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Amateur Parents Caught

April 30, 2013 permalink

When Florida DCF took a child from father Scott Smith, he and friend Linda Grass tried to get the child back by impersonating a DCF employee. The foster parent caught on to the scam and refused to relinquish the child. They made at least one more attempt to fool the foster parent, but that failed as well.

Parents embarking on a scheme like this should study how professionals in the CIA or the Mossad prepare an operation under false pretenses. For an encounter that may last only a few minutes, they spend weeks or months in preparation, depending on the difficulty and importance of the mission. The practice prepares them to maintain the false pretenses in every contingency that may arise. It is vital to get it right the first time, because once the target becomes suspicious, it is not possible to fool him a second time.

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Woman poses as Department of Children and Families caseworker, tries to take back man's son

Linda Grass Scott Smith

Hernando County, Florida-- The Department of Children and Families (DCF) recently removed a child from the father's home, and now deputies say that man, and a female accomplice were arrested for scheming to get the child back.

According to a Hernando County Sheriff's Office report, 51-year-old Scott Smith and 65-year-old Linda Grass devised a plan of deception, and attempted to carry it out just one day after Smith's child was put in a foster home.

Deputies say Grass showed up to that home and claimed to be a caseworker for DCF- named "Lisa Grass"- assigned to take the child back to the father. The foster caregiver did not believe her, and reports say Grass left.

A short time later, Grass reportedly took to a new approach, and left the child multiple voicemails before going back to the home and trying to convince the child to leave with her from the driveway.

Grass left after another unsuccessful attempt. It is unclear how many trips Grass made to the home, but officials say a witness took down Grass' license plate number during one of them.

A short time after the witness handed over her tag number and a vehicle description, deputies found Grass and arrested her for interference with the child custody case.

Detectives later learned Grass wasn't working alone, and that Smith also played a role in the scheme. They arrested him too, and charged him for the same thing.

Both were taken into custody and given a bond of $500.

Source: WTSP

Running Against MCFD

April 30, 2013 permalink

Ryan McKinnon is a single father who has been involved in a custody battle with the British Columbia Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD) for several years. In the upcoming provincial election he has registered as an independent candidate for the riding of Chilliwack-Hope

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Roster set for Chilliwack ridings

It was a last-minute scramble for candidates on Friday as they pushed to submit their registrations before the 1 p.m. deadline for nominations for this election.

B.C. Excalibur Party leader and Chilliwack candidate Michael Halliday came in just under the wire. He was so busy helping other Excalibur candidates file their papers, he explained, that he didn’t submit his own until Friday. Because of that, the Chilliwack Fraser Rotary Club withdrew Halliday’s invitation to the club’s all-candidates’ debate Thursday morning, after the club discovered that he had not yet registered as a candidate.

Another candidate, Hope resident Ryan McKinnon, submitted his paperwork last week as an independent in Chilliwack-Hope. Embroiled in a custody battle the last few years, the single dad with two kids has become frustrated with the provincial Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD).

“I overcame at lot over the last couple of years to keep my children safe and in my care. Battling this ministry has been a nightmare,” said McKinnon. “My first six months (as MLA), my plan would be to have an overseeing body governing the MCFD... I’d like to see a branch of the ombudsman’s office to have some investigative authority over the MCFD.”

McKinnon wants to see new rules governing the removal of children from their parents, more services for children suffering from sexual abuse, and more services for high-risk mothers that are losing their children.

He has expanded his platform beyond this issue. Having lived in Hope his whole life, McKinnon wants more economic stimulus for his hometown. He also stands against liquified natural gas, because of the environmental hazards of fracking. And McKinnon is concerned about Kinder Morgan’s plans to run another pipeline through Hope.

“What are the safeguards that are going to be in place to ensure that our aquifer, and our waterways, are not affected by this pipeline?” he said.

He’s running as an independent because he believes that party-affiliated MLAs are too constrained by the party line.

“These MLAs, they want to do the right thing, but they can’t because they’re controlled by a party. As an independent, I can represent constituents better, not on a party platform, but as an independent listening to my constituents and voicing their concerns in Victoria,” said McKinnon.

The candidate plans to campaign in both Hope and Chilliwack, and has started quietly fundraising. He will have some election signs, but won’t “go crazy like the rest of these people,” he said.

“I’d just like to see people use their voice, use their vote, because it counts,” said McKinnon.

Residents will be able to learn more of McKinnon’s views at the Hope Chamber of Commerce all-candidates’ meeting on May 6, at 6:30 p.m., in the Hope Recreation Centre.

There are three other all-candidates’s debates this week. Tuesday at 6 p.m., candidates in Chilliwack-Hope and Chilliwack ridings will be at the Sto:lo Resource Centre in Chilliwack for a debate organized by the WaterWealth Project. Wednesday at 7 p.m., Chilliwack riding candidates will be at the Yarrow Community Hall for a debate organized by the Yarrow Community Volunteer Society. And on Thursday at 7 p.m., candidates from both ridings will be at Evergreen Hall for a debate put on by the Chilliwack Teachers’ Association.

Provincially, the final tally consists of 376 candidates running for 19 political parties, and as independents. In the riding of Chilliwack-Hope, the list consists of Ryan McKinnon as an independent, Gwen O’Mahony as NDP, Laurie Throness as a Liberal, and Michael Henshall as a Conservative. In the Chilliwack riding, there is John Martin as a Liberal, Patti MacAhonic as NDP, Chad Eros as Conservative, Kim Reimer as Green, and Michael Halliday as an Excalibur Party member.

Residents can vote in advance by mail next week, May 8–11, after requesting a voting package from Elections B.C.

Source: Chilliwack Progress

CAS - Custody Gone Wild

April 30, 2013 permalink

Gene Colman is a senior family lawyer, one who provides genuine representation for families under attack by children's aid. His services have to be limited to families able to afford the price of a new car, or even a new home, to save their children. In a recent blog post he says a future generation will be appalled at today's capricious snatching of children.

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Children's Aid Societies - Child Custody Cases Gone Wild

Child custody cases are heart wrenching. Child custody cases with child protection authorities can be even worse. Do you know that kids were abused in native residential schools? Federal authorities and religious institutions are paying compensation for their negligent and even malevolent treatment foisted upon native children decades ago. With respect to overgrasping and overreaching children protection authorities (children's aid societies), how will history judge their actions?

C.A.S. child removal can take place on the flimsiest of grounds. Years from now we will look back on CAS's gone wild. We will ask - how did we ever permit such violations of kids' rights?

Overly enthusiastic child protection workers with children's aid societies have been taking children away from their families (we lawyers and judges call it "apprehending") on the flimsiest of grounds. While there are certainly laws in place across Canada to regulate official child removal (in Ontario - Child & Family Services Act), the hard and cold reality is this: Once the C.A.S. has apprehended your child, the first return of the case before court (in Ontario, that takes place within five days of the apprehension) will find the judge to be very reluctant indeed to return the child to the care of the parents. No judge wants to chance returning a child to the parents and then read in the paper that the child was harmed the next day, next week or next month. To get your child back right away, it is exceptionally difficult (but not totally impossible depending upon the facts).

In the Colman law practice we have seen time and time again how they snatch kids, threaten to snatch kids, and do tremendous harm as a result of their campaign to expand their active files. There are steps that good parents can take to protect the integrity of their family units. There are even steps that less than optimum parents can take to improve their parenting skills and regain custody of their kids. All you need is a dedicated advocate who will leave no stone unturned when discovering the facts and who will comprehensively strategize just how to achieve realistic goals.

Years from now we will look back on CAS's gone wild. We will ask - how did we ever permit such violations of kids' rights? How could we as a society have been so blind?

Source: Gene C Colman Family Law Centre

Suppressing Dissent

April 30, 2013 permalink

Lindsey and Josh Rinehart and Sarah Caldwell are prominent advocates for medical marijuana in Idaho. Lindsay suffers from multiple sclerosis and finds marijuana helpful for her symptoms.

Last week the state took action against them. No criminal charges were filed, but when the three returned from a trip their children were gone, only the baby-sitter remained.

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Medical marijuana activists' children taken from home, charges possible

Josh Rinehart, Lindsey Rinehart and Sarah Caldwell

BOISE -- Three publicly known medical marijuana advocates say police took their sons away from them this week while investigating allegations involving marijuana. Their sons were considered by law enforcement to be in imminent danger.

The medical marijuana advocacy group called "Compassionate Idaho" has appeared in several recent news stories as members have circulated petitions looking for a vote to legalize medical marijuana. Now, its leaders are being investigated, and they say their kids were put into foster care.

"They took my children. Due to cannabis being present in the house," Lindsey Rinehart, Compassionate Idaho's Executive Director, said.

Lindsey and Josh Rinehart and Sarah Caldwell have been very public in their efforts to legalize medical marijuana. On Tuesday, they say when they got back to the Rinehart's after a trip -- their baby-sitter was there, but their four sons were all gone.

"They say their goal is to return our children to our home once it is deemed safe. They say our children will be in foster care for 30 days," Lindsey Rinehart said.

According to the search warrant Rinehart showed KTVB, her home was being investigated for possible charges of marijuana trafficking, possession and injury to a child. She vehemently denies trafficking or putting kids in danger.

"We were not dealing. We were not buying. We were not selling. We were not growing," Rinehart said.

Caldwell's two sons are back with her now, but the Rineharts say their two boys are still in foster care. The activists say everything started at their kids' elementary school earlier this week.

"Somebody said that somebody brought cannabis to school, that somebody ate the cannabis, that somebody reported it. That it was tossed around on the playground," Sarah Caldwell said.

Lindsey Rinehart continued their story: "So they decided basically, who would have cannabis in their home. Now if you're the chief petitioner to legalize medical marijuana, where would you go with that?"

The Rineharts say police then searched their home, seized marijuana, and took their children, declared in imminent danger.

"They went through my house. They removed all of my cannabis that I use for medicine," Lindsey Rinehart said. Rinehart suffers from Multiple Sclerosis.

The Rineharts say their kids have been well-educated about marijuana, that it is medicine not for them to touch. Now, Lindsey Rinehart says she's personally given up medical marijuana. She says her MS symptoms have already started to return.

"Even if I could access cannabis, which I can't, and won't because I'm cooperating with CPS, I want my children back. I'm going to have to go back on a whole bunch of really toxic medication," Lindsey Rinehart said.

Though she says she will not be keeping marijuana around because her priority is doing anything to get her children back. She does plan, alongside the others, to keep fighting for legalization.

"We are going to work on getting our children back. And we are going to work on education. And we are going to work on getting medical marijuana laws in Idaho so this doesn't happen to any more people," Lindsey Rinehart said.

No charges have been filed in this case. Because of that, Boise Police said it could not offer much information; however, a spokeswoman did confirm officers are currently working on the case with prosecutors, who will determine if any charges will be filed.

KTVB contacted Health and Welfare on this story. While a spokesman could not comment on a specific case, he did offer insight about guidelines for recommending a child be removed from a home.

The spokesman said if illegal drugs are found in a home, they look at whether they're accessible to the kids. They also look at if drug activity impacts ability to parent. Police make decisions on if kids need to be taken, and he said the courts work with agency recommendations to determine the return of children.

The Rineharts and Caldwell say other medical marijuana advocates have started to reach out to them and have so far donated more than $5,000 to help pay for legal expenses. Click here for more information.

Source: KTVB

Addendum: The children returned home in seventeen days, but the mother is restricted from use of her medicine on pain of child removal.

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Marijuana Medical Marijuana Advocate Gets Kids Back But Living 'In Constant Panic Attack'

Lindsey Rinehart, Russ Belville and Josh Rinehart
Lindsey Rinehart is flanked by marijuana advocate Russ Belville (left) and Rinhearts husband Josh (right)
Andrew Crisp

Lindsey Rinehart, the medical marijuana advocate who had her children taken into custody by the State of Idaho April 24, says her children have been returned to her family, but she's still scared over facing criminal charges.

"The CPS case was dismissed," Rinehart wrote on her Facebook page. "They were out of our care for 17 days. We never had to step foot into a court room. We worked very well with our social worker and our lawyer is amazing."

Rinheart said he was required to write a so-called "safety plan" where she would stop using cannabis. Boise Weekly readers may remember Rinehart from her testimony at the Idaho State Capitol regarding medical marijuana. As director of Compassionate Idaho, Rinehart has helped spearhead a petition drive to legalize marijuana in Idaho. Rinehart has used marijuana to treat her own illness, multiple sclerosis, which she said can cause violent muscle spasms.

The Boise Police Department said they had been contacted by a a local school official who said that an 11-year-old child had become ill, requiring medical treatment from a school nurse. Police said the child had eaten a substance which was identified as marijuana. Police said the marijuana had come from a home on the 2900 block of W. Malad Street. The child who became ill did not live at the residence but is acquainted with the Rinheart's children.

Police said they went to the residence and found children, being cared for a babysitter while the parents were away. Police said they discovered drug paraphernalia and "a quantity of a substance that appeared to be marijuana in locations inside the house accessible to the children." Patrol officers contacted narcotics investigators who secured a search warrant signed by a judge. Police added that their investigation has not yet resulted in criminal charges.

Detectives made the decision to contact Idaho Department of Health and Welfare officials who deemed that the children were in "imminent danger," thereby putting the children into protective custody.

"I'm still living in a constant panic attack because of it," wrote Rinehart. "Most 'suspects' don't go in front of cameras and explain what happened and why. I really am not a criminal and my record reflects that as well. I really am a patient, and the records reflect that too. The medicine that was removed isn't what they are used to removing because it wasn't recreational.. So, I'm just in fear."

Rinheart wrote that she "will always pick my family over my medicine. That being said, my quality of life is quickly declining."

Source: Boise Weekly

medical marijuana

Big Guns Needed

April 30, 2013 permalink

Yesterday's testimony at the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry in Winnipeg disclosed that even senior government officers have difficulty getting information from child protectors. Manitoba children's advocate Billie Schibler had to "send in the big guns" and threaten legal action to get responses from the child welfare system.

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Watchdog agency threatened legal action at times, Phoenix inquiry told

Billie Schibler
Billie Schibler says if the number of kids in care is ever going to be reduced, more therapy is needed for broken families and their children who end up in the system.
WAYNE GLOWACKI / FREE PRESS ARCHIVES

Even after the discovery of Phoenix Sinclair’s death caused an uproar in March 2006, the Office of the Children’s Advocate had a hard time advocating for children in the child welfare system, the former head of the watchdog agency told the inquiry into the little girl’s death today.

At times, Billie Schibler said they had to "send in the big guns" and threaten legal action to get responses from the child welfare system. She did it in 2006 when the head of the Child Protection Branch at the time didn’t respond to concerns that children were at risk of falling through the cracks whenever birth alerts were sent to an agency and a file closed without confirming the agency had received it.

She did it in 2007 out of a concern that not all children in care had been seen in person by their case worker, as a directive from the province ordered after Phoenix’s death was discovered in 2006. In March 2005, Winnipeg Child and Family Services closed the file on Phoenix for the last time. She was murdered that summer by her mother and stepfather in Fisher River First Nation.

In 2007, Schibler wrote to the province when it came to her attention that not all social workers were complying with the directive to have face-to-face contact with every kid in care, she said, citing seven specific cases.

"Phoning a caregiver to ask if child is safe" is not face-to-face contact, she told the inquiry – nor is "hearing that another worker has seen the child in the community." Schibler said she recalled getting a response saying the children in question were eventually seen and accounted for.

Schibler said there needs to be a registry for social workers to hold them accountable and give the public an avenue for complaints. She also said a truth and reconciliation process would help restore the credibility of the child welfare system in Manitoba. If the number of kids in care is ever going to be reduced, though, more therapy is needed for broken families and their children who end up in the system, said the woman who now heads the Metis Child and Family Services Authority.

"It’s easy to be a good parent when you’ve had a loving, nurturing and supportive environment around you," said Schibler. "We expect people to do that despite what they’ve been through," she said.

"Those children in care today are tomorrow’s parents."

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

Children's Accident Society

April 28, 2013 permalink

car seat for Attard infant

Children's aid advises for the youngest children:

  • Rear-facing infant seat; this seat is used from birth to approximaterly 1 year old (10 kg/22 lbs)

Source: Windsor-Essex CAS
local copy (pdf)

A parent could lose custody of a child for failing to follow this advice. The picture on the right shows how Peel CAS transported a nine-month-old infant.

Pat Niagara

REPOSTED FOR: Jacqueline Attard

This is my 9 month old son I went to a visit on Saturday April 27,2013 when he got to Peel Children's Aid he wasn't facing rear facing like a infant should be... I feel the Children's Aid are baby killers if the volunteer driver got into a car accident my baby wouldn't be here today because of the Children's Aid..... I think the society should really think about the children instead of breaking up great families. I love my son with all of my heart and soul and I don't want to see him or any other child be killed by the neglect of the society

Source: Stop the CAS ...

Fake Report

April 27, 2013 permalink

When two-year-old Caleb Pacheco was found dead in January 2012 the Colorado Department of Human Services produced a twelve page fatality review. Colorado's child protection ombudsman has found 97 mistakes in the report.

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Failed to Death

In Colorado child fatality review, nearly 100 inaccuracies found, watchdog says

Caleb Pacheco
Caleb Pacheco was found dead in 2012 under a mobile home.
Juanita Kinzie
Juanita Kinzie pleaded guilty to child abuse and second-degree murder in son Caleb's death. She was sentenced to 32 years in prison.
Hyoung Chang, Denver Post file

A state report reviewing the death of a 2-year-old whose mummified body was found under a Sterling mobile home is riddled with almost 100 inaccuracies and missing details about the decisions that child protection workers made before his death, according to an investigation released Thursday.

The investigation, conducted by the Office of Colorado's Child Protection Ombudsman, listed 97 findings that Ombudsman Becky Miller Updike says raise questions about the accuracy and credibility of the fatality review. The Colorado Department of Human Services, which did the fatality review, did not list all of the policy violations made by county caseworkers responsible for protecting Caleb Pacheco, Updike said.

"I'm concerned about the overall number of inaccuracies and the overall process that allows the state to release a report that had so many inaccuracies," Updike said. "If any good can come from the review of this death, it would be that we improve future child protection. I think the number of errors in this report raises concerns about that."

Updike's investigation found that in writing the 12-page child fatality review, human services repeatedly used incorrect dates, did not include details about ongoing drug use by Caleb's mother, Juanita Kinzie, and failed to note that caseworkers incorrectly completed risk and safety assessments.

The Department of Human Services also routinely omitted details found in caseworker reports, incorrectly summarized contacts with Caleb's family and failed to note policy violations, according to the ombudsman report.

Caleb's report was the first released in a new format that Reggie Bicha, executive director of the Department of Human Services, promoted as an effort to create a more comprehensive and transparent account of child fatalities in Colorado. On Thursday, Bicha said that reviewing the report provided both the ombudsman and child welfare services guidance for how to review child fatalities.

"At the end of the day, each side learned from each other, and we have better facts that will help us find better outcomes for kids," Bicha said. "I think the two reports speak for themselves. ... I think that this is the way the process is supposed to work."

Nonetheless, the state's Division of Child Welfare disagreed with 70 percent of the findings listed in the ombudsman report, according to their responses included in the report.

This is the first ombudsman investigation into a report completed by the Department of Human Services.

Child fatality reviews are completed for kids who entered child welfare services two years before their death from abuse and neglect. The reviews detail previous involvement with the child welfare system, including whether caseworkers and supervisors made mistakes in protecting kids.

Caseworkers received at least three calls from people concerned about Caleb before he disappeared in January 2011 — the same month caseworkers returned Caleb to his mother, who child protection workers knew had a history of drug abuse.

Caleb's body was found Jan. 22, 2012. Kinzie was arrested in Denver the day before, high on methamphetamines. She told officers she had strangled her son and hid his body.

Kinzie pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse and one count of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 32 years in prison.

On Jan. 5, almost a year after Caleb's body was found, the Department of Human Services released its review of his death.

The ombudsman report revealed new details and possible violations made by Logan County caseworkers and supervisors in their decision to return Caleb, who had been cared for by his aunt, back to his mother.

The fatality review noted Kinzie consented to a drug test. The ombudsman report says the review omitted the fact that the drug test showed she was using meth.

By the time the drug test came back, Caleb and Kinzie had disappeared.

In their response, human services admitted to withholding the information, but the department said revealing the test's results would have violated federal privacy laws, as Kinzie was in treatment at the time of the test. Neither the ombudsman report nor the human services report indicate that Kinzie was receiving treatments at the time of the drug test.

In all, the ombudsman found 17 additional policy violations, three instances when human services violated state law, 61 inaccuracies and 16 key details about the case not included in human services report.

Among the findings:

  • Human services did not include multiple reports about Kinzie's drug use.
  • Douglas County caseworker was incorrectly identified as a Denver County caseworker.
  • Outcomes of risk and safety assessments in Caleb's case were not included in the human services report.
  • Dates for when child protection workers were contacted or closed cases were incorrect nine times in the report.
  • Human services violated state confidentiality laws by releasing information about reporting parties — contentions that human services strongly disagreed with in their response.

"I think we've heard the state on numerous occasions say that they are moving toward a more transparent process. However, our findings call that statement into question," Updike said. "I hope the state really is moving toward this because the public deserves it, the families deserve it and the policymakers deserve it."

Updike is leaving her post as ombudsman at the end of May and will take a position as president of children and family programs for Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountain.

The ombudsman investigation also included recommendations to improve the child fatality review process. The ombudsman office suggested that human services not summarize information from caseworker reports and include more case-specific information. One recommendation suggested that human services work with an outside entity to review all child fatality reviews released in the last two years.

Human services disagreed, or disagreed in part, with those three recommendations and four others.

Stephanie Villafuerte, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center, said the report about Caleb also raises concerns about the accuracy of other child fatality reports completed by the Department of Human Services.

"It is a terribly sad day in Colorado when a child dies from abuse and neglect. It is an even greater tragedy when the report of this child's death contains over 90 different errors and omissions," Villafuerte said. "How can any of us problem-solve around child abuse deaths if we do not have accurate or full information."

Since 2007, 202 children have died of abuse and neglect in Colorado. Among those, 75 had parents or caregivers who were known to the child welfare system before their deaths, according to data compiled by The Denver Post and 9News as part of the Failed to Death project.

Caleb is one of 11 deaths that human services is reviewing from 2012. As of Thursday afternoon, only four of those reports had been released.

Source: Denver Post

Terrorist Attack

April 27, 2013 permalink

When Texas CPS harassed the family of Shayne O Davis he expressed his frustration by telling them he "would come down there and kick all y'alls asses". Laws intended to protect against airline hijackings have been used to jail Mr Davis for terrorism.

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Leander man charged for threatening to assault CPS worker

Shayne O Davis
Shayne O. Davis

LEANDER — A Leander man was jailed earlier this month after admitting that he threatened to go down to the child protective services office and "whoop all (their expletives)."

Shayne O. Davis was charged with terroristic threat.

According to the felony complaint, a CPS investigator called Davis in reference to an ongoing investigation involving family members. During the conversation, Davis "became agitated and began yelling" at the investigator.

Davis then reportedly said that "the only thing CPS would cause, would be for him to go to jail, 'because he would come down there and kick all y'alls (expletive)." Davis also said that he did not want to be contacted by CPS ever again and then he hung up the phone, according to the complaint.

The CPS worker told officers that, based on prior knowledge of Davis' violent history, she believed he was capable of and intended to follow through with this threat, and that she was in fear for her own safety, as well as the safety of her coworkers.

In a telephone conversation with detectives, Davis reportedly admitted that he did threaten the CPS worker, but that he just wanted CPS to leave him alone.

Source: Hill Country News, Cedar Park, Texas.

The Sky is the Limit

April 26, 2013 permalink

Ontario will cover overspending by Waterloo CAS with a supplemental appropriation. For child protectors, overspending the budget works every time. It faces the legislature with the dilemma of spending more or letting foster kids go without food and shelter. Pat Niagara is so incensed he posted a commentary and a second cartoon.

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Ontario will pay agency’s $848,000 debt

WATERLOO REGION — The financial woes that have plagued Family and Children’s Services of Waterloo Region have been laid to rest by the provincial government.

The agency’s board learned Thursday that the province will fund the organization’s longtime debt of $848,000. This comes in the same month the province announced it will wipe out the group’s deficit of $3.1 million for the fiscal year ending in March.

“Its great news,” said Alison Scott, the agency’s executive director.

Last year was especially difficult for this agency, which had to close two group homes and eliminate the equivalent of 32 positions because of a record deficit.

This year should be less stressful for the agency, Scott said, even though the government’s funding allocation of $48.6 million for the 2013-14 fiscal year is about $1.2 million less than last year.

“I think we are going to have enough money,” Scott said. “The new allocation we are getting looks like we should balance.”

Earlier this year, the agency was audited by the province to help it to become more efficient.

A draft report detailing the results of that audit was considered by the agency’s board in a closed meeting Thursday.

Scott declined to discuss the report until it becomes final next month.

“It is not a bad report. … There are still some things we can improve,” she said.

The ministry audit is not connected to the funding, she said.

Scott said the cuts made last year will help the agency live within its budget.

“So if we had not made the cuts that we made last year, we would be facing a significant deficit moving forward this year,” said Scott, adding she doesn’t anticipate any more service cuts or layoffs.

She said the ministry recognized that current and past deficits needed to be addressed before child-welfare agencies could move forward under its new funding model.

“We start with a clean slate,” Scott said.

The new funding formula is based on local child populations and social-economic factors such as low-income rates and the number of single-parent families, she said.

“We are a growing child population agency which is good for us,” she said.

Scott said she anticipates a better year financially for the agency.

“I tell you it is a night-and-day scenario for me. It is looking much better. It was pretty tough last year, but this year is better.”

John Milloy, Kitchener Centre MPP and Liberal house leader, said the aim of the new funding formula is to get child-welfare agencies on “sounder financial footing.”

He said agencies will know their funding for the next three years to allow for better planning and agencies will be able to access any surpluses to help in leaner years.

“This is very much about starting fresh and putting everyone on a sustainable footing,” he said.

Source: Kitchener/Waterloo Record

celebration of windfall

No Second Opinion

April 26, 2013 permalink

When doctors diagnosed baby Sammy Nikolayev with serious ailments, the parents wanted a second opinion. Doctors at the second hospital declared the baby was clinically safe to go home. The next day California child protectors and police took the baby by force.

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Sammy Nikolayev
Sammy

Source: Facebook, news10

Sacramento couple fights to get their baby boy back from authorities

SACRAMENTO, CA - A Sacramento family was torn apart after a 5-month-old baby boy was taken from his parents following a visit to the doctor.

The young couple thought their problems were behind them after their son had a scare at the hospital, but once they got home their problems got even worse.

It all began nearly two weeks ago, when Anna Nikolayev and her husband Alex took their 5-month-old boy Sammy to Sutter Memorial Hospital to be treated for flu symptoms, but they didn't like the care Sammy was getting.

For example, one day Anna asked why a nurse was giving her son antibiotics.

"I asked her, for what is that? And she's like, 'I don't know.' I'm like, 'you're working as a nurse, and you don't even know what to give to my baby for what,'" Anna explained.

According to Anna, a doctor later said Sammy shouldn't have been on the antibiotics.

Anna said Sammy suffers from a heart murmur and had been seeing a doctor at Sutter for regular treatment since he was born. After Sammy was treated for flu symptoms last week, doctors at Sutter admitted him to the pediatric ICU to monitor his condition. After a few days, Anna said doctors began talking about heart surgery.

FACEBOOK: Fans talk about the family's story

"If we got the one mistake after another, I don't want to have my baby have surgery in the hospital where I don't feel safe," Anna said.

Anna argued with doctors about getting a second opinion. Without a proper discharge, she finally took Sammy out of the hospital to get a second opinion at Kaiser Permanente.

"The police showed up there. They saw that the baby was fine," Anna said. "They told us that Sutter was telling them so much bad stuff that they thought that this baby is dying on our arms."

Medical records from the doctor treating Sammy at Kaiser Permanente said the baby as clinically safe to go home with his parents. The doctor added, "I do not have concern for the safety of the child at home with his parents."

"So police saw the report from the doctors, said, 'okay guys, you have a good day,' and they walked away," Anna said.

Anna said the next day police and child protective services showed up on her doorstep. Alex Nikolayev said he met them outside a short time after they arrived.

"I was pushed against the building, smacked down. I said, 'am I being placed under arrest?' He smacked me down onto the ground, yelled out, 'I think I got the keys to the house,'" Alex said.

Then police let themselves inside.

On home video shot with a camera Anna set up herself, police can be seen entering her front door on Wednesday.

"I'm going to grab your baby, and don't resist, and don't fight me ok?" a Sacramento police officer said in the video.

"He's like, 'okay let your son go,' so I had to let him go, and he grabbed my arm, so I couldn't take Sammy. And they took Sammy, and they just walked away," Anna said.

When News10 spoke with police, they said talk to CPS; CPS did not say much about the case. Just before 6 p.m. Thursday, Anna said that a CPS social worker told her, the reason they took Sammy is because of severe neglect; however, the social worker didn't elaborate on that neglect.

Sutter Memorial was asked to comment on the story, but the hospital said the case was with CPS and law enforcement and they would have to comment on the case. CPS said they can't specifically comment on this case because of privacy law, but CPS spokesperson Laura McCasland said, "We conduct a risk assessment of the child's safety and rely heavily on the direction of health care providers."

"It seems like parents have no right whatsoever," Alex said.

On Thursday, Anna and Alex were allowed a one hour visitation with Sammy; he's currently in protective custody at Sutter Memorial Hospital.

"His smile, it's everything for me," Anna said. "I was so happy to see him."

Anna and Alex have a court hearing scheduled for Monday.

"We did everything," Anna said. "We went from one hospital to another. We just wanted to be safe, that he is in good hands."

Source: KXTV

Russia to the Rescue! Russia's ombudsman will help the family. For Russian research, the Cyrillic name of the boy is Сэмми Николаева.

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Russian Ombudsman to Help California Couple to Return Child

Pavel Astakhov
Pavel Astakhov

MOSCOW, April 28 (RIA Novosti) – Russian children's rights ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, said on Sunday he will help a Russian couple, Alex and Anna Nikolayev of Sacramento, California, to return their baby boy, who has been seized by authorities in the United States.

“We will offer the parents to file a complaint to return the child. The process will not be quick but I think we will succeed in this,” Astakhov told RIA Novosti. “The case has been certainly taken under control,” he added.

Five-month-old Sammy has been in protective custody since April 24 when police and Child Protective Services took him from his mother after the family had a dispute with the baby’s doctors.

After Sammy was treated for flu symptoms last week, doctors at the Sutter Memorial Hospital decided that he needed an immediate heart surgery. The Russian parents argued with the doctors and took the child to another clinic for a second opinion without a proper discharge, saying they did not like the care Sammy was getting.

Sammy’s parents said they have known about Sammy's heart murmur since he was born, and the child was regularly seeing a Sutter cardiologist every two to three weeks. They said no one ever gave them any reason to think Sammy's health was in any imminent danger.

Source: RIA Novosti

Quick success for the Russians.

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US Court Returns Baby to Russian Couple in Custody Case

WASHINGTON, April 30 (RIA Novosti) – A court in Sacramento, California, ruled on Monday that a baby boy who had been seized by authorities in the United States should be returned to his Russian parents, a Russian diplomat said.

Five-month-old Sammy Nikolaev has been in protective custody since April 24 when police and Child Protective Services (CPS) removed him from his parents after the family had a dispute with the baby’s doctors and took him from a hospital without proper discharge.

The CPS officials claimed they had removed the boy due to "severe neglect."

“After five hours of deliberation and analysis of factual information presented by both sides, the judge decided to dismiss all charges against the parents,” Evgeny Avdoshin, Consul at Consulate General of Russia in San Francisco, told RIA Novosti.

“In line with the verdict, the baby will remain with his parents,” Avdoshin said.

The Russian diplomat added that the parental rights of Alexander Nikolaev, who is a Russian citizen, have been fully respected during the hearings of the case in the US court.

The case attracted wide public and media attention both in the United States and in Russia, stirring criticism of unreasonably harsh treatment of the Russian couple by CPS and police.

Source: RIA Novosti

Addendum: On June 25 a judge granted a motion by CPS to dismiss the case against the Nikolayev family. The family will no longer have to put up with visits from social workers and will not have to go to trial.

Addendum: In November Reason TV reevaluated the incident after full disclosure of the medical records. Their video report is on YouTube and a local copy.

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Court Documents Reveal Conflicting Accounts in Baby Sammy CPS Case

Reason TV has obtained court records in the Samuel Nikolayev case that spurred a statewide audit of California's Child Protective Services agencies. The documents reveal a sharp difference of opinion between doctors regarding the medical condition of the baby at the time he was seized from his parents without a court order, as well as allegations of parental neglect made by social workers and Sacramento County Child Protective Services (CPS).

Reason TV produced a video featuring the case in August, but at the time court documents were sealed, and Sacramento CPS claimed it therefore wasn't legally allowed to comment on the specifics of the story. Sacramento Superior Court gave an undefined timeline for a ruling on Reason TV's petition to unseal the records.

On the day the above video was released, the court called and said the petition to unseal the documents had been approved. When asked, the court clerk denied that the timing had anything to do with the video's release.

Since then, parents Anna and Alex Nikolayev have filed a lawsuit against Sacramento County and will not comment on this story. Sacramento County Health and Human Services Director Sherri Heller also would not comment on the specifics of the case due to the pending lawsuit.

Ongoing Health Problems

At nine days old, Samuel Nikolayev was diagnosed with Ventriculoseptial defect and Atrioseptal defect: essentially two holes in the heart requiring daily medication. For the first five months of his life, Samuel's parents took him in for monthly checkups to monitor his progress, which improved slightly as he slowly gained weight and showed increased energy.

Still, pediatric cardiologist Dr. Hessam Fallah recommended heart surgery as soon as Sammy reached a safe weight, according to medical records. But Fallah said Anna Nikolayev expressed "doubts regarding surgery." Fallah noted that the Nikolayevs spoke of visiting a physician while in Germany who advised against surgery until Samuel reached 8kg (17lbs). He called this advice "not valid."

The Nikolayevs took Sammy to Colorado to visit his grandparents, and it was on that vacation that he contracted the flu. Upon returning to Sacramento, they took Samuel to Sutter Memorial Hospital, where he was admitted to the ICU for Influenza B and "failure to thrive," a medical term to describe an underweight baby.

Stuck in the Hospital

Samuel Nikolayev entered Sutter Memorial Hospital on April 16, 2013 with severe flu symptoms. Seven days later, his mother would pull him out against the wishes of the medical staff and spur Sacramento Child Protective Services into action.

When Reason TV interviewed the Nikolayevs in August, Alex Nikolayev told us, "They were coming up with some random stuff. Finding another thing just to keep us there."

This "random stuff" turned out to be concerns that Sammy was off his heart medication, according to medical records. Hospital staff wrote that Anna Nikolayev admitted to them that she had stopped giving Samuel his medications while on vacation in Colorado for three weeks, and they said Anna tried to treat a hernia Samuel had developed by taping coins to either side of it. The Nikolayevs' attorney has filed an objection to these details, saying they amount to hearsay and cannot be substantiated.

Hospital employees also wrote that Anna refused IVs and feeding tubes that doctors recommended in order to get Samuel the hydration and nutrition he needed, bringing the conflict to a head. On April 23, she left the hospital with Samuel, against the medical advice of the staff.

A social worker employed by the hospital reported Anna's behavior to California Child Protective Services, saying that the baby's life was in imminent danger.

A Second Opinion

The Nikolayevs have always contended that they were unhappy with how employees at Sutter Memorial treated them and that they only wanted a "second opinion." And this is partially confirmed by the fact that they did take Samuel directly to another hospital in the area, Kaiser Permanente.

The Kaiser visit was hectic, with police officers showing up an hour in because of the CPS complaint and then leaving once they found Samuel under competent medical supervision. The Nikolayevs believe this should have been their last interaction with the police and CPS. After all, the doctor at Kaiser wrote that "clinically the patient is well appearing, smiling, tolerating PO formula while in ED and hydrated appearing."

The doctor at Kaiser told the Nikolayevs that removing a child from the hospital "without proper discharge" as they did at Sutter Memorial was not a good idea but said he could understand the mother's concern for her son and her belief that she "can help him improve at home faster than him receiving NG (feeding) tube and IV line." He discharged Samuel hours later with instructions to follow up with Samuel's pediatrician the next day, noting that he did "not have concern for the safety of the child at home with his parents as they do appear competent and concerned [with] the child's best care" and "are aware of how to give medication at home since [they] have been doing this since he was first diagnosed."

A final line in the discharge report reads, simply, "CPS has been made aware from Sutter facility."

"Expressed Frustration"

On the afternoon of April 24, officers and a social worker showed up at the Nikolayevs' apartment, and the removal of Samuel Nikolayev, captured on tape by Anna's camcorder and depicted in the opening moments of Reason TV's video, played out.

So how did the Nikolayevs go from "competent and concerned" with Samuel's care to being raided and having their baby removed within 24 hours? Court records reveal that the Sutter Memorial social worker, who had originally reported the case to CPS, didn't trust the work done at Kaiser.

Although the Kaiser staff consulted with nurses and doctors at Sutter before discharging Samuel, they did not provide enough information to satisfy the social worker, citing medical privacy laws. Upon learning that Samuel was discharged with instructions to follow up with a pediatrician, the social worker "expressed frustration at this because the child needs immediate follow up with his pediatric specialist doctors, including the cardiologist, not just his pediatrician."

It's unclear why, given the relatively benign discharge instructions from Kaiser, Sacramento CPS took the extreme measure of removing a child from the custody of its parents without a court order and without notifying the parents of where he was being taken. Department head Sherri Heller would not comment directly on the case but did defend the practice in an August interview with Reason TV.

"The law is clear that it is appropriate for the agency to act without a court warrant if children are in imminent danger of physical harm," said Heller.

Samuel Nikolayev was taken back to Sutter Hospital and held for eight days, and Alex and Anna were allowed periodic, supervised visits. In early May, Samuel underwent a successful heart surgery, but only after the Nikolayev's received a signed letter from the hospital's cardiologist making clear that the surgery was necessary but "not an emergency."

Audit CPS

All of the information is finally public, but it raises nearly as many questions as it answers. Was this a case of an erratic mother whose stubborn, backwards ideas about medicine put the life of her baby at risk, as Sutter Memorial and Sacramento CPS would like you to believe? Or did hospital staffers and social workers use the power of the state to bully two young parents into accepting their dictums on what constitutes proper treatment and prevent them from seeking a second opinion, as the Nikolayevs say? Was baby Samuel's life in imminent danger, and was it necessary for CPS and the police to storm the house and take him away without a court order, especially given that they sought treatment at a different hospital?

Some of the answers depend on whose words you believe, though it is clear that more than one medical professional believed that an eventual heart surgery was necessary for the baby's long-term survival. It's also clear that the Nikolayevs sought medical attention for their baby on a regular basis in those first five months of his life, visiting a pediatrician at least once a month. They appear to have sometimes ignored medical advice, but how often that was the case is still somewhat unclear.

What remains evident is that this incident would never have come to light if Anna hadn't placed a camcorder on her kitchen counter and pressed "record" moments before the police entered her house and took Samuel. No court document or medical record can come close to conveying the raw terror felt by a mother losing her child in the way that video can. Time and time again, we've seen cheap video equipment answer the question, "Who will watch the watchers?"

But in the case of a powerful agency like Child Protective Services, that's still not enough. A video may have opened up the debate in California, but only increased transparency will begin to solve the long-term, systemic problems.

An audit is underway, and nobody knows for sure whether it will uncover more abuses of power like those documented in Orange County or if it will largely exonerate wrongly maligned agencies and tell a story of social workers doing the best they can in impossibly tough situations. Either way, a one-time audit may not go far enough.

Transparency is about accountability for day-to-day operations. Protecting patient privacy is a legitimate consideration, but in a case like the Nikolayevs', where neither party necessarily wants the court records sealed, it's hard to see who wins by keeping it under wraps. Many other states have open family and juvenile courts that allow the media and public to easily access information that, in California, can require months of waiting and cost hundreds of dollars to maybe, eventually obtain.

Reason Foundation Director of Education and Child Welfare Lisa Snell has made other common sense reform suggestions as well, such as treating child abuse and neglect cases as criminal matters that guarantee due process rather than administrative matters that give CPS carte blanche power to strongarm families.

She also says we should examine funding incentives that increase agencies' budgets based upon the number of abuses reported. For the past 12 years, California has put far more children into the foster care system than any other state in the U.S., more than Texas and New York combined, according to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System.

There are limits to what any one case, especially one as complicated as the Nikolayev case, can teach us about a statewide bureaucracy. But in the absence of open records and due process protections--the most basic elements of transparency and accountability--it's impossible to even know the extent of the problems that may need fixing.

Source: Reason

Put a Tiger in Your Bathroom

April 26, 2013 permalink

When Jenna Krehbiel went to the circus in Kansas she found herself face-to-face with a tiger in the bathroom. The tiger did not attack and Jenna quickly left. She credits her training as a social worker. Maybe, as the article suggests, her demeanor under pressure dissuaded the tiger. Or maybe the tiger assessed the worker as an unwholesome meal likely to cause a tummy ache. Or maybe it was honor among thieves.

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Woman finds tiger in bathroom at circus

SALINA, Kan., April 23 (UPI) -- A woman who came face to face with a circus tiger in a Kansas bathroom said her training as a social worker helped her stay calm.

Jenna Krehbiel of Salina said she was attending the Isis Shrine Circus with her family Saturday at the Salina Bicentennial Centennial Center when she decided to take a bathroom break and found herself face to face with a tiger, the Salina Journal reported Tuesday.

"I went in to use the bathroom, and a lady came in to get her daughter out and said there was a tiger loose," Krehbiel said. "I didn't know it was in the bathroom, and I walked in the [open] door, which closed right after I had walked in. I saw the tiger; it was at most 2 feet in front of me, and I turned around calmly and walked back toward the door. Someone opened the door and said get out."

Krehbiel estimated the tiger was more than 250 pounds.

"It was the closest I have ever been to a tiger not in a cage," Krehbiel said. "You don't expect to go in a bathroom door, have it shut behind you and see a tiger walking toward you."

She said her training as a social worker helped her keep calm.

"I'm always on alert, and it was easy to walk out; that's how I am trained," Krehbiel said. "Looking back, it was a scary ordeal. At the time, I was thinking I just needed to get out."

Chris Bird, manager at the Bicentennial Center, said the tiger escaped during the circus performance and a security guard barricaded the women's bathroom when the tiger went in the door. Krehbiel went into the bathroom through a different door.

"I am sure she saw the tiger because the bathroom is only 25 feet long," Bird said. "Once she saw the tiger, I'm sure she knew to go the other way. Overall, it was a scary, surreal moment. I am glad no one was hurt or injured."

Source: UPI

tiger

Kentucky Orders Record Disclosure

April 26, 2013 permalink

The Kentucky supreme court has affirmed a decision requiring the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services to release information on child deaths to local newspapers. Notwithstanding any favorable decisions, the papers will not get anything publishable about foster deaths. We can only guess what the papers will really get. Heavily redacted reports, or reports of parents killing their own children, or reports limited to those children dying from abuse and neglect (none in state care) or more legal or political maneuvering. Full disclosure would show that foster homes are killing fields for children.

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Kentucky Supreme Court upholds ruling to release child abuse records

The Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday upheld an order requiring the state to release more information about children killed or badly hurt as a result of abuse or neglect.

The ruling is the latest development in a long-running dispute between the state's two largest newspapers and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services over access to its files on abused children.

The cabinet had asked the Court of Appeals to put a hold on a lower-court ruling requiring the cabinet to release such records with minimal redactions to the Lexington Herald-Leader and The (Louisville) Courier-Journal.

The Court of Appeals declined to issue the stay last year. The cabinet appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.

Three high-court justices voted to uphold the Court of Appeals' rejection of the stay and three voted to overturn it, while the seventh did not take part in the decision. The tie means the Court of Appeals ruling remains in place, according to the high court's order.

The cabinet, which investigates allegations of child abuse, long had a policy of not releasing information to the media about cases in which children died or nearly died because of abuse or neglect.

The newspapers sued the cabinet in 2011 for access to about 180 files on such cases from 2009 and 2010.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled that the cabinet must release the records. He said the public has an overriding interest in access to information that can help show how the cabinet performed its job of protecting children.

He also fined the cabinet $16,000 for improperly denying access to records.

Shepherd said the cabinet could withhold only the names of child victims who are hurt but don't die, the names of private citizens who report suspected abuse, the names of minor siblings of victims and the names of minor perpetrators.

The cabinet released the files, but blocked out more information than Shepherd had outlined. And while the agency disclosed what information it withheld, it did not cite the statutory authority for doing so.

The newspapers argue that the cabinet did not comply with Shepherd's order in releasing the files.

Jill Midkiff, a spokeswoman for the cabinet, said Thursday that the tie vote in the Supreme Court showed the agency made strong arguments for protecting the privacy of siblings of abuse victims and the names of all people who report suspected child abuse.

The agency has not tried to shield the name or actions of its social workers, Midkiff said.

The court's decision could have troubling consequences, she said.

"The cabinet sought the stay to ensure that all individuals with knowledge of abuse can report it without fear of retaliation, which we believe was the intent of the statute," Midkiff said in a written statement. "Because the courts' actions preclude the cabinet from protecting the confidentiality and privacy of all citizens and family members who report suspected abuse, we fear this may have a chilling effect on the voluntary reporting of child abuse or neglect and lead to needless injuries and deaths of children."

An attorney for the Herald-Leader scoffed at that claim, calling it irresponsible. There's no evidence that releasing records under the guidelines Shepherd laid out will discourage people from reporting abuse, said Robert F. Houlihan Jr.

To the contrary, greater public scrutiny will help protect children, he said.

"It's going to save children," Houlihan said. "It's not going to cause children to be at greater risk."

The newspapers sought access to the information in order to review the cabinet's performance because children already had died, Houlihan said.

The cabinet sought the stay as part of its larger appeal of Shepherd's ruling requiring release of the case files. That appeal is still pending.

The Herald-Leader will now go back before Shepherd to discuss how to proceed in light of Thursday's decision, Houlihan said.

The Courier-Journal's attorney, Jon Fleischaker, said the paper will seek to have the child abuse files released with no information withheld because the cabinet didn't comply with Shepherd's earlier order.

Thursday's order was "extremely important because it shows we're moving forward," Fleischaker said.

In the wake of news reports on child deaths and the controversy over releasing records, state lawmakers this year approved an independent panel to review child fatalities and near-deaths. The panel can get files on those cases with no information blocked out.

Source: Lexington Herald Leader

Kidnapping is Dangerous

April 26, 2013 permalink

West Sussex County Council (England) reports that their staff were targets in nearly 3000 incidents of verbal or physical abuse in two years, mostly in children's services. The council sees no reason for the abuse, saying that the relationships between staff and customers are amicable, and do not give any rise for concern. Why would anyone show hostility toward amicable social workers taking children from their families?

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Thousands of council staff subject to ‘violence at work’

West Sussex County Council staff were subject to nearly 3,000 incidents of physical and verbal abuse over the past three years.

Data released under the Freedom of Information Act shows there were 2,895 incidents of verbal and/or physical ‘violence at work’ against county council employees from 2010 to 2012. Children’s Social Care and Adults’ Services were the departments where incidents occurred the most.

Between 2010 and 2012 Children’s Social Care accounted for 2,011 incidents of which 1,938 were physical violence. In the same period there were 381 incidents of violence in schools, including 336 physical.

In Adults’ Services there were 416 cases from 2010 to 2012, of which 332 were physical assaults.

Despite the amount of violence occurring in Childrens’ Services, the county council says it ‘remains confident’ relationships between staff and clients are ‘amicable’.

In March 2011 West Sussex County Council was served an improvement notice for its safeguarding in Children’s Social Care after an Ofsted inspection published in December 2010 deemed the service ‘inadequate’.

It has since been reassessed in February 2013 and was judged adequate. The fostering service received a good Ofsted rating after an inspection on November 2012.

There is no correlation between the number of incidents and the measured improvement in services. However, across all departments the number of incidents dropped from 1,307 in 2010 to 876 in 2012.

A WSCC spokesman said: “The figures for the last three years have to be seen in the context of the many thousands of interactions that take place annually between council employed staff and the public and the figures cover all our major services and would include a variety of settings.

“The council monitors the reports and takes appropriate action where it is felt necessary, but it must be stressed that the vast majority of reports stem from services caring for young people with known behavioural conditions, for which a caring risk assessment has been completed and reviewed regularly.

“These reports also trigger a review of the risk assessment. The council remains confident that the relationships between staff and our customers are amicable, and do not give any rise for concern.”

The spokesman added that every member of staff undergoes training for such incidents. He said: “There is a great deal of advice and information posted on our intranet for managers and staff on how to cope with challenging situations. For example, our Health and Safety Service provides training on personal safety awareness, which are aimed at staff who work alone and those who work in different locations due to the need to visit clients within their homes.

“This course covers techniques that can be used to recognise, defuse and control aggressive situations which could potentially escalate into violence.”

Source: West Sussex County Times

fight over doll

Stop Kidnapping Our Children

April 25, 2013 permalink

Innu protesters have blockaded a social services office in Sheshatshiu Newfoundland and covered the building with slogans.

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Protesters barricade windows of Sheshatshiu office

Child, Youth and Family Services office in Sheshashui
Protesters have barricaded the windows of the Child, Youth and Family Services office in Sheshashui.
Courtesy Facebook

Dozens of Innu protesters have blockaded the Newfoundland and Labrador Child, Youth and Family Services offices in Sheshatshiu.

The protesters have boarded up the windows of the building with wooden signs bearing slogans such as "bring our children back" and "baby snatchers."

Sheshashui band councillor Jonas Rich said the group is upset that so many children have been removed from their homes. He said children are being fostered as far away as Saskatchewan and Ontario. He also said parents have told him they have had very little communication with officials about why their children have been taken away.

Rich said Innu children should be able to stay in Natuashish or Shetshatshiu: "The children not to be removed from the community because we got the resources there that are needed, we got the support team that would support the kids when they're in crisis," said Rich.

Rich estimated about 30 children have been recently removed from homes in Natuashish and Sheshashui.

They also said children have been put into care in other provinces, such as Ontario and Saskatchewan, where — they said —the children are losing their language and their culture.

The protesters said they want the children to be cared for in the community and the windows of the office will continue to be boarded up until they get some answers.

Government officials have said they are willing to work with the Innu people, and that government's priority is to reunite children with their parents, but that it isn't always possible.

Source: CBC

Secret Jail

April 25, 2013 permalink

Wanda Maddocks briefly rescued her father from a nursing home where he was committed against his will. For the rescue, and distributing leaflets drawing attention to her case, she was sentenced to five months in jail, but with her identity to be kept secret. Determined journalism by the Daily Mail has disclosed the facts, and secured her release after serving only six weeks. Christopher Booker follows the article with his commentary and a separate article in the Telegraph.

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Jailed in secret - for trying to rescue her father from care home where she believed he would die

  • Wanda Maddocks is first person to be imprisoned by Court of Protection
  • It settles the affairs of people too ill to make their own decisions
  • Jailed because she ignored orders not to try to remove her father from home

A woman was jailed ‘in secret’ for trying to remove her father from a care home where his family thought he was in danger of dying.

Wanda Maddocks, 50, is the first person known to be imprisoned by the Court of Protection, which settles the affairs of people too ill to make their own decisions.

A judge ruled that she should go to prison for five months for contempt of court even though she was not present or represented by a lawyer.

Details of the case were made public for the first time yesterday and provoked a fresh row over behind-closed-doors justice.

Wanda Maddocks John Maddocks
Secret 'justice': Wanda Maddocks, left, was jailed for taking her father John, right, out of his care home against the instructions of a court order that he should not be moved

Miss Maddocks, who served six weeks of her sentence, was jailed because she ignored the court’s orders not to try to remove her father John from Park Hall care home in Bentilee, a suburb of Stoke on Trent.

She was condemned for incidents including taking the 80-year-old dementia sufferer to a court hearing and to see a solicitor.

She was also censured for producing a leaflet to try to publicise details of the case and giving her father a wooden cross ‘to ward off evil’ in the care home.

Her family said Mr Maddocks, a retired painter and decorator from Stoke-on-Trent, had been held ‘like a prisoner’ on the orders of a local council.

Miss Maddocks was initially not allowed to be named after the hearing and was identified only by her initials WM.

And the court’s ruling containing details of her sentence was not published.

The Court of Protection is a branch of the High Court and its hearings are always conducted in private.

Judge Martin Cardinal merely went through the motions of observing open justice when he handed down his sentence.

He ordered the doors of his courtroom in Birmingham to be unlocked and told ushers to announce in the corridor that members of the public were free to come in.

Foston Hall
Miss Maddocks was jailed on September 11 last year after the sentencing in her absence by the Court of Protection in Birmingham, and sent to Foston Hall prison in Derby

But there was no wider announcement of the judgment and no-one who was not directly involved is thought to have attended.

The ban on naming Miss Maddocks was lifted because there was no reason for it to remain in place after her release. Mr Maddocks has since died.

Closed courtroom: Judge Martin Cardinal jailed Ms Maddocks for five months and merely 'went through the motions' of observing open justice when he handed down his sentence by ordering the doors of his courtroom in Birmingham to be unlocked

He separated from wife June more than 30 years ago. She remarried but now suffers from Parkinson’s Disease.

The extraordinary case began when the grandfather-of-one was found collapsed at his own home last year.

He was placed in a care home and the local authority applied for a legal order which said he must stay there.

These are introduced when officials believe someone could be at risk of harm, and put the Official Solicitor in charge of their affairs.

After a few months Miss Maddocks’ brother Ivan took him out of the care home for lunch.

Miss Maddocks was alerted and flew her father to Turkey, where she owns a number of properties.

They stayed for 13 weeks before returning to Britain, and her father went to a different care home.

Mr Maddocks said: ‘Wanda was certain she could care for him herself but the social services said he had to be put in the home. Wanda was very angry that they were taking Dad away from us.’

Miss Maddocks, a former buy-to-let landlord, was jailed on September 11 last year after the sentencing in her absence by the Court of Protection in Birmingham.

She was freed from Foston Hall prison in Derby on November 1 after returning to the court to purge her contempt by apologising to the judge.

Judge Cardinal said in his ruling that ‘there is a history of the family being difficult with the local authority’ and that Miss Maddocks knew she had been ordered not to interfere with her father.

He said she had done so on a number of occasions. On one she took him from his care home to attend a court hearing. On another she took him to Birmingham to talk to a solicitor.

The judge recorded that she also gave her father a wooden cross ‘to prevent the evil in the home from hurting him’.

Miss Maddocks also ‘produced and distributed a leaflet prior to and during the final hearing giving details of the case, containing a photograph of her father and other information so as to identify him and that is in breach of Court of Protection rules.’

Miss Maddocks was said to have left a long and abusive message on a social worker’s voicemail describing ‘you in your tarty little stuck up voice’ and to have called council staff names including ‘arrogant little cunning b*******’.

In one message she said: ‘I hope you all end up where my Dad is and I hope you all end up cursed.’

Judge Cardinal said she had ‘the attitude of someone who is simply not going to obey court orders’.

He said Miss Maddocks was causing her father ‘very considerable grief’ and ‘it seems to be only right she should go to prison’.

But the whistleblowing MP who first learned of the case, Lib Dem John Hemming, said: ‘The jailing of people in secret for contempt is not supposed to happen.

‘No records have been collected. I believe the judges have broken the rules of their own courts, but nobody is doing anything about it.’

‘One of the charges against the woman was that she took her father from his care home to see a solicitor. We now live in a country where ordinary people get locked up for taking their father to see a lawyer. Even in Iran they do not jail people for taking legal advice.’

Councillor Gwen Hassall, Stoke-on-Trent city council cabinet member for social services, said: ‘This is clearly an extreme case, but one that the Court of Protection supported the council on. It was the court’s decision to issue a custodial sentence to Wanda Maddocks.

‘Our chief concern was always centred around the welfare of her father, who was suffering from a deteriorating condition and required 24-hour supervision in a stable environment.

‘This was a decision reached by medical consultants, geriatricians, social workers, community psychiatric nurses, dieticians, consultant health and nursing professionals and others who were involved in assessing his needs.’

She added: ‘This decision was also ratified by the Court of Protection, which carried out its own independent assessment of his needs.

‘Unfortunately safeguards had to be put in place to ensure he had the support of a stable environment because there were no signs that this could be provided otherwise.

'Safeguards also had to be put in place to protect the care professionals who looked after Mr Maddocks.’ Court Thats Dogged By Controversy They Treated Our Dad Like A Prisoner

The sinister spread of justice behind closed doors, writes Christopher Brooker

Today’s revelations in the Mail about Wanda Maddocks, the woman imprisoned by a judge for trying to remove her 80-year-old father from a care home where he was being held against his family’s wishes, are truly shocking.

Most disturbing of all is that it is only thanks to persistent inquiries by the Mail that we know of her fate at all — for the court heard the case in secret and chose not to publish the ruling containing details of her sentence.

The court that conducted itself in this manner is the mysterious and secretive Court of Protection, set up in 2005 under the Labour government’s Mental Capacity Act to give state officials quite extraordinary powers over the lives of people who are deemed no longer fit to handle their own affairs.

Miss Maddocks was found guilty of contempt because she ignored the Court of Protection’s orders not to interfere with her father’s life in the care home.

What angered the judge and the council involved, Stoke-on-Trent, was not just that she took her father away but that she desperately tried to publicise what was happening to him by writing a leaflet about it.

Of course, the case is complicated and highly emotive — one in which family members concerned for their ailing, elderly father are pitted against professionals and state employees who insist they know better.

But it is also part of a deeply worrying trend of secret justice taking hold across Britain, where journalists, the public and even defendants are barred from hearing evidence, while those in the dock often have no legal representation.

The Court of Protection is making huge numbers of judgments in secret which devastate families such as that of Wanda Maddocks.

Only this week, there was the tragic case of a 64-year-old mother from a working-class family who left her husband and ran off with her neighbour to the Midlands, without an explanation.

The family spent months trying to track her down, and finally found her in a nursing home after she had suffered a massive stroke that left her needing 24-hour care. When they called to see her, the nursing home — claiming she had written letters saying she wanted to break off contact with them — called the police.

After hearing the evidence in secret, the judge decided the family should no longer have contact with their mother — even though an American forensic expert who used computer analysis on handwriting testified that he was ‘99.9 per cent’ certain the letters were written by the man she ran off with.

For months I have been following a terrifying case involving a council which cannot be named, and which has similarly been hidden away from public view by another judge of the same Court of Protection.

The story would make your hair curl. But because it is under the aegis of the Court of Protection, I am forbidden from reporting on it at all. None of its details can be made public.

Local press that did cover the story so irked the council and the judge that other media were told that any further reporting of the case would be a contempt of court, punishable by imprisonment.

Like the case of Miss Maddocks, it highlights a tendency to allow Britain’s courts to hide their workings from public view behind a wall of secrecy.

The Mail mounted a hard-hitting campaign for open justice after the Government proposed last year that judges could be allowed to hold secret hearings in terrorist cases, on the grounds that allowing these to be reported might be damaging to ‘national security’.

Similar concerns have been expressed over the fear that the Leveson inquiry might trigger a massive extension in the powers of judges to throw up a blanket of secrecy around other types of cases they are hearing, such as those involving celebrities keen to preserve their reputation.

But the terrifying fact is that we already have a whole swathe of secret courts in this country, where judges are allowed to exclude the public and the Press, and to issue draconian gagging orders to prevent anything being reported of what goes on.

Any breach of those orders can be ruled a contempt of court, punishable not just by imprisonment but by the confiscation of an offender’s possessions.

One of the most glaring examples of justice behind closed doors is to be found in the extraordinary goings on of our so-called ‘child protection’ system, where social workers using family courts can too often tear families apart for the flimsiest and most dubious of reasons,

In such cases, all the normal principles of British justice can be turned on their heads. The rules, which in criminal courts require evidence to be put to a proper test, can be routinely ignored.

Social workers and lawyers can trot out hearsay allegations which are accepted by the court as if they were proven fact, ‘expert psychologists’ are paid thousands of pounds to come up with patently ridiculous reports, which parents fearful that they may lose their children for ever are not permitted to question.

What is so shocking to parents who fall foul of this system — as I have learned from talking to scores of them over the years — is how they can find themselves being treated, without any need for proof, as criminals, having to listen to any kind of allegation being made against them without being given a right of reply.

The point is that none of these abuses could take place if the judges had not been allowed to hide away the workings of these courts behind a far greater wall of secrecy than anything intended by the politicians who passed the supposedly well-meaning Acts of Parliament which gave them their powers in the first place.

The overwhelming moral of all this is that wherever courts are allowed to operate in secret, the system is likely to be corrupted.

Few things are more sinister in Britain today than all those pressures to extend even further that suffocating blanket of secrecy, for we can already see — as in the frightening case of Miss Maddocks and the Court of Protection — how easily it can lead to any sense of justice being thrown out of the window.

Source: Daily Mail


The opposition to secret courts is gathering pace

Justice should never been conducted in secrecy. Just look at the family courts

sinister preview of secret courts
Family courts give us a sinister preview of how secret courts would operate
Photo: ALAMY

Two days running last week another newspaper gave huge space to the shocking story of Wanda Maddocks, a middle-aged woman sentenced in her absence to five months in prison for removing her aged father from a care home where he had been placed against his family’s wishes by Stoke-on-Trent social workers.

What made this story still more disturbing was that, until her father died, the entire case, including her imprisonment, was shrouded in secrecy by a mysterious body known as the Court of Protection. This was set up under the 2005 Mental Capacity Act, giving the state draconian new powers to take over the lives and property of those deemed unfit to look after their own affairs. The newspaper that reported this has been running a campaign against the Government’s proposals to allow judges to sit in secrecy on cases involving “national security”.

More than once I have argued in The Sunday Telegraph that it is all very well to protest at the implications of future proposals, but what of the terrifying evidence we already have that allowing courts to sit in secret can lead to all kinds of abuse? It is precisely this that has led to the mockery of justice that takes place behind the closed doors of our family courts, where parents whose children have been removed from them by social workers for no good reason routinely find the most basic principles of British justice stood on their head.

When the newspaper broke its story about Maddocks, I was pleased to be asked, thanks to my reporting here in The Sunday Telegraph, to add a commentary explaining how the need for its campaign against secret courts is confirmed by what already goes on in our family courts. I was even able to give a similar story to the Maddocks case – and just as horrifying: a Court of Protection judge has been able to prohibit reporting of a case involving an old man being held by social workers in a care home apparently against his and his family’s wishes – apart from a disgracefully one-sided account, written from the viewpoint of the social workers and merely based on the court judgment.

Delighted as I am to see another newspaper adding a powerful voice to this campaign to expose what goes so hideously wrong when courts can hide their workings from public view, we have a mighty battle on our hands. New examples come up every day of how this secrecy allows abuse of the Human Rights Act, which judges are supposed to uphold. One of these involves Vicky Haigh, the former racehorse trainer and mother of a two-year-old child, who was again, last Wednesday, arrested and sent back to prison, for what appear to be very odd reasons indeed. On this I shall report next week.

Source: Telegraph (UK)

John Hemming notes that 237 words from a social worker can get a man deprived of his liberty. The court hears only one party, and sometimes the event takes place over the phone.

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Court of Protection: Out-of-hours process is one-sided and inherently unfair - and it must change

It only takes 237 words written by a single social worker on form COP3 (a Court of Protection “Assessment of Capacity” application) for a judge to decide to imprison someone in a care home. I know because I counted the words in the assessment relating to case I am involved with.

What The Independent has uncovered is that many of these decisions are taken without a court hearing. Instead, they are made on the phone, and often with only one side present. Single-sided hearings are inherently unfair, as it is difficult for the judge to refuse what is requested.

Obviously, there are situations where people’s liberty does need to be constrained for their own good or for that of others. But as it stands, the system is currently very one-sided.

I welcome the fact that one judge spoke to someone who was said not to have capacity and decided on the basis of the phone call that they did have capacity. It is difficult for the judges to challenge the experts and expert witnesses come under a lot of pressure from local authorities to come up with the conclusions that the councils want.

Because people on a low income don’t have to pay for care at home, but can have their home taken if they are in a care home, local authorities may find a financial advantage in caring for such people in care homes.

John Maddocks, whose daughter Wanda was imprisoned in secret for taking him to see a solicitor, died from “poor oral intake” and dehydration weighing only 48 kilos (7st 6lb) with a BMI of 16.8 in a care home.

Previously “on the run” with his daughter in Turkey he had been 85 kilos. He was a “self-funding” resident because he owned his own home.

The Government, however, turns a blind eye to all of this. It is complacent about the fact that it doesn’t know what is going on. It uses the lack of evidence as to what is happening to justify not collecting any evidence.

What is needed is for the Justice Select Committee to investigate what happens in individual cases. I am tabling a motion to call for this today.

Select Committees have generally refused to look at individual cases, but without that it is not possible to understand what is happening.

John Hemming, MP is chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Family Law and the Court of Protection

Source: The Independent (London)

Taylor on Oversight

April 24, 2013 permalink

bill 42
Monique Taylor gets serious about bill 42. This is how she pushes it on her Facebook page. Click on the image for the full version, or go to her bill 42 link.

Source: Facebook, Monique Taylor

Digging Up the Roots

April 24, 2013 permalink

Barbara Kay says ombudsman oversight is not enough to cure the ills of children's aid societies. Instead of fiddling with branches, we should be digging up moribund roots. We need a standardized, rights-respecting, power-checked, transparent children’s aid model in which child removal is the exception, not the norm. A response by Fixcas follows the article.

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Barbara Kay: Attacking the root of children’s aid societies’ rot

Isaiah Duplessis
Two-year-old Isaiah Duplessis reads a book with grandmother Janet Ellsworth and Therapeutic Access Coordinator Shannon Deacon at the Toronto Children's Aid Society.

On April 11, Progressive Conservatives and NDP members of the Ontario Legislature joined forces (with one Liberal) to pass the second reading of Bill 42, an act that would allow the province’s ombudsman “to investigate any decision or recommendation made or any act done or omitted in the course of the administration of a children’s aid society” (CAS).

CAS oversight is desperately needed. As Ontario Ombudsman André Martin said in a recent Toronto Star article: “Every year my office is forced to turn away hundreds of people complaining about children’s aid societies. We are powerless to investigate these cases.” Since 2006, there have been “more than 2,500 people we have been unable to help.”

But nobody should assume that even an ombudsman with new powers to match those of other provinces will significantly alter the systemically flawed culture of these powerful organizations. Although Ontario’s CAS network is the most vilified by its proven and alleged victims, frequent accusations of CAS-facilitated injustices to children and parents crop up everywhere in Canada.

It seems to me that in concentrating on the heartbreaking, emotive stories that make it to the front page – like that of Jeffrey Baldwin who starved to death in the care of grandparents with well-known histories of abuse, or Katelynn Sampson, murdered by guardians with a history of violence – we are bewailing the blighted leaves, instead of inspecting the deep, tangled roots, of a diseased tree.

We know what the twisted “branches” are: 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. We will not solve the problem by pruning branches here and there. We need to treat the invisible cultural assumptions that hold the tree aloft.

The first Canadian CAS was the brainchild of Toronto journalist and social activist John Joseph Kelso. His vision did not spring from altruism for children enduring poverty, neglect or family conflict. Rather it was based in a dehumanizing revulsion from the lower classes. Kelso’s contempt for “street Arabs,” as he dubbed Toronto’s poor children, inspired a solution modelled on the contemporary humane movement for dogs and cats.

In 1893 Kelso began a 40-year term as Ontario’s first superintendent of neglected children and used his influence to create what he considered a positive social cleansing paradigm. He believed that by removing children from homes deemed unfit, and by placing children with “good” middle-class families, children would, like rescue dogs, happily acclimate to their new surroundings and become model citizens. Kelso bragged to then-premier of Ontario Oliver Mowat that the system would empty the prisons and purge society of riffraff.

It was exactly along these class lines that the residential school system for “savages” was founded. The utopians who conceived these social-engineering systems did not accord inherent rights to children, nor did they consider the inherent weaknesses and temptations to the abuse of power implicit in state care of the vulnerable.

We ended the residential school system when it became clear that wrenching children from their biological parents, even when their family home is far from ideal, is traumatic and morally wrong. No “superior” home or Church-run institution can compensate children for their loss, nor can parents and grandparents ever heal from the torment of what bereft parents often consider an outright “kidnapping.”

Of course some dire situations demand removal of a child. Of course many foster parents are wonderful, dedicated people. But no one can deny that there have been far too many stories of abuse at the hands of foster parents — inflicted upon children taken in by the state to protect them from abuse!

So, while an ombudsman with the power of oversight is better than an ombudsman without the power of oversight, we’re still fiddling with branches when we should be digging up moribund roots. Children are not pets. We need a standardized, rights-respecting, power-checked, transparent children’s aid model in which child removal is the exception, not the norm.

An adaptation of the aboriginal “talking circle” model makes sense to me. In this takes-a-village paradigm, nobody holds absolute power. The objective is family unification: the child maintains his family connection safely with the participation of parents, foster parents, community elders, clergy and social workers.

Alberta recently passed a law that you can’t remove a child from a family on the grounds of disability. The idea is to help the family adapt to the child’s need instead of removing the child. Helping all “disabled” families become functional while remaining intact should become the new 21st century roots for all Canadian CAS’s.

Source: National Post


April 24, 2013

Barbara Kay
National Post

bkay@videotron.ca

Subject: Children's Aid

Madam:

I was pleased to read your article today: Attacking the root of children’s aid societies’ rot. You have accurately assessed the problems with today's children's aid societies.

In a peripheral issue you suggest that institutional maltreatment of children started late in the nineteenth century with John Kelso. In both Canada and the USA, charities were formed in that period to help the then large numbers of street children. One now-infamous practice was collecting children and sending them west on orphan trains. They made frequent stops in small towns where local farmers culled able-bodied children capable of augmenting their household labor supply. The last orphan train departed ca 1929 (sources differ), and some of the passengers are still alive. I have read interviews with a few survivors. None of them describe their ride in terms of atrocity. They lived a hard-scrabble life in their new homes, but they all knew they were going on to a better life than those orphans not fortunate enough to get on the trains. The era of effective birth control, reducing the need for children's charities, and state funding of child protection, both began in the 1960s. In the 1950s the old children's charities were in their last decade. In 1953 I spent six weeks in a home run by one of them, the New England Home for Little Wanderers in Boston. It was a vacation from the horrors of foster care that were the rest of my childhood experience. Both research and memory support the idea that the early children's charities were conscientious benefactors of the children they served. What we have today is not monster institutions inherited from the past, but genuine charities that have morphed into monsters. Think of Mother Teresa reincarnated as Charles Manson. I suggest that the poison responsible for the metamorphosis is the perverse incentives that accompany public funding.

Robert T McQuaid
558 McMartin Road
Mattawa Ontario P0H 1V0

phone: 705-744-6274
email: rtmq at fixcas.com
web: www.fixcas.com

Vindictive Persecution

April 23, 2013 permalink

A British couple, both social workers, had their lives turned upside down following an anonymous complaint about care of their own child. The persecution of the family escalated after they complained about their treatment. Fixcas skipped this story at first because it lacks the name of the family, but it is authoritative and has attracted commentary. If this case comes up again, we will call them the ABCDEF Family.

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Haringey council tried to crush our family

Speaking for the first time since a historic court case, a couple who risked losing their child and their careers describe the 22-month battle to clear their names

A mother smiles as she watches her little girl play in their local park in north London. But her face is drawn, revealing an underlying tension. “Recently she fell off the roundabout and I panicked,” she tells me. “I asked the other mums 'Did anyone see that?’ I wanted witnesses. I was scared of being framed again.”

This woman and her husband, who cannot be named for legal reasons, made history last month as the first parents successfully to sue a council after being wrongly accused of child abuse. Their unprecedented High Court victory took 22 long months and all their savings. “But what’s money compared to your good name?” the woman asks.

Haringey council is notorious for its high-profile failures in child protection. Victoria Climbié and Baby P, who were tortured to death after social workers, managers, officials and doctors ignored numerous warning signs, will never be forgotten by the public, nor the council forgiven. In this latest case, which highlights different but equally alarming failings, the Labour authority turned on an innocent couple after receiving a single anonymous letter claiming the mother had “shouted” at and “slapped” her six-year-old.

The possible consequences were dire: the loss of their child to care, fostering or even adoption and the end of their careers. The father, CD, is a senior social worker, and the mother, AB, is a respected freelance social work trainer.

Judge Anthony Thornton’s judicial review drew the “inescapable conclusion” that the authority had illegally escalated its inquiry to the highest possible level purely because the mother had the temerity to complain. She did so after it blackened her name and broke all guidelines by telling police, the family GP and their child’s school that the child, EF, was the suspected victim of serious abuse – without any supporting evidence.

Haringey’s behaviour reveals that the council remains deeply dysfunctional.

The Daily Telegraph has extensively reported recent large increases in the number of children being forcibly removed from their parents and fostered or adopted following hearings in Britain’s secret family courts. Every story results in letters from desperate parents claiming that their children may be or have been removed on flimsy, subjective grounds. If this couple had not been so knowledgeable and determined, they too might have lost their child.

“Haringey closed this inquiry but could any time have opened another and referred back to it,” says AB, speaking for the first time about the family’s ordeal.

“Haringey acted like a one-party state, and tried to crush us for challenging them. This wasn’t about child protection but protection of management [at the council] and about punishment.”

John Hemming, Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley and a long-time campaigner for parents victimised by social workers, says: “Since Baby P, many more children are being taken into care. But often the wrong children are taken.”

His analysis of Department for Health figures shows that, over 20 years, the number of young children subject to care orders has more than doubled. In the year to March 31 1995, there were 5,800 “looked after” children of four years and under. By 1998 there were 8,200, but in 2010 the number rose to 11,200, and 12,300 in 2011.

Hemming says: “The Haringey case was vindictive, and the system is dangerously tolerant of vindictive allegations. This High Court judgment makes clear that there must be an allegation of substance before the system kicks off.”

CD and AB’s world began to cave in as they drove home along the M25 on Wednesday, May 4 2011. It was about 2pm and they had just visited CD’s father, who is unwell.

“My husband’s emergency phone rang,” says AB. “The phone is just for his dad’s carer, so we were immediately fearful. We pulled over and a man on the other end abruptly said he was a social worker [from Haringey Council] and wanted to see our child, following [receipt of] an anonymous letter.”

AB, stunned, asked him to read it. Someone claiming to be a neighbour of the family had written: “I have some very big worries about how they are looking after the young girl in the house… The mother is always screaming at the little girl, shouting and screaming. I have seen the mother pulling the little girl along by her arm and slapping her.”

AB says: “It struck me immediately the letter was malicious. My husband and I have 50 years of social work experience between us and have received threats. If you really are committed to being a warrior for children, there will be people who will not like you – not just paedophiles, but sometimes other professionals.”

She was horrified when it became clear that Haringey’s children’s services had already made inquiries at their daughter’s school and with the family doctor. Statutory guidelines state that confidential information about children can only be obtained legally without parental consent when “significant harm” is feared.

Haringey’s screening team – whose job it is to filter out baseless concerns and malicious allegations – had sent the couple’s GP an information request form on April 26 2011. This stated, erroneously, that the council was “currently working with the family” after a report of “emotional and physical abuse”. It sought the child’s medical history and any abuse “indicators”.

The GP was so alarmed that he immediately rang the authority and said he knew the family well and had no concerns.

AB told her caller from the council – who was in fact a social work trainee – that she was a child protection professional and that Haringey’s response to a solitary anonymous complaint was “ridiculous”. She admits that: “I raised my voice… that’s not yet illegal.”

The trainee logged that AB was “defensive” and told Jeffrey Baker, team manager of Haringey’s Service for First Response, that she had also threatened to make a complaint. Mr Baker rang her about 20 minutes later. In a witness statement to the judicial review, he claimed that AB “shouted” and this “led me to decide that the threshold for regarding the child as vulnerable had definitely been met”.

In Kafkaesque style, it seemed that indignation was apparently an indication of guilt.

Mr Baker reported AB’s threatened complaint to Haringey’s head of Service for First Response, Sylvia Chew. Her witness statement similarly claimed that the mother’s “angry manner… reflected the information received in the referral”, and “gave me reasonable cause to believe that (the child) was suffering, or was likely to suffer, significant harm”. Ms Chew wrote that she was particularly concerned because the couple held responsible posts in social work, and immediately elevated the inquiry to the most serious Level 4 threshold under the Children Act 1989, the precursor to care orders.

AB remains incredulous: “One is allowed to feel indignant when attacked. Social work involves the state intruding into people’s lives, possibly to remove their children. I put the phone down, cried and asked my husband: 'What if they remove her?’ We were really scared because they had already acted so irrationally and illegally.”

That evening (May 4) AB sent an email to Haringey’s then director of children’s and young people’s services, Peter Lewis. “I pleaded: 'Please be measured, please don’t ruin our lives.’ ”

The family went away that weekend, desperate to relax, but they returned to a letter from Ms Chew (dated Friday May 6), announcing a Section 47 inquiry under the Children Act 1989.

AB says: “I knew what that meant. I went into complete shock, I thought I would die. I rang my sister crying and she said that children’s services had left a message on her answerphone saying they had “reached a decision” and needed urgently to see us. Our elderly neighbour came round – they had contacted her too. She asked, really upset: 'Why are they after a lovely family like you?’

“They had involved everyone. I begged my sister: 'If they say [EF] can’t live with us, will you take her?’

“I was crying for my daughter, for what it would do to her, to be torn from her Mummy. We felt that a mad Orwellian world had opened up and, if anonymous letters led to Section 47 inquiries, every family in Britain could be investigated.”

Except in dire emergencies, a Section 47 inquiry can only legally be ordered after a screening inquiry to eliminate groundless complaints, and an initial assessment with interviews. There must be evidence giving reasonable cause to fear significant harm, and a multi-agency strategy meeting involving police, health and education, should agree it. But Haringey acted completely alone.

AB later discovered that on May 6 the council contacted both EF’s head teacher and the local police child abuse investigation team. Both said they had no concerns about EF, and the police positively refused to get involved in Haringey’s groundless “investigation”.

“That night I felt broken. They [the council] were coming first thing next day and I didn’t trust them coming to our lovely home, our nest, the place we feel safe.

“I got into a complete panic about the toilet’s cleanliness. I tidied manically. I thought irrationally I should be making bread.”

When the team manager, Mr Baker, arrived “he basically said we brought it on ourselves by challenging them”.

A woman social worker then went upstairs with their child, says AB. “I was thinking if they distort what my daughter says, who will believe a child against a professional? The man [Mr Baker] said he’d Googled us. I felt invaded.

“We said 'No’ to everything he asked.”

The woman rejoined them and said: “Your daughter’s a lively, bright little thing.”

The parents concluded that the council knew it acted illegally but still “wanted to intimidate us”.

As they left, Mr Baker commented “that our home was 'groovy’,” says AB. “I thought: 'You’re a cuckoo in our nest, - get out.’ ”

On May 11, Mr Baker wrote to the couple saying that the inquiry had been escalated “due to the nature of your reaction” but that it was now closed, concluding that “it is highly likely that the referral was malicious”.

Relief was mixed with dread, says AB. “Our careers were nonetheless potentially in ruins. We would have to declare this inquiry to future employers and the stigma of having been subjected to a Section 47 remained.”

Because of this, the couple decided to challenge Haringey legally. They knew that if they lost they faced having to sell their home, but they felt they had no choice. “We are old-fashioned. If we didn’t dare take Haringey on, what chance would poorer parents have? Most people are terrified of social workers. We even had an alternative, mad plan [to use if we lost] to move, if need be, where housing is cheaper, and set up a little café. We’d be poverty level but tick over.”

CD, an active trade unionist when younger, says: “I studied Sovietology for years, the single party, the single state, and it’s the way to understand Haringey. You’re the enemy if you dare challenge. Our case shows how any evidence can be made to seem deviant. A state in which this can happen is a state out of control. Everyone makes mistakes but Haringey’s programming is: 'We make sure that no one finds out.’

“There was no one in Haringey who would stop this madness. We contacted our MP, councillors, Haringey’s director and no one, not one, responded. It’s the Stalinist model – once the central power had said, 'This is where we are going,’ no one can challenge it.”

The couple found a specialist law firm, Birmingham-based Celtic Knot, run by a “brilliant” former social worker turned solicitor who proved that Haringey acted unlawfully. Judge Thornton confirmed that Haringey acted “without due process”. Moreover, he believed there was a “distinct possibility” that AB’s threat of making a formal complaint had triggered the council’s decision to escalate, rather than any real concerns about EF.

“It would appear to be an inescapable conclusion that Ms Chew took her Section 47 decision after meeting with Mr Baker on May 4, after having had sight of AB’s letter and having taken into account its contents.”

It was, Judge Thornton decided, a “knee-jerk reaction to AB’s email to the director of service”.

He called Ms Chew’s implementation of a Section 47 inquiry “wholly unreasonable”, undocumented, unfounded and “so flawed procedurally… that it was unlawful”.

The council had ignored “a plethora of rules” designed to protect the innocent, and the lack of real evidence meant, he concluded, that no real Section 47 inquiry had taken place. All references to it should therefore be struck from official records: “A Section 47 enquiry has in recent years become very damaging for the life, career and family relationships of many who are parenting or caring for the child being assessed.”

Judge Thornton also ordered Haringey to pay the couple’s costs and £2,000 compensation, and to apologise.

Ms Chew left Haringey before the judgment and is now head of safeguarding for Kingston Borough Council.

The nightmare for the family is over, but AB and CD remain concerned about the council that hounded them. And they are scathing about social work’s brave new world. “Social work offices are like call centres now, with staff just updating intrusive databases,” says CD. “We’ve abandoned helping people. We now just have the world of surveillance and policing.”

When contacted by The Daily Telegraph, Haringey Council declined to say if it had investigated who sent the malicious allegation, or to answer questions about staff and their response in relation to this case: “It would not be appropriate for us to comment on the individuals concerned. Our handling of this case fell below the standards that we would expect, and we apologise to the family concerned. We are committed to learning from the findings of the court as we continue to make improvements to our child protection and safeguarding systems.”

For the future, AB plans to establish an advocacy charity to help vulnerable parents in similar circumstances: “We hope this victory against the illegal use of a Section 47 will help build a campaign against the intimidation of innocent parents. Our case says to local authorities everywhere: 'You can’t do whatever you want anymore, the guidance and legislation are there for a reason.’ ”

Source: Telegraph (UK)

Newborn Seized

April 22, 2013 permalink

Deborah Hall with baby
click for larger image

Does the baby at the right look like it is endangered? If you cannot see danger, you lack the keen eye of a social worker. The post by the mother below says social workers are contemplating taking the boy. Within a day Windsor-Essex social workers completed the separation of mother and baby.

Deborah Hall I just gave birth to my son tonight & the CAS has just walked in and said that they are apprehending based on historical concerns. With no warrant. They are placing a worker outside our room. They are allowing me to breast feed n apparently taking him on discharge !!! I need advice asap

Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...

A day later, poor representation from their own lawyers.

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Deborah Hall well to update on everyone of our ( Greig Jewell ) situation: they ( the lawyers) wanted us to agree to the protection concerns that the society has and the society believes to be true. Both of us do not agree and refused to admit to something that is untrue. So after we refused. One of the lawyers asked about pulling our criminal records and also any and all police interactions (charges, arrests, etc). They also made mention that they want to pull my transcripts from my statements made off the stand from a previous court date where I was granted interim custody. They went from going off of affidavits and "historical concerns" to now wanting all of this. they are going way off course from the initial affidavits that they society filed. They are saying that my children behaviors are most extreme when they come home from a visits w/ me. I said that is because my children want to come and do not want to be away from us any longer. Also, the children's lawyer was all "buddy buddy" with the CAS worker. how is that in the best interest of our children? isn't she supposed to work for the children and not along side of the society. she made statements to the CAS lawyers that I overheard she would be pulling anything that is violent or that had anything to do w/ child protection.

Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...

Tell the Legislature Your Story

April 19, 2013 permalink

Bill 42 has passed second reading and will come up for hearings, not yet scheduled, before the Standing Committee on Government Agencies. Neil Haskett has assembled instructions for persons who wish to participate and tell the committee their personal experience.

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Want Your Children’s Aid Story Heard on Record by the Provincial Government?

Want your story heard on record by the Provincial Government?

We’re asking every stakeholder involved with CAS from current and former foster kids, parents, siblings, grandparents, workers, foster parents, lawyers, unions, other groups and organizations to begin preparing formal depositions/ statements of the importance of passing Bill 42, how CAS has affected your life because of the lack of oversight by the Ombudsman and the lack of accountability.

Bill 42 would open all 47 of Ontario’s Private Children’s Aid Societies to independent investigations by the Ontario Ombudsman. Currently, Ontario is the only Province in Canada allowing their private board of directors to oversee themselves for both internal and external complaints. We aim to change this and need your stories and your suggestions to finally open their doors to public scrutiny!

To participate, please let the clerk at Queen’s Park, know you would like to be on the witness list for the Bill 42 and the following information:

  • Your full name, address, contact information (home, work, cell, fax, email);
  • Whether you intend on giving your deposition on behalf of an organization or sharing your personal experience;
  • Presenter(s) name and title;
  • If your prefer to give your deposition live in person, via toll-free phone call or in writing;
  • you must provide them your full contact information and begin preparing your 5 minute speech.

Notice of Hearings Clerk:
Anne Stokes
99 Wellesley Street West
Room 1405, Whitney Block
Toronto, ON M7A 1A2

Tel: (416) 212-5411 (Collect calls are accepted)
Fax: (416) 325-3505
TTY: (416) 325-3538
Email: anne_stokes@ontla.ola.org

NOTE: The exact dates of the committee hearings have not yet been announced and no questions are dumb! Please ask us anything big or small so we can all provide the best possible argument for oversight of Children’s Aid Societies and make Ontario’s child protection system by what that all others are judged by!

Source: Ontario Coalition for Accountability

Prince Edward Meeting

April 18, 2013 permalink

Mark Kartusch held another meeting with the public in Prince Edward County. The Belleville Intelligencer reports. Curtis Kingston disputes the balance in the article. More on Mr Kingston's observations as soon as available.

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Trio of meetings kicked off to mend fences

CAS meeting in Bloomfield
PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY - A small group of eight concerned citizens met with members of the Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society Wednesday night for a public meeting at the Town Hall in Bloomfield.

The meeting was aimed at acknowledging the seriousness of events that took place at the hands of four County foster parents who sexually assaulted children staying in their care; to outline measures taken by the society to prevent it from happening again and to get feedback.

The executive director of the Prince Edward Children’s Aid Society, Mark Kartusch, outlined 11 ministry guidelines that were followed including recommendations to correct 'poor record keeping, inability to critically access risk, no working relationships between the departments and/or the executive director, errors in the application of licensing requirements, allegations of abuse in a home that weren’t formally investigated and continued placement of children in a home that was coded as high risk.'

“Their lives have been forever impacted,” Kartusch told the crowd. “I want to apologize to all that this has happened to in their lives. It’s certainly something that none of us ever imagined would happen.”

Kartusch recognized the breach of trust has broken young people’s faith in the society along with the community’s confidence in them.

“A lot of people have been asking where does the responsibility lie and who is to blame?” Kartusch said. “The true answer is that many have to shoulder that responsibility. The society, the board of directors and the ministry all play an important role in keeping children protected. In the case of these young children that just didn’t happen.”

A woman who gave her name as Doreen spoke up during the question period and said the society made a critical mistake.

“Will there be anything done for these children?” she asked. “As a parent a simple apology won’t do.”

The Highland Shores board chairman Darcey French said the community could trust that the society's apology is more than just lip service and they are working with the victims to try and help them overcome this tragedy.

“We are doing things individually for each of them,” said Kartusch in an interview. “We wanted to continue to reach out to them. Each of them has some connection to the society whether it’s with a caseworker or a previous caseworker. We have met with them or have offered to meet with them and offered to hook them up with counselling or other kinds of services. We’re still trying to sort out what it is that is needed because I don’t think it’s something that you just say ‘here lets give you this and everything will be better.’ Some of the things we try to do for all our kids is help them out with education when that makes sense for them or trying to hook them up with employment.”

A spokesman for a group calling itself Canada Court Watch said he has been speaking with three of the victims and claims they are homeless and receiving no help from the society. Kartusch offered to take their contact information after the meeting so he could get in touch with them.

Kartusch said steps have been taken to try and assure that these incidents don’t happen again.

“It’s important to acknowledge from this review now all files are up to date, ongoing monthly review of compliancy standard and increased oversight and dialogue between supervisors and caseworkers,” said Kartusch.

He said a new foster care supervisor, Brad Bain, has been hired to oversee the process that has already been put in place and to make sure they continue to work effectively. Bain will oversee future processes as they are developed.

It was the first of three public meetings set for the County. The next is on April 23 at Ameliasburgh Town Hall and on April 29 at Sophiasburgh Town Hall. Both start at 6:30pm.

Source: Belleville Intelligencer

Curtis recorded the meeting and posted it to YouTube with our local copy (mp4). The presentation in chief is a bit difficult to hear, but at 21:45 the questions begin. Mr Kingston does a good job of questioning Highland Shores executive director Mark Kartusch. Mr Kartusch continues with the endlessly repeated claim that there is already excessive oversight of CAS, so ombudsman oversight is unnecessary. He also speaks of families coming to him for services. In all cases Fixcas has found, new families are always approached with at least two policemen to act as bodyguards for the social workers — oops, child protection workers! Mr Kingston notes that it is commonplace for CAS to serve parents with documents minutes before their court hearing. Fixcas followed a case in which a parent offered the court an affidavit a day before a hearing, but the court refused to accept it on grounds of lateness.

CAS Driver Wanted

April 17, 2013 permalink

Mehdi Mirza Ali, who worked as a volunteer driver for Milestone Foster Homes, Peel CAS and the Toronto Catholic Children’s Aid Society is wanted by police on sex charges. The accusations are vague enough that they could be rape at knifepoint or a kiss on the cheek.

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Volunteer wanted on sex assault charges

Peel Regional Police are searching for a Brampton man who worked as a volunteer driver for Peel Children’s Aid Society and two other agencies and is accused of sexual assault in relation to a 15-year-old girl.

Mehdi Mirza Ali, 54, is wanted on two charges of sexual exploitation, and one count each of sexual assault, invitation to sexual touching and sexual interference. Police say the offences occurred over a four month period in the Region of Peel.

Police believe he has left the country.

Ali worked as a volunteer driver for Milestone Foster Homes, Peel CAS and the Toronto Catholic Children’s Aid Society, driving children in their care to appointments throughout the GTA.

Arrangements were made with Ali to turn himself in to police on April 5, but he failed to do so, according to investigators. Police say they received information that indicated he may have left Canada April 6.

Anyone with information about Ali is asked to call the Special Victims Unit at 905-453-2121, ext. 3460.

Source: Brampton Guardian

Kill Kid, Deport Dad

April 17, 2013 permalink

If You Can’t Beat Critics of CAS, Then Deport Them!

Just under a year ago in Sudbury, we reported that a baby was killed in the care of the Children’s Aid Society Of The Districts Of Sudbury And Manitoulin just hours of being taken directly from the Hospital who had no concerns for the baby. The family has been very active in the fight to make CAS accountable and lost their third family member to this agency.

They were one of the first families in the world to take to the streets to fight for changes to the child welfare system and now the only way to prevent justice for the death of their baby, is to deport the father and it’s set to take place tomorrow, Wednesday April 17.

Please keep this entire family in your thoughts.

Source: Ontario Coalition for Accountability
website of Neil and Tabatha Haskett

Judge Threatened

April 17, 2013 permalink

Philip Laforet has been charged with threatening a judge and crown attorney in Windsor Ontario. Fixcas knows nothing of what prompted the threats, but family matters are more likely than civil or criminal matters. It is recorded here in case it comes back in the news again. Facebook page.

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Tecumseh man charged with threatening court officials

A Tecumseh man is facing several charges after he sent threatening letters to court officials last month.

The Ontario Provincial Police said they were contacted by Windsor police in late March after threats were made to a judge and crown attorney in Windsor.

The joint investigation was completed by the OPP justice officials protections and investigations section and the Justice Security Office of Ontario.

Philip Laforet, 49, of Lesperance Road in Tecumseh, was discovered to have sent threatening letters and has been charged with criminal harassment and intimidation.

He will appear in a Windsor court April 24.

Source: Windsor Star

Later the same day the Star issued another article explaining the case. Mr Laforet is involved, among other things, in a family law case, but one that is off-topic for Fixcas. The video attached to the article explains that Laforet has been blocked from seeing his son, and took remedial action against the crown prosecutor (but not the judge).

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Former funeral director charged with threatening justice officials

A former undertaker who once faked five people’s deaths and believes laws don’t apply to him has been arrested again, this time for threatening a cop and an assistant Crown attorney.

Philip Laforet — previously convicted of pilfering nearly $40,000 in a pre-paid funeral scam — allegedly sent the threatening letters over a separate harassment charge he faces involving his former spouse.

“They don’t like it because they always get their way and I’m standing up to it,” Laforet, who argues citizens aren’t bound by the Constitution, told The Star Wednesday.

“Sending someone a letter is a crime? I don’t believe so. The day will come in court when we see what that’s all about. But this tells me they’re nervous. This is ridiculous as far as I’m concerned. It started out really insignificant and it’s grown to this. It’s unbelievable to me.”

Laforet, 49, of Lesperance Road in Tecumseh, is charged with two counts of criminal harassment and two charges of intimidating a justice system participant. He allegedly made the threats in letters sent between March 1, 2012, and March 21 of this year.

“We take incidents like this very seriously, because our justice officials are there to ensure everything runs smoothly,” said Essex County OPP Const. Stephanie Moniz. “When somebody who is in charge of such a big task is threatened, it’s very serious. You can’t go around threatening officials who are trying to dole out justice. It undermines the whole system.”

Moniz said Laforet is charged with harassing and intimidating a judge and a Crown attorney. But court documents show the alleged victims are assistant Crown attorney Scott Pratt and Isabella Vella, a Tecumseh OPP officer.

Philip Laforet
Philip Laforet chats with The Star from the side door of his Tecumseh residence, Wednesday April 17, 2013. Laforet has been charged with criminal harassment and intimidation as a justice system participant.
NICK BRANCACCIO/The Windsor Star

While he denied being responsible, Laforet confirmed he is charged with threatening Pratt and Vella.

Provincial police started investigating last month after getting a call from Windsor police.

The Crown attorney’s office in London is handling the case. They declined comment. Brendan Crawley, with the Ministry of the Attorney General, which oversees Crown attorney offices, didn’t return repeated phone calls.

The alleged threats stem from another case involving Laforet and his former common-law spouse. He was charged last year with criminally harassing her in the middle of a child custody dispute.

Vella and Pratt are involved in that harassment case, which goes to trial in June. Laforet is defending himself. He said that’s why he sent Pratt letters. In the letters, Laforet said he was going to put a lien on Pratt’s house. It was a “legal manoeuvre.”

“I sent letters, because that’s what you do,” said Laforet. “He’s in fact my adversary now.

“This is a legal way to do stuff if you’ve done harm to me. I’m saying because you’ve charged me with this nonsense, and it’s ridiculous, you’re harming me. You’re harming my relationship to my son. You’re harming me and I want remedy.”

He said he sent a similar letter to Vella.

“I said I could put a lien on your property, or something like that,” said Laforet. “I didn’t threaten any violence or anything like that.”

The letters also referenced Laforet’s belief in an anti-government movement known as Freemen on the Land. The movement, which argues laws don’t apply to citizens, has been picking up momentum across Canada.

They have declared themselves independent of government jurisdiction, and claim laws are only applicable if you consent to be governed by them.

Laforet’s beliefs come from an interpretation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that the Constitution only applies to people working for the government.

“You are free,” said Laforet. “The Constitution doesn’t apply to you. And if the Constitution doesn’t apply to you, then the statutes below it don’t apply to you. Any of these acts and statutes, they only apply to you if you consent to be governed by them.”

Many Freeman believe they don’t need to have driver’s licences, obey traffic laws or pay taxes and child support.

“They’re free thinkers,” said Laforet. “It took me a while to get my head around this, so I don’t expect everyone to get their head around it immediately. But we own this country and the government works for us. So if I own that road, why would I need a licence to drive on my road?”

Laforet said the only law that applies is the “supreme law,” which is “do no harm.”

This isn’t the first time he’s been accused of breaking so-called “man’s laws.” Laforet, former director of the LaSalle Funeral Home, was sentenced to 12 months in jail and two years probation in 2007.

Five senior citizens lost nearly $40,000 when Laforet faked their deaths, cashed out their prepaid funeral trust funds and deposited the money into his personal account.

Philip Laforet
Philip Laforet chats with The Star from the side door of his Tecumseh residence, Wednesday April 17, 2013. Laforet has been charged with criminal harassment and intimidation as a justice system participant.
NICK BRANCACCIO/The Windsor Star

Source: Windsor Star

Beware of Pharmacist

April 17, 2013 permalink

A baby girl had a coughing fit in a drug store and mother Kiya Pask comforted her until she was better. The result? A pharmacist reported her to British child protectors and the mother became the target of an investigation.

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Boots pharmacist reported mum to social services after baby had coughing fit

A young mum was outraged that a pharmacist in a branch of Boots contacted social services after her 15-month-old daughter had a coughing fit in the store.

Kiya Pask, 20, had visited Boots in Skegness to pick up antihistamines for her daughter Amelia, who is registered disabled with a chronic bronchial illness.

When the little girl had a coughing fit, Kiya told counter staff that she often struggled to take medicine, and that she had recently been treated in hospital for her condition.

Despite her explanation, Kiya claims the pharmacist started shouting 'she's choking' and 'someone get her some oxygen'.

"I took her out of the pram and said to the woman, 'look she was in hospital yesterday with bronchitis, all she's done is swallowed the medicine the wrong way'," Kiya told reporters.

"Amelia started breathing normally and I put her back in her pram and took her home and didn't think any more about it."

The mum – who is registered as Amelia's full time carer due to her ongoing health issues - was shocked when social workers turned up unannounced at her Lincolnshire home to quiz her on the care she provided for Amelia.

The team from Lincolnshire Social Services told her that a report had been made about the incident in Boots, and that it had been claimed she had left Amelia on her back and that she had turned blue.

The officials searched Kiya's cupboards, checked her fridge and freezer and watched her interact with her daughter for around an hour, before leaving and later writing to say she was no longer under investigation.

"It made me feel like what if something is wrong when I don't realise or what if she doesn't think my daughter has got enough clothing or if she feels the food I provide isn't good enough," Kiya told the Mail.

"I felt like I was being interrogated. I feel like a good mum and do a good job looking after my daughter."

Kiya says she feels the pharmacist breached patient confidentiality to get hold of her details.

"What concerns me is I went in for over the counter medication but I am always in there for prescriptions. I also make use of the parenting club. Obviously she accessed the medical database."

Boots have defended the pharmacist saying she acted in the best interest of the child. Their spokesman said pharmacists are required to apply their professional knowledge and judgement and take appropriate action if they have any concern about patients' health and safety.

"In this instance our pharmacist expressed her concerns to Lincolnshire's Safeguarding Children Board by telephone," he said. "It would then be at the discretion of the Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board and Social Services as to what information is shared between the bodies, and we would not be privy to these details. We take patient confidentiality seriously and, having conducted a thorough investigation, are confident our pharmacist acted properly and professionally throughout."

He confirmed that Boots were 'in dialogue' with Kiya to 'resolve any outstanding concerns' and that the company had written to her.

What do you think? Is it right to report concerns, even if it turns out you were over reacting?

Source: Parent Dish

The Nine Commandments

April 16, 2013 permalink

Durham social worker Biljana Krstanovska has invoked her god-like powers to issue nine commandments to a father separated from his sons by CAS. The conditions for a visit forbid discussing the child's legal circumstances and forbid engaging in lawful activities such as advising a child of his rights or use of recording devices. Here is one social workers do every day, but forbid to real parents: Children should not be pressured into conversations they appear not to want to talk about.

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Hello Ken,

The Society has received the birthday gift you sent for Preston and he will be receiving it this week.

As per the previous e-mail message, the Family Access Centre has availability for a visit with Edmund and Preston on Monday April 22, 2013 from 1:30pm to 3:30pm. The expectations for visits remain and are outlined below. The visit will be supervised by two Access Facilitators to ensure a positive visit for the boys.

The expectations continue to include that the following topics are not to be discussed and events should not occur involving:

  • Discussions regarding Access visits (dates, next visits, arranging visits)
  • Discussions regarding Child advocate (specifically pressuring Edmund to call or bringing it up)
  • Discussions regarding Court (issues, appearances, proceedings)
  • Negative comments about biological mother, CAS workers or Foster Parents
  • Negative comments towards the children
  • Children should not be pressured into conversations they appear not to want to talk about
  • No recording of the children
  • If any notes given, they are to be given to Access facilitator first (notes are not to include any of the above topics)
  • No electronic gifts and/or age inappropriate gifts to be given to children during visit.

Please confirm if you are able to attend for a visit on the above date and for the time specified.

Thank you,

Biljana Krstanovska
Children’s Services Worker
Durham Children’s Aid Society
Tel: (905) 433-1551 ext. 2459
E-mail: biljana.krstanovska@durhamcas.ca

Source: Facebook, Mr Done Playing

Addendum: Ken Reid has posted an order (jpg image) from an unnamed social worker to an unnamed client. This time it is no communication of "legal issues or evidentiary issues with the children, criticism, or denigrating any care giver or person or authority to the children or comment on any discipline of the children to them, or the visit may be terminated".

Source: brainsyntax

ten commandments

Drifting Back in Maine

April 15, 2013 permalink

Mary Callahan, who two years ago praised genuine reform of Maine's child protection system, criticizes its slide back into the old ways over the past year. The cause: financial incentives.

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Maine Voices: Foster care system repeating old mistakes

Continuing to offer financial incentives to take kids into care undercuts efforts to keep children with their birth families.

LISBON — I spent years working to reform the child protective system here in Maine, first by organizing a group called Maine Alliance for DHS Accountability and Reform to get public attention to the problems with picketing and marching and writing letters to the editor. The next stage was getting appointed by Gov. John Baldacci as a member of the reform committees.

Logan Marr
The death of Logan Marr, 5, at her Chelsea foster home in 2001 added urgency to concerns about Maine’s child protective system. A reader fears that state officials are backsliding on implementing major reforms to the system.
File Photo

I am proud of the work we did and the resulting focus on keeping kids with their birth families because no matter how chaotic kids’ lives are, they want to be with the ones who loved them first, most of the time.

But I could have told you that things would start to drift back, as this newspaper has reported recently.

They are drifting back because we failed to solve the root cause of the problem: the financial incentive to bring kids into care and keep them there.

Kelley Bouchard’s recent article (“Poor planning adds to foster care crisis,” March 24) exposes that beautifully. The key is in how the foster parents are paid: by the child, by the day. Almost everyone in the system gets paid the same way. And the recipients of that money have bills to pay.

It is very difficult for individuals, like foster parents, to work against their own financial interests. I know because I was one of them.

When asked how my foster child did after family visit, I was careful not to be too positive because I was enjoying raising him and making good money doing it. Without ever admitting it to myself, the money was always in the back of my mind.

And if it is difficult for individuals to rise above the financial incentives, it is nearly impossible for businesses.

Foster care agencies are businesses. Guardians ad litem and counselors who see these kids are running businesses, even if it is a one-person business. If any one of them made a habit of recommending that kids stay with birth families or get returned to birth families, they would go out of business.

Why didn’t the reform committees fix the problem of perverse financial incentives when we had the opportunity? Some of us tried. But the committees were top-heavy with the people who made money from the system, with very little representation from those affected by the decisions they made.

We put Band-Aids on problems that needed much more than that, and those Band-Aids are starting to fall off.

The second thing exposed in Ms. Bouchard’s article is just how cagey Department of Health and Human Services people can be. The fact that they were so dishonest with her, claiming not to have records that they did have, says to me that they are intentionally drifting back. If they had nothing to hide, why were they hiding it?

The committee work was tedious, but I learned a lot about what goes on behind the scenes.

I listened to folks who ran the foster care agencies talk about how committed they were to supporting birth families, then went to foster parent meetings and heard the same people promise they would not let the reforms happen and that they would “get placements up to where they were before.”

Finally, I want to point out something I saw in the “Removals and Risk Factors” chart the newspaper was given, which the story described as “lacking.” (I agree completely.)

Look at the number of removed children who were abused in their birth families. It was 19 percent in the first year and 23 percent in the second. Don’t most people assume that almost all children who are removed have been abused? I know I used to.

How do you think kids feel about being ripped away from parents who never hurt them to live with strangers? I can tell you how they feel because that is what drove me to turn against the system that was supporting me. They are devastated. Some never recover.

Neglect is the reason given for 80 percent of the removals. That may mean that Mom was swinging from the treetops after doing bath salts, as the DHHS would have you believe. But it usually means the parents are young, poor and may have no idea how to parent because they grew up in the foster care system. Half of the kids I fostered had parents who grew up in foster care.

The system creates business, not just for today and tomorrow but for the next generation as well.

Let’s go back to the drawing board and learn how other states pay for success instead of failure – and define success as supporting families so that they can raise their own children.

Mary Callahan of Lisbon, a former foster parent, is an advocate for reform of the Maine child protective system.

Source: Maine Sunday Telegram (Press-Herald.com)

Ombudsman Fails Child Protection System

April 13, 2013 permalink

The ombudsman has issued a report severely critical of the child protection system. He highlighted the case of a boy taken into care at age 6 and held for a year. It took twelve months of lobbying by an advocacy group for the family to even visit the child.

Human rights lawyer Greg Barns commented:

"The most tragic flaw in the current system is when you see a mother give birth and you've got Child Protection workers with a court document, a warrant which gives them the right to take a baby within hours of that baby being born.

This news does not come from Ontario, but from the other side of the earth. The report was by the Ombudsman of Tasmania.

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Ombudsman finds failings in child protection

Tasmanian child protectors
Advocates say the child protection system isn't working in the best interests of children.

Child welfare advocates are warning of another Stolen Generation unless drastic changes are made to Tasmania's child protection structure.

In a damning draft report, obtained by 730 Tasmania, the State's Ombudsman has found widespread failings in the system.

The report investigated the case of a six-year-old boy taken into state care in 2009.

The boy was removed from his immediate family while police investigated his mother over a separate issue.

For the boys' extended family it was the start of a 17-month long battle, for custody.

The toddler's aunt says it took 12 months and lobbying by an advocacy group, before the authorities would even let her see her nephew.

"It was heartbreaking, not knowing whether he's okay or whether he'd forgotten about us," she said.

The Ombudsman's report into the case raises serious allegations against the Health and Human Services Department, and questions the accuracy of documents lodged in court.

Under State legislation, the Department is obliged to try and keep a child within the extended family, when appropriate.

The draft report found that seventeen days into his state care, the boy's foster carer was told it was likely the toddler would be placed with her until he was 18-years-old.

Human rights lawyer Greg Barns says the system isn't working in the best interests of children.

"The most tragic flaw in the current Tasmanian system is when you see a mother give birth and you've got Child Protection workers with a court document, a warrant which gives them the right to take a baby within hours of that baby being born," he said.

"You know, that is the creation of a new stolen generation and there will be a reckoning and accounting at some future point for that conduct."

Mr Barns wants an overhaul of the current structure.

"The Act itself forces people's hand. It means that you go down the litigation path when you should actually be doing what's done in New Zealand and various other places and that is sitting around in a collaborative fashion and working through issues."

The boy's aunt is unhappy with the formal apology from the Department.

"It's not even worth the paper it's written on, I'm afraid. That sort of apology just doesn't cut what they've done. It doesn't make up for all the hurt and heartache they've caused our family and that little boy."

730 Tasmania requested an interview with Child and Family Services but was told it 'would be inappropriate [for the department] to comment on an Ombudsman's draft report.'

The response from Tasmania Police and the Minister for Children, Michelle O'Byrne, was similar.

Source: ABC (Australia)

Visit Florida
Lose Kids

April 13, 2013 permalink

A North Dakota family had a two-month-old baby girl who was failing to gain weight adequately, so they traveled to Florida for specialized medical care. Florida DCF said Adrina was abused and seized all three children from the family.

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North Dakota family calls Jacksonville stay a nightmare after Florida DCF takes custody of their kids

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A North Dakota family said coming to Jacksonville was the worst decision of their life after the Florida Department of Children and Families took custody of their three young children just days into their trip.

The family said their little girl was seriously sick, and doctors in North Dakota couldn't figure out what was wrong with her.

So they came to Jacksonville for the specialized care, but three days into her stay at Wolfson Children's Hospital, doctors there called DCF, suspecting abuse.

"She was always laughing and talking to you and cooing," said grandmother, Mary Rehm.

Rehm has dozens of pictures and videos of her two-month-old granddaughter Adrina.

She said since she was born in North Dakota, the baby has been sick and underweight.

So she convinced her son and daughter-in-law to bring Adrina to Wolfson for specialized care.

But just three days in to their stay, the Department of Children and Families took custody of Adrina and her older brother and sister.

DCF got a court order to take custody of all three children, but Rehm said she still thought she could visit them.

"We went up there. They called the police and had us removed. They wouldn't tell us if she was there, if she was in another hospital, if she was dead or alive, wouldn't tell us anything," she said.

Rehm got on the phone with Adrina's pediatrician and social services in North Dakota.

Both sent letters to DCF in Florida explaining there were no problems with Adrina's care, and they did not suspect any abuse.

Her pediatrician went so far as to defend Adrina's parents in her letter to DCF.

"These kids have been going crazy, they've never been away from their kids before, and I'm the one who talked them into coming down here. They came here to get medical attention for the baby, and the state takes them," she said.

In court papers given to the family, DCF investigators say Adrina was severely underweight and malnourished.

In a statement to First Coast News, DCF said "In cases where children need to be taken into care, there are serious concerns about their safety. If children are seriously neglected or malnourished, it would be necessary to place the child and siblings in protective custody. This case has been reviewed by the top level of child protective investigation services."

"These people, they kidnapped these children, for nothing," she said.

The parents of the young children have hired an attorney and plan to fight DCF to get their children back.

Source: WTLV/WJXX

Florida, Go by train

Donation to CAS

April 12, 2013 permalink

Rose City Ford is donating $25,000 to the Windsor-Essex children's aid society.

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Local car dealer donates $25,000 to Children’s Aid Society

Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society
Exterior of the Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society shown Tuesday, March 26, 2013.
DAN JANISSE/The Windsor Star

Rose City Ford has made a $25,000 donation to the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society.

The money will help build an infant nursery in the new Bill and Dot Muzzatti Child and Family Centre, which is under development.

John Chisholm
File photo of John Chisolm from Rose City Ford in Windsor.
Windsor Star files

“We are proud to be able to lend our support so they can continue to do great things,” said John Chisholm, owner of Rose City Ford. The nursery will be named after Chisholm’s daughters, Mila and Ava.

More than 600 local kids rely on the CAS for support and services.

“We are fortunate to receive ongoing support from generous people and businesses like the team at Rose City Ford and it ensures that we can continue to provide these children the best care possible,” Bill Bevan, the CEO of the local CAS, said in a statement on Thursday.

The WECAS recently got a $4.3 million budget boost from the province. Tight funds forced the agency to layoff 18 part-time case workers last month.

Source: Windsor Star

Leonard Henderson Interview

April 12, 2013 permalink

Michael Borusiewicz, one of Australia's leading opponents of its child protection system, interviewd Leonard Henderson, one of America's leading opponents of its child protection sytem. It gives a good view of the frustrations in bringing down a system that is hostile to consciencious parents and destructive of children.

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Fight Child Protection Department Corruption:

Henderson family
The Henderson Family in 1997

Interview with Leonard Henderson

Founder of Oregon Family Rights and Co-Founder of American Family Rights Association

Introduction: When we talk about "Child Protection Reform Warriors", Leonard Henderson is someone who is known as one of the original and most respected. I was fortunate enough to be able to ask Leonard some questions about his views on where child protection reform is at in the United States at the moment and which direction Mr Henderson believes it is headed in. Although a man of few words and little respect for the system, Leonard has, does and continues to help many victims of CPS in the United States. Michael Borusiewicz.

Leonard Henderson - His own tragic story of victimisation by CPS in the United States

Welcome Leonard and thankyou for honoring me with an interview.

1. I would like to start with something positive about child protection. Can you tell us of anything Child Protection Services (CPS) are getting right and maybe they should be capitalising on?

Leonard Henderson - Throughout history, the child has always been the most vulnerable member of society. Ideally, the adults of society would not starve, rape, beat children. In the real world, some people never grow up and behave badly against others, including children. Originally, the morals, ethics, and expected behaviors of adult actions with children came from religious tenets. In the Westernized world, that would be from Christianity. The concept that government and laws can be a substitute for morality and ethics has never worked and is never going to work.

2. Do you believe the United States is leading the way in child protection reform, if not, who is? Which country would you say is doing the most wrong by it's children with it's child protection laws at the moment?

Leonard Henderson - No, I don't see the US as leading the way in child protection reform. That would imply that at some time, child protection had been something the government had done well. Government cannot parent.

3. Focusing on the United States now, which state do you believe is the worst and why? Which country is leading the way and why? In your experience, which is the worst CPS office in the United States and why?

Leonard Henderson - Off the cuff, I think Colorado is probably the worst of the worst. It's like looking at a pile of cow turds with maggots crawling around in it. Which one is the worst? It's the same thing everywhere in the US with the total injustice. CPS cases are in civil court. No appointed lawyers. People who can't afford a lawyer have to defend themselves Pro Se. Good luck with that. People are making a living by being bug mashers. Nobody is fixing anything.

4. What about foster care Leonard, how can they improve the foster care system do you think? Do you think paying more money would bring in a better class of people prepared to offer children their homes?

Leonard Henderson - Paying more money just attracts a greedy bunch of nasty people. The only people who could do foster care are the same people who remarry and take good care of step kids. Come to think of it, that's what I did and the results were an absolute disaster for my life.

5. The legal system in the US, what part has it played in the failure of child protection?

Leonard Henderson - The legal system is just the Swastika that "child protection" operates under.

6. For those parents in the United States who have had their children legally kidnapped, Is there any hope for them? What else should they be doing, do you have any good links or info you could share with us here?

Leonard Henderson - In a perfect world, people would be wealthy enough to hire a GOOD lawyer. Otherwise, I stick to the old advice I got from Will and Pamela Gaston - Get the Truth on the Record.

The link to my original What are my rights with CPS?

7. Can you share some figures relating to child protection that you think are important with us please Leonard? What do these figures tell us?

Leonard Henderson - There are gobs of figures. All of them are significant. I put them on the news often. They tell us we have a huge problem that offers to do nothing but get worse as society has been dumbed down and made more helpless and miserable.

8. Where can you see things heading in child protection in the United States? Is there a way to change this outcome?

Leonard Henderson - With about 60 percent of all births now occurring to single mothers, I see nothing but collectivization. Lucifer is winning. America is dumb as a rock and low info voters rule.

9. Nancy Schaefer and Bill Bowen, two of our fallen warriors, can we take a moment to remember them. What can you tell us about them Leonard?

Leonard Henderson - They battled until the battle was taken from them. Same with Pamela Gaston.

10. Can you tell us a particular case you are dealing with right now that is an obvious injustice?

Leonard Henderson - Right now, I have been dealing with being sued by AFRa co-founder Suzanne Shell. She says I stole her ideas. http://tinyurl.com/cbsqwx2

(Note: More on Suzanne Shell: A Suzanne Shell Story) Michael Borusiewicz.

11. Why will the politicians not do anything to stop the obvious child stealing that is happening? Are there any like nancy Schaefer that are at least trying to?

Leonard Henderson - There aren't many politicians who care. Ron and Rand Paul and a few of their friends do.

12. What is your organisation doing at the moment to try to end this tyrany?

Leonard Henderson - AFRa as an association is dead. The only things still operating is the website, the AFRa facebook- https://www.facebook.com/groups/familyrights/

-which is being operated by AFRa Director Roz McAllister

And my facebook that I turned into an AFRa News site-

https://www.facebook.com/leonardhen

13. What can others do?

Leonard Henderson - Others can take up the task to learn as much as they can and help in the fight. I definitely recommend people to get a law degree, or at least learn enough to really know how to fight in court. JurisDictionary might be a good place to look- http://www.jurisdictionary.com/?refercode=HL0008

14. You have been doing this for many years Leonard. What would you view as your greatest achievement?

Leonard Henderson - Educating so many people.

15. What is your greatest disappointment?

Leonard Henderson - Getting sued.

16. What do you WISH you had done differently

Leonard Henderson - Give up on that criminally insane kid a lot sooner. Absolutely hopeless waste of human flesh that ended up utterly destroying me. I owned a 400 acre ranch. I lost everything, including my health. I am now living on Social Security and likely to eventually be kicked out of my home.

17. Skeptics would say that parents who have had their children taken have done something wrong. The government doesn't take your children for no reason. What would you say to this Leonard?

Leonard Henderson - I got into the CPS meat grinder because of the criminally insane behaviors of my wife's second son. He was in juvenile lockup, the most secure place in the state. The state decided to blame me for his behaviors. Never mind that I was running a business and taking care of a large family.

18. I think I know the answer to this question, but I want to hear your take on it. How do you feel about the government stealing children from Christian families, or any family and handing them to lesbian, gay or transgender foster parents?

Leonard Henderson - That's the subject of a couple news stories I put on the last day or two. About the government helping heal the problem with childless gays and such.

Michael - Yes, admittedly I was referring to the articles on your facebook wall. I was wondering what your view are when it comes to gays adopting and fostering children?

Leonard Henderson - I am not allowed to express my actual views. There's nothing down that path but haters wanting to destroy me.

19. Adoption and foster care, institutions, are these ever a viable and necessary option. What should happen when a child undoubtedly found to be abused?

Leonard Henderson - I honestly believe that there were so few a long time ago that it was a problem the LAW took care of. Now, it's about standard stuff with the 60% birth rate to unmarried girls.

20. Dealing daily with all the misery and tragedy when hearing story after story after story of heartbroken parents and children, is there some way you unwind or get away from it all to clear your head sometimes?

Leonard Henderson - I enjoy being a news hound. At my stage of illness and immobility, I don't have a lot of options.

21. Parents dealing with CPS, what are some of the unexpected hurdles you would like to warn them about?

Leonard Henderson - The officials making up LIES and bull s**t stories.

22. What was it like to start up Oregon Family Rights and American Family Rights association? Looking back at where you were when you started this journey, where did you think it was going to lead you?

Leonard Henderson - The plan was to assemble a large number of voices to holler together to get serious attention from news agencies and politicians.

23. Why do you do what you do? What motivates you Leonard?

Leonard Henderson - I do this now because it's what I do. I haven't got enough brains to just quit.

24. Looking around Leonard, so many beautiful people who you would never believe would be accused of hurting their children, and who we just know have been falsely accused. Now when I say beautiful, I don't just mean beautiful souls. What do you think about my idea of some of these beautiful women getting together to do a pinup calander of "Child Protection Reform Warriors?"

Leonard Henderson - People coming up with new concepts is always a good way to keep fresh things happening. We had several great actions dreamed up by several people over the years and they were quite effective.

Michael - Can you tell me some of those things you are talking about?

Leonard Henderson - Wow. THat was so long ago, it took quite a while for me to even remember it. I remember the Shock & Awe an there were several more. All invented by Suzy Nickle in Washington State. I cannot remember WHAT the Shock & Awe was or did. And I can't find much of anything about it even in the web archives.

25. What are the main points you would like to get across by doing this interview?

Leonard Henderson - I don't have any points any more. I am just a tired old man. I guess my current wish is "Warn young couples about CPS and the many ways you can find yourself in the CPS crosshairs."

26. With your illness... can you share with us how you are doing?

Leonard Henderson - The illness- http://oregonfamilyrights.com/vpap/

I have a chronic illness. It is slowly getting worse. But between the medications to keep as much water out of my body as possible and the fact that the VPAP does seem to be cleaning my lungs up a little bit, I have been improving. This lawsuit tore me up so badly that I couldn't sleep, and that really took me down very badly. Things were really grim for me a month ago.

27. We all make mistakes, but that is what CPS capitalizes on. What is the main mistake parents are making when dealing with CPS do you think?

Leonard Henderson - The biggest mistake is not knowing how CPS operates and stupidly believing CPS is there to help them.

28. This war against families is disguised under the label of "In the best interest of the child." What part do the children actually play in this world of CPS?

Leonard Henderson - Oh, I think some of the young new CPS people actually care about children. They have no clue what is actually good for children, but they think they care. But it doesn't take long working for CPS for it to just become a job. And like any job, it soon boils down to a formula that involves the least amount of effort or creativity necessary. So they just become robots herding the crop through the operation and collecting for the time spent at it.

29. In your view, once a child's life has been taken over by CPS, what is the most likely result?

Leonard Henderson - Used to be, some fosters were good Christian people, so some kids had some hope of building a future for themselves. But usually, it just boils down to accepting the position of being a helpless victim. So they stay there until being dumped on the street when they age out.

30, What should be done when someone discovers a child is being abused?

Leonard Henderson - I have seen people doing things that were going to get them in deep trouble, and I warned them what was about to happen to them if they didn't wise up really fast.

Is there anything you would like to add finally please Leonard. Can you give me something to quote you on?

Leonard Henderson -I ran into a great quote today that I came up with several years ago. But I sure can't remember what it was. Getting Old Sucks.

The old Leonard quote I couldn't remember-

Never spank a spoiled rotten princess-
She will grow up to be a fine
CPS worker, judge, psychiatrist,
Democrat, or prostitute some day.

--Advice from your AFRA webguy

I would like to send Leonard Henderson my sincerest thanks for giving me the honour of interviewing him, may God Bless Him and may his health continue to improve. I hope that others have found his words enlightening. Thankyou so much Leonard, your a legend my friend, Michael Borusiewicz.

More About Leonard Henderson....

I was born in 1950. I grew up the REAL OLD FASHIONED WAY on a ranch in Eastern Oregon. We had a wood cookstove, wood heat, and an outhouse. Hot water was generated with water pipes in the firebox on the cook stove that heated water in the tank behind the cookstore. By the time the meal was cooked and eaten, the water in the tank was hot so we could do the dishes. Baths were taken in front of the cookstove in a large laundry tub. There was no such thing as sitting down in the tub- you used a washrag. You learned really quickly to pay attention where your wet "buns" were when you bent over! I probably still have some scars on my rear end from those learning experiences.

Everybody in the family had important chores to do. They weren't "busy work" chores. The little kids were supposed to feed the chickens and gather the eggs. What happens if you don't feed the chickens or gather the eggs? The chickens get sick and quit laying. We didn't live out of the grocery store. Not having eggs is a bigger problem than you think it is- practically everything that is good to eat has eggs as an important ingredient. Ungathered eggs aren't too pleasant when they are broken into a frying pan full of good eggs, either. Older kids got more responsibilities until they were driving a tractor alone, by themselves, all day long.

You learned quickly that a dumb decision could get you hurt or killed. So you learned early to THINK AHEAD- "What are the possible consequences if I do this?" No, I'm NOT talking about today's decision whether to steal or misbehave! I am talking about working on the hay baler while it is running, or something of that magnitude. A hay baler will suck you in, and chop you up into several unliving pieces. I DID NOT say "might" or "could".

There was no such thing as "deciding" whether to cheat, steal, lie, or misbehave. This world was a world of ABSOLUTE RIGHT and WRONG. Try it, and you went to the woodshed. No, NOT FOR A 'TIME OUT". A few healthy, meaningful swats with a piece of kindling wood put the idea of EVER TRYING THAT AGAIN faaaaaar from your mind.

Adults were all perfectly interchangable. Grandma or Aunt Mildred, or the school teacher, School Principal, preacher, or sunday school teacher- were all AUTHORIZED to freely administer a "good whipping" if you happened to "try it out" somewhere besides home. Then you would probably get another whipping at home when your folks found out. We cared about bringing "shame on the family".

What was the result of growing up this way? A 16 year old boy was perfectly capable of taking over the operation of the farm business. We didn't go tearing around much in the pickup because we had to fix it if we broke it. We didn't fool with booze much because we still had to work tomorrow. On a farm, it doesn't matter how rotten you feel, the chores have to be done or SERIOUS consequences lay ahead- like having to do without some essential foods, or GOING BROKE.

Growing up on a farm prepares one for just about anything life tosses his way. You learn how to be responsible for, and take care of yourself and everybody around you. You learn how to operate all kinds of machinery and trucks. You have to learn some medicine, mechanics and welding.

I ended up having to go to Alaska in 1985 to save our farm from foreclosure. I worked as a professional welder and heavy equipment mechanic, because there was lots of demand for those skills, all the hours you could stand to work (325 hours a month), and BIG PAYCHECKS.

But unfortunately, this is a young man's world and about 4 years of super-human performance was all there was in me. I ended up disabled with Chronic Bronchitis from welding smoke. No, I have NEVER SMOKED. Perhaps I burnt up a couple tons too much of 7018 welding rod in unventilated shops.

No, not disabled enough to get Worker's Comp (Alaska logging companies OWN the insurance company, and Alaska logging company owners are the chairman and board of directors). They pay LAWYERS not claims.

No, not disabled enough to get Social Security Disability because there are alleged "employments existing in the National Economy". Who will hire somebody who historically spends October thru June ill?

So, into this backdrop comes the Oregon Services to Children and Families. I was 49 years old, a "daddy" to 10 children aged 22 to 3 1/2 years- and I find myself thrown in with the 19 year old "Doper Dads".

After this kind of life and experiences, yes I DO think I have some comments to make.

I KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG. I know a thing or two about babies, adolescents, teenagers, and adult children.

The New Age PUKES at Childrens Protective not only don't know right from wrong, but they force wrong as RIGHT.

Nationally, the entire network of New Age, New Class, morons in power need to be CLEANED OUT. They are the CPS, the DEQ, the EPA, the NEA, psychiatrists, and obviously, THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY (The Party of Satan).

Source: Luke's Army

Foster Abuse

April 12, 2013 permalink

Tim Bachman was an early member of the Canadian rock band Bachman-Turner Overdrive. He retired from music and became a real-estate agent in British Columbia, doubling as a foster parent. His former foster child Stacy Bohun, now age 24, has accused him of sexual improprieties when she was 11 to 14.

An aside in the article says that when Stacy was in foster care her mother committed suicide. The article makes no connection between these two facts.

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Former foster child tells of 'sick and twisted' relationship with legendary Canadian rocker

Former foster child tells of 'sick and twisted' relationship with legendary Canadian rocker

Stacy Bohun
Stacy Bohun is shown outside court in Chilliwack on Wednesday.
Photograph by: Neal Hall, THE CANADIAN PRESS

CHILLIWACK, B.C. — One of the early members of Canadian rock band Bachman-Turner Overdrive had a sexual relationship with a girl between the age of 11 and 14, a B.C. judge was told this week.

“I felt the relationship was very sick,” Stacy Bohun, 24, recalled during court testimony in B.C. Supreme Court, where Tim Bachman is on trial for sex assault, sexual interference of a person under 14 and sexual touching of a young person.

“He would get me to sit on his lap and kiss him,” she added. “One time he tried to French kiss me ... It was just a lot of weird, inappropriate things.”

A ban on publication was imposed in 2010 on Bachman's name to shield the identity of the complainant. But the bans on both Bachman and Bohun were lifted Wednesday by Justice Neill Brown after an application by a reporter with The Canadian Press.

NAMES BAN LIFTED

The request was for the ban to be lifted on Bachman’s name, but Bohun told the judge she didn’t mind being publicly identified.

The judge said usually the identities of sex assault complainants are shielded to protect their privacy, but he lifted the ban on Bohun’s name at her request.

“I’m not afraid,” Bohun, now 24, said after the judge’s ruling. “I want people to know it’s OK to talk about it.”

She said children cannot provide consent to having a sexual relationship with an adult.

“It took me a long time to realize that,” Bohun said.

FOSTER CHILD

At the time of the alleged sexual abuse, from 2000 to 2004, Bohun was a foster child living in Bachman’s home in the Fraser Valley. She recalled having a troubled childhood. When she was a one-year-old, her three-year-old sister, Casey Bohun, vanished without a trace from the family home in Delta, B.C., in August 1989. Her mother, Barbara Bohun, took her own life in 2001 while Stacy was in foster care at the Bachman home.

“I miss her every day,” Stacy Bohun said of her mother, tears welling in her eyes.

“I can’t imagine losing my own baby,” she added, noting she now has a baby, born last July, and can’t imagine what her mother went through.

STRONG FOR HER KID

Bohun said she knows she has to be strong for her own child and be a good mother. She hopes one day to work with children as a youth counsellor or teacher. She said she was put in foster care because she started “acting out” and her mother felt unable to cope.

Before the ban was lifted, Bohun told the court that her foster father, Bachman, would grope her breasts. As an 11-year-old, her breasts were small and she told the court Bachman gave her breast enhancement pills.

He would also caress her buttocks and vaginal area with his fingers but they never had sexual intercourse, she said, although she almost had sex with Bachman one day.

Bachman was giving Bohun a ride in his van and they stopped to discuss sex and her losing her virginity, she told the judge.

TALKED ABOUT SEX

“I said if I was going to lose my virginity, it should be him,” she testified. “That’s how sick and twisted the relationship was.”

Bachman responded at the time by saying “If we’re going to do this, we should do it now,” she told the court.

But she backed out, Bohun testified, estimating she was 13 or 14 at the time of their conversation.

She finally ended their four-year sexual relationship in 2004 at 14 when she ran away from the Bachman home, she said.

“I just remember being fed up and not being able to take it anymore,” she said.

STARTED TAKING DRUGS

Bohun blamed herself for allowing it to happen and started taking drugs to help kill the painful memories, she testified. Finally, Bohun went to police in 2009 and revealed her under-age sexual relationship with Bachman, she said. Bachman was charged in 2010.

Cross-examined by Jack Harris, Bachman’s lawyer, Bohun admitted her drug use affected her memory. The lawyer pointed out that when Bohun testified at Bachman’s preliminary hearing, she said she had “flashbacks” of what happened with Bachman.

The defence lawyer suggested she may have imagined or visualized a sexual relationship with Bachman, which she now believes are real memories.

“The drugs affected my memory but the memories are still there,” the witness replied. “The drugs made it harder to remember the exact times.”

'FLASHBACK' MEMORIES

Harris pointed out that the witness previously said she had “flashback” memories of her mother’s tragic death, even though she wasn’t there when her mother died. The witness explained that she tried to imagine how her mother died.

Harris suggested the witness imagined and visualized the incidents with Bachman, much like she did for her mother’s death.

“All I know is I was sexually abused. I remember that,” the witness replied. “I’m not making things up ... It’s horrible what he did to me.”

REAL ESTATE AGENT

Bachman, 59, has been a Fraser Valley real estate agent for many years. Now white-haired, he came to court wearing a blue pin-striped suit.

He was an early member of BTO along with his brother Randy Bachman, a founding member of the Guess Who before he left the band in 1970.

The Winnipeg-based BTO released its first album in May 1973. The band’s second album, Bachman–Turner Overdrive II, released in December 1973, became a huge hit in the U.S. and Canada, with hit singles Let it Ride and Takin’ Care of Business. In 1974, Tim Bachman left BTO, which eventually sold almost 30 million records worldwide. He has rejoined BTO for tours over the years.

Source: Vancouver Province

Addendum:Not Guilty.

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Rocker Tim Bachman found not guilty on sex charges

Ex BTO member was charged after former foster child complained to B.C. police

Tim Bachman was found not guilty of three sex-related charges in a New Westminster court on Wednesday.
Eric Dreger/Canadian Press

Tim Bachman, a founding member of Bachman-Turner Overdrive has been found not guilty of three charges for an alleged sexual relationship with a girl, in a New Westminster, B.C., courtroom today.

The former rocker was charged with sex assault, sexual interference of a person under 14 and sexual touching of a young person following a complaint to police by a woman who was a foster child in his home from the time she was 11 until she was 14.

Stacy Bohun, 24, alleged Bachman would grope her when she was a foster child living in his home in the Fraser Valley. She went to police in 2009 and Bachman was charged in 2010.

On Wednesday, Justice Neill Brown concluded that Bohun's testimony was not reliable enough to support a criminal conviction.

During the trial, court heard Bohun had a difficult childhood, which included living in a string of foster homes, her mother's suicide and her own addiction to crystal meth.

A publication ban was imposed on Bachman's name in 2010 to shield the identity of Bohun. But the bans were lifted last month by the judge after an application by The Canadian Press news agency, with the approval of Bohun.

Winnipeg brothers had 1973 hit album

Bachman, 59, and his brothers Randy and Robbie, were founding members of the Winnipeg-based Bachman-Turner Overdrive, also known at BTO.

The band's second album, Bachman-Turner Overdrive II, was released in December 1973 and became a huge hit in the U.S. and Canada, with hit singles Let it Ride and Takin' Care of Business.

In 1974, Tim Bachman left BTO, but rejoined the band in the 1980s for several reunion tours. He has been working as a realtor in Abbotsford since the early 1990s.

Source: CBC

Unshaken Baby

April 11, 2013 permalink

British mother Gemma O’Donnell has been acquitted by a jury of killing her own baby by shaking. The baby was born prematurely with a heart defect and required oxygen all his life. It ought to have been obvious that shaking was not the cause of death, but prosecutors persisted.

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Gemma O’Donnell acquitted of killing her baby son

Gemma O’Donnell and Leighton
Gemma O’Donnell with baby Leighton

A mother wept in a court dock as a jury acquitted her of killing her baby son.

It was the end of a 28-month ordeal for Gemma O’Donnell that began when Leighton collapsed at home and was rushed to hospital.

The 20-week-old baby, who had had major health problems all his life, died a few days later. He had no external injuries, but his mother was suspected of causing his death by shaking him.

For a month the 27-year-old, who had always wanted to be a mother, stood trial accused of the manslaughter of her only child at their home in Bright Street, off Leeman Road, York.

But after nine-and-a-half hours in retirement, the jury at Leeds Crown Court acquitted her of the charge.

Miss O’Donnell broke down in tears as the jury foreman said “Not guilty”, and cried with relief as she left court accompanied by her friends and supporters.

Others in the public gallery reacted angrily to the verdict.

Mr Justice Henry Globe commended Detective Constable Nikki Hall for her work in the case.

He said: “Clearly a lot of work and effort has gone into it and the jury’s verdict doesn’t mean that was wasted effort.”

The prosecution case rested on brain injuries found in Leighton after his death. There were no signs of bruising or external injuries.

The defence called expert medical witnesses including Professor Christopher Milroy, a leading British pathologist now working in Canada, who said there were several factors that could have contributed to the death.

Leighton was born 13 weeks prematurely and needed extra oxygen throughout his life. His early birth meant his body did not fully develop in the womb and he had a hole in the heart, chronic lung problems and other health issues.

He was cared for in a special baby care unit from his birth in July through to October 2010 when his mother was allowed to take him home.

Miss O’Donnell, a single mother, nursed him as he developed and he was hospitalised with a respiratory infection a couple of weeks before his last collapse.

During the trial, the jury heard that on November 29, 2010, he looked “floppy” and Miss O’Donnell dialled 999 in a panic. Paramedics rushed Leighton to York Hospital. He was transferred the same day to a paediatric intensive care unit in Leeds, but died on December 4.

In a statement, North Yorkshire Police said it “takes any allegations of this nature extremely seriously and the death of Leighton O’Donnell had been investigated thoroughly and sensitively.

"While appreciating that this area of the law and medical science is very complex and historically controversial, we felt it was imperative that this case was heard by an independent and impartial jury”.

Source: York Press

Bill 42 Passes Second Reading

April 11, 2013 permalink

Monique Taylor and Zane Sherwood
Sponsor Monique Taylor with Zane Sherwood
Pat Niagara

Bill 42, providing for ombudsman oversight of Ontario's children's aid societies, passed second reading, Aye 55, Nay 34. It has been referred to the Standing Committee on Government Agencies. The ayes and nays are enclosed.

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Ayes: Armstrong Arnott Bailey Barrett Bisson Campbell Cansfield Chudleigh Clark DiNovo Dunlop Elliott Fedeli Fife Forster Gélinas Hardeman Harris Hillier Horwath Hudak Jackson Jones Klees Leone MacLaren MacLeod Mantha Marchese McDonell McKenna McNaughton Miller (Hamilton East–Stoney Creek) Miller (Parry Sound–Muskoka) Milligan Munro Natyshak Nicholls O'Toole Ouellette Pettapiece Prue Schein Scott Shurman Singh Smith Tabuns Taylor Thompson Vanthof Walker Wilson Yakabuski Yurek

Nays: Albanese Berardinetti Bradley Chan Chiarelli Colle Crack Damerla DelDuca Delaney Dhillon Dickson Duguid Flynn Gravelle Jaczek Jeffrey Kwinter Leal MacCharles Mangat Matthews McMeekin McNeely Milloy Moridi Murray Naqvi Qaadri Sandals Sergio Sousa Wong Zimmer

Source: Ontario Hansard

Earlier, the press announced the impending action.

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Ombudsman Bill Second Reading

Chatham rally
A handful of residents protest against the CAS outside the Downtown Chatham Centre.
BlackburnNews.com File Photo.

A bill that would give Ontario’s Ombudsman the jurisdiction to investigate complaints about children’s aid societies across the province is up for second reading today.

Canada Court Watch member Chris Carter previously collected signatures in Chatham-Kent to support the bill. He says he’s optimistic it’ll pass through the second reading because all the NDP are on board and the Progressive Conservatives appear to be supporting it as well.

“They’re responding with the statements regarding that they support anything that increases accountability and oversight, which obviously this act will do,” says Carter.

Carter says the bill previously passed through the second reading, but it died when the provincial government was prorogued last October.

Source: Blackburn Radio

What to say to your MPP:

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April 11, 2013 Vic Fedeli 165 Main Street East North Bay, Ontario P1B 1A9 Tel. (705) 474-8340 Fax: (705) 474-9747 Email: vic.fedelico@pc.ola.org Honorable Mr Fedeli: I wish to thank you for your aye vote today at the second reading of bill 42, providing for ombudsman oversight of Ontario's children's aid societies. I hope you will continue to support this bill when it comes to third reading. Yours truly, /signed/ Robert T McQuaid refugee from children's aid in southern Ontario 558 McMartin Road Mattawa Ontaro P0H 1V0 phone: 705-744-6274 email: rtmq at fixcas.com web: www.fixcas.com

Bring Back Communism

April 9, 2013 permalink

MS-NBC has posted a promotion featuring Melissa Harris-Perry lambasting parental authority and advocating treating children as members of the whole community. Watch All Your Kids Belong To Us on YouTube or a local copy (mp4). This is not a new idea, but a centuries-old one. Historian Richard K Stephens collected material on the Shakers summarized in the paragraph below.

The Shaker cult was founded in England in 1747 by Ann Lee and spread to the United States where it flourished for a century and a half, reaching 6000 members at its high point. They practiced celibacy, but had many children acquired through adoption of orphans and as wards of adult recruits. The incoming children were taught loyalty only the the Shakers as a whole, as all property and children were held in common. Marx and Engels became admirers of the Shakers, making them models for the development of communism. The outside parent was permanently alienated, leading to controversy over parental alienation two centuries before Richard A Gardner popularized the term. The last recorded case of Shaker child abduction took place in 1923. Increasing state control of adoption made it impossible for the cult to continue.

Shaker song teaching children to abhor relatives of the flesh

Source: Family Destruction History

To fully implement community control of children, the Shakers usually found it necessary to separate the child permanently from at least one parent and to teach hatred of biological relatives. A check on wikipedia shows that Harris-Perry herself is separated from the father of her preteen daughter Parker Lacewell.

Dear MSNBC, if our kids belong to you, do your kids belong to us too? If so, can we take them hunting after church in our big pickup truck?

— Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) April 9, 2013

I am running for kid catcher

Newborn Boy in Peril

April 8, 2013 permalink

boy Veneau
click for larger image

The boy pictured is Jaheim Raymond Thomas Graham Johnson, six weeks premature and still under control of the hospital, but CAS already has their eye on him.

Tammy Lynn Veneau Well guys just wanted to give u all an update on my situation so my lil man was born at 34 weeks 2 days. I had to have a c-section. He was born April 6 2013 11:55 pm. He was pretty good weight, he weighed 5 lbs 10 onzs, 17 in a half inches. He's doing everything on his own. So now today I found out that Rachel Passie is coming with a warrant to apprehend him tomorrow at 9 am even though he's not a full-term baby and isn't taking his full feeds. He's taking under an onz right now. Are they able to remove him from the hospital due not to being full term?

Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...

Addendum:

Lynn Vienneau OMG I'm so pissed right now. London CAS pissed me right off they are sneaky lil fu..... Ba...... So I find out today from Rachel Passy the CAS worker that we had court today for my son in the hospital. Well I was shocked cause as far as I knew we had court tomorrow. So we missed court for our son. Wow I'm so pissed. Thank God my lawyer caught it. And she went up for us. It got put over til the 19th now. So I'm getting ready to go up and see my son to find out I can't be there between 7 and 9 cuz the foster family will be there to learn our sons special care. Wow I'm choked.

Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...

Addendum: Baby taken on April 15.

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Lynn Vienneau Well yesterday was devastating for me CAS took my son from the hospital yesterday. Didn't even inform me until I bumped into her at the society. I was picking up pamphlets on how to file a formal complaint against the society and she approached me telling me she just removed him from the hospital. So now I'm pissed. I took all my paperwork to the NDP MPP office to get them to help me investigate the ongoing abuse on my children. They told me they will start immediately and be in touch wit me. I have contacted the CTV media, waiting on a phone call, cause the London news won't help me or even hear my story. Anything that has to do with police or CAS they won't bother with. I am going all out right to starting a petition outside the London CAS. Enough is enough. Will be starting the petition next week. Anybody from London is more and welcome to join me. We will stop this abuse. My son called me last night to tell me that he was removed from the foster home he was in by police. My worker never told me nothing about this and she seen me yesterday. Pretty sneaky if u ask me. I'm fed up now. Time to fight back.

Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...

Before any court action, CAS is already hawking the baby for adoption.

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Lynn Vienneau Well we had a visit with our son today and we were shocked to finding a letter in our son's diaperbag. He is 11 days old and the London CAS has him up for adoption and has already been introduced to the adopting family. I have the girl's name and address to where my son will be adopted to. I found the letter in the diaperbag at our visit today. I took it to my lawyer right away. Can u tell me how this is possible? He hasn't been in care for a year considering he's only 11 days old. Wow I'm pissed. Can say the London CAS is up to no good, and being pretty sneaky behind my back. What can I do about this?

Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...

Success!

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Lynn Vienneau Well just wanna update u tonight on how court went. Woo hoo thank you, thanks to the group guess why we beat them. I got 5 home tonight. I'm so happy now we only have 2 more to bring home and CAS is gonna work on bringing my 2 home soon. Thank u so much guys, and UR so right they can not take children without a warrant or on a denied warrant. Proven fact. So once again thank you so much. Much love and respect to everyone. =)

Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...

Why Can't I Live with my Sister?

April 8, 2013 permalink

A Hamilton Ontario foster child's wants to live under the same roof as his/her sister.

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Cody

Why cant I live with my sister when we are in foster care? I hate this!?

We were split up by Hamilton CAS and We are not allowed to live with each other anymore. we have been through everything together and now all of a sudden its in our "best interest" that we are seperated! What the hell is this?!


amyhpete

You need to speak with your caseworker about this, and ask for a written notification of the findings that led to the separation from your sister. If either of you is in a therapeutic foster home, it may be that one of you has a need to work on your own issues. If one of you is significantly older than the other, they may feel one of you has been a parental figure to the other and needs to "learn to be a kid." If you are both old enough, and can contact each other, I believe you should campaign to be placed together as soon as possible. The longer you are placed apart, the more likely it is that they will make a permanency plan that has you placed separately -- assuming your parents are not going to regain parental rights and you are likely to be free for adoption. If you are or might be already legally free for adoption, go to AdoptUSKids.org and see what your profile says. If the worker has you placed separately and states that your plan is to be permanently placed apart, you have your work cut out for you, because they have somehow already determined you cannot be together -- ever.

All hope is not lost, however.

If you don't fight, you know they will win. Demand a guardian ad litem to represent your mutual interests with your sister's in the case to terminate your parents' rights, or if they've already been terminated (or it's a different situation like a death) to petition the court to not be separated. If you get no response from your caseworker, or you feel CAS is playing you, go to the mattresses. Get a petition going, contact the citizens' complaint website at your state governors' office, mutually start a Facebook page with your sister (to show us in the public that you both wish to remain together) to gain publicity and support, and call legal aid in your community to see if you can get a pro bono lawyer for your case.

It may be a matter of convenience for them -- that you will each be more adoptable on your own instead of together. But you and I know you two are better together --right? (In helping you with all this, I pray that it's true and that there has not been abuse or worse between you two).

They may perceive, if you are a brother, and particularly an older one, that you would prey on her. Sick as that sounds to you I'm sure. They may perceive, regardless of your gender, that the two of you together are manipulative or something. If you have behaved in a manipulative way in the past, it's no more than was modeled at home, or was done out of fear of abandonment by your family and/or this very nightmare -- being separated and/or sent away. Duh.

Good luck to you.

edited in later:

Oh, you're in Canada. Most of the above applies. Facebook, your provincial authorities, calling your caseworker until you get answers. Fighting together to not be torn apart any more than your family has already been torn apart.


a_poor_misguided_soul

Their excuse would probably be that they can't find a home that can take you both. In reality, they just don't care.

Source: Yahoo!

Prince Edward CAS Sued

April 8, 2013 permalink

Five former foster children are suing their foster parents and the Prince Edward County Children's Aid Society over harm they suffered in foster care. Two of the defendant foster parents are now sitting in jail.

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Ex-foster children suing CAS, former foster parents 0

Prince Edward County children's aid society
Five former foster children are suing the Prince Edward County Children's Aid Society and four former foster parents for millions of dollars in damages stemming from sexual abuse while they were in the society's care.

The civil suits total $14 million ($2.8 million per plaintiff). Of the four former foster parents being sued, two are now serving prison terms for sexual abuse of children placed in their care. A third convicted predator's case is now before the Ontario Court of Appeal.

The claims were filed March 28 by Belleville lawyer John Bonn, on the behalf of the five female plaintiffs, now in their late teens and early 20s. All complainants listed claim that “PECCAS is liable for the abuse that each of them suffered while in the care of PECCAS.”

The society is now part of the newly-amalgamated Highland Shores Children's Aid Society, which also spans the societies of Hastings and Northumberland Counties.

“PECCAS is responsible in fact and in law for its own negligence and breaches of its statutory and fiduciary duties as well as for the negligence and breaches of duty committed by its servants, agents and employees,” states the claim, a copy of which was obtained by The Intelligencer.

One statement of claim states, “PECCAS caused (the plaintiffs) permanent and extensive injuries and losses” ranging from alcohol and substance abuse to inability to trust, impairment of mental health, nightmares of abuse, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

“They (plaintiffs) have incurred medical expenses and will continue to require therapy and medical attention,” the claim adds.

Anything may be alleged in a statement of claim. None of the suit's claims have been proven in court.

Only initials were used to identify the complainants in the suits filed in a Picton court, as many of their names were banned from publication during the criminal proceedings.

Each plaintiff is claiming $350,000 for pain and suffering, in addition to $1 million each for loss of future earnings and another $1 million for punitive damages. They seek $100,000 in future care costs, plus $100,000 for special damages and $250,000 for aggravated damages.

A publication ban levied in criminal court prevents the naming of a 72-year-old man convicted last summer of abusing two girls, now in their late teens, at his Bloomfield home. The girls were ages 9 and 10 at the time. The man is now appealing his conviction and nine-year sentence.

He was convicted for two counts each of sexual assault, sexual exploitation and invitation to sexual touching. He and his wife are listed as John Doe and Jane Doe on the claim.

“The conduct of the Does was harsh, vindictive and reprehensible,” the suit claims.

In relation to the Does, the plaintiffs' claim blames PECCAS for a series of alleged failures, including failing to investigate the Does upon complaints from both girls and “failure to advise the proper authorities, including the police, of occurrences of abuse” of the plaintiffs.

Improper monitoring and failure to warn potential victims and failure to conduct reference checks with respect to the Does are some of the other alleged failures PECCAS faces in the claim.

The other two former foster parents named are Walter Joseph Holm, 46, and his wife, Janet Holm, 49.

They pleaded guilty to several charges, including possession of child pornography, sexual assault and invitation to sexual touching and were sentenced in November 2011 to four- and three-year prison terms respectively.

Three of the five plaintiffs, now ages 21, 23, and 19, are linked to the Holms.

Justice Geoff Griffin blasted them for turning their home into a "sexual cult" while fostering 25 teenagers over the course of nine years.

Each of the three complainants linked to the Holms filed a plethora of allegations against PECCAS and the Holms, including claims the Holms “breached their judiciary and statutory duties through their commission of acts of abuse, and/or omission to prevent their commission of acts by permitting such abuse to occur and failing to provide each of the plaintiffs with proper ongoing care.”

The three plaintiffs further imply that PECCAS is “vicariously liable for the actions” of the Holms.

“PECCAS created or enhanced the risk of harm to each of the plaintiffs by materially empowering the Holms and by placing each of the plaintiffs under the control of the Holms,” states the claim.

“PECCAS was systematically negligent in failing to have in place management and operation procedures that would reasonably have prevented the abuse,” reads the claim. “They failed to properly investigate or take the appropriate action against the Holms upon receiving complaints regarding the abuse by the Holms.”

PECAS has received notice of the suit but the three former foster parents (the 72-year-old on bail with strict conditions and both imprisoned Holms) have yet to be served, sources said.

No defendants have filed statements of defence.

Source: Belleville Intelligencer

Thanks to the efforts of Curtis Kingston here are the statements of claim. The abuse allegations start on page 7 and page 8.

In the first case, the John Doe defendant is the same person convicted last June. He is out on bail pending appeal. In the second, the defendants are the Holm family convicted in November 2011.

The documents show, in the case of John Doe, allegations that he engaged in mutual masturbation and oral sex with the girls, and involuntary intercourse with one of the them. The allegation against Mrs Doe is that she ignored the abuse and failed to assist.

The documents further show the Holm family to be highly open about sexuality. The family shared among themselves, and their foster children, alcohol, porn movies, discussions of sexual matters and pictures of the parents engaged in sexual acts. One girl got a gift of a book showing sexual positions. At Christmas the girls got gifts of vibrators, lingerie and sex oils. The sexuality went well over the line when Joe made a girl sleep in his bunk, when he fondled a girl's breasts, asked for oral sex, then forced her to engage in oral sex. Janet encouraged a girl to engage in sex with a boyfriend while the other kids were watching.

These summaries are from one side only, giving no consideration to the defense.

The legal profile of plaintiff lawyer John D Bonn is enclosed. He was a director of a children's aid society merged into the one he is suing.

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John D. Bonn

John D. Bonn
Phone: (613) 966-5222, Ext. #264
Fax: (613) 961-7991
jbonn@owtlaw.com

Practice Areas
Civil Litigation
Criminal Law

Assistant
Cathy Newton
Phone: (613) 966-5222, Ext. #261
cnewton@owtlaw.com

John D. Bonn

Practice Areas

  • Civil Litigation
  • Criminal Law

John advises clients in a variety of litigation matters including wrongful dismissal and other employment issues, personal injury actions, commercial disputes and criminal matters. He has appeared at all levels of court in Nova Scotia, as well as in the Ontario Court of Justice and the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Education

  • Dalhousie Law School, LL.B., 2000
  • University of Western Ontario, B.A. 1990

Call To Bar

  • Nova Scotia 2001
  • Ontario 2004

Professional Affiliations

  • Law Society of Upper Canada
  • Hastings County Law Association
  • Criminal Lawyers Association

Community Involvement

  • Ontario Bar Association, East Region Council Representative (2012-present)
  • Treasurer, Hastings County Law Association (2009 - present)
  • Member of the Board of Directors, Quinte Children's Foundation (2008 - 2013)
  • Member of the Board of Directors, Hastings Children’s Aid Society (2006 - 2010)
  • Member of the Board of Directors, Belleville General Hospital Foundation (2006 - 2012)
  • Past President of the Dartmouth North Progressive Conservative Constituency Association (2003 - 2004)
  • Member of the City of Trenton Board of Parks Management and Recreation Committee (1993 - 1995)
  • Past President of the Belleville Ducks Unlimited Dinner Committee (1993 - 1994)
  • Past President of the Thunder Bay Ducks Unlimited Spring Dinner Committee (1997)

Source: O'Flynn Weese LLP

The Wellington Times on the same legal action.

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Still no answers

They were horrific crimes—vulnerable children victimized and abused by the people entrusted to care for them. Put in harm’s way by a government agency and its officials whose job it was to protect them—to look after them.

Two foster parents are already in jail; another has been sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence pending appeal. Others are charged awaiting trial. The leadership and governance of the Children’s Aid Society of Prince Edward County have departed the agency.

Now some of the victims are fighting back—suing the Children’s Aid Society and the foster families for $14 million. Five plaintiffs, now young women, are seeking $2.8 million each in damages for abuse suffered at the hands of foster parents, while under the care of the Prince Edward County CAS.

Three of the plaintiffs lived for a time with Joe and Janet Holm. Justice Geoff Griffins described the foster home as operating under a cult-like atmosphere in which foster children were manipulated to benefit Joe and Janet Holm. The couple received four and three-year prison sentences respectively for a series of sexual crimes against the girls, who were teens at the time the abuse took place.

“What took place here is so outrageous that it boggles the mind,” said Griffin during sentencing, according to a report in the Intelligencer in November 2011. “This is so troubling that it becomes difficult to put into words how horrendous it is.”

He pointed an accusing finger at the Children’s Aid Society of Prince Edward for allowing this to happen. He found it hard to comprehend how someone at CAS was unaware of what was going on in the home—with the children they were responsible to care for.

“I hope the public demand an inquiry into what happened in that home,” said Justice Griffin.

But the worst was yet to be uncovered.

Another Bloomfield couple had been bringing foster children into their home for about a decade. Early on there were signs of trouble in the home. In 2005 one foster child accused the foster father of sexual crimes. The CAS removed foster children from the home. The police investigated. The Crown concluded that a conviction was an unlikely prospect and feared further traumatizing the child by requiring her to testify. The Crown elected not to press charges.

Then a terrible thing happened—life went back to normal. “Normal” at least, in this appalling home. Foster children were once again sent to live with this family with this predatory and manipulative man. The CAS knew this was a bad man—they had heard the words from the tiny victim. Yet they decided to send kids back to him.

It would take another five years for one of the girls to summon the strength to break away from the grips of this man, who was by then 71 years old. She had spent her entire teen years as a sexual slave to this monster—under the watch of the local CAS

The man was sentenced to nine years in prison last summer—but has been out since then, awaiting an appeal.

The correctional system will deal with these folks—perhaps not as harshly as some would deem appropriate—but they will be punished for their actions.

The victims are now beginning what will likely be a long process to seek some form of redress for the wrongs that have been done to them.

But what of the CAS—of the folks whose job it was to care and protect these children?

Foster children are among the most vulnerable people in our society. They are dependent on strangers for everything—food, clothing, shelter. They arrive in the system already damaged. Alone. Frightened. Hard.

It is the CAS’s job to ensure life isn’t made worse for these children.

So what happened here? How did the agency entrusted with their welfare fail so badly? How did it do so repeatedly? How did the CAS allow vulnerable children to live in these poisonous homes?

After several years of asking these questions—we are sadly no closer to answers.

The administrator is gone, and the agency has been swallowed by a larger regional agency. New administrators have apologized for what happened in Prince Edward County and have taken steps to enact more rigorous procedures to protect the children in their care.

But we still don’t know what happened. Were these isolated cases? Are there other crimes yet to be uncovered? Was it a systemic breakdown? An administrative one?

Are foster kids safe in our community?

Until we learn the answers to these questions— we will never know for sure.

Source: Wellington Times

Escape from Social Workers

April 7, 2013 permalink

Christopher Booker reports on the sure way to save your children from social workers.

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The lawyer mother who beat the social workers

A barrister who fought for parents trying to keep their children found herself a victim of the same system

obstructive
The more the mother expressed unhappiness about the situation the social worker had created, the more she was told she was being 'obstructive' (picture posed by model)
Photo: ALAMY

Whenever I report a new story of parents struggling to prevent social workers seizing their children for what seems no good reason, I try to give a new slant on the wider picture of how our ''child protection’’ system has gone so tragically off the rails.What makes this week’s example so unusual is that it centres on a barrister who for 10 years fought hundreds of cases on behalf of parents trying to hold on to their children, in a system where she describes them as being “like lambs led to slaughter” – only to find herself a victim of the same system after she complained to the police over serious allegations made by her older daughter against the girl’s father.

The police called in Barnet social services, who initially shared the mother’s concerns, advising that the girl should have no more contact with her drug-addicted father. But when a new social worker took over, she took the opposite view, working for the child to live with the father. This made the girl so miserable that she took to self-harming by slashing herself, leaving her mother distraught.

The more the mother expressed unhappiness about the situation the social worker had created, the more she was told she was being ''obstructive’’ and that there were “concerns about her parenting”. Last December she was summoned to a meeting to be told that the council wished to apply for care orders on both her children. Knowing how automatically the courts grant such orders, the mother – who although British was also an Israeli citizen – saw her only hope of retaining her children was to escape to Israel.

Within 36 hours, having obtained written permission from the older girl’s father, she took her daughters, now aged 14 and five, on several flights across Europe, terrified each time they landed that she might be arrested by police.

Scarcely had they arrived in Israel than she heard that the council had been granted care orders. Barnet approached our embassy in Tel Aviv to arrange for the children to be deported to Britain, with the co-operation of Israeli social services. After assessing the family, however, the Israelis advised that they could see no reason why the children – now having nightmares about being returned – should not remain in Israel.

In Britain the matter returned to court before a circuit judge, who criticised Barnet for its “relentless” pursuit of the family, ordering a further hearing in February. At this, although the social worker testified that the older girl had said that she would be happy to live in foster care in England, the mother was allowed to take part by video link, along with a “guardian” from the court advisory service, Cafcass, who had interviewed the 14-year-old on Skype. When the guardian supported the children’s wish to remain with their mother, the judge ruled that the children were now out of English jurisdiction, ordering Barnet to withdraw its case.

The two overjoyed children are thus free to continue living with their mother in Israel, with no more nightmares about being bundled on to a plane to live with strangers 2,000 miles from what they now regard as their new home.

Says the mother, in words many other parents would echo, “It seems my only real mistake was to dare to seek help from the authorities in the first place.”

Source: Telegraph (UK)

Fixcas has several times advised parents to leave the jurisdiction, or even the country, on the first hint of CAS involvement in their family. None have taken that advice. One prior case in the fixcas archives of a family getting their children out of the country promptly is again that of a lawyer, Louis A Piccone, in Massachusetts. When child protectors showed an interest in his family, he put his kids on a plane with his Russian wife and sent them to Russia. Only lawyers understand the dangers well enough to take the necessary action. Many other families have fled, or attempted to flee, their country but most wait until the case is well advanced, and they are in personal danger from authorities if caught trying to leave with their children.

British MP John Hemming comments:

Family Court Barrister becomes refugee from Family Courts

This story should cause concern. If a barrister who was on the verge of becoming a judge believes that the best thing to do is to leave the country what should others do. Given that Ireland, with its financial problems, has been trying to drive family court refugees back to England I have been talking to other countries to find out if they will simply apply the law to protect people from the abuses of power in England. I did speak to one country today who I think will help.

There is also enthusiasm amongst foreign embassies for a conference in parliament to look at how to fight corruption in the family courts in England.

Source: John Hemming blog

Addendum: Months later after a court dismissed the case Michelle Freedman reentered Britain, only to be arrested on the authority of the dismissed order.

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An illegally arrested mother is saved by her phone

Social services can't even keep track of court orders

Israeli flag
Michelle Freedman was reunited with her children in Israel
Photo: ALAMY

On April 6 I reported on the disturbing story of Michelle Freedman, a long-time family-court barrister, who for utterly bizarre reasons fell foul of the system herself. Only in the nick of time did she manage last December to escape, quite legally, with her two daughters to Israel, of which Miss Freedman is a citizen, before Barnet Council’s social workers could seize her own children. The family settled happily into their new life. In February a circuit court judge excoriated Barnet for its conduct and closed the case.

Last week Miss Freedman returned to England to fill three large suitcases with clothes and belongings left behind in their rush to leave the country. At Luton airport on Tuesday, just as she was boarding an El Al plane to return to Israel, she was detained by three policemen and a policewoman. Showing her a piece of paper from the tipstaff’s office, headed “Child Abduction”, and ordering her arrest, they demanded that she hand over her passport and other documents, including her driving licence.

Her thoughts raced wildly in every direction. Might she soon be facing two years in Holloway prison, with her beloved children 2,000 miles away? She was taken to a baggage room where the policewoman went through every item in the suitcases, which had been taken off the aircraft. But while this was proceeding, she looked again at the paper under which she had been arrested and saw that it referred to an order dated last December. Fortunately, she was able to find on her phone an email from her solicitor in February with the wording of the order given later by another court, voiding the earlier one and closing the case. After lengthy discussions, the police agreed to send a copy of this email to the tipstaff’s office. Eventually, word came back that she could be released and all her documents returned. But, of course, she had missed her plane and imagined she would have to pay for a new flight the next day.

After checking with El Al, a policeman reported that it had another flight leaving Heathrow that evening and would give her a complimentary ticket. Early next morning, to her astonished relief, she was reunited with her overjoyed family.

But a puzzle remains: when the judge gave his order in February, Barnet Council was instructed to communicate it to the tipstaff’s office, to show that, since her case was closed, she was now free to enter and leave Britain without interference. Having emailed the council’s lawyer to ask why the order was not passed on, and despite a further email to the lawyer on her behalf from John Hemming MP, Miss Freedman is still awaiting a full explanation.

Also last week, as we see how our “child protection” system continues to go off the rails, it was reported that more young girls removed from their parents, in this case living under the care of Essex County Council, are alleged to have been forced into prostitution by a group of British Pakistani men (who deny the charges). Meanwhile, in Scotland, under the “Getting it right for every child” scheme, social workers are making children fill in a questionnaire rating the adequacy of their parents on a scale of 1 to 10. Presumably, this is trawling for clues as to whether there is a case for taking the little mites into care.

Source: Telegraph (UK)

Low Empathy Monsters

April 6, 2013 permalink

A UK news/opinion program has posted a half-hour video, the first half the apprehension of a one-day-old baby from its parents. There is absolutely nothing unusual about this apprehension, it shows the process as it has become routine for police and social services. Watch it on YouTube or a local copy (mp4).

Waterloo Rally

April 6, 2013 permalink

On April 4 there was a rally outside the Waterloo CAS office at 200 Ardelt Ave, Kitchener ahead of "Foster Parent Information Night". To avoid tipping off CAS it was not announced in advance. Here are some photographs: [1] [2] [3] [4].

Source: Facebook, Rose Whyte-Bray

And another from inside the hall: [5].

Source: Facebook, Robbie Cross

Julian Ichim is on a Facebook video with a local copy (mp4). He also made the enclosed blog post.

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CAS Gets Hit Hard!!!!

Today local anti poverty protestors joined forces with Canada Court Watch and Voices to deliver a message to potential CAS Foster parents at CAS Foster Parent Recruiting Night.

While people were picketing outside, several activists set up shop inside the CAS recruiting event with sighns and pamphlets explaining the true nature of CAS and how it is used as a tool to target poor parents and steal their children.

Armed with several recent newspaper articles about corruption and CAS crimes against children, as well as information, many potential foster parents were shown a diffrent side to this “nice organization”. potential foster parents were appauled to find out that CAS is a for profit organization with no government oversite, granted tremendous powers. As we engaged in discussion we were approuched by the organizor of the event who said we could stay and particpate, since to my knowledge it was a public event. We agreed to engage and discuss matters civilly and that all we wanted to do was raise our concerns and issues. A bit later, we were aprouched by a CAS boss who was nice and sweet as honey when she asked us to leave and said that we could leave our information at the front desk. We left causeing no fuss only to see a totally opposite side to her when we were out of earshot from the potential recruits. This makes us wonder what children go through when no one is watching!!!

We then joined those picketing and handing out information outside, and many passerbyers were supportive.

All in all this was a successfull demonstration and action, as people turned away when they saw the picket. Most importantly, we exposed the truth to these potential recuits through hard, solid facts!!!!

Source: Julian Ichim blog

CAS Worker Threatened

April 6, 2013 permalink

Last month a man was arrested for yelling at a CAS worker in Chatham.

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Arrest in dispute with CAS

A Chatham man accused of yelling at a children's aid society worker in Chatham was arrested and charged with uttering a threat.

The incident stemmed from a previous investigation involving the man's family, police said.

The 29-year-old was released with a promise to appear in court at a future date.

Source: Chatham Daily News

Amber Alert for Mom and Dad

April 5, 2013 permalink

Hakken family

Here is a story that should be impossible, but occurs regularly. Police have issued an Amber alert for father Joshua Michael Hakken, his wife Sharyn Patricia Hakken and their children, Chase Hakken, 2, and Cole Hakken, 4. The family troubles began last June when Joshua attended an ant-government rally in Louisiana. Police arrested him and child protectors seized his children. The press, aside from Alex Jones, is treating him as a monster. Enclosed are reports from Infowars and CNN.

Have you seen a mother and father caring for two small children? If so, call the police immediately!

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Corporate Media Demonizes Parents Who Fled With Children

Comment by Alex Jones: After armed police kidnapped children and parents fight back, the parents are demonized as anti-government terrorists.

A news report aired by a television station in Tampa Bay, Florida covering the alleged kidnapping of two children by a father described as “antigovernment” prominently features an Infowars.com stenciled logo, insinuating that Alex Jones and his popular website influenced the man’s alleged criminal behavior.

According to the news report, Joshua Michael Hakken and his wife Sharyn Hakken are on the run in Florida after kidnapping their own two children, Chase and Cole Hakken, from Sharyn’s mother today.

The mother had legal custody of the children after they were grabbed by Child Protective Services in Louisiana following the arrest of Joshua Michael Hakken at an “antigovernment” rally held at a hotel in Slidell, Louisiana.

Hakken was allegedly in possession of marijuana when he was arrested. Police said the father was “under the influence of narcotics” at the time of his arrest and “speaking kind of out of his mind a little bit.”

In a February, 2012 web post, Hakken, an Air Force veteran and mechanical engineer, characterized himself as “absolutely devoted to life, liberty, the rights of the individual and the Constitution of the United States of America.” (Mike Riggs of Reason.com discovered the information detailing Hakken’s supposedly “anti-government” remarks.)

In an Amber Alert issued after the alleged abduction, the Hillsborough County Sheriffs Department described the Hakkens as “anti-government” and said the couple “are considered armed and dangerous.”

Joshua Hakken faces two counts of kidnapping, two counts of interference in child custody, two counts of child neglect, one count of false imprisonment, burglary with a battery, and grand theft auto. Under Florida’s mandatory minimum sentencing law – known as 10-20-Life – he could face life in prison if he was armed when he took his children back from the clutches of the CPS.

Allegedly armed with a firearm, Hakken had previously attempted to gain custody of his children at a foster care facility in Louisiana. He left after he could not get inside the building.

The Hakken story is grist for the establishment’s corporate media mill. Over the last few years, it has churned an endless stream of lurid propaganda designed to demonize constitutionalists as racist terrorists determined to sow violence and indoctrinate followers with hatred. The narrative is largely a creation of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The organization specializes in issuing highly misleading descriptions of patriots and constitutionalist organizations.

In early March, the SPLC sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano urging the government to establish a task force to investigate the supposed domestic terror threat posed by the likes of Alex Jones, We Are Change, Oath Keepers, the Constitution Party, the Tyranny Response Team and thousands of other Americans outside of the orbit of the establishment.

“In the last four years, we have seen a tremendous increase in the number of conspiracy-minded, antigovernment groups as well as in the number of domestic terrorist plots,” said the president and CEO of the SPLC, J. Richard Cohen, who warned of another Oklahoma City terrorist plot.

Additionally, the Hakken story feeds into the government’s narrative about the domestic terror threat posed by U.S. military veterans. In February, we reported on stepped up efforts by the federal government to portray veterans with medical issues and PTSD as dangerous and therefore subject to having their Second Amendment rights nullified by the government.

Source: Infowars


Armed ‘anti-government’ parents abduct children from Florida home

(CNN) — Police believe a Louisiana man abducted his two young sons early Wednesday after breaking into the Florida home of the children’s grandmother and tying her up.

The boys had been removed from the care of Joshua Michael Hakken and his wife, Sharyn Patricia Hakken, last year, and on Tuesday the couple’s parental rights were terminated in Louisiana, investigators say.

Hakken, described as an anti-government protester, is believed to be armed, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Tampa. Investigators believe his wife is with him.

The sheriff’s office told CNN there have been ongoing issues with Hakken since he attended an anti-government rally somewhere in Louisiana in June of last year. He was arrested at the rally on multiple drug charges, officials said.

Louisiana authorities have told Florida investigators that the children were initially placed in temporary foster care after being taken away from the Hakkens. Sometime later, investigators allege, the couple went to the foster care center, armed, and tried unsuccessfully to enter it.

At some point over the past few months, the children were sent to Tampa to live with their grandmother, Patricia Hauser, the mother of Sharyn Hakken.

“Somehow they found out where the kids were and an Amber Alert is being issued now,” said Detective Larry McKinnon of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s investigators say Hakken entered Hauser’s home at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday. She has told police that he tied her up and fled with the children in her silver 2009 Toyota Camry. That vehicle was found later in the day just a couple of blocks away from the home. The sheriff’s office said the children now could be in a black 2006 GMC pickup registered to Hakken.

Authorities said the abducted children are Chase Hakken, 2, and Cole Hakken, 4. Both have brown hair and brown eyes and were last seen wearing pajamas.

“We suspect that the wife is with him. He has a history of being armed,” McKinnon said.

Investigators have brought in the FBI to help them track the family, who could have left the state of Florida by Wednesday afternoon.

Source: WGHP

TV reports vilifying the family sound like snippets from a sci-fi horror movie. Here is one from WFTS-TV on YouTube and a local copy (mp4).

Addendum: On April 8 it was announced that the family had arrived in Cuba.

Addendum: Back in the USSA.

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Cuba returns two U.S. children who were abducted in Tampa; Hakken parents face charges

Joshua Hakken and Sharyn Hakken
Joshua Hakken, 35, and Sharyn Hakken, 34, were arrested Wednesday morning and booked into the Hillsborough County Jail after Cuban authorities sent the family back to the U.S.

A saga that began when a troubled Tampa couple kidnapped their two young sons and sailed with them to the Marina Hemingway west of Havana has come to an end, with the parents booked into a Tampa-area jail on Wednesday morning.

Joshua Michael Hakken and his wife, Sharyn, were being held at the jail early Wednesday on charges including kidnapping, child neglect and interference with custody, according to a website for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

On Tuesday, Cuba sent back the Hakken family to the United States. The case had threatened to revive memories of Elián González, the 5-year-old boy-rafter at the center of a heart-rending tug-of-war between his relatives in Miami and Cuba in 2000.

All four family members were aboard the U.S. plane, which arrived early Wednesday in Tampa.

The parents, who were handcuffed, were separated from the children, and also from each other. They were expected to face additional charges in Hillsborough County and jailed.

A statement from the U.S. Interests Section in Havana early Wednesday confirmed only that the children were being returned, although authorities in Hillsborough County confirmed that the parents were also aboard the plane.

“Tonight, thanks to a joint effort of the Department of State, FBI and U.S. Coast Guard, two U.S. citizen children are safely on their way home,” read a statement from the U.S. Interests Section. “We would like to express our appreciation to the Cuban authorities for their extensive cooperation to resolve this dangerous situation quickly.”

The statement provided no other details, citing the “sensitive nature of the ongoing investigation and privacy considerations.”

The children were being checked by medical officials while en route to Florida.

The saga began last week when Josh Hakken, 35, made off with sons Chase, 2, and Cole, 4, after breaking into the north Tampa home of his wife’s mother.

The three and Sharyn Hakken, 34, then sailed away in the Salty Paw, a blue 27-foot sailboat he had purchased recently.

A child-abduction alert and the manhunt for the family lasted five days, until the boat docked at the Marina Hemingway and Cuban immigration officials realized they had a couple of U.S. fugitives on their hands.

“Based on the press reports linking the Hakken couple with a case of kidnapping minors, the Cuban authorities communicated the presence of these people in Cuba to U.S. authorities,” the Foreign Ministry statement noted.

An employee of the marina’s operations center told El Nuevo Herald on Tuesday that a man named Hakken had arrived there Sunday or Monday aboard a U.S.-registered sailboat.

El Nuevo Herald reported late Monday that Cuban immigration officials were detaining the family at the fenced-in marina west of Havana. Foreign pleasure boats arriving in Cuba are required to dock at the marina and check in with migration officials.

The bizarre case initially raised some questions about whether Cuban authorities would agree to return the family to U.S. jurisdiction.

Cuba and the United States have not had a valid extradition treaty since the early days of the Castro revolution. Havana occasionally deports U.S. common criminals but shelters an estimated 70 U.S. fugitives it views as refugees from political persecution. Several Medicare fraudsters also have wound up in Cuba in more recent times.

Andy Gomez, a senior fellow at the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, had predicted that Havana would indeed return the Hakkens to show “that when it involves children, politics should not interfere. Remember Elián?”

Arturo Lopez-Levy, a former Cuban intelligence analyst now at the University of Denver also predicted earlier in the day that Cuba would “send the whole family back to the United States as a goodwill gesture to U.S. authorities.”

Havana also was likely to have been put off by the Hakkens’ record, including their bizarre behavior during an incident last year in the Louisiana town of Slidell, when police found drugs and guns in the hotel room they were sharing with their kids. The Hakkens are both engineers and owned a business in Tampa.

“Both Mr. and Mrs. Hakken were acting in a bizarre manner that alarmed officers. They were talking about ‘completing their ultimate journey’ and were traveling across the country to ‘take a journey to the Armageddon,’” said a Slidell police department statement made public last week. Armageddon is the place where the Bible says the final battle between good and evil will be fought, and is usually associated with end-of-the-world prophesies.

Joshua Hakken was arrested on a drug charge and his sons were taken to a foster home, the police statement added. Two weeks later, the foster home called 911 to report that the father was trying to take his kids away at gunpoint, but Hakken ran away before police arrived.

The boys were later turned over to Sharyn Hakken’s mother in north Tampa, Patricia Hauser. Josh Hakken then broke into her house, tied her up and made off with the kids. Prosecutors had filed charges of kidnapping, false imprisonment and interference with child custody, among others, against the husband.

Source: Miami Herald

Addendum: In October 2014 the parents get 22 man-years in prison.

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Joshua Hakken gets maximum 15-year sentence after bizarre rant; wife gets seven years

TAMPA — A South Tampa man whose antigovernment paranoia led him and his wife to kidnap their two sons and sail to Cuba told a judge Thursday that he is a prophet, sent to unite people of all faiths and warn them of the coming end of days.

It seemed Joshua Hakken, 36, had been waiting all his life for the right audience. Before a judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison, the maximum under a plea agreement, Hakken stood and delivered a 30-minute speech drawing on Greek mythology, the Abrahamic religions and the latest headlines.

He had been reborn twice, survived attempts on his life and witnessed deer, snakes and foxes bow down to him, he said.

"I am Icarus," he told the judge. "I am Muhammad to the Shia Muslims. I am the … Joshua to the tribe of Judah. I am the Pahana, or the true white friend of the Hopi."

He apologized profusely to his wife for keeping this from her. But like most women presented a husband's claims to divinity, Sharyn Hakken, 36, did not appear impressed in the courtroom.

"I am the one written about in prophesies," Joshua Hakken said.

It was for this reason that CIA agents had been hunting him for years, he said. But it was when he was arrested in Louisiana in 2012 on drug charges and later lost custody of his children that he knew he could no longer abide the government's fiddling in his life. Last year, he decided to "rearm" himself and flee, stopping first to abduct his sons from their grandmother near Tampa.

Characterized as a bit player in the scheme, Sharyn Hakken was sentenced to seven years in prison, followed by 10 years of probation. With credit for time served, she could be released in about five years, her attorney said.

Arguing that mental illness played a major role in both of the Hakkens' lives and their decisions, Jorge Chalela, the attorney for Joshua Hakken, asked Hillsborough Circuit Court Judge Chet A. Tharpe to give his client supervised probation.

A 15-year prison sentence would cost taxpayers several hundred thousand dollars, he said, and do little but worsen Joshua's paranoid delusions. Prison could offer no mental health treatment beyond psychotropic medications, which Joshua has refused to take, he said, adding that a state mental hospital is the proper place.

"I am not, nor have I ever believed myself to be insane. That is the prognosis of the court doctors," Joshua told Tharpe. "I do want treatment, either to make these doctors aware of the logic of my arguments and convince them that these things happened to me … or to convince me that I'm wrong and I'm insane. I feel like I'm in two worlds right now."

Still, in addition to the 15-year sentence, Tharpe gave Joshua Hakken 15 years of probation.

"You made no attempt to reunify with your children, you didn't attend any of the court hearings, you did not avail yourself of any of the benefits of a family case plan," the judge said. "Rather you and your wife engaged in an elaborate scheme to defy the law."

Last week, the Hakkens accepted plea deals that spare them federal charges. In exchange, they admitted kidnapping their sons, then ages 2 and 4, and taking them and the family dog on a 300-mile voyage from Madeira Beach to Havana in spring 2013. Found badly sunburned but otherwise healthy, the Hakkens were picked up at the Hemingway Marina and arrested. The boys were reunited with their grandparents.

Documents, including a letter the couple wrote to the Cuban government, would later reveal they believed they were on a mission to seek refuge from the U.S. government.

Federal prosecutors had threatened to press charges against the couple if they were acquitted or received light sentences in Hillsborough. Prosecutors in New Orleans wanted to pile on, too. With these prospects dangling over them, they realized there was no path to victory.

The Hakkens, both college-educated engineers, subscribed to a long list of conspiracy theories. In their letter, they claimed to have discovered that U.S. officials were trying to control Americans' minds with "chemtrails" from airplanes. They feared retaliation and said they were being spied on by the National Security Agency.

By the time their case was ready for trial, three mental health experts had pronounced Joshua Hakken legally insane, though one later reneged.

Sharyn Hakken's case was not as strong — one doctor said she was insane, and one said she wasn't. Her attorney, Bryant Camareno, planned to argue that Joshua had coerced her to go along with his plans, verbally abusing her until her self-esteem was nonexistent. Joshua had also beaten his wife, Camareno said.

On Thursday, in her own address to Tharpe, Sharyn asked for leniency. She showed the judge the scars left from the cuts she had made in her arms as a depressed teenager and politely thanked everyone who had worked on her case, including prosecutors. She had lost all evidence of her formerly middle-class life, she said, listing her home, which is in foreclosure, her ties to family and friends, and her sons Cole and Chase, who she is barred from seeing. She plans to divorce Joshua.

"Judge, I wish I could explain why I stayed in this abusive relationship," she said. "I just don't know. I don't have a good reason."

Source: Tampa Bay Times

Bill 42 Needed

April 5, 2013 permalink

Curtis Kingston in the CK Review advocates for the enactment of bill 42.

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Bill 42 protects children from CAS abuse

not for sale

Ombudsman oversight is desperately needed for Ontario’s Children’s Aid Societies. Over the years Ontario’s children and families have had to endure horrific encounters with an unregulated and unaccountable private organization with funding models that create perverse incentives to destroy families.

Contrary to popular belief, every Children’s Aid Society in the province of Ontario is a privately run organization that receives their funding from the government based on the number of children in their care and the number of files open on families. This flawed funding model was recently publicized in a Toronto Star article on 03/14/2013 that exposed a leaked memo where the Peel region CAS asked their staff to keep cases open for the sole purpose of retaining funding.

As of April 1st this funding model is changing but unfortunately it is changing for the worse. According to the Simcoe County CAS Executive Director, Susan Carmichael, the funding will only change by using a three-year average of case files instead of every year and they will also be introducing boosts in funding for cases involving minorities such as low-income families, lone-parent families and aboriginal children. This means that one of the changes in this new model gives the CAS financial incentive to target minorities, single parents and the poor.

CAS Destroys Ontario Families For Profit

These flawed funding models and the lack of oversight or accountability have resulted in these organizations regularly acting outside of the law and morals to unnecessarily keep files open on families and to apprehend children from their homes not based on child protection concerns, but rather their own financial gain. In a recent MCYS operational review of the PECCAS that was completed in January 2012, it was found that the Ontario average for CAS compliance with the Child and Family Services Act was only 66%. That means that on average Ontario CAS’s are acting outside of the law 34% of the time. Most CAS spokespeople state in the media that apprehension of children is always a last resort, but it has come to light that this is simply untrue. Canada Court Watch has obtained documents that prove that the Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society has on at least one occasion applied for a warrant to apprehend children but based on the lack of any verified child protection concerns, the warrant request was denied. Later that same day, against the direct order of the court, the HSCAS apprehended the children anyway with complete disregard for the law or the well-being of these children. The law does allow the CAS to apprehend children without a warrant under emergency circumstances if the CAS feels a child is in severe danger and there is no time to apply for a warrant. In this case there was more than ample time for such a request and it was denied. Therefore the CAS did not apprehend the children legally but rather may have committed criminal offences by apprehending children after the warrant request was turned down.

Then once children are taken into the “care” of a CAS, they are supposed to be taken to a place of safety where children should be in a better situation than they were in before. Unfortunately this is often not the case either. In recent years the Prince Edward County CAS has been under public scrutiny. There have been a total of six former PEC foster parents charged and three convicted of sex crimes against children. In the MCYS Operational Review of the PECCAS, completed in January 2012, it showed that the PECCAS had multiple failures that lead to the lives of innocent children being forever destroyed at the hands of their foster parents. It was found that as of January 2012, the PECCAS did not have one foster home or group home that was legally considered a place of safety for children. This was largely due to the lack of full criminal record checks of foster parents in their jurisdiction.

Lack Of Oversight Puts Innocent Children At Risk

The PECCAS was proven to have failed the children in their care, yet not one worker or staff member of the PECCAS was held accountable for the horrors that took place. These issues exist not only because CAS’s are private organizations or due to the severely flawed funding models, but rather these issues exist due to the severe lack of any oversight or accountability. That and the flawed funding models are why these organizations are often not acting in the best interest of children, but rather for their own financial gain.

There is a bill that has just passed its first reading in the Ontario Legislature (Bill 42) that would allow our Ombudsman the authority to investigate complaints about CAS’s in Ontario just as the Ombudsman does in other provinces. Ontario is the only province in Canada where the Ombudsman is not authorized to investigate child welfare and this bill, if passed, would give child welfare in Ontario the same accountability as every other province in our country. I urge every member of the public to contact their local MPP’s to show your support for Bill 42 and the oversight and accountability of CAS’s in Ontario, as these organizations need to have oversight and accountability to be able to keep them in line and working in the best interest of children. Sadly it is often not the case. Ontario desperately needs this change because at the end of the day, this is our children we are talking about here and our children are our future.

Source: CKReview

Children's Aid, Parental Nightmare

April 5, 2013 permalink

On April 2 Charles Adler interviewed a father who nearly lost his children. Thanks to Curtis Kingston we have a copy of the program on YouTube or a local copy (mp4). The station does not want to identify the father, so we will merely say it was a father who had the same experience at the same time as Attila Vinczer. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Social Worker Fired for Friendship

April 4, 2013 permalink

Scottish social worker Amanda McDonald was fired for forming a friendship with a teenaged girl client in the institution where she worked. She should have remained cold as ice, like a normal social worker.

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Care worker struck off for “inappropriate relationship” with 15-year-old girl

A CHILD care worker has been struck off over an “inappropriate personal relationship” with a 15-year-old girl in her care.

Amanda McDonald worked at Moore House Care and Education in Bathgate, West Lothian, a school for teens with serious emotional and behavioural issues.

She was said to have sent text messages to a child which contained “inappropriate affectionate language” as well as swearing.

The texts also contained “inappropriate and offensive language directed towards [her] employer”, a Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) panel found.

She was also found to have taken her own child to meet one of the school’s service users.

Six charges of misconduct, relating to April and March last year, were found proved against Ms McDonald at the hearing last month.

She was suspended from her post at Moore House after concerns were raised about her.

The SSSC panel said Ms McDonald sent the texts to a 15-year-old child, named only as BB in the hearing, after being told not to communicate with any children at the school while she was suspended.

The SSSC panel said: “The text messages disclosed that [Ms McDonald] had been suspended by her employer.

“[Ms McDonald] should not have communicated this information to BB.

“The text messages included inappropriate affectionate language and also abusive language including profanities. It was wholly inappropriate for the Registrant to have communicated with BB in this way.”

The panel said Ms McDonald also took her own child to a meeting with another service user at the school, who was named only as AA in the hearing.

They said: “It was also wholly inappropriate for [Ms Mcdonald] to ask service user AA to collude with [her] in keeping the fact that [her] children accompanied her on her contact meeting from her employer.”

The panel said Ms McDonald “ought to have known that it was not in BB’s best interests for her to form an inappropriate personal relationship with BB.”

Announcing their decision to strike the residential child care worker off, the panel said they were “concerned that the misconduct was very serious, that it involved potential harm to service users and to others, it also involved dishonesty, and a serious failure on [Ms McDonald's] part to adhere to professional standards.”

Ms McDonald was not present and not represented at the hearing.

A spokesman for Moore House said: “As soon as we became aware of concerns about Amanda McDonald’s conduct she was immediately suspended from her post.

“We conducted an investigation and then referred the matter matter to the Scottish

Source: Deadline News

Girl Protected from Walking

April 4, 2013 permalink

Lenore Skenazy has another report of the same girl detained for walking in March. Now CPS has begun legal process to take the girl into their custody.

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6-y.o. Who Walked Alone to Post Office May be Removed from Her Home

Dear Free-Range Kids: A few days ago CPS served my wife and me with a complaint alleging that we are neglectful. They want to take custody. Here is the chain of events that has led to this:

Day 1: Six-year-old “Emily” walks three blocks by herself to the post office for the second time. This is after having made the trip with her many times in past through our quiet, residential neighborhood. All the streets have sidewalks, and the walk requires crossing one ‘T’ intersection that has a stop sign and crossing at a traffic light.

Day 2: ”Emily” and I are both walking back from the library. She wants to do it herself, so I let her walk separate from me some of the time. The cops get a phone call from a concerned citizen who says there’s a strange guy talking to a little girl. Three officers respond and cite a concern for Emily’s safety in crossing the street. I confirm that I am her father and give my name, as is required by law. They refuse to state any reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed or say what law has been broken, and so, in accordance with my 5th amendment rights, I refuse to answer any questions. We are detained for over half an hour before being released. (I asked many times over the course of the detention whether I was “free to go” and I was told that I was not. We were told that we were being held for an “investigative detention.”) The sergeant who responded to the scene stated over the radio that he wanted to “hook this guy” for child endangerment. (The recording of radio traffic during the encounter was later received through a public records request that I made.)

Day 6: I call the sergeant who reported on Day 2 to ask if we were still under investigation. He responded that we were not and that an “incident supplement” had been filed by the reporting officer and “that was all.” He confirms in that there is no law prohibiting a school-age child from crossing residential streets. That afternoon we let Emily walk to the post office to mail a letter. (That’s the story that was shared before on this blog.) The same officers who responded on Day 2 remove Emily from the post office and detain her. Contrary to the complaint that is filed later, they do not contact me — I go looking for her when she doesn’t come right back home — and they refuse many times to release her. According to the complaint, Emily, who has known her phone number and address for quite some time, refuses to give them to the officers, but the officers know who she is, who I am, and where we live.

Day 7: A social worker with CPS leaves a letter at my door addressed to a different person than anyone in my family. I mail it back.

Day 12: CPS leaves a letter addressed to my wife and I that cites unspecified concerns about the children.

Day 13: I call CPS twice and leave a message. The phone call is not returned for two days.

Day 14: We give Emily the Free Range Kid ID card to function as a sort of “permission slip” so that she can demonstrate to other people that she has not merely escaped unnoticed. Then we let Emily go to the post office again. When she is just around the corner from the house on her way home, she is stopped by a city utility worker and a school bus driver (though she is not enrolled in public school). She calls me on the cell phone since the bus driver is preventing her from leaving, so I go get her. That night two officers knock on the door, but we do not answer.

Day 15: I talk with the supervisor at CPS on a recorded phone call. I refuse to answer any questions or make any statements. Though he did relay that he was concerned about a child “roaming the streets of [Our City, OH],” he refuses to tell me what law has been broken. We go around and around for about 25 minutes. I find out through my employer shortly after the phone call that if I do not “cooperate” CPS is threatening to seek an ex parte* order, which would allow CPS to take custody without a hearing, to separate us that Friday (and then keep Emily all weekend since a hearing would not have to be held until close of business on Monday). Note that I have cooperated to the full extent required by law. The Home School Legal Defense Assn. is very helpful in getting CPS to agree not to seek an ex parte order so long as Emily does not go outside again by herself.

Since then CPS has knocked on the door many times. I did answer the door when the CPS supervisor came by–I thought that he was a delivery guy or what not since he didn’t have a uniformed police officer with him–but otherwise we have simply ignored them. There is no law requiring someone to answer their door, and since I had no interest in talking to them or getting detained by the cops simply ignoring them seemed the best course of action.

Day 41: We are served with a complaint alleging neglect and dependency. The County wants to take Emily into “protective supervision” or “temporary custody.” The complaint contains many factual errors and inaccuracies.

There is also a motion for “pre-dispositional interim orders.” As I understand it, this is a mechanism by which CPS can intervene even before the merits of the case against us for neglect are even heard, but less decided. It is scheduled to take place more than a month before the hearing on the neglect charge. It asks the court to force my wife and I to “allow ______ County Children Services to complete an assessment with the family. This is including allowing the agency access in the home, allowing the agency to interview the children, and participate openly in the assessment process.” In other words, they want to search our house, interrogate the children, and force us to testify.

We are trying our best to raise Emily to be responsible, curious, and capable. We have chosen to include teaching her about using the library, navigating the neighborhood, and mailing letters as elements of her homeschooling. Needless to say, this entire ordeal has been quite distressing for the entire family, and we view it as a threat to our homeschooling her, our parental rights, and both my and Emily’s civil liberties. Since our family is being threatened by legal action, I have tried to confine my comments to a dispassionate statement of known facts.

*When at least one party to a legal action isn’t represented, the result is an ex parte order. In this context, CPS would have asked a judge to issue an order to get custody of Emily without allowing any rebuttal to their accusations of neglect. In other words, they considered it so dangerous for Emily to continue to live with us that they didn’t think there was any time to wait for an emergency hearing in which everyone would be represented.

Source: Free Range Kids

Ombudsman Oversight Second Reading

April 4, 2013 permalink

Neil Haskett On April 11, 2013 join the Stop the CAS Group along with the OntarioCfA as we all head to Queens Park in Toronto, for Second Reading of Bill 42. Bill 42 is expected to pass and if it becomes law, for the first time in their 140 year history, mark the beginning of the end of CAS's reign of terror on families and the children they were supposed to protect. Don't forget the purification ceremony starts at 12:00 PM sharp!

Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...

For those planning to attend, link to event information.

Addendum: The Chatham Daily News coverage is enclosed.

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Push continues to give Ombudsman power to investigate CAS

Chris Carter
Chris Carter

The proroguing of the Ontario legislature last fall hasn't stopped the push to give Ontario's Ombudsman the power to investigate complaints about children's aid societies across the province.

Late last September, Chris Carter, a member of Canada Court Watch, collected nearly 1,200 local signatures on a petition supporting then Bill 110, which was introduced by Hamilton NDP MPP Monique Taylor, to amend the Ombudsman Act to allow for public complaints about a CAS to be investigated.

Carter, who has been the community for several months acting as an advocate for local families, said the bill died when the Ontario government was prorogued last October after Dalton McGuinty resigned as premier.

But Taylor has brought the issue back to Queen's Park under Bill 42, Ombudsman Amendment Act (Children's Aid Societies), 2013, which recently passed first reading.

“I knew it was coming back,” Carter said. “There is just way too much pressure.”

The bill up receive second reading on Thursday.

Some high profile cases of children suffering abuse while in the care of the child welfare system has prompted new calls to allow the Ombudsman's office to investigate CAS complaints.

Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin told the QMI Agency last month he receives 500 complaints a year from people asking him to take up their issues with the CAS.

However, at this time the ombudsman doesn't have the power to investigate the so-called MUSH sector, which includes municipalities, universities, school boards and hospitals, along with the CAS and long-term care homes.

Marin's top-10 most significant developments in 2012, posted on the Ontario Ombudsman's website at the end of December, listed being closer to investigating the MUSH sector as the top development.

The Ombudsman has said he would like to see Children’s Aid Societies, hospitals and long-term care homes as the first ‘letters’ to be brought under his jurisdiction.

Carter has collected more than 200 signatures on a new petition he has been circulating in the community.

If Bill 42 passes, Carter said with all the allegations of physical and sexual abuse that have been levelled against various branches of the CAS over the year, he would like to see an inquiry similar to what was done for the residential school scandal.

Source: Chatham Daily News

Social Worker Lies

April 4, 2013 permalink

English Social worker Rachael Miles got 66 paid days off by scamming her employer with tales of deaths in her family. Why not? Lying is part of her job.

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Social worker lied about deaths

A social worker has been struck off for fraudulently claiming paid compassionate leave - after falsely reporting that six relatives had died.

A-social-worker-falsely-claimed-her-father-mother-aunt-uncle-brother-and-ex-husband-had-all-died A social worker falsely claimed her father, mother, aunt, uncle, brother and ex-husband had all died

Rachael Miles falsely said that her father, mother, aunt, uncle, brother and ex-husband had all died while working at Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) said.

On or around February 12, 2010, two weeks after starting work, Ms Miles said she had received a phone call telling her that her father had been involved in a car accident, and she went home, an HCPC panel said. A few days later, she reported her father had died, and a week's compassionate leave was authorised.

She went on to report that her mother had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act, and received one day of compassionate leave, and that her mother had attempted to harm herself while in hospital, receiving two days of compassionate leave, then that her mother had died during surgery, and was given 10 days' compassionate leave.

On February 25 2011 she reported that her brother had died and received five days of bereavement leave. On May 20 2011 she claimed she had received a call at work telling her that her ex-husband had hanged himself. She also claimed that she was asked to identify the body. On November 15 2011, she reported that her uncle in Portsmouth had died, and a week later that her aunt had also died. She was given six days' time off in lieu as a result of these two bereavements.

An investigation was carried out the following summer. It was found that absences relevant to the inquiry totalled 66 days.

A disciplinary hearing was convened on August 7 2012. The decision was made Ms Miles should be redeployed into a suitable alternative position but she submitted a letter of resignation and it was confirmed that her employment with the council should end on August 18.

The panel heard that Ms Miles, who was not present or represented at the hearing, claims to have no recollection of telling her employer about the six bereavements.

She wrote on a form: "As I have no recollection of the events mentioned I have to rely on the witnesses' integrity and honesty in reporting these incidents to the HCPC hearing."

The panel found she had provided "false, inaccurate and misleading information" regarding the reasons for a number of absences, specifically the reported bereavements, "when this was not true". It found, too, that Ms Miles fraudulently claimed and retained payment for compassionate leave. Her actions were dishonest, it said, and amounted to misconduct.

Source: Express (UK)

Justice 4 Rosy

April 3, 2013 permalink

Rosy Stanesby wants a judge to apologize for keeping her away from her father for nine years. While she is demanding an apology father Jonathan (Jolly) Stanesby will be silently protesting at a church. He has been active with Fathers-4-Justice for the entire separation. In 2004 he handcuffed himself to then children's minister Margaret Hodge. In August 2007 he was one of two men to climb the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC the day before a rally for families. In June 2008 he climbed to the roof of minister for women and equality Harriet Harman while supporters marched through Bristol.

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Rosy Stanesby
click for larger image

14-YR-OLD GIRL STAGES PROTEST OVER FAMILY COURT JUDGE

A 14 year-old girl from Ivybridge in Devon has said she is going to stage a protest outside the home of the judge who has refused to apologise to her after separating her from her father in the family courts in Plymouth for nine years.

Rosy Stanesby has said she will be begin her protest outside Judge Tyzack’s house in Farringdon at 11.00am on Sunday 7th April over his refusal to apologise for the trauma caused to her and her family by his actions.

Said Rosy, ‘All I am asking for is an apology from Judge Tyzack for the trauma and damage caused to me and my family by the actions taken in his court. He has so far refused and since I wrote to him the Police have now threatened to charge me with harassment.’

‘I will not be bullied into silence over this matter and I encourage other children to speak out over their experiences in the family courts.’

ENDS

Please support this brave young lady by attending this event. RSVP office@fathers-4-justice.org to confirm yr place now. Please share.

The ‘Justice4Rosy’ Silent Protest with Children4Justice campaigner Rosy Stanesby, Jolly Stanesby, Matt O’Connor and others.

11.00am sharp, Sunday 7th April
Farringdon Church
Upham Lane
Farringdon
Exeter EX5 2HY

Location: Farringdon Church

Silent Protest at the church of Judge Tyzack as we deliver requests for a public apology for Rosy Stanesby after 9 years at the hands of the secret family courts.

What to bring: Your children, family members. Pictures of your children to tie to fences. Purple Flags. Dress: Black & Purple. Phones/Cameras to photograph and update followers on Twitter. Polite letters to the Judge asking for an apology to Rosy Stanesby.

Source: New Fathers 4 Justice

Career Path for Judge

April 2, 2013 permalink

A Canada Court Watch researcher has turned up a puff piece on judge Mary Jo Nolan. It gives her experience before her appointment to the court in 2005. There is not enough to reconstruct the dates, here are her employers and job assignments:

  • period in private practice
  • Ministry of Community and Social Services working on children’s Legislation
  • Courts Administration in the Attorney General’s Department
  • Regional Counsel for the Southwest Region in the office of the Public Guardian and Trustee
  • Case Management Master in Windsor
  • Children’s Aid Society in Toronto
  • Children’s Aid Society Hamilton
  • Children’s Aid Society Windsor

Her experience leaves her well qualified to see cases from the ministry and CAS point of view.

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Justice Mary Jo Nolan ’81 To Receive Clark Award for University and Community Service

Justice Mary Jo Nolan ’81 will be honoured as a recipient of the 2010 Clark Awards at a dinner to be held on May 25th in the Ambassador Auditorium, in the CAW Student Centre.

Mary Jo was called to the Bar in 1983 and after a period in private practice took up a position in the Ministry of Community and Social Services working on children’s Legislation. In 1990, she moved to Courts Administration in the Attorney General’s Department. In 1995, Mary Jo was appointed Regional Counsel for the Southwest Region in the office of the Public Guardian and Trustee and, in 1997, she was appointed Case Management Master in Windsor. Mary Jo was appointed as a Justice of the Superior Court for Ontario on the 14th of April 2005.

The Clark Awards have been presented annually since 1994. Named in honour of the late Charles J. Clark Sr., Q.C., former Chancellor of the University of Windsor, the award recognizes outstanding personal service of both alumni volunteers and friends of the university who have made significant commitments in time, energy, and expertise by serving on UWindsor boards, committees or campaigns; or who have worked extensively to increase the profile and reputation of the university. The Clark Awards for outstanding University and community service are the University’s highest honour.

Justice Mary Jo Nolan is a fitting recipient of this honour! Mary Jo has shown devotion and dedication to the University of Windsor and its Faculty of Law. She taught as a Sessional Instructor in both Civil Procedure and Civil Trial Advocacy from 1999 until her appointment to the Court in 2005. In addition, Mary Jo has been a leader among the Windsor Law Alumni. She was one of a group of local alumni who instituted annual dinners for alumni and friends here in Windsor. Mary Jo served as the Alumni Representative on the Dean of Law Search Committee in 1999-2000 and, once again, in 2009-2010. Mary Jo is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Canadian and American Dual J.D. Program.

Tickets for the May 25 dinner are $75. For tickets or more information, please contact special events manager Mary-Ann Rennie at 519-973-7059, e-mail mrennie@uwindsor.ca. Also being honoured this year are alumni Eddi Chittaro (BA 1955, MA 1958), Martin Komsa (BComm 1976), and Roger Thibert (BA 1951, D.Sc. 2004). Biographical sketches of each of this year's recipients will be published in a future edition of DailyNews.

Congratulations Mary Jo!


The following article is reproduced from the Daily News, April 28, 2010.

Superior Court Justice to receive Clark Award

Mary Jo Nolan
Mary Jo Nolan

The Honourable Madam Justice Mary Jo Nolan is among those who will be honoured with the Clark Award at a dinner on Tuesday, May 25.

An alumna of Windsor Law, Madam Justice Nolan (LLB 1981) has served as an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Law teaching civil procedure and civil trial advocacy and is a volunteer judge at its annual student trials, for the student moots, and for practice rounds for mooting competitions.

She is a member of the Advisory Board for the Dual JD Program, a joint program offered with University of Detroit Mercy Law School, and participates in the faculty’s job shadowing program as well.

Prior to her 2005 appointment to the Superior Court of Justice for Ontario, she was the case management master, served with the Ministry of the Attorney General, Courts Administration, and with Children’s Aid Societies in Toronto, Hamilton and Windsor, and with the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

Fellow grads Eddi Chittaro (BA 1955, MA 1958), Martin Komsa (BComm 1976), and Roger Thibert (BA 1951, D.Sc. 2004) will join Nolan as recipients of the university's highest honour on Tuesday, May 25, at 6:30 p.m. in the Ambassador Auditorium, on the second floor of the CAW Student Centre.

Clark Awards have been presented annually since 1994. Named in honour of the late Charles J. Clark Sr., Q.C., former Chancellor of the University of Windsor, the award recognizes outstanding personal service of both alumni volunteers and friends of the university who have made significant commitments in time, energy, and expertise by serving on UWindsor boards, committees or campaigns; or who have worked extensively to increase the profile and reputation of the university.

Tickets for the dinner are $75. For tickets or more information, please contact special events manager Mary-Ann Rennie at 519-973-7059, e-mail mrennie@uwindsor.ca.


The following article is reproduced from the Daily News, May 27, 2010.

Alan Wildeman, Anna Clark, Martin Komsa, Roger Thibert, Eddi Chittaro and Mary Jo Nolan
University of Windsor President Alan Wildeman and Anna Clark, widow of the late chancellor Charles Clark, congratulate the 2010 recipients of the Clark award (from left) Martin Komsa, Roger Thibert, Eddi Chittaro, and Justice Mary Jo Nolan.

Source: University of Windsor

Social Worker Punished for Telling the Truth

April 2, 2013 permalink

Oklahoma social worker Fran Derrick has been punished for truthfully telling foster parents that their foster child was born to a mother who tested positive for HIV. If you want to know the contorted logic used to justify this punishment you will have to read the full news story.

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Oklahoma DHS disciplines worker after HIV warning

An Oklahoma DHS child welfare specialist was suspended for three days without pay after she warned foster parents a child under their care might be HIV-positive.

A DHS child welfare worker was disciplined in February after she warned foster parents that a child under their care might be HIV-positive.

Fran Derrick, 62, of Oklahoma City, was suspended for three days without pay, records show. She is appealing her suspension to the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission.

Fran Derrick
Fran Derrick The child welfare worker was disciplined by the state Department of Human Services.

“I thought I was doing the right thing,” Derrick told The Oklahoman.

“It's just one of those things. It's a big bureaucracy … and they have to be careful and cover themselves,” she said.

The Department of Human Services told Derrick in a Feb. 11 notice that she was being disciplined for telling the foster parents the child's mother tested HIV-positive.

HIV is a virus that can lead to AIDS, a disease that weakens the immune system and can be fatal.

“The line this employee crossed was not her act of informing the foster parent about the possible HIV exposure of this child, but rather disclosing the HIV information of another person and identifying the possible source of the child's exposure,” DHS spokeswoman Sheree Powell told The Oklahoman.

“How the child could have been exposed was neither relevant nor necessary to ensure that appropriate actions were taken to protect the foster family and meet the needs of the child. Had the employee consulted with her supervisor, she would have been reminded of policy and training in the proper way to release this kind of sensitive information,” Powell said.

“It is our priority to protect children in state care as well as our dedicated foster parents,” the spokeswoman said.

“It is also our policy and practice to inform foster parents if there is a chance children have been exposed to HIV. There is a proper way to do that and the employee in this case violated both state law and policy in the manner she released the information.”

Derrick sees it differently.

She insists she was authorized by the state's child and juvenile laws to make the disclosure. Before being suspended, she told a DHS deputy director the law “states that I can disclose information to foster parents that would otherwise be confidential.”

DHS stated in Derrick's disciplinary notice that she told a supervisor in December that she had shared the mother's HIV status with the foster parents “without written authorization or consent.”

Derrick could not have gotten the mother's consent to reveal the test result because the mother was in a coma, The Oklahoman learned.

“I have not had any formal or informal training specifically regarding … AIDS and … HIV,” Derrick also told the DHS deputy director in February. “If Child Welfare Specialists are to act according to statutes, we must be made aware of statutes that affect our work. … It is impossible to keep abreast of all the statutes that might have a relationship to our work if we are not educated regarding them.”

DHS officials maintain all child welfare specialists are trained on the subject of disclosure of client information and records without a court order.

DHS officials would not reveal the age of the foster child. They also would not reveal if the child ever tested HIV-positive.

The Oklahoman learned of Derrick's suspension because the newspaper periodically makes an Open Records Act request for all DHS disciplinary records.

Derrick has worked at DHS since November 2010 and is a child welfare specialist II. She said she already has served her suspension. She plans to retire this year.

“Most of the people I started with are no longer with the agency. It's just too difficult,” Derrick said.

She also said, “Any day you could find somebody who kind of doesn't do exactly what policy states. There's just so much policy and there's so much gray area.”

Source: NewsOK

Splitting the Taxpayer's Money

April 2, 2013 permalink

What is the best way to use $170,000 in leftover funds from federal taxpayers? Divvy it up among child support workers. That is what prosecutor Mike Shipman is doing in Indiana. He mimics the behavior of the the Wichihik Iskewak Safe House in Regina (a women's shelter), where staff handled $29,552 in donations by splitting nearly half of it among themselves.

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Prosecutor plans to give bonus money to child support employees

Some Wayne County officials question fairness of using federal incentive funds in such a manner

Mike Shipman
Mike Shipman

Wayne County Prosecutor Mike Shipman says he plans to share federal incentive money with the seven employees in his child support division.

Shipman came to the Wayne County Personnel Committee last week to explain his plan and ask for the opinion of committee members.

“We have struggled for years with maintaining employees in the child support division,” Shipman told the committee. “The nature of the job, coupled with relatively low starting salaries, make it hard to recruit and retain good employees.

“The use of some of the incentive money is designed to make the job more attractive to new employees and motivate other employees to stay with the office,” he said.

Shipman said he has about $170,000 in the incentive fund that has accumulated over several years. The money comes from the Office of Child Support Enforcement, Administration of Children & Families, a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

The funds are disbursed to each state for child support purposes, based on the performance of each state in four different areas: paternity establishment, support order establishment, current support collections and back support collections.

The Indiana Child Support Bureau retains 22.2 percent of the incentive funds to operate the state’s central collection unit, and the rest is allocated to individual counties based on performance.

Shipman told committee members he plans to use about half of the incentive funds for what he called an “employee benefit program.”

County attorney Ron Cross reminded committee members that by state statute, the funds must be used for child support services exclusively and their disbursement is entirely up to Shipman’s discretion.

Shipman pointed out the incentive money can be used to “supplement rather than supplant other funds used for child support establishment and enforcement purposes.” He said he plans to dole out the incentive money based on years of service in the office.

The office consists of child support deputy prosecutor Staci Terry and six case workers.

County Councilman Chris Beeson said he opposed sharing the money with employees because he said it was unfair to county employees in other offices.

“This is something we’ve never gotten into,” Beeson said. “Just because this department has the money and can do it, I don’t think other offices are going to see it as being fair to all employees.”

County council chairman Jeff Plasterer questioned “whether it’s appropriate in that most offices generate revenue.”

“Through recording fees and fines, almost every office brings in revenue,” he said. “It’s not a typical practice to say because you bring in $5, you could return that to your employees.”

But Councilman Al Dillon said he believed “this is a good use of the money.”

“It provides incentives. They’re making money, and I feel some of it should go back to them,” he said.

Source: Palladium Item

greed

Zombie Generation

April 1, 2013 permalink

By the time they reach high school age, 20 percent of boys and ten percent of girls have been diagnosed with ADHD according to data acquired by the New York Times. The majority are then treated with psychotropic drugs. The Times does not mention it, but once prescribed the drugs are administered by force of arms, with child removal and foster care for recalcitrant families.

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A.D.H.D. Seen in 11% of U.S. Children as Diagnoses Rise

Nearly one in five high school age boys in the United States and 11 percent of school-age children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ADHD diagnosis rates in the USA

These rates reflect a marked rise over the last decade and could fuel growing concern among many doctors that the A.D.H.D. diagnosis and its medication are overused in American children.

The figures showed that an estimated 6.4 million children ages 4 through 17 had received an A.D.H.D. diagnosis at some point in their lives, a 16 percent increase since 2007 and a 53 percent rise in the past decade. About two-thirds of those with a current diagnosis receive prescriptions for stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall, which can drastically improve the lives of those with A.D.H.D. but can also lead to addiction, anxiety and occasionally psychosis.

“Those are astronomical numbers. I’m floored,” said Dr. William Graf, a pediatric neurologist in New Haven and a professor at the Yale School of Medicine. He added, “Mild symptoms are being diagnosed so readily, which goes well beyond the disorder and beyond the zone of ambiguity to pure enhancement of children who are otherwise healthy.”

And even more teenagers are likely to be prescribed medication in the near future because the American Psychiatric Association plans to change the definition of A.D.H.D. to allow more people to receive the diagnosis and treatment. A.D.H.D. is described by most experts as resulting from abnormal chemical levels in the brain that impair a person’s impulse control and attention skills.

While some doctors and patient advocates have welcomed rising diagnosis rates as evidence that the disorder is being better recognized and accepted, others said the new rates suggest that millions of children may be taking medication merely to calm behavior or to do better in school. Pills that are shared with or sold to classmates — diversion long tolerated in college settings and gaining traction in high-achieving high schools — are particularly dangerous, doctors say, because of their health risks when abused.

The findings were part of a broader C.D.C. study of children’s health issues, taken from February 2011 to June 2012. The agency interviewed more than 76,000 parents nationwide by both cellphone and landline and is currently compiling its reports. The New York Times obtained the raw data from the agency and compiled the results.

A.D.H.D. has historically been estimated to affect 3 to 7 percent of children. The disorder has no definitive test and is determined only by speaking extensively with patients, parents and teachers, and ruling out other possible causes — a subjective process that is often skipped under time constraints and pressure from parents. It is considered a chronic condition that is often carried into adulthood.

The C.D.C. director, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, likened the rising rates of stimulant prescriptions among children to the overuse of pain medications and antibiotics in adults.

“We need to ensure balance,” Dr. Frieden said. “The right medications for A.D.H.D., given to the right people, can make a huge difference. Unfortunately, misuse appears to be growing at an alarming rate.”

Experts cited several factors in the rising rates. Some doctors are hastily viewing any complaints of inattention as full-blown A.D.H.D., they said, while pharmaceutical advertising emphasizes how medication can substantially improve a child’s life. Moreover, they said, some parents are pressuring doctors to help with their children’s troublesome behavior and slipping grades.

“There’s a tremendous push where if the kid’s behavior is thought to be quote-unquote abnormal — if they’re not sitting quietly at their desk — that’s pathological, instead of just childhood,” said Dr. Jerome Groopman, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the author of “How Doctors Think.”

Fifteen percent of school-age boys have received an A.D.H.D. diagnosis, the data showed; the rate for girls was 7 percent. Diagnoses among those of high-school age — 14 to 17 — were particularly high, 10 percent for girls and 19 percent for boys. About one in 10 high-school boys currently takes A.D.H.D. medication, the data showed.

Rates by state are less precise but vary widely. Southern states, like Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina and Tennessee, showed about 23 percent of school-age boys receiving an A.D.H.D. diagnosis. The rates in Colorado and Nevada were less than 10 percent.

The medications — primarily Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta and Vyvanse — often afford those with severe A.D.H.D. the concentration and impulse control to lead relatively normal lives. Because the pills can vastly improve focus and drive among those with perhaps only traces of the disorder, an A.D.H.D. diagnosis has become a popular shortcut to better grades, some experts said, with many students unaware of or disregarding the medication’s health risks.

“There’s no way that one in five high-school boys has A.D.H.D.,” said James Swanson, a professor of psychiatry at Florida International University and one of the primary A.D.H.D. researchers in the last 20 years. “If we start treating children who do not have the disorder with stimulants, a certain percentage are going to have problems that are predictable — some of them are going to end up with abuse and dependence. And with all those pills around, how much of that actually goes to friends? Some studies have said it’s about 30 percent.”

An A.D.H.D. diagnosis often results in a family’s paying for a child’s repeated visits to doctors for assessments or prescription renewals. Taxpayers assume this cost for children covered by Medicaid, who, according to the C.D.C. data, have among the highest rates of A.D.H.D. diagnoses: 14 percent for school-age children, about one-third higher than the rest of the population.

Several doctors mentioned that advertising from the pharmaceutical industry that played off parents’ fears — showing children struggling in school or left without friends — encouraged parents and doctors to call even minor symptoms A.D.H.D. and try stimulant treatment. For example, a pamphlet for Vyvanse from its manufacturer, Shire, shows a parent looking at her son and saying, “I want to do all I can to help him succeed.”

Sales of stimulants to treat A.D.H.D. have more than doubled to $9 billion in 2012 from $4 billion in 2007, according to the health care information company IMS Health.

Criteria for the proper diagnosis of A.D.H.D., to be released next month in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, have been changed specifically to allow more adolescents and adults to qualify for a diagnosis, according to several people involved in the discussions.

The final wording has not been released, but most proposed changes would lead to higher rates of diagnosis: the requirement that symptoms appeared before age 12 rather than 7; illustrations, like repeatedly losing one’s cellphone or losing focus during paperwork, that emphasize that A.D.H.D. is not just a young child’s disorder; and the requirement that symptoms merely “impact” daily activities, rather than cause “impairment.”

An analysis of the proposed changes published in January by the Journal of Learning Disabilities concluded: “These wording changes newly diagnose individuals who display symptoms of A.D.H.D. but continue to function acceptably in their daily lives."Given that severe A.D.H.D. that goes untreated has been shown to increase a child’s risk for academic failure and substance abuse, doctors have historically focused on raising awareness of the disorder and reducing fears surrounding stimulant medication.

A leading voice has been Dr. Ned Hallowell, a child psychiatrist and author of best-selling books on the disorder. But in a recent interview, Dr. Hallowell said that the new C.D.C. data, combined with recent news reports of young people abusing stimulants, left him assessing his role.

Whereas Dr. Hallowell for years would reassure skeptical parents by telling them that Adderall and other stimulants were “safer than aspirin,” he said last week, “I regret the analogy” and he “won’t be saying that again.” And while he still thinks that many children with A.D.H.D. continue to go unrecognized and untreated, he said the high rates demonstrate how the diagnosis is being handed out too freely.

“I think now’s the time to call attention to the dangers that can be associated with making the diagnosis in a slipshod fashion,” he said. “That we have kids out there getting these drugs to use them as mental steroids — that’s dangerous, and I hate to think I have a hand in creating that problem.”

Source: New York Times

Family Maced

April 1, 2013 permalink

New York mother Marilyn Taylor is suing over an incident in which subway police pepper-sprayed mom, dad and their three children. They thought she had entered without paying the fare.

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Mom Says NYPD Pepper-Sprayed Baby

BROOKLYN (CN) - NYPD officers pepper-sprayed three little children, including 2-year- and 5-month old babies, because they thought the kids' mom jumped a subway fare, the family claims in court.

Marilyn Taylor sued New York City, the NYPD and Officers Maripily Clase, Suranjit Dey and Jermaine Hodge in Federal Court, for herself, her three children and their father.

Taylor claims that she and her kids were preparing to board a Manhattan-bound L train on Aug. 9. She was pushing her 2-year-old in a stroller and holding her 4-year-old's hand. The father, Dehaven McClain, carried the 5-month-old close to his chest.

The officers stopped her on suspicion of skipping a fare because they saw her pushing the stroller through a service entrance rather than the turnstile, Taylor says in the complaint.

"The aggressiveness of the officers' demeanors had upset the four-year-old daughter, and her mother bent down to console her and tell her, 'everything will be OK," the complaint states.

But everything was not OK. Taylor says Officer Dey pepper-sprayed her, causing her to fall to her knees and nearly fall from the platform. She says the spray hit every member of the family.

"The pepper-spray caused the children to scream out and choked the two-year old, who went into fits of vomiting," the complaint states.

"Ms. Taylor was then placed in handcuffs as the minor children cried in fear and pain."

Taylor claims that Officers Hodge and Dey then pushed her down the stairs so roughly that the pressure against her handcuffs bruised her wrists and lower back.

"Mr. McClain was left to try to get the minor children, screaming and crying, safely home by himself," the complaint states.

A day later, Taylor says, she was arraigned and received an adjournment in contemplation of a dismissal, meaning the charges would be tossed if she did not get arrested again within a certain time.

She says she and the children needed medical attention because of the lingering effects of the spray.

"After the attack, mother and father suffered ongoing eye injuries and all three children suffer emotional harms, and are now afraid to ride the subways and become afraid when they see police officers. The four year-old cried herself to sleep for weeks, and after the incident the two-year-old began waking up in the night crying for her mother," the complaint states.

Taylor claims that the officers have continued to harass her family.

"Since the incident, plaintiffs have suffered repeated harassment from the officer defendants, forcing them to avoid the MTA through the Atlantic Avenue stop," the complaint states.

The family seeks punitive damages for civil rights violations, assault, battery, negligence, and violations to the state and federal constitutions.

They are represented by David Rankin of Rankin & Taylor, PLLC.

The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source: Courthouse News Service

Escape from Britain

April 1, 2013 permalink

Christopher Booker reports on two families who escaped Britain's child protectors by fleeing abroad, one to Ireland and one to the Caribbean. In both cases British social workers went to extraordinary lengths to get the children returned to Britain.

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A family who escaped to a happy ending

What is the problem with Britain's social workers?

Debbie, Michael and Kymani Paterson
Debbie Paterson, with her husband Michael and son Kymani, in St Vincent, the Caribbean
Photo: Graham Wiffen / Demotix

Last week, news reached me that there was yet another distraught mother who had fled to Ireland to prevent her three children being seized for no good reason by British social workers.Although the family have been living there for four years, with the children all doing well at school, the mother had just been arrested for failing to have a valid tax disc by the Irish police, who confiscated her car and held her in a police cell for nine hours.

When she was finally released at 7pm on a wet evening, 40 miles from home, she got back to find that the police had broken into her home by smashing a double-glazed window. They had removed various items, including a mobile phone. Much worse, Irish social workers, apparently after consultation with their British counterparts, had picked up her children from school and taken them, “traumatised”, as she was told, into foster care.

There are few things odder about our social workers than their response to the ever-rising number of parents who try to evade their clutches by fleeing abroad. As I have often reported, they seem prepared to stop at nothing to get the children back to Britain. Just occasionally, however, their zeal is foiled, as in the case of the family (pictured, above), who now live in the West Indian island of St Vincent.

It is now 14 years since Debbie Paterson, brought up in London by West Indian parents, was left, after a brief unsatisfactory relationship, with a baby son, Kymani. When she then happily married, the boy grew up looking on her husband as his father. Despite attempts by various judges to set up contacts with his biological father, Kymani got to the point where he did not want any further contact.

In 2010, however, one judge decided to involve Islington social workers in trying to re-establish contact. In April 2011 another, Mr Justice Roberts, said that he was so “unimpressed” by Debbie’s reluctance to co-operate with their arrangements that he invited the social workers to consider applying for a care order on the boy. The response of Debbie and her husband was immediately to fly off with their son to start a new life in St Vincent before any application could be made.

In December 2011, Debbie returned to London to clear up her affairs and dispose of their old home. She was summoned before a High Court judge, Mrs Justice Parker, who demanded to know Kymani’s whereabouts. When Debbie refused to tell her, the judge sentenced her to 12 months in prison for contempt of court.

In the summer of 2012, while Debbie was still in Holloway prison, the social workers discovered where Kymani had escaped to, and two of them flew out to St Vincent to track him down.

They asked the disbelieving 12-year-old whether he would like to return with them to live in foster care in Britain. They approached the similarly disbelieving headmaster of the school where Kymani was now a prized pupil, and then tried to elicit the support of the local social workers. They could not understand why on earth such a well-looked-after boy should be of any concern to social workers from Britain. After the social workers returned home, they even offered to fly the boy’s biological father out to St Vincent to see if he could persuade the boy to come back to London.

Debbie, on her release after seven months in Holloway, rejoined her husband and son in St Vincent, where Kymani is now in the “gifted and talented” class of his secondary school. The family could not be happier in their new life, supported by the stepfather’s work in the building trade, and a case that must have cost a sizeable sum of public money is now closed – which is why the family can be named and their story told.

The question that remains, as in so many similar stories I have reported here, is this: how is it that our social workers can seem so determined to travel abroad, to remove children from loving parents by whom they have never been harmed, to put them in the care of strangers back here in Britain – at a cost to the taxpayers that, with the very considerable fees paid to foster carers and teams of lawyers, can eventually run to hundreds of thousands of pounds?

A full and proper answer to that question would tell us a great deal about how and why our “child protection” system has gone so bizarrely off the rails.

Source: Telegraph (UK)

Peter Kormos R.I.P.

March 30, 2013 permalink

Former member of provincial parliament Peter Kormos died today at his home in Welland Ontario. He was a vocal advocate for CAS oversight. We have his voice recorded on May 9, 2008 when he appeared on CHCH-TV in Hamilton discussing the case of a young boy Devon Sweeney. The boy's family was invited to bring him to the hospital for tests, but it turned out to be an ambush — hospital staff and children's aid forcibly separated the boy from his family and began unwanted medical treatment. In the program Kormos said:

Q:
Does the government need to legislate some kind of watchdog to specifically deal with children's aid societies in Ontario?
A:
We've got to go far beyond that. Children's aid is out of control there's absolutely no accountability whatsoever. The government has refused to enact legislation that would give the provincial ombudsman oversight capacity vis-a-vis children's aid, family and children's services. Let's understand this is a private corporation, a private organization, it's not a part of the government, no accountability. I say it's time to shut it down. The government should be directly delivering child protection services.

Link to the original story including recordings of the TV program.

Enclosed is an obituary from the National Post.

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Outspoken former Ontario NDP MPP Peter Kormos dies

Peter Kormos
Peter Kormos speaks at the Ontario legislature in 2002.

WELLAND, Ont. — Friends and political foes are remembering former Ontario New Democrat Peter Kormos for his outsized personality and unyielding passion to fight for the powerless.

Niagara region police say Kormos, 60, died Saturday morning at his home in Welland, Ont. The cause of death was not immediately known.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was a personal mentor who was relentless in his advocacy for Ontarians, especially those in contact with the justice system.

“He knew what he was there to do, which was stick up for the little guy and fight for everyday folk,” she said.

After ending a 23-year-stint at the legislature in 2011, Kormos was elected last year to represent Welland on Niagara Regional Council.

Coun. Andrew Petrowski, who co-hosted a radio talk show with Kormos, said he was a force to be reckoned with in the council chamber.

“When Peter stood up nobody in council, including the chair, could control him. He was in control of that council and he would get his thought across come heck or high water,” he said.

Peter Kormos

Premier Kathleen Wynne tweeted her condolences.

“Peter Kormos was a supportive friend, and I will miss his presence and his profound understanding of parliamentary procedure.”

A criminal lawyer by trade, Kormos was first elected to the legislature in 1988.

He was named to cabinet when the New Democrats surprisingly swept to power under Bob Rae in 1990.

But Kormos, known to speak his mind, feuded with Rae over public auto insurance, which Kormos pushed for but the government never went ahead with.

Kormos was a bombastic speaker and didn’t shy away from antics in the legislature, such as an all-night speech on the insurance issue. His staple outfit consisted of a collared shirt and cowboy boots.

A series of events including his posing, fully clothed, as a “Sunshine Boy” in the Toronto Sun newspaper led to his removal from cabinet in 1991.

“Mr. Rae blessed me by creating that distance between me and him. It guaranteed that I got re-elected in ’95,” Kormos told The Canadian Press before his retirement in 2011.

‘Peter Kormos was one of my fiercest critics, but his death comes too soon for a man of his talent’

Rae remembered Kormos as someone who always stood up for what he believed in.

“I remember him as a man of passion and great determination. He became a fierce critic of mine, but that happens in life and politics, and I know he continued to have a real impact at Queen’s Park and in the Niagara region,” Rae said in an email.

Kormos was prone to witty hyperbole in the legislature, comparing former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty to Pontius Pilate for trying to oust the province’s ombudsman. As a lawyer, Kormos knew how to walk the fine line between outrageous put-down and slander.

Kormos was deeply passionate about human rights and social justice, and spoke strongly against the governing Liberals over a secret law they passed giving police powers to detain and arrest people during the Toronto G20 summit in 2010.

In a statement, Tory Leader Tim Hudak said Kormos was a one-of-a-kind politician, but one who dropped his partisanship at the door on his way out of the legislature.

“It’s rarely said — and in the best sense of the phrase — by politicians these days when speaking of someone so diametrically opposed in beliefs and convictions, but I can say with sad confidence on this day, ’We shall not see his like again.”

Source: National Post

Not in Your Own Backyard

March 30, 2013 permalink

When six-year-old Sophia wandered out into her yard, Michigan CPS seized two girls from parents Jessica Reed and Maged Mousa. Twins born later were taken at birth. The family has been reunited after nearly a year.

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Children return home after judge’s decision, mother vows to help other families facing custody battles

OAKLAND COUNTY — On Mar. 7 Oakland County Judge Lisa Gorcyca granted a American Muslim couple back custody of their two daughters. The girls, Sophia, 6, and Nadiya, two, were removed from their home and parents’ custody in May 2012 by officials from Child Protected Services after a neighbor witnessed Sophia playing outside without parental supervision.

The girls are the children of Jessica Reed and Maged Mousa. Reed become very emotional in court when the judge announced her decision. After nearly a year, her emotionally draining custody battle with the DHS had come to a halt.

“I was crying and so emotional, finally after all these months they were able to come home,” Reed said.

Several community members were also present in court throwing their support behind the couple when the decision was announced.

Since the children were removed from the home, the community has shown a great deal of support for the family, by making donations and showing up to the court hearing in order to send a message that Reed and her husband are suitable parents.

“I want to thank them for their prayers and donations,” Reed said. While the community’s support was very helpful, it was Reed’s determination to get her children back that ultimately led to the judge’s decision.

When the incident happened, Sophia never left her parents’ backyard, and was with other children, although the parents of those children were never reported to authorities. Reed was pregnant with twins at the time, and says Sophia managed to get outside through a sliding door.

Jessica Reed and family
Reed (top right) with her four daughters and family friend Rehab Amer who was one of the many people from the community who stood by Reed throughout the custody battle

After Reed gave birth to the twins in June, the DHS also took custody of them, but they returned home in December last year. She says her children were illegally removed from her because the DHS never presented a court order or document proving it was authorized to take the children away. Officials also never presented a search warrant when entering the home to remove the children.

Besides Sophia being spotted outside without parental supervision, officials never offered any additional explanation of why Reed and her husband aren’t suitable parents.

The most difficult part of the whole ordeal for the couple came when DHS placed the girls in a foster care home with people Reed says were not fit parents.

While the girls were in the foster home, family members and friends became worried about their overall safety. Reed says the girls showed signs of physical and emotional abuse while in the foster care home. Reed and her husband had custody of the girls every weekend while they were away.

The couple’s battle is far from over, the experience has had a huge impact on them, and moving forward Reed plans on working to raise awareness to politicians on similar child custody battles, in hopes that they will lead major reforms in DHS policies. She also plans on helping other families who’re dealing with the same situation.

“This is something happening all over the United States to other parents and families,” Reed said.

She’s calling on the DHS to conduct proper investigations, and have sufficient evidence of wrongdoing before removing children from the custody of their parents.

Major flaws have been identified with some of the agency’s procedures for removing children from homes.

Although suitable housing was available for the girls with the couple’s family members, the DHS still proceeded to place them in the care of strangers.

Source: Arab American News

Gay Sex Toy

March 29, 2013 permalink

Andy Cannon grew up in the care of his adoptive father David Cannon and his gay partner John Scarfe. The two men treated the boy as their personal sex toy. When Andy complained to Wakefield (England) council about sexual abuse, they refused to intervene. According to one allegation, the council was reluctant to act against homosexuals in order to appear politically correct. Eventually the two dads were jailed and Andy won a legal settlement from Wakefield over their failure to protect. Following a common pattern, when social services got in trouble they altered records.

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My gay father’s sexual abuse was swept under the carpet, says victim

A former Army cadet who was sexually abused from the age of nine by his adoptive father and his gay partner has claimed social workers would not have ignored his cries for help had his abusers been heterosexual.

Andy Cannon and Redeana Hammill
Andy Cannon, 23, with girlfriend Redeana Hammill
Photo: CAVENDISH

Social services insisted on returning Andy Cannon to live with the couple, even though staff at Wakefield council had received up to six allegations of physical and sexual abuse over a number of years.

Mr Cannon, now 23, said he believed social workers would have removed him from his abusers had they not been gay.

He said: “If my adoptive dad was in a heterosexual relationship then my complaints would have been listened to earlier.

“It seems the council didn’t want to be seen as victimising gay people – they’d rather look 'politically correct’ and let them get away with it to avoid any repercussions.”

In a damning report now obtained by Mr Cannon’s legal team Wakefield social services officials were accused of "folly and gross misjudgement" and of putting the victim at "significant risk" of harm after missing six opportunities to save Mr Cannon from his abusers.

The 160-page internal report by Patrick Ayre, a former child protection manager, said social services records of his history were "fragmentary" and even censored to keep certain details secret.

Mr Ayre wrote: "That any consideration at all was being given to returning the claimant to his father’s care must be regarded as surprising, in view of the concerns which should have been felt both about the possibility of violence and about the allegations made about sexual advances from Mr Scarfe."

During his ordeal Mr Cannon was repeatedly plied with Ecstasy and cannabis before being molested by David Cannon and John Scarfe.

His complaints to care workers were ignored and at one stage he was wrongly diagnosed as having mental disorders.

Both men were eventually arrested and charged after Mr Cannon was readmitted to into council care following a domestic incident, at which point he managed to persuade a Forster carer he was being abused.

Cannon, 54, and 31-year old Scarfe were each jailed for 30 months in 2006, for inciting sexual activity with a child.

Following a five year legal battle Mr Cannon was awarded £25,000 compensation after sueing Wakefield social services department over its care procedures towards him over a seven-year period.

Mr Cannon, a father of two now living in Barnsley, South Yorks, waived his right to anonymity to speak publicly about the scandal.

He said: "I’ve got no problems with anyone being gay as long as they don’t do what my dad did to me. That goes for heterosexual couples too.

"The council should have been there to prevent this from happening but they would rather just sweep it under the carpet. Of course I was happy when I was finally listened to and dad and John were sent to prison – but their conviction was a walk in the park compared to what happened to me.

"I have overdosed so many times in the past and I have tried to kill myself at least six occasions after what happened. I had a breakdown about four years ago and still have days thinking that my girlfriend would have a better life without me.

"I was my dad’s sex toy and there were many times that I thought he was going to kill me. Most people when they grow up want a nice house, highflying job and holidays abroad each year – but all I live for are my kids and my girlfriend."

Cannon was allowed to adopt Andy in December 1997, when the youngster was aged eight. This came despite the fact he had earlier been convicted and put on probation for 12 months for assaulting the boy’s mother, Elaine Moss, possessing cannabis and handling a stolen computer.

Miss Moss had also claimed Cannon had been abusing her son.

A social worker failed to bring the allegations to the attention of the family court and instead called Cannon a "very caring parent who considered his children’s need".

Further allegations of sexual impropriety were made against Cannon by Andy and his mother after he started dating a gay man in 2002 and again when he began a relationship with Scarfe.

Mr Cannon, who is now expecting a third child with his girlfriend Redeana, 23, said: "I first remember being sexually abused at around nine years old. Dad started seeing men around that time although nothing was explained to me or my sisters that he was gay or bi – his partner was just a man that lived with us."

"When I told social workers they didn’t believe me. When I got home from school, if my dad was wound up by something I would pay for it with a beating. Then later on he would sexually abuse me."

On 12 August 2004, Andy was returned to Cannon’s care nine days after running away from home and filing a complaint against him.

Mr Cannon was eventually readmitted to the care of a social services assessment unit on 16 August 2004, following a fight with Scarfe. This time he managed to persuade social workers he was being abused and he was placed with a different foster carer.

Cannon and Scarfe were jailed at Sheffield Crown Court in May 2006 after being convicted of causing or inciting a male child under 16 to engage in sexual activity and taking indecent photographs of a child.

They were ordered to sign the Sex Offender Register and banned from working with children for life. The pair are now understood to be living in the Leeds area.

Jim Crook, Wakefield Council’s interim Corporate Director for Wakefield Council’s Family Services, said: "We are very sorry about what happened and have apologised. We have learned from his experiences and have improved our services. Staff at a very senior level in the service remain in regular contact with Mr Cannon."

He added the council’s processes for adoption and for dealing with allegations were robust and based on the principle of treating everyone the same, whatever their background.

Source: Telegraph (UK)

Bill 42 Introduced

March 27, 2013 permalink

Today Monique Taylor introduced legislation to provide for ombudsman oversight of Ontario's children's aid societies, tagged as bill 42. Pat Niagara has the first report. His video of his trip to Queens Park includes Monique Taylor on the floor of the legislature. YouTube and a local copy (mp4).

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Ombudsman CAS Oversight Bill 42 PASSED Today

Today NDP MPP Monique Taylor again introduced the Bill 42 for Ombudsman Oversight of the Children's Aid Society in Ontario into the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

The Bill if passed would allow all 47 of Ontario’s Private Children’s Aid Societies open to investigations by the Ontario Ombudsman. Currently we’re the only Province in Canada who allows their private board of directors to oversee themselves for both internal and external complaints.

A number of Members of the Ontario Coalition for Accountability attended the First Bill 42 Reading today for Ombudsman Oversight of Children's Aid Societies and are pleased to announce that the BILL PASSED

On March 27, 2013 members of the Ontario Coalition for Accountability attended Queen's Park for the introduction and first reading of Bill 42, an amendment to the Ombudsman Act to include Children's Aid Societies. This bill did pass and now carries on to Second reading on April 11, 2013

Source: CAS ONTARIO blog

Photos: leaders who have worked to bring about legislation and the next generation hopes for protection from CAS.

Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...

Here is the actual bill:

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Bill 42, Ombudsman Amendment Act (Children's Aid Societies), 2013

Bill 42 2013

An Act to amend the Ombudsman Act with respect to children’s aid societies

Note: This Act amends the Ombudsman Act. For the legislative history of the Act, see the Table of Consolidated Public Statutes – Detailed Legislative History at www.e-Laws.gov.on.ca.

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:

1. The Ombudsman Act is amended by adding the following section:

Ombudsman may investigate children’s aid societies

14.1 (1) Anything that the Ombudsman may do under this Act in respect of a governmental organization, the Ombudsman may do in respect of a society as defined in subsection 3 (1) of the Child and Family Services Act.

Same

(2) If the Ombudsman does or proposes to do anything in respect of a society as defined in subsection 3 (1) of the Child and Family Services Act, any reference in this Act to a governmental organization is deemed to be a reference to the society.

Commencement

2. This Act comes into force on the day it receives Royal Assent.

Short title

3. The short title of this Act is the Ombudsman Amendment Act (Children’s Aid Societies), 2013.

EXPLANATORY NOTE

The Bill amends the Ombudsman Act to allow the Ombudsman to investigate any decision or recommendation made or any act done or omitted in the course of the administration of a children’s aid society.

Source: Legislative Assembly of Ontario

The CBC covered the story:

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Hamilton MPP reintroduces children's aid oversight bill

Private member's bill that would have given the Ombudsman power to investigate died when legislature was prorogued

Monique Taylor
Monique Taylor, the NDP's critic for the Ministry of Child and Youth Services, says she plans to reintroduce a private member’s bill that would allow Ontario’s Ombudsman to investigate children’s aid societies.
Courtesy Monique Taylor

The MPP for Hamilton Mountain has reintroduced a private member’s bill that would allow Ontario’s Ombudsman to investigate children’s aid societies (CAS).

Monique Taylor, the NDP's critic for the Ministry of Child and Youth Services, tried to move legislation through Queen’s Park last year. It made it past second reading, but no further.

“Unfortunately the government prorogued and it died at that time,” Taylor said.

The bill would give Ontario's Ombudsman, Andre Marin, independent oversight over the societies' decisions.

Taylor raised a Toronto child abuse case involving a CAS ward during question period this week. She said it was timely that she was scheduled to reintroduce her private members bill on Wednesday.

“We need someone to be an independent, arms-length agency that has properly trained investigators to deal with all cases,” Taylor told CBC Hamilton.

A spokesperson for the Minister of Child and Youth Services, Teresa Piruzza, said the minister looks forward to discussion of the bill in the legislature, but also pointed to steps that have already been taken regarding children’s aid oversight.

In 2007, the province created the Independent Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, which responds to concerns from those who are seeking or receiving services under the Child and Family Services Act and the Education Act.

CAS is also accountable to the courts when children are apprehended, and complaints may also be investigated internally or go to the province via the Child and Family Services Review Board.

The Ombudsman has been asking for the ability to investigate complaints for the past 35 years. The bill has been introduced before, but Taylor's was the first to make it past second reading.

Source: CBC

Child Protector Drives Drunk

March 27, 2013 permalink

Pennsylvania child protector Eladio Matos was caught driving drunk with children in his car.

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Police: Child services worker DUI with kids in vehicle

An employee of Pennsylvania Child Protective Services drove drunk through McAdoo with two children in the vehicle, police said.

Eladio Matos, 39, Hazleton, was charged with endangering the welfare of children, two counts of DUI and two summary traffic violations by McAdoo police, court papers state. Matos awaits a preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Stephen Bayer in Tamaqua.

Police said they stopped Matos for speeding at about 53 mph in a 25 mph zone on Kennedy Drive around 2:45 a.m. Feb. 24. According to court papers, police stopped Matos, who appeared intoxicated, in the area of Beaver Brook. Matos' wife, who was not identified in court documents, his two daughters who were younger than 10 and an adult man were passengers in the vehicle. Matos admitted to drinking two beers in Allentown, court papers state. He failed field sobriety tests and agreed to a blood test. Police said at that time they learned he was employed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a child protective services worker. Matos told police his wife called the FBI to get him out of the arrest, court papers state.

His blood-alcohol content result was .133, where .08 is the legal limit, according to court records.

A call placed with Luzerne County Children and Youth Services was not returned Monday, though online copies of the Luzerne County Commissioners meetings in 2005 and in 2006 show Matos was employed by the agency those years.

Source: Hazleton Standard Speaker

drunk driving

Hemming in Parliament

March 27, 2013 permalink

John Hemming speaks in the British parliament on the difficulty of reforming the secret family court system. Showing the failures requires examination of individual cases, yet secrecy prevents discussion of individuals. Broad studies of the system as a whole are useless because they are made by, and serve the interest of, the persons benefiting from the current system.

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John Hemming (Birmingham, Yardley) (LD): I refer the House to my declaration of interest as the chairman of the Justice for Families campaign.

I remain concerned about cases in all the secret courts in the UK. The more secret the court, the more the system acts against the rule of law. Narrow freedoms of speech are at least as important as broad access to publicity—reporting wrongdoing to regulators and asking for advice are important narrow freedoms. Without academic scrutiny, nonsense can be spouted and experts can lie for money with impunity.

Care proceedings are an area of difficulty. I remain of the view that around 1,000 children a year are wrongly forcibly adopted in the UK. Gradually, I am getting more Government support in this area—sadly, still not from the UK Government. Last week I spoke at the Polish embassy, at a conference about care proceedings. Concerns have now also been raised by Nigeria, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Latvia, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Spain and Turkey.

For the avoidance of doubt, my concern is that a material proportion of care proceedings go way beyond being plainly wrong and hit the threshold of “totally nuts”. I must stress, however, that I see the appointment of Sir James Mumby as president of the family division as a positive step. I also welcome judgments such as [2013] EWHC 521 (Fam) of Mostyn J.

When the right hon. Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown) apologised to the children who were forcibly sent to the Commonwealth, I asked what confidence he had that such an apology would not be issued in the future for what we are doing today. His response was to ask me to send details of individual cases. I have, of course, sent many individual cases to UK Ministers. The standard response is “It’s nothing to do with us, guv”. The fact is that, according to our constitution, the UK Government must publicly accept judicial decisions, although in practice they often criticise them—except in the family division.

More recently, Australia has apologised for forced adoption. The question was put by Florence Bellone to Professor Eileen Munro about whether in the future we may see an apology in the UK. Her response was:

“I would not be surprised if a future generation looks back and thinks how horrific the quality of our work was and the damage that we did to families.”

What we have developed—this is mainly through a mathematical error in the use of the number of children in care for the denominator of the adoption target—is a care system that is obsessed with adoption. It is so obsessed with adoption that it does things that objectively have to seen to be irrational. I will not go into the details of Angela Wileman’s case, as I have referred to it before and I do not have time. I was pleased to hear that the arrest warrant was removed from Susan McCabe, the daughter of Councillor Janet Mockridge, who has been living in France with her two children for over five years. The attempts to remove her son for adoption in England, whilst leaving her daughter, gave the message of a system more concerned about winning than about the best interests of the child.

In another recent case, I read a note about the effect of the proposal for a child to be adopted out of her family. The report said:

“Since being told about the adoption, A’s mood has changed, she is clearly concerned and upset by this move, which perhaps is to be expected. However, she has nightmares most nights and is not getting adequate sleep, two weekends ago she vomited 5 times in one night.”

This case is not unique. There are even international cases where the system has taken children from people visiting the UK and refused to give them back, even though the system clearly does not have jurisdiction. That is damaging to the children, and I am prevented by the sub judice rule from giving more information here.

The international cases are particularly interesting as the assessments in England can be compared against assessments from professionals in other countries. Professionals in other countries wonder why such strange things are done—things that cause serious psychological damage to children in the UK. Working with Slovak politicians, I have managed to establish an inquiry by the Human Rights Commissioner in the Council of Europe. However, it remains the case that a problem that arises basically in secret courts is constitutionally difficult to fix, because it needs scrutiny to fix it. There is an additional challenge in that the people affected who are UK citizens are generally poorer people and less articulate. Hence, although stories about people who are foreign citizens maltreated in the UK get substantial coverage in the foreign media, there are only a few journalists such as Sue Reid, Christopher Booker and Ted Jeory who are willing to report on these cases. The speech of Denise Robertson, “This Morning’s” agony aunt, at the justice for families conference in Birmingham last December should be broadcast on TV to explain the truth.

What we actually have is a failure of democracy. In the same way as the cover-up over Hillsborough and the failures at the Mid Staffordshire hospital, we have a system that is going wrong in a large number of cases and maltreating families. In maltreating families, it is maltreating the children and the adults. It is reasonably well known that this is going on. However, the Government deny it. The inquiries that occur in Parliament do not look at the individual cases. Without looking at the individual cases, we cannot see the things that are going wrong. Inquiries such as the family justice review are dominated by the people who run the system, and hence are unlikely to recognise the failures of the system.

I put forward proposals in my private Member’s Bill, but it was squeezed out by the Government, who have still not explained why in detail. I have had a conversation with the Minister with responsibility for children, but I have no hopes from that. I have very little time left. I would like to give a much fuller speech, as a lot more needs to be said, but I will end by saying Happy Easter.

Source: British Parliament

CAS Cutback

March 26, 2013 permalink

Eighteen of 350 union employees of the Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society have been terminated for budgetary reasons. The second article gives families reason to hope for twenty more terminations next year. These former workers can now participate in productive parts of the economy. In the final paragraph the unregistered child protection workers claim to be social workers.

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Job Cuts At The Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society

Windsor Essex CAS
Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society as seen in this file photo

The Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society has terminated eighteen case aides and family access workers due to a budget shortfall.

President of Local 2286 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is warning families and the community about the negative impact of the cuts, and the cumulative damage that chronic underfunding is having on child protection services in Windsor and Essex County, and across the province.

“Cutting these vital services to deal with budget shortfalls is really short-changing the people of Windsor and Essex County, and especially vulnerable children in our community,” said Cathy Matthe, CUPE 2286 president. “Windsor-Essex CAS is saddled with a 4.3 million dollar deficit for 2012-2013, with 1.6 million in historic debt. Across the province, there is a 67 million dollar shortfall in funding, and for our agency that meant getting a line of credit to provide mandated services – the Ontario government is essentially starving our system with underfunding.”

CUPE represents 350 employees at the agency, including child protection, family well-being, kinship services, public relations, administrative support, and other children and family services workers. The latest round of cuts could be just the beginning, as funding allocations for the next fiscal year have not been announced yet, and any shortfall could mean future layoffs.

Source: Windsorite.ca


Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society lays off 18 workers

CAStle Windsor
Exterior of the Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society shown Tuesday, March 26, 2013.
DAN JANISSE/The Windsor Star

With Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society announcing that 18 casual case workers are to be laid off due to budgetary deficits and that the situation could be more dire in the coming months, the government is hoping to solve the problem with a “new funding model.”

The layoff news was first announced by Cathy Matthe, president of CUPE Local 2286, who said the cutbacks are forced by a $70-million provincial funding shortfall across Ontario and that the local CAS office is “saddled with a $4.3-million deficit for 2012-13″ plus $1.6 million in historic debt.

“Cutting these vital services to deal with budget shortfalls is really shortchanging the people of Windsor and Essex County, especially vulnerable children in our community,” she said. “The Ontario Government is essentially starving our system with underfunding.”

CAS Director Bill Bevan confirmed that the employees have been terminated but noted all the positions effected are part-time, temporary or casual staff. He added that the workload will be redistributed among permanent staff. However, he added, the society may have to trim up to 20 more positions next fiscal year if funding does not improve. He hopes those cuts can be done through attrition, again with work to be redistributed.

“We will have to re-balance our workloads to be able to still do a good job,” he said. “We have the fourth highest case load in the province, considering our population, and it’s a great deal of work, given the socioeconomic situation and the struggles people face in our community.”

Teresa Piruzza, Minister of Children and Youth Services and MPP for Windsor West, responded Tuesday it is the government’s priority that “no child gets left behind,” and added, “I’m obviously concerned about the layoffs.”

“My office has already been in touch with the Windsor-Essex CAS to discuss the situation and ensure that children’s needs are put first.”

However, there was no hint in her statement, released in an email, that new money would be forthcoming in the near future.

“We have increased funding to the Windsor-Essex CAS by almost $12 million since 2003-04 — more than a 27-per-cent increase,” she said. “This year we’re providing more than $54 million to the agency. Across Ontario, funding for child protection has increased by approximately 40 per cent since 2003-04, to $1.5 billion in 2012-13.”

She said her ministry would continue to work closely with the local office, to help it manage expenditures more efficiently.

“We have listened to the good advice from the Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare and Children’s Aid Societies regarding funding models over the last year and my ministry is introducing a new child welfare funding model in 2013-14.

She added details of the plan are not available now but will be announced “in the near future.”

Meantime, Bevan said the work load is not diminishing. He said his office conducted 3,200 investigations last year and has opened 1,550 ongoing cases, with a permanent staff of 375 employees and a budget of $55-million.

Bevan said the agency is awaiting the government announcement, expected in April, of annual funding formulas to determine how much money the agency can expect to operate with in the next fiscal year.

“We’ve been waiting long enough,” he said. “We need to know where we’re at in order to provide our mandated services.”

But Matthe said changes to the funding formula have been set at two per cent and that would not even cover cost of living increases, adding “we’re already stretching the money as far as we can.”

Bevan also confirmed Matthe’s statement that the local CAS has even been forced to seek a $4 million line of credit to provide mandated services. Matthe said the underfunding has had an impact on such services as orthodontics, psychology, food vouchers and has resulted in cuts to programs like March break camp and recreational activities. She said visitation programs are also being effected. The cuts, she said, are putting children at risk.

The union is urging voters to contact their MPPs to demand funding be restored. Bevan added that the province will be considering funding levels in April and the local CAS office would need an additional $6-million to balance the books and maintain current operations.

The union represents 350 employees at the agency, including child protection, family well-being, kinship services and administrative support.

“The workload is already very stressful,” said Matthe. “We have to multi-task and can’t keep up with the demands. What we do now is 75 per cent paperwork. But we’re social workers. We signed up to work with kids and families.”

Source: Windsor Star

Visitation Agreement

March 26, 2013 permalink

A client of Durham CAS has posted a copy of the adhesion agreement parents are required to sign to visit their children. It forbids a lawful activity, use of recording devices.

Children's Non-Rights in British Columbia

March 25, 2013 permalink

Retired child protection worker Ray Ferris tells it straight about British Columbia's child protection system.

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Ray Ferris: A British Columbia myth about the best interests of children

In British Columbia children have certain rights. They have a right to be made safe in their own homes, or in alternative care. Right?

When in care they have the following rights. They have a right to continuity and stability of care. Right? They have a right to be placed with relatives and to continuing kinship contact. Right?

Young children have a right to timely resolution of their cases. This means not being left long in damaging limbo. Right? They have a right to privacy. Right?

They have a right to the protection of the courts from unwarranted removal. Right? The ministry director has the responsibility to prove his case. Right? Parents have a right to protect their own children. Right?

Wrong on all counts because in practice, they get none of these rights. The system simply cannot deliver them. The Child Family and Community Services Act says that a temporary order on children under five cannot exceed one year and can only be in three monthly increments.

This protects against the emotional damage known as attachment deficit disorder. The courts often stretch this temporary care to years before any hearing of evidence. They just relabel it as interim custody.

The indefinite limbo of interim custody causes the same damage. At the first hearings, called presentations, courts rubber-stamp approval of social workers' actions, because there is no time to hear arguments. All the judges want to do is to clear the list and not get seized (stuck) with a case.

Contested cases will not be heard for over a year. Kids are often moved from home to home and disclosure is withheld. (Protection of privacy you know.) Chlldren have even been moved from safe relative care to protect privacy. Nobody asks the kids if they are grateful.

The truth is that children's rights can often come into conflict with each other and judgement is needed to strike a balance. That judgement is in the hands of those with power. This means the ministry's regional directors, until a judge rules otherwise.

The paramount right declared in the act is "the best interests of children". The big problem with that is that the best interests are always a matter of opinion. Only the opinion of those with power counts and that can be biased and self-serving.

Family courts have become as adversarial as criminal courts and just as expensive. Some parents who got back their kids had to sell their homes in order to raise the legal fees to do it.

Ask how this in the best interests of the children and you will be told that cannot be discussed to protect privacy. Or that the safety of the children must come first.

In a case recently covered on CBC's Go Public segment and the fifth estate program, three children were kept in limbo care for nearly four years before the parents got them back. The children suffered multiple moves and all had anxiety disorders.

That effort bankrupted the parents and cost the taxpayer an estimated half-million dollars. The act allows the judges to make protection hearings quite informal, so sticking to the rigid, expensive processes is not necessary.

This informality only seems to extend to the social workers and not to the parents. Social workers are allowed to enter as evidence any piece of hearsay, gossip or conjecture. The same leeway is not given to parents, who may not be allowed to say anything at all.

It takes a certain amount of collusion to be able to dodge all the important guidelines and time lines of the act. Collusion between ministry employees, judges, and counsels for both prosecution and defence. Obviously the adversarial process generates much more income than a conciliatory process, so there is little incentive for lawyers to speed things up.

One device is to stack the court with far more witnesses than necessary. Parents are simply outgunned by the legal financial clout. The end result is that child welfare gets drowned in the culture of the courts.

Ray Ferris is a retired child-protection worker and the author of The Art of Child Protection.

Source: (Vancouver) straight.com

Family Killed
Social Workers Alter Records

March 25, 2013 permalink

In this bungled case in Tennessee a social worker placed teenaged girl Stevie Noelle Milburn with nearby foster parents without warning them of the father's violent streak. He shot both foster parents, his daughter and himself, all but the foster mother fatally. The day after the shooting social workers completed paperwork and backdated it to before the shooting. The state's lawyers kept the surving foster mother gagged for three years.

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DCS failed to warn caretakers about man who later shot them

Neighbors took in girl but weren't told of risk. Then her father shot them all.

Susan Randolph
Susan Randolph was shot three times and her husband, Todd, and a teen neighbor were killed in 2009 by the girl's father.
Anita Wadhwani / The Tennessean

DYERSBURG, TENN. — For more than three years, Susan Randolph has wanted to talk publicly about the weekend the Department of Children’s Services came into her family’s life and turned it upside down, leaving in its wake the deaths of her husband and a teenaged girl.

She hasn’t been able to until now.

Last week, state lawyers abandoned efforts to keep secret a judge’s ruling that DCS was liable for the deaths of Todd Randolph, 46, and Stevie Noelle Milburn, 15.

DCS also was found liable for Susan Randolph’s injuries. She was shot three times in the neck, chest and arm as she sat on her front porch on a summer evening in 2009.

All three were the victims of Stevie’s father, Chris Milburn, who later killed himself.

The 62-page wrongful death judgment against DCS was issued by state Claims Commissioner Nancy Miller-Herron on Nov. 26 and unsealed late last week after a protective order was lifted.

The judgment documents a series of missteps by DCS, which had asked the Randolphs to take in a neighbor’s daughter for the weekend until the agency could investigate accusations of child abuse against her father.

The judgment found DCS never warned the Randolphs that Chris Milburn was accused of severe sexual and physical abuse or that he could be violent. It found that a DCS caseworker didn’t follow agency policies and that she backdated her signature of necessary paperwork after the murders. And it found that DCS never gave the couple any instructions on what to do if Milburn insisted on seeing his daughter.

The judgment ordered DCS to pay the maximum possible in damages for its negligence: $300,000 in the death of Todd Randolph, $300,000 for the death of Stevie Milburn and $275,000 for Susan Randolph’s injuries.

On Friday, Susan Randolph said she was relieved she can finally talk about the ordeal that robbed her of her husband of 22 years and left her two children, 5 and 9 years old at the time, without a father.

Randolph said she filed the lawsuit for two reasons: that the young girl with a “beautiful spirit, a beautiful smile” would not be forgotten, and that by shining a light on problems at DCS, changes can be made to prevent tragedies from happening to other families.

“The whole point of going forward with this was to get the truth out,” Randolph said. “Because it was made clear in the beginning that this was being swept under the rug as just a terrible thing that happened to us but that could not have been avoided. But we knew that to be a lie. There were places where the course of events would likely have been changed had people in this agency acted differently. But there is no way you can walk up and knock on the door of a government agency and say, ‘Would you please tell people what really happened instead of ‘Oh yes, this was a terrible accident.’ This was the only way.”

A DCS spokeswoman directed questions about the case to the state attorney general’s office. Its spokeswoman did not respond on Friday.

Couple couldn't reach caseworker

The Randolphs lived two doors down from the Milburns in a close-knit Dyersburg neighborhood in West Tennessee.

Stevie Milburn, whose name is still sealed by the court but was identified in media accounts at the time of the shooting, was Chris Milburn’s daughter from an earlier relationship.

Late on the night of July 30, 2009 — a Thursday — Todd Randolph got a call from Chris Milburn asking if they could keep the girl overnight because she had made allegations of abuse and DCS said she couldn’t go home.

“He told Todd it was inappropriate touching,” Susan Randolph said last week. “We didn’t know what had happened really, but I thought at the time that maybe it was something like they were wrestling and he’d accidentally touched her chest. I thought there was a way for them both to be telling the truth.”

The couple agreed, and a DCS caseworker dropped off the girl that night. Their own children were away at their grandparents for the weekend.

The next morning, Susan Randolph agreed to take the teenaged girl to DCS offices to meet the caseworker who asked them to see a doctor and a forensic interviewer.

Susan Randolph waited in separate rooms during each visit and never heard the girl’s story.

The girl reported her father had given her a black eye that kept her out of school for a week, a burst lip, a smack in the face, a punch in the face with a closed fist and a whipping with a belt.

She also reported he sexually assaulted her.

The Randolphs also did not know that DCS had learned of an earlier domestic violence charge against Chris Milburn, and a prior DCS report that included the notation that Milburn “acts like a pedophile and dominates his child.”

The DCS caseworker asked Chris Milburn to name temporary caretakers for his daughter for the weekend until the agency could investigate the allegations the following Monday. He named the Randolphs. Asked by a DCS caseworker, the Randolphs agreed once more.

On the temporary protection agreement the caseworker had asked Chris Milburn to sign, the caseworker checked “no” on the question about whether there had been serious physical harm to the child.

The rest of the required paperwork wasn’t filled out until after their shootings.

The caseworker acknowledged later that she completed the paperwork Aug. 3, a day after the murders, but backdated her signature to July 31, records state. Her supervisor also backdated the paperwork, according to Randolph’s lawyer.

The caseworker also offered contradictory accounts of whether she instructed the Randolphs to keep the girl away from her father, records show.

Susan Randolph says if they had known about the seriousness of the allegations or that it was their job to keep Chris Milburn away from his daughter, they would not have been able to provide a place for her.

During that weekend, the Randolphs grew increasingly concerned by Chris Milburn’s behavior.

Chris Milburn was under the impression he could see her any time and under any circumstance, Susan Randolph said.

Susan Randolph called the only contact number they had, a cellphone number for the caseworker, to clarify the arrangement, but her voicemail box was full. The caseworker would later offer differing explanations, first saying she didn’t have her DCS cellphone with her, then saying she spotted missed calls on the phone that weekend, according to court records.

“We just didn’t know what to do,” Susan Randolph said. “We didn’t know if Chris’ behavior was because he was being wrongly accused. We didn’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill. We couldn’t reach her.”

By Sunday afternoon, Stevie Milburn told the Randolphs she did not want to see her father any more.

They called the caseworker again. No answer. The voicemail box was still full.

Sunday evening, Susan Randolph was first to see Chris Milburn approaching the house, not from the street, but from the flowerbeds.

Her husband talked briefly with him, and then Chris Milburn pulled out a gun and shot Todd Randolph. He died beside his truck.

Susan put her head in her lap so she wouldn’t have to see Chris Milburn shoot her. She felt the gunshots enter her body, then heard him go inside, yell and then more gunshots. Stevie Milburn died inside the home.

Chris Milburn fatally shot himself later that night, about a half a block away from the Randolphs’ home.

Problems exposed

Susan Randolph filed her lawsuit against DCS in 2010, and the case went to trial before the Claims Commission of the State of Tennessee Western Division in April 2012. The commission has judicial powers and hears claims brought against the state. The judge is appointed by the governor.

Stevie Milburn’s biological mother, Jessica Readen, also joined the lawsuit. Readen had been living apart from her daughter in Oregon for the eight years before the girl’s death, according to court papers. Neither Readen nor her attorneys could be reached Friday.

Brandon Bass, Susan Randolph’s attorney, said he and Readen’s attorney asked that the trial be public, but at the request of the attorney general’s office, it remained under a protective order.

Bass said the trial exposed DCS’ failure to follow its own policies.

DCS policies require clear steps for how the child is going to be protected against an alleged perpetrator and how to monitor compliance with it, Bass said.

“In this case, they didn’t do that,” said Bass, who is based in Nashville with The Law Offices of John Day.

But the trial also exposed the vagueness of existing DCS policies that are supposed to guide caseworkers in how they place children in temporary arrangements. The policies — unchanged since the shooting — don’t specifically require the agency to give caregivers any information about a child’s welfare or guidance on what to do or whom to call if a problem arises, Bass said.

When the judge ruled in November that DCS was negligent, she also ordered all testimony and evidence unsealed, with the exception of the child’s name and the names of people who reported her abuse.

In December, state lawyers appealed only on the portion of the ruling requiring that the findings and evidence be made public.

“If there is negligence in this case, an award of money damages is the avenue of recourse permitted by law, not public dissemination of confidential documents,” they argued.

But to Bass and Susan Randolph, making the evidence public was the key to justice. Bass noted that the $300,000 judgment for Todd Randolph’s death was a “pittance” for the state of Tennessee and for the death of a father of two young children.

“That money is not going to make the state of Tennessee take notice by itself,” he said. “To try to squelch people like Susan Randolph and Todd Randolph’s family from being able to talk about what happened to them frustrates the Randolphs’ very purpose in bringing this claim in the first place,” Bass said.

Since her husband’s death, Susan Randolph, 48, has returned to work as a math lab coordinator at a community college. Her children are now 12 and 8. She said they are guided by their faith, believe the truth will help other families and that their family will one day be reunited.

“I’m so very thankful that Todd Arnold Randolph came into this world, was my husband and my children’s father, and nobody can take that away,” she said.

“I can say three and a half years later that is a beautiful thing that none of that ugliness can take away. Do I wish he were still here? Every day. Is my family healing? Most definitely. All we have are the cards that are dealt. We don’t get the cards we wish we had. Because I’m a person of faith, I do have confidence that as part of the body of Christ that there is more. And that Todd is OK. And so is she.”

Source: Tennessean

Phantom Baby Sold

March 25, 2013 permalink

Some agencies are so desperate for children they will buy one from a woman with a hysterectomy. Jaime Suzanne Ritchhart is in jail after collecting $7,100 from Heart of Adoptions Inc.

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JAIME SUZANNE RITCHHART ARRESTED FOR ADOPTION FRAUD AND GRAND THEFT Jaime Suzanne Ritchhart

Marion County _ Jaime Suzanne Ritchhart, 31, of Ocala is in the Marion County Jail on charges of adoption fraud and grand theft. An adoption case manager contacted Marion County Sheriff's Office detectives to report Ritchhart signed an agreement to place her expected child up for adoption. The case manager told detectives Ritchhart provided paperwork indicating she was pregnant. Ritchhart received more than $7,100 up to that time.

The official report indicates Ritchhart was not attending doctors appointments and states Ritchhart had a miscarriage. Marion County Sheriff's Office Detective Tony Watts interviewed Ritchhart, who said she was giving her child up for adoption and the adoption agency was paying her rent. Ritchhart said she was seven months pregnant and expected to have a baby in May. Once Ritchhart was shown medical records indicating she had a hysterectomy, she refused to talk and Ritchhart was arrested on March 20, 2013.

ARRESTED: W/F Jaime Suzanne Ritchhart
DOB: 03/30/1981
CHARGES: Adoption Fraud
Grand Theft
CHRIS BLAIR, SHERIFF

Source: Marion County Sheriff's Office

Phantom Baby

Ombudsman Bill to be Introduced

March 24, 2013 permalink

A new bill providing for ombudsman oversight of children's aid is to be introduced in the legislature on Wednesday, March 27. On behalf of Canada Court Watch Attila Vinczer is inviting spectators to attend.

Addendum: Monique Taylor speaks about children's aid with Scott Thompson on CHML. She has educated herself on the issue. YouTube and local copy (mp4).

Addendum: The Toronto Star announces the intention to introduce an ombudsman oversight bill.

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Children’s Aid Societies need ombudsman oversight, NDP MPP says

The NDP is trying again to get the CAS brought under the jurisdiction of the ombudsman’s office.

NDP MPP Monique Taylor is determined to bring ombudsman oversight to the Children’s Aid Societies to protect their charges from being victimized.

Taylor is to reintroduce her private member’s bill in the legislature Wednesday to open up the CAS to the ombudsman’s scrutiny. Her first one died after second reading when then premier Dalton McGuinty prorogued the house.

“There is a litany of stories of abuse,” said the Hamilton Mountain MPP, who noted the NDP has been calling for years to bring municipalities, universities, schools, hospitals and the CAS under the ombudsman purview.

Her concerns were recently highlighted by the story of a now 20-year woman who was turned over, along with her brother, by the Toronto CAS to a non-biological parent, when she was two years old. Mac Bool Hassan, 49, was recently convicted of sexually and physically abusing her for eight years.

“This is just one more reason . . . this is absolutely outrageous and sickening what happened to this young woman,” said Taylor, pointing out that bringing the CAS under the auspices of the ombudsman, according to Minister of Children and Youth Services, is not a priority for the Liberal government.

Since its inception in 1975 the Ontario ombudsman’s office has been calling for the CAS to be included in its mandate. About 500 CAS-related complaints are filed annually with the ombudsman’s office even though it has no jurisdiction.

Children and Youth Services Minister Teresa Piruzza said over the last several years the government has taken steps to ensure the wellbeing and care of children come first, including “rigorous” background checks are required of those proposing to care for a child.

Source: Toronto Star

Get Rid of Hemming!

March 24, 2013 permalink

Opponents are calling for the ouster of Britain's political gadfly John Hemming.

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MP who named Giggs and Goodwin faces calls to quit

John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP who made a name for himself by saying things in Parliament which could not legally be said anywhere else, has been accused of being unfit for public office.

A fellow MP has written to the Speaker saying that Mr Hemming should be made to quit Parliament after a woman whose cause he championed was accused by a judge of being a liar. John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, accused Mr Hemming of being "foolhardy and irresponsible" and of having a "macho attitude" towards the courts.

Vicky Haigh, a horse-racing trainer and jockey, has been involved in a dispute with her former partner and with Doncaster Council over custody of her daughter. Mr Hemming took up her case after she attended a public meeting which he chaired in a room in the House of Commons, where she spoke about the case despite a court order banning publicity.

After the meeting, Ms Haigh received a court summons that appeared to threaten her with prison. Mr Hemming raised the case on the floor of the House of Commons, as a potential breach of parliamentary privilege and a threat to free speech. Mr Hemming also named Ms Haigh, which he was able to do because he was an MP speaking in the Commons.

Previously, he used parliamentary privilege to reveal that Sir Fred Goodwin, former head of the Royal Bank of Scotland, had taken out a super-injunction to prevent details of his affair with a work colleague from being published, under which it was forbidden to name Mr Goodwin or describe him as a banker.

Mr Hemming again used parliamentary privilege to expose Ryan Giggs as the footballer who had obtained a similar injunction to protect him from being named as having had an affair with the Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas.

The Haigh case is different, because it involved a dispute over a child's welfare. All the details except the name of the seven-year-old child involved, known as X, are now public; a court hearing this week culminated in a woman who had acted as an investigator for Ms Haigh being jailed for nine months for contempt of court. Elizabeth Watson was accused of sending "aggressive and intimidating" emails and internet postings about social workers involved in the case.

Sir Nicholas Wall, the UK's leading family court judge, said Ms Haigh had accused her former partner, David Tune, of being a paedophile, knowing that it was a lie, and of behaving as if she thought she was above the law.

"Allegations of sexual abuse were first made by the mother and not by X. These were false and the mother knew them to be false. X was coached by the mother to make allegations of sexual abuse against the father," he said.

This judgment prompted Mr Mann, who was Vicky Haigh's local MP at the time, to denounce Mr Hemming for drawing attention to the case. "A gung-ho attitude to the breaching of court injunctions on the floor of the House is foolhardy and irresponsible," he said.

He added that Mr Hemming "clearly has a psychological obsession with the breaking of court injunctions and is not fit to be an MP".

Mr Hemming stressed yesterday that he had never commented on the rights or wrongs of the family court judgment, but raised the case because of the implications for free speech.

He told The Independent: "I think people have a right to talk to parliamentarians and I think Parliament should stand up for that. What I said in the House of Commons was about Doncaster Council's attempt to jail her, because once judges or councils start trying to lock people up in secret, I get very edgy. Apparently John Mann would like to see them locked up."

Source: Independent (UK)

New Masthead

March 24, 2013 permalink

Since fixcas today has little connection with Dufferin or VOCA, the name Duffern VOCA is gone from our homepage masthead, replaced by FIXCAS, along with new colors.

Parental Protection Thwarted

March 23, 2013 permalink

Child protection to excess harms children in an unexpected way. Parents of Eileen Parkman in Hawaii were inhibited from removing their daughter from a dangerous school by the threat of a CPS call.

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When A Public School Becomes the Bully

We expect our schools to keep our children safe from bullies. But what should parents do when their assigned government school becomes the bully?

That’s what happened to the parents of Eileen Parkman, a Hawaiian second-grader who courageously stood up to several fifth-grade boys who were kicking and stomping a defenseless autistic child as he was curled up in the fetal position. The bullies then set their sights on Eileen, whom they threw to the ground and stepped on. The Maui Autism Center gave her an award for her bravery, but the boys continued to hit and kick her and throw balls at her face on several subsequent occasions. School officials at Kamali’i Elementary in Maui were apparently unable to stop the bullying, so Eileen’s parents decided to pull her out of the dangerous environment.

That’s when the school officials became bullies themselves:

It took Sean Parkman a while to remove Eileen from enrollment at Kamali’i. After the first incident, he was told the situation would be remedied, he said. But when Eileen endured more retaliation, Parkman said he received no help from school officials. He and his mother offered to help serve as school field monitors, but they were turned away, he said. Parkman said school officials told him that if he pulled Eileen from the school, then officials would report him to Child Protective Services because he could be violating school attendance policies. So, he held off. But after taking Eileen to doctors several times after getting beaten, doctors warned Parkman that Eileen was not safe. He then removed her from the school.

In other words, the school officials gave the Parkmans an untenable choice: keep your daughter in an unsafe environment, or men with guns might come take your daughter away. After a few trips to the doctors, the Parkmans decided to risk the possibility of the latter rather than have their daughter continue to face the certainty of the former.

It’s impossible to know why exactly the school officials behaved as they did—they clammed up when reporters started asking questions—but it would not be surprising if the officials were at least partly motivated by the state’s school funding formula, which allocates money based partially on enrollment. Fewer students mean fewer dollars. If they can’t please parents who want to leave, school officials can threaten them with a parent’s worst nightmare.

If Hawaii had had a school choice program, most of the grief following the initial incident could have been avoided. If the school officials knew that the parents had other options, they would have had to remedy the situation in order to keep Eileen at their school, and they would have had no recourse to threats. Fortunately, the Parkmans had the resources to provide a tutor for their daughter, but many families don’t have that option. Discussions of school choice often revolve around academic performance, but there are other reasons that a family might want to choose another school and bullying is one of them.

Unfortunately, this bullying incident is far from unique. Bullying, especially of students with special needs, is abhorrently pervasive:

Sixty percent of students with disabilities reported being bullied compared to 25 percent of the general student population, according to a 2008 citation from the British Journal of Learning Support, which was cited in the 2011 report, “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes: Bullying and the Child with Special Needs.” According to the book “Insights from across Fields and around the World” (2009), only 10 studies have been conducted in the U.S. on bullying and developmental disabilities. All studies found that children with disabilities were two to three times more likely to be victims of bullying than their nondisabled peers.

School choice is not a panacea for all the challenges facing our education system, but it can mean the world to a child who can escape from her tormentors and learn in a safe environment.

Source: Cato Institute

Children’s Aid Society oversight

March 22, 2013 permalink

Charles Adler discussed CAS oversight on Sun News March 21 along with co-host Christina Blizzard. They give a good explanation why CAS keeps kids in foster care and resists adoption. Mr Adler continues with a monologue on children's aid. Pat Niagara captured the videos Adler and Blizzard and monologue (both mp4).

Assault by Social Worker

March 22, 2013 permalink

Social worker Vanessa Sturge attacked her boyfriend, grabbed him by the shoulders, pushed him into a wall and on the floor while he was not fighting back. Kamloops BC police traced the location of the victim's phone and broke up the fight. Sturge has pleaded guilty to assault. Don't ask how she treats children.

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Social worker beats boyfriend

A social worker who repeatedly punched her boyfriend and wrestled him to the ground pleaded guilty to assault Thursday in provincial court.

The guilty plea by 23-year-old Vanessa Sturge came after events on Feb. 24, when 9-1-1 emergency officials received several dropped cellphone calls from her boyfriend.

Prosecutor Will Burrows said emergency officials attempted to "ping" the open cellphone line to determine a location, which they tracked down to an 80-metre radius on Tranquille Road.

Several calls were made via cellphone.

"He said Sturge was punching him," Burrows said. "She continued to hit the complainant while he was on the phone. He could be heard saying, 'Let go of me.'"

RCMP eventually tracked down the pair at an apartment building.

A neighbour told police she saw Sturge grab her boyfriend by the shoulders, push him into a wall and on the floor.

"He wasn't fighting back at that time," Burrows said.

Sturge's boyfriend did not receive serious injuries and didn't want charges filed.

Defence lawyer Murray Armstrong said Sturge has a diploma in social work and was in a relationship with the victim for a year.

"She said she's never hit anybody in her life, other than this one incident."

Judge Hermann Rohrmoser sentenced Sturge to a conditional discharge, including a six-month probation. Terms include a ban on alcohol. She must also leave her boyfriend's presence on his demand.

"It's a pretty nasty assault," Rohrmoser said. "It seems to take you by a big surprise. There's probably more to it than I know."

Source: Kamloops Daily News

Australian Apology to Unwed Mothers

March 21, 2013 permalink

Australian prime minister Julia Gillard has apologized for the past separation of babies from unwed mothers. Hear her words on YouTube or a local copy (mp4). Like Canadian prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2008, she uses good words. Sadly, those good words are not matched by good actions. In both Australia and Canada, separations of parents and children continue at a high rate. Only the pretexts have changed.

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We apologise, PM tells victims of forced adoptions

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard has told victims of forced adoption practices: "We apologise".

Ms Gillard made the long awaited national apology at a special ceremony in Canberra attended by hundreds of people, including mothers betrayed by a system that decided their children were better off elsewhere.

"We acknowledge your loss and grief," the prime minister said.

From the 1950s to the 1970s an estimated 150,000 unwed Australian mothers had their babies forcibly adopted under a practice sanctioned by governments, churches, hospitals, charities and bureaucrats.

Some women were tricked into signing adoption papers, drugged and physically shackled to hospital beds.

Ms Gillard was speaking ahead of parallel motions being moved in the House of Representatives and the Senate later on Thursday to formalise the apology.

It will say that the parliament, on behalf of the Australian people, takes responsibility and apologises for the policies and practices that forced the separation of mothers from their babies.

''This apology is extended in good faith and deep humility,'' Ms Gillard said.

''It will be a profound act of moral insight by a nation searching its conscience.''

Ms Gillard said it took courage to say sorry.

''What we see in that mirror is deeply shameful and distressing,'' she said.

''A story of suffering and unbearable loss.''

The prime minister spoke of young and vulnerable women who lost their children under pressure and sometimes the influence of drugs.

''Most common of all was the bullying arrogance of a society that presumed to know what was best,'' she said.

''For decades, young mothers grew old haunted by loss.''

Ms Gillard also spoke of the children who were adopted, some of whom suffered sexual abuse at the hands of their adoptive parents or in state institutions.

''Many others identified the paralysing effect of self-doubt and a fear of abandonment,'' she said.

But Australia could not forget the fathers, who were often ignored at the time of the births and whose names were not included on birth certificates.

''No collection of words alone can undo all this damage,'' Ms Gillard said.

''But by saying sorry we can correct the historical record.

''We can declare that these mothers did nothing wrong.

''That you loved your children and you always will.''

Ms Gillard received a standing ovation after her speech in the Great Hall of Parliament House.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott told the story of his former girlfriend Kathy Donnelly, who in 1977 gave birth out of wedlock to a son, whom for years Mr Abbott believed was his.

''There is no stronger bond than that between mother and child,'' he said.

''There are no first or second class mothers ... and every mother has the right to raise her child - we know it now and we should have known it then.

''We were hard hearted and we were judgmental, that's why we should apologise.

''We did inflict pain on those we loved.''

A number of women in the audience began yelling at Mr Abbott when he used the words ''birth parents''.

He said: ''We honour the birth parents, including fathers, who have always loved their children.''

Mr Abbott also acknowledged the efforts of adoptive parents, as those in the audience continued to shout.

''I hear what you are saying ... I honour the parents, who have always loved their children,'' he said.

''The last thing I would wish to do is cause pain to people who have suffered too much pain already.

''I am happy to retract it,'' he said.

In some quarters, the term ''birth parent'' is deemed insensitive to women who relinquished their children under difficult circumstances.

The parliamentary motions to be moved on Thursday will also acknowledge the profound effects of forced adoption policies and practices on fathers.

Source: The Australian

Christopher Booker comments on the emptiness of the apology.

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Australia’s scandal of forced adoption is happening here in Britain

The forcible removal of children by social workers in Australia between the 1950s and the 1970s has parallels with what is happening in British courts today

Listeners to Thursday’s Today programme heard a truly remarkable item. The presenter Sarah Montague reported that the Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, had issued a solemn apology for the forced-adoption scandal.

Between the 1950s and the 1970s, thousands of young Australian women – many of them unmarried mothers – had their children forcibly removed, often at birth, by social workers who then sent the children off for adoption. Ms Montague interviewed one such mother, who described how she had been arrested when pregnant by the police and incarcerated in a special unit, where, the moment her baby was born, it was removed by social workers and handed to a family that lived three doors down the road.

Ms Montague was astonished by what she heard. “It sounds terrible,” she said, “how was it allowed to happen? How was it considered acceptable?” After a pause when the interview finished, her equally shocked co-presenter, Evan Davis, said: “We’re in stunned silence.”

What is astonishing about this, of course, is the reaction of the Today journalists. They are clearly completely unaware that similar events to those they found so shocking are occurring here in Britain every day of the week. The latest figures show that applications to take children from their parents into care continue to break all records – nearly 1,000 a month in England and Wales alone – and far too many of these child-snatchings have no more rational or humane justification than those for which Ms Gillard was belatedly apologising.

For some years now a handful of journalists, including Camilla Cavendish on The Times, Sue Reid of the Daily Mail and several writers on The Sunday Telegraph, including me, have been trying against all the odds to lift a tiny corner of the veil of secrecy that hides what is routinely going on in our social-service departments and family courts. Our own forced adoption scandal is a tragedy just as terrifying as anything that happened in Australia all those years ago.

But I am also reminded of the occasion on February 24, 2010, when Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg all stood up in the Commons to apologise for the equally shocking scandal that had long since been brought to light over the fate of some 50,000 bewildered British children, who were torn from their families half a century ago or more, to be sent off to a miserable new life in Australia and Canada. Only decades later did the tireless efforts of Margaret Humphreys, a former British social worker, bring this tragedy to public view (described in her heartrending book, Empty Cradles).

Clearly, when they uttered their apologies, Brown, Cameron and Clegg had no idea that something just as horrifying was going on under their noses at the very time they were speaking. Doubtless we shall have to wait for another 30 years, for another generation of politicians to utter empty apologies for the crimes that were being committed behind closed doors in the Britain of 2013 – when there is no longer anyone around to be held accountable for what our politicians of today are still allowing to continue.

Source: Telegraph (UK)

An Australian story on the apology shows the harm done by social worker lies.

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Adoption apology won't erase decades of lies

A woman whose husband was born in Newcastle and forcibly adopted in the 1970s says an apology by the Prime Minister today will do nothing to ease their trauma.

Julia Gillard will today make a formal apology to families affected by forced adoption practices after a senate inquiry last year found 250,000 babies were taken from their mothers over several decades.

The woman, known as "Sydney", says her husband's adopted parents were told by a social worker in 1972 that his mother was a 15-year-old Newcastle girl with a boyfriend at school, unable to keep her baby.

"Sydney" says just this week, documents arrived from an adoption support unit explaining that she was in fact 19-years-old, the victim of a rape and from a farming community.

She says lies by social workers have left her husband in the dark.

"He burst out crying," she said.

"All his life he was brought up to believe that his parents brought him into the world with love.

"I want the social worker to apologise to my husband's family for lying, and being so insensitive."

She says her husband is devastated by the news.

"She (his birth mother) didn't know who the birth father was," she said.

"He was a predator.

"Social workers all along had been lying."

Source: ABC (Australia)

Addendum: A report only a week later confirms that contemporaneous with the apology to mothers Australia is separating mothers and children at an increasing rate.

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Growing number of young people taken into care

Australia's biggest survey of young people in care has revealed that growing numbers of children are being taken into government protection due to neglect and abuse.

The CREATE Report Card 2013, commissioned by the CREATE Foundation, the peak body for children in care, surveyed 1,069 participants aged eight to 11 from all states and territories except Western Australia.

The report shows 37,648 children and young people were in out-of-home care at June 30, 2011. That represented a 33 per cent increase between 2007 and 2011, a rate of increase of more than 7 per cent each year.

Report author Dr Joseph McDowell said the jump in numbers had a lot to do with a broadening of the definition of abuse and greater vigilance.

"I think the community as a whole is becoming a lot more vigilant about the problems that many families experience," he said.

"There is a lot of attention being focused on that, and certainly in some jurisdictions you find that a lot of young people who are having problems with the family are being taken into care."

CREATE's chief executive Jacqui Reed said she thought there "probably" was "an increase in abuse and neglect".

"We certainly know that drug and alcohol issues play a part in that, and we're seeing that in endemic proportions. We also see families more fragmented," she said.

Hayden Frost was raised in 39 different foster homes from the age of three.

"There was a lot of drug and alcohol abuse and lot of mental issues in my family," the 22-year-old said.

For years, he did not know why he was in care, and was not involved in any decisions about his life.

"It was just someone would come and pick me up and then we're into a new family," he recalled.

"I wouldn't know until that day where I'm woken up and told, 'Mate, it's time to pack to your bags'.

"The anger that goes through your head... the first thing you want to do is just grab something and throw it through a wall."

The report examined how the child protection system was faring from the point of view of young people living in it.

It found that while more than 80 per cent of respondents were happy in their current placement, they were not as satisfied with their placement history.

Thirty-five per cent of those surveyed had to deal with five or more caseworkers during their time in care.

Around a third went to three or more primary schools, while 40 per cent did not feel like they could contact their caseworker when they needed to.

Around half of those surveyed did not know why they were in care. Less than a third knew anything about the care plan developed for them, including a leaving care plan for what was likely to happen after they turned 18.

The proportion of young people who know anything about the plan for the future has remained static in the CREATE studies since 2009.

"The most disappointing part is that still, after all the efforts so many people have put in, we're not getting the best participation we can from young people," Dr McDowell said.

"They're not being given the opportunity to be involved in the decision-making that affects their lives."

The situation is far worse for Indigenous young people, according to the report card.

They are up to 10 times more likely to be in out-of-home care and experience more disruption during their placements.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people had more placements and caseworkers. Thirty per cent reported little to no connection with their cultural community, and only 10 per cent of those surveyed were aware of a cultural support plan.

"It's just a litany of problems that the Indigenous group faced, and certainly we have to do far more," Dr McDowell said.

"Maybe we have to take more overt action engaging with the elders of communities to actually prepare some sort of program in the different regions to help young people understand their background and their culture.

"A lot of the problem seemed to be because a lot of the young people seem to have nobody they can talk to about their culture about their background."

The report found 36 per cent of respondents in out-of-home care who had brothers and sisters were separated from their siblings.

The figure jumped to more than half in South Australia. But siblings were still the most frequently contacted family members followed by grandparents and then mothers.

In contrast almost 50 per cent never saw their fathers at all.

Dr McDowell says the lack of contact with fathers is problematic.

"There's a lot of literature now that's pointing to how important fathers are in the life of young people in general, particularly young people in care," he said.

"Placement durations can decrease, the likelihood of reunification with family is higher when there is some relationship with fathers."

Stephen Smith was reunited with his father when he was 10. The now 36-year-old was put into foster care when his parents split up when he was 12 months old.

"One of the problems I experienced while in foster care was lack of communication," he recalls.

"I'm sure all the adults were communicating around me."

He left home when he was a teenager and is now a successful opera singer, with a family of his own.

"I think it's hard coming from a broken family to really get the concept [of] family," he said.

"It's very easy not to realise the importance of the stability that a family provides, of the ability to talk to your brothers or your sisters, or your mothers or your aunts or your uncles, about the things that are important.

"Because without those people, who do you turn to? Who are your examples? Who are your mentors? Who is there to believe in you? Who is there to encourage you?"

Source: ABC hosted by Yahoo

Loving a Foster Child

March 21, 2013 permalink

After a teenaged boy was separated from his family by force of arms, social workers placed him in a residential school where staffer Vicky Callaghan, twice his age, fell in love with him. She has now resigned her job and the two are sharing the same home.

It is easy to express shock, as do the two enclosed articles, or to make fun of this kind of affair. But when unrelated persons above the age of puberty are put together by force, an occasional romance is inevitable. If you see something wrong in this story, think of it as one more reason not to take people away from their real family.

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Mother-of-two care worker, 33, was 'fired over affair with troubled boy of 16 at residential school'

  • Places at the school cost the council up to £200,000 a year
  • Ex-husband was suspicious when teenager sent a romantic birthday card
  • It is thought Mrs Callaghan and the teenager are still in a relationship
Vicky Callaghan
Under investigation: Vicky Callaghan, 33, is being investigated by police after she allegedly conducted an affair with a boy she had been asked to help as a care worker

A mother of two has lost her job as a care worker after being accused of starting an affair with a troubled teenager.

Vicky Callaghan, 33, is believed to have been assigned the boy at a residential school where she worked to help tackle his ‘attachment issues’.

But she is understood to have been dismissed after allegedly beginning a secret relationship with the 16-year-old, who had been placed there by social workers.

The pair are still thought to be in a relationship, and Mrs Callaghan was last night being investigated by police over whether her behaviour constituted a criminal offence.

Meanwhile her ex-husband, Peter Callaghan, 46, has raised concerns about the impact that spending time with the ‘challenging’ teenager may have on the couple’s children – both aged under five – when they visit their mother.

Mrs Callaghan worked as a mental health practitioner giving one-to-one help to pupils at a school for children with behavioural difficulties.

Teenagers are referred to the school in Greater Manchester with places costing councils up to £200,000 a year per child.

The youth with whom Mrs Callaghan is accused of having a relationship is understood to have been sent to the school after concerns about his family home life.

The council involved in the decision is not in Greater Manchester.

A relative of Mr Callaghan said: ‘Suspicion was first raised last year when he [the teenager] bought her a blouse for her birthday and wrote “To Vicky, lots of love” in the card.’ He claimed the pair were later seen holding hands and Mrs Callaghan started acting like a love-struck teenager.

Mrs Callaghan is understood to have initially denied any relationship, sources have told the Daily Mail, only to be dismissed last summer for abusing her position following an investigation.

According to internal documents, she described what she’d done as ‘the biggest mistake of my life’.

In a letter about the case last November, a council director wrote: ‘It is clear Mrs Callaghan has shown very poor judgement and that she has abused her position of trust and should not be allowed to work with young people in the future.’

He went on to write that Mrs Callaghan had been ‘advised’ not to ‘promote contact’ between the teenager and her own children, but that ‘information would suggest that they are in fact having contact’.

Now her ex-husband is demanding the council steps in. ‘Given the sort of teenagers who go to that school, he’s horrified to think that one of them might be helping to look after his kids,’ a relative said.

Mrs Callaghan is now living in a rented two-bedroom house. Asked if she had any comment to make about the alleged relationship, she replied ‘No’ and shut the door.

The teenager – who is said to be doing well at college – arrived at the house a short time later.

The council which originally placed the teenager at the school would not comment.

Asked about Mrs Callaghan’s dismissal, a spokesman for the body which runs the school would only say: ‘That particular member of staff no longer works at the school.’

Mrs Callaghan is also believed to have been referred to the Disclosure and Barring Service which has power to bar adults from working with children.

Police said they were going to look at whether Mrs Callaghan’s relationship with the teen constituted a criminal offence.

A spokesman said: ‘We have received a complaint alleging an inappropriate relationship between a staff member and a pupil at a school.

‘The force take allegations of this nature extremely seriously and will work with children’s services and other agencies to fully investigate these claims.’

Source: Daily Mail


Mother slams council chiefs for allowing her troubled 16-year-old son set up home with his blonde 33-year-old care worker

  • Mother furious after nothing done to prevent son moving in with Vicky Callaghan and described situation as 'absolutely disgraceful'
  • Mrs Callaghan resigned from her job after the affair came to light
  • Police and social workers have visited the pair as part of an investigation
  • Report has concluded that both are able to be in a relationship

The mother of a troubled 16-year-old boy has slammed council officials for allowing him to set up home with his blonde 33-year-old care worker.

The mother said she was furious after nothing was done to prevent her son moving in with Vicky Callaghan, who was one of his support team at his residential school.

Mrs Callaghan, who has two children under five, resigned from her job as mental health practitioner at the school for boys with severe emotional and behavioural problems after the affair came to light.

Police and social workers have visited the pair as part of a council child protection investigation and a report has concluded: ‘Technically both parties are able to be in a relationship with each other regardless of how “appropriate” this is.’

But the boy’s mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has described the situation as ‘absolutely disgraceful’. She said: ‘I knew my son was close to Vicky, but I didn’t realise just how close.

‘I have seen a lot of pictures of them together, but you wouldn’t dream they’d go off together.

‘I can’t believe the council allowed it and I can’t understand how this woman has been allowed to get away with it.’

The mother, who has five other children and lives with her partner in a two-bedroom council maisonette, added that her son had been referred to the school because he had dyslexia, and that ‘this Vicky’ had told her he had anger issues.

‘I asked her what the school was going to do about it and she said they would give him a course of therapy.

‘The next thing I knew they were shacked up together. Is that what they call therapy these days? What exactly are they running there?’

The boy’s mother admits to an unconventional lifestyle. She lists her hobbies as ‘the Sun, Brothers cider, and Pit Bulls’ on a social networking site. As she spoke to The Mail on Sunday she apologised for wearing a teddy bear-style hat, saying: ‘I’ve just had my hair done.’

Suspicions about the relationship were first raised when Mrs Callaghan’s colleagues noticed her and the boy having frequent one-to-one sessions. Things came to a head when they were spotted together outside the school, which is strictly forbidden. She was reportedly seen picking him up in his car.

Mrs Callaghan and the boy, who has left the school, now live in a smart three-bedroom bungalow in a well-heeled village about a mile from the former home she shared with her estranged husband Peter, 46.

Mrs Callaghan said it would be ‘inappropriate’ to talk about the relationship when The Mail on Sunday visited her at the bungalow. She answered the door and smiled as the 16-year-stood stood behind her in the hallway. ‘I really would love to put the record straight and give my side of the story but I can’t,’ she told a reporter.

Mr Callaghan knew the boy, who reportedly walks around the village holding hands with and kissing Mrs Callaghan, because he also used to work at the school, as a social worker.

He too has complained about the relationship being allowed to continue. A relative said: ‘He was basically told that because the teenager hadn’t made a complaint, there was nothing anyone could do.’

In an internal report, seen by The Mail on Sunday, a senior council official wrote: ‘It is clear that Mrs Callaghan has shown very poor judgment and that she has abused her position of trust and should not be allowed to work with young people in future.’

Source: Daily Mail

Another romance, this time between Scottish care worker Louise McHugh her ward Ryan Esdale.

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Social worker who lost her job after running off with 16-year-old from care home now plans to marry him

LOUISE McHUGH lost her career and her friends and faced a police probe after falling for teenager but the 36-year-old claims she'd do it all over again.

Louise McHugh and Ryan Esdale
Louise and Ryan near their home in Carlisle
Alex Alevroyiannis

A 36-YEAR-OLD social worker who ran off with a teenage boy she was meant to be caring for yesterday insisted she would do it again.

Louise McHugh insisted: “We love each other so much. I don’t have one regret.”

Louise, 36, from Glasgow, was working at a home for vulnerable youngsters when she fell for 16-year-old Ryan Esdale.

She lost her £24,000-a-year job as a senior care worker and was questioned by the police on suspicion of three ­charges of sexual activity with a child.

There was no prosecution – but by then all her friends had disowned her. She could find work only as a cleaner.

Yet it seems Louise and Ryan have found happiness. They are engaged and plan to marry with a honeymoon on a Greek island.

The wedding and holiday will be ­funded by a £6000 student grant awarded to pay for Ryan’s college joinery course.

Louise said: “We can’t help how we feel. Ryan makes me happy.”

But there has been a price. Louise said: “I get terrible looks from people when they see Ryan out with me and if they know I’m not his mum. They say looks can kill. Well if that’s true, I should have died about 100 times. But it’s keeping us together. We love each other. Age is just a number.”

The pair met when she was assigned to be his key worker at Wilderness Experiences, the residential kids’ home where she worked. The centre offers troubled youngsters the chance to do a range of outdoor pursuits while being cared for by trained staff.

Ryan was transferred there after bosses at his previous placement could do ­nothing about his violent temper.

He has convictions for vandalism and violence, including GBH, and has been in and out of care homes and young ­offender centres for much of his life.

Louise and Ryan developed an ­affection which quickly escalated.

They phoned every night and sent 100 texts a day. One night Louise booked a hotel room in Glasgow – and ­bedded him for the first time.

They went on a camping trip in the Trossachs in Perthshire and spent another night at a hotel.

Ryan then began absconding from his new care home to get to Louise’s home in Carlisle.

He moved in and they made it clear they were an item. Louise ­introduced Ryan to her ­parents at Christmas. She said: “They were shocked at first because of the age difference but they have been very ­supportive ever since. Their view is that if I’m happy, they are happy.”

Louise added: “Nothing happened while Ryan was at the Wilderness Experiences centre but we liked each other and got on well.

“After his placement ended, he began text messaging me and those messages gradually became more and more flirty.

“That was exciting. I was single at the time. I’d been single for about 18 months. We shared 100 texts a day then talked every night on the phone.

“Ryan was in a sort of halfway house care facility and suggested we should meet up. I was worried because I thought I might lose my job.

“But I thought he was worth it. I went up to Glasgow and met him around the corner from his care home and we went to the Jury’s Inn hotel.

“We had a beer and a chat in the room. I was duty manager at the Wilderness Experience that weekend and my work phone kept going off.

“I was very stressed. But then we had our first kiss and I knew then he was worth any risk.

“We jumped into bed. I was 34 and he was 16 so I was self-conscious. I kept thinking, ‘Why has he gone for me?’ I never thought it was wrong, although I knew at work and other people would see it as wrong. I was following my heart.

"You have to take chances in life or you risk missing out on something really good. We have grown stronger together, even though the whole world seems to be against us.

“Forty of my friends have disowned me. I can count on one hand the friends I have left.”

Ryan said: “I couldn’t give a damn she’s twice my age. I just thought she was beautiful. I don’t care what people think as long as they keep their thoughts to themselves.

“I’ve hit one of my neighbours who was giving me a hard time.”

Ryan bought an engagement ring and proposed while they were in bed. The couple now plan a honeymoon on the Greek island of Cefalonia.

Louise was found guilty of seven ­misconduct charges at a Scottish Social Services Council ­disciplinary hearing in Dundee in September.

Her boss Claire Houghton appeared as a witness.

She said Louise had been a model employee who she was happy to describe as “very dedicated and very professional” until the Ryan affair.

She said: “Lou was placed in a position of trust. We’re not dealing with a normal young boy here.

“He is very vulnerable with a very mixed upbringing. He was not in a position to consent. This is an abusive relationship.”

Source: Glasgow Daily Record

Teaching Firearms Safety

March 20, 2013 permalink

Shawn Moore is a firearms instructor in New Jersey. He taught his son Josh to use a gun and the boy has a hunter's license. The proud father posted a picture of his son safely holding a gun given as an eleventh birthday present. Police and child protectors came to his home demanding to search for guns and threatening to seize the children.

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Family’s home raided over Facebook photo of child’s rifle

Josh Moore

New Jersey police and Dept. of Children and Families officials raided the home of a firearms instructor and demanded to see his guns after he posted a Facebook photo of his 11-year-old son holding a rifle.

“Someone called family services about the photo,” said Evan Nappen, an attorney representing Shawn Moore. “It led to an incredible, heavy-handed raid on his house. They wanted to see his gun safe, his guns and search his house. They even threatened to take his kids.”

Moore was not arrested or charged.

A Dept. of Children and Families spokesperson told me they could not confirm or deny an investigation or raid had taken place due to government regulations.

“The department has a child abuse hotline for the state of New Jersey and anybody can make a call to that hotline,” spokesperson Kristen Brown said. “We are required to follow up on every single allegation that comes into the central registry.”

Moore, of Carneys Point, is a certified firearms instructor for the National Rifle Association, an NRA range safety officer and a New Jersey hunter education instructor.

He recently posted a photograph of his son wearing camouflage and holding his new .22 rifle. The child has a New Jersey hunting license and recently passed the state’s hunter safety course.

“If you look at the picture, his finger isn’t even on the trigger – which is proper,” Nappen told me. “If half of Hollywood could follow that rule we’d be thankful.”

Brown said their role is not to go out and search Facebook for photos of children holding weapons.

“In general our role is to investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect,” she said.

The family’s trouble started Saturday night when Moore received an urgent text message from his wife. The Carneys Point Police Dept. and the New Jersey Dept. of Children and Families had raided their home.

Moore immediately called Nappen and rushed home to find officers demanding to check his guns and his gun safe.

Instead, he handed his cell phone to one of the officers – so they could speak with Nappen.

“If you have a warrant, you’re coming in,” Nappen told the officers. “If you don’t, then you’re not. That’s what privacy is all about.”

With his attorney on speaker phone, Moore instructed the officers to leave his home.

“I was told I was being unreasonable and that I was acting suspicious because I wouldn’t open my safe,” Moore wrote on the Delaware Open Carry website. “They told me they were going to get a search warrant. I told them to go ahead.”

Nappen told Fox News the police wanted to inventory his firearms.

“”We said no way, it’s not happening,” he said. “This is a guy who is completely credentialed and his son is also credentialed.”

The attorney said police eventually left and never returned.

“He has a Fourth Amendment right and he’s not going to give up his Fourth Amendment right or his Second Amendment right,” he said. “They didn’t have a warrant – so see you later.”

Brown said that it’s “prudent and wise to protect children.”

“In many cases we may follow up on something and we don’t find any problems and the case is closed,” she said.

But the person who reported the false allegations of abuse cannot be held liable, she noted.

“You can’t be prosecuted for making an allegation of child abuse –even if it’s false,” she said.

Nappen said what happened to the Moore family should serve as a warning to gun owners across the nation.

“To make someone go through this because he posted a picture of his son with a .22 rifle on his Facebook page is pretty outrageous,” he said. “Does that mean that anyone who posts a picture like that has to consent to a home inspection and a gun inspection? I don’t think so.”

Nappen said they are considering taking legal action against the state for the late night raid.

Source: Human Events

Here is the full-length picture. Fox News interviewed Shawn Moore and son Josh (flv).

Bring in the Ombudsman

March 20, 2013 permalink

Christina Blizzard calls for oversight of Ontario's children's aid societies, citing four cases of outrageous foster care going back to the 1990s. What would she say if she could write about the hundreds of foster children that died in that period without a name?

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Give Ontario ombudsman powers to investigate Children's Aid Society

Mac Bool Hassan
Mac Bool Hassan, convicted of abusing his stepdaughter, walks out of 361 University Ave. courts March 18, 2013.
Dave Abel/Toronto Sun

TORONTO - It's sickening. It's depraved.

And it's outrageous.

In a supposed civilized society such as ours, how could a pretty baby girl be handed over to a monster?

How could the Children's Aid Society commit a child to the care of a man who's not biologically related to her, who had a criminal record and who subjected her to years of sexual and physical abuse?

Yet, as Toronto Sun reporter Sam Pazzano reported last week, that's what happened.

Mac Bool Hassan was found guilty recently of 13 criminal offences for sexually and physically abusing the girl.

Pazzano quoted the now 20-year-old woman speaking in anger about the CAS: "Children's Aid ruined my life because I could have been adopted as a baby," she told him.

"Instead they thought it was in my best interest ... to be placed into this man's care. He was a single man with a criminal record who had no connection to me. Why would he want to parent me?"

What's it going to take to get government to provide accountability to CAS? These precious children are the most vulnerable in our midst.

Yet time and again, we fail them.

Add this young woman to the shameful litany: Jordan Heikamp, Randal Dooley, Jeffrey Baldwin.

Jordan, just five weeks old, was left to starve to death in a women's shelter while under the watch of the Catholic Children's Aid Society in 1997. He weighed 4 pounds, two ounces when he died -- four ounces less than his birth weight.

Randal Dooley, 7, was beaten to death in 1998. Teachers at his school called the CAS who, incredibly, told them it was a police matter and were not heard from until two weeks after his death.

Jeffrey Baldwin, 5, was murdered in 2002 by his grandparents -- who'd been awarded custody of the child by the CCAS -- even though both had previous records for child abuse.

Ombudsman Andre Marin has for years asked the government for the power to investigate the CAS.

"There is a huge gap of accountability," he told me in phone interview Tuesday.

"We're in this new phase of governing where we hear promises of fairness," Marin said.

This province is the only one in the country where the provincial ombudsman has no jurisdiction over the child protection system.

"It's completely unacceptable," Marin said.

Since 2006, five bills have been presented to the legislature that would give the ombudsman oversight.

The last one, sponsored by Hamilton Mountain New Democrat Monique Taylor, passed second reading. It died on the order paper when Parliament was prorogued.

"There's absolutely no reason for this young woman to have lived the life she lived," Taylor said in an interview.

"How do we get to these decisions of where this child was placed? How did it come to that? (Ombudsman) oversight is absolutely necessary," she told me.

Burlington Tory Jane McKenna agrees and supports ombudsman oversight personally, although her party has not yet formulated its official position on the issue.

Children's Minister Teresa Piruzza said it's not one of her government's priorities.

"There are appeal processes in place and ultimately the ombudsman has the ability to look at appeals that come forward, but at this point, given the structure of the CAS and the board of directors, I would have to say, it's not something we are looking at at this point," she told me.

That's too bad. Because children are being robbed of their innocence.

And they're dying.

If that's not a government priority, we need a new government.

If all we have to offer abused kids is handwringing and empty gestures, we're complicit in that abuse.

Poll

Do you think the ombud should have power to investigate the CAS?

A day after posting, the results were:

98% Yes367 votes
2% No 9 votes

Source: Toronto Sun

The next day Christina Blizzard looked for a politician willing to question the government on child safety. It was a futile as Diogenes' search for an honest man.

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Ombud oversight of CAS needed to give vulnerable children voice

André Marin
Andre Marin Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin.
QMI Agency files

TORONTO - I was listening for a politician who’d have the courage to speak out in question period Wednesday on behalf of abused and murdered children.

Someone who’d demand that no little girl ever be placed in the hands of a monster again. That no child would spend her precious childhood being raped and savaged by someone who’d been entrusted with her care.

Toronto Sun reporter Sam Pazzano recently reported the case of a young woman whom the Children’s Aid Society handed to a pervert when she was just two years old. That creep physically and sexually abused her from age seven and through her teen years.

I was waiting for a politician to demand that Children’s Aid Societies in this province be made accountable.

The silence was deafening.

Who speaks for children in this province?

Not Children’s Minister Teresa Piruzza, who told me this week her government was not looking at giving oversight of the Children’s Aid Society to the provincial ombudsman.

After that interview, her aide contacted me to assure me the Liberal government was “committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all children and youth receiving support and protection from Ontario’s children’s aid societies.”

Well, blah, blah, blah.

“We have taken strong action to ensure the accountability of CASs, requiring them to have clear, transparent and consistent complaint review procedures,” said the spokesman.

Complaints? How can a two-year-old complain?

“Additionally, we have increased the mandate and powers of the Child and Family Services Review Board (CFSRB) to independently review complaints related to CASs, as well as decisions of CASs and adoption licensees,” said the e-mail.

“The ombudsman does have the authority to investigate complaints about the Child and Family Services Review Board and may report and make recommendations arising from such a review.”

Well, blah and more blah.

Here’s why we need ombudsman oversight.

In an interview this week, ombudsman Andre Marin, the province’s crusading watchdog, told me he gets 500 complaints a year from people asking him to take up their issues with the CAS.

“This is from a constituency that knows we have no jurisdiction, but they need someone to talk to, a shoulder to cry on,” he told me.

Five times, opposition MPPs have brought bills to the House that would open up CAS to his scrutiny. The last one died on the order paper when former premier Dalton McGuinty quit and shut down the legislature. This despite the fact that McGuinty had assured Marin privately that they wanted to broaden his mandate to include the CAS.

The result is that we ricochet from one horror story to another. From Jordan Heikamp, the five-week-old baby who starved to death in 1997 in a women’s shelter while under the care of the CCAS to Randal Dooley who was murdered at age seven, despite his teachers calling the CAS — which did nothing.

An inquest ruled in 2001 that Jordan’s death was a homicide. Both his mother, Renee Heikamp, and Catholic Children’s Aid Society worker Angie Martin were charged with criminal negligence, yet the case did not proceed to trial after the judge ruled the whole child welfare system was to blame, not the mother or the case worker.

So a baby starved to death — and no one was punished.

Meanwhile, I heard from countless loving families who were refused foster children or were not allowed to adopt for often trivial reasons — one suspects, because if a child is adopted, the CAS loses funding.

Whenever these cases come up, the CAS cite privacy laws for not speaking about it.

They use the privacy laws as a shield to hide their own incompetence.

If we gave Marin oversight of these agencies, he could probe where journalists and other members of the public cannot. He could get to the truth and report who failed these poor, vulnerable children.

And stop this endless litany of shame.

Marin has been successful in rooting out lottery scams, G20 excesses, government ineptness and bureaucratic heartlessness.

It’s time to have him speak for the children who are alone and unprotected in a cruel world.

We, collectively, are all these vulnerable children have. We, collectively, must do better.

If we don’t stand up and demand society take better care of them, then we should all hang our heads in shame.

Source: Toronto Sun

Diogenes
Diogenes searching for an honest social worker
Statue in Sinop, Turkey

Batshaw Seizes Newborn
Parents Sue

March 19, 2013 permalink

When her baby was born, Isabel Villeneuve tested positive for methamphetamines and opiates. Batshaw Youth and Family Services seized baby Kaia the next day. Isabel had taken reflux medication which causes false positives. The baby was returned to the parents six days later, but with onerous conditions. Parents Isabel Villeneuve and Daniel Tabo-oy are suing the Royal Victoria Hospital and Batshaw.

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Couple files complaint after newborn taken away

Mother says acid reflux medication caused false positive for drugs

Isabel Villeneuve and Daniel Tabo-oy with Kaia
New parents Isabel Villeneuve and Daniel Tabo-oy say their baby was taken away after a drug test yielded a false positive for methamphetamines and opiates.
CBC

A Montreal couple has lodged a complaint against the Royal Victoria Hospital and youth protection services after their newborn daughter was taken from them following a drug test.

When Isabel Villeneuve, 24, arrived at the hospital on Jan. 11 to deliver baby Kaia, she admitted she had smoked marijuana early in her pregnancy, but said she stopped when she learned the risks.

She said she hadn’t done any drugs throughout the rest of her pregnancy.

But a day after the baby was born, the hospital told Villeneuve she had tested positive for methamphetamines and opiates.

Kaia was taken from parents Villeneuve and Daniel Tabo-oy by a Batshaw social worker the next day after the mother's urine was retested and yielded a faint positive, even though the lab results she was given said negative.

“We were both traumatized,” Tabo-oy said.

“I was heartbroken and I fell to the floor. And they just looked at me like I was crazy and they looked at us like we were a bunch of drug addicts.”

Villeneuve said the positive drug test was due to acid reflux medication she’d been prescribed by her doctor -- a drug sometimes known to cause false positives.

“But never once was it looked at like, ‘Maybe it's your medication,’” she said.

The young parents got their baby back six days later with conditions, including living with Tabo-oy’s parents and random drug tests.

“All we were thinking was, we need our daughter, we need to be with our daughter. We'll do whatever you want, because you will see, it's a mistake,” Villeneuve said.

The tests came back negative and Batshaw dropped the case a month and a half later.

Neither the Royal Victoria nor Batshaw would comment on the case, but said they have to act if they suspect a child may be in danger.

Batshaw’s director of youth protection Madeleine Bérard said they act with a lot of care when dealing with situations like these because it can have a tremendous impact on the baby and family.

Villeneuve said she is paying out of pocket for a more comprehensive drug test to prove she stopped taking drugs when she said she did.

“I don't want this to happen to any other innocent people,” she said.

Source: CBC

Funding Changes

March 16, 2013 permalink

This was a bad week for CAS in the media. There was the report of a foster girl used as a sex toy, another story of two girls fleeing through school corridors to escape CAS workers and the leaking of a memo telling Peel CAS wokers to keep cases open for funding.

In apparent response to the last item the Toronto Star carries an announcement that the funding formula will change. Following that is an earlier attempt to spin the news from Peel.

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Children’s Aid Society funding model with “perverse incentives” set to change this year

A new funding formula for Ontario children’s aid societies will not have the same ties to service volumes that critics say encourage “perverse incentives.”

Critics point to the current funding model — which is based on historical projections — as the reason one children’s aid society seemingly urged staff to keep files open to secure government funding.

A leaked internal memo from Peel Children’s Aid Society asked staff not to close any cases in March and complete as many investigations as possible because “volumes continue to be lower than our projections and this will result in less funding.”

The agency has denied that inflationary tactics are in place and called the memo “unfortunate” and intended for an internal audience that understands the context.

Currently, if the actual caseload at a children’s aid society falls short of projections, money must be returned to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. If the caseload exceeds projections, the agency gets more money.

The funding model has long been criticized for the incentives it creates. Over the last three years, the ministry-led Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare investigated the sector and noted the problematic nature of funding being tied to “specific activities.”

“Since the highest cost activities relate to supporting children in foster and group care, the current approach inadvertently rewards CASs that maintain ‘in care’ volumes resulting in an inherent disincentive to find alternative lower-cost avenues to support children and families,” a report from 2011 read.

In the leaked Peel memo, staff were asked to transfer as many cases to “ongoing services as possible” and to “complete and approve kin care and foster care home studies” by March 31, the end of the fiscal year.

Karen Swift, a social work professor at York University, said social workers are often caught between professional and organizational mandates. In talking with people in the sector, Swift said the March rush to spend money and “create action” is common and “normalized.”

“I think it’s important that it’s revealed because I think many of these families feel like they are pawns in the funding game,” she said.

Children and Youth Services Minister Teresa Piruzza said the new formula “will enhance transparency and be more responsive to community need.”

With the new model, half of an agency’s funding will be based on a three-year average of service volumes — the number of investigations completed, average numbers of open protection cases, children in care, and children moving into a more permanent form of care. The remaining funding will be based on socioeconomic factors, such as low-income families, lone-parent families and aboriginal children in a society’s catchment area, in addition to geographical “remoteness.”

That means areas such as Peel and Halton that have higher population growth “should see a greater increase in the amount of resources that come in via the funding model,” said David Rivard, chief executive officer of the Toronto CAS.

Rivard said the Toronto CAS does not have a deficit, but that could change as Toronto won’t have the same socioeconomic factors as other agencies use, such as “remoteness” and “aboriginal population.”

Mary Ballyntyne, director of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, said the new funding model, which begins later this year, has positives and negatives. There will be fewer ties between funding and casework, but during the course of a given year, “if there is a large increase in cases within a community, there’s not necessarily the money available there to respond.”

Source: Toronto Star


Province in talks with Peel Children’s Aid Society over strategies in leaked memo

Children and Youth Services Minister Teresa Piruzza says that if an organization loses sight of its role, that is a serious concern.

Ontario officials are in talks with the Peel Children’s Aid Society after a leaked memo suggested staff not close ongoing files to inflate the number of child protection cases during the month of March.

The internal memo, obtained by the Star, indicated that a certain number of cases had to be ongoing to guarantee a level of funding from the province.

One of the strategies was asking child protection workers not to close any ongoing cases during the month even though, as an anonymous whistleblower alleged, the move could be detrimental to families.

“I want to be clear that Children’s Aid Societies have a responsibility to provide the best possible services for children in their care and that anything that falls short of this is simply unacceptable,” Children and Youth Services Minister Teresa Piruzza said in a statement Thursday.

“If an organization loses sight of the important role they play in their community, that is a serious concern. Discussions between my ministry and Peel Children’s Aid Society are ongoing.”

The agency has denied that inflating casework was the intent of the memo, and says the so-called “service strategy” has been taken out of context.

However, Conservative children’s services critic Jane McKenna said Thursday the memo’s optics are “terrible” and “reflect poorly on not just the Peel CAS but also the Liberal government, which bears ultimate responsibility for child welfare in Ontario.”

“These are desperate people doing desperate things,” she said. “You’re not looking for the child’s interest to get them out of the system if your funding formula is only based on the volume of children you have in the system.”

The Peel CAS currently operates with a $2.3-million deficit. Province-wide, children’s aid societies face a $40-million deficit this year, and are carrying a historic debt of $33 million, according to the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies.

Currently, the agencies are funded solely on the number of cases they handle. That model is set to change this year with funding based not only on caseload but also on socioeconomic factors within each society’s catchment area.

The internal memo, signed by seven senior service managers, instructs staff to complete as many investigations as possible (no fewer than 1,000), transfer as many cases as possible to “ongoing services,” and not close any ongoing cases before the end of the fiscal year, March 31. The memo indicated that these strategies were necessary to reduce the society’s current deficit and secure future funding from the province.

“Our volumes continue to be lower than our projections and this will result in less funding,” the memo stated.

As a result of staff concerns and anxiety about the integrity of their work, CUPE Local 4914, the union representing Peel child protection workers, filed a grievance this week.

The Peel Children’s Aid Society has called the memo an “unfortunate use of language,” and says investigations are always carried out to ministry standards and decisions are made on the needs of children and families.

Asked if there was going to be an internal review, a spokesperson said in an emailed statement Thursday: “In all circumstances we review our work processes to learn and improve services and we will do this in regards to this situation.”

When asked if it was reviewing the practices and strategies at the Peel CAS, a ministry spokesperson said a “more accurate representation of what is transpiring is that we are in conversation with the executive director of Peel CAS about what the government’s expectations are for them to ensure they are prioritizing the needs of children.”

Glenn Cheriton, president of the Canadian Council for Co-parenting, a national non-profit that advocates for parents, said he wasn’t surprised by the memo.

“It confirms a lot of the complaints we’ve had from parents, who say these things are going on,” he said, noting that many parents accuse CAS of unnecessary intervention “to keep the money flowing from the provincial government.”

Family lawyer Gene Colman agrees that the current funding model doesn’t look to be serving the best needs of children.

“What appears to be going on now is not child-centred, it’s numbers-centred.”

Source: Toronto Star

Ontario's Progressive Conservative party chimes in.

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Liberals’ Funding Formula Fails to Help Children

QUEEN’S PARK – Ontario’s most vulnerable children are paying the price for the short-sighted Liberal funding formula that rewards Children’s Aid Societies for having larger caseloads, Children, Youth and Government Services PC Critic Jane McKenna said today.

McKenna referred to the leaked memo from the Peel Children’s Aid Society, obtained by the Toronto Star, which directed staff to transfer as many cases as possible to “ongoing services” and to not close cases in March, the agency’s fiscal year-end.

“When the Liberals chose to fund Children’s Aid Societies based on volume rather than results, they decided the well being of Ontario’s children didn’t matter,” McKenna said. “They put the Societies – many of which can’t even cover their costs this year – into a position where they can’t help children to the best extent possible without compromising funding for the next year.

“Nobody wins with this Liberal funding model – least of all our children.”

Last year, the Ontario PCs released Paths to Prosperity: A Fresh Start for Children and Youth, which called for greater fairness in the funding model for Children’s Aid Societies. The paper proposes changing the funding model so that it rewards performance, encouraging Societies to achieve better results for children.

“My PC colleagues and I want to secure the best possible outcome for Ontario’s children. We want to make sure they are in more permanent homes, in promising situations where they’re safe and loved,” McKenna concluded.

Source: Ontario PC

And Peel CAS itself responds.

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Peel CAS committed to best services for children, youth and families

Peel Children’s Aid is committed to ensuring the best services to our community and that children and families receive the services they need within the legislative guidelines.

A memo that was intended for an internal audience that understands child welfare work, and the Ministry standards that guide it, was recently sent to the media. We regret any misunderstanding, the unfortunate use of the language and the lack of context within this memo. We always make our decisions based on the needs of children and families which guide our practice.

Within the agency, there are year-end strategies that focus on the administrative side of the work done by staff to ensure case files and paper work are completed before the end of the fiscal year, March 31, 2013. These strategies do not comprise the services we provide.

We remain committed to good child welfare practice and the children and families we serve:

  • We get involved with families earlier to prevent neglect and abuse from happening and prevent children from coming into care
  • We have the lowest number of children in care, (on a per capita basis) in Ontario.
  • The agency works diligently to ensure children remain at home with their families, extended families, and communities whenever possible
  • 78% of children who leave the care of Peel CAS are reunited with families or go to live with a relative
  • Family based support represents more than 90% of our work we do with children and families

We will continue to work closely with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to ensure the children and families in Peel are supported, protected and cared for.

For more information please contact:

Lucie Baistrocchi 905-363-6131 ext. 1153

Source: Peel Children's Aid

The social worker's union CUPE wants more money for CAS.

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Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)

March 18, 2013 15:27 ET

Peel CAS funding shortfall just province-wide tip of $67 million iceberg

MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 18, 2013) - Efforts by the Peel Region Children's Aid Society (CAS) to address funding shortfalls are simply the tip of an iceberg that threatens child protection efforts across the Province of Ontario, representatives for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) warned today.

"No one should be surprised that agencies like Peel CAS are taking extreme steps to ensure they have the funding necessary to fulfill their legislated mandates to protect children," said Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, Chair of the CUPE Ontario Social Services sector.

"Peel CAS is operating with a $2.3 million deficit. There is a Province-wide funding deficit of $67 million for Children's Aid, and agencies shoulder millions more in historic debts. What's happening in Peel right now is just the tip of the iceberg," she added.

Last week, a leaked memo revealed that Peel CAS was taking unusual steps to ensure ongoing funding. While the Ministry of Children and Youth Services has engaged in discussions with Peel CAS, Poole-Cotnam says the Province needs to take meaningful action to address the funding shortfall faced by children's aid societies across the Province.

"When you're dealing with an iceberg, shuffling deck chairs is not the answer. The Province has committed to revamping the formula used to fund CAS, but this still fails to address the root challenges facing the sector, which is $67 million in underfunding," she said.

Across the province, CUPE members have been sounding the alarm, reporting cuts to services that prevent them from providing necessary supports to families in crisis and care to vulnerable children in need. The first services to feel the impact are those services which support early identification of issues and intervention before problems can escalate.

"If the Province does not reverse the millions of dollars in budget cuts to child protection, we will likely be seeing many more scenarios like the one revealed at Peel CAS. Over the years there have been some positive changes in child welfare to provide services and supports to families that prevent admission to care. However, the mantra of cost-cutting has applied business ledger sensibilities to a human service like child protection. This threatens to undo the positive changes that have been made. This is not a strategy to keep kids safe," said Poole-Cotnam.

Contact Information

CUPE Ontario Region
Sarah Declerck
Social Services Coordinator
416-830-9537

CUPE Communications
Kevin Wilson
416-821-6641

Source: Marketwire

Two letters to the editor of the Star.

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Correcting CAS funding flaws

Re: Province investigates CAS memo, March 15

Province investigates CAS memo, March 15

There can be no surprise that Peel Children’s Aid Society (and in all likelihood the other 52 CASs province-wide) is keeping cases open to secure extra funding from the province. The institutional culture at the managerial level of child welfare agencies has always been more about perpetuating the interests of the society rather than the “best interests of the child” (as defined by a province-mandated “Eligibility Spectrum instrument”).

The Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS) exists primarily to advise societies and lobby the provincial government for more funding and favourable oversight (read: hardly any) conditions. Historically the government has been happy to oblige a lack of public accountability, because politically, child welfare is best kept out of the public eye.

CAS managers historically are encouraged to see the best interests of the CAS as more important than the paramount interests of children. The front-line worker culture, on the other hand, is almost entirely focused on those children and their families. No wonder, then, that the Peel CAS “whistleblower” is scared of retaliation. The person has a right to be fearful for his/her job now.

Above the front-line social worker providing direct service provision to the children are, in the larger CASs like Toronto and Peel, at least five levels of management. Proposed programs like extending CAS support to clients between the ages of 21 to 24 has more to do with getting provincial finding for administrative costs than money to these needy children.

No other essential public service in the province is run by private corporate entities that are not directly run by, and accountable to, the elected officials of the province. These CASs are supposed to protect the most vulnerable members of our society.

Only by dissolving these private entities and merging them into direct ministry service with one non-redundant, and mandate-focused bureaucracy, can abuses such as the Peel case be reined in, and monitored in a publicly accountable manner.

Colin Barnard, Pickering


From your reports and other sources, like Esther Buckareff’s documentary “Powerful as God,” it is clear that the province’s funding formula for all Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario is flawed.

In your second article of this series, you suggest that the “model is set to change this year.” Is the new model now set in stone or could there be public hearings on such a critical issue?

From the perspective of someone who was adopted through CAS in the best of circumstances, I still believe that the damage done to a child in removing him or her from parents is so deep that it should be done, in all circumstances, only as a very last resort and only after a series of checks and balances, unless it is a matter of life and death.

The funding formula could be changed to encourage child protection workers to support families that are struggling to keep their children, rather than remove the children in order to receive funding.

K. Janet Ritch, Toronto

Source: Toronto Star

Peel memo response (provided to Vern Beck)

We Don't Need No Facts

March 16, 2013 permalink

A mother whose history contained nothing more damaging than an accidental fall has lost her daughter to adoption, even after proving all of the allegations against her false. Link to Christopher Booker's previous story on this case.

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You never took drugs, but you cannot keep your child

Some family court rulings are impossible to understand

parents with child
This year, the number of care applications is expected to rise above 11,000
Photo: Alamy

As our social workers continue to break all records in the number of children they remove from their parents – the latest figures for England and Wales show that the number of care applications is this year likely to rise above 11,000, approaching three times their level in April 2008 – our Education Secretary, Michael Gove, is determined to increase the comparatively small percentage of those children who then go on to be adopted. In support of this policy (Mr Gove was successfully adopted, and his new Children’s Minister, Edward Timpson, was brought up with two adoptive siblings), their department commissioned two academics, Barry Luckock and Dr Karen Broadhurst, to produce a report that purports to show that, bar one or two minor criticisms, the process of removing children for adoption by new parents is working well.

It turns out, however, that the 12 case studies on which their report is based were chosen either by solicitors for the local authorities or by court officials. Hardly surprising, in every one of these cases the children appear to have been removed for good reasons from dysfunctional parents who had neglected or abused them.

None of these stories bears any resemblance to those I have often reported here, such as one disturbing case to which I have referred several times, which has lately had another cruel and final twist. This involved the very intelligent and devoted mother who, a few months after her daughter was born, fell by accident backwards out of a first‑floor window, leaving her temporarily paralysed.

So quickly did the social workers move to take her baby into care that they had soon assembled a string of damning accusations against her: that she was a drug addict and alcoholic whose fall had been a suicide bid. All these claims were, I gather, shown by the evidence, including that of drug and alcohol tests, to be completely spurious. But, as so often happens, the social workers, instead of admitting their initial mistake, stuck to their guns, within weeks making the first moves needed to have her baby adopted. Despite recognition from contact supervisors and the baby’s official “guardian” over the next two years that mother and child continued to have a touchingly close emotional bond, the social workers eventually got their way, persuading a judge to have the little girl sent for adoption.

Briefed by the local authority, which does not deny it, the local paper published a lurid story on the case, branding the mother as an alcoholic druggie who had tried to kill herself. The mother was allowed a last “goodbye session”, as the social workers call it, with her now three-year-old daughter, who rushed into her mother’s arms, according to a family friend who was present, unable to grasp that she would not see her mother again.

This month, in a last desperate bid to get her daughter back, the mother appealed to another judge to stop the adoption order, relying on the rule that such an application can be granted if the mother can show that her “circumstances have changed”. When she yet again, I gather, produced medical evidence, going back several years, to show that she had never been a drug addict or an alcoholic, the new judge apparently accepted this as convincing. But, astonishingly, the judge went on to rule that, since the mother had never been either of these things, her circumstances could not be said to have “changed”. The adoption must therefore still go ahead.

Almost as chillingly, the mother was then allowed to see a small part of the report the social workers had prepared to be shown to her daughter’s new adoptive parents. This not only contains a string of simple factual errors; it still paints her in the most damning light as having, despite the judge’s finding, “a history of drug and alcohol misuse”, adding: “It is reported that she has attempted suicide on nine occasions.”

This may all help to convince the adoptive parents that they have rescued the new member of their family from a fate worse than death (the report is even anxious to record that the mother is “a smoker” and “wears high heels and make-up”). And no doubt if Mr Gove’s academics had been given an account of this case by the local authority’s solicitor, it might have seemed another success story for the adoption process. But to anyone who has followed just what this mother and child have been put through since they were torn apart in 2010, and who is aware of just how dysfunctional so much of our “child protection” system has become, I’m afraid this story is not just yet another shocking travesty of justice; it is an almost unbearable tragedy.

Source: Telegraph (UK)

Lesbians Hide Stolen Child

March 15, 2013 permalink

parents of Yunus
Yunus' natural parents appeal for his return on television.
Still: Nos

Source: Dutch News

After Turkish TV broadcast the story of mother Nurgül Azeroğlu losing her son Yunus, his lesbian foster parents took the boy into hiding somewhere in Holland. He has been in foster care for nine years. When child protectors struck, the family was able to escape the country with their two other children.

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Dutch Lesbians Raising Foster Turkish Boy Go Into Hiding

AMSTERDAM — A Dutch lesbian couple have gone into hiding with their foster son after the boy's biological parents said on television in Turkey that they object to the pair taking care of their child.

The matter is threatening to overshadow an official visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Netherlands next week. Lodewijk Asscher, the Dutch vice prime minister, told reporters Friday that the issue is an internal Dutch matter and that political interference from Turkey is "inappropriate."

The 9-year-old boy identified by his first name, Yunus, was removed from his biological parents' care – in the Netherlands – while he was still a baby, and eventually placed in the care of the lesbian couple, who live in The Hague.

His biological mother, Nurgul Azeroglu, appeared on a Turkish television program earlier this month and called on Erdogan to intervene in the case. She acknowledged having accidentally dropped the child from a poorly fastened carrying bag once – apparently part of the reason he was removed from her care.

Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad reported that two other children were also to be taken away from the family in 2008, but they then traveled to Turkey to prevent that from happening.

Prominent Turkish politicians have recently spoken out against children of Turkish ancestry being raised by Christians, homosexuals, or others whose values are rejected by their biological parents.

Asscher praised the foster parents for taking on a "child in danger" and defended Dutch social service policies.

"The selection of a foster family in the Netherlands is a careful process," he said. "We don't choose foster parents on the basis of race or heritage, but on whether a child is in good hands with them."

Child social services in The Hague said there was no specific threat against Yunus or his foster parents, but he has been kept home from school as a precaution since the interview aired.

The Hague Youth Services Agency has decided it is better for Yunus and his foster parents "to stay at another address for a time, partly in connection with the visit of the prime minister next week," spokeswoman Tanja van Dijk said in a telephone interview with national broadcaster NOS . "For safety, and also because of the quiet that both Yunus and his foster parents of course now need."

Asscher, who repeated several times at his weekly news conference that Yunus had been "in danger" before he was taken into foster care, said it is "exceptionally sad" that the boy and his foster family are now in hiding.

"It's not right. People who are willing to take care of somebody else's child deserve our admiration," he said.

Source: Huffington Post


Attacks on Social Workers in Wales

March 15, 2013 permalink

In the past five years six social workers in Carmarthenshire Wales have been attacked on the job. The news is intended to shock readers with how large the number is. The real shock is how small it is.

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Social workers abused on job

SIX social workers have been attacked or verbally abused while working for Carmarthenshire Council in the past five years.

The figures were revealed in a Freedom of Information request.

Bruce McLernon, Carmarthenshire's director of social care, health and housing, said: "Violent or abusive behaviour towards council employees, or those contracted to work on behalf of the authority, will not be tolerated.

"The council is committed to providing a safe and secure work environment for all its employees and we will endeavour to ensure the safety, protection and welfare of staff at all times."

Source: Carmarthen Journal

Girls Run From Social Workers

March 15, 2013 permalink

For years children's aid has preferred picking up children at school over apprehension in the home — less chance of resistance from parents. This February near Simcoe Ontario two terrified girls ran through the halls of the Walsh Public School trying to escape capture by social workers. The incident disrupted school activity for over an hour. After years of abuse by social workers, children are aware of what is waiting for them after apprehension.

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CAS under fire for 'fiasco' when removing kids from school 0

NORFOLK - The local Children’s Aid Society is under fire after caseworkers pursued two children fleeing in the halls of a Norfolk elementary school.

The two children ran down the hall, screaming and crying from the caseworkers on hand to remove them from their rural school. Reports say the incident lasted for more than an hour.

One of the children seeking help clung to a group of older students, Including Rita Watermann's daughter.

The incident brought Watermann's daughter to tears, forcing the school to inform Watermann of her daughter's distress.

“Not only was my daughter affected and my other daughter affected but there were several other children … They were all very much in shock,” said Watermann during a telephone interview. “It was quite alarming and shocking. Both of my daughters were upset for the rest of the day.”

Watermann brought the situation — which took place at Walsh Public School in February — to light in a letter addressed to a number of officials. The Reformer was copied on the letter.

“The two young girls who were taken against their will were pursued down the hallways, were crying and screaming that they did not want to leave their school or home and during this fiasco the younger of the two ran to several older kids and clutched them in an attempt to find protection from the caseworkers and finally ran down the hallway asking for my daughter to stay with her before she was finally taken away. The incident stretched on for over an hour.”

Watermann was shocked when told about the situation from the school’s principal and later by her two young girls.

“Would someone please explain to me why the forcible removal of the two young girls had to be carried out in such an indelicate, indiscreet manner and so abruptly? Why did this occur during school hours? . . . What answers can you provide for them? The CAS had left an indelible impression in (her daughters’) minds and that of their classmates. They will never forget what occurred. Shame on you,” Watermann wrote in the letter.

Shannon Chevrier, director of services with the CAS of Haldimand-Norfolk, said the incident that sparked the letter was not “typical” and was the result of unfortunate unforeseen circumstances.

“We immediately responded to her (Watermann),” said Chevrier. “We acknowledge that it was an unfortunate situation.”

The CAS has a protocol developed with the school board to dictate how such situations should be handled, she said.

Wayne Baker, superintendent of education for elementary schools in Norfolk County for the Grand Erie District School Board, also noted that the two organizations have developed a protocol, but did not comment on this particular incident.

“We have a responsibility to work with the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) under the Child and Family Services Act when they are involved in a case related to a child in our school. Grand Erie has articulated this relationship through a protocol that we follow with The Children’s Aid Society of Haldimand & Norfolk. Cases involving the CAS are highly sensitive and we are unable to discuss these cases for privacy reasons. We have a relationship with the CAS that allows us to discuss matters related to our students. As always, we will debrief about the issues as they relate to our joint protocol,” said the written statement from Baker.

Chevrier said when a removal is necessary at a school a comprehensive plan put in place beforehand.

“Unfortunately, this (situation) went a bit astray,” she said. It was, however, quickly resolved at the agency's office, she said.

“It is very regrettable,” Chevrier said, that other children witnessed and were upset by the situation.

Source: Simcoe Reformer

Police arrest student

Foster Sex Toy

March 15, 2013 permalink

The Toronto Children's Aid Society placed a two-year-old girl with Mac Bool Hassan, a single foster parent. She stayed with him until age fifteen. When she reached age seven Hassan started using her as his sex toy. He kept her under his control using physical threats. Hassan was recently convicted of several crimes by a jury. As usual, no one in children's aid has been held to account for the abuse.

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Victim blames Children’s Aid Society for years of abuse by guardian

TORONTO - A slender, blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl suffered eight years of horrific physical and sexual abuse starting when she was just seven at the hands of the man the Children’s Aid Society entrusted to keep her safe.

A jury found Mac Bool Hassan guilty eight days ago of 13 criminal offences for sexually and physically abusing the girl — who isn’t biologically related to him — as well as assaulting her half-brother.

The verdict was reached swiftly after only fours hours of deliberations because the evidence was overwhelming, said Crown attorney Heather Keating.

Hassan, 49, will be back in Superior Court Monday to set a date for sentencing.

But the now 20-year-old woman is seething with outrage at both Hassan and the Toronto Children’s Aid Society because it granted him custody of her when she was two years old.

And the CAS kept her and her half-brother in his care despite Hassan’s drug use, criminal record and neighbours’ reports of neglect and abuse.

“I had to do what he told me to do or I’d get beaten, punched and kicked, dragged by my hair along the floor. He told me he loved me and that he would marry me, like Woody Allen married his adoptive daughter, when I was 18,” the girl recalled in an exclusive interview with the Toronto Sun. “I felt like I was his wife. It’s like we’re a couple, but he’s my dad.”

She is now working two jobs, one at a retail outlet and another as a babysitter, hoping to save enough money so that she can pursue her dream of becoming a flight attendant.

“Children’s Aid ruined my life because I could have been adopted as a baby,” she said angrily. “Instead, they thought it was in my best interest ... to be placed into this man’s care. He was a single man with a criminal record who had no connection to me. Why would he want to parent me?”

The abuse occurred twice a week when she was younger but became a nightly ordeal after she turned 11 or 12, said Keating, who successfully prosecuted Hassan.

“He had no business to be basically using the victim as a vulnerable sex toy,” Keating said. “It’s disgusting.”

CAS granted Hassan custody of the girl because he already had custody of her half-brother despite the fact that Hassan already had five criminal convictions.

“I read the CAS reports when I was 17 years old, I was one of nine children born to a drug-addicted mother and all nine were seized. My older sister was adopted, yet I was given to him,” the victim said. “My CAS reports, a police file, showed a babysitter noticed I had soreness and redness in my genital area when I was eight years old.

“There were reports that we were malnourished and grossly underweight while we were living in Regent Park (until 1999) — we barely had enough to eat.”

When the girl was seven years old, reports of drug use and prostitutes frequenting Hassan’s Regent Park apartment forced the CAS to apprehend the two children.

Once Hassan completed drug rehab, both children — who cannot be identified due to a publication ban — were returned to his care and the family moved to another neighbourhood in the GTA.

The half-brother confirmed that the victim was sleeping in Hassan’s bed almost nightly, but he didn’t know of the abuse. Hassan explained he wanted company in his bed because he wasn’t feeling well or was lonely .

When she was 15 and began having crushes on high school boys, Hassan erupted in a violent, jealous rage.

He stripped her naked and overpowered her, calling her a “whore.” When he left her alone, she bolted to a neighbours’ home where she hid and finally disclosed her nightmarish life to her friend, her mom and police in July 2008.

The case has dragged through the courts for almost five years with Hassan mostly free on bail as he fired various lawyers and delayed proceedings.

Hassan is on a disability pension with heart problems, undergoing quintuple bypass surgery in June 2008, his family court affidavit stated.

He maintained that he’s innocent and that the victim fabricated these allegations to free herself from his harsh discipline.

CAS spokesman Dave Fleming said he couldn’t comment on this case specifically due to confidentiality reasons.

In general, the CAS tries to keep siblings together “when it’s safe to do so,” explained Fleming, the CAS’s intake co-ordinator.

The CAS investigates suspicion of child abuse, especially sexual abuse, jointly with the police and “can intervene based on a balance of probabilities,” Fleming said.

The CAS conducts 8,000 investigations of neglect or abuse a year, he said.

“Our goal is to keep children with families where it’s safe and practical,” Fleming said. “(But) the child’s safety comes first.”

Source: Toronto Sun

Jerry Agar discussed this incident on his CFRB 1010 radio program.

Jerry Agar Podcast March 15, 2013 ... Children's Aid should care more about kids and less about pushing papers; ...

Source: CFRB

Download the entire program from CFRB 1010. The discussion of children's aid runs from 46:12 to 1:03:41. For just the CAS discussion, here is a local copy (mp3).

Addendum: The story ends with the suicide of Hassan. Neither the abuse of the girl nor the death of her caretaker would have taken place had social workers done their job properly.

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Child abuser Mac Bool Hassan dies in apparent suicide

The man apparently hanged himself rather than face prison after conviction for sex assaults on a girl placed in his care by Children’s Aid.

Convicted child abuser Mac Bool Hassan apparently hanged himself rather than face prison time after being found guilty of eight years of repeated sexual assaults on a young girl placed in his care by the Toronto Children’s Aid Society.

Hassan, 50, was scheduled to attend Superior Court on University Ave. Tuesday to hear sentencing arguments before Justice Faye McWatt.

Assistant Crown attorney Heather Keating stunned those in the courtroom when she announced that Hassan had been found hanging by a rope in the house where he committed sexual offences over a period of at least eight years against an underaged girl in his care.

He was free on bail at the time of his death.

“My understanding is that he hung himself,” Keating told the court.

Keating said she got the news of Hassan’s death Tuesday morning from a Toronto police officer.

“There was no note or anything like that,” Keating said.

His victims were not in court to hear of his death.

McWatt adjourned the case until Friday, to give a medical examiner enough time to officially determine if the dead man found hanging in Hassan’s home is Hassan.

It was not known when the apparent suicide took place.

Hassan was found guilty in March of 13 counts of abusing the girl in his care, from the time she was 7 years old until she fled his home at age 15. He was also found guilty of two counts of abusing her younger brother.

It took the jury only four hours to find him guilty after an eight-day trial.

The girl he abused, now a woman in her early 20s whose identity is protected by a publication ban, testified against him. In March, she called upon the province to allow the Ontario ombudsman to investigate allegations of abuse of children under the care of the Children’s Aid Society.

The court heard that Hassan had obtained custody of the girl despite having a criminal record with five convictions, including one for possessing drugs. He was not biologically related to either of the two children.

He briefly lost custody of them after his home was found to be a hangout for prostitutes and drug users, but the children were returned after he completed a stint in drug rehabilitation.

He told the court the children’s mother had a history of drug abuse.

Source: Toronto Star

Foster Children Online

March 15, 2013 permalink

A Manitoba mother found pictures of her children online posted by their foster mother. The same mother has grandchildren in another foster home, and their pictures have been posted online as well.

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Mother speaks out after foster parent posts photos of her kids online

A Manitoba woman whose children are in foster care is speaking out after seeing pictures of her kids online.

The woman, who can’t be identified according to the Manitoba Child and Family Services Act, says the foster mother of her kids posted pictures of them on Facebook.

She feels that posting her children’s photos violates the privacy of her entire family, and puts her kids at risk, especially to online bullying.

The mother discovered the pictures two years ago when a friend saw them posted by the foster mom, a mutual friend. She says some of the photo captions were mocking her child’s speech impediment.

"I was surprised to see my children online and I was very disappointed,” said the woman. “It’s inappropriate and unacceptable.”

Releasing any information concerning foster children violates CFS rules, but a government spokesperson says the policy may need to be updated to include social media.

“We expect our child welfare authorities to ensure foster families keep all information concerning foster children absolutely confidential,” said Jean-Marc Prevost, spokesperson for the Manitoba government.

Currently, the CFS does not have a social media policy for foster parents for branches in Manitoba, B.C., Ontario or Nova Scotia.

Although the mother says she first saw photos of her kids online in 2011, and complained to a CFS social worker about it, Prevost said this is the first they are hearing about the case.

The mother said as of two weeks ago, the pictures were still online.

"I read [the foster mother’s] status update and it leaves me with the impression that she's quite comfortable with posting pictures of the children in her care on her Facebook,” she said.

The mother also has grandchildren in care with another family, and when she searched them she found pictures online as well.

Global News contacted one of the foster parents, but she would not confirm she posted the pictures.

Social work professor at the University of Missouri Dale Fitch says agencies across North American are behind in the area of ever-changing social media, and is afraid of what could happen if the policies are not updated.

"What I'm afraid of – and what typically happens – is something really bad happens and then a task force or commission is set up and then policy is developed after the fact,” Fitch said. "The social media policies are needed for all of the people involved in the process. So, not just foster families, but youth in care and the agencies and social workers working with these youth."

Provincial authorities say they were unaware of the issue and will look at updating the term “media” in the foster parents’ manual.

Source: Global Winnipeg

Social Workers Save Their Own Children

March 14, 2013 permalink

A British family has won a damage award against a child protection agency that intervened in their family without cause. But not just any parents can do this. The mother is a self-employed consultant working in the field of child protection and her husband a senior social worker.

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Parents win damages against Baby P council over social workers' decision to investigate whether she was being ill-treated

  • Judge said Haringey Council's social workers should not have investigated
  • They approached child’s GP and her school without parents' permission
  • Child’s mother said her family had gone through 'a nightmare'

The parents of a young girl have won High Court damages over an 'unlawful' decision by social services to investigate whether their child was being ill-treated or was at risk of suffering significant harm.

A judge ruled there was no basis on which the London Borough of Haringey’s social workers should have started the inquiry - including approaching the child’s GP and her school.

Judge Anthony Thornton, sitting at London’s High Court, declared: 'There was no evidential, reasonable basis upon which the inquiry could have been launched.

'The defendant (Haringey) acted unlawfully in not seeking (the parents’) consent before approaching their child’s GP and school and without seeking information from them.'

The judge quashed the decision to commence the investigation, made under Section 47 of the 1989 Children Act, in May 2011.

He also ordered Haringey to pay the parents, referred to as AB and CD, £2,000 to compensate them for the infringement of their Article 8 rights to 'private and family life' under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The child’s mother, 'AB', who cannot be named for legal reasons, later described what had happened to her family as 'a nightmare'.

She said council social workers had acted 'outrageously' and added: 'They thought they were completely unaccountable - but today they have been held to account by the court.

'This is a landmark case for parents. One wonders how many families are out there suffering.'

It was revealed in court that the mother is herself a self-employed consultant working in the field of child protection and her husband a senior social worker.

The judge said the decision to make inquiries about the six-year-old child was taken by Sylvia Chew, the head of Haringey’s Service for First Response (SFR), responsible for frontline child protection work.

SFR had reacted to what was 'highly likely' to have been a 'malicious' tip-off.

An unsigned letter dated March 11 2011, addressed to the council’s 'social services child abuse department', was received by SFR on April 15, said the judge.

The anonymous writer claimed to be a neighbour of the family and wrote of having 'some very big worries about how they are looking after the young girl in the house'.

The writer asked Haringey: 'Please could you make sure that the little girl is all right.'

The mother was described as 'always shouting and screaming at the little girl' and had been seen 'pulling the little girl along by her arm and slapping her'.

The letter went on: 'The little girl looks so unhappy. She is not allowed to speak to anyone and when you see her in the street the little girl looks very sad and never raises her head to look at you.'

The judge said the only indication of a decision to launch an investigation under Section 47, which allows in-depth inquiries, was Ms Chew’s letter of May 5 2011 stating that 'this department will be undertaking a Section 47 investigation'.

An SFR screening team made background inquiries which showed that the child had not come to the attention of the police.

On April 26 2011 the team sent an information request form to the child’s GP without first obtaining the consent of the parents, said the judge.

The form stated that SFR was 'currently working with the family' after a member of the public had reported 'emotional and physical abuse'.

The form sought information about the child’s health history, ongoing needs and about 'possible abuse risk indicators'.

The judge said the GP was 'perturbed' because the request form had not been signed by one of the child’s parents.

When he telephoned SFR, he was informed by a team member that, at that stage, 'all that was asked for was the parents’ names and contact numbers and whether the GP had any concerns about the child'.

The GP said the family were well-known to him and he had no concerns.

The screening team also emailed the nurse at the child’s school and asked whether the school had any information to add.

The judge said: 'There was no answer from the school, which is not surprising since the parents’ consent to make these inquiries had not previously been obtained.'

The team was, however, able to obtain 'no fewer than three mobiles and one landline telephone numbers for the family' from the school and was also told the child was not known to social services.

The case was then referred to Haringey’s First Response Team 1 (FRT1), and a student social worker member was tasked to contact the family and carry out further checks.

The judge said the social worker, Mr Mamattah, telephoned one of the mobile numbers.

'At that moment, CD (the father) was driving AB and himself back from a visit to his father and, having stopped the car at the side of the road, he answered the call at about 2.00pm.'

When Mr Mamattah explained that he was calling about his daughter, AB said he was 'flabbergasted' and that Mr Mamattah should speak to his wife, who worked in child protection.

The judge said AB 'reacted strongly'. With her knowledge of child protection procedures, it seemed to her that Haringey had made several serious errors in the way it had dealt with her daughter’s case.

The judge ruled that AB had legitimate grounds for complaint.

He said both parents were entitled to an order quashing 'the purported Section 47 inquiry decision', and a declaration that, in any event, no proper decision had been taken.

The child was not at risk of significant harm and it was highly likely that the anonymous referral was malicious.

Haringey council has faced devastating criticism in the past over the Baby P and Victoria Climbie cases, in which social workers were condemned for failing to take action in time to save the lives of battered children.

But today it was accused of acting too hastily and engaging in a knee jerk reaction in a case where parents were blameless.

Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, said later: 'Not only did Haringey Council act unlawfully throughout the investigation, they have also breached the Human Rights Act and will have to pay compensation accordingly.

'This is a damning verdict. Yet again, Haringey children's services have failed. Even after Baby P, they still have not managed to get the department in order. Haringey children, parents and residents deserve better.'

Source: Daily Mail

Break Up Families for Profit

March 14, 2013 permalink

Why does CAS keep your kid? To keep the money coming in. So says an internal memo by the Peel Children's Aid Society as reported in the Toronto Star. They will be keeping cases open until the end of March for fiscal reasons. The Star does not print the actual memo, but describes it in two paragraphs:

March is the end of the fiscal year for the agency and in the memo staff are instructed to complete as many investigations as possible (no fewer than 1,000), transfer as many cases as possible to “ongoing services,” and not close any ongoing cases during March.

The memo notes that “our volumes continue to be lower than our projections and this will result in less funding for our organization which directly impacts our current deficit and could impact our funding in future years. Therefore the month of March is very important and we need to make a collective effort to meet our newly discussed targets.”

Later the Star goes on:

One strategy noted in the memo asks workers to ensure that parents who live in separate households are covered by two separate case files.

A successful shotgun divorce doubles their case file and steps up funding accordingly.

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In leaked memo, Peel CAS staff asked to keep cases open to retain funding

An internal memo asks Peel Children’s Aid Society staff to complete as many investigations as possible and not close cases in March.

An internal memo from Peel Children’s Aid Society management asks staff not to close any ongoing cases during March, as part of a strategy to secure government funding.

According to the memo, when service volume is lower than projected, there is less money for the CAS.

An anonymous employee is troubled by the memo as it raises concerns about quotas and the impact on Peel families.

“Wrongly opening or leaving these files open can have a damaging impact on these clients’ lives. For example, some parents are separated from their kids, some parents have to take time off work to meet with us when their files should have been closed, and some parents are unable to return home because of a false abuse claim — and all of these cases leave these families in emotional limbo,” wrote the employee who would not reveal their identity for fear of retribution.

The employee said many workers are outraged over the memo, “because it is immoral and wrong to keep client cases open just to meet a quota. . . . There are far-reaching implications when you have a CAS record.”

Peel CAS executive director Rav Bains called the internal communication an “unfortunate use of language.” A statement from the agency noted that decisions are made “based on the needs of children and families.”

“Peel Children’s Aid’s year-end strategies are focused on the administrative side of the work done by staff that would enable the agency to complete case files and paperwork before the end of the fiscal year, March 31, 2013. These strategies do not comprise the services we provide,” the statement read in part.

Bains said the agency does not “keep cases open unnecessarily.”

“We always strive for the best service to children and families. It’s an unfortunate use of language, (an) unfortunate statement, because it doesn’t have a context around it. It’s just the way it’s come out in the email. That is not our practice at all.”

The memo was signed by seven senior managers, using their first names only. One had her full name listed. She is away for the week and could not be reached for comment.

March is the end of the fiscal year for the agency and in the memo staff are instructed to complete as many investigations as possible (no fewer than 1,000), transfer as many cases as possible to “ongoing services,” and not close any ongoing cases during March.

According to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, CAS only receives funding for actual services rendered, not projections.

The memo notes that “our volumes continue to be lower than our projections and this will result in less funding for our organization which directly impacts our current deficit and could impact our funding in future years. Therefore the month of March is very important and we need to make a collective effort to meet our newly discussed targets.”

When someone has a concern about a child, a child protection worker will take the call and an investigation launched depending on the nature and severity of the concern.

After an investigation, the matter will be closed or transferred to an “ongoing case,” where a child protection worker is assigned to a family. In the memo, there is an emphasis on completing investigations within 30 days or transferring the case.

Bains said there is a funding differential between investigations and ongoing cases, but it is slight, and “all of our decisions are made in the best interest of children and families.”

Bains noted that funding is a “very complex formula” and investigations are carried out to ministry standards.

One strategy noted in the memo asks workers to ensure that parents who live in separate households are covered by two separate case files. While this could be perceived as an inflation tactic, Bains said this is done because children are sometimes split between households and “if we only open one case under one name we can lose sight of the other children and the needs of the family.”

Bains, who used the word unfortunate in nearly every sentence, said the “spin that’s been put on” the memo was unfortunate, as is the use of “targets”

But how can anyone not conclude that these strategies are related to funding?

“I absolutely agree with you. . . . If you really look at the email and the content and if you look at who it was for, it was for an internal audience, front-line colleagues and team leaders with whom the conversation had already been had. This is to make sure we’re efficient and effective and we’re doing the right thing. . . . I really personally do regret any misunderstanding that’s occurred either externally or internally.”

An email sent to union members on Tuesday from CUPE Local 4914 president Sonia Yung noted: “Many of you have expressed anxiety about some of the components of the strategy and its implications with respect to your job responsibilities, workload, the integrity of your practice and even job security.”

Kevin Wilson, a spokesman for CUPE’s national office, said a grievance was recently filed in regard to who is carrying out the work. He said that Peel CAS, like other CAS providers in Ontario, is chronically underfunded from the province.

“The problem that we’re seeing in this, is that the solution is not to, at the last minute, ask the union to violate its collective agreement. The solution as we see it, is for Peel CAS to work with the local on putting more pressure on the provincial government to properly resource and fund that sector.”

In 2011-12, Peel CAS received $60 million from the province.

In an emailed statement, Teresa Piruzza, minister of children and youth services wrote: “We expect all Children’s Aid Societies to be accountable and centrally focused on providing the best possible outcomes for children in their care. My ministry has been in contact with Peel Children’s Aid Society’s Board of Directors to discuss the concerns identified today.”

Mary Ballyntyne, executive director of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, said she has absolute confidence that more context is going into decisions than “meets the eye.”

“If I truly believed that casework is being done to get your quotas up, not based on the merits of the case, that would be very concerning,” she said.

Gene Colman, a Toronto family lawyer who handles cases involving CAS, said his office has been puzzled by the substantial increase in people calling because of CAS intervention in their families.

“I thought, ‘What’s going on, why are we getting so many calls?’ I wonder if it’s related. I don’t know,” he said.

Colman said while some allegations made to CAS are very serious, others can be anonymous calls like “Mr. and Mrs. Smith have a dirty home,” or “Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s children aren’t properly dressed.”

“I think you have to investigate that . . . (but) if you are spending time, chasing files like the second example I gave you, the ones that are really urgent aren’t going to be attended to in a timely basis.”

Bains said the work referenced in the memo “is already in the system.”

“It’s not that we’re suddenly opening new work,” he said.

Source: Toronto Star

Pat Niagara captured Jerry Agar of CFRB 1010 commenting on the story, YouTube and a local copy (mp4).

Michael Coren discussed children's aid with Vern Beck on YouTube and a local copy (mp4).

In a letter to the Star Doug Evans, who was then a supervisor of ongoing family services for one of the larger Toronto CAS’s, explains the effects of the funding formula change fifteen years ago. The change to a per-case funding model caused CAS to pursue the most trivial cases, while reducing resources allocated to the more serious cases to below the funding cap.

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Opinion / Readers' Letters

CAS funding formula changed in ’90s

Re: CAS staff asked to keep cased open to retain funding, March 14

CAS staff asked to keep cased open to retain funding, March 14

The Star missed this story by almost 15 years. In the late ’90s the current funding formula for child protection agencies, which based the entire annual funding of every Children’s Aid Society on case numbers and activities from the previous year, was instituted. At the time, I was a supervisor of ongoing family services for one of the larger Toronto CAS’s, and there was an immediate sea change in the focus of our operations. All of the supervisors and directors were brought to the head office for instructions as to how we were to respond to the funding formula. The summary statement to the gathering was: “From now on it’s all about the numbers.”

These changes were fundamental and far more insidious than simply stretching out the life of a few cases for an extra month. They included opening even the most dubious reports for quick (but nonetheless intrusive) investigations, where previously less intrusive community-based monitoring had been informally arranged. Because all intake investigations were funded equally, the formula also restricted labour-intensive, time-consuming but essential investigations where evidence was not immediately clear but risk was clearly high, as these investigations were not remotely remunerated through the formula. For similar reasons, court cases frequently were folded in agreements that left children at risk, but avoided costly court procedures. In the foster department, children were hastily removed from the intensive placements they had earlier been determined to need, but whose costs exceeded the maximum, and transferred to placements that did not meet their requirements but did not exceed the formula's remuneration cap.

Children and families in Ontario have suffered the costs of these changes for well over a decade. The problem outcomes for clients outlined in the article doesn’t begin to address the full extent of the damages to which “numbers based” decision-making has led.

Doug Evans, Toronto

Source: Toronto Star

money

Dad vs Dad

March 14, 2013 permalink

Jesse Meloche knew the way to adopt a child: kill the real dad. On November 24, 2011 he stabbed father Lance Peter Smoke more than ten times. He will be sentenced later this month.

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Man pleads guilty to murder

Jesse Meloche was about to adopt a child.

When the child's biological father got in the way, Meloche stabbed the man over and over again.

Meloche, 30, pleaded guilty this week to second-degree murder in the Nov. 24, 2011 stabbing death of Lance Peter Smoke. Smoke, 40, died after fleeing his attacker and pounding on his neighbour's door on Albert Road. Smoke died on the porch.

Meloche was to stand trial for first-degree murder. If convicted, Meloche would have faced a life sentence. Defence lawyer Dan Scott said Friday he met with the prosecutor and a judge earlier in the week and reported back to his client.

Meloche had maintained he was acting in self-defence when he stabbed Smoke more than 10 times. With that many stab wounds, "It would have been difficult to have a jury believe he had acted in self-defence," Scott said.

A preliminary hearing had been held last fall and the case had been transferred to Superior Court. No trial date had yet been set. Meloche entered his guilty plea after the very first pre-trial conference held in Superior Court.

Scott said Meloche and his wife were in the process of adopting Smoke's young son. Smoke had a "colourful past," that included several prison sentences over crimes of violence, Scott said. The Children's Aid Society was involved and had been working with Meloche and his wife regarding the adoption, which Scott described as "imminent."

Meloche had no prior criminal record, Scott said.

Smoke's killing was the first homicide in more than two years, ending what was touted across North America as Windsor's murder-free streak.

Meloche will be sentenced March 25.

Source: Windsor Star

Meloche got a life sentence. This report gives more on the adoption.

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Windsor killer to be eligible for parole in 10 years: ‘This crime is so evil’

Windsor police investigate Friday, Nov. 25, 2011, a murder scene at 1462 Albert Rd. in Windsor, Ont. A man was stabbed to death last night.
DAN JANISSE/The Windsor Star

Two men fought over which of them would make a better father to a little boy.

Now, one is dead, and the other is serving life in prison.

Jesse Meloche, 32, was sentenced Monday to a prison term of at least 10 years for the stabbing death of Lance Peter Smoke.

He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

“This crime is so evil,” said Smoke’s mother, Nadine Anderson, sobbing her way through a statement she read out at Meloche’s sentencing hearing in Superior Court Monday. “It was too much for my ears to hear and my mind to comprehend.”

Then addressing Meloche directly, she said, “You took a father from his son.”

Justice Bruce Thomas said Smoke and Meloche were two men “brought together by their love for the same four-year-old boy.”

Meloche had planned to formally adopt Smoke’s son. The boy had lived with Meloche and Meloche’s wife for many months in a foster arrangement known in native communities as “kinship.”

Smoke, 40, had been unable to care for the boy. He had been in and out of jail, fighting addictions to drugs and alcohol for much of his adult life.

But in November 2011, Smoke seemed to have turned his life around. Clean and sober, he was studying engineering at St. Clair College and planned to get his son back.

Meloche, the judge said, “took matters into his own hands.”

On November 24, 2011, on his way to the drug store to get migraine medication for his wife, Meloche went to Smoke’s residence on Albert Road to talk about who should raise Smoke’s little boy. “He was trying to sell himself as the better parent,” defence lawyer Daniel Scott told the court.

That would not have been an easy sell to Smoke. While Meloche is native, his wife is not, and court heard Smoke wanted his son taught in his Cayuga traditions. Meloche is a member of the Oneida Nation.

When the confrontation ensued, Meloche stabbed Smoke 10 times in the back, abdomen, chest and cheek.

Smoke died from major blood loss.

Monday’s hearing was set to determine parole eligibility. Second degree murder carries a life sentence with no chance of parole for 10 to 25 years. The final determination is made by a parole board, but it considers the recommendation of the sentencing judge.

Smoke’s son is now living with Smoke’s brother and sister-in-law. His sister-in-law, one of five women from the Smoke family to read a statement out in court, said if she had one last chance to speak to Lance again, she would thank him for the gift of his child.

The little boy cries in his sleep and has nightmares. “Why did Jesse want to hurt me?” the boy asks.

The “profound effect” the crime has had on the Smoke family is an aggravating factor in the case, said the judge. Other aggravating factors are the number of stab wounds and the fact that six of them were in Smoke’s back, Thomas said.

On the plus side, said the judge, at the time of the crime, Meloche was married and employed at a car dealership as a mechanic. He had a “solid work history” and had no criminal record. Court heard Meloche has already availed himself of counseling in jail awaiting sentencing, and that his prospects of rehabilitation are good.

Meloche will likely get a university degree or two while behind bars, said his lawyer.

The fact Meloche is native, pleaded guilty and has a supportive family are all mitigating factors the judge said he considered in sentencing the man.

Meloche stood in court and called himself “a murderer.”

He said he is ashamed.

The judge said the fact Meloche was caring for Smoke’s child is a testament to his nature. But the judge added, “There is nothing that can justify his actions.”

Meloche’s lawyer said the man has already paid dearly for his crime. His wife has moved to Alberta with the couple’s two-year-old daughter. He asked the judge to recommend to corrections officials that Meloche serve his sentence in that province where he will be closer to his child and where native programs are available in a federal penitentiary.

He is prohibited from ever owning a firearm and cannot, while behind bars, communicate with the child he so badly wanted to adopt.

Source: Windsor Star

DoCS Office Bomb Scare

March 14, 2013 permalink

Bomb squad visits Ballina Department of Family and Community Service
The Ballina office of the Department of Family and Community Service, which was evacuated today after a suspicious object was found.

Source: Lismore Northern Star

A social services office in Australia called the police bomb squad when the staff received an envelope from a parent with a note on the back requesting the return of a child. The contents turned out to not be dangerous. Question: why would social workers freak out over a letter from a parent?

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Odd envelope sparks fear

Ballina Community Services office
MAIL SCARE: Police enter the Ballina Community Services office after a suspicious package was found.
Doug Eaton

ABOUT 80 staff from the NSW Community Service's Ballina office were evacuated from the Tamar St building for just over two hours yesterday as an envelope with a suspicious substance in it was checked out.

Inspector Nicole Bruce from Ballina police said the substance in the envelope was deemed safe by police and a NSW Fire and Rescue Hazmat team, and the building reopened about 1.15pm.

But Insp Bruce wouldn't reveal what was in the envelope as it was now under investigation with Ballina police.

Staff at Community Services, formerly known as DoCS, had phoned police about 11am when an unknown substance was seen oozing from the envelope addressed to staff.

Insp Bruce said the envelope had a note on its reverse side, which police were now investigating.

It is believed the note related to a child.

After the building was evacuated, two police bomb appraisal technicians assessed the envelope.

Once they deemed the substance wasn't explosive, the envelope was left in the building for a NSW Fire and Rescue Hazmat team also to inspect, which then gave the final all-clear.

Insp Bruce said the envelope would be checked by a forensic team for fingerprints.

She said none of the Community Services staff in the building had to be treated by paramedics, who were at the scene while the envelope was inspected.

She said it was good news in the end as the envelope did not have a dangerous substance inside.

She also congratulated emergency service staff involved for the co-ordinated response to the potentially dangerous incident.

If anyone has any information on the envelope, phone Ballina police on 6681 8699.

Source: Lismore Northern Star

Report Obstruction of Justice

March 13, 2013 permalink

Canada Court Watch wants to hear from people who have been threatened by children's aid for sharing court documents privately.

Vernon Beck I recently spoke to a family in a case in which the CAS agency is threatening (bullying) them with a fine if they dare show their court documents to anyone else claiming that this is going public. Is almost comical how desperate some CAS agencies have become to obstruct justice and attempt to twist the law to their sole advantage.

If anyone has had this same experience and is willing to shared their docs and info, Canada Court Watch is conducting an investigation into this issue. If you have info to share then send an email to info@canadacourtwatch.com

Source: Facebook, Vernon Beck

Honesty is the Worst Policy

March 12, 2013 permalink

Vern Beck reports on a mother who made the mistake of having a candid discussion with a counselor to help with her family problems. The counselor snitched to CAS. Social workers and police came to her home, interviewed her son and arrested her husband. He was restricted under bail conditions forbidding contact with his children. The family is under regular surveillance at school, in their home and by lurking social workers hoping to catch the father visiting his children. Legal bills are mounting and the family may disintegrate in financial distress. The boy who is supposedly being protected is despondent and his school performance has dropped. CAS has the remedy: mind-altering drugs.

Parents should be aware that all professionals dealing with children and families are mandated reporters, and candor will result in the initiation of the family destruction process. Link to Vern Beck's report on Facebook, Canada Court Watch (pdf) and local copy (pdf). CAS hot seat

Doug Christie R.I.P.

March 12, 2013 permalink

Zabeth Bayne

It is with a heavy heart that I share of the passing of our lawyer and friend Doug Christie. Please keep his family in your prayers during this time. He will be missed by so many as is reflected by the lives he helped and made such a positive difference in. He will always be in our hearts...

Source: Facebook, Zabeth Bayne

Doug Christie represented the Bayne family in their efforts to get their children returned from the custody of the British Columbia MCFD.

CTV has a video tribute on YouTube and a local copy (mp4).

Biased Ministry, Biased Journalism

March 12, 2013 permalink

Reporter Pieta Woolley has collected official reports of child deaths in British Columbia over two decades. Her alarming introduction says that a child in provincial care is seriously injured or killed nearly every day. Children in care include those placed in foster homes and those still with their families but under watch by the social services system. For the advocacy and formulation of policies that would improve the prospects for children, it is important to know how much harm comes to children in the care of their own families and how much occurs out of their homes, in foster or group home care.. But in spite of the importance of these facts official sources never reveal the numbers. Instead of separately reporting deaths in out-of-home care and deaths in family care, the two are lumped together into one number. The British Columbia figures expand the coverage a little more by including children recently discharged from foster care, or in official language, those recently receiving services.

So how many of the serious injuries and deaths occur in the two kinds of care? There is nothing to go on from any official source. The best guess comes from a controversy that erupted in Ontario in 2009 when the provincial children's advocate Irwin Elman referred to a figure in a coroner's report and said that 90 children died in Ontario foster care in the year 2007. The OACAS soon retorted that 36 of them were not in foster care at the time of death. Read it in their words in the OACAS memo, February 26, 2009 (pdf). Woolley reports that between June 2007 and September 2012 there were 504 child deaths and 1,136 critical injuries of children connected with the British Columbia care system. Applying the proportions from the Ontario controversy the best guess is that 302 died and 682 were critically injured while in out-of-home care.

How does the British Columbia social services system handle the large number of deaths and injuries in provincial care? They are ignored, though one provincial report advances the calming excuse: "About 30 per cent of the in-care deaths were due to congenital anomalies, nervous system diseases and childhood cancer -- conditions that have not been highly amenable to prevention." After aggregating the two kinds of deaths, all of the cases investigated by the province and reported by Woolley are of children harmed by their own family. Notwithstanding that actual research shows that out-of-home care is ten times as deadly as parental care, the readers of the press reports can only conclude that the welfare of children could be enhanced by taking more of them out of their homes.

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Near Daily, a Child Dies or Is Hurt in Care of Province

Reports reveal unbroken toll of tragedy among children and youth.

Schoenborn children
'Miscommunication, ineffective case management and passive responses' from authorities led up to deaths of Schoenborn children at hands of their father.

Today, a child or youth in or recently released from the care of the Crown in B.C. is likely to die or be "critically injured."

That chilling conclusion is unavoidable after reviewing a succession of easily available public reports.

Between June 2007 and September 2012, according to B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth, 504 children and youth perished while receiving care. Some were in foster care; others were receiving or had recently received services from the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), or a Delegated Aboriginal Agency. Over the same period, there were 1,136 critical injuries. (At any given time, approximately 10,000 B.C. kids are in care.)

About every four days, in other words, a child or youth in the care of B.C. dies (including those who have received services within the last year). And at least every two days, one is critically injured. Kids and teens in care are about four times more likely to die than other B.C. young people, according to another public report.

Sometime this month, B.C.'s current representative for children and youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, will release her latest report -- the last before the provincial election. It will detail the critical injuries and deaths that happened in care in the fall and winter of 2012. It is expected to report no break in the decades-long toll of tragedies.

Stretching from the 1992 inquiry into Matthew Vaudreuil's untimely death, through the 2002 death of Sherry Charlie, to the case of a child heinously abused in care reported by Turpel-Lafond last month, the reading is grim. Yet these "incidents" are among the few opportunities the public gets to assess the services delivered by the Ministry of Children and Families. Privacy legislation usually protects individual case files.

Who is dying, and why? This 2006 report notes that, "About 30 per cent of the in-care deaths were due to congenital anomalies, nervous system diseases and childhood cancer -- conditions that have not been highly amenable to prevention."

That many such deaths happen among the young and disabled was echoed in an email to The Tyee from the B.C. Coroner's office: "Many of the children who die while receiving support from MCFD are supported through the Ministry's 'At Home Program,' described on the Ministry website as designed to 'assist parents with some of the extraordinary costs of caring for a child with severe disabilities at home through a range of health supports and services.' "

Yet those deaths of children seriously ill for other reasons are a minority. And most deaths in care are never investigated.

Of the 40 kids and teens who died in the system in the summer of 2012, for example, 29 cases received no review. But 11 did. And as the B.C. representative for children and youth reports, many of those deaths occurred while the victims were in the charge of a government department with a legacy of crucial errors.

The one that many will recall occurred 21 years ago. Matthew Vaudreuil died in 1992, while the NDP was in power in B.C. His horrific injuries sparked the Gove Inquiry into Child Protection in B.C. It reported that Matthew, "nearly six years old at the time of his death, weighed only 36 pounds. His face, arms, legs and back were covered in bruises. There were what appeared to be rope burns on his shoulders and wrists, as if he had been bound. Matthew had been tortured and deprived of food before he was killed."

At the time, the inquiry also found: "The response by ministry social workers to every report of concern for Matthew's safety was inadequate."

Sherry Charlie died a decade later in 2002. By then the Liberal Party was in power in B.C. Sherry was beaten to death at 19 months old by her great uncle to whom she had been entrusted by a delegated agency. Her story motivated the Hughes Review.

Turpel-Lafond has written several reports detailing other deaths since 2007.

From a 2008 report on the death of Amanda Simpson, age five: "Examination at the hospital in Prince George revealed that Amanda had a severe skull fracture with associated bleeding in the brain. Some of the injuries were consistent with shaking. For example, there was bleeding in both retinas and the optic nerve sheath. Amanda also had a fractured collarbone and severe abdominal injuries consistent with blunt force trauma. There were numerous bruises on her body."

The report also notes that "During this period, the North region of the Ministry was experiencing significant human resource challenges. There was a high annual staff attrition rate. In the second half of 1998, 21 child protection, resource and guardianship workers had been hired. By October 1999, 10 of those staff had resigned. Only 161 of the 222 staff positions for child protection, resource and guardianship worker positions were filled. Approximately 30 per cent of those workers had less than two years experience. In seven offices in the North region less than half the staff were permanent. Temporary workers filled some positions, while other positions were left vacant."

Child deaths and injuries in British Columbia provincial care
Forty deaths over 120 days in 2012: roughly one every three days.

A report the next year was titled, Honouring Christian Lee. No Private Matter: Protecting Children Living with Domestic Violence. It detailed how Christian Lee died at six in a murder-suicide at the hand of his father.

It also reported that, "MCFD took the approach that because Christian was with his mother and his father was not living at home, the boy was safe from physical harm. Ministry staff concluded his mother was willing and able to protect him. While this approach reflects the way our child protection legislation is structured, it does not allow for a full recognition of the dynamics at play in domestic violence cases. Christian was not safe because his mother was not safe. She was an immigrant depending on her abusive husband to explain the social service and legal systems in British Columbia, and she had limited confidence in her ability to express herself in English."

A 2011 report, So Many Plans, So Little Stability: A Child's Need for Security, tells the story of a four-month-old infant who died, again while in the care of a court-approved relative. "In this case," that report says, "many plans were made. Few were carried through. Sixteen social workers touched this case before the infant's death, as did lawyers and the family court. Eleven different placement decisions for the infant's care were made over a four-month period, ranging from the infant being cared for by various different relatives to the infant being brought into the legal care of the ministry.

"Most of these decisions were later abandoned. The infant's file was transferred between MCFD and the DAA (Delegated Aboriginal Authority) five times. Generally speaking, interventions were episodic, and there was an overall failure to see the big picture."

Another report that same year, Fragile Lives, Fragmented Systems: Strengthening Supports for Vulnerable Infants, reviewed 21 infant deaths that had occurred between 2007 and 2010.

The families of these victims, it found, "were known to have been facing significant life and parenting challenges, yet somehow the risks to their children associated with these challenges were ignored or not dealt with effectively. Too often ... professionals from the public health, medical and child welfare systems saw these families and noted part of the issue, but didn't connect the dots to create a whole picture that would have clearly revealed a fragile situation where intervention and additional supports were critically necessary."

A year ago, in March 2012, Honouring Kaitlynne, Max and Cordon: Make their Voices Heard Now identified a series of failures in the months leading up to the murder of three children, ages five to 10, at the hands of their father, Allan Shoenborn.

Schoenborn had had numerous violent outbursts and encounters with police before one in 2007, "began an escalating year-long involvement with the criminal justice system, the child protection system and others. This year was marked by domestic violence incidents, violent or threatening confrontations involving Schoenborn and others, miscommunication among the various systems, ineffective case management, and passive responses by those charged with protecting the mother and children. In the week leading up to the children's deaths, Schoenborn was arrested three times. The escalation ended with the deaths of three children."

Then just last month, yet another report, this time titled Who Protected Him? How B.C.'s Child Welfare System Failed One of its Most Vulnerable Children, told how police tasered an unnamed 11-year-old boy in a group home, causing him "critical" injury. "Shortly after taking the child into care as a two-year-old, the ministry placed him in a foster home, where he again suffered physical and emotional abuse and neglect for more than three years," this report recounted.

"The ministry later failed to follow through on a potential adoption opportunity for the boy. Instead, inexplicably, the seven-year-old child was returned to his mother -- from whose care he'd been removed five years earlier -- even though there was no evidence to suggest that her ability to parent had improved.

"Rather than follow the advice of professionals who recommended that the child be placed in a supported therapeutic foster home, the ministry instead placed him in a series of staffed residential facilities that continually failed to address his special needs or his past trauma. In many instances, it is likely he was re-traumatized by the use of a "safe room" to manage his behaviour, despite the fact no policy or legislation exists in B.C. to permit this measure under these circumstances.

"This child has very complex needs as a result of developmental disabilities, hearing loss, a heart condition and mental health problems. The Representative acknowledges that finding a suitable, nurturing residential placement for him is a challenge. But such a challenge is the core business of the ministry -- to protect and nurture B.C.'s most vulnerable children... not a discretionary service."

In that case, the representative found that not only were the child's needs not being met, but the public was paying for services he never received: "Group home care for [such] a child ... can be very expensive. In his case, the child's most recent placement cost $400,000 per year. Even though the child has not been residing in his group home since August 2012, that empty bed continues to be paid for by the ministry."

More than two decades after Matthew Vaudreuil's horrific final days, it's evident that children continue to suffer and die while in the 'care' of B.C.'s government ministries.

Pieta Woolley reports on solutions to breaking the link between foster care and youth homelessness for The Tyee Solutions Society, with the support of the Vancouver Foundation.

Source: The Tyee

Addendum: A reader pointed out the BC governament statistics on deaths of children receiving services in care and not in care. According to their figures, the in care (foster care) portion is only 14 percent of the aggregation. But other analysis shows that comparable figures released in the USA are fantasies.

Real Job for Phantom Agency

March 11, 2013 permalink

Ontario's Child Welfare Secretariat is hiring. If you are a highly-committed leader with a background in social sciences relating to children and youth you may be eligible for a job earning between $84,006 and $110,380 annually. Here is the help wanted advertisement (pdf) and a local copy.

Just one irony. The secretariat does not exist, or at least, was never created. The responsible ministry has no record of its inception.

Court Reneges on Booker

March 10, 2013 permalink

The British family court, which last week ruled in favor of allowing Christopher Booker to continue reporting on a case, has reversed course and barred him from the courtroom. He is also barred from getting more of the story from the mother, and the adverse party has not followed through on its agreement to answer questions.

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My 'victory’ over secrecy in the family courts has a nasty twist

High court judgments are not always what they seem - I've still been silenced

My one fear in reporting last week that The Sunday Telegraph had won a historic victory in the High Court by persuading a judge to lift an unusually draconian reporting order he had imposed on me, barring me from ever again mentioning a particular family case, was that there might be a nasty twist to the tale.

This was a story I had reported on several times, involving a devoted mother of two small children who, for two years, has been fighting a horrendous battle against an array of social workers, lawyers and judges, fearing that their real aim was eventually to find some excuse for removing her children from her.

I had been accused by Mr Justice Mostyn, without evidence, of every kind of inaccuracy in my attempts to tell this disturbing saga, and of giving “only one side of the story”, and was told that I should have come into court to hear the other side. When Mostyn agreed to lift his order on me, he also obtained an assurance from the local authority’s barrister that Sutton Council would answer any questions I put to them, so that I would be able to give their side of the case.

It was obvious that the lawyers for the other side were not at all happy with the outcome of this hearing, although it left me in the absurd position that, while I was being encouraged to tell their side of the story, I was barred from ever speaking again about it to the mother.

So I was, in effect, being told that I was free to continue reporting on the case one-sidedly, but only so long as it was from the council’s point of view.

I was already aware that the story was about to come to its climax with a final hearing in the High Court before another judge, Mr Justice Coleridge.

So last week The Sunday Telegraph sent a reporter to the court to listen on my behalf to all that was being said, exactly as Mr Justice Mostyn had said should happen.

My colleague was told that in no way could he enter the court. One judge seemed now to be saying the very opposite of what his fellow-judge had said only the previous week.

My real fear has been that the children could be removed even though they had lived happily since they were born.

On Friday, therefore, in accordance with Mr Justice Mostyn’s wishes, I put to Sutton Council’s press office three questions: could the council confirm whether or not it was intending to ask for removal of the children? If so, on what grounds, and could they tell me the outcome of the case?

The council’s reply was that, although it wishes to operate a policy of transparency, since this particular case is now “at a very delicate stage”, on the orders of the court, “I’m afraid we cannot answer your questions at this stage”.

So I still do not know the case’s outcome; and even if I did and was to report it, I might well risk being charged with criminal contempt, for which I could be sent to prison.

Despite all those protestations of how important it is that our family courts should be properly reported, the wall of secrecy that surrounds them seems to be more impenetrable than ever.

Source: Telegraph (UK)

CAS Hiring

March 10, 2013 permalink

The Children's Aid Society of London is advertising for staff. For the non-social worker job, you will need a degree in social work. You figure.

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Safe Children

Work at CAS

We are pleased to announce that CAS will be hiring Child Protection Workers in 2013.

Child Protection Workers

Entry-level Child Protection Workers must have a BSW or MSW from an accredited School of Social Work. Other requirements include a valid Ontario Driver's Licence, access to a car with appropriate insurance and a police clearance certificate. girl

Compensation and Benefits for a Child Protection Worker is:

  • BSW - $52,879.15 - $67,488.67 (2012-2013)
  • MSW - $58,299.26 - $70,863.11 (2012-2013)

Vacation is 20 days per annum.

A competitive Benefits Package includes Life Insurance, Extended Health, Dental, Vision Care and Pension Plan.

In addition to on-the-job training, we offer on-site competency training through the Ontario Child Welfare Training System, a professional library, and two in-house training calendars each year.

How To Apply

Send a cover letter and résumé to:

e-mail: human.resources@caslondon.on.ca
fax: 519 455 6425

Source: Children's Aid Society of London

Brian Christine to be Released

March 9, 2013 permalink

Brian Christine is about to get out of jail after serving twelve years for trying to be a father to his daughters. His wife Ruth served eight years for motherhood. The pair took their daughters at gunpoint from social workers in 2001.

Back around the time of the incident, Oregon advocate Neal Feldman said on Usenet that when you aim a gun at a social worker there is little reason not to pull the trigger. With the harshness of its treatment of Brian Christine, the state of Oregon is trying to prove Mr Feldman correct.

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Man who kidnapped daughters from child-welfare workers in Oregon to be released from prison

Ruth and Brian Christine
Ruth and Brian Christine
The Associated Press/2000

Brian Christine is scheduled to be released from prison next week after spending 12 years behind bars for kidnapping his three daughters from child-welfare workers, a case that brought national attention to the issue of parental rights.

Christine, took the girls at gunpoint near Myrtle Creek in 2001. Christine, his wife, Ruth and an accomplice were arrested days later in Montana.

While awaiting trial, Ruth Christine appeared on NBC's "Today" show to assert that the state had overstepped its authority by taking custody of their children. The case also generated much interest from anti-government and parental-rights activists on the Internet and talk radio.

Originally from Indiana, the Christines had been traveling for a year in a converted school bus when they rolled into Grants Pass in the summer of 2000.

An anonymous caller told police that the three girls appeared to be starved and dehydrated. The state took the children into protective custody after concluding they were in poor health.

In the ensuing months, the Christines fought with state officials and demanded their children back.

On Aug. 1, 2001, Brian Christine pointed a gun at two child-welfare workers taking the girls back to a Bandon foster home following a supervised visit with their parents. He ordered the workers out of the van and drove off with the girls to a nearby lumber mill.

Abandoning the van, the Christines and a friend drove to Montana, where they were arrested a few days later after Brian Christine was stopped for speeding. The children were found unharmed in Montana. Both parents were brought back to Oregon, along with accomplice Matthew Garawon, who was sentenced to six months in jail.

The Christines were represented by Idaho attorney Edgar Steele, who once represented the white supremacist Aryan Nations group and is now serving a 50-year sentence for targeting his wife and mother-in-law in an unsuccessful 2011 murder-for-hire plot.

Brian Christine, now 40, was convicted in Douglas County Circuit Court of first-degree robbery, auto theft and custodial interference and sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison. He is scheduled to be released Thursday 14 from the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem, the Roseburg News Review reported (http://bit.ly/12AKkra).

Ruth Christine spent eight years in prison before being released and deported back to her native England.

Source: The Oregonian

The lawyer for the Christines was Edgar Steele, self-proclaimed attorney for the damned. He died in federal prison on September 4, 2014. In the enclosed article William N Grigg gives his opinion of the sham case that got an unpopular lawyer jailed then left to die through medical neglect. For a less inflammatory view, try wikipedia

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No Protection: The Long Ordeal of Cyndi Steele

Steele family
Edgar Steele (center), Cyndi (front, left), and their family.

Hey,Cyndi – if something were to happen to you, or Nicki, or Kelsey, or Rex – do you think it would be considered a hate crime? Probably not – the FBI would love to see you dead. So would everybody else, you stupid Kike.

Hey,Edgar – think long and hard about your buddy Randy Weaver, ‘cause you’re next.F---k’ Kike, n----r-loving f----n’ Jew bastard.

Hey,you little Jew bitch – you’re going to hell. Watch out if you leave your house.

— Death threats received by the family of Edgar and Cyndi Steele during the 2000 civil trial of Aryan Nation leader Richard Butler

“We are not going to be providing you with any protection,” the federal marshal told Cyndi Steele after she and her son had been ushered into a room in the Kootenai County Courthouse in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. This was not what Cyndi expected to be told. After all, she recently recalled in a telephone interview, “I had just learned that I had been driving around with a bomb on my car.”

That bomb, which had been discovered during an oil change, had been attached to her car by a local handyman named Larry Fairfax, whom Cyndi and her husband Edgar had employed to do some work on their ranch in Sagle, Idaho.

pipe bomb

Fairfax, the man who admitted to planting that bomb, served less than a year in federal prison for “possession of an unregistered firearm” and “manufacturing a firearm.” He was granted early release to a halfway house in Coeur d’Alene, a facility “that was nicer than most hotels I’ve visited,” Cyndi wryly observes. He is now living less than two miles away from his victim, who was not granted a restraining order “because I was not in a domestic relationship with him,” she reports.

Edgar Steele, who was convicted – largely on the strength of Fairfax’s self-serving and self-contradictory testimony – of plotting to murder Cyndi, died last Thursday (September 4) in the federal prison in Victorville, California, where he was serving a 60-year sentence.

The jury in the federal trial, which was held before Judge Lynn Winmill in Boise, consisted of eleven women and one man. The prosecution used voir dire to exclude from the panel any potential juror with specialized knowledge of acoustics or explosives, and to weed out anybody who evinced hostility or even skepticism toward the federal government.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the jury was specially crafted to be receptive to the prosecution’s narrative, in which Edgar, a man in his 60s, supposedly hired someone to kill his middle-aged wife in order to allow him to take up with Tatyana Loginova, a nubile Ukrainian woman with whom he had been conversing online.

Cyndi insists that those online chats were part of Edgar’s research into what he described as an extortion scam being run out of the former Soviet Union. However improbable that story might appear, it is more plausible than the idea that an embattled political dissident, facing constant scrutiny by the Feds death threats from politically connected enemies, would conspire to murder the wife who had nursed him through several cardiac-related health crises.

Cyndi's SUV

That matter was rendered moot by the fact that the alleged victim didn’t believe for a peeled fraction of a split second that her husband had arranged to kill her, and never filed charges against him. In anticipation of Cyndi’s refusal to collaborate, FBI agent Michael Sotka, who orchestrated the operation, paid Fairfax $500 and sent him to Oregon to make a phone call to Steele’s home, thereby forging the “interstate nexus” used to justify prosecuting him in federal court.

As both Cyndi and Edgar told the story, when Fairfax came to work for them he was upside-down on his mortgage and facing foreclosure. His prospects brightened considerably after he was able to make a substantial payment to the mortgage holder by cashing in a considerable amount of silver coins he had acquired from the Steeles.

Cyndi and Edgar insisted that Fairfax, who had the run of their property, stole about $45,000 in silver from them. Fairfax claimed that he had been given the silver by Edgar as payment in a murder-for-hire plot targeting his wife and mother-in-law. Supposedly stricken by remorse – or, perhaps, to cover up his theft -- Fairfax went to the FBI, who fitted him with a digital recorder and sent him back to the Steele family’s ranch to discuss the alleged plot.

Larry Fairfax
Fairfax

No original copy of exists of the digital recording from that June 10, 2010 conversation. Special Agent Michael Sotka violated Bureau procedures by purging it from his recorder after using a computer to upload the digital file to the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia. He did this without a second agent being present, as regulations specify.

Sotka and an Idaho State Trooper named Jess Spike visited Edgar Steele the following day – June 11, 2010 – to tell him that his wife and mother-in-law had been killed. They later admitted that this was a “ruse” intended to prompt Steele into saying or doing something that would incriminate himself in the crime.

Steele, a self-described white nationalist, was an attorney involved in civil litigation on behalf of unsavory and disreputable clients, such as Richard Butler of the Aryan Nation white separatist group. (For reasons made obvious by the photograph accompanying this essay, I have no affinity for that ideology.) Steele had represented Butler ten years earlier after a lawsuit had been filed against his neo-Nazi clique by the equally reprehensible Southern Poverty Law Center. Since that time, he and his family had received numerous death threats, some of which alluded to possible lethal retaliation by the FBI.

Understandably, his first reaction to the grim news on June 11, 2010 was to believe that his family was under siege, and that the federal agent in his living room might well be working in concert with his enemies. Although his wife and mother-in-law were unharmed any suspicions Steele harbored about the role played by the Feds were entirely vindicated. Despite the fact that Edgar did nothing to indicate guilty foreknowledge of the supposed bombing plot, Sotka arrested him anyway.

At the time, Cyndi had traveled from Sagle to Oregon City, Oregon to visit her mother. Nobody told her about the pipe bomb that had been affixed to the undercarriage of her SUV, or a similar device that had been attached to Edgar’s Cadillac. She discovered the bomb – which, it was later disclosed, was essentially a stage prop incapable of being detonated – shortly before going to the courthouse to attend Edgar’s preliminary hearing.

“They played the recording [of the supposed conversation with Fairfax] at the time, and my first reaction was that it didn’t sound anything like Ed,” Cyndi told me. “They played it to me on a couple of other occasions, and every time it changed. In the first version, it was possible at one point to hear the word `bomb,’ but when I heard it again that had been changed to `car bomb.’”

The recordings were analyzed by forensic scientist Dr. George Papcun, who has served as an expert witness and advisor on behalf of numerous law enforcement agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security. Dr. Papcun, who is among the most qualified and respected specialists in his field, detected roughly 300 “transients” and other anomalies in the recording, leading him to conclude that there was “a reasonable degree of scientific probability that they [the recordings] do not represent a true and valid representation of reality and they are unreliable.”

During Steele’s May 2011 trial, the prosecution attempted to exclude both Dr. Papcun’s report and his testimony. Judge Winmill initially ruled that Papcun, who was on vacation in Bora Bora, would be allowed to offer testimony via interactive video conference.

The prosecution objected, claiming that this arrangement would not permit them to “confront” the witness – a right guaranteed to the defense, not the prosecution, by the Sixth Amendment. On May 3, Winmill reversed himself, ruling that Papcun would be permitted to testify only if he were physically present no later than 8:30 a.m. the following morning – which was a physical impossibility. Both Papcun and the defense were willing to pay the expense necessary for the witness to appear on May 5, but Winmill insisted that he simply couldn’t spare another day in order to allow the defense to present its case.

By way of contrast, Winmill permitted the prosecution to present a video-recorded deposition by Tatyana Loginova, the young Ukrainian woman and supposed object of Steele’s extra-marital affecton, who was deposed at a US consulate in Kiev with the help of a Russian language translator.

The evidence against Steele (as I have documented in ample detail elsewhere) consisted of a doctored audio recording, the testimony of an admitted liar and attempted bomber, and a self-serving video deposition by a foreign national from a dubious background who was shielded from effective cross-examination. During jury selection, Assistant US Attorney Traci Whelan subjected potential jurors to invasive scrutiny regarding potential “hidden biases” against “the United States Government.”

“The judge actually instructed the defense on several occasions not to present anything [or] ask any questions, or make any objections that would make the government look bad,” observed attorney Wesley Hoyt, who represented Edgar in his appeal. “We used to have something called the presumption of innocence.... Anybody who was accused of a crime was presumed innocent … the government had to put on enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was guilty. Now there’s a presumption of governmental regularity and correctness. What that means is that the court presumes that everything that the government does is in the regular course of business, and that it’s normal, and it’s OK, and it’s correct.”

Whatever the merits of the federal case against Edgar Steele, the prosecution did not convince the most important jury – the supposed victim.

“From the very beginning they treated me with hostility,” Cyndi related to me. “They did nothing to warn me about having a bomb on my vehicle, then after it was discovered I was explicitly told that I could expect no protection.”

Larry Fairfax, the man who admitted to placing that bomb on Cyndi’s SUV, was ordered to pay her the sum of $900 in compensation. Her husband, who had no hands-on role in the matter, was sent to prison for life. The only “protection” Cyndi received was from a man she was convinced had done him no harm.

Edgar Steele

“The last time I saw Ed was in November 2011, while he was in the county jail waiting to be transported to prison,” Cyndi recalls. “Our kids were able to visit him in California, but I wasn’t permitted to. We did speak on the phone often, and I was concerned about the fact that he was suffering from severe medical neglect.”

During the months leading up to his arrest, Edgar had experienced severe heart problems and suffered an aneurysm that was nearly fatal. In prison he contracted pneumonia that was left untreated for several weeks. When he tardily received treatment, he was diagnosed with a heart murmur.

About three weeks before he died, Edgar stopped calling, which left Cyndi frantic.

“We were talking about twenty times a month, so the absence of phone calls from Ed was alarming,” she told me. “I couldn’t find out how he was doing. Nobody at the prison would tell me anything. On the day before he died I got a forwarded email from an inmate who was watching Ed’s back that made me very concerned about him. He had been taken from Victorville to testify at a trial in West Virginia, and when he got back Ed was unrecognizable to him.”

“I got back on the writ 6 days ago, and the next day, Friday, Edgar went to the hospital,” wrote the inmate, Jake Laskey, on September 3. “He got back from hospital yesterday and didn’t know who he was nor what unit he lives in, and … he’s back in a wheelchair. I saw Edgar today at lunch. He was being pushed back to Medical and barely recognized me, He was half naked in his wheelchair, skinny as a skeleton, unkempt, and his mind was gone.”

Cyndi hastily made arrangements to fly down to California to meet her children and visit with her husband on September 5. Those plans dissolved after Cyndi received a terse and unexpected phone call from a local mortuary asking what “arrangements” she wanted to make for the disposition of Edgar’s remains.

“The prison administration never contacted me,” Cyndi told me, weary bitterness shading her voice. “We hadn’t been told he was sick, let alone that he was near death. Even now, several days after he passed, the prison hasn’t given me official notice.”

Ruby Ridge
"Think hard about Randy Weaver": Ruby Ridge, 1992.

One need not sympathize with Edgar Steele’s views about race to appreciate his willingness as an attorney to defend the rights of clients widely regarded to be despicable. One need not be persuaded of his innocence to entertain abundant reasonable doubt regarding the federal case against him.

The contrast between the draconian punishment inflicted on Steele, and the solicitude displayed by the Feds toward the self-confessed “hitman” amply justifies the belief that Steele was, at best, the victim of selective prosecution – and, at worst, a political prisoner who was effectively murdered by the Regime through focused, deliberate neglect.

If Cyndi had been an actual crime victim, she would have been notified that the man who tried to kill her was dead. But that isn’t the case: Larry Fairfax, the man who placed the bomb on Cyndi’s SUV lives just down the street, in the house he paid for with money he claims to have received as part of the plot to kill her.

Cyndi complains that the Feds lied to her persistently from the moment her husband was arrested, but they told her one incontestable truth: They said that she and her family – who had endured death threats for years -- wouldn’t receive any protection, and made good on that promise.

Source: William N Grigg blog

Sham Court Jails Hard-Working Truant

March 9, 2013 permalink

Diane Tran is a teenager from a broken family forced to work two jobs to support herself while attending high school. Last May her absences from school were enough to get a truancy judge to sentence her to a fine and jail time.

An enclosed opinion piece by Wendy McElroy shows how a per-person funding formula induces educators to persecute parents and children with truancy laws, including the creation of sham courts without rules or records.

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Texas honor student jailed for truancy likely spent night with 'hard-core' criminals

A 17-year-old Houston honor student jailed 24 hours for missing too much school likely spent the night surrounded by "every type of criminal that exists," one Houston defense attorney said.

Diane Tran, an 11th-grade honor student at Willis High School near Houston, was sent to jail for 24 hours last Wednesday by Judge Lanny Moriarty and ordered to pay a $100 fine for excessive truancy.

It’s unclear how many days Tran missed, but state law reportedly permits only 10 absences in a six-month period.

Tran, who works full-time at a dry-cleaning business and part-time for a wedding planner, has been supporting her brother and sister since her parents separated and her mother moved away.

Houston defense attorney Ned Barnett on Tuesday called the ruling "outrageous" and said "a little discretion should have been used" in the teenager's case.

"It doesn’t take much discretion to have sympathy for Miss Tran," Barnett said. "To lock her up is just outrageous."

Barnett, who is not defending Tran, said the girl likely spent her 24-hour jail sentence at Montgomery County Jail surrounded by suspected murderers, drug addicts and prostitutes.

"It's hard-core," he said of the jail, noting that past clients whom he has defended described it as "the worst experience of their life."

Tran, who is considered an adult under Texas state law, was issued a summons last Wednesday for truancy after she missed classes. She was arrested in open court and ordered to spend 24 hours at the jail for truancy, which is considered a misdemeanor. The ruling came after the teenager was issued a warning by a judge last month about her absences.

Judge Moriarty told KHOU 11 News that he intended to make an example of Tran by placing her in jail.

"If you let one run loose, what are you going to do with the rest of them? Let them go, too?" Moriarty told the station.

Mary Elliot, owner of Vineyards of Waverly Manor, where Tran works, told FoxNews.com that Tran is a "straight-A student" and "exceptionally good kid" who takes college-level courses and has a strong work ethic. Elliot said the teenager should never have been arrested and forced to spend the night in jail.

"Her family has taught her a good work ethic," Elliot said. "Her brother was No. 8 in his class. She wants to do better than that."

"We need to change what they do to these kids in the school," she said. "They need to look at their records instead of just judge them as bad kids."

E. Tay Bond, a well-known Houston defense attorney, said the judge likely had no discretion to avert a jail sentence.

"There's no legal exception that I’m aware of that if you're an honors student, you’re allowed to exceed a maximum number of unexcused days under the Texas Compulsory Education Laws," Bond told FoxNews.com. "Twenty-four hours would be about the minimum period of confinement to make a point.

"I think the public policy of making kids attend school is necessary and 24 hours in jail would be pretty minimal and should get the point across," he said.

Since the girl's story went viral, hundreds of people have rallied to raise money for the teen. One group, called the Louisiana Children's Education Alliance, set up a website named helpdianetran.com that reported it had raised nearly $40,000 for the girl.

Houston Councilman Al Hoang said what he worries about most is Tran's record.

"I’m going to ask the judge to expunge the record," Hoang told FoxNews.com. "The truancy laws should be applied case by case and in this case, it should not be applied. I believe Judge Moriarty should have used his discretionary power to excuse her from this matter."

Source: KHOU Houston


Milking the Truancy Cow for Cash

Diane Tran is the 17-year-old honor student who was jailed for truancy in Texas. When a tearful Tran gave an interview for a local television station, the story went viral. Her parents had recently divorced, leaving Tran to support herself by working two jobs in addition to attending school. Fury was unleashed upon truancy court Justice Lanny Moriarty who “made an example” of Tran by fining her $100 and imprisoning her for 24 hours. Deluged with criticism and media blare, Moriarty quickly vacated the conviction.

People who were shocked by Tran's treatment have not been paying attention. Truancy has been criminalized for over a decade now and the situation will worsen over the next few years.

A standard legal definition of truancy is provided by A Quick Guide to Truancy Prosecution issued by Los Angeles County Education Coordinating Council. The Guide states “Any pupil subject to compulsory full-time education who is absent from school without valid excuse three full-time days in one school year or tardy or absent for more than any 30-minute period during the school day without a valid excuse on three occasions in one school year, or any combination thereof, is a truant.” After going through a warning process, chronic truants are often referred to a truancy court. In essence, this is a specialized family court in which parents and/or their truant children must explain themselves to a judge. Although such courts are relatively new, they have spread quickly.

As in other family courts, the truancy judge exercises a great deal of discretion. One judge in Pennsylvania bragged of being harsh with parents and children. Of parents who did not attend court-ordered guidance classes, he declared, "bam! I slam them in jail."

Why Criminalize Truancy Now?

Officials who pursue truants argue that it is “for the children's good.” They point to the alleged benefits of a public school education but another justification emerged. Truancy is called a “gateway crime” that leads to more serious ones and, so, it puts children on the fast track from public school to prison.

The real motive for the war on truancy is money, however. Public schools receive funding for every child who attends at least 60% of the school day; for example, the Berkeley, California school district reportedly receives $35 a day in state funding. Federal programs and other sources of funding also use attendance rates to delegate money to districts. The U.S. Department of Education offers a general sense of where the funding comes from, “In the 2004-05 school year, 83 cents out of every dollar spent on education is estimated to come from the state and local levels (45.6 percent from state funds and 37.1 percent from local governments). The federal government's share is 8.3 percent.” \

It is difficult to find reliable data on how much schools spend to educate a child for one school year (approx. 180 days). In a March 10, 2010 Cato policy report entitled “They Spend WHAT? The Real Cost of Public Schools,” Adam Schaeffer wrote,

Although public schools are usually the biggest item in state and local budgets, spending figures provided by public school officials and reported in the media often leave out major costs of education and thus understate what is actually spent.

To document the phenomenon, this paper reviews district budgets and state records for the nation’s five largest metro areas and the District of Columbia. It reveals that, on average, per-pupil spending in these areas is 44 percent higher than officially reported.

Real spending per pupil ranges from a low of nearly $12,000 in the Phoenix area schools to a high of nearly $27,000 in the New York metro area.

The financial stakes are high, with the flow of money into school coffers hinging upon student attendance. This establishes precisely the wrong incentive. When a government agency is paid for the number of people it processes, that agency has a strong incentive to force as many people as possible to use its 'service'. Attendance becomes mandatory, and the 'right' to an education becomes a legal requirement to obtain one.

Now public schools are taking the next step to ensure that absenteeism does not deny them tax-dollars. If the absence is chronic, then officials are going after the parents with the threat of fines and jail time. The threat is not an empty one.

San Francisco leads the Way

In a San Francisco Examiner (09/24/08) article entitled “Why prosecute parents of chronically truant students?,” then-district attorney of San Francisco Kamala Harris explained, “I chose to file criminal charges against six parents whose children, as young as 6 years old, had missed as many as 80 days out of a 180-day school year. Those parents are now reporting to a model Truancy Court we created...” One of the powers of the Court is to mandate family services and training programs. In the case of a chronic truant, the student may become a ward of the court.

Harris' crusade began with a letter. Near the start of the 2007-08 school year, all parents or guardians of “a San Francisco Unified School District student” received notification that she was prepared to prosecute those who “broke the law by keeping their children out of school.” In an article in the Bay Citizen, Harris proclaimed her policy as a success. Pointing to attendance figures that were up by 4,500 days, she said that the increase caused a “savings of $350,000.” That is, the schools received $350,000 of additional funding from the state and federal governments. Other statistics back up the claim. For example, in the 2007-08 school year, there were reportedly 5,436 students with 10 or more unexcused absences. In 2009-10, there were 3,605.

Eager to “save” more, Harris then pushed a 2010 Chronic Truancy Reduction bill. As a result of its passage, the parents of truants can now be punished with up to a year in jail or a $2,000 fine or both.

Other cash-strapped school districts are taking notes. An article in the May 29, 2012 San Francisco Chronicle explained, “A year ago, Berkeley school Superintendent Bill Huyett...took about $250,000 out of the district's bank account and placed a bet.” He hired staff 'to focus entirely on student attendance'.” The result? Within nine months, the district reaped “more than $1 million in state and other funding to pay for the 150 additional students on average who now show up for school each day.” The district reversed its plans to send out 148 pink slips to teachers.

Backlash against truancy policies

In March 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against the officials of six Rhode Island schools and several family court judges. Filed on behalf of nine parents and their children, Boyer v. Jeremiah accused school officials of using truancy charges as punishment and it challenged the Constitutionality of the state's truancy court. The ACLU stated “the state’s truancy court system is devoid of due process protections in violation of state and federal law, that the truancy courts are frequently punitive in nature, and that truancy court magistrates threaten vulnerable children and their parents with baseless fines and imprisonment, remove children from the custody of their parents without legal justification and fail to keep adequate records of court hearings.” The lack of records is particularly damaging as there are no transcripts upon which to base an appeal. (Boyer v. Jeremiah is ongoing.)

The attempt of school officials to reach ever more deeply into non-violent families is also ongoing. Instead of treating truancy with a suspension or detention, as it has been in the past, schools are treating truants as 'pre-criminals' who must be reined in. Instead of going to the root causes of truancy – such as the authoritarian incompetence and unpleasantness of schools – officials are blaming parents.

Dragging children to attend classes they hate will never produce education. Tossing children to the juvenile court system in order to keep them out of prison in later life achieves the opposite. Jailing parents who may lose their jobs as a consequence shows utter contempt for the well-being of families and children. The war on truancy does not help children. If helping children were the goal, then they would not be stripped of rights, taken from their families and have to watch parents go to jail. These practices make no sense until you factor in the funding received by public schools for every kidnapped child.

The truancy flap is about cold cash. It is also about school authority, which has become one of the greatest dangers to children in our society.

Source: Wendy McElroy

Grudge

March 8, 2013 permalink

One of the hazards of child protection is that anyone with a grudge can sic CAS on a personal enemy. Today's example comes from Thorold Ontario where Chris York had a dispute with his landlord. On February 28 he prevailed over his landlord at the landlord and tenant tribunal. The next day, March 1, children's aid received a complaint about the care of children in the York home and on March 6 they came to his home to investigate. According to other reports, the landlord is blocked by law from raising Mr York's rent, but could get more for the property by renting to new tenants.

The report of the event in the words of Chris York is enclosed. There is also a video on YouTube and a local copy (mp4) assembled by Pat Niagara from camera work by Chris York and Kim Shook.

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Chris York Landlord call CAS stating my children were at risk due to condition of my home. I asked if they were here to apprehend a child under section 40 to which they replied they were NOT here to do an apprehension. I immediately advised them to leave or be arrested for trespassing under the trespass to property act. She advised she would call police. I encouraged her to do so as she had to do her job but even with police present she would still not be permitted on the property. Police arrived (officer that we knew in Niagara quite well and we consider a friend) advised them that he would not force his way in because they stated they were not here to apprehend. I again asked on recording why they were here. She stated they were here to address a concern about us facing eviction. this was different from the first excuse as you will see now. I advised this is not a child protection concern as we were NOT in fact evicted yet AND it is still not a concern until we became homeless even if they DID in fact win which they did not. She admitted I was correct. They got the call on March first... conveniently one day after the tribunal hearing. We advised the landlord lost and he was pissed and this was malicious and provided them with a copy of the tribunal decision. Police officer asked if I would allow him to see the home instead to which I did allow it and recorded and asked him on camera if he had any concerns to which he replied he did not. After going outside the CAS worker discussed his findings and asked if they could do it on camera (yes I'm as shocked as you are she asked us to record the conversation) she asked police if he had any concerns to which he replied he did not see anything that would warrant a child in need of protection nor did he see any fire hazard. They offered services for us to find a bigger home to which I replied I was not volunteering for any of there services at any time nor do I ever want there help. I offered to provide a letter from my doctor stating they have no concerns for the care of my children which I would provide to them but was not signing any consents for them to speak to my doctor. At that time the presence of the worker concluded and she left advising she would call to follow up in a week as I would not permit her on the property. Kim Shook-Advocate was present the entire time. Ty Kim for your help today it was much appreciated. Videos and audio will be posted later this evening for your viewing pleasure to see how you should address the situation with CAS workers when they come to your door as an educational tool.

Source: Facebook, Stop CAS ...

School, and School System, Sued

March 8, 2013 permalink

Over four years ago a school in Newmarket Ontario held two children after hours against their will. The detention came with extortionate threats against their father, Attila Vinczer. Fixcas posted two related articles six months later: [1] [2].

Attila Vinczer has undertaken a lawsuit against the school principal, Stephen Baber and a number of higher-ups in the education system including one-time Education Minister Kathleen O Wynne, now the premier. He is doing so himself, without a lawyer. Most such suits are dismissed contemptuously by the courts at an early stage, but Mr Vinczer has kept his suit alive for years. Recently the suit was set back to filing a new statement of claim, and Mr Vinczer has distributed a draft, along with requests for comment. His remarks on Facebook are enclosed, and you can read his draft statement of claim (pdf). Starting at paragraph 20 is Mr Vinczer's version of what happened at the school. School staff habitually take orders from children's aid, even kidnapping children purely on the word of a caseworker.

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‎$6.2 MILLION DOLLAR LAWSUIT AGAINST PRINCIPAL STEPHEN BABER BACK ON TRACK

I am pleased to announce that the lawsuit against Stephen Baber et al is back on track. You can click the file link below to read the letter to the Attorney General giving them 60 days notice and a draft copy of the Statement of Claim.

This is an opportunity for everyone to suggest what order you would like me to seek within my Statement of Claim regarding matters concerning the conduct of school officials and CAS agencies. This Civil action is in the public, but more importantly, in the interest of our vulnerable children.

You may use this Statement of Claim as a framework to bring Civil action of your own against a school or school officials and the Queen in the Right of Ontario as well as Minsters and Ministries.

Disclaimer: Please note that this is not legal advice and is strictly presented as a document that is public information anyone could access at the Courthouse.

Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch

No Visits

March 7, 2013 permalink

New York caseworker Christopher Finley is accused of stealing $25,000 by falsely reporting visits with children that never took place.

It is not just a financial crime. Regular visits by social workers serve to avert abuse by foster parents. In the most extreme cases, the foster parents could kill their wards while collecting full pay, as with nineteenth century baby farming or a modern equivalent. Some former foster children have reported that their foster moms were absolute monsters except for the few minutes during social worker inspections. Cutting down on visits makes life easier for foster monsters.

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Nassau DA: Case Worker at Mineola Non-Profit Stole $25K

Christopher Finley allegedly falsified paperwork saying that he met with troubled teens.

An Elmont man employed as a case worker for troubled teenagers at Mineola non-profit Family and Children’s Association was arrested Thursday morning on charges of stealing more than $25,000 in Medicaid funds, according to the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office.

Christopher Finley, 32, reportedly submitted paperwork that falsely claimed he had met with troubled teenagers when he allegedly did not hold any such meetings.

Finley’s position as an individual care coordinator required him to work with teenagers with behavioral problems to try to resolve issues they may have at home. The goal is to keep the teenager living at home and avoiding institutionalization. As part of his job, he was required to make six home visits per month to each of the six children under his care. The visits are covered by Medicaid.

According to the Nassau District Attorney’s Office, between October 2010 and April 2011, Finley allegedly submitted false treatment notes showing that he made the required six home visits per month, when he reportedly only visited the families two or three times a month and sometimes not at all. Using Finley’s notes, Family and Children’s Association then billed Medicaid for his claimed work and Medicaid paid $25,580.42 for services that were not rendered.

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Previously the non-profit had been cited by the office of the Nassau County Comptroller for filing questionable charges.

The non-profit discovered the falsified treatment notes and related Medicaid billing during a routine audit by Medicaid staff. The company then repaid the money and referred the case to the District Attorney’s Office after completing an internal investigation.

“It’s unconscionable that this defendant would so brazenly abandon these kids. These families trusted Christopher Finely to help their children overcome serious obstacles and fulfill their potential, but all he cared about was how much money he could steal from the taxpayers,” Rice said in a statement.

Finley is charged with third degree health care fraud and first degree falsifying business records. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted, and is scheduled to be arraigned later today in First District Court in Hempstead.

Deputy Chief Andrew Weiss of the DA’s Economic Crimes Bureau is prosecuting the case. Finley is represented by Jeffrey Mueller.

Source: Mineola Patch

Forgot Tot

March 7, 2013 permalink

A British foster mom left her toddler on a bus by himself.

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Baby P council tot left on bus

New shame as foster carer loses child in buggy

A TOT placed in foster care by the council disgraced over the Baby P scandal was left on a BUS, it was revealed last night.

Passengers called the police after finding a carer abandoned the child — believed to be under two — in a buggy.

Last night shamed Haringey Council in North London had launched an inquiry.

The carer — paid £377 a week — was with the child on the bus last Friday afternoon, believed to be heading to hospital.

But she got off the 491 on her own, leaving the tot on the single-decker in Enfield.

After passengers raised the alarm, the child was taken to hospital for checks before being handed back to Haringey.

Last night a council spokesman said: “The child was found safe and well and we are undertaking a full investigation. Steps were immediately taken to arrange a new fostering placement for the child.”

London Bus
Bus ... tot left on 491

In 2007 Haringey was slammed over the death of 17-month-old Peter Connelly — Baby P — at the hands of his mum and her brutal boyfriend.

Director of child services Sharon Shoesmith was fired. Last night there were calls for fostering chief Wendy Tomlinson to resign.

TaxPayers’ Alliance boss Jonathan Isaby said: “Caring for a vulnerable child is a massive responsibility and social services must ensure that foster parents are up to this huge task.”

However, the council insisted Ms Tomlinson acted swiftly and denied allegations of a cover-up.

The spokesman added: “It would be inappropriate to pre-empt the findings of the investigation.”

It said the carer — who later contacted emergency services — did not look after any other children for the council.

David Skelton of think tank Policy Exchange said the fostering system needed urgent reform.

He added: “There are too many cases of the most vulnerable young people being let down.”

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “We were called after a baby was left on a bus. Inquiries are ongoing. There have been no arrests.”

Source: Sun (UK)

Premature Service

March 6, 2013 permalink

Anxious British social workers jumped the gun and tried to apprehend a baby from Kelly McWilliams while she was still in labor.

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Social workers arrived at hospital to take woman's baby while she was in LABOUR over concerns for its welfare

  • Social workers arrived at the Doncaster Royal Infirmary with a court order
  • Baby Victoria was taken away shortly after the birth in August 2011
  • Kelly McWilliams, 36, is demanding an apology from Doncaster Council
  • For four months she was only allowed two hours supervised time with daughter every day

A mother has told how social workers turned up while she was giving birth in hospital to say they would be taking her baby into care.

Without consulting her, social services chiefs had decided Kelly McWilliams was unfit to look after her baby because she had suffered from depression five years earlier after her ten-year-old son was found hanged.

The officials arrived without warning to say the baby would go straight into foster care as they were concerned about Mrs McWilliams’s mental health.

Kelly McWilliams and Victoria McWilliams
Kelly McWilliams is demanding an apology from Doncaster Social Services after her daughter Victoria, now 18 months, was taken into foster care after her birth

But the baby, a girl named Victoria, had serious breathing problems and was transferred to intensive care.

Mrs McWilliams, 36, said she was only allowed to spend two hours a day with her daughter, supervised by a social worker.

She was forced to call a lawyer from hospital and ended up in court two days after the birth to plead her case.

Victoria’s father, who lived apart from Mrs McWilliams, was given temporary custody of the baby when Victoria was discharged from hospital ten days after her birth, and for four months Mrs McWilliams was only allowed two hours of supervised time each day with her child.

Last night, the mother of five from Doncaster said: ‘I feel very, very angry and very, very let down because I had overcome my mental health problems and was in a very good place and I was feeling proud and ready to be a mother.

‘Then this came along and crushed me. I lost precious time with my daughter. I missed her first smile, I missed so much.’

The social workers were able to take Victoria into care after obtaining an emergency protection order from Doncaster Magistrates’ Court.

Mrs McWilliams said: ‘They literally just walked in very coldly and said as soon as I had delivered my baby she was going to get placed into foster care.

‘I was in labour when they came in. To be honest I didn’t actually believe them, at first I thought it was some kind of joke.’

When she asked why Victoria had to be fostered, she said they replied: ‘Because you are not well.’

According to Mrs McWilliams’s lawyer, Doncaster social services had gone too far when Victoria was born in August 2011, having failed to carry out a pre-birth assessment or case conference to discuss any possible intervention.

Solicitor Sarah Young said that if proper procedures had been followed, social services may not have needed to take action.

Miss Young added: ‘I think it’s a shocking example of a massive over-reaction by social services in Doncaster.’

Victoria is now 18 months old and happily living with her mother. But Mrs McWilliams is demanding an apology from Doncaster social services, which she fears has not learned from its mistakes.

Her case follows a series of major failings by care bosses. In November, an Ofsted inspection found that children’s care in Doncaster was still ‘inadequate’.

The service had already been criticised over the deaths of seven children and failures that led to the torture of two boys by two brothers who were in foster care.

Mrs McWilliams said: ‘People need to know what Doncaster social services are like, because they make mistake after mistake but they are not paying for it.

‘To me, they have got more power than the police, they can do what they want when they want.

‘Nobody can make up for what they have taken away from me. They need to change the way they work. It can’t happen to anyone else. I was an experienced mum and yet I had to be supervised all the time I was caring for Victoria.

‘I am constantly terrified that there will be a knock on the door and that someone will come to take Victoria away from me.’

Chris Pratt, director of Doncaster’s Children and Young People’s Services, said: ‘It’s inappropriate for us to comment on cases involving individual children. However, when any matter of concern is raised with me I do ask for this to be examined and I have done that in this case.’

Source: Daily Mail

pregnant woman chained

St Catharines Rally

March 5, 2013 permalink St Catharines rally

Canada Court Watch has posted photos from a rally on February 12 in St Catharines. The turnout was small, but showed determination in the cold of winter. [1] [2] [3].

Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch

Addendum: A freedom of information request revealed that the Ministry of the Attorney General was closely watching this rally.

Alberta Parents Charged

March 5, 2013 permalink

Alberta prosecutors have charged the parents of baby Ezekiel Stephan who died after they sent him to the hospital by ambulance. The family has another son who is still living with parents David Robert Stephan and Collet Dawn Stephan. Here is a picture of the family from another news story.

Alberta prosecutors have not charged the foster mother of Delonna Sullivan, who let her ward die without ever seeking medical assistance.

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Criminal charges in son's death 'hit us like a ton of bricks,' say parents (with video)

Family says ambulance lacked needed equipment

RAYMOND — Nearly a year after saying goodbye to their 19-month-old boy, two southern Alberta parents were stunned to learn they are facing criminal charges of failing to provide the necessities of life.

To police, it’s a case of parents who didn’t act to save their sick child until it was too late.

To the family of baby Ezekiel Stephan, the charges only drag out the pain they already feel with the loss of their loved one.

“There’s nothing in the world that will bring him back,” said Ezekiel’s father, David Stephan. “What good could possibly come out of this?

“What could possibly be worse than the suffering we’ve endured for the past year?”

The rare charges were laid Tuesday following what police called a “lengthy and detailed” investigation that began when the boy died in March 2012 and police were called to probe his death.

Investigators from Raymond RCMP and the general investigation section believe the child got sick in February 2012.

On March 13, the child stopped breathing and paramedics were called. The child was brought to the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary but died on March 18.

“The parents knew the child became ill in February and then it wasn’t until March the 13th when the child stopped breathing that they activated the health system,” said RCMP spokesman Cpl. Darrin Turnbull.

David Robert Stephan, 29, and his wife, Collet Dawn Stephan, 32, were charged with failing to provide the necessities of life.

The couple, who have been married seven years and have since had another son, had no idea a criminal investigation was ongoing and were “blindsided” by the charges, David said Wednesday. They had not heard from police after an interrogation at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in March 2012 that went until the early morning hours.

On Tuesday, they got the surprise call from RCMP, he said.

“It hit us like a ton of bricks.”

Anthony Stephan, David’s father and Ezekiel’s grandfather, said the RCMP’s claims that Ezekiel fell ill in February are “false” and that the child actually got sick only a few days before he had stopped breathing, at which point the parents called 911 for help.

According to the family, the child was suffering from flu-like symptoms. They believed it was a minor case of croup and Ezekiel was cared for at home but not taken to the doctor.

“They didn’t see the need at the front end because the boy really wasn’t that ill,” Anthony said.

He added the parents are health conscious, keep their kids active and don’t give them junk food.

“We don’t always go to the doctor immediately. If it persists we do, absolutely.”

The Stephan family has had run-ins with the medical establishment before.

Anthony founded a company called Truehope that sells a natural supplement that claims to fight bipolar disorder. Truehope won a legal battle with Health Canada, which had argued the company did not have the scientific evidence to back its claims.

He insists the family is not against medicine.

“If there’s any insinuation that they were withholding care from the child, it’s absolutely wrong. If they took a look at our records with Alberta health care, they’re going to see that we use the system.” he said, adding this case has nothing to do with his business.

“This is something that the family missed, no question. It wasn’t a question of avoidance at all.”

Father David Stephan struggled holding back his emotions when reached late Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, he issued a statement and questioned how Alberta Health Services responded once they were called.

“Like any other good parents, we attended to the matter and treated him accordingly to standard practices and recommendations like millions of parents do each year,” he said in a statement provided to the Herald.

Anthony said his grandson appeared to be recovering — his energy levels returning after a few days of “lethargy” — but quickly took a turn for the worse. His son frantically called him to say the boy was having breathing troubles, then called 911.

“Without being properly notified by 911 dispatch we took it upon ourselves to meet the dispatched ambulance half way on the highway. It took approx. 40 minutes from the initial 911 call before he was in the care of the attending EMTs,” David said in his statement.

“When EMT finally arrived, the ambulance was not equipped with the correct intubation equipment for our son, who could not breathe on his own,” he said.

Anthony’s wife Barbara Stephan burst into tears recalling that harrowing night.

“When he came, they didn’t have a heartbeat or anything,” she said, tearfully.

The Stephan family said it was later determined the boy had a lung infection, which led to a case of suspected meningitis.

“The EMTs who attended have indicated to us that they have been frustrated for some time prior to this tragic event, because they have been after Alberta Health Services to no avail to properly equip their ambulances with the proper intubation equipment for small children, the same equipment needed that tragic night,” he said.

Anthony also questioned why an ambulance wasn’t dispatched from Glenwood, which is only a five-minute drive to his son’s home.

Initially, the family had decided to “let it go” and not take legal action, because nothing can be done to bring Ezekiel back. The boy’s father questioned the value of “taking Alberta Health Services to task.”

“No money in the world could possibly fill that void that’s inside you,” David said. “That’s why it was never brought forward up to this point. Now it becomes a point of defence they failed.”

AHS officials said the medical superboard could not comment on the case.

“This is a sad event, and our hearts go out to those involved,” it said in a statement. “Given that the parents have been charged by RCMP and this is an ongoing police and legal matter, it’s not appropriate for AHS to comment at this time.”

Anthony said he wants an investigation with the province.

“I want an investigation. I want them to look into what happened here,” he said.

Ezekiel was the second-born son to the family and is lovingly remembered for his bubbly nature and his liveliness, Anthony said, showing off Christmas photos of the child. He said his grandson called him “Bubba.”

“He will be remembered and always loved for his quiet loving nature, his extraordinary love for soccer, his smiles that lit up the room and the hugs and kisses and comfort that he would give,” read his online obituary. “He will always be remembered for his love for his family.”

Anthony described the situation as “very tragic.”

“How do we feel as grandparents to lose a grandchild? It was terrible. The family has been through so much.”

Source: Calgary Herald

Addendum: The family has posted its own story, Save Ezekiel's Family!

Problems in Newfoundland

March 4, 2013 permalink

Newfoundland and Labrador's Child and Youth Advocate Carol Chafe has released three reports on the province's child welfare system. The three are available on her website at Out of Focus, Turning a Blind Eye and The Child Upstairs (all pdf). Since the stories have no real names, they tell only the parts of the story that suit the needs of the welfare system. Watch for a move soon to use the stories to justify expanding the powers of the welfare system.

For an unexpurgated Newfoundland story, watch the movie Dear Zachary. Using real names it tells of the death of a boy at the hands of a known homicidal mother while the family court system fiddled.

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Child and youth advocate releases reports on system failures

Carol Chafe, Newfoundland and Labrador's Child and Youth Advocate, has released three reports on shocking failures in the province's child welfare system.

Chafe said the problems which led to the failures in the three reports, despite the creation of a new department of Child, Youth and Family Services, still exist today.

"The change itself has not happened, and that's why I feel it's necessary for people to understand, while yes, change takes time and the structure is there, and I know it's going to get better, it's still not better now," said Chafe. "And therefore, children are at risk."

Three tragic stories

The reports are focused on flaws in the system that allowed the abuse and neglect of children in three separate cases to go undetected.

One report tells the story of the neglect of four children with one child ultimately becoming permanently developmentally delayed.

Another report tells the story of several children who suffered abuse at the hands of their mother over the span of 13 years.

The third report addresses the situation of two families with children who suffered neglect for years, with two children dying and another child injured in a house fire which also killed three adults.

Chafe said those investigations were already under way when she took over the office in 2010.

Lack of communication, says advocate

The biggest failure in each case, Chafe said, was a lack of communication and documentation by social workers.

Chafe said the reports have been presented in a way that the general public can read and understand.

She said she hopes the public release of these reports will push people inside the province's child welfare system to change their practices.

The reports are available on the Child and Youth Advocate's website.

Source: CBC

43,960 Strip Searches
43,960 Lies

March 4, 2013 permalink

Two years ago Britain's Youth Justice Board announced the end to routine strip searching of youthful inmates. A copy of their press release is enclosed. A recent freedom of information disclosure reveals that in the past 21 months 43,960 children have been strip searched. A few searches found contraband tobacco, not one found illegal drugs or a knife. A 16-year-old strip-searched girl was forced to turn over her sanitary towel. One more instance showing you should not believe pronouncements coming from child care agencies.

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43,000 strip-searches carried out on children as young as 12

Campaigner criticises 'institutionalised child abuse' after FOI request reveals huge number of searches in custody

A promise to end routine strip-searching of children in custody is being flouted, according to data revealing there were more than 43,000 recorded incidences involving children as young as 12 over a 21-month period – but in only 275 searches were illicit items found.

Contraband was discovered in eight of every 1,000 searches in young offender institutions and secure children's homes and training centres in the course of one year, and just three in the next year. Tobacco was the most common item found, with no recorded discoveries of drugs or knives.

A leading children's rights campaigner described the practice as "institutionalised child abuse" after a freedom of information request identified that a total of 43,960 such searches, which routinely involve the children being made to strip naked, were carried out in 21 months.

Two years ago, the Youth Justice Board announced that the routine strip-searching of incarcerated children would stop. Its press release said children had described the practice as undignified, leading "to feelings of anger, humiliation and anxiety".

But the information obtained under FOI and seen by the Guardian shows children were made to strip naked 43,960 times in 25 young offender institutions (YOIs), secure children's homes (SCHs) and secure training centres (STCS) in the 21 months up to December 2012.

The youngest person to be strip-searched was 12. Nearly half – 48% – of children strip-searched were from black and minority ethnic communities. Physical force was used on children being searched 50 times.

The FOI request was made by Carolyne Willow, former national co-ordinator of the Children' Rights Alliance England. She described the "practice of children being forced to expose their naked bodies to adults in authority as institutionalised child abuse".

At the end of August 2012, there were 1,643 children in custody in England and Wales, of whom 1,225 were held in YOIs, 269 in STCs and 149 in SCHs. Of those, 64 were aged under 14 and two just 12. The cost of keeping children in the secure estate was £268.9m.

In 2006, Lord Carlile QC conducted an inquiry into the use of restraint, strip-searching and segregation in child custody. Then, as now, fewer than 10% of searches yielded a "find" and tobacco was the most common item discovered.

One 16-year-old girl told the inquiry she had been strip-searched and ordered to hand her sanitary towel to staff.

Another girl recalled: "When I had my first full search it was horrible as I have been sexually abused and I didn't feel comfortable showing my body as this brought back bad memories."

Willow said: "This matter is of such magnitude that ministers must amend the rules governing secure establishments to prescribe the extremely limited circumstances in which it would ever be permissible to make children in institutions remove their clothes and underwear."

John Drew, chief executive of the YJB said full strip-searches should only be used following an assessment of risk and this should be the starting point for practice in all secure establishments.

He added: "Where providers of STCs and YOIs consider it necessary to carry out routine full searches on first admission, this approach should be justified and will be kept under review by the YJB."

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said a revised searching policy for young people was introduced last March that ensures their safety and security while not subjecting them to a full search unnecessarily.

"Full searches will only take place when it is necessary and there is a clear justification or identified risk. We have a duty to keep any item that could endanger the safety of young people out of secure establishments. We use a number of measures to disrupt their supply and searches are an important part of this."

The routine strip-searching of women prisoners ended in 2009, after a review undertaken by Lady Corston.

Source: Guardian (UK)


Press releases

Youth Justice Board commits to improve practice in response to children and young people's views

1 March 2011

The routine use of full searches will stop across the secure estate; there will be a review of the criteria used to separate young people in custody to manage problems that arise; complaints will be handled more fairly and effectively and; work will be undertaken with the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) and the Samaritans to improve the young people's access to helpline services.

This action plan comes as a direct result of the partnership between the Office of the Children's Commissioner (OCC) and the Youth Justice Board (YJB) listening to the powerful insights of young people about full searches, separation, complaints procedures and help lines in the secure estate. The action plan builds on operational reforms planned by the YJB.

In the new research and action plan launched today, the YJB has made a series of commitments to improve the safeguarding practice of their service providers.

The YJB and OCC commissioned the charity User Voice to consult with young people in the secure estate. User Voice is led by ex-offenders who work with the most marginalised people in and around the criminal justice system. For this research, they gathered the views of young people in Young Offender Institutions, Secure Training Centres, Secure Children's Homes and those under the supervision of Youth Offending Services in England.

The safeguarding concerns raised by the young people will now be addressed by the YJB in a series of commitments including:

  • Working with NOMS and consulting with young people to redesign the information available to them about the complaints system and delivering training and guidance to improve the quality of staff responses to complaints
  • Re-affirming the commitment to only undertake full searches on a risk-led, rather than routine basis
  • Providing gowns for the young people in STCs during any necessary full searches
  • Working towards phasing out in YOIs the use of separation as a punishment or merely for the use of control.

The majority of the 89 young people who participated in this research recognised that some of these practices were necessary to maintain their safety and that of others.

However, they expressed strong feelings about the way some procedures were carried out because of the distress that they caused.

Full searches were described as undignified and led to feelings of anger, humiliation and anxiety.

87% of young people reported that they were aware of available support services. The helplines provided by Barnardo's were praised because of the emphasis on support and personal contact. However, only 13% of the young people had actually used a helpline due to a general sense of mistrust about them, therefore the take up remained low.

The majority of the young people interviewed knew how to use the complaints system (91%) but they rarely did so - under a third (31%) reported making a complaint. Many said they had little or no faith that the system would be effective. The participants from the Local Authority Secure Children's Home did express satisfaction with the model used as their complaints are dealt with rapidly by senior staff on a personal, face-to-face basis.

Nearly half of the young people (44%) had experience of being removed or separated from other young people. This was mainly to provide staff with the space to address problem behaviours. While the majority of young people could articulate benefits of being separated some of the young people reported feeling cut off and estranged during that time, perceiving themselves to be in the hands of unfeeling staff and away from normally supportive relationships.

The OCC looks forward to the full implementation of the YJB action plan, which will result in practices in the secure estate being aligned to how children should be treated under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Maggie Atkinson, the Children's Commissioner for England, said:

"The views gathered through this project demonstrate the importance of listening to and involving children in matters affecting their lives. In doing so, we can ensure that we treat those in custody in a dignified and humane way that is focused on their rehabilitation.

"These principles are at the heart of the UNCRC and we welcome the YJB's commitment to act on the concerns raised by the young people who took part in this research. Meaningful engagement of young people across the youth justice system can result in positive changes to attitudes and behaviours and support intervention measures that aim to reduce offending.

"We will work with the YJB to encourage them to incorporate the UNCRC into all youth justice polices and practices. During the next year, we will continue to visit and speak to young people in the secure estate to ensure the commitments laid out in this report are realised."

John Drew, Chief Executive of the YJB, said:

"Yet again I'm impressed by the intelligent and sensible contribution children make when they are consulted on matters that affect them. We sought their views on a range of improvements we planned to make, and they have helped us shape those changes for the better.

"As a result we have made eight commitments to improving the safeguarding of children in the secure estate.

"Listening to children and young people contributes to our aim of helping them to become responsible, independent adults."

Mark Johnson, Founder of User Voice, said:

"I am extremely pleased that the concerns of the young people have been taken seriously by the Youth Justice Board. The powerful and thought-provoking views in this report are a reminder of the important role we all have in these young people's lives, and the role that ex-offenders can play in gaining access to this extremely hard to reach group. Children and young people in the criminal justice system should receive the best support possible if we want them to turn around their lives to be positive and constructive citizens."

Notes to editors

  1. The report, 'Young people's views on safeguarding in the secure estate - a user voice report for the Youth Justice Board and the Office of the Children's Commissioner', is available to download here.
  2. The Children's Commissioner for England was established under The Children Act 2004 to be the independent voice of children and young people and to champion their interests and bring their concerns and views to the national arena. The Commissioner's work must take regard of children's rights (the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) and seek to improve the wellbeing of children and young people: www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk
  3. The routine use of full searches will stop across the secure estate; there will be a review of the criteria used to separate young people in custody to manage problems that arise; complaints will be handled more fairly and effectively and; work will be undertaken with the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) and the Samaritans to improve the young people's access to helpline services.The Youth Justice Board for England and Wales (YJB) oversees the youth justice system in England and Wales. We work to prevent offending and reoffending by children and young people under the age of 18, and to ensure that custody for them is safe, secure, and addresses the causes of their offending behaviour: www.yjb.gov.uk
  4. User Voice's work is led and delivered by ex-offenders. It exists to reduce offending by working with the most marginalised people in and around the criminal justice system to ensure that practitioners and policy-makers hear their voices. User Voice Councils can be developed for use within prisons or in the community for probation, youth offending teams and other related services: www.uservoice.org

For media enquires contact:

Denise Malcolm
Senior Communications Officer, Office of the Children's Commissioner
Tel: 020 7783 8580 or 020 7783 8330
Email: denise.malcolm@childrenscommissioner.gsi.gov.uk
Out of hours enquiries: 07920 765 454

Zena Fernandes
Youth Justice Board
Tel: 020 3372 7786 or 07785 388 694

Daniel Hutt
User Voice
Tel: 020 7968 2740 or 07904 008 084

Source: Office of the Children's Commissioner 2011

Child Detained for Walking

March 4, 2013 permalink

Lenore Skenazy reports the latest reason for seizing a child — letting a child walk to a store by herself.

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Cops Detain 6-year-old for Walking Around Neighborhood (And It Gets Worse)

Readers — The story below makes me so sad and so angry, and you will see why. If anyone at Child Protective Services or the police department would pick up a single book written before predator panic swept the country, they’d see that 6-year-olds were always part of the neighborhood scene, scampering, playing, or even — in many eras and areas — working! The idea that a 6-year-old can’t be outside without constant supervision is new and warped.

It also seriously underestimates kids. Is there a law requiring parents to stunt their children’s curiosity, competence, maturity and independence? I fear it may only be a matter of time. – L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: I’ve run across your site a few times and generally ascribe to the parenting principles that you write about. I’d like to anonymously share what just happened to my family with you and your readers to elicit some feedback.

We’ve taught our six-year-old, whom I’ll call Emily, about crossing the street, reading maps, etc. As she’s learned these skills we’ve let her try them out, first with supervision, and then on her own, to make short trips around the neighborhood. We live in a fairly average residential neighborhood that has a mixture of stop signs, stop lights, and crosswalks. The state that we live in does not have any laws regarding a minimum age for a child to be unattended.

Recently, Emily went by herself to a small store a few blocks away. When she was out a little longer than I expected, I went looking for her. The shopkeeper said that as she was walking out the door the police were coming in, asking if anyone there was her parent. Then they took her.

POLICE REFUSE TO LET HER GO

Once I got to the police station they would not release her to me for over 20 minutes, though she was sitting behind bullet-proof glass just 20 feet away. When the police finally came to talk to me, I was told that they had responded to a call of a young child being unsupervised. They refused to identify a reasonable cause for her detention, or even what law had been broken. They insisted that they were waiting for CPS to respond before they would let me see my daughter, but then they later came back and said that they were releasing me to her because CPS had told them to give her to me, since I was waiting for her.

I received a letter from CPS today.

Emily knows her name, address, phone number, etc. Furthermore, the responding officer knows exactly who both Emily and I are since she responded to a complaint regarding Emily crossing the street by herself just a few days prior, during which we were detained for more than half an hour. After this previous incident her supervisor had confirmed that there was no law against a child crossing the street by themselves.

So what say you Free-Rangers to the cops picking up a 6-year-old, not contacting the parents, and then refusing to give her back? – A Dad in Distress

Dear Dad: We say that this is not a matter for the cops or CPS. You are a responsible parent, and you are raising a responsible child. How dare these authorities suggest they care more about her than you do? - L.

Saturday Evening Post salesman
Boy age 5 or 6 selling Saturday Evening Post in Sacramento, 1915

Source: Free Range Kids

Good Mother Lost Baby

March 4, 2013 permalink

Britain's Mirror tells the story of a woman whose real life story mimics that of Lola on the BBC series EastEnders.

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Social workers took my baby girl 13 years ago.. I haven’t seen her since

Just like Lola in EastEnders, teen mum Hayley Rainbow's baby girl was taken from her by social services. Now she is fighting for the rights of other young mums and their stolen babies

Hayley Rainbow with Scott and children
Family: Carly, Scott and their other children
Daily Mirror

When Hayley Rainbow watched teen mum Lola Pearce ­desperately fighting to win back her baby girl Lexi in ­EastEnders, she felt an overwhelming sense of loss.

Hayley was just 15 when social workers deemed her newborn baby was at risk of emotional abuse or neglect in the future.

Her daughter Carly* [ * CARLY’S NAME HAS BEEN CHANGED ] was put up for ­adoption aged 10 months and Hayley has never seen her since.

But what makes this story so extraordinary is that Hayley became pregnant again shortly after her daughter was taken away – and this time she was allowed to keep the baby. She has since gone on to have three more children with no further intervention from the authorities.

Today, Hayley, now 29, is campaigning for other young mums who believe they’ve had babies removed without justifiable cause to be given back their children – just as Lola has been battling for Lexi’s return.

Hayley says: “Words can’t describe the pain I felt when Lola’s storyline first broke. It was as if I was watching my teenage self on screen. Within minutes, my friends and family were texting and ringing to ask if I was watching EastEnders and to make sure that I was OK.

“My mind flashed back to the last time I held Carly and the unbearable sense of loss I felt then and still feel today. I have had to live with the stigma that people presume I did something wrong to have my baby taken away but EastEnders portrayed just how easy it is for a young mum to lose her child based on a prediction of neglect.

“Just like Lola, I was a volatile and mouthy teenager. But that didn’t mean I’d harm my child. Finally, after 13 years, I finally feel vindicated thanks to Lola’s storyline.”

Hayley Rainbow with daughter
Precious: A treasured picture of Hayley with baby Carly
Daily Mirror

Hayley had a troubled upbringing and was just 14 when she became pregnant in August 1998 by her then boyfriend. Because of her childhood and the fact she was in and out of care when growing up, her unborn baby was automatically put on the at risk protection register.

After the arrival of Carly in May 1999, social services deemed Hayley’s living arrangements unsatisfactory.

She had been ­staying with her ­mother in ­London, but was forced to move into a mother and baby unit where her parenting skills were monitored and assessed. “Like Lola I was a stroppy, difficult teen from a troubled background,” admits Hayley. “And, yes, sometimes I’d fly off the handle and I admit I had an attitude problem.”

One evening in January 2000, when Carly was asleep upstairs, Hayley had a ­heated argument with her boyfriend on the telephone and knocked some empty bottles off the kitchen ­counter in a temper.

“I didn’t think much of it at the time and just went to bed,” says Hayley. “But the following morning two ­police officers arrived to escort me off the premises.

“I didn’t understand what was happening and felt scared.

“Suddenly, the penny dropped. I’d seen this happen to other mums on the unit.

“I darted for the door to get Carly – but they wrestled me to the floor and handcuffed me. I started to shout, ‘You can’t take my baby away from me’.

“But they wouldn’t ­listen and I was taken to the police station.

“There, they told me that my baby daughter was being taken into foster care as I’d smashed up the kitchen and wasn’t a fit mother. I just couldn’t ­believe it.

“I’d behaved like an immature, ­angry teenager but I hadn’t smashed up the kitchen and I had not hurt Carly.

“It was soul destroying.

“I went back to my mum’s house and didn’t eat for days.” In the months that followed, Hayley was allowed three supervised visits a week with Carly in a contact centre.

EastEnders
Plot: Lola with Lexi in EastEnders
BBC

She received a glowing report from her contact supervisor and was confident she’d be given back full custody of Carly.

But in March 2000, her local magistrates court ruled Hayley was an unfit mother and that Carly was to be put up for adoption on the grounds of being at risk of emotional abuse or neglect.

Hayley recalls: “I’ll never forget that moment. I was crying uncontrollably. It was my worst nightmare. I might have only been a teenager, but I loved my baby as much as any mother.”

Afterwards, Hayley was allowed twice-weekly visits with her daughter. But, in May 2000, social services found Carly adoptive parents and Hayley was forbidden from ever seeing her again.

“The last time I saw her was in the contact centre,” recalls Hayley.

“Tears were streaming down my face as I held her and told her everything was going to be OK. I promised her that I’d do my upmost to get her home where she belonged. I took a lock of her soft hair and carefully placed it in my locket. I still have it today.”

Hayley tried to appeal against the court’s order but was rejected every time. She says: “It was hopeless. As a teenager from a ­troubled background, I had no voice.” ­Incredibly, around this time, Hayley found out she was four weeks pregnant. She admits: “I panicked and kept it quiet. I was terrified they would take this child away, too.”

In an effort to stop history repeating itself, Hayley moved boroughs.

“At this point I didn’t trust anyone in my local authority. I couldn’t risk staying under the same social workers in case they took my second baby away from me.”

At six months pregnant, she moved to Watford and into the house of her former partner’s parents.

“During an antenatal class, it emerged my first baby had been taken away,” she says.

“The next time I arrived at a class a social worker was waiting for me and my unborn baby was again put back on the protection register.

“Initially, I was terrified. But this social worker listened to me and seemed kind, so I began to trust her.”

This time, social services housed Hayley and helped her to prepare for ­motherhood.

She says: “Their attitude was in stark contrast. Instead of criticising my every move, they congratulated me when I did something well – no matter how small.”

Six months after daughter Morgan was born, the tot was taken off the register. In the meantime, Hayley learnt to drive and took a job as a cleaner.

“When I received a letter saying Morgan was no longer on the protection register, I thought, ‘This is it – I’ve shown I’m a capable, loving mother. Now I’ll get my first baby back’.

In November 2001, she went to the Royal Courts of Justice, but Hayley’s case was rejected.

The judge said it would be detrimental to uproot Carly from her adoptive family.

“I cried my heart out. I really thought they’d give my daughter back to me because I’d proved I was a good parent,” says Hayley. “She was only two and a half then – she wouldn’t have remembered anything and we could have made a fresh start.”

Instead, Hayley had to settle for a letter and a photograph once a year from Carly’s adoptive parents.

“It’s any mother’s worst nightmare,” says Hayley. “It was so frustrating, unjust and totally heartbreaking. Even now, I don’t even know if my daughter knows about me or the truth of the situation.” In 2003, Hayley met Scott, 27, a carpenter, and the couple married in August 2010. They raise Hayley’s two children Morgan 12, Aston, nine, from her previous relationship and their two children, Alexus, five, and Logan, three.

“Scott and I push our children to put 110% into everything they do,” says Hayley. “Just last week, Morgan’s science teacher called to say how exceptionally well my daughter is doing in her lessons.

“We’re so proud of them. It hurts that I’ll never hear what Carly’s doing – or go to her parents’ evening or help her to buy her first dress for her school disco.”

In December 2012, Hayley requested her files from social services under the Freedom of Information Act. She was aghast.

“There was no evidence of neglect – only the risk of neglect based on my stroppy behaviour towards social workers,” she says. “There are four pages that summarise my physical and emotional care for Carly and every single thing is positive.

“But there were incidents, as they like to call them. In one, it described how I called Carly a ‘greedy little piggy’ when I was ­feeding her, but I know I did this in a jokey manner in a baby voice. Another was me using my phone at 12am – nothing to do with my parenting skills.”

Today, Hayley is fighting for the rights of young mums who believe their babies were ‘stolen’ by social services, with the campaign Stolen Children of the UK.

And Birmingham Lib Dem MP John ­Hemming hopes to raise the issue of forced adoption at next week’s party conference.

“I want to give young mums a voice,” says Hayley. “How can social services take your child away purely on the basis of possible future harm? You wouldn’t go to jail because there’s a chance you might kill or harm someone in the future.

“I have since proved that I am a caring and responsible mother – but losing my first-born will haunt me forever. But I pray Carly knows the truth and tries to find me. That way I can give her all the answers she needs.”

Source: Mirror (UK)

Booker Can Continue Reporting

March 3, 2013 permalink

A British court has lifted an injunction that prevented Christopher Booker from reporting on a case known as MvM. Similar injunctions might have halted all of his family law reporting. Several articles are enclosed.

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Open up family court hearings, says senior judge

A senior judge has made an important ruling in favour of transparency in the family courts.

Christopher Booker
Mr Booker, inset, has written a series of articles highlighting the most controversial aspects of the family courts
Photo: Christopher Jones for the Telegraph/Alamy

Mr Justice Mostyn lifted a ban on Christopher Booker, The Sunday Telegraph columnist, reporting on a case involving the future of children who are living with their mother.

The injunction barred Mr Booker from making any mention of the dispute, known as MvM and the London Borough of Sutton.

However, last week the High Court heard how the order prevented the reporting of proceedings that were “clearly in the public interest”.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Mostyn said he was lifting the injunction “because the emphasis should be on transparency” in the courts.

He added: “Mr Booker is perfectly entitled to be as rude as he wants about anybody he wants. That is what freedom of speech is about.”

The court had heard from Gavin Millar QC, for The Sunday Telegraph, that the injunction breached Mr Booker’s right to freedom of speech and that reporting on the case was in the public interest.

He also argued that reforms brought in to open up the family courts had been ineffective, because although the press were now able to attend hearings, what they were allowed to report was limited.

They were also, in many cases, unable to see court documents, which were key to understanding proceedings.

Mr Millar said: “We could have a discussion about how those reforms have worked and how the press have been helped by them. There’s a general feeling that they haven’t been helped that greatly. Very often they can’t report what they want to report.”

Mr Justice Mostyn agreed, adding: “They [the journalists] can’t see the documents so it’s complete Chinese to them.”

The injunction was imposed after Mr Booker wrote a series of articles about the case, which involved the divorce of the parents of young children.

The mother was placed under an order that prevented her from moving from the address where she and her children live, near the father’s home, to enable him to keep in touch with his children.

It meant she was twice unable to hold down well-paid jobs in the finance industry, because the jobs were too far away for her to commute to.

Before another hearing, the barrister chosen to represent the mother decided that she was suffering from a psychological condition and said the mother was not “mentally competent” to instruct her.

As a result, the barrister said she was not willing to put forward the arguments the mother wished to be put forward in court. She asked to represent herself but it was only after a psychologist gave evidence that she was mentally competent that she was allowed to do so.

Mr Millar argued that journalists should be able to shed light on such legal practices.

He said: “The core of the article was about an episode in the life of a litigant which is certainly an issue of public interest: that the law could operate in that way, that the lawyers representing you could bring into question your mental capacity.”

Mr Booker has written a series of articles highlighting the most controversial aspects of the family courts.

He called the injunction “far too sweeping in its implications” and said the decision to lift it was “a victory for common sense and the rule of law”.

He added: “Had this ruling been upheld, it could have greatly extended the rules of secrecy which govern cases involving social workers, children and the courts, and severely curtailed even such limited freedom as the press still has to report such cases.”

Julia Varley, a solicitor for David Price Solicitors and Advocates, which represented The Sunday Telegraph, said: “It is important that the public are able to receive information about what goes on in the family courts and that the media are able to report on such cases, which are often held behind closed doors.

“This decision is a further step in favour of transparency in the family courts.”

Mr Justice Mostyn’s lifting of the injunction is the latest in a series of rulings intended to open up the courts.

Family courts in particular have often been accused of a lack of transparency because cases involving children are not open to the public. The courts argue that this is to protect the identity of the children, but critics have highlighted the difficulties of reporting on such cases.

In 2008, Jack Straw, the then justice secretary, promised to shed light on family courts and brought in new rules allowing journalists to attend.

But judges ruled proceedings would still be held in private and journalists would therefore be unable to report anything on the case unless the court gave specific consent.

Lord Justice Munby, President of the Family Division of the High Court, has called for greater transparency, calling for “radical and comprehensive reform” of the family court system.

Source: Telegraph (UK)


A victory for common sense

A judge was prepared to listen to arguments, but the battle over secret courts is not over

Secret courts are a threat to our freedom
Secret courts are a threat to our freedom
Photo: ALAMY

Last week, 702 lawyers, including 38 QCs, signed a letter calling on the Government to drop its Justice and Security Bill, allowing judges to sit in secret on cases involving national security. According to the lawyers, allowing judges to hold their hearings behind closed doors would be “dangerous”, “contrary to the rule of law”, would “erode the core principles of our civil justice system” and would “fatally undermine” the right to a fair trial and open justice. What the lawyers did not say, however, was that we already have a devastating confirmation of all these points in the workings of our family courts, in too many of those tens of thousands of cases every year involving the removal of children from their parents by council social workers.

In reporting on many such cases, I have found nothing more shocking about the shadowy underworld of our family courts than to discover, precisely because they are allowed to hide themselves away behind a wall of secrecy, how easily the most basic principles of British justice can be turned upside down. Responsible parents can find themselves being treated like criminals, assumed to be guilty without having the chance to prove their innocence. Judges are too often happy to accept the controversial opinions of supposed “experts”, that cannot be challenged; or to take on trust highly dubious hearsay evidence which is not put to any of the tests required in a criminal court.

Faced with an array of lawyers on the other side, parents too often feel that the entire system is horribly rigged against them – and none of this can be directly reported, except at risk of the draconian penalties that, at a judge’s whim, can be imposed for contempt of court.

Last Wednesday I sat in the High Court listening to Gavin Millar QC, an eminent specialist in this field, asking a judge to lift an order he imposed on me in December that would have forbidden me ever to refer again to a case I have commented on here several times. So strict was this order imposed by Mr Justice Mostyn at the behest of Sutton council, the local authority, that I could have been sent to prison for even the slightest mention of the case. So far-reaching was the judgment accompanying his order that it would have extended the secrecy rules governing such cases far beyond even the strict limits that the law currently allows, making it virtually impossible for newspapers to report critically on child-protection proceedings at all.

Although everything I have written about this case, for instance, was careful to observe the existing law, as by never identifying any of the parties by name, it was argued that even the bare facts I was able to give about this disturbing story would have enabled anyone slightly acquainted with a member of the family to know at once who I was writing about. This in itself was not just implausible, but would undermine even the rule of anonymity which customarily governs the reporting of such cases.

For an hour and a half, Mr Millar argued, with a parade of legal precedents, how the order was in breach of several articles of the Human Rights Act. So masterly was his presentation of relevant case law that he increasingly won Mostyn’s attention and respect, to the point where it was finally agreed that, on the basis of my commitment that I would report on the case “accurately”, the order could be lifted. In making the order, the judge had accepted Sutton’s claim that my reports on the case had been “totally inaccurate”. But since this had been merely asserted without the support of any evidence, we had not needed to challenge it, even though we would have been very ready to do so.

As a victory for common sense and the rule of law, the lifting of this order is of much wider significance than just my own case. An argument commonly levelled against my comments on such cases has been that I only listen to “one side of the story”. But, as I have noted before, I always try to understand both sides of such stories, with no help whatever from the local authorities, who not only invariably refuse to answer my questions, but also have several times sought injunctions forbidding me from making any mention of a case.

This was the first occasion on which a judge was persuaded to agree to such an order, and the fact that he was prepared to listen to the arguments and to lift it was a salutary victory for the freedom of the press.

This was certainly welcome as far as it went. But the battle to lift the veils of secrecy that shroud the “secret courts” we already have is very far from over, and behind those veils far too many cruel abuses of justice will continue to flourish unreported. At least, however, thanks to the forensic skills of Mr Millar, Wednesday was a good day for British justice.

Source: Telegraph (UK)

Below in chronological order are some earlier articles by Mr Booker on the MvM case.


A mother who deserves to make history

As the number of children seized by social workers soars to a record level of more than 225 a week, David Cameron merely urges that we must speed up the process whereby only 4 percent of those taken are being adopted – oblivious to the possibility that many should never be removed in the first place.

One story, as astonishing as any I have reported, centres on the devoted mother of two small sons, who held a well-paid job with a leading bank, For two years she has been harried by social workers, even though they have not yet been able to remove her children, whom she has not harmed in any way, But in 2010 they persuaded a judge to impose a Prohibited Steps Order, forbidding her to move from the area where she lives, which is close to her ex-husband, the children’s father, diagnosed as a ''paranoid schizophrenic’’, who has a long record of violence.

Because she couldn’t move, she had to travel with her children for up to four hours a day, to put them in nursery care near her office, She could not accept the bank’s offer of a responsible new post 100 miles away. So difficult did the social workers make her work life, insisting that she take calls from them at work up to an hour long, and that she must return home at awkward times to allow the father to have ''contact’’, that the bank reluctantly had to terminate her contract. At Christmas she was only allowed to make a fleeting visit with the children to her family in Scotland on strict conditions laid down by the social workers as to who she could stay with, with contact details so they could check on her.

Being familiar with the law, she decided to apply for a High Court ruling that this order was in breach of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, which guarantees respect for privacy and family life without needless interference by ''public bodies’’. This led recently to a Kafkesque day at the High Court, being shuttled between a judge, the administrative office and back again. Each told her that responsibility lay with the other. She was told that a court was not a ''public body’’ and her application must be made to the junior judge who had imposed the order. Only when she pointed out that a court is indeed a public body under the Act and that such an application can only be heard by a full High Court judge, did she finally meet a senior lawyer willing to assist her. By now it was so late that she had to return last Thursday to be given help with making the applications – for a case which deserves to make legal history.

Source: Telegraph (UK)


Isn’t there a right to have your human rights case heard?

'Human rights' law seems to be applied differently for terrorists and mothers.

Abu Qatada
Abu Qatada, a 'grave risk' to national security, was released on bail by Mr Justice Mitting
Photo: JONATHAN EVANS

What a dismal mess our politicians and judges continue to make over those famous “human rights”. Of all the bizarre judicial rulings this has produced, none have been more controversial than those over Abu Qatada, described as “Bin Laden’s right-hand man”. First the European Court of Human Rights overruled our own Supreme Court by finding that the British Government had no right to deport him back to Jordan. Then in February there was a further furore when Mr Justice Mitting ruled that, under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, guaranteeing respect for the right to enjoy family life, this terrorist could be sent home on bail from a top-security prison and allowed to escort his son to school.

Contrast this with the story of the mother who, as I reported on March 11, wished to appeal to the High Court against a judicial order that she believed was a clear breach of several of her rights, including that enshrined in Article 8. Having been harried for two years by social workers, in a case involving her two young children and a violent estranged husband diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, she was appealing against a Prohibited Steps Order, granted by a judge, which since 2010 has forbidden her to move from the address where she and her children live, near the father’s home.

By placing her under virtual house arrest, this constraint has twice made it impossible for her to hold down senior, well-paid jobs in the finance industry. Unable to earn a living, her freedoms to work and move about have been severely curtailed. Her right to enjoy family life without state interference has been all but destroyed. Since she has done nothing wrong and the social workers have found no reason for removing her children, she carefully drafted an appeal to the High Court, following the advice of court officials, to have the order lifted.

This document was given to the same Mr Justice Mitting. His response was simply to issue a written ruling that, on legal technicalities unconnected with the substance of her appeal, her case was “totally without merit”. Instead of appealing to him, he wrote, she should have sought permission to ask for a judicial review – even though, he went on, this would have been refused. She was accorded none of the helpful courtesies which court guidelines say should be shown to “litigants in person”. Furthermore, if she dared appeal against his ruling, she might well be made subject to a Civil Restraint Order, branding her as a vexatious litigant.

So here is a woman who believes that, under the law, her rights have been abused in a way most members of the public would find deeply shocking. She appeals directly to a High Court judge, as the law requires and just as she has been advised to do by court officials. But the judge does not respond in terms of human rights. He tells her that, because her case was incorrectly presented, it can be dismissed as “totally without merit”. It is not surprising that many of us find this new world of “human rights” law quite as bewildering as anything Alice came across in Wonderland.

Source: Telegraph (UK)


A legal miracle - then business as usual

A mother has been rescued from a court order that had cost her her job, and was about to take her home

A miracle has occurred in the family division of the High Court. I have reported several times recently on the bizarre plight of a mother of two young children who, since 2010, has been placed in an impossible position by a family court judge. This capable mother, who held a responsible job with one of our leading banks, had done no harm to anyone. Still the judge, at social workers’ urging, imposed on her a Prohibited Steps Order, forbidding her to move from the house in which she and her children live, close to her estranged husband. This was to enable him to keep in regular touch with his children.

Though they had no grounds for seeking a care order on her children, the social workers used the order to impose such restrictions on the mother’s movements that it became impossible for her to continue in her job. She then lost another job, for the same reason, and was fast running out of the means to pay the mortgage to keep a roof over her children’s heads. Eventually, as I reported, she tried to bring a claim before the High Court that the Prohibited Steps Order was in breach of her rights under the Human Rights Act. When she finally managed to get before a judge, her plea was contemptuously waved aside.

Last week, however, she was heard by another High Court judge, Mr Justice Charles, who immediately saw the point and lifted the order. In the nick of time, she is thus free to consider offers of well-paid work which until now she would have had to refuse. By showing such rare common sense, Mr Justice Charles might be commended as something of a shining exception in our family courts.

In the same week, however, he became the seventh judge to preside over another case, the murkiest of all those I have reported on in recent years. This involves a husband and wife who, on what has often seemed highly questionable evidence, have seen all their seven children taken into care. Coming late into this tragic and protracted story, Mr Justice Charles ruled that two of the children should be sent for adoption. As I say, in our family courts miraculous happy endings don’t come around too often.

Source: Telegraph (UK)


Mr Booker's most recent article on the MvM case is A barrister becomes the judge of her client's sanity.

Terrorist Mother

March 2, 2013 permalink

Mother Denise Wilson refused to give up her baby when confronted by police and social workers. Kentucky police overwhelmed her and took the baby by force. The news article is remarkable for the epithets thrown at the mother:

  • she interfered with a lawful court order
  • she squeezed the child with her arms and shook the baby from side-to-side
  • she created a substantial danger of physical injury to the child
  • she said that she was going to "get" the social worker, and that the social worker would "get hers"

Wilson was arrested and charged with wanton endangerment, obstructing governmental operations and terroristic threatening. The people of Kentucky are well protected from the menace of mothers loving their own babies.

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POLICE: Suspect "shook" 8-month-old in front of CPS worker

Denise Wilson
Denise Wilson
Source: Louisville Metro Corrections

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Metro Police say a mother made the wrong move when she chose to shake her 8-month-old child in front of police and a Child Protective Services worker.

According to an arrest report, it happened at a home on Woodland Avenue, near the intersection of Wilson Avenue and S. 26th St., shortly after 9 p.m. Thursday night.

Police say officers accompanied a CPS worker to the home to assist them in removing the child from the custody of her mother, 19-year-old Denise Wilson.

But police say Wilson wasn't about to let that happen. According to the arrest report, she "interfered" with a "lawful court order" to remove the child and give temporary custody to CPS. While police attempted to take the 8-month-old, Wilson allegedly "squeezed the child with her arms and shook the baby from side-to-side."

Police say her actions "created a substantial danger of physical injury to the child."

Wilson then allegedly said that she was going to "get" the social worker, and that the social worker would "get hers."

Wilson was arrested at her home. She's charged with wanton endangerment, obstructing governmental operations and terroristic threatening.

Source: WDRB Louisville

Expert Arrested

March 1, 2013 permalink

Prosecutors in Florida know how to continue convicting parents of child abuse: they have arrested an expert witness who disagrees with them. John Lloyd is charged for his testimony in the case of Timothy Foxworth, father of a baby with a fractured skull. Mr Lloyd has testified for the defense in cases of the discredited shaken baby syndrome, including the Bayne family in British Columbia.

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Defense Witness in Convicted Child Abuser Case Faces Own Charges John Lloyd

The only defense witness for convicted child abuser, Timothy Foxworth, is now facing his own charges.

John Lloyd surrendered to Bay County Sheriff's Deputies this weekend on a perjury charge.

Authorities said Lloyd lied about being an expert, when he testified in the case of Foxworth earlier this month.

"During the trial we started to get suspicious of things that were said by Lloyd, certifications he claimed and testimony he gave," said Albert Willis, a criminal investigator with BCSO.

Lloyd is a member of the Juris Pro Expert Witness Dictionary, a service for attorney's looking for experts in particular fields.

He claimed to be a professor of medicine at the University of South Florida, and has testified in other cases, involving brain injury and shaken baby syndrome.

But, investigators said he is not on the faculty at South Florida.

They also said they do not buy his testimony, supporting Foxworth's story that the brain injuries his 10-week old son received, could have happened in an accidental 2 ½ to 3 foot fall.

Authorities believe Lloyd's testimony may have helped convinced jurors to find Foxworth guilty of child abuse, which carries a 5 year sentence, instead of aggravated child abuse, which carries 30 years.

"Absolutely, it did affect the length of time he was likely sentenced to," said Willis.

"There is no way to know exactly what the jury found without evidence. Who considered it trustworthy and reliable,” said Jennifer Hawkins, the assistant state attorney. “We think it did obviously have an impact on the outcome of the trial."

If convicted of perjury, Lloyd could face up to five years in prison.

Source: WJHG Panama City

Safety to Excess

March 1, 2013 permalink

Lenore Skenazy comments on endless intervention by regulators and police in the name of child safety.

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Smothered by Safety

Very few people think children are NOT precious and should be hurled into harm’s way with a gleeful whoop. And yet, any time a politician, principal, or bureaucrat wants to score points, he or she lets us know that kids are even more precious—and endangered—than we thought.

Safety-wise, we’re told that our kids are dancing—or at least doing their low-impact kiddie yoga—on the lip of a live volcano. This explains the explosion of new laws, products, and policies to protect them from, well, everything: Creeps, kidnappers, germs, grades, flashers, frustration, baby snatchers, bugs, bullies, men—all men are pedophiles until proven otherwise—sleepovers, toys from China, and/or the perils of a non-organic grape.

How far has society gone in dreaming up new dangers to protect our children from? Until you take a step back and look at all the new laws and regulations, you probably have no idea. So to start out, let’s test your Child Safety IQ. Which of the following did NOT happen this past year?

 
Local licensing authorities outlawed soap in pre-school bathrooms for fear that children might suddenly start drinking it. Now kids must come out and ask an adult to squirt some soap in their hands.
 
Unaccompanied children under age 12 were banned from the Boulder, CO, library, lest they encounter “hazards such as stairs, elevators, doors, furniture…and other library patrons.”
 
The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of certain fleece hoodies sold at Target because of lead paint on the zipper, which presumably could raise blood lead levels if the zippers are eaten.
 
Children under age 18 were prohibited from gathering on the streets of Tucson, AZ, for fear they might “talk, play or laugh” in groups, which could lead to bullying.
 
A New Canaan, CT, mom was charged with “risk of injury to a minor,” for letting her 13-year-old babysit the three younger children at home for an hour while the mom went to church.
 
A Tennessee mother was thrown in jail for letting her kids, aged 8 and 5, go to the park without her, a block and half away from home.

Okay, okay, I’ll stop! Except…I can’t resist. Here’s one more:

 
A Hazmat crew was summoned to Seminole High School in Florida after a science student brought in a mercury thermometer.

If you guessed (D.), you are either incredibly brilliant or a loyal reader of my blog. (Not mutually exclusive!) If you guessed any of the others, well, welcome to the world of “dangerism.” That’s a term coined by Gever Tulley, author of 50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Kids Do). He uses it to describe the way normal, everyday objects and activities can be reclassified as dangerous when seen through the worst-case-scenario lens. That’s why, for instance, federal playground safety guidelines propose removing “tripping hazards, like tree stumps and rocks.”

Throughout history until just very recently, tree stumps were things for kids to stand on, jump off, sit on, or use as tables for tea parties. But seen through the lens of risk, they are simply hazards.

That’s the lens government is looking through all the time. If to a hammer everything looks like a nail, to a government agency charged with protecting children, everything looks like a health threat, death trap, or predator.

But doesn’t it make sense to protect children? Of course it does. I’m thrilled we have eradicated big killers like diphtheria, polio, and cars without seatbelts. It’s wonderful that we can talk candidly now about child abuse, making it easier for kids to open up and be believed.

But the dark side of protecting kids is how easily this slips into over-protecting them from ever doing or encountering anything on their own, and insisting on constant oversight of everything they might encounter. At its very worst, whether out of real concern or political pandering, the government steps in and tells parents that their children are in such danger that only the authorities can do a good enough job of protecting them. Let’s look at some disturbing cases.

Over the summer, according to the Manchester, Connnecticut Patch, a local mom was charged with “risk of injury to a minor and failure to appear after police say she allowed her seven-year and 11-year old children to walk down to Spruce Street to buy pizza unsupervised.” This was a walk of half a mile.

If this were an isolated incident of police over-zealousness, well, that’s all it would be. Unfortunately, at my perch I hear about incidents like this all the time—the authorities determining that they know better than a child’s own parents what their kids are capable of handling. That’s why just a few months ago a Michigan mom had to come fetch her children—12 and 15—from the police station, after she’d expected them to walk home from the library. The library staff decided it was too cold to make the kids do this (the kids had walked there without coats). Instead, staffers took them to the police station. The police called the mom and told her they’d be filing a report. For what? The crime of believing her perfectly capable kids could walk home in the cold.

The message to parents? The government is better at raising your kids than you are. The message to kids? You are weak little babies. The government will swaddle you in safety.

And I won’t even get into the letters I get almost monthly from distraught parents who let their kids wait in the car for a few minutes while they picked up a pizza or prescription, only to get back and find a cop waiting for them. This happens because onlookers now routinely call 911 when they see kids waiting in cars, usually because they are convinced that one of two extraordinarily rare tragedies are happening all the time. The first is children dying from hyperthermia, which DOES happen—but mostly when a parent literally forgets the child is in the car and goes into work for eight or nine hours. Death by hyperthermia does not happen in the time it takes a parent to pick up the dry cleaning.

Onlookers also worry that any children on their own will be instantly kidnapped, because on TV you can see kids being abducted 24/7. Child abduction is ratings gold, so news shows pounce on any instance, no matter how far away or long ago it was. (That’s why you see “anniversary of so-and-so’s disappearance” stories.) Then the dramas recycle it with some added sadistic twist. That’s entertainment!

But in the “real world,” stranger abductions are so rare that if for some reason you actually WANTED your child to be kidnapped by a stranger, do you know how long you’d have to keep your child outside, unattended, so that statistically the abduction would be likely to happen?

The answer is about 750,000 years, according to author Warwick Cairns. And after the first 100,000 years or so, your kid isn’t even cute anymore. Onlookers and officers intervening to “save” children whose parents are running an errand are doing nothing of the sort. Nor are the laws in 19 states that prohibit parents from letting their kids wait in the car for a brief amount of time. These laws are simply criminalizing any parent who doesn’t want to wake a sleeping baby or drag three kids across an icy parking lot. Those parents are making a loving, rational, case-by-case assessment. The law is not. In its Zero Tolerance intolerance, it criminalizes any parent who refuses to engage in what I call “worst-first thinking”—dreaming up the very worst case scenario and acting as if it’s about to happen.

When rational parenting decisions become criminalized, parents are forced to think irrationally. I hear from parents all the time who’d like to let their kid walk to school, or play outside, but worry they could be cited for negligence. As law professor David Pimentel explains in his Utah Law Review article “Criminal Child Neglect and the ‘Free Range Kid,’” this is the way over-parenting becomes the law of the land: “If criminal child neglect standards are sufficiently vague, and are applied at the discretion of prosecutors… (and) juries steeped in the media's fear-mongering, parents will have little choice but to stifle their children's independence and initiative and buy into the Intensive Parenting culture.”

Law professors Gaia Bernstein and Zvi Triger noticed something similar: In several divorce proceedings they reviewed, the parents who could prove they were the most over-involved were the ones awarded custody. The judge’s assumption in those cases was that the parent who hovers most must care most. The authors even found lawyers instructing their clients to obsessively text their kids all day, in order to leave a digital trail to document their pestering. Thus helicopter parenting becomes not just the social norm but the legal one, too.

At the same time, there is a parallel process going on the regulatory world, with bureaucrats looking ever more intently for ever less likely dangers, on the grounds that kids can never be safe enough. This explains things like the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall of a line of children’s jackets last year because the elastic waistbands had toggles on it “that could become snagged or caught in small spaces or doorways, which poses an entrapment hazard to children.”

Yes, it’s true: Those toggles could snag. Does that make them inherently more dangerous than, say, pigtails that could get caught in a door, or a charm bracelet that could get snagged on an electric window? I’m just free-associating products and problems here, because that’s what it feels like the CPSC does, too.

This past year the commission also warned parents to beware of a Fisher-Price bouncy seat because, “mold can develop between the removable seat cushion and the hard plastic frame of the sleeper when it remains wet/moist or is infrequently cleaned…” Gee, really? Mold can develop in a chair where babies sit, eat, and excrete all day, if no one ever wipes it down? Tell me, CPSC: If I “infrequently clean” between my toes, can mold develop there, too? Maybe it’s time to issue a warning about toes?

Of course, real children’s product companies don’t get the luxury of a laugh. They have to accept the commission’s decrees. And may I just mention here that “children’s products” are officially defined as products for any person under age 12? So 11-year-olds are considered the same as 1-year-olds, even though I don’t know many sixth graders who still put toys in their mouths.

The problem seems to be that because nothing is 100% safe, almost anything the commission sets its eye on is fair game for censure. One big case in point is the issue of drop-side cribs.

In 2010 the government warned consumers to stop using—and stores to stop selling, and manufacturers to stop making—all cribs where the side drops down to make it easier to get the baby out. The reason given was that over the course of the nine preceding years, thirty-two children died in such cribs.

The death of a child is so horrible to contemplate, it’s hard to say, “But!” But “But!” I must, because we are talking about three deaths a year out of approximately 8,000,000 kids under age two in America, or about one death per 2,000,000. Those odds do not mean that the product is inherently unsafe. It means that drop side cribs are vastly safer than stairs (1,300 deaths per year), much safer than eating (about 70 kids younger than 10 choke to death on food each year), and waaay safer than driving your kid in a car (over 200 baby and toddler deaths per year).

What’s more: Now that it is harder to get kids out of the crib, will parents perch on step stools to be able to reach down to the baby? How many parents will fall off, possibly dropping the child to the floor? So now should the government require shag carpet in all nurseries? Or helmets on all babies?

Just because something is not 100% safe doesn’t mean it is unsafe, but when zero risk becomes the only acceptable standard—and when politicians can point to a grieving parent and swear this will never happen again—we are expected to believe in a magic world where every danger can and must be removed.

Of course, a world with zero risk is also a world with zero anything, except maybe a phthalate-free, gender-neutral doll with no eyes. (Because these can be come detached, posing a choking hazard.) But when the government declares that we must live in a zero-risk world, it is free to outlaw almost any product or parenting practice it decides to set its sights on. And we have no recourse but to toss the toys we trust, the heirlooms we loved, and the age-old belief that if we train our kids to be brave and smart, we can gradually let them out to embrace the world, risk and all.

That’s a lot to give up for a toggle-free jacket.

Source: CATO Unbound

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