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CAS Graduate Murdered

February 28, 2013 permalink

In January Kelsey Louise Felker was found murdered in Kitchener. The press has tagged her as a drug-addicted prostitute while largely avoided the issue of how she got that way. She grew up in the child protection system and had two of her own children seized by children's aid. One article from the Record is enclosed, followed by a more sympathetic portrait by Catherine Frei.



Woman, 24, whose torso was found in a garbage bin, is remembered as sweet but troubled

Kelsey Louise Felker
Police have identified the dismembered torso discovered Saturday morning in a garbage bin behind a Kitchener apartment building as that of Kelsey Louise Felker, 24.
Facebook memorial page

KITCHENER — Kelsey Louise Felker was a sweet, but vulnerable young woman whose troubled life came to a gruesome end.

Felker’s dismembered torso was discovered Saturday morning in a garbage bin behind a Kitchener apartment building. Investigators are working to determine how the 24-year-old Kitchener woman died.

Police identified Felker on Tuesday.

“She was fundamentally a decent person,” said lawyer Brennan Smart, who had represented Felker over the past six years or so as the drug-addicted woman navigated the criminal justice system.

“She wasn’t a hard person at all. She was always pleasant to deal with,” he said. “But you couldn’t help but be discouraged in dealing with her.”

Felker had a powerful addiction to crack cocaine, Smart said.

“It was sad to hear that it was Kelsey that had come to an end in such an undignified manner,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s not out of left field.”

Typically, Smart would represent Felker when she was charged with failing to comply with conditions of her release. Smart said she didn’t steal to support her habit.

About a year and a half ago, Smart succeeded in getting Felker into drug treatment court.

Drug treatment court seeks to provide support, therapy and incentives to non-violent offenders trapped in an addictive cycle. She was not successful.

“She clearly was not interested in pursuing that path at that time,” Smart said.

Her biological father, Kent Felker of Guelph, said while the pair didn’t see each other very much, his daughter would call him periodically.

“She was a very caring girl,” he said.

“She was a good girl.”

Kent Felker said his daughter was adopted and raised by a family living in Waterloo Region.

“There is another side to her. She was not just another crackhead.”

Over the years, Smart got to know Kelsey Felker’s mother and brother.

“The family was supportive of her, but they recognized they had gone as far as they could go with her,” he said.

“They were the most hopeful of anyone that she would come to grips with the addiction and deal with it … I’m sure they’re heartbroken.”

Smart said Felker gave birth to at least two children while she was in custody at different times at the Vanier Centre for Women in Milton.

The babies were immediately taken from Felker by authorities.

A Facebook memorial page was created on Tuesday night with dozens of people expressing their sympathy.

Waterloo Regional Police said that information from the public regarding the black T-shirt that was covering Felker’s torso was an important factor in identifying the remains. The T-shirt had a slogan reading “Forget princess, I want to be a vampire.”

Felker was not listed by police as a missing person prior to Saturday’s discovery.

“She was actually reported missing by a friend shortly after the discovery was made public,” Insp. Kevin Thaler said.

In the wake of the discovery, police received numerous calls from concerned family members wondering about missing loved ones.

“It’s encouraging that we’ve been able to identify this victim,” Thaler said. “At least one family out there knows.”

An autopsy started Monday continued Tuesday in Hamilton.

The superintendent at 250 Frederick St., where Felker’s torso was found, said she did not live in the 16-storey apartment building.

Investigators continue to appeal to the public for information. Police said Felker was five-feet, two-inches tall and had bleached blond hair when she was last seen.

“Every investigative lead we get we’re going to follow up,” Thaler said. “You can never have too much evidence in a case.”

Those who knew Felker said her death brought an already-sad life to an untimely end.

“She died far too young,” Smart said. “She had a lot of life to live.”

Anyone finding suspicious articles on or near their property is asked to call police at 519-653-7700. Anyone with information about the case can also call the homicide branch at 519-650-8500, ext. 8666, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Source: Waterloo Record

A Tragic End to a Young Woman’s Life by Catherine Frei

Although it is not a crime committed in Cambridge, the tragic death of 24-year-old Kelsey Felker has still hit very close to home. On January 26, 2013, Felker’s torso was discovered in a dumpster behind a Kitchener apartment building, only two blocks from the central police division. In less than a week, more of Felker’s remains were found in two other wooded areas in Kitchener.

This tragic ending to a young woman’s life has shaken our community, and it is probably one of the most heinous crimes our region has ever encountered – a crime that is completely unimaginable. It has sent a wave of panic through our community for other women working on the streets, and it is now highlighting the fact that there needs to be more protection for women that are sex trade workers, and as a community we have a responsibility to ensure that our most vulnerable are safe.

Sadly, this is another young life taken far too soon while living on the street, and it has left more questions than answers about how we must battle the issues surrounding her death. To refer to her as a crack addicted woman with a troubled past, is simply re-victimizing her all over again.

Her lifestyle choices, addictions, and her history are no excuse for her tragic death. No person deserves to meet their fate the way that Kelsey did, and to dehumanize her by making those issues the focus will only allow this type of crime to happen again.

Approximately 150 people gathered at Kitchener City Hall for a candlelight vigil in her memory, many of which did not know her but wanted to pay their respects. Michelle Fitzgerald, the organizer of the memorial, was pleased with the turnout and said, “Kelsey was a nice girl that looked out for others and didn’t always think of herself, she was very caring.”

Many of her friends that attended were disturbed by the portrayal of Kelsey in the media. Darcelle Carroll, who had lived with Kelsey as teenagers in a group home said, “It doesn’t matter if they have a drug addiction or not, they are still people.” Her sentiments were shared by many in attendance.

For Sara Casselman, a worker at the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region, she believes that this particular case (and many others) calls for even more consideration to changes in legislation being made. Approximately two years ago SWAN was formed (Sex Workers Action Network of Waterloo Region) and they have been calling for funding for Outreach workers for sex workers and so far it has fallen on deaf ears.

The primary reason for the amount of violence is that very few victims actually report the crime, and it is not just those working in the sex trade industry. For women that do work on the streets, many have had negative experiences with police and fear that they will be criminalized themselves.

There are initiatives in place to try and conquer this dangerous and growing problem, and locally we have what is called, “The Guardian Line,” (519-650-8558) for sex workers that have been victimized and wish to report but prefer to remain anonymous. Although it still makes it difficult for police to pursue the perpetrators, it is still helpful in the fight against this type of violence. For instance, if one woman reports a certain individual, and later down the road another reports that same person, it becomes easier for the police to detect a serial offender.

Casselman advocates for full labour and human rights for sex workers in an effort to bring more awareness to the issues and decrease the amount of violence that occurs today. In Canada less than ten per cent of victims of violence actually report, and this is the primary reason why it can be so difficult to apprehend individuals guilty of committing such crimes. Casselman says that, “Violence against sex workers is violence against women.” There is no difference if it is a middle class woman with a healthy background and bright future, or a woman with a trouble past and drug addiction, this violence is not acceptable for any woman to have to endure.

Violent offenders typically target women working in the sex trade as they are perceived as having fewer avenues of redress, and they are the least likely to report. Although prostitution in Canada is not illegal, it is illegal to communicate for the purpose of prostitution and also illegal to live off the avails of prostitution. Casselman says that this is part of the reason why the level of violence and danger is so high.

In 1999, in Sweden they passed a law which advocates are fighting for here in Canada in the Supreme Court. It is referred to as the “Nordic Model,” which criminalizes prostitution for those purchasing sex, and decriminalizes for those providing sex. It is alarming how much less violence occurs in the few countries that have already adopted this model, why should we not adopt this model here? This model has been successful in combating sex trafficking on all levels, not just women, but young children and boys as well by discouragement and decreasing the demand.

Kelsey Felker’s death should at the very least bring awareness to the dangers that people in the sex trade face and raise more questions about what we can do to put an end to it. Everyday we hear success stories of those with troubling pasts getting help, rehabilitation and moving on to lead successful and fulfilling lives. This is an opportunity that this young woman was robbed of, at the tender young age of just twenty-four. We have a responsibility to do what we can to make sure that other women do not get robbed of their life, future, and right to live a dignified and happy life. Let this be a lesson for all, that this type of violence must end and the only way that it will is if we all work together collectively to bring much needed change.

Source: Cambridge Citizen

Foster Beauty Disqualified

February 28, 2013 permalink

Melissa King
Melissa King

A girl who was beauty-queen material had to relinquish her Miss Delaware Teen USA title after publication of a pornographic video she made to make ends meet when graduating penniless from foster care. An article from Slate is enclosed. Since fixcas is not a source of porn, our copy of the Melissa King video (mp4) is edited down to the interview preceding the sex scenes. The website where we found the sex video is Gawker.



Miss Delaware Teen USA Resigns in Porn Scandal. But Are Porn and Pageants So Different?

When Melissa King entered the Delaware foster care system at age 12, she weathered anxiety, depression, and frequent court-mandated hearings as she made the transition to a new school, a new family, and a new social life. While the state provided her with government supervision and therapy sessions, she lacked the monetary support that lined the pockets of her new peers: No money for “gowns, clothes, shoes, prom, sports, anything really,” she said in an interview about her foster care experiences. When King aged out of the system at 18, she did some porn, entered some pageants, and enrolled in college in Philadelphia.

Last November, King was crowned Miss Delaware Teen USA. Yesterday, she gave up her crown after an explicit video purporting to feature her surfaced on an amateur porn website called “Girls Do Porn.” (King has denied that it’s her in the video, but she—via her lawyer—did voluntarily cede her throne.) Now she’s being publicly shamed by former friends and international news organizations because a pretty young woman like her can publicly compete for money in a beauty pageant, or she can collect some cash in amateur porn, but she's not allowed to do both at the same time. Thirty years after Vanessa Williams was pushed from her Miss America pedestal over leaked nude photos, we’re still breathlessly reporting on the moral fiber of these fallen beauty queens without stopping to assess the hazy value judgments being passed.

Beauty pageants like Miss USA peddle a particular fantasy: That of the sexy-yet-virginal girl-next door who parades around for the public in skimpy swimwear, but saves sex for that special someone. Franchise owner Donald Trump stands in as the creepy uncle, assessing contestants’ sexual attractiveness and purity. Women who compete in his pageants are required to look good in a bikini; have never been married or pregnant; and be possessing of “good health and moral character,” a qualification that could conceivably bar women for everything from a pornographic past to a physical disability.

Amateur porn sites like Girls Do Porn are selling a slight variation on that trope: The good girl gone bad—for the very first time! Girls Do Porn advertises itself as “a reality website that features 18-21 year old females making their very first adult videos." Like Miss Teen USA, it shuns women who have had sex on camera before: “No porn stars found here.” Pageant girls, on the other hand, are prized. “You’re actually a Miss … a Miss Teen?” an off-camera interviewer excitedly asks King before she disrobes. “You do beauty pageants? … That’s crazy.”

But it's not so crazy. Pageants and porn are patrolling two sides of a very thin sexual boundary. And for a young, pretty girl who’s strapped for cash and lacking familial and institutional support, only one of those options is offering cash up-front. In the five-minute Girls Do Porn video, King tells the man behind the camera that she consented to do porn because, “I thought it’d be fun” and “I needed the money.” In exchange for a year of promotional work on behalf of the pageant, Miss Delaware Teen USA winners can expect to receive useless commemorative trinkets and copious tools for exhaustively grooming themselves into perpetuity. Listed prizes include a trophy, a crown, a banner, a car magnet, a specially-designed doll, two fancy dresses, two rings, two pendants, a hair straightener, a self-tanning kit, nail polish, lip gloss, a handbag made out of candy wrappers, a “smile enhancement,” modeling and acting lessons, a 20 percent discount on a New York Film Academy workshop, a gym training package, a “wardrobe consult,” a pair of shoes, and some cash reserved for representing their state in the national pageant. The young women billed as Delaware’s rising stars also receive a shot at a $40,000 scholarship that can be exclusively fulfilled, for some reason, at Missouri Presbyterian liberal arts college Lindenwood. So: No real money.

King, of course, won’t even collect these prizes, because she broke some unspoken pretty girl law of sexual propriety when she used her body for money in the incorrect venue.

Source: Slate

CAS is a Problem

February 27, 2013 permalink

Barbara Kay gives her opinion of children's aid.



Barbara Kay: The problem with Children’s Aid Societies

A young friend of mine took her bruised toddler to the hospital as a precaution after a fall down some stairs. All was well, but she nervously joked, “I was afraid the doctor might call the CAS (Children’s Aid Society).” This shocked me. Decades ago, I took my kids to the hospital on more than one similar occasion, but I never entertained such a misgiving.

My friend’s fears are not unfounded. Had the doctor felt suspicious, she might have called the CAS, which would then make inquiries and checked the parents’ records. In extreme situations, the CAS could theoretically seize the child, forcing the parents into costly litigation to get back access to their child.

In fact, the CAS has more powers than virtually any other government agency. A CAS worker (who may or may not be a registered social worker; many allegedly are not) can enter a home without a warrant in some circumstances; apprehend a child or children without what most Canadians would consider due process; interview a child with no advocate present under some circumstances; ask police to enforce apprehensions against their own judgment; order a child to be medicated over the wishes of parents; and punish parents who resist by denying access or, in some cases, permanent custody.

Canadian CAS workers intervene in about 200,000 kids’ lives a year. And it isn’t just the poor and marginalized who become CAS “clients.” A few years ago, for example, an Ontario maid service worker felt an upscale client’s house didn’t meet her standard of house pride; shortly after, a CAS worker showed up.

Children have been seized from Christian parents who don’t spare “the rod” in disciplining (one family had seven children removed), or whom the parents persisted in homeschooling in a manner that CAS officials declared unacceptable.

In other cases, demonstrably maltreated children are inexplicably left with parents or foster parents known to be dangerous, and sometimes end up injured or even dead. In these latter cases, we read their horror stories with incredulity in Christie Blatchford’s columns.

In a National Post feature article in June 2009, Kevin Libin portrayed an industry in which abuses are all too common. One source, a professor of social work, claims that a shocking 15%-20% of children under CAS oversight suffer injury or neglect. Several CAS insiders whom Libin interviewed regard the situation as systemically hopeless. A clinical psychologist with decades of experience advocating for children said, “I would love to just demolish the system and start from scratch again.”

There are four general reasons that the system arguably does deserve to be “demolished” — unaccountability, secrecy, money and a lack of political will:

  1. With virtually no checks and balances, case workers have “as much power as God,” in the words of one former social worker. And they use it according to their diverse subjective impulses;
  2. Children in care have little voice. CAS actions often are shrouded in secrecy, and media investigations are chilled by CAS lawyers, who claim to be protecting the privacy rights of all involved. Children in foster and group care typically do not have adequate access to the Office of the Children’s Lawyer. Too often, “confidentiality” protects the powerful, not the vulnerable.
  3. CASs are funded per capita. This creates a financial incentive for taking children into care. CASs receive extra funding for children diagnosed with conditions requiring medication — a fact that creates other unhealthy incentives.
  4. CAS workers typically cannot be sued if they have acted in “good faith.” But bad faith is notoriously difficult to prove. Ombudsmen have the power to look at secret files, but in Ontario the ombudsman can only recommend changes, not actively intervene. Two recent attempts by NDP provincial legislators to pass a bill giving the ombudsman oversight teeth have failed: one voted down by Ontario’s then-majority Liberals, one dying in a prorogued parliament.

What is to be done?

Next week, I will review a 2011 documentary film on this subject, made by a former foster parent. Powerful as God is a movie that Ontario family-service agencies would prefer you don’t see, but robust attempts to shut it down have failed.

Powerful as God can be found at Featured in the film is a proposal for an alternative system of child protection that I find both sensible and viable. It is proposed by Canadians whose tragic history has rendered them all too familiar with the iniquities associated with what they regard as state-sanctioned child “kidnapping.”

Source: National Post

Fixcas can provide footnotes.

  • Here are some stories of parents who feared to get help for themselves or their children on account of child protectors: [1] [2] [3] [4].
  • The case of a maid reporting her employer: [5].
  • Homeschooling parents: [6].
  • Maltreated children left with their parents known to be dangerous: [7].
  • Article by Kevin Libin: [8] [9].
  • The boast "We have as much power as God" was uttered by Dufferin CAS worker Jennifer Foster. [10].
  • A boy was rebuffed when he legally tried to get assistance: [11] [12].
  • Payment per child: [13].
  • Legislative failure to give ombudsman oversight power: [14] [15].
  • Watch Powerful as God: [16].

Addendum: Barbara Kay's second article a week later.



Barbara Kay: Seeking an alternative to Children’s Aid Societies

Isaiah Duplessis
Isaiah Duplessis, 2 years old, plays at the Toronto Children's Aid Society. In an effort to end the cycle of violence and the continuous return of children to their care, the Toronto CAS decided that it needed to teach people how to be good parents.

There is no more ignominious epitaph on a public policy’s tombstone than “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” When residential schools were first mooted, they probably made eminent political sense as a means for “civilizing” native children. Unfortunately, “at the time,” nobody took human nature into account.

The schools’ travesty taught us hard lessons: that children typically prefer their own parents, whatever challenges they face, to competent fostering; that tearing families apart for anything less than serious abuse is traumatizing to both parents and children; and that absolute power over children separated from their natural protectors invites predatory behaviours.

These are lessons that must be understood not only in the context of residential schools — which do not exist anymore — but also in the very much ongoing institution of Children’s Aid Societies (CAS), which can and do remove children from parents deemed unfit to provide proper care.

I wrote about flaws in the child-service system in my column last week: lack of accountability and oversight; unusual powers without checks and balances; impenetrable secrecy; and a business model of per capita funding that subtly encourages apprehension as a first rather than last resort. I concluded that in spite of high CAS ideals, governments should conduct a wholesale review of the current outmoded program model.

At the end of my column, l suggested readers watch the 2011 Canadian documentary film Powerful as God at The film illuminates the pain the system often causes through the narratives of alleged victims and former CAS-affiliated lawyers, psychologists and social workers.

I won’t review the witness statements of the parents, child survivors and foster parents. Moving and persuasive as they are, we don’t have the other side of the story (CAS was asked to participate, but declined).

More important from a policy perspective are the words of professional insiders: of, for example, Alfred “Alf” Mamo, a family lawyer in London, Ont., who has represented both CAS and the Office of the Children’s Lawyer. Mamo says that CAS injustice “can happen to anyone,” and that the millions used on CAS litigation could be better spent actually helping people.

There is also Michael Clarke, a family lawyer in Hamilton, Ont., who has done extensive research on child welfare issues; Clarke says there is an “imbalance of power” between CAS and clients, whose social workers are “holding all the cards.”

Then there is former respite worker Lyndsey Cara King, who “felt morally obligated to quit my job” at a Toronto agency over well-documented abuses of would-be adoptive parents’ rights.

Filmmaker Esther Buckareff is a former foster parent. Her inspiration to make Powerful as God as part of her Ryerson University master’s thesis sprang from two sources: her personal, disillusioning experiences with the CAS and her study of film-making in Cuba, where, she wrote me, “people are bullied and silenced in a dictatorship. Fear of the state bureaucracy was palpable, just like ‘clients’ of the CAS.”

There are more children in state care now than there ever were in residential schools. Not surprisingly, aboriginal families constitute an enormously disproportionate clientele of child-service agencies today. Ultimately, Buckareff’s exposure to the “Talking Together Circle,” an alternate aboriginal model of dispute resolution offered through a Thunder Bay legal clinic, gave her hope.

It seems appropriate that the film lingers over First Nations’ unique approach to healing broken families.

In the film, Celina Reitberger, executive director and legal counsel for the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation in Thunder Bay, explains how the talking circle can work at any stage of family crisis: preventatively or at any point up to the courthouse steps.

In the talking circle, she says, nobody holds absolute power. Family unification, with the child maintaining his family connection safely throughout the process is always the paramount ideal. Transparency is key to success. Everyone participates: parents, foster parents, community elders, clergy and social workers. Watchwords are “respect,” “openness” and “fairness.” The goal is not to pass judgment but to “restore harmony.”

Although I don’t approve of two-tiered justice in criminal cases — prison for white criminals, sweat lodges for natives — I do find the “circle” model for healing dysfunctional families a more compelling and civilized alternative to the apprehension-and-sequester model that creates so much distress in many CAS cases.

One First Nations man Buckareff interviewed was astonished to find the “devil work” of the CAS was not only his own culture’s problem. “Oh my God,” he exclaimed after watching the finished film, “it’s happening to the white people, too!” Then added: “Finally, they know what it feels like.”

Source: National Post

Protecting Vulnerable Children

February 26, 2013 permalink

There is additional material on the disclosure of Protecting Vulnerable Children. To keep it together, it is posted as an addendum to the December article.

Bum Rap

February 26, 2013 permalink

Nine-year-old prodigy Luie Rivera Jr is under investigation by Massachusetts child protectors after appearing in several rap videos under stage name Lil Poopy. Two articles on the controversy are enclosed. One of his videos Pop That (Remix) is on YouTube or a local copy (mp4). Watch him slapping a lady's bum.



Lil Poopy’s dad: Claim of abuse is a bum rap!

Luie Rivera Jr
Lil Poopy

The father of controversial 9-year-old hip-hop sensation Lil Poopy — who is under investigation for child neglect over the mini-rapper’s raunchy videos — told the Herald last night his son isn’t doing anything wrong: It’s all an act.

“I love my son, I adore my son,” a fired-up Luie Rivera said after Brockton police filed a 51A — child abuse or neglect complaint — against him. “He’s not doing anything wrong. He’s not doing drugs, he’s not drinking alcohol. There are other kids out there killing kids, doing drugs, molesting. He’s just singing hooks. He’s not hurting anyone.”

The Herald reported earlier this month that Poopy — whose real name is Luie Rivera Jr. — was starring in a series of YouTube videos featuring the fourth-grader rapping about cocaine, machine guns and groupies. He’s also been filmed partying with adult rappers in hotel rooms and grinding and slapping the butts of adult female fans.

Lil Poopy lives in Brockton with his mother and attends school every day. His distraught dad said it’s all just entertainment and he and Poopy are catching heat because it’s rap.

“The kid’s got talent, why are they so worried about him rapping?” Rivera asked. “Everybody’s got a dream. Muhammad Ali wanted to be a boxer. The kids on ‘American Idol’ want to do country or rock. He’s doing what he wants to do, you can’t knock him for that.”

But Brockton police aren’t convinced.

“We’ll be getting feedback from (the state). Whether it’s neglect or abuse, we’ll go from there,” said Lt. Paul Bonanca.

Cayenne Isaksen, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Children and Families, confirmed the agency has opened an investigation, which typically includes interviewing family and any professionals a child is in contact with. She said the probe also will likely include a review of the videos.

On stage with his mentor, rapper French Montana, Poopy echoes his crass lyrics and brags about being a “cocaine cowboy.” He is a member of Montana’s Coke Boyz posse, and Poopy’s first single, “Pop That (Remix),” is a play on the controversy. The lyrics: “Coke ain’t a bad word, Coca-Cola. Coke ain’t a bad word. It’s only soda.”

The act went viral after Lil Poopy’s mix tape surpassed more than 10,000 downloads, and his videos more than 200,000 views. He is featured prominently in a video for French Montana’s “Shot Caller” with P. Diddy and Rick Ross, and he’s performed with other hip-hop heavies including Waka Flocka Flame, Meek Mill and Wale.

Brian Slay, Lil Poopy’s producer and the videographer who made the questionable flicks, said people are taking it all way too seriously.

“Hip-hop now is like the WWE — it’s all fake,” he said. “Back in the beginning, what you were rapping about you were really doing. Now it’s all an act.”

Boston rapper Slaine, who has toured the globe with his La Coka Nostra crew, sees it differently.

“I would never let my son enter this business until he’s old enough,” said Slaine, who has starred in “The Town” and “Gone Baby Gone.” “It’s an adult business. It’s not for children.”

Source: Boston Herald

The original Boston Herald article is no longer available online. Here it is reconstructed from a copy by a blogger

9-year-old Brockton rapper is a "cocaine cowboy"

Lil Poopy rips into rap world

Luie Rivera Jr
Lil Poopy, left, and his mentor French Montana.

Boston’s newest hip-hop phenom raps about groupies and Gucci, machine guns, dead presidents and cocaine cowboys. In his videos, he rides in a Ferrari and slaps female fans’ butts. He’s a member of French Montana’s Coke Boyz posse and he’s been onstage with Diddy.

All pretty standard for an up-and-coming rapper, but Lil Poopy is only 9 years old!

“It’s controversial,” admits producer Brian Slay, who believes the Brockton fourth-grader has what it takes to make it to the top of the hip-hop heap.

“Honestly, the kid, he’s got everything: the looks, the swagger, the lyrics, the delivery,” he said. “I see him going really, really, really far in the music industry.”

And Poopy’s pop, Luie Rivera, pointed out that his son’s lyrics are “nothing that any kid can’t hear on the radio.”

“If you listen to his whole tape,” he said, “he doesn’t swear once.”

But when Poopy’s onstage with French Montana, he raps along to his mentor’s X-rated rhymes, brags about being a “cocaine cowboy” and uses some language that might get another 9-year-old’s mouth washed out with soap!

Lil Poopy’s first single “Pop That (Remix)” tackles the controversy head on. The lyrics: “Coke ain’t a bad word, Coca-Cola. Coke ain’t a bad word. It’s only soda.”

“What it means is, we’re not talking about dope … I know people think of it like that, but it’s just a label. A branding thing,” Slay said.

And it’s creating quite a buzz. Lil Poopy’s mix tape has more than 10,000 downloads, and his YouTube videos have more than 200,000 views. He is featured prominently in a video for French Montana’s “Shot Caller” with Diddy and Rick Ross, and he’s performed with other hip-hop honchos including Waka Flocka Flame, Meek Mill and Wale.

Still, Poopy’s dad insists he’s just a regular kid.

“He goes to school every day. He knows, ‘No school, no rappin’” he said. “His teachers love him; he’s a really smart kid. He still plays basketball and baseball. He was one of the best hitters on his team.”

A spokeswoman for the Brockton schools said Poopy’s principal told her the young rapper “is a really great kid.”

“He’s a good student and a really nice boy,” Jocelyn Meek told the Track. “And they treat him just like any other fourth-grader.”

As for that name, Rivera said his son, whose real name is Luie Rivera Jr., became Lil Poopy when he was a baby.

“He used to poop all over the place,” he laughed. “He’d poop, and while I was changing his diaper, he’d poop again.”

While he may not love the name when he’s 16, Poopy is fine with it now. He tells us he loves being onstage, and although remembering his rhymes is “pretty hard, after I practice it three times I remember.”

Meeting Diddy, he said, was “amazing,” although he can’t recall too many of the particulars because “it was a long time ago.” (He was 8.)

Lil Poopy said he hopes to keep rapping until he is Big Poopy. At which point, we hope, he takes a page from Diddy’s playbook and comes up with a new name.

Source: Jump the Turnstyle blog

Addendum: In April DHS announced they were dropping the investigation into Lil Poopy.

Addendum: But in May DHS is back for more.



The latest scoop on Lil Poopy

The parents of Lil Poopy are in deep doo-doo again.

The state Department of Children & Families yesterday confirmed that there is a new investigation into child abuse or neglect involving 9-year-old Brockton rapper Luis Rivera Jr., aka Lil Poopy, but an attorney for Poopy’s papa called the complaint “harassment.”

“It appears to be sour grapes over the way last investigation went,” said Joe Krowski Jr., the lawyer who represents Poopy’s father, Luis Rivera.

According to Krowski, the young rapper and his videographer Brian Slay were approached by Brockton Police after they pulled into a McDonald’s sometime after midnight earlier this week. The officer claimed he smelled marijuana in the car, Krowski said, but police searched the vehicle and found nothing and no charges were issued.

However, police said yesterday they referred the matter to the child welfare authorities.

“The Department has received a report on behalf of Luie Rivera Jr. and is investigating. We do not provide details about our investigations,” DCF spokeswoman Cayenne Isaksen said in an email.

Last month, the state cleared Poopy’s father of child abuse or neglect in connection with Poopy’s raunchy online videos. The Brockton police made a complaint back in February asking the state to investigate after cops reviewed the videos which featured the fourth grader rapping about cocaine and guns, slapping and grinding female fans’ butts, and partying with adult rappers.

Krowski said the latest situation “rises to absurdity,” but did acknowledge that Poopy, who had been rehearsing at a Brockton recording school, was out at about 1 a.m. — on a school night!

Source: Boston Herald

Boy Denied Help

February 24, 2013 permalink

When a teenager was pressured by a CAS worker and the police, Vern Beck spoke to the worker in an effort to assist the boy. Dufferin CAS worker Tiffany McCabe hung up the phone on Mr Beck.



Vernon Beck I just spoke a few minutes ago with a worker with the Dufferin CAS, Tiffany McCabe. She was trying to force an almost 15 year old teen to go to the police station to be interviewed by police. She even came out to the mothers home on a Sunday to harass the family.

I spoke to the youth on the phone who told me he wanted nothing to do with the CAS worker and did not want to go with her. Even the local police came to help the CAS bully the mother and her son. When I attempted to speak to the CAS worker on the phone while she was at the home, once I identified myself she said that she felt uncomfortable speaking to me and then hung up the phone.

Wonder why these unregistered workers are afraid to speak in an open and accountable manner with a representative of Canada Court Watch?

Anyone having information about this CAS worker, Tiffany McCabe of the Dufferin CAS or who had dealings with her in the past is pleased asked to contact Canada Court Watch at

Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch

On the same thread, Chris Carter mentions that the worker's actions are illegal.



If the family explicitly told the worker that they wanted you to be involved but then the worker subsequently refused, the worker violated the family's right under the CFSA's section 1 (2) 3. iv.


Other purposes

(2) The additional purposes of this Act, so long as they are consistent with the best interests, protection and well being of children, are:

3. To recognize that children's services should be provided in a manner that,

iv. includes the participation of a child, his or her parents and relatives and the members of the child's extended family and community, where appropriate.

Source: Child and Family Services Act

Burned Bottom

February 24, 2013 permalink

California foster mother Patricia Ann Moore knew how to fix her baby's defecation problem: soak her diaper in bleach and burned her bottom.



Foster Mother Allegedly Put Bleach-Soaked Diaper on Baby

Patrica Ann Moore, 68, faces felony charges of willful cruelty to a child and infliction of injury on a child for allegedly burning her foster toddler's bottom with a bleach-soaked diaper.

A woman who allegedly soaked a diaper in bleach and made her 20-month-old foster daughter wear it, producing first-degree and second-degree burns, faces child abuse charges.

Patricia Ann Moore was arrested by SSFPD Aug. 19, 2010, after medical staff at a Kaiser hospital noticed the 20-month-old had waffle-shaped burns on her bottom, court papers indicate.

Moore told personnel that the child had a "defecation problem," so she bathed the toddler in 12 inches of water and a half-capful of bleach, court records state.

The suspect told authorities that when she noticed redness the following day, she brought the child to the hospital.

However, according to court documents, doctors noticed that the burns were in a waffle pattern typical of a diaper fabric and that there were no burns anywhere but her bottom.

They called police, who upon investigation found in the woman's trash a diaper soaked in bleach on the bottom, papers state.

Moore was indicted by a Grand Jury and on Friday, her defense attorney unsuccessfully argued a motion to dismiss the indictment, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Trial was set for April 22; a pretrial conference was set for March 18.

She is charged with felony willful cruelty to a child and infliction of injury on a child.

The defendant last October posted bond for $50,000 bail.

Source: South San Francisco Patch

PAPA in BC pointed out a related item:



Helping the Infirmed

Two years ago- Kyle Petrus, a 13 year old autistic boy was at a residential facility.

Kyle, who is developmentally 1 year old accidently wet himself. That's when a caretaker threw bleach in his face. That caretaker was sentenced to probation.

Since then - Kyle's family has been working to get a bill passed that would sentence those who abuse people like Kyle to jail.

House Bill 762 passed committee unanimously. It goes before the House for a vote tomorrow.

Source: WVLA Baton Rouge

Addendum: Moore has been sued.



Family of bleach-burned foster child sues foster insurance fund

Patricia Moore
Patricia Moore

Prior to a South San Francisco foster mom burning a 20-month ward with bleach-soaked diapers, the licensed home had received more than a dozen allegations of child abuse or neglect, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of the injured girl.

The accusations against Patricia Moore and the Moore Foster Home, which was licensed in San Mateo County to accept medically fragile infants, include housing children in a cold basement, withholding food from them as punishment, extreme diaper rashes and sexual abuse, stated the suit filed on behalf of the minor A.J. through her guardian Chantel Johnson against the Foster Family Home and Small Family Home Insurance Fund.

The fund pays claims of foster children, parents and guardians filed in relation to foster services. Johnson is also suing Moore and her family, the city and county of San Francisco and San Mateo County but that piece is in federal court.

The civil case stems from the care and injuries of A.J., an 8-month-old a medically fragile infant removed from her parents in San Francisco and placed in Moore’s care in 2009. In August 2010, South San Francisco police arrested Moore after Kaiser Medical Center staff reported a toddler was brought in by Moore’s daughter, Coi, with first- and second-degree burns on her buttocks. According to prosecutors, Moore later told authorities she used bleach-soaked diapers to clean the child who soiled herself quite often. Doctors allegedly noted the burns were in a waffle pattern like that of diaper fabric. Moore allegedly also could not explain why, if the girl had been bathed, she didn’t have burns on other parts of her body that would have been submerged, such as her legs.

In May 2011, Judge Richard Livermore dismissed the abuse case against Moore citing insufficient evidence but in fall 2012 prosecutors successfully asked a criminal grand jury to indict on felony charges of willful cruelty to a child and infliction of injury on a child. The case settled in 2013 with Moore, 68, being allowed to plead no contest to misdemeanor child endangerment with the caveat she receive a 20-day suspended sentence and not serve any time. She was ordered to complete a year of child abuse treatment, placed on three years supervised probation and prohibited from caring for future foster children.

An endangerment charge means a person is accused of acting negligently in a way that is likely to result in physical injury or death rather than acting more knowingly, such as a deliberate blow.

But according to Johnson’s lawsuit filed March 13 in San Mateo County Superior Court, the burned toddler was not the only incident in which Moore and her foster home allegedly neglected of injured children in its care. The suit claims at least 13 allegations include complaints of failure to properly wash, clean and feed children and failing to take them to medical appointments or give them prescribed medication. The suit states that medical professionals, social workers and psychotherapists raised the complaints which included numerous and severe diaper rashes, unexplained bruising and neglect of medical care but that San Francisco social workers knowingly left A.J. in the Moore home for nearly a year. During this time, according to the suit, A.J. had several diaper rashes and another infant was removed in February 2010 for a “severe” diaper rash that raised red flags for one social worker about Moore’s care.

Another foster infant had bruising which led the biological mother to contact police and Moore admitted to not giving A.J. her prescribed medication, the suit stated.

The day after the Aug. 17, 2010, bleach burns, Moore’s daughter, who was not a licensed caregiver took the child to the hospital, the suit stated.

In totality, “Moore severely neglected A.J. while she was in her care, causing A.J.’s development to be stunted and harming her mentally, physically and emotionally,” attorney Gerald Singleton wrote in the suit.

Moore could not be reached for comment and Susan J. Kawala, the California Attorney General’s Office attorney representing the fund, did not return an inquiry.

A case management conference is scheduled for May 22.

Source: San Mateo Daily Journal

Practice Killing Women and Children

February 21, 2013 permalink pregnant woman target

A company called Law Enforcement Targets Inc markets non-conventional targets to law enforcement for training purposes. Some of them allow police cadets to shoot at children or pregnant women. After Infowars broke the story Law Enforcement Targets removed the offending pictures from its website. Fixcas was able to confirm through retroactive image searching that they did come from the website. Here are seven of the images as captured by Infowars: [pregnant woman]   [older man]   [little boy]   [mother and children]   [older woman]   [school girl]   [older man].

The skills acquired might come in useful as police are increasingly supporting child protectors in raids to seize children from their homes.

Source: Infowars

Return our Boy

February 21, 2013 permalink

Max Alan Shatto
Max Alan Shatto né Maxim Kuzmenko
Source: Siberian Times

Russia is demanding the repatriation of a child adopted by an American family after the death of his brother in the same home. Laura and Alan Shatto of Odessa Texas adopted two Russian boys, Maxim Kuzmin and Kirill Kuzmin, renaming them Max Alan Shatto and Kristopher Shatto. Max died on January 21, though his case did not get into the news until last week. Russia says that the boy was placed on psychotropic drugs and died from abuse. The real mother who lost the boys because of a drinking problem is now cured and able to care for her remaining son. Other sources give the Russian family name as Kuzmenko. The Cyrillic name of the deceased boy is Максима Кузьмина.



Russia seeks return of adopted boy in US after brother's death

Russia's government insisted on the return of a two-year-old brother of a toddler who died after being adopted by US parents, threatening an international tug-of-love and diplomatic spat with Washington.

Pavel Astakhov
Mr Astakhov said Laura Shatto's access to two-year-old Kirill had been limited, and the boy had not been harmed
Photo: AFP

Pavel Astakhov, Russia's children's rights ombudsman, said that Kirill Kuzmin – known to his adoptive parents as Kristopher – must be removed from the family in Gardendale, Texas, and sent back to Russia.

Mr Astakhov announced earlier this week that Kirill's brother, Maxim, or Max Alan Shatto, three, had been killed by the two boys' adoptive US mother last month, who - he claimed - beat the child and pumped him full of anti-schizophrenia drugs.

The ombudsman has since backtracked and admitted the cause of the boy's death is not yet known, but the announcement triggered frenzy in Moscow where politicians rushed to condemn the United States for "assassinating another Russian child".

Mr Astakhov upped the ante on Wednesday, saying that he had received a letter from the biological mother of the two adopted Russian boys saying she wanted Kirill back "so that he didn't die like his brother".

The woman – who lost her children because of a drink problem - was also shown on a tabloid website with strong government links pleading for President Vladimir Putin to intervene. "I've changed my ways, I can't allow my second child to also perish," she said.

Russia would insist on the boy Kirill being returned to his homeland, Mr Astakhov said. "Whether it happens or not will depend on how persistent we are," he said. "He is a Russian citizen. Besides his relatives, there is already a whole queue of people wishing to adopt him."

Laura and Alan Shatto, the US couple who adopted the two Russian boys, have refused to comment on the case, which is still under investigation by state authorities in Texas.

Mr Putin approved a much-criticised ban on American parents adopting Russian children in December, citing the deaths of 19 adopted Russian children in the US in the last decade.

The law was a retaliatory response to US legislation passed the same month which prevents alleged human rights abusers from Russia receiving US visas.

Pro-Kremlin MPs said this week that the death of Max Alan Shatto in Texas showed the adoption ban was necessary.

Police and child protection workers in Texas have said that allegations of abuse against the boy are being investigated. They expressed concern that Russian officials accused the adoptive mother of murder before autopsy results have been received.

Mr Astakhov said Laura Shatto's access to two-year-old Kirill had been limited, and the boy had not been harmed.

Also on Wednesday, Russia's foreign ministry said it was "seriously alarmed" by the fate of a Russian boy adopted by a US lesbian couple, who had hidden their sexuality from Russian authorities.

The ministry said the couple had split up, drawing the boy into a "morally doubtful" conflict about his custody which was "causing damage to his psychological health".

Source: Telegraph (UK)

Addendum: Texas authorities have called the death an accident. Max died from a lacerated artery in his abdomen from self-inflicted bruising, and had a mental disorder that caused him to harm himself. No drugs were found in his body. The ruling, made only after the case had become an international cause célèbre, is unlikely to end the controversy. Max's real mother, rehabilitated according to initial Russian reports, was thrown off a train in a drunken brawl.



Adopted Russian Boy's Death Ruled Accidental in Texas

Laura Shatto
Max Shatto was adopted from an orphanage in north-west Russia last year by Laura Shatto and her husband.

The death of an adopted 3-year-old Russian boy has been ruled an accident in Texas, just a week after Russian officials accused the boy's adopted parents of killing the child.

Authorities said today that Max Shatto, who had been adopted by Laura and Alan Shatto in November, died of a self-inflicted wound on Jan. 21.

An investigation into the boy's death was opened after he was rushed to Medical Center Hospital's emergency room shortly before 5 p.m. on Jan. 21 and later died.

Today's announcement carried contradicted a top Russian official who accused the boy's mother of murder last week.

Pavel Astakhov, Russia's children's rights commissioner, started wrote on Twitter last week: "An adoptive mother has killed a three-year-old Russian child in the state of Texas. The murder occurred at the end of January."

"The boy died before an ambulance called by his mother arrived. According to a report by medical examiners, the boy had numerous injuries," he added.

The tweets were later deleted, but Astakhov continued to blame the boy's adoptive parents for his death. On Thursday, he said he was told by a Texas social worker that the mother was responsible for the boy's death.

Texas officials denied those claims and the Shattos denied any role in their son's death, but declined to comment further about the issue.

Today, the Ector County district attorney and sheriff's department announced the findings of Max Shatto's autopsy report, which showed that he died from a lacerated artery in his abdomen from self-inflicted bruising, and that the boy had a mental disorder that caused him to harm himself.

No drugs were found in the child's system, and four doctors reviewed the autopsy report, ruling out the possibility that Shatto was fatally injured by his parents, officials said at the press conference.

The ruling could put to rest the outrage in Russia over what officials there called another example of why U.S. parents should not adopt Russian children. Astakhov's accusation of murder provided fuel for those in Russia who supported Russia's decision to ban adoptions to the U.S.

The ban was part of Russia's response to a set of human rights sanctions that President Obama signed into law in December, but it cited the cases of 19 children who had died after being adopted by Americans.

The State Department says over 60,000 Russian children have been adopted by Americans since the fall of the Soviet Union.

U.S. officials feared the case would derail a long shot effort to convince Russian authorities to reverse the ban or at least allow more cases already in process to be completed.

In a statement after the investigation's results were announced, the U.S. Embassy sought to underscore the legitimacy its findings.

"Many local and state officials in Texas and independent experts worked diligently and professionally to examine the evidence concerning Max's death," the embassy said.

Last Friday, the U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul wrote an emotional blog post urging Russian politicians and media to withhold judgment until the cause of death was officially determined.

"It is time for sensational exploitations of human tragedy to end," he wrote.

The case was also discussed by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov when they met in Berlin earlier this week, part of a broader discussion about Russia's adoption ban and other topics.

After the accusations surfaced in Russia, Max's death became the top story in Russia. The boy's birth mother emerged and, in a tearful appearance on state-run television, said she had cleaned up her act and wanted Max's younger brother Kristopher back. On her way back from the interview in Moscow, however, the mother was reportedly kicked off a train after a drunken brawl.

On Saturday, thousands are expected to turn out for a rally in central Moscow calling for Kristopher to be returned to Russia.

Source: ABC

Not Guilty, Not Whole

February 21, 2013 permalink

Two articles tell of an English couple falsely accused of child abuse. In the first, parents Jonny Carlos and Michelle Ingham were acquitted. Nothing unusual about that. In the second they tell of the devastating effects of being under a cloud of suspicion for over a year. Their two children were seized, and friends kept their own kids away.



Couple found not guilty of burning child's legs with cigarettes

A POOLE couple have been found not guilty of burning a child's legs with cigarettes and taping her to a car seat.

Jonny Carlos, 45, and Michelle Ingham, 32, of Hasler Road, were accused of one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and one count of cruelty to a person under the age of 16.

Both of the offences were alleged to have taken place on a weekend in October 2011.

However, in the trial today at Bournemouth Crown Court, the child admitted she had made up the allegations.

She told the court the marks on her legs, that she said had been caused by cigarette burns, were "spots" she had picked.

Source: Bournemouth Echo

We're not child abusers: couple speak out after false accusation ordeal

Jonny Carlos and Michelle Ingham
We're not child abusers: couple speak out after false accusation ordeal We're not child abusers: couple speak out after false accusation ordeal

A POOLE couple who were falsely accused of child abuse have spoken out about their 14-month ordeal.

Jonny Carlos, 45, and Michelle Ingham, 32, of Canford Heath, had their two young children taken into care after being charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and cruelty to a person aged under 16 in October 2011.

But the couple, who have been together for eight years, say the child who made the allegations is a victim too.

“We have maintained throughout that she was put up to this,” said Mr Carlos.

“Just like us, she has spent the last year-and-a-half walking around with a huge weight on her shoulders.

“It’s not her fault and she is not to blame in any way.”

The couple were found not guilty at Bournemouth Crown Court last week after the collapse of the trial when the youngster admitted the allegations weren’t true.

They have proclaimed their innocence since their arrest, but became concerned for their welfare after “Chinese whispers” painted them as abusers.

“It was awful,” said Mr Carlos, who would become physically sick through the pressure of the ordeal.

“People were saying we were child abusers. We’ve been walking around with a big black cross on our backs. I wouldn’t let Shell go out on her own because I was so worried about her.”

But Ms Ingham said the most painful reactions were from people who had called themselves friends.

“We have had friends who kept their kids away from us.”

“That’s much more painful than someone we don’t know well passing on a rumour.”

Despite bad days, the couple say they were “humbled” by support from many others, including Mr Carlos’ Catholic priest.

But he reserved his highest praise for Ms Ingham, who he calls his wife.

He said: “A friend made a comment about how well I was coping, and I said, ‘Bless you, but I haven’t – I folded a year ago’.

“I owe everything to my wife. I have maintained throughout this that the only reason I am still here is because of my wife, friends, family, and our children.

“That’s how I’ve kept going. Of course, you’ve only got two choices – sink or swim.”

Ms Ingham said: “Ultimately, we knew we hadn’t done it.

“It was the children that kept me going. Of course, there were moments that I fell apart, but you just have to pick yourself up again and keep going.”

Source: Bournemouth Echo

Wudrich Acquittal Appealed

February 20, 2013 permalink

Taking advantage of an oddity of the Canadian system of justice, or maybe injustice, the crown prosecutor is continuing efforts to convict Eunice Wudrich after she was acquitted by a jury in the death of her foster child Evander Lee Daniels. If her innocence stands, the province might have to explain who is really responsible for the boy's death.



Crown appeals verdict in foster child drowning death

Evander Lee Daniels
Eunice Wudrich, 45, was charged with criminal negligence causing death in connection with the death of Evander Lee Daniels
Photograph by: File Photo , Postmedia News

The Crown is appealing the acquittal of Eunice Wudrich, who was found not guilty of criminal negligence in the death of a toddler placed in her care by the Ministry of Social Services.

A notice of appeal was filed in the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan Tuesday afternoon in Regina. The Crown argues Justice Neil Gabrielson erred when deciding “what constitutes wanton or reckless disregard for the life or safety of Evander Lee Daniels.”

Twenty-two-month-old Daniels died on June 8, 2010 when he drowned in bathtub at an Aberdeen foster home. The tragedy happened after Wudrich left Evander alone in the bath with about two inches of water for an unknown number of minutes while she spoke to her husband a few steps away in the home’s kitchen, in order to show him some bruises on one of the other foster children.

The drowning is “a tragic and heartbreaking event” that should serve as a warning to all parents and child-care workers, Gabrielson said in delivering the not-guilty verdict on Feb. 1.

Source: Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Addendum: The appeal has been dropped. So on the record, no one is responsible for the death.



Appeal dropped in toddler death

Chris Martell
Chris Martell, the father of Evander Lee Daniels, who drowned in a bathtub filling with scalding water at an Aberdeen foster home at 22 months old, told reporters outside of court that he was shocked that there will be no appeal heard in the case of his son's death.
Photograph by: Hannah Spray , The StarPhoenix

The father of a toddler who died in foster care says he’s been told the Crown is not going to proceed with an appeal of the case.

In January, Eunice Wudrich was found not guilty of criminal negligence causing death, following a trial in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench. Evander Lee Daniels, 22 months old, died on June 8, 2010, when he drowned in a bathtub filling with scalding water at an Aberdeen foster home.

The Crown filed an appeal of the verdict with the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in February, but Chris Martell, the father of Daniels, said Tuesday he’s been told the Crown decided it did not have the grounds to go ahead with the appeal.

“On behalf of me and my family, we’re just real shocked that the appeal is not going through, just as we were shocked the verdict was not guilty,” said Martell during a media scrum.

“There’s no closure for me or my family.”

In February, about three weeks after Wudrich, 48, was acquitted, the Crown filed a notice of appeal, arguing Justice Neil Gabrielson erred when deciding “what constitutes wanton or reckless disregard for the life or safety of Evander Lee Daniels.”

Wudrich left Daniels alone in the bath with about two inches of water for an unknown number of minutes while she spoke to her husband a few steps away in the home’s kitchen to show him some bruises on one of their other foster children.

The Crown did not prove “that Eunice’s conduct showed a wanton or reckless disregard for the life or safety of Evander,” said Gabrielson, who called the drowning “a tragic and heartbreaking event” that should serve as a warning to all parents and child-care workers.

Anthony Gerein of the public prosecutions division in Regina confirmed the Crown filed a notice to abandon the appeal on Tuesday afternoon.

He said the Crown initially believed there was a legal error, but after closely reviewing the trial transcript, decided not to proceed.

“There was no reasonable likelihood of establishing the trial judge made a legal error,” Gerein said.

Martell said he has spoken with children’s advocate Bob Pringle, who indicated his office would conduct an investigation. Pringle was out of the country and unavailable for comment on Tuesday, but spokesperson Lisa Broda said the children’s advocate’s office would look at “determining the process” for the matter now that the court case and appeal process is concluded.

Source: Saskatoon StarPhoenix


February 19, 2013 permalink

Yesterday on family day there were vigils in different parts of Ontario for children harmed by the child protection system.

From Picton:

Here are photos from the Picton Ontario Rally & Candle Light Vigil in memory of all of the children and families whose lives have been unnecessarily destroyed because of the unlawful and immoral actions of the Private Corporate Children's Aid Societies in the Province of Ontario for no other reason than their own financial gain! [1] [2] [3] [4]. There are many more at the source link.

Source: Curtis Kingston

There is also a video from Picton on YouTube and local copy (mp4).

Pat Niagara gathered rally pictures from Chatham, Picton, the Niagara region and Brantford on YouTube with a local copy (mp4). Earlier in the day a group raised awareness by distributing flyers at Family Day Free Skate events in the Niagara region, also on YouTube with local copy (mp4).

There is one photo from the Chatham vigil, covered by the enclosed CK Review article.



Children’s Aid prevents families from being together on Family Day

McNaughton Avenue West and St. Clair Street, Chatham Ontario
CAS protestors gather at McNaughton Avenue West and St. Clair Street on February 18, Family Day.
Photo CKReview

Family Day is a day of togetherness, fun, a happy time with those who mean the most to us. For those separated from their families however, Family Day is a cold reminder of their pain.

That pain was clear in Chatham on Monday, as protesters braved frigid temperatures to spread their message that Children’s Aid Societies (CAS) needs oversight. Many judgements by Children’s Aid are overturned by the courts. Instances of abuse in foster homes are shared continually by a group of people dedicated to educating the public about the horrors they see.

Lee Bolton of Chatham has been a key organizer locally in protests against the CAS, known locally as Chatham-Kent Children’s Services. Bolton said, “Our focus is to educate the public. People decide we are all bad parents, but when people see the cases that come before the courts they are often shocked that the parents have done nothing out of the ordinary.” In an example of that, a woman travelled from London to share her experience. A daughter she had not raised came to live with her at age 15. The two did not get along, as the 15-year-old was told she could not have boyfriends overnight, and she would not be allowed to smoke pot at home. The girl complained to CAS that she was abused, and she went to live with her father. Now the mother has lost custody of her other children to CAS, based on false allegations by an estranged daughter.

That kind of story is not uncommon among CAS protesters. Hence the need for education according to Bolton. In an ironic twist Bolton points out that on Family Day, there were no supervised visits for those who legally can visit their kids. “The Chatham-Kent Children’s Services is closed on Family Day, meaning there will be no visits for family members who are separated and entitled to see their children,” she said, “these people have been through enough.”

Many CAS protesters will tell you that some people deserve to have CAS intervene, some children are terribly abused. Many times they point out the abuse within foster homes themselves. It isn’t that they seek to abolish the CAS, it is that the system itself needs revising.

The solution for the protesters is to have Ombudsman oversight of CAS. The way things are now there is no oversight of the CAS. Courts are heavily weighted to the CAS, who are armed with expensive lawyers who compete for the right to take children away from families who have no legal background. Much like how if a principal tosses a child out of his school, there is no court of appeal. The MUSH sector, which stands for municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals and includes CAS, long-term care facilities and police, is something that the Ombudsman of Ontario has worked towards having oversight for over 30 years.

Ontario is the only province that has no oversight of children’s aid, who are not a government organization. The Ombudsman of Ontario reports that more CAS complaints were received in 2011-2012 than complaints about police or hospitals.

Emphasizing the point, there were four times more complaints and inquiries about CAS than there were about school boards and ten times more than there were about universities. Of all the MUSH sector, only municipalities had more inquiries and complaints than the CAS. This is for a private institution, unlike police and school boards, that exists for making money.

As the protesters stood out in the cold, some people honked in support as they drove by. One car however drove past slowly and a woman’s voice could be heard saying “bad parents”. While in the comfort of her family, she took her time to remind the protesters of the ignorance out there and why they are there in the first place. The protesters thoughts in return? Said one cold looking grandmother with a sign in her hand, “Let’s hope her behaviour is not held against her by CAS. That kind of behaviour could be used against her at a custody hearing.”

Source: CKReview

The Picton Gazette and The Pioneer (Quinte) covered their vigil.



Picket requests Children's Aid accountability

Bill would give Ombudsman oversight ability

Picton vigil
ADVOCATES Members of the Canada Court Watch advocacy group spent their Family Day evening walking along Picton's Main Street in support of Bill 110 to allow the Ombudsman to review private Children's Aid Society actions and complaints.
(Adam Bramburger/Gazette staff)

Picton was the site of one of 10 demonstrations across Ontario this Family Day calling on the government to make Children's Aid Societies more accountable.

Curtis Kingston, a spokesperson for the advocacy group Canada Court Watch said the group is trying to gain support for Bill 110, which would make now-private Children's Aid Societies subject to reviews by the province's Ombudsman, just as government departments are.

"All we're asking for is accountability," said Kingston. "In my dream world, the Children's Aid Society would be a government agency that is held accountable."

Kingston said his organization chose Picton because a recent operational review by the Ministry of Family and Children's Services in light of sexual assaults in foster homes brought about some scary information.

"A lot of our fears were actually proven," he said. "Seldom had criminal record checks been done and as of Jan. 12, not one foster or group home was legally a place of safety."

He indicated a desire to see the ministry carry out similar reviews for all Children's Aid Societies within the province and act on the findings that come forward.

"This isn't just an issue in Prince Edward County, it's an issue across all of Ontario," he said.

Kingston noted that in that operational review of the local Children's Aid Society, the provincial rate for compliance with the Child and Family Services Act was listed at just 66 per cent.

He said many would really like to see a system where there is more government oversight of the agencies and some type of review board to turn to if there is a problem with a child protection worker, just as there is for social workers and police officers.

Kingston said such demonstrations have usually been met positively by the people in Picton because here, they know about the scandal that plagued the local C.A.S. Elsewhere, he said some have assumed the group is just disgruntled parents — a group he says shouldn't be dismissed either.

"Why are they disgruntled? A lot of people had good reason to be upset with the C.A.S," he said. "Before this review became public, that wasn't as evident. Now, those concerns are starting to be covered in the media."

Kingston said he is hopeful that with more people becoming aware of the situation, they'll join the lobby.

Bill 110 was referred to the porovince's Standing Committee on Justice Policy after Queen's Park politicians pushed it through second reading last October.

Source: Picton Gazette, page 24

Picton vigil
A rally and candlelight vigil was organized by Members of Canada Court Watch and the Ontario Coalition for Accountability to protest Children’s Aid Society and to promote the need for government accountability on the organization Feb. 18 in Picton. Here, Danielle Bloomfield looks down at her sign. She says her whole life she has had foster brothers and sisters and oftentimes questioned the decisions made to put them there.
Photo by Marta Iwanek

CAS under spotlight at protest

Picton location chosen for the rally following ministry investigation of significiant issues

A small group gathered to air big grievances against children’s aid societies, on Family Day in Picton.

Across from a Tim Hortons at Main and Walton streets, about a dozen people stood on the street corner, holding up signs against Children’s Aid and demanding an ombudsman and more oversight into each society.

Kelly Leveque carried a petition in her hands and wore a sign around her neck that read ‘Children’s Aid Destroys Families.’

“I have been fighting them now a total of 21 years,” said Leveque about Children’s Aid. “They [CAS] are destroying families that don’t need to be destroyed.”

Organizer Curtis Kingston of Canada Court Watch, chose a Picton location for the rally because of a recent news story detailing an unreleased government investigation into significant issues by Prince Edward County CAS in screening foster homes, as reported by The Belleville Intelligencer.

“The Picton CAS and multiple CASs in the area kept stating that this was one occurrence, one issue, somebody fell through the cracks and so on,” said Kingston.

“But what we’ve come to find out is that this wasn’t just one foster parent.”

Since November 2011, three former foster parents have been convicted of sexual abuse and another three foster parents were charged with sex crimes in the fall of last year, according to the Intelligencer.

“The reality is that we do need child protection. Obviously there are kids that need to be apprehended or they need help. They are getting abused,” said Kingston.

“My issue is when children get taken for frivolous reasons, and then they get put into homes that are definitely no better from where they were taken from in the first place.

“We’re trying to raise awareness on the issues so that hopefully one day CAS will be held accountable for their actions,” said Kingston, who says the societies need oversight, specifically an ombudsman.

Mark Kartusch, executive director of Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society said, “Our first and primary goal always is to make sure that children can stay with their family always.”

Kartusch said Highland Shores, newly amalgamated Northumberland and Hastings Children’s Aid societies, looks for extended family, or kinship, first.

The rare cases when a child needs to be placed into a foster home, case workers have five days to be in family court and provide justification for removal.

“I certainly understand that the public has the right to express their viewpoint,” Kartusch said. “Clearly it’s upsetting when children are brought into our care and removed from their homes. That’s why it’s a last resort.”

The Ministry of Children and Youth Services funds and monitors CASs, develops policy to support the child welfare program, and licenses children’s group homes and foster homes, said spokesperson Bre Betts, spokesperson for the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

If a family feels they haven’t been taken care of properly, they can file a complaint with the Child and Family Services Review Board. Someone trained in assessing situations, other than the primary caseworker, will investigate the complaint.

The Ombudsmen of Ontario has the authority to investigate occurrences in the course of the administration of a governmental organization.

The Ombudsman has not interpreted this authority to investigate children’s aid societies which are independent legal entities in Ontario, said Betts.

Kartusch says Highland Shores CAS has many effective mechanisms in place to screen potential foster homes and deal with complaints.

“Every time you add another oversight mechanism, you’re adding cost to a system that’s all ready burdened,” says Kartusch. “How many is too many?”

The rally continued into the night, with a march down Main Street followed by a candlelight vigil.

Source: The Pioneer

Family Day

RCMP Child Abuse

February 15, 2013 permalink

An unnamed RCMP officer and his wife are charged with child abuse. One of the victims was found wandering on a street alone showing signs of months of malnutrition and confinement.



Ottawa RCMP officer, wife charged after child abuse investigation

OTTAWA — An RCMP officer accused of beating and sexually abusing a boy hung his head in the prisoner’s box as a Crown prosecutor outlined the horrifying allegations against him during his first appearance in an Ottawa court Thursday.

The 41-year-old Mountie and his 34-year-old wife are accused of aggravated assault, failing to provide the necessaries of life and forcible confinement after a child abuse investigation. The husband is also facing a charge of aggravated sexual assault.

The Mountie was remanded into custody until Friday, when he is expected to be examined by a psychiatrist.

The accused are not being named to protect the identity of the victims.

According to police sources, the charges came after an 11-year-old boy was found wandering in an affluent Ottawa neighbourhood, starving and dehydrated.

The child is believed to have been confined with shackles and handcuffs in a basement for several months, causing bruising around his ankles and wrists. He managed to free himself from the restraints and escaped the home, sources say.

The child’s injuries are still being assessed.

Police said there is more than one victim, but wouldn’t say how many.

“Right now, our focus is on the victims of this,” Supt. Ty Cameron said Thursday. “You just need to look at the charges that are before the courts to know this is a case of horrific abuse.”

Neighbour Wilson Wong, 55, said he hasn’t slept well since Tuesday after he discovered a young boy fiddling with an outdoor garden faucet in his backyard around 3 p.m.

The boy, who was wearing a hoodie and pants, had sunken cheeks and spoke very quietly, said Wong, who said he feels terrible for not noticing any warning signs.

“I just want some water,” the boy had said, holding up a bottle.

After Wong filled the bottle in his kitchen, he asked the boy if he lived in the neighbourhood, to which the boy answered yes, in a quiet voice before walking away into the communal neighbourhood green behind Wong’s house.

“Looking back right now, with 20-20 hindsight, I think to myself, ‘how stupid can I be?’ Not really picking up on there must be something really wrong,” said Wong, sitting in his living room Thursday evening.

Wong said he didn’t sleep well that night but it wasn’t until early the next morning on his way to work that he saw a police car parked outside a nearby house.

“I walked over to the policeman and asked him, “Is this about the boy? Is he OK?” and he said, “Yeah, he’s fine. He’s in the hospital.”

While he felt some brief relief, it vanished later when Wong saw the news and knew something terrible had happened in his “quiet family neighbourhood.”

“At that time, I did not know it was so wrong,” said Wong, holding back tears. “If he had even slightly mentioned to me, ‘Can you help me?’ I would have sprung to action but I just simply had no clue.”

Meanwhile, the RCMP officer, who wore a black and blue winter coat and had his head shaved bald and stubble on his face, stood quietly with his hands in front of him after being led shackled into the courtroom Thursday.

He answered a barely audible “Yes, your Honour” when Justice of the Peace Julie Lauzon said his name.

Minutes earlier his wife appeared in court, wearing a white puffy winter jacket with fur fringes on the cuffs, her brown hair appearing somewhat dishevelled. She said her name quietly before being remanded in custody.

She is expected to appear by video Friday to set a date for a bail hearing.

Ottawa police said the officer was arrested Tuesday after an investigation at his residence. He is charged with three counts of aggravated assault, three counts of assault with a weapon, and one count each of aggravated sexual assault, failing to provide the necessaries of life and forcible confinement.

The woman is charged with three counts of aggravated assault, two counts of assault with a weapon — a wooden spoon — and with failing to provide the necessaries of life and forcible confinement.

Both the man and his wife were ordered not to communicate with a list of 10 people, including the child they are accused of abusing.

As of Wednesday the man was suspended with pay from his service as an RCMP officer and an internal investigation was underway, said Cpl. Lucy Shorey of RCMP A Division.

The officer has also not been on active duty since May of 2011.

Shorey said she could not give details about why the man hasn’t been on active duty, how long the man has worked for the RCMP or in what capacity for several reasons, including wanting to protect the identity of the youth involved.

But according to an affidavit the accused swore in December 2010 in relation to a separate matter, he was a member of the RCMP’s National Security Criminal Investigations program, an anti-terrorist unit.

A police cruiser and three unmarked police vehicles were parked Thursday afternoon at the man’s home in an affluent Ottawa neighbourhood. One neighbour said police had been at the well-kept two-storey home since Tuesday.

Anyone with information can call the Ottawa police sexual assault/child abuse unit at 613-236-1222, extension 5944.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Addendum: More charges.



Mountie faces new charges for second victim in Ottawa child abuse case

OTTAWA — A Mountie accused of physically and sexually abusing one child is now facing a new allegation that he assaulted a second child.

Court documents alleged the boy was assaulted with a wooden stick over a three-year period beginning in 2010. The child is now two-and-a-half years old.

The 41-year-old officer, who appeared in court by video Friday in an orange jail-issued coverall, is also facing a pair of new charges for carelessly storing a Winchester 500 .177 pellet gun and Winchester 9mm Luger ammunition.

The Mountie, who worked in an anti-terrorist unit, was already accused of abusing an 11-year-old boy who was allegedly shackled in a basement for several months, beaten and violently sexually assaulted. The boy was dehydrated and bruised around the wrists and ankles when he was found wandering around in an Ottawa neighbourhood in February.

Both the Mountie and his 34-year-old wife were charged after a search of their home. Neither can be named to protect the identity of the boy.

Each has been charged with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, failing to provide the necessaries of life and forcible confinement. The RCMP officer was also charged with aggravated sexual assault. The officer has also not been on active duty since May of 2011.

A three-day bail hearing has been set for the wife starting March 18.

The Mountie is due back in court by video on March 22.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Toilet Training

February 14, 2013 permalink

Foster mom Patricia Vanderwagen knows how to toilet train a boy: strip him naked and hose him down outdoors in New Mexico's December weather.



Foster mom accused of abuse

Patricia Vanderwagen
Photo: Patricia Vanderwagen

A Valencia County foster mom is accused of abusing the children in her custody.

35-year-old Patricia Vanderwagen was arrested in early February. CYFD says all five of the foster children she was caring for were also removed from her home.

According to the criminal complaint from Bosque Farms Police, CYFD received several complaints about Vanderwagen possibly abusing the kids.

CYFD took the kids to a physician at UNM Hospital, who reported to them the kids' injuries were not accidental. Later, in separate interviews with the kids, they had one shocking story in common.

They told investigators that on Christmas Day, one of the boys had urinated and defecated in his pants, so Vanderwagon had him strip down and stand outside in the cold while she hosed him off.

CYFD could not speak specifically to this case, but said in cases where foster parents are accused of abuse, if the allegations are substantiated, the parents lose their foster license.

Source: About KOB

Geralyn Graham Sentenced in Rilya Wilson Scandal

February 12, 2013 permalink

Rilya Wilson
Rilya Wilson

A decade ago Florida was shocked by the disappearance of Rilya Wilson. The girl had been placed in a foster home by Florida DCF but two years later social workers discovered the girl was not in her home. The foster mother said an unnamed social worker had picked up the girl over a year before and she had not seen Rilya since.

This week Florida completed the process of shifting the blame for the scandal. A decade of evidence gathering was not enough to get a jury to convict foster mother Geralyn Graham of murder, but the jury did convict her on some lesser offenses. The judge sentenced Graham to 55 years for the lesser offenses.



Geralyn Graham gets 55 years in Rilya Wilson foster child abuse case

Geralyn Graham
Geralyn Graham listens Tuesday to Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez during sentencing. She was convicted in the abuse and kidnapping of foster child Rilya Wilson.
Peter Andrew Bosch / Miami Herald staff

Even as she was about to face justice for kidnapping and child abuse, Geralyn Graham insisted she never harmed foster child Rilya Wilson.

“I love her too much to ever have done anything to her. Things have been greatly exaggerated,” Graham said. “I ask that those who believe I’ve done these things forgive me, and those who know in their hearts I would never do these things to keep praying for me. The truth will come out.”

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez, however, was not swayed — sentencing Graham to 55 years in prison. That means the 67-year-old Graham will likely die behind bars.

The judge lamented that Florida’s child welfare system failed the 4-year-old girl, whose disappearance from Graham’s home went unnoticed for more than a year.

“One can only be inherently evil to inflict that type of pain and torment on an innocent child,” Tinkler Mendez told Graham. “Rilya Wilson deserved nothing less than a loving, caring, nurturing environment. Instead she lived in fear and suffered in a house of torture, torment and abuse.”

Graham was convicted by jury last month. Tinkler Mendez could have sentenced Graham to as much as life in prison, and to as little as 11.5 years behind bars.

Prosecutors believe Graham smothered Rilya, a foster child, with a pillow, disposed of her body near water in South Miami-Dade, then spent years telling conflicting versions of what happened to the child. Jurors, by an 11-1 vote, deadlocked on a count of first-degree murder.

The jury convicted Graham of kidnapping, two counts of aggravated child abuse and one of child abuse.

After Tuesday’s sentencing, prosecutors embraced U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, a former state senator who championed Rilya’s case and pushed for DCF reform. Speaking to reporters, Wilson held hands with Rilya’s older sister, Brandy Sims, who doesn’t remember her little sister.

“She will spend the rest of her life in prison,” a satisfied Wilson said.

The case was significant for the Florida Department of Children & Families, which did not notice the girl was missing for 15 months. Graham told investigators that a mystery DCF worker whisked the child away for mental health treatment.

Graham was later arrested for and convicted of fraud. Based on incriminating statements from her domestic partner, Graham was then charged with aggravated child abuse of Rilya.

Her partner, Pamela Graham, no relation, agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of child neglect.

Pamela Graham, a meek shell of a woman, testified at trial that Geralyn Graham would bind the child’s hands to the bed railing with plastic “flex cuffs” and confine Rilya in a laundry room for hours.

A friend of the pair told police that Graham borrowed a dog cage to put Rilya in when she misbehaved, although no could say they saw the child in there as punishment.

Acquaintances also testified that Graham gave conflicting stories about what happened to the girl — to some, she claimed the girl was on a road trip with a “Spanish lady” friend.

A grand jury indicted Geralyn Graham in 2005 after she allegedly confessed in detail to inmate Robin Lunceford, who testified at trial over four days. Two other inmates also testified that Graham, while behind bars, suggested she killed the child.

Source: Miami Herald

Teen Attacked Foster Mom

February 12, 2013 permalink

Last summer a teenager in foster care in the Niagara region tried to kill his foster mother. He was a long-term foster child shipped in from Northern Ontario. She survived in part because she anticipated his behavior and removed all knives from his living space. This week he was sentenced to two years or more in the custody of Peninsula Youth Centre.



Teen sorry for trying to kill foster mom

ST. CATHARINES - A teenager who lured his new foster mother into her basement where he tried to beat her to death with a shovel and frying pan will undergo intensive treatment over the next two years.

“It’s hard to imagine a more horrific scenario,” said Judge Peter Wilkie in sentencing the teen, now 17, to a total of three years of custody and supervision for attempted murder.

The boy, whose name is protected by the Youth Criminal Justice Act, apologized in court Monday, addressing the judge while his former foster mom looked on from the gallery.

“I take full responsibility and have remorse for what I did,” he said.

“She didn’t deserve it. Nobody would deserve it.”

The court heard earlier that the teen from a northern Ontario children’s aid society had been with a Niagara Falls foster family for a short time in May 2012 when he called the 59-year-old mother to the basement.

She went downstairs, and the teen came up behind her with a shovel and hit her on the head. The woman fell and the teen repeatedly hit her with the shovel as she tried to grab it.

At some point, the teen let go of the shovel and the woman crawled to the stairs while he grabbed a couple of frying pans. The teen chased the woman upstairs, beating her with the pans.

The judge said the woman is alive today because, sensing the young man’s behaviour, she went downstairs prior to the attack and removed all the knives from the area he was living in.

“He utilized whatever weapons were at his disposal to try and batter her into submission,” the judge said.

The woman suffered injuries to her face and hands.

Wilkie said the material on the teen was “sobering” and he had a “dysfunctional, chaotic and alarming” upbringing. The teen had been in multiple placements and grew up without any of the stability a young person needs, he said.

“He is in many respects a victim as well,” he said,

Wilkie said the teen was a high risk to violently reoffend and is dealing with a multitude of issues that were outlined for the court by a psychiatrist.

“The need for an intensive rehabilitative sentence is obvious,” Wilkie said. “I have some hope these resources will not be wasted.”

The teen, represented by lawyer John Lefurgey, was sentenced to two years in custody at the Peninsula Youth Centre. Wilkie explained to the court that time could be increased, depending on how treatment goes.

“This young man’s problems are intense. They’re deep,” he said.

Once out of the centre, the teen will be supervised in the community for six months. He was credited with six months of pre-trial custody.

His former foster mother told the judge she approved of the rehabilitative treatment.

“I’m glad you’ve put that provision in that he gets the help he needs,” she said.

Peninsula Youth Centre

  • A secure custody and detention facility in Fenwick, with 32 beds for males ages 12 to 18 found guilty of a criminal offence.
  • Goal is rehabilitation and positive reintegration back in to community by providing cognitive-based pro-social programming and skill-based recreational activities.
  • Programs include anger awareness, victim awareness and problem solving.

Source: Banyan Community Services

Source: St Catharines Standard

Banyan - Peninsula Youth Centre
Peninsula Youth Centre 310 Cream Street, Fenwick Ontario
Google street view

Teresa Piruzza

February 11, 2013 permalink

Windsor West MPP Teresa Piruzza is Ontario's new minister of children and youth services.



Windsor West MPP Teresa Piruzza named to cabinet post

Windsor West Liberal MPP named minister of child and youth services

Teresa Piruzza
Windsor West MPP Teresa Piruzza will oversee child-care services, the Children’s Aid Society and adoption.
(Ontario Liberal Party)

Windsor still has cabinet representation in Queen’s Park.

Premier Kathleen Wynne on Monday named first-term Windsor West Liberal MPP Teresa Piruzza minister of child and youth services.

The appointment comes less than a week after Finance Minister Dwight Duncan announced his retirement. Windsor previously had former Windsor West MPP Sandra Pupatello hold several cabinet positions.

At one time, both were in cabinet together.

University of Windsor political science professor Cheryl Collier said two things make Piruzza an attractive member of cabinet. Collier called Piruzza a “solid member of parliament,” but said that Piruzza’s geographical location was the biggest reason for her appointment.

Piruzza is the sole MPP west of London.

“You want that person to be in cabinet, to show people in this area they aren’t being forgotten,” Collier said.

Wynne pledged to “govern all of Ontario” when she won the Liberal leadership last month.

“She was distancing herself from being seen as Toronto-centric. The way to combat that in the eyes of the electorate is to make sure you have people in your cabinet that regionally represents all of Ontario,” Collier said. “Really, Teresa Piruzza was her only choice in that respect.”

Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj called Piruzza’s appointment “the best news of the day.”

“To lose both Dwight and Sandra and have them replaced by Teresa is a big win for Windsor,” Musyj said.

Piruzza will oversee child-care services, the Children’s Aid Society and adoption. Collier said the portfolio doesn’t carry much weight and more or less shadows the education minister.

Still, Musyj said Piruzza “will play an integral role” in the hospital’s Regional Children’s Centre and the WE Care for Kids House, which opens March 1.

“We clearly have the need in this community and to have in Queen’s Park a direct voice and influential voice is great news for our community,” he said.

Source: CBC

Fear of Facebook

February 11, 2013 permalink

Social workers exercise control over their wards in part by keeping them igorant of their birth family. Today's technology is allowing parents and children to find each other, thwarting control by the social services system. Social worker Sue Kent writes in the Guardian of the new technology of Facebook, every paragraph oozing with fear, purportedly for the children, really for her own profession.

In real life, most adoptees are curious about their birth families, and it is rare for a birth mother to spurn her child. The so-called letterbox contact mentioned by Kent is a sham. Link for example.



Tracing birth families on Facebook can have a devastating impact all round

A Coronation Street storyline is highlighting a serious issue for adopted children and their families in the age of social media

Coronation Street
In Coronation Street, Faye traced birth father Tim online.
Photograph: Joseph Scanlon/ITV

Coronation Street's storyline of adopted child Faye Windass using Facebook to reunite with her birth father highlights a serious child-protection issue that can sometimes perplex social workers.

These days, it is likely there will be some form of agreed contact between adopted children and birth families, if it is in the child's best interests. That might be "letterbox" contact (where cards, letters or pictures can be sent via social services between birth parents and adopted children), or visits between birth siblings.

Adopted children are usually told the names of their birth parents, as an intrinsic aspect of "life story" work, where a social worker will help them to understand their past and their identity.

While letterbox contact ensures protection of the adopted family's identity and location, Facebook offers no such guarantee. Even with only minimal information, such as a name, it is not difficult to trace someone on Facebook. With a click of the mouse, an emotional hand grenade can be lobbed right into the middle of a family's life, and the fall-out can be devastating for all parties.

Contact may be initiated by either the birth parent or the adopted child, and both Adoption UK and the British Association for Adoption & Fostering have voiced concerns about how Facebook is increasingly being used for unplanned and unsupported communication and reunions between adoptive and birth families.

This is an extremely sensitive subject and there are many issues to consider. Some children may welcome contact, but some may be extremely disturbed by their birth families finding them, and may find that it resurrects frightening and upsetting memories. Depending on the details of the case, there may be solid reasons why an adoption is "closed" and no contact retained with the birth parent. Some adopted children run away to be with their newly discovered birth parents, placing them in some instances at risk of harm.

The British Association of Social Workers is seeing increasing numbers of social workers asking for advice on similar social-media-related issues, and has responded to this emerging space by launching a social media policy (pdf).

Only legislators have the power to review and decide on issues such as the long-term impact of Facebook and how it affects adoption arrangements, yet as the professional association for social work, BASW can still offer advice to members on how to deal with the impact of unsolicited contact on adopted children.

The rule of thumb is that the social work Code of Ethics must underpin all our practice, even when new technology questions accepted norms. The principles of communicating with children and young people remain the same; forging good relationships must be at the heart of everything we do.

As social workers know, and as adoptive mother Anna Windass in Coronation Street no doubt will discover, simply banning a young person from using the internet, or monitoring their usage, is akin to putting your finger in a dam.

Social workers and adoptive parents should instead focus on helping children and young people to understand why contact arrangements are in place, and help them to come to terms with the reality of their birth family and their past, without sugar-coating the truth or unfairly demonising people.

What all adoption organisations and social work professionals stress is the importance of the development of a relationship between adopter and child, which gives the child information rather than leaving them forced to dig for bits and pieces wherever they can and coming up with only a part of a complex jigsaw.

It will be interesting to see whether Coronation Street will go on to explore the thorny issue of adoption breakdown.

Research indicates that a failure to offer a child accurate and appropriate information about their past is a major contributor to adoption breakdown. Adopters, perhaps understandably, can still struggle with this, wanting to make the child "theirs" by erasing the past. Many adopters take a more empathetic view of birth families, but would still want any contact to be properly arranged and not to come out of the blue.

Any reunion between birth parent and adopted child would not normally take place until the child is at least 18, and involves a lot of preparation and communication. Today's generation of adopted teens are the first to grow up with Facebook, and they are frequently more familiar with using it than the adults around them. Initial contact made via Facebook is far from ideal, but it can't be stopped.

Social workers can't afford to be oblivious to or ignorant of social media.

But while some social work employers have embraced social media in some areas of their work many approach it cautiously in other areas.

This is why social workers may have to challenge employers to see social media as an opportunity rather than a threat for both professionals and service users. Local authorities and other adoption organisations need to be prepared to engage in this debate and provide training to support social workers, or they risk placing adoptive families under additional strain.

Sue Kent is professional officer for the British Association of Social Workers

Source: Guardian (UK)

Wrong Kid

February 11, 2013 permalink

When social workers took a toddler from a British nursery school to visit his dad, they grabbed the wrong boy. They all look the same to social workers.



Social worker took the wrong child out of primary school for a supervised visit with another child's father

  • Four-year-old Kenzie Joe Jubb, who has no dealings with social services, was removed from his nursery classroom
  • He was sent with a stranger to ‘see his father’ along with a two-year-old girl they mistakenly thought was his sister
  • Kenzie was driven to social services offices before teachers realised the error

An investigation has been launched after a social worker took the wrong child out of school for a supervised visit with another boy’s father.

Four-year-old Kenzie Joe Jubb was removed from his nursery classroom, and sent with a stranger to ‘see his father’ - along with a two-year-old girl they mistakenly thought was his sister.

He was away from his class at Francis Askew Primary School in Hull, East Yorkshire for more than 10 minutes and driven to social services offices before teachers realised the mistake.

Four-year-old Kenzie Joe Jubb was removed from his nursery classroom at Francis Askew Primary School in Hull, East Yorkshire, and sent with a stranger to 'see his father' - along with a two-year-old girl they mistakenly thought was his sister

Francis Askew Primary School
Four-year-old Kenzie Joe Jubb was removed from his nursery classroom at Francis Askew Primary School in Hull, East Yorkshire, and sent with a stranger to 'see his father' - along with a two-year-old girl they mistakenly thought was his sister

Now, his parents are demanding a full explanation as to why Kenzie, who has no dealings with social services, was taken.

His father Alistair Jubb said: 'We are furious. The school CCTV shows him being away for 11 minutes, but 11 minutes is a long time when your son is with someone he doesn’t know.

'How did they get the wrong child? We want to know exactly how this has happened.

'I am absolutely furious with the school. The head has assured me this will never happen again, but I wouldn’t have ever expected it to happen in the first place.

'Somebody has messed up somewhere along the line and we want to know who it was and how it happened.'

The school contacted the city council’s Safeguarding Children Board when they realised the error and an investigation is being carried out.

Mr Jubb said: 'The school called his mum and she was distraught. When she called me, all sorts went through my head.

'She said Kenzie had been taken out of school and the first thing that went through my head was that it was someone with a fake identification.

'It was horrific. His mum said he was back in school and those feelings of horror turned to anger.'

Mr Jubb said Kenzie was taken with a social worker who also had a two-year-old girl - the sister of the child who was meant to be taken from the school.

Mr Jubb said: 'I asked Kenzie if he had got in the car and where they took him.

'He said he was put in the car and the social worker told him he would be going to a house where there was a dog and he would be seeing his dad.

'He is only four. He was confused. He was taken by someone who he has never seen before in his life.'

Kenzie was driven to social services offices before the mistake was discovered.

It has since been confirmed the social worker was at the school to take one of the other children on an access visit to see their father.

Mr Jubb said: 'The head has apologised and said she has spoken to all the teachers involved.

'They have all re-read the policies for this and the school assured me they were going to change those policies.

'This has been a bit of a wake-up for them.

'They are going to change the policy, so they know the children are going out with someone they know.

'We are going to be contacted by people from safeguarding who will explain what has gone on and how things are going to change.'

Hull City Council confirmed a joint investigation will take place between themselves and the school.

John Readman, director of children’s services, said: 'This incident should not have occurred.

'Both the school and the local authority have apologised personally to the families involved for the distress this must have caused.

'Importantly, the child was at all times supervised by an experienced member of staff.

'All staff that work directly with children are subject to enhanced CRB checks and required to carry identification, as in this case.

'We now need to understand exactly what happened in this instance and ensure that correct procedures are followed at all times

'The school and the local authority are jointly investigating the incident.'

Source: Daily Mail

Obstructive Control Freaks

February 11, 2013 permalink

Australian Senior Youth Court judge Stephen McEwen has lashed out at the Department for Education and Child Development, the agency responsible for foster children. Referring to a case in which the department insists on separating two teenaged brothers he says:

I'm just sick and tired of that entire department being obstructive control freaks constantly throwing up pseudo-psychological reasons dressed up in social work speak for refusing to just have a look at the blindingly obvious.

In an earlier case before the same judge, the child protectors refused to follow the judge's orders on a boy's placement. The judge had no power to enforce his own order on the department.

A press article followed by the judge's actual remarks follow.



Judge Stephen McEwen terms child service officials controls freaks

Stephen McEwen
Youth Court judge Stephen McEwen has hit out at procrastinating bureaucrats
Source: adelaidenow

THE protection of troubled children has been hijacked by obstructive control freaks who rely on psychological advice instead of obvious solutions, a judge says.

Senior Youth Court judge Stephen McEwen has levelled scathing criticism against the Department for Education and Child Development - formerly known as Families SA.

In a transcript obtained by the Sunday Mail, he said the department was paralysed by its reliance on a team of highly paid psychologists. He said dedicated, caring social workers had been handcuffed and vulnerable children left at risk of further harm.

"If this sounds a little bit like a dummy spit, that's because it is," he said. "I'm just sick and tired of that entire department being obstructive control freaks, constantly throwing up pseudo-reasons dressed up in social work speak for refusing to just have a look at the blindingly obvious.

"They hire people who are social workers who are trained and probably want to do social work, but they don't let them because no one will do anything without running it past a bunch of psychologists ... I think it is just utterly pathetic."

Judge McEwen was hearing the case of a boy, 14, charged with trespassing and theft offences.

At a hearing last year, he was told the boy repeatedly ran away from juvenile detention to live with his brother, 15, who was being housed at a different youth facility. He ordered the department to house the boys in the same facility as soon as possible to lessen their chances of reoffending.

This week Judge McEwen was told that had not occurred. Instead, the department's experts were "assessing the possibility" of supervised contact.

"A bunch of probably highly paid experts sat around at a meeting ... seven people all with titles like `senior this' ... and came up with that facile, pathetic nonsense," he said.

"What's happening in that department? I mean, do they have any stationery or do they have to send that to psychological services to decide whether to order any pens and papers? If they had a conference they wouldn't be able to provide coffee or biscuits because psychological services would be deciding what to provide."

Judge McEwen said the situation was shameful.

"Every one of those people who was at that meeting ought to go have a long, hard look at themselves in the mirror," he said. "We can't guarantee that (the boys) living together would work out and magically stop them offending ... but why not have a decent crack at putting them at the same place?"

It is not the first time Judge McEwen has criticised child protection services.

In October 2010, he ordered Families SA to counsel an 11-year-old offender and his parents. The department refused to do so, claiming Judge McEwen had exceeded his jurisdiction. "I don't want to pull rank here, but I will if I have to. Unilateral variation of court orders is, quite frankly, not on," he said.

One month later, the department asked Judge McEwen to cancel that same boy's bail because he had disobeyed it and skipped school.

"You've got a lad here who the department want me to jail - the very same department who did not do what I required of them," he replied.

"I won't put him in custody unless someone from the department shares a cell with him."

Source: Daily Mail (Australia)

FULL transcript of Youth Court senior judge Stephen McEwen's comments:

"I made the radical suggestion that these two lads, who are both under guardianship, both been getting into trouble for a long time, both from dysfunctional backgrounds, and both often use the either reason or excuse that they're absconding from placements to be together, I made the radical suggestion that the department look at actually letting them live together under guardianship.

"You know what the department's response was? A bunch of probably highly-paid experts sat around at a meeting - I won't name them, I'll just count them - seven people all with titles like `senior this' and one of them's `senior psychologist'. You know what they came up with? `The following steps are recommended ... regular periods of structured' blah blah blah.

"I mean, every one of those people who was at that meeting ought to go have a long, hard look at themselves in the mirror. We can't guarantee (the boys) living together would work out and magically stop them offending, of course we can't. But are all of those highly-paid so-called expert people seriously suggesting that before they adopt - just give it a go, `suck it and see' I think is often the phrase used - what's the down side?

"What we've had for years and years is these two lads offending and being locked up for a long, long time. About seven or nine or something experts sit around at a big meeting and come up with that. That facile, pathetic nonsense. I mean, why not have a decent crack at putting them at the same place?

"For goodness sake, that department, Education and Child Development, are turning into control freaks who don't want to look at any suggestion by anyone. I mean, I'm just the Senior Judge of the Youth Court. They can look at one of my suggestions, assess it and say `well, it's not really worth going down that track'. But it doesn't seem all that radical to me. They're brothers.

"Here they are, all these people and the best they can come up with is `send it to psychological services'. What's happening in that department? I mean, do they have any stationery or do they have to send that to psychological services to decide whether to order any pens and papers? If they had a conference they wouldn't be able to provide coffee or biscuits because psychological services would be deciding what to provide.

"If this sounds a little bit like a dummy spit, that's because it is. I'm just sick and tired of that entire department being obstructive control freaks constantly throwing up pseudo-psychological reasons dressed up in social work speak for refusing to just have a look at the blindingly obvious.

"Now, I'm going to take this transcript and send it to whoever's in charge of Education and Child Development, if there is anyone in charge of it, because I think it is just utterly pathetic.

"Sure, they might put (the boys) in the same premises and they might abscond within a week. They haven't got great track records, either of them.

"I'd better be clear. Communities and Social Inclusion, which is the new name for what everyone understands to be Juvenile Justice, I've got no issue with. They do a great job, they do a terrific job. Not always perfect but then again neither am I. So I think we're all battling along the same boundary.

"For some reason, the crowd called Education and Child Development, which used to be called something else, but they do the care and protection stuff, I just don't understand what their culture is. Because they hire people who are social workers and who are trained and probably want to do social work, but they don't let them because no one else will do anything without running it past a bunch of psychologists. This is just sort of the high point or low point, whichever way you want to put it.

"Does that department really need a psychological assessment to tell them that it might be a good idea for two brothers aged 14 and 15 with dysfunctional backgrounds, no stability up to date in where they're been able to live under guardianship orders, and a record of offending, and knowing that they're young juvenile who might be just saying that as an excuse, but at the same time there might be something to it, do they need a psychologist to tell them it might be worth a crack to put them under the same roof for a while and see how it works out?

"As I say, what's going to be the down side?"

Source: Daily Mail (Australia)

control freak

Baby Injured in Foster Care

February 10, 2013 permalink

When Nicole Crow visits her baby in foster care she sees frequent injuries. Her complaints got the foster agency to change foster homes, but the injuries continued. Kansas DCFS apprehended baby Juliette claiming Nicole's boyfriend was dangerous. She terminated the relationship but did not get her baby back.



Mother, Grandmother File Complaint Over Suspected Abuse In Foster Home

Nicole Crow

Each picture of the bruises makes Mary Crow and her daughter, Nicole, more and more angry.

"I'm very concerned about it and I'm not going to put up with it," Mary Crow said.

Nicole snapped the pictures of her daughter, who is in foster care, during her weekly visit Wednesday. In the pictures, she says, you can see bruises all over her daughter's cheek. She suspects the bruises are from abuse.

The State removed Nicole's daughter, Juliette, last February over allegations that Nicole's abusive boyfriend made the home unsafe. Nicole says her daughter was never abused in their home.

So, she says, it's not right that for the second time since Juliette has been out of her care, she's had to file a complaint with the Department of Child and Family Services over suspected abuse in Juliette's foster homes.

Nicole says this time a Youthville case worker told her the foster family's dogs were playing and Juliette somehow got caught in the middle. Nicole says she doesn't believe that story.

"My first thought was that she was getting abused again in another home and I needed to do something about it," Nicole Crow said.

In November, she says her daughter showed up for a visit with bruises and bite marks. Nicole says Juliette was removed from that foster home after she and Mary filed a complaint.

"Then they move her to another home and the same thing happens to her where a dog is attacking her? What is going on?" Mary Crow said.

Representatives for Youthville and the Department of Child and Family Services told KAKE News Friday they can not comment on any specific case due to privacy concerns.

Youthville Director of Marketing and Sales, Lynn Deckinger, says there is a process in place to help families with any kind of concern or incident. She says after a concern is brought to their attention, their first step is to ensure the child is "safe and protected." Next the team informs the parents and connects them with the Department of Child and Family Services which conducts an investigation.

"We definitely understand all parents concerns and that is one reason it is so important for agency's to have a process in place for families," Deckinger said in an email.

But Mary and Nicole say they think there's a bigger issue than just their case. They say they think the state's foster care system is failing vulnerable children.

"Even if they (the case workers) are checking once or twice a month, they need to do a lot more checking," Mary Crow said.

They say they don't want what they think happened to Juliette, to happen to other children.

"It's not right, these children need to be protected," Mary Crow said. "If they are not protected by the State, who will protect them besides us?"

Nicole says she is no longer in a relationship with her previous boyfriend. She says she has a steady job and a place to live. She says she has a court date scheduled for February 28th. She hopes to get her daughter back at that time.

Source: KAKE Wichata

Suborning Fraud

February 8, 2013 permalink

Foster parents in New Brunswick say social workers encouraged them to falsely claim respite care when other services were provided. Now the government of New Brunswick is threatening to consider the claims fraudulent. The social workers who advised the practice are not being threatened.



Parents of special needs children worried about fraud charges

Say social workers told them to falsify respite care forms to use money for other services

Some New Brunswick families who have children with special needs say they're worried they may be investigated for fraud after years of being encouraged by social workers to falsify their respite care forms.

The provincial government recently sent out a letter outlining the rules for getting financial help to bring in a caregiver to give parents a break from taking care of their children, who sometimes require around-the-clock care.

The letter, sent to 245 Social Development clients in the Fredericton region in December, states that if the respite care claims are not filed accurately, it could be "considered fraudulent."

But some parents, such as William McKelvie, say they were actually encouraged by social workers to falsify the forms to use government money allocated for respite care for other services instead.

Now, they're worried they may have been influenced into breaking the law.

"To see the word: 'considered fraudulent,' that's a big word with serious implications. That's criminal," said McKelvie, a pastor who has a nine-year-old son with autism.

"You told us to do this, you've counselled us, you've accepted this, you've done it yourselves. And now you're saying it's fraud.

"Are we going to be charged? Are we going to be investigated? Are we going to have child protection on our door? All these things that we don't need as parents [of children] with special needs. We've got enough on our plate," he said.

The Department of Social Development is "unaware of any such claims that social workers have been providing inadequate advice," according to an email from a spokesperson.

Used money to teach son life skills

The McKelvies say they rely on money from the province to help pay for the extra care their son requires, as well as respite care for themselves.

But they used a portion of their respite money to hire an autism intervention worker to help teach their son life skills and social skills.

"She helped him and taught him and worked through for a year-and-a-half, maybe even two years, to get him to a hair dresser to get his hair cut," said the boy's mother.

"I used to have to cut his hair when he was asleep, laying in bed because he was so anxious about getting his hair cut," she said.

The problem is intervention workers cost more than regular respite workers and that type of service isn't what the money is supposed to be spent on, according to the letter from the provincial government.

Still, some parents say they've been doing it for years under the guidance of their social workers.

"We would get 10 hours for $20 an hour, but we were asked to still record it on the paper as being 20 hours for $10 an hour because they said they couldn't approve the other, it didn't work in their system," said Francine McKelvie.

She says they felt wrong about it from the beginning, but it was for their son and their social worker appeared to be saying it was just "the way it was."

The McKelvies' intervention worker, Julie Wilson, says she's lost all but one of her autistic clients since the government letter was sent because parents can no longer afford her services.

"It's devastating," said Wilson, owner of Julie's Pathways Educational Services. "It's had an effect on employees, obviously. The biggest effect are the children, who are going without services and losing skills."

Source: CBC

Augmenting Child Deaths

February 7, 2013 permalink

Michael Petit, President and Founder of Every Child Matters Education Fund, says that a bill enacted by the US congress and signed by the president will stop the killing of 2,500 children annually. It creates a national commission to look into ways of saving children by removing them from homes where they are endangered by their own parents.

Fixcas has accumulated data to show that the death rate in foster care is ten times that of parental care, so by that measure removing children accentuates the danger of abuse. Mr Petit's figures are even worse. In 2009 he released a report titled We Can Do Better showing one death from child abuse in each state. At that time fixcas did an analysis. Mr Petit's own data suggests foster care is at least twenty times as dangerous as parental care. The corrected headline of the enclosed Huffington Post story should read: Congress Votes, Unheralded, to Augment the Killing of 2,500 Children.



Congress Votes, Unheralded, to Stop the Killing of 2,500 Children

Last month, in the final hours of the 112th Congress, the Senate, following a 330-77 House vote, unanimously and quietly adopted H.R. 6655. The president signed the bill into law. National press did not acknowledge the bill's enactment. What accounted for such bi-partisan support from a bitterly divided Congress that otherwise passed very few laws? This law, An Act to Protect Our Children, is meant to stop the killing of very small children.

Unrelated to the horrific Newtown massacre, the new law addresses a worsening child violence issue: the killing of upwards of 2,500 children in their own homes annually at the hands of family members, the equivalent of two Newtowns per week. Over 20,000 mostly toddlers and babies were killed during the last decade, 10 times the number of U.S. military personnel killed in Afghanistan in the same period. More than 80 percent of the children killed were three or younger, over half were under one. The dangerous conditions in which many of these victims lived were known to authorities. The existing civil and criminal proceedings meant to protect them were inadequate.

Almost none of the children were killed by guns. Most died from blunt force trauma -- punching, kicking, shaking -- and some from unspeakably cruel treatment. The children in Newtown died at a school, a wonderful symbol of our commitment to children, a public sanctuary where children learn in a protected setting. The children who died from abuse in the most private, and usually most nurturing of sanctuaries, their homes, died at the hands of those they were meant to trust.

By adopting the law, Congress is acknowledging that when children cannot be safe in their homes it falls to the rest of us to protect them, whatever our ideology. The law creates a national commission to develop a strategy for ending child abuse fatalities. No such national strategy now exists. The direct protection of children at risk of serious harm rests with state and local governments. There are some six million children reported abused or neglected each year, reflecting much higher rates than reported in other rich democracies. A recent GAO Study found reporting data on child abuse to be uneven from state to state, making it difficult to measure the true scope of the problem. A recent CDC study estimated the cost of abuse and neglect to society to be $124 billion annually. Among the roots of much abuse and neglect are high U.S. poverty rates, too early parenthood, weak family formation, an even weaker social safety net, and failure to bring to scale proven prevention programs. Altogether, this adds up to very big problems -- abuse and neglect are associated with school failure, criminal behavior, unemployment, substance abuse and depression.

The federal government provides nearly half of the funds states spend to protect children along with much of the statutory framework, technical assistance, research, training and modest, if not weak, amounts of state oversight. It's not enough. Because of wide variations in state spending and policies meant to protect children, children at grave risk -- their lives threatened -- are more likely to receive protection in some states than others; the fatality rates in some states are 10 times higher than others. These disparities require a close look.

Soon, 12 individuals will be appointed to the commission by the president and Congress, charged with the daunting task of proposing a strategy to end the killing of our littlest citizens. Drawn from medicine, social work, law enforcement, mental health, child protection and other disciplines, the commission will wrestle with such questions as how best to identify children at the greatest risk of being killed and how to quickly gather different disciplines and institutions to surround the children in greatest trouble. It will need to look at how to modify confidentiality laws, which were initially meant to protect victims of abuse, but are now often used as a barrier to keep from the public information it needs to improve the system. The commission will review multi-disciplinary models that show proven or promising methods for protecting children, and it will consider the proper role of the federal government in stopping the killing. Finally, the commission will address the larger question of preventing the entirely preventable abuse and neglect in our culture.

One thing Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, seemed to be saying in creating the commission: We recognize our country can do better to protect children. Show us a way. The Committee is expected to begin its work by late spring.

Michael Petit is President of the Every Child Matters Education Fund in Washington, DC.

Source: Huffington Post

Community Snitching

February 7, 2013 permalink

Today's story from Free Range Kids shows that problems for parents come not only from social workers, but from busybody members of the general public.



“Please Tell Me I’m Not Crazy” Says Mom Who Left Child Unattended a Few Moments

Hi Readers — Can you EVER leave your child unattended for a few minutes in a public place? That’s today’s big question. – L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: Last night I took my 5-year-old son and almost 3-year-old daughter to Taco Bell. High class, I know. The restaurant was pretty busy, about five full tables at any one time. My son needed to use the restroom and upon hearing this my daughter decided she needed to go, too. My son went to the men’s room, which has no stalls, just a toilet and a locking door. I took my daughter to the ladies room. We took a bit of time, more that usual, but my son still wasn’t out by the time my daughter and I were done. After sitting at our table for a bit I felt the need to check on my son. Since I was estimating it would only take 10-20 seconds I left my daughter at our table. Twenty seconds turned into about two minutes as I discovered my son needed help wiping (he still needs a bit of help sometimes if it’s, erm, messy).

When I came back to my table my daughter was still in her highchair and looked content. The ladies sitting next to me, however, were not. My daughter told me, “The lady asked me if I was okay and I said yes!” I turned around and was about to tell her thank you for looking out for my daughter, when she started ripping into me. She told me, “You daughter was choking on her water.”

I asked my daughter, “Did you choke on your water or just cough?” In our family there is a distinction between the two. My daughter answered that she’d coughed. I turned back to the lady and said, “She’s getting over a cold and still coughs.” Her answer? “All the more reason you shouldn’t have left her.” She asked me how I could just leave my kid there and I said I’d needed to check on my son. She responded, “Then you should have taken her with you. You are so irresponsible! Anyone could have walked in here and just taken her!” I looked her right in the eye and said, “You would have let someone take my kid?” She was taken aback by that, then raised her voice and said, “I could have called CPS on you! I SHOULD have called CPS on you! You don’t deserve to have your kids!”

A bit more was said about how irresponsible I was, and then she left with her friend. I was so humiliated. I sat there imagining if the tables had been turned. If I was at a fast food joint and saw a mother trying to deal with two young kids I would have kept the kid entertained while the mother was with her other child. I wouldn’t have felt the need to involve government authorities. I was just blown away by this woman’s vitriol.

In hindsight, yes, I should have taken my daughter with me. However, I really was not expecting a 20-second check to turn into a two-minute “let me clean you up.” Nevertheless, I did feel comfortable having my daughter sit by herself. She is very independent and the restaurant was full of people. I felt that the community would have pitched it.

I guessed wrong. — Krista

To which I replied:

No, Krista, you were RIGHT. You were not crazy , the other woman was: I’d like her to explain, step by step, the exact scenario by which some kidnapper who just HAPPENED to be in that exact restaurant at that EXACT moment would have sprinted off with your child in front of all those other people. Does she have any idea how RARE stranger kidnappings are? (Rhetorical question. For a reality check, I refer everyone to my “reassuring crime statitics” link on the right side of this blog.) And I LOVE your response to the busybody, “Would YOU have let someone take her?” Why don’t onlookers realize that they are PART of the safety net that looks after our kids and not the shame brigade? And the knee-jerk idea that some government authority should be involved to punish the “imperfect” parent is grating, too. This has become all too common, as if citizens WANT Big Brother bitch-slapping any parent who dares to trust her community, her instincts and her child.

Life is NEVER perfect and if it HAD to be for our species to survive, we’d be on display at The Museum of Natural History as a quaint, extinct (and often rude) species.

What’s crazy about our society is how we assume children are in danger at ALL TIMES, no matter how normal and unthreatening the circumstances. – L.

Taco Bell logo

Think outside the social norms!

Source: Free Range Kids

Alberta CFS Sued

February 6, 2013 permalink

Mother Andrea Lee Badger is suing Alberta Child and Family Services for a million dollars damages after her estranged husband Jason Bruce Cardinal killed their two sons in December 2010. At the time both his wife and CFS were trying to take away his children.

An older article also enclosed names the deceased boys as Caleb Cardinal, age 3, and Gabriel Cardinal, age 6.



Mother of two murdered boys sues Alberta Children's Services

Edmonton home of Jason Bruce Cardinal
EPS forensics officers walk into a townhouse in Edmonton's northeast on Monday, December 20, 2010, while investigating the scene of a suspicious death where the bodies of two children were found late Sunday night, December 19.
Photograph by: Chris Schwarz,

EDMONTON - The mother of two young boys under provincial care who were murdered by their father during an unsupervised weekend visit is suing the Alberta government for more than $1 million.

Andrea Lee Badger’s lawsuit alleges Child and Family Services “cause or contributed to” the deaths when they allowed the boys to stay with Jason Bruce Cardinal even though he had obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety and anti-social personality disorder with sociopathic tendencies.

Cardinal should only have been allowed supervised visits with his family, says the statement of claim. Child and Family Services had a duty to monitor and investigate Cardinal’s mental state which necessitated he take daily medications, the lawsuit says.

The province “failed to take the necessary steps that were reasonable under the circumstances to prevent the wrongful deaths” of the children and keep them safe, the lawsuit says.

In November, the 33-year-old Cardinal pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of his sons, who were three and six years old.

On the night of Dec. 19, 2010, Cardinal injected the boys with morphine and then strangled them as they slept. Police found the dead boys in bed with their father. One had a towel wrapped around his neck and the other a pillowcase. Cardinal had attempted suicide by slashing at his arms with a box-cutter, but recovered.

Police entered Cardinal’s home after Badger could not reach him for hours on the day she was scheduled to pick up the boys, less than a week.

Cardinal’s trial heard that he was worried he would lose custody of his children the day he killed them. While still in hospital, Cardinal told police that what happened to his sons was the “right thing.” He could not live if his boys were taken away from him and they were now safe, he said.

Cardinal and Badger met in 2001 and were living as a common-law couple by 2002. By 2008, they had two sons and Badger had given primary custody to Cardinal so she could work in northern Alberta.

On February 22, 2010, the two boys were apprehended from Cardinal and placed in Badger’s care. Five weeks later, Cardinal was permitted to have weekly, supervised visits with the boys at Badger’s home in Bonnyville.

In August 2010, Cardinal was granted unsupervised visits despite the objections of Badger, who thought the visits should remain supervised by the province because of “his various medical conditions and his improper treatment of the children.”

Badger and Cardinal were in the middle of hearings to further address his access to the boys when they were killed.

A provincial fatality inquiry will be held into the two deaths, but it has not yet been scheduled.

Badger is asking for $1,030,000 in damages.

A statement of defence has not been filed.

Statements of claim contain allegations that have not been proven in court.

Source: Calgary Herald

Edmonton man pleads guilty to strangling sons to death

Caleb Cardinal and Gabriel Cardinal
Caleb, 6, and Gabriel Cardinal, 3, are seen in a family photo. Their father, Jason Bruce Cardinal has pleaded guilty to murdering the two boys.

An Edmonton man who drugged and strangled his two young sons just before Christmas in 2010 pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder on Friday.

Jason Bruce Cardinal, 33, was then handed a sentence of life in prison with no eligibility of parole for 25 years.

The boys’ mother, Andrea Badger, read out a victim impact statement in court saying she remains “lost” over the deaths of her “innocent and pure” sons and called Cardinal the “weakest coward” she has ever known.

Outside court, Badger described the boys as opposites who “completed each other” and “loved life.” She also said she hopes the sentencing brings closure.

“I’m just glad it’s done for and he will be gone for 25 years and can’t harm us,” said Badger.

According to agreed facts, Cardinal planned to kill the two boys – Caleb, six, and Gabriel, nearly four – and himself because he was upset over losing custody of them.

Police found the murdered boys lying on either side of Cardinal in a bed in his townhouse near 119 Avenue and Abbotsfield Road on Dec. 19, 2010. One had a towel around his neck and the other a pillowcase.

A groggy and incoherent Cardinal was taken to hospital with self-inflicted cuts and told police what had happened was the “right thing” as he wasn’t going to let the boys’ mom “destroy” their lives and now they were “safe.”

Police also found in the townhouse a note indicating where the boys were in the home, a will and two letters documenting what Cardinal had done and why.

There was also a pink post-it note stating: “Wait for boys to die or fall asleep. Smother if needed.” It also had a list of four items detailing what pills Cardinal was planning to take and ending with “slit artery” and “fall asleep with my boys forever.”

Autopsies determined the boys died of strangulation and toxicology tests showed they both had non-lethal amounts of morphine and sleep medication in their bodies.

Crown prosecutor Allison Downey-Damato said Cardinal breached the “ultimate trust relationship,” that of parent and child, and said the detailed planning he did shows a suicidal mind “can be as devastating” as a homicidal one.

“It is difficult to imagine a crime more heinous than killing your own children while they were in their most vulnerable, drugged and asleep,” said Downey-Damato.

Defence lawyer Alex Pringle said Cardinal decided to plead guilty after psychiatrists ruled “he was not psychotic and he knew what he was doing.”

When asked if he had anything to say, Cardinal, a large, heavily tattooed man with glasses and a moustache and sculpted beard, said “nothing at this time.”

As a result of being convicted of multiple murders, Cardinal is not eligible for the so-called faint hope clause, where killers can go before a jury and seek an earlier parole date after serving 15 years.

Source: Edmonton Sun

Grifting the Government

February 5, 2013 permalink

Over a two year period the managers of Community Care Resources in Middleton Wisconsin diverted a third of their funding from the Department of Children and Families for personal use. An audit by Ron Hermes found that Dan and Mary Simon charged $6.1 million in personal expenses to the taxpayers.

$3.1 million was transferred from Community Care Programs, a related nonprofit that provided foster care programs for counties in Wisconsin, to Community Care Resources, a for-profit company. These payments were charged by the for-profit for "administrative services" such as paying office staff and social workers and reimbursing their expenses, but there's no documentation of those charges.

Dan and Mary Simon received more than $500,000 in inflated salaries.

Their company billed the state for $64,000 in personal travel, including multiple trips to Alaska and Hawaii, and one case in which Mary Simon competed in the Boston Marathon and had her travel expenses covered.

The couple used $123,000 for everything from remodeling and landscaping of their homes to six vehicles and three boats, including a $43,000 2010 Lexus RX350.

They received hundreds of thousands of dollars for miscellaneous expenses that lacked proper documentation.

- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A news article is enclosed, here is the letter from Ron Hermes as images.



Foster care agency owners unapologetic over allegations of massive overbilling

Community Care Resources
Community Care Resources in Middleton, photographed Friday, Feb. 1, 2013.
Dan Simon
Dan Simon
Mary Simon
Mary Simon

After a review accused them of charging taxpayers millions of dollars in inflated salaries, expensive trips and maintaining a fleet of personal vehicles, boats and homes, the owners of a Middleton foster care agency shot back that they were grossly underpaid and proposed to “upwardly adjust” their salaries.

Dan Simon’s response is contained in a 27-page fiscal review of Community Care Resources charges over three years released Monday to the State Journal.

The state Department of Children and Families is seeking to revoke the company’s license, alleging Simon and his wife, Mary, overcharged taxpayers $6.1 million between 2009 and 2011, or roughly $1 of every $3 in public funds the company received.

Dean Simon vigorously denied the allegations, and an appeal of his license revocation is pending.

Also Monday, DCF spokeswoman Sara Buschman said the department’s ongoing review of foster care providers resulted in two providers surrendering their licenses after the state pursued revocation. She did not name the providers but said “neither was on the scale of the current issues with CCR.”

According to the state, Dan Simon earned just over $1 million in salary during the three-year period while Mary Simon, the company’s program director, earned $382,047 — an amount the state alleges is at least $531,000 too much for their positions.

In his response, Simon said the pay he and his wife received is “inordinately low” compared with similar positions elsewhere and does not take into account the couple’s extensive experience and broad responsibilities.

Simon claimed some of the questioned expenses were legitimate, such as $19,424 for outings to Noah’s Ark for foster children and parents that he described as “therapy.” In other instances he told state reviewers that he reported “unallowable” expenses, such as insurance on six cars and three boats, but did not charge the state for them.

The state rejected those arguments.

Community Care Resources is a 24-year-old for-profit company that has 30 employees and contracts with county social-service agencies, other agencies and one tribe in 25 counties. As of Jan. 23, the company was overseeing placement of about 120 children in 57 licensed foster homes, according to DCF.

The state said between 2009 and 2011, the company and a related nonprofit that ceased operations in 2010 got $18.1 million in contract revenues. The Department of Children and Families is seeking reimbursement of $6.1 million of that.

The largest single questionable expense is $3.1 million charged from the for-profit to the nonprofit for “administrative expenses.” The state alleges that Simon failed to produce any documentation justifying those charges.

In a letter revoking Community Care Resources’ license to place children with foster care families, DCF listed nearly $5 million in excess and unallowable costs or charges for which the company had no paperwork.

However, the letter did not mention an additional $1.3 million in “excess profits” that CCR allegedly earned over the three-year period that was listed in the more extensive fiscal review released Monday.

Simon declined to comment in an email Monday. His attorneys did not immediately return email messages seeking comment.

Buschman said Community Care Resources will continue operating while the revocation is appealed. No hearing date has been set. However, she said counties are now directly paying foster parents, rather than through CCR, while the appeal is pending.

Sen. Rob Cowles, co-chairman of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, on Monday repeated his call for an audit of the foster care program and a criminal investigation by the state Department of Justice into the allegations.

“The use of any taxpayer money for personal gain is unacceptable,” said Cowles, R-Green Bay. “The fraud, theft and abuse of Wisconsin’s programs will not be tolerated.”

Buschman and DOJ spokeswoman Dana Brueck both declined comment on whether a criminal probe was under way. Buschman said the Department of Children and Families is continuing to review other child-placement agencies “and final reports will be forthcoming.”

Source: Wisconsin State Journal

Addendum: Only a day later, the same story, this time from New Jersey.



Audit: N.J. child welfare nonprofits misspent as much as $12.2M

TRENTON — They were hired to recruit people willing to open their homes to abused children and prepare them for the demands of foster parenting.

But an audit released today found that among 20 community agencies hired by the state, several had misspent or failed to refund a total of $12.2 million from January 2010 to June 2011 —some by awarding themselves bonuses, throwing themselves a party at a country club, or hiring others to do the work and pocketing the proceeds.

The audit by the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services found the department spends $39.9 million in contracts a year to hire 20 community agencies to manage the foster care needs of 522 children, while the other 5,229 foster children in New Jersey's child welfare system are supervised directly by state workers. Given how much the state is spending on such a small pool of kids, the Department of Children and Families should end those contracts and handle all foster care services in-house to "better monitor and control their delivery," according to the audit.

State auditors uncovered $4.2 million in “unallowable” and “unreasonable spending” by several unidentified foster care agencies. They include:

  • A CEO who awarded herself and 13 employees $121,500 in bonuses ranging from $2,500 to $22,000 each.
  • One agency threw itself a $2,000 country club holiday party for 50 adults and 10 children and bought $5,900 in “designer merchandise” and gift cards;
  • One agency used $126,000 in contract money to pay the mortgage in violation of the state contract.
  • One company charged $1,800 in gym memberships for its employees.

The audit report did not disclose names of the individuals or companies it cited.

Department of Children and Families Commissioner Allison Blake said that her staff was already taking a hard look at ending the foster home contracts.

“Fortunately, we are currently at a point within our child welfare reform where we ... (are) now licensing more than two times the number of beds than the number of children currently in foster care,” Blake wrote in an email to employees and other child welfare professionals late today. “While contracted foster care agencies and the support provided by them and the parents was critical to DCF many years ago at a time when the state had a significant deficit… today we must re-evaluate the program,” according to her email.

Assembly Human Services Committee Valerie Vanieri Huttle, (D-Bergen) called the findings “incredible. . . .Where are the internal controls?”

Huttle said she’s contacted the auditors and will draft legislation “to make sure there is no future abuse.”

The audit also found contractors should have returned $3.9 million in unspent cash, and while human error and technology glitches allowed the department to overpay agencies $630,000 from 2008 to 2012.

Source: Newark Star-Ledger


Vancouver Rally

February 3, 2013 permalink

Rally in Victory Square Vancouver BC January 31, 2013
click for larger image

A themed "Give Our Children Back" rally took place in Vancouver on January 31. Speakers were:

Rose Siccama
YouTube mp4
John West
YouTube mp4
Annaliese Pennycook
YouTube mp4
Tavis W Dodds
YouTube mp4
Velvet Martin
YouTube mp4
Jennifer Allen
YouTube mp4

Velvet Martin speaks at the MCFD Protest Thursday January 31, 2013 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM at Victory Square in Vancouver (Cambie and Hastings).

Source: YouTube

No Apology

February 3, 2013 permalink

English parents Kelly Cook and Ian Hutchison had a daughter Ava with a skin problem. They were threatened with child removal for three weeks by an inept social worker who thought the discoloration was from child abuse. When the case was dropped, the family got no apology.



Southampton couple feared they would lose baby over false abuse claims

Kelly Cook and Ava Kelly Cook
Kelly Cook and her daughter Ava Kelly Cook and her daughter Ava

A COUPLE suffered “three weeks of hell” after social workers accused them of harming their baby daughter.

Kelly Cook and partner Ian Hutchison found themselves under investigation, leaving them terrified that seven-week-old Ava would be taken away from them.

Their traumatic ordeal began after their health visitor, during a regular check-up a week before Christmas, noticed a reddish mark on the bottom of Ava's right foot and called in Southampton City Council's child services.

Convinced it was a bruise - which a baby so young would have been unable to cause itself - social services immediately drafted in the police and doctors as they launched an investigation into the young family who were left petrified that they would lose their daughter.

Within hours Kelly, 35, and Ian, 31, found themselves under investigation at the hospital where a number of paediatricians and a dermatologist examined Ava.

Unable to rule out a birthmark they were asked to bring Ava back two days later for a second look.

But on this visit the dermatologist was not there and because the mark had faded it was judged to be a bruise and Ava was forced to undergo numerous tests, scans and x-rays.

Desperate Kelly and Ian insisted that the mark was not a bruise and said it kept reappearing and fading.

They even provided photographic evidence to prove it but nobody listened. They were told that social services believed Ava was at serious risk of harm and her parents were only allowed to keep her if they stayed with Ian's parents.

But despite the serious concerns over Ava's safety, the family did not see or hear from social services for nine days over the Christmas period, leaving them totally in the dark of what was happening.

It wasn't until December 31, when a social worker finally did visit, that she witnessed the mark appearing and disappearing on Ava's foot, proving what her parents had been arguing from the start - that it wasn't a bruise.

A week later an examination by a dermatologist at the hospital confirmed that it was not a bruise and within ten minutes Kelly and carpenter Ian got the call they had been longing for.

They were told that the case against them was closed and they could return home with Ava.

But there was no apology or explanation.

Now Kelly and Ian, from Shirley, Southampton, are demanding answers from social services about why they were never listened to, why Ava was never visited while they were staying at her grandparents house if she was deemed to be at serious risk and why they have not yet received an apology.

Kelly, a legal secretary, said: “We were effectively house bound over Christmas. We couldn't go anywhere without Ian's parents and even my parents had to be police checked before we could go to their house on Boxing Day.

“Yet what we cannot understand is that if they were so worried about Ava, why did no one come and visit us for nine days? It makes no sense.

“Had they listened to us, looked at the photos I had taken of Ava's foot, this could have all been cleared up within two days.

“Instead, they refused to listen. They ruined our first Christmas with Ava, which we will never get back and we spent weeks petrified that we might lose her.

“What they have put Ava through, with all the tests, scans and x-rays, being poked and prodded, is abuse in itself. It has been very traumatic for Ava to go through all that.

“I think it is disgusting and they haven't even apologised.

“We were put through three weeks of hell and we want this exposed so that other innocent families do not endure the grief and heartache that we have been through with our baby daughter.”

Ava is now waiting for an outpatient's appointment with the dermatologist to determine what the mark is.

Kelly and Ian have made a formal complaint to Southampton City Council’s social services over their handling of the case in the hope that changes can be made to prevent other parents going through the same trauma.

After a meeting with social services bosses earlier this week, the family are now waiting for a report into their case, expected to be complete by Tuesday.

When the Daily Echo asked the council to comment on Ava’s case and the claims made by her parents a spokesman said: “We are unable to speak about individual cases but the council does take any complaint it receives seriously and this follows a standard procedure based on national guidelines.

“In order to ensure that a complaint is fully investigated, there is a time line to ensure the complainant knows when they will receive an answer.”

Source: Southern Daily Echo (Hampshire)

Not Guilty

February 2, 2013 permalink

Eunice Wudrich has been found not guilty in the drowning death of foster child Evander Lee Daniels. The Saskatchewan court decided the death was an accident, not a crime.



Foster parent found not guilty of criminal negligence

Eunice Wudrich
Eunice Wudrich, a former foster parent accused of criminal negligence in the bathtub downing of a toddler placed in her care by Social Services, was found not guilty in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench Friday.
Photograph by: Gord Waldner , The StarPhoenix

Eunice Wudrich, a former foster parent accused of criminal negligence in the bathtub downing of a toddler placed in her care by Social Services, was found not guilty in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench Friday.

"It is to be hoped that the tragic series of events which gave rise to Evander's death will send a message to all parents, foster parents and childcare providers that incidents like this can and do happen, and one has to be eternally vigilant to ensure that harm or death is not caused to our children, who are the most vulnerable members of our society," said Justice Neil Gabrielson.

Wudrich was charged in 2010 after 22-month-old Evander Daniels drowned in a bathtub at the foster home she operated with her husband Dennis near the town of Aberdeen.

The couple was caring for five foster children — all of them toddlers under four years of age — as well as their adopted nine-year-old daughter. Their rural acreage was also home to more than 20 horses and other farm animals, as well as more than two dozen dogs. Dennis Wudrich worked outside the home on weekdays, leaving Eunice with sole responsibility for the children and animals.

On the afternoon of June 8, 2010, she left Evander alone in the tub with about two inches of water and became distracted for an unknown number of minutes.

Shortly after Dennis arrived home from work, their daughter told the couple she could hear water running in the bathroom. Dennis rushed in to find Evander face-down and motionless in the tub, with hot water running from the faucet. His body was covered in scalding burns. Efforts to revive him were not successful. A subsequent autopsy found the cause of his death to be drowning.

During final arguments at the conclusion of Wudrich’s trial in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench last month, Crown prosecutor Paul Goldstein argued the 48-year-old foster mother was criminally negligent when she left Evander alone in the bath.

Defence lawyer Mark Brayford argued Wudrich had a “divided responsibility” and could not be expected to provide one-on-one supervision to all five toddlers at all times. He argued Evander’s death was the accidental result of a tragic mistake, not a crime.

Source: Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Prince Edward Operational Review

January 30, 2013 permalink

Following disclosure in the press of sexual abuse in Quinte foster homes, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services conducted an operational review of the Prince Edward Children's Aid Society (PECAS) lasting from December 2011 to January 2012. Recently Chris Carter obtained a copy through freedom of information. It is available in photocopy form (pdf) or as a webpage.

The investigators examined files and conducted interviews with CAS board members and management, foster parents, foster children and the OPP. As is usual in this kind of evaluation, real families were left out, appearing only in statistical tables as persons exercising access. At the time of the review PECAS had 34 foster children, close to our estimate last June of 33.

There are some redactions in the released copy. The heaviest redactions cover what was found in their own files, corroborating the view that the most damaging statements about CAS come not from opponents, but from their own documents.

There are large numbers of system failures reported, mostly incomplete information in the files. Among the failings outside the file system, foster parents are not informed about the requirements of the children placed with them and the board of directors is kept in the dark. Board members learn about problems by reading the newspapers.

The last section of the report, RECOMMENDATIONS AND REQUIREMENTS has the suggestions and directives for improving things. Appendix B has some suggestions from earlier ministry supervision of PECAS. When real parents try to make life better for their children, they think of providing better necessities, food, clothing, shelter. Or when those are provided for, better educational and recreational opportunities, maybe sports, music lessons or a vacation trip. None of these things are in the operational report. The recommendations and requirements expressed in mind-numbing prose are all for actions within the bureaucracy, mostly keeping files up to date. If children are mentioned at all, it is as an afterthought. Example:

8 Recommendation: Establish a plan with clear time lines that includes the use of objective and skilled expertise to address existing conflicts within the organization in order to establish more effective working relationships. Concurrently, develop policies and practices within the organization that encourage collaboration and coordination in providing services for children and that support initiative and the exchange of ideas in developing holistic approaches to meeting the needs of children

Since the review, the Prince Edward CAS has been merged into the Highland Shores CAS.

Addendum: The Belleville Intelligencer has two articles stemming from this report. The paper takes credit for the FOI efforts by Chris Carter.



Ministry probe condemns County CAS

Mark Kartusch

The Prince Edward Children's Aid Society repeatedly failed to provide adequate protection for children entrusted in its care, a previously unreleased government investigation has shown.

Findings of a dysfunctional PECAS were released to The Intelligencer following a freedom of information request filed last June.

The heavily redacted report — which chronicles an investigation undertaken by the Ministry of Child and Youth Services in December, 2011, and filed internally in January, 2012, following a rash of child sex abuse charges against foster parents in the County — shows the agency was rife with significant internal conflicts, recklessly placing vulnerable children in homes that were not properly screened and in some cases not screened at all for months.

Among the stunning revelations in the ministry probe was that of a board of directors that rarely communicated directly with the former executive director, Bill Sweet, and a body that was repeatedly found to be unable to ensure the society met compliance with government regulations.

“Some board members learned of the allegations of sexual abuse (in foster homes) through the media,” the report shows.

In one case — that of a 71-year-old man eventually convicted in 2012 of molesting two girls in his foster care over several years — it became clear that despite numerous complaints from two girls, just days apart in 2005, “neither was verified” and the society continued placing young girls in the Bloomfield home.

“The rationale for the decision was not recorded,” the report states.

In the aforementioned case, there is evidence in the files of 11 alleged incidents of abuse, including complaints of sexual molestation, but investigation of those allegations was not done in “compliance with child protection investigation standards.”

In the case of the Bloomfield home, the investigation, inexplicably, was “delayed for 30 days” and the assigned CAS worker was not involved in interviewing the man eventually convicted of the crimes. He has since filed an appeal.

The scathing report also documented rampant violations of child protection legislation and widespread disregard for proper keeping of records related to homes where children were abused.

“The society is having increasing difficulty in meeting requirements for children in care,” the summary of the investigation showed.

The PECAS “overall legislative compliance has declined from 73.5 per cent to 60.7 per cent since 2009,” the review states. “Significant conflict among staff is having an impact on service delivery.”

Some child abuse complaints were not reported to the ministry and some homes remained open without much scrutiny despite of complaints from children.

Staff described the work environment as “very divided and stressful,” further indicating a once positive working environment significantly deteriorated in the two years leading up to December 2011.

Some staff complained about being unable to effectively advocate within the agency for children on their caseload because they have “no working relationship with staff in another department and/or with then executive director (Sweet).”

Sweet and majority of the board have since been replaced in a merger between PECAS with Belleville-based Highland Shores CAS.

In page after page of the summary of the overall 500-page package secured by The Intelligencer, shocking findings of shoddy procedures and dysfunction were itemized, including allegations of sexual abuse in certain foster homes that were regularly sealed, preventing staff from accessing relevant files needed to block future placement of children in homes under investigation.

Further troubling discoveries show files “seldom record the rationale for any decision” made within the society. Many files for allegations of abuse provided “no rationale for investigation outcomes or decisions.”

At one point, the very ability of the children's aid agency to function as a legal entity was under scrutiny and ministry-imposed restrictions. The society had been assigned a provisional, or temporary, foster care licence twice in a six-month period leading up to December, 2011, when the investigation was launched. A provisional foster care licence required the agency make several recommended corrections to policy and procedures before the probation period was lifted, but the report showed the agency failed to comply after the first provisional licence was issued and a second order was put into effect.

Other sections of the study review showed cases in which home study investigations required as part of foster home approval were not completed. Children were placed in homes (officially referred to as “places of safety”) that were opened without proper screening, including lax police record checks of parents in some cases.

“The society is not meeting requirements for designation of a place of safety,” said the review. “Not one of the files reviewed was in compliance.”

“There are a number of instances where children are residing in homes where (investigations) ha(ve) not been completed as required,” the report reads. In one case, (a home study) “had not been completed a full 12 months after the home had opened.”

Two foster parents filed grievances to the Child and Family Services Review Board detailing children being moved without any notification, the report also showed. Child care workers admitted that children had been moved without their knowledge, as well.

In one instance, a foster home with two children in care was operational for a full eight months before required checks were made with other societies, which is normal safety protocol.

“At that time serious safety concerns were identified by other societies,” the report states. There were findings of “fundamental errors in the application of licensing requirements.”

The extent of the rot was such that the County society required assistance from “external expertise,” to formulate “immediate remedial action in some areas.” The report does not detail the external source of that help, but the new regional CAS is reportedly heavily involved in sorting out the mess.

Ministry officials report as investigators dug through mountains of records they logged troubling findings of shabby record-keeping and alarming gaps in documents where no information was filed about sexual abuse cases.

“Significant conflicts” that interfered with co-ordination and communication between staff, relating to the sharing of information and child placement in foster homes and a “lack of consistency and standardization in record keeping,” was uncovered by the probe.

“It is difficult for staff to identify patterns because information is scattered across files,” the report showed. Record-keeping regarding child protection investigations in foster homes is “inconsistent and does not always allow staff to identify links between related files.”

PECAS had “significant difficulty achieving compliance with licensing requirements under the Child and Family Services Act.”

This includes “difficulty in proper completion of appropriate screening and assessment requirements for foster homes and kin in care homes, including places of safety designations.”

At the time of the review there were 66 children in the care of the society. In all, 49 interviews were conducted by investigators with children in foster care, foster parents, front line staff and board members of the society, as well as the Prince Edward detachment of Ontario Provincial Police.

Files addressing three closed foster homes were also reviewed.

Since November 2011, three former foster parents have been convicted of sexually abusing several children entrusted in their care by the agency, with another three hit with sex crime charges the fall of 2012.

Since the report's internal release — The Intelligencer had repeatedly been denied details of the investigations in December 2011, forcing the newspaper to file the FOI request — substantial changes to the agency's governance have been made and the society is no longer a free-standing agency, but is an amalgamated branch of the Highland Shores CAS.

See the PECAS Operational Review here:

Source: Belleville Intelligencer

New CAS head vows to right the ship

The man charged with rebuilding a shattered child welfare agency acknowledges there were gaping holes in the safety net at the Children's Aid Society of the County of Prince Edward.

Mark Kartusch is spearheading efforts to repair what has been exposed as lax safeguards at the agency and addressing a litany of damning systemic failures uncovered by a government probe. The findings of the investigation were acquired by The Intelligencer through a freedom of information request filed last June.

The troubling Ministry of Child and Youth Services report, completed in January, 2012, exposed a loosely-run agency repeatedly breaking ministry regulations and risking the well-being of children by placing them in improperly screened homes.

A trusted source with who reviewed the reports' findings and who was deeply knowledgeable about the County agency described the CAS there as a “fiefdom with Bill Sweet (PECAS executive director) at the helm,” controlling the broken levers.

Placement of children in homes with history of sexual assault complaints and hiding happenings from the ministry were just some of the troubling areas identified by the source.

“The result was a society and its employees acting in bubbles, a board in the dark about the multitude of concerns being raised and no safety net for the children,” the source said.

Kartusch said the uphill battle to fix things is rolling ahead.

“It's not a good picture,” Kartusch said. “It's terrible information. There were kids that were harmed in Prince Edward and that's not ok. We want to support the kids who have been victimized.”

Kartusch is assigned the daunting task of merging the dysfunctional PECAS with the Belleville-headquartered Highland Shores Children's Aid Society, where he serves as executive director.

“This is not the way kids and families deserve to be served and treated,” he said.

He worries a lost of trust in the society could deter the public from calling to seek assistance for children in harm.

“It's very troubling,” he said. “That's the worst thing that could happen. I am concerned that there is a lost of confidence in the society.”

He too is baffled as to how reckless practices at PECAS went unchecked for years until the ministry stepped in when the first of three foster parents were charged and convicted for molesting children in their care.

“It's amazing what a few bad processes can do to create problems within an organization when they stay for a long time,” he said.

As part of the decisive overhaul at Prince Edward CAS, several staff and board members, along with long-time executive director Sweet, have been replaced. Highland Shores also commissioned a private consultant to continue checks of a broken foster homes system.

“He's making sure there is nothing that we missed in any of the investigations,” Kartusch said.

Committees have been struck to enhance oversight and managers from Highland Shores will be job-shadowing PECAS employees to highlight weaknesses.

He said the destructive environment at PECAS is not “completely a thing of the past” but “it is very much along the way to be a thing of the past.”

“There are a number of things that have been addressed within that report since then,” he said. “Staff have worked on areas of deficiency and have moved them along substantially.”

A Picton judge delivered a stern rebuke from the bench about need for a public enquiry into the agency after he sentenced a Bloomfield couple, who had turned their home into a "sexual cult" while fostering 25 teenagers over the course of nine years. Justice Geoff Griffin slammed PECAS its ignorance toward happenings at the home.

"What took place here is so outrageous that it boggles the mind,” Griffin said in November 2011. “I hope the public demands there be an inquiry into what took place at the home."

Kartusch and his team continue to grapple with getting PECAS ready for a April 1 amalgamation, he views as paramount to salvaging the wreckage and saving the children now entrusted to the embattled agency.

The merger process started in November 2012. Kartusch is dedicated to “to turning the ship around.”

“I have to focus on moving forward and making sure nothing like that happens in my tenure,” he said.

He said merging with an agency nearing collapse was necessary “because we think it's the best thing for kids. There was a need to look after the children in that area.”

Merger talks were sparked by PECAS board members who admitted, “there is more here than we can deal with and we want to seek amalgamation with a partner who can do that.” Initial merger talks fell through when PECAS, under Sweet's leadership, inexplicably backed out of negotiations earlier in 2012.

Five of the seven PECAS board members from that time have been replaced with Highland Shores' selected individuals since November. Several new senior managers, including an interim director of services, have been appointed.

Source: Belleville Intelligencer

Addendum: Chris Carter appealed the redactions and got clear copies of pages 8 and 21. They are attached as photo-copies (pdf). They have also been edited into the webpage.

Control Social Workers

January 29, 2013 permalink

Washington state senator Pam Roach wants stringent controls on who can practice social work in her state. Before taking a case by themselves, workers would need a graduate level degree and 3,200 professional hours on the job (nearly two years by our arithmetic). They would need to pass a licensing exam and pay an annual fee and they would become legally liable for damages.

Pam Roach is a real critic of child protectors, and has appeared in these columns several times before as advocate for broken families.



State lawmaker wants CPS workers to be licensed, bonded

OLYMPIA — A state lawmaker says she has heard far too many horror stories of botched child abuse investigations and she wants to up the standards for caseworkers by requiring that they be licensed and bonded.

The Department of Social and Health Services currently requires Child Protective Services workers to only have a bachelor’s degree in social or human services.

State Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, said her legislation would require caseworkers to have a graduate-level degree, complete 3,200 professional hours on the job before taking on an abuse case by themselves, and pay an annual fee to maintain their license after passing an exam. They could also be held personally liable in court.

“We have teachers who have licenses, hairdressers, even Christmas tree farmers. Shouldn’t we try to find the highest level of employee when we’re dealing with children?” asked Roach.

A social worker attending a committee hearing on the bill Tuesday in Olympia said the legislation would place an unfair burden on employees like him.

“This legislation would require those who have spent thousands of dollars on their education to spend more time and money to prove they are capable of doing work they have already earned degrees in,” said Joe Pettit.

DSHS said the measure, Senate Bill 5163, would make it difficult to hire and maintain their workforce. Others feel it’s necessary to protect our state’s most vulnerable.

“We have to be looking for people who have a higher standard, and the ‘licensure’ will take us in the right direction. There are horror stories, one after the other, and I hope you will see this as a way to save and protect children,” said Roach.

Source: KCPQ-TV

Mom Loses Kids

January 28, 2013 permalink

An investigative journalist tells what happens to a mother in Milwaukee after a disgruntled sister turns into a snitch.



Impoverished Mom Lost in Milwaukee Family Court

Dulce Guerrero lost her job and home a year ago. Now she feels abused by Milwaukee's family court system for taking away her parental custody rights. "There is no help for poor families when they are falling apart," says a woman close to the case.

(WOMENSENEWS)-- Like many parents, Dulce Guerrero and Cesar Compan spent Christmas 2012 watching children open presents.

The three girls unwrapped Barbie dolls and Barbie's Dream House and the couple savored having their new baby girl, born in October, celebrate her first Christmas with her half-sisters. But the day was cut short when the family loaded into their car and returned Guerrero's three daughters--ages 9, 6 and 4-- to the home of their maternal aunt.

In January 2012 the Circuit Court of the State of Wisconsin awarded temporary non-secure physical custody to Guerrero's estranged sister, Maria Guerrero.

"I feel raped. And I still have to deal with the people who violated me," says Dulce Guerrero, who arrived in the United States from Mexico in 2000.

Her custody battle began with a dispute with her sister, with whom she jointly owned and ran a restaurant.

The rights and wrongs of her interaction with her sister aren't primarily what Dulce Guerrero talks about. She dislikes some of the ways her sister has handled the girls in the past year. But mainly she feels an anguished frustration with her treatment by the family court system.

Dulce Guerrero is just one among tens of thousands of parents currently fighting in child welfare courtrooms, where cases drag on for months, sometimes years, and where women are penalized for existing on meager salaries that barely pay the rent.

When Women's eNews emailed Arlene Happach, administrative director of Milwaukee Child Welfare Administration, for comment on Dulce Guerrero's status, a form email came back from Sara Buschman, communications director of the Department of Children and Families.

"Due to confidentiality requirements under state and federal law, the Department of Children and Families cannot confirm or deny Ms. Guerrero and-or her children are known to the child welfare system or provide any details," it said.

Indifferent System

That sense of an anonymous, inflexible and indifferent system--in which she has no right to timely attention--is exactly what Dulce Guerrero says she is up against. In the year since her children were taken away, the case has been meandering through the family court system and she's had no way to speed things up.

The rules and rhythms of family courts vary from state to state. But a case usually begins when a public official or private citizen makes a complaint and gets interviewed by a caseworker who arranges for a preliminary hearing with a judge. That can lead to the prompt removal of children, perhaps in 24 hours or less.

What drags on for someone such as Dulce Guerrero is the process of meeting the conditions of return set out by the judge. This can involve drug and alcohol testing, counseling, supervised visits and a gradual return of children by overnight, weekend and holiday visits. All this is punctuated by something the judge does not specify but is normal: numerous adjournments and delays.

Pat Gowen is the founder of the MaGod Project, an advocacy group in Milwaukee for mothers with children wrongfully removed. She says that women often suffer from confusion about who's legally in charge after a removal.

In Dulce Guerrero's case, for instance, she arranged a meeting with Happach to ask her to authorize overnight visits that a judge had allowed but a caseworker was blocking in a way Gowen considered abusive.

Gowen said Happach conceded that a caseworker didn't have the authority to block the visits. But Chief Judge Joseph Donald also attended the meeting and said something different: that judges depend on caseworkers to determine abuse and neglect and set conditions because they go into the home, not the judge or lawyers.

"So each party conveniently passes the buck to the other, so there is absolutely no accountability and we are spinning our wheels," says Gowen.

Meeting the Requirements

According to court documents, Dulce Guerrero was required to undergo drug, alcohol, psychological and medical evaluations.

Dulce Guerrero says she has completed supervised visitations with her children, which gained her the right to unsupervised visits, such as the family's Christmas day together.

She has also completed both the drug and alcohol evaluations. But she is balking at the psychological evaluation. She says she has complied with everything asked of her and a year later still doesn't have her children back.

Dulce Guerrero was accused of being unavailable and unable to provide adequate supervision and care, according to documents served on her by the State of Wisconsin, Circuit Court of Milwaukee. Her sister accused her of neglect. By the time she received the letter from the court notifying her of the situation, Dulce Guerrero had missed the first court hearing.

Communication was complicated by her loss of work at the restaurant she and her sister formerly ran together and then by getting evicted from her apartment for failure to pay.

"This happens to poor people," says Amanda Morales, a transportation provider for a mental health program, during an interview last fall at the office of Welfare Warriors, an advocacy group for low-income women. "Poor people being mad at each other and calling the system on each other . . . There are no services for the poor family being ripped apart, no services like housing options."

An analysis of U.S. Census data by the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, an advocacy group based in Alexandria, Va., shows Milwaukee having the third-highest rate of removing poor children from their homes in the nation. It falls behind Philadelphia and Los Angeles County, according to data collected by Wisconsin's Department of Children and Families in 2009.

That same data show a much higher rate of removal from impoverished households, raising the question of whether a parent's lack of income is being conflated with abuse and neglect.

Unstable Arrangement

According to a statement taken by a court investigator, a child care arrangement between Dulce Guerrero and the father of her children, Victor Tello, was unstable. Tello understood the arrangement to be temporary, for only a few days. He took the children to Maria Guerrero's house and then she called Child Protective Services.

A year ago Dulce Guerrero lost her job at the El Fogan restaurant, in which she held a $10,000 stake and helped run with her sister, who controls the business.

When Women's eNews reached Maria Guerrero by phone at her restaurant she declined to talk. Her husband, Filberto Lando, had this to say: "We are not to talk about the girls or anything about the case. We would like to but we can't."

As foster parents, Lando says they were taking care of the children until their mother got herself together. "The girls are going back," he says. "She just has to meet the requirements of the court."

Dulce Guerrero says the dispute with her family started when she arrived late to work one day. At that point Maria Guerrero and Lando accused her of not working as hard as them and said she needed to put in more hours.

Dulce Guerrero says she refused, arguing that she needed at least one day off to spend time with her children. The argument escalated and Dulce Guerrero wound up losing her job at the restaurant, her only source of income.

Shortly after that she was evicted from the apartment leased by her sister.

Dulce Guerrero contacted Tello, the biological father, who was living in Chicago. She says they agreed that he would care for the children until she got back on her feet.

At that point Dulce Guerrero turned to Compan, a route sales representative for Aramark Uniforms, a company based in Burbank, Calif., that delivers uniforms, towels, aprons, and mats to businesses across the country. He said she could stay with him.

Compan and Dulce Guerrero met in August 2011 at El Fogan, where she was doing everything from serving customers to cooking and cleaning. Compan would stop in for meals while on break from his delivery route.

Compan says at a certain point they exchanged numbers and began spending time together. He says he didn't meet Dulce Guerrero's daughters until a few months after she'd lost custody. It was after the children were removed, and Dulce Guerrero had nowhere to go, that he says she told him about what the whole family was going through.

"I told her to stay here until you figure it out," Compan said in a phone interview recently from Milwaukee. "I love Dulce with all my heart; she had my daughter."

Stepping Up

Compan has accompanied Dulce Guerrero through court dates, meetings with her lawyer and appointments to counselors. He says he worries about her daughters. "No one is stepping up to help them," he says. "I consider them my daughters."

Dulce Guerrero said she feels good about Compan being involved now. "The girls never had a dad. They feel real comfortable with him. They say he is a real good person."

She and Compan are dissatisfied with their assigned caseworker, Jamie Hatch, of Children's Service Society of Wisconsin. They say she has removed bilingual site supervisors, consistently used English-only documents, including some that she tried to compel Dulce Guerrero to sign. The couple says she has botched transportation for the children to visit her and has canceled scheduled visits once they were granted by the court judge.

When reached by phone, Hatch declined to comment on the case.

Dulce Guerrero says that Hatch has allowed the custodial aunt to make parental decisions about the care of the children without her consent, including cutting six inches of their hair and not permitting her to treat a rash on the leg of one daughter for five months. Dulce Guerrero insists that from January to July 2012, the two younger children spent up to 13 hours a day at the restaurant where the aunt worked before they were finally placed in daycare.

She says that she has requested a jury trial on four occasions from her assigned lawyer Tom Miller and has been denied. Dulce Guerrero says court proceedings have been delayed a number of times when no interpreter was available.

Morales was a bilingual site visit supervisor from Lad Lake, a mental health program overseeing Dulce Guerrero's visits with Hatch. She provided a letter to Miller on Dulce Guerrero's behalf to demonstrate that Dulce Guerrero had completed some court requirements--such as satisfactory supervised visits--and that Hatch refused to provide her lawyer.

Morales was dismissed from the case in July 2012.

MaGod Project's Gowen set up a meeting in late October 2012 with the Happach, the administrative director of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare. At that meeting she presented a written petition on behalf of Dulce Guerrero's and Compan's complaints. They requested to have Hatch disciplined or dismissed from the case.

It didn't work.

"As long as Jaime is the only case worker, she can do whatever she wants," Gowen told Women's eNews after the meeting with Happach. "And with no access to a trial, the court never has to prove your guilt."

Anna Limontas-Salisbury is a reporter living in Brooklyn, N.Y. This story is part of a series on Child Protective Services and low-income women made possible by a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

Source: Women's eNews

Kathleen and Jane

January 27, 2013 permalink

Kathleen Wynne
Kathleen Wynne

Yesterday Ontario's Liberal Party elected its new leader Kathleen Wynne, who thereby becomes the provincial premier. Thousands of members of Ontario public services employees unions were outside the convention hall, along with a few people from the Ontario Coalition for Accountability, who tried to duplicate last winter's success in bringing awareness of CAS problems to the provincial Liberals [1] [2] and Progressive Conservatives. [3].

New premier Kathleen Wynne is an avowed lesbian, sharing her life with partner Jane Rounthwaite. To give you an idea of what to expect from this couple, the résumé of wife Jane from Linkedin is in the expand block. Jane was associated with Kinark Child and Family Services, and for six years has served the Kinark foundation as a volunteer.



Jane Rounthwaite

Jane Rounthwaite

President at The Osborne Group
Toronto, Canada Area | Management Consulting

The Osborne Group, Kinark Foundation, Don Valley West PLA
Kinark Child and Family Services, Women's College Hospital Foundation, Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (L.E.A.F)
University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management



A seasoned and insightful executive specializing in non-profit and business management. Broad experience in many types and sizes of non profits and charities, including social service agencies, foundations, and associations, as well as a solid foundation in corporate business planning, marketing, and operations management. Exceptional ability to analyze and solve problems, set and consistently achieve challenging goals, and build and motivate multi-functional teams.

Specialties: change management, organizational development, strategic and operational planning, governance, project planning and management, fundraising, financial management.


President & Principal
The Osborne Group
December 2011 – Present (1 year 2 months)

Kinark Foundation
2007 – Present (6 years)

I was involved in establishing and organizing the Kinark Golf Classic to raise funds for programming for children and youth with complex mental health needs. The torunament has not run for the past 4 years and has raised nearly $250,000 for this worthy cause.

Chair, Fundraising
Don Valley West PLA
2003 – Present (10 years)

Fundraising to support the work of the local MPP, Kathlenn Wynne, through the riding assoication in Don Valley West.

The Osborne Group
1998 – Present (15 years)

Wide variety of interim and contract executive assignments in some of Ontario's most respected not for profit organizations, as well as some organizations with national and international scope.

Interim Director Program Services
Kinark Child and Family Services
September 2009 – June 2011 (1 year 10 months)

Kinark Child and Family Services
2004 – 2009 (5 years)

Project Manager for Kinark's Clinical Transformation initiative to implement evidence-based interventions and business processes to support service delivery to children and youth with mental health needs.

Interim Executive Director
Women's College Hospital Foundation 2005 – 2006 (1 year)

Executive Director
Women's Legal Education and Action Fund (L.E.A.F)
1994 – 1998 (4 years)

Vice President, Marketing and Administration, Pensions
Crown Life Insurance Company
August 1976 – November 1993 (17 years 4 months)


University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management
MBA, Marketing
1979 – 1984

Queen's University
BA Hons, History and English
1972 – 1976

Bishop's University
Crownx General Management Development

Source: LinkedIn

Colossal Failure

January 26, 2013 permalink

The integrated case management computer system for front-line social workers acquired by British Columbia at a cost of $182 million is, according to provincial representative for children and families Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a colossal failure.



Children's watchdog says computer system for social workers a “colossal failure”

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the Representative for Children and Families, says a deeper look at the province's integrated case management system is needed.
Photograph by: DARREN STONE, Times Colonist

Senior government officials should be held accountable for the “colossal failure” of government’s new computer system for front-line social workers, the province’s child watchdog says.

Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said a consultant’s report — released Thursday by the province — confirms her warning last year about the dire state of the $182-million integrated case management system.

“We’re in deep trouble,” she said. “This is a deeply serious problem.”

The consultant’s report said previous ministry officials failed to properly monitor the computer system’s development and didn’t push for changes that would have created a system fit for child-care work.

The software was developed during a time of significant change in the ministry and there was inadequate knowledge, resources or leadership to get the right solution in place, the report said.

Turpel-Lafond characterized the findings as “brutal” and said government had a duty to investigate how the mistakes happened and chart a course forward.

“This report speaks to incompetent stewardship of [integrated case management] by government,” she said. “And whether the manufacturers of the product play a role in that, I don’t know, but I think it needs a deeper look.”

The integrated case management system went online last April, linking information on thousands of social assistance and child welfare clients, including sensitive details on child abuse, custody disputes and welfare payments.

Social workers complained that the new system was too complicated and buried critical child safety information under a series of hidden tabs.

The ministry has worked to streamline the forms, with as many as 90 tweaks to make things more functional, said Stephen Brown, deputy minister of Children and Family Development.

The government is working with Turpel-Lafond to review whether other computer systems might do a better job handling child protection cases, Brown said. That could take until the summer. It’s also possible the review might come back with suggested fixes rather than a replacement, he said.

There’s also a team of 15 to 20 people working to review approximately 20,000 child-care cases to see if the computer system properly recorded the right information or if something is missing, Brown said.

The government has said the software appears to work well for the Ministry of Social Development, but not for child welfare.

Plans to expand the troubled software into mental health, youth justice and adoption cases have been halted.

Turpel-Lafond said Brown, who inherited the problem, deserves credit for his tireless work on the issue and should not have to take full responsibility for fixing the problems.

Nor, she said, can the repairs be accomplished with the $12 million earmarked by the ministry for fixes.

“With all due respect, I think that’s patently ridiculous,” she said. “I cannot see that. That does not make sense to me. They don’t have the money to do it.”

Brown said he believes the funding is adequate, but will approach Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux for more money if needed.

NDP critic Claire Trevena said the government has lost control of the project.

“Are we still tinkering with something that can’t be fixed?” she asked. The ministry needs to decide whether to abandon the software for something that ensures child safety, she said.

Meanwhile, the government is wasting time and money at the expense of vulnerable children who need help, Turpel-Lafond said.

“I’m still looking at a mess, and I haven’t seen today the plan to fully get out of that mess.”

Source: Times Colonist

Legally Kidnapped

January 26, 2013 permalink

When teenager Lexi Whyte developed unexplained symptoms after surgery, doctors and social workers accused her mother of Munchausen by proxy and the girl was seized without trial, legally kidnapped in her mother's words. She came back, also without legal explanation, seven months later.



Calgary family claims daughter ‘legally kidnapped’

Lexi Whyte and Jessica Taylor
Teenager Lexi Whyte sits with mother Jessica Taylor in a bedroom of their Calgary home. The pair were reunited last month after child services took custody of Lexi for six months amid claims Taylor manufactured and exaggerated her daughter’s illness. Now, with little explanation of what happened, Taylor is looking to clear her name and offer a cautionary tale to other parents.
Metro/Jeremy Nolais

Without hesitation, Calgary mother Jessica Taylor can recite the exact date and time her daughter Lexi Whyte was taken.
May 7th, 2012, 2:40 p.m.,” she said.

“There was no warning, nothing at all . . . they legally kidnapped her, I have said that openly hundreds of times.”

A court order specified that assessors working on behalf of Alberta’s child services believed Taylor was creating and exaggerating symptoms Lexi had been combating for one and a half years. They also took issue with subjecting the teen to treatments at a local integrative medicine centre operating outside of Alberta Health Services’ umbrella.

Lexi wasn’t given a chance to say goodbye to her parents. She would spend the next six months in hospital and then a group home. During that time, the youngster missed out on celebrating her 16th birthday, her beloved ballet lessons and her grandfather’s funeral.

She also reported a worsening of longstanding symptoms — frequent vomiting, widespread rashes, peeling skin and others. At one point, Lexi fractured two teeth while gritting through the pain.

Now, back at home together, both mother and daughter admit their relationship may never be the same but hope to use their claims as a warning to other families.

Patient confidentiality laws prevented Alberta child services spokesperson Roxanne Dube-Coelho from speaking specifically about Lexi’s case, but she said apprehension of a child is always the “last resort.”

“We need to prove to a judge that his child is at risk in the care of their parent and that there are no other options to ensure that child’s safety,” she said.

Medical records indicate surgeons removed a skull lesion from the teenager’s head in May 2011. A scar is visible on Lexi’s scalp and the 16-year-old jokes a few hairs along the incision line stick up straight unless she parts them a particular way.

Even after the operation, the family reported that symptoms remained; however, court records show they were beginning to face opposition from the medical community.

“It was determined at (a) meeting that Lexi’s condition is not consistent with her diagnosis of the lesion and subsequent surgery,” a portion of the documents read.

The family did begin to seek second opinions in early 2012, eventually landing at the doorstep of the Hoffman Centre for Integrative Medicine.

“What else could we do?” said Lexi’s stepfather Tyrone Jansz said. “We couldn’t just move on and pretend everything’s alright.”

According to court documents, the centre engaged Lexi in a cleansing process that saw portions of her blood temporarily removed and run under ultraviolet light.

While Lexi and her parents reported some improvement in symptoms, an assessor submitted claims to a judge that claim the process is illegal when conducted outside of a hospital. A court order was issued on the claim Lexi had suffered “Emotional abuse due to exposure to mental health.”

An accompanying medical query questioned whether Taylor suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a rare form of child abuse that involves a parent or caregiver exaggerating and fabricating illnesses or symptoms of a child.

Taylor said she was never given a chance to defend herself in court.

The court order specified she would be required to participate in treatment or remedial programs; however, Taylor said this never occurred.

As well, Taylor was quick to point out that the assessor makes no reference to concern for the care of her other two children, one older and one younger than Lexi.

Dube-Coelho from Alberta child services said, however, each child would be assessed independently and recommendations can vary from case-to-case.

On Dec. 17, more than six months after she was apprehended, an application was withdrawn in court without explanation and the youngster returned home.

Today Lexi said she’s feeling somewhat better and has been slowly ramping up her food intake and time spent in school.

Her official diagnosis is “unexplained pain syndrome” and Taylor said the family is concerned because it has yet to be provided with any indication of future treatment.

“It feels, in a way, like we have been punished for raising concerns when we were watching her die,” she added.

Lexi is eyeing a career as an art therapist. She doesn’t believe her physical pain will ever completely subside but said the emotional trauma was far worse.

“I just want these people to know they hurt this family,” she said. “Everyone’s just sad and doesn’t know how to deal with the stress they’ve gone through. I want them to know they have done this to our family — it’s their fault.”

Severe cases of syndrome exist

While mother Jessica Taylor maintains she’s never been formally diagnosed with Munchausen syndrome by proxy, precedence does exist that indicates a parent can have a heavy impact on a child’s physical well-being.

The syndrome was classified by a British doctor in the 1970s to describe two instances in which mothers had fabricated, lied and induced symptoms in their children.

Charles Coleman, a Calgary psychologist and family therapist, said he hasn’t seen full-blown cases of the syndrome in his practice; however, he’s witnessed the power a parent can have over their child’s thoughts and behaviours.

“Everything’s within the realm of possibility,” Coleman said.

Patient advocacy group reviewing case

Mother Jessica Taylor said she wants a full explanation of why her daughter was apprehended and is considering legal action against Alberta child services as well.

The Open Arms Patient Advocacy Society is currently reviewing the case and co-founder Rick Lundy said he sees many issues with the apprehension, most notably the lack concern for Taylor’s other two children if in fact she was suffering from mental illness as assessors claimed.

“We know the work performed by social services is very difficult, but they need to get it right,” Lundy said. “In this case they were wrong and this poor family paid the consequences.”

Source: Metro Calgary

legally kidnapped

Foster Home Burned

January 25, 2013 permalink

A Kitchener area foster home has been destroyed by fire. There was no one home at the time.



Foster home building destroyed in one of two major fires in near Baden and Ayr at same time Thursday

Morningstar Acres
Wilmot Township firefighters battled a 1:42 p.m. house fire at the Morningstar Acres children's foster home on Snyders Rod. E. on Thursday.
Robert Wilson/Record staff

WATERLOO REGION — Carmen Ferber watched with tears in her eyes as firefighters battled in vain Thursday afternoon to save a treatment centre that had been a haven for troubled kids.

The Baden-area building, home to four foster children and several foster parents, was gutted in a fire that struck her charity, Morningstar Family Ministries.

It was one of two major blazes that broke out within minutes of each other. The second destroyed a home north of Ayr.

In Wilmot Township, dozens of firefighters worked against bitterly cold temperatures but could not save the two-storey Morningstar building, which was engulfed by the time they arrived. The Christian agency built the brick residence only about four years ago, as part of an expansion.

The children and teens who were living in the home lost everything, said Ferber, who is Morningstar’s executive director.

“It’s just breaking my heart. These are kids who have already experienced so much hardship in their lives,” she said. “I don’t know what we’re going to do.”

Morningstar is a foster agency that cares for 18 children and teenagers, many from abusive homes and difficult upbringings.

The children who are sent there are typically wards of the state, referred by Family and Children’s Services. Some suffer from disabilities, while others have parents who are imprisoned or otherwise unable to care for them.

The charity operates three treatment foster homes and two schools for high-needs kids at campuses in St. Agatha and in New Hamburg. The Ferbers, who founded the agency, have 16 children themselves, 13 of them adopted.

Thursday’s fire spared the charity’s head office building on Snyder’s Road East, near Baden, but left the group with an immediate need to find space for the displaced in the adjacent home.

Ferber said Morningstar will need to rent a four or five-bedroom home to temporarily house the foster children. They’ll also have to start replacing clothes, furniture, beds and other personal items that were destroyed.

A passing motorist saw smoke coming from the building at about 1:40 p.m. and ran in to tell the staff at the foster home, who called 911. The staff had been in a meeting in the main office and hadn’t seen any signs of fire.

No one was in the treatment home, called Leeanne’s Haven, at the time of the fire and no one was injured, Ferber said.

“It’s just such a shock,” said Ferber, who opened her first residential home with her husband Otto in 2004. “We’re just glad everyone is safe.”

The treatment centre, tucked into the rolling hills of Wilmot Township, worked to give children “a future and a hope,” the charity says. Trained staff worked inside the home to help the kids — many who have been in and out of schools all their lives.

It wasn’t immediately known what caused the fire, said Wilmot Township Fire Chief John Ritz. With temperatures plunging to -22 C with the wind chill, firefighters struggled to keep their equipment from freezing up, he said.

“Cold weather like this makes firefighting much more difficult. It gives us freeze-ups in our hoses, it makes a hard job even tougher,” he said.

Fire investigators were looking into a report that the home had been having trouble with its furnace lately, but Ritz said it’s too early to speculate what role that may have played.

About 35 firefighters from across Wilmot Township and beyond came to help, including water tanker trucks from Kitchener, Waterloo and Wellesley Township.

The trucks brought tank after tank of water from a municipal hydrant down the road, which was pumped into a gaping hole in the building’s roof by ladder trucks. Smoke from the fire could be seen from several kilometres away.

Police temporary closed Snyder’s Road between Gingerich Road and Notre Dame Drive as firefighters struggled to fight to blaze.

About four minutes before the Morningstar fire was reported, North Dumfries Township firefighters were called to a large house fire at 1649 Northumberland St., south of Cedar Creek Road.

There, crews shuttled water to the scene as flames devoured the single-storey, custom-built home.

Firefighters were initially able to go into the home but were forced to retreat as the fire spread and broke through the roof.

“We had to go totally defensive on our attack,” said North Dumfries Fire Chief Robert Shantz.

The couple who owns the home was not there at the time, and there were no pets inside. The home is a total loss, Shantz said, and damage will likely be around $1 million.

Because of the dollar value, the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office has been notified. Investigators will return to the scene on Friday as they try to pinpoint a cause.

Crews from Cambridge, New Dundee and Paris assisted firefighters from Ayr. As in Baden, the cold temperatures made it especially challenging.

“We had lots of firefighters that looked like icicles,” Shantz said.

Source: Waterloo Record

Blueprint for More of the Same

January 23, 2013 permalink

Ontario's Youth Leaving Care Working Group has released its final report Blueprint for Fundamental Change to Ontario’s Child Welfare System (pdf), available on the Ontario government website.

Blueprint for Fundamental Change

While youth recently leaving care participated in the group, the prose is beyond the skills of teenagers and comes entirely from the child protection bureaucracy. Its 7500 words contain no instances of mother or father, and just eleven instances of parent, most to foster parent or parents receiving services, the euphemism for parents stripped of their children by force of arms. There is just one mention of biological parent. The suggestions all involve expansion of public services and their authority over young people by, for example, extending childhood to age 25.

The Toronto Star story is enclosed.



Panel proposes sweeping change to Ontario’s child welfare system

Anna Ho and Jacob Fraboni
Anna Ho and Jacob Fraboni, both former Crown wards, helped write a report on changing the child welfare system.

Queen’s Park should raise the age of financial and emotional support for former Crown wards to age 25 from age 21 within the next three years, says a government-appointed panel.

The panel’s sweeping blueprint for change, released Tuesday, also calls on the province to support those who want to remain in foster or group homes up to the age of 25 instead of age 18.

And it urges Children’s Aid Societies to make adoption or other permanent arrangements a priority for the province’s 8,300 Crown wards to ensure that every young person leaving care has adults in their life who will be involved with them forever.

The panel’s 28-page action plan follows a report last spring by current and former Crown wards that called for “fundamental change” of Ontario’s child welfare system to address the isolation, vulnerability and sense of abandonment experienced by many young people in foster and group home care.

“I am very pleased and proud of what we have accomplished thus far, but we’re not stopping here,” said Anna Ho, 19, a former Crown ward who participated in the first legislative hearings into child welfare in November 2011.

“This is just the beginning of fundamental change for Ontario and Canada,” she said.

Ho, a Ryerson University social work student, is one of two youths who have been working with the Ontario child advocate’s office to turn the historic youth-led hearings into action.

As their report from the hearings noted, only 44 per cent of them graduate from high school compared to 82 per cent of Ontario youth. They are more likely to experience poverty and homelessness, suffer mental health problems and become involved with the criminal justice system.

Their report’s key recommendation was for the government to work with them to draft a blueprint to overhaul the system.

Last July, the government appointed a panel of nine youths from the child welfare system and seven community representatives to prepare an action plan.

Ontario Minister of Children and Youth Services Laurel Broten said she was “pleased and inspired” by the panel’s work and will be “reviewing it closely.”

“The . . . recommendations will be instrumental as we move forward to improve the lives of children and youth in, and leaving, care,” she said in a statement.

The panel — which calls for a separate probe on aboriginal child welfare and group home care — focused on relationships, education and employment, transition support, healthy development, youth justice, group care and ministry policy.

  • Within the next three years, the panel recommends schools, colleges and universities boost support to Crown wards to help them complete high school and attend post-secondary education. More financial help to attend university and college and increased internships and apprenticeships should be available within four to six years, it says.
  • The panel recommends more support for extra-curricular activities to encourage healthy social development and says all children and youth entering care should receive age-appropriate road maps of what they can expect while in care, along with information about their rights.
  • It urges all children’s aid societies to help youth leaving care find affordable housing and says emergency housing funds should be available within six years.
  • Within 10 years, the panel recommends the age of protection be raised from 16 to 18, so that older teens from troubled homes can get help.

Irwin Elman, Ontario’s advocate for children and youth, praised the panel for “setting the table for change.”

“I’m so proud of the young people who have been at the centre of this. I’m certainly proud to have been a support to them,” added Elman.

It would cost about $26 million to extend support to age 25 for youth in the child welfare system, according to a study released by Elman last year. But he said the cost would be more than recouped through reduced jail and social assistance costs and increased tax revenue as young adults are better able to complete their education and get good jobs.

Over 40 years, the return on this investment would amount to $132 million in current dollars, Elman said.

Source: Toronto Star

Sinclair is Doing Fine and Well

January 22, 2013 permalink

In August 2005 Manitoba social worker Stan Williams assured a relative of Phoenix Sinclair that the girl was doing fine and well. She had been dead for two months.

This incident shows just how much credibility the statements of social workers deserve. The only thing special about this howler is that it came out in a public inquiry.



Manitoba social worker insisted girl was fine, even after she had died: witness

Phoenix Sinclair
Phoenix Sinclair is shown in a file image.

WINNIPEG -- The inquiry into the death of a Manitoba girl has been told at least one social worker insisted the girl was doing fine, even though the child had been beaten and killed two months earlier.

The testimony Monday from a relative of Phoenix Sinclair is the latest evidence that Manitoba's child welfare system failed the troubled child throughout her short life and even after her shattered body was buried in a makeshift grave near a landfill.

"I called basically every single agency Manitoba has to offer," the relative, who cannot be identified under a publication ban, told the inquiry.

"No one knew who she was or how to locate her."

The relative was worried Phoenix was being abused by her mother, Samantha Kematch. The girl was often dirty, had head lice, and was overly quiet and withdrawn when with Kematch, the inquiry was told.

By 2005, Kematch stopped bringing Phoenix to the relative's home, saying the girl was staying with other family members. In August of that year, the relative decided to try to get social workers to check on the girl.

The relative got nowhere in the first 20 or so phone calls, the inquiry was told, but ended up being directed to a social worker named Stan Williams at Winnipeg Child and Family Services. Williams had been the case worker for Phoenix and her family two years earlier.

"His last words to me were, 'she is doing fine and well,"' the relative testified.

"Those words ring in my head almost every day."

In fact, Phoenix, who was five, had been killed two months earlier by Kematch and Kematch's boyfriend, Karl McKay, after suffering horrific abuse and neglect. Her death would go undiscovered for another seven months as Kematch and McKay continued to collect welfare benefits with Phoenix listed as a dependent.

Stan Williams died in 2009. Monday's testimony marks the second time his work has been criticized at the inquiry.

The inquiry, which started last fall, has already heard that social workers repeatedly missed warning signs that Phoenix was in danger. She was taken from Kematch and Steve Sinclair, her biological father, days after her birth in April 2000 because both parents had violent histories and were unprepared to care for her. Months later, Phoenix was given back to the couple.

Social workers were sometimes unaware of who was taking care of Phoenix -- usually it was friends of the family or relatives for days or weeks at a time. They also missed that Karl McKay, the boyfriend Kematch started living with in 2004, had a long history of domestic violence that including beating one former girlfriend with the leg of a bathroom sink.

In 2003, Phoenix was seized from her father's home after a day-long drinking party where suspected gang members were present. Sinclair was told by a social worker named Laura Forrest to undergo alcohol counselling before he could get his daughter back. He didn't. He also said he didn't feel ready to parent again. Forrest left the agency, Williams took over the file and decided to give Phoenix back to her Dad anyway.

Two social workers had a final chance to save Phoenix in March 2005. Acting on an anonymous tip that Kematch was abusing Phoenix and locking her in a bedroom, they visited the family's Winnipeg apartment. Kematch said she had a visitor, kept the men in the hallway, and said she had simply yelled at the girl. The workers left without seeing Phoenix or inspecting the apartment, decided all was well and closed the file.

Three months later, Phoenix was dead.

Kematch and McKay were later convicted of first-degree murder and are serving life sentences. Their trial was told they frequently confined and abused the girl, sometimes shooting her with a BB gun and forcing her to eat her own vomit. Phoenix died after a final assault on the concrete basement floor of the family's home on the Fisher River reserve, north of Winnipeg. The family had moved there weeks earlier.

The supervisor who signed off on the final decision to close Phoenix's file defended her actions Monday.

Diva Faria said workers were acting on a vague, anonymous tip and had not seen anything to indicate that Phoenix was in danger.

"Based on the information we have today, absolutely ... Phoenix should have been seen," Faria said.

"I'm suggesting even further, that based on what you had at that time, that would have been a wise decision also," Jeff Gindin, the lawyer for Phoenix's biological father, fired back.

Faria said she couldn't remember details of the case, but based on reports tabled at the inquiry, there was little evidence at the time that Phoenix was at risk.

"I had two social-work staff that were identifying that there were no protection concerns and based on their assessment and whatever other discussions we may have had, we concluded the case."

Source: CTV

Surrogate Opportunity

January 20, 2013 permalink

An adventurous woman with a healthy uterus is needed to be the surrogate mother of the first Neanderthal baby born in 30,000 years. Apply to professor George Church at the Harvard Medical School.



Wanted: Surrogate for Neanderthal Baby

GenomeWeb caught what must be an interesting Q&A with George Church in Germany’s Spiegel Online (I can’t personally attest to the original story as it is behind a paywall). The Harvard Medical School geneticist is quoted as saying that eventually, an “adventurous female human” will be needed to be the surrogate mother for the first Neanderthal baby in some 30,000 years.

This isn’t the first time Church has talked publically about cloning a Neanderthal, or at least a near-Neanderthal. In 2009, when the Neanderthal genome was first reported, the New York Times described a scenario in which a current day human genome could be tweaked into the “Neanderthal equivalent” with tools of molecular biology. Eventually, this could lead to a Neanderthal-like embryo in need of a surrogate mother.

While the idea of reviving Neanderthals may sound farfetched, take for example the work of biologists to clone endangered or extinct non-human animals (see “Stem-Cell Engineering Offers a Lifeline to Endangered Species”). In 2009, the extinct bucardo, a subspecies Spanish ibex, was cloned from a frozen skin sample. The newborn died immediately due to respiratory failure, but its birth suggests that resurrecting extinct species may be possible.

Source: MIT Technology Review

Snitch on Your Spouse

January 19, 2013 permalink

Tara Vereen found that in 2005 her husband Louis Vereen had molested two of their girls, now ages 16 and 13. She confronted him and they settled the matter within the family.

In a tradition predating recorded history, spouses are exempted from the requirement to provide evidence against each other in court. The doctrine is called spousal immunity or spousal privilege. It protects a married couple from the requirement to testify against the other in a criminal matter, and protects their communications with each other from outside scrutiny. This privilege is in shambles in today's regime of state controlled child protection. Louis Vereen has been charged with a crime for his molestation, and wife Tara, herself a Florida social worker, has been charged for not reporting him. Their children are in foster care.



DCF worker arrested for not reporting husband's child molestation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Florida Department of Children and Families employee has been arrested after she found out in 2011 that her husband molested two young girls and did not report it, according to a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office police report.

Tara Vereen, 36, was arrested Thursday afternoon is facing two charges of witness tampering and two charges of child neglect.

Vereen's husband, Louis Vereen, 38, was arrested on Dec. 23 for lewd/lascivious molestation, according to the report.

The two girls, now 16 and 13, were allegedly molested by Louis Vereen when they were around nine and six years old. The molestation ceased two years later.

Tara Vereen found out about the molestation in 2011 when she was going through one of the girl's rooms. She found a letter that stated that Louis Vereen had molested the girls.

Tara Vereen told police she confronted her husband about the letter. "She said they handled it among themselves and he apologized," the police report said.

The report also states that Vereen asked "why her husband had to be arrested, since the molestations happened so long ago."

The molestation was reported to police after one of the girls disclosed the molestation to a counselor in 2012 after she was Baker Acted for cutting herself and taking an overdose of Zoloft.

DCF Investigator Susanna Fleming called police on Thursday, saying that the younger victim told her that the girls were made to write letters stating that their accusations against Louis Vereen were false.

Fleming later interviewed the older victim, who said she was asked to write a similar letter to the attorney.

Tara Vereen was then arrested and her children were taken into DCF custody, according to the report.

Louis Vereen was released on January 7, according to JSO jail records. According to Duval County Clerk of Courts records, his bond was $50,003.

Louis Vereen was also set to reside in his mother's home, follow a curfew of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and have no contact with children 18 years or younger except for supervised visits with his biological children.

Source: First Coast News

Helicopter Failure

January 18, 2013 permalink

Shortly after welcoming the New Year, a Napanee Ontario man left a three-year-old boy locked in his room while visiting another apartment in the same building. Unless there is more to the incident than was reported in the press, it does not sound like a case worthy of intervention. Three year olds left to roam on their own can get in a lot of trouble playing with doors, windows, power supplies and such. Much safer to leave them secured while sleeping. And dad was not out of reach.

But today's culture demands helicopter parents, hovering over their children at every moment. In the reported incident, neighbors heard the boy crying at 2 am and called the police. The man has been charged and children's aid has taken the boy.



3-year-old found home alone, locked in room

Eastern Ontario man, 48, charged with forcible confinement

A 48-year-old man from Napanee, Ont., has been charged after police claim he left a three-year-old boy alone in an apartment.

Police say an ongoing investigation found the man left the boy alone just before 2 a.m. on New Year's Day and nearby residents could hear the child yelling and crying.

Ontario Provincial Police officers went to the home and found the child locked in a bedroom. Nobody else was found in the apartment.

Police said they found a belt was used to keep the door closed. The boy was not injured but police turned him over to child protection workers.

The caregiver had been visiting someone in another apartment within the same building, police later learned.

He was released with a scheduled court date in Napanee on Feb. 19.

Source: CBC

DCAFS Expands Services

January 18, 2013 permalink

Dufferin CAS is expanding services to autistic children. We regret to remind you that "services" means more police cars will be roaming Dufferin to pick up prospects.



DCAFS to expand services for autistic children

Dufferin Child and Family Services (DCAFS) has acquired the services of eight qualified professionals to help children with various levels of autism.

The coordinator and seven staff members have joined DCAFS from ErinoakKids, which services close to 13,000 children with disabilities and their families in Ontario each year.

The province, through ErinoakKids, will fund their addition to DCAFS.

DCAFS executive director Trish Keachie sees the service, in place since Jan. 1, as “a great addition to our agency” that is both beneficial and sensible.

“We offer all other children’s services, so this is a way to be more streamlined. It helps make children’s services easier for parents to navigate.”

Autism, a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, is prevalent to the point where it is present in between one and two people per 1,000, worldwide.

It has become more ingrained in the human conscience and there is a debate as to whether the number of affected children is actually on the rise, or that diagnosis and identification of autism has improved.

“Most experts say it’s a bit of both,” said Ms. Keachie. “Kids are being diagnosed, where they might not have been before. There are also indications that it could be on the rise.”

The exact cause of autism remains unknown. Although some research suggests the cause could be based in genetics, brain imaging techniques have not identified a clear common pathology. The main method of management is behavioral therapy, focusing on specific deficits to address poor communication skills, obsessive or repetitive routines, and physical clumsiness.

There are several levels of severity.

Asperger syndrome is closest to autism in signs and likely causes but, unlike other forms of autism, people with Asperger syndrome have no substantial delay in language development.

Pervasive developmental disorder, PDD, is also on the autism spectrum. Its diagnosis is often applied when children exhibit severe and pervasive impairment in the development of reciprocal social interaction or verbal and nonverbal communication skills, for example.

Rett syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder share several signs with autism, but may have unrelated causes.

Ms. Keachie pointed out that the level of therapy varies, as well.

Intensive behaviour therapy is applied to the more severe cases and can involve oneon one sessions that can total up to 20 hours per week.

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) involves therapists working with one or more less affected children and the sessions tend to total about two to four hours a week for a duration of about 12 weeks.

“To facilitate this transition, the ErinoakKids staff members who delivered IBI and ABA-based services in Dufferin have transferred to DCAFS,” explained Bridget Fewtrell, President and CEO of ErinoakKids. “By integrating service delivery in this way, we can offer the best for the children through the optimal use of professional staff at the local level.”

ErinoakKids works in close collaborative partnerships with agencies across the Central West Region to capitalize on local expertise while ensuring equitable access to services across the region.

“This is wonderful news for children and families,” said Ms. Keachie. “Dufferin Child and Family Services already provides a wide range of services to children and families, and the addition of the IBI and ABA autism services to our programs will support good seamless service to families.”

Intensive Behavioural Intervention and Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)-based services help children with autism build socially important behaviours while reducing problematic ones. ErinoakKids staff who delivered these services in Dufferin were already co-located with DCAFS at École Élémentaire des Quatre-Rivières at 60 Century Drive in Orangeville.

The transition of local autism service delivery to DCAFS was described in a press release as following the addition by ErinoakKids last September of clinical services such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy in Dufferin County.

Members of the public are invited to attend a Dufferin Child and Family Services Open House at École Élémentaire des Quatre Rivières on Tuesday, January 22nd from 3 to 6 p.m. to meet the staff team and tour the facility.

ErinoakKids Centre for Treatment and Development is Ontario’s largest children’s treatment centre, serving almost 13,000 children and youth annually who have physical and developmental disabilities, autism, and communication disorders as well as children who are deaf or blind. Our mission is to help our clients achieve optimal levels of independence, learning, health and wellbeing. Serving Halton, Peel, Dufferin — and, for some services, Waterloo and Wellington — ErinoakKids has 650 staff and nine sites from which we provide a comprehensive array of assessment, medical, therapy and support services that help children and their families.

In 2011 the Ministry of Children and Youth Services approved a redevelopment project to enable ErinoakKids to consolidate its current facilities into three larger sites which will be ideally situated for easy access within our catchment area, and designed specifically for the care of children and youth with special needs. The new facilities are expected to open in 2017. For more information about ErinoakKids visit

Source: Orangeville Citizen


January 18, 2013 permalink

Waterloo CAS is under investigation, a provincial review in their euphemism. Though most CAS agencies overspent last year's budget, Waterloo's extravagance came to $1.3 million, making it of only two in Ontario reviewed.



Waterloo Region child welfare agency under provincial review

A local child agency which has programs in child welfare and family support has found itself under provincial review.

The provincial government started taking a closer look at Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region after the group reduced operations and laid off staff last fall due to a budget deficit.

Alison Scott, the organization’s executive director, says she welcomes the review as a chance to show off what her group is capable of and prove that there is an unmet need out there.

“I’m seeing that as a very positive thing, because we’ve had growing needs in our community and we’ve been concerned about the kids,” she says.

“If they have suggestions for improvement, we’ll be open to that.”

There are 47 child welfare agencies in Ontario. Forty of the 47 were unable to balance their budget last year, but only two were singled out by the province for a closer inspection.

Scott says the review shouldn’t be concerning to Family and Children’s Services staff or clients, but is simply to determine what’s driving costs at the agency..

“They were very clear that this is not an operational review that’s driven by any lack of confidence in our governance or our management,” she says.

“I’m not at all concerned that they’re going to take us over.”

Last year, the local agency closed group homes and laid off about 40 workers.

They’re still $1.3 million short of making budget, and Scott puts the blame on cutbacks from the province leaving them $2.5 million in the hole.

“I think we’ve taken it as close to the bone as we have without really jeopardizing the safety of kids in our community,” she says.

The union representing Family and Children’s Services workers agrees, saying any problems it has with the agency are caused by a lack of funding, not by mismanagement.

“As a union, we’re hoping that … possibly we can have some of our members that were laid off recently back,” OPSEU Local 258 president Steve Dick tells CTV.

The review of Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region will be complete next week, with a report expected at the end of February.

Workers at Family and Children's Services
Workers at Family and Children's Services of Waterloo Region hold a rally over service cuts in Kitchener, Ont. on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012.
David Imrie / CTV Kitchener

Click for larger image

Source: CTV


Mother Saves Baby

January 16, 2013 permalink

Kimberly Symonds, mother of a four-month-old son and a five-year-old daughter, started a Facebook thread on January 10 about the threat to her family from FACS Niagara. Caseworker Michelle Toy wanted her baby but not the older girl. Several CCW members offered support and advice. The case against Kimberly was dismissed by judge Marten on January 16. A selection of postings is enclosed.



Kimberly Symonds

What action can I take agents FACS for harassing me just for having a new baby?

they said that they have had 4 calls on concern (which are not legitimate concerns) and now they just open a case file on me.. I told her she was not coming back in my house unless she had a legitimate concern or a court order!

I now go 2 court on Tuesday!

But all for concerns are. BULL SHIT!

Kimberly Symonds Ok so these are the concerns... 1st was that I was not involved in the Healthy Babys program (throw public heath) when I was 8 months pregnant (which its when the public heath nurse comes and see you AFTER the babys born)

2ed was when my son was 7 weeks old he suposidly was facing the wrong way in the tummy snuggely (which even the worker said she had never heard of)

3rd was when he was 3 months I brought him on a family vacation. To an indoor waterpark and we had him in lazy river and he started 2 cry when he got splashed!

4th was he had a blocked tear ducked for 13weeks... The concern was supposedly that I was not addressing it... But he had been to 3 different dr's about it! (It has since when away!)

Kimberly Symonds trust me i know.. they should not be involved but because my son is only 4 months old its all $ to them cause they get more $ for every open case file they have and even more when it involves newborns....(so i am told)

Kimberly Symonds They r asking for a 6months supervision order because their has been 4 calls of "concern"..... I don't want 2 put up with them for another minuet lit alone 6 more months....... I have done NOTHING wrong!

These are NOT legitimate child safety concerns!

January 11 at 1:06pm · Like

Brenda Larson I smell a rat. And I hardly believe that anybody would even call on those BS situations. I think that the real BS will come out in your affidavit. When you get your affidavit go through it immediately and do a rebuttal immediately. Anything that you can get witness or letter of reference for get it immediately and submit it to the court. In the mean time don't talk to them and don't allow them in your home unless they have a warrant. If they want to communicate with you do it in writing only. CPS are just like Police. They say they are just wanting your side of the story and all along they are using every little tid bit to build their case against you. It just never ends because that is how they make their money.The more they get into the system the more funding they get.

January 11 at 1:32pm · Like · 1

Kimberly Symonds Their is a bit more BS in the affidavit.. But its all the same shit!!! But nun of the reports are about the tummy carrier or the public health nurse.... Instead they focus on me having him @ Great wolf lodge and him getting wet their! And about how I choose 2 breast feed him in bed & night.... I'm sorry but ALL breast feeding mothers do that!

January 11 at 3:00pm · Like

Kimberly Symonds The funny thing is the supervision order is only for my 4month old son and Not my 5yr old daughter!!!

& the worker has it in their that SHE BELIEVES my son WILL be injured being in my care cause I brought him 2 Great Wolf Lodge!!!!

January 11 at 3:02pm · Like

Chris Carter very first thing you'll need to do is take a big step back from the negative emotions you're experiencing right now.

judges are easily irritated and they don't care if you think the calls are BS. all they care about is: "has the CA$ met the legal threshold of proving that there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the children are in need of protection?"

if you go in front of the judge and start talking about "this is BS" the judge is going to be prejudiced against you. you've got become more like a robot devoid of emotion and just focused on the facts and legal technicalities. no emotion.

even though it is BS, instead of taking it so personally try to look at it like the worker has a job to do (protect children) and that unfortunately in this your case they've just made a mistake and that despite the calls, your kids aren't in fact in need of protection.

and then you unemotionally set about proving that.

just focus on accomplishing very specific goals one at a time:

1. set up an email account in your name and get the email addresses of the worker, the supervisor and the lawyer.

2. send them an email claiming your right to full disclosure to any and all records, notes, business records of any type, etc...which have been created re: their case against you.

3. if you have time today, bring their affidavits against you into the local courthouse and claim your right to the enhanced duty counsel program and get that duty counsel started on writing a response and a Plan of Care. start today and maybe work on it over the weekend and then get back in there on Monday morning first thing to finish it off.

4. the duty counsel will explain to you how to get the response and Plan of Care sworn, served and filed so that at court on Tuesday the duty counsel can argue on record that the supervision order they are pursuing against you can't be lawfully ordered.

Kimberly Symonds I just wanted to say Thank You to everyone who Gave me advice in this matter, so Thank You

I had my court case yesterday & after 5.5hrs of weighing the Judge throw it out of court based on insofishent evidence

The funny part was after the judge dismissed the case my worker stood up and said 2 the Judge "so am I Still allowed 2 go 2 this family's home?"

The jude gave her a funny look and said that the case was Dismissed which ment NO follow up by the Worker!

I am so Grateful that this BS is finely over with!

Chris Carter who represented you in the hearing Kim, or did you represent yourself?

this is actually quite a big and significant victory and once you have some time and if you're comfortable with doing so, we'd really appreciate a full debriefing of the hearing which we could then editorialize and forward to for possible posting.

let us know.

Kimberly Symonds I self represented I guess

But on Mon I went to a free Family Law Clinic and the Lawyer I spoke to reviewed my papers and helped me fill out my plan of care, then to my luck on Tues he was the Duty Conceal at the court house... I owe this man a huge thanks!

He started off by pointing out to the judge that ALL the complaints agents me were ANONYMOUS! And that if we ever went to trial then CAS would have NO witnesses to back up their evidence!

That was a big part of Y I won!

& I would be happy 2 give an interview or email 2 you if it helps even just 1 more family get away from these monsters!

Kimberly Symonds Welland court house,

Judge Marten

And worker is Michelle Toy of FACS Niagara

Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch

Undisclosed Disclosure Policy

January 16, 2013 permalink

Chris Carter found there was a document giving disclosure policy for children's aid societies and requested a copy through freedom of information. The reply from Cate Parker reads in part:

I am writing regarding your access request made under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act). You requested access to the following information: I want the MCYS's file disclosure policy as imposed on the CASs sometime in perhaps 2012 which we learned about in a recent CFSRB decision:

On January 7, 2013, the ministry received your full fee payment in the amount of $56.00. Enclosed, in their entirety, are the ministry records responsive to your request. According to the Child Welfare Secretariat, the responsive document, known as the Ministry's Case Information Disclosure Policy, is from 1985 and not 2012. It continues to guide Children's Aid Societies.

The responsive document is on fixcas as a photocopy (6 megabytes pdf) or a web page. The link cited by Parker is incorrect, the real one is P.O. v. FAMILY AND CHILDREN SERVICES NIAGARA.

The document as presented is a fake. Cate Parker cited it as current policy, yet the policy formed in 1985 has been updated only once, in 1986. No government organization uses a policy document for 27 years without a single change. The rules relate to the forms of records existing in the 1980s, paper, computer disks and tapes. There is no mention in the policy of internet, email, memory sticks or cell phone cameras, though these technologies will surely be part of any current policy on records. The document uses the term "retarded", though that term has since been expunged from social work practice.

There is no way to know why the wrong document was provided. Whatever it was, we hope Mrs Parker will find the right policy document and forward it to Mr Carter without additional charge.

In spite of its infirmities, the fact that the Ontario government presented this obsolete document as current regulation should enable its use to pry information from social services files.

Ban Catholics

January 12, 2013 permalink

Over five centuries ago King Henry VIII redefined marriage, introducing three centuries of persecution of Roman Catholics in Britain. Today pending efforts to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples are threatening to introduce a new era of Catholic persecution.



Gay marriage could signal return to ‘centuries of persecution’, - say 1,000 Catholic priests

More than 1,000 priests have signed a letter voicing alarm that same-sex marriage could threaten religious freedom in a way last seen during “centuries of persecution” of Roman Catholics in England.

same-sex marriage
The Coalition is due to publish its Equal Marriage Bill, allowing couples of the same sex to wed at the end of this month
Photo: ALAMY

In one of the biggest joint letters of its type ever written, they raise fears that their freedom to practise and speak about their faith will be “severely” limited and dismiss Government reassurances as "meaningless".

They even liken David Cameron’s moves to redefine marriage to those of Henry VIII, whose efforts to secure a divorce from Katherine of Aragon triggered centuries of bloody upheaval between church and state.

They claim that, taken in combination with equalities laws and other legal restraints, the Coalition's plans will prevent Catholics and other Christians who work in schools, charities and other public bodies speaking freely about their beliefs on the meaning of marriage.

Even the freedom to speak from the pulpit could be under threat, they claim.

And they fear that Christians who believe in the traditional meaning of marriage would effectively be excluded from some jobs – just as Catholics were barred from many professions from the Reformation until the 19th Century.

The comments are contained in a letter to The Daily Telegraph, signed by 1,054 priests as well as 13 bishops, abbots and other senior Catholic figures.

They account for almost a quarer of all Catholic priests in England and Wales.

It comes as opponents of gay marriage launch a lobbying campaign targeting MPs in 65 of the most marginal seats.

The Coalition is due to publish its Equal Marriage Bill, allowing couples of the same sex to wed at the end of this month.

Legal opinions commissioned by opponents have argued that teachers could face disciplinary measures under equality laws if they refuse to promote same-sex marriage once the change has been implemented.

Hospital, prison and army chaplains could also face challenges if they preach on marriage being between a man and a woman, it is claimed.

Until 1829 Catholics and other religious dissenters in Britain and Ireland were barred from entering many professions or, in many cases, even meeting to worship under a body of restrictions collectively known as the penal laws.

The priests write: “After centuries of persecution, Catholics have, in recent times, been able to be members of the professions and participate fully in the life of this country.

“Legislation for same sex marriage, should it be enacted, will have many legal consequences, severely restricting the ability of Catholics to teach the truth about marriage in their schools, charitable institutions or places of worship.

“It is meaningless to argue that Catholics and others may still teach their beliefs about marriage in schools and other arenas if they are also expected to uphold the opposite view at the same time.”

Arguing that marriage as traditionally understood is “the foundation and basic building block of our society”, they add: “We urge Members of Parliament not to be afraid to reject this legislation now that its consequences are more clear.”

Last night the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Philip Egan, one of the signatories, insisted that the comparison with the penal laws was “dramatic” but not an exaggeration.

“It is quite Orwellian to try to redefine marriage,” he said.

“This is strong language but something like this totalitarian.

“I am very anxious that when we are preaching in Church or teaching in our Catholic Schools or witnessing to the Christian faith of what marriage is that we are not going to be able to do it – that we could be arrested for being bigots or homophobes.”

Rev Dr Andrew Pinsent, a leading Oxford University theologian, who also signed the letter, said: “We are very sensitive to this historically because of course the reformation started in England as a matter of marriage.

“Henry VIII could have been forgiven for his adultery but he didn’t want to do that, he wanted to control marriage and redefine what was a marriage and wasn’t.

“Because the Church would not concede that point, that launched three centuries of great upheaval in English society, and from the Catholic point of view life was very difficult.

“We fear that what is happening now is that a network of laws are being put in place which would violate our freedom of conscience.”

He added: “I think people in the Westminster bubble have underestimated the level of concern in the country – at a local level there is great concern about these things.”

In recent weeks the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, and several other leading Catholics in Britain have stepped up their attacks on David Cameron’s plans, echoing concern in a series of pronouncements from Pope Benedict.

But the letter is the first large scale protest initiated by local priests.

Rev Mark Swires, one of the organisers, said it had taken weeks to compile the signatures but that it showed the strength of opinion in the pews.

“This is a grass roots initiative by priests, it isn’t an initiative by the hierarchy of the church.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The Government’s proposals for equal marriage do not change anything about teaching in schools.

“Teachers will continue to be able to express their own personal beliefs about marriage.

“Schools have a requirement to ensure they do not teach anything that would be considered inappropriate to a pupil’s age, religious or cultural background and they must ensure pupils are presented with balanced, factual information about the nature and importance of marriage for family life and bringing up children.

“This will not change.”

Source: Telegraph

Carter in Court

January 11, 2013 permalink

Chris Carter was in court yesterday on charges stemming from an incident in Chatham in February 2012 [1] [2].



Activist aims to turn minor charges into examination of child protection system

Chatham Court House
Chatham Court House

An activist with Canada Court Watch is aiming to turn some minor criminal charges against him into an opportunity to bring Ontario's child protection system under the microscope.

Chris Carter, who faces a charge of personation with intent and a charge of disobeying a court order, spent more than 90 minutes in a Chatham courtroom making numerous motions for all types of disclosure and documentation.

Carter made no secret when addressing Ontario Court Justice Stephen Fuerth that he has a bone to pick with the provincial child protection system, making numerous references to the four-year battle he had with the children's aid society in the Waterloo region.

He arrived in the Chatham-Kent area about a year ago with the goal of helping families deal with the Chatham-Kent Children's Services. Carter was arrested on Feb. 21, during an uneventful protest he organized near the CKCS office, for an incident on Feb. 6 at the CKCS office.

One of the conditions of bail is that Carter cannot communicate or be near CKCS staff.

However, he sought a bail variation to allow him to represent local residents when challenging CKCS decisions.

Carter told the court his experience with the CAS ìgoes to the intensity and drive . . . to act as an agent for families being litigated against by the CAS.î

He also said part of his defence will be proving ìthe Ontario child protection system is deficient.î

Carter said he believes the personation charge is simply an attempt to keep him from helping other people deal with the children's aid society system, because of the success he has had.

He made several motions that included court transcripts of his bail hearings and audio and video recordings of his time at Chatham-Kent police headquarters. He also asked for any documentation from courthouse security that makes any reference to him.

His effort to try to prove the child protection system wants to keep him from helping others included asking the court to order CKCS, the Waterloo CAS and the Ministry of Child and Youth Services to disclose any information these agencies have shared about him.

Other information he has requested includes:

  • the protocol that exists between Chatham-Kent police and CKCS.
  • the service contract the CKCS has with the province.
  • a copy of the 1979 operational review of the Ministry of Community and Social Services
  • and the Ontario Association of Ontario Children's Aid Societies training manual for child protection.

Fuerth denied Carter his request for a bail variation that would allow him to have any dealings with CKCS, noting he must seek that through Superior Court.

He adjourned the matter until Jan. 29 to consider all the other requests made by Carter.

Source: Chatham Daily News

Return to Sender

January 11, 2013 permalink

A mother who has legal authority to send letters to her crown-ward sons recounts her endless runaround when trying to exercise that authority. On expand, send the link to an mp3 player or discard it.



Yvonne Craig

Finally got around to approaching the matter over my sons' returned Christmas cards. Phoned WECAS yesterday. No matter the day, week, month or year it is always the same experience when dealing with an office structure over human social issues. The following was my experience:

My christmas cards to my sons were returned "no such address" days before Christmas (Dec. 21st, 2012). I know this to be false but it's a stale-mate, catch-22 scenario, to get enforcement despite a court order to be able to send "mailings". Not worth the undue hardship of trying to press the issue. I have not had a lawyer since July/2011 and this circumstance [is] not something the system provides legal supports for so I decided, in principle, to contact WECAS and communicate with their legal counsel whom I was last in Court with to impress compliancy. I have every reason to believe my sons' foster providers have not moved residence. I have since confirmed (to the best of my ability) that they have in fact not moved.

I was met with "repugnance" by WECAS switchboard. Rather then delve into an elaborate story, it was the usual experience when I called yesterday and began to delve into this. Boys' file manager on 5 week vacation, not available til end of month, transferred to intake worker, spoke with her, nothing but confusion, total idiocy, I spoke clear, articulate, concise, had to spell "BARKOVSKY" three times before she could get the surname correct to look up on computer. I addressed the shortcomings of administration dealing with human issues. She repeated like a phonograph that if I had issues with service provisions I could speak with a supervisor. Again I rebuked about the redundancy and twelve year experience with communicating with WECAS over service provisions, litigation, no matter the subject material it was always the same when trying to communicate with the offices being transferred from person to person, extension to extension, going through all these loops and tunnels. She again tried to deflect about filing a "complain". I rebuked that saying how "redundant" as it's internal complaints review and that I am so well versed in the bureaucracy of their affairs — the overlay and structural component that's why I have "undertaken" to approach this myself to make sure of remedy. More confusion over the boys being under Bruce County she began to try and re-direct me saying I had to call Bruce CAS. I stated the particulars of the court order, again advised her of jurisdictional proclivities being but a "small" component and the boys originate from Leamington. The original order from Windsor thereby I am correct in dealing with Windsor CAS. She didn't seem to know what to do with me, and then began to query if I had access. I told her I wasn't getting into years and years of Court history and I could surmise she was on the computer, had access to the file the court order should be right in front of her she would know the answer to that herself, but I gave brief synopsis that there was no access on account of all the damages and corruption, the psychological manipulation of my sons and their advanced ages to perpetrate huge deficit in previous desire for maternal relations that court concluded in 2011 resigned they could do nothing so no access was ever obtained, hence the purpose of years and years of litigation to no effect. I then declared that none of which was the purpose of my call on account of CAS once again contravening a court order and the purpose of my call was to get to the bottom of it, manner of resolve. She put me over to the worker. I went back to switchboard cause he was unavailable. The woman on switchboard (they never identify themselves, nor did I reveal my name, they're so PUGNACIOUS! The intake worker didn't ask any identifying information about me, though I don't doubt the computer file didn't disclose to her. She made no affirmation and never addressed me by any name, but rather had an "inanimate", "detached" way of speaking to me as a "generic" organic being without identity!). When she couldn't satisfy the inquiry I was put over to the boys' file manager though I specifically said I did not want to deal with him having witnessed his short-comings in court. He is unable to properly perform his job duties. I reiterated misgivings about dealing with CAS business office about human relationships, what a redundant process, unyieldly in it's approach, that I wanted to speak legal terms with representative WECAS counsel who could understand what I was trying to accomplish! I was more than fed up with CAS loop back effect of a simple phone call being transferred around and around in circles and inevitably I was back to switchboard cause I'd hung up and called back to get the number for the Windsor law firm representing WECAS from the operator. But when I called back and tried to retrieve the phone number she decided to play games with me and would not relinquish the information I requested. I kept pressing her cooperation, then I began to call the shots on CAS manipulations and repugnancey, orating she was previously willing to comply and why the indignance now won't provide a simple phone number for Frank Philcox (one of the many Windsor lawyers employed by WECAS). The operator barked, "look it up in the phone book" and f'n hung up on me!

Source: Facebook, Yvonne Craig

No Names Allowed

January 9, 2013 permalink

Ontario's child advocate Irwin Elman is drawing attention to the failure of the province to protect children. He says most of the suggestions by coroner's juries have not been implemented. He has created a new database accessible online to show most of the suggestions. According to the Toronto Star, his hands are tied by rules preventing him from identifying children. One "fact" in the story is grotesquely wrong: 26 children have died in government custody since 1995. The best analysis is that about 60 Ontario foster children die annually. Since 1995 that makes 1080 children. Add the number dying in detention facilities to get reality.

The data can be read at the Inquest Database.



Many recommendations from child death inquests never carried out

Irwin Elman
Irwin Elman, the official advocate for children in Ontario, is launching an online database that reveals how few inquest recommendations ever get implemented in the cases of children who died in custody.

Hundreds of key recommendations to prevent the deaths of children in custody have been ignored or rejected by government agencies, the Toronto Star has learned.

Agencies responsible for protecting young wards are shielded from public scrutiny once an inquest ends through “bizarre” privacy legislation that forces the office of Ontario’s children’s advocate to keep secret any information that might identify a youth.

“It’s bizarre,” said Irwin Elman, Ontario’s Advocate for Children and Youth. “While the inquest has been public and the record is public, I cannot identify the person publicly and must even go so far as to not identify agencies.”

On Thursday, his office will launch a new online database — the only one of its kind in Canada — that tracks inquest recommendations into the deaths of children in custody. Many of these deaths have occurred in jails or within the child welfare system. In the past 18 years, there have been 26 such cases.

But the provincial act that created Elman’s position means that a great deal of relevant information will be missing from this new public record.

The act forbids him from identifying any child under provincial protection without his or her consent. And because it is impossible to obtain consent from a dead child, his office has been forced to redact from the database any information that could potentially identify anyone under the age of 18.

This includes exact dates, locations and the names of provincial ministries, associations, government-funded programs and service providers involved in a child’s death.

Elman said he has repeatedly asked the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to change the act but it has refused. “I can’t imagine (the act) was written this way on purpose,” he said.

Paradoxically, the Ashley Smith inquest will attract frenzied media coverage when it begins on Monday but he will be barred from revealing her identity.

“This person who has had their name and photo splashed across televisions and newspapers, to say we’re not going to allow him to identify her, it’s ludicrous,” he said.

Ministry spokesperson Gloria Bacci-Puhl said the confidentiality provisions of the act were crafted in consultation with the Information and Privacy Commissioner to protect the privacy and legal rights of the child.

After an inquest, any agency subject to a recommendation is given a year by the coroner to act. Of the 1,635 recommendations made since 1995, only 17 per cent had been implemented. Another 24 per cent were listed as “had or will be implemented.”

About 26 per cent of agencies did not make their response available to the coroner. Another 5 per cent had no response or a response that could not be evaluated.

Keeping tabs on recommendations through an online database will, Elman believes, force government agencies to be more accountable.

“This database is us saying that as a province we owe it to the children who have died. This is their legacy,” he said. “I hope it pushes all the sectors towards taking these recommendations seriously.”

Many of the recommendations cited in Elman’s database have been repeated over and over by inquest juries.

Recommendations are not drawn from “thin air,” says Michael Blain, counsel for Ontario’s chief coroner. Juries “must have heard some evidence to support the recommendation.”

Since 1995, at least seven different inquests have pressed for greater access to mental health assessments, treatment services and appropriate placements for youth with mental health issues.

Three-year-old Matthew Reid was in the care of a foster home affiliated with the Children’s Aid Society in St. Catharines, Ont. when a 14-year-old girl, a new ward at the home, fatally smothered him.

The inquest concluded in late 2010. So far, none of the jury’s 45 recommendations have been implemented.

A key recommendation arising from that hearing focused on improved information-sharing between government agencies.

Elman is skeptical of agencies that claim to be in the process of adopting jury recommendations.

“I would argue that if they’re still thinking about it 15 years later, that means it’s not going to be implemented,” he said.

One unnamed child welfare agency pledged to hire a quality assurance manager after the death of one of its wards. The job has yet to be filled due to “front line workload demands and budgetary restraints.” That recommendation was made more than 10 years ago.

David Meffe, 16, hanged himself while on “suicide watch” at Toronto Youth Assessment Centre in 2002. The inquest into his death revealed that jail staff had virtually no medical history for the youth; it recommended that medical records be attached to court-ordered assessments.

But this did not happen for Pickering’s Gleb Alfyorov, 17, who hanged himself with his shoelaces in an Ontario jail in 2008 while awaiting a psychiatric assessment. In fact, eight other juries had already made the same pleas for change that they made in Alfyorov’s inquest in 2011.

Michael Fraleigh, lawyer for David Meffe’s family, said privacy must be balanced against the greater good.

“While I think privacy is important, the more important work is to have inquest juries make recommendations and have them be listened to,” he said.

“If there is a name and even a face associated with the person who has passed away … it brings it home.”

With data analysis by Andrew Bailey

The Lost Children

The Toronto Star has identified seven of the 26 children who have died in government custody since 1995. Their cases appear in the provincial children and youth advocate’s new online database, which tracks inquest recommendations. While the provincial advocate is forbidden by legislation to include any information that might identify a youth in custody, the Star is not. Identities were drawn from the general timelines and the limited case details included in the database.

David Meffe, 16

In 2002, Meffe hanged himself in his cell while on “suicide watch” at a Toronto youth jail. The note he left his parents said, “Day by day it is getting worse ... This place really gets to your head.”

Many of the jury’s recommendations were implemented, including the closing of the jail and the call for strip search privacy. Some recommendations were still under consideration, among them one that there be a one-to-eight ratio of staff to youth and that security clothing be made of rip-proof material to discourage youths in custody making ligatures.

Stephanie Jobin, 13

Jobin, a severely autistic and developmentally delayed Crown ward, died after she was placed in a Brampton group home. Her heart stopped beating and she suffered irreparable brain damage after three staff members straddled her, one holding a bean bag chair over her upper body, to control her aggressive behaviour. Three days later she was declared brain dead.

The jury recommended an integrated continuum of services for children and youth with complex needs — including full-time residential care and in-home supports — be established in the nine regions of Ontario. This recommendation is listed as “under consideration.”

Matthew Reid, 3

Reid was in the care of a foster home affiliated with the Children’s Aid Society in St. Catharines, Ont., when a 14-year-old girl, a new ward at the home, smothered the young boy to death. The inquest was conducted in the winter of 2010. So far, none of the jury’s 45 recommendations have been implemented. Many of the recommendations focused on improving care for youth and information-sharing among Children’s Aid Societies,

Gleb Alfyorov, 17

In May 2008, Alfyorov hanged himself in his cell at the Syl Apps Youth Centre in Oakville while awaiting a court-ordered psychiatric assessment. A judge sent the Pickering teen to the centre for a 30-day psychiatric assessment, thinking the jail was a hospital for troubled youth. Alfyorov was strip-searched and put in a cell. No one bothered to read the court document explaining why he was there.

Before his death, eight other inquest juries had pleaded with provincial ministries and agencies to fix systemic problems like those that ultimately plagued Alfyorov. There have been repeated recommendations to curb or ban the use of solitary confinement to deal with mentally ill kids.

Juries have also asked the government to stop using privacy concerns as a reason to withhold critical information like medical records when a youth is transferred between facilities.

William Edgar, 13

A ward of the Toronto Children’s Aid Society, he fell unconscious and died on March 31, 1999 after a senior staff member restrained him at a group home near Peterborough. An inquest was called into his death because it appeared the recommendations following Stephanie Jobin’s death were being ignored. The inquest jury ruled Edgar’s death a homicide and issued 61 recommendations, most of which have been put in place, according to the database.

Katelynn Sampson, 7

Last July, Coroner David Eden called for the inquest into the Parkdale girl’s beating death. Katelynn had been found dead in her home on Aug. 3, 2008. Police later recovered a piece of paper with the same sentence scrawled 62 times: “I am A awful girl that’s why know one wants me.” Her guardians pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. An autopsy showed she had 70 wounds when she went into septic shock. The case highlighted a series of system failures that failed to stop the violence.

Jared Osidacz, 8

In 2006, the Brantford, Ont. boy was stabbed to death by his father, Andrew Osidacz, while on an unsupervised court-ordered visit. Hours later, the older Osidacz was fatally shot by police; he had also stabbed his girlfriend and her 8-year-old daughter. Three years later, an inquest jury issued 35 recommendations. Two have been implemented so far.

Source: Toronto Star

Note: There are 26 separate inquests in the index, Many have been on the internet for years, yet Mr Elman was constrained to remove parts of them. As a public service, fixcas encloses a table relating some of the Elman inquests to the unredacted versions.



 casedied name and circumstances
1590123 Nov 1997Selena Wendy Sakanee
Former CAS ward committed suicide by hanging.
20643 unknown
23425 unknown
26235 unknown
2766415 Feb 2000Joshua Douglas Durnford
CAS ward poisoned by multiple psychotropic drugs.
29513 6 Jul 2000Daniel, David, Peter and Nicole Luft
Familicide by father treated with psychotropic drugs.
3046926 Oct 1993Shanay Jami Johnson
Child returned by CAS to abusive mother.
42181 2 Apr 1996Jennifer Anne Kateryna Koval's'kyj-England
Girl killed by father on withdrawal from psychotropic drugs.
43661 3 Jul 2001Paola Rosales
CAS ward who committed suicide by hanging.
46987 unknown
5222811 Apr 1991Kasandra Hislop aka Shepherd
Girl in custody dispute and under CAS supervision killed by stepmother.
5541823 Jun 1997Jordan Desmond Heikamp
CAS ward starved to death.
6334031 Mar 1999William Edgar
CAS ward asphyxiated by restraint.
64770 unknown
6927515 Dec 2005Matthew David Reid
Foster boy smothered by foster girl.
70661 unknown
7932211 Jun 1996Angela Dombroskie, David Dombroskie, Jamie Lee Burns, Devin Burns
Four children died in a house fire.
82525 unknown
83595 unknown
8624618 Mar 2006Jared Osidacz
Foster child killed by his convicted father on an unsupervised visit.
8759413 May 2008 Gleb Alfyorov
87689 7 Sep 1996James Preston Lonnee
Young offender killed by cellmate.
8990425 May 1995Margret and Wilson Kasonde
Killed by father during custodody dispute.
91295 1 Oct 2002 David Meffe
9205812 Jan 1995Mitchell and Kenneth Free-Parkin
Unexplained deaths in family under CAS supervision.
9771320 Jun 1998Stephanie Jobin
Institutionalized crown ward died of restraint.

Monique Taylor asks Minister of Children and Youth Services Laurel Broten to implement the suggestions of the coroner's inquests. This is good politics and bad policy. Most of the suggestions from coroner's juries are for more money and power for children's aid. Ontario's families should be thankful that many have not become law.



An Open Letter to Minister Broten from NDP Children & Youth Services Critic

QUEEN’S PARK –NDP Children and Youth Services Critic Monique Taylor sent the following letter to Minister Laurel Broten, urging her to take immediate action to prevent the deaths of children and youth in the province’s care.

January 9, 2013

Dear Minister Broten,

It was with great concern that I read the Toronto Star article this morning (Inquest recommendations ignored – January 9, 2013 A1) detailingOntario’s failure to implement recommendations stemming from inquests into the deaths of children and youth living in custody.

Since 1995, there have been 26 inquests and 1,635 recommendations made. These recommendations were drafted with the sole purpose of protecting the lives of vulnerable children and preventing future deaths. Yet today, only 17% of these recommendations have been acted upon.

What this means is that 1,300 recommendations designed to prevent abuse and save the lives of vulnerable children and youth have not been put in place. This is about more than case files and bottom lines – this is about the lives and futures of some ofOntario’s most at-risk residents. These children have no one else to turn to, and it is up to us to give them the best life possible.

Why has your Ministry allowed these recommendations to sit on the shelf? I would like to be updated on your plan to ensure the full implementation of these recommendations in a timely manner.

Today, the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth has released a partial database of these recommendations. This database will allow us to track which recommendations have and have not been acted upon. However, due to the wording of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Act, 2007, the Advocate’s office must obscure details of these inquests, even when the information is already publicly available. This valuable, independent office of the legislature is hindered by faulty legislation.

New Democrats urge the government to make immediate changes to the Act—both those identified above and other longstanding issues that prevent the Advocate from doing his job—so that the needs of children and youth are better met. Will this vital task be on the legislative agenda when the House resumes?

As the Minister of Children and Youth Services, it is your job to ensure that children and youth in the care of the province are provided with the best services and protections possible. It is unacceptable that this government has willingly turned their backs on hundreds of recommendations aimed at preventing future tragedy and the obvious gaps in legislation, thereby endangering the lives of children and youth in our care.

I look forward to your timely response to these concerns.



Monique Taylor

MPP Hamilton Mountain

NDP Critic for Children & Youth Services

Source: Monique Taylor blog

anonymous date

Manitoba Children's Advocate Report

January 9, 2013 permalink

Manitoba Children's Advocate Darlene MacDonald has released her Children's Advocate Annual Report for 2011-2012 (pdf). It shows twelve deaths in the provincial foster care system for the year. Our analysis How Dangerous is Foster Care suggests treating official death statistics with skepticism. The CBC news report is enclosed.



Deaths of children in child welfare system up: report

The number of children who died while they were involved in Manitoba's child welfare system went up last year, according to a new report by the province's Children's Advocate.

The latest annual report from Darlene MacDonald, released on Tuesday, says her office investigated the deaths in 2011-12 of 61 children who were involved in the child and family services (CFS) system.

It's up from 53 deaths that were reviewed in the previous year.

MacDonald told CBC News the higher number of deaths that were reviewed in the past year was to be expected, as the number of children who were involved in the CFS system has gone up as well.

More than 9,400 children were in care as of 2011, an increase of 3,650 over the past seven years, according to the report.

Overall, fewer children died in Manitoba last year than the year before. A total of 163 child deaths were reported in the province in 2011-12 the past year, down from 156 in the previous year.

Of the 163 deaths, 148 involved Manitobans and 61 of them were involved in the child welfare system. Twelve were children who were in care.

Heavy case loads cited

The report says heavy case loads are to blame for a lack of contact between children in the child welfare system and their social workers.

Families in crisis are not always assessed properly, raising the risk to children and youth, the report added.

MacDonald said her office is particularly concerned with the number of children who died in what she described as unsafe sleeping environments.

She said since 2005, the office has investigated seven reports of children who died after sleeping with their parents.

One of the reported deaths happened within the past year, she added.

"Some of the child deaths we've examined were the result of co-sleeping arrangements, where entrapment or soft bedding were at play, or where caregivers accidentally rolled over on their children during sleep," MacDonald said.

MacDonald is calling for more education for parents about the issue.

Concerns about services

The Children's Advocate's special investigations review unit, which investigated the child deaths, found that in some cases there were concerns about services to the families involved.

Those concerns had to do with risk assessments and case co-ordination between stakeholders, among other things, according to the report.

MacDonald said her office, which advocates for children and youth involved in Manitoba's child welfare system, received a total of 2,382 requests for services last year.

Top concerns that were raised in those requests were related to children's rights, case planning and quality of care, MacDonald said in a release.

MacDonald added that her office has developed, with input from the four authorities that oversee child and family services agencies, a more collaborative approach to writing recommendations after child death reviews.

The full report has been posted on the children's advocate's website.

Source: CBC

Amber Alert

January 9, 2013 permalink

A kidnapper known only as Miguel knew how to pick up two-year-old Leah Marie Aguirre. He said he was a caseworker with child protective services. An alternative theory is that Leah's mother used the caseworker story to account for the loss of her toddler after her sale.



UPDATE: Amber Alert Issued for 2-Year-Old Girl Out of Crosbyton

Leah Marie Aguirre

An Amber Alert has been issued for an infant abducted from a home in Crosbyton.

The little girl's name is LEAH MARIE AGUIRRE, and just turned two years old on January 6th. She is Hispanic with black hair and brown eyes.

She was last seen with a man identified only as MIGUEL. And the two were last seen in a RED FORD FOCUS, or similar make and model with dark, tinted window.

The little girl has been missing since January 3rd. She was staying with a caregiver in Crosbyton when police say 'Miguel' entered the home claiming to be a case worker from Child Protective Services. He then removed the child from the home. CPS Public Information Officer Paul Zimmerman confirms that this man, Miguel was not a CPS employee.

Crosby County Sheriff's deputies confirm they are investigating whether or not the child's mother, 22-year-old Tina Aguierre-Gonzalez had been trying to sell the baby to someone in Mexico.

Slaton Police brought in Aguierre-Gonzalez to question her Tuesday night. They say she is not being arrested at this time and that questioning family members is just standard procedure.

If you have any information, call Crosbyton Police at 675-7302.


Addendum: The body of a dead toddler has been found in the home of Leah Marie Aguirre's caretaker Matilda Almaraz. CPS denies responsibility for the placement with Almaraz. This usually means they were not involved, but sometimes they induce a placement with threats while keeping deniability. It looks like the story of Miguel from CPS was a hoax.



Crosbyton police have arrested Leah Marie Aguirre's caretaker and charged her with capital murder

Matilda Almaraz has been charged with capital murder

Ayshire Street home
Police gather outside a home in the 500 block of south Ayshire Street in Crosbyton where they say the body of a small child has been found Thursday.
Stephen Spillman

The body of a small female child was found inside a box and under bags in the basement of Matilda Almaraz’s Crosbyton home and Almaraz has been charged with capital murder, Crosbyton police chief Greg Parrott announced at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Parrott was careful not to identify the body as Leah Marie Aguirre, a 2-year-old girl last seen Jan. 3 and reported missing Tuesday. A post mortem examination will be completed Friday morning.

Almaraz was a friend of the child’s mother, Tina Marie Aguirre-Davis, and the toddler’s caretaker.

Parrott said police executed a search warrant at Almaraz’s home in the 500 block of Ayrshire Street due to some statements made by Almaraz and her “great concern” for a certain area in the basement.

Parrott briefly commented on the scene investigators found inside the house.

“She was intentionally concealed,” the chief said of the child found. “You really had to have been there to see how well concealed she was.”

Parrott said Almaraz is still making some statements to investigators and arrests of other people may or may not take place.

For now, Almaraz faces a state charge but that may change.

“We’re not outside the realm of discussing federal charges,” Parrott said.

Parrott could not comment on whether or not Almaraz had previous criminal history.

The initial story given to law enforcement was that a Child Protective Services worker named “Miguel” had taken the child into state custody.

On Monday, the toddler’s caretakers allegedly called CPS to inform it of an appointment with a speech therapist. CPS stated it did not have the child in its custody.

Police said CPS is conducting its own parallel investigation.

Parrott thanked the community and the country for the show of support and concern for this case.

Source: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Lawless Agency

January 8, 2013 permalink

Seattle Times reporter David Dekker adopted a boy. The boy later told of his treatment during his two years in foster care before the adoption. Further along Dekker points out the failure of DSHS to comply with existing laws and suggests that enacting more laws as a control is futile.



Op-ed: What needs to change at DSHS after $11 million foster-care settlement

Washington’s foster children continue to needlessly suffer due to mismanagement and incompetence at the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, writes guest columnist Jake Dekker.

EARLIER this month, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services agreed to pay $11 million to six victimized foster children living in a Tacoma “house of horrors.” Their foster father allegedly subjected the children to repeated sexual and physical abuse. Their foster mother had more than 50 arrests and lost custody of her own children prior to DSHS approving the couple as foster parents.

Despite receiving more than 35 complaints from neighbors, teachers and the children themselves, DSHS failed to adequately investigate the allegations. How could this happen? If DSHS were a private agency, their contract would be terminated. Yet Washington’s foster children continue to needlessly suffer due to mismanagement and incompetence at the department.

This year, the department’s Children’s Administration budget is $545 million. This averages out to more than $50,000 annually for each child in foster care. Despite enormous financial resources, DSHS has proved time and again incapable of providing appropriate homes.

In a news release announcing the settlement, DSHS Assistant Secretary Denise Revels Robinson said, “We regret that these children suffered at the hands of adults they had trusted to love and keep them safe.” Robinson admitted no responsibility, nor did she apologize to the victims.

Unfortunately, I know firsthand how foster children are neglected by DSHS. Earlier this year I wrote “One Kid at a Time,” an account of adopting my troubled 10-year-old son from foster care in Tacoma. While researching his story, I read hundreds of pages of court records and spoke to his court-appointed special advocate, social workers and teachers. I discovered that for two years, my then-8-year-old son was mostly confined to a small bedroom. His only escape was going to school, where, unsurprisingly, he acted out. On Christmas Day, his foster mother locked him in his bedroom so he couldn’t spoil her family’s holiday.

DSHS admonished her for locking him up, but when she agreed to stop, they kept him in her home. She was paid $1,300 a month to keep him caged like a prisoner. There was an alarm on his bedroom door and a remote camera monitoring his movements.

When my son’s teacher shared her concerns, DSHS replied it was none of her business. When his court-appointed special advocate asked DSHS to find him another home, he was told my son was a “difficult child to place” and this was the best home they could provide. My son escaped by vandalizing his unemployed foster mother’s new Cadillac sedan. Against all odds, I met and adopted him nine months later.

Only when horrific cases become public is there a clamor to create new laws. But the problem often isn’t the lack of laws — it’s that DSHS regularly ignores them.

As taxpayers, I believe we should demand that our lawmakers improve our child-welfare system. At least three reforms are necessary to prevent this from happening again.

First, DSHS employees must follow their own policies, existing laws and quit covering up their mistakes. True reform will begin when DSHS is more concerned with helping children than protecting themselves.

Second, the Children’s Administration’s budget must be amended to spend significantly more on direct services for foster children and less for bureaucratic overhead.

Third, provide all foster children with easy access to an outside ombudsman to promptly investigate any accusations of sexual and physical abuse.

In his last speech, Hubert Humphrey said, “…the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children ...” Washington is failing that test.

We can do better. We have the resources and moral obligation to care for our state’s foster children. Hopefully our lawmakers will view this “house of horrors” in Tacoma as a wake-up call for reform. If they don’t, it will surely happen again.

Jake Dekker is the author of “One Kid at a Time: A Single Dad, A Boy in Foster Care, and An Adoption.” He lives in Bellingham.

Source: Seattle Times

Two Social Workers Murdered

January 8, 2013 permalink

Two social workers, Lesley Caile and the retired Alan Greaves, were murdered in England on Christmas eve.



Police investigating the murders of two social workers

The murders of a social worker from Durham and a retired social worker from Sheffield are being investigated by police

Lesley Caile and Alan Greaves
Social worker Lesley Caile and retired social worker Alan Greaves

A man has been charged and two men arrested following the murders of two social workers, killed in separate incidents on Christmas Eve.

Lesley Caile, 48, a registered social worker who worked for Durham council, was found dead at her home in Hunwick, County Durham, on the morning of 24 December.

A 46-year-old man, Peter Edward Yorke, who lived at the property with Caile, appeared in court last month charged with her murder.

Caile, who had two children and three grandchildren, was “held in the highest regard” by her managers and colleagues, according to a tribute issued by her employer.

'Held in the highest regard'

In a statement released to the media, the authority’s corporate director of children and adults, Rachael Shimmin, said: “I can confirm that Lesley was an employee of the council. She worked as a team manager in children’s and adults services.

“Lesley was held in the highest regard by her managers, staff and colleagues both in the council and also in its partner agencies. Our thoughts at this time are with her family and friends, to whom we extend our deepest sympathy.”

In a separate incident on Christmas Eve, retired social worker and church organist Alan Greaves was attacked on his way to midnight mass in High Green, Sheffield. He was found by a member of the public and taken to hospital, but died from his head injuries.

Detectives have arrested two men from Sheffield, one in his 20s and one in his 40s, as part of their investigation. Both men are currently being held in police custody.

The Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Steven Croft, paid his respects to Alan Greaves, saying the grandfather and father-of-four had been, “widely involved in serving [his] local community for many years”.

Source: Community Care

Saskatchewan Foster Trial

January 7, 2013 permalink

In Saskatchewan foster mother Eunice Wudrich is on trial for causing the death of Evander Lee Daniels.



Testimony underway in trial of foster mother accused in toddler's death

Eunice Wudrich
Eunice Wudrich
Photograph by: Richard Marjan , The StarPhoenix

The trial is underway for a 47-year-old foster mother accused of criminal negligence in the death of a 22-month-old foster child.

Eunice Wudrich has pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing death and endangering the life of a child. She was charged about two months after Evander Lee Daniels drowned in a bathtub, in June 2010, at the Aberdeen-area foster home she operated with her husband. Police said the boy had also suffered extensive "scald-type burns" to his body.

Defence lawyer Mark Brayford said in 2010 that the toddler was placed in the tub that day with only a few inches of water and was old enough to walk and get in or out of the tub and adjust the taps by himself. He said Wudrich's nine-year-old daughter was in her bedroom and the other children were milling around and watching TV in the bungalow's living room while Wudrich was in the kitchen.

Brayford said the girl came out of her room to greet her father, who had just arrived home, when she told her parents the water was running in the bath. He said Wudrich and her husband went into the bathroom and found the hot water tap had been turned on, filling the tub with scalding water.

The Crown's first witness in Court of Queen’s Bench, Social Services resource worker Danene Scott, said the ministry was not aware until after the child's death that Wudrich has a hearing impairment.

“The fact that she’s hard of hearing can’t be that big an issue,” Brayford told reporters outside court on Monday.

“I mean, Social Services approved her and had a chance to deal with her and speak to her and obviously had conversations with her and felt that her hearing was perfectly adequate to be both a parent and a foster parent.”

The major issue in the trial is “when an accident moves up the sphere to what is a very serious criminal offense of being willfully and wantonly negligent to the point that you’ve committed a crime,” Brayford said.

“Just think of all the times when someone unintentionally hurts a child. That’s not a crime simply because someone who is either your child or a child in your care gets hurt or dies.

“If you have five toddlers, you can’t simply be sitting on the edge of the tub with the other four toddlers running around the house. You’ve got to be moving back and forth. So the question is, how long is it between checking from child to child, and if you get distracted along the way by, say, something going on with one of the other children, how long can you be distracted – and if you are, is it negligence?”

“There is no question my client is responsible for Evander’s death. Did she commit a crime when she made that mistake? That’s for this judge to decide,” he said.

Wudrich and her husband were fostering five children at the time, including Daniels. All of them were under the age of five. Four other foster children who were living in the home at the time of the incident were immediately removed.

The recommended number of foster children in the home was three.

The couple's biological daughter, who was eight or nine years old, was also living with them. They had been approved to hire a helper to provide in-home support for 15 hours a week, but had been unable to find anyone.

The boy's father, Chris Martell, expressed doubt about the drowning explanation, saying he had questions about the cause of his son's burns.

Results of an investigation into the death by the Ministry of Social Services have never been made public.

The office of the Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth is expected to release a public report of its own after the criminal process is concluded.

Source: Saskatoon Star Phoenix

CPS Documentary

January 4, 2013 permalink

A family with skills in film making has been attacked by child protectors. They have produced a trailer for an intended full-length documentary. Expand for the YouTube links, here is a local copy (mp4).



You are one argument with your neighbor, one fight with your ex away from losing your kids. This is a promotional trailer for our documentary that highlights the widespread abuses of family court and Child Protective Services. There is a nationwide problem with the lack of Due Process in Family Court, which can be seen from the many examples in this trailer. If you think this could never happen to you, you need to watch this trailer, soon to be a Kickstarter project.

Source: YouTube

Tires Slashed

January 4, 2013 permalink

Vandals struck a lot where Oregon child welfare vehicles were parked over the holidays. They slashed the tires of 33 vehicles.



Dozens of tires slashed on state-owned vehicles

Vandals slashed the tires on 33 Oregon Department of Health & Human Services vehicles this week, Medford police reported.

The vehicles are used by employees of the department's child welfare and self-sufficiency divisions, with a majority of the damage done to cars used by child-welfare employees. Vandals slashed a single tire on each vehicle, causing a total of about $3,300 in damage, police said.

"It was probably done with something similar to a pocketknife," Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said. "It was a stab into the side wall, which is not repairable."

All the tires will need to be replaced.

DHS employees arriving at work Wednesday at 909 Royal Court discovered and reported the incident to Medford police. Police suspect that the incident occurred sometime over the New Year's holiday between Dec. 31 and Jan. 2, but do not have a specific date or time nailed down.

The vehicles are parked in an unsecured parking lot that is not monitored by video cameras.

"Hopefully that'll change in the future," Budreau said, adding the department is still having tires replaced today. "It certainly caused an inconvenience."

DHS Child Welfare deals with the safety and well-being of youth coming from homes where sexual abuse, drug abuse and domestic violence is suspected.

"Sometimes they have to take children into protective custody. That's when you see emotions go high for obvious reasons," Budreau said.

He added the suspect or suspects could have reacted in response to a child being taken into department custody.

"I wouldn't be surprised if there is something to that," he said.

There are no suspects in the case. Anyone with information about the case should call the Medford Police Criminal Investigations Division at 541-774-2230 or Crime Stoppers of Southern Oregon at 1-800-850-0580.

Through Crime Stoppers, Mercedes-Benz of Medford will pay up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and filing of charges. Callers can remain anonymous.

Source: Medford Mail Tribune

flat tire

Disregarding Truth and Law

January 4, 2013 permalink

Here is more on the father harassed served by not-a-social-worker Wendy Traynor. He took his case to the Child and Family Services Review Board. The bottom line of the CFSRB ruling is:


[85] For the reasons above, the Board orders the following:

  1. The Board orders the Society to provide a written explanation to the Applicant regarding the qualifications and responsibilities of Society workers who are not registered with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, and to explain why [the ongoing service worker] continued to be the Ongoing Service Worker for the family.
  2. The Board orders the Society to provide the Applicant with reasons in writing as to why he was not contacted with regard to the children’s apprehension and with reasons as to why the children were not placed in his care following their apprehension.
  3. The Board orders the Society to provide the Applicant with written current information regarding the children’s medical conditions and the medications they are prescribed.
  4. The Board orders the Society to provide the Applicant with a written explanation of its actions regarding his concern related to [the child’s] access to the Provincial Advocate.

Source: K.R. v. Durham Children’s Aid Society, 2012 CFSRB 17 (CanLII)

The Durham CAS did send the requested information to the father. To keep this father out of touble, his name has been replaced by K.R. as in the CANLII report, and the mother's name is reduced to mother.



Durham CAS logo


July 5, 2012


Mr. K.R.
street address
Pembroke, Ontario

Dear Mr. K.R.:

RE: K.R.-mother / CFSRB

The following is in response to the Board's decision of May 16, 2012, pursuant to the two day hearing on April 3 and 4, 2012.

  1. Please be advised that the Society does not require Child Protection Workers to be registered with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. The Society takes the position that its workers are Child Protection Workers for the purpose fulfilling its mandate pursuant the Child and Family Services Act. Ms. Traynor continued to be the Ongoing Service Worker in the Society's protection application for continuity of service with the family and various service providers involved. Ms. Traynor and the Society were not of the view that there was a personality conflict with you. Rather, the Society was of the view that you felt she should be removed from the file because she was not registered with the above noted College. Respectfully and as stated above, it is not a requirement for ongoing service workers to be registered with the College. As such, the Society was not prepared to remove Ms. Traynor from the file.
  2. Regarding communication of the Society's position as to why the children could not be placed with you, the Society did attempt to contact you by telephone to 613.639.2085 on January 15, 2010, at approximately 5:15 pm. A second and third attempt was also made at 5:20 p.m. and 5:25 p.m. respectively. This letter also confirms that the Society did not consider placing the children into your care and custody following the apprehension because there were protection concerns with you. If you recall, the children were in your care over the holidays and upon return to Ms. mother, began behaving in a manner that posed a risk of physical harm to other family members. The Society took the position that this behavior was likely the result of Edmund and Preston's time in your care. The Society therefore was of the view that to place the children in your care at that time would not have addressed the outstanding protection concerns posed by the children.
  3. Children's Current Medical Conditions and Medications

    Edmund is not on medication and does not have any formal diagnosis. Edmund is overall healthy and meets with his therapist, Gary Brooks, weekly.

    Preston is diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and is currently taking the following medications to assist with behavior and emotional management:

    -Abilify daily (Friday and Saturday 10mg; Sunday to Thursday 5mg)
    -Melatonin as needed

  4. Edmund's Access to the Provincial Advocate

    I have been advised by the Child Service Worker that "In December 2012 the Society was in contact through voicemail messages with Mr. Rawle Elliot from the Provincial Advocate Office. The Society provided Edmund with the contact information for Mr. Elliot and reminded Edmund that he was able to contact the Provincial Advocate's office and speak to any advocate other than Mr. Elliot if he had concerns regarding his rights. Edmund at that time declined to speak to Mr. Elliot and reported that he understood and would call if he felt necessary. During a meeting at the home with Edmund present, contact information for the Provincial Advocate, Children's lawyer and Children's Services worker were reviewed with Edmund. Edmund is aware of the location of the telephone numbers in the foster home and has the contact information on his Rights and Responsibilities pamphlet which is in his possession. His Rights and Responsibilities were reviewed during the meeting and continue to be reviewed approximately once per month with the Children's Services Worker. In May 2012, the Children's Services Worker spoke to Mr. Elliot who was requesting information regarding the boys access to father. Mr. Elliot was informed of the current access arrangements, telephone call arrangements, and the recently obtained Crown Wardhsip, with access order. The Children's Services worker provided Mr. Elliot with answers and confirmed that Mr. K.R. has the option to have access with boys and will need to contact the Society to make access arrangements with the Children's Services Worker. Mr. Elliot reported he had informed Mr. K.R. of the Child's Advocate role and Mr. Elliot had not received a call from Edmund to date. The Children's Services Worker informed Mr. Elliot that contact information can be provided if the Children's Advocate's office felt it was necessary to contact Edmund. Mr. Elliot did not feel it was necessary to contact the boys at that time and reported he would follow up with Mr. K.R.

Yours very truly,

K Salter

for Clem Nabigon
Durham CAS, Counsel


Wendy Traynor, FSW, DCAS
Biljana Krstanovska, CSW, DCAS
T. Ducey and C. Shannon, DCAS supervisors

1320 Airport Blvd., Oshawa, ON L1H 7K4
Tel: 905-433-1551 Fax: 905 433-8956

Celebrating one hundred years of making a difference.
One child at a time.

Source: father (K.R.)

Notwithstanding the CAS explanation in paragraph 1, child protection worker Wendy Traynor signs her name in the box marked Durham C.A.S. Social Worker.

The father denies the claim in paragraph 2 that CAS tried to phone him. Three phone calls in ten minutes does not show a serious effort to make contact. What if the other party was out of town that day, or even in the shower? Three attempts on different days might be a real effort.

In paragraph 3 the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for Preston is a consequence of CAS action in separating him from his parents. The Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study (pdf) found that Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) rates for alumni were up to twice as high as for U.S. war veterans. One in four alumni (25.2%) experienced PTSD within the previous 12 months.

In paragraph 4 CAS lays out their efforts to allow Edmund to get in touch with the provincial advocate. Listen to reality in Edmund's own words (mp3).

When the CFSRB rendered its decision, they ordered CAS to provide written explanations. They did not require the explanations to be truthful or lawful.

Just before fixcas posted this article the father wrote:

The Child advocate heard the recording from my son and is now today forcing Durham CAS Childrens Aid Society to have the contact to my son that he so deserves ..Thank you Rawle Elliot .....the start of prosecution of blocking the child advocate and rights violation to my son

Watch the picture of the documents the father accumulated just to see his sons.

Oshawa Runaway

January 3, 2013 permalink

Autumn Calderon
click for larger image

Teenager Autumn Calderon has run away from an Oshawa group home.



Missing Teenager from Oshawa

Durham Regional Police are asking the public for assistance in identifying the location of a 15-year-old Oshawa female, who has been missing since Dec. 9th.

Autumn CALDERON, age 15, was living at a group home in Oshawa but has not been seen since Dec. 9, 2012. Her family is concerned for her well being.

She has run away before, but usually not for this length of time. She has family and friends in Hamilton and repeated efforts to locate her have been unsuccessful.

She is described as: 5'5" tall, about 104 lbs with a thin build, with brown eyes and long brown hair. A photo is attached.

Anyone with information regarding her location is asked to contact their local police service. The general line at DRPS is 1-888-579-1520. The lead investigator is Cst. Cowan at ext. 1743.

Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or on the website at and tipsters are eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.


Source: Durham Regional Police Service

Hating Them All

January 3, 2013 permalink

Foster mom Ellen Kovach despises all three of her foster children equally. This spoof has an uncomfortable dose of reality.



Foster Mom Doesn't Pick Least Favorites

Ellen Kovach
Kovach says she loathes each of her foster children equally and unconditionally.

SEATTLE—Foster mom Ellen Kovach told reporters Thursday she doesn’t play least favorites, claiming that each of the minors placed in her home is provided with an equal amount of deep, seething animosity.

“They’re all my least favorite,” said the state-certified caregiver of Jeffrey, 14, Claire, 12, and Trevor, 8. “I really don’t ignore or resent one more than the other. All three are a huge pain in my ass.”

“Sure, sometimes it might seem like I spend more time arguing with Claire, but believe me, a good part of my day is devoted to reassuring Jeffrey and Trevor that they mean nothing to me,” Kovach added. “Those kids definitely know I hate them all the same.”

Kovach, who receives monthly checks of $400 per child, was adamant in refusing to say which of the three juveniles she despised the most, insisting that Jeffrey, Claire, and Trevor were “all especially irritating in their own unique ways.”

“They may think Trevor is my least favorite, because he’s the whiny fucking baby, but Claire can be a complete bitch, and Jeffrey is a lazy, disgusting slob who bugs the shit out of me, too,” Kovach said. “Deep down, they’re all terrible.”

The 43-year-old foster mother, who confirmed she unconditionally loathes the three children, said she reminds them on a daily basis that they’re the most unimportant part of her life. In addition, Kovach avoids giving preferential mistreatment to any of the youths by withholding affection from each of them equally.

Kovach frequently offers words of discouragement to all her foster children, and the court-appointed guardian is reportedly careful to heap scorn evenly, making sure to fairly distribute her criticisms and disparaging remarks.

“I do try to be impartial by letting all three of them know they are pathetic losers who will never accomplish a goddamn thing,” said Kovach, noting she also takes time with the children to explain that each of them is a “leech” she doesn’t want in her home. “They understand they are each individually very much unloved.”

Though Kovach refuses to pick a least favorite foster child, her husband, Paul Kovach, said that he detests Jeffrey the most. The 44-year-old part-time electrician admitted he berates Jeffrey far more than the others.

“Yeah, I single him out and tell him to ‘shut his fucking hole’ way more than the others,” the foster father said. “But it’s just because he’s a crybaby wuss who needs a little more belittling than the rest.”

At press time, Paul Kovach reportedly went into Jeffrey’s bedroom and threw out a pile of “pussy ass” books about cartooning.

Source: The Onion

Renewal Time

January 2, 2013 permalink

As a public service, fixcas reminds all Ontario children's aid workers (we know you read this site when nobody's looking) to renew your membership in the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. You can avoid penalty by sending your payment before the January 31 deadline. Expand for the registration requirements, go to the source link for questions and answers about registration.




Membership Renewals

Online renewal is now available for College members from October 15, 2012 to March 15, 2013. In order to use the online system, members must have an email address on file with the College.

Ready to renew online? Visit Online Member Services.

The membership year for OCSWSSW is January 1 to December 31. The annual fee is $270 and $170 for new graduates*.

The annual fee (also referred to as a renewal fee) for a year must be paid on or before December 31st of the previous year.

A $50 late fee penalty will be charged if the annual fee is received after January 31 of the membership year.

* For new graduates who are registered on or before December 31st of the year in which they graduate from a social work or social service work program, the renewal fee for these new graduate members in the two subsequent years of their registration will be $170, provided that the payment of the annual fee is made prior to the date on which the late payment penalty is effective.

Source: Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers

renew your membership

More Power for Dr Cop

January 2, 2013 permalink

In a step lessening the distinction between a doctor and a cop British health services minister Dan Poulter has announced a new data base to record all visits by children for accident and emergency medical care. An opinion piece by Frank Furedi of Spiked says it will place consciencious parents under threat, while keeping truly abusive parents away from medical facilities, further harming their children. Many Canadians have no personal physician and have to rely on emergency room treatment for all medical care. For them, a British style database would record a child's complete medical history. Following Furedi's opinion is the announcement from the government website.



How ‘child protection’ policies harm children

We all want kids to be safe, but the plan to create a new database of children who visit A&E units will have the opposite effect.

Recent UK government policies aimed at protecting children have been based on an erroneous assumption - namely that intrusive monitoring of intergenerational relations is the only way to keep kids safe. In truth, such policies - including the mandatory vetting of all adults who work with children - are at best a form of PR, designed to demonstrate that officials take child safety seriously; and at worst, they fuel suspicion of all adults, creating an ever-widening cultural chasm between generations. This can actually diminish rather than enhance the security of young people.

The Lib-Con’s health services minister, Dan Poulter, announced over the holiday season that, starting in 2015, all children who visit an accident and emergency (A&E) department in a hospital will be logged on a new national database set up to identify potential victims of abuse. This is an example of precisely the kind of policy that will have the perverse effect of making life worse for parents and their children. Poulter justified his proposal on the basis that it will help doctors and nurses spot which children are frequently brought to A&E - apparently, frequent A&E visits are markers of child abuse.

Parents already know that every time they take their child to the hospital they will be scrutinised by health professionals on the lookout for signs of abuse. A minority of health professionals take the dogma of child protection so seriously that they have difficulty believing that a bruise or broken bone can be explained away as ‘just an accident’. Parents sometimes exchange jokes about how they fear that the bruises on their child’s body might be misinterpreted and their child taken into care. When I hear such exchanges between parents, while we watch our children play football, it quickly becomes clear that their ‘jokes’ express a recognition that they feel guilty until proven innocent.

When visiting an A&E is treated not only as a way of helping injured children to get better but also as a way of vetting their parents, then the very meaning of the experience is radically transformed. Even clinicians who have the best of intentions will start to consider what is on the database as being more significant than the singular injury on the child that requires emergency treatment. In such circumstances, clinicians are not simply offering a medical diagnosis - they’re giving an assessment of the moral status of the parent and the existential predicament of the child. And where a medical diagnosis is based on science, the moral assessment that clinicians will be called upon to give will essentially be based on guesswork.

While clinicians are busy assessing the risk of abuse faced by their young patient, the parents face a situation where an already stressful experience becomes even more difficult for them. Precisely at a time when they need to be reassured that their child will be okay, they will face a system that is likely to test their confidence further. That’s not good for parents. Nor is it good for children, whose security depends on the guidance of confident parents.

Some advocates of total child protection argue that the disagreeable experience of being scrutinised by health professionals is a small price to pay for the identification of abusers. But what policymakers overlook is that the knowledge that all children’s injuries will be logged on a database will lead some parents to think twice before they go anywhere near an A&E. In particular, that small minority of parents who are abusive will naturally tend towards avoiding a system where their behaviour might be exposed. Denied medical treatment, it will be the injured children of such parents who will pay the cost for this ill-thought-out policy.

Source: spiked

New child abuse alert system for hospitals announced

Hospitals will have a new system to help doctors and nurses spot children suffering from abuse and neglect, Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter announced today.

Work on the system will begin in early 2013 and it will start to be introduced to NHS hospitals in 2015.

Doctors and nurses using the system, known as ‘Child Protection – Information System’, in emergency departments or urgent care centres will be able to see if the children they treat:

  • are subject to a child protection plan or being looked after by the local authority
  • have frequently attended emergency departments or urgent care centres over a period of time.

Medical staff will be able to use this information as part of their overall clinical assessment, along with information about where and when children have previously been receiving urgent treatment. This will help them build up a better picture of what is happening in the child’s life so they can alert social services if they think something might be wrong.

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said:

“Up until now, it has been hard for frontline healthcare professionals to know if a child is already listed as being at risk or if children have been repeatedly seen in different emergency departments or urgent care centres with suspicious injuries or complaints, which may indicate abuse.

“Providing instant access to that information means vulnerable and abused children will be identified much more quickly – which will save lives.”

Dr Amanda Thomas, Officer for Child Protection at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:

“The Report of the Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum highlighted that professionals working in different care settings need to communicate better with one another on child protection issues, and highlighted the proposed Child Protection – Information System solution as an encouraging move towards ensuring that clinical professionals have immediate access to important child protection information.

“This solution is a positive step and an important part of the overall solution. The college has been involved from an early stage and will continue to work with the Department of Health to ensure it is introduced effectively, integrates well with the working practices of NHS staff and makes a genuine contribution to improving child protection practice.”

Source: Department of Health (UK)

Legal Scabs

January 2, 2013 permalink

In family court, self-representation is commonplace. In child protection cases, the parent typically is a single mother living on a low-wage job or social assistance. The cost of a lawyer is beyond her means. In the early stages she may appear against the lawyer for CAS, if the case drags on she may be opposed by additional lawyers representing the child (treated as an adverse party by the courts) and some other part of the social services system that has become involved. In divorce cases, the husband and often father soon becomes impoverished as the result of the loss of his home and savings and often his employment because of the demands of frequent court appearances. Unable to afford a lawyer, he faces off against a lawyer for his wife (paid for out of the assets seized from him) and a lawyer for a collection agency.

An enclosed article mentions that self-represented litigants get poor outcomes because of their level of stress, and their lack of technical knowledge of the courts. Two items overlooked in the article: (1) The law society controls the number of lawyers admitted to the bar. It is held low to keep prices up. As long as the number of lawyers is inadequate for the number of pending cases, some litigants will have to be unrepresented. (2) Union members despise scabs. When a man appears in court without a lawyer, the judge, a member of the lawyers union, thinks of him the same way a union member thinks of a strike breaker. Even lawyers who represent themselves get treated dismissively by the court.



Self-represented litigants ‘treated with contempt’ by many judges, study finds

Self-represented litigants ‘treated with contempt’ by many judges, study finds

Jamie Ryan
Jamie Ryan has been representing himself in Family Court in a custody and access dispute with the mother of his young daughter.
Photograph by: Chris Mikula , Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — Jamie Ryan has been fighting for equal access to his young daughter since the day she was born nearly three years ago.

When his ex-girlfriend announced she was moving to Toronto and taking their daughter with her, Ryan hired a lawyer and spent $30,000 trying to stop her. The judge ruled against him. “So that was a waste of money, really,” he says.

Since then, Ryan — who owns an Ottawa company called Executive Golf — has been representing himself in court. So far, he’s appeared before seven different judges. Despite some limited success, the experience has been deeply disillusioning.

The judges, he says, treated him like a criminal. “Here I am, trying to be a good father. That’s my whole mission. I enter the court system, and I’m being talked to like a criminal. It’s very insulting and degrading. I’m asking the court for help, and this is the attitude I’m getting.”

Trying to navigate the justice system without a lawyer is the hardest thing he’s ever done, Ryan says. The province’s Family Law Information Centre at the Ottawa courthouse has been of some help, he says, “but they’re supporting a system that’s just so archaic and detailed, and it’s built around criminality. It’s just a vortex of confusion and delays and expenses.”

According to the preliminary results of groundbreaking new research, Ryan’s experiences are typical of lawyerless litigants.

Julie Macfarlane, a law professor at the University of Windsor, has interviewed about 280 self-represented litigants — “self-reps,” for short — in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. It’s one of the first times anyone has ever collected their stories.

“What has surprised me is how traumatized people are by the experiences they’re having, how many lives are getting wrecked, how much anger and frustration there is out there,” says Macfarlane, who plans to publish her findings this spring. “It makes you wonder, given that self-reps are now a majority in the legal system, how much longer the system can hang on.”

The proportion of self-represented litigants varies. But in Family Court, Macfarlane says, it’s always more than 50 per cent, and can rise as high as 80 per cent in some areas. In civil court — Superior Court in Ontario, for example — “I’ve seen anything from 35 to 65 per cent,” she says.

(Macfarlane’s study doesn’t include people who represent themselves in criminal court, where legal aid is available for those who qualify. But they are a growing presence even there.)

According to Macfarlane’s research, Ryan’s rough treatment by judges is the norm for those who appear in court without lawyers. While there are notable exceptions, most judges believe that “if you’re a self-rep, you’re a pain in the ass, you’re going to be really annoying, you’re going to be really unreasonable,” Macfarlane says. “And they get treated with contempt.”

As part of her project, Macfarlane interviewed half a dozen lawyers who represented themselves in court. Even they were shocked at how dismissive judges were. “They couldn’t believe it,” she says. “It has suddenly taken the blinkers off their eyes.

“Even if only 10 per cent of what I’m being told is factually correct,” Macfarlane declares, “it would be really bad. People talk to me, only slightly tongue-in-cheek, about post-traumatic court syndrome.”

The jaundiced judicial attitude is a holdover from an earlier era, when many of those who appeared in court without a lawyer were mentally disturbed, says David Scott, a prominent Ottawa lawyer.

“That’s changed completely,” says Scott. Now, “the unrepresented litigant is frequently smarter than the represented litigant and his lawyer combined. The idea that all these people are deranged is over.”

Within the legal profession, what to do with self-represented litigants “is now the hottest topic on the street,” says Scott. “This is a huge management job for the courts, and we’re just beginning to deal with it.”

For the past 20 years, Macfarlane has trained judges at the National Judicial Institute. “In the last five years, this is what judges want to talk about all the time — how do I deal with self-reps?” she says.

Cost is the main reason people go to court without a lawyer, Macfarlane says. Many start off with a lawyer, spend $5,000 or $10,000 on legal fees, then run out of money.

Many people only chose to represent themselves “in greatest desperation and with huge amounts of anxiety,” Macfarlane says. “But there are also a fairly large number of people who are saying, ‘My lawyer didn’t do much for me.’ Or if they haven’t had a lawyer, ‘Everything seems to be online, surely I can manage this.’”

The vast majority of people Macfarlane interviewed told her the experience was much more stressful, burdensome, difficult and complex than they’d expected. For many, it also took a toll on their health.

“This is the part that has really blown me away,” Macfarlane says. “People consistently describe both physical and mental health issues as a consequence of this” — everything from insomnia and depression to social isolation.

One lawyer — who regularly appears in court on behalf of his clients — was so stressed out after representing himself he had an attack of temporary amnesia, Macfarlane says. Many told her they were “so completely wiped out” after a court appearance that they had to take time off work to recover.

Part of what Macfarlane hopes to do is normalize this type of response so judges won’t dismiss the self-reps they see as nutcases.

“These are not crazy people,” she insists. “We’re talking about normal people who are stressed to the nines, whose lives are falling apart — that’s why they’re in family court — and now they have to deal with all of this.”

Many of the self-represented litigants Macfarlane interviewed have lost faith in the justice system. “People are really angry,” she says.

“What is it exactly we are offering people when we say access to justice? If we continue to use it as a mantra without really delivering on it, and we don’t listen to what people are saying, I don’t know where this is going except down.”

Everyone in the justice system is scrambling to adapt, Macfarlane acknowledges. The most common response is to put more information for self-represented litigants on line. “That’s not necessarily a bad thing,” she says. But people need more than just online information.

“They need face-to-face, morale-boosting support, hand-holding. They need coaching. They also need to have a little bit of time with someone who can say, strategically, ‘Think about what you want to do here. Should you be proposing a settlement?’”

In Canada, the most interesting model is in British Columbia, which has opened four Justice Access Centres — essentially drop-in centres for people without lawyers.

Staff circulate and guide people as they work on their cases at computers. “It sounds like a small thing, but actually, it’s a big difference,” Macfarlane says. “That’s the kind of support that people need.”

Judges must also change, though Macfarlane understands their reaction to the tide of self-reps swamping their courtrooms. “This is not the gig they signed up for,” she says. “They signed up for a gig in which they would have nice, respectful, courteous, arcane legalese conversations with lawyers.”

Judges are appointed almost exclusively based on their knowledge of the law. But they need a completely different set of skills to deal effectively with a docket filled with self-represented litigants, Macfarlane says.

“A lot of what goes on in family courts is not rocket science,” she says. “But it requires someone who’s willing to ask questions, to listen to the answers, to keep control in their courtrooms. It requires all of these other skills that don’t have much to do with knowing about the law.”

For his part, Jamie Ryan plans to go back to court in January to try again to win equal access to his daughter. He already has joint custody, but only 25 per cent access. He has taken an apartment in Toronto to be close to his child, and spends about two-thirds of his time there.

“I’m going to do much better this time around, for sure,” he says confidently, “because I think I can present myself a lot more clearly. I’m still susceptible to the bias of the court system and the details of it, but I think my chances will be a lot better this time.”

Source: Ottawa Citizen

Christmas Eve Death

January 1, 2013 permalink

A child died in a Hamilton hospital on Christmas Eve. The news article raises more questions than answers. Children's aid is mentioned, but nothing about their role.



Homicide squad probes Christmas Eve death of tot

McMaster Children's Hospital
Six-week-old boy died at Mac on Christmas Eve; autopsy indicates that the injuries were not consistent with natural death.
Kaz Novak/The Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton police remain tight-lipped about the circumstances surrounding an infant’s suspicious death on Christmas Eve.

“I’m not prepared to speak to the injuries,” said Detective Sergeant David Beech. “We’re trying to establish how they were received.”

Staff at McMaster University Medical Centre alerted police to the six-week-old boy just after 6:30 a.m. Monday. The baby had been brought into the hospital in medical distress the evening before, a media release said.

Shortly after police were called, however, the child died.

Beech wouldn’t reveal the baby’s identity or that of the family. He wouldn’t say how the infant arrived at the hospital or where he had come from — just that he was from Hamilton.

The homicide unit investigates all sudden deaths of children under five years old, but in this case, a post mortem examination revealed injuries that were not consistent with a natural death.

Police are withholding further details, at least until the investigation wraps up.

Beech couldn’t say when that will be.

“Anytime you’re dealing with the death of a baby, it’s a little bit different than an adult,” he said. “We’ll go as slow or as quickly as we need to, to find the answers.”

Beech said three detectives are working the case. So far, no arrests have been made.

Dr. Burke Baird, an emergency room physician at McMaster Children’s Hospital, couldn’t comment on the case for confidentiality reasons. However, he noted that all health professionals have a duty to report any suspected maltreatment to the Children’s Aid Society.

Baird said such reports are “quite common.” At McMaster, well over 100 cases of suspected abuse are reported annually. It occurs typically when a child is admitted with an injury for which there isn’t an explanation, or when the explanation doesn’t match the injury’s severity, he said.

“For example,” Baird added, “if a young baby that didn’t walk yet had a bunch of bruises and there was no explanation for them ... that might make someone wonder.”

Source: Hamilton Spectator

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