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Family Humiliated and Distressed
February 29, 2012 permalink
CAS interviewed two children of one family at school without their mother's consent, and even over her objection. The mother of the two children recently moved in with two long-time friends to cut her expenses by sharing rent cost. FACS claimed that the roommates were a danger to her children and compelled them to leave. The complaint against one roommate concerns an incident from when he was seven years old. The mother is now in financial distress because she has to pay the entire rent bill by herself. This mother did find a unique way of getting the FACS worker to leave her home — she told her that Pat Niagara was coming.
The two children appear at the end of the interview. A FACS worker interviewed each separately without identifying herself. They both found the worker scary and do not want to meet her again.
Protecting Courts From Families
February 28, 2012 permalink
Ontario is considering bill 34, Security for Courts etc. Persons entering courthouses must provide identification and answer questions. Their person, possessions and vehicle are subject to search. Police may use reasonable force for any of these purposes. Persons not cooperating can be refused entry or forcibly removed or arrested.
This law is not to guard against religious terrorists out to destroy the infidel. For one commentary, refer to Karen Selick. While at first the bill shows no connection to family law, the security becomes necessary to protect family law functionaries as they take on the role of forcibly separating parents from their children, and parents from each other.
Find the bill at the link above. In case it changes, here is our copy (pdf). Thanks to John Dunn for finding this bill.
February 28, 2012 permalink
Last month Norway announced a settlement of a diplomatic row with India by agreeing to return two young Indian children, Aishwarya and Abhigyan Bhattacharya, to their uncle back in India. But foot-dragging in Norway has delayed the case, sparking protests in India. Delays may run past the expiry date of the parents' visas, requiring them to return to India without their children. An Indian politician called Norway's law a "kidnapping law". India has dispatched a special envoy to Norway to deal with this one case.
India rushes special envoy to Oslo to end custody row
NEW DELHI: With patience running out in India over inordinate delay in repatriating two Indian children to their families by Norway, New Delhi sent a special envoy to Oslo to help expedite their return.
M Ganapathi, secretary (west) in the MEA, met Norwegian foreign minister Jonas Gahr Store in Oslo on Monday to try to hasten the legal process so that the children can return to their home and families.
Foreign minister S M Krishna dispatched the envoy after the families of the children - Aishwarya (1) and Abhigyan (3) Bhattacharya - decided to hold a sit-in protest in Delhi, sparking outrage across the nation over Norwegian Child Protection Service's (CPS) insensitive ways that threaten to scar and traumatize the hapless young ones forever.
Krishna had promised in January that the children would be home "soon". With indignation mounting against Norwegian authorities, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj termed the law cited by them to keep the children separated from their family as a "kidnapping law". "In our country, this kind of law is known as a law of kidnapping," said the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
The Bhattacharyas have been accused of "gross negligence" of their children that led to losing them to an activist child welfare services system in Stavanger, Norway, in May, 2011. The parents have insisted that the reason for the Norwegian authorities taking their children away is cultural differences: a charge Norway has rejected.
The groundswell of anger against Norwegian authorities was evident as citizens, prominent politicians, concerned parents and many others reached out to Aishwarya and Abhigyan's grandparents on Monday as the family held a sit-in protest in front of the Norwegian Embassy at Chankyapuri. A Norwegian family also participated in the protest to highlight the concerns for CPS' activities.
The case has struck a chord with almost every Indian, and popular outrage has threatened to bubble over. It is worsened because there is a general perception that Norway could have tried to counsel the parents if there was indeed a problem. Or, they could have deported the family. But removing the children from parental care is seen to be a drastic step. There is also a sense of outrage that Norway, which apparently has high levels of foster care for children, has been insensitive to cultural differences.
A point of urgency has been introduced with the fact that the Bhattacharya family's visas expire on March 8. The Norwegian government is trying to get them to apply for the renewal of their visas that they are resisting. Last week, Norway applied to extend their residence permits.
The crux of the problem is that the decision of the Child Welfare Services was upheld by a court in Norway. Therefore the appeal to reconsider the decision, including handing over the children to their uncle Arunabhas Bhattacharya will have to be taken by the court. In January, India and Norway reached an agreement to make Arunabhas Bhattacharya the primary guardian of the children when they return to India.
Earlier the court was scheduled to meet in June, but in view of the diplomatic pressure by India, this has been fast tracked to the last week of March. But this date will mean the Bhattacharyas will have to stay on after their visas have expired. Ganapathi's brief is to ensure that a solution is found to this problem.
While Norway bore the brunt, BJP made it clear that government cannot absolve itself of its responsibility. "The efforts done by government are lacking somewhere. I don't understand why are they not taking the issue seriously? We are not ready to accept this kind of law," she added.
"The BJP would raise the issue on the first day of the Parliament (Budget) session, if the government fails to resolve the matter by then," Swaraj told mediapersons after meeting the children's grandparents.
In a statement, Gunnar Toresen, head of Noway's Child Welfare Service, had said, "As head of the Child Welfare Services I most strongly deny that this case in any way is based on cultural prejudice or misinterpretation. I am unable to give any comments regarding the particular grounds in this case because of our duty of confidentiality."
Denying that issues of feeding or sleeping with the children were the reason for the action, Toresen had said, "The Child Welfare Service has a responsibility to intervene if measures in the home are not sufficient to meet a child's needs. The act lists strict conditions for when a care order applies. Examples are when a child is mistreated or subjected to other serious abuses at home, or when there is every probability that the child's health or development may be seriously harmed because the parents are incapable of taking adequate responsibility for their child."
Sources said they did not want to disclose the real reason for taking the children away because it would harm the children in India.
Whatever the solution, though, it's unlikely the children will be able to return home to India until end-March or early April. "We will make all out efforts to achieve the goal of getting back the children to India where they belong," Krishna said last week. "It is government of India's firm commitment that the children must be given the opportunity to come to India," Krishna said.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) chairperson Shanta Sinha said, "It is important that the children are restored back to their family. I do wish that the Norwegian government takes up the matter and justice is rendered to the children.''
Source: The Times of India
February 27, 2012 permalink
A Chatham mother sent a request for documents and a question to Mike Stephens, executive director of Chatham-Kent Children's Services. The letter cites legal authority for the requests and indicates her intention to rely on the assistance of C C of Canada Court Watch. That sounds like Chris Carter, recently booted out of advocacy in Chatham by bail conditions. So far there has been no substantive reply, only a letter announcing a 60 day delay. History suggests that after 60 days the result will be not an answer, but another excuse. Fixcas will keep you informed.
Thursday February 2, 2012
Hello Chatham-Kent Children's Services (CKCS) executive director Mr. Stephens,
I am Trish Watson from Chatham Ontario.
I'm registering today's communication with you under the authority of both the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) section 2 (2) Duties of service providers and the Child and family Services Review Board (CFSRB) Case Law Children's Aid Society of Waterloo v. D.D., 2011 ONCA 441 (CanLII):
Duties of service providers
Service providers shall ensure,
that children and their parents have an opportunity where appropriate to be heard and represented when decisions affecting their interests are made and to be heard when they have concerns about the services they are receiving; and
that decisions affecting the interests and rights of children and their parents are made according to clear, consistent criteria and are subject to procedural safeguards. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 2.
In its careful and detailed reasons the CFSRB set out the nature of D.D.'s complaints which it found eligible under ss. 68.1(4)(4) and 68.1(4)(5) of the CFSA and summarized the complaints as follows:
- That the Society has failed to comply with clause 2(2)(a) of the Act which states "that service providers shall ensure that children and their parents have an opportunity, where appropriate, to be heard and represented when decisions affecting their interests are made and to be heard when they have concerns about the services they are receiving."
- That the Society has failed to provide her with reasons for decisions that affect her interests.
- That the Applicant received no information from the Society about how the decisions were made regarding the children's placement.
I'm asserting, as per the above, my right and your obligation to provide me with official written responses to the inquiries I'll be registering with you in this today's email.
I am writing as to concerns that have not been addressed when I have previously attempted to, in regards to this issue, communicate with Robin Rose who is an intake supervisor with the CKCS.
I wish to obtain an unredacted copy of my 1st party records that are in the possession of the CKCS.
I'm aware of issues in regards to your responsibility to protect the information of third parties which may be contained in my records.
If that is an issue in my case I would like a letter attached to the file disclosure explaining which information was redacted.
I do appreciate the fact that you may allow people to come in and review the files and if I'm allowed to so do, I would need to bring in a support person or two.
As well, in your response would you be kind enough to provide me with a written and complete copy of CKCS official policy in regards to providing records disclosure
I'm thinking about bringing Canada Court Watch's C C along as he does have some experience and knowledge of your systems.
On November 22, 2011 I attended the CKCS's office and reported to Mr. Ernie Meriano that the father of my two youngest children, *******, had reportedly used inappropriate physical contact on our 5 year old daughter ******.
I told Mr. Meriano that my daughter Cornia had reported to me that on the proceeding weekend during her access visit with her father, he had grabbed her by the upper arms and shaken her.
I explained to Mr. Meriano that this was not the first time that there had been a report of Mr. ******* using inappropriate physical force on our children.
I gave Mr. Meriano the contact information for Mr. *****.
Mr. Meriano instructed me not to allow the children to visit with their father, Mr. ******, until I "heard back from him."
I followed his instructions, not allowing Mr. ****** to have his regular access with the two children
(There is a court order establishing that I have sole custody of the children)
and then on December 9, 2011 I again contacted the CKCS for a follow up.
On Dec. 9/11 I spoke with CKCS worker Suzanne Hamil and was told that the report I had made to Mr. Meriano back on Nov. 22/11 about my daughter ****** having been grabbed and shaken by her father was not recorded on your system.
Ms. Hamil instructed me that as the sole custodial parent it was my responsibility to keep my children safe and that if the CKCS became aware that I had "allowed the children to be in a dangerous situation" they would begin an investigation on me.
I had never wanted to deny access between my children and their father but, considering the reports which have been made re: Mr. ******'s inappropriate physical contact/discipline of the children, I must be sure that the children won't be abused or at risk of being abused while they are with him which, to my understanding, is the responsibility of the CKCS.
On Dec. 22/11 CKCS worker Chantelle Carriere contacted me and claimed that it was OK to allow the children to resume access with their father at his Sarnia home because the Sarnia CAS had completed a home inspection and had "deemed the house safe."
When I questioned Ms. Carriere about the abuse and risk of abuse issues she responded that she "had no information therefore no investigation was done."
These reports were not the first which have been registered and recorded with the CKCS and the Sania CAS about Mr. ***** and his issues in regards to anger management and inappropriate parenting.
I'm aware that the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies' (OACAS) Eligibility Spectrum sections 1.1 Physical Force and/or Maltreatment that states
Abusive physical force includes the following:
- Use of generally acceptable mode(s) of physical punishment, but is overdone, prolonged unduly, or excessive force is used;
4. Excessive or Inappropriate Physical Force Used, But No Resulting Injury
Force and type of punishment are excessive. The child is not actually physically injured, although experiences considerable temporary pain and potential for injury is there.
A Physical - Prime Caregiver
Physical force is alleged/verified to have been used on the child as in (1) or (2) or (3) above by the person who is a prime caregiver of the child. (See Explanatory Note page 7, e.g. mother, father, stepfather, live-in partner)
F Risk That The Child Is Likely To Be Harmed - Prime Caregiver
Physical force is alleged/verified to have been used on the child as in (4) above by a family member who has a prime caregiving role for the child. (See Explanatory Note page 7, e.g. mother, father, stepfather, live-in partner)
5.1 Caregiver Has History of Abusing/Neglecting
This section is to be used to identify those situations where there is
- a caregiver who has a history of perpetrating child abuse/neglect
- that caregiver is currently in a caregiving role or has on-going access to children
- circumstances precipitating the previous abuse/neglect have not changed
C Previous Abuse/Neglect of Similar Children - No Change in Precipitating Circumstances
It is alleged/verified that a person in a caregiving role with the child has previously abused/neglected, or is alleged to have abused/neglected, another child of similar description and it is suspected that circumstances precipitating the previous abuse/neglect have not changed (e.g. perpetrator has not received counselling, financial stresses continue, alcoholism continues, etc.).
Please explain to me Mr. Stephens and in consideration of all of the above why Mr. Meriano reportedly and apparently did not record and/or investigate the alleged physical abuse committed by Mr. ****** against our now six year old daughter *******?
If you could kindly reply to my request in writing within 10 business days with expressed reasoning supporting your response, it would be greatly appreciated.
I look forward to hearing back from you
Source: MS word document
Ms. Trish Watson
Dear Ms. Watson:
We are in receipt of your correspondence dated February 4,2012. ln regard to your request for information from your file, please be advised that it is our practice to provide a summary letter, in matters that are not before the court. As such, a summary of your file information will be prepared and provided to you as per our disclosure practice. You can anticipate receipt of that information in approximately 60 days.
Source: pdf file
Father Charged for Walking with Newborn
February 25, 2012 permalink
A New York father tried to take his newborn son out of the hospital to get some fresh air. But nurses spotted him and insisted on stopping him. They were so persistent that the incident turned in to fisticuffs, with dad eventually kicking one of the nurses to keep her away. The nurses say they were only trying to help the baby. The father has been charged with a crime. Since the father is Douglas Kennedy, son of late US political figure Robert F Kennedy, he is being treated respectfully by the courts — no two-day stay in jail while the police try to impose bail conditions.
Exclusive: RFK's Son Arrested in Westchester Hospital Maternity Unit Clash, Police Say
Douglas Kennedy tried to take his newborn baby from the hospital while nurses tried to stop him, police said.
The son of Robert F. Kennedy has been charged with harassment and endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly clashing with two nurses who tried to stop him from taking his 2-day-old baby boy from a Westchester maternity unit, NBC New York has learned.
According to a Mount Kisco, N.Y. police report obtained by NBC New York, Douglas Kennedy, 44, took his baby from the newborn unit of Northern Westchester Hospital on Jan. 7, against the instructions of hospital staff who told him the infant needed to stay there.
Kennedy was quietly arraigned on misdemeanor charges Thursday night.
Kennedy and his wife, Molly, disputed the accusations in a statement to NBC New York, saying "these allegations are absurd."
The nurse in charge of the unit, Anna Margaret Lane, said in a deposition that Kennedy wanted to take the child "to get fresh air" that evening. As he tried to leave, he was accompanied by a doctor from the hospital's emergency room, identified in court papers as "Dr. Haydock," later determined to be Dr. Timothy Haydock, a longtime family friend.
While the nursing staff sought to get Kennedy to return the baby to his bassinet, Haydock reportedly encouraged Kennedy to walk with the baby by telling nurses that he was with him, according to Lane's deposition.
Kennedy ignored the pleas of the nursing staff and carried the newborn -- identified in court papers as "B.K." -- to the elevator, police said.
As the nursing staff tried to calm him and dissuade him from leaving the hospital, Kennedy turned and walked toward a stairwell leading to the outside of the hospital.
"They called what's called a 'code pink,'" said Elliot Taub, a lawyer for the nurses. "That is, it looks like it's someone trying to abscond from the hospital with a newborn."
Lane blocked the doorway, "placing both hands on the doorknob" to prevent Kennedy from leaving, police said. Kennedy grabbed the nurse by her left wrist and twisted it to that he could pass into the stairwell, police said.
The baby's head "began to move from side to side, and in an attempt to stabilize the baby's head, nurse Cari Maleman Luciano reached toward the infant's head," police said.
"Instinctively as a nurse, I raised both my arms toward the neck of the baby to steady the violent shaking of the baby's head and neck," Luciano told investigators in a deposition.
While holding the child in his right arm, Kennedy kicked Luciano in the pelvis with his right foot, knocking her backward onto the floor, police said.
As he did this, Kennedy fell onto the floor with the baby in his arms. Kennedy then got up and ran "down the stairs with the infant until he was stopped by security and escorted back to the infant's room," the police report said.
A lawyer for Kennedy said the baby was not injured and slept through the altercation. The Westchester District Attorney's office declined comment on the case.
The statement to NBC New York from Kennedy and his wife said there was no crime committed.
"The nurse had no right to attempt to grab our child out of his father's arms and I, Douglas, was shocked and appalled when she did so," the statement said.
Haydock said in a statement to NBC New York that Kennedy, whom he has known for more than 40 years, was not putting his healthy baby at risk by seeking to take him for a walk outside.
"I witnessed the incident and I can state unequivocally that the nurses were the only aggressors," he said. "To charge Mr. Kennedy with a crime is simply incomprehensible to me."
Kennedy is the 10th child of Robert F. and Ethel Kennedy. He and Molly have four children.
A Brown University graduate, Kennedy started his journalism career with The New York Post and most recently worked as a general assignment reporter and bi-monthly news program host for Fox News.
Source: NBC New York
Teens Use Facebook
Mom Goes to Jail
February 25, 2012 permalink
A British mother is facing jail time for violating a court order preventing her from having direct or indirect contact with her two girls in foster care. It seems the kids still living with her found the girls on Facebook and started conversing. Since the social service perpetrators of this outrage don't want their actions known, the case is covered by a gag order. Christopher Booker can only tell the story without names.
Mother could face jail because her children talked to each other on Facebook
This case would make headlines across the land, if it were not hidden behind the family courts' extraordinary wall of secrecy.
Sometime this week, in a case which promises to make legal history, a mother may be sent to prison, apparently because her teenage children – two of whom are in foster care for reasons which, I am told, had nothing to do with her treatment of them – have been chatting to each other on Facebook.
This landmark case, which says much about the surreal state of our family protection system, arose from a judicial order last year that the mother must not talk to her children on Facebook, even through “a third party”. The two girls were taken into care a few years back for their own protection, I am told, not because of any actions by their mother but because their safety had been threatened by members of a gang on the inner-city council estate where they lived. After being sent to a foster home in another part of the country, they eventually managed to make contact through Facebook with their brothers and a cousin, all of whom are still living with their mother in the family home.
Once contact had been established between the younger members of the family, the mother joined in – until this came to the notice of social workers in the city where the family originally lived. This led to the judge’s order last year that the mother must have no further contact with her daughters, an order which she obeyed – even though her girls had repeatedly been told that she no longer loved them. (Thanks to what they had been told by their brothers on Facebook, they knew this to be untrue.)
The children, however, continued to chat to each other, and this was picked up by social workers who were monitoring their exchanges on Facebook. This has led to the mother being summonsed to attend a family court, in a city 100 miles away from where they now live, under threat of imprisonment for breaching the court order.
If the judge sentences the mother, it will have a hugely detrimental effect on the lives of the three children who live with her, Her two sons have already had enough disturbance to their lives, having themselves spent time unhappily in care (again for reasons which, I am told, had nothing to do with their mother’s treatment of them but with the behaviour of a now long-absent partner). They were eventually allowed by the social workers and courts to return to live with her, as was their cousin, who had also been in care.
All three teenagers are deeply dismayed at the prospect of their lives being turned upside down again, after they have found security with someone who loves and cares for them. The two boys and their cousin plan to accompany the mother to the court, hoping they might be allowed to explain that it was they, not she, who initially tracked down the sisters on Facebook, and continued to make contact after the mother had been forbidden to communicate with them.
I have more than once reported on mothers being sent to prison for inadvertently breaching court orders prohibiting them from contacting their children. One was punished for sending her son a birthday card, another for waving across the street when she saw her child, who was in foster care in the same town. A third was sent down when, after walking to a local petrol station to buy a newspaper, she happened to coincide with her daughter, who called out to her from the back of a car which had pulled in at the same time.
But if this latest episode ends in a prison sentence it will make history as the first time that any mother has been gaoled just because her children have wanted to talk to each other on Facebook – supposedly in breach of a court order that was not directed at them in the first place. It is a case that should make headlines across the land. But thanks to the extraordinary wall of secrecy that our family protection system has erected around itself, to hide its workings from public view, it is unlikely to attract any coverage at all.
Such is the England in which we now live, where people can be imprisoned for an offence they themselves have not committed – and where this cannot even be reported, except in the anonymised terms I have had to use here.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
February 25, 2012 permalink
A first-time pregnant woman menaced by Chatham children's aid posts her harrowing experience.
Cassie Naud I got a letter in the mail yesterday.from the children's aid society..
the letter stated.. :
Dear Cassandra And Alvro ,
As you are aware the Society has received concerns regarding the upcoming birth of your child that I would like to speak with you about. We had a scheduled appointment on February 10/2012 at your home, which I attended. At that meeting you advised me that you would be recording our meeting that day. As I did not give my permission for you to record me the meeting was ended. I continue to still hope to meet with you and assist you in developing a plan for the upcoming birth of your child. I still do not consent to be recorded however if you are willing to meet without recording I would make myself available. If I have not heard back from you by February 24/2012 I will assume that you are not interested in accessing services prior to the birth of your child and the file will be closed.
Upon the birth of your child, the local society will be forced to assess your situation and determine the risk of your infant based on prevous Society history as you have not met with me to discuss your current plan and/or progress you have made.
I look forward to hearing from you; I can be reached at 519-358-4142..
Sherri Ouellette (intake worker)
which doesnt make sense to this letter, is before she left we had told her.. that we are signing up for
- prenatal classes
- parenting classes
- breast feeding classes
- I will be attending health babies every wednesday @ 2:30
- and that we moved cause our pervious house was full of mold, etc.. and wasnt a good healthy environment.(which we have moved feb 1.2012.
the past history which they are refering to is my Boyfriend alvro..
they use his disability, anger management, and has poor parenting.. (result of failing prenatal capacity assessment)
He's also been noted that they can NOT use his disability.
My boyfriend has past anger management, and we are taking parenting classes.
As he asked society before to help him be able to learn how to parent. and they have turned him down numerous of times.
This is my boyfriends 5th child as he has his other child taken away from him..
His 1st is with the mother as she fought him for custody.. and the agreement was he was able to see her(hasnt since she was 6 months old, shes now nine)
2nd child has been adopted out into c.a.s care.
3rd the mother moved out of Chatham and took the child away. (He hasn't seen her since she was 1. She's now 4-5. The CAS gave it to the mother to supervise him with his daughter..)
4th he's in trail right now fighting for her as he hasn't seen her since she was in the mothers tummy.. She's now 2-3. He doesn't have access nothing.. He's called his worker and she has not called back or anything.. )
5th child is in my tummy and want to make sure that the baby doesn't get taken.
I was wondering do I call her back.. or do I let her close our file and make sure we got all the stuff done prior to my child's birth??
Your input- help. would be very much appreciated, as it is very scary situation.
everyone and canada court watch.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch.
Girl Protected with Taser
February 25, 2012 permalink
A Pennsylvania girl who did not want to go to foster care was forcibly subdued with a taser. She now has nine criminal charges pending against her. How does a taser burn and a string of criminal charges protect a girl?
Girl charged with assaulting policemen, CYS caseworker
Uniontown police said a girl assaulted two police officers and a Fayette County Children and Youth Services agent on Wednesday.
Police had to use a Taser gun on the girl before bringing her into custody.
The juvenile was charged with three counts of aggravated assault, causing bodily injury to a police officer, three counts of simple assault, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and criminal mischief damage to property.
According to police, CYS caseworker Robert Madison took the juvenile to her home on Morgantown Street to pick up some of her belongings because the girl was to be placed in foster care.
Madison waited outside the house for a few minutes for the girl to return, but eventually went inside to tell her to hurry getting her things, police said.
While Madison was inside, he heard the girl say to her uncle that she was not going with CYS to be placed in foster care.
Police said Madison told the juvenile that she had no choice but to go into foster care because of a court order.
The girl again refused, so Madison called 911 for assistance.
Police said the girl left the house and began walking across Morgantown Street. Chipps tried to stop her, but she shouted at him and pushed him away. Madison and her uncle followed her through an alley. The girl then threatened to punch Madison in the face if he tried to stop her, police said.
City police officers Jeremy Schult and Chuck David approached the juvenile from two different directions in separate police cars. When the girl ran into a parking lot along Morgantown Street, Schult approached her on foot, police said.
Madison, Schult and the girl’s uncle tried to calm the girl down , but she tried running away again. Schult caught her and grabbed her by the arm. The girl then turned around and punched Schult in the face with a closed fist, police said.
The police officers then took the girl to the ground and restrained her, with Madison’s help. The girl continued to resist and kicked Madison in the thigh twice.
Police said when the girl was placed in the back of a police cruiser, she kicked out a rear window.
David got glass in his eyes and his upper lip was cut. Flying glass also cut Madison’s hand, police said.
When David opened the rear door, the girl tried to kick him. David then shot her in the chest with a Taser gun, police said.
The girl was taken to Uniontown Hospital for evaluation and treatment. David also was treated at the hospital .
Police said the girl caused $500 in damage to the police cruiser.
Stealing from Children
February 25, 2012 permalink
Kent (England) social services worker Pauline Stannard took nearly £5,000 from a fund to help disabled children.
Social services worker Pauline Stannard stole children's money
A Kent Social Services official who raided an emergency fund for vulnerable children to pay her rent has escaped an immediate jail sentence.
Pauline Stannard, 63, took nearly £5,000 from a Kent County Council account designed to help children in need, including disabled youngsters.
She faced a possible three-year jail term - but was given a nine-month suspended sentence for the nine offences.
The money should have been used to help the families of vulnerable youngsters, but instead, Stannard, of Primrose Road, Dover, wrote the £550 cheques each month to her landlord.
And when colleagues spotted the fraud, Stannard - who was working in the social services' Whitstable office - claimed she felt sick - and went home.
But when police went to interview her about the missing money, which totalled £4,950, she had fled to France, Canterbury Crown Court was told.
Although the money was taken between August 2008 and April 2009, Stannard was only arrested last year when she flew into Gatwick Airport for skin cancer treatment.
James Bilsland, prosecuting, told how she had worked in the social services department handling requests for emergency funds for a variety of children's organisations, including those caring for youngsters with disabilities.
He said it was her job to issue cheques on behalf of social services to meet the immediate needs of vulnerable families in Kent.
In July 2009, an audit revealed nine cheques had been paid to a Michael Fincham - who turned out to be Stannard's landlord in Dover, he added.
Stannard left the UK as police officers began their investigation and travelled to the south of France to avoid answering questions.
Although a warrant was issued for her arrest, she was only arrested last year when she returned for treatment for her skin condition.
Lucy Luttman, defending, said Stannard had worked for the social services department for seven years, but got into debt when her husband - who was self-employed - became ill.
She said that despite the warrant, Stannard had travelled in and out of the UK on several occasions.
"She feels utter shame and remorse that she finds herself before the court," said Ms Luttman.
"When she fell behind with the rent she panicked and didn't know what to do - she took a foolish and ultimately wrong decision."
But judge Simon James told the weeping Stannard - who admitted nine fraud charges - that she had committed a serious breach of trust.
He said she had taken money away from people who were "vulnerable members of society who needed it in times of crisis".
The judge gave her a nine-month jail sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered she do 200 hours' unpaid work.
He then ordered her to repay the money at £50 a month, telling her: "I see no reason why you shouldn't pay compensation when you clearly had enough money to travel abroad regularly."
Source: Kent Online
February 25, 2012 permalink
When four-year-old girl Nevaeh Sansone drew a picture of a gun, police and children's aid left no stone unturned. Father Jessie Sansone was arrested, strip-searched and his home was ransacked before police realized the gun was a four-year-old's fantasy.
Man shocked by arrest after daughter draws picture of gun at school Jessie Sansone was arrested at his daughter's school after the 4-year-old drew a picture of a gun.
KITCHENER — A Kitchener father is upset that police arrested him at his children’s’ school Wednesday, hauled him down to the station and strip-searched him, all because his four-year-old daughter drew a picture of a gun at school.
“I’m picking up my kids and then, next thing you know, I’m locked up,” Jessie Sansone, 26, said Thursday.
“I was in shock. This is completely insane. My daughter drew a gun on a piece of paper at school.”
The school principal, police and child welfare officials, however, all stand by their actions. They said they had to investigate to determine whether there was a gun in Sansone’s house that children had access to.
“From a public safety point of view, any child drawing a picture of guns and saying there’s guns in a home would warrant some further conversation with the parents and child,” said Alison Scott, executive director of Family and Children’s Services.
Waterloo Regional Police Insp. Kevin Thaler said there was a complaint from Forest Hills public school that “a firearm was in a residence and children had access to it. We had every concern, based on this information, that children were in danger.”
Their concern wasn’t based on the drawing alone, he said.
Neaveh, the child who made the drawing, also made comments about it that raised more flags.
Sansone thinks police overreacted. He didn’t find out until hours after his arrest what had actually sparked the incident.
He said he went to the school Wednesday afternoon to pick up his three children. He was summoned to the principal’s office where three police officers were waiting. They said he was being charged with possession of a firearm.
He was escorted from the school, handcuffed and put in the back of a cruiser.
At the same time, other police officers went to his home, where his wife and 15-month-old child were waiting for his return.
They made his wife come to the police station while the other three children were taken to Family and Children’s Services to be interviewed.
“Nobody was given any explanation,” said his wife, Stephanie Squires. “I didn’t know why he was being arrested.
“He had absolutely no idea what this was even about. I just kept telling them. ‘You’re making a mistake.’ ”
At the police station, Sansone talked to a lawyer who said only that he was being charged with possession of a firearm, Sansone said.
He kept asking questions. He was given a blanket and told he would appear before a judge in the morning to post bail.
“I was getting pretty scared at that point,” Sansone said. “It seemed like I was actually being charged at this point.”
He was forced to remove his clothes for a full strip search.
Several hours later, a detective apologized and said he was being released with no charges, Sansone said.
The detective told him that his four-year-old daughter had drawn a picture of a man holding a gun. When a teacher asked her who the man was, the girl replied, “That’s my daddy’s. He uses it to shoot bad guys and monsters.”
“To be honest with you, I broke down,” Sansone said. “My character got put down so much. I was actually really hurt, like it could happen that easy.
“How do you recognize a criminal from a father?’’
He said he thought he had good relations with the principal who offered him a job last year counselling students at the school.
“We’re educated,’’ he said. “I’m a certified PSW (personal support worker) and a life issues counsellor. I go into schools to try to make a difference.’’
After he was released, Sansone was asked to sign a paper authorizing a search of his home. He signed, even though he didn’t have to, he said.
“I just think they blew it out of proportion,’’ Squires said. “It was for absolutely nothing. They searched our house upside down and found nothing. They had the assumption he owned a firearm.
“The way everything happened was completely unnecessary, especially since we know the school very well. I don’t understand how they came to that conclusion from a four-year-old’s drawing.’’
Scott, of Family and Children’s Services, said the agency was obligated to investigate after getting a report from the school.
“Our community would have an expectation if comments are made about a gun in a house, we’d be obligated to investigate that to ensure everything is safe.”
If there’s a potential crime that’s been committed, the agency must call in police, she said
“In the end, it may not be substantiated. There may be a reasonable explanation for why the child drew that gun. But we have to go on what gets presented to us.
“I’m sure this was a very stressful thing for the family,” she acknowledged.
The school principal, Steve Zack, said a staff member called child welfare officials because the law requires them to report anything involving the safety or neglect of a child.
The agency chose to involve police, he said.
“Police chose to arrest Jessie here. Nobody wants something like this to happen at any time, especially not at school. But that’s out of my hands.”
Sansone says he got into some trouble with the law five years ago, and was convicted of assault and attempted burglary. But he’s put all that behind him. He never had any firearms-related charges.
As for the strip search, Thaler said it was done “for officer safety, because it’s a firearms-related incident.
“At the point in the investigation when it was determined it was not a real firearm, the individual was released unconditionally,” he said.
Source: The Record
Addendum: World-wide reaction to this story has been outrage toward police and children's aid. For example, Ezra Levant, YouTube or local copy (mp4). But when John Oakley of am640 Toronto (mp3) interviewed Waterloo police chief Matthew A Torigian, the chief did not give a direct answer to any question. You will be pleased to learn that the police reaction was justified because the gun drawn by the girl was the same type used in recent Kitchener robberies.
Below Bruce Corcoran editorialized on the arrests of Chris Carter and Jessie Sansone.
Abuse of power
First, advocate Chris Carter is arrested in Chatham during a protest against Chatham-Kent Children’s Services (CKCS) – for personation, of all things. And then Jesse Sansone, father of three, gets hauled out of his kids’ school in Kitchener, is strip searched, and has his house searched by police – without a warrant – all because his four-year-old daughter drew a picture of a gun.Ah, the power of crayons. More to the point, the power of our child welfare services.It seems they are the collective Pied Piper for police – children’s aid plays the music, and our cops dance to it.How else do you explain such nonsensical actions? Here, Carter allegedly used a false name when visiting CKCS offices to help a local resident. He spent two nights in jail, the second of which came after he refused the bail conditions offered up by the Crown.While his arrest had a sour odour to it, Sansone’s has a foul stench surrounding it. His four-year-old daughter doodled, and said her daddy used the gun to “shoot bad guys and monsters” – pretty liberal context at the best of times in the age of video games, but more so when it’s coming from a junior kindergarten kid.So the teacher contacted child welfare officials and police were called in. Three officers arrested Sansone when he came to pick up his kids. The reason? Possession of a firearm. Except the only evidence he owned one was from a crayon drawing by his little girl. Other cops went to his house, sent his wife to the station with their 15-month old toddler, and rifled his house for the gun from the drawing. All they found was a see-through toy gun that fired plastic darts.Gee, perhaps the boogeyman and the monsters in the closet had been gunned down by the plastic darts at one time or another, such as on nights when a young girl with an active imagination had bad dreams.As Sun News Network commentator Ezra Levant questioned in regards to Waterloo Regional Police officials calling it a firearms-related incident, “are you that bag-of-hammers stupid?”The school, family services and police stand by their actions. Of course they will. To admit any error would just expedite the coming lawsuit.But in reality, there is no solid ground on which they can stand. The teacher and school stepped into the bog in contacting child services, which in turn stepped into it by not even discussing the matter with the parents, something Alison Scott, executive director of Family and Children’s Services for Waterloo Region, said is standard procedure. Instead, the organization leapfrogged straight to the police, who took a child’s picture of a gun to mean there was a real firearm in the house, one the kids had access to.Talk about leaps in paranoia. And it led to one terrible violation of Sansone. Reasonable suspicion? Due to a kid’s drawing? Good luck hiding behind that one.As we’ve said before, maybe the ones who need watching are the watchers.Bruce Corcoran firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Chatham Daily News
Further news discloses that the picture is gone — it was drawn on a whiteboard and promptly erased. The CAS case remains open.
Wrongfully arrested father gets no apologies
KITCHENER, ONT. - The Sansone family is not getting any apologies after they were put through hell by school officials, social workers and police last week.
And, the smoking gun -- a child's drawing that triggered the whole thing -- will never be seen.
"I am really sorry that the family is as upset as they are, but we followed proper standards and procedures," said Alison Scott, executive director of Family and Child Services for the Waterloo Region.
She told QMI Agency if the same situation happened again tomorrow, her organization would do the exact same thing over again.
"I do not see any need for our agency to apologize for fulfilling our mandated responsibility," Scott said.
The drawing that startled the teacher, who started the domino effect, has vanished.
Scott told QMI Agency it was drawn on a white board and had been erased. She doesn't know if anyone other than the teacher ever saw it. She also doesn't know if anyone took an image of it.
Jessie Sansone, a 26-year-old father of four, was arrested at his children's school, strip searched and held by police, told he was being charged with illegal possession of a firearm. Three of his children were taken by Family and Child Services to be questioned and his pregnant wife, Stephanie, was hauled down to the police station after their four-year-old daughter drew a picture of her dad holding a gun.
Police searched their house and neighbours said cops were going through the house all afternoon.
Eventually, police let Sansone go, saying all they found was a transparent plastic toy that shoots little plastic balls. The toy gun costs $16 at Canadian Tire.
Scott said it wasn't just the picture, but the resulting conversation with the junior kindergarten teacher that caused the state workers to go into red alert - but she won't say what was said.
"If there is a drawing where there is some information relayed through that drawing that children may have access to what is described as a gun, and that access may be unsupervised and these children may be concerned because the gun was pointed at them and they didn't feel safe, that would concern anyone," said Scott, speaking theoretically.
The social workers still have an "open investigation" on the family, despite police dropping all charges and launching a review of their own conduct.
The walls of the modest Sansone home are covered with family photos, certificates of achievement and framed scripture. The soft spoken young couple now have a lawyer and wanted to share with QMI Agency they are humbled and encouraged by all of the messages and posts supporting them.
Sansone said earlier that he had felt humiliated and isolated sitting in a cell, not knowing where his children were, or why he was being charged with anything, but getting messages from Tahsis B.C. to Truro, N.S., is balm for the soul.
Source: Sun News
Premier Dalton McGuinty praises the teachers.
Premier defends school after dad arrested over daughter's gun sketch
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is defending teachers and school officials in Kitchener who called authorities after a four-year-old girl drew a picture of her dad holding a gun.
McGuinty says he doesn't doubt the sincerity of the teachers and school officials, noting it's hard to know when to call the authorities in such cases.
The girl's father, Jessie Sansone, was arrested, strip searched and told he was being charged with illegal possession of a firearm.
Three of Sansone's children were also taken by Family and Child Services to be questioned, along with his pregnant wife.
The closest thing to a gun found their home was a transparent toy gun.
McGuinty says a review is underway, but noted that it's not easy for schools to make a judgment call when they believe a child's welfare may be at risk.
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Ontario premier defends probe of girl's gun drawing
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is defending Kitchener school officials for calling police and reporting a four-year-old girl who drew a picture of her father carrying a gun.
Father Jessie Sansone was arrested, strip searched and told he was being charged with illegal possession of a firearm after police were alerted to the drawing last week.
Sansone's three children and his pregnant wife were also questioned by Family and Child Services.
Waterloo Regional Police found only a transparent toy gun in Sansone's home during a search and Sansone was released without charges.
An internal police investigation has been launched into the way Sansone was treated by officers.
Speaking on Wednesday, McGuinty defended the school's decision to alert police to the potentially revealing picture, saying it is difficult for teachers and administrators to make such decisions when they believe a child's welfare could be at risk.
Sansone, an occasional hip hop performer, has hired a lawyer and his social media profiles have been removed from the Internet, including dozens of rap videos.
Sansone has previously been convicted of assault and attempted burglary.
In a revealing set of interviews Ezra Levant airs clips by Kris Sims taken inside the Sansone home, and interviews with Waterloo school board superintendent Gregg Bereznick (co-parent) and Waterloo CAS executive director Alison Scott (ice in her veins). YouTube, and local copy (mp4).
In an opinion piece in the Waterloo Record, Alison Scott tries to justify her actions, but uses the cop-out that she cannot comment on the recent case in the media. Why bother writing the article at all? Here is Scott's opinion and a rebuttal also from the Record.
Misinformation surrounds child’s drawing story
Over the past week, staff at Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region (the children’s aid society) have received a number of inquiries from our community about an investigation completed by the agency.
The investigation involved a young girl who had drawn a picture of her father holding a gun.
We wish to respond publicly to relieve any concerns our community may have, as well as clarify, as much as we can, our involvement. Most importantly, we want to ensure that some of the misinformation currently circulating does not prevent anyone from reporting a situation where a child is suspected of being abused or neglected. This would be the true tragic outcome of this story.
1. No children’s aid society would remove a child from their home solely based on a child’s drawing.
We cannot comment on the specifics of any case, however, it is important for our community to know that the duty of a children’s aid society, as prescribed in the Child and Family Services Act, is to investigate allegations or signs that a child under the age of 16 may be at risk of harm.
When we receive a call, we:
- review local and provincial records to determine previous or current involvement with a children’s aid society;
- consider all information known to us such as the nature of the referral, the risks to the child/family, including previous histories of violence and the presence of firearms.
- When there is a concern that a crime may have been committed, it is a provincial requirement that the police are contacted — the police will also check for past involvement with an accused.
If we have knowledge that a child may have unsafe access to a gun, this would be a situation we would want to assess. We understand that most local gun owners securely store their firearms to ensure the safety of their children and children in the community.
Our role is to ensure there is no immediate safety risk for a child and ensure parents can keep their children safe and protected from harm. Our staff are committed to the safety and well-being of children, and are well-trained to fulfil these legal obligations.
2. All families have the right to be treated fairly and respectfully — without exception.
We, as with all children’s aid societies, have provisions in place to ensure that our families are treated fairly and respectfully, and the reason for our involvement is clearly explained to them. We remain accountable to the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services, to our community, and to the children and families we serve.
In Ontario, families have safeguards including the courts, the Child and Family Services Review Board, and an agency’s internal complaint procedure to ensure we are meeting our obligations.
Although we cannot comment about the details related to the recent case in the media, I am confident that as more information is made available, you will find that some of the characterizations presented in the media of Family and Children’s Services involvement have been sensationalized or inaccurate. We performed our role dutifully, meeting all our obligations.
Finally, on a personal note, I would like to say that it is a privilege to serve this community. I would also like to note that every one of our staff understand the incredible responsibility they have been charged with, and perform their job to the best of their ability year-round.
Alison Scott is executive director of the Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region.
Source: The Record
Toy gun controversy may deter others from reporting a child at risk, agency fears
Misinformation surrounds child’s drawing story
Over the past week, staff at Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region (the children’s aid...
WATERLOO REGION — Alison Scott says the child-welfare agency she directs did a good job investigating a family after a four-year-old girl sketched a gun at school.
But Scott is displeased with what she sees as sensational and inaccurate news reporting as well as online commentary, which she fears could make it harder to protect children.
A firestorm of controversy erupted after Kitchener father Jessie Sansone was arrested on Feb. 22 and strip-searched by police who found only a toy gun at home. Child-welfare officials questioned three children at their agency. No charges were laid.
Scott has cleared her agency of wrongdoing after conducting an internal review. Waterloo Regional Police are reviewing their investigation.
“We followed all of our policies and procedures,” said Scott, executive director of Family and Children’s Services of Waterloo Region.
Scott accused the media of inaccurate reporting. She said some reported the children were taken into her agency’s care. “The children were never taken into care,” she said, explaining children were transported to the agency for interviews, with a parent’s consent and with a parent present.
Scott worries people may now be dissuaded from reporting a child at risk, for fear of being drawn into a similar firestorm. “That would be the true tragic outcome of this story.”
Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said he is happy to see police investigate their role.
“I wish we would have seen more from the school board, quite frankly,” he said after visiting Kitchener Friday. “And to hear children’s aid pat themselves on the back?
“Something clearly went terribly wrong here. And I think it’s chilling for all of us as parents, the notion that a kid can make a drawing out of crayon and a parent would end up being strip-searched, having the kids taken away, and being treated like a criminal.”
Police have refused to say why they compel detainees to remove their clothes or how often they do this.
The secrecy is at odds with past practice. In 1998, police said they compelled detainees to remove their clothes 3,000 times a year. In 2001, police made public their five-page procedure on “search of persons.”
That procedure was later revised after the Supreme Court of Canada prohibited routine strip searches. Revisions are deemed secret.
“We don’t put any of our procedures out,” Insp. Kevin Thaler said, refusing a request for the procedure on strip searches. “We have not made a policy of disclosing our internal procedures.”
Toronto Police publicly report strip searches. There were 31,072 in 2010 compared to 29,789 in 2009. Police reported finding an “item” in about one-third of searches.
The Supreme Court states: “Strip searches are inherently humiliating and degrading for detainees regardless of the manner in which they are carried out and for this reason they cannot be carried out simply as a matter of routine policy …
“In addition to reasonable and probable grounds justifying the arrest, the police must establish reasonable and probable grounds justifying the strip search.”
Waterloo Region’s police board chair Tom Galloway said the police services board will wait for the internal review before considering the secrecy around strip-search procedure. It may conclude in weeks.
He said the board did not direct police to keep the procedure secret. “There may be things in there that are necessarily kept confidential,” said Galloway, a regional councillor. “That’s a chief prerogative. It’s an operations issue.”
The board has a policy directing the chief to establish procedures for strip searches. The board policy released by Galloway does not say how searches are to be done.
Strip searches are termed “thorough searches” by local police.
Source: The Record
The National Post sums up reaction to the Sansone story.
Plenty of mistakes made, but no lessons learned in treatment of Jessie Sansone
Police in Waterloo, Ont. arrested, handcuffed and strip-searched an innocent man after his four-year-old daughter drew a picture in school of her daddy shooting monsters with a gun. He does not own a gun and was later released with apologies by police. But school and child welfare officials insist they did the right thing and would do it again. No one but the teacher ever saw the picture (it was erased), and her word was automatically taken over a parent, who wasn’t even asked for an explanation before being dragged off. Despite the deep concern we all have with child welfare, shouldn’t schools and other authorities at least show a modicum of respect for parents before assuming they’re crazed abusers?
Barbara Kay in Montreal: I had a similar situation once that I handled very differently. I was the editor of an anthology of creative writing for high school students. One girl sent in a beautifully written, but disturbing story about a girl who murdered her mother in revenge for some perceived grievance. The killing was graphically described in detail. My committee and I wondered if we should do something about it. In the end, we called the mother and told her about her daughter’s story. The mother was surprised but assured us there was nothing wrong in the household. At that point I suppose I could have called child services, but I felt the mother was forthcoming and without guile, and my instinct was to drop it.
I decided that if every kid that wrote a piece of bloody fiction in future was aware that his or her writing would result in an invasion of the state into the household, with who knows what results, it was better to assume that the kid was just a brilliant writer. Which she was. She actually won first prize and read it aloud at the launch, to her mother’s embarrassment but also – since she had a sense of humour – her delight in the irony of the situation. The girl went on to win a Rhodes scholarship and is now a doctor with a beautiful family. I have to wonder how upsetting and guilt-making it would have been for that girl if the CAS had become involved in her act of creativity.
The teacher’s instinct should have been to contact the mother and explain that she felt uneasy. The mother would have laughed and explained it was a toy gun the kid was describing. End of story. We have been so trained to believe that we have to involve Dear Government Agency in every aspect of our professional lives if we are the slightest bit unsure of what to say or do. And we have all been turned into such alarmists that we don’t think rationally about what the odds are for the kind of harm the teacher envisioned. If the mother’s reaction elicited suspicion, then it might have been more rational to inquire more deeply. Even a simple conversation with the child probably would have elicited the correct info
Lorne Gunter in Edmonton: The reactions by all three institutional actors – the school, social services and the police – were all way over the top, so much so that it calls into question their ability to make such judgment calls. If you can’t distinguish a minor threat to safety (or, in this case, no threat at all) from a major menace, then you’re just as likely to underreact to a serious threat as you are to overreact to an insignificant one. And underreacting is more likely to result in serious harm.
But what’s more disturbing is the unwillingness of anyone in authority to admit a mistake and take the rap. That calls into question the wisdom of entrusting any of them with such power over parents and other citizens in the first place.
The police have kinda, sorta apologized. And they claim to have launched a “thorough review” of their officers’ actions. But they are still not admitting they overreacted, either. In fact Regional Police Chief Matt Torigian keeps insisting that he and his officers were right to err on the side of child safety.
Neither the school nor the school board is giving any indication of backing down, either. But the worst butt-coverers are the child service’s agents. Alison Scott, executive director of Family and Child Services in the Waterloo region sniffed to the QMI Agency, “I am really sorry that the family is as upset as they are, but we followed proper standards and procedures. I do not see any need for our agency to apologize for fulfilling our mandated responsibility.” Really!? Your procedures call on you to take the word of a four-year-old and a junior kindergarten teacher over that of a parent and call in police immediately, without further investigation or even a call to the parents to ask their side?
What is enraging about this is how Ms. Scott fails to see how despicable it is treat someone like a criminal without any evidence at all. (The innocent words of a four-year-old and the hysterical misapprehensions of kindergarten teacher don’t qualify as evidence.) Jessie Sansone went to his kids’ elementary school last Wednesday to pick them up and ended up charged with possession of a gun (he doesn’t own one). He was meet by three police officers who ‘cuffed in front of everyone before even questioning him. He was pushed into the backseat of a cruiser, driven to the station, questioned for hours, had his kids taken into protective custody and his home subjected to an hours-long search, all before he had a chance to give his side of the story.
That sort of overreaction is unconscionable in a democracy – and unforgivable. If it can be allowed to happen to Mr. Sansone without state actors being forced to give sincere apologies, then it can happen to anyone.
Marni Soupcoff in Toronto: The strangest part to me is that even in the kid’s made-up drawing, the father was being portrayed as a protective, heroic figure. So why would that sound any alarms? If you’re going to inappropriately read things in to young children’s fantasies, at least respect the spirit of those fantasies. This one was saying, “Dad’s a good guy who keeps away monsters.”
If fictional Dad had been shooting at kids or puppies or, you know, mom, then maybe I could begin to understand what happened here. As it stands, I’ve got to agree with Lorne that the school, child services and the police have all shown themselves to have very questionable judgment.
And I have to wonder: Is cuffing the parent in front of the entire school a good idea even in cases of genuine concern for the kids’ safety? Won’t that further traumatize the children unnecessarily? And might it not discourage kids from coming forward with real problems in the future if they know the result could be their parents roughly taken down in front of all their peers?
Thankfully, I don’t think ridiculous institutional behavior like this is the norm. My son also happens to be a junior kindergarten student. To my embarrassment, his drawings consist almost exclusively of tanks and fighter jets. And his stories tend to focus obsessively on “bad guys.” But his teachers have never accused me or my husband of fostering violent tendencies — let alone of being a danger to our son. This is not just because our kid has so far refrained from drawing us at the weapons’ controls. It’s because his teachers are, like most primary teachers, sensible and sensitive. They understand that little kids make things up. All the time. And they understand when — and when not — to press the panic button.
None of that will be much consolation to Jessie Sansone, of course. He does deserve an apology.
The police, school and social services at fault here deserve something else entirely.
Matt Gurney in hiding: I guess I need to confess that during my early years, all my drawings were also of tanks, fighter jets, attack helicopters, and the like. Later, that expanded to include starships, which remain my primary doodle. I don’t have a lot to add to what I’ve said already, but I do feel it’s important to make one point explicitly clear. It’s bad enough that every agency involved — teachers, child-welfare agents and police officers — deny it’s their fault. What’s really scary is how each of them is acting like how they acted was necessary. The teacher says she’s obligated to inform child services whenever there is a sign there is a threat (so the original bad judgment was hers). Child services says they’re obligated to report any potential crime to the police. The police say they need to respond to reports of crimes (but there is certainly a range of options available to them, and the Chief has already conceded that strip searching isn’t normal procedure, so Waterloo’s finest have some ‘splainin’ to do). But the maddening thing about all of this is that even though every party has at least acknowledged that this is suboptimal, if we allow them to continue peddling the just-following-procedure nonsense, then this is guaranteed to repeat itself, given comparable circumstancecs. As Lorne quotes Ms. Scott as saying, so long as everyone sticks to their “standards and procedures”, this would keep happening. The only conclusion that can be drawn from that is that the standards and procedures — i.e.; the system — are broken.
Another small point to make: The original mistake, as I think we’d all agree, was the teacher’s overreaction, which in turn set off (and perhaps necessitated under the current rules) the follow-on reactions of the child-welfare officials and the police. But I’m not sure how we can get teachers to show better discretion. It’s not exactly something they test for during teacher’s college, and frankly, it’s hard to think of an occasion where a principal, school board official or union rep won’t go to the wall to defend a teacher who “put the child’s welfare first.” Plus, there’s also the ass-covering reflex. Whether to avoid accusations of negligence, or increasingly to avoid dealing with parents who treat reports of their child’s misbehaviour as personal assaults against their precious little one by evil educators, teachers just escalate any issue to that it’s not their problem. Call in the vice-principal or the school councillor. That way they’re on record as having sounded the alarm, and outraged parents become someone else’s problem. If anyone has any ideas how to turn that around short of public shaming, please share.
Barbara Kay: There seem to be different alarm bells for the CAS when the implied culprit is a mother. Yeah yeah, I know, I’m on my hobby horse.
All I can tell you is that I get stories all the time of how fathers beg and plead for the CAS to do something about crazy mothers but they won’t budge, yet let a father evoke even a smidgen of suspicion, as in this case (where as Marni points out he is not only not suspicious, he is portrayed as the good guy), and they’re all over the case. last week a father who was returning his son home after his access visit with him. He sent me a video he took of his child with a big bruise on his face crying and begging not to be sent home to his mother, because she scares him and hits him. I have a dozen letters from fathers who have handed over reams of proof that their children are being harmed by their mothers and the CAS does nothing at all.
Remember Elaine Campione who drowned her two little girls in a bathtub? The father fought like a tiger to get the kids away from this mentally disturbed mother. The CAS was well aware of Elaine Campione’s quixotic and alarming history. They knew that Campione had exhibited many signs of psychosis, that she had been hospitalized in psychiatric wards, believed people were out to kill her and kidnap her children, and exhibiting such bizarre and/or negligent behaviours toward her girls that mother-substitutes, including her own mother, had to be constantly parachuted into her household if it was to function at all. Yet the CAS decided the mother was the “safe parent” because she alleged (never-proven) abuse on the father’s part. There is a long list of the children who have died because the CAS would not take them away from women who were clearly a danger to them, and refused to believe it even when proof is in front of their eyes. That organization needs a mucking-out – big time.
So my question is: If the child had drawn a picture of a mother with a knife in her hand and even looking menacing, not protective, do you think the police would have cuffed the mother as she arrived at the school and taken her downtown and strip-searched her? I think not. If they did anything, it would be discreet, gentle and protective of her privacy.
Lorne Gunter: I think what we have here is a perfect storm of political correctness.
There is the zero-tolerance mentality that has pervaded our schools, especially our elementary schools. Policies requiring teachers and administrators to treat every act of violence or even just every tale of violence has robbed educators of their judgment, common sense and discernment. Remember the 8-year-old in Nova Scotia who was suspended for pointing a breaded chicken strip at a teacher and saying “Pow!”? Of the elementary school student who was suspended for having a plastic knife in her lunch box? The politically correct action is to suspend judgment and treat every gun incident as if it were the endtimes.
Then there is the general arrogance of child welfare workers coupled with their bigotry towards men and towards guns. Men are mostly violent according to the mindset of children’s aid workers, so guns are nothing more than tools of oppression used by violent men to enforce their will against their wives and children.
Police, too, have an anti-gun bias these days, especially police in Ontario who seem to lay a disproportionate number of gun-related charges. They lay them with equal enthusiasm against law-abiding gun owners defending their turf or their lives and drug dealers enforcing their territories.
And in this case, there is probably an hysterical kindergarten teacher who is anti-gun, anti-male or anti-Evangelical, or all three. Jessie Sansone and his family quite devote according to reports. It’s not hard to believe a politically correct teacher seeing man, Christian and gun together in the same person jumped immediately to the conclusion that he must be guilty.
But perfect storm or not, almost no action by the authorities in this case was acceptable.
Marni Soupcoff: I thought we’d gotten beyond this sort of overreaction after the spate of unjust child-abuse accusations and convictions in the ‘80s. There is, we were supposed to have learned, a need for actual evidence and due process — even where vulnerable children are potential victims. I guess Columbine helped erase some of those lessons. But wasn’t all the zero tolerance stuff supposed to be focused on the kids themselves? Which maybe made it slightly more palatable since kids were never afforded full levels of due process anyway? And the worst that could happen to them was being suspended from school? The idea that zero tolerance can be extended to adult parents and used as a reason to cuff them and forcibly confine them is a real problem.
Men may have it worse than women, but no parent is safe if children can be seized on such flimsy grounds.
The police? Let’s just say that if this is how they treat a stable and established citizen with the ability to articulate his story to the media, God help the sketchy homeless guy or rambling drug addict who rubs them the wrong way.
And the worst part is that no one involved seems to be any the wiser for this mess. Jessie Sansone will presumably be left alone in the future. It’s not hard to imagine, however, that the police and child services will strike again with another unfortunate family since there have been no admissions of mistakes made.
Pretty scary stuff.
Source: National Post
Driving While Blind
February 24, 2012 permalink
There's no way to comment on this story without losing credibility. You have to read it in full.
Darlene Lynn Wigston Has anyone ever called their worker and complained that they don't feel safe riding with their volunteer driver? If so, was anything done about it? Barry and I visit our son on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, and had a different driver each day of the week. Our Sunday driver is always talking about her cataract surgery, including the fact that she has only had one eye done and the other still needs surgery. She was told by her doctor that she should get new glasses because the one that had surgery has a different prescription now but she says she won't do it because she wants to wait until the other eye is done so she doesn't have to pay for 2 pairs of glasses. So right now she is driving with cataracts in one eye and the wrong prescription on the other. The kicker came one day when we were stopped at a red light and the car in front of us had a sticker on the back of the vehicle that was very easy to see and I commented on the sticker. Barry was also able to see and read it very clearly from the back seat. But our driver admitted that she couldn't see any of the letters at all, never mind read it. Another thing that scares me but I didn't tell our worker about is the fact that when we are on a straight road she rests her hands on her lap rather than keeping them on the wheel. Anyway, the day after the sticker incident I called our worker and asked to be switched to another driver. So what happened? THEY GAVE HER THE TUESDAY DRIVE AS WELL!!!!! What is up with that?
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
February 23, 2012 permalink
Chris Carter, arrested at a Chatham rally two days ago, is now released. There are three enclosed articles giving the circumstances (he has onerous bail conditions), one of them includes a video message from Chris himself.
Chris Carter Released
Chris Carter has been released into the body of the courts, he looks to the audience that has gathered to observe and shouts “You see what they are doing!?” What they, the courts are doing to Chris Carter is a shame, misuse and waste of the justice system. To understand and appreciate this story you really need to get to know Chris Carter, he is a passionate, loving, and heartbroken father.
I caught up with Chris after the court proceedings and sat down for a cup of coffee with him and one of his Canada Court Watch “family members” as they like to call each other. He opened up to me about the horror story he has gone through with CAS and the Canadian Courts, at some parts he and myself needed a moment to collect our emotions. The injustice that he is fighting is unbelievable and it’s a story everyone needs to hear.
Chris and his Japanese wife Nobuyo decided to move their family to Chris’ home; Canada, the tension of a new home and new cultures put strain on the loving couple and their relationship soon fell apart, but the love for his children was unchanged. During this tense period the mother of his children began disciplining the kids in an overly physical manner, causing one of the kids to make a complaint about the abuse. While Chris was taking care of his kids CAS removed his children from his loving home. The next five days the kids were kept in foster care, during this time Chris was not allowed to see his kids, strangely his wife, the one who the child had complained about was allowed to visit them.
When Chris was finally offered the unbelievable ultimatum of give his kids to a foster family or give his kids to his wife, he lamented and gave up the kids to his wife who he believed to be a good mother aside from the recent trouble. The court demanded that he produce the children’s citizenship and turn it over to the court. During this period Chris’s life was upside down his belongings were in boxes between multiple places and one of the three citizenship cards was lost in the shuffle. The court put him in jail for 15 days and charged him with contempt of court.
During the CAS hearing Chris had 16 witnesses that he was to bring before the court, by the 9th witness (Peter Ringrose, a CAS executive) the Honorable Justice Hardman stopped the trial with no explanation.
Chris Carter decided it was time to get loud, he started protesting infront of the local Children’s Aid and Police Headquarters. The response was mostly positive but there were people who desperately wanted him gone. Some one wanted him gone so badly that when Kim Putman and Virginia Torrance (CAS lawyers) walked by him the police arrested him for 2 counts of assault, Chris didn’t come within 6m of the women.
Chris and other parents who have dealt with CAS can be quoted as saying ”It was like they were trying to drive me insane.” When he would go to the CAS building for scheduled visits with his kids he would sometimes be greeted by a grinning worker who would sarcastically say “Sorry Chris I forgot to call you, we had to cancel this week, maaaaybe next week!” It’s experiences like this that can drive people over the edge, imagine you wait all week to see your kids, your only joy in the world, and some grinning jerk tells you that you have to wait another week to see your kids for just one measly hour. Then there was the heat, the kids liked to be active, so in that little time they had with their father they would play floor hockey, judo, and other intense activities that warm a room up fast. One day Chris opened the door to the hall to let some air in, the CAS workers demanded he close the door, so he asked that next week they move him to the room at the end of the hall so they could leave the door open and nobody would walk by it. The next week they arrived to a room that was noticeably hot before they even started playing, so he opened the door and began to play with his kids, again the CAS workers demanded he close the door, enough was enough and this father wasn’t going to have it, Chris refused to close the door and soon enough a group of police officers showed up to drag him away infront of his crying children.
These are events have made Chris become the devoted activist that he is, and his troubles with the justice system aren’t even close to coming to an end. The more he fights the more unbelievable the charges get.
Tuesday February 21st 2012 Chris was arrested in Chatham under charges of obstruction of justice, later changed to personation. The charges were filed because Chris gave a false name while accompanying an individual to a CAS meeting. Wednesday 22nd the crown offered to release him under the following conditions:
- $1500 bail
- No communication with CKCS employees direct or indirect except through legal council and such communication will be in writing, email, or during review court proceedings.
- Not to attend or be within 100m of CKCAS with the exception for court proceedings.
- To reside at his current address.
Chris refused the conditions and returned to court the next day, this time the crown offered a slightly different set of conditions, the only change being that he may not verbally be in contact at all which effectively removes him from any CAS review court proceedings. In disgust, and frustration Chris accepted these harsher terms.
To learn more about his struggle or if you are in need of advice visit FixCAS.com and CanadaCourtWatch.com
[ Enclosed video of Chris Carter (Anthony O'Riley) speaking on release (mp4). ]
Defiance in the court
Thursday at the courthouse in Chatham, Chris Carter held his ground the best he could. Which is to say he held his ground, while being threatened with new charges, while a prisoner and in handcuffs. Carter was armed with legal statutes only memorized, a fearless approach to the court, and a T-shirt that advertised Canada Court Watch. Court officials expected a confrontational bail hearing. On Wednesday Carter had made 4 appearances in bail court and no agreement had been found, but the body of the court had exploded with loud support of Carter as he refused the conditions of his release. No agreement was made and his matter was put over until Thursday. He was before the court on a Personation charge that was laid after his arrest on Tuesday during a protest against Chatham-Kent Children’s Services.
Unusual Scene In The Court
Unusual steps were taken for the bail hearing. One court officer spoke with myself and a Canada Court Watch supporter, threatening us with removal from the court’s property and said we could not return if we clapped or made noise in support of Carter. The previous day supporters had disrupted the court with cheers and applause. I was not there, nor have I ever considered disrupting a court. Nonetheless because I sat beside a CCW supporter I too had the warning. There was a partial publication ban in place, preventing the reporting of CKCS worker names, which again was not going to happen in the CKReview anyway. A few armed officers stood at the back of the court and in the adjoining hallway. Carter had to remain in the body of the court after his release, until his paperwork had been signed.
Randy Semeniuk, Assistant Crown attorney, seemed impatient as Carter argued from his place of extreme disadvantage. Carter was asked if he accepted the terms of his release, to which Carter relented and said “unfortunately I accept”. Carter seemed more concerned about helping other people with their CKCS cases than his own freedom and expressed concerns he would be unable to do so on his release. Arguing with the crown on his conditions, Carter emphasized that he wished to have contact with CKCS workers indirectly, in emails that other families request he writes on their behalf. Carter assists people who have cases before CKCS and uses his legal experience to help them, people are often referred to him. Carter expressed concern that his writing style was unique, and although these cases did not involve Carter directly it would be obvious to Children’s Services workers who wrote the document. Semeniuk relented to this condition and included a provision on the conditions that stipulated Carter could have no verbal contact with CKCS employees. While clarifying the conditions, a rattled Miskokomon mis-stated them as ”having no contact or verbal contact”, when the provision as proposed by the crown was that there be no verbal contact only.
The Court Pushed Back
When first brought before the court, Carter was quite defiant and interrupted the crown as he spoke. Sometimes rambling, Carter brought arguments that would normally be brought during the course of a trial and not at a bail hearing. The crown, and the Justice of the Peace Marsha Miskokomon, argued right back and demanded Carter either agree to the terms of his release or not. Carter wanted more clarification however and demanded a “judicial reading”, which is a legal explanation of why the terms of his release had changed from the previous day. Miskokomon complied with Carter’s request and explained that Carter had refused the previous offer (and it was off the table), and on this day a new Assistant Crown was on the case and was entitled to make a new offer. Previously Carter had the right to speak with CAS, but on this day Semeniuk included that his release include the provision he could not do so. Outside the court Carter remarked “those things can be changed”, speaking about possibly having a hearing that could change the conditions of his release.
Carter is next in court on March 2, to set a date or for resolution. After yesterday’s proceedings, expect a date to be set for trial.
Source: CK Review
Release terms grudgingly accepted
COURT: Conditions include not associating with CKCS staff
The courtroom drama continued Thursday as an opponent of children's aid societies haggled with the Crown over terms of his release.
After spending two nights in custody since being arrested at a protest against Chatham-Kent Children's Services (CKCS) in Chatham on Tuesday, Chris Carter, a member of Canada Court Watch, grudgingly accepted conditions for his release during a bail hearing Thursday in Chatham.
There was a heavy court security presence as he was released into the body of the court to wait for paper work to be signed.
Carter, who represented himself at the bail hearing, faces a charge of personation with intent.
According to the statement of facts read into court, the charge stems from a Feb. 6 incident when he didn't give his legal name when asked by a CKCS worker. Carter was accompanying a local resident who had a meeting with the agency. He was refused entry into the CKCS office because he couldn't produce identification for the name he gave. The CKCS staffer recognized Carter's picture from the Internet and local police were called.
Carter told the court he wanted to audio record the bail hearing.
Assistant Crown attorney Randy Semeniuk said Carter would be required to make a formal application in writing, which he would review. However, this would have meant spending another night in custody.
Carter disagreed to having to make the application, noting he was promised during a court appearance on Wednesday, that he would have a bail hearing Thursday. He accused the Crown of taking a "malicious action."
Semeniuk asked Carter if he was prepared to agree to the proposed conditions. Carter said he wanted the Crown to provide specific reasons for the conditions.
"It's a yes or no," Semeniuk responded. "You either agree with them or not."
Carter, who agreed to the conditions under protest, told the court he was "going to take very good advantage of my freedom."
However, the haggling continued when Semeniuk outlined the conditions of the release.
The conditions state that Carter not attend within 100 metres of three CKCS sites in Chatham. He's also not to associate directly or indirectly with CKCS staff, except through the CKCS legal counsel.
Noting his involvement with Canada Court Watch includes helping people deal with CKCS matters, Carter wanted clarification if he would be violating the non-association condition if he crafted e-mail and written responses for others involved with the agency.
Semeniuk said Carter couldn't speak to any CKCS employees period.
During a court appearance on Wednesday, when Carter refused to accept the conditions of release, the issue of allowing him to attend internal CKCS complaint review panels and Child and Family Service Review Board hearings, was tentatively agreed to.
However, when Carter asked if that was now off the table, Semeniuk responded: "You heard the conditions."
Justice of the Peace Marsha Miskokomon reminded Carter he wouldn't agree to the conditions offered by a different Crown on Wednesday, but has agreed with the terms proposed by Semeniuk.
Source: Chatham Daily News
February 23, 2012 permalink
Child protectors steadily encroach on the parental rights of disfavored groups. Today's case: smokers.
Smokers losing child custody cases a growing trend
Would the possibility of losing custody of your children motivate you to quit smoking?
SAN DIEGO – February 21, 2012 – If you smoke cigarettes, by now you have heard all the reasons you should quit: the harm to your health, the expense, the limits on where you can indulge your habit.
How about the possibility of losing custody of your children? Would that motivate you to quit?
If you are involved in a child custody dispute and you are a cigarette smoker, your chance of getting full or even joint custody might go up in smoke.
States are increasingly factoring in cigarette smoking in making decisions about who gets custody of minor children. The group Action on Smoking and Health, an anti-tobacco advocacy group, surveyed custody issues involving cigarettes and tobacco use.
- In at least 18 states, courts have ruled that subjecting a child to tobacco smoke is a factor which should be considered in deciding custody.
- No judge and no court has ever ruled that subjecting a child to tobacco smoke should be ignored in deciding custody.
- In thousands of cases, courts have issued orders prohibiting smoking in the presence of a child, especially in vehicles.
- In some cases the orders prohibit smoking in a home 24 (or even 48) hours before the child arrives.
- In some cases, parents have lost custody or had visitation reduced because they subjected a child to tobacco smoke.
- Existing court orders regarding custody, visitation, etc. can often be modified if a child is being subjected to tobacco smoke.
- Courts sometimes consider the smoking habits of others who may have contact with the child, such as grandparents, friends, and “significant others” when making custody decisions.
Better kick the habit if you're seeking custody of your children.
So it’s no surprise that the issue of smoking is an effective threat for a nonsmoking parent to gain leverage in custody and visitation battles. An upstate New York judge ordered a woman to stop smoking in her home and in her car if she wanted to maintain her visitation rights with her 13-year-old son, who lives with his father.
In a Georgia case, the mother was addicted to smoking and after divorce it was found that her child had asthma. The court found that this mother was smoking in the presence of her child, which it said implied that she had insufficient concern for her child. This reason was considered strong enough for a change in custody.
Just as you don’t want your child endangering his well-being by reckless behavior such as riding a bicycle into traffic, secondhand smoke’s effects are by now well known and a legitimate concern for parents. Courts are sympathetic to this concern, especially if a child already has respiratory problems or allergies
Some parents quit smoking knowing a custody battle is ahead. While it won’t hurt, it might not help all that much. Judges are skeptical about whether a parent is simply going to start smoking again once their case is settled. If you continue to smoke, help your case by smoking only outdoors, and never in a vehicle. Don’t allow others to smoke in the presence of your children, even if you don’t smoke.
Civil libertarians and parents may argue that the state may expand its intrusion into other family affairs if it is allowed to limit the right of a private citizen to smoke as a condition of being a parent. What if the child drinks too many sugary sodas, or plays violent video games? Most people bristle at the thought the state can monitor what a child eats, even though most people understand that a high fat, high sugar diet can lead to serious medical problems such as obesity and diabetes. If the state can control smoking by parents, couldn’t the state also control the type of diet a parent provides their children? It’s doubtful we will slide down this slippery slope, since the consequences of second hand smoke are well documented scientifically, giving the state an interest.
But this argument might as well be saved. Many courts have already decided that smoking should be a factor in custody decisions. Judge William F. Chinnock, visiting Judge to the Ohio Supreme Court, said in a law review article that a "considered analysis of family law across the United States leads to this inescapable conclusion: a family court that does not issue court orders restraining persons from smoking in the presence of children under the court's care fails those children whom the law has entrusted to its care."
Maybe losing custody of your children should be added to the warnings on packs of cigarettes. It might finally motivate many smokers to kick the habit.
Source: Washington Times
February 22, 2012 permalink
Noah Bond, separated from his parents at birth by an adoption under duress, has been reunited with his family after a seven-year-struggle that reached the Missouri supreme court.
Parents Regain Custody of Son After Six Year Legal Battle
RAYTOWN, Mo. — Seven years after he was born, a Raytown boy is finally living with his biological parents. Noah Bond’s birth father fought all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court to get his son back.
Until August of 2011, Noah was living in Texas with a couple who wanted to adopt him and who had raised him since he was an infant. But the birth father, Craig Lentz had never agreed to the adoption and his girlfriend, Ebbie Bond says she only did so under duress.
Noah Bond is now seven-years-old, but his birthday in December was the first he ever spent with his parents. It was December 2004 when Craig Lentz filmed the birth of his son when his girlfriend gave birth. But during a bout of what she says was postpartum depression, Ebbie Bond agreed to give up custody.
Lentz’s name wasn’t on the birth certificate so he had no legal standing to stop the process.
“When we went to get it, there was no record that Noah was ever born.”
More than six years of legal battles followed with Stuart and Megan Taylor, who refused to talk with us the one time we caught up with them outside of court.
“Somehow the Taylor’s had changed Noah’s birth certificate without ever having an adoption and that if I died in the accident there would be no record that he was ever born and he would’ve just disappeared into Texas and that would’ve been that,” said Craig Lentz.
The accident Lentz refers to was a car crash on Highway 350 in June of 2010. He died on the operating table twice only to survive months of painful rehabilitation and more delays to his expensive custody battle.
“If you’ve got a college education and you’re able to raise a million dollars and you have a strong faith in god that you may eventually get part justice,” Lentz said.
Justice for Craig and Ebbie came in August when Craig was finally awarded permanent custody of Noah.
“I knew a time when I missed him so much and I wanted to see him every day and every child I ever saw reminded me of him and know I can get up in the morning and see him, see his face I don’t just have to imagine his face,” Bond said.
Now, in first grade, Noah’s parents say he’s adjusted well with the help of therapy.
“These people played keep away for six and a half years and now Noah’s returned to us, they wouldn’t even participate in the therapy that was ordered by the court,” Lentz said.
FOX 4 asked Noah if he wondered why he wasn’t living with his biological parents when he was living with the Taylor’s in Texas. Here’s how he responded.
“I didn’t know they were my mom and dad,” he said.
When the Taylor’s handed Noah off in August they left him a letter explaining they would be cutting off all contact.
“He needs to attach to Craig and Ebbie and the family he will be a part of,” Taylor said.
“I didn’t think I could love him more but my love has just deepened so much from actually being able to take care of him,” Bond said.
Craig Lentz was allowed visitation with Noah over the last six years but it was limited and Ebbie Bond wasn’t allowed to see him at all because legally, she had given up custody. But there’s nothing to keep her from seeing Noah since now that Craig has custody and the two are still a couple.
Powerful As God
February 22, 2012 permalink
Esther Buckareff has entered her documentary Powerful as God in several film festivals around the world. They do not want films available for public viewing on the internet, so the copy on her website, blakout.ca is now password protected. Interested viewers can get the password from Esther or from fixcas. Powerful as God now has a listing on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB).
Chris Carter Arrested
February 21, 2012 permalink
Chris Carter of Court Watch was arrested for Obstruction of Justice February 21, 2012 in Chatham. Carter had been protesting the CAS when he was arrested on a matter unrelated to the protest. Photo Danage.com
Source: CK Review
The Chatham Daily News reports on the arrest and Blackburn reports on the rally:
Outspoken opponent of children's aid societies arrested
No word on specific charge laid
An uneventful protest against the Chatham-Kent Children's Services (CKCS) took an unexpected turn when an organizer was arrested Tuesday afternoon.
Chris Carter, a member of Canada Court Watch, was arrested near where a group of protesters was gathered on Grand Avenue West at the roadway leading to the Chatham Courthouse. It's where the Chatham-Kent children's aid office is located.
Lee Bolton, a local member of Canada Court Watch, told The Chatham Daily News Carter was carrying someone's child back to a vehicle for a parent when he was arrested.
Two uniform officers and a plainclothes officer took part in the arrest, she said.
"They didn't want to say what they were arresting him for," Bolton explained, adding some protesters asked police why Carter was taken into custody.
Carter, a vocal critic of the child protection system, arrived in Chatham last month with the intention of helping local residents navigate the legal maze of the children's aid society.
Tuesday marked the third protest in Chatham-Kent organized by Carter through Court Watch. The grassroots organization is pressing the province to allow for the Ontario ombudsman to be allowed to investigate complaints against children's aid societies.
Attendance at Tuesday's protest was less than the first protest in January. Organizers said a candlelight vigil held Monday night at the corner of Grand Avenue and St. Clair Street attracted about 50 people.
Chatham-Kent police told The Daily News a male was arrested near the protest on an "unrelated criminal code matter."
However, information about the specific charge laid against Carter wasn't available.
Bolton believes the charge has been "trumped up" because of Carter's activities in the community.
"He's doing a lot of damage to children's aid, he's exposing them," she said.
Dave Burgess was among the members of the Sarnia-based Canadians for Family Law Reform who attended Tuesday's protest. He said the group came to Chatham to support Canada Court Watch, as both groups have similar issues with children's aid societies.
"I'm not surprised to see people start getting arrested because we're starting to get on their case," he said. "They know what we're saying is right and they don't like the attention."
Burgess said the attention is "way overdue," noting there are thousands of people across the province using the power of social media to put their issues in the public eye.
The Sarnia organization is fighting for anyone with family law issues to have the right to bring in a recording device into their court proceedings. This has been denied at the Sarnia courthouse.
"It's an open court, it should be clear and transparent," Burgess said Tuesday. "Anybody should be able to use (a recorder) anytime they walk into a court."
Source: Chatham Daily News
Group Wants CAS Changes
A group calling for the Ontario Ombudsman to have the power to investigate Children’s Aid Societies held a demonstration in on Grand Avenue this afternoon.
Chris Carter of Canada Court Watch says the group believes the agency unfairly takes away children from parents, and says information used should be subject to public disclosure.
“Ontario spends more on child protection than any other province in the country by far,” he says. “Yet the government refuses to make the necessary changes to allow the Ombudsman to investigate Children’s Aid Societies.”
Police made an arrest during while the demonstration was going on and released a statement saying they arrested a 46 year old man near the demonstration on an unrelated criminal code matter.
Source: CKSY Blackburn News
Addendum: Carter was arrested for impersonation, identifying himself to CAS with a name other than Chris Carter. On Wednesday February 22 he was offered a release subject to conditions, but refused to agree to staying away from children's aid offices. He remains in jail and will have a bail hearing on Thursday. Four reports are enclosed.
Publication ban for Chris Carter
At the Chatham courthouse today, 425 Grand Ave. W, Chris Carter of Canada Court Watch appeared before a judge, facing a charge of personation. Earlier reports said the charge was obstruction of justice and that was either changed or never happened.
On February 21, 2012, at about 1:30 pm the Chatham police arrested Carter near the same address. Carter was involved in a protest that demanded Ombudsman oversight of the CAS. We cannot report the details of the case as they took place in court as a publication ban is in effect. We can report that Carter had temporarily left the protest to help another protester bring a small child to a vehicle, presumably to warm up.
Outside the court two of his supporters I spoke with both said Carter had attended a CAS meeting while trying to help a friend. They said CAS workers had already been banned from speaking with Carter. Carter went to the meeting with his friend and introduced himself by his middle name and his mothers maiden name. They said Carter was originally charged with obstruction of justice.
Supporters on a Facebook group, called “Stop the Children’s Aid Society from taking children from good parents“ praise Carter’s efforts. They point out that the law for personation states “Every one who fraudulently personates any person, living or dead”, to which there is no such person living or dead. In the court of public opinion he has already been exonerated.
When I spoke with Carter, at the CAS protest on Grand Ave., only an hour before his arrest, he asked that I video events as they unfolded. Two Chatham-Kent Police Service officers were approaching. When the police arrived they said they had a complaint about protesters waving their signs too close to the roadway, and merely asked that protesters stay on the sidewalk. Once they left I had no sign from Carter that a video camera would be of use or that an arrest was imminent. It appears the police waited until Carter was away from the protest to arrest him, so as to avoid aggravating the crowd of protesters.
Friends indicated Carter had supporters from Canada Court Watch from as far away as Peterborough coming to Chatham to help him, and join in the protests against CAS.
Source: CK Review
Chris Carter of Canada Court Watch Arrested
Chris Carter who is a local CAS activist was arrested at Chatham Kent Child Aid Services on Grand Avenue West and charged with Obstruction of Justice, later the charge was changed to Personation. Chris has been trying to contact Mike Stephens Executive Director of CKCAS, Mr. Stephens communicated to his employees that if Chris Carter attempts to speak with anyone to direct Mr. Carter to Mr. Stephens. A local family requested Chris accompany them to a meeting with CAS, Chris not wanting to be thrown out of the CAS building just for being an activist gave a false name. Upon leaving the building due to not being able to prove his false identity CKPS arrested Mr. Carter. Today in court The Crown offered to release Mr. Carter under conditions of:
- $1500 bail
- No communication with CKCAS employees direct or indirect except through legal council and such communication will be in writing, email, or during review court proceedings.
- Not to attend or be within 100m of CKCAS with the exception for court proceedings.
Mr. Carter profoundly refused the conditions and demanded to be read the line from the criminal code that defines the law he broke. The court repeated the accused charges and did not read the criminal code definition.
Court proceedings begin at 1030am stay tuned for more information.
Chad Wells I went to Chris's court case today....The Judge and lawyers were shocked when he staretd citing case law and parts of the criminal code that the crown did not even know.....at one point appulase broke out inside the court room for Mr. Carter. I wish I could write more but they'll be at my door to arrest me with the publication ban.
Source: Facebook, Stop CAS
Handcuffed defendant goes into lawyer mode
LAW: Chris Carter held in custody for second night
It's not uncommon for someone to represent themselves in court, but it's typically not done while standing, handcuffed, in the prisoner's box.
Chris Carter, a member of Canada Court Watch, went into lawyer mode in a Chatham courtroom Wednesday. Carter was arguing against the conditions of his release, after being charged Tuesday with personation with intent by the Chatham-Kent Police Service.
The Crown agreed to release Carter, who was held in custody overnight after being arrested at a protest rally against Chatham-Kent Children's Services (CKCS). But only if he agreed to certain conditions.
The conditions included abstaining from communicating directly or indirectly with CKCS employees - except through the agency's legal counsel - not to attend or be within 100 metres of the CKCS office, and to live at his current residence.
"I'm not going to agree to any terms or conditions for bail," the 45-year-old man told the court. "That's my final offer."
Carter argued he shouldn't have to agree to any conditions because "you're violating my charter rights. I did not commit any Criminal Code of Canada violation."
The statement of facts read into court by assistant Crown attorney Heather McIntyre, outlined how Carter had contacted the CKCS on a number of occasions in January "hassling" staff for information.
When Carter went to the CKCS office earlier this month to assist a local resident, the court heard that Carter was asked his name by a CKCS staffer.
Carter gave a different name than his legal name, but couldn't produce identification when asked by the CKCS worker. Court heard the worker identified Carter from a photo on the Internet and police were called.
Carter demanded that the section of the criminal code for the charge of personation be read in court.
"That's really pathetic," he retorted, after the section was read.
There was a lengthy discussion between McIntyre and duty counsel lawyer David Sandor, who was representing Carter, about the parameters of a publication ban to be imposed.
McIntyre expressed concerns the facts of the case could identify people involved in a children's aid society matter.
Sandor could appreciate that concern, but noted Carter believes there is public interest in the matter and wanted details of the allegations reported in the media.
Court was recessed for more than an hour Wednesday, to give both sides time to further research the matter.
It appeared there was an agreement reached to not include the names of some witnesses, but Carter insisted the publication ban not include the identities of CKCS staff.
"We either have an agreement or not," said a visibly agitated McIntyre, noting it was getting late and it was the third time Carter has been before the court that day for the matter.
The acrimony continued as Carter steadfastly refused to agree to any conditions for his release.
This resulted in him being held overnight for a bail hearing, scheduled for Thursday.
Before being remanded into custody, Carter demanded a free copy of the transcripts from Wednesday's proceedings. He also told the court he didn't want to be held in the cells at police headquarters, noting he would prefer to go to the local jail.
Source: Chatham Daily News
Addendum: Chatham This Week covered the rally.
Protesters call for more oversight of government agencies like CAS
Three protesters demonstrated in front of the police station in Chatham Feb. 23 to decry what they see as a lack of oversight for governmentfunded agencies such as Chatham-Kent Children's Services.
Members of the group were also among those who demonstrated on Feb. 21 in front of the Children's Services office on Grand Avenue West.
Tom Verburg said they are calling for the Ontario Ombudsman's office to have more authority over the activities of what he calls 'MUSH' - Municipalities, Universities, Schools and Hospitals.
In particular, members of the small group that demonstrated last Thursday were upset over the actions of Children's Services because of issues they have had involving the custody of, and access to, their children.
Verburg said he was allowed almost no contact with his two young daughters for a period of about three months last fall because of allegations that he said were false.
"The system needs to be held accountable," said Verburg, who addressed passersby with a megaphone and quoted from a copy of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - legislation he says government organizations routinely violate against innocent citizens.
The group also protested the arrest two days earlier of Children's Services protester Chris Carter. Carter was arrested during the Grand Avenue West protest and spent two nights in jail. He has been charged with personation - giving a false name while inside Children's Services.
While Verburg was being interviewed, a passing driver honked the horn at the protesters and Carter, seated in the front passenger seat, waved to them as he passed. The group expressed pleasure that he had been released.
"He didn't give his legal name," said Verburg of Carter. "He went to support a friend who was involved with Children's Aid and he was asked his name. We have a right to refuse giving our name."
Verburg said he has learned more about the flaws of the system from Carter and from his own experiences.
"I want to raise awareness for the public," he said.
Two women also protested with Verburg in front of the police station. Although they were willing to talk to the media, both declined to identify themselves.
One of the women said there must be more oversight of organizations like Children's Aid. She said money is being wasted. She also said parents are often victims of false accusations and can have their children taken away from them without a legitimate reason.
The other protester said she is not a drug user or alcohol drinker, but had her children taken away from her for more than two years before getting them back. The protesters say they are members of Canadacourtwatch.com - an organization that is attempting to expose what it says is abuse of the system by government agencies.
Source: Chatham This Week
Family Day Vigil
February 21, 2012 permalink
Vigils occurred in several cities and towns to remember Ontario's broken families. Here is a set of photos from the vigil in Chatham     and a video of Chris Carter YouTube and local copy (mp4)
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Press coverage of the Chatham vigil:
Is CAS trying to steal your children?
Monday evening local Chatham Kent residents gathered on the corner of St. Clair and Grand Avenue to hold a vigil in memory of the families ripped apart by Children’s Aid Services. In Canada most provinces have a government run Children’s Aid Service, in Ontario that’s not the case. CAS is a private industry and Chris Carter of Canada Court Watch claims it’s one shrouded in secrecy, backroom deals and executives raking in the cash. In a documentary soon to be released through Canada Court Watch a former CAS employee exposes startling issues withing the OACAS, and even claims that babies are being auctioned off to high profile bidders.
There is a serious problem and it begins with accountability. When a CAS worker believes that there is “risk of imminent harm” (physical, mental, social, sexual) they may with cooperation of local police remove the child from the home and place them into CAS care. There is no warrant needed for the police to enter and there are no records kept of unwarranted removals.
The next area of accountability involves deaths of children in CAS care. There are no statistics on the number of deaths or the number of deaths caused by CAS workers themselves. There are some parents who believe that CAS has gone as far as to murder their child. Why would CAS want to murder children? CAS is accused of taking out life insurance policies on government wards, (children in CAS care). When accused the reply from CAS was that if it is happening they are unaware if it.
There is also a factor of the cost, it costs approximately $10k per assessment and the number of assessments in specific communities is private information. The information provided from OACAS is convoluted and offers no explanation as to why they keep no statistics on specifics like these.
The funding model now in place allows for funds to be directed to CAS only when they decide a child must be taken into custody. This system creates what some call a bounty on our children. Similar to how pharmaceutical companies need sick people, CAS needs the pain and suffering of children in order to operate. There is room for organizations like CAS to do good things in our community, and they certainly do. there are obviously children who need parents, and there needs to be a system to accomplish parental accountability, as well as CAS accountability. The Ombudsman (an independent provincial government watchdog) could be granted jurisdiction over CAS and there would be a level of accountability that does not currently exist.
Chris Carter left multiple voice mail messages for Mike Stephens the Executive Director of Chatham-Kent Children’s Aid Services requesting a copy of the polices and procedures, as well as bylaws and the process for attending CAS meetings. His calls have not been returned.
Danage.com attempted to contact Mike Stephens but his voicemail states that he is gone for the week attending various meetings in Toronto and London. I look forward to a call from Mr Stephens so he can clear the air and let the public know his opinion on these problems. We would like to give Mr Stephen’s the benefit of the doubt and consider it a coincidence that he is out-of-town the week that a CAS protest appears. Additional rallies are being held this week and more information is available through CanadaCourtWatch.com and FixCAS.com
Pat Niagara On February 20, 2012 on Clifton Hill tonight in Niagara Falls a scant few members showed up for a Candlelit Vigil in Memory of Families Destroyed by CAS and Family Courts. Thanks to those who made it out and for the camaraderie. Thank you to Kim Shook, Shannon Horner-Edsal and her son Austin, Jessica Pelissero, Kevin Harris, Bobbie Gellner and Beverly Putt Gilbert, our newest addition.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Earlier CCW members gathered petition signatures at the CAS-organized Free Skate.
Pat Niagara On February 20. 2012 members of Canada Court Watch converged on Niagara area arenas at a FACS (CAS) Family Skate Day in order to educate the public and collect signatures for Ombudsman Oversight of the MUSH sector. All totalled over 150 signatures were obtained.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Addendum: While executive director Mike Stephens would not talk to reporter Dan Age, Chatham-Kent CAS spokesman Kim Mugridge spoke with another reporter. In the interest of fairness, here is the whole report. Mugridge sticks to the politically correct party-line.
Maintaining connections is key
FOSTERING: Local homes badly needed
The face of fostering is changing.
"The whole goal of foster care is reunification," said Kim Mugridge, foster care/adoption family recruiter for the Chatham-Kent Children's' Services. "We want communication (with the birth family) to be more open, because the whole goal is for the children to go back to their homes."
Maintaining a child's connection to family, friends, community and social activities is key for the reunification process to run smoothly, Mugridge said. A shortage of foster homes is forcing area children to be placed anywhere from 45 minutes to four hours away from Chatham-Kent.
"Our other focus is finding kin families, placements within extended family, where we can reunite children with their ...aunt or cousin," said CKCS adoption services worker Tracy Thomas.
There is also a need for local families interested in adopting, she said.
"We want families locally so the children don't have to move out of the area," Thomas explained. "There is an increased focus on maintaining openness to the birth family."
The training adoptive and foster families receive highlights the positive aspects of maintaining connections with the child's birth family, Thomas said.
She believes local families look overseas to adopt because they don't realize there is a need within their own community, or they are looking for babies and toddlers.
"For children over the age of five, our need is always greater," she said. "We've also had very few families come forward who were willing to adopt two or more children. That's our other priority - keeping our siblings together."
Mugridge said both foster and adoption applications follow a similar process that takes between six to nine months. Families also go through a nine-week training program addressing the rewards and challenges of being a foster or adoptive family.
Information nights, like the one being hosted at CKCS Feb. 23 from 7-9 p.m., are an opportunity for people interested in adopting or fostering to have questions answered.
"We're going to break the myths that have been out there for so many years," said Mugridge. "(Like) there is a waiting list for adoption and as you move up that list you are given a child. That's not how it works, it's a matching process."
Thomas said another common myth is that you must be a heterosexual married couple.
"We do not discriminate against single applicants, divorced, married, same sex," Thomas said. "We're always looking for a variety of cultures. Matching is our priority, to find the best match for a child."
Perhaps the biggest myth Thomas hopes is erased from public perception is about the children themselves.
"(People believe) children available for adoption are all damaged, that their needs are very high, I think that's definitely a myth," she said. "There are kids who come in from a bad situation and just need a family. There are other ones that do have higher needs, and may need a more experienced family."
To register for the information night please call 519-352-0440 or email email@example.com
Source: Chatham Daily News
One note from Brantford:
Brantford Ont. Rally In Memory of Destroyed and Broken Families by Children's Aid Society and Family Courts had an attendance of 9 with a visit by the Brant News for pictures and interview. Of course nothing was printed does that surprise anyone.
What Happens to Foster Graduates?
February 21, 2012 permalink
Would you like to know how well foster children do later in life? There is no way to find out through official sources. Nobody keeps track. Notwithstanding the views expressed by scholars and child protectors in the enclosed article, it is a good guess that the child protectors don't want you to know. That's because any honest information would show how terrible the outcomes really are.
Since there are no official source, fixcas is stepping in to give the best available information on foster outcomes. First, here are some articles relating to the foster care system as a whole:
Here are some individual cases of foster graduates:
An outcome not shown in the above lists is for a few unfortunate children arriving in Canada at a young age and raised as foster or adoptive children. On their first encounter with police after reaching age of majority they can be deported to a country where they do not know the language or customs.
Data lacking on numbers, services for foster kids
MONTREAL — Anyone seeking a national snapshot of the average child in foster care in Canada, especially how their experiences helped shape their adult life, is flat out of luck.
No reliable national statistics exist on children in foster care in the country, a situation compounded by the differences in how data is collected at the provincial and territorial levels.
"We know ridiculously little about these kids," said Nico Trocme, who directs the Centre for Research on Children and Families at McGill University in Montreal.
"I can't answer a basic question like how many kids are in foster care in Canada," says Trocme, whose research is carried out in collaboration with a number of Canadian universities.
Trocme, who works with governments and social service agencies to help them target services, said corporations are often more rigorous at profiling their clientele.
It can easily cost taxpayers $1 million to care for a child who comes into foster care as an infant and leaves when they're 20, says Virginia Rowden, social policy director for the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies.
"I want to know how that investment made a difference," she said. "We don't have a way of doing that."
Knowing how a child turned out can be helpful in determining the efficiency of services, she said.
"Are they working? Are they educated? Are they healthy? Are they forming their own families? Are they living on the street? Are they sick? We don't know those things."
The lack of reliable national data on kids in foster care in Canada is something that can pose a challenge to policy-makers, observers say.
"The real value of this information is it allows more reflection, more comparative understanding in producing successful outcomes," says Peter Dudding, the chief executive of the Child Welfare League of Canada.
Dudding said being able to compare jurisdictions allows governments and agencies to ask more pointed questions about services and how they're delivered.
Members of a Parliamentary committee studying adoption in Canada found the lack of national data was a hurdle in completing their work, Dudding said he was told.
"The first obstacle they ran into was the one around the lack of data," he said. The chairman of the committee declined to comment until its report is released.
Trocme said there is not a complete lack of information. Provinces and territories do track their charges to some extent.
"But every province categorizes foster care in a different way," he said. "Ontario is a good example. That information really falls at the level of different agencies. There's 15 agencies, they each count things differently."
Rowden said that three years ago her organization asked its members to help in a survey to determine how many of their wards had graduated from high school because there is no data.
Ninety-seven per cent of the agencies contributed, their staff having to manually check all their files for the information.
"What we found is ... that we have abysmal graduation rates for kids up to the age of 21," she said, adding data indicated that around 42 per cent graduated from high school.
A similar study two years later suggested that number had climbed to 44 per cent although Rowden said even that number is distorted.
Rowden said she'd actually like to see a better interpretation of existing data as well.
Dawn Levine, a spokeswoman for Ontario's Ministry of Children and Youth Services, says Ontario only tracks data on children and youths who have been wards of the province for two years or more.
Statistics, such as how many times the child has been in care or moved, educational progress and care plans, are compiled through annual reviews of these wards' cases.
Levine, who said fewer foster children are coming into care in Ontario recently, said the ministry regularly uses "inter-jurisdictional information" when devising policy.
"This includes identifying national trends and best practices related to family and child services," she said.
The federal Human Resources Department said it works with provinces on developing programs and services but it is up to the provinces to implement them when it comes to foster care.
"There is considerable diversity between jurisdictions on how these programs are delivered, making it difficult to compile statistics on a national level," an unidentified department spokesman said in an email response to questions.
Sheila Durnford, president of the Canadian Foster Family Association, said the need for reliable national statistics had come up in discussions with Human Resources when her group worked with the Child Welfare League on a program to recruit and train foster families across Canada.
"One of the things the federal government asked us to do was try to find out national statistics," she said. Although progress had been made, it wasn't easy.
"It's more involved than going into each province's statistics because each province does things so differently and some provinces do it better than others," said Durnford, who has been a foster parent for 25 years.
Durnford, who lives in Langley, B.C., said her province does a good job of collecting data but she sees the value in compiling national data, saying she believes it would help the care network develop. She pointed out it would also help greatly when it comes to funding.
"Whenever you're asking for funding from any government, they always work on statistics," she said.
February 20, 2012 permalink
An article on an American Amber alert is enclosed because one of the few times we can see foster children, and their names, is when social services is asking for the public to help in reincarcerating them.
Still no sign of three missing Caldwell children
Las Vegas -- Nevada Highway Patrol confirms to our Las Vegas affiliate KTNV-TV that Bertha Alicia Guerrero-Lopez was pulled over early Saturday morning in Tonopah, Nevada for a minor traffic violation.
At that current time, the Amber Alert was not yet issued and NHP says the children were not in the car with Guerrero-Lopez.
The foster parent of the children, Catalina Godina, tells us Guerrero-Lopez has family in Las Vegas and Arizona. She said nothing was out of the ordinary when the mother picked up the kids Friday.
"She seemed overly excited, just very happy," said Godina. "From what I understand, she was almost close to getting custody back of the children. I just figured she was happy to see them and get the chance to visit with them."
Godina and her husband said they do not believe Guerrero-Lopez would harm her children. However, they said the biological mother is known to have a boyfriend with a violent background. They said the kids have been abandoned in the past and the foster care family fears for their safety and health.
BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- Authorities in southwest Idaho issued an Amber Alert early Sunday morning for three children who police say weren't returned to their foster home after a visit with their non-custodial mother.
Police in Caldwell say 35-year-old Bertha Alicia Guerrero-Lopez picked up the children about 3 p.m. Friday but didn't return them at the scheduled time of 3 p.m. Saturday.
Authorities say Guerrero-Lopez has a residence in Nevada and a history of drug abuse and child abandonment.
She is described as 5-foot-1, 139 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes.
Police say they may be traveling in a grey Oldsmobile with Nevada license plates.
The children are 9-year-old Ubaldo Guerrero-Lopez Jr., 7-year-old Mirella Guerrero-Lopez, and 5-year-old Esmerelda Guerrero-Lopez.
If you have seen a grey Pontiac Oldsmobile with NV Plate 389XPR, you are asked to call Caldwell Police Department at 208-454-7531 or 911.
Addendum: On February 24 the FBI announced that mother Bertha Alicia Guerrero-Lopez had successfully escaped to Mexico with the three children, and the Amber alert was canceled.
Social Service Refugees
February 20, 2012 permalink
Christopher Booker discusses the flight of oppressed families from England to Ireland and the relentless efforts by British social workers to repatriate and punish the refugees.
Irish social workers are horrified by their ruthless English counterparts
Families fleeing the interventions of social workers have been finding a far more humane approach across the water.
Such is the reign of terror now being imposed on innocent English families by social workers that scores of parents have been fleeing with their children to Ireland to escape their clutches. I have followed a dozen such stories over the past two years, and in all of them two things stand out. One is that the English social workers seem prepared to stop at nothing to get the children back. The other is the extraordinary contrast between them and the Irish social workers, who again and again have satisfied themselves that the children are at no risk from their loving parents and are astonished by the ruthless behaviour of their English counterparts.
Several of these stories I have reported more than once and they do not have happy endings. A mother and baby were pursued to Ireland by six social workers and police, who sat in Dublin for 10 days of court hearings, until a judge ruled in their favour (with the social workers seen giving “high fives” on emerging from the court). When the mother again escaped to a remote cottage, she was violently knocked down by a policeman, so that her baby could be taken back to England.
Vicky Haigh, a former racehorse trainer, managed to escape to Ireland before her daughter was born. But then she was brought to England to be quite bizarrely punished, in a case relating to her beloved older daughter, with a three-year prison sentence – leaving her baby to be looked after in Ireland.
A 14-year-old boy lived happily with his mother in Ireland for six months until, after an equally bizarre judgment based on evidence neither he nor his mother were allowed to see, he was deported miserably back to care in England.
Last week, another such story came my way. It concerns a respectable family which was hit with disaster last summer, after the semi-autistic 8-year-old son –who tends to make things up – had lashed out at his 13-year-old sister, leaving bruises. When these were investigated, the boy told the police that his father had done it. The girl denied this – and the boy admitted in video evidence what had really happened – but the police stuck with his earlier story and arrested the father. Although he was never charged, the interventions of social workers became so menacing that, last October, the family escaped to Ireland, where the father has his roots.
There they have happily settled, and the 13-year-old daughter has become a star pupil of the local school. But the social workers eventually tracked them down – after the children’s grandmother, back in England, had been arrested by 10 police officers, handcuffed, held for three hours in a cell, and told she would be charged with perverting the course of justice unless she revealed their whereabouts. The English social workers pressed their Irish counterparts to co-operate in getting the children back to England (there are no court orders), but were told there was no reason for this because the children were in no danger.
The social workers then tried to lean on the school principal, saying that the children were “at risk of emotional harm”. The sensible headmistress gave them very short shrift, saying that the English social workers had behaved deplorably in trying to destroy a perfectly normal family, and that England’s loss was Ireland’s gain, since the girl was a brilliant pupil, who was learning five languages. Thanks to their origins, the family will soon be safely confirmed as Irish citizens.
What is striking about these stories is how often the parents emphasise the contrast between the two countries’ social workers. “In England,” says this father, “we were treated like dangerous criminals. In Ireland the social workers could not be more different, warm, friendly, treating us like human beings.” And of course it is in England that the number of children taken into care has soared to a record level, just having topped 900 a month. There is a phenomenon of group psychology here that deserves much wider attention than it is being given.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
February 18, 2012 permalink
Think you don't have to worry about foster care when you don't have kids? When you're not in foster care yourself? Casey-Lyanne Carney had no contact with the child protection system, except that she was killed by one of its graduates. Hannah Bonser spent a decade in British foster homes. On February 14 she stabbed her victim chosen at random in a park.
Doncaster murder: park stabbing girl’s family face accused woman in court
The mother of 13-year-old stabbing victim Casey Kearney has paid an emotional tribute to her “beautiful and intelligent” daughter as her child's accused killer appeared in court.
Hannah Bonser, 26, appeared in court on Thursday charged with the murder of the teenager who was found stabbed to death in a park in Doncaster, South Yorks.
The teenager's parents released a statement describing their grief as losing a child with "her whole life ahead of her".
They said: "Losing Casey has been so painful words cannot begin to explain.
"She was the most beautiful, intelligent and bright young girl with her whole life ahead of her. We need time alone with family and friends to start to come to terms with our loss."
The teenager lived with her mother, Kelly Day and stepfather, Mark Day. Her natural father is Anthony Kearney, a mechanic.
Casey’s great aunt, Pamela Cullen, added: "She was a vibrant young 13-year-old girl that did everything 13-year-olds do. She would come home from school, she would cause no bother and she was just a beautiful girl."
Members of Casey’s family sat at the back of Court 1 at Doncaster Magistrates’ Court, some wiping away tears, as Bonser emerged handcuffed from a weighted door and shuffled into the glass-panelled dock a few feet away.
Bonser, mousy-haired and with a black tattoo on her left arm, was escorted into the courtroom by two security guards, one of them a woman.
In court she spoke in a whisper to confirm her name, address and date of birth, and to acknowledge the charges against her. For most of the hearing her head was bowed, her eyes gazing at the floor.
Bonser, of Doncaster, is charged with both murder and the possession of two knives. She was remanded in custody until February 23, when she is due to appear at Sheffield Crown Court.
Bonser’s brother Ben said that his sister had a difficult childhood in foster care after their mother died when she was nine.
Mr Bonser said the pair had been raised as Mormons in a happy home in Doncaster until the death of their mother, Roberta, at the age of 48.
Their father, Ronald, was too depressed to care for them, so they spent their teenage years being passed between foster families.
Mr Bonser said: "I am so bewildered that she has been arrested. I am devastated for that family."
Casey’s parents learned on Valentine’s Day that she had been fatally stabbed after catching a bus from Rossington so she could visit friends.
She was walking through Elmfield Park, Doncaster, when an assailant inflicted a single stab wound to her abdomen.
The teenager managed to dial 999 on her mobile before collapsing near a children’s play area. She died eight hours later in Doncaster Royal Infirmary.
Police have described the incident as a “random, isolated attack” and appealed for witnesses to come forward.
One of Casey’s friends, Alisha Leggot, recalled how she had repeatedly tried to make contact early on Tuesday afternoon.
“I rang a few times,” she told ITV News. “I left some voicemails to tell her to contact us because we were worried about her.
"But we knew what had gone off in the park and I think one of us literally had a feeling that something had gone wrong but I just didn't want to believe it.
"Everyone was saying it was Casey on Facebook and then I got in last night and turned on the news because we knew it would be on there. I saw Casey's picture and it just broke me. I don't really know what to do."
She later added: "Casey was amazing. She was there for us all when we needed her . She was just so nice."
Catherine Brown, the head of McAuley Catholic High School, said staff had been “shocked and saddened” to learn of the teenager’s death.
She added: “Casey was a valued member of her form and year group and will be sadly missed by friends, pupils and staff.
"We are all thinking of her family and friends at this time.”
Thursday's proceedings in Court 1 lasted 15 minutes. Jill Seddons, prosecuting, told the bench how at 1.18pm on Tuesday Casey had dialled 999 to tell the operator: “I’ve just been stabbed”.
Moments later another voice came onto the phone, saying: “I’ve just come across this girl. I’m going to try to help her. Can you get the ambulance and the police?”
Medical staff tried in vain to save Casey’s life. She died after developing complications.
Elizabeth Atkinson, the chairman of the bench, told Bonser she was being remanded in custody pending a hearing at Sheffield Crown Court on February 23. The defendant’s arms were hanging loosely at her side.
She glanced up briefly, then extended her right arm so the woman security officer could put the handcuffs back in place before leading her away.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
February 18, 2012 permalink
Monday, February 20, is Family Day in Ontario. Events supporting families will take place in:
We're holding a green candlelight vigil for 2 hours in memory of all the lost, broken and destroyed families. Hoping other communities will do the same in support of these families. Green represents fertility which is why we have chosen this color. Any and all people are welcome with any color candle.
Source: CAS Ontario
The family destruction industry has tried to usurp family day. Enclosed is a promotional piece given to MyKawartha promoting the local children's aid society.
CAS program tries to preserve family life
Behavioural therapy teaches basic parenting skills to bring children home sooner
(PETERBOROUGH) A healthy family environment is important.
So important, there's now a holiday to celebrate it, and to encourage families to spend some quality time together. But without confidence and a knowledge of proper parenting skills, family life can get tricky. For some parents, it means having their child taken away until they can provide a safe and healthy environment.
The Haliburton-Kawartha Children's Aid Society is working to get children back in their homes sooner. The society's Family Preservation Program does just that - helps to preserve family, through behavioural therapy.
Through supervised access for families and at-home behavioural support, workers spend a few hours each week teaching parents skills ranging from child management and infant care to hygiene and interaction.
For each family the program is a little different, depending on their needs.
Erin Hentig, a team leader with the program, says the main goal is to keep the child at home, or work to bring the child home.
"We meet with the case worker and with the family to collect information on where the family is now, then go into an intervention stage where we work towards foals with the families," she says, noting the plans are often modified as the workers discover what works best for each individual family. "Once the family meets the objectives we close their file and continue to monitor their progress."
The family then remains as participants in the program until their child is returned home - a decision left to their case worker.
The local society is the only branch of Children's Aid Society to implement a behavioural analysis program - and it's success speaks for itself.
"Our success rates are fairly high for the families that are engaged," says Ms Hentig. "(Parents) often say we gave them the skills and determination and ultimately the confidence to be able to parent their children."
Ms Hentig says one family calls workers monthly to give an update of their progress. The parents previously struggled with addiction.
"Their file has been closed for a year-and-a-half now," says Ms Hentig. "They've been sober all this time and they're doing great."
Each month, the program receives anywhere from five to 15 referrals for families needing help.
Ms Hentig is on-track to become the program's first certified behaviourist this year, after recently completing a Masters in applied disability studies at Brock University. Ms Hentig is also completing 1500 hours of supervised work in the program.
"Behavioural therapy has always fascinated me," she says. "I really like working with people to teach them the skills they need to succeed in life. It's exciting when a family reaches their goals and feels adequate to parent their child in an engaging environment."
The program could benefit other communities as well, says Ms Hentig.
"It's important for some families for someone to go into their home to provide intensive routines for a couple of hours every week - you really start to see a difference," she says.
The program partners with various community outlets including Early Years, the health unit and school boards to provide up-to-date information and resources to families.
Source: My Kawartha (Metroland)
Another effort to usurp family day is taking place in the Niagara region, where FACS Niagara has organized a Family Day Free Skate (promotional poster pdf). The CAS Ontario group, allied with Canada Court Watch, will be gathering petition signatures outside the Free Skate events supporting ombudsman oversight of children's aid. Here is their announcement.
February 17, 2012 permalink
Chatham-Kent CAS is inviting clients to participate in a study conducted through the University of Western Ontario. It is called Continuity of Care in Children's Mental Health. Chances are CAS is promoting it because they expect the outcome will support them in some way.
Fixcas does not have the questionnaire. If you have one, please forward a copy to Canada Court Watch or fixcas.
Here is the invitation, with the client's name, address and exact date fictionalized.
495 Grand Ave. West, Chatham, Ontario N7L 1C5
Phone: 519-352-0440 Fax: 519-352-4152
1 Main Street
February (day), 2012
Dear Parent/Guardian of John Jr,
Researchers from Western University (formerly the University of Western Ontario) are doing a study about families' experiences of receiving children's mental health services. Chatham-Kent Children's" Services has decided to be part of the study because we think the results will help us better understand how we can improve our services.
The study, entitled 'Continuity of Care in Children's Mental Health,' will ask about different aspects of the care you have received, including relationships with staff and communication related to your child's care. The researchers are looking for parents of children ages 4 to 18 years. In order to complete the forms, you should have had 3 or more visits with staff from Chatham-Kent Children's Services in the past year.
You can find more information on the enclosed letter of information and on the study website, at www.continuitystudy.uwo.ca.
We ask that you indicate on the form included here if you are willing to be contacted and return the form to the research team, using the stamped envelope provided. If you are interested, a researcher from Western will then follow up with you by telephone to give you more details about the study and answer any questions you may have.
Your decision to participate or not will not affect the services you receive at Chatham-Kent Children's Services.
Thank you for your interest.
JoDee Anderson, M.A.
Director, Mental Health & Development
Continuity of Care in Children's Mental Health
The UNIVERSITY of WESTERN ONTARIO
Westminster Hall, 3rd Floor East • London, ON • N6A 3K7
1-877-850-2336 • www.continuitystudy.uwo.ca
Continuity of Care in Children's Mental Health: Development of a Measure
PARENT LETTER OF INFORMATION
Investigators: Graham J. Reid, Ph.D. Psychology & Family Medicine, UWO Principal Investigator Juliana Tobon, M.Sc. Psychology, UWO Co-Investigator Shannon Stewart, Ph.D Child and Parent Resource Institute Co-Investigator Barrie Evans, Ph.D. Thames Valley District School Board Co-Investigator Judith B. Brown, Ph.D. Family Medicine, UWO Co-Investigator Richard Goffm, Ph.D. Psychology, UWO Co-Investigator
The purpose of this research is to find out how parents experience continuity of care in the children's mental health system. We are also interested in looking at how continuity of care is related to the amount of time in treatment, parental stress levels, and satisfaction with services. You were invited to be a part of this study because you contacted one of several children's agencies in Southern Ontario participating in this study.
First, you will receive a questionnaire by email or in the mail that will take about 45 minutes to complete. The questionnaire will ask you about your experience of continuity of care within the agency, between providers, between agencies, and between other providers, such as your child's school and your family doctor. Second, along with the questionnaire, you will receive 6 other measures that will take approximately 30 minutes to complete.
Finally, along with the questionnaires, there will be a consent form asking your permission for the agency to share your visit dates with our research team so that we get a measure of your service use. You will also indicate your consent for your primary clinician to complete their rating of your continuity of care and a therapeutic relationship measure, and to indicate whether you have had any involvement with the education, primary care and child welfare sectors for services.
The information you tell us is confidential to our research team and will not be shared with the agency. In appreciation of your time, you will be compensated with a $20 gift certificate of your choice from Tim Hortons, Starbucks, Chapters, or McDonalds.
If you are interested in the results of the study, we will provide you with a one-page summary of the findings once the study is complete.
Risks and Discomforts:
This study may make you think about things you have not thought about before. It is possible that reflecting on issues related to your child's mental health care might cause you distress or emotional upset. You may choose not to fill out the questionnaires at any time. In addition, you will be provided with a list of community resources to contact if you become upset or distressed while you complete the questionnaires. Otherwise, there are no known risks related to being in this study. You may not benefit directly from being in this study. The information from this study may be used to help develop new procedures and questionnaires to help families and children like yours.
Participation in this study is voluntary. You may refuse to participate and you may refuse to answer any questions or withdraw from the study at any time with no effect on your child's care. Completion and return of the questionnaire indicates your consent to participate in the study.
Confidentiality and Privacy:
All information obtained for the study is confidential. All forms have a code number to ensure confidentiality. Identifying information such as your name will be kept separate from your answers. Only the principal investigators (Dr. Reid and Ms. Tobon) and research assistants will have access to your identifying information. The rest of the research team will not have access to your name or other identifying information. All forms are stored in a locked filing cabinet for security. Information in this study is only for research. When the study results are presented or published your name or your child's name will never be used. Although we recruited you from a children's centre in the community, the research team is based at the University of Western Ontario in the Departments of Psychology and Family Medicine. Information gathered for this project will not be shared with staff at the children's mental health center. The clinician that you identify during the telephone screening will be aware of your participation, but will not have access to your responses. Some of the information gathered for the research study may overlap with information gathered as part of clinical services at the center you have contacted. Therefore, it is possible that there will be some overlap in the information provided.
Representatives of The University of Western Ontario Health Sciences Research Ethics Board may contact you or require access to your study-related records to monitor the conduct of the research.
This letter is for you to keep. If you have any questions about this project, please call Dr. Graham Reid at (519) 661-2111 x84677. If you have any questions about the conduct of this study or your rights as a research subject you may contact the Director, Office of Research Ethics, The University of Western Ontario, 519-661-3036, email firstname.lastname@example.org/ Dr. David Hill, Scientific Director, Lawson Health Research Institute at (519) 667-6649.
Dr. Graham Reid, C. Psych.
Associate Professor, Psychology & Family Medicine and Paediatrics
PARENTS NEEDED FOR RESEARCH PARTICIPATION
Have you had at least 3 face-to-face appointments with staff from Chatham-Kent Children's Services?
Dr. Graham Reid and researchers from The University of Western Ontario, in partnership with Chatham-Kent Children's Services, are doing a study about parents' experience of continuity of care in children's mental health.
- What does it involve?
- First, a researcher will contact you by phone to tell you about the study.
- Participation is voluntary and you can refuse to participate.
- If you choose to participate, you will be sent a questionnaire that will take about 1 hour to complete.
- Please see the enclosed Letter of Information for more details, including confidentiality and compensation.
- Are you interested in hearing about the study?
☐ Yes → please complete the form below
☐ No Thanks → can you please tell us why:
☐ I have not had 3 face-to-face appointments
☐ My child is under 4 years of age
☐ My child is over 18 years of age
☐ I have already been asked about this study
☐ I am involved in another research study
☐ Not interested
☐ Other: __________________
Please complete if interested.
Child/Youth's Name: _______________________
Child/Youth's Date of Birth: ______________
Parent's Name: ____________________________
Phone number: __________________
Child/Youth's Gender: ☐ Boy ☐ Girl
Best time to call: ☐ 8am - noon ☐ noon - 4pm ☐ 4pm - 8pm
Please return your completed form to The University of Western Ontario in the stamped envelope provided. This form can also be completed online at www.continuitystudy.uwo.ca.
Source: Not disclosed on this kind of report
Police Protect Child from Social Worker
February 17, 2012 permalink
After Tennessee children's services worker Brandie Venable broke up with her husband, they met so dad could see their child. She accelerated the car while he was hugging the child and dragged him along the street. Police arrested her and removed the child from Brandie's care.
DCS worker reassigned after arrest, loss of custody of child
A Children’s Services case worker from Gallatin has been reassigned to a position in which she does not work with children after being arrested for aggravated assault and having police take away custody of her own child.
According to Molly Sudderth from the Tennessee Department of Children's Services, the re-assignment is temporary for the time being, pending an investigation.
Brandi Venable was arrested Feb. 4 after an incident with her husband, Chad Allen Venable. The couple decided to split up a few days ago and decided to meet up at a Chuck E. Cheese in Rivergate so Mr. Venable could see their child, according to an affidavit.
As Mr. Venable was hugging the child, who was seated in the back of her car, Mrs. Venable accelerated and dragged Mr. Venable along, while she screamed at him to get out of the car.
Mrs. Venable then stopped the car and ran inside an Essex Outlet store to tell a security guard that her husband was trying to kidnap her child, according to court records. When the security went outside to investigate he found Mr. Venable “hanging out the back of the vehicle.”
Mr. Venable told police he was “in fear of being badly hurt” during the incident. He decided to prosecute, after which Ms. Venable was arrested. He also responded a few days later by getting a court order to take away custody of her child away from her, which according to Capt. Kate Novitsky, Gallatin police carried out on Feb 10.
Venable has been released after posting a $2,500 bond. She has a court hearing scheduled for March 26.
Canada Court Watch on Radio
February 17, 2012 permalink
Canada Court watch members Chad Wells and Chris Carter were interviewed by Denis Rancourt on the CHUO Ottawa program 5 O'Clock Train. Link for audio (mp3).
Courts Opened (Slightly)
February 15, 2012 permalink
In Los Angeles judge Michael Nash opened the courts to the public in child dependency cases. As an op-ed by reporter Jim Newton shows, it is the kind of openness you need a lawyer to exercise. Newton contrasts the openness of courts in a long list of infamous crimes to the closure in family law. In the criminal cases, the authorities prosecuting the crimes are usually on the right side and want the public to see their work.
For L.A. Dependency Court, a first: the press
Opening dependency hearings to the press and public is good for kids.
I have been attending trials in Los Angeles for 20 years. I've covered torture and murder, drug smuggling and bank robberies. I covered the trial of the officers who beat Rodney G. King and the rioters who beat Reginald O. Denny. I covered the murder trial of O.J. Simpsonand the child molestation investigation of Michael Jackson. I've been put on the stand and been told to reveal my sources for some unflattering documents regarding Police Chief Willie L. Williams (I refused). But one type of hearing has remained presumptively off-limits.
Until last week. On Wednesday morning, I took a seat in Courtroom 415 at the Los Angeles Dependency Court, where cases are heard involving child abuse and neglect. Judge Amy Pellman brought the room to order promptly at 9 a.m. and informed anyone who didn't know already that I was there to observe for the day. She asked whether anyone objected to my staying. Boy, did they.
For years, advocates of greater transparency in the child welfare system have argued that public and press access to dependency courts would improve the public's sense of how that system works. But the forces in favor of secrecy were strong – a combination of well-meaning defenders of children's privacy and unions and legal organizations who want to shield social workers, lawyers and others from public scrutiny. Those forces had prevailed until this month. But then Michael Nash, the presiding judge of Los Angeles Juvenile Court, issued an order decreeing that dependency hearings, which had been presumptively closed, were now to be presumptively open to the press. As a member of the press, I went last week to take advantage of this new right.
The first objection was to my being present for a hearing over whether I could be present. Pellman ruled in my favor. Then lawyer Thomas Wayne Pichotta argued that Nash was wrong to issue his order and that Pellman should not open her courtroom until opponents could get a ruling on their appeal. Pellman rejected that argument, too. Pichotta then delivered a dissertation on the right of privacy, which he asserted was grounded in the 4th Amendment. Pellman rejected his objection.
Other lawyers then chimed in with their own protests. Some argued it should be my burden to show that my presence wouldn't harm children. My lawyer (yes, I had a lawyer with me, since I'd expected objections) rebutted that. Another asked for a delay; Pellman said no.
The lawyers asked Pellman to order me not to divulge the names of children involved in these proceedings; she correctly conceded that she had no power to issue such an order, but I volunteered to withhold them, consistent with The Times' general practice in this area.
There were more objections, but finally they were all dispensed with and the day began. What followed was tragic, enlightening and important for the public to know. A man struggled to persuade the court to look past his criminal history and return his daughter to his custody; a woman whose two girls had been taken away made a desperate plea to get them back before she loses them forever to adoption; a broken family asked the court for help in reuniting a group of sisters under one roof.
Pellman was alternately stern and forgiving. She reminded the mother trying to recover her children that she'd had chances to do so and had failed. Her time, the judge warned, was running out. "Childhood has a short shelf life," Pellman said. "They deserve to have a mommy who's stable." The woman wept.
An essential goal of openness is to expose failings in the system, and those, too, were evident. One child takes medication for seizures that exacerbates behavior problems, and medication for behavior that aggravates the seizures. She needs – but has yet to receive – better coordinated care. Pellman expressed frustration that it took seven months for her to receive information on this case, and directed the child's caregivers to work together.
That one was of several glimpses of the greater accountability that public access to these courts will help bring about, but there also were reminders that access will also deepen appreciation for the system. Pellman's courtroom, decorated with teddy bears and a Spongebob Squarepants tapestry, is a place of both authority and compassion, and the lawyers who fought so hard to exclude me worked hard for their clients, all of whom ignored my presence.
In one instance, a young couple had lost their son to protective services but then completed the counseling required of them and applied for his return. "We have an excellent report from the social worker," Pellman told the couple. "Congratulations, you've done very well."
With that, she agreed to reunite parents and child. The boy, sitting behind me in the courtroom, called out "Mama" and reached for her as she left the room, her boy in her arms. "Spongebob," he added, pointing at the tapestry.
Secrecy has hidden many sins in the Los Angeles County foster care system. The system has failed to take children from dangerous homes or placed them in unsafe situations, without any public scrutiny. Openness will help expose such problems. But secrecy also has cloaked the system's successes; they, too, will be on display as this important experiment in open government unfolds.
Source: Los Angeles Times
February 14, 2012 permalink
A shot was fired at Xyolhemeylh Child and Family Services in British Columbia. Fixcas missed this article at the time, but added it a year later.
Chilliwack RCMP investigate shooting at Sto:lo Nation building
CHILLIWACK -- Mounties have few details about a shooting at the Sto:lo Nation's child and family services building in Chilliwack on Monday.
The Upper Fraser Valley RCMP confirmed a single shot was fired from a distance through a second-storey window into Building 1, where Xyolhemeylh Child and Family Services is located.
"Thankfully no one was injured," said Cpl. Tammy Hollingsworth. "At this point, there is no indication this was targeted. If this was an accidental discharge of a firearm we are asking that person to contact us."
For a brief period of time, no one was allowed inside and employees were asked to stay for the purposes of interviewing. But RCMP said Tuesday the building was never in "lock down."
"The scene was contained for evidentiary purposes," an RCMP press release stated.
While the scene was contained, officers from the Lower Mainland District Forensic Services attended for examination purposes.
RCMP responded to the building at 7201 Vedder Rd. at 1:35 p.m. and the scene was released at 4:05 p.m.
The Chilliwack RCMP Serious Crime Section and the Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment First Nations Policing Unit are actively working on the investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Chilliwack RCMP at 604-792-4611 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).
Source: Chilliwack Times
Praise for CAS
February 14, 2012 permalink
To promote foster care Soo CAS has brought out a former foster girl who praises the agency. From the looks of things, she is getting paid by CAS.
Children's Aid Society makes 'heart'-felt plea for more foster families
Amber Kennard has good reason to lend the foster care system her stamp of approval.
She credits the Children’s Aid Society with saving her life.
“I would probably be one of the statistics on teenage suicide,” said Kennard, 21.
If not for foster care, “I wouldn’t be standing here today. There’s a lot to be thankful for," she said.
Kennard was present Thursday as CAS Algoma held its Helping Hearts event to draw attention to the number of children in care and the need for more foster families.
Children from St. Pius X Catholic School and Northern Heights Public School decorated 182 hearts, one for each child in CAS Algoma care. The hearts hang outside on the walls of the CAS Algoma building on Northern Avenue and will stay up until after Valentine’s Day.
While there are 182 children in care, Algoma has just 102 foster families.
Tracy Rushon, CAS Algoma’s recruitment coordinator, said a number of factors come into play when matching children with foster families, including the child‘s age, the number of children a family can accommodate, as well as what behaviours a family feels it can manage and what behaviours the family may have skills in managing.
“Our goal is to always try to best match families and children, so the more families we have the better matches we can make,” said Rushon.
Kennard is in Sault College’s personal support worker program and plans to go on to study recreational therapy in hopes of someday working as an activities director at a retirement home.
She still lives with the family who fostered her for nine years, and she said it was her foster parents who encouraged her to pursue an education.
“Education was big,” said Kennard, who was in foster care with her older sister. “There were a lot of life lessons.”
Those interested in becoming foster parents should visit the CAS online at www.algomacas.org for more information, or contact Rushon or her colleague Christine Mair at the CAS.
Source: Sault Star
February 14, 2012 permalink
In the course of her legal career Karen Selick has watched courthouses change from open buildings without security to armed camps. She comments on the changes and possible reasons. Here is a reason she left out. The primary business of family courts, both in the mom vs dad section and in child protection, is to separate parents from their children. Jailing bank robbers does not produce the urge to kill. Harming children does.
Karen Selick: Your honour, what’s with the bulletproof glass?
I happened to catch a few moments of Sun News TV the day that the Kingston, Ont., courthouse was shut down due to a bomb threat during the Shafia trial. The reporter was marvelling over the low level of security he had observed at that courthouse up until then. There were no metal detectors at the doors, no police officers “wanding” him as he entered, etc.
He must have been from Toronto. He didn’t realize that the absence of metal detectors is normal out here in small-town eastern Ontario.
But even peaceful little courthouses like Belleville’s — where I began practising in 1985 — have been moving gradually to greater security. When I started, the Belleville court staff waited on people over an open counter. Lawyers could slip behind the counter to use the court’s phone or photocopier, in a pinch. There was never a police officer in the courthouse unless one of the lawyers involved in a contentious case requested one in advance.
Some time around 2002, a wall of glass (bulletproof?) was installed above the previously open counter, separating court staff from the public. You now had to speak through a metal grill and shove your documents through a narrow slot in the glass. A door with a combo lock now kept lawyers away from the phone and copier.
Then another remarkable change occurred. There was suddenly a police officer on duty in every courtroom whenever a judge had to face members of the public, even for case conferences where only two members of the public were present.
Meanwhile, big cities like Toronto and Calgary have for some years required citizens entering their courthouses to pass through metal detectors and have their bags and briefcases searched. These heightened precautions, I discovered recently, have even spread to Newmarket, Ont. — a town smaller than Kingston in population, but only half an hour’s drive from the big, bad city.
I articled in Toronto in 1976-1977, when anyone could freely breeze in and out of the courthouses — including Osgoode Hall, where the Ontario Court of Appeal sits — without ever seeing a police officer, being searched or having to show ID.
So what has changed over the past 35 years to make our courthouses so fearful? The homicide rate has actually fallen significantly over that time, although violent crime in general has risen.
But private businesses still don’t find it necessary to take this level of precaution. I can walk into a Toronto shopping mall as freely today as I walked into Toronto courthouses 35 years ago. Is there something unique about courthouses that makes them more likely scenes of violence?
My hypothesis is that people were more willing to accept the notion 35 years ago that courthouses were places where justice was done. Today, people are more likely to look at them as places where injustice will be done.
Many more people are compelled to interact with “the law” these days, simply because there is so much more of it. Regulation over citizens’ lives has exploded, and much of what happens in court cannot be described as having anything to do with justice.
Take, for example, Mark Tijssen — the Armed Forces major in Ottawa who was charged for sharing home-butchered pork with a friend. An investigator from the Ministry of Natural Resources spent five days spying from a neighbour’s tree house to collect the evidence for this ridiculous “crime.” The charges were suddenly dropped in December, ending Mr. Tijssen’s two-year ordeal. But before 2005, the regulations he was charged under didn’t even exist.
A huge percentage of people who end up in court these days are there for matrimonial cases. Since my articling days in 1977, Ontario has repeatedly revamped its family law statutes and regulations. Every rewrite has shifted Ontario’s matrimonial property regime further away from individualism and deeper into collectivism. As an observer who practised family law for more than two decades, I think family law has become less just than it once was. It should come as no surprise that many of the people affected by it think so too.
So yes, the courts increasingly have reason to fear the public. But installing security equipment in the courts and leaving unjust laws in place is not the solution.
Source: National Post
Father Killed in CPS Raid
February 14, 2012 permalink
Police shot and killed Will Reddie in his home in Michigan. They were escorting two social workers serving a child protective services order and removing his son.
Crawford Co. police shooting draws protest, parent outrage
Man killed by deputy in early February, reportedly after lunging at the officer with a knife
GRAYLING, MI -- Monday, several Grayling residents held a protest to show their concern over a police shooting earlier this month that left one man dead.
Will Reddie was killed on February 3rd at his home when a Crawford County Deputy, a Grayling City Police Officer, and two social workers showed up to serve a child protective services order
Authorities say Reddie came at an officer with a pocket-knife and that's when the deputy fired.
Outraged community members made it clear today they are angry over the death of 32 year old-old Will Reddie, who was shot and killed at his Grayling apartment
“It's such an emotionally charged situation it should be handled in a different manner," said protester Janet Ledger.
Reddie was killed by a Crawford County Deputy when he reportedly lunged at an officer with a pocket knife. The deputy, city officer, and child protective services were at the apartment to take Reddie's son from the home.
“I think that the police should apprehend and restrain the parents before they allow any state workers or public people to be allowed on the scene," says Ledger.
"To me, he was murdered, for no reason, that they shot him for no reason," said Reddie’s mother, Michelle VanBuren.
But Crawford County Sheriff Kirk Wakefield says his deputy acted as trained to protect his life and others.
“You are taught to shoot until the threat has stopped, end of story," says Wakefield.
The parents claim there are discrepancies between the sheriff’s office and state police that are investigating the shooting, particularly how far Reddie was from the officer and deputy when the shot was fired.
“If it's all said and done, and all the facts are gathered up and something was done wrong, then I’ll deal with it, I always have and always will, as long as I’m sitting at this desk. I don't see he did anything wrong right out of the gate, he did what he had to do," says Wakefield, who stands behind his officer.
“They've got so many policies they can stand behind, I don't know what will happen. I’m so ashamed of our own police officers," says VanBuren.
The men and women who came out to Monday’s protest tell me they just want to see procedures change so this never happens again. As far as the little boy, right now, he's in protective custody at a foster home.
The VanBuren's tell us they plan to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Crawford County Sheriff's Office once they know more about what happened.
Michigan State Police in Houghton Lake continue to investigate and hope to have their report complete soon.
Source: UpNorthLive (Barrington Broadcasting)
Addendum: Two more articles give the details. The Gaylord Herald Times got a copy of the court order for child removal. In the second article, the district attorney has ruled that the policeman who killed Reddie did nothing wrong.
Friends of Reddie: 'They didn't have to kill him'
GRAYLNG — The fatal shooting of William Reddie, 32, by a Crawford County Sheriff’s Department deputy during the “emergency removal” of his 2-year-old son from an apartment they shared has many of his friends crying foul.
A Michigan State Police probe has concluded the shooting was justified because Reddie had a pocketknife and lunged at police.
“I can’t believe they (police) could not subdue Will without killing him, and over what, marijuana,” said Joanne Michal, who knew Reddie for half of his life. “Why didn’t police just arrest him or cite him for marijuana instead of removing his child?”
Workers from the Department of Human Services along with the sheriff’s deputy and an officer from the Grayling City Police went to Reddie’s apartment with a court order to remove the minor child because Reddie had allegedly smoked marijuana in the presence of his son. Reddie was agitated and had allegedly threatened police when confronted with the marijuana accusation earlier in the day on Feb. 3.
The court order of Feb. 3, obtained by the Herald Times pursuant to a Freedom of Information request, indicated the minor child’s removal from Reddie’s custody for the following reason: “There are reasonable grounds for this court to remove the child(ren) from the parent ... because conditions or surroundings of the child(ren), and is contrary to the welfare of the child(ren) to remain in the home because: It is alleged that the father used marijuana in the home in the presence of the child. In addition, there is concern for the safety of the child due to a domestic disturbance and threats made toward law enforcement by the father.”
A Feb. 3 press release from the sheriff’s department alleged that Reddie had lunged at police and social workers with a knife and the deputy “contained” the situation by shooting Reddie with a revolver.
Reddie died within seconds in his apartment around 4:41 p.m. Feb. 3 after being shot in the chest at close range, according to his death certificate obtained by the Herald Times.
Reddie, who had physical custody of his son, had petitioned the court for permanent custody and a hearing on that petition was scheduled for Monday, Feb. 6.
A resident of the apartment complex, who lived across the parking lot from Reddie, said he saw police go into the apartment and within a few minutes he heard gun shots.
“I heard two shots,” said Brian Jackson. “A friend who lives in the building heard the shots and ran into the hall to see two young children run out. He said Reddie was face down on the floor.”
A state police report said only one shot was fired.
While Michal doesn’t know exactly what happened inside Reddie’s apartment during the shooting, it should have ended differently, she said.
“It is particularly sad that Will was shot to death right in front of his son,” she said. “I was married to a 30-year infantry man and my son is a sharpshooter in the Army. You never take your gun out of the holster unless you’re ready to use it. Why not use a Taser? Even if he (Will) had a knife and lunged at police, they didn’t have to kill him. Instead of using a Taser, you shoot him in front of his child. It is just totally unjustified. They didn’t have to kill him. I think it’s very sad that his life was taken during the removal of his son. And the smell of marijuana shouldn’t have been a reason for an emergency order.
“Just a few days before he was killed, Will was visiting, and he was so excited because a hearing was coming up for custody (of his son),” Michal continued. “And it seemed to give him hope of getting permanent custody. His son was everything to him.”
Michal said she often saw Reddie with his son, although he didn’t like working while he had his son.
Michal had known Reddie since he was a teenager.
“My husband (now deceased) had known Will, and he introduced me to him. Since he was a teenager he’s always done odd jobs around the house and yard.”
Balkis Shippy, another friend of Reddie’s who knew him since he was a teenager, said she still can’t believe it. Shippy, who has lived in Grayling since the early 1970s, said she first knew Reddie’s mother from working with her at the Grayling Big Boy.
Later, Reddie would become friends with Balkis and her husband, Fred.
“He would do odd jobs for us from time to time, and he was always helpful,” she said. “I can’t believe this kid is gone. He was very nice and he was always polite.”
She said Reddie’s son is “just a beautiful little boy. I would see him (Reddie) with his son going back and forth, and he always talked about his son and how some day he would be getting full custody.”
Crawford County Clerk Sandra Moore said she also knew Reddie.
“It’s truly a shame,”Moore said. “He was a good guy and very fond of his son. He had been very excited just days before” about the possibility of getting permanent custody on Feb. 6.
According to court records, the child is now in a foster care home and his future remains uncertain.
Source: Gaylord Herald Times
Deputy cleared in Grayling man's fatal shooting
GRAYLING — Investigation into the Feb. 3 shooting death of Grayling resident William Reddie said the 32-year-old appeared agitated and uncooperative with police officers when a deputy from the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department shot Reddie once in the chest, killing him at his Grayling Pines apartment.
In a Thursday news release, Roscommon County prosecuting attorney Mark Jernigan, who reviewed the report of the fatal shooting from the Michigan State Police, “determined the use of deadly force by Deputy (John) Klepadlo was justified and therefore, the homicide was justified.”
The deadly shooting occurred when Klepadlo and a Grayling City Police officer accompanied Children’s Protective Services workers to Reddie’s apartment the afternoon of Feb. 3 to assist with the court-ordered removal of Reddie’s 2-year-old son, who Reddie was in the process of attempting to gain permanent custody.
Lead MSP investigator Detective Sgt. Rick Sekely said events leading up to the shooting and attempts to remove the son from the residence began earlier in the day when officers went to Reddie’s apartment in response to a possible domestic disturbance.
Upon arriving at the scene and making contact with Reddie, officers indicated Reddie was on the phone in what seemed to be a heated argument with a woman. Reports indicate Reddie appeared agitated, and when officers stated they could smell the odor of marijuana in the apartment, Sekely said Reddie admitted to having smoked marijuana that morning. While at the residence, officers indicated they observed a minor child at the apartment.
Sekely said officers, following protocol, contacted protective services to report Reddie had been smoking marijuana in the presence of his son.
Child services workers then went to the apartment, and Sekely said they confronted Reddie about consuming marijuana in the home and asked him to take a drug test. Sekely said workers indicated Reddie was agitated, and they felt uncomfortable while at the residence.
An emergency court order to remove the child from the care of Reddie was obtained by Child Protective Services, and they requested assistance from the sheriff’s department and city police.
Sekely said officers entered the apartment with weapons holstered and served in a backup capacity while child services workers informed Reddie of the court order. Sekely said Reddie, who continued to appear agitated, immediately responded by stating that no one was going to take his child.
As Reddie became more agitated and uncooperative, Sekely said, both officers took out their Tasers in an attempt to gain control of the situation. He said police are taught not to depend on the use a Taser in a deadly force situation, and when Reddie allegedly removed a 4-inch pocketknife from his pocket and put it behind his back, the Tasers were replaced by the officers’ duty weapons.
“It’s at this time that weapons come into play,” Sekely said of the officers’ decision to unholster their duty weapons. “It became a split-second decision. All they saw was a knife go behind his back, and then he (Reddie) assumed an aggressive stance.”
Officers then requested Reddie drop the knife, a command Sekely said was allegedly ignored.
Sekely then stated that within the confines of the small living area of the apartment, Reddie lunged, with knife in hand, at officers and the two Children’s Protective Services workers. Klepadlo, using deadly force, then discharged his weapon once, striking Reddie in the chest, killing him.
Sekely said according to toxicology reports there were no traces of alcohol or marijuana in Reddie’s system at the time of his death. He said there were indications of controlled substances in the man’s system, which may or may not have been prescribed to Reddie. Sekely said he was not qualified to comment on whether the drugs, or the amounts in Reddie’s system, could have contributed to his agitated demeanor during his confrontations with police and child services workers.
“It’s a very unfortunate situation,” Sheriff Kirk Wakefield said of the shooting. “I feel bad for the family and my officer. It’s unfortunate my officer had to be placed in that position. We’re police officers who put our lives on the line every day. It’s very rare when a situation escalates to the scale of what happened here.”
Wakefield said it is an extremely rare occurrence for an officer to discharge his weapon while on duty.
He said to his knowledge the last time one of his deputies discharged his weapon during an altercation was sometime in the mid-1980s.
According to Wakefield, Klepadlo, who had been on administrative leave, was scheduled to return to work this weekend.
The deputy has worked with the sheriff’s department for four years.
DHS Criteria for the removal of a child from a home
The following information is an excerpt from the Department of Human Services’ “Field Guide” for Children’s Protective Services Investigations.
Prior to making the decision to request the court authorize the removal of a child, assess the following:
- Is the child at imminent risk of harm and therefore unsafe?
- How does the caretaker view the situation?
- Are they cooperative?
- Are they asking for help?
- Are they willing and capable of change?
- Is the family a flight risk?
- Are there alternatives to removal?
- Are there immediate services that can be put in place to keep the child safe in the home? Can arrangements be made for the child until those services can be put in place?
- Will the offending parent leave the home?
- Can court orders be put in place that would keep the child safe in the home?
- Will the parents agree to allow the child to stay with appropriate friends and/or relatives?
- Convene Team Decision Making meeting. Never remove a child without a written court order. Never transport a child without a written court order.
Best Practices When Removing Children
- Take a few minutes to make a plan before removing the children when possible.
- Try to obtain physical help when needed to move and supervise the children.
- Get information from the parents about the child’s allergies, medications, medical needs, routines, food, like, dislikes, when they ate last, what soothes the child. Remember reasonable efforts must be made to keep children safely in their homes.
- Get information from the parents about relatives and family support.
- Encourage parents to be calm for their child’s sake.
Source: Petoskey News
Don't Complain or Else
February 13, 2012 permalink
Don't question your doctor — you may lose your children. A British couple complained about the treatment their son received in the hospital. The hospital called social services. How did the hospital justify its actions? Confidentiality.
Article from Birmingham Mail, February 13, 2012 removed at the request of an affected person.
Don't Tell Mom
February 13, 2012 permalink
A mother called fixcas to say that her pre-teen son is in hospital emergency. She had a visit with him just a few hours before admission and the boy was fine. What is wrong with him? No one will say. CAS has told his group home staff and the medical team to clam up. She has to call CAS for information, and they are not talking.
Intransigence Recordings For Sale
February 12, 2012 permalink
Connecticut parents Melissa and Robert Obernauer are so frustrated with the futility of pleasing Connecticut DCF that they have offered audio recordings of their dealings with the agency on eBay for $50,000. The press article and eBay listing are enclosed.
Frustrated couple sells DCF tape recordings
KILLINGWORTH,CT (WFSB) -
Melissa and Robert Obernauer are in a battle with the state Department of Children and Families and much of it is on tape.
Ever since DCF removed Melissa's biological daughter from their home, they say their fight to get her back has been almost pointless.
"This is not a case about helping a child. This is a case of them versus us," said Robert Obernauer
It's gotten so bad that the parents began recording their conversations with the state. They were so convinced that the court process was fixed so they'd lose that they decided their only way to fight back was to sell those recordings on eBay for thousands of dollars.
"Of course the judges always side with DCF in these cases, never with the family," said Obernauer.
Both sides agree it's a sad story. Melissa Obernauer's daughter was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was just three years old.
With her biological father out of the picture, Robert and Melissa moved the girl and her younger brother from New Jersey to a home in Killingworth six years ago. They say they called DCF looking for help dealing with the girl's mental health issues. They say their relationship with their caseworker broke down.
"It's been a daily struggle. Every single day just about. It consumes your life," said Obernauer.
DCF took custody of the now nearly 12-year-old while she was an in-patient at Natchaug Hospital in Mansfield.
The Obernauers claim the breaking point was a dispute over her medical care, but several sources tell the I-Team the Obernauers refused to take the girl back home which amounts to abandonment.
It's a charge they dispute. We asked DCF for their side of the story. They said privacy laws limit their response, but they did give us a statement stating: "The Department receives custody of a child via an order of the Superior Court, which does so only upon evidence that the parent is unable or unwilling to care adequately for the child. In such instance, the State will be required to invoke the legal process to ensure the child's adequate treatment and care. We recognize how devastating this can feel to a parent and how difficult it can be to care for a child with emotional challenges.
In this case, this was made more difficult when, because of the parent's own behaviors, the court took the unusual step of placing limits on the parents' interactions with the Department. While the present case involved many complicated elements, it is fortunate that the Department was able to identify a relative who is currently caring for the child. Most importantly, the child is doing well in the home, and the plan is for this home to provide the permanent family for the child."
In fact, Obernauer was even arrested for threatening DCF workers at one point. A charge he called a misunderstanding of his comments. DCF didn't even know about the recordings until the I-Team told them.
"It started very early where they would say one thing and then say 'we didn't say that," Obernauer said.
The eBay posting offers the audio for $50,000. But why would anyone pay that? The scandalous ad promises the recording contains lies and says it would make valuable evidence against DCF in court. The Obernauers played a few of the clips for the I-Team. Most were relatively benign conversations, the most inflammatory we heard was a call from a therapist who said their daughter missed a critical appointment while in DCF care.
Obernauer says his job frequently takes him to New Jersey. He says there it's legal to secretly record a call.
"I could not get anyone from the state to listen to me. I contacted the attorney general's office who wanted to know nothing about it, I sent letters to the judge, no response, the DCF ombudsman's office wanted to know nothing about the lies, so I figured that after I listed them on eBay it would get attention and give the case more publicity," Obernauer said.
Obernauer says he's gotten a few inquiries, but no offers yet. He says if someone was really planning to use the tapes against DCF he'd probably turn them over free of charge. But that raises an interesting question - what good are they?
Attorney Dan Klau is a privacy expert. He says he's never seen a case quite like this, but says in the legal world these tapes are probably useless because in Connecticut, unlike New Jersey the consent of everyone is required before a call can be recorded and Connecticut law would probably bar them from a courtroom.
Jeanne Milstien, Connecticut's child advocate, said the eBay posting is "outrageous."
"I was just shocked because I thought, it's only a matter of time when you do something like that before the child's identity is known and it's the child who's going to be exposed, and that child who is vulnerable, and the child who could get hurt," she said.
The Obernauers say they've spent $25,000 in legal fees and haven't gotten anywhere. Their daughter is living with a relative out of state right now. They say they're determined to someday bring her home. They knew the eBay posting could bring criticism, but they also hoped it would bring publicity to their fight.
"They've already tried destroying our child's life. We don't want to see them doing this to other children," he said.
Connecticut DCF confession recording/child workers lying on record/corruption
- Item condition:
- US $50,000.00
- $15.00 Economy
Shipping See more services
- Estimated between Wed. Feb. 15 and Thu. Feb. 23
- No returns or exchanges, but item is covered by eBay Buyer Protection
Up for auction are LEGALLY MADE recordings (made in the State of New Jersey), in which Connecticut DCF service providers admit that they have lied in official paperwork. These tapes are ideal for use by any person who has had a child "kidnapped" by DCF, and is looking to take legal action against them. Within the tapes there are confessions from service workers admitting that DCF has lied in paperwork as well as other matters. Because the recordings were made legally in the State of New Jersey, they should be admissable in ANY United States court. Also included in this auction is paperwork from a Connecticut Public School employee, which proves that they knowingly provide false information to DCF workers. Finally, you will receive a recording in which a DCF Attorney tries to convince a child that their parents are engaged in domestic violence, even after the child says that they have never witnessed anything. I have set a "buy it now" price for the tapes of $150,000, which is a VERY REASONABLE amount to pay to get back your child if they have been taken by DCF based on lies. Additionally, the tapes can be used in civil suits, which could earn you MILLIONS! This auction is a binding contract, and a serious auction. News media organizations are encouraged to bid on these items. The tapes run approximately 2 hours total. This should be of very high interest to national news media organizations for specials on government corruption and child abuse. Any questions will be responded to quickly.
Thanks for your interest
***The tapes are in secure storage at an undisclosed location in Southern New Jersey. Payment must be made within 24 hours. Interviews with myself for news programs are not included, and must be negotiated separately.
IF YOU GOOGLE CONNECTICUT DCF WATCH, YOU WILL SEE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION THAT YOU MAY FIND USEFUL.
I RESERVE THE RIGHT TO END THE AUCTION AT ANY TIME, AS LOCAL NEWS MEDIA COMPANIES HAVE ALREADY EXPRESSED INTEREST
Garlic for Vampire
February 11, 2012 permalink
A lawyer on Esther Buckareff's documentary Powerful as God said that cross examination to a social worker is like garlic to a vampire. California Social worker Bridget Hannegan got her dose of garlic.
Man accused of child abuse challenges social worker
An Orange County jury saw something uncommon this week: a father getting the chance to cross-examine a social worker who had labeled him a child abuser.
And since the father happens to be a prosecutor with the Orange County District Attorney's Office, it made for some uncomfortable moments.
George McFetridge, 61, and his wife, Bette, 64, are suing Orange County's Social Services Agency and social worker Bridget Hannegan over an interaction in 2008 that led Hannegan to list the McFetridges on the state's Child Abuse Central Index.
The McFetridges' adopted daughter, Holly, then 15, had briefly run away from the family's Irvine home and told a worker at Huntington Beach Youth Shelter that Bette McFetridge had pushed her into a towel rack. The worker reported what Holly had said, which led Hannegan to come calling.
In February 2008, Hannegan, a senior investigative social worker, visited Holly at Woodbridge High School and said she was shocked at what she saw.
“Immediately I noticed her hair,” Hannegan testified while being questioned by the county's attorney, Daniel Spradlin. “It looked like she got hazed.”
While Holly's bangs looked normal, her hair was “cut severely uneven to the back” at about one inch in length, Hannegan said. She lifted up the back of Holly's hair and saw three circular, silver-dollar sized bald spots, Hannegan testified.
Holly said that George McFetridge had restrained her while Bette cut her hair as punishment for lying, Hannegan testified.
Then it was time for cross-examination.
George McFetridge prosecutes financial fraud cases for the District Attorney's Office. He's put away mortgage scammers like Jimmy Osborn, who cost 10 families their homes.
He pointed out that Hannegan had referred to Bette McFetridge as “Bette Jane” in her report.
“It's your testimony that you didn't even get my wife's name correct in your report?” he demanded.
He went on to question Hannegan's investigative techniques, asking if she had spoken to any of Holly's friends or teachers to try to corroborate her story (answer: no) or had taken a photograph to document Holly's severe haircut.
Hannegan replied that she is not “trained” to use a camera. “It's not part of my job description,” she said.
“You felt your one-hour visit with Holly was sufficient for you to have a grasp of her credibility?” Answer: yes.
In her report, Hannegan determined that Holly's allegation of physical abuse by Bette McFetridge was “unfounded,” but she added an “inconclusive” finding of alleged emotional abuse based on the haircutting incident.
Under the law at the time, Hannegan was required to report the McFetridges to the state's Child Abuse Central Index even though the emotional abuse finding was inconclusive. The law has since changed.
The McFetridges could have remained on the index for 10 years, but they succeeded in getting their names removed after 11 months through an appeals procedure created by a court ruling in another family's lawsuit, George McFetridge said.
Still, the McFetridges say their reputations were damaged by a process in which a social worker was empowered to act as prosecutor, judge and jury, and parents weren't given a chance for a hearing before being condemned to 10 years of public shame.
The issue has been a big one here in Orange County. Nearly 800 Orange County residents landed on the state's list of child abusers based on investigations that failed to determine whether any abuse actually occurred back in 2009 and 2010, according to an Orange County grand jury investigation.
With the jury out of the Santa Ana courtroom, George McFetridge argued to Superior Court Judge Michael Brenner that Hannegan lied in her report.
The McFetridges admit that the haircutting incident took place, but deny that Holly was restrained and say Hannegan exaggerated the severity of the cut and lied about the existence of bald spots.
“She's just making stuff up. She knows there's no right to confrontation,” George McFetridge told the judge. “If you read her report, you'll think we're despicable people … and it's all fabrications.”
The McFetridges want $1 for each of the 11 months they were on the index, plus $28,000 they spent putting Holly in a halfway house while they were listed as child abusers.
Brenner appeared skeptical of the McFetridges' case and, after argument by Spradlin, considered ordering a verdict in the county's favor. After several tense hours for the McFetridges, Brenner decided to let the jury make the decision. We'll let you know when they reach a verdict.
The McFetridges' adoption of Holly ultimately didn't work out. Their biological son, Scott, is now 40.
Source: Orange County Register
One Slight Cut
Four Girls Gone
February 11, 2012 permalink
Christopher Booker reports on a French mother visiting England to visit her ex, with whom she was on good terms. When dad was giving his daughter a haircut there was an accident giving the girl a slight cut. Social workers have seized all three of her children and are moving toward adoption.
A mother on a visit to the UK loses three children to social workers
A particularly disturbing case emerges, as the media wake up to the soaring numbers of children being taken into care.
The media, it seems, are finally waking up to the enormous increase in the number of children being taken into care in this country. It was reported last week that care applications in England are likely this year to hit an all-time record of 10,000. In just four years, the rate at which children are being removed from their parents has far more than doubled, from 380 in January 2008 to last month’s 903.
The impression we are given is that, since the torturing to death of Baby P in 2007, our social workers and courts have become much more vigilant in wishing to avert any repetition of that scandal. But this is not exactly confirmed by the fact that the percentage of children being removed for “physical abuse” has actually fallen from 12.5 per cent to 10 per cent. The proportion of those removed for “neglect” has remained the same, at 44 per cent, while that of those seized for “emotional abuse” (or just “the risk of emotional abuse”, that vague term now so fashionable among social workers as an excuse for seizing children) has risen from 25 to 28 per cent.
The real elephant in the room, however, is the seemingly ever-growing number of children who are being seized from competent and loving parents for what appear to be, at best, the flimsiest of reasons. Among half a dozen new cases which have come to my notice just in the past fortnight is that of a French mother who came to England last November with her three young daughters, for a brief visit to their father, from whom she is amicably separated. He lives with his 10-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.
The day before the mother was due to return home to France with her girls, I am told that she was having a bath while the father was downstairs cutting his eldest daughter’s hair. He accidentally cut her head slightly, drawing blood, which was noticed when she arrived at school. She explained to a teacher what had happened, with the result that social workers arrived to take her into care. The father was arrested and charged with “assault, neglect and ill-treatment”.
The mother describes how she was summoned to a police station, where she was told to sign a form she didn’t even read. This later turned out to have been a Section 20 order under the Children Act, by which parents may voluntarily put their children into care. Her girls, all under six, were taken off by social workers, and the mother was herself arrested and charged with having failed to protect the oldest girl from the “assault”, even though she was elsewhere in the house. She was given police bail and her passport was removed, so that she must remain in England at very considerable expense, to face criminal trial in April.
Her children, separated from each other, are now in foster care. When, two weeks after her arrest, she attended a case meeting at the council offices, the social workers told her that they were already drawing up an adoption plan for the girls. Although she was initially allowed supervised contact with them for six hours a week, the social workers insisted that an interpreter should be present, so that they could understand the conversation between mother and daughters. Because of the difficulty and expense this entails, their contact has now been reduced to three hours a week.
Although this particular case has unusual features, in other ways it is far from untypical of stories I hear several times a week, and which raise a very large question mark over just how pleased we should be that the seizing of children is running at a record level. The BBC may continue to present to us programmes such as its current series Protecting Our Children, showing our “brave” social workers removing children from sadly dysfunctional parents who seem unable to give them proper care. But the contrast of these to the cases I report week after week, where social workers tear families apart for no good reason, supported by a dehumanised court system, could not be starker.
Our children’s minister, Tim Loughton, insists that such cases are a handful of unfortunate exceptions. If only he would listen to the evidence, he might learn how misinformed he is.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
CAS Defies CFSRB - Again
February 11, 2012 permalink
A woman in Chatham has unanswered questions for children's aid. Her application to the Child and Family Services Review Board (CFSRB) resulted in a publication ban on her name. When the CFSRB granted her a hearing Chatham-Kent CAS used the courts to block it. The press cannot say what her questions are and CAS executive director Mike Stephens will give only a fragmentary comment. How's that for government transparency?
Fixcas has reported several cases of other children's aid societies refusing to follow a decision from the CFSRB, so far no cases in which they acted in accord with the decision.
CKCS throws up legal roadblock
LAW: Judicial review sought by local agency
A Chatham woman wants some answers from Chatham-Kent Children's Services, but she's facing a legal roadblock to her questions.
The woman, who can't be identified because of a publication ban regarding details of her case, said she followed proper process and made an application to the Child and Family Service Review Board. The provinicial organization deals with public complaints about children's aid societies across Ontario.
The review board granted the woman a two-day hearing.
However, the CKCS hired a London-based law firm to seek a judicial review of the decision by the CFSRB, regarding the woman's hearing.
Mike Stephens, CKCS executive director, said he couldn't discuss the matter because of a publication ban, when recently contacted by The Chatham Daily News.
When asked if seeking a judicial review is something the CKCS has done in the past, he said: "It's the first and only time we've done it."
The only other comment he would make is the CFSRB is eligible to receive certain complaints, but "they're not eligible to receive them all."
Now, the matter is set to go to a divisional court where it will be heard by a panel of three judges.
The CFSRB will have a lawyer arguing on its behalf.
The woman said she will likely have to represent herself as she can't afford a lawyer.
And, she readily admits she doesn't have the capability to represent herself.
"I have never been in divisional court before," she said. "I have no idea what they're even talking about."
She is also upset that she will now have to go out of town to deal with the issue.
The Daily News asked CFSRB officials if it is common for a children's aid society to seek a judicial review after the agency has granted someone the right to have a hearing.
An e-mail response was received from Jim Cowan, the designated media spokesperson for Social Justice Tribunals Ontario, of which the CFSRB is a constituent tribunal.
"Judicial reviews happen from time to time as part of the process of administrative law," he said.
He noted all SJTO tribunals receive legal services from the legal unit. Responding to judicial reviews is part of that work and is covered in the budget for legal services, he said.
Source: Chatham Daily News
Addendum: The Child and Family Services Review Board has a page on its website titled Decisions. It advises: Please click here to leave this website and access the Board's decisions on the Canlii website. We did so and found 327 results, none of them for Chatham-Kent. The Chatham Daily News quotes CAS executive director Mike Stephens downplaying his propensity to litigate, saying:
When asked if seeking a judicial review is something the CKCS has done in the past, he said: "It's the first and only time we've done it."
It is the first time he has sought a judicial review because it is his first case. Chatham-Kent takes 100 percent of its CFSRB cases before the courts.
Source: Thanks to an alert reader for pointing this out.
PC Convention Rally
February 11, 2012 permalink
Pat Niagara On Friday, February 10, 2012 members and supporters braved the bitter cold temperatures to rally together at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls where the Progressive Conservative party were holding their annual convention. Despite the cold temperatures a warm reception was received by many members of the P.C. party and supporters, as many stopped to comment that they indeed were in favour of Ombudsman Oversight.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Pat Niagara On Saturday, February 10, 2012 members and supporters braved the bitter cold temperatures and snow to rally together at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls where the Progressive Conservative party were holding their annual convention. Despite the cold temperatures a warm reception was received by many members of the P.C. party and supporters, as many stopped to comment that they indeed were in favour of Ombudsman Oversight. Due to weather conditions the rallies did pack it in.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
A video for the two days: YouTube and local copy (mp4).
Championing the Bad Guy
February 11, 2012 permalink
CAS did not break up this family, an unfaithful wife did. But once broken, CAS sided with the adulteress to humiliate the father and his entire family.
Stacey Gauthier-Biekx To make a long story short in June 2009 my brother was arrested from his home and charged with an assault he did not commit. His then wife of less then one year had her mother call 911 saying that he had hit her, threatened to kill her as well as kidnap the baby. They were in an argument at the time but at no time in the relationship was my brother EVER physically abusive, threaten death or kidnapping. She told police that he had never hit her before but now all of a sudden he was punching her in the face. She had no evidence eg.bruises. The police testified in a questioning manner that he had never seen a woman more distraught. A DRAMA QUEEN is she! The 911 call came only after my brother called my mom and dad to pick him up as he needed to get away from her. By the time my parents arrived my brother was being hauled up to Windsor Jail. He was denied even the basic right to provide a statement. From that day forward his x wife (whom we thought we were close to) banished all forms of communication with EVERYONE in our family. Our heads were spinning as we knew that my brother was not capable of hitting women. Unfortunately with Ontario’s 0 tolerance policy on domestic abuse despite no signs of assault he was charged, hauled off to jail and kicked out of his home. Over a year later he was vindicated in a court of law where the judge clearly spotted the inconsistency in her stories. A week after the so called assault his super sleuth sister (me) uncovered by sheer luck the fact that she was engaging in a sexual affair with a younger man. Facebook evidence of the affair was useful as the sexual conversations about how great the sex was were clearly visible on this guy’s wall. She began talking to him 3 weeks prior to the charges being laid. They posted pictures with him, her and the baby in my brother’s house the week after. Privacy settings people!! All along she is purging herself in court saying that he was only a friend and nothing more. The printed evidence we have clearly shows an affair. This guy within a couple of weeks was referring to this married women and my brothers daughter as HIS GIRLS! His x has a history of multiple relationships with men as well as a childhood which was unfortunately filled with abuse at the hands of her father as well as being kidnapped by her father as a child. My brother and his x had a beautiful daughter together she is now 3 years old. Since June 2009 he has been fighting for his right to be her father. Despite the not Guilty verdict his x`s pitbull lawyer conspires with her client to basically demolish any fathers rights by putting him on trial over and over portraying him as a angry monster that is not suitable to see his daughter unsupervised. In the court room his x smirks so often I’d like to vomit and sticks to her story that she really wants her child to have a relationship with her father but he is just so unstable and angry. Just another of her many lies. My brother is 30 years old and went into his marriage with the best of intentions. He had a daughter who is the love of his life and the last 3 years have been an emotional rollercoaster for him and my family. As I mentioned besides seeing her in court she refuses to speak to anyone in my family including my brother since the day she made false charges of assault. My brother has been torn apart. His property, (anything of value) was stolen (police and the courts think because they were married she was somehow entitled to his personal property eg coin collection, tax returns + much more including memorabilia from friends deaths, childhood video tapes, his wedding band) The possessions he did get back were packaged in garbage bags at the end of the driveway to be picked up with police escorts. Unfortunately the lawyers he has had so far have played safe within a system that has made her completely unaccountable for her actions. Adultery, theft, false charges of an assault, and kidnapping of a child are rewarded. The case against my brother is based on the fact that he has reacted to a major trauma emotionally and at times with anger. CAS unfortunately was called in automatically and from day one sided with the mother. My brother was labelled the abuser and when he refused to cooperate with CAS domestic violence classes he was told he did not respect authority. When he cries the first time seeing his daughter in over a year he is accused of being to emotional. Everything is twisted around to make the shoe fit. The shoe however will never fit, it is not his shoe. He has however given in to seeing a therapist whom CAS referred him and paid for. His counsellor has been of help to him in how to deal with the loss of his beautiful daughter. His counsellor has testified on his behalf and has even offered to pickup the child and supervise visits. This takes us to where we are 3 years later. His x and her lawyer have done everything to paint him as a threat to his daughter. Unfortunately my brother has swore at CAS and called his x a bitch outside of the court room and has been short with the supervisors at the access center. Their pens and paper write down scrambled information and their mouths offer unwanted advice on which toy she would like to play with. Swearing at people was not a bright move and obviously played right into the hands of the other team. As he changed her diapers the man stood a foot away watching. My brother asked him to back up and give some space. He later complained to the supervisor as he was uncomfortable and did not like that the man was standing their so close staring at his daughter. I am not implying this man was a pedophile. My brother found it creepy. My brother is not one to mince words or play games. At this moment they are set to go back to court. Because of disagreements with the supervised centers supervisor his use of the center was temporarily suspended. He has now been on the waiting list for months. My brother jumps through hoops like a show dog but his tail is not between his legs. He can no longer accept being a stranger in a strange place with people treating him strangely in front of his daughter. CAS sides with the mother and believes supervision is necessary. He has adjusted to playing the game. In the past 3 years he has seen his daughter less then 48 hours in total. He was robbed of close to a year with her after being unjustly charged. My brother is being portrayed as a monster because he has refused to admit to things he did not do, or taken classes he did not need. He has questioned AUTHORITY as to why his daughter has been kidnapped from him, and did not find that his daughter’s life and future is a game. He is a kind, funny, smart, loving and an amazing guy. Up to the point in his life when he was repeatedly conned and bullied by a system and a women that sees no purpose for him in his daughter’s life he was happy and together. My parents have been approved on 2 separate occasions as suitable supervisors yet throughout the mother and her accomplice lawyer deny anyone in my family any access to her. We love her more than words can say! We have always been a close family. I could not of asked for a better childhood or more dedicated parents. They were parents that piled us up in the van 2 weeks a summer and took us camping. I went to Florida and Disney Word 3 times as a child! We were always with extended family, cooking, laughing and enjoying our lives. This situation has taken a toll on all of us. Grandma and Grandpa have been completely eliminated at the request of a lying manipulative woman and her henchmen. The total lack of empathy these people show to me is criminal. We are 100% open to speaking with the mother with 100% civility. We do not approve of her actions but for our beautiful Angel we will do anything. We unlike her wish to put the child first. This child is missing half of her and it is a very good half and she deserves her right to be her full self. The road has been long and it seems that hope is misguided in a system that does not hold a fathers love as a priority. Looking for any advise that you can give me because to us giving up and giving in is not an option. I have attempted contact with the mother via 3 phone calls and 4 letters in 3 years. On my last phone call before Christmas she actually picked up (she was not looking at her caller Id.) I was immediately told that if I had anything to say to her I should call her lawyer and she hung up. Her lawyer did not return my call. We were all then accused of stalking her. Did I mention that during their short marriage she and I were the very best of friends. Funny how everyone else under the sun can spend time with my brother’s daughter besides him and us. Her Plenty of fish boyfriends can visit. Why can’t we? HELP AND ADVISE PLEASE…..He will be back in court by the end of the month for more of the same and the judge will listen to the mother and her lawyer make up a zillion reasons why his counsellor is not a suitable supervisor. My brother represents him self so any FREE legal plans or advice would be amazing. Court costs are piling up and his money is nil. Thanks for taking the time to listen.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
February 8, 2012 permalink
What do social workers do when a child on their watch dies? They falsify records. Here's a case in which they did not get away with it. Aubrey Littlejohn was in the care of her great-aunt while her mother was in jail. Craig Smith was watching the family and made at least one home visit. After the girl died, Smith and his supervisor Candice Lassiter altered their records.
Swain DSS officials arrested
Charges result from toddler's death
BRYSON CITY — A supervisor and social worker at the Swain County Department of Social Services were charged with felonies Tuesday in connection with the agency’s oversight of a 15-month-old girl whose death came amid evidence of abuse.
A grand jury indicted supervisor Candice Lassiter on three felony counts of forgery and three felony counts of obstruction of justice after a State Bureau of Investigation inquiry.
She is on administrative leave, said agency attorney Justin Greene, and could not immediately be reached for comment.
The same grand jury indicted social worker Craig Smith on three counts of obstruction of justice, according to court records.
Smith no longer works for the agency. He also could not immediately be reached.
SBI agents a year ago searched the county’s DSS office as part of an investigation into the events surrounding the death of Aubrey Littlejohn.
The toddler died Jan. 10, 2011, at the Cherokee Indian Hospital about 15 minutes after being brought in by her great-aunt, Lady Bird Powell.
Powell was charged last week with the child’s second-degree murder, felony child abuse, first-degree kidnapping, extortion and possession of methamphetamine.
The child was left in a car seat for 12 hours the day before and given only few bites of a hot dog and sips of soda, according to court papers.
She was wrapped in a blanket and wearing only a diaper soaked in urine and feces and a T-shirt when she arrived at the hospital, according to an investigator’s statement in a search warrant.
Officials said the child’s body temperature was 84 degrees when she was brought in.
Powell had been caring for the child while the girl’s mother was in jail. An autopsy report said the cause of death was undetermined.
Smith visited her home five months before she died but found no evidence of abuse despite a complaint the girl had fallen from an unbuckled car seat down a set of stairs, according to an SBI search warrant.
Smith later falsified his records after Aubrey Littlejohn died to show he had called the hospital to make sure she was examined for injuries from the fall, investigators said in the search warrant.
Lassiter was his supervisor.
Source: Ashville Citizen-Times
The offending supervisor Candice Lassiter is back on the job. This continues the pattern that social workers who fail to remove a child from parents are punished after the parents harm the child. Those who place children in fatal foster homes are protected.
Dead Swain child's DSS worker back on the job
CHARLOTTE — A Swain County social worker accused of failing to take action on complaints that could have saved a 15-month-old girl’s life has returned to her job even though she’s still facing criminal charges in the case.
Candice Lassiter, 28, returned to her job Monday. She was charged in February with three counts each of obstruction of justice and forgery related to the investigation of Aubrey Kina-Marie Littlejohn’s death.
Lassiter answered a call at the Swain County Department of Social Services office in Bryson City on Thursday but declined to discuss the circumstances surrounding her return.
“I just can’t talk about it,” she said.
Repeated telephone messages left for the agency’s interim director, Jerry Smith, were not immediately returned Thursday. DSS board members refused to comment, referring all calls to DSS attorney Justin Green.
Green confirmed that Lassiter returned after an agency investigation. But he said by law he couldn’t disclose details about the investigation or why officials allowed her to return while her case is pending.
Littlejohn’s great-aunt, Ruth McCoy, has repeatedly pushed for justice in the case along with the little girl’s mother, Jasmine Littlejohn.
McCoy, a realty officer for the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs who works in a building that also houses several DSS officials, said she discovered this week that Lassiter had returned to work when she picked up a copy of a DSS newsletter from a table in the hallway.
“Social Worker Candice Lassiter will return to work today in the Adult and Children Services Unit,” the newsletter announcement says. “We all welcome her back to the Agency.”
McCoy said Aubrey’s family is outraged.
“That was like a slap in the face to the family,” she said. “Aubrey is already gone. She will never return, and then they bring this woman who was involved in her death back to work in front of us? It’s wrong.”
This is the latest development in a case that has stunned and polarized Western North Carolina, and sparked anger in the Native American community. Aubrey was a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, some of whom claim that the Swain County DSS did not do enough to protect Aubrey and other Native American children. Part of the Cherokees’ sprawling reservation lies in Swain County.
Another great-aunt of Aubrey, Ladybird Powell, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in January — a year after the toddler’s death. Powell had begun taking care of Aubrey shortly before Jasmine Littlejohn reported to jail in April 2010 to await trial in a marijuana trafficking case. Littlejohn was in jail when her daughter died.
An Associated Press investigation found that police and social workers had been aware of reports Aubrey was being mistreated while she was staying with Powell.
McCoy alleges Lassiter was one of the social workers whom police escorted to Powell’s home on the night of Nov. 9, 2010, to investigate a complaint that an 11-year-old boy was living in a trailer with drugs and no heat.
They removed the boy, placing him in McCoy’s custody, but let Aubrey stay. The heat was off because the power bill wasn’t paid.
“I begged her (Lassiter) to take Aubrey, but she wouldn’t listen,” McCoy said.
The girl died Jan. 10, 2011, after Powell rushed her to the emergency room. When Swain County investigators looked into the case, they discovered the agency had at least three reports of neglect or abuse regarding Aubrey.
Investigators later found pages missing from written reports on the case.
Prosecutors say that after Aubrey’s death, Lassiter ordered a subordinate, Craig Smith, to falsify records to make it appear that the department had done a thorough job investigating allegations that Aubrey was being abused.
Smith, also charged with obstruction of justice, resigned from the agency last year. Lassiter and three other DSS workers were suspended with pay. Tammy Cagle, the agency’s director at the time, was fired for what county officials said were unrelated reasons.
David Wijewickrama, a lawyer representing Aubrey’s estate, has filed two lawsuits in connection with her death, at least one of which names the county DSS as a defendant along with Lassiter and six other current and former social workers.
The lawsuit asks for more than $10,000 in damages, and accuses Swain County of not doing enough to protect Native American children.
That has resonated with the Cherokees. McCoy said they have formed a committee, of which she is a member, to create a Cherokee-run DSS system for the reservation.
“We need to make a change for our children’s safety,” she said.
Source: Ashville Citizen-Times
Social Services uses an internal investigation to clear its employee Candice Lassiter. She has not lost a day's pay, even while suspended for four months.
Swain DSS: No evidence employee is guilty
Lassiter faces several charges related to Littlejohn death
BRYSON CITY — The leader of the Swain County Department of Social Services board says an internal review found no evidence that a social worker falsified reports or misled police in an investigation related to a child’s death.
The agency had to put Candice Lassiter, 28, back to work, DSS board chairman Robert White said in a statement last week.
She is charged with three counts each of obstruction of justice and forgery related to the investigation of 15-month-old Aubrey Kina-Marie Littlejohn’s death.
Lassiter had been suspended with pay for four months while the agency investigated her actions, White said.
“We have determined that there is no credible evidence available to us at this time which indicates Ms. Lassiter falsified or directed the falsification of any reports, or that she attempted to mislead the Swain County Sheriff’s Department or State Bureau of Investigation in any way,” he said.
“We have made repeated attempts to receive information these officials have in their possession but have not been able to secure either.”
Littlejohn died Jan. 10, 2011, at the Cherokee Indian Hospital about 15 minutes after being brought in by her great-aunt, Lady Bird Powell.
She was left in a car seat for 12 hours the day before and given only a few bites of a hot dog and sips of soda, according to court papers.
She was wrapped in a blanket and wearing only a diaper soaked in urine and feces and a T-shirt when she arrived at the hospital, according to an investigator’s statement in a search warrant.
Officials said the child’s body temperature was 84 degrees when she was brought in.
Powell faces second-degree murder charges.
Attorneys David Wijewickrama and Frederick Barbour said in the legal complaint that DSS officials knew the child was being abused but failed to take action to protect her.
A grand jury indicted Lassiter and social worker Craig Smith. He faces three counts of obstruction of justice, according to court records.
Smith visited Littlejohn’s home five months before she died but found no evidence of abuse despite a complaint the girl had fallen from an unbuckled car seat down a set of stairs, according to an SBI search warrant.
Smith later falsified his records after Littlejohn died to show he had called the hospital to make sure she was examined for injuries from the fall, investigators said in the search warrant.
Lassiter was his supervisor.
White said state law prohibits using a criminal or civil charge to delay an administrative ruling on whether to put an employee back to work.
Source: Ashville Citizen-Times
Not Just One Pedophile
February 7, 2012 permalink
The parade of foster parent/pedophiles continues in Quinte with the arrest of Ronald Slatter of Bloomfield. Six months ago Joe and Janet Turner Holm, also of Bloomfield, were convicted of sexual offenses against their foster children. The last time CAS executive director Len Kennedy excused his agency with: "Let us not diminish, due to the actions of one couple, the credit that is due to so many wonderful families who do so much to keep our children safe, nurtured and protected." Well, it was not just the actions of one couple. What will Kennedy say now?
Child sex assault charge in County
Second case in Bloomfield in past year
A 63-year-old Bloomfield foster parent has been charged with sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation.
Prince Edward OPP report Ronald Slatter was charged after an investigation was launched into “a historical sexual assault” involving a foster parent and a teenage girl in early 2009.
The charges come months after the case of Joe and Janet Turner Holm.
The Bloomfield couple entered guilty pleas to a litany of charges last fall ranging from possession of child pornography, sexual assault and invitation to sexual touching earlier this fall. The pair were sentenced in November, with Janet getting three years in prison and her husband receiving a four-year sentence.
Slatter is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 29.
Source: Belleville Intelligencer
A much longer follow-up article gives no more information about the crime. But it is filled with discussions of procedure. Just like Len Kennedy's statement in last year's Holm case, there is not a word about the victims. This time Prince Edward CAS executive director Bill Sweet, makes similar statements that stricter rules are all that is needed.
County CAS instrumental in latest abuse charge
PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY - Prince Edward County's child protection services, stung by a 2011 conviction against child sex abusers from Bloomfield, were instrumental in the laying of similar criminal charges this week.
Recent sexual assault charges against a Bloomfield foster parent are indirectly linked to similar charges and the conviction of a couple late last year, said the head of the local CAS in Prince Edward.
Bill Sweet, executive director of the Prince Edward Children’s Aid Society, said charges of sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation against Ronald Slatter announced earlier this week stemmed from an investigation the agency launched following the conviction of Joe and Janet Turner Holm in November. The Bloomfield couple, who were foster parents for the agency, entered guilty pleas to a number of charges and were sentenced to a combined total of seven years in prison.
That case, Sweet said, prompted Prince Edward CAS to examine its internal policies and resulted in a former foster child reporting information regarding this week's charged individual, a 63-year-old man from Boomfield.
“In the course of the review that we conducted, we had another person who came forward and issued a complaint. That resulted in us investigating the matter with the police and that’s what led to the charges against Mr. Slatter,” Sweet said.
As an outcome of the Holm incident, Sweet said, the agency worked with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to examine policies and procedures. Part of that process included interviewing all youth-in-care and one girl said there had been an incident in 2009 that she had not reported to case workers or police.
Having foster parents accused and convicted of such crimes is “devastating,” said Sweet, and the CAS is changing its approach to approving foster parents in light of the incidents. While previous regulations were strict, it is hoped adding more stringent qualifications and testing will lessen the chances of similar incidents in the future, Sweet said.
“There’s a standard screening process that takes place across the province,” he said. “We’re held to the same standards as any other agency and it’s quite an extensive process and we’re looking at enhancing it, given our experience.”
The agency’s first priority, he said, is screening for any risks at the point where people apply to become foster parents. The agency has met with a psychologist for advice and is also examining ways to enhance communication with youth-in-care so any concerns or complaints can be brought forward quickly.
“A number of things have changed,” Sweet said. “We have worked with the (Ministry of Children and Youth Services) on all of our policies and procedures. Change has occurred and some is still in the works because, clearly, we’re all very much moved by what happened last fall and the recent development.”
There are currently about 35 foster homes in Prince Edward County. When allegations of abuse of any child in those homes arise, Sweet said, it takes a toll on the agency and its employees.
“It has a very profound impact. Ours is the duty to protect kids and when kids suffer when they are in care it has a devastating impact on everybody. The response has been to just work with everyone we can to ensure such things don’t happen again,” he said.
Slatter is scheduled to appear in Picton court on Feb. 29.
Source: Belleville Intelligencer
Six Nations Moves Toward Own Child Protection
February 7, 2012 permalink
Six Nations is sufficiently disgusted with Brant CAS taking their children that they are starting the process of organizing their own child protection service.
Six Nations child agency explored
Seventeen years after discussions first began about Six Nations taking over its own child protection agency, the reserve is getting serious about the move.
A series of nine community meetings have been scheduled to gather input from Six Nations members over the next few weeks.
"A number of focus group meetings will be held throughout February to measure community interest in seeking Child Welfare designation," said band communications officer Karen Best.
In response to a fair bit of agitation from the community in the form of marches, petitions and protests against the Brant Children's Aid Society, the elected band has opted to get community input toward the idea of setting up an agency dedicated to protecting Six Nations children.
Currently, the CAS has a Six Nations office, staffed mainly with aboriginal workers, who respond to native cases.
But community members marched again in early December to the CAS offices protesting what they said are a high rate of incidents where native children are placed in non-native foster homes rather than with extended family on the reserve.
The group says hundreds of complaints have been lodged against the CAS.
In response, the CAS says it's very supportive of Six Nations taking over responsibility for child protection and has been offering to help in the transition.
It says children are always placed within native families if possible but there aren't enough foster homes on the reserve.
According to the discussion paper posted on the Six Nations website, the number of children who have been taken into care from the reserve has soared by about 300%.
The paper said in the mid-90s, an average of 25 children were taken into care while more recently the average is 106.
Last summer, CAS executive director Andy Koster said there were 65 Six Nations children in care.
Staffing at the agency, said the paper, has grown by 400%.
At the same time, the budget for the band's Child and Family Services Prevention Program hasn't kept pace with inflation.
For Six Nations to officially get a child protection designation, it has to go through a consultation process where the community learns what's involved in taking over those responsibilities and where the band learns the level of interest, readiness and support there is in the community.
To assist with gathering community input, the band has posted a discussion paper on its website, www.sixnations.ca.
The band is encouraging people to read the material and then attend one of the community meetings to provide their input.
The following meetings are being held at the Six Nations Child and Family Services gym, 15 Sunrise Crt. in Ohsweken: Feb. 10 from 1:30-3:30 p.m.; Feb. 16 from 4-6 p.m.; Feb. 17 from 1:30-3:30 p.m.; Feb. 22 from 2-4 p.m.; and Feb. 23 from 7-9 p.m.
The following meetings will be at the Stoneridge Children's Centre, 18 Stoneridge Cir. in Oshweken: Feb. 8 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.; and Feb. 22 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Source: Brantford Expositor
Never Admit a Mistake
February 7, 2012 permalink
While her husband was returning from military service in Kuwait, April Blair gave birth by herself at the Harbin clinic in Georgia. Twice in the months before birth they tested April for drugs and the tests came back positive for methamphetamine. The clinic never warned her, and in spite of a third negative test on the day of birth the clinic notified authorities. The baby was seized minutes after birth and Georgia DCFS forced the mother to give up custody to relatives rather than face court action. A reporter found that there was no security on samples during testing. DCFS refuses to treat the case as a mistake and is still struggling with the family over custody of six-month-old baby Makayla.
Military family fights for child's custody, blames "erroneous" test
CARTERSVILLE, GA ( CBS ATLANTA) -
A military family, speaking only with CBS Atlanta News, said their life has been turned upside down following what they said was a major medical error. Their newborn daughter was nearly ripped out of their hands after a clinic secretly drug tested the Army sergeant's pregnant wife.
But was the test result wrong?
"It was four minutes after she was born. The nurse comes to me and says, 'You know what you've done. Why don't you admit what you've done.' I asked her what she was talking about," April Blair said.
April Blair should have been celebrating the birth of her daughter, but instead for the last seven months, she and her Army medic husband have been fighting to keep custody of their child.
"I didn't know what to do. I was in labor, had a child by myself, my husband was on his way home from Kuwait. I was scared out of my mind," April Blair said.
It was the first indication April Blair had that anything was wrong. Then the nurse delivered more terrifying news.
"They tell me DFACS is going to come, and they are going to take my child because they have the right to, and for me to admit what I did to make it easier on myself," April Blair said.
April Blair said she was never told she was being drug tested or about, what she said, were incorrect results.
"They tested her in May and July, just a few days prior to my daughter's birth, for methamphetamine use and allege that she tested positive on those two separate occasions," Army medic Fred Blair said.
"If they thought that, then why didn't they offer me help?" his wife cried.
A third drug test was done the day Makayla was born and confirmed both the baby and mother were fine. There were no signs of drugs in either of their systems.
April Blair said she did not do drugs during her pregnancy.
"Absolutely not," she said.
"There is no way she would have tested totally negative there would have been some trace evidence of methamphetamines in my daughter's system. That is what I was told," Fred Blair said.
But the damage was already done. The clinic had called the Department of Children and Family Services, and DFCS threatened to take Blair's daughter away that same day.
"I had to take my daughter and place her into temporary guardianship of a family member just in order for them not to file a petition for custody of my child," Fred Blair said.
Saltzman asked Harbin Clinic Medical Director Alfonso Diaz if it is legal to drug test a patient without their permission.
When CBS Atlanta News contacted Harbin Clinic, Diaz refused to speak. But in a letter to the family, the clinic said there may have been a mistake.
"They would have up to five cups of urine sitting in this lab window, no top, no way to secure it," Fred Blair said.
The clinic confirmed their urine tests "are not performed through a chain of custody," and are supposed to be only used for their "information." Due to "the process used at the time," they said "the results cannot be verified, and may have resulted in an erroneous report."
"This is malpractice. You can't just do this to someone. You can't drug test someone, never notify them," Fred Blair said.
The clinic apologized, and said they have changed their process to avoid this situation in the future. They also offered to contact DFCS to correct the mistake, but Fred Blair said they never did.
"They stole the first month of my child's life from me. I will never regain that," Fred Blair said.
And the Blairs are still left fighting DFCS for legal custody of their child.
"My main focus right now is just to make sure no one has to go through what we had to go through," Fred Blair said.
Click here to read Harbin Clinic's Response local copy pdf.
Source: WGCL-TV CBS Atlanta
February 7, 2012 permalink
Staten Island New York mother Fausat Ogunbayo is demanding $900 trillion (image) for the groundless removal of her children from her care. They have been in ACS custody for three years. Recently an appellate court found in favor of Ogunbayo but ACS refused to return the children. They just filed another case in court.
By our arithmetic, paying her claim will require diverting a year's US lumber production for the mint to print $100 bills. A worthwhile investment to rid the country of child protectors.
Staten Island mom hits city with $900 trillion suit
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- A $900 trillion suit.
That's trillion with a "t," and it's the amount in damages which a West Brighton woman seeks from the city for, she alleges, improperly placing her two sons in a Queens foster home more than three years ago.
Fausat Ogunbayo, 46, recently sued the city and its Administration for Children's Services (ACS) in Brooklyn federal court, claiming the defendants had violated both her civil rights and her children's by removing the boys from their home here in June 2008.
The children, then 12 and 10 years old, are now 16 and 13, respectively. They have been out of their mother's custody since being relocated to Queens.
Ms. Ogunbayo alleges she and her children have suffered "over three years of terror, horror, grievous harm, time lost, substantial economic hardship and injuries" due to their separation.
In removing the boys, the city contended Ms. Ogunbayo was mentally unstable and had refused treatment, said court papers. She allegedly suffered from hallucinations and delusions, and also left the boys at home alone for extended periods while she was working, the city maintained.
Ms. Ogunbayo, who is representing herself, has branded the allegations a "huge lie."
A recent appellate court ruling may provide her some legal ammunition.
Last month, the state Appellate Division, Second Department, in a separate legal case, vacated the Family Court finding of neglect against Ms. Ogunbayo.
There was no evidence, the appellate panel determined, the children were ever in "imminent danger" of harm despite Ms. Ogunbayo's refusal to acknowledge her mental condition.
"Proof of mental illness alone will not support a finding of neglect," unless there's a causal link between the parent's condition and actual or potential harm to the child, said the court.
In fact, the youngsters had "near-perfect" attendance in school and "were doing well, even thriving, academically," while in their mother's care, the appellate division said. In addition, the boys were up to date on their medical examinations and vaccinations, and their heights and weights were appropriate for their ages, said the court.
While the appellate ruling restored custody of her children to Ms. Ogunbayo, she alleges ACS has "refused" to return them.
A city Law Department spokeswoman yesterday said the children remain in ACS custody, because the agency has filed a new petition in Family Court.
Citing the pending litigation, the spokeswoman declined comment on the other allegations in Ms. Ogunbayo's lawsuit, but said a plaintiff's damages' demand "has no bearing on whether the case has any merit and no relation to actual damages, if any."
Ms. Ogunbayo told the Advance last night that the city is "treating me very bad and now they want to come around and lie against me."
The bottom line: She wants her children back.
According to court papers, ACS moved to take away Ms. Ogunbayo's kids after receiving several reports of suspected mistreatment in mid-2008.
In one, she allegedly told a doctor her children's skin was becoming darker each day, due to radiation. In another incident, she wrote her children's school that the FBI and Secret Service were out to get the boys, ACS said in court papers.
Ms. Ogunbayo insisted she was mentally stable, and the children were removed because she refused to seek "necessary treatment for her mental health issues," the agency contended.
ACS also maintained Ms. Ogunbayo endangered the boys by leaving them alone for up to seven hours after school and all day on weekends, said court papers.
In response, Ms. Ogunbayo submitted a November 2008 letter from the children's pediatricians, saying they seemed to be well cared for during the eight preceding years in which they were patients. Doctors also said they hadn't seen Ms. Ogunbayo behaving erratically.
She also provided handwritten letters from her sons saying they wished to live with their mom.
And court papers said her older son was having some problems with the law while in foster care -- he was arrested in Queens in August of last year for alleged marijuana possession.
In its ruling, the appellate court said evidence that Ms. Ogunbayo sometimes left her kids unattended for long periods was "vague and contradictory."
ACS failed to establish that any lack of supervision on her part created an impending risk to the children's health, safety, or mental or emotional condition, the court determined.
The panel also recommended that ACS provide -- and that Ms. Ogunbayo accept -- "appropriate services or referrals" to aid her reunification with her children, after more than three years apart.
Source: Staten Island Advance
February 7, 2012 permalink
John Dunn asks why the OACAS is lobbying for a law to extend the age of protection from 16 to 18 when CAS already had authority under the law to provide services to youth in that age-group who consent. Possible answer: too many foster kids turning 16 are running back to mom and dad. John's item is enclosed followed by the OACAS statement.
Ontario CAS and OACAS Lobbying To Remove Choice From Youth
The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies and Children's Aid Societies themselves have been lobbying the Government to increase the mandatory age of protection for youth from 16 up to 18 years of age.
It is important however that this not be confused with offering youth services until their 21st or 24th years. That is supported by us as long as it is optional for the youth. This is a different issue. This issue concerns CASs being able to apprehend youth or provide services against the wishes of the youth themselves between the ages of sixteen and 18.
Currently section 27 of the Child and Family Services Act already gives authority to CAS and to the courts to provide services to youth over sixteen if the youth want such services and enter into an agreement for such.
Section 27 reads as follows:
Consent to service: person over sixteen
27. (1) A service provider may provide a service to a person who is sixteen years of age or older only with the person’s consent, except where the court orders under this Act that the service be provided to the person. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 27 (1).
If you read it carefully it basically says that a CAS and a youth sixteen or older, if the youth wants it, can enter into an agreement for services (foster care or other services) if the youth wants it. It also says that even if the youth does not want the services, if the CAS convinces the court that the youth needs it, the court has the power to order those services.
If the OACAS and the CAS were to win changes to the legislation as they are asking government to do, it would take away the older youth's choice entirely making it mandatory that the sixteen and seventeen year olds go into care or receive forced services even if they don't want them. Basically throwing away the UN convention on the Rights of the Child to be heard and / or considered in the decision making process concerning their lives.
John Dunn of the Foster Care Council of Canada has sent an e-mail to the OACAS to ask for clarification on this issue.
According to the Home page of the OACAS, the OACAS and Ontario Children’s Aid Societies recommend raising the age of protection to 18 and they believe Children’s Aid should have the ability to intervene when older children are abused or neglected and be able to work with children and their families, and help them make connections in the community to access supports and services.
However, currently section 27 of the Child and Family Services Act already gives the Societies and the courts authority to provide services to youth over the age of sixteen as long as the youth wants to receive those services and gives consent. (See below)
Consent to service: person over sixteen
27. (1) A service provider may provide a service to a person who is sixteen years of age or older only with the person’s consent, except where the court orders under this Act that the service be provided to the person. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 27 (1).
Can the OACAS please explain why they are lobbying the government to increase the age of protection to 18 when they already have the ability to do so under the current legislation if the youth consents to such services?
Foster Care Council of Canada
Source: Foster Care News, John Dunn
Below is the OACAS statement on the issue from their homepage:
Protecting children of all ages
Ontario’s Children’s Aid Societies believe, and Ontarians support, that all children and youth deserve safety. Only 7 percent of Ontarians feel that it is adequate to protect children only until the age of 16, 49 percent say that the age of protection should be raised to the age of 18, 12 percent say to the age of 19 and a further 26 percent believe youth should be protected to the age of 21.
Ontario’s definition of “child” in the Child and Family Services Act, under Section 37, is inconsistent with article 1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which defines children as “persons up to the age of 18 years”. According to a study by the Centre of Excellence in Child Welfare, five provinces and territories have already defined 18 or 19 as the age of protection in child welfare.
OACAS and Ontario Children’s Aid Societies recommend raising the age of protection to 18. Children’s Aid should have the ability to intervene when older children are abused or neglected and be able to work with children and their families, and help them make connections in the community to access supports and services. The alternatives to providing protection are grim. Youth looking to escape unsafe conditions run away and become homeless, some turn to drugs and alcohol, end up on social assistance, or become involved in correctional services. Read more in the 2011 Child Welfare Report.
February 6, 2012 permalink
A two-year-old boy found wandering in Wasaga Beach has been returned by police to his family. But Children's Aid was alerted. This sounds like what happened to Ayn Van Dyk in British Columbia. Child protectors picked her up four days after a similar incident and she has not been home since.
Little boy found wandering
WASAGA BEACH -- Public works staff happened upon a two-year-old boy wandering the streets of Wasaga Beach, Friday morning.
Huronia West OPP was alerted shortly after 10 a.m. after two town employees found the boy by himself in the area of Highway 26 and 73rd Street.
"He had his boots on and had a coat on, but what we're figuring out now is if the young lad put them on himself," Const. Mark Kinney said. "We're not 100% clear on when the young lad had left the residence on 73rd Street."
Officers took custody of the boy, and after an extensive search, located the residence on 73rd Street where the youngster was staying with family members.
"He was happy, healthy and not cold, so I'm not speculating he was out for a long period of time," Kinney said. "I don't know where the young person wandered. All I know is that he started here and ended there, so it wasn't a huge distance."
According to police, the investigation revealed that the mother had left her son with family the previous night due to other commitments she had made. The boy managed to exit the family residence early Friday morning and started walking until members of the Wasaga Beach Public Works Department discovered him and stopped to help.
Most of the streets in Wasaga Beach do not include sidewalks.
"You've got a young individual at that age walking across and along a major highway. Number two, the young lad was happy and healthy, but unfortunately he'd go to anybody," Kinney said. "So there's the potential for abduction because of that."
The "happy and healthy" toddler was reunited with his mother, who is from Clearview Township.
The Children's Aid Society has also been asked to assist with the case, but Kinney said nothing suspicious has surfaced in the investigation.
Police remind all parents kids can and will do unexpected things, and it is a parent's duty to ensure their child's safety.
"If you look at the young person, look at the environment and you look at the other potentials out there, yeah there was a high potential (of injury or abduction)," Kinney said. "Fortunately, none of that affected our young person today."
Police haven't determined how the young boy got out of the residence.
Source: Barrie Examiner
Hospital D Deficiency
February 5, 2012 permalink
A British couple took their baby girl to the hospital to get help for her limp arm. When the parents could not explain old fractures discovered in x-rays social workers took the girl and placed her for adoption. The parents could not explain the fractures because the hospital discovered but withheld the reason: vitamin D deficiency. The appeals courts have refused to intervene because the girl's life has moved on.
Enclosed are an introductory note by John Hemming and the article and editorial from the Daily Express.
Today's sunday express and vitamin D
I link to the opinion section in the Sunday Express. This was a vitamin D deficiency case (of which I am aware of two more cases which are similar) where the court of appeal refused to hear the case because the child's life had "moved on". This is the story.
So, let us fast forward say 16 years. The child finds that the court would not hear any suggestion that she was the victim of a miscarriage of justice and the court decided to prevent her mother from putting forward arguments that she suffered a vitamin D deficiency.
Is that really in the "best interests of the child" or is it moreso in the "best interests of the system."
There are many victims of this system. The birth parents, the child and the adoptive parents. The adoptive parents are told that the child has been the victim of abuse. I would hazard a guess that they are not told that the mother has been prevented from adducing evidence that it was a medical problem.
Source: John Hemming blog
SOCIAL WORKERS TOOK MY BABY OVER ‘ABUSE’. I BELIEVE SHE HAS BRITTLE BONES
A MOTHER accused of abusing her baby hopes new medical evidence will bring back her child.
Sarah, 25, had her baby Georgia taken by social services and put with adoptive parents amid claims she and husband Michael had broken her arm. Now it seems Georgia’s injuries might be due by severe vitamin D deficiency which has weakened her bones.
Campaigners fear it could be the latest case of parents blamed for “shaken baby” child abuse when the cause could be brittle bones .
They also believe the parents are victims of a “draconian” safety-first culture in the wake of the Baby P scandal which has made the authorities too hasty in removing children from families.
Last July the Sunday Express highlighted claims that a flawed adoption policy using targets set by the last Labour government led to social workers needlessly taking 10,000 children from their families.
Sarah and Michael’s nightmare began in May 2010 when they took Georgia to hospital because they were worried about her limp arm.
After x-rays revealed three other older fractures that experts said were “non-accidental”, social workers took Georgia from them and alerted the police.
Sarah and Michael were arrested. No charges have been laid but the civil courts used the lower threshold of “balance of probabilities” to conclude they were a danger to Georgia, who has now been with adoptive parents for eight months.
Sarah, whose family has a history of bone problems and vitamin D deficiencies, is now 28 weeks’ pregnant with their second child. However, this baby might also be taken from her because of the earlier findings.
She said: “I have lost the most important person in my life and I worry every day about how she is. I will never give up on her and will fight until we are together as a family again.” Sarah is taking her fight to the European Court of Human Rights after the Court of Appeal judges ruled last month her application for a full hearing was too late and Georgia’s “life had moved on”.
Sarah’s lawyers argued “crucial evidence” had not been properly considered at earlier court hearings. This was a blood test taken in May 2010, when Georgia was first taken to hospital. It showed her vitamin D levels were so low she was suffering “clinical rickets”.
The levels were so severe that doctors immediately prescribed her a high 12ml dose of vitamin D.
In papers submitted to the Court of Appeal, Sarah’s lawyers added: “The blood test results indicated Georgia may have had low bone density which required further testing. No further testing was carried out. The blood test results were withheld.”
They added that x-rays of Georgia’s bones were not adequately analysed for rickets and disputed the assertions of three experts. These said there were no underlying bone conditions and that because “the parents were unable to provide a plausible explanation for the injuries, [there is] a high probability that they were caused non-accidentally”.
There is also dispute about rickets in white children such as Georgia. One court-appointed consultant paediatrician stated: “Vitamin D deficiency rickets is seen only in the developed world in breast-fed infants of dark-skinned mothers.” However, consultant paediatrician Dr Jeremy Allgrove, of the Royal London Hospital, told us: “That’s not correct. I have seen vitamin D deficiency rickets, albeit very rarely, in white-skinned children.”
Before they were aware of the vitamin D tests, Sarah said Michael “panicked” and made up reasons for Georgia’s fractures. When these explanations did not tally with the injuries, a judge called his evidence “not truthful” .
Sarah’s mother offered to care for Georgia but she refused to accept her daughter’s “guilt” and was deemed unsuitable .
In her letter to the European Court of Human Rights, Sarah said: “By ignoring the fact my daughter was suffering from profound vitamin D deficiency rickets, when determining the degree of force required to cause fractures, I have been denied my right to a fair trial.”
MP John Hemming, who chairs the Justice for Families campaign group, said: “If the experts assume the parents are at fault then they often don’t look for the real cause. This means lives can be destroyed in the haste to pinpoint blame .”
A spokeswoman for the police force involved – it cannot be named for legal reasons – said it was working with the National Policing Improvement Agency to determine if Georgia’s injuries were accidental or not.
Sarah, Michael and Georgia are not the real names.
Source: Daily Express
MOTHER’S PLEA FOR JUSTICE
WHAT kind of country is it that takes a baby from its mother when she has gone to seek help?
We report today on the case of Sarah and Michael, who had their baby Georgia taken from them after doctors discovered she had a broken arm... despite the fact that Sarah’s family has a history of bone problems and vitamin D deficiencies.
What a disgrace.
When it comes to child protection the authorities seem to veer from one extreme to the other, either utter hysteria, as in the case of the various innocent women jailed for killing their children, or utter neglect, as in the dreadful case of Baby P.
It seems a baby may have been wrenched from loving parents without a comprehensive investigation.
Further checks have now been made which suggest Georgia may indeed have suffered bone problems.
The Court of Appeal has ruled that it’s too late for her to be returned and that Georgia’s “life has moved on”.
But Sarah has been denied the opportunity for a fair hearing and must now resort to the European Court for justice.
Source: Daily Express
Handcuffs not Coercive
February 5, 2012 permalink
Arizona social workers forced their way into the home of John and Tiffany Loudermilk by threatening to arrest them and seize their homeschooled children. An American appellate court ruled that threatening to handcuff parents and seize the children was not coercion. The family has asked the US supreme court to reverse that decision. If the court takes the case, it will determine whether parents have any protection against arbitrary search by social workers acting under pretense of child protection.
Handcuffs not considered 'threat' by court
Case asks Supremes to weigh in on governmental coercion
Attorneys representing Arizona parents who “voluntarily” allowed their home to be searched by authorities after social workers used an anonymous tip to threaten to handcuff them and seize their five children, and then summoned deputies to do that, have asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on the controversy.
The Home School Legal Defense Association has filed a petition asking the justices to review the case of John and Tiffany Loudermilk.
The couple sued after the confrontation at their Maricopa County home in 2005, and a district court judge ruled a reasonable person would believe their decision to allow social workers to search their home was coerced.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the most reversed court in the U.S., later said the search was proper.
“For 40 terrifying minutes, this homeschooling couple had asserted their Fourth Amendment right to be free from an unreasonable search of their home. The two investigative social workers were eventually joined by six uniformed sheriff’s deputies who were called because the social workers considered the Loudermilks to be ‘uncooperative,’” the HSLDA said in its description of the case.
But when the social workers “played their ace-in-the-hole,” warning, “If you don’t let us in immediately, we will take your children into state custody,” the HSLDA said, the Loudermilks were forced to allow the search.
The court filing explains that the still-anonymous tipster told authorities that there was a danger to the children in the new home, but social services took some two months to respond.
When social services responded, it essentially explained that it was an emergency because they decided it was an emergency.
“In the two months between receiving the anonymous report and arriving unannounced on the Loudermilks’ front porch, social services clearly never believed that the situation needed emergency intervention,” HSLDA asserted. “No one ever asked a judge for a court order. But when it came time for the social workers to complete their investigation, the family’s Fourth Amendment rights just got in the way.”
HSLDA pointed out that in 2010, state investigations intruded into the private lives of more than 3 million children across the U.S. But the organization contended that the incursions were unnecessary three out of four times.
“The Supreme Court of the United States has never taken a case involving the Fourth Amendment rights of families who are in the middle of a social services investigation at their home,” said Michael Farris, lead counsel in the case. “We think it is high time it does.”
According to the petition, the Loudermilks had been building their dream home in Arizona. They eventually obtained permission from the county to move in, even though there were minor projects to be finished.
One social worker in 2005 left a business card and later explained when the parents contact the office that there was an anonymous tip. A visit was scheduled for the social worker to investigate what allegedly was a “danger” to the children two months later.
However, the family consulted a lawyer who warned the county that the proper permission had been given – by the county – for the family to move in.
When social workers Rhonda Cash and Jenna Cramer appeared at the home unannounced some weeks later, they threatened to take the family’s five children.
“She (Cash) appeared to believe that her simple inability to determine the children’s living conditions was sufficient grounds for her to remove the children from their parents,” the petition explains. That’s even though the social workers were allowed to talk to the children to see that they were fine.
Nevertheless, the threats from Cash continued.
“Faced with unrelenting ultimatum that the officers would physically remove the children from the home unless they were admitted, together with a significant show of force, John felt that he had no option besides allowing the search of his home. He believed that he would be arrested and the children removed if he continued to refuse… Tiffany believed her children would be immediately removed from the home if she did not allow the social workers and officers to search her home.”
The ultimate search took only minutes and uncovered no issues, showing that the “tip” was wrong.
The HSLDA said other courts have required evidence of harm or a threat, or evidence that the children are at risk, in order to make such demands.
“In this case, the lead law enforcement officer concluded that there was no basis for suggesting that exigent circumstances existed which would support a warrantless entry,” the brief explains.
The result, the organization said, is that in the 9th Circuit now, “social workers can enter any family home whenever there is an anonymous tip containing a remote suggestion of a threat to a child’s safety.”
Earlier, it was U.S. District Judge Earl H. Carroll who decided that the lawsuit by the family against the social workers, sheriff and deputies would be allowed to continue, because the social workers’ concerns were based on “an anonymous tip that the … Loudermilk children were being neglected and that plaintiffs’ home was uninhabitable.”
However, the judge said that under federal law, an anonymous tip “without more, does not constitute probable cause.”
Named as defendants are Deputies Joshua Ray, Joseph Sousa, Richard Gagnon and Michael Danner, social workers Rhonda Cash and Jenna Cramer, and Assistant Attorney General Julie Rhodes.
Source: World Net Daily
Addendum: Final word from the supreme court: social workers threatening to take your children immediately is not coercion.
War on U.S. homeschoolers escalates
State can snatch kids thanks to Supreme Court
Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, caught up in the high-profile Obamacare arguments that started today, have refused to intervene in a case in which deputies threatened parents with the forced removal of their children unless they agreed to let social workers, who did not have a warrant or probable case, search their home.
The stunning conclusion came in a lawsuit brought on behalf of John and Tiffany Loudermilk, who sued officials after a confrontation at their Maricopa County, Ariz., home in 2005.
A district court judge ruled a reasonable person would believe the Loudermilks’ decision to allow social workers to search their home was coerced, in violation of the 4th Amendment. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the search was proper.
The case may not be finished, as the opinion from the 9th Circuit was unpublished, which means that it is not binding on future cases. Also, when the deputies appealed to the 9th Circuit for immunity, the social workers who also were sued did not, and that part of the case remains on hold at the district court level.
James Mason, chief counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association, which brought the case on behalf of the family, told WND that the group will consult with the family and soon make a determination on the next step.
But he said the result is disappointing, because no matter the status of the appeal, the situation did develop, and the threats were made to give the social workers what they wanted.
The HSLDA described the situation: “For 40 terrifying minutes, this homeschooling couple had asserted their Fourth Amendment right to be free from an unreasonable search of their home. The two investigative social workers were eventually joined by six uniformed sheriff’s deputies who were called because the social workers considered the Loudermilks to be ‘uncooperative.’”
Then social workers played their “ace-in-the-hole” and threatened the parents that their five children would be placed in state custody immediately if they did not allow the search.
The case developed after a still-anonymous tipster told authorities that there was a danger to the children in the new home. Two months later, social services arrived unannounced at the home and explained that it was an emergency because social workers decided it was an emergency at that point.
“In the two months between receiving the anonymous report and arriving unannounced on the Loudermilks’ front porch, social services clearly never believed that the situation needed emergency intervention,” HSLDA asserted. “No one ever asked a judge for a court order. But when it came time for the social workers to complete their investigation, the family’s Fourth Amendment rights just got in the way.”
It was social workers Rhonda Cash and Jenna Cramer who appeared at the home unannounced and threatened to take the family’s five children.
“She (Cash) appeared to believe that her simple inability to determine the children’s living conditions was sufficient grounds for her to remove the children from their parents,” the petition to the high court explained. That’s even though the social workers were allowed to talk to the children to see that they were fine.
The social workers called on the deputies to reinforce the threats with the force of law.
“Faced with unrelenting ultimatum that the officers would physically remove the children from the home unless they were admitted, together with a significant show of force, John felt that he had no option besides allowing the search of his home. He believed that he would be arrested and the children removed if he continued to refuse… Tiffany believed her children would be immediately removed from the home if she did not allow the social workers and officers to search her home,” the appeal stated.
The ultimate search took only minutes and uncovered no issues, showing that the “tip” was wrong.
“In this case, the lead law enforcement officer concluded that there was no basis for suggesting that exigent circumstances existed which would support a warrantless entry,” the brief explained.
Mason suggested that the outcome of the confrontation could provide a ripple effect for families confronted by authorities investigating anonymous tips in a variety of scenarios.
Source: World Net Daily
Nothing Went Wrong
February 5, 2012 permalink
Baby Braxton Michael Taylor was taken at birth by Human Services in Virginia Beach. At the age of seven months he was transferred to a second foster home where he died a few weeks later, badly bruised over his whole body. According to the Virginian-Pilot, mother Kristen Wall alerted social workers to Braxton's bruises days before his death. “The social worker brushed me off,” she said. Foster mother Kathleen Ganiere was convicted on a plea, so there has been no evidence presented in public. Suspecting problems in human services, the local TV station investigated. They found photographs taken by social workers just days before Braxton's death showing multiple bruises. The TV reporters caught up with Robert Morin, director of Human Services. You will be pleased to hear Mr Morin say: "there was no wrongdoing on our part". Since there was no wrongdoing, all of Braxton's records held by police, human services, risk management and the city attorney will remain secret.
The text of the TV report is enclosed, for the video go to the source or our local copy (flv).
VIRGINIA BEACH— If pictures speak a thousand words, the one we showed Sarah FitzPatrick tells this story.
"Does it look like the same baby to you?" we asked.
"No," she responds.
Follow NewsChannel 3 on Facebook
Braxton Michael Taylor was a happy child the FitzPatricks fostered from birth until 7 months, when he was transferred to another family. But after just a few weeks with the new foster parents, Braxton changed.
Days later, Braxton died, abused to death by his second foster mother, a woman named Kathleen Ganiere.
"We`re just in complete shock that this happened. That no one stepped in, no one…" Sarash says.
NewsChannel 3's investigation reveals social workers had at least two chances to save Braxton, but didn't. These pictures - pictures Virginia Beach doesn't want you to see - were snapped inside the city's Human Services building with social workers in the room. Braxton's head is bruised, his lips split, his eyes confused and distant. He was supposed to be gaining weight, instead he was shedding it. But still he went home with Ganiere.
"How do you explain that?" we asked.
"I can't explain that. It is beyond incompetent," the FitzPatricks say.
And according to the Fitzpatricks, a social worker again visited Ganiere's home just before Braxton's death. She photographed the baby, and left.
Braxton's grandparents and his first foster parents figured at the murder trial, they would finally learn how social workers saw all these injuries, yet did nothing to save the baby. That way there would be some accountability, and maybe some changes in a system they believe failed this child. But Kathleen Ganiere pleaded guilty. That meant no trial, and for social services, no scrutiny.
"They are just carrying on about life as if nothing happened," they say.
"People keep talking about somebody dropped the ball. They didn`t drop a ball. They dropped a baby," says Mr. Braxton.
So how why didn't social workers spot this abuse and save him? Virginia Beach doesn't want you to know.
The city says the entire police file, a half-inch thick, is secret.
Human Services records, more than 500 pages, secret.
Risk Management, 50 pages, secret.
The City Attorney's file, four inches thick, secret.
We tracked down Robert Morin, director of Human Services, not far from his office.
"Your staff had contact with Braxton, who had bruises, split lips, and in fact, this picture was taken in your facility. That's Braxton. He's bruised, his lips are cut. That's in your building,"
He confirmed with the FitzPatricks feared. He said his staff was not to blame so nothing has changed.
"We didn't have any internal investigations. We found our staff had done everything appropriately," he says.
"There were many red flags she should have picked up on," says Sarah.
"Shouldn't there have been alarm bells ringing somewhere? Among your staff?" we asked.
"We have to take what the foster parent is telling us, especially if we don't have any other kind of reason to disbelieve, and we move from that point on. But no staff has been disciplined because of the event," he says
Court records show Ganiere was telling them Braxton fell down. A lot. Social workers gave her the benefit of the doubt, and that was a fatal mistake.
"There is no doubt that something went terribly wrong. Why was there no internal investigation?" we asked.
"I guess it is your interpretation that something went wrong," Morin replied.
"There was no wrongdoing on our part," says Morin.
Braxton's autopsy report, obtained by NewsChannel 3, reveals signs of ongoing and chronic abuse.
His lips were torn so badly the doctor wrote "extensive" and "severe." He had bruises everywhere, on his ears, right arm, right calf, and on both thighs. His scrotum was crushed and he had severe diaper rash.
Morin said after Braxton's death, he reminded social-services workers to check all children from head to toe. But that's as far as it went.
"Braxton's life has to be worth more. His death needs to be the reason why things change," say the FitzPatricks. "It's a child's life, and it will be another. It could so easily be another if things don't change."
Source: WTKR-TV Norfolk
Addendum: A week after the TV news above generated a public outcry, Human Services director Robert Morin issued a public apology. Most of his response is from the script. His statement is also an example of saying one thing in public and doing the opposite in private. Morin promised to make everything about the case public while his lawyers were opposing requests from the TV station to see records. The report is from WTKR, and local copy (flv).
The former foster parents who spoke out to the press are being fired by DHS. They have been told their remaining foster child cannot stay with them because he is black and they are white. And their foster payment cheque bounced. Video at WTKR or local copy (flv).
Addendum: Three years after Braxton's death, the city of Virginia Beach pays a settlement to the family.
VB settles lawsuit in death of foster child for $450,000
VIRGINIA BEACH--The City of Virginia Beach has agreed to pay $450,000 to settle a lawsuit in the death Braxton Taylor, who died while in foster care in 2010.
Braxton was 10 months old when he died from shaken baby syndrome, a day after being rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
Braxton's foster mother, Kathleen Ganiere, was initially charged with murder, and later pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison in November 2011.
The settlement was reached Friday, Feb. 15, after several hours of mediation. The City Council was briefed on the settlement, and it will be presented to a Circuit Court judge for final approval. No court date has been set.
If approved by the court, about $170,000 of the settlement proceeds will be put into a trust fund for Braxton Taylor’s brothers and sisters. His biological father, Ralph Taylor Jr., will receive $75,000, and his biological mother, Kristen Wall, will receive $50,000 of the proceeds. The remainder will go to legal fees and expenses.
“We were all deeply saddened by Braxton Taylor’s death,” City Attorney Mark Stiles said. “The abuse he suffered was heartbreaking. It remains unthinkable to us that a foster mother would commit a homicidal act against an innocent child.”
The city says it has made major changes to its child welfare programs after Braxton's death, including improved screening and training for prospective foster parents, weekly face-to-face visits by child welfare workers with young foster children, increased staff training for injury recognition, and increased involvement by Child Protective Services in suspicious cases.
“We have learned from this tragedy,” said Deputy City Manager Cindy Curtis, “and we have made permanent changes as a result. I am confident that these changes will better serve at-risk children and their families.”
Source: WVEC Television
February 4, 2012 permalink
Seeking Former Foster Kids for Documentary on Emancipation
The Foster Care Council of Canada is currently working on a documentary about the experiences youth face when trying to emancipate (leave) from the foster care system in Ontario.
Source: Foster Care News (John Dunn)
Addendum: John Dunn says the project has been put on hold indefinitely
February 4, 2012 permalink
Super Bowl advertising time is running at $6 million per minute. Someone has donated $16 million worth of time to run this video of Super Bowl Winning Coach Tony Dungy (mp4) promoting adoption during tomorrow's Super Bowl. It comes from Adoption Journey.
Parents Can't Protect Their Own Children
February 2, 2012 permalink
The Child Abuse Register, and other lists of malefactors, are available to social workers, but confidential to the general public. Parents cannot view the lists for the protection of their own children and remain in the dark when hiring a babysitter, coach or tutor. But when the parent allows a registered person to care for his child, children's aid can seize it on account of the parents' failure to protect.
Abuse register not accessible to parents
BARRIE - Parents who may have questions about a teacher’s past involvement with students may find the system fails them.
In some cases, they can only look to the Ontario College of Teachers’ (OCT) website where information may be difficult to find.
In some cases, discipline that involved agencies other than the OCT is hidden from parents as well.
Laura Sclater, a teacher acquitted of all charges after she sent love notes to a student, was at one point listed on the Child Abuse Register.
But this week, The Advance was unable to determine if her name is still on the registry after criminal charges against her were dropped in 2002. She is currently a teacher at Steele Street Public School.
Irene Perro, director of records with the Child Abuse Register at the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, said names on the register are confidential.
“Only authorized ministry employees, the Ontario Children’s Aid Society, counsellors, researchers, coroners, or a child’s lawyer can obtain information,” said Perro.
An individual is able to inquire if his or her own name is on the list, but a request must be filed in writing.
Separate from the Ontario Sex Offender Registry, the Child Abuse Register contains information on all verified cases of child abuse in Ontario since June 15, 1979.
Source: Simcoe Advance
February 2, 2012 permalink
In his portrait of Ontario ombudsman André Marin Windsor Star columnist Chris Vander Doelen explains why the current Ontario legislature is a unique opportunity to expand the powers of the ombudsman to the MUSH sector, including children's aid societies.
Vander Doelen: Watchdog has bark and bite
Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin revealed himself as a man of contrasts when he met this week with The Windsor Star's editorial board.
Marin's media clippings paint a picture of a sometimes polarizing, publicity seeking media missile. In his six years as ombudsman to Ontario's 11 million citizens, he's been adept at whipping up headlines as his staff dig up dirt on Ontario's often incompetent and sometimes heartless bureaucracy.
If you've heard of him, you know his office of 90 investigators has exposed the lottery scams that saw convenience store owners ripping off legitimate winners, and the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation's casual cruelty to homeowners overtaxed by its bad computer programs.
Marin says he was expecting to field about 75 complaints about MPAC's flawed property assessments when that problem first cropped up; instead his staff were swamped with 4,000.
Recently Marin made headlines again with his criticism of police chiefs who fail to notify or co-operate with Ontario's Special Investigations Unit when they mess up. In Windsor, that turns out to be quite often.
On the other hand ... well, Marin isn't that much of an outsider, being a career bureaucrat himself. He even looks the part in his mandarin's uniform: finely tailored blue suit, with French cuffs on an expensive shirt which appears to be filled out by gym-buffed trunk.
If it isn't a put-on for the media, I have to admire the tough talk Marin dishes out when he talks about the widespread performance problems he finds in provincial government. They don't get the attention they deserve from an Ottawa-obsessed media.
Marin speaks of our underachieving provincial government in the scathing tones average taxpayers often use when complaining about public services. He slams politicians and senior bureaucrats for being "mealy-mouthed" when he drops a damning report in their laps, rather than looking for solutions.
Government liaison officers, he scoffs at one point, are really just "cheerleaders" for the institutions they work for, not really public liaison officers at all.
Ontario so-called tough rules on open municipal council meetings "are a farce," Marin says - any of the province's 444 towns and cities can simply opt out of them when they please. Naturally, 253 of them have done so. But the rest can't be punished for breaking the rules anyway.
SIU, which he acknowledges has its hands full investigating a mushrooming culture of police errors and coverups, shouldn't be treating its reports "like a state secret," he says. Amen.
And when it comes to problem incidents involving police, current cop culture seems dominated by time-wasting (or is that job-creating?) procedural dances. "Cut all the bureaucracy!" he says of police reporting procedures.
It is the job of the government of the day to deal with these problems. That would be the Liberal government of Premier Dalton McGuinty.
Except, Marin hints, "there appears to be on the part of government fear of dealing with the police."
Now why would the government fear police forces they are supposed to be in charge of ? Are Liberal MPPs afraid of being tagged for traffic violations or for something worse? This is where the other Marin reappears. Despite the gunslinger pose, Marin's tough talk tends to melt away when politically sensitive questions are put to him.
For instance, Marin thinks it's absurd that Ontario is virtually the last province in Canada to bar its ombudsman from investigating the vast MUSH sector of public services: Municipalities, Universities, Schools and Hospitals.
Marin would also like to be able to probe into the operations of longterm care facilities, and possibly child services. Can you imagine the tidal wave of complaints he'd get on health care alone, even without the problems in Ontario's 53 Children's Aid Societies? He would pine for the days of a mere 4,000 complaints.
But Marin doesn't seem ready to pounce on a rare opportunity to have his powers expanded the way he thinks they should be, now that Ontario has a minority government.
A succession of Liberal, Conservative and one NDP government since 1975 have refused to give the ombudsman expanded authority in Ontario.
The NDP and the Tories tried to correct that oversight last year when both parties supported Bill 183, a private members bill to expand the reach of the ombudsman's office. But the Liberals outvoted them.
It's the ombudsman's job to get under the skin of government, and by that measure alone the publicityseeking Marin has been a success.
Now that the NDP and the Tories outnumber McGuinty's minority Liberals, this is the time to ask for those powers again.
Source: Windsor Star
Recommend Your Social Worker!
February 2, 2012 permalink
This post is too bizarre for comment. Xyolhemeylh Child & Family Services is in Chilliwack British Columbia.
Dianna Holden So a little off topic but something worth noting, yesterday I returned home from taking my girls to school and to my surprise I had an unsupecting visitor standing at the end of my driveway. It was the social worker who I thought was fired by Xyolhlelmh (the aboriginal agency) He looked a little disheveled so I hopped out of my vehicle and asked what he was doing at my house. This is the same social worker that dropped off the christmas decorations and care package around Christmas. He wanted me to sign a reference letter for him as he plans to work in child protection in England or Austrialia. Now why would a social worker who has been in the field for over 20 years need a reference letter from me?? Then the new social worker called me today and I told him what this social worker did they want a copy of the letter which I took a copy of, now do I give it or don't I ??
Dianna Holden oh and he wasn't fired he took a medical leave of absence
Kill Mom and Dad
February 2, 2012 permalink
A California teenager has killed both of his adoptive parents, Susan Poff and Robert Kamin. The enclosed article is a hagiography of the adopters. Both spent their lives helping the poor, she as a physician assistant in a clinic, he as a clinical psychologist for inmates in the San Francisco County Jail system.
But the boy expressed with his actions that the parents were not saints. Since the inside of many American prisons resembles Abu Ghraib, the jail psychologist may have created a similar environment at home. Toward the end, the article says the boy argued with the parents over the amount of time he spent at Occupy Oakland.
Oakland couple Susan Poff, Robert Kamin mourned
Friends and relatives said Susan Poff and Robert Kamin of Oakland were the perfect pair to adopt a foster child.
They had dedicated their careers to helping others escape poverty, she as a physician assistant in a city-run clinic in the Tenderloin and he as a clinical psychologist for inmates in the San Francisco County Jail system.
But now, less than a decade after they adopted, their 15-year-old son stands accused of strangling both Poff, 50, and Kamin, 55, then hiding their bodies in the back of the family's PT Cruiser.
Police were called to the family's home on Athol Avenue on Friday by a co-worker who was concerned when Kamin did not show up for work.
According to an Oakland police source familiar with the case, the co-worker first called the son, who said his parents were out for a walk. Police arrived at the home Friday, spoke with the son, and didn't find anything unusual. When the co-worker called the boy a second time later in the day, the son said he was in the bathroom and couldn't pass the phone to his parents. Suspicious, the co-worker called police again.
Officers returned that night and noticed charring on the car, parked in front of the house, as if someone had tried to set fire to it. Then they looked inside the automobile.
Initially the son, whose name is being withheld because of his age, denied any involvement, but later told officers what had happened, authorities said. He was arrested on suspicion of murder Saturday and is being held at the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center in San Leandro.
Co-workers said Poff and Kamin were having some arguments with their son, some of it having to do with him spending too much time in the Occupy Oakland encampment, but nothing that sounded beyond the scope of typical teenage rebelliousness.
"I never heard her express any fear about her kid, ever," said Joshua Bamberger, medical director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health's Housing and Urban Health Clinic, where Poff worked.
Advocates for the poor
The news hit hard in both San Francisco and Alameda public health communities, where Poff and Kamin spent decades as passionate advocates for the poor, as well as mentors to their younger colleagues.
Staff members gathered Saturday at Bamberger's house to console one another, and on Sunday more left flowers at a growing memorial in front of the couple's home near Lake Merritt. They had recently moved to the Athol Avenue home from another section of Oakland and were in the middle of a renovation. The bottom floor was gutted and held up by supports, and the kitchen was newly constructed.
"Susan was the sweetest woman at the clinic, even when she was running around like crazy serving the homeless in the Tenderloin, she'd take time out for you when you had a question," said nurse manager Mike Arrajj of San Francisco, who stopped by the Oakland home to leave candles and flowers.
At the Housing and Urban Health Clinic, Poff saw patients and prescribed medicines. She also screened homeless applicants looking for permanent housing in one of the health department's 1,500 Direct Access to Housing units.
"All the cops, and all the people at S.F. General knew to call her to help get someone into the system," Bamberger said.
Her career began after graduating from UC Berkeley, when she went to El Salvador to volunteer in a health clinic. She took a job working at a low-income health clinic in New England before returning to San Francisco to work in the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic. There she provided free health care and mentored hundreds of medical students and nurse practitioners.
Met through friends
Poff and Kamin, a graduate of Stanford University, met through mutual friends. Kamin's interest in mental health came from his family, said his brother Bruce Kamin of Oakland, who worked for nearly two decades as a psychiatric social worker for Alameda County. Their father is a psychiatrist. Kamin said the family's interest in mental health stems in part from wanting to help their oldest brother, who has a mental disability.
"This whole thing is unbelievable, but at the same time I have to believe it," Bruce Kamin said.
"Bob was my brother and my best friend. I feel shock now, and soon I'll feel the sorrow. Then anger could possibly come up later," he said.
The couple adopted because they were unable to have a child of their own, and because they wanted to help a child who'd had a rough start, Kamin said. They enrolled their son in a charter school in Oakland and drove him to karate lessons, where he advanced to the level of black belt, Kamin said.
But the boy's infatuation with violent video games was starting to give his uncle pause.
"Bob's strength was dealing with people in jail, who are in terrible situations and very demanding. It's too bad that his own son couldn't benefit from that."
E-mail Meredith May at email@example.com.
This article appeared on page C - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Love For Money
February 2, 2012 permalink
Australians Helen and Brian MacDonald have shown the love that foster parents have for their wards. Because the state is cutting payments for teenagers, they are refusing to provide further care and are turning their foster children back to the state.
Take back our children, say angry foster parents
Helen and Brian MacDonald believe the children they have raised for the past 6½ years are the ''best two foster kids in Australia.''
But they have decided they will not look after them any more because the state government has cut payments to foster carers of 16- and 17-year-olds, from January 1. In most cases households will be $214 a fortnight worse off.
''It's a shocking thing to do,'' says Mrs MacDonald of the couple's decision. ''But we feel we are being emotionally blackmailed by a minister [Pru Goward] that doesn't care about the children in her care, only about money. They're betting on carers just keeping the children.''
The MacDonalds have refused to sign a placement agreement for Sheila* who is 17 and doing her HSC because it requires them to agree to the new payment. When Declan* turns 16 in May they will decline to care for him, too.
''We're doing this on principle,'' Mrs MacDonald said. ''We're not doing this out of greed. There's a small group of us caring for 16- and 17-year-olds so they think there's only a few people to whinge about it.
''It looks like our foster children's lives will be traumatised again due to the government's changes to the allowance.''
There are 1100 carers affected by the change. Though some have written to the Department of Family and Community Services to express their anger, a spokesman said ''none of this correspondence requests a placement change nor suggests a placement has broken down''.
In a letter to the carers in December, the department said the government ''had to take some tough decisions'' to return Family and Community Services to financial sustainability. The decisions ''have been made reluctantly'' and the measure will save $7 million a year.
Sue O'Connor, president of the Foster Parents' Support Network, said the repercussions would be felt long-term: ''We'll find fewer placements for kids that age.''
The department is reverting to the pre-2006 practice of reducing the foster care allowance when children reach 16 and claim the Youth Allowance from the federal government.
The foster care allowance, worth $622 a fortnight when a child is 15, is cut by the same amount as the Youth Allowance, $212 a fortnight.
Carers have been told to ''negotiate with the young person in your care'' to contribute to household expenses. But the problem, according to carers, is not just the prospect of possibly difficult negotiations with their charges over money. Once their charges receive Youth Allowance carers also lose the federal Family Tax Benefit of $214 a fortnight. The new regime means instead of the household getting payments of $836 a fortnight, once a child is 16 he or she gets $622, including the Youth Allowance.
Mrs MacDonald, who has been involved in fostering for 25 years, said carers were expected to make up the shortfall. With many carers in their 50s and 60s it was unfair to expect them to dip into retirement savings.
''A lot of people think this work is lovey-dovey - all you need to do is love them and they'll return the love,'' she said. ''Why should children ripped out of their families and sent to a place where they have to make their beds, go to school and do their homework be nice to you?''
She and her husband did the work with professional care because they wanted to help children become reasonable members of society.
Sheila and Declan were distressed and while they understood the principle involved this did not make it easier. ''We will miss these children greatly but we refuse to have our lives short-changed,'' Mrs MacDonald said.
Ms Goward said last night of the payment cut: ''We understand that this will not be easy for some carers, the government did not take this decision lightly.''
She said the saving measure was a price of Labor's legacy of budget waste and incompetence.
The policy would affect 1100 young people out of 17,000 children and young people in out-of-home care.
*names changed for legal reasons
Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Boy Attacks Worker
February 1, 2012 permalink
An eight-year-old boy in Warminster Ontario has attacked his social worker. Even an eight-year-old can understand they are up to no good.
Boy allegedly beats up adult
WARMINSTER- Barrie OPP officers went to a Warminster home Saturday night after a youth worker was injured. OPP said an eight-year-old boy had allegedly assaulted the worker to the point where they were injured. Both went to Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Orillia. The worker was treated for minor injuries, and the boy was given a mental health assessment.
No charges were laid because of the boy's age.
Source: Metroland simcoe.com
CAS Gets Boy After Police Chase
February 1, 2012 permalink
There are not many answers in this story of a high-speed police chase from Fenelon Falls. The one sure part is that children's aid has control of the family's five-year-old boy.
Family wants answers over 5-year-old boy being on snowmobile without helmet in high-speed police chase on Chemong Lake
A Fenelon Falls family is demanding answers after their five-year-old grandson was involved in a high-speed snowmobile pursuit and then apparently left in the care of a teenager.
Deborah Cascadden is the maternal grandmother of the five-year-old boy riding on a snowmobile that was involved in the Jan. 21 police chase.
The boy was staying with her family that weekend, she said, when the boy’s father, a resident of Alberta, asked to spend time with his son before he returned home.
The family didn’t object. The boy was sent out with his father.
On Sunday Cascadden’s daughter got a call from the children’s aid society. The worker told her that her son had been involved in a police chase and had been in the care of relatives since Jan. 21, Cascadden said.
Peterborough County OPP said officers on snowmobile patrol tried to stop a man driving a snowmobile on Chemong Lake.
Instead of stopping the man drove off, police said. Officers pursued, reaching speeds of 100 km/h. Police said a five-year-old child was riding on the snowmobile during the chase, and neither the child nor the driver were wearing helmets.
The man abandoned his snowmobile, and the child, once he reached Bailey’s Bay Resort. Police said he was arrested after a short struggle with officers.
Cascadden said police have provided them with little information about the incident.
The family wants answers and Cascadden said they’ve been unable to get them.
Why did the OPP embark on a high-speed snowmobile chase across an icy lake, knowing that no one on that snowmobile was wearing a helmet?
Did officers know an unhelmeted child was also on that snowmobile?
Why have no child endangerment charges been laid?
“People get those charges when they leave a child in the car,” Cascadden said.
Adding to their worry was the fact that the boy had been left in the care of a teenager who no one knew particularly well, she said.
“They left our five-year-old grandson in the care of an 18-year-old girl who is not a blood relative,” Cascadden said. “They just left him.
“I don’t get how something like that could happen.”
She didn’t know what, if any, steps police took to ensure the boy was left in adequate care.
Cascadden said the family has been trying to get in touch with the OPP and sort the mess out.
They haven’t had much luck.
And neither did The Examiner.
When inquiries were made OPP Const. Iain McEwan, the detachment’s media relations officer, said he could offer no further information on the incident.
He said it was likely that officers didn’t see the boy on the snowmobile when they began their pursuit.
He pointed out that the boy was seated at the front of the snowmobile, likely hidden behind the man’s body.
McEwan couldn’t speak to what happened to the boy after the arrest was made. He did say the family should contact the detachment directly, rather than going through the media.
Scott Milton McKenzie, 25, was charged with dangerous driving, escaping by flight, resisting arrest and two counts of driving while prohibited. Under the Motorized Snow Vehicle Act he's charged with failing to stop for police, escape by flight, driving a snow vehicle without insurance and driving a snow vehicle without a helmet.
He appeared in court Monday.
Source: Peterborough Examiner
Baby-Thieves Fear Mom
February 1, 2012 permalink
California adopters John and Kathyrn Clark took a baby from a mother who discovered their name and address. They now live in fear of the real mother. The article, entirely sympathetic to the adopters, disparages mother Desiree Salazar.
Adoptive parents say CPS failed to protect their identities
John and Kathyrn Clark thought their lives were in danger when they were contacted, out of the blue, by their adopted son's biological mother.
The birth mother, Desiree Salazar, has a history of mental illness and violence. Last year, she pleaded no contest to charges that she had stabbed a man five times. More recently, she was arrested and accused of assaulting people at UC Davis Medical Center.
Salazar's anger about losing custody of her two boys – one is in her father's custody – is written on her body.
She has each of her children's names tattooed above her eyes, and the profanity "F--- CPS" tattooed on her chest, referring to Sacramento County Child Protective Services, the agency that removed both boys.
The Clarks knew about Salazar's violent tendencies because they went through custody proceedings with her in Sacramento Superior Court. While they were in court together some days, the Clarks' names were not announced, because they're supposed to remain confidential in an adoption.
So, the Clarks say, they were stunned and then afraid when Salazar started calling them at their Nevada County home in October 2010. Salazar indicated that she knew where they lived, had seen their home, and that she "wasn't afraid of the police," Kathryn Clark said.
The experience turned their lives upside down, the Clarks claim in a lawsuit filed against CPS, Salazar's attorney and others in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The Clarks accuse CPS and others involved in the custody case of failing to protect their identities, a violation of state and federal laws. They are asking for $500,000 in general damages.
The Clarks said the incident has forced them to move to a new home, install a security system, and put their children in new schools. They said they live in a state of hyper-awareness, always on the lookout for Salazar.
"Eventually she's going to find us," John Clark said.
Salazar admits contacting the Clarks, though the West Sacramento woman said it was only once and she did not threaten them. She said she didn't call again because her probation officer told her to stop.
"They don't deserve to have my child," Salazar said of the boy, now 5. "It's not fair."
Salazar said she got the Clarks' names and other information from a legal file sent to her by her attorney in the custody case, Teri Kanefield. She said she used that information on an Internet public records site to get the Clark's address and phone number.
Kanefield told The Bee that she is not aware of sending Salazar any information about the Clarks and declined further comment.
A CPS spokeswoman also declined to comment about the Clarks' allegations, and the agency has yet to formally reply to the lawsuit filed in December.
The choice about establishing contact between a biological parent and an adopted child is left to the adoptive parents, experts say.
David Karabinus, a Sacramento attorney specializing in family law, said the confidentiality of adoptive parents is rarely breached. When it happens, it's typically because an attorney in custody proceedings has mistakenly released documents containing the adoptive parents' identity, he said.
John Clark, an electrical engineer, and Kathryn, a stay-at-home mother, wanted to expand their family and thought adoption would be nice way to help someone in need. The adoption was finalized in February 2011, bringing their family to one boy and one girl.
In a separate case, the Clarks are suing CPS on the boy's behalf for failing to protect him after he was removed from Salazar's care. When they first received custody of their son, in July 2009, he had been severely burned on the lower part of his body, including his genitals.
The Clarks allege that his foster parents burned him by holding him in hot bath water as punishment for going to the bathroom in his diaper. Any proceeds from the case will go to the boy when he turns 18, as required by law, said their attorney, Richard Frishman.
Records show the boy had bounced around foster homes as his birth parents had troubles with the law. Salazar and the boy's father, Omar Repreza, were accused of assault while trying to steal a car from a Sacramento man in 2009.
The victim and Repreza got involved in a scuffle, when Salazar stabbed the man five times, police said.
A Superior Court judge initially found Salazar mentally incompetent to stand trial, after she had been ordered to a state hospital for diagnosis and medication. She was later found competent and pleaded no contest in 2011 to assault with a deadly weapon, receiving a sentence of probation.
Court records state Salazar violated her probation by threatening family members, who had protective orders against her. The boy's father, Repreza, also has sought protective orders against her.
Despite the probation violation, Salazar was again put on probation, because of credits she had accrued during her incarceration on the assault charge, said Shelly Orio, spokeswoman for the District Attorney's Office.
In December, Salazar was arrested again on suspicion of assaulting three people at UC Davis Medical Center.
Salazar said CPS took custody of the boy when she and Repreza were jailed on the earlier charge. The loss of the boy has consumed her thoughts ever since, she said.
"What would you do if they took your baby?" she asked.
Kathryn Clark said she was worried once Salazar started calling because she heard about her background in court and saw her tattoos. She said Salazar called several times, and that the conversations ranged from vaguely threatening to almost friendly, as Salazar inquired about the boy's burn injuries and welfare.
But Salazar's remarks about knowing where they live and not being afraid of the police stuck in their minds, Kathryn Clark said. The Clarks said they contacted the Nevada County Sheriff's Department, CPS and others.
"CPS' response was, 'You can move to another state. You can give him back,' " Kathryn Clark said. "He's not a toaster. We couldn't give him back. He's our son."
The Clarks went through "a lengthy process of trying to erase ourselves," John Clark said.
They moved, changed their phone numbers and started getting all their mail through a postal box. They have petitioned Nevada County to make all their public records private, and they've requested that an Internet "People Search" site keep their information private, too.
Source: Sacramento Bee
Children's Aid News
January 30, 2012 permalink
The fourth edition of Children's Aid News of Ontario (pdf) is now available.
Exposure Saves Family
January 29, 2012 permalink
Christopher Booker writes on the Indian family in Norway who had their children seized by child protectors. An international hullabaloo resulted in the return of the children to relatives in India. Secrecy in Britain leaves families helpless in the same circumstances. Booker's article is enclosed along with a recent Indian editorial on the Bhattacharya case. Norway social workers tried to get the parents to divorce as a condition of returning the children.
The difference between Britain and Canada? Canada has even stricter secrecy. There are no reporters in Canada doing the work of Mr Booker. We are left to Facebook groups as the only means for aggrieved families to communicate. Those outside the specialized communication channels know nothing of the hundreds of children seized needlessly every week just as in Britain. And just as in Britain, senior ministers can tout "best interest of the child", apparently oblivious to the atrocities taking place under their own watch.
The facts about child snatching can be reported in Norway - but not here
The international row over Indian children seized by Norwegian social workers serves to highlight the problems with our own child protection law.
The anger of the Indian government at the seizing of two young Indian children from their parents by Norwegian social workers has recently attracted the attention of the media around the world. The family were living in Norway, where the father works as a geoscientist, when local social workers removed their children, reportedly on the grounds that the son was allowed to sleep in his father’s bed and that the mother fed the children with her fingers (practices not uncommon in India). The parents were told that the children must be kept in care in Norway until they are 18 – although on Wednesday the authorities caved in and agreed that the children could live with their uncle.
What is striking about this furore is that such things happen here in Britain many times a week, with no publicity at all. In Norway, as in almost every other country, when children are seized for what seem inexplicable reasons, there is no bar to parents and children being named, or to aggrieved parents speaking to the press. But it was precisely this publicity, not least in India, which led to last week’s official Norwegian climbdown.
Yet here, thanks to the wall of secrecy with which our “child protection” system surrounds itself, none of this is possible. Day after day, as the number of children seized from families soars to record levels – nearly 900 a month – I hear accounts of the actions of social workers and courts which would profoundly shock the public if they could be reported. But, thanks to that wall of secrecy, a reassuring official impression is created which could not be further from reality.
Only last week, the BBC’s World at One asserted that “the majority of social workers say they feel powerless to intervene when they see children being neglected, because of insufficient resources and rigid rules about when they can step in”. This laughable claim was the prelude to another complacent interview with our children’s minister, Tim Loughton, who believes that the kind of stories I have frequently reported here are rare, untypical exceptions, and refuses to listen to the plethora of evidence to the contrary. I plan to provide yet more examples next week.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Leave the kids alone, Norway
Shocking, but true. Barnevarne, a child care service of Norway, took custody of Indian children Abhigyan and Aishwarya from their natural parents Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya in May 2011 when they were two and-a-half years and six months old and lodged them in separate foster homes. It charged the mother Sagarika with “negligence and unable to bring up” the children.
A Norwegian court ruled that the two children would stay in two different foster homes until the age of 18 and their natural parents would be allowed to meet them only for an hour once a year.
Shockingly, the court adds that only if the couple separated, could the custody of the children be given to the natural father, who has been employed as a geoscientist in Norway. After an international media outcry and a personal meeting of grandparents Monotosh and Shikha Chakravarty with President Pratibha Patil to seek her intervention in getting their two grandchildren back from foster care in Norway, a headway is reported. Now Norway has agreed to hand over the children to their uncle in India.
Earlier letters sent to the Norwegian government by the Ministry of External Affairs on December 28, 2011, and January 5, 2012, did not elicit any response. With the visas of Bhattacharyas expiring in March, they dread leaving the country without their loved ones. The happening, sorrowfully true, is appalling.
Amid a false sense of euphoria as Norway has agreed to hand over the children to their uncle subject to a Norwegian district court accepting the arrangement, larger issues remain, raising disturbing questions. In upholding the applicability of Norwegian laws, Indian sovereignty cannot be subjugated to abdicate the majesty of Indian family laws. The precedent is, therefore, clearly wrong and this may not be a healthy trend for 30 million NRIs who live in 180 countries. In matters of local civil and criminal laws, Indians may have to follow the law of the foreign domicile, but in matters of personal laws in our homes, the exception of applicability of our family laws must prevail. The sanctity of the personal family laws of Indian communities is overriding.
Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland have stringent state welfare policies for their nationals which empower them to place children in foster homes to live with strangers. The Norwegian Child Protection Services, however, ought not to have exercised such rights over Indian children whose religious, ethnic, cultural and linguistic milieu was different and distinct.
In respect of Hindus, i.e. any person who is a Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh by religion, the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act (HMGA), 1956, has extra territorial application. It also applies to Hindus domiciled in territories outside India. Thus, the Bhattacharyas carry with them their personal law in their pockets when they live in Norway.
Under HMGA, the natural guardian of a Hindu minor is his father and after him the mother. The custody of a minor child under five shall ordinarily be with the mother.
The process of appointment of guardians for minor children in India is governed by the Guardians and Wards Act (GWA), 1890. Surprisingly, since HMGA does not have any independent statutory provision for the appointment of guardians for minors, all parties, whether Hindus or non-Hindus, have to invoke the provisions of the GWA for appointment of a guardian for a minor child in India. Needless to add, this process is adjudicated by a notified guardian judge as the court of competent jurisdiction in the place where the minor ordinarily resides.
There is an explicit provision in the GWA that if the natural father is living, no one else can be declared or appointed the guardian of the minor, unless the court is of the opinion that the father is “unfit” to be a guardian. This process would of course be tested on the fundamental principle resting on what appears, in the circumstances, better for the welfare and in the best interests of the minor.
Applying European yardsticks of culture, habits and social mores to the Bhattacharyas who profess Hindu religion and cultural practices is not the correct application of the best interests principle for determining the welfare of the children. An overzealous Norwegian social set-up cannot change the personal law of the parties or usurp the interpretation of the principles of upbringing of Indian children and thrust in on foreign citizens domiciled temporarily in its territory. Furthermore, the yardstick to be adopted in such a determination is by adjudication before the competent courts under the HMGA read with the GWA. Any Norwegian court cannot close the rights of Indian parents until their children attain the age of majority.
The U.N. Convention of the Rights of the Child has been brutally offended in the children being confiscated and put in foster care. The Right to Family Life guaranteed by the European Convention of Human Rights too has been violated. The dilemma is international and the Nordic viewpoint needs to be tested. Forcibly removing children and putting them in foster homes and adoption to foreign parents whilst their natural parents are living are not in the best interest or welfare of the child. It would be best if Norway left the Indian children alone.
Source: The Hindu
As birth rates in many western countries have fallen below the replacement rate their populations are being gradually replaced by immigrants from other cultures. The editorial below views the child protection system is a way of oppressing the newcomers.
The horrors of the Norwegian Child Protection Service
Norway is in the news all for the wrong reasons. First it was the news of the horrific massacre of 76 young people committed by the Christian fundamentalist. The world has neither forgotten nor forgive Norway for the financial and diplomatic support extended to sundry terrorist groups all over the world in the name of identity politics. And now comes the screaming headlines about the "Child Protection Service". I think Norway is guilty of two basic infractions of the European charter. First, it has violated the principle that children have a right to develop their identity and the primary source of that are the parents. Second, child care is a sensitive issue and there are vast cultural differences in the way in which child care is delivered in different parts of the world. Norway's definition of child welfare is far different that the notions of child welfare in other parts of the world. As long as there is no evidence of outright violence against the child or gross neglect, the state does not have the Right to interfere.
The Norwegian Child Support Service seems to be targeting only non Nordic i.e specifically non white, Asian, Turkish and Indian parents. It is well known that the demographic profile of all Scandinavian countries is changing and that the immigrant population is rapidly increasing. Is this the reason why non-White parents are being targeted in Norway. The integrity of family life is being deliberately undermined by the Child Support Service, when children are forcibly removed from the protection and care of their parents. Rich parents are seldom harassed by the CPS.
The CPS hands over the children to foster parents who are paid 40,000 euros per year for the upkeep of the ward under their "care". Many Norwegians have taken to living off this money and some of the foster parents have even been found guilty of using the children for child pornography for which there is a huge market in Scandanavian Europe. The allocation for the children farmed out to foster parents has resulted in the biggest growth industry of Norway: the Child Protection Industry. I find the attitude that children are the property of the state highly repulsive and smacks of fascism and Norway is well known in history for playing host to various right wing ideologies.
The case which was highlighted in the Indian press was particularly disturbing. The 2 children of the Bhattacharya couple were removed because they did not have "appropriate toys" and because the mother fed the children by "hand". What is the Norwegian definition of "appropriate toy" and are not toys also culture specific. In India children sleep along with their parents almost until they leave home to get married. Does that constitute "child abuse". The worst part of this horrible system is that there is no appeal against the arbitrary and heartless system. The Bhattacharya couple had to seek the intervention of the Indian Government at the highest level in order to get their children back and as a "face saving " measure the uncle of the children will be given custody. In one notorious case a boy who was given to a foster parent arranged by the CPS has accused his "father; of sexually abusing him and other girls under his care. Now the courts are trying this case in Oslo.
I think Norway if it has to be treated as a civilised country needs to respect the right of children to their identity and childhood. The Gestapo mind set so strong in the CPS cannot be allowed to dictate such matters.
Experience with Dr Michelle Sala Needed
January 28, 2012 permalink
Vernon Beck Court Watch would like to hear from anyone who may have had any dealings with a Dr. Michelle Sala who is a psychologist in Hamilton and prepares reports on parents for the Children's Aid Society. Anyone with information please contact Canada Court Watch in confidence.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Owen Sound Rally
January 27, 2012 permalink
The press has announced today's rally in Owen Sound.
Rally at Owen Sound CAS
A Rally for Accountability of Ontario Children's Aid Societies is being held today,
It is on from 11 AM until 4:30 PM at the CAS Office at 1290 3rd Avenue East in Owen Sound.
It is one of several rallies taking place in the province.
Zane Sherwood of Voices of the Children and Canada court watch says there are several issues they want addressed:
They want the Ontario Government and the Ministry of Child and Youth Services to begin taking responsibility for Ontario's 53 Children's Societies, and to begin investigating complaints of alleged criminal activity and wrong doing.
Sherwood says Ontario is the only Province in Canada without independent Ombudsman oversight to investigate decisions or recommendation made in the course of the administration of a Children's Aid Society.
He believes this will help protect children in dangerous foster care situations and innocent families.
Sherwood claims enquiries have proven children are being taken from innocent parents and some put up for adoption.
He says all 53 Children's Aid Societies are self regulated, non-governmental organizations that should only receive more funding with oversight.
This would save taxpayers millions.
Sherwood says their requests for oversight are reasonable, and are not attacks on good social workers or attempts to close important services like Children's Aid Societies.
Source: CFOS Owen Sound
January 26, 2012 permalink
Protesters gathered outside the courthouse in Sarnia. Their objections related to separation and divorce cases, centering on family lawyer George McFadyen. The article mentions cases in which McFadyen keeps a case going for a long time while sending bills to his client. McFadyen is also in bed with a judge, his wife Anne McFadyen.
Protesters demand family law reform
Members of a local activist group demonstrated outside Sarnia’s courthouse and the office of a city lawyer Thursday to protest what they said is a 'broken family law system.'
To honking cars driving by, at least two dozen members of Canadians For Family Law Reform help up signs claiming the legal system has made their divorces a nightmare.
Among their targets was family lawyer George McFadyen, who they said drags out legal proceedings to the detriment of local families. In an interview with the Observer, McFadyen denied the allegations.
“I think most of the complaints of the group are unfounded,” he said in his office later Thursday. “They are based on factual inaccuracies...”
Family law is a term that covers legal proceedings between two parties involved in a divorce, dealing with issues such as child custody and the division of assets and property.
The protesters said the current family law system results in lawyers creating unnecessary conflict between the two parties, dragging out divorce proceedings in order to make more money.
Co-organizer Dave Burgess, 51, said some family law lawyers tell their clients to demand more and more from their ex, convincing them to make more claims against them than they would have done otherwise.
What results are bankruptcies, psychological trauma for children and gruelling court battles that can last 10 years or more, said Burgess.
After the courthouse, about half the demonstrators took their protest to the Napier Street law office of McFadyen.
Sarnia police attended the scene several times, reminding the demonstrators to remain on public property and picket peacefully.
Those present alleged McFadyen drags out family legal proceedings to earn higher legal fees, causing upheaval for the children involved.
“George has ruined my family life,” said Jason Morningstar, who fought to get joint custody of two children. “He’s bankrupted me.”
Graham Pickett said he hired McFadyen to represent him in custody proceedings for his three children.
“I fired George,” he said. “I had 14 adjournments.”
Pickett said after they parted ways it took him a year and a half to defend himself successfully in court.
McFadyen said he couldn’t comment on specific cases, citing client confidentiality. But he told The Observer the provincial legislature has set out rules that ensure cases “move through the system on a fairly expeditious manner.”
Any backlog at the Sarnia courthouse is the result of not enough judges, McFadyen said, and criminal proceedings there often have priority over family law.
“I have to say the judges are working hard,” he said. “We just need more judges available.”
Family law lawyers in general have more complex cases, he added. They have to deal not only with the breakup of a marriage but the emotions, finances, and often children that come with it.
The protesters also claimed a conflict of interest at the Sarnia courthouse. McFadyen’s wife, Anne McFadyen, sits on the bench of the Ontario Court of Justice.
McFadyen said while his wife does work at the courthouse, said his cases are primarily heard in the Superior Court of Justice.
“On the few occasions that I do appear in Ontario Court of Justice, I appear in front of different justices,” he said.
Co-organizer Dave Burgess said more information about mediation should be provided to couples entering divorce. Mediation is a lower-cost alternative in which the couple and a mediator decide on a post-nuptial agreement, without an antagonistic court case.
“It is up to the people in Sarnia courthouses, and courthouses all across this country, to perpetuate mediation and to put lawyers who are only in it for the money — not the children and not the people involved — on the back seat.”
Source: Sarnia Observer
The Observer published a rebuttal to some of the comments by family lawyer George McFadyen in the report above.
Lawyers comments sad reflection on state of family law
Sir: In the front page article on Friday, Jan. 27, Sarnia lawyer George McFadyen comments that a lack of judges is responsible for much of the problem with the local family law system. That demonstrates where he, and many other family lawyer’s minds, are really at.
Family lawyers should be trying to defuse conflict, look for middle ground, foster communication, and only use court as a last resort. Then there would be no strain whatsoever on the court system. Sure, more judges would allow for more court appearances in a shorter period of time, but for whose benefit? Lawyers would make more money, and the poor saps that need a fair resolution would go bankrupt faster!
Mr. McFadyen refers to the complexities of family law, the emotions and the finances. If he knows these are the issues, why do some family lawyers exacerbate the situation by recommending cutting off communication with your spouse, and making the whole process as adversarial as possible? There is no risk to the lawyer who promises his client the world, only to lose in the end. Unrealistic expectations can cause a client to be mislead for years and cost tens of thousands of dollars.
The judges need to forget their roots and be given guidelines by the province that push back at lawyers who litigate every step of the way. Lawyers should be held accountable by the courts to try and settle outside of the courtroom. That includes the use of alternatives such as negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and the collaborative law process that can be made available to couples ending a relationship.
In the end, it’s not just time and money that are being wasted, it’s people’s lives. And the most vulnerable, the children, end up being the ones who suffer the most.
Source: Sarnia Observer
January 26, 2012 permalink
A class action lawsuit in Ontario on behalf of aboriginal victims of the Sixties Scoop has been dismissed by the court.
Legal setback for Ontario aboriginals taken from their families during the “Sixties Scoop”
The federal government has won its appeal in Divisional Court against a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 16,000 aboriginal children taken from reserves in Ontario in what’s known as the “Sixties Scoop.”
The decision is seen as a major setback for aboriginal plaintiffs, now adults, who allege Ottawa stripped them of their cultural identity by sending them off as children to non-aboriginal homes. Many told stories of abuse, alienation and isolation in foster and adoptive homes in Canada and the U.S.
“Canada’s strategy is to get us out of the way,” lead plaintiff Marcia Brown, 48, said Wednesday from Beaverhouse First Nation in northeastern Ontario. “It’s an injustice. What I truly feel is that this isn’t a fair system for First Nations’ people. ”
Brown, an Ojibwa who was taken when she was 4, says her non-aboriginal mother tried to wash away her “dirty brown colour” and burned a stuffed tiger full of “Indian bugs.”
However, their Toronto lawyer Morris Cooper vows the battle isn’t over.
Cooper, who represents the plaintiffs with fellow lawyer Jeffery Wilson, points out the residential schools case dragged on for years before a historic settlement was reached in 2005 for victims of a Canadian system that took hundreds of thousands of children from reserves and sent them to church-run schools.
Ottawa has deep pockets, says Cooper, and its strategy is to drag out legal proceedings at great cost in taxpayer dollars.
The federal government is responsible for aboriginal people. Therefore, the class action suit was brought against the attorney general of Canada, although children were removed by provincial authorities.
The ruling orders lead plaintiffs Brown and Robert Commanda to pay $25,000 in costs and stipulates that any new motion for certification of the class action lawsuit must be brought before a different judge other than Superior Court Justice Paul Perell. He granted conditional certification for the class action suit — which Ottawa then appealed.
“The worst part is they ordered (Brown and Commanda) to pay. It’s very sad,” said Cooper, emphasizing the decision was totally at the court’s discretion. “This class action suit was not for the personal benefit of either Brown or Commanda but for everybody.”
Said Brown: “I personally don’t have that kind of money. They are just trying to discourage everybody from challenging the federal government.”
Cooper and Wilson will take their fee from any final judgment.
“We were surprised and very disappointed over (Perell’s exclusion),” said Cooper. “He was just doing what he was supposed to do.”
Perell certified the class action case with the provision the plaintiffs file an amended statement of claim. But the Divisional Court said he “appears to have preapproved the amendments necessary to satisfy him” there were indeed grounds for class action. That was seen as unfair to the federal government.
The Divisonal Court ruling has caused quite a stir and, in the careful language of the law, whipped up controversy.
“With respect, the Divisional Court erred in overturning Perell’s conditional certification order,” Kirk Baert wrote this week in Canadian Lawyer Magazine.
An experienced class action lawyer, Baert said “appropriate case management involves the wide discretion of a motions judge (Perell) to advance the proceedings and to avoid the potentially prohibitive costs and excessive delays associated with certifying a class proceeding.
“In the circumstances, Perell was merely exercising this discretion to modify the proposed class proceeding.”
The setback means that Cooper and Wilson must now win two battles in order to get back to court on their class action suit. They must first win the right to appeal the ruling by the Divisional Court and then, if victorious, win the appeal itself.
If they don’t, Cooper says the setback would put them back three years, almost back to the beginning.
It’s ironic, he says, given that “copycat” class action suits on behalf of “Sixties Scoop” children are in the works in B.C., Alberta and New Brunswick.
Source: Toronto Star
Addendum: As of June 2012 the plaintiffs have been granted the right to appeal the dismissal.
Ontario native class-action suit stays alive
Lawyers acting on behalf of aboriginal children who lost their families and culture during what’s known as the “Sixties Scoop” in Ontario have won the right to keep fighting for their class-action suit.
The multi-million-dollar suit was filed more than three years ago and already appears to mimic the residential schools class-action suit that dragged on in the courts for nine years before aboriginal plaintiffs finally won in 2005.
Marcia Brown, a key plaintiff in this Ontario suit, says she won’t give up. “The law process is slow but we will use this time to get the truth of the Sixties Scoop out to people locally, provincially and internationally,” she said, in a statement to the Star from Kirkland Lake.
An Ojibwa from Beaverhouse First Nation in northeastern Ontario, Brown was among 16,000 children taken by Ontario Children’s Aid agencies and placed in non-aboriginal care. She was removed from her reserve at 4 and sent to a series of foster homes. In one home, she was told to wash off her “dirty brown colour.”
Although the removal of children was called the Sixties Scoop, in Ontario, it actually occurred between 1965 and 1985. The displacement led to adults who say they have lost their own culture.
After the case was filed, Brown, now middle-aged, said that as a child: “I knew that God himself didn’t want me.”
Toronto lawyers Morris Cooper and Jeffery Wilson represent the plaintiffs. They filed their suit against the Attorney General of Canada because the federal government bears constitutional responsibility for First Nations peoples and their culture.
Last October, a year after Superior Court Justice Paul Perell granted conditional certification for their class-action suit, Ottawa appealed it. Perell had certified the suit with the provision the plaintiffs file an amended statement of claim.
But federal lawyers won their appeal and a judgment that called for Brown and fellow plaintiff Robert Commanda to each pay $25,000 in costs. It also stipulated that Perell be excluded as a potential judge in any new motion for a class-action suit.
All Cooper and Wilson have won for now is permission to appeal the Divisional Court ruling in favour of the federal government.
“We were quite shocked at that ruling and we’re pleased we’ve won permission to appeal it,” Cooper said in a telephone interview. “For one thing, to ask Robert and Marcia to pay $25,000 each was shocking. They don’t have any money.”
Shortly after Ottawa overturned Perell’s ruling, Kirk Baert wrote in Canadian Lawyer Magazine: “With respect, the Divisional Court erred in overturning Perell’s conditional certification order . . . . Appropriate case management involves the wide discretion of a motions judge (Perell) to advance the proceedings and to avoid the potentially prohibitive costs and excessive delays associated with certifying a class proceeding.”
Cooper and Wilson have won a battle with permission to appeal the ruling by Divisional Court, but it’s only one step what could be a long road to bring the class-action suit to court.
Cooper doesn’t believe the case will be back in court before the fall.
He notes that other provinces, including B.C., that followed them in filing Sixties Scoop class-action suits against the federal government, are now ahead of them in court proceedings.
Brown is confident she’ll get her day in court. Said Brown: “Although the time this law process takes seems to be lengthened by our government’s lack of accountability . . . the supporters of (the class-action suit) are growing and will continue to grow.”
Source: Toronto Star
Take Baby to Doctor
Go to Jail
January 26, 2012 permalink
Virginia Beach parents Rebecca Guzzo and Donald Magee had trouble with their baby's nutrition, so went to a doctor for help. The doctor reported them to CPS and they are now charged with felony child neglect. There is a text report enclosed and video (flv).
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WTKR) A Virginia Beach couple has been charged with felony child neglect. Police say they weren't feeding their five-month-old properly. But they're telling NewsChannel 3 that it’s being blown way out of proportion.
“It hurts my heart because I had no idea. I’m totally shocked because both of them are very, very nice people, and I can`t see them outwardly neglecting anybody or anything,” says neighbor Debra Lane.
Magee and Guzzo wanted to talk to NewsChannel 3 about their side of the story but their lawyer told them not to.
They did tell us off camera that this has been blown way out of proportion. Their neighbor Debra Lane agrees.
“They had noticed the baby wasn`t picking up weight as it was getting older, and they were trying different formulas and different cereals to make her try and gain weight,” says Lane.
Lane, a mother of two, says Magee even went to her for help.
“I know that the baby has had problems with weight and I tried to give Rebecca some advice on how to fatten her up. I gave her old-fashioned remedies. I didn`t know the problem was really serious,” says Lane.
Police say the couple took their daughter to the doctor and he noticed that the baby was losing weight instead of gaining it. The doctor called Child Protective Services, who then called police.
After a detective investigated, charges were made.
Lane just hopes police learn it was just a misunderstanding.
“They`ve gotten so strict with child abuse these days, anybody can be blamed. Just doing the right thing you can be blamed for child abuse,” says Lane.
The baby is at home with her parents and other family members. Child Protective Services ruled that the child cannot be left alone with either parent.
The family says that the little girl is doing great.
Source: WTKR-TV Norfolk
Offence Notice for Unregistered Worker
January 26, 2012 permalink
John Dunn is taking action in the case of an unregistered social worker in Ottawa, Mohammed Said.
Offence Notice - Ottawa CAS Worker
An Offence Notice has been sent to the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa regarding one of their staff members holding themselves out to be a "Social Worker" in contravention of a law which says he can not do so unless he is registered with the College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (the College).
In a letter received by the Council from the College titled "Confirmation of Registration" the College advised that Mohammed Said is not a registered Social Worker.
The Offence Notice to the Society has been included below:
Children's Aid Society of Ottawa
Children's Aid Society of Ottawa
Child Protection Worker
Children's Aid Society of Ottawa
Date: Thursday, January 26, 2012
Tracy Engleking - Please forward a copy of this to Society staff member Mohammed Said since his publicly listed e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org) is not working.
According to sub-section 55. (1) of the Social Workers and Social Service Workers Act (the Act), every person in Ontario who uses the title "social worker" -- unless they are a social worker registered with the College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (the College) -- has contravened section 46 (1) of the Act and is therefore guilty of an offence and upon conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $5,000 for a first offence and not more than $10,000 for a subsequent offence.
Also, according to sub-section 55. (1) of the Act, every person in Ontario who represents or holds out expressly or by implication that he or she is a social worker -- unless they are a social worker registered with the College -- has contravened section 46 (2) of the Act and is therefore guilty of an offence and upon conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $5,000 for a first offence and not more than $10,000 for a subsequent offence.
Having informed each of you of these separate offence provisions, I am hereby providing the Society through Tracy Engleking and Barbara MacKinnon, as well as Mohammed Said with this Offence Notice with the intent of having this matter resolved.
Currently, Mohammed Said is listed as a "Social Worker" on a website titled "Muslim Mental Health". The direct link to the post is ( http://www.muslimmentalhealth.com/Directory/directory_details.asp?DR_ID=57 )
Mohammed Said is not a Social Worker registered with the College.
Having been given notice of this, it is my hope that the Society, or Mohammed Said will contact me before 3:00pm on February 27, 2012 -- approximately 30 days) to let me know what steps have been taken to resolve this matter.
If before the aforementioned date I have not received a response outlining the steps which have been taken to resolve this matter, and if the title Social Worker is still posted on the aforementioned website page, the Society and Mohammed Said both agree that they have chosen to take no steps to resolve this matter, and that I am to understand that no steps are intended to be taken by either of them to resolve this matter.
Foster Care Council of Canada
END OF OFFENCE NOTICE
A complaint has been filed with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, Eastern Regional Office, Program Supervisor, Kim Seguin regarding this matter.
Source: Foster Care News (John Dunn)
Here is the web posting for Mohammed Said:
CONTACT INFORMATION NAME: Mohammed Said LOCATION: Ottawa, Ontario CONTACT: 613-596-2914 email@example.com PROFESSIONAL INFORMATION SPECIALIZATION: Social Worker INSTITUTION: Child Protective Services AFFILIATION: Social Worker CREDENTIALS: M.S.W. LANGUAGES
Source: Muslim Mental Health
St Catharines Rally
January 25, 2012 permalink
Pat Niagara January 25, 2012 advocates from the Niagara Region area gathered out front of the MPP Jim Bradley's office in St. Catharine's, Ontario's to demand oversight and transparency within the MUSH sector who to date have no true accountability. The day started out cold and ended the same way with the sun trying to sneak its way out. The rally had a few live broadcasts in the afternoon and we will do it more at upcoming rallies. Thanks to all who attended.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Source (photos): Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Pat Niagara January 26, 2012 advocates from the Niagara Region again gathered out front of the Facs Niagara office in St. Catharine's, Ontario's to demand oversight and transparency within the MUSH sector who to date have no accountability. The rally had a live broadcasts in the afternoon. Thanks to all who attended...
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Social Worker Banned for Lying
January 25, 2012 permalink
Scottish worker Judy Smith has earned a life-long ban from social work for falsifying highly-sensitive documents about vulnerable young people.
Social worker banned from register for falsifying documents about vulnerable children
Judy Smith forged colleagues' signatures in a 'sophisticated scheme of dishonesty'.
Social worker banned from register for falsifying documents about vulnerable children
A social worker who falsified highly-sensitive documents about vulnerable young people has been banned from working in the profession for life.
Judy Smith had denied a string of misconduct charges and claimed that her employer, South Ayrshire Council, had "conducted a vendetta" against her.
The mother-of-four falsified records of disciplinary hearings and forged colleagues' signatures after she failed to complete case notes relating to 11 different youngsters.
She was found guilty of misconduct and banned from social work for life for a "very sophisticated scheme of dishonesty".
James Aitken, chair of a Scottish Social Services Council displinary panel, said the child protection officer's actions had been an "ill thought out attempt to correct and cover up her own failings" which had "placed service users at risk".
He said: "The extensive and deliberate falsification showed a lack of honesty and a serious disregard for the SSSC code of practice."
Mrs Smith falsified documents between March and May last year, manipulating the records to include large parts of meetings which other staff said had never happened.
Nicola Elliot, solicitor for the SSSC, said Mrs Smith showed "no acceptance of the seriousness" of what she had done and had offered "no genuine expressions of regret" over the episode.
She said the behaviour was deliberate and pre-meditated and there was no guarantee it would not be repeated if she was allowed to stay on the social work register.
Mrs Smith did not appear for the six-day hearing - the longest disciplinary hearing in the SSSC history - held in Dundee. She has already been sacked from her post at South Ayrshire Council.
Anna Fowlie, SSSC chief executive, said: "It is essential the public have confidence in social service workers who must act with integrity and honesty at all times.
"Mrs Smith was dishonest in her actions and as a result the conduct sub-committee found her to be unsuitable to stay on the register.
"The majority of registered social workers do a very good job, often under difficult circumstances."
Children Needlessly Uprooted
January 25, 2012 permalink
A thirty-year-old newspaper article shows that little has changed in three decades, except for the candor of reporters and professionals. In the 1960's there was a big drop in the birth rate, changing the nature of children in care from unwanted children to stolen goods. In 1981 there still were childcare professionals and journalists who remembered when things were different, and expressed misgivings over the new regime. Today, most childcare professionals are unwilling to criticize the system that is their meal-ticket and the current generation of reporters wasn't even born before the changes. Enjoy reading a candid assessment of children's aid, just as valid today as when written.
System was misguided, officials admit
Thousands of children needlessly uprooted
Mr. [Grant Lowery], who has worked with adolescents for nearly two decades, said the practice of taking children into care even when they didn't belong there "was fairly prevalent." "You wouldn't have to say anybody was lying. The legal and service system let it happen.
Full Text (2283 words)
System was misguided, officials admit. Thousands of children needlessly uprooted
Thousands of Ontario children have been needlessly taken out of their homes during the past 20 years by a child welfare system that provincial officials now say was seriously misguided.
The experience, along with the stigma of having been wards of Children's Aid Societies, has shattered some of these children's lives. Many now are strangers in their families, are shunned by employers and are regarded as misfits by former friends and neighbors.
An unknown number, say professionals who deal with these children, have rebelled against their unwarranted plight by turning to crime. Others suffered deep emotional wounds that some experts fear could lead them into crime or other anti-social behavior later.
Both the Ontario Government and Children's Aid Societies say they must share the blame for what has happened to these children.
Societies say that a financing scheme imposed by the Government - and changed this year - encouraged them to take children from families and put them in group homes and other institutions.
Provincial officials say they didn't know their policies were harming children, and add that the financing system was drafted under pressure from societies that wanted money to break up families instead of helping them stay together.
Clive Chamberlain, a psychiatrist who in the past two decades has seen the child-care system from the different perspectives of an institution and court worker, Government policy adviser and institution administrator, says no one can be blamed for past mistakes. "The pursuit of a scapegoat or a responsible somebody is futile," he said. "It's all of us - the way we think about problems, or the way we don't think about them." While children and their families are the most obvious victims of Ontario's errant child welfare system, taxpayers have also paid a heavy price.
During the two decades in which the so-called interventionist approach predominated - intervention being the jargon for taking children out of their families - spending by Children's Aid Societies multiplied 34 times while Ontario's population grew by less than one-half.
In the same period there was a tripling in the number of group homes, the privately run but Government-financed institutions into which most CAS wards are put.
All told, more than $1 -billion was spent to create a child welfare system for which a recent internal Government document has little praise.
The document is an assessment of Ontario's child welfare system based on a Government review in 1979 and 1980 of 32 of the province's 51 Children's Aid Societies, which are financed by the province and have the prime responsibility for administering child welfare laws.
The Government assessment says that the societies generally have been inept at helping children. Another document, based on the same information, says that many children should have been treated with "less destructive alternatives" to being taken from their homes.
Societies processed children instead of caring for them, says the internal document, and dumped them in group homes where CAS workers lost all contact with them, even though the societies had assumed the legal responsibility of the parents.
The same document notes that while social workers put children in group homes as a matter of course "societies are unable to explain whether or not these agencies work or in what ways they are effective." Finding out why the system went wrong took months of reviewing public and un-released documents, and scores of interviews with social workers, CAS officials, psychiatrists, psychologists, Government officials and officials of other child welfare agencies.
One major reason that emerged from the investigation is that child welfare was run during the past 20 years by people who believed in the misguided notion that social workers know better than parents how to help children, and that institutions, not the home, are the best place to do this.
Not all child-care professionals thought this way, and many children were justly taken out of their homes for their own good. But because the trend and financial incentives to needlessly take children into care were so strong, most workers had little choice.
T. W. A. van Overdijk of the Brantford Children's Aid Society says his agency's view "has always been that it's no good for a kid to be in the care of the society. But it's been difficult to translate that into reality." Prompted by its findings that the child welfare system was needlessly taking children into care and costing too much, the Government implemented last January a new financing scheme aimed at tackling both problems.
The scheme seems to have curbed the practice of taking children from their homes, but officials concede that it may take 20 years to root the interventionist habit from the system.
And there is still no guarantee that children will no longer be hurt by the system that is supposed to help them. Officials warn that removing the kinks from one part of the system may foul things up elsewhere.
But while provincial officials measure the system's costs in terms of money and shattered lives, another sort of price has been paid: immeasurable damage to the family courts, where child-care professionals say they have been drawn into deceit and distortion to get a judge's approval for custody of a child.
Dr. Chamberlain, who admits to having been "one of the people out there breaking all the rules," says that when the facts didn't justify taking a child out of his or her home, child-care professionals would paint a picture for the judge that would force him to grant custody. "You had to label the kid to get the money to flow," Dr. Chamberlain said. "The label was useless, but you used it. You distort everything. You abuse the courts, the system, the family. Of course, this had repercussions on the family. Making a child a ward carries the stigma that the parents aren't doing their job well." Government officials and documents say that the needless removal of children from their homes, the major problem with child welfare during the past 20 years, was compounded by a lack of clear direction from the Ministry of Community and Social Services, which finances and supervises the societies.
The ministry admits in documents that its Child Welfare Act is too vague and open-ended to be effective, and that the main tool for implementing policy has been financing schemes that encouraged the abuse of money and power by societies.
Child welfare has been a haphazard service over which neither the Government nor societies had control, the documents say. The Government acknowledges it smothered societies with red tape and frustrated, through its financing schemes, attempts by some societies to break out of the traditional role of taking children into care.
These Government restrictions bolstered the interventionist attitude among child-care professionals and encouraged the abuse of the courts, said Dr. Chamberlain, now director of the province's Thistletown Regional Centre for Children and Adolescents.
Government documents and officials say that boards of education across the province have been using the courts to rid themselves of children with behavioral and learning problems. These children, most of whom had committed offences no more serious than skipping classes, were made wards of Children's Aid Societies and put in group homes. Last year, school boards referred 500 children into CAS care,
Dr. Chamberlain said case workers sometimes have had children charged with criminal offences to get them out of their homes and into training schools, from which they could be transferred to residential care institutions such as group homes.
More commonly, the professionals would tell a judge that the child lived in a "pretty destructive" home where he was endangered, Dr. Chamberlain said. They added, conveniently, that a Children's Aid Society was willing to take the child into care. "You'd end up getting the judge to agree that (making the child a ward) was a reasonable thing to do ... . How does he know? He's got a social worker and a psychiatrist swearing on a Bible that the kid needs (a group home) .... He's got 15 or 20 more that day, He doesn't even have the time to ask all the questions." Grant Lowery, executive director of Central Toronto Youth Services and an outspoken opponent of past financing schemes, said that the paternalistic attitude in family courts has allowed child-care workers the leeway to interpret the Child Welfare Act as they saw fit.
Mr. Lowery, who has worked with adolescents for nearly two decades, said the practice of taking children into care even when they didn't belong there "was fairly prevalent." "You wouldn't have to say anybody was lying. The legal and service system let it happen. We've collectively allowed that to happen. "The judge was told that the parents couldn't get the kid to behave or attend school," he said. "That's where the poor took a hell of a beating in the earlier interpretations of the Child Welfare Act. If the kid was skipping classes, and there was no one at home because it was a single- parent family and the mother was working, or if both parents were working, the court was told that the parents couldn't control the kid." Dr. Chamberlain, who ran the in-patient program at the Hincks Treatment Centre in Toronto from 1966 to 1971 and the Metro Family Court Clinic from 1971 to 1977, said that all laws concerning children were abused in one way or another to facilitate taking children into care. "I remember recommending that a child go to training school just so he could get treatment in a group home. I wouldn't have recommended to the judge that that happen unless I knew a group home was ready to take him. I arranged it in advance. It was an abuse of the rules to help the kid. "All of these agencies got used to doing business that way," said Dr. Chamberlain, who from 1977 to 1980 became a senior Government adviser as executive co-ordinator for program policy in the children's services division of the Ministry of Community and Social Services. "Sure the judges knew. Everybody played the game. They had to. They had to bend the rules to help the kid ... . The game bothered all of us ... . But you've got that kid and he can't wait for the world to change." Michael Ozerkevich, who until recently was executive director of management information evaluation for the Social Services Ministry, said his 1978 study of child welfare financing first alerted Government officials that the schemes were fuelling the distortion of children's services.
Mr. Ozerkevich, who joined the ministry in 1977 as an expert on financing, drafted the new scheme introduced this year. He said that his predecessors were too overworked to be aware of the problems he discovered.
Evidence of the unwarranted removal of children from their homes has existed since at least 1960.
A report prepared by the Child Welfare League of America in 1960 for the Social Planning Council of Metro Toronto criticized the practice by social workers of taking children out of their homes instead of working with families to keep them together.
A study of 14 institutions in Metro Toronto revealed that "for every two children who were placed in a group setting because of their needs, three were placed because of needs unrelated to them," the 1960 report said.
Government officials and child care professionals said in interviews that ministry officials responsible for financing and supervising Children's Aid Societies ignored the evidence of dozens of similar studies in the wake of contradictory statements from societies that were battling each other for more money.
A handful of Government child welfare officials were swamped by society lobbyists, some of whom decried the financing schemes as encouraging abuses while others praised the financing approach but attributed abuses to lack of money.
The legacy of the system's 20-year blunder, critics say, are the emotional wounds left on thousands of children who should have remained at home but didn't.
Stephen Menzies, a Toronto child welfare lawyer, says he has seen children acquire criminal records as a result of unnecessarily being made wards and put in group homes. "My experience has shown that kids may be put in a group home for ridiculous reasons such as skipping classes," Mr. Menzies said. "That's the only offence these kids have committed. Subsequent charges laid against them arise because of their rebellion at the place they've been put in - their attempts to free themselves from the system. Those charges would never arise if the kids hadn't been put in the group home in the first place." Mr. Menzies cited cases where children went into group homes without records and within months had been charged with breaking and entering, theft, and other offences committed while running away from the home.
Because of the common perception that Children's Aid Societies deal mainly with tough, problem children, children who are unnecessarily made wards become vulnerable targets. "Removing the child from the family creates new dangers," said Peter Jaffe, a psychologist who is director of the Family Court Clinic in London, Ont. "The child will be labelled a problem child. This could lead to poor self-esteem because the child will blame himself for causing problems in the home since he's the one who was taken away. There may also be problems reintegrating the child into the family and re-establishing relationships with siblings and parents." Mr. van Overdijk is more blunt: "As soon as you take a child into care, you have helped to establish the destruction of the family as a unit."
Indexing (document details)
Author(s): YVES LAVIGNE Publication title: The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ont.: Nov 23, 1981. pg. P.1
Source: Jane Scharf
Addendum: The Ontario government cannot find the two documents mentioned in paragraphs ten to fourteen of the article. Pam Gould (pdf).
January 23, 2012 permalink
About a dozen people conducted a rally today outside the CAS office on Hespeler Road in Cambridge Ontario.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
January 22, 2012 permalink
Canada Court Watch is promising to release audio and video recordings of CAS workers at a meeting in Newmarket on March 3.
SPECIAL NEWS ALERT! EXCLUSIVE SECRET TAPES TO BE RELEASED!
Never before heard Secret Shocking Audio and Video recordings of CAS workers will be exclusively made public at the Newmarket Public Meeting on March 3, 2012 at the Legion Hall ~ 707 Srigley Street, Newmarket Ont. Workshops from 12-4pm, presentations 4-8pm.
The shocking Audio and video recordings that will be made public for the first time ever exposes the egregious dark innards of CAS and unregistered CAS workers, unlawfully practising social work. The exposing of the information is usually kept secret from the public, the very public that funds CAS agencies to the tune of $1.5 billion each year and rising. The secrets of CAS is being flushed out.
You will need to attend our public meeting to hear and see this privileged audio and video recordings that will send a chill down your spine in disbelief of what CAS agencies are actually doing and how they are abusing families and their children!
NEWMARKET PUBLIC MEETING~MATTERS CONCERNING COURT, CAS, POLICE & SCHOOLS Saturday, March 3 at 12:00pm
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Angelica Leslie identified
January 22, 2012 permalink
The parents in the Angelica Leslie case have been named as Alfanso and Stephanie Warren, now living in Jamaica. The names were disclosed after a dead baby was found in a suitcase in their home. In the earlier case a baby was found abandoned in a Toronto parking garage and later placed for adoption by children's aid.
Body in suitcase linked to Toronto case
The mother and father of a toddler found dead inside a suitcase in Jamaica are also the parents of Baby Angelica, the baby who was found abandoned on a frigid stairwell in Toronto in 2008, according to police.
Stephanie Warren, 34, and her husband Alfanso Warren, in his 30s, are in custody in Jamaica after police found the decomposing body of their 2-year-old son, Jeshurun, in a suitcase Sunday.
Both have been living in Kingston, Jamaica, since 2009 — shortly after they were found guilty in the abandonment of the infant who became known as Baby Angelica.
Police in Toronto made contact with Jamaican police to apprise them of the link between the two cases.
“We wanted to ensure that the Jamaican police knew of the previous behaviour,” Det. Keith Moxley told the Star.
“We did this even for the purpose of a bail hearing, so they would say, ‘This is not a first-time offence.’ These people knew better.”
The couple was arrested earlier this week after neighbours in Jamaica called police to report that they hadn’t seen the boy for over two months. Neighbours entered the couple’s house and began mobbing the father, according to a police statement.
Upon entering the home, police made the grisly discovery of the toddler’s decomposing body in a suitcase.
According to Jamaican media, the body was partially mummified, and dead maggots were found at the scene.
There are also reports that Stephanie Warren claimed the child died after eating ackee fruit for dinner, but the cause of death is still unknown. A pathologist has determined the toddler was not the victim of foul play, Delroy Hewitt, of the St. Andrew South police, told the Star.
The parents could face charges relating to concealing a body and also breaching the Child Care Protection Act.
When asked why Jeshurun’s parents would have kept his body in a suitcase for several months, police said Warren claimed “religion.”
In April 2009, the couple pleaded guilty to abandoning the child dubbed “Baby Angelica,” but did not receive jail time.
The father, who pleaded guilty to abandoning a child and three counts of failing to provide the necessities of life, was sentenced to time served.
The child’s mother was found guilty under the Ontario Child and Family Services Act, provincial legislation that protects children from mistreatment by their parents.
She was ordered to pay a $300 fine.
Baby Angelica was abandoned in a frigid stairwell in a North York plaza parking lot near Leslie St. and Finch Ave. E. on Jan. 30, 2008. The infant, believed to be eight months at the time, was discovered face down and bleeding.
Soon after, police posted a surveillance video from the adjacent shopping plaza on Facebook and YouTube.
It showed a person pulling up to the stairwell in a green Ford Escort and depositing the baby.
Police had a massive investigation on their hands, with 2,000 vehicles matching the suspect vehicle. Three months later, police tracked the couple down and used DNA to confirm their relation.
Three of the couple’s other children were removed from the home at the time of the arrests.
Children’s Aid workers later said those three children — all under 5 at the time — appeared malnourished and developmentally delayed when they were taken into custody.
A Toronto police source said the parents were feeding their children a diet of beans with little regard for other vitamin sources.
The parents lost custody of the three children, and Baby Angelica has been adopted.
Source: Toronto Star
Addendum: A later news report says the couple fled Canada to escape from the children's aid society.
Couple left Canada for Jamaica to keep baby
A former Toronto couple now sitting in a Jamaican prison after the body of their toddler was found stuffed in a suitcase only left Canada to avoid having the child taken away like their other kids were, says the boy’s godmother.
Patricia Smith-Bell, who was named the tyke’s godmother after Alphonso and Stephanie Warren brought their son, Joshua, into the world after moving to Jamaica in 2009, told the Toronto Sun that Alphonso was open about the couple’s four other kids being taken from them by child services while they were living in Toronto. Alphonso swore he would never return to Canada for that reason.
“He moved to Jamaica so the government wouldn’t take any more of his kids,” said Smith-Bell. She added that Alphonso, a Jamaican national, refused to give anyone on the Caribbean island a reason as to why the kids were taken.
The Warrens were arrested in 2008 and convicted of child abandonment after Alphonso left their 8-month-old daughter in the freezing stairwell of a north-Toronto building in January of that year. During the couple’s arrest, their three other kids - aged 4, 3 and 2 - were taken by child services.
Sources have told the Sun that Stephanie had also lost two other kids from a previous relationship either before or around the time she and Alphonso were arrested.
“(Alphonso) just came back home ... so nobody would take away Joshua,” said Namesha Clarke, who, along with Smith-Bell, led a community raid on the Warren’s home on January 15 after the boy went missing.
Joshua’s decomposing body was found crammed in a suitcase.
Det. Keith Moxley of Toronto police led the investigation into the 2008 abandonment of the 8-month-old. Moxley said early last week that the couple’s three other kids that were seized in the course of the investigation had “scaring on their skin” and had suffered abuse akin to “corporal punishment,”
Stephanie Warren told a media outlet from her jail cell on Thursday that, when it came to raising their children, neither she nor her husband did anything wrong, calling child protection services in Canada “corrupt.”
“If something happens with one child, they take all your children away,” she said, admitting that while she and Alphonso had hit their kids with a belt, they were devoutly religious and “follow the Holy Bible, the King James Bible, (and) no other book.”
Source: Toronto Sun
January 21, 2012 permalink
The forecast temperature is 7°C and rain is likely. Full announcement.
January 21, 2012 permalink
Undercover British police infiltrating political campaigners fathered children with group members, then turned away and never saw or acknowledged their children.
Police infiltration of opposition groups can cause a lot of collateral damage, as in the British case. Fixcas has also occasionally mentioned Julian Ichim, whose life was shredded by police informants, even though he was never convicted of anything.
Undercover police had children with activists
Disclosure likely to intensify controversy over long-running police operation to infiltrate and sabotage protest groups
Two undercover police officers secretly fathered children with political campaigners they had been sent to spy on and later disappeared completely from the lives of their offspring, the Guardian can reveal.
In both cases, the children have grown up not knowing that their biological fathers – whom they have not seen in decades – were police officers who had adopted fake identities to infiltrate activist groups. Both men have concealed their true identities from the children's mothers for many years.
One of the spies was Bob Lambert, who has already admitted that he tricked a second woman into having a long-term relationship with him, as part of an intricate attempt to bolster his credibility as a committed campaigner.
The second police spy followed the progress of his child and the child's mother by reading confidential police reports which tracked the mother's political activities and life.
The disclosures are likely to intensify the controversy over the long-running police operation to infiltrate and sabotage protest groups.
Police chiefs claim that undercover officers are strictly forbidden from having sexual relationships with the activists they are spying on, describing the situations as "grossly unprofessional" and "morally wrong".
But that claim has been undermined as many of the officers who have been unmasked have admitted to, or have been accused of, having sex with the targets of their surveillance.
Last month eight women who say they were duped into forming long-term intimate relationships of up to nine years with five undercover policemen started unprecedented legal action. They say they have suffered immense emotional trauma and pain over the relationships, which spanned the period from 1987 to 2010.
Until now it was not known that police had secretly fathered children while living undercover. One of them is Lambert, who adopted a fake persona to infiltrate animal rights and environmental groups in the 1980s.
After he was unmasked in October, he admitted that as "Bob Robinson" he had conned an innocent woman into having an 18-month relationship with him, apparently so that he could convince activists he was a real person. She is one of the women taking the legal action against police chiefs.
Now the Guardian can reveal that in the mid-1980s, just a year into his deployment, Lambert fathered a boy with another woman, who was one of the activists he had been sent to spy on.
The son lived with his mother during the early years of his life as his parents' relationship did not last long. During that time, Lambert was in regular contact with the infant, fitting visits to him around his clandestine duties.
After two years, the mother married another man and both of them took responsibility for raising the child. Lambert says the woman was keen that he give up his legal right to maintaining contact with his son and cut him out of her new life. He says the agreement was reached amicably and he has not seen or heard of the mother or their son since then.
Lambert did not tell her or the child that he was a police spy as he needed to conceal his real identity from the political activists he was spying on. The Guardian is not naming the woman or the child to protect their privacy.
Lambert was married during his secret mission, which continued until 1988.
The highly secretive operation to monitor and disrupt political activists, which has been running for four decades, has come under mounting scrutiny since last year following revelations over the activities of Mark Kennedy, the undercover police officer who went rogue after burying himself deep in the environmental movement for seven years.
Police chiefs and prosecutors have set up 12 inquiries over the past year to examine allegations of misconduct involving police spies, but all of them have been held behind closed doors. There have been continuing calls, including from the former director of public prosecutions Ken Macdonald, for a proper public inquiry.
The second case involves an undercover policeman who was sent to spy on activists some years ago. He had a short-lived relationship with a political activist which produced a child.
He concealed his real identity from the activist and child as he was under strict orders to keep secret his undercover work from her and the other activists in the group he infiltrated. He then disappeared, apparently after his superiors ended his deployment. Afterwards, she remained under surveillance as she continued to be politically active, while he carried on with his police career.
The Guardian understands that as he had access to the official monitoring reports, he regularly read details of her life with a close interest. He watched as she grew older and brought up their child as a single parent, according to an individual who is aware of the details of the case.
The policeman has been "haunted" by the experience of having no contact with the child, whom he thought about regularly, according to the individual.
• If you have information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Guardian (UK)
Around the World in 366 Days
January 21, 2012 permalink
Laura Dekker should arrive today at Sint Maarten, completing her round the world solo sailing trip. She left Sint Maarten on January 20, 2011, 366 days ago, only 365 sunrises in her sailing direction. The trip started with many small hops in the Atlantic and Caribbean, and stops at almost every island along the way in the south Pacific. But from Australia, Laura made two enormous crossings, from Darwin to Durban South Africa, 10250 km, then after a few stops in South Africa, from Cape Town December 12, 10360 km to Sint Maarten.
How has Holland reacted to Laura? Dutch authorities think she fell behind on her schoolwork. They issued a truancy summons to her father and are threatening to take Laura back into care when she reaches Holland. Sint Maarten is Dutch territory, so that could be soon. What does more for a girl's development? Sailing around the world stopping at over a dozen ports, and depending on your own resources to stay alive, or sitting in a classroom for two years?
Solo sailing teen Laura Dekker did not 'tear down' her Dutch flag
When 16-year-old Laura Dekker sails Guppy into the Dutch Caribbean island of Sint Maarten in about eight days to become the youngest ever circumnavigating sailor, she will be flying, not a Dutch flag, but the flag of New Zealand. However mainstream media reports that she had recently 'torn down' the Dutch flag are not true.
Laura, who has dual Dutch and New Zealand citizenship, has been flying the New Zealand flag since she departed Darwin Australia. Her reasons are, however, certainly steeped with the hurt she has experienced from Dutch child authorities who have constantly tried to impede her progress. Even after she had made many concessions and her journey was well advanced they have not relented their attempts to prevent her voyage continuing.
Her lawyer Peter De Lange told Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that truancy officers issued her father a summons to appear late last year after a newspaper quoted her as saying in her blog she had not been giving her studies full attention.
Mr De Lange said the report was a misunderstanding, based on her saying she needed to concentrate on sailing while weather in the Atlantic was poor.
When her father refused to turn up, the truancy agency notified child protective services, infuriating the family.
'Who knows, maybe they'll be waiting for her with handcuffs at the finish line,' Mr De Lange said.
If Laura checks in as a New Zealand citizen, they will have a hard time fastening those handcuffs.
The story behind the acquisition of a New Zealand flag is a simple one. On arrival into Darwin, Laura's Dutch flag was looking a little ragged. Knowing that she wanted a New Zealand flag, her agent and friend Lyall Mercer bought the flag and presented it to her as a present. Laura's voyage route did not include New Zealand, but she has said she hopes to sail there after reaching Sint Maarten.
Laura is currently sailing her 38ft Jeanneau Gin Fizz ketch Guppy across the Atlantic from Cape Town, following the trade winds to the Caribbean and the completion of her around-the-world sail. She is expected to arrive the island around 24th January, having departed there in August last year. If she arrives on that day, she will be 16 years, four months and 15 days old, more than seven months younger than Australian Jessica Watson, who completed a non-stop journey, staying mostly in the southern hemisphere, just before her 17th birthday.
Some like to count these things, but the fact is that neither the Guinness Book of Records nor the World Speed Sailing Record Council accept 'youngest' records these days, so as not to encourage parents pushing their children into foolish exploits.
Laura's difficulties with the authorities:
The Dutch court originally blocked Laura's voyage and only permitted her to set off after she finished her school year.
While it could be said that Laura already had learned the skills that she needed, the authorities put their reluctant stamp of approval on her journey only after she had passed certain courses to their satisfaction, bought a bigger boat than the one she originally planned to use; enrolled in a special correspondence school and shown that her navigation equipment was adequate. Did she need these extra checks? Her father is vehement that she did not, that they added nothing to her skills, nor to the safety of her boat. Would she have coped just as well as she has without them? We shall never know...
Many civil libertarians in the Netherlands are angry about the treatment of Laura and her family, accusing the government of 'nanny state' control - 'parochialism versus global perspective, fear versus adventure, paternalism versus empowerment' as one Dutch journalist put it.
Laura was born on her parents' yacht when it was docked in Whangarei, making her a New Zealand citizen. She spent the first few years of her young life completing a circumnavigation with her parents, who are now divorced. Passionately in love with sailing, the tearaway teen then completed her first crossing of the English Channel solo at the age of thirteen, ending up in a Children's Home after the British authorities saw the age on her passport.
Mr De Lange said Laura plans to return to school after her voyage, perhaps in New Zealand.
Source: Sail World (Canada)
Reaching the end of my circumnavigation, I look back with joy at the adventures of the past year. I am also thinking hard, and trying to come to terms with the year prior to my voyage. The Dutch government was not kind to me. As a 13 year old girl, it was never my intention to be the center of world news. From the moment my plans became public, Youth Care and other government organizations tried to stop me. During the first court case, in August 2009, (even before Youth Care had ever seen me, or had spoken to me…), they asked the Judge to take me away from my father and to lock me up in a secure clinic! By doing this they tried to stop me from sailing. Another five court cases followed and another five times Youth Care asked the judge to lock me up. I only wanted to go sailing! Fortunately the judge never honored this terrible request. Over a period of 11 months, I was constantly afraid that Youth Care would lock me up. Also during this period, there were intimidating interviews with Youth Care workers. It was all a frightening and traumatic experience. So often these terrible memories come to me. I can’t ignore them. It is painful. Now, after sailing around the world, with difficult port approaches, storms, dangerous reefs, and the full responsibility of keeping myself and Guppy safe, I feel that the nightmares the Dutch government organizations put me through, were totally unfair. I think that the nightmares will follow me for the rest of my life... At sea, I feel comfortable and I come to rest. I especially enjoy the long passages over the Indian and Atlantic Ocean. I hear now that the Dutch government organizations have started causing problems again. I am seriously thinking about not returning to the Netherlands. Of course I will discuss this with my parents. We will make decisions carefully, such as finishing my high school education and making plans for my future. Last but not least, I would like to say that I realize my voyage would not have been possible without the support of all my fans from around the globe and my sponsors. I am very grateful to them and I would like to thank them all! I can’t be negative about the Netherlands, a country with so many good people. Because of my past experience with the Dutch government organizations, I have the feeling that it will be very difficult for me to return to the Netherlands. I will complete my solo circumnavigation on the island of Sint Maarten. I am sorry if I disappoint my Dutch fans. What a party it would have been if Hoek van Holland or IJmuiden had been my port of arrival…!!!.. Who knows, it might still happen one day…
Source: Laura Dekker blog
Below are two news reports on Laura's arrival in Sint Maarten.
Source: ABC (Australia)
16-year-old girl, Laura Dekker, completes solo trip around the world
PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten — Laura Dekker set a steady foot aboard a dock in St. Maarten on Saturday, ending a yearlong voyage aboard a sailboat named “Guppy” that apparently made her the youngest person ever to sail alone around the globe, though her trip was interrupted at several points.
Dozens of people jumped and cheered as Dekker waved, wept and then walked across the dock accompanied by her mother, father, sister and grandparents, who had greeted her at sea earlier.
Dekker arrived in St. Maarten after struggling against high seas and heavy winds on a final, 41-day leg from Cape Town, South Africa.
“There were moments where I was like, ’What the hell am I doing out here?,’ but I never wanted to stop,” she told reporters. “It’s a dream, and I wanted to do it.”
Dekker claims she is the youngest sailor to complete a round-the-world voyage, but Guinness World Records and the World Sailing Speed Record Council did not verify the claim, saying they no longer recognize records for youngest sailors to discourage dangerous attempts.
Dutch authorities tried to block Dekker’s trip, arguing she was too young to risk her life, while school officials complained she should be in a classroom.
Dekker said she was born to parents living on a boat near the coast of New Zealand and said she first sailed solo at 6 years old. At 10, she said, she began dreaming about crossing the globe. She celebrated her 16th birthday during the trip, eating doughnuts for breakfast after spending time at port with her father and friends the night before in Darwin, Australia.
The teenager covered more than 27,000 nautical miles on a trip with stops that sound like a skim through a travel magazine: the Canary Islands, Panama, the Galapagos Islands, Tonga, Fiji, Bora Bora, Australia, South Africa and now, St. Maarten, from which she set out on Jan. 20, 2011.
“Her story is just amazing,” said one of Dekker’s fans, 10-year-old Jody Bell of Connecticut. “I can’t imagine someone her age going out on sea all by herself.”
Bell was in St. Maarten on a work trip with her mother, Deena Merlen, an attorney in Manhattan, who wanted to see Dekker complete her journey. The two wore T-shirts that read: “Guppy rocks my world.”
“My daughter and I have been following Laura’s story, and we think it’s amazing and inspiring,” Merlen said.
Unlike other young sailors who recently crossed the globe, Dekker repeatedly anchored at ports along the way to sleep, study and repair her 38-foot (11.5-meter) sailboat.
During her trip, she went surfing, scuba diving, cliff diving and discovered a new hobby: playing the flute, which she said in her weblog was easier to play than a guitar in bad weather.
Dekker also complained about custom clearings, boat inspections, ripped sails, heavy squalls, a wet and salty bed, a near-collision with two cargo ships and the presence of some persistent stowaways: cockroaches.
“I became good friends with my boat,” she said. “I learned a lot about myself.”
Highlights of her trip include 47 days of sailing the Indian Ocean, which left her with unsteady legs when she docked in Durban, South Africa, where she walked up and down the pier several times for practice.
While in South Africa, she also saw her first whale.
“It dove right in front of my boat and got all this water on my boat, and that wasn’t really nice,” she said.
Dekker launched her trip two months after Abby Sunderland, a 16-year-old U.S. sailor, was rescued in the middle of the Indian Ocean during a similar attempt. Jessica Watson of Australia completed a 210-day solo voyage at age 16, a few months older than Dekker.
Dekker had said she planned to move to New Zealand after her voyage, but she said Saturday that she wants to finish school first. If she goes to New Zealand, she said, she’d like to sail there.
Source: New York Daily News
Addendum: Here is a video Youngest Cirvumnavigator to Sail Alone Around the World By Laura Dekker with a local copy (mp4). There is also a movie, Maidentrip, about Laura's voyage. It is available on bittorrent with this magnet link: Maidentrip.
Addendum: In an opinion piece about the failures of state-run education, Jacob G Hornberger uses Laura Dekker as an example of how to get a real education.
Laura Dekker: Public School Failure or Free-Market Success Story?
One of the real downsides of living under a socialist system for a long period of time is that people lose their faith in freedom and free markets. One of the best examples of this phenomenon involves public schooling, the governmental program to which American children are required to submit when they reach six years of age.
The common notion is that without mandatory, state-approved education, the vast majority of children would never get educated. We would end up with a nation of mostly uneducated people.
Yet, from birth to six, American children learn how to speak English, one of the world’s most difficult languages to learn. In fact, many children learn two languages in the first six years of their lives.
Many children also learn to read before they get to school. In fact, I’ve heard of instances where children who have a passion for reading soon lose that passion because they’re so bored in public school.
Defenders of public schooling say that at least it provides children with the basics of an education. But does it? Is cramming a bunch of information into a child, which is what a public-school education is all about, a genuine education?
I don’t think so, especially given the damage that a system of conformity, regimentation, and deference to authority does to a child, oftentimes for the rest of his life. Someone once said that it would be better to go uneducated than to be educated by the state. I firmly believe that that’s true, given what a state system of education — a system of army-lite — does to a person’s natural love of learning, independent thinking, and a high-spirited life.
Another issue arises: What is an educated person?
I recently watched a fascinating documentary entitled Maidentrip about a Dutch teenage girl named Laura Dekker who is the youngest person to ever circumnavigate the world in a sailboat alone. She completed the journey at 16 years of age.
She would have done it sooner but for the Dutch authorities. They filed a custody suit, seeking to prevent the teenager from embarking on the voyage. They felt that the state, not the parents, should have ultimate control over such decisions.
The Dutch courts finally ruled in favor of Laura but only on the condition that she continue her state-approved education while conducting her voyage. I assume that meant learning such things as social studies, Dutch history, chemistry, and trigonometry.
That condition really struck me as I was watching the documentary. Here was a teenage girl who obviously knew everything there is about sailing. She had practically grown up in a sailboat, thanks to her father, who also loved sailing.
In fact, there is rather humorous story about Laura and her father. One day, her father received a telephone call from English authorities telling him that his 14-year-old daughter had arrived in England on her sailboat alone. The authorities told Mr. Dekker that he needed to come and get his daughter. He responded that he didn’t know she was gone and that if she could make it to England alone, she could make it back alone.
As I was watching the documentary, I looked up her biography and learned that this teenage girl could speak three languages — Dutch, German, and English. She was also able to read complicated sea charts. She could handle radio communications. She could maneuver a 27-foot sailboat in some of the scariest storms one could ever imagine.
What was also fascinating was to watch her spirited sense of individualism, optimism, and confidence — all the traits that the state smashes out of children with its system of public schooling.
To satisfy the condition that the Dutch court imposed on her, Dekker signed up for some sort of worldwide self-education course. Along the voyage, however, she mentioned publicly that she wasn’t keeping up with the coursework given the time she had to devote to managing a one-person sailboat on the high seas.
Well, as you can imagine, the Dutch public-school authorities and the Dutch mainstream press went ballistic, even suggesting that the girl had thrown her textbooks overboard and thus was no longer getting educated. That sure seems dumb to me, especially coming from people who presume themselves to be educated because they went through the state’s education system.
In any event, public-school officials in Holland were not amused that Laura Dekker wasn’t getting educated while circumnavigating the world on her own. Here is how the website sail-world.com explained the situation:
Her lawyer Peter De Lange told Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that truancy officers issued her father a summons to appear late last year after a newspaper quoted her as saying in her blog she had not been giving her studies full attention.
Mr De Lange said the report was a misunderstanding, based on her saying she needed to concentrate on sailing while weather in the Atlantic was poor.
When her father refused to turn up, the truancy agency notified child protective services, infuriating the family.
“Who knows, maybe they’ll be waiting for her with handcuffs at the finish line,” Mr De Lange said.
Well, they didn’t have the chance to put those handcuffs on Laura Dekker because rather than return to Holland, she simply crossed the Atlantic again and headed to New Zealand, where she had dual citizenship.
The public-schooling system would obviously consider Laura Dekker to be an educational failure. I say she exemplifies the deep passion for learning and the thirst for independence and a high-spirited and confident life that characterize all children from birth to six, traits that the state schooling system has smashed out of children by the time they graduate high school.
Good for Laura Dekker! In my books, she’s a free-market education success story!
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email. Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
Source: Future of Freedom Foundation
January 20, 2012 permalink
Harry Kopyto is continuing his struggle to save the para-legals from arbitrary control by the lawyers. He has scored some excellent points in his defense. Thanks to Mr Kopyto's cross examination, we now know that the law society protects the public by disqualifying low-lifes such as Rosa Parks, Gandhi and Jesus. His recent article came by email: The Law Society's Poor Character - A Study in Self-Deception (MS-word).
One Side Only
January 20, 2012 permalink
A school newspaper in Wisconsin printed two editorials on the subject of same-sex adoption, one in favor by Maddie Marquardt, one against by Brandon Wagner. The pro article pointed out the need of children for adoptive parents of any kind, and said research shows gay parents produce well-adjusted children. The anti article cited scripture and quoted other authority that children raised by same-sex couples suffered from elevated problems. The outcome? School superintendent Todd Carlson apologized for the anti-same-sex editorial and said "appropriate steps are being taken" to remedy the situation, without giving details. There was no apology for supporting the removal of children from natural parents to supply the needs of same-sex couples.
A press report is enclosed, here are the editorials (pdf).
Gay debate hits home in Shawano
Same-sex parents outraged by column in school paper
By the Numbers
Roughly half of same-sex households have children, according to the 2010 U.S. Census:
Male householder with male partner: 242
With children younger than 18 years old: 83
Female householder with female partner: 308
With children younger than 18 years old: 182
Total households: 98,383
Male householder with male partner: 34
With children younger than 18 years old: 17
Female householder with female partner: 48
With children younger than 18 years old: 21
Total households: 17,019
The Adult Gay-Straight Alliance of Green Bay will host an event this month designed to foster understanding and acceptance of people with different sexual orientations.
The event, which will include refreshments, will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Harmony Café, 1660 W. Mason St., Green Bay.
It will include the showing of a video called "Lead with Love," which tells of parents learning to accept their gay children.
A panel discussion will follow.
SHAWANO — A gay couple with school-age children is outraged over a Shawano High School newspaper column that cites Bible passages and calls homosexuality a sin punishable by death.
The column ran on the editorial page of Shawano High School's Hawks Post recently as part of an opinion package about gay families who adopt children. The other side said sexual orientation does not determine a person's ability to raise kids.
"This is why kids commit suicide," said Nick Uttecht, who is raising four children with his partner, Michael McNelly.
Uttecht told school district officials he thinks the piece opposing gays as parents is hateful and should not have run. He worries the strong language will hurt his children and could lead students to bully gay classmates.
School officials apologized and said they will review the process for editing and producing the paper.
"Offensive articles cultivating a negative environment of disrespect are not appropriate or condoned by the Shawano School District," district Superintendent Todd Carlson said in a written statement.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, out of 17,019 households in Shawano County, 82 were same-sex households, and nearly half reported children in the home. In Wisconsin, 13,630 out of 2.28 million households in 2010 were same-sex, and 5,978 of those households had children.
A step back?
The student newspaper column against same-sex couples says: "If one is a practicing Christian, Jesus states in the Bible that homosexuality is (a) detestable act and sin which makes adopting wrong for homosexuals because you would be raising the child in a sin-filled environment.
"A child adopted into homosexuality will get confused because everyone else will have two different-gendered parents that can give them the correct amount of motherly nurturing and fatherly structure. In a Christian society, allowing homosexual couples to adopt is an abomination."
Uttecht said his 13-year-old son, Tanner, who is in eighth grade, saw the article and asked about it.
"When I saw this I was in shock," said Uttecht, who is raising four children, three who are his biological kids and the biological daughter of his partner. Three are in the Shawano school system; the youngest is 4.
"I talked to the school superintendent; he said he was shocked," Uttecht said
Carlson told the Green Bay Press-Gazette "appropriate steps are being taken" to remedy the situation, but did not provide details.
He sent the following written statement:
"The Shawano School District would like to apologize for a recent article printed in the Hawks Post newspaper. Proper judgment that reflects school district policies needs to be exercised with articles printed in our school newspaper. Offensive articles cultivating a negative environment of disrespect are not appropriate or condoned by the Shawano School District. We sincerely apologize to anyone we may have offended and are taking steps to prevent items of this nature from happening in the future."
Uttecht said he's worried about the lasting impact of the column.
"I'm worried about how this is going to affect my kids," said Uttecht, who also is an elected member of the Menominee Indian Head Start Policy Council. "And I'm worried how gay students in school will be treated. It took me a long time to come out, and I think this just really sets things back by being so closed-minded. This sets things back 20 or 30 years.
"I know there are at least three openly gay families in the district, there's probably more. What effect is this going to have on my kids? And how are other people going to react?"
David Hudson, an expert for the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group First Amendment Center, said the column may be distasteful to some, but student journalists were practicing their constitutional right to free speech.
"Bullying is a serious concern, and I don't take it lightly. But I hope it doesn't lead to squashing different viewpoints. I do think (gay adoption) is an issue people are deeply divided about. Hopefully student journalists don't have to fear they'll be squashed if they take a controversial view."
Editors and advisers have the job of toning down language if it is too sensational, Hudson said.
"Freedom of speech includes speech about religious viewpoints," Hudson said. "If you took that away, it could be seen as discrimination. Someone could have an atheist opinion, and that's OK, too.
"Any controversial issue is a lightning rod for censorship."
Although students have the right to voice their opinion, it doesn't mean they should say it in a school paper, said Christine Smith, assistant professor of psychology, human development and women's studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
"High school students are at a time in their life when they are developing intellectually and socially," she said. "To see something like this debated in the paper could be devastating. How would you feel if someone said your family is abnormal, is not acceptable, that your parents never should have been allowed to have you, that they're not suitable to raise you?
"Of course, it's got to be harmful. Kids this age are so worried about discovering who they are and what they are. To have them told their family is immoral and not suitable has to be devastating. To be told by your peers, people you see in the hallways, these people who clearly have passed judgment."
She hopes something good comes from Shawano's situation.
"Sometimes it can be motivational. People can see there is a need for action and it sparks them to do something."
Source: Green Bay Press-Gazette
Child Protectors Defy Judge
January 20, 2012 permalink
In the ongoing power struggle between the Kentucky child protection agency (Cabinet for Health and Family Services) and two newspapers, the court has ordered the agency reimburse the newspapers for their legal costs incurred by Cabinet foot-dragging. The Cabinet tried to comply with a disclosure order by issuing documents so heavily redacted as to have no value to the press. Previous stories:  .
It has been our contention that in a power struggle between a judge and a state-funded agency (which this case has now become), the judge cannot win. Fines are useless, they just take money from one state treasury account and put it in another. The bill for the money paid to the newspapers will be passed on to the taxpayers, and have no effect on agency behavior. The judge does not have the power to stop the Cabinet's funding, that comes from the legislature. Kentucky law almost surely has a provision allowing an elected officer to dismiss the management of the Cabinet, comparable to what Ontario used in 2010 to dismiss the management of Huron-Perth children's aid. Unless Kentucky invokes an administrative provision of this sort, our guess is that the judge will lose the power struggle, and the records will remain secret or redacted beyond usefulness.
Judge fines state over child-abuse records, orders legal fees paid to newspapers
FRANKFORT, KY. — In a sharply critical decision, a judge has ordered a state agency to pay $16,550 in fines and $56,663 in legal costs to three newspapers for illegally withholding public records involving child abuse deaths and serious injuries.
Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd also rejected efforts by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to heavily redact, or remove, information from such documents. He said the cabinet was continuing its “efforts to blanket the operation of the child welfare system under a veil of secrecy.”
“Past experience has demonstrated that the cabinet will apply any privacy exception in the broadest possible manner, giving rise to an inevitable protracted court battle for anyone who seeks to discover the facts surrounding a child fatality or near fatality,” Shepherd said in a ruling issued Thursday.
Shepherd’s opinion and order Thursday involved a two-year legal fight by The Courier-Journal and Lexington Herald-Leader over access to records of child abuse deaths under the state open records law.
He issued a separate ruling Wednesday involving the Todd County Standard’s effort to obtain records in the case of of Amy Dye, a 9-year-old Western Kentucky girl who was fatally bludgeoned by her adoptive brother — a case that has outraged lawmakers and advocates because of the cabinet’s failure to follow up on reports of her abuse and neglect.
How the fine and fees break down
Shepherd’s orders direct the cabinet to pay $44,002 in legal costs to The Courier-Journal and $3,438 to the Herald-Leader.
Shepherd already has ordered the cabinet to pay about $20,000 to the two newspapers for costs of the first round of litigation.
And he ordered the cabinet to pay $9,925 in fines — calculated at a cost of $25 a day — for the period i which officials refused to provide records to the two newspapers.
Shepherd also ordered the cabinet to pay the Todd County Standard’s legal costs of $9,223, as well as $6,625 in fines.
Jon Fleischaker, a lawyer for The Courier-Journal, said Shepherd has ruled three times in the past two years that the cabinet must disclose information in cases in which a child dies or is seriously injured from abuse and social service officials had prior involvement with the family.
Fleischaker, who also represents the Todd County newspaper, said he hopes the cabinet is willing to drop the costly legal battle and follow the court order.
“Then we can get on to do what we need to do to try to make the system better,” he said.
Cabinet Secretary Janie Miller said in a statement that the agency is “weighing its options on the judge’s award of attorney’s fees and penalties.” But she claimed the ruling vindicated the cabinet’s battle to limit what it must release.
“It’s clear when weighed against the cabinet’s efforts to protect children from unwarranted invasions of their privacy, it was definitely well worth the price,” she said.
Shepherd ordered the cabinet to end its delays in providing records to The Courier-Journal and Herald-Leader. He said it must begin providing the newspapers with at least 1,000 pages a week of records of child abuse death and injury cases, with the first batch due Jan. 27 at noon.
The cabinet provided one batch of heavily redacted records in December, but the release of more records has stalled over wrangling about what information the cabinet may withhold.
Shepherd said he will permit only limited redactions, rejecting the lengthy list of information the cabinet wants to withhold as “inadequate and unreasonable.”
“In cases involving the death or near death of a child who the state agency has been charged with protecting, full public disclosure is the rule,” his order said.
Shepherd’s ruling Thursday came the same day cabinet officials appeared before the House Health and Welfare Committee, arguing that they should be able to withhold information they deem confidential.
“This issue is complex and there are human considerations to be addressed,” said Teresa James, the state’s acting commissioner of social services.
Christina Heavrin, general counsel for the cabinet, acknowledged that it had fought hard to defend its position in court.
“In pursuing this case, we were very vigorous and aggressive,” she said.
Rep. Tom Burch, a Louisville Democrat who is the committee’s chairman, advised the cabinet not to “circle the wagons” because the public wants to understand how it handles child protection cases.
“They want to know what’s going on over there,” he said
In December the cabinet — under an order from Shepherd — released an initial batch of documents related to child abuse deaths and serious injuries. But officials heavily redacted information — removing all names of children who were injured and the names of some of those who died from abuse or neglect.
Cabinet officials also withheld the names of other individuals in the homes — including perpetrators — even in cases in which individuals had been charged and convicted in child deaths. They withheld the names of counties where events occurred, the names of hospitals where children were treated and the names of police departments involved in criminal cases.
Shepherd Thursday rejected those redactions and released the same documents with far fewer omissions.
He said he will permit only limited redactions. They include the names of children seriously injured by abuse; the names of private citizens who report abuse — but not others, such as school officials, police or relatives; the names of siblings who are mentioned only because of their relationship to the victim; and minors who perpetrate abuse.
The cabinet may also redact Social Security numbers and details of public assistance, such as food stamps or Medicaid benefits.
The cabinet must document all information it redacts by subject, and any redactions not permitted by the court may be challenged by the newspapers, Shepherd said.
The cabinet will pay legal costs for any information he decides is wrongly withheld, Shepherd said.
Fleischaker said he doesn’t believe any information should be omitted but is willing to consider Shepherd’s decision.
“It’s a thoughtful basis for further discussion,” he said.
Source: Louisville Courier-Journal
Addendum: In what is likely the final chapter in the struggle between the child protectors and the press, the governor has appointed a Child Fatality and Near Fatality External Review Panel. It has the power to review deaths and near deaths and publish a report. The panel will see the details of each death, the public will see only the side of the story they want to disclose.
Beshear names panel to review near-deaths and deaths of youths
Gov. Steve Beshear announced Wednesday the 17 members of a panel that will review fatalities and near fatalities involving child abuse and neglect.
He created the Child Fatality and Near Fatality External Review Panel in January to help ensure that state agencies meet policies and standards in cases involving child abuse or neglect.
“In those instances when a child dies or is critically injured because of abuse or neglect, we must carefully examine the practices of the government entities whose job it is to prevent such tragedies,” Beshear said.
The panel will use staff from the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. It includes members from law enforcement and social services, as well as representatives from all three branches of government.
Members are expected to meet quarterly to review records, case files and information relating to child fatalities or near fatalities. After the review, the panel will make recommendations for improving protocols, practice, training or other steps to keep children safe.
The members are Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville; Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville; Teresa James, commissioner of the Department for Community Based Services; Family Court Judge Brent Hall, of Elizabethtown; Dr. Carmel Wallace, a Lexington physician; Dr. Melissa Currie, a Louisville child abuse pediatrician; Dr. Tracey Corey, state medical examiner; Andrea Goin, a Henderson County Court-Appointed Special Advocate; Kevin Calhoon, representing peace officers who investigate child abuse cases; Joel Griffith, representing Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky Inc.; Jenny Pitts Oldham, Hardin County attorney; Sharon Currens, executive director of the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association; Dr. Ruth Shepherd, acting chair of the State Child Fatality Review Team; Robert Walker, representing practicing social work clinicians; Carmella Yates, representing addiction counselors; Maxine Reid, representing Family Resources and Youth Service Centers; and Judge Roger Crittenden, of Frankfort.
Crittenden will lead the panel.
Each year the panel will publish a report of case reviews, findings and recommendations.
Source: Louisville Courier-Journal
Police Warn of Social Workers
January 19, 2012 permalink
Authorities in Florida are warning parents over recent cases of impostors claiming to be social workers.
What's worse than a fake social worker? A real one.
DCF warns of investigator impostors
BRADENTON - Authorities across the state are warning of people posing as child protection workers.
The Manatee County Sheriff's Office says on Monday, someone went to a house and told the people there they were a child protection specialist with the sheriff's office.
But after the victim asked for identification, the suspect became nervous and fled the house in a vehicle, investigators said.
The victim contacted authorities, and now detectives say they’re looking for a white male who is likely 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-8 and who is 115 to 130 pounds.
He has brown hair and brown eyes and was last seen wearing a tan polo shirt, tan pants and a tan baseball cap.
The suspect was driving an older model, brown four-door Cadillac with dark tinted windows and no tags, investigators say.
If you have any information, detectives ask that you call the Bradenton Police Department at 932-9357.
Alicia Pearson says the red flags went up almost instantly.
"The guy knocked on my door and said he wanted to check in on my daughter and check my house. I told him, look I need to know who you are and who you're with," she said.
Pearson said the man told her he was with Child Protective Services, but she pressed him further.
"I told him no, I need to see your badge or some type of paperwork explaining who you are. He said 'no, I don't have to worry about that.' I told him 'if you don't hurry up and tell me who you are, I'm going to call the cops on you.' "
She did, and says that's when the man took off.
Bradenton police investigators believe it's an isolated case here, but say the man did try to get into the house.
"The suspect did attempt to enter the residence, where children were present," says Captain Warren Merriman, with the Bradenton Police Department.
Capt. Merriman says the victim had reason to be concerned.
"With the children in the residence, and she didn't believe this guy was with Child Protective Services."
Police do have a person of interest in the incident.
The Department of Children and Families said Wednesday that they have gotten three reports of people posing as DCF investigators in Panama City since the beginning of the year.
- On January 2nd, a man called a house and left a voicemail for a woman there saying DCF had gotten reports that she was a drug dealer, and investigators would be coming to her house. She contacted DCF; there were no current or prior reports on her or her family.
- On January 9th, a woman named "Isabella" posted on a man's Facebook page that there were reports his child was being neglected, and needed to be seen. The man contacted DCF; they said no complaint had been lodged against him.
- On January 12, a man called DCF to report that a woman named "Jessica" left a voicemail on his former employer's phone. DCF said there were no investigations on him.
DCF says its investigators will never post allegations on a public website, including Facebook. They say investigators respond to complaints to their hotline immediately, in person, and without notice.
They say if you are contacted by someone representing DCF and want to verify the identity of an investigator, you can call the state Hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-962-2873.
DCF says its investigators always carry proper identification, and must produce their credentials.
They say these cases are very alarming, unsure of what these people's motives really are.
"You have to assume they had something else in mind, which makes it all the more scary. These families are very vulnerable, if we are investigating a family, they obviously have some type of crisis, some reason for us to be involved," said Terry Field, with the Tampa DCF office.
Alicia was smart for demanding to see an ID.
"He had nothing to show me at all," she said.
Source: Fox Tampa Bay
Addendum: Latest Alice-in-Wonderland twist: one of the reports of fakery is itself a fake.
Bradenton police say woman admits to lying about fake CPS worker
BRADENTON -- A woman could be charged with lying to police when she told them that someone impersonating a child protective services worker had gone to her home, according to the Bradenton Police Department.
The 24-year-old woman told police that the imposter on Monday had gone to her residence in the 2600 block of Seventh Avenue West and tried to check on the welfare of a child. The man, according to the woman, claimed he was with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office's child protective services unit.
The woman has admitted "that she fabricated the entire incident due to some ongoing civil issues," police said in a statement.
A charge against the woman of filing a false report to law enforcement is pending.
Source: Bradenton Herald
Addendum: From another part of Florida, a DCF impostor flashed a badge to get possession of a baby girl. WESH aired January 20, 2012 (mp4).
Hope for Ayn
January 19, 2012 permalink
Ayn Van Dyk was seized from her father Derek Hoare last June 16. She has been in British Columbia MCFD care since then, care that has included doping her on psychotropic drugs. Next Monday Ayn's case comes up for a conference. In the past conferences of this kind have been attended by a dozen functionaries of the child protection system and one parent, so there is little doubt what the consensus of Ayn's meeting will be. In the enclosed article Ron Unruh hopes for the best.
JANUARY 23 IS AN IMPORTANT DAY FOR AYN & DEREK
Ayn Van Dyk has a wonderful smile. She smiles for her daddy. She should be at home with him but she is not.
You may be shocked to learn that she has not been in that family home since June 16, 2011.
She is a girl with a condition known as Autism.
Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. These signs all begin before a child is three years old. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize. It is one of three recognized disorders in the autism spectrum (ASDs), the other two being Asperger Syndrome, which lacks delays in cognitive development and language, and Pervasive Development Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (commonly abbreviated as PDD-NOS), which is diagnosed when the full set of criteria for autism or Asperger syndrome are not met.
It is unfortunate that she has it because it causes her to behave in ways that are deemed abnormal but not in ways that should ever be considered criminal. While the social workers associated with her present case have not classified her as criminal, their treatment of her over the past seven months is criminal. Perhaps not in the technical or legal sense because they are fully justified by law and ACT for what they have done, yet in terms of the human spirit and plain common sense, her removal and continued incarceration is wrong.
She was not a risk to anyone or to herself. Her father is certainly not a risk to her or her siblings brothers, one of whom is also autistic. It is a functional and good family with challenges. She is difficult to manage at times at her school. Sometimes her father has to be called so he can calm her with his words. She has a typical autistic tendency to wander from the place that she should be. That's what she did on June 12th, 2011. Four days later in spite of her father's angry protests, she was gone from him. Only those of you who have experienced this, can appreciate our grievous is this pain and associated emotions and thoughts. Derek, her dad, somehow missed seeing her climb over the family yard fence on that day. Common sense would tell a person, that is not uncommon. He was not ignoring her, neglecting her. He was not absent from her. She was playing in a playhouse on stilts. She was occupied and he was happy about that. It would have been easy to miss seeing her move from the playhouse to the fence top. Derek did.
The Ministry of Children removed her and began to medicate her. If she is more manageable at school now, is it because she is medicated? Perhaps. Is that a good thing? Derek didn't want her plied with anti-psychotics. He did not want to experiment with her when his fatherly kindness and soft words could accomplish the same ends.
On Monday January 23, Derek has an important Case Conference with social workers when it will become clearer how soon and with what kind of plan for Ayn's care, she will be returned to him. That is certainly what Derek and Ayn's mother Amie hope for. That's what over 4000 fellow advocates for her return are hoping for as well. It is an Important Day.
Source: Ron Unruh blog
January 18, 2012 permalink
An adopted girl told a court in Clarksville Tennessee of her endless beating at the hands of her adoptive parents.
Alleged child rape, torture recounted in trial
The 17-year-old girl's voice was thick with emotion as she fought back sobs from the witness stand Tuesday afternoon in Judge John H. Gasaway's court.
The words came slow as the girl described in detail how she and her sister were severely beaten and tortured by her adopted family from the period after she was adopted in July 2006 until she ran away from the home on March 18, 2008, at the age of 13.
After almost two years of abuse the girl said she fled for her life on March 18, after the woman she called 'mom' had allegedly beat her in the head with a rolling pin and hit her in the face with a spatula for doing something incorrect.
The impact busted an old burn that she said her "mom" caused by holding a flat iron to her scalp for a long period of time. The bloodied girl fled to a nearby neighbor's house.
When asked by John Finklea, assistant district attorney, why she ran away from home the girl said, "I thought me and my sister (were) going to die."
Her adopted mother, Windie L. Perry, 55, adopted father, Earnest Perry, 68 and adopted sister, Elizabeth A. Perry, 23, are standing trial jointly in a 45-count indictment accusing them of crimes against the now-17-year-old girl and her sister, now 15 years old, including: 27 counts of aggravated child abuse, 12 counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, four counts of child rape and two counts of aggravated rape. Windie and Elizabeth Perry are the only ones charged with child rape and aggravated rape.
The jury of 13 heard the evidence put on from the state, represented by Kimberly Lund and John Finklea, assistant DAs.
During opening statements, Lund told the jury the allegations would be horrific.
"On March 18, 2008, a 13-year-old, (girl) ran from the home at 806 R.S. Bradley Blvd. where she should have been safe, cared for and loved, but she ran from a place where she was deprived of food, beaten with belts, poles and extension cords, where she was chased with an axe, burned with a flat iron and had scalding hot water poured over her," Lund said. "It was a place she was tied down and handcuffed almost daily, where jumper cables were placed on her toes, her mouth, and her (private parts). Where she was held down by her sister, Elizabeth, and raped with a broom or mop by her mother Windie. She ran after she was hit in the head with a rolling pin and face with a spatula."
Defense attorney J. Runyon, who represents Windie Perry, Charles Bloodworth, assistant public defender who represents Earnest Perry, and Greg Smith who represents Elizabeth Perry, asked the jury to listen to the whole case and all the evidence before drawing any conclusions.
"The information set out in the indictment is horrible, there is no way around it, but when you listen to the entire story and you hear all sides you will see points that don't seem to make sense. You are allowed to take their common sense to the jury ... when you are looking at the entire package not just parts, I think you will find some of this doesn't line up,' Smith said.
Bloodworth said the two girls had been in the foster system for five years and had been abused before they came to the Perrys' home. Bloodworth said the Perrys adopted seven children, took the sisters in despite their past. and painted the home as a "loving environment."
The 17-year-old described specific times the two were brutally beaten at the hands of Windie and Elizabeth Perry.
"They beat her and put duck tape over her mouth so she couldn't scream. They beat her with a red rubber hose and a baseball bat and she stopped breathing," the 17-year-old girl said. "She used the bathroom on herself and they cut the duck tape off her face. She'd stopped crying and I was screaming ... Mrs. Perry told me and Elizabeth to go get some cold water and put it on her face."
The teen described being forced and locked inside of a small black metal dog kennel with bars in the basement of the home for many nights. One at least one occasion she said, Windie and Elizabeth Perry put the dog kennel in the bathtub.
"They would run hot water," she said. "They would tell us we needed to take a bath and they'd pour hot water in the tub, then put water in a tea pot and pour it on us."
When asked by Finklea why the kennel was put in the bathtub, the alleged victim said it was to make sure the feces and urine would go down the drain when they used the bathroom on themselves.
"We were trying to get out," she said. "Mrs. Perry poured the hot water from the kettle on our fingers. We fell in the water and the skin on my bottom came off."
The girl said she was never taken to a hospital and Windie and Elizabeth put aloe vera and Vaseline on the burn which she said was "red and was showing red meat."
Over testimony that lasted several hours, the teen described how she and her sister were handcuffed together by the ankles and tied and chained to a cot outside of Windie Perry's door; beat with belts and a metal pole on their back, buttocks and legs; deprived of food for 3-5 days and only given bread or a vitamin and water; had jumper cables put on her fingers, toes, ears, lips and clothes pins put on her nipples, eyelids, fingers, toes, legs and private area that left bruises; being beat with a hammer on their fingers, toes, ears and elbows resulting in bruising; and having her fingers bent backwards until her thumb broke.
The alleged victim said the actions came as "punishment" for not cleaning up well enough or peeing in the bed. Despite the cries and screams she said the "punishment" did not stop and when she was injured she was never taken to a doctor. Although she said Windie Perry was the "boss" and determined punishment, she said Elizabeth Perry often helped and Earnest Perry was usually away from the home, because Windie Perry had put him out.
Dozens of pictures were shown and she explained each of themm including one where she said she had been beaten in her legs by Windie Perry with a bat and Windie Perry used an insulin needle to suck the pus and blood out before cutting it with a knife.
The pictures were so graphic that Officer Heather Hill, who took the pictures, became emotional as she introduced them into evidence earlier in the morning.
Although Windie Perry is charged with raping her, the 17-year-old girl said she was not raped by Windie or Elizabeth Perry, but did experience seeing her sister sexually assaulted by Windie Perry.
"I had to hold her arms and legs down so she wouldn't move," the teen said about her little sister. "Windie Perry stuck a broom in her (private) ... she had peed in the bed."
Court resumes today at 8:30 a.m. with further questioning of the alleged victim by the state and cross examination by the defense attorneys.
Source: Leaf-Chronicle, Clarksville Tennessee
Don't Search for Dead Child
January 18, 2012 permalink
The father of Patrick Alford Jr, missing from foster care for two years, has been shot in the head. Police are saying it is a marijuana case, but family members say it is about his son. Patrick Sr was putting up unwelcome missing posters and had started a lawsuit against the child protection agency.
Dad of missing Staten Island boy Patrick Alford shot in head
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The father of a young Staten Island boy who went missing from a Brooklyn foster home two years ago has been shot in the head and critically wounded, the Advance has learned.
Patrick Alford Sr., 29, was the victim in a shooting yesterday afternoon inside a Brooklyn apartment, police sources tell the Advance.
Alford is the father of Patrick Alford Jr., who at age 7 disappeared from an East New York foster home on Jan. 22, 2010. Despite an exhaustive search by police, he has still not been found.
According to police, the shooting happened at about 4:18 p.m. at 1138 Blake Ave., in East New York's 75th Precinct.
Police discovered marijuana inside the apartment, according to police sources, and they're investigating whether or not his shooting was drug-related.
But Alford's attorney, James Lambert, said the man's family is telling him a different reason -- Alford was putting up missing posters for his son around a housing development where he was not welcome to do so, and the transgression got him shot.
"This is a dispute that started a couple of weeks ago," Lambert said.
Alford Sr. was taken to Brookdale University Hospital where, a hospital spokeswoman said today, he remains in critical condition.
An investigation into the shooting is ongoing, and so far, no arrests have been made, according to police.
Alford Sr. had been planning to intensify the search for his son as the two-year anniversary of his disappearance approached, according to posts on his Facebook.com profile.
"Hunt for lil pee is about to get thick," he wrote on Jan. 10, followed by a Jan. 13 post of a YouTube.com video with the comment, "as we approach year 2 (it's) becoming overpoweringly hurtful to not know nothing for a fact."
Patrick was last seen in the lobby of East New York's Spring Creek Development.
He was placed with foster mother Librada Moran after his biological mother, Jennifer Rodriguez lost custody of Patrick and two daughters on Dec. 26, 2009 following her arrest on theft charges.
She was subsequently jailed by a Family Court judge who believed she was involved in Patrick's disappearance. She was released a week later when the city Administration for Children's Services (ACS) determined that was not the case. Patrick has not been found.
Ms. Rodriguez has sued the city, ACS, the foster care service and foster mother in Brooklyn federal court, accusing them of negligence.
Alford Sr. has filed a similar federal lawsuit.
Source: Staten Island Advance
Addendum: After father Patrick Sr moved to better search for his missing son he was shot by hoodlums lured by the $500,000 reward money. He is paralyzed and unlikely to father any more children.
Paralyzed dad searches for son, 7, who vanished while in foster care
BROOKLYN (PIX11) - Patrick Alford, Sr. lived for years in Harlem but moved to the East New York section of Brooklyn, after his son vanished from foster care there on January 22, 2010. That decision to re-locate, Alford told PIX 11, led to a near-fatal shooting that left him partially paralyzed.
“I remember (hearing) knocking on my door,” Alford recently told PIX 11, from the nursing home where he now spends his days. ”When I opened my door, I remember ‘Where’s that reward money?’ I remember that being said.” A squad of five men proceeded to shoot him several times in the head.
Alford claims a rapper friend of his was promising $500,000 as a reward for the return of Patrick Alford, Jr. The 7-year-old boy was put in foster care in late December 2009. Within three weeks, he had disappeared from the 11th floor of the building at 130 Vandalia Avenue, where he was living with a foster family selected by the Administration for Children’s Services. The foster mom, Librada Moran, told police she had briefly turned her head, while bringing out the trash, and when she turned back, young Patrick was gone.
Patrick’s mother, Jennifer Rodriguez, told PIX 11 she was 22 and feeling overwhelmed with three, small children when ACS came to her door on Staten Island. The child care agency placed Patrick and his younger sister, Jayleen, in the same foster home. But Patrick’s mom–and aunt–noticed something was wrong, when they attended a supervised visit with Patrick in mid-January 2010. Patrick’s aunt, Blanca Toledo, spoke to the foster mother.
“She said, ‘I don’t understand too much English.’ And when she said that, I said ‘What?!’ Because Patrick and Jayleen, they only know English.”
“My son was just acting crazy,” Jennifer Rodriguez recalled. “He was crying, acting out, throwing a chair. He was like “No!!”–I want to come home, Mommy! I want to be with you, I want to be with you.”
It was the last time Jennifer Rodriguez ever saw her only son, her firstborn child.
Patrick’s aunt said the foster mother had reported incidents with Patrick to ACS. The aunt told a counselor the boy needed help.
“His spirit was broken,” Toledo recalled of the boy who was always polite and respectful to his elders in the past. “He always protected his two sisters. He was very unhappy there. Patrick wasn’t Patrick. He was very destroyed.”
“Somebody in Brooklyn has to know what happened to my son,” Rodriguez said tearfully, in the kitchen of her Staten Island apartment. She recalled that police dogs traced Patrick’s scent to a bus stop, about two blocks from the foster family’s apartment building.
Back in 2010, the NYPD told PIX 11 it had interviewed 14,000 people and entered 9,000 apartments, in the quest to find Patrick. Among those interviewed: registered sex offenders in the community where Patrick was living, before he vanished.
Patrick’s mother, who has struggled with depression since her teen years, is working to get back full custody of her three daughters. Now 27, she is researching and writing a book about her experience with the Administration for Children’s Services. Rodriguez told us she was molested by a famly friend when she was four years old, and that led to some of her mental health issues. She keeps all of Patrick’s belongings in her apartment, including the sheets he last slept on, his slippers, sneakers, game chair, and his yellow bike helmet.
Patrick’s father, Patrick, Sr., remains in a nursing facility, hoping that rehabilitation will help maximize his body’s ability to move. The left side of his body is paralyzed, but he can get up from his wheelchair and walk very slowly, with great effort. His message for Patrick, Jr.–”Come home, your siblings need you.”
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for anyone with information that leads to Patrick. The phone number is 1-800-577-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential. We will attach an “age progression” photo of what Patrick Alford might look like now, at age 11. His birthday is November 28th.
Sickos for Children
January 17, 2012 permalink
Today's article from West Virginia looks into the soul of a man who calls the child-abuse hotline. On the same topic, read the story of CAS volunteer Amanda for insight into the kind of person (Laura) who thrives on child protection work.
State Police: Marion County Man Makes False Child Abuse Claims
The state police have arrested a Marion County man accused of falsely reporting multiple child abuse incidents.
Fred Spadafore, 52, is charged with three counts of falsely reporting an emergency incident and two counts of false information to a trooper.
Spadafore made multiple child abuse reports through a child abuse hotline, according to authorities.
Spadafore said there was a 14-year-old girl who was being sexually abused by her adoptive parents in Rivesville, according to investigators.
Sergeant Adam Scott said authorities and Child Protective Services went to Rivesville to find the family in question.
Scott said they learned that the child abuse claims were false. He said Spadafore admitted to calling the hotline so he could so he could sexually pleasure himself.
Spadafore is in the North Central Regional Jail awaiting arraignment.
To report a child abuse claim, call Sergeant Scott at 304-367-2701.
Source: WBOY Clarksburg, Morgantown
January 17, 2012 permalink
Legislation that passed the New Mexico senate:
When a psychologist or psychiatrist testifies during a defendant’s competency hearing, the psychologist or psychiatrist shall wear a cone-shaped hat that is not less than two feet tall. The surface of the hat shall be imprinted with stars and lightning bolts. Additionally, a psychologist or psychiatrist shall be required to don a white beard that is not less than 18 inches in length, and shall punctuate crucial elements of his testimony by stabbing the air with a wand. Whenever a psychologist or psychiatrist provides expert testimony regarding a defendant’s competency, the bailiff shall contemporaneously dim the courtroom lights and administer two strikes to a Chinese gong.
What Do Psychiatrists, Wizards and the American Southwest Have in Common?
OK, this post is a little off-topic but when I came across this bit of legal folklore I had to dig deeper and find out if it was true.
Recently a regular reader of this blog shared a publication with me which stated that in the 1990’s a New Mexico politician became so fed up with psychiatric expert witnesses he proposed an amendment to a State Bill which would have required psychologists and psychiatrists to dress like wizards when giving expert evidence. The Proposed law stated as follows:
When a psychologist or psychiatrist testifies during a defendant’s competency hearing, the psychologist or psychiatrist shall wear a cone-shaped hat that is not less than two feet tall. The surface of the hat shall be imprinted with stars and lightning bolts. Additionally, a psychologist or psychiatrist shall be required to don a white beard that is not less than 18 inches in length, and shall punctuate crucial elements of his testimony by stabbing the air with a wand. Whenever a psychologist or psychiatrist provides expert testimony regarding a defendant’s competency, the bailiff shall contemporaneously dim the courtroom lights and administer two strikes to a Chinese gong
A quick internet search fails to reveal any authoritative source verifying this story. Nor could I find corroboration searching New Mexico’s Legislature’s website.
Having lived in The Land of Enchantment for close to a decade I thought I’d go the extra mile and see if I could verify this story myself. This morning I went straight to the source and asked former New Mexico State Senator Duncan Scott whether this bit of legal folklore was fact or fiction. Mr. Scott, who is now in private practice in Albuquerque, NM, was kind enough to take my phone call.
Turns out the story is true. Mr. Scott tells me that he tacked this amendment onto a Bill in 1995 and, despite its clearly satirical nature, it passed with a unanimous Senate vote. The amendment was then removed from the Bill prior to receiving House approval so it never did become law.
Source: Erik Magraken blog
January 15, 2012 permalink
An enclosed report comments on a rash of starvation cases among adopted children in the State of Washington.
The report enclosed misses one motive for starving children. Carers of children for subsidies are in the position of service providers for profit. That profit can be maximized by cutting costs, including food for the children. It is the age-old action in the quote from Oliver Twist. The most outrageous starvation case, that of the Jackson family, was not even one of cutting costs. The state of New Jersey was dumping its eating disorders on a hapless adoptive family.
State officials investigating several cases of abuse of adopted children
An alleged child starvation case near Longview is one of more than a dozen cases — including one death — that have state officials reviewing how adopted children are placed and treated.
The number of abuse cases is small compared to all adoptions. But a string of high-profile child starvation cases last year — including one from May accusing Jeffrey and Rebecca Trebilcock of starving their five adopted children at their Bunker Hill-area home — has state officials alarmed.
"Starting in the beginning of 2011 we started seeing a cluster effect of these types of cases," said Mary Meinig, director of the state's Family and Children's Ombudsman office, who included a section about adoption abuse in her annual report, released last week.
Many of the cases include starvation. "We have so many great adoptive homes in the state, but then we also have these. ... I think it's apparent that it needs to be looked at."
"We want to jump start this as quickly as possible," said Denise Revels Robinson, assistant secretary of the state Department of Social and Health Services. "There's a sense of urgency here. Not crisis, but urgency, because these are very serious issues."
One adopted child, 13-year-old Hana Williams of Sedro Wooley, died in May from hypothermia and starvation after being left outside as punishment. The Trebilcock's adopted son, then 13, landed in emergency room in March so severely malnourished that he weighed just 49 pounds, according to court documents.
Officials are concerned at the severity of these cases, the apparent spike in them and that so many seem to involve adopted children. The adoption cases are particularly concerning because screening by the state or private adoption agencies should catch unfit parents before children are placed.
Dr. Frances Chalmers, a Mount Vernon pediatrician who consults with DSHS, began to get a "nagging feeling" that something was up and started tracking starvation cases herself. Meinig started doing the same, finding 15 adoption or guardianship cases since 2009 that involved starvation or severe abuse. Eleven of those cases were in 2011.
Not all the cases listed in Meinig's report became public because, unlike the Trebilcocks, not all the parents were criminally charged. All are horrific, though, including cases where children were beaten with wooden boards embedded with nails, sexually abused and severely malnourished.
While Hana Williams' death is the most serious and disturbing case, "even the kids who don't die are significantly traumatized," Chalmers, said.
Adoptions, concerns increasing
Officials aren't sure if the surge of cases in 2011 is the start of a disturbing new trend — but they're working to find out. A work group of child experts - ordered by Gov. Chris Gregoire — will look at adoptions, including foreign adoptions, as well as abuse by withholding food.
Among other topics, they'll investigate:
- Are neglect and abuse — including withholding food — on the rise and are they more prevalent in adoptive homes?
The state hasn't tracked withholding food cases before. Anecdotally, though, the number of cases seems to be rising. Of the five criminal withholding food cases statewide in 2011, four involved adoptions.
It's also possible that increased social worker training — and publicity about the most horrific cases — may have led to more cases being reported last year, said DSHS Spokeswoman Sherry Hill.
- Did a rapid increase in adoptions let some unfit parents slip through the cracks?
In recent years, state and federal law encouraged quicker adoptions to move children out of foster care and into permanent homes. Meinig said they need to examine if it's also lead to unfit parents being approved for adoption.
In 2002, there were 1,074 adoptions of Washington children in foster care or other child welfare programs. By 2009 that number nearly doubled to 2,091. The increase from 2008 to 2009 alone was 66 percent. Nationally, the increase from 2002 to 2009 was only 12 percent.
- Does the adoption process itself need to be reworked?
Child welfare officials screen parents adopting through the state foster care system and license private adoption agencies, but state workers do not screen private adoptions or adoptions in other states or countries. Some of the cases highlighted by Meinig included non-Washington adoptions or families who had no prior contact with state Child Protective Services. The state group will investigate if more oversight is needed.
- Does age, race or gender play a role in abuse of adopted children?
Some of the cases highlighted by Meinig involved foreign and/or cross-race adoptions. Officials don't know if that played a role in these cases, but want to examine it further. Three of the Trebilcock's five adopted were from Haiti.
There isn't one simple answer, though, because abuse itself is so complex.
"Nobody's going to say during screening that ‘If I don't like them, I'm not going to feed them,' " Meinig said. "And I don't think anyone actually envisions that they're going to do this. I think it's a progression thing that happens."
Local case, common threads
The Trebilcocks deny they starved their children and are fighting the charges in both the criminal and child dependency courts. (See related story.)
But Meinig said the allegations in the case bear several of the hallmarks common in all the cases she reviewed.
The five adopted Trebilcock children, ages 8 to 14, told investigators they were denied food. Kitchen cabinets had alarms on them and the children were punished for "stealing food," they said. Other family members, though, appeared well-fed, according to investigators.
"There was plenty of food" in all the cases, Meinig said. "These were really purposeful withholding and punishment and control. ... Food is kind of the ultimate control."
The Trebilcock children also told investigators they were beaten and made to stand outside, isolated from the rest of the family - another commonality Meinig found in many of the cases. The Trebilcocks also were home-schooled, which some officials say can be a way hiding the signs of starvation.
"Food withholding as a form of abuse has been around forever, from its mildest form of a misbehaving child being sent to bed without dinner to really severe cases of withholding that lead to medical problems," said Dr. Chalmers, who helps train social workers to look for signs of abuse. "So I've been trying to think about ways we could identify these kids before they die or end up in the hospital for malnutrition."
Reluctance to call
State officials hope the group of child experts can meet by early February and complete its work by May.
Any recommendations will be forwarded to DSHS, which will brief the governor's office as well as the Legislature, Revels Robinson said.
The state's budget crunch doesn't leave much extra money for new programs or enforcement, but Revels Robinson said she believes many of the recommendations could be relatively inexpensive. Some of the changes could be a change of emphasis in screenings, for example. Additional or substitute training also could provided to social workers at little cost, she said.
Officials also stress one of the best defenses against child abuse is for people to speak up when they suspect it. Too often people are afraid to "cause trouble" and then live to regret it, they said. And while there may not be immediate action from one report or call, that doesn't mean the calls are ignored, they said.
"We really do rely on the eyes and ears of the community to alert us," Revels Robinson said.
Hana Williams — the 13-year-old who died in May — "had a number of friends and family who now say ‘I wish I'd called earlier,'" Chalmers said. "We really need to encourage people to be less reluctant to make those calls."
Source: Daily News Online, Longview Washington
January 13, 2012 permalink
Today's rally in Chatham attracted two dozen participants. In spite of miserable weather, there were many who had never come to a rally before. Two news reports are enclosed. In 108 Facebook comments, we found only one CAS defender. Here is the video report from Blackburn News, YouTube and local copy (mp4). There is another video at the Chatham Daily News (see addendum).
CAS Protest Today
A rally is being held in front of the Chatham courthouse this morning.
A group called Canada Court Watch is trying to put pressure on the Ontario government to investigate complaints against the Children’s Aid Society.
The protest gets underway at 10 o’clock, although organizers say with a number of people coming in from out of town, things won’t really get going until 11 or so.
Source: CKSY / Blackburn News
Seeking accountability for CAS
PROTEST: Several citizens want to see change
They took a stand, but say they will pay a price.
Protestors who rallied Friday in a Court Watch protest in Chatham want Children's Aid Societies to be more accountable.
One young father - who can't be named to protect the identity of his son who is a Crown ward - claims his child suffered a broken arm and dislocated elbow before the age of one, while in foster care.
However, the father said there's been no explanation from Chatham-Kent Children's Service, as to how this happened.
The aim of Friday's protest, organized by Canada Court Watch, is to call on the province to give Ontario's ombudsman the power to investigate complaints against children's aid societies.
The man also claims the boy's foster mother was charged with careless driving, following a rollover crash.
His son was in the vehicle.
He said he's frustrated by "the amount of neglect and abuse that happened, and nobody has taken responsibility or ownership of it."
The ombudsman, he said, should have the right to investigate complaints against the CAS, "because nobody holds them accountable for their wrong doing."
The Chatham Daily News has received several complaints about the CAS over the years, but has been repeatedly told by the agency it cannot talk about specific cases or clients due to confidentiality rules.
Complaints can currently be filed with the Child and Family Service Review Board.
John Renaud, 22, has a stack of paperwork six-inches thick from his dealings with CAS over the years.
Being a Crown ward from the age of three, due to his parents' abusive relationship, Renaud said the local CAS quickly became involved when he and a former girlfriend had a child three years ago.
He claims it was due to the fact he was a Crown ward.
Renaud, who split from the mother of his child, said the CAS legitimately took his son from the mother while he was away at college in November of 2009.
He has gone through a long fight to get back the current parental custody he has of his son.
He said when the CAS was formulating a parental capacity assessment of him, the agency somehow acquired his late mother's psychiatric personality assessment inventory.
Renaud claims the CAS used that document in court to try to prove he has the same borderline personality disorder his mother was diagnosed with.
But he said the CAS won't divulge how they acquired the document.
"This is the game they play," Renaud added. "They have way too much power."
Lee Bolton of Chatham, who attended the protest, claims: "There's no oversight of the Children's Aid Society, they do whatever they want."
She claims her nephew has behavioural issues, but the CAS chose to keep him on medication and in a group home, where he was being physically abused and neglected, rather than allow him to live with a family member.
"I'm very frustrated," Bolton said, noting her nephew has been involved with the CAS for about four years.
"They have not helped him whatsoever," she said, adding his behavioural issues have been exacerbated by the medication he's kept on.
Bobbie Gellner, from the Niagara contingent of Canada Court Watch, claims the CAS is corrupt and workers often commit perjury.
"We feel that there is a need for child protection," she said. "It needs to be done in a professional way ... that they're not being vindictive against parents, they're not making up lies against parents in order to keep kids in (care)."
She said the CAS receives its funding based on the number of children in care.
Gellner said the group has not been able get a successful prosecution against the CAS - yet.
"They're still in the works, because a lot of people aren't educated as to how they can prosecute, or go against the CAS in order to even get their children back or overturn Crown wardships," she said.
at the age of 16 (i am the oldest of 5) CAS came into my house and due to the fact we were attempting to adopt started out asking questions to each child Alone wanting to access our home. The older kids were fine the younger ones (5 and 2) were questioned alone and asked VERY inappropriate questions. Due to my parents spanking (with hand which is legal) the younger children. they denied our application to adopt (and these children were full siblings to two children already in our family) they then came into my home threatened my mother, to the point she was balling, that they would take away ALL of us if she didnt sign a legal document saying she wouldn't spank at all. They would not let us use our phone to call my father and brought a police officer. The officer THANK GOODNESS knew they were wrong and kicked them out. He let us call our dad and comforted my EXTREMELY upset mother. CAS does abuse their power and skirts the law, its horrid but the cop told us we could try to sue/charge them but wouldnt win b/c they would lie to protect each other.
The chatham cas are brutal. I dealt with them quite a few years ago. They were under investigation at the time and things were suppose to be done a certain way and as soon as Dr. Robino was gone back to Toronto things were right back to the same way. My children, my mother and myself suffer termendously. Especially my children they were abused over and over again. But they were going to charge me and my mother if we called them again. They also said they were going to take my children away from me.
The whole ordeal with them was a night mare.
I have absolutely no faith in the chatham cas.
Source: Chatham Daily News
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Addendum: Three months later Pat Niagara embedded the report from the Chatham Daily News in this video (mp4).
Crown Ward Survivor
January 13, 2012 permalink
Former crown ward Roch Longueépée suffers from a head injury sustained in care of Prince Edward Island. His profile is in the enclosed article, you can find him on Facebook in the group Restoring Dignity.
Activist says early diagnosis needed for head trauma
Roch Longueepee fighting to raise awareness of brain injuries in abuse victims
After years of physical abuse, Roch Longueepee says he has a long list of health problems to show for it.
Blurred vision, migraines, attention problems, slurred speech and blackouts were just some of the things he said he had to deal with because of abuse at the hands of caregivers at home and at the Mount Herbert Orphanage.
Now he’s fighting to raise awareness of brain injuries in abuse victims.
“It’s too late for me, but it’s not too late for others,” Longueepee said in an interview with The Guardian.
Through his work with the advocacy group Restoring Dignity, Longueepee said brain injury discussions usually focus on athletes or members of the military, but victims of abuse should be included too.
“There’s a lot more research that needs to be done in this area,” he said.
Longueepee, who is from Charlottetown but lives in Nova Scotia, lived with different family members as a child after his father committed suicide when he and his twin brother were two months old. He also spent time at Mount Herbert Orphanage and, at one time, was a ward of the state.
During that time, he said he suffered head trauma along with other physical and sexual abuse.
A doctor has since confirmed Longueepee has a traumatic brain injury from repeated physical abuse, which has had a negative impact on him.
In a report Longueepee provided, the doctor said the effects are permanent and severe.
Longueepee said child abuse survivors with head trauma need to get tested and treated.
He called it historical trauma, which he said is something people can live with for a long time but not recognize the symptoms and it’s not just a mental health issue.
“It’s much more than that.”
Longueepee, who turns 42 this month, said early intervention is key to treating issues that arise from head trauma.
“We can better accommodate and treat these kinds of conditions earlier on than we can into adult years, like for someone who’s at the age I’m at now,” he said.
While it’s too late for him, it’s not too late for other children entering the child welfare system and government needs to improve how it assesses them, Longueepee said.
“It’s really, really important because if we don’t pick up those signs then we are going to be dealing with them well into adult years.”
Source: Charlottetown Guardian
Boiled Social Worker
January 13, 2012 permalink
British father Steven Bould was unhappy with the social workers who placed his baby daughter for adoption. Because of an earlier injury Bould had difficulty with speech, so he expressed his feelings by pouring boiling water over a social worker.
Angry dad burned adoption worker
A YOUNG father threw a kettle of boiling water over a social worker, causing him horrific burns, after becoming upset at his daughter being put up for adoption.
Steven Bould was due to make arrangements for saying his final goodbye to the baby girl when he attacked John Orlowski during a family contact visit in Leek.
Mr Orlowski suffered 20 per cent burns to his upper body, scalp, face and arms, and needed to spend time in a specialist burns unit.
Bould, aged 22, of Queens Drive, Leek, was yesterday sentenced to a total of 33 months in prison by a judge at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court.
He had pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to the social worker on September 16, 2010, and a separate offence of attempted arson on his ex-partner's car while it was parked in St Edward Street, Leek, on May 29, 2010.
But as Bould has spent so long on remand, he was eligible for immediate release.
Prosecutor Heather Chamberlin said the "extremely unpleasant" attack on Mr Orlowski happened after he had arrived a few minutes late with the baby.
Bould left the room to go to the toilet and his sister put on the kettle to make tea. While Bould was out, Mr Orlowski broached the subject of arranging the final contact visit.
Mr Orlowski then heard the kettle click again. Suddenly, he became aware of somebody standing over him.
Miss Chamberlin said: "He described simply feeling heat and Bould shouting at him, 'Come on'.
"He got to his feet and made his way to the door. He pushed Bould out of the way and raised the alarm."
Mr Orlowski was rushed to hospital in immense pain. The court heard he has since made a remarkable physical recovery and returned to work with Staffordshire County Council, yet he is still haunted by the psychological effects of the attack.
Bould was arrested in Leek later that day, although he was unable to be interviewed because of his mental state.
The court was told how he had suffered a debilitating stroke as a teenager after being attacked by a gang of youths.
Jason Holt, mitigating, said: "He is all but mute, save for a few words and words that are said in heightened emotion."
Bould had become involved with another stroke victim and they had a child together before splitting up.
Social services became concerned and the baby was made the subject of a child protection order.
"Any issue of neglect was not intentional.
"It was the by-product of their disabilities," said Mr Holt.
Sentencing Bould yesterday, Judge Robert Trevor-Jones said: "Mr Orlowski was serving the public in his role as a social worker and helping you in the contact you were having with your daughter.
"The prospect of your daughter being placed for adoption, and the likelihood you wouldn't see her again, would have been very emotional. But what you did was to use a weapon, the kettle full of boiling water to douse Mr Orlowski."
Source: Staffordshire Sentinel
January 12, 2012 permalink
In what may be a new response to criticism, two CAS executive directors have sent letters to the editors of local newspapers. The first is Janice Robinson, responding to criticism at the December 7 rally. It is enclosed, along with comments by fixcas.
Notes in red are by fixcas
Letters to the Editor
CAS defends itself after accusations
To the editor:
Recently in newspaper articles about protests against the Children's Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk, we were described as "corrupt" and our workers as "perjuring themselves." While I recognize the right of protestors to speak out, I am writing to give you information about your Children's Aid Society in order to balance the viewpoint.
Child abuse and neglect exists in our community. This year, your CAS received over 1,450 referrals of children in need of protection. The third highest source of these referrals, year after year, is from parents themselves who call on us for help with their children. We currently are working with 1,185 children in the care of their own families.
A few naive parents call CAS expecting help with their own children, but often regret doing so after seeing the CAS response. More malicious calls come from divorced parents trying to get the upper hand against their ex.
We respect the strength of families and their work to improve the lives of their children.
Sometimes, children are not safe with their caregivers and we must find another place for them to live until they can return home.
We are deeply aware of the impact that this has on a family and we view the removal of children from their families as a last resort. When it does happen, we must appear in family court within five days to have that decision reviewed by a judge.
The child's parents have the opportunity to be represented and have their views heard. Currently, there are just over 300 children in the care of the Society.
The first hearing is the only one at which the parents can challenge the propriety of the apprehension. Since most parents can't hire a lawyer within five days, parents normally lose the opportunity to be represented when it matters most. From then on, all they can do is try to prove they are worthy of reunification.
Primarily, kin and foster parents provide care for these children, guided by the principle of "doing what a good parent would do."
Families and children who do become involved with the CAS have a voice in deciding their future. We have a very clear and transparent process for people to complain about our services. We treat every complaint seriously and thoroughly.
Children are routinely excluded from court hearings in their own case, usually not even informed that they are taking place. Sometimes even close adult relatives of the family are excluded as well.
Our CAS staff is dedicated to the well-being of children.
They receive in-depth specialized training and they follow strict legislated procedures and standards that guide every step of their work.
They are on duty 24 hours of each and every day
I hope this gives the reader a little more information about your local CAS.
I encourage everyone to visit our website at www.cashn.on.ca to discover more about us.
Sincerely, Janice Robinson, MSW Executive Director
When we clicked through to the cashn website, the first thing coming up was a request for money, "Please donate". And what about the workers "perjuring themselves"? Janice Robinson never once claimed CAS workers are truthful.
Source: Dunnville Chronicle
In another part of Ontario, Muskoka CAS executive director Marty Rutledge responds to an opinion piece by Anne Larcade. Both are enclosed.
Child abuse, angels and the right to protection
This week I attended a Christmas dinner and party for approximately 70 people, 40 of whom are children who are in care of foster parents and group homes in Huntsville. These children often are Crown wards who are in the care of the Childrenís Aid Society due to neglect and/or abuse. Another handful are special needs children who have been placed in care, in order to access care and services only available through the Machiavellian process of seeking help through the Childrenís Aid Society. These children desperately need care and services that are not available to parents directly in their homes, which would allow families to stay together.
I was reflecting on the millions of families this holiday who will be together and yet are immune to the realization that so many children are lost — caught between a rock and a hard place.
The children were beautiful, dressed in their holiday best. The room was graced with many angels. There were the people who care for these children like their own with love in their eyes and souls. A woman who does music therapy played guitar while helping the children in the talent show. She had the magic of love and pride while watching the children in their amazing show of talent and their performances. The spirit of the holidays got me reflecting on the true meaning of love and charity. There was the five-year-old girl who cut off 13 inches of her hair to give to cancer victims for wigs.
There was the little boy who was to return home for the holidays by Childrenís Aid Society mandate, while his foster parent worried that the relative that had burned him would hurt him again.
A young lad recited a poem about the true meaning of love. A mother who had recently put her complex special needs son in care to access the level of service and care he needs was in tears with her heart breaking in two. Foster parents lovingly cradled a four-month-old baby they are adopting who was born to a heroin addict and sent to them in Huntsville from a Native reserve up north.
Here we have these unbelievable foster parent angels who give homes and love to these children, but there is a tremendous gap in accountability when it comes to Childrenís Aid Society oversight to ensure their safety and make the best decisions for the welfare of the children. Often these decisions are made by the society and not by the foster families that love these 'lost children.' Thet have to conform to the system of the society that has become their legal parent.
Children's aid societies are still immune from scrutiny. They are still shielded from independent investigation of serious complaints about their treatment of children or the conduct of their staff — either by the Office of the Ombudsman or any other independent investigator.
Every year, the Ontario ombudsman is forced to turn away hundreds of people complaining about childrenís aid societies. They are powerless to investigate these cases. Since 2006 their office has received 2,587 complaints about childrenís aid societies.
The Children's Aid website quotes the following statistics:
- 77,089 allegations of abuse and neglect were investigated by Childrenís Aid Societies
- 27,816 children were in the care of a Children's Aid Society for protection from child abuse and neglect
Of the children who were cared for by a society during the year, 9,468 came into care upon completion of abuse investigations:
- 6,565 are children that had not previously been in care
- 2,903 are children who were returned to care due to new child protection concerns
- 9,199 are Crown wards (51.3 per cent)
- 2,383 are former Crown wards age 18 to under 21 (13.3 per cent)
- 60 are children with special needs who are in care under a special needs agreement (0.3 per cent)
- 2,512 children in care are of First Nations or Aboriginal ancestry (13 per cent of all children in care)
It is, of course, up to the government to change this situation, and since the first ombudsman, Arthur Maloney, made the argument in 1975, Ontario governments have said no to ombudsman oversight. This is despite the fact that every other province in Canada allows its ombudsman to oversee child protection.
This is the government's choice to make, and if its choice is to shield children's aid societies from independent oversight there is something wrong. At a time when the public increasingly expects openness and transparency from government, children's aid societies — recipients of $1.4 billion in government funds each year — remain cloaked in secrecy and subject only to limited oversight, even from the government itself.
In my opinion it's high time Ontario passed legislation to allow the ombudsman the oversight of Children's aid societies, like every other province.
Wishing you and your family a holiday of peace, good health, friendship and prosperity. May you enjoy the beauty of Muskoka, and have time to share laughter with friends.
Anne Larcade lives in Huntsville with her two sons aged 15 and 21. She is the president and COO of Sequel Hotels and Resorts, which manages hotels and resorts throughout Canada, and is based here in Huntsville. She is a well-known speaker and has appeared on national media, television and radio on subjects such as tourism, services and rights for severely challenged children, and on leadership values and culture in business.
Source: Almaguin News
Children’s aid societies are accountable
Re: Child abuse, angels and the right to protection, Dec. 21, 2011 Huntsville Forester article.
In the Dec. 21, 2011, edition of the Huntsville Forester Anne Larcade contributed opinion article, Child abuse, angels and the right to protection. Ms. Larcade did a wonderful job of portraying the critical role foster parents provide in the child protection system. They are special people who extend themselves to care for very vulnerable children, frequently under difficult circumstances. I applaud Ms. Larcade’s recognition of foster parents and echo her appreciation of these committed professionals.
Ms. Larcade then goes on to speak to systemic issues relating to child protection. The rule framework that directs how child protection is delivered in Ontario is multi-layered and quite complicated; therefore I can fully understand how in the opinion piece there would be significant errors of fact.
The article suggests that in Ontario, children are admitted to the care of Children’s Aid Societies for the sole purpose of access to services. In 2001 the then Minister of Community and Social Services John Baird, issued a directive that no child was to be admitted to the care of a Children’s Aid Society solely for the purpose of accessing services for special needs.
Since that time every jurisdiction in the province has access to system navigation processes and funds that are intended to support families in accessing the special services that they require — up to and including residential care. Children are not admitted to care in Muskoka solely for the purpose of accessing service to support a special need.
Ms. Larcade also suggests a “gap in accountability when it comes to Children’s Aid Society oversight.” It is true that the Ombudsmen does not have direct oversight, that does not mean that they do not have input and authority. The model in Ontario is that the Minister of Child and Youth Services is accountable to the Ombudsmen. Complaints lodged with the Ombudsmen are directed to the Minister and then through government processes for system accountability a local agency such as Family Youth and Child Services of Muskoka is held to account for any complaint. The province chose not to stop at that level and put in place an independent panel; the Child and Family Services Review Board is fully mandated under the Child and Family Services Act and operates independent of government to hear and resolve complaints brought to it relating to child protection. We are not “shielded from independent investigation” as suggested by Ms. Larcade, that statement is simply not true. The review board is also accountable to the Ombudsmen. When you add our obligations under the legislation, judicial reviews, coroner’s reviews, licensing reviews and so on, it can be strongly argued that Ontario has the most rigorous accountability model in the country.
Last, Ms. Larcade suggests that Children’s Aid Societies make decisions exclusive of foster parent input. She suggests “Often these decisions are made by the society and not by the foster families…” Foster parents are but one group with a right to be involved in the decision making process. Decisions about the future of a child often involve the birth parents, grandparents and other significant family members. In the case of First Nations children the Band has a legal right to participate and develop a plan for the child’s care. When the matter is before the court all of these interests have a legal right to be included in the decision making process. In fact, specific to foster parents, Children’s Aid Societies are obliged under The Child and Family Services Act to serve foster parents with a “Notice of Hearing,” which is an invitation to come to court and be heard relative to the planning for a child who is in their care. Further on this point, the province has recently acted to make it more possible for foster caregivers to become permanent guardians of children in their care through amendments to the legislation.
These changes allow for custodial orders under the Children’s Law Reform Act although the application was made under the Child and Family Services act. In addition, under the provincial permanency guidelines, Societies are allowed to provide episodic financial support to these families to support their success. When all is considered, foster families have a variety of rights embedded in legislation and are clearly seen as our partners in the care of children in our collective care.
On a final note, thank you to Ms. Larcade and to the Forester for creating an opportunity for this important dialogue and most importantly for shining a light on the good work of the foster families in our communities.
Family Youth and Child Services of Muskoka
Source: Metroland / Cottage Country Now
In his praise of the Child and Family Services Review Board, Mr Rutledge failed to mention that when the board makes an unfavorable decision, his own Muskoka CAS fails to comply, or that another Ontario CAS appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada in an effort to avoid compliance with the CFSRB.
Addendum: Bobbie Gellner responds directly to the letter of Janice Robinson.
Canada Court Watch supporter responds to Children's Aid letter
To the Editor:
In response to the letter written by Janice Richardson, MSW Executive Director of Children's Aid Society of Haldimand- Norfolk, I would like to clear up yet again a few points that were misrepresented.
Ms. Richardson claims that, "Recently in newspaper articles about protests against the Children's Aid Society of Haldimand-Norfolk, we were described as "corrupt" and our workers as "perjuring themselves". First point of clarification is that these protests are not directed at only Haldimand- Norfolk CAS, but at all 53 Children's Aid Societies across Ontario on a rotating basis.
Second point of clarification, as I personally have witnessed on numerous occasions and in too many cases to count, is the fact that on a regular basis these workers do and will continue to perjure themselves.
We as an advocacy group are well aware of the need for child protection and that child abuse and neglect does exist in our communities. Stated by Ms. Richardson is the fact that the third highest source of these referrals is from parents themselves. What is the highest, Ms. Richardson, perhaps it would be the malicious and vindictive calls made by a disgruntled neighbor, ex-partner or even a family member?
Ms. Richardson states that sometimes, children are not safe with their caregivers, and how is being abused in foster care or a group home any safer?
Ms. Richardson then goes on to state that, "Families and Children who do become involved with the CAS have a voice in deciding their future. We have a very clear and transparent process for people to complain about our services. We treat every complaint seriously and thoroughly."
Would that be the Internal Complaints Process where the panel is entirely made up of CAS board members or employees? And how about the complaints process through the Child and Family Services Review Board where a complaint cannot be considered if a matter is before the courts or that the courts have already decided or matters that fall under other decision making processes under the Child and Family Act or the Labour Relations Act?
I take it Ms. Richardson has never had to call a worker to set up an access visit or to inquire about her child's well being while in care. If she had, she would be aware that the workers are not on duty 24 hours a day as the only way of reaching any specific worker is to leave a voice mail and you may receive a call back in 24 to 48 hours.
I hope this truly gives the reader the truth about your local CAS.
I encourage everyone to visit www.canadacourtwatch.comand www.fixcas.comto find out more.
Bobbie Gellner CCW Advocate
Source: Dunnville Chronicle
January 11, 2012 permalink
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Addendum: While the children were returned to the family, the case is scheduled for a temporary care and custody hearing on January 31.
January 11, 2012 permalink
Texas foster mom Cathy Garza helped a fourteen-year-old girl in her care to beat up another of her wards, a twelve-year-old boy.
Foster mom allowed fights, charges show
A Buda foster mother accused of letting two children under her care fight multiple times has landed a felony charge, court records show.
Cathy Garza, 42, allegedly watched her foster children, a 14-year-old girl and 12-year-old boy, spar at least three times, one of which Garza held onto the boy’s arms as he was punched, authorities say.
On Dec. 14, Hays County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a delayed report of an assault in the 1000 block of Shadow Creek Boulevard, where Garza told them that the boy hit the teenage girl with a four-by-four block of wood, an arrest affidavit says.
When Deputy Amber Vaughan spoke to the boy, he asked her to look at his back where she observed several bruises and a large bump on the back of his head. The boy told her that Garza was in the same room when he was beaten up by the girl that night. After being punched in the first of the attacks, the boy picked up a one-by-six piece of wood from a dresser in his bedroom and hit the girl’s wrist. The girl then began to knock the boy around again while Garza refused to step in, both children said in the affidavit.
In a third attack on the boy, Garza said she restrained the boy by his arms as the girl continued to pound him. During the fray, the boy put his finger into the girl’s mouth which she bit and caused to bleed. Garza then said she was forced to throw the boy against the wall to stop the scuffle, according to the affidavit, written by Vaughan.
Afterward, Garza chose to take the teenage girl to the emergency room for minor bruising to her wrist, denying the boy any medical treatment, Vaughan reported.
Garza has been charged with injury to a child, a third-degree felony. She was booked and released Dec. 15 on a $10,000 bond, jail records show. It is unclear who is currently supervising the two children.
Source: Hays Free Press, Texas
Love a Judge
January 11, 2012 permalink
Las Vegas prosecutor Lisa Willardson found the sure way to win her cases. She got involved in a romantic relationship with the judge, referring to him in an email as the "honorable (and freakin' HOT) Steven E Jones." When the affair came to light, judge Jones barred two whistleblowing prosecutors from his courtroom. While Willardson has been suspended, judge Jones is still on the bench, hearing family law cases.
Relationship with prosecutor hasn't curtailed embattled Judge Jones
Amid a legal uproar over his romance with a fired prosecutor who appeared before him, Family Court Judge Steven Jones continues to handle a normal child welfare caseload.
Concerns about a rift between the judge and the district attorney's office over the relationship with former Deputy District Attorney Lisa Willardson were aired Friday at a regular meeting of Family Court judges attended by Chief District Judge Jennifer Togliatti.
But no administrative action was taken to ease the tense conflict.
"They don't want to make a knee-jerk reaction," District Court spokeswoman Mary Ann Price said Tuesday. "They want to look at all the facts and circumstances before they make an informed decision."
Longtime child advocate Donna Coleman said Tuesday that she's not surprised that Jones is still hearing child welfare cases.
"He's part of the good old boy network," said Coleman, a former member of Nevada's Standing Committee on Judicial Ethics. "He has been there a long time. He has a lot of support from some of the other judges."
Coleman, however, said Jones has "lost the confidence of the public."
"Until this is resolved," she added, "his relationship with the district attorney's office, whoever the new district attorney is going to be, is now tainted, and it's not in the children's best interest for him to remain on the bench in child welfare cases."
Attorney James Jimmerson, who represents Jones, countered: "The fact that Judge Jones retains his child welfare caseload reflects his excellence as a jurist in this field.
"He not only is viewed as able and fair by his judicial colleagues, but recently, despite this controversy, he received a 70 percent retention vote of support from the Las Vegas Review-Journal survey of lawyers appearing in front of him."
The judge's conflict with prosecutors erupted in the waning days of the administration of former District Attorney David Roger, who has said he felt pressured by Jones to keep Willardson in the child welfare unit after the involvement between the judge and the prosecutor was brought to light.
Jones, 53, issued an order banning from his courtroom Michelle Edwards and Janne Hanrahan, the two deputy district attorneys who helped expose the relationship on Oct. 28. But he contended that he does not have a bias against the rest of the district attorney's office.
Roger, however, filed a complaint with the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline over the judge's conduct stemming from the relationship. The district attorney's office also filed a complaint with the State Bar of Nevada against Willardson, who was fired Dec. 13. Both agencies are investigating.
Roger, who retired Jan. 3, also launched a grand jury investigation into allegations both Jones and Willardson lied in sworn affidavits about the extent of their romantic involvement.
Grand jury-approved subpoenas have been issued seeking cellphone records dating to October for both Jones and Willardson, courthouse sources said this week.
In their affidavits, Jones and Willardson, 43, said under oath that they didn't start dating until November, after she was removed from prosecuting cases before the judge. But emails from Willardson's office computer showed the relationship might have begun while she was appearing before Jones.
In an Oct. 26 email to two lawyers, Willardson admitted she was in a dating relationship with Jones.
That same day, she referred to Jones in an email to his law clerk as the "honorable (and freakin' HOT) Steven E. Jones."
Other emails from Oct. 17 to Oct. 20 show Willardson and Jones flirting with each other as they set up a lunch date and discussed it afterward.
The rift between Jones and the district attorney's office also is playing out in a child welfare case. Prosecutors have filed a motion seeking to remove Jones from the case because of his "personal bias" against Edwards and Hanrahan.
Togliatti assigned District Judge Mark Denton to hear the matter, and he has summoned both sides to his courtroom on Thursday.
Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal
Addendum: On December 26, 2013 judge Jones found the lifeless body of Lisa Willardson at her home, but waited 35 minutes to call 911. Even that was not enough to get him off the bench. In February the judge was finally suspended for non-disclosure.
Another complaint against Judge Steven Jones moving forward
The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline is moving forward with another complaint against suspended Family Court Judge Steven Jones.
Paul Deyhle, the commission’s executive director, said Tuesday that Jones has 30 days to answer the complaint, and the commission will then meet to decide whether to file a formal statement of charges against the judge.
The case, launched in 2006, includes allegations Jones was involved in several investment schemes, associated with ex-felons, improperly handled drug evidence and once had an “intimate relationship” with a law student who worked for him.
Jones, 56, who was first elected to the Family Court bench in 1992, went to the Nevada Supreme Court to block the investigation, but the high court last month refused to do it.
The allegations are separate from charges the commission sustained against Jones in December that were tied to his handling of an affair with the late former prosecutor Lisa Willardson while she appeared before him.
The commission suspended Jones without pay for three months Feb. 3 after finding his relationship with Willardson violated rules of conduct for judges because he didn’t disclose it.
The Clark County coroner ruled Willardson’s death an accident. She had a combination of lethal anti-anxiety and sleeping medications in her system, the coroner concluded.
Jones and his lead lawyer, James J. Jimmerson, sought relief in the 2006 case from the high court on grounds the commission violated the statute of limitations and his due process rights when it waited until July 2012 to formally inform Jones of the investigation.
But the Supreme Court concluded that the judge’s rights were not prejudiced by the commission investigation and the court’s intervention was not warranted at this time.
The court said Jones could lodge an appeal if the judicial commission takes further action against him.
Jimmerson could not be reached for comment Tuesday on the commission’s decision to move forward with the 2006 case.
Jones is accused in the case of participating in the investment schemes as far back as 1996 and that one of the felons he dealt with was his former brother-in-law, Thomas Cecrle.
Federal authorities consider Cecrle the central figure in a $3 million investment scheme with Jones that occurred between 2002 and 2012. The two men were indicted by a federal grand jury in the scheme with four others in October 2012. They are to stand trial June 3.
The judicial commission case also alleges Jones tried to pressure his former bailiff, Robin Whisman, into loaning another felon, Victor Hancock, $18,000 in 2004 and 2005.
Jones also is accused of having an “intimate relationship” in 2002 with Michelle Taylor, a law student working for him.
She married after the relationship ended, and Jones several years later allowed her to practice in his courtroom without disclosing the old relationship with her, according to the proposed complaint.
Another allegation involves marijuana submitted as evidence by an attorney in a January 2007 child custody case before Jones.
According to the complaint, Jones took the marijuana home, where his then-girlfriend Amy McNair smoked the evidence.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal
Addendum: The judge was sentenced to two years in jail, but not for family court matters.
Ex-Family Court Judge Steven Jones sentenced to prison for fraud
A former longtime Clark County Family Court judge who pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges has been sentenced to more than two years in prison and ordered to pay $2.9 million in restitution to dozens of victims of the investment scheme.
U.S. District Judge Jennifer A. Dorsey sentenced 57-year-old old Steven Jones to 26 months in prison Wednesday after he admitted bilking more than 50 investors out of millions for nearly a decade.
Jones resigned from the bench and was disbarred in December after pleading guilty to his role in the conspiracy.
Prosecutors say investors were tricked with false promises they could buy and sell water rights worth millions as part of a secret government program.
Instead, prosecutors say Jones and others spent the money on gambling and their own living expenses.
Source: Las Vegas Sun
January 11, 2012 permalink
The rally scheduled for Friday in Chatham has already made the press.
In speaking to the press Chatham-Kent CAS executive director Mike Stephens came up with two new arguments. The rally is futile, because ombudsman oversight is not a decision that can be made locally by the children's aid society. And CAS workers are not registered because there is no legal requirement to do so.
Use of title, social worker
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).
(2) No person except a registered social worker shall represent or hold out expressly or by implication that he or she is a social worker or a registered social worker. 1998, c. 31, s. 46 (2).
Source: Ontario statutes
Court Watch organizing rally
LEGAL: Active member staying in C-K to help families dealing with CAS
An active member of Canada Court Watch Program plans to be spend several weeks in Chatham-Kent helping people who have issues with local child protection services.
Chris Carter is also organizing a rally to be held Friday on Grand Avenue West at the entrance to the Chatham Court House, beginning at 10 a.m., that will focus on garnering support for giving Ontario's Ombudsman the right to investigate complaints against children's aid societies.
Carter said Ontario is the only province in Canada that doesn't give the ombudsman authority to investigate complaints about a CAS.
Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin is on record stating he is concerned about not having the ability to investigate complaints about children's aid societies, along with complaints about municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals.
Court Watch is also taking legal action concerning a local complaint. Carter said a private prosecution is being brought to court against a local CAS worker, by a local resident, for alleged perjury.
"The Chatham-Kent Children's Services should expect more of that," Carter warned.
Mike Stephens, CEO of the Chatham-Kent Children's Services, said Tuesday he was not aware of the matter and couldn't comment on it anyway.
As for Friday's rally to support having the ombudsman investigate CAS complaints, Stephens said, "that's not a decision that can be made locally by our childrens' aid society, so I'm not sure why anybody would be protesting us for that."
He added that is a political decision, so "you're not going to change anybody's mind here, because we don't have a say."
Carter, who is staying with a local family, said he is also interested in helping people deal with the "very complicated and convoluted child protection system here in Ontario."
He said he's willing to help families "at risk" of CAS involvement, prepare for their initial court appearance, because the vast majority of parental capacity assessments - which determines if a parent is fit to care their child - are ruled in favour of the CAS.
Court Watch also shares information with families about the Child and Family Services Act and the regulations attached to the act, Carter said.
He added the program also helps families navigate the Child and Family Services Review Board, which handles complaints about the CAS.
Another concern Court Watch has is with the lack of CAS child protection workers who are registered with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers.
The group states only 10% of the approximately 8,700 CAS in workers are registered with the college, which has the power to discipline members if warranted.
"This is a huge deficiency within the child protection system," Carter said.
Stephens said local CAS workers are not registered with the college because "there is no legal requirement for protection workers to be registered."
He added a child protection worker is not providing the kind of counselling that was intended to be required to be registered as a social worker.
"They're not practising social work when their protection workers, they're practising protection," Stephens said, adding the CAS doesn't just hire people with a degree in social work.
Carter said Court Watch "supports the existence of an organized, government-controlled child protection system."
But he said the group believes it needs to be done in a "holistic" fashion, that helps keep families together.
However, Carter notes the group also knows there are cases where it is better to remove the child from the home - especially if there is sexual or physical abuse involved.
Source: Chatham Daily News
Children Left to Freeze
January 8, 2012 permalink
Parents left two young children in an unheated car in Vaughan Ontario. Police broke into the car to rescue the children and notified children's aid.
Vaughan children left inside freezing car as parents ate pizza
The Children's Aid Society was notified after two young boys were left inside a parked car in freezing temperatures while their parents were inside a restaurant in Vaughan, Ont.
York Regional Police said that they found the six and four-year-old boys shivering inside the car on Tuesday afternoon at a shopping plaza at Hilda and Clark Avenues, near Yonge Street and Steeles Avenue West, after a concerned citizen called police.
The temperature reached to -22 Celsius during Tuesday's cold weather alert, police said.
The doors of the vehicle were locked and the heat was not on inside the car, police said.
Officers smashed through ice-covered windows to get the shivering boys out.
Police said that they estimate the children had been left alone for more than 20 minutes while their parents were inside the restaurant.
Neither child was injured. Both parents were cautioned by police and the Children's Aid Society was notified.
Killens on CAS
January 8, 2012 permalink
Former CAS director and former policeman Larry Killens gives advice on coping with children's aid.
Former director of the Children’s Aid Society of the Districts of Sudbury speaks out
Letter to the Editor – January 2012
I write this letter as an individual in response to having many concerned persons phone and express genuine thoughts of, uncertainty, and frustration on what appears to me as a topic that is constantly coming up beyond the normal and now I am convinced needs to be addressed.
This concern is in relation to the activity/relationship of the Police, and social services agencies such as the Children’s Aid Society accessing our schools and the children within. These students are placed in the care of our schools with the understanding of implied parental consent. Questions such as a parent/guardian’s rights, and what are the rights/protections built in for parents/guardians and children themselves.
Consider how many lives are ruined by “fishing trips” and “social branding” of innocent parents/grandparents are born out of acting and investigating on a “suspicion” or “rumor mill”. Many, many people have suffered marriage break-ups, a “no return” to a happy marriage reconciliation when a non-credited agency is allowed to roam at will through their lives and homes.
First it should be clearly understood that the Children’s Aid Society is NOT NOR HAS EVER BEEN a government organization. The Children’s Aid Societies across the province are private entities operating on their own apart and at arm’s length from the Government. These various agencies are paid\contracted by the Government to execute and apply child protection services. It is my understanding that their workers MUST be registered by law with an Ontario College, such as teachers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, and so on to ensure they are properly trained and monitored. I have yet, after asking in writing, seen evidence they are in fact registered with any accredited organization or College. The Government of the day has seen fit, despite the urgings of the Ontario Ombudsman, and to the contrary, chosen not to require these agencies to be subject to the Ontario Ombudsman’s review of examination and accountability. Close examination and review of their ongoing activity (CAS) is most difficult to establish/investigate/. The police are a separate matter, equally a concern to parents, are the police accessing their children in a school, but there are laws that specifically direct and require the police as well to behave in a different manner when dealing with young people as described in the various Federal and Provincial Regulations. These regulations and guidelines are not limited to but include the Child Law Reform Act, The Criminal Code of Canada , The Young Offender’s Acts, various Provincial and Federal acts and so on. Statement taking and interviewing young persons, more-so in Criminal and family matters is a complete and different entity. It is one that deserves very careful consideration and attention to adhering to the rules our society has placed on them. Persons/agencies entrusted with encountering our youth in such matters require special training and skills to interact with a young mind. As a general rule, there are no automatic rights, entrusted to the police/CAS to interview young persons without parental\guardian permission. There are times when this can be done and is allowed and yes, preferred, but VERY FEW.
Second, it should be clearly understood that both the social service agencies, and the Police, under certain specific and detailed circumstances, by law, may have unobstructed access to our children/youth. This process is in place and a legal requirement where they must report to and be accountable in such matters where they have exercised those extreme rights by setting aside ours and the child’s own rights. Used properly, this is a very valuable tool for the police/social agencies and one that is extremely necessary when exercised by these agencies/police.
Other than described above, the Child Social Family Services agencies nor the police, at any time, do not have unrestricted access to our children, be they in school, at home or anywhere without “jumping a few hoops”. Even more so, in a child’s home there is no provision for any agency to enter a private residence, for the purposes of intervention in a family matter with the exception of very few and specific and detailed situations. Even then, the agency involved must return to a court of competent jurisdiction and document/report their invasion into the private lives of the children or their parents/guardians. Be aware, should there be an existing court order or an life/threatening matter, unrestricted access is allowed and rightfully so! If parents/guardians have a written agreement with a social service agency there is no problem to cancel it as long as it did not arise out of a court agreed upon circumstance. I have necessary papers to cancel any agreement under those circumstances.
To my personal knowledge there is no school board in the Province of Ontario that does have policy involving access to our children in our schools written down step by step.. To be clear, I am fearing that some contacts, in some circumstances, with the family unit, wherever it may be, is not according to the required legal process in Ontario.
In review ,to this point, I submit the following. 1.The Police nor the social services agencies (CAS) have no right to an open access to interview, intervene, or access a young person, anywhere, subject to point #2. 2. There are a few, very specific situations where they are allowed to do so but very few and very rare. These generally involve life threatening, or incidents where evidence will not be available if emergency intervention is not done immediately but once performed must be reported to a court of competent jurisdiction. 3. Access to your children, be you a guardian/parent may only be done with your express permission or order of a court. There are incidents where the intervention can be done but only with a judicial order pre-intervention or if not enough time for an agency to arrange for a court order and that intervention is required immediately , said agency must report immediately after an intervention, to the court who issued the intervention, is performed.
In closing, I suggest the following when confronted by the police/social service agency/ or find out your child has been visited at a school without your permission.
- If the police or CAS require or request to enter your home/interview your child, ask them to write it down and quote the section they are acting under to allow them to do this and nature of the complaint.
- If they (involved agency) refuse to write it down, ensure that the police are present in any event and ask them (Police) to write down the fact that that you are required to allow the CAS access to your kids at school or otherwise.
- After making the request to the police or the CAS and they still insist they can do so, let them and do not obstruct them. Take pictures and help them if you can. When done seek out a lawyer. Ask for a receipt if anything is taken from your home school property.
- Write your child’s school and advise them if you do not wish certain persons or the CAS or the police to have access to your children without proper legal process. If access to our child involves visitation rights called for in an agreement in a court, provide the school with a certified copy of that agreement to the school.
I can pretty much assure you that the police do not violate the trust placed in them and risk losing being welcomed and trusted by the schools.
My concern is that if access to the child is not carried out in accordance to our laws in force in Ontario, this will create a violation of the charter of rights claim by an accused and return the child to a possible abusive home. I hope that all those who would abuse children will be caught and dealt with to the extent that the law allows.
Larry B. Killens
Source: Ontario Coalition for Accountability
The Incredible Disappearing Law
January 7, 2012 permalink
The Child and Family Services Act has a section for parents and children to access the records in their own case. Read it in the expand block.
Access to Records
Right of access to personal records
184.(1)Subject to subsection (2) and section 185, a person who is twelve years of age or older has a right to and shall on request be given access to,
(a) his or her own records;
(b) the records of his or her child who is under the age of sixteen years; and
(c) the records of a child who is in his or her lawful custody or charge and is under the age of sixteen years.
Exception: child’s counselling records
(2)Clauses (1) (b) and (c) do not apply to a record created in connection with the provision of counselling services to a child under section 28 of Part II (Voluntary Access to Services), which may be disclosed to the child’s parent only with the child’s written consent.
Restriction by parent, etc.
(3)Any parent of a child, if the child is under the age of sixteen years, may designate specific information that is contained in the child’s record and relates to the parent as information that shall not be disclosed to the child, and the service provider shall not disclose the designated information to the child.
Child’s access to own records
(4)The consent of a child’s parent is not required for the child’s access to a record under subsection (1).
(5)This section shall come into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 184.
Where access may be refused
185.(1)A service provider may refuse to give a person referred to in subsection 184 (1) access to all or part of his or her record where the person is a child under the age of sixteen years and the service provider is of the opinion that access to all or part of the record would cause the child physical or emotional harm.
Information that may be withheld
(2)A service provider may withhold from a person referred to in subsection 184 (1) the name of another person and other information relating to that other person where the service provider is of the opinion that disclosure is likely to result in physical or emotional harm to that other person.
(3)A service provider may withhold from a person referred to in subsection 184 (1) the name of an individual who has provided information in the person’s record but is not engaged in providing services.
(4)A service provider may withhold from a person referred to in subsection 184 (1) the contents of a medical, emotional, developmental, psychological, educational or social assessment performed by a person who is not employed by the service provider, but may not withhold that person’s name.
(5)This section shall come into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 185.
Duty of service provider
186.(1)Where a person referred to in subsection 184 (1) requests access to a record, the service provider shall, within thirty days of receiving the request,
(a) give the person access to the record;
(b) notify the person that the service provider refuses to give him or her access to part of the record, stating the reasons for the refusal, and give the person access to the rest of the record;
(c) notify the person that the service provider refuses to give him or her access to the record, stating the reasons for the refusal; or
(d) notify the person that this Part does not apply to the record or that the record does not exist, if that is the case.
Notice of right of review
(2)A notice of a refusal of access under clause (1) (b) or (c) shall contain a statement of the person’s right to request a review of the matter under subsection 188 (1).
(3)This section shall come into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 186.
Right to have record corrected
187.(1)A person who has a right to access to a record under subsection 184 (1) also has a right to have errors or omissions in the record corrected.
Duty of service provider
(2)Where a person referred to in subsection (1) requests that a service provider correct an error or omission in a record, the service provider shall, within thirty days of receiving the request,
(a) make the correction as requested, and give notice of the correction to every person to whom the service provider has disclosed the record;
(b) notify the person that the service provider refuses to make the correction as requested, stating the reasons for the refusal, and note the request and response on the record; or
(c) notify the person that this Part does not apply to the record or that the record does not exist, if that is the case.
Notice of right of review
(3)A notice of a refusal to make a correction under clause (2) (b) shall contain a statement of the person’s right to request a review of the matter under subsection 188 (1).
(4)This section shall come into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 187.
Right to review: refusal of access or correction
188.(1)A person referred to in subsection 184 (1) or 187 (1) whose request for access to or correction of a record is refused in whole or in part may, within twenty days of receiving notice of the refusal, request that the Board review the matter.
Idem: unauthorized disclosure
(2)A person who believes that a service provider may have disclosed his or her record without authority may, within twenty days of becoming aware of the possible unauthorized disclosure, request that the Board review the matter.
Duty of Board
(3)Where the Board receives notice of a request for review under subsection (1) or (2), it shall review the matter, following the prescribed procedures, and may do so by holding a hearing.
Board may examine record
(4)In conducting a review requested under subsection (1) or (2), the Board may examine the record in question.
Decision of Board
(5)On completing a review requested under subsection (1), the Board may,
(a) order the service provider to give the person access to all or part of the record;
(b) order the service provider to make a correction to the record and give the notice referred to in clause 187 (2) (a); or
(c) if it is satisfied that the refusal appealed from is justified, confirm the refusal,
and shall provide a copy of its decision to the person who requested the review, the service provider and the Minister.
(6)On completing a review requested under subsection (2), the Board,
(a) shall, unless it is satisfied that no disclosure or no unauthorized disclosure of the person’s record took place, declare that the disclosure was unauthorized;
(b) may order the service provider to change its procedures for the maintenance and disclosure of persons’ records, or to desist from a particular disclosure practice; and
(c) where it is satisfied that an unauthorized disclosure took place, may recommend to the Minister that the service provider’s approval under Part I (Flexible Services), if any, be revoked or, where the service provider is a licensee, that the licence be revoked under Part IX (Licensing),
and shall provide a copy of its decision to the person who requested the review, the service provider and the Minister.
(7)This section shall come into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 188.
Access, etc., to be noted on record
189.(1)Every disclosure of all or part of a person’s record and every correction to a person’s record shall be noted on and forms part of the record.
(2)Subsection (1) does not apply to routine use of a person’s record by a service provider and the service provider’s employees or, where the service provider is the Minister, the Minister’s employees engaged in providing services.
(3)This section shall come into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 189.
Protection from liability for disclosure
190.(1)Where a service provider discloses a person’s record in accordance with this Part, no action or other proceeding shall be instituted against the service provider or anyone acting under the service provider’s authority,
(a) if this Part requires the disclosure; or
(b) if this Part permits the disclosure and the service provider has reasonable grounds to believe the information contained in the record to be accurate.
(2)This section shall come into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 190.
Code of record-keeping procedures
191.(1)Every service provider shall establish and follow a written code of procedure for the creation, maintenance and disclosure of persons’ records.
(2)A code of procedure referred to in subsection (1) shall contain,
(a) a description of the types of information that may be recorded and the purposes for which information may be recorded;
(b) a requirement that information, wherever possible, be collected from or confirmed by the person to whom it relates;
(c) a requirement that no more information be recorded than is actually necessary for the provision of the service in question; and
(d) the prescribed provisions.
Retention, storage and destruction schedules
(3)Every service provider shall retain, store and destroy persons’ records in accordance with the prescribed schedules.
(4)This section shall come into force on a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 191.
Source: Internet Archive, June 17, 2011
Oops. As of January 2012, the section is gone, replaced with:
184.-191. Repealed. See: Table of Public Statute Provisions Repealed Under Section 10.1 of the Legislation Act, 2006 – December 31, 2011.
Source: Ontario Statutes
Eloped from Foster Care
January 6, 2012 permalink
In North Carolina Molly Hill decided she would be better off living with her boyfriend Jonas Kelly Dellinger than in a foster home. Police arrested Dellinger and turned Molly over to juvenile authorities.
Teen charged for sheltering runaway
Authorities said they've charged an 18-year-old man after they discovered he helped a teenage girl who ran away from her foster home in Lincoln County.
On Thursday, the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office asked the public for help to find 15-year-old Molly Hill. Authorities said she ran away from a foster home in western Lincoln County around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Burke County officers found Molly on Friday at a home in Morganton where 18-year-old Jonas Kelly Dellinger lives, according to the Sheriff's Office. Authorities said Dellinger provided shelter and assistance to the girl knowing that she was a runaway. He was charged with contributed to a juvenile's delinquency.
Molly will be returned to Lincoln County, where she will be turned over to juvenile authorities.
Lincoln County authorities are still searching for another teen believed to have run away from her father's home in Stanley.
Kyrsha Elizabeth Allen, 16, of Belmont was last seen on Dec. 28. Kyrsha, who goes by the nickname "Kitt," may be heading to California or West Virginia, authorities said. She is a white female who is 5 feet-5 and about 100 pounds, authorities said. She has reddish-blond hair and blue eyes.
Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office at 704-736-8856 or Crime Stoppers at 704-736-8909.
Source: Charlotte Observer.
Real Child Protection
January 6, 2012 permalink
Oklahoma mother Sarah McKinley was on her own after the cancer death of her husband. When intruders seeking her husband's meds broke into her home she called 911, then killed one of them with a shotgun. The other fled. Her baby son Justin remained unharmed.
Mom kills intruder after 911 says 'do what you have to do'
A teenage mother in Oklahoma who asked a 911 operator for permission to shoot an intruder, before killing him with a 12-gauge shotgun blast, will not be charged.
Sarah McKinley, 18, clutched her toddler with one hand and a shotgun in the other as she hid in her mobile home on New Year's Eve.
Her husband had died from lung cancer on Christmas Day. Police say two men targeted her home because they believed she would have her husband's prescription medication.
When McKinley heard someone trying to break into her home, she called 911 and asked: "Is it OK to shoot him if he comes in this door?"
In an audio tape released to media, the dispatcher can be heard responding: "Well, you have to do whatever you can to protect yourself. I can't tell you that you can do that, but you have to do what you have to do to protect your baby."
She opened fire and killed 24-year-old Justin Martin, who was armed with a knife.
In an interview with The Oklahoman newspaper, McKinley said she saw a flash of metal in Martin's hand and thought it might have been a pistol.
"Obviously when somebody breaks into your house with a deadly weapon, they're not here for anything good," she said.
Another man, 29-year-old Dustin Stewart, was allegedly with Martin at the time and ran away when he heard the gunshots. He has been charged with first-degree murder -- police allege he helped plan the robbery, ultimately making him responsible for Martin's death.
In Oklahoma, residents are legally allowed to use deadly force against intruders.
"Our initial review of the case doesn't indicate she violated the law in any way," Assistant District Attorney James Walters told The Oklahoman newspaper.
January 5, 2012 permalink
Canada is deporting Lucene Charles. She has four children, three of them Canadian citizens, but Canada has decided to deport her, turning her children into either refugees or orphans. Watch Charles on YouTube or our local copy (mp4) recorded December 4, 2011.
January 5, 2012 permalink
When an eight-year-old Virginia foster boy was unhappy with his placement in the home of Dan and Lana Coalson, he found the sure way out — Burn their house down. That's not the way the newspaper reported it, but could be the way the child thinks.
Blaze leaves Glade Spring family homeless
Glade Spring house fire declared 'incendiary' in nature
Washington County, Va. --
An 8-year-old foster child who had been with the family for only a couple of days could face arson charges stemming from a fire that destroyed a home in Glade Spring, Va., last week.
The fire was in an historic 1832 home from which two adopted children, a caretaker and a foster child escaped unharmed.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office investigated the fire and concluded that it started in the living room closet, where blankets and other bedding were stored. The agency determined the fire was “incendiary in nature” and is talking with the Washington County commonwealth’s attorney to determine if charges are warranted, according to Sheriff Fred Newman.
He said the foster child is the one who could be charged, but he would not release any other information about the juvenile.
“It’s obviously an arson charge,” Newman said.
The house on Faris Drive was home to a large, extended family. Dan and Lana Coalson both have adult children from previous relationships and began taking in foster children 15 years ago. The couple has adopted 10 children ranging in age from 14 to 26 and is close to adopting an eleventh child.
“We do therapeutic foster care,” Lana Coalson said. “We do the really tough cases, because we are really good at our job.”
She said they have had some problems with foster children in the past but the incidents were no worse than any other young children. She said the foster child is 8 years old and had only been with the family for a couple of days.
He was taken away from the family after the fire.
“We didn’t even get the chance to work with the little boy,” she said.
For now, the family members are staying in a missionary house, which has separate wings with bunk beds for men and women. They are looking for permanent housing and plan to build a new home with the insurance money from the destroyed house.
Lana Coalson said she is thankful that no one was injured and the family is living under one roof.
“It’s hard to be a family when you are not together,” she said.
She added that she and her husband have no plans to stop taking in foster children. They work hard to give the children better lives and will not let one incident get in the way.
“It’s really important to champion those kids when no one else will champion them,” she said.
An emergency fund has been set up in the Coalson’s name at Sun Trust Bank in Chilhowie, Va.
Source: Bristol Herald Courier
Addendum: In later news, the boy has been charged with a felony. In the best interest of the child.
January 3, 2012 permalink
The CBC does an in-depth story on the nearly four year struggle of the Bayne family with British Columbia MCFD.
B.C. children spent years in limbo after shaken baby accusation
Court proceedings dragged on for 4 years
A couple whose children were removed from their home and eventually returned say the B.C. government caused needless suffering by keeping the family apart for almost four years.
“It’s going to take a lot of healing,” said Zabeth Bayne, mother of the four children. "There’s a lot of pain that gradually we have to deal with, and as a family."
“Children grow up very quickly, and they can’t wait,” said Paul Bayne, the father. “For four years, I couldn’t be a proper dad or provider or a protector. Now I can.”
The Baynes were accused in 2007 of shaking their six-week-old daughter. They’d brought her to hospital with inexplicable injuries, so the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development took her away.
No criminal charges were laid. The couple always insisted their daughter's injuries, which included internal bleeding, were not caused by shaking, and several medical experts agreed.
In 2008, after the parents protested publicly about the baby’s removal, the government seized their two boys, then about four and three years old, for involving them in the publicity. The couple later had a fourth child, a son, who was taken away at birth.
Supervised visits only
Over the years, the children were shuffled among foster homes and had strictly supervised visits with their parents.
“Our oldest boy kept saying, ‘I feel like I am the only one who visits his mommy and daddy,’” Zabeth said. “He didn’t understand what was going on, why he had to be separated from us for so long, and why he couldn’t see us. And we couldn't tell him anything.”
After a lengthy court hearing — with repeated delays and adjournments — Chief Judge Thomas Crabtree of the B.C. provincial court ruled the baby was not shaken, calling her injuries “unexplained.” Crabtree's ruling came four months after he finished hearing the evidence.
A psychological assessment was then done on the Baynes, which was favourable, and in August 2011, the government returned the children, with no explanation or justification for why it took so long.
During their first weeks back home, the children clung to the parents.
“They were sleeping in our room,” Zabeth said. “They could not be apart from us or there were tears."
Although the shaken baby diagnosis was wrong, it took an unnecessarily long time to get it overturned and to bring the children home, she said.
"It’s not acceptable, and you see the damage that’s done, waiting for process," Zabeth said.
Paul compares the slow pace of the court case to driving slow motion during an emergency.
“It feels like your children are at home and someone’s trying to break into the house and you get a phone call — to get home as quick as you can. And your car is stuck in first gear. You’re driving five miles an hour trying to get home. It’s like, ‘Come on. Let’s go. Let’s go!’ It’s frustrating sitting in court saying ‘Let’s get going.’”
Zabeth says she and her husband were reluctant to complain in court, because the judge held so much power over their family.
“Any frustration [over delays] can be twisted, and viewed that ‘Oh, there’s a temper there.’"
One-year limit exceeded
B.C. law specifies young children should not be kept in temporary care for more than a year. Although the Baynes say their lawyer raised this restriction several times, it was never addressed.
“There’s no one held accountable for the timing,” Zabeth said. “There’s no questions asked.”
Ministry statistics show, on average, children are being kept in temporary care three months longer than they were five years ago. In 2006-07, the average temporary care order was 13 months. In 2010-11, that increased to 16 months.
A parents advocacy group called People Assisting Parents Association, or PAPA, says too many cases drag on beyond the one-year limit, for no good reason.
The group cites another case, that of an accountant and father of four from Victoria, whose one-year-old son was removed from the home in 2007. PAPA said the child has been in temporary foster care ever since, while the court case is repeatedly delayed. A custody hearing date is now set for June 2012.
“The modus operandi of the ministry is to set a court date for a custody order and seek a long trial length (usually from five to 10 days), citing calling many witnesses and evidence,” said spokesperson Stephen Luk. “In most courthouses, the date for a 10-day trial is generally 10 months to 15 months later.”
Carol Ross of the B.C. Association of Social Workers confirms that temporary care orders often extend beyond one year, partly because the court system is notoriously slow.
Limits 'not enforced'
"Time limits are not enforced,” Ross said. “As long as the (court) case is initiated within 45 days, it can drag on and on. It’s frustratingly slow for parents.
“What I see over and over is they don’t get the support they need … there is very little access to legal advocacy.”
She says social workers who are bound by process also feel the frustration.
“It ultimately hurts the child … and it is heartbreaking," she added. "Within three months, I would think you can figure out what is going on."
Mary McNeil, the minister for Child and Family Development, refused to comment on the Bayne case, but she agreed court delays are a problem.
“I totally understand the frustration — I understand the frustrations for me — to make sure that families are returned together,” McNeil said.
“Each case is so different, and we’re not alone in making these decisions. And the decision to apprehend a child is taken very, very seriously.”
Minister wants mediation
She says she wants to see more cases settled through mediation.
“I’m really pushing the ministry … to make sure that we have the system in place and alternatives in place so families don’t have to go the court route. So that families can try to resolve what they need to through mediation, through family dispute mechanisms and through family group counselling.”
Paul and Zabeth Bayne say they couldn't have agreed to mediation, however. In that scenario, they would have had to admit they harmed their baby.
“We fought back,” Paul said. “When someone [in the ministry] makes a mistake, it’s pretty hard to go back, especially with what happened to our family and all the money being spent.
“They’re not used to resistance,” Zabeth said. “It went south and people dug their heels.”
The couple say they get emails every day from parents asking for help. They said they do not plan to sue the ministry for what happened. They'd rather try to help others in similar situations.
“Your heart breaks over some of the stories that you hear,” Zabeth said. “Something needs to change.”
January 1, 2012 permalink
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
India Guards its Children Abroad
January 1, 2012 permalink
India has issued a démarche to Norway requesting that two children placed in foster care be allowed to return to India with their Indian parents.
India issues demarche to Norway over 2 kids
India has issued a demarche to Norway conveying "serious concern" over the issue of the Scandinavian country taking away two children from an NRI couple. It has also advised Norway on the need for taking into account India's social and cultural traditions, besides demanding access to the children who are currently in foster care.
Anurup and Sagarika Bhattacharya's children Avigyan (3) and Aishwarya (1) were taken under protective care by Barnevarne (Norwegian Child Welfare Services), which claimed emotional disconnect with the parents, and placed them in foster parental care according to the local Norwegian court's directive. The couple has appealed against the court decision.
"The embassy in Oslo vigorously pursued the matter with the Norwegian foreign ministry on December 28. A similar demarche was made with the Norwegian embassy in New Delhi on December 29," a statement by the MEA noted.
The Indian government emphasised that the children be allowed to return if the parents decided to return to India as there could be no doubt that it would be in the "longterm interest of the children as they would be brought up in the loving care of their extended family" in India, the MEA stated.
Source: India Today
Children's Aid News
January 1, 2012 permalink
Edition three of the Children's Aid News of Ontario (pdf) is available.