welfare or closely related field. and
- Any training specific to the field of child protection.
Those not meeting these specific qualifications cannot be considered and need not apply.
Also required to hold a valid Ontario driver’s license and have use of a vehicle insured to $1 million PL/PD, business usage.
(The successful candidates will be required to provide a clean vulnerable sector criminal police check)
Salary: $57,638 – $70,690
Please visit our website at www.khcas.on.ca for more information about our Agency.
Applications, quoting competition number U1126, may be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. on April 17, 2011, using one of the following methods:
- Kawartha-Haliburton Children’s Aid Society 1100 Chemong Dr. Peterborough, ON K9H 7S2 ATT: HUMAN RESOURCES
Source: Charity Village
Addendum: Here are a few summer jobs in North Bay (pdf).
April 12, 2011 permalink
Why does CAS love drug busts? They get to pick up innocent children. In today's story, they have seized three younger children after a father and 17-year-old son were arrested. At prevailing rates they can expect $100,000 per year added to their budget.
Police arrest father, son
PARRY SOUND - One Parry Sound man and his son have been with numerous drug related offenses.
West Parry Sound OPP went to the home with a warrant and found the 33-year-old man and his 17-year-old son engaged in drug use.
Both were arrested and OPP seized a small quantity of marijuana, digital scales, cash and a prohibited weapon from the residence, OPP report.
The name of the 33 year-old man was not released to protect the identity of the youth.
According to OPP three other youth, not suspected to be involved, were taken into the care of Children’s Aid Society.
Source: Cottage Country Now
April 12, 2011 permalink
Principal Catherine Jenkinson-Dix of the City of Ely Community College in Cambridgeshire, England has found the greatest threat to school discipline: mismatched socks. Violators have been held in detention for five hours sitting silently in rows in the assembly hall while reading a booklet explaining “good behaviour.” See the whole story on BoingBoing or the National Post report below.
U.K. school cracks down on bad manners
Almost half the students at a British school have been barred from class in just four days because of infractions of their new code of conduct.
The 600 or so scofflaws at the City of Ely Community College in Cambridgeshire, southeastern England, have been sentenced to spend five hours sitting silently in rows in the assembly hall while reading a booklet explaining “good behaviour.”
The rules they flouted included prohibitions on chewing gum, wearing odd socks, eating between lessons, running, wearing excessive makeup or using “visible” earphones or cellphones.
The zero-tolerance policy was introduced this week by Catherine Jenkinson-Dix, the school’s no-nonsense principal, in consultation with teachers.
On Monday alone, 236 of the college’s 1,295 students were sent to the hall.
”Low-level issues, such as using mobile phones, affect staff’s ability to teach the pupils and also affect those pupils who are trying to learn,” she told the Cambridge News. “If we can eradicate these, all students will be able to receive the best possible education. I am pleased to say I have the support of the majority of parents.
“Any pupil who is removed from class is removed for a good reason and this is fundamental in preparing pupils for their future careers, where they certainly would not get away with being rude, dressing inappropriately and chewing gum.”
The code is part of a new “Right to Teach -Right to Learn” initiative launched by the school’s governors and the principal. Teachers said the rules were drafted after observations of the students showed a “minority” were not meeting basic expectations.
In a letter to parents informing them about the code, they said, “Staff will enforce a zero-tolerance approach if students fail to meet these basic expectations in every lesson and situation in college.
“If students choose not to conform, they will be removed from the situation immediately and will spend the rest of the day working in silence, supervised by senior staff.”
Nonetheless, some shocked parents are attacking the new rules and accusing Ms. Jenkinson-Dix of turning the school into a “prison.”
”I’m absolutely appalled. They are wrecking pupils’ education and turning it into a prison,” Amanda King, 34, who pulled her 12-year-old son Ben and daughter Shannon, 14, out of classes, told the Cambridge News.
“Staff are nit-picking for everything -for behaviour, for what they wear. Apparently they are not allowed to wear any accessories or even coats in school now.”
Another mother, who asked not to be named, said, “Yes, children should be taught to respect their teachers but to punish them for wearing bright hair bobbles or having their mobile phones is petty. I’m not happy about the new rules at all.”
However, other parents have supported the code.
“Well done Ely!” one parent wrote on the Ely Standard newspaper website. “My children both know how I feel about this and if they are put in the hall then so be it. They shouldn’t misbehave.”
The uproar in Cambridgeshire comes as staff at another school went on strike to protest their students’ bad behaviour and alleged poor treatment from bosses. About 70 teachers at Darwen Vale High School in Lancashire picketed the school gates brandishing placards, the Daily Mail reported.
The walkout is in protest at the lack of support the staff claim they have received from the head teacher, Hilary Torpey.
Teachers say when they take disciplinary matters to Ms. Torpey, she often sides with the students instead of staff.
Source: National Post
Australia to End Cover-Ups
April 12, 2011 permalink
Australia has been completely silent on the issue of deaths in foster care, eradicating names and facts from all news reports. Now Pru Goward, the Minister for Community Services and Women, wants to change policy. From now on all facts of deaths of children known to the system will be published.
End to silence on deaths in DOCS
THE death of every DOCS child will be made public with the state's new Community Services Minister signalling an end to secrecy.
Pru Goward has told the Department of Community Services she wants to know immediately of any death of a child known to DOCS and for the parliament to be told so the news reaches the public.
In recent meetings, Ms Goward said she nominated transparency as an area where DOCS can do better.
"No more secrets, I need to be told the truth and I need to be told it when they know," she said. "I don't want them agonising about whether they leave it three weeks before they tell me and they write it in a report. We need to know when they know and the public needs to know."
Ms Goward also demanded an end to the censoring of reports into child deaths before they were released.
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"As I found in opposition the reports that were provided by the department were pretty opaque, things were crossed out, blanked out unnecessarily," she said. "I do want to improve that system, that will hurt because obviously that exposes a government and a department but I think it is a very useful tool for driving reform within a department."
The majority of the more than 17,000 children in foster care will be transferred to the non-government sector, based on recommendations of Justice James Wood in a Special Commission of Inquiry.
Labor had stalled on the transfer amid union opposition, despite private agencies having more stable placements and recording better outcomes."We have to start that as quickly as we can but it has to be a very careful process," Ms Goward said.
A night with a child protection team is also on Ms Goward's agenda so she can see how quickly staff are able to respond to children at immediate risk of harm.
"The caseworkers are the foot soldiers, they do the work," she said.
Ms Goward said she wants to tackle domestic violence, which is a leading cause of the removal of children.
And by the next election, Ms Goward said she wants to be judged on her results.
Source: Daily Telegraph (Australia)
Here are two stories showing failure of foster care in Australia. A twelve-year-old girl became pregnant while in state care. In another, a state ward became a prostitute under guidance of an older state ward.
Girl, 12, pregnant while in DHS care
A 12-YEAR-OLD girl who was living at a residential centre run by a community services group fell pregnant and has had the baby.
The girl, now 13, is back living with her mother, but her plight has shocked welfare authorities, the Herald Sun says.
She was under the care of a Department of Human Services (DHS) custody order when she conceived last year.
The Victorian government and police have launched an investigation into the case.
Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge told the newspaper that her first concern was that the baby, the girl and her immediate family were receiving appropriate support.
"I am deeply disturbed by this situation and I have launched an investigation to ensure the appropriateness of all dealings with the young mother and her family," Ms Wooldridge said.
The young mum, from regional Victoria, gave birth at a Melbourne hospital.
Source: Northern Rivers Echo
Girl, 14, sold for sex while in state care
Wayne Flower, From: Herald Sun, April 14, 2011 12:00AM
THE State Government is investigating claims a 14-year-old girl was put out to prostitution by a 15-year-old while both were in state care.
The shocking revelations come a day after the Herald Sun revealed a 12-year-old had fallen pregnant under state control.
In the latest incident, sources have told the Herald Sun the prostitution claims were well known to some staff at the out-of-home residential centre, but they failed to act.
The suspicions were eventually reported to DHS, which launched an investigation late last year.
A spokesman for DHS was unable to provide the Herald Sun with answers to several questions yesterday.
It is understood Victoria Police has not been notified by authorities of the serious allegations, but would not comment. Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge also remained tight-lipped, instead issuing a statement through her spokesman, which said the Government could not comment on individual cases.
However, the statement assured Victorians it had acted appropriately.
"Whenever the Government or department receives allegations of harm in relation to a child in state care, they are investigated as a matter of priority," it stated.
The Herald Sun has learned Ms Wooldridge instigated an internal investigation after being alerted to both the prostitution claims and the 12-year-old's pregnancy in a letter sent by a member of the public early this month.
The letter provided detailed information on the 12-year-old girl's predicament, outlining the residential care facility she had been located at.
Premier Ted Baillieu yesterday said: "There has been a failure of the system . . . and the question now is was the response appropriate," he said.
Mr Baillieu said the focus must be on supporting the child and the young mum.
Source: Herald Sun
April 9, 2011 permalink
Two years after entering bankruptcy, the operators of Imagine Adoption, Susan and Rick Hayhow, have been charged with fraud and breach of trust. They used $420,000 in agency funds for vacations, clothing and home renovations. Earlier stories:   .
Adoption agency founders charged
Susan and Rick Hayhow, who operated Cambridge-based Imagine Adoption, are charged with fraud and breach of trust.
CAMBRIDGE — Holly Guistini finally has the family she always wanted after adopting a baby boy from Ontario last year.
But as she makes plans to celebrate her son’s first birthday next week, the Kitchener woman still isn’t over the heartache of what might have been.
Guistini and her husband, David, were among more than 400 families across Canada whose hopes were dashed when an overseas adoption agency based in Cambridge went bankrupt almost two years ago.
Memories of that blow flooded back Friday when police announced they have charged the husband and wife behind Imagine Adoption with numerous counts of fraud and breach of trust.
Rick and Susan Hayhow are accused of blowing more than $420,000 in agency funds on personal purchases — including vacations, clothing and home renovations — in the 2 ½ years before it collapsed in July 2009.
“I’m happy it’s coming to an end, but it won’t be enough for those people who have lost all their dreams,” Guistini said.
Police began investigating the agency after allegations surfaced of six-figure salaries, leased luxury vehicles and suspect expenses charged by its two senior executives.
Included in the expenses were a horse and saddle, cosmetic dental surgery, trips to Disney World and New York City, and extensive renovations at the couple’s old stone home on Roseview Avenue in Cambridge.
A wrought-iron fence installed at the house cost $13,500. The tab for a five-day family trip to New York came to $13,000.
Guistini and her husband turned to Imagine — the umbrella organization for three related agencies — after having four miscarriages and trying expensive in-vitro fertility treatments.
A year into the lengthy international adoption process, they had spent about $20,000 in hopes of bringing home an infant daughter from Ethiopia.
The couple bought clothes and dolls and painted the nursery pink. Guistini got a mannequin to practise braiding African hair.
Then came word the agency had collapsed, leaving them wondering if they would ever have the money or emotional energy to try again.
“It was absolutely devastating,” Guistini said. “It was just like losing another child.”
Ingrid Phaneuf and her husband, Edward Barth, were also waiting to be matched with a child in Ethiopia after spending about $15,000 through the agency.
She had taken a second job to pay the fees after having a stillborn son a few years earlier.
Like the Guistini’s, the Etobicoke couple has since successfully adopted in Ontario. They now have two children, ages eight and 10.
Phaneuf is still furious, however, at the suspect expenses and the fact the Ontario government — which had licensed Imagine just a few months before it failed — didn’t step in to compensate clients.
“It would be nice to have that $15,000 to help pay for college for my kids,” she said.
Promoted as a Christian agency, Imagine fell apart after it came to light that Susan Hayhow, the executive director, was having an affair with Andrew Morrow, an employee and board member whose wife also worked there.
Rick Hayhow, the chief financial officer, was given a year’s pay as severance when he left the four-year-old agency in the wake of the scandal.
Alan Brown, a new member of the volunteer board of directors, subsequently learned the couple had been paying themselves a combined salary of $320,000 a year, in addition to the use of leased luxury vehicles.
Brown and another new board member, Chris Hughes, then looked into the agency’s finances and flagged suspicious expenses estimated at more than $300,000 that had been racked up since early 2007.
Financial records before that time couldn’t be found.
Following the bankruptcy, Brown came forward with his concerns and an investigation was launched by Waterloo Regional Police and the RCMP.
Brown has said records suggest agency credit cards were routinely used for personal expenses including shopping at high-end clothing stores, restaurants, vacations and spa visits.
Susan and Rick Hayhow are jointly charged with breach of trust, six counts of fraud over $5,000 and three counts of fraud under $5,000. They are also individually charged with one count of fraud under $5,000.
Staff Sgt. Dale Roe of regional police said the investigation involved the examination of “volumes and volumes” of documents.
Rick Hayhow, 46, was arrested in Cambridge, while Susan Hayhow, 45, was arrested in Whitby. They were released by police on a promise to appear in Cambridge court May 26.
“It’s been a long haul,” Brown said Friday. “I just hope to see some resolution for the families who have been affected by this.
“In the end, it’s incredibly unfortunate for the kids that money should have been supporting and, of course, the families who sacrificed to save children out of Third World poverty.”
The agency had just $500,000 in bank accounts when it went bust. Clients left in the lurch initially filed about $3 million in claims as part of the bankruptcy process.
After months of turmoil, a majority of affected families voted to salvage the agency by paying an extra $4,000 each. Overseas adoptions have since slowly resumed.
Guistini considers herself incredibly fortunate to have been able to adopt a local child after it seemed like the couple was out of options.
But there are still plenty of reminders in her home — including a large map of Africa — of the daughter who never came because of the collapse.
“You just feel bad for the other people who weren’t so lucky,” Guistini said. “It disgusts me. I don’t even think I have the words for it.”
Source: Guelph Mercury
April 9, 2011 permalink
A foster boy using pseudonym Mark went into foster care at age 4. His father was a Vietnam veteran and Mark was paid social security and veteran's death benefits. The payments went not to him, but to the state on his behalf. Over $100,000 was siphoned off before Mark found out about it. Through legal action he was able to get the payments diverted to himself, but he can do nothing to recover the earlier payments. Here is the audio report on Mark by Amita Sharma of KPBS San Diego (mp3).
April 8, 2011 permalink
The Windsor rally on March 31 (mp4) was covered by cftv news.
Source: cftv news April 1, 2011 edition
Pinwheels in Black
April 7, 2011 permalink
When child protectors in Ohio used pinwheels to draw attention to Child Abuse Prevention Month, a group of counter-demonstrators showed up with black pinwheels to memorialize the children who have died in care of child protectors.
Foster care pinwheel event joined by small group in black
COSHOCTON -- April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the 219 blue and silver pinwheels placed on the corner of Main and Sixth streets were joined by 10 black pinwheels Monday morning.
A few parents were there, too, holding signs to represent the We The People Family Preservation organization, a nonprofit group raising attention about children abused in foster care. The black pinwheels represent children who died while in foster care nationwide, said L. Wilson, a member of the group and a Coshocton resident.
Wilson said more than 80 percent of the children placed in foster care are there under false allegations, and parents should be aware of their rights.
That is not the case, said Mindy Fehrman, director of Coshocton County Job and Family Services, under which Children Services operates.
"Our mission is to make sure children are safe, whether it's with their parents, relatives or foster care," she said. "We do everything we can to make sure that happens."
The last known instance of a child dying in foster care in Coshocton County was in 1985, and that was not a result of foster care abuse, but of the parental abuse before the child was placed in a foster home, Fehrman said.
The victim had been shaken by a parent, then removed to the custody of Children Services.
"It's our priority that we work with parents and keep children in their homes or in the homes of relatives," Fehrman said. "Have there been tragedies, yes, but we do everything within our power to make sure those tragedies won't happen again."
If a child must be removed from the home placing them with someone they know is a preference, Fehrman said.
Reforming the state's foster care system became a hot-button issue after a 3-year-old boy died near Cincinnati in August 2006. Marcus Fiesel was left bound inside a closet for two days by his foster parents, Liz Carroll and David Carroll Jr.
Both were convicted of murder and are serving life sentences for his death.
More than 75 percent, or 1,257, of the 1,676 child abuse fatalities in the U.S. in 2009 were caused by one or more parents, according to data submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children & Families. About .9 percent, or 151 deaths, were caused by abuse by a foster parent, friend or neighbor or legal guardian.
Each year, the Coshocton County Children's Services places blue and silver pinwheels around the community. These pinwheels represent the number of child abuse reports the agency received in 2010, which is down from the 384 reports in 2009. The agency's goal is to raise awareness of child abuse and to educate the public.
Source: Coshocton Tribune
Bad to Worse
April 6, 2011 permalink
A family with a 20-year-old daughter being treated for a psychiatric problem went from bad to worse when CAS intervened suggesting the older daughter is a bad influence on their younger 14-year-old girl.
just served Notice and Application for a Supervision Order
We have a 20 year old daughter living with us who is being treated for being bipolar and borderline personality disorder(and yes she is taking her meds all the time). She recently tried another suicide attempt while living here(first one wasnt here, thats why we brought her back home). We also have a 14 year old daughter still living at home. We have never had a issue with the law or CAS at anytime. We have been married 23 years and have 4 great kids who will do anything to help people out. Now CAS served us with this court order saying that he needs to supervise and intrude whenever he wishes because we cant get the help for our 20 year old and feels it is not a good environment to raise our 14 year old. After both his visits here she has had a partial meltdown saying she wished she died so we didn't have to go through this. We have searched and find just horror stories. Our biggest fear is our 20 year old baby is going to overboard and kill herself. Someone with a heart and some compassion HELP GUIDE US.
Alberta Kafka Retrial
April 5, 2011 permalink
The accused foster mother in the Alberta Kafka case has been publicly named. She is Lily Choy, accused of killing her three-year-old foster boy in 2006. She is back on trial in Edmonton.
Foster mom back on trial in death of little boy
A foster mother accused of killing a little boy in her care can now be identified. Lily Choy is on trial for a second time in the death of a three-year-old boy. She is accused of second-degree murder after the young boy suffered severe cranial trauma.
Choy was convicted of manslaughter in 2008 but the decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal.
In her opening statement Monday, Crown Prosecutor Allison Downey-Damato described Choy as someone with an established pattern of abuse, adding that the brain injury suffered by the youngster was "non-accidental".
Court heard that in a 911 call, Choy said the child, who cannot be named, had no movement in his eyes and was wheezing deeply.
An agreed statement of facts indicates the little boy awoke at 2 a.m. on Jan. 26, 2007. He was distressed and had to use the bathroom. The accused took him downstairs where he suffered a brain injury.
The child was taken to the Stollery Children's Hospital, where efforts to control swelling in his brain were unsuccessful. The boy died on Jan. 27, 2007.
The circumstances surrounding the brain injury will be at the centre of the debate between the Crown and the defence.
The defence contends the young boy was aggressive and displayed harmful behavior.
The Crown alleges Choy was neglectful and subjected the boy to extreme punishment, citing allegations he was forced to sleep in the garage in a soiled diaper.
CTV is identifying the accused in this case for the first time after lawyers reviewed provincial legislation. A court-ordered publication ban prevents the identity of the victim from being released.
The trial continues Tuesday.
Source: CTV Edmonton
April 4, 2011 permalink
Catherine Frei Great rally and march today, no surprise that the Ministry of Child and Youth Services not only didn't let us into their office but locked all the doors to a 20 storey building. Why??? All we wanted to do was inquire about the welfare of children and youth in their care...hmhmhm. Rosario showed up, watched him challenge during question period in Legislature - job well done! Bill gets 2nd reading May 5th.
Addendum: Later in the day several demonstrators went to the Ontario Legislature where Rosario Marchese questioned Minister of Children and Youth Services Laurel Broten about ombudsman oversight (mp4).
Source: Facebook, Neil Haskett
Here are other photos of the rally [speaker Rosario Marchese] [Brian Caldwell and Chris Carter speak to reporter] [outside ministry] and a video produced by Vawn Smith (mp4).
Equal Opportunity Employer
April 4, 2011 permalink
Want a job as a foster parent? Put assault, prostitution, drunken driving, theft or shoplifting on your resumé. This is no joke. Alaska hires fosters with exactly those qualifications.
Alaska licensing some foster parents with criminal backgrounds
20 out of 350 foster homes had a parent with a police record
ANCHORAGE - Some of the foster parents licensed to care for children in Alaska are people with a history of assault, prostitution, drunken driving, theft and shoplifting, according to an investigation by the Anchorage Daily News.
The state's largest newspaper compared records from the state court system dating back to the 1970s with the state's listing of about 1,200 foster homes.
Out of some 350 Anchorage foster homes, court records reviewed by an Anchorage computer service company for the Daily News found about 20 foster parents with a criminal history, including DWIs and decade-old cases. A handful of other foster parents outside the Anchorage area also had records.
Officials with the Division of Family and Youth Services said that in some cases they were unaware of the criminal records. In other cases, they knew of the problems but approved the homes anyway, believing foster children would not be put at additional risk.
The agency did a review of its own and removed eight children from foster homes and closed three homes. But despite the increased scrutiny, one boy was mistakenly left with his foster father for 2 months after the foster home was officially shut down. The boy stayed there until his foster father was jailed on a new charge of domestic violence assault in December, the Daily News reported Sunday.
``We are still concerned about the safety of our foster homes and the safety of our residential homes,'' Health and Social Services Commissioner Karen Perdue said recently.
The state pays a tax-free stipend of about $23 a day per child to foster parents. If the child has serious problems, the payment is more. Last fiscal year, for instance, one foster family who took in young sex offenders received $46,800.
The state regulates foster parents to make sure they provide a safe, nurturing home for children whose own parents are unfit. Rules for foster parents are generally supposed to eliminate people who have ever been charged with serious offenses, including felonies, sex offenses and domestic violence assault. State law allows case-by-case exceptions.
Alaska has had a system since at least the early 1980s to check all prospective foster parents and weed out people with criminal histories.
The system has grown more sophisticated over the years and now includes state and FBI criminal record checks based on fingerprints. DFYS also checks its own child abuse records, the state sex offender registry and references. A worker interviews the family and inspects the home.
DFYS officials said they don't know how many foster parents have criminal records. They are working on a better system to uncover those who have prior records or get into trouble after they've been licensed.
``The vast majority of our foster homes are wonderful, but there are a few with problems,'' said Kathy Posegate, DFYS staff manager in Anchorage.
About 50 Alaska children are taken away from their parents every month because of abuse or neglect. The total number of children in care reached a record in December, topping 2,150, before dropping slightly this month.
Most of the crimes among foster parents occurred long ago, represented a one-time lapse and no longer relate to who the person is today, officials said.
``People can change,'' Perdue said.
Source: Juneau Empire
Social Worker 0
April 3, 2011 permalink
When two-year-old Tyler Jacobson was lost overnight, he was saved by the family dog.
Family dog kept watch over missing 2-year-old overnight
ELGIN, SC (WIS) - A missing 2-year-old boy in Elgin was found Saturday morning after Kershaw County deputies say the family dog kept him warm and safe all night.
Sheriff Jim Matthews said 22-month-old Tyler Jacobson was reunited with his family after he was found across the street behind a neighbor's home when someone reported hearing crying in the area.
Tyler was reported missing around 8:00pm Friday from a residence on Ashley Creek Drive. Matthews said the boy's mother, 25-year-old Jacklyn Marie Jacobson, and her boyfriend Jose Gloria told investigators Tyler went to get some juice and didn't come back.
Kershaw County deputies used a bloodhound tracking team and a SLED helicopter with infrared capabilities, but called the search off around 12:30am Saturday. The search resumed around 7:45am, and the boy was found shortly thereafter. "Just thinking that a dog would watch a baby over the night, it's kind of like a movie instead of real life," said Emily DuBose, who lives in the house outside which the baby was found.
DuBose had no idea a story of devotion and survival was playing out right outside her door. "When we saw the choppers last night, we just assumed a criminal was loose, so I locked the door," said Linda Harr, who also lives at the house. "The last thing I was gonna do is go outside."
"I heard some barking early in the morning, but I didn't really think about it, I just heard dogs barking," said DuBose.
But during the night, Jacobson's dog was keeping watch over his 22-month-old master in temperatures that got down to the 40s. "I just wish I'd have known, I could have warmed him up, called the cops," said Harr.
Now, words of praise for the dog who likely helped save little Tyler's life. "Since he belonged to them, he must have followed them the whole way, so that's very special," said Harr.
And so this story has a happy ending, thanks to the special bond of a child's best friend.
Sheriff Matthews said the family was interviewed Friday night, and again on Saturday. He said the boy's biological father is in the Army and stationed in Hawaii, and is currently on his way back to Kershaw County.
Cops Busted for Kidnapping
April 2, 2011 permalink
A San Jose jury has awarded $3.2M to parents Tracy Watson and Renee Stalker after police kidnapped their children and placed them in foster care. Juries do not like baby-stealers.
San Jose ordered to pay $3.2M in child seizure suit
In the largest recent judgment against San Jose police, a federal jury on Friday awarded a family $3.25 million after siding with the parents, who accused officers of stealing their young children and placing them in protective custody.
The award came two days after a U.S. District Court jury in San Jose ruled that detective William Hoyt and Sgt. Craig Blank violated the constitutional rights of Tracy Watson, Renee Stalker and their children after the officers entered their home without a warrant in 2005 and seized the children, who were kept from their parents for more than a year.
"It's the most horrific thing (that) no parent should ever have to go through, no child should ever have to go through," Watson, 49, a marketer who now lives in Napa, said Friday. The "police charging into your house, stealing your kids."
At the time, police had become alarmed by the strange sexual behavior exhibited by the family's 8-year-old daughter, and the father's lack of cooperation during their abuse investigation. But the family argued the girl had never told investigators she had been molested, and there was no evidence of abuse.
City Attorney Rick Doyle said it was the largest settlement against the police department in his 15 years defending the city. He argued the settlement was excessive and is considering appealing.
Doyle said the 8-year-old daughter had masturbated in her Evergreen School District classroom and talked strangely, mentioning she was taking baths with her father, who refused to cooperate with authorities. Although Doyle acknowledged officers "probably" should have obtained a warrant before entering the home, he said police have the right to retrieve the children if they are in immediate danger.
"If you don't do anything and something happens, then you're second guessed for being negligent," Doyle said, citing the horrific Jaycee Lee Dugard case where a young girl had been kidnapped and abused for years in Antioch before officers discovered her. "It sort of puts the police in 'you're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't.' "
On June 29, 2005, Hoyt, Blank, five other police officers and county social workers came to the family's home on Braden Court and entered without a search warrant. The 3-year-old autistic son and an infant boy were home with their grandmother, and Doyle said officials could not reach the mother -- who was in the hospital for surgery -- and thought Watson was with the girl.
So they placed the boys into the custody of county child protective services, and then did the same with the girl the next day.
But Watson believes he was targeted because he had hired an attorney after a feud with the school district. He denies the girl had been doing anything sexual.
Even so, a San Jose municipal court judge ruled the officers acted correctly in taking the kids. It wasn't until the family moved to Napa County in 2006 -- nearly 1½ years after the initial seizure -- that social workers there reviewed the case and quickly returned the children to the family, said their attorney, Peter Johnson of Walnut Creek.
In 2007, the family sued the city, police, the county, the school district and several officials. The family settled with the county and school officials for an undisclosed amount.
The case against the city, however, went to trial last month, with jurors unanimously deciding that the officers did not have enough evidence to justify taking the kids and entering the home without a search warrant.
The jury found that the officers had violated the family's 4th Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, and their 14th Amendment rights against government prohibiting "life, liberty or property" without taking proper measures. Jurors awarded financial penalties plus $2 million in punitive damages, which are designed to punish defendants for intentional wrongdoing.
They also found the city did not properly train its officers, but not in a "deliberately indifferent" way.
Watson said although he feels vindicated by the ruling, it's been a struggle to get his family back together since being reunited.
"What's normal after that?" he said. "You try, but you're always a little edgy around cops after that. You just are. Your whole sense of safety as a family has just been violated."
Source: San Jose Mercury News
April 2, 2011 permalink
Adoptive parents David and Thelma Ward have stuck it rich! Their income tax refund is $54,000 after adopting five children.
Family Scores $54,000 Tax Refund From Adoptions. Will You?
David and Thelma Ward could hardly believe it when their HR Block tax preparer called to say they’d be getting a $54,000 tax refund this year.
Yes, that many zeros. And math was checked countless times.
The one-time windfall for the family is attributed to a change in the tax law this year. Since 1997, families who adopt have been eligible for a one-time, $13,170 tax credit per child. Over the past three years through foster care, the Wards added five more kids to their family, which already included seven other children.
What makes this year different, though, is a change in the way the tax credit is defined: it’s now a refundable tax credit. Before, you could only fully benefit from a tax credit if you owed more than the credit. The credits simply offset what you owed in taxes. Staring this year, the adoption tax credit is refundable, meaning it not only offsets the amount you owe but you get the difference in cash.
Since, like the majority of families who adopt in the U.S., the Wards earned a low-to-modest income. They lived off of $39,000 per year, plus monthly stipends for foster care parents, so the credits never paid off. Instead, they rolled over from one year to the next. This year, with the changed law, they get to collect on all the adoptions of the last five years. The credits have a five-year shelf-life and are intended for expenses incurred through international and private adoption. Foster care adoptions don’t typically accrue expenses, but children deemed special needs make their families eligible for the entire credit.
How great for this family! Of course, they’re not in it for the money. They had no idea they’d be getting such a windfall. The refundable credit, which is part of healthcare reform, will likely help other families, too.
Source: Babble blog
No Outside Advice
March 31, 2011 permalink
Parents aren't the only ones threatened by child protectors. The provincially funded group Alberta Association of Services for Children and Families (AASCF) was threatened with withdrawal of funding (fiscal death) if it sought a contrary view from lawyer Robert Lee and Virginia May. Lee says fear of retaliation is widespread.
Intimidation and bullying claims emerge from another government department
Amid dramatic allegations and claims of threats and intimidation against medical staff, an Edmonton lawyer says the problem is not isolated to the AHS.
According to court documents, similar allegations are also being made over the department now known as Children and Youth Services.
In a statutory declaration obtained through a court record check, Catherine Hedlin, the head of the non-profit child welfare organization AASCF, says a director from what was then the Alberta Ministry of Children's Services told her the group would have its government funding cut if they seeked independent legal advice.
Hedlin says Child Welfare director Laura Alcock warned her in 2001 the group would lose around $400,000 if lawyer Robert Lee spoke to the association.
''The person who contacted me and suggested that the Alberta Association of Services for Children and Families should not permit Robert Lee and Virginia May to speak at our meeting or potentially face cuts to our funding, was Laura Alcock,'' Hedlin says in the statement.
''I felt this was a warning from her and not a threat.''
Lee, who did not speak to the association, says this shows a rare case of someone coming forward after a 'warning' from someone high up in the bureaucracy.
''I can't tell you how many people I have dealt with in the child welfare area that are terrified of retaliation by the government,'' Lee says.
''It's very similar with what's been going on right now with the health concerns and the issues being raised by MLA Raj Sherman where he's talking about how doctors are bullied, threatened and intimidated.''
Spokesman for Alberta Children and Youth Services John Tuckwell declined to comment saying the matter is before the courts. (JL,blb)
Source: 880 News
Ashley Smith Inquest
March 30, 2011 permalink
At age 15 Ashley Smith was arrested for throwing crab apples at a mail man. Bad behavior in jail caused her sentence to be extended. At age 19, she killed herself in Kitchener Ontario’s Grand Valley Institution. An inquest will be held, but will not see video evidence of forcible medication and restraint at Quebec’s Joliette Institution, nor will it hear of being fully shackled, forced to wear a heavy canvas-and-mesh hood that covered her head and duct-taped to her seat while she was transferred from prison to prison seventeen times. Coroner Dr Bonita Porter has ruled that this this material has no bearing on Smith's death. Sure. At least Ontario's child advocate disagrees, and is trying to get all the facts before the inquest.
Ashley Smith’s family challenges coroner’s ruling
The family of Ashley Smith is taking an Ontario coroner to court for excluding disturbing video evidence from an upcoming inquest into her prison death.
Joined by youth and prisoner advocacy groups, the family will challenge Dr. Bonita Porter’s ruling that videos showing abuse the teen inmate suffered at Quebec’s Joliette Institution and during prison transfers are not relevant to her death.
“What this ruling does is ensure what’s secret behind walls stays secret,” said Julian Falconer, the family’s lawyer.
Falconer and lawyers for the provincial youth advocate and Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies hope to argue the matter in Ontario Divisional Court next week. It is not clear if the inquest, which was scheduled to begin in Toronto on April 4, will be rescheduled. A coroner’s court spokesperson said an inquest cannot proceed while a judicial review is pending.
Smith asphyxiated herself with a piece of cloth at Kitchener’s Grand Valley Institution nearly four years ago after spending 11 months in federal custody where she was shunted 17 times throughout institutions across the country — from segregation cell to segregation cell.
During some institutional transfers, where Smith was flown across Canada, the 19-year-old was fully shackled, forced to wear a heavy canvas-and-mesh hood that covered her head and duct-taped to her seat, according to court documents filed by the youth advocate and the Elizabeth Fry group.
In a ruling earlier this week, Porter said she would not force the correctional service to turn over tapes of these transfers because they have no bearing on Smith’s death.
Porter has also rejected video evidence describing Smith’s treatment at Joliette prison, where she was forcibly injected with tranquilizers, threatened by medical staff and strapped to a metal gurney without food or water for 12 hours. Her requests for a clean tampon were ignored as she lay bleeding in a wet gown.
“It is impossible to think forcing a youth to take medication and restraining her for endless hours are not related to her death which occurred 90 days later,” said Irwin Elman, the provincial youth advocate.
Smith was originally jailed in New Brunswick at age 15 for throwing crab apples at a mailman. Additional time was added to her sentence for bad behaviour in juvenile detention. She was moved to the adult system at age 18 despite her parents’ protests.
“I am devastated that it has come to this,” Ashley’s mother, Coralee Smith, said from her home in Moncton. “We have completely lost confidence in this process. The jury will not hear the full story and that’s why we have to go to court. My daughter deserves no less.”
Source: Toronto Star
Children's Wrongs Inc
March 30, 2011 permalink
Children's Rights Inc (CR), led by Marcia Lowry, has started a lawsuit against the child protection system of Texas. Past lawsuits initiated by CR have established a pattern sure to be repeated in Texas. The suit starts with a long list of horror stories of individual foster children. Since they are obtained before the case reaches the discovery stage, they were fed to CR by the child protectors in an act of collusion. After years of litigation, a settlement will be reached that requires hiring more social workers and providing more public funding for social workers and foster parents. Of course, CR will get a large monetary award from the taxpayers as their reward for conducting the litigation. The end result for children will be worse, since more children will be taken from their real families to fill the new foster homes.
Here is the complaint in the Texas case (pdf). On pages 5 to 30 you can read authentic stories of abuse suffered by foster children in Texas, and everywhere else.
March 30, 2011 permalink
When Andrew Dolan and Suzanne Tyler of British Columbia adopted two children from Family Support Services in Jacksonville Florida, the agency did not tell them that the children had already been in four foster homes and a failed adoption where they suffered physical and sexual abuse. The boy, now 6 years old, punches his nanny and the girl, 8, threatens to kill her adoptive mother. Among the alleged abuses, the children were compelled to eat feces, urine and soap, hit with a belt and forced to commit sex acts with adults and each other.
Couple sues Jacksonville foster agency after prior abuse to adopted son, daughter
Parents claim local foster agency never told them of previous abuse.
Andrew Dolan and Suzanne Tyler just wanted a "forever family" when they adopted a son and daughter in 2009 through Family Support Services of North Florida.
Then the Vancouver, British Columbia, couple learned the boy and girl, now 6 and 8 respectively, had been in four foster homes and a failed adoption, suffering physical and sexual abuse the agency never disclosed to the Canadian parents.
As they deal with a boy they say punches his nanny and a girl who threatens to kill her adoptive mother, the couple has sued the Jacksonville agency.
Filed Tuesday, the lawsuit seeks money to care for the children, plus damages for pain and suffering. It says the agency failed to keep track of JD and WD, as they are named in the lawsuit, or advise the new parents of abuse.
"What FSS did to them and us as adoptive parents is inexcusable, it's horrible," Dolan said at a news conference. "We are going to demand answers from FSS and the state of Florida."
Family Support Services is a nonprofit organization that handles state adoption and foster care in Duval and Nassau counties as part of a contract with the Florida Department of Children and Families.
CEO Jim Adams said he couldn't comment on the lawsuit because he hadn't seen it. But he said staff members "take care of our kids and always have" and wondered if this might be part of a statewide effort to kill bills in the Legislature that would offer private agencies like his the same limited liability that state agencies have now.
"It is a sad state of affairs for someone to use children for state agenda," Adams said. "If anyone in my organization is responsible in any way for creating a situation for a child, we will immediately terminate them. We ... bend over backward to provide rapid quality care to children."
The children were taken from their birth mother in early 2005 and placed in Annette S. Smith's foster home for 19 months. The lawsuit says they were repeatedly physically and sexually abused and made to eat feces, urine and soap.
They were removed from there in October 2006 after another child in the home told police his "foster mother hit me with a belt," according to Smith's Nov. 29, 2006, arrest report.
The report did not include any indication of the abuse against JD and WD in the lawsuit. The state shut down the foster program at the home after the investigation, said the parents' Jacksonville attorney, Brian Cabrey.
"My clients were told the reasons why that home was closed were unknown," Cabrey said. "Records reflect that home was closed due to physical abuse on our clients' children and/or other foster children."
Cabrey would not share which records he was referring to, saying it would come out in the litigation.
Children and Families spokesman John Harrell said his agency interviewed the five foster children in Smith's home, but heard no statements of the abuse referred to in the lawsuit.
Smith was later found guilty of child abuse against the 4-year-old boy, according to court records.
The children then spent six months in a second foster home, five more in a failed adoption to a Virginia couple and were sent to two more foster homes in Nassau County.
'Like a waterfall'
In early 2009, Dolan and Tyler saw the siblings in an adoption registry and began the adoption process. Only after it was finalized in August 2009 did the children start telling parents and therapists what they had been through.
"They withdrew and then acted out with very bizarre sexual behavior," Dolan said. "... That's when the details of their abuse really began to emerge. It was like a waterfall. Once it started flowing, it wouldn't stop."
Two police information reports were filed in mid- to late 2010 regarding the allegations of abuse revealed by the children after adoption. Nothing further was done by the state, Cabrey said.
Dolan said it became obvious the care their children needed was beyond what they could afford, so they sought a "significant" increase in their monthly adoptive stipend from Family Support Services. It was denied, which led to the lawsuit, Cabrey said.
Harrell said the agency is very concerned about these allegations and whether they are accurate.
"The family has not cooperated with our requests for information," Harrell said. "These allegations were not reported to us until years later, and they accompanied a request for an increased adoption subsidy."
Other agencies may be added to the lawsuit as the investigation continues, Cabrey said.
Source: Florida Times-Union
March 27, 2011 permalink
For readers tired of stories of phony CAS "charity", here is an uplifting case of real charity from CNN. Read about Bruno Serato below, or watch the video (flv).
Making sure 'motel kids' don't go hungry
Anaheim, California (CNN) -- In the shadows of Disneyland, often referred to as the "happiest place on Earth," many children are living a reality that's far from carefree.
They are living in cheap motels more commonly associated with drug dealers, prostitutes and illicit affairs.
It's the only option for many families that are struggling financially and can't scrape together a deposit for an apartment. By living week to week in these cramped quarters, they stay one step ahead of homelessness.
"Some people are stuck, they have no money. They need to live in that room," said Bruno Serato, a local chef and restaurateur. "They've lost everything they have. They have no other chance. No choice."
While "motel kids" are found across the United States, the situation is very common in Orange County, California, a wealthy community with high rents and a large number of old motels. In 2009, local authorities estimated that more than 1,000 families lived in these conditions.
When Serato learned that these children often go hungry, he began serving up assistance, one plate at a time. To date, he's served more than 270,000 pasta dinners -- for free -- to those in need.
"Kids should not be suffering," Serato said. "[I had] to do something."
Serato, 55, has always given back to the community where he achieved his American dream. When the Italian immigrant arrived in the U.S. 30 years ago, his poor English skills forced him to settle for a job as a dishwasher. But within five years, he had become chef and owner of the Anaheim White House, an Italian restaurant that is now a local hot spot.
In 2003, he created Caterina's Club, which raises money for underprivileged children. The charity is named after Serato's mother, who taught him how to cook at the family's trattoria in Verona, Italy.
When she came to California in 2005 to visit her son, he took her to the local Boys & Girls Club, the main recipient of the charity's funds. There, they saw a small boy eating a bag of potato chips and learned that this snack was his supper.
Bruno said his mother was shocked by the boy's meager meal. She had raised seven children and always made sure food was on the dinner table, even during the lean years after World War II.
"My mama ... her whole life was to feed kids," he said.
The Seratos found out that the boy lived in a motel with his family. The situation was so common in the area that the Anaheim Boys & Girls Club had a "motel kids" program, where vans pick up the children after school and drop them off at the motels every night. While these children receive free breakfast and lunch through school programs, their parents often don't have the resources to give them dinner.
Caterina found it unacceptable that the children would go to bed without supper. Speaking in rapid Italian, she made her feelings clear to her son.
"Mom said, 'Bruno, you must feed them the pasta!' " Serato recalled.
When he discovered that this meant feeding around 70 children, he demurred. But his mother insisted. He went back to his restaurant and prepared 70 pasta dinners to serve at the club.
His mother helped him that first night, and Serato has maintained the ritual nearly every night for more than six years -- even through the recession.
The economic downturn was a challenge, though. Serato lost 30% to 40% of his customers, and the number of children he fed each night more than doubled. He often found himself giving away more meals than he served in his restaurant, and he was forced to refinance his home to keep going. But Serato found that his work with the children helped sustain him, at least on a personal level.
"So many nights ... it was not too many customers," he said. "[To] know that I served 150 kids ... it made me feel better."
Today, Serato's business has rebounded, and his program feeds nearly 200 children, in two locations, seven days a week. He also pays for drivers to transport the kids to the Boys & Girls Club, and he has purchased another van. All told, he estimates that the endeavor costs him around $2,000 a month.
Do you know a hero? Nominations are open for 2011 CNN Heroes
Michael Baker, the executive director of the Anaheim Boys & Girls Club, says many of the "motel kids" he serves depend on Serato's meals. He also relishes the irony of the situation.
"These are some of the poorest kids in Anaheim eating from one of the most exclusive restaurants every night," he said. "I love that!"
Carlos Gomez, 12, has lived in a motel room with his family -- a total of six people -- for almost his entire life. He and his younger brother Anthony often eat Serato's pasta, and his father, Martin, says it's a relief to know that his children can get a free meal.
"I no longer worry as much, about them [coming home] and there being no food," he said. "I know that they eat over there at [the] Boys & Girls Club."
This spring, Serato plans to expand his program to an additional 100 kids a night, and he will partner with another organization to give 100 children three meals a day.
He is also calling on other restaurants around the country to work together to feed "motel kids." He believes that providing just a few dinners a night could make a significant difference.
"Every restaurant in the country -- Chinese, Indian, Mexican, French -- let's do it all together," Serato said. "We would have no hungry children."
Serato's love for the children is clear, but he's quick to give all of the credit to his beloved "mama" back in Italy. Although she suffers from Parkinson's disease, he still talks to her via Skype every morning and believes that if she knew how their work has grown, she would be proud.
Although his mother made him start the work, he now says he could never stop helping the children.
"They're customers," he says with a smile. "My favorite customers."
Want to get involved? Check out the Caterina's Club website at www.thecaterinasclub.org and see how to help.
Ottawa CAS Trial Date
March 26, 2011 permalink
A trial date of June 28 has been set for the charges against Ottawa CAS, reinstated on appeal.
New Trial Date in Charges Against Ottawa CAS
A new trial date has been set for the charges against the Ottawa Children's Aid Society and Barbara MacKinnon (Executive Director) under the Corporations Act as follows:
Tuesday June 28, 2011
Court Room (101 or 102) To be clarified soon.
100 Constellation Cres.
Source: Foster Care News (John Dunn)
Take Your Medicine
March 25, 2011 permalink
Child protectors backed up by police showed up at the home of an unnamed Detroit mother to take her teenaged daughter for medical treatment. The mother had not been giving the girl her medicine, which mom thought was doing more harm than good. Since the girl is described as having mental problems, its a good guess that she had been prescribed psychotropic drugs. When police entered the home, they were stopped by a gunshot, and a standoff lasted all night. It is now over and the mother and daughter are in police custody.
Overnight standoff between Detroit police, mother ends
After a standoff lasting through the night, a Detroit mother came out of a west side home with her teenage daughter and surrendered to police at about 4:45 a.m. today.
The mom, police said, was not injured.
Police said the standoff began when Child Protective Services arrived at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the home on Blaine near Linwood with an order to take the child into custody.
Two Detroit police officers kicked in a side door and were about to kick in another door, when the mother shot at them, police said.
Throughout the night, the mother barricaded herself in the home with her 13-year-old daughter.
The mother had not backed down, but had asked police for a pizza for her daughter.
Earlier Thursday, the woman offered to give herself up to a local minister. She asked for Minister Malik Shabazz, who spoke with the woman on the phone and said she told him the state was trying to take her child, who has a mental illness, for medical treatment.
The mother, Shabazz said, favors holistic methods.
“She’s a mother protecting her child,” said Shabazz, who is a co-founder of Detroit 300, a citizen group. “She did tell me that she’ll give herself up to me.”
Detroit Police spokeswoman Sgt. Eren Stephens said Child Protective Services arrived at the home at about 5:35 p.m.
Patrisha Navarro, who said she lives on Blaine, and Shantique Johnson, who lives on a nearby street, said they heard the gunshot ring out after protective services and police arrived at the home.
Source: Detroit Free Press
Addendum: The mother is Maryanne Godboldo. She agreed to give up to police after CPS promised her daughter would be placed with a relative instead of foster care. The promise was broken immediately. According to other sources, the drug prescribed for her daughter is Risperdal
Detroit mother jailed after standoff
Detroiter faces felonies in dispute over daughter's medication; shot fired, police say
Detroit — A 56-year-old woman faces multiple felony charges and is being held on $500,000 bond after a 10-hour standoff with police, claiming she was protecting her 13-year-old daughter from unnecessary medication.
Maryanne Godboldo, 56, was arraigned Sunday before 36th District Magistrate Sidney Barthwell Jr. on charges of firing a weapon in a dwelling, felonious assault, resisting and obstructing an officer, and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Barthwell set an April 8 preliminary examination.
"What has happened here is a travesty," said Wanda A. Evans, Godboldo's attorney. "This family has never been under the jurisdiction of the court. This shouldn't have happened."
Godboldo is accused of barricading herself inside her west side home with her 13-year-old daughter and a gun after being confronted Thursday afternoon by Child Protective Services workers who had a warrant to remove the girl because the mother had withheld her medication. Detroit Police said Godboldo fired a shot and refused to leave the home until negotiators, including a Wayne County judge, helped talk her into surrendering.
"We talked that day mother-to-mother. I asked her to come out on her porch and I promised I would come here today to walk out with her," Wayne Circuit Judge Deborah Thomas said Sunday after the hearing. "I'm shocked by the amount of the bond. I never dreamed it would be set so high and she wouldn't be free to care for her daughter."
Godboldo's family and supporters, who gathered outside the court Sunday, said the woman has every right to make medical decisions for her daughter and that child welfare workers overstepped their authority. The unusual circumstances of the standoff attracted a large crowd of volunteers offering to help negotiate with Godboldo, including ministers and community activists.
Thomas said she eventually talked Godboldo out with a promise her daughter would be turned over to a relative, but family members say the girl was taken into protective custody anyway. Evans said a hearing on removal of the child will be April 6 before Wayne County Juvenile Referee Leslie Graves.
Penny Godboldo, a dance professor at Marygrove College, said she and her sister, Maryanne, trained as dancers in New York before opening a studio in Detroit. Maryanne Godboldo became a stay-at-home mother after the troubled birth of her daughter, who was born with a defective foot that required amputation of her leg below the knee.
Maryanne Godboldo home-schooled the girl. She said her strength and confidence grew, and despite her handicap, she swam, sang, danced and played the piano.
Penny Godboldo said as her niece approached middle school age, she wanted to attend school but needed to catch up on required immunizations.
"We believe she had an adverse reaction to her immunizations," Penny Godboldo said.
"She began acting out of character, being irritated, having facial grimaces that have been associated with immunizations."
Evans said Maryanne Godboldo sought help for her daughter from The Children's Center, an organization that helps families with at-risk children, where a medical and mental health treatment plan was developed. Godboldo told relatives the medications ordered by the doctor worsened symptoms, including behavioral problems.
"It is an undiagnosed condition, but the doctor had given her psychotropic drugs that caused a bad reaction, made things worse," said the girl's father, Mubuarak Hakim. "Maryanne's decision to wean her from that was making a difference, making her better, helping her to be a happy kid again."
A rally for Godboldo is planned for 9 a.m. Saturday at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, 18700 James Couzens Freeway.
Source: Detroit News
Addendum: After a public outcry, Godboldo was released. There is a website Justice for Maryanne Godboldo
Detroit mom released from jail in standoff over daughter's meds
Detroit— A woman charged with using a gun to hold off police when Wayne County Child Protective Services workers came to take her daughter in a dispute over the 13-year-old's medication was released today from jail.
"I feel wonderful and I'm very excited to see my daughter," Maryanne Godboldo, 56, said after leaving this afternoon from the Wayne County Jail. "The support of the community has been unbelievable."
Earlier today, 36th District Judge Paula Humphries reduced Godboldo's $500,000 cash surety bond to a $200,000 personal recognizance bond. The reduction meant Godboldo, jailed since Friday morning when she surrendered to police after a 10-hour standoff in which she is alleged to have fired a shot, was released without posting any money.
Defense attorney Allison Folmer had argued today that the original bond was "enormous" and "excessive" for a woman with no criminal record and no record of mental health issues. Folmer said Godboldo was faced with authorities breaking into her home and attempting to "wrongfully remove her child."
"Bond is set only to assure a defendant will return to court," Folmer told the judge. "With people looking at this case nationally, she will return to court. She wants to fight these charges."
Humphries said she didn't see Godboldo as a risk to the public, and noted Godboldo has the support not only of a large local family, but a growing number of national advocates. A broad spectrum of activists, conservatives, liberals and anti-immunization parental and civil rights groups are expected to attend a rally at 9 a.m. Saturday to support Godboldo at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, 18700 James Couzens Freeway.
"We are going to have an extremely interesting collection of Americans who believe in the sanctity of family, conservatives and liberals, coming together for this mother," said one of the event's organizers, Ron Scott of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality. "We have received word that people are coming from the holistic health community and even representatives of the tea party in west Michigan."
The original bond was set Sunday by 36th District Magistrate Sidney Barthwell Jr. when Godboldo was arraigned on charges of felony assault, resisting and opposing police and firing a firearm in commission of a felony.
Barthwell noted that a police report in the court file said Godboldo fired a shot at three Detroit Police officers who entered her west-side home after breaking down the door Thursday afternoon. The report said the officers were called by Wayne County Child Protective Services workers who had a warrant, signed by a Wayne County Circuit judge ordering the removal of Godboldo's daughter.
Police and protective service workers retreated after the shot was fired and a 10-hour standoff ended Friday morning after negotiators, including ministers, civil rights activists and a Wayne County Circuit Court judge, rushed to the scene to help police negotiate with Godboldo.
Detroit Police initially turned the girl over to her aunt, Penny Godboldo, a professor of dance at Marygrove College. But the girl was later taken into state custody from a hospital where her physical condition was being evaluated after the standoff.
The girl has been allowed visits at a state-run facility for juveniles from her father, Mubuarak Hakim, and Penny Godboldo.
"She's OK," Hakim said Tuesday. "I'm not OK with it, though, and we are working at bringing her home, bringing them both home."
Godboldo's lawyers, Folmer and Wanda Evans, claim Protective Services had no authority to take the girl, and they have requested a hearing on custody April 6, in Wayne County Juvenile Court. A preliminary examination of criminal charges against Godboldo will be April 8, in the city's 36th District Court.
Lawyers and family say Godboldo's dispute with authorities is over a medical and mental health treatment plan that had called for psychotropic drugs the mother felt were doing more harm than good.
Godboldo has said her daughter's physical and mental problems are a bad reaction to a cocktail of immunizations the formerly homeschooled teen took so she could be enrolled last year in a regular middle school.
Evans has said the medical treatment plan was voluntarily developed between the mother and specialists at The Children's Center, an organization that helps "at-risk children." The court had no prior involvement with the family and had previously not granted authority to social workers to countermand the parent's right to make medical decisions, Evans said.
One of the many people who rushed to the scene of the standoff to help talk Godboldo out of her house was Wayne County Circuit Judge Deborah Thomas, a former polio sufferer and advocate for the disabled.
The girl has had only one foot since birth. She walks with the aid of a prosthesis. Thomas, who said she didn't know the family before the incident, has said her examination of the warrant Protective Services workers presented to Godboldo revealed that it contained "defects."
Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor William Burton unsuccessfully argued before Humphries today that Godboldo is a danger because the police report describes officers being sprayed with plaster dust by a shot that struck a nearby wall.
Folmer told Humphries that Godboldo didn't shoot intentionally at police, and the issue is complicated by the constitutional rights of parents to make decisions for their children and a homeowner's right to defend herself.
"It was my client who had to endure the onslaught of police unlawfully taking her child," Folmer said.
Source: Detroit News
Addendum: Richard Wexler comments on the bias in the press coverage of this story.
UPDATED, APRIL 7: Foster care in Michigan: CPS plays “the muscle game”
To the surprise of absolutely no one familiar with how courts operate in these cases, in the case discussed in the previous post to this Blog, a judge in Detroit has rubber-stamped the institutionalization of Maryanne Godboldo’s daughter and her continued separation from her mother.
Lawyers for Godboldo are appealing. But for now, this means this 13-year-old girl, already in foster care five times longer than Leo Ratte, the upper-middle-class white child in the Mike’s Hard Lemonade case, will remain institutionalized indefinitely.
And what of the Detroit Free Press, which has lagged behind on the story? They finally produced something more than a news brief. The Free Press, which rightly rushed to the defense of Leo Ratte and his college professor parents, showed no such sympathy for the child of a Black single mother. On the contrary, not one person quoted in the story supported Ms. Godboldo’s position.
Instead, a CPS spokesman got four paragraphs to offer up the Disney version: We only take children when absolutely necessary, it’s a last resort, etc. etc.
The Free Press also quoted from the court order authorizing CPS to take away the children. Among other things, the order says that “mother is in denial about her daughter’s mental health issue.” (Yes, they still talk that way at CPS!)
As usual, The Detroit News had a more thorough story, including both sides. Their story quotes a CPS supervisor as saying a total of four “referrals” had been made about the child. It is quite possible, however, that three of them came from the same place – an institution where, Godboldo told WXYZ-TV, three separate employees had threatened to call CPS if she didn’t voluntarily admit her daughter.
But once again, it was Darrell Dawsey who first added real context to the story in his Blog for MLive Detroit, who advanced it once again today, with an interview with a doctor Godboldo turned to when psychiatric medication was making her child worse. Here’s some of Dawsey’s column:
"She did what she was supposed to do," says Dr. Margaret Betts, a veteran Detroit MD who specializes in holistic treatments and who consulted with … Godboldo on alternative treatments for her child. "The treatment they recommended wasn't helping. Maryanne sought further medical attention. She acted like a good parent. It's a parent's right to choose." …
"The treatment she was using was helping her daughter much better than the treatment (Child Protective Services) had recommended," explains Dr. Betts, who's practiced medicine for 25 years, in an exclusive interview with MLive Detroit. ..
“When the parent chose a different treatment,” says Dr. Betts, “CPS played a muscle game.”
So, just to review what either MLive Detroit, The Detroit News or WXYZ-TV have reported but which the Free Press omitted from today’s story:
- Maryanne Godboldo sought out medical treatment for her daughter in the first place.
- She agreed to give the child psychiatric medication.
- It was only after the medication worsened her daughter’s condition that she sought a second medical opinion from Dr. Betts.
- It was only after Dr. Betts said to do so that Ms. Godboldo started weaning her daughter off the psychiatric medication.
- Ms. Godboldo says the people who turned her in to CPS all work for an institution that demanded she admit her daughter. It was when she refused that they called CPS. Can you say “conflict of interest”?
And even if a case could be made to deny custody to the mother, what about the father? According to the Detroit News story:
A lawyer for the girl's father, Mubuarak Hakim, also accused protective services of failing one of its mandates to keep families together by not trying to find the father or another relative with whom to place the girl. ...
The father's lawyer, Roger Farinha, said during the hearing that throughout her 13 days in state custody, the girl has still not been given the prescribed drug in question, and yet the authorities have said she has been stable in their care. "So maybe the mother was right," Farinha said.
In a classic example of the kind of hearsay that is standard operating procedure in these cases, the CPS supervisor claimed, however, that a counselor claimed the girl has become "agitated and aggressive" without her medications. But apparently she wasn’t on the medications before she was taken away, since that’s why she was taken away in the first place. And either way, if, in fact, the claim is true, it apparently occurred to neither the counselor nor the CPS supervisor that the girl may be "agitated and aggressive" because she is without her mother.
The choice here is between returning this child to the mother who loves her (or placing her with her father or another relative), vs. leaving her institutionalized and at the tender mercies of the Michigan child welfare system. The more you know about Michigan foster care, the easier it is to see why the best option is for Ms. Godboldo’s daughter to be freed from the institution immediately.
Source: Richard Wexler blog
Addendum: The girl, named Ariana Goldboldo by advocates, seems to have picked up a sexually transmitted disease in state care.
Stand-Off Daughter Allegedly Sexually Assaulted While In State Care
DETROIT (WWJ) - Supporters of a Detroit mother accused of firing a shot at Child Protective Services (CPS) workers and then holding police at bay for 12 hours say her 13-year-old daughter has been taken to the hospital and may have been sexually assaulted.
Now, there is a legal stand-off of sorts at Children’s Hospital, where the daughter of Maryanne Godboldo is in the emergency room.
Penny Godboldo, the child’s aunt, explained to WWJ’s Vickie Thomas that the family received a call from the facility where the child had been placed by CPS after the mother’s stand-off with police.
“[They] said that she tested positive for an STD and that they were bringing her to Children’s Hospital for an exam. And so, we believe that [she] was the victim of a sexual crime at Hawthorn because she has been in their care,” Penny Godboldo said.
The child was brought to Children’s Hospital on Monday night, after it was discovered she has an STD.
Penny Godboldo believes her niece was the victim of a sex crime while she was under state care at The Hawthorn Center in Northville, saying, “She has been in their care the entire time since she left Children’s Hospital.”
The teen was examined at Children’s Hospital prior to her placement at Hawthorn, which returned no results of an STD infection. The family maintains the daughter is not sexually active.
Now, the family is camping out at the hospital to make sure the child does not get released back to Hawthorn.
“We have done an all-night vigil protesting that. We are here at Children’s Hospital. We have been here since last night and we will not let that happen,” Penny Godboldo said.
When reached for comment, The Hawthorn Center told WWJ that employees are not allowed to speak to the media.
A CPS spokesperson told WWJ that in general, they investigate any allegations of assault, although they cannot comment on any specific cases.
The situation first caught headlines when 58-year-old Maryanne Godboldo entered a standoff with Detroit Police in late March that lasted nearly 12 hours. It began when Maryanne fired a shot at a CPS worker and police escort who arrived at her home in an attempt to take her 13-year-old daughter. CPS workers were there to take the girl after reports surfaced that the mother refused to give the child needed medication.
Maryanne Godboldo has said the state wanted her daughter to take a drug for psychosis, but she favors a holistic treatment.
Supporters are rallying behind the mother, saying their focus is on protecting parental rights. They believe CPS is overstepping their boundaries by trying to force their view on the family as to what kind of medication the girl should be given.
Maryanne Godboldo is charged with discharging a weapon in a dwelling, felonious assault, felony firearm, resisting arrest and obstruction of an officer.
Penny Godboldo is seeking temporary custody of the child at an emergency hearing Tuesday morning.
A juvenile court hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday to determine custody of the child. Maryanne Godboldo is expected to be in a 36th District Court on Friday for a hearing on the criminal charges.
Source: WWJ Newsradio 950
March 24, 2011 permalink
A CAS victim in Hamilton is looking for associates to join in a class action lawsuit.
Class action lawsuit against the hamilton children's aid
- Date Listed
- Hamilton, ON L8N, Canada
I am a victim of the Hamilton Children's Aid and am looking for others who have experienced first hand what this agency is capable of when you approach them for help. Please contact me if you would like to be a part of a class action lawsuit against this corrupt system.
March 24, 2011 permalink
The Baynes will be appealing the decision of judge Crabtree leaving their children under MCFD supervision.
Hope Couple Appealing Judge's Decision
Chilliwack/Victoria, B.C. - Paul and Zabeth Bayne are going back to court. Tuesday they are appealing Judge Thomas Crabtree's decision that their three kids stay in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development for another six months.
Three years ago, the Hope couple’s then youngest daughter was diagnosed with shaken baby syndrome. On March 2nd, Justice Crabtree rejected that diagnoses, but said the kids weren't allowed to go home until the Bayne's proved to the Ministry that they were good parents.
Speaking from his office in Victoria, the Bayne's lawyer Doug Christie says that is none sense. “Although he didn’t find that the baby was deliberately harmed in anyway. He still found the children in need of protection and withheld them from their parents for another six months in which they are supposed to satisfy him that they are able to look after this family of three children.” He says “So we’re actually appealing this judgment because as we see it, it puts too high a standard of proof on the parents…to prove the children were properly cared for.
“Other than the shaken baby syndrome there was no evidence they were not cared for. And if you don’t find substance in that allegation, then our view is the children should be returned.”
Christie says he has asked the Ministry what the Baynes need to do to prove that they are good parents. However he says they still haven't heard back yet.
Christie says the appeal is going in Tuesday, but adds it won’t be heard for at least another six months. He says if the children are returned the Ministry can make any determination at that point. He says the problem is they don’t know if the kids will be returned within the next six months.
However the Baynes’ fourth child was born in February and put in Ministry care days after. Christie says even if the first three kids go back to mom and dad, they will have to go back to court to get the baby back as well.
Christie says is so fed up with how the Ministry operates, that he expects a class action suit by parents against the Ministry. He says he is involved in the discussions, but couldn’t say when or if it would happen.
Source: Chilliwack News
Sex Trafficking Study Is Junk Science
March 23, 2011 permalink
Village Voice article by Nick Pinto shows that claims of large and increasing rates of child trafficking for prostitution are supported only by junk science.
Women's Funding Network Sex Trafficking Study Is Junk Science
Schapiro Group data wasn't questioned by mainstream media
ATTORNEYS REPRESENTING CRAIGSLIST told Congress on September 15 that the ubiquitous Web classifieds site was closing its adult section.
Under intense scrutiny from the government and crusading advocacy groups, as well as state attorneys general, owner Craig Newmark memorably applied the label "Censored" in his classifieds where adult advertising once appeared.
During the same September hearing of a subcommittee of the House Judiciary, members of Congress listened to vivid and chilling accounts regarding underage prostitution.
The congressmen heard testimony from half a dozen nonprofit executives and law enforcement officials. But the most alarming words of the day came from Deborah Richardson, the chief program officer of the Women's Funding Network. She told legislators that juvenile prostitution is exploding at an astronomical rate.
"An independent tracking study released today by the Women's Funding Network shows that over the past six months, the number of underage girls trafficked online has risen exponentially in three diverse states," Richardson claimed. "Michigan: a 39.2 percent increase; New York: a 20.7 percent increase; and Minnesota: a staggering 64.7 percent increase."
In the wake of this bombshell revelation, Richardson's disturbing figures found their way into some of the biggest newspapers in the country. USA Today, the Houston Chronicle, the Miami Herald, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and the Detroit Free Press all repeated the dire statistics as gospel.
The successful assault on Craigslist was followed by a cross-country tour by Richardson and the Women's Funding Network.
None of the media that published Richardson's astonishing numbers bothered to examine the study at the heart of her claim. If they had, they would have found what we did after asking independent experts to examine the research: It's junk science.
After all, the numbers are all guesses.
The data are based merely on looking at photos on the Internet. There is no science.
Eric Grodsky, a sociologist at the University of Minnesota who teaches about proper research construction, says that the study is fundamentally flawed.
"The method's not clean," Grodsky says. "You couldn't get this kind of thing into a peer-reviewed journal. There are just too many unanswered questions about their methodology."
Ric Curtis, the chairman of the Anthropology Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, led a Justice Department-funded study on juvenile prostitution in New York City in 2008. He's highly skeptical of the claims in the Women's Funding Network's study.
"I wouldn't trust those numbers," Curtis says. "This new study seems pretty bogus."
In fact, the group behind the study admits as much. It's now clear they used fake data to deceive the media and lie to Congress. And it was all done to score free publicity and a wealth of public funding.
"We pitch it the way we think you're going to read it and pick up on it," says Kaffie McCullough, the director of Atlanta-based anti-prostitution group A Future Not a Past. "If we give it to you with all the words and the stuff that is actually accurate—I mean, I've tried to do that with our PR firm, and they say, 'They won't read that much.'"
A Future Not a Past is a product of the Atlanta Women's Foundation, the Juvenile Justice Fund, and Harold and Kayrita Anderson's foundation. To measure the amount of juvenile prostitution in the state, the consortium hired the Schapiro Group, an Atlanta business-consulting operation.
The Schapiro Group members weren't academic researchers, and had no prior experience studying prostitution. In fact, the group was best known for research paid for by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. The study found—surprise—that membership in the Chamber of Commerce improves a business's image.
The consultants came up with a novel, if not very scientific, method for tabulating juvenile prostitutes: They counted pictures of young-looking women on online classified sites.
"That's one of the first problems right there," Grodsky says. "These advertisers are in the business of making sales, and there's a market for young-looking women. Why would you trust that the photographs are accurate?"
In other words, the ads, like the covers of women's magazines, are relentlessly promoting fantasy. Anyone who has tried online dating understands the inherent trouble with trusting photographs.
Even if the person placing the advertisement is the one in the picture, there's no telling how old the photo is, says David Finkelhor, the director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.
"How do you know when the pictures were taken?" Finkelhor asks. "It's not illegal for an 18-year-old who's selling sex to put up a picture of herself from when she was 16."
And if, for the sake of argument, the photos were an accurate portrayal, how do you train those viewing the photographs to guess the correct age?
In fact, you don't.
Before conducting its full study, the Schapiro Group tested the accuracy of its method in a sample of 100 observers. At one point, the 100 observers are described as a "random sample." Elsewhere, they are described as "balanced by race and gender."
These 100 adults were shown pictures of teenagers and young adults whose ages were known, and were asked to guess whether they were younger than 18.
"The study showed that any given 'young' looking girl who is selling sex has a 38 percent likelihood of being under age 18," reads a crucial passage in the explanation of methodology. "Put another way, for every 100 'young' looking girls selling sex, 38 are under 18 years of age. We would compute this by assigning a value of .38 to each of the 100 'young' girls we encounter, then summing the values together to achieve a reliable count."
This is dense gibberish posing as statistical analysis.
When the team went on to conduct its full statewide study, it simply treated this 38 percent success rate as a constant. Six new observers were then turned loose to count "young-looking" sex ads on online classifieds sites like Craigslist and Backpage.
That total count was then multiplied by .38 to come up with a guesstimate of how many children were being trafficked.
"This is a logical fallacy," says Steve Doig, the Knight Chair in Journalism at Arizona State University, who reviewed the study at our request. "Consider this analogy: Imagine that 100 people were shown pictures of various automobiles and asked to identify the make, and that 38 percent of the time people misidentified Fords as Chevrolets. Using the Schapiro logic, this would mean that 38 percent of Fords on the street actually are Chevys."
But the Georgia sponsors were happy with the results—after all, the scary-sounding study agreed with what they were saying all along. So the Women's Funding Network paid Schapiro to dramatically expand the study to include Michigan, Minnesota, New York, and Texas. (Georgia's Kayrita Anderson sits on the board of the Women's Funding Network)
The Women's Funding Network says it would ultimately like to have the study running in all 50 states.
The count of online classifieds featuring "young women" is repeated every three months to track how the numbers change over time. That's the source of the claim of a 64 percent increase in child prostitution in Minnesota in a matter of months.
But that's not how a scientific study is supposed to work, says Finkelhor.
"They don't tell you what the confidence intervals are, so these changes could just be noise," he says. "When the Minnesota count goes from 102 to 112, that's probably just random fluctuations."
There's a more fundamental issue, of course.
"The trend analysis is simply a function of the number of images on these sites," Finkelhor says. "It's not necessarily an indication that there's an increase in the number of juveniles involved."
Despite these flaws, the Women's Funding Network, which held rallies across the nation, has been flogging the results relentlessly through national press releases and local member organizations. In press releases, the group goes so far as to compare its conjured-up data to actual hard numbers for other social ills.
"Monthly domestic sex trafficking in Minnesota is more pervasive than the state's annually reported incidents of teen girls who died by suicide, homicide, and car accidents (29 instances combined); infants who died from SIDS (6 instances); or women of all ages murdered in one year (37 instances)," reads the study.
Of course, those other figures are rigorously compiled medical and law-enforcement records of actual documented incidents, so it's not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison.
The police who tally many of those actual statistics—as well as records of real face-to-face encounters with juvenile prostitutes—don't seem to be very impressed by the statistics put forward by the Women's Funding Network.
"The methodology that they used doesn't really show the numbers that back it up," says Sgt. John Bandemer, who heads the Vick Human Trafficking Task Force in St. Paul. "We take it with a grain of salt."
The experts we consulted all agreed the Schapiro Group's published methodology raises more questions than it answers. So we went to the Schapiro Group to ask them.
Beth Schapiro founded the Schapiro Group in 1984, starting out mostly with political consulting. The bulk of the group's work, Schapiro says, consists of public opinion research. In 2007, the group installed its own phone-banking center, and the group's website advertises services ranging from customer satisfaction surveys to "voter persuasion calls."
Counting hard-to-find exploitation victims wasn't exactly in the company's repertoire when it was asked by A Future Not a Past to devise a study on juvenile prostitution in 2007, but Schapiro jumped at the opportunity.
The Georgia studies included efforts to count juvenile prostitutes on the street, at hotels, and in escort services, but they also marked the debut of the problematic online classifieds study that would later be reproduced in other states.
In a phone call this month, Schapiro insisted that her study was the first effort ever to try to scientifically determine the number of juvenile prostitutes—a claim that would likely surprise the authors of dozens of previous studies, several of which are footnoted in her own report.
When we asked Schapiro and Rusty Parker, the leader of the classifieds study, to fill in some of the missing pieces in their methodology, they had a hard time coming up with straight answers. In fact, Parker couldn't remember key information about how he constructed the study. When asked where he got the sample pictures used to calibrate the all-important 38 percent error rate, he wasn't sure.
"It was a while back," he says. "I forget exactly where we got them from."
Parker was equally fuzzy on how the researchers knew the ages of the people pictured in the control group.
"Um...I'm afraid I do not remember," he says.
You might say that this is important information. The Schapiro group has been telling the world that it cracked the alchemical code that transforms dumb guesses into hard statistics, and that the magic number is .38. But the leader of the study can't remember the procedure he followed to get that number.
Neither Schapiro nor Parker had any answers when asked if there was any empirical reason to believe their two critical assumptions: that online photos always represent what the prostitutes actually look like, and that the six handpicked observers conducting the state studies have exactly the same error rate as the initial test batch of 100 random citizens.
Instead, Schapiro beat a hasty retreat, saying the study results shouldn't be read as actual incidents of prostitution.
"We're the first to tell you, this is not a precise count of the number of girls being prostituted," Schapiro said. "We make no bones about that."
Of course, a precise count of the number of girls being prostituted is exactly what the statistics are being presented as in the media, in press releases, and in Schapiro's own study. When this is pointed out, Schapiro reverses herself.
"Well, yes, these are specific numbers," Schapiro backpedals. "And yes, they are hard numbers, and they are numbers that we stand completely behind."
This is the kind of cognitive whiplash you have to endure if you try to follow Schapiro down the rabbit hole. The numbers have the weight of fact and can properly be cited as actual incidents of juvenile prostitution, she insists. But when pressed to justify the broad and unsupported assumptions of her study, she says the study is just a work in progress and the numbers are only approximations.
Schapiro's grasp on empirical rigor is such that when asked point-blank to choose between her two contradictory interpretations—estimates or facts—she opts for "all of the above."
"I would square the circle by saying that you can look at them both ways," she says.
Any reporter who had read the methodology of the Schapiro report would have been left with doubts, and any reporter who followed up would probably have been treated to the same baffling circuit of non-answers. The fact that the study's findings continue to be rebroadcast in news outlets across the country suggests that not one reporter has bothered to read the study about which they are writing.
"You see this kind of thing a lot, unfortunately," says Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst for the Poynter Institute who writes frequently about statistics. "The kind of skepticism that reporters apply to a statement by a politician just doesn't get applied to studies."
David Finkelhor at the Crimes Against Children Research Center says he understands the pressure on reporters to cite figures when they're writing about juvenile prostitution, but it's something they need to resist, because despite what groups like the Women's Funding Network would have you believe, there simply are no good statistics.
"You have to say, 'We don't know. Estimates have been made, but none of them have a real scientific basis to them,'" Finkelhor says. "All you can say is, 'This is the number the police know about, and we think there are more than that, but we don't know how many more.'"
In her own online photos, the woman who commissioned the Schapiro Group study looks to be in her 50s, with blue eyes, graying hair, and a taste for dangly earrings.
Kaffie McCullough first approached the Schapiro Group about conducting a study of juvenile prostitution in Georgia in 2007 when, as director of A Future Not a Past, she realized that having scientific-sounding numbers makes all the difference in the world.
In early 2007, McCullough approached the Georgia Legislature to ask for money for a regional assessment center to track juvenile prostitution.
"We had no research, no nothing. The legislators didn't even know about it," she recalls. "We got a little bit. We got about 20 percent of what we asked for."
Later that year, the first Schapiro Group counts were made, and when McCullough returned to the Legislature the following session, she had the study's statistics in hand.
"When we went to the Legislature with those counts, it gave us traction—night and day," she says. "That year, we got all the rest of that money, plus we got a study commission."
McCullough touts the fundraising benefits of the study whenever she can. Since the Schapiro study was picked up for replication nationwide by the Women's Funding Network, McCullough has acted as a sort of technical consultant for state groups as they debate whether to invest money in the project. Whenever she's asked, McCullough tells the local groups that the money they spend will come back to them with hefty dividends.
"I would say, 'The research costs money, but we've been able to broker—I don't know what it is now, I think it's over $1.3, $1.6 million in funding that we never would have gotten,'" McCullough says.
McCullough initially maintained that she stands by the Schapiro Group study, in part because she has been told that "it is the same scientific methodology that science has been using for a long time to measure endangered species."
But when pressed on whether she really believes that counting Internet photos is reliable, she grants the sex-work industry isn't exactly the gold standard of truth in advertising.
"That's absolutely correct," she says. "That's part of how that business operates: It's a bait-and-switch."
And given the tricky nature of the photographs, she admits that counting pictures isn't exactly a precise way to measure juvenile prostitutes.
"I can't guarantee that any picture that four of those six people said looked young—that may not be the girl that you'd get if you called up," she concedes.
Asked if she has any reason to believe that the six observers in the study have the identical 38 percent error rate as the 100 random citizens who were the initial test subjects, she allows that it might be worth revisiting that question.
The basic truth is that the study exists in service of the advocacy, and if news outlets present the Schapiro Group's numbers as gospel, it certainly doesn't hurt the advocates' cause.
Admitting that there isn't any authoritative scientific count of juvenile prostitution, as Finkelhor recommends, isn't an option in McCullough's book. She recalls an early presentation she made in Nebraska, when a politician gave her a piece of advice that stuck.
"He said, 'If you all as a movement don't start having numbers, you are going to lose the money,'" McCullough recalls. "'How can you justify millions of dollars when there are only hundreds of victims that you're actually serving?'"
Last week, on March 16, the drumbeat continued in the U.S. Senate with a briefing on domestic minor sex trafficking that featured Hollywood actress Mira Sorvino and the startling statistic that 100,000 children are trafficked for sex annually in America.
Trafficking, in labor and sex, became a defining issue in the administration of President George W. Bush. But as an investigation by the Washington Post in 2007 revealed, victims in the sex trade were difficult to come by.
Today, advocates have shifted media attention to allegations of trafficking in children.
But facts to suggest a plague of underage perversion simply do not exist despite claims to the contrary.
In a deficit-obsessed Congress, there is a long line of those seeking tax dollars to raise awareness of trafficking: government agencies, nonprofits, religious groups, the well-intentioned, as well as abolitionists opposed to everything from pornography to adult services.
It is no surprise that some seek to use children as a wedge.
Responsible parties prosecute predators and rescue victims. Not everyone with a microphone is responsible.
The challenge of keeping children out of the hands of exploiters is real but solutions are not clear in an atmosphere of hyped hysteria.
Source: Village Voice
March 23, 2011 permalink
Chris Carter reports on a naive young mother bullied into an unfavorable parenting capacity assessment by CAS. The assessor, Nitza Pearlman, has earned lots doing at least 11 PCAs for children's aid. If she reports that a parent is capable of raising her own child, how many more referrals will she get from CAS?
Here is a good example of how pathetically deficient the legal aid legal representation which parents who are being litigated against by a CAS receive:
I've been trying to convince a young Cambridge Ontario mom who sought me out re: CA$ issues to not do a parenting capacity assessment.
Anyway, as far as I'm concerned her lawyer threw her to the wolves.
I just found out that she did the PCA last Thursday at the CAS Cambridge office from 9 am - 1 pm with a psychiatrist named Nitza Pearlman.
The following CANLII link appears to establish that Pearlman made $110 000.00 (that is 11 PCAs at $10,000 each) from 1995-2007 doing PCAs just for the Toronto CAS:
Please keep in mind that these are only the CAS cases involving Pearlman which are posted to CANLII!
Undoubtably Pearlman has done other PCAs for other CASs (I've heard her name mentioned by parents in Cambridge previously as having been their PCA assessor) which aren't posted to CANLII.
THIS YOUNG MOM'S LAWYER DIDN'T TELL HER ANYTHING ABOUT PEARLMAN AND/OR THE PROCESS PRIOR TO GOING INTO THE ASSESSMENT!
Her lawyer also told her that she had no choice; she had to participate in the PCA.
Here is what the Child and family Services Act (CFSA) says about participating in PCAs:
54. (1) In the course of a proceeding under this Part, the court may order that one or more of the following persons undergo an assessment within a specified time by a person appointed in accordance with subsections (1.1) and (1.2):
1. The child.
2. A parent of the child.
3. Any other person, other than a foster parent, who is putting forward or would participate in a plan for the care and custody of or access to the child. 2006, c. 5, s. 10 (1).
Assessor selected by parties
(1.1) An order under subsection (1) shall specify a time within which the parties to the proceeding may select a person to perform the assessment and submit the name of the selected person to the court. 2006, c. 5, s. 10 (1).
Appointment by court
(1.2) The court shall appoint the person selected by the parties to perform the assessment if the court is satisfied that the person meets the following criteria:
1. The person is qualified to perform medical, emotional, developmental, psychological, educational or social assessments.
2. The person has consented to perform the assessment. 2006, c. 5, s. 10 (1).
(1.3) If the court is of the opinion that the person selected by the parties under subsection (1.1) does not meet the criteria set out in subsection (1.2), the court shall select and appoint another person who does meet the criteria. 2006, c. 5, s. 10 (1).
(1.4) An order under subsection (1) and the assessment required by that order shall comply with such requirements as may be prescribed. 2006, c. 5, s. 10 (1).
(2) The person performing an assessment under subsection (1) shall make a written report of the assessment to the court within the time specified in the order, which shall not be more than thirty days unless the court is of the opinion that a longer assessment period is necessary. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 54 (2).
Copies of report
(3) At least seven days before the court considers the report at a hearing, the court or, where the assessment was requested by a party, that party, shall provide a copy of the report to,
(a) the person assessed, subject to subsections (4) and (5);
(b) the child’s solicitor or agent of record;
(c) a parent appearing at the hearing, or the parent’s solicitor of record;
(d) the society caring for or supervising the child;
(e) a Director, where he or she requests a copy;
(f) where the child is an Indian or a native person, a representative chosen by the child’s band or native community; and
(g) any other person who, in the opinion of the court, should receive a copy of the report for the purposes of the case. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 54 (3).
Child under twelve
(4) Where the person assessed is a child less than twelve years of age, the child shall not receive a copy of the report unless the court considers it desirable that the child receive a copy of the report. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 54 (4).
Child twelve or older
(5) Where the person assessed is a child twelve years of age or more, the child shall receive a copy of the report, except that where the court is satisfied that disclosure of all or part of the report to the child would cause the child emotional harm, the court may withhold all or part of the report from the child. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 54 (5).
(5.1) Subsections (4) and (5) prevail despite anything in the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004. 2004, c. 3, Sched. A, s. 78 (1).
Assessment is evidence
(6) The report of an assessment ordered under subsection (1) is evidence and is part of the court record of the proceeding. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 54 (6).
Inference from refusal
(7) The court may draw any inference it considers reasonable from a person’s refusal to undergo an assessment ordered under subsection (1). R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 54 (7).
(8) The report of an assessment ordered under subsection (1) is not admissible into evidence in any other proceeding except,
(a) a proceeding under this Part, including an appeal under section 69;
(b) a proceeding referred to in section 81;
(b.1) a proceeding under Part VII respecting an application to make, vary or terminate an openness order; or
(c) a proceeding under the Coroners Act,
without the consent of the person or persons assessed. 1999, c. 2, s. 14; 2006, c. 5, s. 10 (2).
According to the CFSA section 54 (7) parents do not have to do PCAs even if the assessment is court ordered:
Inference from refusal
(7) The court may draw any inference it considers reasonable from a person’s refusal to undergo an assessment ordered under subsection (1).
Also, according to the young mom (who seems way in over her head) none of the CFSA section 54 related paperwork was completed; her lawyer never spoke to her even about the existence of this paperwork:
So let's review the deficiences just in this one instance re: a legal aid lawyer's failure to adequately advise a client;
- the young mom was told she "had to do the PCA because it was court ordered."
- the young mom was not advised that the PCA assessor might be in a conflict of interest as she (Pearlman) has made significant $$$$$$$$$ from CA$ doing PCAs previously.
- even though the info is posted to CANLII the young mom's lawyer never advised her to research Pearlman's prior PCA determinations (I haven't read them all but I won't be surprised if each and every of Pearlman's PCA decisions recommends Crown Wardship)
- the section 54 Endorsement sheet paperwork found on the ontariocourtforms.on.ca website wasn't even bothered with.
GIVE ME A BREAK!
A comment from another CAS client:
Zane Sherwood she did mine and fucked me over
March 23, 2011 permalink
In a Florida lawsuit a woman says Mervin Span, a counselor at Henderson Mental Health Center, forced her into sex by threatening to remove her son from her care. Mr Span joins an infamous list including Eddie Lorghaba, Peter Nelsen, Christopher Hardman, Egbert Elijah Hall, Raymond Mancuso, William Williams, Eric M Ferber and Brandon Ware.
Lawsuit: Mom Forced to Have Sex to Keep Son
Woman claims mental health counselor forced her to have sex to keep child
A lawsuit filed Wednesday claims Mervin Span, a counselor at Henderson Mental Health Center, engaged the unidentified woman "in unwanted sexual relations on multiple occasions" under the threat that he would have the young boy taken away from her.
The woman had received case management and counseling services from Henderson following a court proceeding involving custody of her son.
Span was the counselor assigned to the woman's family, according to the lawsuit filed by attorney Jeffrey Herman.
Officials at Henderson Mental Health Clinic did not specifically respond to the allegations, but did release a statement Wednesday.
"Henderson Mental Health Center has an incredibly committed professional staff who helps thousands of families each year. If any part of these allegations were true, the actions would be that of a rogue employee," CFO Dr. Steven Ronik wrote. "Anyone familiar with our history, reputation and organizational culture knows our priorities and how we’d never, ever tolerate something as inappropriate as the allegations suggest. At the present time we have not received any lawsuit."
"With that said, we take these allegations extremely seriously and will thoroughly investigate the matter."
Herman claims the abuse began this past November, when Span sexually assaulted the woman on his first solo visit to her house. He allegedly kissed her neck and patted her buttocks, but the woman was terrified that if she reported it Span would retaliate and she'd lose her child.
During a December visit to her house, Span allegedly rubbed his genitals on hers, then demanded she cook him breakfast and proceeded to nap on her couch for several hours.
On New Year's Eve, it's alleged Span walked into the woman's home unannounced, performed oral sex on her against her will and then raped her repeatedly without a condom.
The lawsuit also claims Span demanded in January that the woman come to his home for sex, and that she did so twice under the fear of losing her child.
Herman claims the woman made several attempts to have a new counselor assigned to the case. In February, the woman told a friend about the alleged abuse and the friend reported Span to Henderson.
Herman said his client had become so depressed she tried to commit suicide.
The lawsuit says Henderson "knew or should have known that Span was a sexual opportunist." The woman is seeking damages in excess of $5 million.
Source: NBC Miami
March 23, 2011 permalink
Kelly Wang is a citizen of China and her three-year-old daughter Tanya is a Canadian. A race is on between immigration and the passport office to see whether Tanya can accompany Kelly to China when she is deported. If Tanya stays behind she will be seized by children's aid and fostered or adopted. If she gets to go to China with her mother, they face harsh treatment in China where single mothers are not tolerated. All in the best interest of the child.
Single mom faces deportation to China
Grieving single mom Kelly Wang will be deported to China next week and vows not to leave her daughter behind.
Wang, 30, is slated to take her girl, Tanya, 3, a Canadian citizen, to the Chinese embassy, on St. George St., to obtain a passport for the trip home. The child also requires a visitor’s visa for the March 30 flight.
She is concerned Tanya may not receive her travel documents in time and will have to remain in Canada with the Children’s Aid Society.
“I am worried about my daughter,” Wang sobbed on Monday. “I don’t want to leave her behind in Canada.”
Wang claimed she will be ostracized in China for being an “unwed mother.”
The graphic designer arrived in Canada as a refugee claimant in 2004 and lost her appeals in 2007.
“I am not leaving Canada without Tanya,” Wang said. “I am shaking like a leaf and I have not been able to eat or sleep.”
She said Tanya hasn’t been told of the deportation to spare the child from becoming stressed out prior to leaving the country.
Wang’s immigration consultant, Roy Kellogg, said Chinese authorities will impose a fine of $140,000 on his client for having a child out of wedlock.
“Tanya will have to renounce her Canadian citizenship to attend school,”
Kellogg said. “She is required to have permission from the Chinese government to bear a child.”
He said if a fine isn’t paid, Tanya will be seized by the government and placed for adoption.
Wang has an application for humanitarian and compassionate review outstanding.
Officials of the Canada border services said the merit of each refugee case is decided by a board which has the last word on a case. A newcomer has the opportunity a make a refugee claim and subsequent appeal, but must leave Canada if there is a negative outcome.
Source: Toronto Sun
Addendum:Within days here is another case of a country deporting a young citizen with the threat of foster/adoptive care.
Wait, What? U.S. Deports 4-Year-Old U.S. Citizen
The hot-button issue of granting citizenship to the children of immigrants that are born in the U.S. has a new poster child. Everybody meet four-year-old Emily Samantha Ruiz, a Long Island girl who was deported to Guatemala by the U.S. on March 11—despite being a totally legal citizen of the United States.
Emily's parents—who are both illegal immigrants from Guatemala—sent their older child to their homeland for the winter in the hopes the warmer climate would alleviate the little girl's asthma. On the 11th she was supposed to come back accompanied by her grandfather, who had a valid work visa to enter the country. But when their flight to JFK was delayed and sent to Dulles, Immigration officials noticed that Emily's grandfather (whose name has not been released) had entered the country illegally in the 90s and detained him (at which point he apparently had a panic attack and was taken to the hospital).
This left Emily in a legal limbo of sorts. For more than a day she was detained in federal custody in Washington while her parents, who speak only a little English, tried to figure out what was going on.
At which point versions of the story vary. Customs officials say they offered Emily's father Leonel Ruiz a chance to either pick up Emily at Dulles or to have the girl return to Guatemala with her grandpa. But if Ruiz had gone to pick up his daughter, he would have run the risk of being detained himself. And anyway, according to him, he was never offered that choice. Instead, he says, an official told him that Emily could either go back to Guatemala or be put into the custody of Virginia—an idea that terrified the Ruiz family.
“We were very worried, and my wife was crying and crying at what was happening,” Ruiz told the Times. Ruiz's lawyer, David Sperling, is now planning on sending a staffer to retrieve the girl in the coming days.
Meanwhile the U.S. is defending its actions saying that the Customs and Border Protection agency "strives to reunite children who are citizens with their parents. If the parents decide not to take custody of their children, the CBP works with other agencies to guard the security and the well-being of these children. That includes handing them over to other families.”
This story breaks as the issue of automatic citizenship for those born on U.S. soil has been much in the news. Last week Arizona came thisclose to pushing a measure that would have brought the issue to the Supreme Court, and other states (like Kansas and California) have flirted with laws to make automatic citizenship harder for children.
March 22, 2011 permalink
Here are two messages from today's rally in front of the family court building in Sudbury:
Tabatha Bertrand-Haskett We got another 100 signatures! Keep the petitions flowing! People want to sign them, and help out....we sure were cold today but it was inspiring to see people taking the time to fill out the petitions!
Neil Haskett we got a lot of signatures again today and will submit them to the MPP tomorrow.
More as soon as it becomes available.
TD Bank Helps Wreck Families
March 21, 2011 permalink
The TD Bank is donating to the Stormont CAS to help send children to summer camp. According to CAS:
The children for whom the Society is raising funds are not the children in the care of the Society. ... The Society’s Camp Fund will be directed towards community children with whom our agency is involved by working with their families in the hope that the children will not have to come into our care.
This statement carries the same credibility as others from social services. In one case on fixcas summer camp for Howard was part of the process of destroying the family.
CAS Helping Families - Supported by TD Canada Trust
Summer is approaching and the Children’s Aid Society of the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry for a second year has taken steps to help families during those long months when children are out of school. The Society received funding from TD Canada Trust in the amount of $1,000.00 again this year. The Society is attempting to provide this opportunity for children who do not have this privilege without assistance from the community. A long summer can place stress on a family. Last year, the Society raised over $10,000.00 and 34 children were sent to camp. A Christmas card from one family whose children attended camp states:
“Thank you for everything CAS did throughout the year we were very happy and thankful to have experience(d) a week at a Camp Kagama…!”
The children for whom the Society is raising funds are not the children in the care of the Society. These children are funded through the Society’s budget and appropriate opportunities are provided. The Society’s Camp Fund will be directed towards community children with whom our agency is involved by working with their families in the hope that the children will not have to come into our care. Due to the lack of parental resources, these youth are left out of the rich experiences that summer camps develop and promote. With the help of the community, a difference can be made for these youth. The Society hopes that through our partnership and support from sponsors like TD Canada Trust the camp project may develop to the point that every child in SD&G could be offered the camp experience whether or not they receive direct service from the Society.
Donations can be forwarded directly to the Society made payable to the CAS – Camp Fund. If anyone would like to obtain further information on this project, you may contact the Society at 613-933-2292.
Source: Seaway News
Plea for Emma
March 20, 2011 permalink
An earlier story on Emma Routh prompted a plea from the family. You can respond through the link to the closed Facebook page that is the source after the letter.
Deb Justice posted in HOPE FOR FIGHTING INJUSTICE FOR OUR CHILDREN AGAINST SS, .
TO ALL MY DEAR FRIENDS AROUND THE WORLD PLEASE CALL THE REPORTERS AT THE END OF THIS STATEMENT AND PUT IN YOUR WORDS OR USE WHATS ON HERE PLEASE AT THE BEGINNING PUT IN YOUR NAME IF ORGANIZATION USE IT AND WHAT STATE YOUR IN MAKE SURE THE LAST LINES ARE USED WE THE PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD…………… GOD BLESS YOU ALL AND PRAY FOR EMMA AND HER COURGEOUS MOTHER THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH start calling by 11 central time
Hello my name is Deborah Young Justice For Families AND CHILDREN in Philadelphia I am calling because you did a story on Emma Routh in the past. She is the 6 yr. old with FANCONI ANEMIA the rare blood disorder that strikes 1 in 3 million people.
Emma desperately needed a bone marrow transplant or she would die. The causes of death are bone marrow failure, leukemia, cancer, tumors. F A affects every single cell in the body. Her mother Brandy searched everywhere from june 2008 until Dec 2009. She found one. In her search she did 56 bone marrow drives and signed up 25,000 people to the bone marrow registry helping to save others like her daughter. Emmas mother followed every doctors orders. While in Boston hospital the doctors wanted to keep giving Emma a drug that she was allergic to causing her to have pus pockets on every part of her body, extreme pain . because of the experimental transplant these doctors knowing the pain Emma was in wanted to keep giving her this medicine for 7 more days on top of the 6 days she already went through to get their data, Her mother Brandy said no ON THE 6TH day so doctors called cps on her so they could keep Emma as a guinea pig and get their data. Cps removed mother from her very sick child at the hospital FOR NO REASON. There was no neglect. THERE WAS THE ABSOLUTE LOVE A PARENT HAS FOR HER CHILD TO PROTECT, now here is child protective services not caring about Emmas health or her life. Just the dollars they will get for her and her brother which is in the millions. Emmas mother did all to help save her child and for that LOVE EMMA IS WITHOUT HER FAMILY AND SUPPORT SHE DESPERATLY NEEDS ALL DUE TO CPS FRAUD TO GET THEIR BONUSES.
While in CPS care Emma now has 7 diagnosis one report stated on 12-23-2010 states that Emma has increased thoughts and talks about her death and others. When mother asked The nurse practitioner what this report meant she said Emma was told that she was going to die by others taking care of her.
Graph Vs. Host disorder if graph takes over the bone marrow will completely fail
Strain 1 HSV-HERPES
PTSD-POST TRAMATIC STRESS DISORDER
LUNG PROBLEMS FROM SMOKERS IN THE HOUSE WHERE SHE IS IN CARE
While in mother’s care she had 2 diagnoses NOT 7
6 yr. old Emma Routh’s chances NOW IN CARE is the transplants failing.
EMMA NEEDS ALL OF YOUR HELP TO SAVE HER LIFE.
WE THE PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD ARE ASKING YOU TO REPORT THE TRUTH TO SAVE EMMA’S LIFE BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE. EMMA HAS PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD FIGHTING TO SAVE HER AND ARE CALLING EVERY NEWSPAPER NATIONWIDE.
Source: Facebook closed group
Hearing gets an Earful
March 20, 2011 permalink
Legislative bodies rarely hold open hearings on child protection. When they do, they get inundated with complaints about their dysfunctional system. Here is an example from Washington DC.
Child Welfare Hearing Shows City Agency Still Struggling
At Thursday's oversight hearing before Ward One Councilmember Jim Graham's Committee on Human Services, a mother recounted what life has been like for her 13-year-old daughter since she was taken into D.C.'s child-welfare agency's custody. It has been a horror show.
Since coming into the system six months ago, the daughter has been raped twice.
The city has moved her daughter 14 times. Three different agencies have handled her case. After watching the hearing, the daughter's case, where great need collides with greater dysfunction, didn't seem like such an outlier. It seemed just another nightmare case Graham now must deal with.
It became all too clear that Graham has taken over the toughest task of any councilmember: Overseeing the District's Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) and the Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services (DYRS). Speaker after speaker proved it Thursday.
The session ran so long—well past 5 p.m.—that Graham announced from the dais that he had canceled his dinner plans. And why wouldn't he? The hearing had been crammed with shocking statistics and eye-opening testimonials—all enough to make Thursday's other hearing about those Navigators look silly.
Here are some astounding stats City Desk picked up from the hearing:
- 10,000 D.C. children do not live with their biological parents.
- CFSA made a more than 30 percent cut to their private service providers. These providers manage group homes and independent-living facilities, as well as provide fostercare services.
- Family court judges have seen an uptick in more serious abuse cases. CFSA has seen an uptick in underage prostitution cases.
- In 2010, there were 6,320 abuse and neglect investigations done by CFSA.
- CFSA oversees 4,054 children—49 percent live in places like group homes and residential treatment facilities.
It may be hell once your in child-welfare, but it may be just as bad aging out. The majority of the teens who testified brought up the shortcomings of the agency's Office of Youth Empowerment (OYE), the entity that is supposed to assist the older wards with securing financial aid for college, finding affordable housing, setting up a plan for when they leave the system at 21.
Every city ward is entitled to financial aid supports for college. One woman testified that she had begun attending a college in Georgia. She didn't last long before being kicked out; the city, she says, had failed to follow through with their financial-aid money. She dropped out.
A 19-year-old testified that she had expressed a desire to attend a culinary school. Her social worker with OYE insisted that such a choice was too expensive. When she asked for a list of public culinary schools, the social workers admitted that they did not have a list. Instead, the social workers have pressured her to either work as a home-health aid or apply to Bank of America.
The 19-year-old also has a daughter. She testified that she only receives a stipend of $400 per month. All of that money goes to her baby's food and supplies. When she asked for more money, her social worker refused, saying: "Just find a way to make it work."
A teen, who has been in the system since 16, testified to similar financial difficulties. He receives $580 per month from the District. Of those funds, $350 go toward transportation expenses. He testified that the stipend they receive has stayed the same since 2001.
His independent-living apartment unit is equally threadbare. The teen testified that the lock on his apartment's front door is broken. Inside, there are carpet stains and missing door knobs. He also stated that he doesn't have a mailbox. In September, he made a service request. The following month he followed up with a court order to force the service provider to repair his apartment. And still no repairs have been made. "CFSA does not have a system in place to provide support," he testified.
When the teen was finished, Graham stated: "This doesn't sound very good to me."
Other teens suggested that the number of planning sessions with their social worker was not adequate, that the meetings were overwhelming, and at times, LGBTQ youths don't feel supported. Nashwa Elgadi, the Young Women's Project's Program Coordinator for its Foster Care Campaign, testified to a list of issues the kids she works with have faced. One lived in a foster home with 18 housing code violations. It took three months of lobbying to get the teen moved out of the home.
Finally, after 5 p.m., CFSA's Interim Director Roque Gerald began his testimony. While his written testimony went on for at least 15 minutes, when it came time to drill down on specifics, he had few answers—especially concerning the OYE.
There are currently 42 full-time employees at the OYE. But when asked, Gerald, could not tell Graham what percentage their salaries took up in the office's overall budget. Nor could he provide a percentage of CFSA's kids that have gone on to graduate from college.
Gerald insisted that the woman's testimony concerning her experience at the Georgia college was not accurate. But he was not willing to state publicly what about her story was false. "I am willing to provide you information privately," Gerald said. "There is more to it than meets the eye."
Of the roughly 500 kids under OYE, 190 are either in college or "training." The other 300? Gerald couldn't say what they were actually doing. Nor could he give data on the number of former city wards who are homeless, in legal trouble or who are on public assistance. "We are still not in a place to report out on that data," Gerald admitted.
Source: Washington City Paper
Social Workers Lie
March 20, 2011 permalink
Christopher Booker reports on two British cases in which the social workers lied in court to get control of a child. What happens when the parents present evidence contradicting the lies? The courts refuse to listen.
Another 'horrible’ case for you, Mr Loughton
The scandal of seizures by social workers of children from responsible parents is bigger than the Children's Minister has stated, says Christopher Booker.
Of all the ways in which Britain’s supposed child protection system has, all too often, gone horribly off the rails, one of the most disturbing is the readiness of many social workers to lie and to fabricate evidence, in order to justify their seizure of children from loving and responsible parents. As is shown by many of the dozens of such cases I have followed in detail, once social workers have targeted a particular family they may well stop at nothing to make their case stick, ready to cover up some initial error simply by bringing up new accusations against the parents, however improbable.
Last week I talked at length with a 20-year-old mother who lives in a northern city. In a calm, measured way, she described how her two sons had been removed, for reasons that seem quite absurdly misguided. As a teenager, she became involved with a young man who beat her so badly that she required hospital treatment several times. He had then left her with a son, whom she happily brought up alone in a house bought for her by her parents. But when the boy was 18 months old, the social workers moved in to seize him, on the grounds that she was in a “violent relationship”, even though the father had walked out of her life.
Some time later she did see him again, for one evening, and became pregnant. When the social workers discovered this, she was sent for medical assessment to a psychiatrist, who after two examinations said that he could find nothing wrong with her and that she seemed quite capable of bringing up her child. Twenty minutes after her son’s birth, however, she was lying naked on a hospital bed when two police officers and a social worker burst in to take the baby into foster care. Their “police protection order” alleged that she was “incapable” of bringing up the child, that she had tried to abort it two weeks earlier (wholly untrue) and that it would be at “risk of significant harm”.
The baby is now fostered half a mile from the mother’s home. Although there is a council contact centre nearby, in order to have contact with her son, she and the baby must travel eight miles across the city to another centre, the fares for which cost a significant part of her £50 a week income. Six times she has been to court, desperate to win back her baby. Four times the judge failed to turn up.
Last week the mother learned, from a reliable source, that the social workers now plan to allege that, when she was three, she had tried to kill the family cat and to burn down her parents’ house. When I spoke at length to the parents they said nothing of the kind had ever happened. They had also been astonished that their offer to look after their grandchild had been refused by the social workers out of hand, even though he is a respectable businessman and she a qualified nursery nurse.
The Children Act lays a strict legal obligation on social workers, when removing children from their parents, to investigate, as the first option, whether they can be placed with relatives. This is routinely ignored, so that in Britain only 12 per cent of removed children are in “kinship care”; in New Zealand the figure is 75 per cent.
In another case I have been following closely, the social workers, after initially making a crashing blunder, have changed their reasons for keeping the children in foster care several times. According to the parents, when they recently had to listen in court to a social worker describing a contact session, they wished to produce a recording they had secretly made of the meeting which contradicted everything that had been said. When this was refused, they left the court in disgust. The evidence they had been unable to challenge was thus accepted as fact.
If our Children’s Minister, Tim Loughton, means what he says about empowering a new Ombudsman to investigate the “minority” of cases which go “horribly wrong”, he may be amazed how many such cases will be brought forward. I don’t believe Mr Loughton has any idea how large his “minority” could turn out to be.
March 19, 2011 permalink
Here's your chance! The Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society is advertising for people to serve on its board of directors. The board has the power to hire and fire all corporate officers including the executive director! Send your resume with references to the address in the enclosed ad.
March 19, 2011 permalink
A teenaged foster girl without a name has been raped and murdered in Alberta. The police will not be charging anyone. Why not? You are not permitted to know anything about foster children under the Alberta Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act. If this girl's case comes up again, we will identify her with the pseudonym SunGirl.
Teen's reserve death 'tore' foster family apart
Despite a brutal killing on the Sunchild First Nation near Rocky Mountain House, Alta., RCMP say they're not concerned about public safety.
A 15-year-old girl's body was found in a ditch on March 4 by a school bus driver travelling down a remote gravel road.
The girl cannot be named because she was living in foster care on the reserve at the time of the killing.
Residents say at some point during a party the night before, the teen was raped, beaten to death and left half-naked by the side of the road.
The girl's guardian, whose name must also be withheld because of the Alberta Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act's foster care provisions, said he heard there was drug use at the party, and he knew alcohol was involved.
"You should have met her. She was just like a little bright light," he said.
"She was a great kid. Amazing kid. But the way she went, she just didn't deserve it. It just tore this family apart."
A hard life
He was her foster parent, but he called her his granddaughter.
He said she had a hard life from the beginning.
"She had her legs and her arms broken. I don't know if they proved anything about who it was, but I know who it was," he said. "And then her mother hung herself and I don't know, to me it was nothing was right. It just was all wrong."
He said after the girl's mother died, she came to live with him.
But he said soon after she was moved to another foster home, where she was sexually abused at age three.
From there, he said, she drifted between a number of youth shelters and foster homes, including his.
He said he remembers a young girl that was full of love.
"She would wake up in the morning [and say], 'Good morning. I love you.' Of course … [I] had to [say] 'love you' and 'good morning,' and that's what she was looking for. Just somebody to say, 'Hi, I love you.' And that's it, you know."
But he said she wasn't content to stay in one place.
He said the girl traveled to Manitoba, hanging out with aboriginal gangs there before returning to Alberta, staying on a Hobbema reserve and in Red Deer before returning to his home.
"That day [March 3] I wanted to take her into town and have supper and come back. But, you know, it never happened."
No charges laid
One area woman, sister to the girl's guardian, knew the teen well. She said drugs and alcohol are a huge problem for young people on the reserve.
"The little kids are lost and forgotten, pushed aside.... When is it going to end?"
She said she heard that someone connected to the killing might have committed suicide.
RCMP Sgt. Chris Matechuk said investigators are aware of a second death, but he can't say if they are connected.
"I can say … that we are not concerned that there is a killer out there on the loose," said Matechuk.
He said drugs and gangs are an increasing problem on the Sunchild reserve.
No charges have been laid in the case.
Sunchild First Nation, which has an on-reserve population of 749, is located northwest of Rocky Mountain House, which is about 75 kilometres west of Red Deer.
Addendum: The girl was named in 2014 as Justine Cochrane.
Moving Baby Syndrome
March 19, 2011 permalink
Among casualties of child protection often overlooked are families falsely accused and later cleared. In Illinois the Weidners were falsely accused of battering their baby son after an erroneous CT scan showed a skull fracture and brain injuries. For two weeks the family had to have supervisors in their home at all times, breastfeeding stopped and diagnosis and treatment of the boy's real problem, pseudohypoaldosteronism, was delayed. They were able to afford a second examination at another hospital, where it was determined that the baby had moved during the original scan, creating the illusion of head and brain injuries. An unusual feature of this story: after their innocence was established, the investigators apologized.
Spreading the word: Family speaks out about unfounded abuse claims
PEKIN, Ill. —
Michele Weidner still has nightmares. She wants to talk about it — wants to get it out in the open and off of her mind. Above all, she’s hoping her story will enlighten others so that changes can be made and horrors averted for others.
It’s a long shot. Michele, 35, and her husband, Dave Weidner, 41, want more than anything to increase local awareness of false accusations of abuse and the impact they have on families, especially families already dealing with a real medical crisis.
“It can happen to you. It can happen to anybody. It happened to us,” Michele told the Pekin Daily Times.
Michele’s nightmare started the day her son, Jacob, was born on Sept. 3, 2010. It was a difficult delivery for both mother and baby, and Jacob spent 12 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at OSF St. Francis in Peoria for a variety of respiratory and cardiac issues.
Causes of those issues were never identified, but after 12 days he was pronounced well enough to go home. After two days at home, though, Michele said they readmitted him for several issues, including “elevated c-reactive protein and very critical electrolyte abnormalities.”
Hospitalized for five days, the problem was never identified, yet he was released from the hospital with a PIC line (Percutaneous Intravenous Catheter) in place. Michele recalls that Jacob “saw doctors and nurses all but one day” during the time he spent at home. “No one,” she said, “could figure out what had caused his medical problems.”
On Oct. 8 Michele took Jacob into the OSF emergency room for vomiting. Shortly thereafter, he stopped breathing. Michele said he was “revived but stat blood work revealed that his body was in major distress from extremely abnormal electrolyte abnormalities. While they were stabilizing him, they did a precautionary CT scan of Jacob’s brain.”
Jacob was transferred to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
“While still in shock from almost losing Jacob and while trying to absorb the fact that no one could figure out what was wrong with him, we were notified that the CT scan showed an acute skull fracture,” Michele said.
Dr. Channing Petrak of OSF Pediatric Resource Center interviewed the Weidners about their care of their son. Based on the CT results and the interview, her assessment was, “Jacob has a mildly displaced left occipital skull fracture,” and that the fracture was “suspicious for nonaccidental trauma,” according to a seven-page “PRC Consult” provided by the Weidners to the Daily Times.
The consult says an MRI on Sept. 22, 2010, found that Jacob had “multiple subdural hemorrhages,” and suggests they also “could have been traumatic in nature” and “nonaccidental.”
The consult also notes, “Jacob’s mother also expressed concern that physicians and specialists would possibly think that she had done something to make Jacob ill.”
At this point, representatives from both the Department of Children and Family Services and the Peoria Police Department were in the hospital room asking the Weidners who had injured Jacob.
According to Michele, “The PRC doctor said something like ‘someone either dropped your son from a standing position or hit him over the head with a blunt object.’”
DCFS immediately implemented a safety plan that stipulated, “None of the [Weidners’] children will be supervised solely by Michele and/David.” That included their newborn son Jacob as well as their two older sons, ages 6 and 4.
The whole family was interviewed. It was upsetting, and especially confusing for their two other sons.
“We, of course, believed them. We thought someone had hammered our son. We were absolutely devastated that he had been injured without our knowledge and absolutely terrified what type of neurological damage would result,” recalled Michele, adding that the problem was that “there was no marking, no bruise or any other indication of an injury; nor were his eyes dilated. Also in the seven days prior, he had been to a pediatric neurosurgeon, pediatric philologist and his pediatrician. Surely someone would have noticed something.”
Michele insists that almost immediately every doctor involved felt it was not abuse and was, at worst, a birth injury. “They saw no outward signs of injury and they did not believe that we even came close to ‘fitting the profile.’”
Michele is a full-time, stay-at-home mother with a master’s degree in nonprofit management. Her husband, Dave, is a clinical psychologist with the Federal Bureau of Prisons who also does private-practice work at the Antioch Group.
In calls to the PRC, the Daily Times was told Dr. Petrak was not available for comment.
Meanwhile, the Weidners were in shock. “It literally knocked the breath out of us. There we were with a critically ill 5-week-old baby who had stopped breathing just hours before and we were being told that our child had a significant skull fracture and that we were the prime suspects,” Michele said.
As a result, Michele was not allowed to breastfeed Jacob, because Dr. Petrak had recommended “strict intake/output measurement” of Jacob, something impossible to do when breastfeeding. Additionally, Jacob was tested to see if Michele “was taking drugs or giving him drugs.”
Michele adds, “It was terrifying because we knew something was terribly wrong with our baby, who was lethargic and failing to thrive, and they were wasting time suspecting us. It was a nightmare.”
Seven “excruciating days” later while still at the hospital, the Weidners were allowed to take Jacob home. Due to the “safety plan,” family and friends came from as far as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to take shifts supervising the Weidner’s family life.
“We had to ensure someone was always with the boys to supervise us. One night during the hospital stay, I came home for a couple of hours to tuck in the boys for bed. Acutely aware that they could be placed into protective custody at any moment, I just held them and read endless books and hugged and kissed them and prayed with them and tried really hard not to cry. They didn’t know what was wrong. They just knew a strange man had come and asked them a lot of weird questions and that I looked really sad and couldn’t stop hugging them.”
A week later, the Weidners were notified by DCFS and the police that it had been deduced that Jacob’s CT finding was a “suture anomaly,” meaning an extra cranial plate. The Weidners were then released from the “safety plan” and were apologized to by the investigators.
At this point, the Weidners still didn’t know what was causing Jacob’s problem. On the advice of another doctor, they took Jacob to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the third-leading children’s hospital in the country. Here doctors examined Jacob’s CT images from Oct. 8, turning it into a 3-D reconstruction that they could study to find out what was going on.
“Within one day,” Michele said, “they were able to definitely determine that Jacob’s skull was completely 100 percent normal with no signs of any fracture, and that OSF’s findings were based on the fact that the images showed signs that Jacob’s head had been placed in the machine incorrectly and that he had moved during the CT.”
According to a report from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Department of Radiology, 3333 Burnet Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio, the findings conclude that “ the patient (Jacob) has normal, no contrast head. CT. No evidence of skull fracture or intracranial hemorrhage.” The report states that “the ventricles and extra-axial spaces are normal in size and configuration. The brain parenchyma attenuation is normal. There is no mass or intracranial hemorrhage.”
Also, in a PRC report on Jacob dated Nov. 8, 2010, Dr. Petrak reconsidered her original skull fracture diagnosis, stating, “Without further imaging of the occipital skull, I cannot, with any medical certainty, determine whether Jacob has an occipital skull fracture or a skull anomaly.” The first of her recommendations in that report, however, was, “Ensure Jacob’s safety.”
Back at home and elated with the good news, the Weidners contacted OSF, DCFS and the police to inform them of the final results.
“The DCFS caseworker was immediately apologetic, as was the police detective. They are only as good as the information provided to them,” Michele said. “The investigators had trusted the PRC, which never wavered in their opinion that the image was accurate and that the finding was acute and traumatic in nature. Historically DCFS and Peoria police have relied on the PRC for accurate information.”
With the worst behind them and only three days before Christmas, the Weidners once again met with DCFS, this time to close the case. “We had to meet (the DCFS caseworker) in a McDonald’s parking lot,” recalls Michele, “He looked at Jacob, said, ‘he looks well’ and acted as if it were perfectly fine that he waited 41 days after Cincinnati’s determination to finish his report.”
DCFS caseworker Mike Mettel would not comment on this case, but referred questions to his supervisor, Megan Steurtevant.
“I can’t quote either way whether or not we investigate or not,” Steurtevant said during a recent phone conversation. When asked why the caseworker would have to officially meet the Weidners in a McDonald’s parking lot in order to close the case, Steurtevant reiterated her original statement: “I can’t comment either way whether we had an investigation or not.”
According to the official report from the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services of Springfield — which was signed on Jan. 12, 2011, by Linda Everette-Williams, administrator of State Central Register — the “investigation or suspected child abuse or neglect (was) unfounded.” The report reads, in part, “After a thorough evaluation, we have determined the report to be ‘unfounded.’ This means that credible evidence of child abuse or neglect has not been found.”
Peoria Police Detective David Nelson agreed. “The case was unfounded as to abuse and it says that in the report.”
Jacob has since been diagnosed by his nephrologist, Dr. Alex Alonso, with “pseudohypoaldosteronism,” a rare medical condition. Dr. Alonso did not return phone calls but Dr. Al Torres, medical director of the pediatric Critical Care Unit at Children’s Hospital of Illinois, who saw Jacob both times he was admitted, did.
“Pseudohypoaldosteronism,” according to Torres, is an “uncommon disorder involving an electrolyte imbalance due to the kidney’s inability to respond to low aldosterone.”
Torres said “pseudohypoaldosteronism is so uncommon” that he had to look it up and research it in order to treat Jacob. “His (Jacob’s) case is part of the reason I know so much about it. It’s a very uncommon medical condition that can be life-threatening.”
Today, Jacob is doing well and his medical condition is under control. He takes medication three times a day and has monthly blood draws. But the impact of false accusations has been “devastating“ to not only the Weidners but also their parents.
“Other than that,” Michele admits, “Jacob is very healthy and developing on schedule. He is a very easygoing, happy little boy who smiles all the time and makes everyone around him smile, too.”
“I still feel pretty shocked and bruised by what we were put through at what was already a very vulnerable time. It is really hard for me to even talk about it,” Michele said.
“Many well-meaning people have told us that the system worked and that false allegations are the ‘cost of doing business’ when it comes to preventing child abuse. I don’t think these people realize the impossible situation parents face in this type of situation.”
“Contrary to the Constitution, you are guilty until proven innocent and the burden of proof is on the parents, not the investigators. Not everyone has the resources or insurance to pay for the second opinion it takes to prove their innocence. Praise God we were able to fight this accusation, but not everybody could. I’d like to say we didn’t despair, but we did. Thankfully we had family, friends and church that had our back and helped prop us up and help us remember that no challenge is too big for God.”
Dave admits he’s been “paralyzed” by the whole scenario.
“I’ve heard about these things happening, but it was a surreal moment when it happened to us. To realize that a government agency has the legal authority to come into a law-abiding citizen’s home and deem us unsafe to be alone with our kids without a trial or even just a judge is frightening. They take serious actions without double-checking facts, gathering second opinions or even really conducting a true investigation,” he said.
Dave added, “The doctors and nurses who actually knew anything about us and knew about the details of Jacob’s history treated us with kindness and compassion.”
Even so, Dave can’t get over the fact that “for two weeks, they took my God-given fatherly rights away from me. I couldn’t protect my sons from this threat and couldn’t even really speak up to defend myself or my wife. I was keenly aware that any anger or defensiveness on my part would make the situation worse. I felt paralyzed.”
According to Dave, their older boys were already having a difficult time coping with the reality that their baby brother was sick. “They needed stability and extra time with us, but instead their world turned upside down. They couldn’t understand why so many people were around our house. They didn’t know that it was because we couldn’t be alone with them. There is no advocate for parents. The system is set up to assume all allegations are true.”
“We had to be our own advocate, which is hard when you work a full-time job, have two older kids in school and a very critically ill son in the intensive care unit. My wife was devastated. She was already exhausted from Jacob’s two previous hospitalizations, managing two older kids’ school schedules and caring for a very sick newborn 24 hours a day. When the investigators and this (PRC) doctor began to treat her with suspicion it was too much to handle. She cried to the point of literally running out of tears.”
Dave said he was “numb. I couldn’t believe it was happening to us.”
“As a clinical psychologist who works with families, this accusation could have greatly damaged my career and prevented me from ever working with kids.” He adds, “I want to have hope that this will not happen to others but I believe that it will unless something is changed. We know that the parties involved know there is a problem.”
Michele said they want to put this experience behind them but they feel the obligation to share their story so other families don’t have to deal with “the same broken system.”
For the Weidners, the worst of the nightmare is over. They had good medical, financial and legal resources, including legal counsel from the Family Defense Center in Chicago. But there are others who are accused of abuse and don’t have the resources or even family to turn to for support. In fact, Michele points out that another “mom was accused of abuse by OSF the same week we were, and she still does not have custody of her daughter. It’s all because of the same … dysfunctional process.”
No one can say exactly how prevalent these abuse accusations are. But according to Diane Redleaf, executive director of The Family Defense Center in Chicago, they are “overwhelmed with cases and have few staff … we are inundated with low income cases … we struggle to keep up with demand.”
Redleaf did refer the Times to its most recent newsletter, The Family Defender: Advocating for Children & Families Together, Vol. 4, No. 2 ... to a story written by Mary Kelly Broderick. In her article, “MPEEC Program Data Shows Innocent Families Are Being Harmed,” she states, “I have made multiple Freedom of Information Act requests for information about MPEEC and DCFS investigations.” In her story, she further reports that “a stunning 71 percent of the medical conclusions do not find abuse. This is broken down to 44 percent with a conclusion that the trauma was not inflicted and 27 percent of cases where the ‘child abuse expert’ concludes that they cannot make a conclusion (i.e. ‘indeterminate’).”
The Weidners said they believe the “system is confusing and sets you up to feel really perplexed.” Michele said she felt like Alice in Wonderland, where “everything is upside down and backwards. They all say the opposite of what they mean and no one will state facts. It’s like they all stand in a circle and point you to the next guy — pretty soon you are walking in circles.”
With the past behind them, Michele wonders about Jacob’s future. “If he has to be hospitalized in the future, it will have to be at OSF. We need to be able to trust this hospital again. We need to know they are addressing their weaknesses,” said Michele, adding, “The hospital has great new facilities, a big marketing campaign, but to be a great children’s hospital you have to take care of families and that has to include conducting timely, thorough, and credible medical investigations and quickly acknowledging when you mess up. They failed us.”
When asked for a statement from OSF regarding this story, and asked why a second CT was not taken, Amy Paul, executive director of strategic communication at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, said, “When a child has an unexplained injury of any sort and is seen in any of our facilities, we are mandated by state law to report the injury to DCFS. DCFS then does its own investigation which we (OSF Saint Francis Medical Center) have no control over. The investigation is not a medical decision; it is a protocol that has been put in place by the state to protect children.”
During a conference telephone conversation with both Paul and Shelli Dankoff, media relations specialist OSF Saint Francis Medical Center Children’s Hospital of Illinois, both agreed all abuse reports to the DCFS are placed “anonymously.”
Citing privacy laws, Paul and Dankoff told the Pekin Times that, “Other than that, we are unable to discuss any specifics of the Weidners’ case.”
Source: Pekin Daily Times
March 18, 2011 permalink
A woman who is 37 weeks pregnant with her first child is already under surveillance. Children's aid has told her they will be taking the baby at birth. You can communicate with this expectant mother through Yahoo.
Since CR has been referred to fixcas, here is our suggestion. Remove yourself and your baby from Ontario as soon as possible and arrange for a home birth (see our help page).
37 weeks pregnant and childrens aid are involved?
So i recently just found out that someone has called Childrens aid on me. I will give as much information as i can.
This is my FIRST pregnancy. I concieved in June 2010. Recieved a June, July an August period. (They were all normal) September i had a period for 15minutes and it was gone. October and November i did not recieve a period and had thought i lost my period due to stress. From June to November i was drinking. I found out november that i was 24 weeks pregnant. Right there i stopped drinking.
I have made it to every gyn appointment. Done what i was supposed to. I am now 37 weeks + 2 days.
I have spoke with childrens aid twice. Today they called me and told me i would not be bringing my baby home because i would not go in a home for pregnant women. And that they find me an unfit mother because of that.
Under what grounds can they tell me that i am an unfit mother when my baby is not here yet?
What is the best way for me to fight this?
I want to be able to raise my baby.
Best Answer - Chosen by Asker
Sweetie contact a lawyer and legal aid immediately. CAS is corrupt!! They want your baby because there are so many adopted parents out there and not enough babies. DO NOT talk to them and answer questions. Get a lawyer outside your area. Have a tape recorder or video camera with you when and if you meet with them. You are doing nothing illegal by taping it it is your right. Since you are so close to the due date the CAS will have put out a watch at the hospital and they will notify the CAS as soon as the child is born. They will go to court the day the child is born and get the judge to give them an emergency protective order the same day. This will allow them to confiscate the child. They will not fool around! Do you have parents/family to help you? Get them involved. Now.Where do you live? I will give you some sites to look up (Voices of Innocent families (I am with the Bruce Grey division---find this on facebook I am an administrator click on me for facebook and write me a message (Lisa) I will help you hon) there is fixcas.com and I will give you some more. HANG IN THERE. You might want to think about leaving town if you go into labour very shortly before we have a chance to do anything yet.. Have the baby at another hospital. If they get the baby you are looking at months and close to a yr before the protective hearing.
Source: Yahoo Answers
March 17, 2011 permalink
There will be a rally on April 4 in Toronto Rally and March for Accountability and Oversight in Toronto on April 4. It will start at the Ministry of Children and Youth Services at 10 AM and proceed to the College of Social Work. MPP Rosario Marchese, who introduced bill 131, will be there, but for the first few minutes only. Come early.
I just received confirmation today that MPP Rosario Marchese who introduced the new private members bill in November 2010 will be attending the Rally and March on April 4th. This was to begin at 10a.m. infront of the Ministry of Child and Youth Services at Bay and Wellesley St. In Toronto. I URGE everyone to aim to be there for 9:30a.m. so that there is a good presence for when Mr. Marchese arrives and hopefully the media will be there at this time too. He will be prompt, there at 10 and will have to leave by about 10:30 to return to Queen's Park for question period. It is very important, and I think that it would please Mr. Marchese as well, to see as many people as possible there when he arrives. It has been a battle getting anyone in government to support the need for oversight, so now that we have it we must show our appreciation for the investment that he is making to our cause. I am looking forward to this event and seeing everyone there.
Source: private message from Catherine Frei
The Gang that Can't Shoot Straight
March 17, 2011 permalink
Florida child protectors removed son Jermaine McNeil and daughter Ju'Tyra Allen from mother Felicia Brown. Then they allowed the mother to adopt her own children. The mother's body was found in a garbage dump and the bodies of the two children were were fished out of a canal.
DCF 'did its job' in case of 2 children found dead in Delray canal, and their slain mom
DCF records detail life of abuse, neglect before mom, two kids killed
WEST PALM BEACH
Officials with the Florida Department of Children and Families on Tuesday said the agency "did its job" in the handling of a case involving a mother and her two young children later found dead in Palm Beach County.
Perry Borman, the DCF Circuit Administrator in Palm Beach County, prefaced that statement by praising Felicia Brown, 25, for overcoming an abusive childhood that continued through at least two of three teen pregnancies and ultimately resulted in state-approved reunions with son Jermaine McNeil, 10, and daughter Ju'Tyra Allen, 6.
Brown's body was found in a West Palm Beach trash dump in August and was tentatively identified earlier this month when the bodies of her two children were found stuffed in luggage and floating in a Delray Beach canal on March 2. Their names were tattooed on her leg, police said.
The abuse investigations involving Brown ended in 2005 and her child custody cases were resolved by 2008, according to DCF files released on Tuesday.
"Felicia Brown had demonstrated she deserved the chance to have her children back and that's the decision that we supported," Borman said.
But Brown's problems began years earlier when she was known by her maiden name, Felicia Flint, and was listed as a victim of abuse 10 times by the age of 14, according to DCF.
When she was 14, she gave birth to Jermaine while living with her mother in Lake Worth. Over the next few years, Brown and Jermaine were listed as victims of abuse and neglect in five cases.
In those reports, Brown accused her mother, Suzanne Flint, of kicking and beating her with a belt, according to the records. Investigators who visited their home saw beds stained with urine and a butcher's knife on the couch. Jermaine had dirty diapers and a swollen belly button.
Jermaine and Brown were placed in foster care when she was 15. Two years later she gave birth to a baby girl with the initials J.G., who was later put up for adoption. When Brown was 19, she gave birth to Ju'Tyra, who was immediately put in the care of the father's mother.
Eventually, Jermaine was put up for adoption and moved out of state. The adoption fell through after the prospective parents complained about Jermaine's aggressive behavior.
In 2006 she was reunited with Ju'Tyra, and two years later she adopted Jermaine on National Adoption Day.
Attorney ad litem Jennifer Gardner, choked back tears at Tuesday's DCF news conference as she described the lengths to which Brown went to get her children back.
"[Jermaine] wanted to go home to his mom," Gardner said. "As soon as we notified [Felicia Brown] that it was an option, she said 'I will do whatever I need to do to get him home.'"
Brown completed parenting classes, therapy sessions, a domestic violence program and substance abuse treatment, according to the records.
She had been caring for Ju'Tyra for two years without state help and was living in Boynton Beach, married to Peter Brown.
"The adoption process was better vetted than your standard adoption," said Judith Karim, CEO of Child and Family Connections, a nonprofit agency contracted by the state to handle child placement cases.
"The Felicia we knew would have died to protect these children," said John Walsh, lead attorney with the Foster Children Project, who once represented Jermaine's interests.
That's why Walsh is urging the public not to "further victimize" Brown and her children by comparing their case to that of Jorge and Carmen Barahona who are charged with the death of adopted daughter Nubia and the attempted murder of her twin brother Victor, last month.
Dozens of DCF documents outlined the abuse and neglect that thrust Felicia Brown and her children in and out of foster care over the years.
DCF said when it last checked on Brown in 2008, she was living at an address in Boynton Beach. Caseworkers were unaware that she had been missing from her home since August, or that Jermaine and Ju'Tyra were living in Delray Beach with their mother's ex-boyfriend.
The ex-boyfriend, Clem Beauchamp, 34, is now a suspect in the childrens' murders, but he has not been charged in their deaths or in the death of Brown. He is being held in the Palm Beach County Jail on unrelated federal weapons charges.
Brown may have been killed because she was a potential witness against Beauchamp in the gun case, federal prosecutors said in a hearing earlier this month. The pair had a relationship that began in 2007, according to her relatives.
"No matter what job we do sometimes, even when we do the best job, it ends up in tragedy," Borman said.
Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Get Cut or Else
March 17, 2011 permalink
Don't want unnecessary surgery? Then we will take your baby. That is what happened to a New Jersey mother known only as VM when she refused to authorize a cesarean birth in advance. The c-section was unnecessary and the baby resulting from the natural birth was grabbed immediately by child protectors. Dad has been allowed to visit the child, no word about mom.
Baby girl kept away from mother for five years after she refused to sign C-section consent form
A baby girl has been kept away from her mother for almost five years after she refused to sign a form consenting to a Caesarean section - even though she did not end up needing to have the operation.
The extraordinary case began after staff at a New Jersey hospital claimed that refusal to give permission for the procedure amounted to child abuse.
The agonising decision triggered a protracted legal battle which has led to the mother being separated from her child for five years.
The woman, known only as VM, launched an appeal after authorities took her baby away from her immediately after the birth in 2006 at St Barnabas Hospital in New Jersey.
The first appeal failed but she was given a ray of hope when a higher court ruled in her favour.
The case is now waiting to go back to the lower court which is yet to make a decision.
The hospital said that her refusal to give permission for the C-section amounted to child abuse and thus reported her to welfare authorities.
This was despite VM saying that she would agree to the operation if it became necessary and going on to deliver a healthy baby.
The courts agreed with welfare agencies in New Jersey that the baby, born on April 16 2006, should be kept in care and revoked parental rights.
VM was successful at an appeal hearing that reversed the lower court's decision saying that the mother was 'unwilling or unable to eliminate the harm facing the child' and that 'termination of parental rights will not do more harm than good.'
In its ruling the Superior Court in New Jersey said: 'JMG cannot be lost in this process. She is "the beating heart at the centre of this controversy" and she is entitled to the benefit of permanency with parents who hopefully will be in a position both physically and mentally to sustain her.
'Unfortunately that decision cannot yet be made. In the interim, she has been the beneficiary of a loving foster home but at the same time, she has a sustained relationship with loving parents.
'Termination (of parental rights) is among the most extraordinary remedies that can be exercised by a court. We must insist that the remedy be reserved for those instances where the state meets the extraordinary burden imposed by the law.
'That burden has not been met here.'
According to the original appeal hearing, when VM went into labour medical professionals at the hospital said she 'demonstrated combative and erratic behaviour including a refusal to consent to a Caesarean section.
'Despite the medical opinion that the foetus demonstrated signs of distress and that the procedure was necessary to avoid imminent danger to the foetus, the child was born by vaginal delivery without incident.'
At the appeal in 2009, the court gave the baby's father, BG, access to his daughter but ruled that she should remain in the care of the authorities.
The Superior Court made its decision in August last year and the family is now waiting to hear whether or not it can be reunited.
Source: Daily Mail
Action on Unlicensed (Social) Workers
March 16, 2011 permalink
Most children's aid workers in Ontario don't use the title "social worker" but "child protection worker". In so doing they skirt a law requiring registration of all social workers, and unlawfully carry out functions that can only be done by registered social workers. Chris York has brought this defiance of the law to his MPP, Peter Kormos, a sympathetic MPP who says that CAS is out of control (play the video).
A recent article about Hastings CAS contains an assertion in the comments section that registration is voluntary. Chris York has pointed this out by phone to the regional director of the southeast region. She promised to investigate the allegations in the article, to be sure that no one in Hastings CAS is practicing social work without being properly registered. Mr York will keep us informed of developments.
Hello Mr. Kormos.
My name is Chris York. I am a constituent in your riding and have been advocating for change to the 53 Ontario children's aid societies in regards to accountability. I am in full support of bill 131 which was brought forward by Mr. Rosario Marchese. I wanted you to take note of a situation that needs to immediately be investigated by the ministry of children and youth services, who have direct oversight of the Ontario children's aid, in regards to the local children's aid societies deliberately and blatantly breaking the law. The law I am referring to is the social service act 1998. This law was proclaimed in force in 2000 to promote accountability and passed by the Ontario Government in 1998.
Since this law was passed the Children's aid workers in a bid to avoid accountability has since changed their titles to child protection workers. This was done to avoid being registered with the college of social workers. Currently the Niagara family and childrens services is advertising employment opportunities on their website for social workers and the job description clearly states that their job will require them to do social work commence child protection hearings and make recommendations to the courts. Under the law that was passed in 1998 and proclaimed in force in 2000, section 46 and section 47 clearly states no person shall identify themselves as a social worker or social service worker nor practice the act in any way unless they are in fact registered.
What these private corporations are doing is a direct violation of the law because they clearly are not registered with the college which can be proven and verified and they are in fact practicing the act of social work. They will claim that they have the authority to act under the child and family services act, which they are authorized to do under section 40, however with that being said section 40 of this very act states that they have the authority to remove a child that is in danger or at risk and take it to a place of safety however once the child is taken to a place of safety that is where their job ends. The law of the social service act then takes precedent and states that only registered social workers can handle the file and make recommendations to the courts however this does not take place.
Under this law and scenario in order for a child protection worker to determine a child is at risk or in danger they would have to practice the act of social work to make that determination. An investigation means they would be assessing the issues in the home and identifying problems which is practicing social work. Unless they are registered with the college of social workers they are not legally qualified to make those assessments as a matter of law.
There is an article in the Belleville Intelligencer in regards to this very matter as well where as the executive director is identifying themselves in the article as SOCIAL WORKERS. Unless these workers are all in fact registered with the college, which they are not, they are in fact in violation of the current laws that our government had passed and are required to uphold. I am posting a link to this article in my email to you for you to read. If you look closely also at the bottom of the article where the comment section is you will find statements from CAS workers stating how they do not have to register and stating that it is voluntary to register which it clearly is not.
I am asking that an official investigation be asked of by the ministry of children and youth services as to why these organizations are breaking the law that was set out by our own government in 1998 with complete immunity from prosecution for this act. The law was put in place for a reason yet these private corporations are blatantly violating these laws and using our own local police departments to aid and abed them in their crimes against the families in Ontario.
I understand you have long been an advocate also for accountability and support the numerous rallies that have been held outside of the legislature in Toronto, even though you have not attended any even with a personal invitation from myself during the Niagara food festival in Welland to which you replied to me in person you would come outside to speak with the group of advocates that were in attendance, I want you to understand exactly how much we appreciate your support and we do understand being the NDP house leader that you are very busy with the house being in session and do not necessarily have the time to attend every protest or every rally that is held but that you do support us in what we are trying to achieve. For that we thank you.
As a constituent of your riding however I would like to know what you plan to do in regards to this clear violation of the law by the childrens aid societies of Ontario and even more so with regards to the family and childrens service of Niagara itself in your own riding in violation of the law.
An investigation must be commenced into this action and made public as to why they are allowed to violate the laws of our province with complete immunity.
It should also be known that the courts of Ontario are also assisting the CAS across Ontario by also refusing to acknowledge these laws and enforce them by demanding proof that these workers are in fact registered and qualified under the law to make these recommendations to the courts instead of giving automatic credibility to these private corporations.
Please note I am also forwarding a copy of this email to Canada Court Watch, Fix CAS as well as the Minister of Children and Youth Services for replies.
I graciously await your reply.
52 Queen st. North
Source: email from Chris York
Sex or CPS
March 16, 2011 permalink
West Virginia policeman Christopher Scott Winkler tried to extort sex from a boy with the threat of siccing CPS on his mother.
Former member of Princeton PD arraigned on bribery charge
BILL ARCHER Bluefield Daily Telegraph The Bluefield Daily Telegraph Fri Mar 11, 2011, 05:00 AM EST
PRINCETON — A former officer with the Princeton Police Department was arraigned on a bribery charge in Mercer County magistrate court Thursday afternoon.
Christopher Scott Winkler, 24, of Princeton surrendered to the State Police on Thursday and was arraigned on charges related to an incident that occurred at 10:43 p.m., on March 1, in the parking lot of a grocery store located near the intersection of routes 20 and 104 in the Princeton city limits.
According to the criminal complaint filed by Trooper First Class P.H. Shrewsbury and Sgt. M.R. Crowder of the West Virginia State Police, Winkler allegedly “attempted to negotiate sexual favors” from a 17-year-old male subject. The officers alleged in the complaint that Winkler agreed to reduce a claimed monetary debt owed by the juvenile male if he performed the act on Winkler. The criminal complaint alleged further that Winkler threatened to file criminal charges against the juvenile if he refused and “ruin the rest of his life.”
In addition to the alleged bribe and threat, the criminal complaint alleged that Winkler, who was in uniform at the time of the alleged incident, told the juvenile that if he cooperated, he (Winkler) would not contact Child Protective Services involving a separate matter concerning the juvenile’s mother. The complaint alleged that, “Winkler was on duty and in uniform at the time of this conversation and was using his authority as a police officer to scare the juvenile into cooperating.”
Magistrate Rick Fowler briefly discussed the charge with Winkler, and explained that, if he is found guilty, he could be exposed to a prison sentence of from 1-10 years. Fowler set a $2,500 surety bond in the case, and explained that the bond could be secured at the magistrate’s office.
Crowder and Shrewsbury attended Winkler’s arraignment, but referred questions to Sgt. Michael Baylous of the State Police or Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash.
“Mr. Winkler was suspended from the Princeton Police Department on the morning after the alleged incident took place,” Ash said. “He returned to the department a couple of days after his suspension and resigned. He has not been on active duty with the police department since March 2.”
Winkler was in the news last summer when he claimed that he lost consciousness during a Multiple Assailant Training exercise at the West Virginia State Academy. Winkler, who was a basic officer at the academy at the time, said that instructors continued beating him after he lost consciousness, causing him to suffer a concussion and develop a life-threatening brain clot in his brain.
A four-member panel appointed by the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety investigated Winkler’s claim and ruled in July 2010 that the training Winkler was exposed to was not improper. “Compromising those preparation efforts does not serve in the best interest of public safety,” according to the panel’s report.
Fowler told Winkler that if he is detained, he will have his preliminary hearing within 10 days, or 20 days if he is released on bond. Winkler said he planned to hire a lawyer.
Source: Bluefield Daily Telegraph
March 16, 2011 permalink
Six Nations parents are protesting the seizure of 483 of their children by the children's aid society of Brant.
'Bring our children home': Six Nations Clan Mothers
Men, women and children from Six Nations walked to have their voices heard Tuesday evening concerning the number of youth under CAS care in Brant County.
Clan mothers marched from the community centre in Ohsweken to the council hall toting almost 500 helium-filled balloons. The balloons represented the 483 Aboriginal children they say are currently in the care of the Children's Aid Society of Brant. In the fall of 2009, that number was 254.
The group, along with the clan mothers, waited for the assembled Six Nations Elected Council to come outside and hear their message.
"If they don't want to come out here, then we're going to have to go in there with the balloons and say what we have to say," said one man in the group, who wished to remain anonymous.
After a few minutes council came outside to meet with the group, lead by Chief William Montour, and listened to the message delivered by Janace Henry. Betty Thomas handed out copies of a prepared speech to council members to reinforce the message.
"Enough is enough," Henry said to the council. "Bring our children home."
Henry and the clan mothers were protesting what they believe is unfair treatment towards Aboriginal families and their children. Outlined in the speech were rights that they believed many families did not know of, and they said that CAS was violating these rights. They insisted that the displaced children be returned immediately, and that other alternatives be found to eliminate the problem in the future.
"I didn't realize how many children that actually were in care, until I met with the representatives last week," said Chief Montour as he addressed the protestors.
He also reminded the group that in the late 80's and early 90's, Six Nations was very close to creating their own branch of the CAS to deal internally with Aboriginal children, instead of the children being removed from the reservation and placed in foster homes. He said the council was working on a new plan to redevelop an on-reserve CAS system and that an advisory committee would be put together to explore new options like a 'safe house.'
"There's a lot of hurdles we have to get over," he said. "But I think we have a plan."
Source: Brantford Expositor
Addendum: CAS executive director Andy Koster says he has only 57 Six Nations children. All right, who has the better record of telling the truth? Mom and dad, or children's aid?
A user comment from Stephen Morris shows an attempt by Brant CAS to frame his daughter in the murder of CAS ward Elisha Elizabeth Mercer, found dead on November 9, 2001.
CAS exec denies claims made by clan mothers
The Children's Aid Society of Brant says a claim made Tuesday evening that almost 500 Six Nations kids are in CAS care is just plain wrong.
Executive director Andy Koster is refuting the claims made by the demonstrators that the number of aboriginal children currently in CAS Brant's care tops almost 500. Koster was out of province the night of the protest, and could not be immediately contacted for comment. However, he said in a phone call Wednesday morning that the numbers were much smaller than the clan mothers were making out to be.
According to information compiled by Karen Hill, executive director for the Native Services Branch of CAS, the number of Six Nations kids currently in CAS care is 57. Koster said roughly half of those kids being placed in homes belonging to their extended family on the reserve. The total of native children from on and off the reserve, from all bands, not restricted to Six Nations: less than one hundred.
That's almost five times less than what the clan mothers and Chief Coun. Bill Montour are saying. According to the Six Nations Elected Council Publications, which released council briefs from the March break issue, Montour said "a total of 483 children were in care."
When contacted via e-mail, Montour declined an interview, and would not comment on where he obtained that information. Janace Henry, who spoke at the demonstration, did not return any phone calls.
"The amount of native children currently in our care represents about 27% of all children in our care, for the area," Koster said via phone call. According to information compiled by Hill, CAS currently has 340 children in their custody.
Koster went on to say that of the "120 to 130 native families that we are currently working with" off the reserve, only 18 children have been taken into foster homes off the reserve. He said CAS care doesn't always mean children are taken from their homes; the CAS works with families investigating friction between family members, which may involve domestic violence or behavioural problems in kids, and helps parents and children cope. They investigate referrals from hospitals and the police, but a lot of people seek help themselves, Koster said.
As for the claims made that the CAS is denying the right of Six Nations to have their own care agency, Koster said that both he and the CAS have always supported them having their own child protection agency and the CAS board has held two unanimous meetings on the subject.
Now, Koster said, it's up to them. He also said he didn't have any suggestions on how the Six Nations should go about creating their own agency, but said CAS would support them in their efforts.
"If they wished us [CAS-Brant] as a partner, we would do everything in our power to help," he said.
Sabrina Burrell is a second year student in the Journalism and Converged Media program at St. Clair College in Windsor, Ont. She is completing her internship requirements at the Brantford Expositor, and Your Brant Connection.
Comments on this Article.
---When C.A.S. took our daughter into temporary care for six weeks back in 2001, there was a wide mirror with curtains in the room in which we were being threatened. I said I needed to go to the washroom for a pee. Afterwards I walked into the room next door (the door was open). You could see through the mirror plainly, into the room we were in. I went back where they were holding my wife and daughter. Later I asked Why the mirror had curtains. The Director of C.A.S.(Joan I believe) told me they were for decoration. I said "that is not a two way mirror is it?". She said "oh no of course not". ---Our daughter was taken into care two days after she discovered the body of Eleisha Mercer on the way to school. The police said on the front page of the Expositor in big letters that Eleisha Mercer was found alive, but in fact she had been dead for hours. Our duaghter was kept for six weeks. She was interviewed for one hour every day. She did not have a lawyer. Finally they found another suspect and they released our daughter six weeks later. They never told anyone about the other suspect for about seventeen months. People spat on my daugher at school and called her a murderer several times. When my daughter turned 16 on her birthday she dropped out of B.C.I.. When my daughter was seventeen she got on a bus for Calgary about sevnteen months after the murder and nine days before the police announced an arrest. Sharon says she will never live in Brantford again and that she hates the Brantford Police and the C.A.S. ---You do not have to believe me, but it is the truth.
Source: Brantford Expositor
Career for Voyeur
March 12, 2011 permalink
Alberta child worker Jason Keough took advantage of the master/slave relationship between social workers and children to force teenagers to engage in sex for his video library. In one case he forced a boy by threatening to put his girlfriend in foster care. In another news report a young woman says finding out Jason Keough had a sexual video of her robbed her of her self-worth, and left her with “a disgusting feeling ... almost like you shower and shower but you never get clean.” Social work is the perfect career path for perverts.
Crown wants child worker jailed on porn charges
Former high-school counsellor and child protection worker Jason Keough should go to jail for exploiting three young couples for his own sexual purposes, a sentencing hearing in Edmonton was told Friday.
"Keough exploited the young couples through and through," said Crown prosecutor Diane Hollinshead.
The couples he exploited were children, she said, and Keough was the only real adult in the room when the sex tapes were made.
Keough was convicted in January on two counts of possessing child pornography and one count each of copying voyeuristic materials and voyeurism.
The trial heard how Keough owned tapes of three young couples having sex, made over a three-year period between January 2005 and the fall of 2008.
The court was told Keough paid one young man to videotape himself and his girlfriend having sex. The girl, 15 at the time, was not aware she was on camera.
Another man testified Keough threatened to have his girlfriend put into foster care unless the couple made sex tapes.
No sign of remorse: Crown
Hollinshead told the judge Keough shows no sign of remorse or insight.
She asked that Keough be sentenced to 15 to 18 months in jail followed by up to three years probation.
"Voyeurism in not a victimless crime," she said. "It's a complete violation of a person's dignity. Voyeurism is privacy invasion at a most personal level and it can have lasting effects. It causes us to be suspicious of others.
"If he doesn't go to jail it would send out the wrong message — that voyeurism isn't serious."
Keough appeared to listen intently, leaning forward in the prisoner's box, as Hollinshead spoke.
Keough's lawyer, Anna Konye, asked the judge to give her client a 45-day prison sentence for the pornography convictions, and a suspended sentence for the voyeurism convictions. She argued the couples in the videotapes were engaging in consensual sex.
Sentencing will take place on May 6.
Baby Farming Returns
March 10, 2011 permalink
Adopted boys Edward and Austin Bryant have been missing for six and ten years. They were special needs children, qualifying them for subsidies payable to the adoptive parents. The family soon moved away to Texas, so the state of Colorado just mailed cheques to adopters Edward and Linda Bryant. From the looks of things they followed the baby-farm tradition: kill the children and live on the subsidies. Two articles are enclosed.
Witness: Couple used Taser on one of two missing boys
Investigators probing the disappearance of two adopted boys who went missing while living near Monument in the early 2000s say they have received reports that one of the children was abused with a Taser.
Austin Bryant was 10 when he told a friend that his adoptive parents Edward and Linda Bryant used to shock him with the device, an El Paso County sheriff’s detective said in court documents.
At the time, Austin's torso was covered in welts, the boy’s friend told police in January. He also frequently had black eyes and cuts on his face.
In addition to the electrical shocks, Austin’s friend — now 20 — said the boy was rolled up in blankets and left immobile on the floor and that he was possibly also confined in a trunk in the couple’s garage.
Austin and his biological brother, Edward Bryant, went missing between 2003 and 2005, a period during which their adoptive parents lived on Granite Circle in a wooded area in the foothills west of Monument.
Edward and Linda Bryant, who moved to Texas in 2005, are in custody in the El Paso County jail on a $1 million bond, accused of collecting more than $170,000 worth of public benefits to raise the missing boys.
Both were identified as "special needs children," entitling the couple to monthlly payments from the El Paso County Department of Human Services.
The pair forged various documents to make it appear the boys still lived with them and their other adopted children, and continued to receive payments even after their move to Texas, authorities alleged.
The couple adopted nine children, seven of whom are accounted for.
Since their arrest in late February, the Bryants have both said the boys ran away — but they gave conflicting accounts of when, authorities said.
“Each day that passes, the faith of finding them alive diminishes,” El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said Thursday during a wide-ranging news conference in which the sheriff took questions about the case.
The sheriff’s office is asking anyone who knew the children to call a special tip line at 719-520-7209.
Detectives are canvassing the rural subdivision near Monument, enlisting search dogs to hunt for clues in the surrounding woods. Investigators are also examining special imagery collected by the county’s Geographical Information Systems to search for changes in the area's topography, such as shifting landscaping features, piles of rock and concrete slabs.
Those features could help narrow the search for possible remains, said Joe Breister, chief of the sheriff's law enforcement bureau.
Maketa said his deputies have also contacted a federal agency to develop age-progression imagery showing what the boys might look like today.
Linda and Edward Bryant were living in separate Texas cities at the time of their arrests, on Feb. 25. Five adopted children live with Linda Bryant in Lake Kiowa near Gainesville during the week, and with their father in Denton on weekends, authorities said.
Stay with gazette.com for more information on this developing case.
Source: Colorado Springs Gazette
Colo. authorities search for Texas couple's 2 boys
MONUMENT, Colo. -- Investigators' hopes of finding two boys whose adoptive parents only recently told authorities the brothers disappeared years ago is fading as more time passes, a Colorado sheriff said Thursday.
El Paso County sheriff's investigators have accused Edward Bryant, 58, and Linda Bryant, 54, of receiving almost $175,000 in government payments to support the boys, even though the biological brothers were not living with the couple for most of the decade.
The Dallas-area couple, who are married but separated, were in jail in Colorado Springs on $1 million bail each on charges including theft and forgery.
They have not been charged in the disappearances of Austin Eugene Bryant and Edward Dylan Bryant. It was not immediately clear whether they have attorneys. An attorney who represented them in a bankruptcy case filed in 2007 did not return a phone message Thursday.
Austin may have disappeared as early as 2003, when he was 7, and Edward may have disappeared in 2001, when he was 9, authorities said. They would now be 15 and 18.
When asked if he thinks the boys are still alive, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said: "You know, that's a very difficult question. What I can say is each day that passes, the faith of finding them alive diminishes."
The Bryants lived in the Monument area near Colorado Springs between 1999 and 2005 and most recently lived in the Dallas area.
Austin, Edward and a younger biological brother, who is now 14, were among nine children the couple adopted, Maketa said.
Five children who were living with the mother are in the custody of Texas officials. Another adopted child is in the military, and one is incarcerated.
The investigation started Jan. 22 when authorities were approached by two former foster children of Linda Bryant's biological daughter. They had been talking about the missing boys and noted contradictions in what they were told, Maketa said.
Edward Bryant allegedly said the younger Edward ran away in 2001 and Austin ran away in January 2003, while Linda Bryant allegedly said both boys ran away in May 2003, Maketa said.
No missing person report for the boys had ever been filed with her department or any law-enforcement agencies in the surrounding area, sheriff's officials said.
The boys' adopted brother James Bryant, who was interviewed at Fort Campbell, Ky., told investigators Austin was sometimes denied food as a means of punishment and that Austin often ate from a garbage can because he was hungry, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
He also told officers Austin was spanked, restrained by being tightly rolled "like a burrito" and possibly handcuffed, the affidavit said.
One of the two people who came forward Jan. 22 said Austin had told him he was sometimes rolled up in blankets, according to the affidavit.
Linda Bryant denied killing the boys and denied most of the abuse allegations but allegedly acknowledged "delaying food" for Edward and Austin, the affidavit said.
State adoption records are sealed, said Liz McDonough, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Human Services. An El Paso County Department of Human Services spokesman didn't return phone messages.
The elder Edward Bryant was arrested in Denton, Texas, and Linda Bryant was arrested in Lake Kiowa, Texas.
John Cabrales, public information officer for the city of Denton, said Edward Bryant has worked for the city's electric utility, Denton Municipal Electric, since February 2006. He is an engineering technician, a job that requires him to survey building sites, the spokesman said.
Sheriff's deputies conducted a preliminary search of the Bryants' former home in Monument Thursday in a neighborhood set amid an evergreen forest against the foothills. Narrow paved roads lead to homes nestled in the trees.
A neighbor who didn't want her name published said the Bryants had kept to themselves and that her interaction with them was mostly just waving to them.
"We as a neighborhood are circling the wagons" to protect the family who lives in the home now, she said.
A spokeswoman for the public school district in the area said she couldn't release information on whether the boys had attended its schools.
In a similar case in neighboring Kansas, a couple has been charged with fraudulently collecting $52,800 in state adoption subsidies for a son who disappeared. Their lawyer has called the allegation a technical financial matter.
The family in that case said the boy ran away in 1999. Authorities learned of his absence when his older sister contacted them in December 2008.
Ottawa CAS Charges Reinstated
March 9, 2011 permalink
John Dunn's action against Ottawa CAS for failing to turn over their membership list in accordance with Ontario law has been reinstated on appeal. The action was dismissed on December 1 because John Dunn showed up in the courtroom at 9:20 instead of the scheduled 9:00. The appeal was successful because Dunn was in the building at 9:00, but the court failed to page him.
Appeal Successful in Children's Aid Society Of Ottawa Charges Case
On December 1st, 2010, Corporations Act charges against the Ottawa CAS and it's executive Director Barbara MacKinnon were dismissed by a Justice of the Peace after the defendants counsel properly asked the court to dismiss the charges because the private citizen prosecutor, John Dunn was not present in the court room at the commencement of the trial which was scheduled to begin at 9:00am.
Dunn was in the building at the time, however had mistakenly thought the time of trial was at 9:30am. He and two interested citizens were sitting in the cafeteria of the building until 9:20am when Dunn approached the court room to see if anyone else was arriving to observe, when he noticed the defendants and their counsel leaving the court house.
As they passed Dunn in the hall way, their counsel gave Dunn back his original request for a list of their members and the $10.00 fee telling him the case was dismissed.
Dunn then went into the court room where they had proceeded to deal with another matter. The prosecutor turned around, saw Dunn at the door and said, "Mr. Dunn is here" to which Dunn appologized for interrupting and backed out.
Due to being late, the charges were dismissed by the Justice of the Peace.
Dunn then filed an appeal of the Justices decision after reading case law which demonstrated the possibility of success based on the fact that the Justice of the Peace did not at least put out a page to see if Dunn was in the building, which is a fairly common practice.
Although a Justice of the Peace, or a Judge has the right to exercise their discretion in certain circumstances, they also have an obligation to ensure that they do so in a "Judicial Manner" which has been established in case law.
The Judge sternly warned Dunn of how critical it is to be organized and on time, and not to waste the time of parties involved, instructing him to write an apology letter to the CAS and to Barbara MacKinnon for wasting their time on that day.
Dunn agreed to write a formal apology as instructed and the order was made to set aside the dismissal of the charges, and the matter was sent back to the Provincial Offences Court for March 24, 2011 at 1:30pm in Court Room 102, at 100 Constellation simply to set a new date for trial of the original charges.
In addition to the Society's externally retained legal council, the Society's internal senior counsel (Engleking) also attended the court hearing.
After the hearing was completed, and the Judge had left the room, in front of the clerks who were still at their desks, Engleking sternly reminded Dunn of what the judge had said about the defendants (Society and MacKinnon) having not done anything wrong on the day of the December 1st trial when they asked for the matter to be dismissed, and that I should not blog that they had.
Dunn calmly turned and assured her that he would not and that he only blogs the truth. Dunn recalls Engleking stating something to the effect that she begs to differ, to which Dunn offered to discuss any of his blog posts with them to which she then turned and walked away with her counsel.
Dunn states that he has always observed Engleking over the years to be very professional in her communications with him in the past, both in person and via e-mail, but that her tone and body language on this day were very shocking to him.
Dunn notes that Engleking had mentioned feeling very sick during the day and he attributes her unusual display of emotion to her condition.
The apology letter will be posted here once sent to the Society.
Source: Foster Care News (John Dunn)
March 9, 2011 permalink
A foster mother has pleaded guilty in Windsor Ontario to sex with her foster son. This anonymous case appears to be the same one reported last year.
Mom pleads guilty in Windsor court to sexually assaulting foster son
WINDSOR, Ont. -- A local woman accused of sexually assaulting her 14-year-old foster son pleaded guilty to the charge Tuesday in Superior Court.
The woman, who was 45 at the time of the incidents, was charged with sexual assault and sexual interference after her husband saw the pair engaged in a sex act in early 2009.
“She takes full responsibility,” said the woman’s lawyer, Laura Joy. “Keep in mind when she’s in a position of trust and he’s of an age where he couldn’t consent, as a foster mother, clearly this was bad judgment on her part.”
The names of the boy, his parents and his foster parents can’t be published in order to protect the identity of the minor.
Joy said the sexual assault charge comprised three incidents, including two occasions of intercourse and one of fellatio. “He initiated, she rebuked it at first, then went along with it,” Joy said.
The sexual interference charge was later withdrawn.
Joy said the foster mother is a “nice lady” who is “a productive member of the community” and has no criminal record. “This isn’t a lady who’s ever going to be in trouble again,” Joy said. “It’s one of those quite frankly unusual situations. It’s very sad.”
The boy’s biological mother turned her son over to the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society in 2008 when she was in a “fragile” emotional state after her daughter’s suicide, according to court documents. The arrangement was intended to be temporary, and the mother continued to have contact with her son during his foster placement.
The foster father claims to have had no knowledge that his wife was sexually assaulting the boy before he saw them engaged in a sex act. According to court documents, he called the CAS and the police and “took immediate steps” to keep his wife and the boy separated by getting his wife to move out of the house.
In addition to the criminal case against her, the foster mother is facing a $450,000 case launched by the boy’s mother on behalf of her son as well as a $150,000 case launched by the boy’s father. Both of those civil cases also name the foster father and the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society.
The foster father has filed a cross-claim against his wife.
The lawyer representing the boy’s mother said Tuesday’s guilty plea wasn’t a surprise. “The guilty plea was kind of obvious,” said Sam Mossman. “We expected it.”
Mossman said unlike the foster father and the CAS, the foster mother hasn’t filed a defence.
He said the boy was immediately removed from the foster home when the CAS was notified of the allegations and is now living at home with his mother and attending school.
Sentencing for the foster mother will take place in May.
Source: Windsor Star
Bayne Story on Radio
March 9, 2011 permalink
Paul and Zabeth Bayne appeared on Roadkill Radio (mp3) yesterday, giving their story of abuse at the hands of British Columbia. They go over their whole case from the accident precipitating suspicion through the initial apprehension and on to the trial before judge Crabtree. Revealed for the first time: when the ministry removed newborn Josiah from the hospital last month, he was involved in a car accident. The ministry says the baby was unharmed.
8 March 2011 Webcast
Extra! Extra! You’ll want to Hear this!
Join Terry O’Neill, Ron Gray and Kari Simpson
Family vs. State – The Bayne family’s battle with social workers from the Ministry of Destruction
Show #91 Part 2
8:30 – 9:30 pm: PAUL & ZABETH BAYNE Paul & Zabeth are in-studio to share the story of their on-going struggle with the Ministry of Children & Family, to have their four children returned to them. This is an important story that illustrates why the unbridled power of incompetent social workers must be curtailed.
What do we do when the child abuser is the social worker? What do we do when judges hide behind the law, putting their reputations ahead of a child’s best interests? Why are we as tax-payers paying, in excess of, $6000.00 per month to a foster family, when the children’s grandparents are willing to have them? This could be your family. When are we willing to say “enough is enough!”?
Click here for the background on the Bayne family’s plight; this is an excellent and important blog!
Source: Roadkill Radio
Addendum: RoadKill Radio has established a new page RKR launches drive to have the Baynes’ children returned to home and parents.
March 7, 2011 permalink
St Louis has found a real child protector — A judge who cut the rate of child removal to half the level of his predecessor. Social workers hate him, but children are a lot safer. One reason for the change: predecessor Thomas Frawley was a former foster parent. Black judge Jimmie Edwards grew up in poverty and watched the social services system destroying other black families. Any chance this kind of judging will come to British Columbia?
City judge's defense of troubled families offends many caseworkers
ST. LOUIS • To Judge Jimmie Edwards, the 800 St. Louis foster children technically in his legal guardianship are all "children" — be they babies with pacifiers or runaways with tattoos.
Sometimes he even calls them "my" children.
Edwards, 55, is only the second African-American to preside over a family court in St. Louis in 40 years. He grew up in the same segregated, poor neighborhoods as most of the city's foster children. And he's heartsick over the disproportionate number of minorities who have been removed from their families and put in foster care both locally and nationally. In Missouri, nearly 90 percent of the 9,100 children in foster care are black.
"Too often in this country we confuse neglect with poverty," he said last month in his office on the second floor of the city's Family Court building, which handles all cases involving city children in the care of the state Children's Division.
So if he's going to make long-term custody decisions regarding his foster children, he said, he's going to err on what's best for the child. And in most cases, he said, it's the hope that many will reunify with a parent and return to their natural family, even if those families currently are in profound disarray.
His philosophy is a dramatic departure for the court, one that's led to a sea change in terms of how to handle child protection cases. Since Edwards took the bench in 2007, the rate at which the Family Court permanently removes children from their parents has plummeted.
It's a situation that's frustrated foster care caseworkers.
Just last week in court, Edwards objected to a caseworker's worries that a physically abused mother would ever be able to properly care for her preteen child who had been put into foster care. The situation was complex because the boy also had become abusive to his mother. Both caseworker and judge agreed it was a bad situation, yet Edwards was insistent — despite the caseworker's doubts — that the child might someday belong with his mother.
In another hearing often talked about among caseworkers, he rejected evidence of neglect based on the fact a baby was sleeping in a dresser drawer. Edwards took issue: That's where he and his siblings had slept as babies, he said.
Edwards is well-regarded for his compassion toward city children in dire straits. People magazine recently interviewed him about his work to develop a school for juveniles in his delinquency court.
But his popularity is not shared among some area caseworkers and private adoption agencies. Most are not willing to speak publicly about Edwards because they deal directly with him in court. But mention his name, and they privately don't hold back their disappointment.
Criticism of Edwards is partly rooted in his vocal refusal to terminate parental rights in the great majority of foster care cases. The legal act, which can only be approved by a judge, strips a natural parent's rights to a child and frees the child for a potential adoption.
According to data compiled by the city court, Edwards approved 103 termination of parental rights requests last year related to the 800 city children in foster care — a rate of about 13 percent of all cases. In 2004, that rate was nearly double, under the previous supervision of Judge Thomas Frawley.
Bradley Harmon, head of the local union representing city Children's Division workers, said caseworkers tell him that it's nearly impossible to get the judge to sign off on severing parental rights, even when a child is placed in a pre-adoptive foster home and the family has indicated its desire to adopt.
Harmon said he and other caseworkers hope to reunite families and know that terminating parental rights should not be an easy process. But Harmon says fellow caseworkers tell him that Edwards unnecessarily prolongs stays in foster care and hurts the potential for adoptions by giving natural parents too many chances to set their lives straight.
Some think Edwards is skirting federal law by failing to regularly establish permanent custody solutions within the second year of foster care — a charge Edwards denies.
Edwards said he will consider severing parental rights only if a child has lived with a foster family for more than six months and that family has pledged to adopt.
When parents come to his court trying to kick a drug habit, he's more likely to focus on the one clean drug test than all the failed ones before and after it. He refuses to take into custody any baby who is born with marijuana or alcohol exposure, saying such cases would flood the system.
And he's big on second chances. One mother lost her kids to foster care nearly a decade ago because of addiction. When she cleaned up her life three years ago, Edwards returned the kids to her because they were not adoptable and doing miserably in foster care.
"The only person that I've been able to send these kids to that will accept these kids and that believes in them, is mom," he said.
The shift inside the St. Louis Family Court under Edwards is emblematic of what some have long called the pendulum of child protection. At times, critics say, the system works aggressively to remove children from parents. Then it swings the other way, focusing more on keeping even distressed families together.
Frawley, Edwards' predecessor, also was highly regarded by many for his child advocacy while he headed the same family court.
In 2004, during Frawley's tenure, the number of foster children in the city was more than double the current figure. On the heels of state legislation to better serve foster children, Frawley got state and national recognition for restructuring his court to more aggressively resolve cases and get the children out of the system, drastically reducing the number of children languishing in foster care.
Yet, unlike Edwards, Frawley aggressively terminated rights of many parents who did not turn their lives around in the 15-month period defined under the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act.
Frawley followed the timelines rigidly. In 2004, he terminated the rights of 340 parents. A third of those cases had been opened just the year prior — a rate that dwarfs similar measures of Edwards' court.
Frawley — himself a foster and adoptive parent — was theoretically freeing many of those children for adoption through state and private case management agencies.
But Edwards said that when he took the bench in 2007, he faced a glut of those children still in foster care. Now they were teenagers and had lived in multiple foster homes and residential facilities. Most were not adoptable, he said. In fact, he said, he found many adolescents didn't want to be adopted. A considerable number had secretly reconnected with their natural families, he said.
"Before they age out of the system, they run away from the system," Edwards said. "And they run back to the very same person we've terminated the relationship from."
One of those children was Cortez Washington, now 19, who spent most of his life in foster care. His mother had lost her parental rights when he was a little boy. When Cortez was about 16 and living in a residential facility, his mother showed up at his basketball game. It was the first time he had seen her in 13 years. Cortez had no other permanent connections and hated living in a group home, so he began sneaking visits with her and eventually ran away to live in her St. Louis home.
"They said I'm not supposed to talk to her at all," he said of the Children's Division. "If it was up to them, they wouldn't have let me talk to her, but I did anyway."
Cortez said Edwards agreed to do something that would have been unimaginable a decade or so ago. He let the teen return to his mother.
Julie Reed of Epworth Children and Family Services said the judge probably has it right with his view of adolescent foster teens, many of whom are quietly maintaining relationships with their natural parents even though their state 'safety plans" prohibit it.
"Foster care was designed to protect young children, but it doesn't do a very good job for teens," she said.
Edwards insists he would never put a child at risk by reuniting them with a dangerous parent.
But he's tired of a system that's biased against families struggling through the ills of poverty. He's grateful to foster parents. And he has often heard the argument from caseworkers that foster and adoptive parents can give a child a better shot at college and a life out of poverty. But is that worth breaking up a family forever?
It's that kind of high-stakes question that makes many presiding judges eager to leave a family court assignment.
Edwards was scheduled to rotate out of the bench months ago. But he said his work is not finished with his school for young delinquents, nor his children.
To the dismay of his critics, he has extended his stay through 2012.
Source: St Louis Post-Dispatch
Meanwhile, some Brits are losing patience with the other kind of judge.
UPDATED: Protestors storm court and 'arrest' judge in chaotic scenes
HUNDREDS of anti-establishment protestors stormed a Wirral court today and "arrested" a judge.
In chaotic scenes, police rescued Judge Michael Peake from their clutches and escorted him safely from the building.
Protestors from the public gallery charged at Mr Peake to make a civil arrest chanting “arrest that judge”.
Police scrambled over court benches to control the near-riot and one protestor shouted “seal the court.”
Another sat in the judge’s chair at the head of the court and declared Mr Hayes as “released”.
Around 600 chanting demonstrators massed around the County Court in Birkenhead.
Deafening cheers and chants could be heard from the crowd outside and protestors used mobile phones to film arrests being made.
Roads were blockaded and dozens of police officers deployed to keep order.
A stand-off followed with several demonstrators staging a sit-down protest in front of police vehicles, refusing to let them pass.
Six arrests were made - two for assaulting officers.
The protestors were from the anti-establishment "British Constitution Group."
The demonstration was sparked when one of the prominent voices in the BCG, Wirral man Roger Hayes, faced a bankruptcy hearing for non-payment of council tax.
In 1997, Mr Hayes, a former member of UKIP, stood for election in Wallasey representing the Referendum Party against sitting Labour MP Angela Eagle. He polled 1,490 votes and finished fourth.
As he emerged from the court surrounded by his supporters, Mr Hayes said: "The judges are breaking the law in their own courts.
"I asked him (Mr Peake) if he was serving under his oath of office.
"I asked three times for him to confirm this and he refused.
"So I civilly arrested the judge and I called upon some people in the court to assist me in this.
"They were acting lawfully and the police should not have arrested them."
The hearing was abandoned and will need to be re-arranged at a date to be fixed.
Raymond Saintclair, who organised the Birkenhead protest, said: "Today was day-one.
"This is going to happen again and again and again.
"We have sent a message to this court as one nation and one voice until change comes."
The BCG's main aim is a rallying call for "lawful rebellion."
Leaflets handed out by the crowd said: "We, the British People have a right to govern ourselves.
"That right has been subjugated as a consequence of acts of treason having been committed by the collective political establishment, aided and abetted by corrupt segments of the judiciary, the police, the Church and the civil service."
A Merseyside Police spokesman said six men, whose ages range from 20 to 41, were arrested - two for assaulting officers and four for breach of peace and obstructing police.
They have been taken to police stations around Wirral where they will be questioned.
A statement from the force said: "Officers are committed to facilitating peaceful protests but will not tolerate criminal behaviour, disorder or anti-social behaviour during any demonstrations within Merseyside."
Source: Wirral Globe
Mass Pepper Spray
March 7, 2011 permalink
Police know how to protect children: with pepper spray (capsicum). An Australian freedom of information request has disclosed 1024 cases.
Police criticised over use of capsicum spray on children
MORE than 1000 children, some as young as nine, have been capsicum sprayed or foamed by police in Victoria in the past six years.
One child was up a tree when he was doused, and two other boys were sprayed while fighting each other after trying to break into a vending machine.
Critics, including Child Safety Commissioner Bernie Geary, said the figures were shocking.
The Herald Sun has obtained through a Freedom of Information request case files detailing the use of capsicum spray and foam on children since 2005.
The documents reveal:
- MORE than 20 children under the age of 13 were sprayed, even though they were not armed.
- TWENTY-ONE girls were sprayed last year and 15 children aged 14 and under.
- BOYS represented 83 per cent or 851 of 1024 minors sprayed in the past six years.
POLICE sprayed 145 people under 18 - almost three a week - last year, the youngest of whom was 12.
Mr Geary said use of the spray/foam on more than 1000 children in six years was "an awful lot of extreme circumstances".
"I would hope that spraying kids would be the incredible exception rather than the rule," he said.
University of Melbourne professor of pharmacology Peter McIntyre, who researches the biology of capsicum-sensitive nerves, said no one, especially children, should be sprayed with capsicum.
"It's another form of assault. It's like punching someone in the face," Prof McIntyre said.
Federation of Community Legal Centres CEO Hugh de Kretser said the practice against young unarmed children was "unlawful" and police should be disciplined.
"We've heard of instances where children as young as three-months-old have been exposed to capsicum spray through secondary exposure," Mr de Kretser said.
He said police were using capsicum too hastily.
But police Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe vigorously defended the practice, saying age was "not really all that relevant" in the dangers police faced.
He said use of capsicum had fallen from 223 children in 2005 to 145 last year.
"Our people don't go around just willy-nilly spraying people or spraying young people," he said. "If people are subject to spray, unfortunately it's their behaviour that's led to that."
Source: Herald Sun (Australia)
March 5, 2011 permalink
According to Christopher Booker, in British family law cases lawyers do their clients more harm than good. Parents are limited to a select list of lawyers in cahoots with the system.
Parents denied a voice in court against the child-snatchers
Lord Justice Thorpe was 'aghast' at the way children had been removed from their parents by a county court. But such outrages are an everyday procedure, says Christopher Booker
In the Court of Appeal recently, Lord Justice Thorpe said he was “completely aghast” at a case where a Derby County Court judge had ordered three children to be removed from their parents. The only evidence was that of a doctor who “expressed the opinion” that bruising on one child’s ear looked as though it was caused by pinching. The hearing had lasted just 15 minutes and the parents had not been allowed to say a word. Thorpe observed: “There is nothing more serious than a removal hearing, because the parents are so prejudiced [against] in proceedings thereafter. Once you have lost a child, it is very difficult to get a child back.” He ruled that the children should be reunited with their parents.
For once, a senior judge has spoken out about a mockery of justice which is repeated week after week in courts across the land. I have now followed dozens of such cases, where children are seized from their parents by social workers on the flimsiest of evidence, and where the parents then find themselves in the clutches of a system rigged against them in every way. Often they are not allowed to speak while they hear judges apparently accepting extraordinary lies, or evidence given by supposed “experts” which cannot be questioned.
One of the most disturbing features of this system, which protects itself behind a wall of secrecy, is how far it goes to ensure that aggrieved parents are represented only by lawyers who are themselves accomplices of the system. Again and again parents are bemused to find that the lawyers they were advised to use seem unwilling to challenge the case being made against them, however spurious.
Of all the cases I have followed, none is more bizarre than that of a couple whose six children were snatched by social workers last year on evidence which seemed at best highly questionable and was at worst an absurd fiction. The mother was advised to use a solicitor, on legal aid, who she felt was so much on the other side that she discharged him. Just before Christmas, when the council’s case seemed to be falling apart, I tracked down one of the very rare solicitors who has a reputation for fighting the system. His firm applied to the Legal Services Commission for transfer of the legal aid, and when the LSC seemed to be delaying its response, I paid £2,000 from my own pocket to enable the firm to start work.
The local authority learned, it seemed before anyone else, that the LSC would not allow the transfer from the solicitor who had been discharged – and the head of the council’s legal department then sent the mother a list of other solicitors who would be able to take her case on legal aid. By the time the solicitor to whom I had given £2,000 heard that he had been turned down, he was able to present me with a bill which, including VAT, came to exactly £2,000.
By now another solicitor had appeared, who seemed keen to take on the case for a reduced fee. Ian Josephs, who runs the Forced Adoption website, advanced £3,500 towards her fees, on an understanding that she could take the case through to its final hearing for a total of £5,000. Three days before they were due in court, this solicitor too – after a long conversation with one of the array of lawyers appearing, at huge public expense, for the other side – said she was unable to continue working on the case. She has not, so far, offered to return any of the money.
The mother now faces, without legal representation, a final hearing which could result in her losing her children forever. They live, unhappily, in separate foster homes, at a cost to the taxpayer of well over £100,000 a year. She and her husband came to this country a decade ago, full of hope: now she feels utterly betrayed by a system which seems ruthlessly bent on destroying her family. Her only wish is to escape this incomprehensible nightmare and return with her husband to their native country. But to do so, they would have to abandon any hope of seeing their beloved children again.
March 4, 2011 permalink
Ever heard of Ramoth House? According to an alumna it is a jail for new mothers, held under promise of keeping their children upon program completion. Below is her communication, abridged to avoid giving social services any more help in harming her.
Hi, I just got a link to your interview with Manny on open mic about the rally on March 3, 2011. I totally agree with you. They need to answer to somebody. I lost my two children 7 years ago, because my husband broke my 6 month old daughters leg. I admit, I should have left him right away, but I didnt, hence why I didnt get them back. 5 years goes by, I get pregnant by another man, and my ex-husband calls C.A.S. on me telling them I am pregnant and he is concerned. He is now living with my daughters at this time. Childrens Aid then calls me and tells me that if I want to keep my baby I have to go to a home in Mount Forest called Ramoth House. A house that works with C.A.S. to help young mothers become better parents. I was told that I would only have to stay 3 - 4 months.
After 4 months go by, I am told I have to stay for the full one year program. So I stay, doing all the classes they tell me to, taking care of my son alone. And at this home the babies, (can be 5 of them at one time) are not allowed to play together. So my son becomes anti-social and does not like other kids. After the year is up I get to go home, I graduate the program, but I not allowed to go home with my son. Very rarely does anybody make it the full year in this home, I did. Only because I thought I could keep my baby. Now I go from having him 24/7 to only seeing him for 2 hours a week.
[ omissions ]
I honestly hope that the rallies make a difference, I do not think it is fair to parents out there like me, good parents who love their children more then life itself, can not raise their precious little bundles of joy, yet the parents that I see walk around Owen Sound, and many other towns and treat their children like garbage and worse then dirt can keep those innocent little people.
I have attached a picture of my babies.
Source: private email
Death in the Family
March 4, 2011 permalink
Her husband is dead and social worker Natasha (or Nataliya) Syrotyuk is hospitalized in a Hamilton Ontario incident that leaves a lot more questions than answers.
Police probe death on Mountain
Homicide detectives are investigating a violent incident on the Mountain that left one person dead and another in serious condition in hospital.
Police found a dead person Saturday about 4:30 p.m. in one of the units inside a building on Ben Lomond Place near Concession Street, Staff Sergeant Steve Hrab said.
“We're investigating a death in one of the apartments. There is an individual in one of the apartments that is deceased and there is another individual that's been taken to a hospital in serious condition,” Hrab said outside the apartment building Saturday night.
He would not disclose further details but said “homicide is involved in a suspicious death.”
Initial reports indicated there was a patient without vital signs and another person with uncontrolled bleeding at the address.
Hrab would not say where in the building the body and injured person were found or the circumstances in which the two were found.
But Chris Welsh, who is a good friend of the woman transported to hospital, said police found his friend, whom he identified as Natasha (or Nataliya) Syrotyuk, with serious injuries in the apartment with her husband, who had died.
A Hamilton Health Sciences public relations officer confirmed there was a patient with that name in serious condition at the Hamilton General Hospital Sunday night.
Syrotyuk, who is a 38-year-old social worker originally from Ukraine, was planning to leave her husband and move into a new home in Hamilton with her 77-year-old mother and seven-year-old daughter Sunday, Welsh said.
Her husband, who was in his mid-50s, knew she was leaving, Welsh said. “She had asked him numerous times repeatedly to vacate,” he said. “He wouldn't go.”
Syrotyuk's mother and daughter had left the apartment for a couple of hours Saturday and returned to find they couldn't get inside the apartment, Welsh said, adding police were notified at that point. These details have not been confirmed by investigators, who did not return phone calls Sunday.
Welsh became worried about his friend when he couldn't reach her Saturday. He then went to the police station where a detective told him his friend was alive but her husband had died.
Source: Hamilton Spectator
There for You!
March 3, 2011 permalink
Hastings CAS executive director Len Kennedy declares that social workers are there for you!
'Social workers are there for you'
The theme for this year's National Social Work week is 'social workers are there for you'.
During the first week of March the Children's Aid Society (CAS) recognize the achievements and contributions made by social workers across Ontario through the National Social Work week.
"This theme was chosen by the Association in order to highlight the prominent role that social workers play in the provision of services to people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds in every community," said Len Kennedy, executive director of the Hastings Children's Aid Society.
Social workers are a vitally important group at Hastings CAS.
"Each day they make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children and their families and it is through their efforts that our community is strengthened", said Kennedy.
At the HCAS, social workers operate in a wide variety of areas, including as front-line practitioners, supervisors and managers. These caring staff members assist a broad variety of individuals overcome obstacles that may prevent them from leading positive and productive lives.
"Social workers are indeed 'there for you' when you need them," added Kennedy.
"During this first week of March, we honour our employees who have chosen social work as their career of choice and we salute their efforts on behalf of all of the children, youth and families we serve", Kennedy added.
Comments on this Article.
Wolves in sheep's clothing! Most workers are not registered or suspended social workers because CAS began the practice of using the title "Child Protection Worker" and not using their titles social worker, social service worker, registered social worker or registered social service worker with the sole purpose of preventing accountability under the Social Work and Social Service Work Act (1998) that's main interest was to protect public safety.
Social Workers? As far as I know the vast majority of Child protection workers are not registered social workers and if fact many of them do not even have social work backgrounds. Perhaps Hastings CAS needs someone from the community to make an inquiry to the College of social work to see just how many of their staff are registered social workers. I know that out of the hundreds of employees in the Waterloo Region (that includes Cambridge as well) there are only 23 registered social workers, these numbers are a reflection of most CAS's across the province.
These agencies really need to stop misleading that public and using the media as their tool in doing so. Mr. Kennedy knows full well that his agency takes functioning families everyday and by the time his unregistered workers are done with them they do not function at all and have been ripped apart!
Untrue, I am a mother of three, a grandmother of four, a Registered Social Service Worker, with a Justice Studies background, and CAS Belleville won't even consider my application. They want a BSW at minimum, and I can forget about them considering my 30+ years of raising children and being an active grandparent. The part about tearing families apart, untrue, families tear families apart, every day in every city.
FYI - The Ontario College of Certified Social Workers is a VOLUNTARY organization that you have to pay big bucks to join. While it claims to have a set of priciples guiding social workers' conduct, the disciplinary part is weak. I have never known of one social worker who was refused certification or had thier certification pulled. Even if it WAs pulled, that does nothing to stoip anyone from working in the field. I have a BSW and 24 years of child welfare under my belt and I have not been registered with the college since 1988. And I would say I am a far better worker than some registered workers.
"Social workers are there to help you" (find misery and despair as they destroy your family and wreck your life).
FYI- being certified is not VOLUNTARY .. it is MANDATORY! This is the huge problem that today's families are facing .. unregistered & unaccountable workers bending the laws to their favour at will. You don't have to pay BIG BUCKS, you pay an appropriate and regulated fee to claim your 'professional' status as do doctors, nurses, teachers, etc... it is absurd to think that social workers aren't required to be registered. It only promotes unaccountability. If you are a better worker than most, then you would know this and you would subsequently be a registered worker. Anyone practicing social work without being registered is in direct violation of the law as per the SSW ACT of 1998 (google it)..
"46. (1) No person except a registered social worker shall use the English title “social worker” or “registered social worker” or the French title “travailleur social” or “travailleur social inscrit” or an abbreviation of any of those titles to represent expressly or by implication that he or she is a social worker or registered social worker. 1998, c. 31, s. 46 (1)."
Now.. the sneaky dirty little trick that's being employed by workers wishing to break the law & remain unaccountable for their actions is to call them selves Child Protection Worker ...
Well, as defined in the Child and Family Services Act 1990 (again google it) a child protection worker is this :
"37. (1) In this Part,“child protection worker” means a Director, a local director or a person authorized by a Director or local director for the purposes of section 40 (commencing child protection proceedings)"...the purpose of section 40 says (too long to post) that the duty of a child protection worker is to immediately protect that child, take them to a place of safety & their duty ends there!!!!!! NO SOCIAL WORK INVOLVED. Argue all you like, the laws are as plain as the nose on your face & you choose to break them & violate the families you 'serve'.
AND TO KASE11: Not all families are innocent, however, the majority of child abuse is happening at the hands of you paid workers who go in with your own opinions and tear families apart because YOU CAN .. then you throw the kids in foster homes that are worse then the home the child was removed from (but justified with lack of funds/staff), all ties are cut with the family, the child gets medicated to shut up..the parents get threatened with jail and other serious consequences, then when the kid turns 16 you dump him on the side of the road with a few bucks (no education from being moved around so much, no love in his heart from the lies he's been told and the pain he's endured, no skills for the real world, etc.) and you wish him good luck..only to see him beggin the corner 5 years later as a result of all the awesome help you delivered..NOT! All the while, you walk around feeling superior and enjoying the power trip while you pay your bills with the money earned from a child's suffering... you are one of those workers..it is obvious with your statement "families tear families apart" .. get a grip..educate yourself beyond what you "want to know"...but you don't want to know,do you? You'd like this facade to go on and the accountability to remain so you can keep feeding.
As for the good workers out there, you are few and far between, but much appreciated as we do need an effective child protection system! If you are a worker of good faith, I can't tell you how important it will be to you to seek registration with the college of social workers, it is in your best interest! Also, a note of thanks to the workers who are finally standing up and speaking out about the high rate of child abuse committed by the CAS itself and the corruption with in the system..it is going to make a difference!
There are some "miracles" out there that CAS has helped & they will defend CAS till the end..I'm glad CAS was of value to these people and that society stepped up to help (as should always be the case) ..unfortunately this is not the case for the majority of children/families involved with the CAS. Sad but true. The incline of children dying in care is alarming and maddening while workers keep filling up the foster homes.. something needs to give in the name of the child!
Source: Belleville Intelligencer
March 3, 2011 permalink
While Harry Kopyto continues his high-profile defense in an effort to protect paralegals from control by lawyers, the lawyers union has caused North Bay city councilor Maureen Boldt to lose her seat and suspended her paralegal license, finding her to be 'not of good character'. Just remember, this all means less help for families attacked by the social services behemoth. Don't complain to your elected representatives. The union will get them fired if they try to help.
Tribunal finds former city councillor 'not of good character,' denied paralegal licence
A former North Bay councillor who lost her seat over illegal conduct as a paralegal learned this week the governing body that oversees her profession is denying her a licence to practise.
"The candidate, persistently and repetitively, conducted herself in such a manner that she posed a risk to the public and the administration of justice," a Law Society of Upper Canada tribunal says in a decision Tuesday dismissing Maureen Boldt's application for her paralegal licence.
The law society, which oversees lawyers in Ontario, began regulating paralegals in the province in 2007 and started issuing licences in 2008.
Boldt started working as a paralegal in 1992 and was allowed to continue practising pending the results of a tribunal hearing to decide if she is of "good character" and can be approved for a licence.
She has a record for illegally practising law and was found in contempt of a court injunction banning her from continuing to do work that only licensed lawyers in Ontario are allowed to do.
Boldt lost her municipal seat during her fourth term because she missed too many consecutive meetings while serving four months under house arrest for the unauthorized practise of law.
Boldt said she plans to appeal the tribunal's decision and hopes to be allowed to continue practising pending the outcome of that appeal.
Nugget.ca will post comments from Boldt and highlights of the tribunal's decision later this afternoon.
Source: North Bay Nugget
Addendum: The final decision.
Law society appeal panel denies licence to paralegal – DECISION POSTED
The organization that oversees paralegals in Ontario will not grant a former city councillor her licence.
It’s using her language to explain why.
The Law Society of Upper Canada appeal panel released its 18-page decision Tuesday afternoon giving reasons for not allowing Maureen Boldt to appeal a disciplinary hearing’s decision a year ago denying her a paralegal licence.
Among the reasons, the appeal panel addressed Boldt’s public accusations the law society — which also governs Ontario lawyers — has a “vendetta” against her.
“The appellant’s conduct after the contempt finding does not simply demonstrate an absence of remorse but also a willingness to engage in a lengthy vendetta against those who she viewed as responsible for her conviction including a vulnerable former client, a superior court judge and the law society,” writes Adriana Doyle on behalf of the law society’s appeal panel.
That contempt finding placed Boldt under house arrest for four months in 2007 for violating a court injunction placed on her years earlier which banned her from the unauthorized practise of law. In other words, she wasn’t a licensed lawyer and could not prepare separation agreements, divorce petitions, wills and incorporations.
The house arrest cost her a seat on city council for missing too many consecutive meetings early in her fourth term.
It also triggered a string of failed attempts to appeal that finding, as well as discontinued lawsuits against, among others, the law society, the judge who found her in contempt of the injunction and the client at the centre of it all who a court determined had paid for a separation agreement that only a licensed lawyer, not a paralegal, is allowed to prepare.
The Nugget contacted the law society last week to ask about the year-long wait for the appeal panel to release its decision whether to grant Boldt a paralegal licence. A copy of the decision was provided in answer to that question on Tuesday.
Boldt said she had not yet read the appeal panel’s decision when contacted Tuesday.
“I don’t even have a copy of it, but it’s gone off to the media,” Boldt said.
“It’s not over yet. I have another route.”
There is no other appeal available with the law society, but a paralegal seeking a licence can apply to Ontario’s divisional court for a judicial review of the appeal panel’s decision, according to the law society.
Boldt Paralegal and Mediation opened in North Bay in 1992. Boldt’s disputes with the law society started a few years later, and she has repeatedly been found to have done work that only licensed lawyers in Ontario are allowed to do.
Boldt denies any wrongdoing, but her actions have brought the legal system into disrepute by repeatedly speaking in abusive terms about the law society and a superior court judge, and victimizing a former client, the decision says.
“We accept that the appellant’s reactions show a great deal of frustration with the legal system. We also accept that regulators such as the law society must tolerate a degree of discordant criticism,” the decision says.
“That said, viewed as a whole, the appellant’s behaviour was fundamentally inconsistent with the conduct of a legal practitioner who respects the rule of law and will adhere to the standards of conduct set by her regulator.”
Source: North Bay Nugget
MCFD Keeps Bayne Children
March 2, 2011 permalink
Judge Crabtree ruled today that British Columbia MCFD will retain custody of the three (and presumably four) Bayne children for another six months.
JUDGE RULES - NOT GOOD NEWS / Part 464 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne
They are NOT coming home. The three children, Kent (6), Baden (5) and Bethany (3) who have been in foster care for the past three years and four months and visiting with their parents for a few hours each week are not coming home to stay - to live. At least not for the foreseeable future.
In a 40 page judgement, Judge Thomas Crabtree has concluded by granting a Continuing Custody Order for a period of 6 (six) months.
There is so much more to tell you but it has to be properly processed. The judge has not bought the Shaken Baby Syndrome allegation. Nevertheless,the Court finds the children in need of protection.
One concluding statement is: "As s. 2 of the Act provides, the family is the preferred environment for the care and upbringing of the children, but children are entitled to be protected from abuse and neglect and this must be the overriding concern of the Court. The opportunity is now in the hands of the parents. The children are in need of protection. Now is the time to move beyond this question and to take the appropriate steps to address and remedy the situation to satisfy the Court that the children should be returned to their care and custody."
And then one of the last sentences says, "In the. circumstances of this case I conclude that an order pursuant to s. 41 (1 )(c) for a period of 6 months is warranted."
We are all devastated. This is appalling. Give us time to understand where this leaves the Bayne family but it is not what we expected.
Do you think people are interested? As of 8PM, 10,121 hits to this site.
Source: Ron Unruh blog
A reader comment to a later posting by Ron Unruh:
I have been silent for a long time because I don't want to share my views that will scare the Baynes. Since the first delay in making a decision on Jan 19, 2011, I am compelled to believe that the judiciary is sleeping with the Ministry. Knowing that Mrs. Bayne was pregnant, the judge deliberately delayed his decision to allow time for MCFD to scope up their new born and to beat the Baynes to accept "services". The judiciary has reduced itself to a very expensive rubber stamp.
Using their children as pawns, the Baynes will be forced to accept "services", which are nothing more than disguised interrogations, and attempts to seek admission of guilt. If the Baynes cross this bridge, you will soon see how MCFD-paid shrinks play a role in this racket. These monkeys will be at their back for a very long time.
Even if the judge orders a return yesterday, there is no guarantee that their children will be returned. MCFD will allege appeal or re-remove them shortly after returning them. Social workers have more power than provincial court judges.
You folks get a front row view of this frightening corruption and kangaroo court. The undue power of MCFD will not get this bad without the collaboration of judges, who are the apex service providers in the "child protection" industry.
The authority to remove children at will seriously jeopardizes our safety and challenges our long cherished human rights, civil liberty and freedom. Government has a track record of abusing this authority from the grand scale of residential schools to individual cases like mine and the Bayne's. Allowing such authority is like giving a loaded gun to someone and providing financial incentive to that person to shoot you. There are compelling reasons to believe that there is structural corruption and racketeering in "child protection" and adoption (the sister industry of the former).
God is using their atrocity as a single spark to start a prairie fire. Does it convince you to support revoking child removing authority now? If you still believe that government should have such oppressive power, the suffering of the Baynes is totally meaningless.
Source: Ron Unruh blog
Addendum: Two newspaper reports.
Surrey parents to wait another six months to regain custody of their four kids
A Surrey couple fighting for custody of their four young children is “heartbroken” by a court ruling saying the kids must remain in foster care for another six months.
In a case that gained significant online attention, Paul and Zabeth Bayne sought to have their children returned to them after they were seized by social workers more than three years ago.
On Wednesday, Judge Thomas Crabtree found the children — three-year-old Bethany, five-year-old Baden and six-year-old Kent — in need of continued protection. A fourth child — baby Josiah, born just four weeks ago — also remains in foster care.
“We’re really disappointed,” Zabeth said Thursday. “But we feel the judge has laid out an opportunity for us to get our kids back, and we’re prepared to do what’s needed to see that happen.”
The Bayne family was split apart by the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) after baby Bethany was hospitalized with injuries doctors believed were the result of being shaken — a diagnosis Paul and Zabeth have always claimed was impossible.
In an interview before the verdict, Zabeth told The Province Bethany was a normal baby until an accident in September 2007 when her brother fell on top of her. The baby girl stopped eating and began vomiting, leading the couple to visit a series of doctors.
Bethany was eventually admitted to B.C. Children’s Hospital with fluid buildup in her brain and other injuries. Shortly after, the baby girl and her two older brothers were placed in foster care. Josiah was also taken away after his birth Feb. 10.
The couple’s lengthy and expensive court battle came to an end Wednesday with the judge finding that while “the family is the preferred environment for the care and upbringing of the children,” they remain in need of protection.
Crabtree rejected Zabeth’s explanation for Bethany’s injuries, pointing to inconsistencies and ultimately saying he was “unable to place any weight” on it.
In weighing the evidence of numerous doctors who presented evidence on shaken baby syndrome, the judge said he was not satisfied Bethany’s injuries were caused by shaking, but that they remained unexplained.
In returning the children to foster care for another six months, he said it was “time to move beyond this question . . . The opportunity is now in the hands of the parents.”
News of the judgment was greeted with surprise and dismay by hundreds of online supporters.
A blog run by family friend Ron Unruh received about 12,500 hits on Wednesday evening as followers waited for a judgment. Unruh said his blog [http://ronunruhgps.blogspot.com] receives about 3,000 to 4,000 hits each day, with over 200,000 hits in the past year. A Facebook page also has hundreds of followers, many of whom expressed concern about MCFD’s powers to seize children.
Unruh called the ruling “disappointing,” but said it provides a “vestige of hope.”
Despite everything that has happened, Zabeth said she is most concerned about her kids.
“It’s horrifying what they’ve been through,” she said. “They’ve been in four different foster homes [in three years].”
An MCFD spokesperson said that due to privacy concerns, the Ministry could not comment on the case, adding “the Ministry’s goal is always to return a child to his or her family, but only when it is safe to do so.”
Source: Vancouver Province
Couple 'heartbroken' judge rejects children's return after three years
A Surrey couple fighting for custody of their four young children are "heartbroken" by a court ruling saying the kids must remain in foster care for another six months.
In a case that gained significant online attention, Paul and Zabeth Bayne sought to have their children returned to them after they were seized by social workers more than three years ago.
On Wednesday, Judge Thomas Crabtree found the children -three-year-old Bethany, fiveyear-old Baden and six-year-old Kent -in need of continued protection. A fourth child -baby Josiah, born just four weeks ago -also remains in foster care.
"We're really disappointed," Zabeth said Thursday. "But we feel the judge has laid out an opportunity for us to get our kids back, and we're prepared to do what's needed to see that happen."
The Bayne family was split apart by the Ministry of Children and Family Development after baby Bethany was hospitalized with injuries doctors believed were the result of being shaken -a diagnosis Paul and Zabeth have always claimed impossible.
In an interview before the verdict, Zabeth told The Province that Bethany was a normal baby until an accident in September 2007 when her brother fell on top of her. The baby girl stopped eating and began vomiting, leading the couple to visit a series of doctors.
Bethany was eventually admitted to B.C. Children's Hospital with fluid buildup in her brain and other injuries. Shortly after, the baby girl and her two older brothers were placed in foster care. Josiah was also taken away after his birth Feb. 10.
The couple's long, expensive court battle ended Wednesday with the judge finding that while "the family is the preferred environment for the care and upbringing of the children," they remain in need of protection.
Crabtree rejected Zabeth's explanation for Bethany's injuries, pointing to inconsistencies and saying he was "unable to place any weight" on it.
Source: Vancouver Province
Owen Sound Rally
March 2, 2011 permalink
About a dozen people showed up for today's rally in Owen Sound. According to participant Chris Carter, the executive director Phyllis Lovell met with the group for a half hour. She is a regular reader of fixcas, and occasional reader of Canada Court Watch. Their budget for parenting capacity assessments is $200,000 per year. The police showed up, but were supportive of the rally.
CAS Rally in Owen Sound
There will be a rally infront of Owen Sound City Hall today that calls for more oversight of Children's Aid Societies.
The peaceful rally will take place from 11 AM to 4 PM today -- and is one of dozens taking place across the province.
Dorian Baxter of Canada Court Watch is scheduled to appear as well as members of the group "Voices of Innocent Families of Ontario."
The organizers say they want the provincial government to begin taking responsibility for Ontario's 53 Children's Aid Societies and begin investigating complaints of criminal activity and wrongdoing.
Source: 560 CFOS Owen Sound
Children's Aid Reform
March 2, 2011 permalink
Muskoka reporter Alison Brownlee has already written two articles focusing on individual children's aid cases, one each from a dissatisfied and well satisfied client. The third article in the series covers the policy problems. It includes all points of view, from CAS executive director Marty Rutledge to Vernon Beck.
Children’s aid to face continuing challenges.
HUNTSVILLE – The demand for children’s aid services is growing, but so is unrest with the way those services are provided.
Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka, which handles mental health and youth justice as well as child welfare cases, completed about 564 investigations related to child safety issues in 2009-10.
But each year the agency also provides support services such as housing, counselling and access to broader community programs to thousands of families from Honey Harbour to Dorset and Severn Ridge to Novar.
While even critics view many of these services an essential to every community, they argue child welfare cases involving apprehended children often cause the most trauma for families
In 2009-10, Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka had 135 children in care, whether in foster homes, group homes or institutional-care facilities. That number has increased from 115 in 2007-08 to 124 in 2008-09.
Marty Rutledge, interim executive director for the agency, said the number of cases requiring investigation has also increased, with 68 more cases by the end of fiscal 2010 over the previous year.
Rutledge said the uneasiness many people have around children’s aid agencies may stem from the amount of authority the agencies have.
“Part of what we do is policing people’s behaviour and we have tremendous authority. We’re one of the few institutions in our society that has the right of entry without warrant, for example, so we know we have a tremendous amount of power,” he said.
“But we’re all people who come from helping professions – our backgrounds are either family studies programs, child and youth worker programs, psychology – so here we are as trained helpers with a policing role.”
The Harris government’s introduction of the Ontario Risk Assessment Model, with its focus on a strict, forensic approach to child welfare investigations, did not help the societies’ reputations, he said, noting the model was used for about a decade.
The Liberals, he said, created a more collaborative approach between families and children’s aid societies and in 2006 the provincial government introduced the Transformation Agenda aimed at balancing child protection with family preservation.
But some do not believe this is happening.
Last year Muskoka saw two rallies and one meeting held in Huntsville during which participants demanded increased oversight of the financial and operational aspects of the agency. Similar rallies popped up across the province as well.
One of the largest events in the area was a public meeting held in November at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 232 in Huntsville. About 90 people attended the three-hour meeting and heard guest speakers from across Ontario talk about their experiences with various children’s aid societies and the misuse of power they say they witnessed.
Guest speaker Vernon Beck, who has been involved with a group called Canada Court Watch for over 15 years, said he supports the existence of children’s aid societies because there are families and children who do need help.
But he also alleged that some families’ lives were “being devastated” through their interaction with any one of the 53 agencies across the province.
Beck noted that although the agencies receive government funding, the province does not run them. He argued that, as they are private organizations, the societies “need to open cases to stay in business.”
Beck also alleged that many children’s aid workers are violating the Social Work and Social Service Work Act by practising social work without being registered with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers.
Rutledge later commented that on average the province provides the agency with about $97.17 per day per child and while the care of some foster children costs less than this, the care of children in group home care costs more and care for medically fragile children is much more.
While the entire regional organization has an annual budget of about $9 million, the child welfare department works with a budget of about $6.5 million.
Rutledge also said the agency does not go looking for new cases to open, noting that case workers have workload caps in place that are being reached because of increased demand for the agency’s services.
JP Arsenault, who serves as intake department manager of services for the agency, noted workers have to go through months of training and audits before they can be certified as child protection workers.
“The other myth is that we’re all social workers,” said Arsenault. “The mandate doesn’t dictate that you have to be a social worker to conduct child welfare, as long as you meet the standards, as long as you’re certified.”
Rally-goers and meeting speakers also complained that in one year over 90 children known to provincial children’s aid societies died.
According to the Office of the Chief Coroner, 90 children in Ontario in 2007, who were either in the care of children’s aid societies or had their cases closed in the previous 12 months, had died.
In 2009, 135 deaths were reviewed by the office. Of those, the office’s executive committee determined 74 could not have been prevented by children’s aid society or medical intervention, according to Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka.
Thirty-three of the cases were reviewed in detail. Of those, 17 children were involved in open children’s aid society cases, 16 had had their cases closed within the last 12 months, and four of the children were in the care of the children’s aid society – two of which were Crown wards.
Critics object to the fact that Ontario is the only province that does not allow ombudsman oversight of its children’s aid societies.
Bill 131 is a proposed amendment to the Ombudsman’s Act that would give Ontario’s ombudsman the authority to investigate children’s aid agencies, among other organizations. Because the agencies are governed by boards instead of government employees, the ombudsman does not currently have jurisdiction over them.
The proposed bill found its footing in a Toronto riding and has since caught steam with 13 members of provincial parliament supporting it, including Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller.
Miller attended a rally at Queen’s Park last fall and afterward said, “From an MPP’s perspective it’s frustrating because there is not that much that we can do to get information on, or to assist an individual constituent.”
He added that giving ombudsman Andre Marin the authority to investigate these complaints “makes sense.”
According to the Ombudsman Ontario 2009-10 annual report, the ombudsman’s office had to turn away 296 complaints about children’s aid societies last year because it, unlike the ombudsman’s offices in other provinces, does not have the authority to investigate the societies.
The report notes that since 2006 the Child and Family Services Review Board has been taking complaints but the board only deals with procedural issues.
Linda Williamson, communications director for the Ontario ombudsman’s office, said the ombudsman was in favour of having his mandate expanded to include the societies but it could not comment further.
Changes are taking place internally as well. The Ministry of Youth and Child Services, which funds the societies, appointed the Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare in November 2009.
However, the commission is focused on structural changes and paper trail transparency, not individual complaints.
According to the commission, the province’s children’s aid agencies serve about 120,000 families and over 310,000 children per year. Over 18,000 children are in foster, group or institutional care. About 90 per cent of children served are with their families.
Bracebridge-based lawyer Graeme Butler has worked on some cases involving the regional children’s aid society. He said child protection workers are generally in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation.
“There are some people that think the CAS is involved too often and too severely and others who think the CAS should become involved and potentially apprehend sooner. So, because of the role they fill, the child protection arm is rarely going to get much feedback,” said Butler.
With caseloads as high as or higher than other regions, he said he does not see the agency creating “make-work projects” by unnecessarily opening cases.
But Butler said “without a doubt” some of the protesters have valid concerns. “There are always things that could be done better.”
He said his counterargument is that the children’s aid workers he has dealt with work hard and are generally good at what they do.
“Presumably they are there because they want to make some kind of positive impact but I think without a doubt there are mistakes that are made, things that are overlooked,” he said. “But I don’t think that would be particular to this children’s aid society.”
He said the same criticism could be made of the health care, education and law enforcement fields.
“I don’t see anything any more negative about the Muskoka children’s aid society than I do about any other organization that I’ve dealt with,” he said.
In Muskoka, a group called Citizens Committee on Public Accountability, which is connected to the rallies held in Huntsville, can be reached at 705-243-1567. Organizers say the group’s aim is to clarify the rights of families who become involved with children’s aid societies.
Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka said complaints are best directed to a case worker, the director of services or the executive director by calling the agency’s head office at 705-645-4426, as well as the Child and Family Services Review Board at 1-800-728-8823, the Residential Placement Advisory Committee at 1-877-535-2299 or 705-476-9790, and the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth by visiting www.provincialadvocate.on.ca.
Supporters and critics alike recognize that families and vulnerable children require the services provided by children’s aid agencies.
Source: Cottage Country Now
Please Investigate Children's Aid
March 1, 2011 permalink
Yesterday premier Dalton McGuinty spoke at a fund-raiser for Liberal MPP and cabinet minister Rick Bartolucci held at Sudbury's Caruso Club. Acting on short notice, a small group rallied outside. Pictures:  Neil Haskett, PJ Lemieux, Tammy Mack, Samuel Fragomeni and  Tammy Mack, Neil Haskett, PJ Lemieux.