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Foster $Million Missing
August 31, 2013 permalink
Vivian Lieska Benn, owner of Family Hope Foster Family Agency in California, stole around a million dollars of its funds. The news report tries to suggest children will suffer from the loss. Other possibilities are that an insurer or the taxpayers will foot the bill.
Temecula Woman Accused Of Stealing From Children In Foster Care Scam
Vivian Lieska Benn, owner and CEO of Riverside-based Family Hope Foster Family Agency, was arrested Wednesday evening on charges of embezzlement and money laundering.
A Temecula woman has been accused of what Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach said amounts to “one of the worst crimes imaginable”: stealing money intended to benefit foster kids.
Vivian Lieska Benn, 40, was arrested Wednesday evening after she was pulled over by Riverside County sheriff’s deputies on Interstate 215 near Murrieta Hot Springs Road. Benn is the owner and CEO of Riverside-based Family Hope Foster Family Agency.
According to a news release from the DA’s office, Benn has been charged with six counts of embezzlement by a public officer, and one count each of embezzling property by a public officer and money laundering.
She is scheduled to be arraigned Friday.
“The government spends millions of dollars every year for the care and well-being of foster children in Riverside County,” Zellerbach said. “The lives of these children have already been severely disrupted so for someone who has been entrusted with their care to steal funds intended to benefit those children is certainly one of the worst crimes imaginable. This office will prosecute these cases to the fullest extent of the law.”
Foster family agencies are licensed by the California Department of Social Services and are required to be non-profit organizations, according to the DA’s news release. Benn’s arrest follows a 2009 audit by the Riverside County Auditor-Controller’s Office of the county’s Department of Public Social Services and several foster family groups homes and agencies.
“Foster family agencies are used to hire, license and oversee foster parents for the placement of foster children. Funding for foster care children comes from local, state and federal funds. In Riverside County, the foster care program is administered by Department of Public Social Services,” the news release read.
The 2009 audit determined that about $1.2 million of payments made to Family Hope FFA by the county DPSS was unaccounted for, the news release stated. That led to an investigation that began in June 2012.
“The DA’s investigation found that, from 2004-2009, Family Hope FFA received millions of dollars of public money from DPSS intended for the care of foster children. It is charged that, from Jan. 1, 2004, and Nov. 16, 2009, Benn embezzled about $400,000 from Family Hope FFA. As the person responsible for the safekeeping and disbursement of these public monies, Benn also is charged with misappropriation of those funds for her personal use,” the news release read.
The investigation also found that, from April 30, 2007, and Sept. 4, 2009, Benn embezzled and misappropriated an additional amount of about $125,000 by transferring those funds into a bank account Benn created called Brooklyn Financial, the DA’s office alleges.
“That account was determined to be a ‘shell company’ she created in her daughter’s name to hide money and avoid Internal Revenue Service garnishments,” the news release continued.
The transfer of these funds into the Brooklyn Financial account led to the money laundering charge.
“It is despicable and selfish for anyone to embezzle money at the expense of children who have suffered so much in their young lives,” said Susan Loew, director of the county Department of Public Social Services. “People who steal from children should feel the full weight of the law.”
Source: Temecula Patch
Mike Stephens Resigns
August 30, 2013 permalink
Mike Stephens is retiring as chief executive officer of Chatham-Kent Children's Services. This is the second retirement of a CAS executive director this month. Could there be more to it than just a desire to spend more time with the family?
Head of Chatham-Kent Children's Services chooses early retirement
After 13 years, Mike Stephens will leave his office of chief executive officer at the Chatham-Kent Children's Services for the last time Thursday.
Stephens told The Chatham Daily News he's 63 years old and wants to spend more time with his four grand children, pursuing hobbies and celebrating a 40th wedding anniversary in Vienna later this year.
CKCS board president Monika Bacic announced Stephens' retirement in a letter addressed To Whom it May Concern released to the media Thursday afternoon.
"Please be advised that after 39 years serving children and their families in a variety of capacities in both children's mental health and child protection our chief executive officer has announced his retirement effective Oct. 11, 2013," Bacic stated in the letter.
"Mike Stephens ... will be missed by the board, staff and the community," she added.
"I have a great board and staff," Stephens said, adding he'll miss both, but after working full time without a break since he was 20, he's ready for the next chapter in his life.
"I leave tomorrow for a bike (cycling) trip," Stephens said.
He described the outing as a social trip with other couples to ride an old rail line once used to transport skiers into the Laurentian Mountains in Quebec.
A Florida golf trip is also planned, Stephens said.
Bacic described Stephens' accomplishments in child protection as well known, not only locally, but provincially and internationally.
Prior to coming to Chatham-Kent, Stephens worked in children's services in Bruce County, Calgary and Waterloo Region.
He said he's been talking about retirement for five years, but more seriously with his board of directors since July.
The outgoing CEO will use his accumulated vacation time until his official retirement occurs in October.
The board will begin a search for Stephens' replacement immediately and will announce an interim CEO shortly, Bacic stated in the news release.
Source: Chatham Daily News
Family Courts Don't Allow Children
August 29, 2013 permalink
Children in Australia rarely get to attend the court hearings that determine their fate, or even have their opinions heard by the judge. It is a problem Australia shares with many other countries.
Children want greater say in Family Court cases
Children in court cases involving family disputes are in danger of going unheard because they are rarely given the chance to speak to judges directly, new research shows.
A survey of 44 Family Court judges showed only six had ever met with children face-to-face to hear their views.
University of South Australia law lecturer Michelle Fernando carried out the research and says it complements previous studies which show children are not satisfied with the standard Family Court procedures.
Dr Fernando has recommended changes to the way courts hear evidence from children, but says many judges feel they lack the expertise to interpret children's statements.
She says face-to-face meetings between children and family court judges are common in New Zealand and Australia should consider adopting that approach.
"Judges definitely have discretion to speak with a child, and judges do do that from time to time, but it's incredibly rare," she said.
"The Family Court is compelled by the legislation to take children's views into account, so there's no doubt that children's views are heard.
"But what we have is a lot on information from children who say that they're unhappy with the way that their views are currently heard and they want to have more of a say in the decision that's being made, which of course is going to affect their lives.
"Children feel that the way that their views are currently heard are not good enough, and that they feel their views are perhaps not being taken seriously, or they're worried that they're being filtered through a third person."
Dr Fernando concedes some judges are reluctant to change.
"They felt they didn't have the correct skills and training that were necessary to speak to a child and properly interpret the child's views," she said.
"Also, judicial officers were very worried that if they speak to children, the child's parents might pressure them or manipulate the child and put the child in a very difficult position.
"The majority of judges who responded to my survey believed that guidelines might help - guidelines that explained the purpose of a meeting with a child and how they might conduct it.
"The vast majority were also in favour of training being provided to judges in order to get better understanding of how to meet with children and what children say."
Dr Fernando says the fact that children feel detached from the decision making process means the system needs to change.
"The model that I encourage judges to adopt is to have a family consultant who's a child welfare expert to be present during the meeting," she said.
"That person can assist with the questioning but also discuss with the judge... if they believe that the child might be pressured."
Dr Fernando says such meetings are not just symbolic.
"Children have said that they have a particular interest in speaking to the person who makes the decision," she said.
"They want to be heard, but they understand that it is the judge who makes the decision and not the child.
"What they're saying is they want to ensure that their views have been heard by the decision maker without filtering, and they think that this will result in better decisions being made."
Topics: family-law, family, law-crime-and-justice, judges-and-legal-profession, children, family-and-children, sa, adelaide-5000
Source: ABC (Australia)
Student Baby Snatchers
August 29, 2013 permalink
In Australia social services are using unpaid students to take children from families. The truth is, when a worker enters a home with a police escort, taking a baby from his mother requires no skill at all.
Students cover child welfare work
Unpaid university interns are doing the work of child protection caseworkers in the Family and Community Services department because of acute staff shortages and heavy workloads.
FACS took 218 students on unpaid placements of several months in the last financial year, with the majority involving ''direct casework experience,'' a departmental spokesman said.
The placements are competitive and highly regarded in the industry for the experience they offer social work students.
However, shortfalls in staff numbers that are putting caseworkers under immense pressure are also exposing students to confronting and traumatising tasks beyond their agreed contracts.
A senior caseworker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said interns were being used to supplement a caseworker's job because they simply didn't have enough staff to do everything themselves.
''Whenever the word is out we can have a student for placement, we usually grab it, because they're someone who can make us a bit more available to our clients by having that student do some of the work,'' he said.
Recent reports by Fairfax Media revealed that three-quarters of children deemed at risk of significant harm in NSW will not see a caseworker and only 1797 caseworkers were employed, despite funding for nearly 2100.
Community Services Minister Pru Goward has faced calls to resign for misleading Parliament on the critical shortfalls.
''A student on placement is pretty vulnerable and shouldn't be out there doing the work of a case worker but the reality is that people are doing everything in their power to get to as many kids as they can,'' the senior caseworker said. He said students often did tasks reserved for caseworkers who are trained for three months and mentored for at least a year, such as being part of the two-person team who removes a child from their home.
A departmental spokesman said interns may undertake some of the tasks that caseworkers do but it is ''part of their learning experience and … matched to their learning contract''. The students receive intense mentorship and close supervision from FACS staff and university supervisors.
Krysia Heron, 26, who recently undertook a five-month placement, said she found the work confronting but it had motivated her to work in child protection. ''What I saw was empty desks in the office and a heavy case load for the caseworkers but from them I got a positive message that individuals can make a massive difference despite the system they work in and despite the stresses they are under,'' she said.
Steve Turner from the Public Service Association of NSW said the program was crucial for an industry desperate for child protection workers but it was being jeopardised by the state government's continual failure to fill vacancies.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
August 28, 2013 permalink
Wendall Zanth staged a one-man protest outside Batshaw Youth and Family Services Centre in Montreal on August 12. Local copy of video (mp4).
Mon, Aug 12: A young man staged a protest outside Batshaw Youth and Family Services Centre in Westmount on Monday, blocking the entrance to the building for several hours.
Source: Global News
Addendum: Zanth continues his protest into September. Here is a local copy (mp4) of the video.
Former foster child speaks out about alleged sexual abuse
MONTREAL – A 35-year-old Montreal man who claims he was sexually assaulted while in the care of Batshaw Youth Protection Services is desperately searching for justice. The alleged abuse took place close to two decades ago, but no criminal charges have been laid and the person in question has not lost his job.
“They call it youth protection, but they only protect themselves, they don’t protect children,” said Wendall Zanth, while handing out flyers in front of his former group home, Hawkins House in NDG.
The former foster child stood near the group home’s doostep and handed out dozens of flyers before police were called to the scene. Officers informed Zanth of his rights and told him he could only distribute on the sidewalk, not in the street.
Hawkins House brings back some dark memories for Zanth, since he says it’s the first place he was molested by his counsellor.
“It’s a group shelter for small children up to 13-years-old and I used to live here when I was eight-years-old,” said Zanth while standing near the doorstep.
“This is where I lived when I was first assaulted by him.”
Zanth turned to police for the first time last year, after what he calls several failed attempts to file complaints with Batshaw.
“I’ve gone through the complaints process and they refuse to take any complaints that I try to submit to them and there’s always an excuse, like you can’t file it by email,” deplored Zanth, who worries his alleged abuser may still be working at Batshaw. One police officer apparently told him the man in question had been suspended, and was no longer allowed to work with children. But Batshaw administrators refuse to discuss specific cases.
“If the client is not satisfied with our answer he can appeal to the public protector that’s the provincial ombudsman,” said Rosemay St-Fort, Batshaw’s Assistant Complaints Commissioner.
Montreal police conducted an investigation following Zanth’s complaint, but no criminal charges were ever laid due to a lack of evidence.
Most medical records and files at Batshaw are destroyed after five years, or when the child in their care turns 18 years of age.
“You have to understand that there are rules regulating the keeping of files so we cannot keep files forever,” said St-Fort.
Zanth is hoping others will come forward with similar stories.
“It’s made me very angry for the past year and I’m trying to ventilate my anger and not get myself arrested,” said Zanth, who is on a mission to warn as many people as possible.
Batshaw won’t confirm whether or not the person in question still works for them but according to Zanth, one police officer told him the alleged abuser was temporarily suspended.
“I could stop feeling so angry if at a minimum he’s not working with children,” insisted Zanth who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He’s currently on disability, can’t keep a job and has trouble sleeping at night.
“It did affect me, I guess it would affect my ability to have personal relationships and stuff like that. I guess it made me feel ashamed of myself all my life even thoughit wasn’t my fault,” said Zanth.
Police have warned Wendall Zanth that he could be sued for defamation by distributing and posting pictures of his alleged abuser. But it’s well worth the risk in his opinion and since he can’t afford to launch a civil law suit, it may be the only way to finally face his former counsellor in court.
Source: Global News
August 28, 2013 permalink
Toronto parents Kien Phat Tran and Thi My Phuong Bui have been accused of killing their own baby.
Parents charged with second-degree murder of infant son
The initial investigation revealed suspicious circumstances surrounding the baby’s death.
The parents of a one-month baby boy were charged Tuesday with second-degree murder after the death of their son.
On August 22, parents brought the infant to local hospital without any vital signs. The initial investigation revealed suspicious circumstances surrounding the baby’s death, which was later determined to be homicide, according to York Regional Police.
Kien Phat Tran, 21, and Thi My Phuong Bui, 22, of Markham have been charged with second-degree murder.
Source: Toronto Star
Tasers are Coming
August 28, 2013 permalink
Ontario is authorizing all police officers in the province to carry tasers. The justifying incident is the death of teenager Sammy Yatim, shot and killed by police in Toronto last month.
Tasers are claimed to be an alternative to deadly force — Sammy Yatim would likely still be alive had he been shot with a taser instead of bullets. But actual use of tasers differs from the claims. Real data on police use of non-lethal weapons is hard to find, but in this TED talk researcher Stephen Coleman found what happened in Australia. TED link or local copy (mp4). Introduction of non-letal pepper spray caused police use of weapons to jump a thousand-fold. Their use was not restricted to incidents in which the alternative would have been deadly force, but extended to lots of frivolous reasons. The most popular one, rarely in the press, is doing nothing. A policeman issues an order and out of frustration or anger deploys the taser against the disobedient person.
Another critic of tasers is Digby in salon.com, captured before expiry by fixcas. Alternate to permalink. With the increased police use of weapons, even a tiny death rate from taser use will cause the number of police killings to go up, not down. After each unnecessary taser death we can expect another of those boilerplate official reports saying that the police did nothing wrong.
With the new policy, over the next few years Ontario will accumulate a few dozen taser deaths and thousands of victims subject to torture for the offense of doing nothing. It is difficult to foresee the ultimate result, but it is safe to say it will not be a more peaceful province.
All Ontario police officers will be allowed to carry Tasers, but budget may limit how many get them
Front-line Toronto police officers could start carrying stun guns within months, the force’s deputy chief said Tuesday, as the province unveiled an expansion of Ontario’s use-of-force guidelines.
Under the new provincewide policy, all front-line officers will be allowed to wield Tasers, a weapon previously reserved for supervisors and special tactical teams. It will be up to individual police services to decide whether to equip officers with stun guns — but in Toronto, where Chief Bill Blair has long pushed for such a change, the only question was when and how many.
“We’ll make calculations and decisions based on where we think the device will have the best benefit for the community and where it’s needed most,” said Deputy Chief Mike Federico, noting it could be several months to a year before front-line officers start carrying Tasers. In a climate of increasing financial pressures, the deputy chief could not immediately say where the police force will find the necessary funds.
“Financing is a serious consideration. These devices cost around $1,700 apiece, and then there is the ongoing operational,” Deputy Chief Federico said. “[We will need] a careful discussion within the service about making an appropriate allotment.”
The Toronto Police Service currently has about 500 conducted energy weapons, such as Tasers, in its inventory; there are 2,800 front-line officers, but not all officers will need to carry a stun gun, Deputy Chief Federico said.
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said while he supports the broader provincial initiative, “I’m not sure that we should take the very expensive step of giving every officer a Taser.” The idea should be further explored through the budget process, Mr. Kelly said, noting the police services board should not look to the city for extra funds.
“Given the size of their budget, I think the police services board should look to itself first,” he said.
At a news conference inside the coroner’s courts in downtown Toronto, Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur, flanked by high-ranking Ontario police officers, told reporters that the province’s new policy on Tasers would reduce the risk of serious injury during violent confrontations. Every province except Quebec allows front-line officers to carry conducted energy weapons, according to ministry data.
Ms. Meilleur rejected suggestions that the controversial death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim, shot dead and then Tasered by police on a stopped Toronto streetcar, impacted the timing of Tuesday’s announcement. Mr. Yatim, whose family declined to comment on the new provincial policy, died exactly one month ago.
“I feel for the family, I feel for the individual… but I can tell you that this had no impact on the process that we have been following since the beginning,” Ms. Meilleur said, noting the announcement was initially slated for June but got pushed back.
Ontario first authorized Tasers for use by police supervisors and tactical teams in 2002. Over the past decade, a dozen coroners’ juries have made recommendations on expanded Taser use, prompting the province to undertake further study.
All officers must complete 12 hours of training prior to using a Taser, and all incidents of Taser use must be reported and reviewed. While cases such as that of Robert Dziekanski in Vancouver have fuelled fears about the safety of stun guns, Michael Pollanen, Ontario’s chief forensic pathologist, says fatal outcomes are “unusual and quite rare.”
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association swiftly issued a statement Tuesday to highlight its “long-standing concerns” about the appropriate use of stun guns.
“Government focus should be on police receiving improved training and building skill sets to de-escalate crises, rather than expanding weapons deployment,” the statement noted.
But North Bay Police Chief Paul Cook, president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, says the benefits ultimately outweigh the risks.
“We can all provide real-life examples of situations that could have resulted in tragedy if it wasn’t for the fact that the officer on scene had a [conducted energy weapon],” Chief Cook said. “I think it’s going to be very good for officer safety and for public safety.”
Source: National Post
August 27, 2013 permalink
Changes by Hostgator have disabled the permalinks on this website. We hope Hostgator can repair the problem promptly.
August 27, 2013 permalink
Dufferin CAS executive director Trish Keachie will retire in November.
Keachie to retire as DCAFS executive director
The Board of Directors of Dufferin Child and Family Services (DCAFS) has announced that the agency’s executive director, Trish Keachie, will be retiring in November.
“Trish has been in her role as Executive Director for six years and in that time, has accomplished a great deal,” DCAFS President Steve Scott said in a news release. “Trish has been instrumental in raising the visibility of our multi-service agency, facilitating collaboration across our range of programs, making service more accessible through implementing our Tuesday Talk-In clinic, bringing autism services under the DCAFS umbrella, and spearheading a number of initiatives and grants that have provided training and development opportunities for both DCAFS staff and the community.”
Mr. Scott said that under her leadership DCAFS has been “a vibrant and visible partner in many important collaborative efforts that have enhanced our services to children and families in Dufferin County,” adding:
“Trish’s leadership as co-chair of the Dufferin
Coalition for Kids has been an important factor in the development of strong community partnerships and innovation.”
Ms. Keachie’s career in the social services was described as long and varied. “Her work life included teaching Early Childhood Education at Mohawk College, managing an Employment Strategies Team at the Region of Peel, 13 years as a policy analyst and manager for the Ministry of Community and Social Services, a two-year secondment with George Brown College as the Chair of the Early Childhood Education Department and seven years with the City of Toronto, managing homelessness programs. She joined DCAFS in 2007 and is delighted to have ended her career in a community agency, working in such a challenging but fulfilling position.”
Mr. Scott said she had worked hard to build an inclusive agency with a caring team of professionals who offer compassionate and responsive services to all in the community.
“The Board has thoroughly enjoyed working closely with Trish and has become a stronger governing body as a result. DCAFS has flourished under her leadership and she will be greatly missed by staff, our community partners and the Board.”
He said Trish “plans to become a more involved grandmother, travel the world and of course, volunteer for Wellies to Wishes!
“We wish Trish all the best in whatever paths she chooses to follow!”
Source: Orangeville Citizen
August 26, 2013 permalink
In this incident we have to read between the lines. It looks like teenager Summer Marie Goulet ran away from foster care in Cobalt Ontario and was assisted by Lyle Ash. When police found the girl they sent her back to foster care and charged Ash with a crime.
[Update] Temiskaming OPP Locate Missing Teen Girl – Summer Marie Goulet, 15
It has been reported that Summer has been safely located.
Through investigation Lyle ASH, 20 years of Cobalt is charged with Obstruct Peace Officer – section 129(a) of the Criminal Code (3 counts) and Breach of Probation – section 733.1(1) of the Criminal Code (3 counts)
The accused will appear at Haileybury Ontario Court of Justice on September 10, 2013.
No person shall detain or harbour a missing or runaway child as defined under the Child and Family Services Act. It is an offence to obstruct, interfere with or attempt to interfere with a child protection worker or peace officer in execution of their duties.
The Temiskaming OPP are seeking assistance locating a #missing teen girl. Summer Marie Goulet, 15 was last seen in the Bass Lake – Cobalt area.
Summer is described as:
- approx. 5 ft 7
- 125 – 130lbs
- Copper colour shoulder length hair
- medium build
- two piercings on bottom lip
- a skin condition that makes her skin appear dry
She is known to stay at various residences in the #Cobalt area.
Anyone with information regarding her whereabouts are asked to contact their local OPP detachment.
Source: Ontario North Today
Foster Parent Going to Trial
August 25, 2013 permalink
Former foster parent Richard Fidley arrested in November 2012 will go trial on charges of abusing foster children in Prince Edward County Ontario.
Former foster parent committed to trial
Richard Fidley, 45, was committed to trial on charges of sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation following his preliminary hearing in provincial court in Picton. A trial date has not yet been set.
The charges against Fidley, who resides in Cameron, ON now, stem from incidents in 2003 and 2004 at a Bloomfield foster home. The complainant told Prince Edward OPP in November 2011 that while she was a resident at that foster home she had been sexually assaulted.
Her report resulted in Fidley's arrest in November.
Preliminary hearings next month will handle charges filed against Sherilee Slatter, 34, and Ronald Slatter, 65. Both were charged last year.
Sherilee Slatter, a Sudbury resident, is charged with sexual assault, conspiring to commit an indictable offence, distributing child pornography and two counts of sexual exploitation. Her arrest came after three females complained of sexual assaults at a Bloomfield foster home.
Ronald Slater faces charges of sexual assault, sexual interference and sexual exploitation. His charges stem from 2010 incidents.
Source: Belleville Intelligencer
Saskatchewan Foster Death
August 25, 2013 permalink
Saskatchewan foster boy Lee Allan Bonneau has died. The six-year-old died on the grounds of the Kahkewistahaw First Nation while under care of the provincial Ministry of Social Services.
Community in shock over boy's death
The Kahkewistahaw First Nation is a community in mourning, its chief said on Friday.
"We are working with a crisis team to ensure the families are supported during this time of grief,"said Chief Sheldon Taypotat. "We are a small community and a tragedy such as this affects us deeply."
He extended condolences on behalf of the chief and council to the family of sixyear-old Lee Allan Bonneau on Friday afternoon, at a news conference held on the First Nation, 12 kilometres northeast of Broadview.
The little boy was found fatally injured on the First Nation shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday. He was transported to hospital in Broadview where he died of his injuries.
Taypotat made the statement beside the Kahkewistahaw Education and Sports Complex where the little boy was last seen on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m., playing with dogs.
Bonneau's mother described her son as a funloving boy with a deep laugh who loved the outdoors, in a statement released by the RCMP.
Instead of getting him ready for Grade 2, the family is now preparing his funeral.
"We respectfully ask for your prayers for the families affected by this," Taypotat said.
He said the site where searchers found Bonneau is considered sacred. Plans are underway to host traditional First Nation ceremonies there in his honour.
Although several community members were present for the news conference, they quickly left after the chief made his statement.
Raymond Shingoose, executive director of Yorkton Tribal Council Child and Family Services, said Bonneau was not in the care of his agency.
However, YTCCFS was providing support services for the community because Kahkewistahaw falls under the agency's jurisdiction,
"Just like any community this can happen anywhere in Saskatchewan or Canada," he said. "(The community) is taking it quite hard and we are doing whatever we can to provide what we can in any way possible."
He said the agency is working closely with the community, the RCMP and with the Ministry of Social Services.
Shingoose said he did not have any information to explain why Bonneau was on the First Nation.
The province has confirmed the boy was in the care of the Ministry of Social Services.
Bonneau was reported missing by his caregiver at 10 p.m. Searchers located the critically injured boy 20 minutes later, in an open area along a tree line, with injuries that investigators have determined are consistent with a suspicious sudden death.
On Thursday, RCMP Major Crime Unit - South, Regina RCMP Forensic Identification Services, and Regina RCMP Police Dog Services conducted a thorough search of the area. Investigators obtained statements from witnesses.
Friday afternoon, RCMP prepared to launch the dragonfly - a helicopter with a camera - to aid in the investigation.
"It is used in these types of investigations to get a bird'seye view of the scene itself," RCMP spokesman Sgt. Craig Cleary said.
"The big thing that we are waiting on right now is the cause of death from the autopsy," said Cleary.
So far, no charges have been laid and no one is in custody.
Investigators are asking anyone with information about Bonneau's death to contact Broadview RCMP at 306-696-5200 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Source: Saskatoon StarPhoenix
Rubber-Hose Foster Care
August 24, 2013 permalink
Bully CAS workers can extort a ward's passwords and read all of his private correspondence. In spy lingo this is called rubber-hose cryptography. When Vern Beck posted this story to Facebook, several others chimed in with similar abuse they had suffered while in foster care.
Vernon Beck I just spoke to a teen who said that she was threatened with severe punishment if she did not give her CAS caretakers her passwords for her email and Facebook account. Under pressure she yielded. Of course my name was in her messages because she was seeking help from Court Watch. Staff copied all the names, messages, etc.
I see criminal charges under "extortion" in the Criminal Code of Canada being launched by this girl against those responsible and Court Watch is going to help her. Who the hell do these CAS bullies think they are and to think they can get away with threatening and bullying teens and violating their basic rights under the Charter. Before this matter is over, every MPP and MP in Canada will hear from this girl.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Addendum: Here is the affidavit (pdf) prepared with the help of Canada Court Watch. The young lady, nearly 16 years old, falsely accused her father of sexual abuse after her parents restricted her access to her boyfriend. Durham children's aid placed her in foster care for her protection. Eventually she came clean and told the truth, now she has been charged with mischief. While under the protection of CAS she has been treated like a prisoner. As such, she is denied contact with her father, her cell phone was confiscated for a month, all phone calls are monitored by social workers, she is forbidden to communicate with her family or friends using her native language of French, she has been compelled to reveal her Facebook password after which the contents of her account were used against her parents, she is denied legal rights to attend court or call the provincial child advocate, she is sometimes denied food and suffers the ultimate humiliation for female prisoners, denial of menstrual supplies. After all this, social workers tried to bribe her by offering money if she would agree to stay in foster care.
CAS Ward Forced into Prostitution
August 24, 2013 permalink
Jamie Byron has been convicted for forcing a CAS ward into prostitution and confiscating all her earnings except for loose change.
Montreal man convicted in Ottawa’s first human trafficking case
OTTAWA — A 23-year-old Montreal man was convicted Wednesday of luring a teenaged girl from her home in Windsor and forcing her to sell her body to more than 100 men during the summer of 2011 in a handful of cities, including Ottawa.
It’s the first human trafficking case in Ottawa since that charge was added to the Criminal Code in 2005.
Jamie Byron used threats, intimidation and violence to “force her to conform to his wishes,” Justice Bonnie Warkentin ruled. He “managed and controlled” the girl and “forced her to turn over the money,” she said.
Byron was found guilty of nine charges, including human trafficking, assault and living off the avails of a prostitute under the age of 18.
Byron had only communicated with the 17-year-old girl via text message when he bought her a train ticket to meet him in Montreal under the guise of romance, court heard during the trial in May.
The girl testified that she was put to work immediately. Over the course of two months, she was forced to sell her body in hotel rooms in Montreal, Toronto, Barrie and Ottawa.
An Ottawa detective posing as a john rescued her from a downtown hotel room. The girl told police she was a “change whore” because Byron took all her bills.
Byron testified during the trial that he was in “somewhat of a relationship” with the girl but denied he ever took her money.
A Facebook message from the girl to Byron told a much different story.
“You’re only around when there’s money,” she wrote.
She told police Byron burned her birth certificate and stole her health card to control her.
Byron would head-butt and slap her and pull her hair, she said.
“He’s not a human being. He’s an animal,” she told police.
Byron admitted under cross-examination by Crown prosecutor Julien Lalande that he lied at least 25 times during his initial police interview.
Detectives traced cellphones, acquired hotel records and copied online prostitution ads to build their case.
When confronted in court with screen shots of the scantily clad girl in prostitution ads, Byron admitted his phone number was listed as the contact number. He also admitted he made daily cash payments to rent hotel rooms for the girl.
A pre-sentence report was ordered before sentencing. The charge of human trafficking under 18 with the use of violence comes with a mandatory five-year minimum in prison.
Byron is facing an outstanding robbery charge in Montreal.
Source: Ottawa Citizen
Kids 4 Sale
August 24, 2013 permalink
British rules to protect children prevent disclosure of the names of children in state care. The rules prevent journalists from naming the child or the social worker or judge in their case, and the scribes can be punished for mentioning which part of the country the child is from. But all these rules are suspended when the children are advertised for sale/adoption.
When fixcas searched the web for the site suggested by Booker, British Association for Adoption and Fostering, it led to a web page Be My Parent with 84 profiles of a child or sibling group available for adoption. One is enclosed after Booker's article.
In a second article Booker follows up on a case of an accidental cut.
Children advertised like pets for sale
Anonymity doesn't apply in the case of adoption. It is hypocritical, and the result is distasteful
There are few things our “child protection” system is keener to enforce than the rigorous secrecy rules that it claims are vital to protect the identity of children who have been removed from their families. Although the laws passed by Parliament only require measures to be taken to conceal the identity of the children themselves, whose names or photographs must never be published, the courts have widened this out to make it illegal to identify anyone involved in care proceedings.
This is why when journalists wish to write about all those cases where the system seems to have made some tragic mistake, we are strictly forbidden, except very rarely, to name the judges, the local authorities or anyone else responsible for these travesties of justice – even the part of the country where they took place. All this is supposedly in the name of protecting the identity of the children.
But when it comes to sending these children for adoption, all the rules are suspended. Consider, for instance, 22 pages published on the internet by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, a charity which earns £2 million a year for arranging for children to be placed in new homes. The 114 children pictured, almost all with their real names, are given glutinous little profiles, describing them as “bubbly”, “bright”, “loving”, “likes cuddles”, “gorgeous, smiley, happy little boy”, and so forth. At least these don’t reveal where in the country the children come from, which means that their parents may be spared the agony of seeing their child being advertised, much in the same way that pedigree dogs or cats are offered for sale.
But I also have a similar advertisement from a national newspaper, in which all the children named and photographed are from the same council area, so that anyone living in Tower Hamlets might immediately have been able to recognise the child who suddenly disappeared from a neighbour’s house. In the case of one of these children, I am told, the parents sat quietly through the court proceedings by which their beloved daughter was being removed from them. But when the judge agreed that the local authority could advertise their child by name, the father’s patience finally snapped. He threw an empty plastic cup across the courtroom, which fell way short of the judicial bench. The judge angrily ruled that for this contempt of court the father should be removed at once to a prison cell. If I were to name that judge I could equally be punished for contempt – but only, of course, to protect the identity of the child.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
SAKURA & DANIEL are half-sister and brother who are bright and generally happy, and have positive attachments to their foster carers. Sakura is outgoing and loves parties, dancing and swimming. She has some anxieties around food, which are lessened with clear meal time routines. Daniel loves cuddles, reading with his carer and pretending to be a builder. He has oral dyspraxia (difficulty forming words) and receives speech therapy. Needing: adoption
Source: Be My Parent
Families are torn apart, but others are free to kill
A family has been split up because a teacher misinterpreted one trivial incident
Tolstoy famously wrote, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”. What is is striking about all the examples of families being torn apart by social workers for no good reason that I report on, is how each may be bizarre in its own way, but how in other respects, they all reflect a similar general pattern.
Last year, for instance, I wrote about a French mother who brought her three young daughters to London for a short holiday with their father, from whom she was amicably divorced, and who lived here with his daughter from a former relationship. The day before she and her girls were due to return to France, she was having a bath while her ex-husband was downstairs cutting his eldest daughter’s hair. Accidentally, he slightly cut the girl’s head, drawing blood. When this was noticed by a teacher at school, the social workers were called in. The girl was taken into care and her father was arrested and charged with “assault, neglect and ill-treatment”.
Incomprehensibly, his other children were also then taken into care and his ex-wife was charged with “failing to protect” the older girl, even though she had been upstairs at the time. Found guilty, she was given a suspended sentence, but her
ex-husband was sent to prison for three years. The mother has stayed in London for 21 months in the hope of getting her children back, although within two weeks of her arrest, the social workers were already drawing up a plan for them to be adopted. Contact with her children has steadily dwindled, although the girls, who are in foster care (costing us all £60,000 a year), are apparently miserable and baffled as to why they cannot return home to France. Now the council is asking the courts for all contact with their mother to be stopped.
So one family is torn apart because a teacher misinterpreted one trivial incident, setting this whole tragedy in train. But when teachers recorded how four-year-old Daniel Pelka was being turned into a bruised “bag of bones” by the abuse he was suffering at home, Coventry’s social workers were nowhere to be seen. Is it surprising that our “child-protection” system is becoming a major national scandal?
Source: Telegraph (UK)
August 23, 2013 permalink
Five teenagers ran away from a group home, stole a car and crashed it in Pickering Ontario. The oldest, driver Brandon Haring-Macdow, has been charged.
Joyride ends in Pickering crash
Two teens injured after stolen car rolls over
PICKERING -- Police are still searching for one girl after a group of runaways crashed a stolen car in Pickering.
Two teenage girls are being treated for serious injuries after the crash, while three others fled from the scene of the accident.
The incident began just before 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20, when a group of one male and five female teenagers, ranging in ages from 14 to 18, pulled into the parking lot at Hwy. 401 and Thickson Road in Whitby. The group, which included five youths who had run away from group homes, had been riding in a stolen SUV throughout the night, police said. One of the girls was assaulted and forced out of the vehicle in the parking lot, and she called police from a nearby store.
Around 11 a.m., the vehicle was seen speeding on Kinsale Road in Pickering. The 18-year-old male driver lost control of the car on the gravel road, causing it to roll over, police said.
A 14-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl found at the scene were taken to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. One was later transported to a Toronto-area hospital for further treatment.
The remaining occupants of the vehicle, including the man and two 14-year-old girls, fled the scene. Officers searched for the teens with a K-9 team, but later learned they had hitchhiked to the Ajax GO station. Police attended the station and delayed some westbound trains but were unable to find them.
On Wednesday, Aug. 21 officers found and arrested an 18-year-old man believed to be the driver, and a 14-year-old girls being sought was arrested when she went to a hospital for treatment of injuries sustained in the crash. Police are still searching for one 14-year-old girl from Orangeville.
Brandon Haring-Macdow, 18, of no fixed address, was charged with possession of stolen property, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, theft and driving without a license.
A 14-year-old girl from Toronto and 14- and 15-year-old girls from Alliston are also facing charges.
Anyone with any new information is asked to contact Det. Groat of West Division CIB at 1-888-579-1520 ext. 2542.
Anonymous tips can also be made to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.durhamregionalcrimestoppers.ca.
Source: Metroland / Durham Region
August 23, 2013 permalink
New Mexico foster dad Michael Vargas knew how to keep his wards in line: he punished them with a taser, 24 burns counted on two small children. The judge sentencing him was outraged that a taser would be used a punishment for children. Has the judge noticed that police routinely use tasers for the same purpose?
Clovis Man Sentenced to 16 Years in Prison For Using a Taser on Foster Children
CLOVIS -- Michael Vargas, 40, was sentenced to 16 years in the New Mexico Department of Corrections.
On June 11, Vargas was found guilty of 24 counts of child abuse, all third degree felonies.
His conviction results from an incident that occurred in 2010. Two small children reported to a social worker at their elementary school that they were being punished by their foster parents with a stun gun or taser. The children, who were in foster care of Michael Vargas, had at least 24 burn marks to their stomachs and arms. It was proven that the abuse occurred over a period of two months.
The State argued that Vargas should spend at least 24 years in prison, one for each scar left on the victims. However, after a lengthy sentencing hearing, Judge Hartley ordered Vargas to serve the next 16 years in prison, and an additional 5 years of supervised probation and parole upon release from prison. The State proved that Vargas committed a serious, violent offense, which means that Vargas must serve at least 85% of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.
"It is unconscionable that anyone would ever consider using a taser as a means of punishment," said District Attorney Matthew Chandler. "The victims in this case are relieved that all of this is over, and they can now focus on the things kids are supposed to focus on."
Source: KAMR Amarillo
Excuse for Foster Death
August 23, 2013 permalink
In March 2009 an Alberta foster girl died of pneumonia. A provincial fatality inquiry report blames lack of funding for her death. But a journalist interviewed the real mother and quoted her:
On Thursday, the child’s biological mother said her daughter clearly needed medical treatment before she died. She visited the child three days before and noticed her coughing enough to warrant a trip to the doctor.
“They should have done that,” said the mother, who cannot be identified under Alberta child welfare legislation. “It’s all their fault. It is their wrongdoing.”
She said she would have taken the child to hospital herself after her brief visit, but was not allowed. Instead she wrote a note to the foster mother, asking her to take the child to the doctor. That request was ignored.
“I knew something was wrong. Mother knows best,” she said in a phone interview. “I didn’t want to get into trouble, but I should have taken her to see a doctor.”
Another way to save this child would have been to leave the real mother in control, so she could decide to get medical attention.
The girl's name is a state secret. Fixcas has used the pseudonym Girl Hobbema, the recent report expanded her name to the single letter K. The old linked article contains more on the mother's efforts to save her baby.
Lack of funding, medical training contributed to foster girl’s death: report
EDMONTON - A provincial court judge has recommended medical training for foster parents and greater funding for First Nations foster care in response to a 13-month-old child’s death of pneumonia.
The girl, identified as K, would not have died if her foster parents had greater medical knowledge, Judge Bart Rosborough concluded in a fatality inquiry report released Thursday. The foster family thought K had a cold or the flu in the days before she died in her bed on the Samson Cree Nation at Hobbema in March 2009.
“Medical staff called at this inquiry consistently testified that an ordinary reasonable caregiver with average education would have sought medical intervention for a child with symptoms of pneumonia serious enough to have caused K’s death,” the judge wrote.
On Thursday, the child’s biological mother said her daughter clearly needed medical treatment before she died. She visited the child three days before and noticed her coughing enough to warrant a trip to the doctor.
“They should have done that,” said the mother, who cannot be identified under Alberta child welfare legislation. “It’s all their fault. It is their wrongdoing.”
She said she would have taken the child to hospital herself after her brief visit, but was not allowed. Instead she wrote a note to the foster mother, asking her to take the child to the doctor. That request was ignored.
“I knew something was wrong. Mother knows best,” she said in a phone interview. “I didn’t want to get into trouble, but I should have taken her to see a doctor.”
After going to a hockey game with foster family members the evening of her death, the child died in her sleep.
Human Services Minister Dave Hancock said he will examine the possibility of medical training for foster parents.
“Absolutely. Children in foster care come with special needs, every child come with their own requirements,” Hancock said, adding that certification processes for foster parents can always be expanded. “How does health care fit into that training module?”
The baby was under the care of Kasohkowew Child Wellness Society in the last three months of her life. The society, established in 1997 under Alberta’s Child Welfare Act, handles the on-reserve foster-care system for the Samson Cree.
She was voluntarily given up by her biological parents, whose lives were dominated by violence and addictions issues.
The foster parents who accepted the girl had previously cared for other children and had a second foster child in the home at the time of the girl’s death. The foster mother was a Kasohkowew society employee.
The foster parents were not told the girl had been admitted to hospital 10 times or that she suffered from asthma and respiratory problems. The child was not given a medical checkup within 48 hours of the new foster placement, as policy dictates.
Rosborough said the Kasohkowew society’s actions “at the very least provided the opportunity for a serious ailment like pneumonia to go untreated.”
Carolyn Peacock, director of the Kasohkowew Child Wellness Society, refused to comment on the report Thursday.
The Kasohkowew society is one of the busiest foster care groups in the province, with 322 permanent guardianship orders.
Kasohkowew’s authority was temporarily revoked in 2002 after a string of child deaths. A review showed staff were badly overworked. Rosborough’s report stated they are still overworked and plagued by high staff turnover.
At the time of their deaths, all the children were in Kasohkowew’s care or known to its staff. Two died in fires, one drowned in the bathtub, another died from head injuries inflicted by a foster parent, one died from a cough-syrup overdose, another by choking on a balloon, and a teenage girl hanged herself.
Hancock said the Alberta government is helping the society through mentorship, but is not interested in making adversarial demands of Kasohkowew. “We have a very good working relationship with Kasohkowew. We have staff working with them as mentors even as we speak.”
Though not the focus of the inquiry, the judge also noted problems with the society’s funding.
“It would appear that there is a significant disparity in the level of funding provided for children ‘off reserve’ as opposed to those ‘on reserve,’ ” Rosborough wrote. “An archaic funding arrangement with the latter results in considerably fewer resources made available to them. This applies to children of the Samson Cree Nation.”
While the Alberta government delegates authority to the Kasohkowew society, they do not provide funding. On-reserve foster care systems are entirely funded by the federal government, Hancock said, while all others are supported by provincial dollars.
The inquiry also heard testimony about the society’s spending practices, including funds diverted to pay for staff members to go to an out-of-country educational seminar that at least one staff member refused to attend because of the cost. Money was also used for ‘cultural activities’ that were so expensive that caseworkers had to be fired to bring the budget under control.
“Inadequate resourcing of KCWS has been suggested as a factor contributing to the tragic death of K and, to the extent that funds were inappropriately allocated, it is a cause for concern,” Rosborough said.
The girl’s biological parents have accused the provincial government of negligence in a $45,000 lawsuit.
Source: Edmonton Journal
Misdirected Anger in Florida
August 21, 2013 permalink
Florida is undergoing an outburst of anger over child deaths, deaths of children known to the child protection system. A recent sidebar in the Miami Herald (in the expand block) lists 20 such children dying since April. The anger has reached the legislature, captured in the first enclosed article and the attached video (local copy, flv).
A campaign like this is not directed from the top. The head of Florida DCF, David Wilkins, has already lost his job over the revelations. We can speculate that social workers, hoping to get more money from the legislature, are cooperating with journalists to supply timely information about child deaths. A technical note below shows what to expect should policy changes increase the rate of child removal from parents.
Imagine a region with a million children. Under conditions prevailing throughout the US and Canada, about one percent are in foster care, 10,000 foster children. The children in parental care will perish at a rate of 28 per hundred thousand, 277 deaths in our example. The children in foster care perish at ten times the parental rate, 280 per hundred thousand, 28 deaths. So even though the death rate in foster care is ten times as high, the number of deaths in parental care is about ten times as high. The Florida example of 20 deaths shows 18 in the care of at least one parent, 1 in foster care and one with ambiguous wording.
The higher death rate in foster care is the result of an immutable fact of human nature — parents take better care of their own children than the children of strangers. It is called the Cinderella effect. Child protectors are powerless to alter this through regulation. So what will happen when a foster care panic develops, doubling the number of children in foster care? Now the deaths in parental care will be 274 while those in foster care will be 56. In tabular form,
Deaths before foster panic: parental care: 277 foster care: 28 total: 305 Deaths after foster panic: parental care: 274 foster care: 56 total: 330
Twenty five more deaths after the foster care panic.
The analysis above will not be part of the solution arrived at in Florida. The emotional outbursts by legislators will lead only to increases in the removal of children from their parents. Policy makers and a public both suffering from innumeracy will find the only solution to the problem that makes the situation even worse.
Names of dead children invoked at hearing to reform DCF
One by one, Florida Sen. Eleanor Sobel read the names or initials of 20 children — children who died this summer while on the radar of the state’s embattled child welfare agency.
Some were beaten savagely. Others suffocated or drowned. One was strangled, and another run over by a car,.
The listing of the dead was a dramatic way to launch a town hall meeting designed to bring reforms and save lives.
The Tuesday night meeting, at Broward College’s South Campus, drew a crowd of hundreds of judges, city officials, police officers, children’s advocates and foster parents. At least 15 lawmakers sat shoulder to shoulder on the dais, listening.
“We have a moral imperative to save lives,” said Sobel, who organized the event.
The Miami Herald reported Sunday that, since mid-April, at least 20 children known to the Department of Children & Families have died, mostly from abuse or neglect, some of them in particularly brutal ways. Faced with the rising toll, Sobel, a Hollywood Democrat who chairs the Senate’s Children, Families & Elder Affairs, convened a town hall to ask hard questions about DCF’s ability to meet its mandate of protecting children from danger.
The nearly three-hour discussion — extended twice to accommodate the number of speakers — offered a variety of suggestions, ranging from better state funding to better treatment of caseworkers and investigators. Legislators walked away with specific changes they can make to child welfare laws in the upcoming Legislative season.
Looking straight at the panel of lawmakers — and raising his voice with emotion — Walter Lambert, the top doctor with Miami’s Child Protection Team, which evaluates children for abuse or neglect, told the legislators they bore some culpability for the cluster of recent deaths.
“The Legislature is responsible to fund the system appropriately,” said Lambert to loud applause. “It is on the Legislature to give the appropriate funding to do the job.’’
The CPT, which includes doctors, nurses and social workers trained to detect child abuse and neglect, sustained deep budget cuts, Lambert said, at the very time that a nationwide economic downturn was resulting in increased — and increasingly more severe —abuse and neglect.
A Broward County judge who said she has seen the grim consequence of an under-funded social service system echoed Lambert’s concerns.
“We have to fund social services in this state, and we have the courage to transform it,” said Judge Ginger Lerner Wren, who presides over mental health cases. Lerner Wren congratulated the state of Texas for improving its spending on human services spending when it was ranked dead last in the nation. Of Florida, she added: “We were 49th. Guess where we are now?’’
In what has become a deadly summer, nearly two dozen children have died at the hands of their caregivers in cases where DCF had been alerted at least once that the children were in danger.
After four children died over a stretch of six weeks — all but one from South Florida — DCF Secretary David Wilkins resigned and was replaced by interim secretary Esther Jacobo. The number of known child deaths dramatically increased to at least 20 over the next several months, including an infant who died last week.
The speakers did not talk only about funding. Several criticized what some view as DCF’s lack of openness about child deaths — and policies that may contribute to them. Some accused agency administrators and lawmakers of a lack of urgency.
Pat McCabe, a foster parent, took off work early from his job to attend to the hearing. In an emotional speech, he challenged the legislators to feel as angry as he did. “I am here to represent the outrage,’’ said McCabe, who along with his wife foster three children. “There is no excuse as to what has happened. There is a lack of funding and a lack of accountability.’’
Jeannette Miley, who has spent more than 30 years treating disabled children at the Children’s Diagnostic and Treatment Center, which serves disabled children, said her program has been frustrated by DCF lawyers who insist they lack the authority to remove children from abusive or neglectful parents — including children who became disabled due to their mother’s drug addiction.
“We’ve got a criminal history for the father; we’ve got a criminal history for the mother; and the baby is born addicted,” Miley said. “Should we protect the child, or give the parents another chance?” she asked.
Investigators should give parents another chance, Miley said, but only “when the child has been safely removed.”
As the number of deaths escalated, Jacobo ordered a review of all child fatalities cause by abuse or neglect and invited a national organization to scrutinize those findings.
“We are getting help with examining what may have gone wrong,’’ she said. “The more eyes on a child, the better the decisions are, the better decisions we can make.”
Source: Miami Herald
The article below is a sidebar from another article in the Miami Herald giving the circumstances of twenty recent child deaths.
Young lives snuffed out
Since April 11, at least 20 children with a prior DCF history have died. DCF has not revealed the identities of several of the children.
Jewel Re’nee Howard, 3 years old
Died April 11: The Sarasota girl suffered a torn liver and crushed ribs in a beating allegedly administered by her mother’s boyfriend. Weeks earlier, DCF was told Jewel had sustained a lacerated lip requiring stitches.
D.P., 3 years old
Died April 19: He was playing with other children in Alachua County when he was found drowned in a community pool. He had a DCF history and had been in the custody of an uncle.
Aliyah Marie Branum, 2 years old
Died April 26: Her mom, now charged with first-degree murder in Citrus County, allegedly slammed Aliyah’s head into a wall for ‘whining.’ Aliyah had come to DCF’s attention both in August 2012 and January 2013.
Name unavailable, 2 1/2 months old
Died May 4: When this little girl was born on Feb. 20, both she and her mom had narcotics in their bodies. The Sarasota tot was found dead while reports said her parents continued to abuse pills.
K.S., 4 months old
Died May 7: She was run over in the driveway of a Franklin County home. At the time, DCF was investigating a report that her mother was smoking crack in front of her kids and selling food stamps to pay for drugs.
Name unavailable, 16 years old
Died on or about May 11: A Brevard dad who’d recently regained custody allowed her to leave the state with a 24-year-old boyfriend. A caseworker neglected to report her missing. She died of suspected pneumonia.
Bryan Osceola, 11 months old
Died May 16: He baked to death in his mother’s car. Months earlier, the Miami-Dade mom had passed out drunk behind the wheel with an unsecured Bryan next to her and the engine running. DCF took no action then.
Name, age unavailable
Died on May 23: Found in her mom’s bed in Palm Beach County, suffering a lack of oxygen — possibly as a result of a deadly practice called “co-sleeping” with infants. The family had ‘extensive’ DCF history.
K.F., 4 years old
Died May 27: Lee County boy drowned in a swimming pool with between 10 and 15 adults nearby. Though K.F. couldn’t swim, his mother had gone to the store, assuming other adults were watching him.
Fernando Barahona, 1 year old
Died June 3: Cape Coral boy was strangled weeks after DCF gave him back to his mother, despite suspecting physical abuse in an earlier incident that resulted in two skull fractures.
Name, age unavailable
Died June 4: This child turned ‘blue’ and stopped breathing while in their father’s car in Okaloosa County. Authorities say the child died from abuse. DCF previously investigated a report the child had been abused.
Antwan Hope, 4 years old
Died June 10: Coral Springs child was left alone by the state — against a judge’s orders — with his mentally ill mother who lost custody previously after trying to smother him to death.
Ezra Raphael, 2 years old
Died June 20: North Miami Beach mom abandoned the boy with a Gainesville stranger, then took him back. DCF investigated but didn’t intervene. He was then whipped to death, allegedly by his mother’s boyfriend.
Cherish Perrywinkle, 8 years old
Died June 22: The Jacksonville girl was strangled by a registered sex offender after her mother, a longtime drug abuser, allowed the man to take the little girl from a mall. Cherish’s parents had lengthy DCF histories.
Name unavailable, 2 1/2 years old
Died June 23: He drowned in a Citrus County canal at 10 a.m. while his parents slept. A private social service agency said it had given them locks and safety alarms to prevent such an occurrence. The parents denied that.
Christian Byrd, 2 years old
Died June 24: He drowned in a pool behind a Lehigh Acres daycare center with a DCF history. The owner said she’d left Christian and two other small children unsupervised in the pool while she went to the bathroom.
Jayden Villegas, 2 years old
Died July 21: Police said his father shook the Homestead boy and threw him against a wall. DCF had given Jayden to the father after removing him from his mother. The dad had a history of domestic violence.
Dakota Stiles, 3 years old
Died July 25: He drowned in a slimy, green Vero Beach pool that, only weeks earlier, a DCF investigator had described as ‘exceptionally unsafe… green from disrepair, filthy, filled with unsanitary water and bugs.’
Michael Williams, 7 months old
Died Aug. 9: Living in a battered spouse shelter in Kissimmee, the tot died after eating a laundry detergent pod. DCF acknowledged having ‘prior history’ with the family, but has yet to release the details.
Yvonne Bailey, 1 year old
Died Aug. 14: Burned by drug-abusing parents, the Sanford girl was put in foster care, then with a relative who — despite instructions to the contrary — gave her to another relative whose husband allegedly killed her.
Source: Miami Herald
Freedom of Information for CAS
August 19, 2013 permalink
Ontario's Information & Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian wants to open children's aid societies to the freedom of information law. The text of her recommendation is below, you can hear her on YouTube or our local copy (mp4) starting at 23:28.
Annual Report 2012
Children's Aid Societies
One of the foundational tenets of freedom of information is that organizations that receive significant public funding should be subject to public scrutiny through freedom of information laws. Ontario has made important advances in this effort by extending the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) to universities in 2006 and hospitals in 2012, but there are still institutions in the government and Broader Public Sector which are not covered by the Acts.
I recommend that the government launch a comprehensive review to compile a list of institutions, including Children’s Aid Societies, which are primarily funded by government but are not yet covered by FIPPA or MFIPPA, the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. This should be followed by a prompt assessment of these institutions – with the default position being that each institution on the list will be added to the appropriate Act, unless there are compelling reasons not to add a specific institution.
Source: Information and Privacy Commission
Coercion of Parents
August 18, 2013 permalink
British Columbia lawyer Laurel Dietz practiced criminal law, where accused persons have rights and the state must give some respect to privacy. She got a shock when she started handling family law cases. Accused persons have no rights, and there is no respect for personal privacy.
Reasonable Doubt: Coercion and the loss of all privacy if you’re a parent
I have spent the majority of my career practicing criminal law. I was well versed in Charter rights that protect people from state intrusions on people’s privacy. In fact, I have written extensively over the past two years on this topic in this column.
So nothing prepared me for what I was to encounter when I packed it all in, moved back to Vancouver Island, and opened my own shop offering services in many different areas including family law.
What I have quickly learned is that in family disputes involving the state, as a parent, you have no expectation of privacy: no expectation of privacy in your body, no expectation of privacy in your home.
While both these places are sacrosanct in criminal law and the state must go above and beyond to show why they are entitled to search either of those places, they mean nothing in family law.
In disputes with the Ministry of Children and Family Development, the parent as defendant has so few rights and little power that most of the time they are expected to comply with extensive invasions of their person and their home. If they do not, the ministry will take their children.
Let me give you an example for the uninitiated on how this all works.
If you have a nasty dispute with your neighbor and your neighbor calls the ministry to allege that you use drugs and hit your children, this goes into the ministry's file. A social worker will be sent out and an investigation conducted. They will speak to your children, neighbours, teachers, and other undisclosed “partners in the community”. You will have no opportunity to find out who said what in order to respond to any allegations or negative reports made against you.
From this spiteful allegation, huge consequences may result and, without opening up your home to the ministry and volunteering to be drug tested, you may find it difficult to defend yourself.
If the ministry does not like what they see and hear when they enter your home, it may take your kids. If there seems to be some substance to the allegations of drug use or hitting your children, it can apply to the court for a Supervision Order or simply remove your children.
A Supervision Order will last for about six months and can include extensive random drug tests and frequent checks by social workers in your home any time during the day, evening, or weekend. If you breach any condition of your Supervision Order, the ministry can take your children.
Random drug testing for a specified period can be an onerous obligation and seriously impede on your attendance at work. A parent under such an order must call a drug testing facility every weekday morning for a specified period. Each day they are told whether or not they have to be tested. If they are, then they must attend a specific facility at a specific time. If for any reason they cannot make it that day, then it is considered a positive test.
Often I hear from an aggrieved parent that he or she doesn’t care if the ministry gets involved as he or she has nothing to hide. This is an extremely short-sighted position to take.
Whether or not you have anything to hide is not the point. Often most people won’t even know if they have anything to hide; furthermore, a stupid mistake or a busy day can put you in breach of your Supervision Order.
A Supervision Order requires a parent to be under the microscope, and it gets tiring really quickly. If a parent cracks under the pressure, the penalty is having their children removed from their care.
Having the ability to live our lives behind closed doors in the manner we see fit is one of our fundamental rights and freedoms that dates back to 17th-century English common law. It is such a basic understanding of how we live, that we don’t often consider how it would be if this freedom were not a part of our social fabric.
And if you are to be judged, who are the judges?
The worst part of this set-up is that the people controlling the decisions of the ministry are social workers; largely over-worked, burnt out, and displaying signs of tunnel vision that naturally comes with enforcement type positions. They don’t like you, they’ll take your children. You don’t play nice, they’ll take your children.
The social worker’s opinion and understanding of a situation reigns supreme. There is little oversight by lawyers for the ministry to offer some sober second thought. Ministry lawyers tend to have large caseloads and leave much of the fact analysis to social workers. In criminal law, fact analysis is utterly in the hands of the Crown, which has spent years in school and the courtroom critically analyzing facts and law for a living.
Its difficult to articulate how utterly unbalanced the power dynamics are in a dispute with the Ministry of Children and Family Development. In criminal law, we check and balance the power of the state by engaging in the trial process. It’s not perfect, but at trial, the weaker party is given their opportunity to make full answer and defence. Each party has the opportunity to lead evidence and test evidence; evidence is assessed for its reliability and credibility.
The problem with court battles in ministry family cases is that the penalty comes first and opportunity to defend yourself comes second.
During initial stages of the court process, the parent has little opportunity to test evidence against him or herself. A parent’s true opportunity to defend him or herself will depend on the court schedules and when there is an available court date, which usually months down the road. As you know, our courts are incredibly back-logged, which means parents suffer penalties for extended periods of time until the court can accommodate their hearing.
It’s a nasty pill to swallow. Unfortunately, this is the only way that we have figured out to protect our children from abuse or neglect.
In principle, it makes sense. The state should be empowered to do what needs to be done to protect the vulnerable. The problem lies in the execution, the lack of independent oversight of social workers decisions, and the inability for parents to have their say in a timely way and in a manner that carries some weight.
Laurel Dietz practices family law and criminal defence with Dogwood Law Corporation in Victoria, B.C. Reasonable Doubt appears on Straight.com on Fridays. She can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/UnbundledLawyer. You can send your questions for the column to its writers at firstname.lastname@example.org. A word of caution: Don’t take this column as personal legal advice, because it’s not. It is intended for general information and entertainment purposes only.
Source: Georgia Straight
Peel CAS Defrauded
August 16, 2013 permalink
Fixcas has no comment on this Peel Police report regarding Diana Seeley.
Peel Police - Suspect Arrested After Defrauding Peel Children’s Aid
Peel – Investigators from the Special Victims Unit have arrested and charged a 28 year-old woman who has allegedly defrauded Peel Children’s Aid Society.
On July 13, 2013, Peel Children’s Aid while conducting a child protection investigation apprehended what appeared to be a 15 year-old female who was in need of protection. Peel Children’s Aid later learned the female was in fact 28 years-old.
Peel Children’s Aid contacted investigators on Monday, August 12th, informing them of the fraud. Police located and arrested 28 year-old Diana SEELEY on Wednesday, August 14th, for Fraud over $5000.00 and Breach of Probation. She attended the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton for a bail hearing on Thursday, August 15, 2013.
Further investigation determined that SEELEY has committed similar acts in different regions of the GTA.
Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to call the Peel Regional Police Criminal Investigations Bureau at (905) 453-2121, ext. 2233. Information may also be left anonymously by calling Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or by visiting www.peelcrimestoppers.ca.
For media inquiries, please contact the on-duty Public Information Officer, Corporate Communications, at (905) 453-2121, ext. 4027.
NR 13-158 / 13-0471751
Source: Peel Regional Police
Teen Shoots Foster Dad
Flees to Real Mom
August 14, 2013 permalink
A teenager in Arkansas is in police custody after shooting his foster father Arthur Joyce three times. The boy fled to his real mother.
Teen In Custody For Shooting Foster Parent
(Earle, AR) A manhunt has ended in Crittenden County, Ark., for a teenager who police say shot his foster father.
The shooting happened this morning on Shannonville Road near Earle.
Arthur Joyce, 47, was shot three times was flown to The MED where his condition is unknown.
The 17-year-old reportedly went to his biological mother’s home in Forrest City.
The mother then called police.
Investigators believed the teen to be armed and on foot.
Source: WREG Memphis
Addendum: A later story named the foster boy as Steven Billups.
Family: Teen who shot foster parent was not on medication
(WMC-TV) - A Mid-South teen will be charged as an adult for shooting his foster father in Earle, Arkansas.
Arthur Joyce, the foster parent, is still at The Med Monday, according to the family.
The teen accused of shooting him made his first court appearance Monday morning in Crittenden County. His biological mother spoke out.
"He's been in foster care. He hasn't been on any of his medication," said the mother, Anita Billups.
Billups says her son, Steven, is bipolar and suffers from ADHD. Investigators say the 17-year-old shot his foster father three times over money he felt he did not get paid for work.
The Crittenden County Sheriff's department searched for Billups for three hours. Anita said he hid out in an abandoned house in Earle.
"He was texting me on the phone and stuff. He was trying to tell me where he was at in Earle," she said.
She says he was scared.
Billups says she and her family drove to Earle and picked her son up. They brought him to Forrest City and took him to the Forrest City police department.
Anita Billups said both of her sons were sent to foster care when she became homeless more than a year ago after their house burned.
Relatives called the state saying she was not taking care of her children.
Billups says her son is on his medication now that he is behind bars.
Joyce's son says his father is doing well here at the MED. He said he is up and walking around and should be released soon.
Source: WMC-TV 5 Memphis
August 14, 2013 permalink
Crystal Nuttle, described in another news report as "a potential legislative candidate and vehement critic of state Child Protective Services", practices what she preaches. She is facing charges for helping mother Teketa Riley retrieve her six-year-old son from CPS. If she can get on the ballot, she will give Arizona voters an opportunity to vote on child protection policy.
Possible legislature candidate among those charged with custodial interference
TUCSON - A possible candidate for the state senate in hot water.
Crystal Nuttle of Glendale is suspected of helping a mother steal her child from Child Protective Services in Tucson.
Police say on July 26th, Nuttle and three other women, including the treasurer of her campaign, entered a secured facility where Teketa Riley was visiting her child on a CPS supervised visit.
Police believe the women helped Riley take her 6-year-old son during the visit. The child was later found safe. Now all but one of the women are charged with custodial interference.
News 4 Tucson obtained a search warrant that details what led Tucson Police Detectives and U.S. Marshals to Glendale, AZ.
The warrant reads, "On August 2, officers conducted an extensive surveillance on several locations." "They saw Teketa Riley and her 6-year-old son leaving and walking away from Crystal Nuttles' residence."
"The two were taken into custody and interviewed." "The child was found unharmed and returned to CPS custody."
"We know from previous contacts that these guys have a lot of problems and are very much against CPS and that could have been part of the other reason they did what they did," says Sgt. Chris Widmer of the Tucson Police Department.
According to court documents, "Teketa Riley, Paula Flowe, and Crystal Nuttle assisted in abducting the six-year-old from Child Protective Services." "A fourth person Debbie Ramos was also involved."
She reportedly is Nuttle's campaign treasurer.
When the women were arrested, "Crystal Nuttle invoked her Miranda warning and no questions were asked."
"Paula Flowe waived her rights and told detectives she had planned the abduction."
Sgt. Widmer says, "However they thought about going about this, and whatever they thought they were going to do has landed them with felony charges that they could potentially go to prison for."
Paula Flowe remains in the Pima County Jail on a $10,000 bond.
Source: KVOA Tucson
Transparency for CPS
August 14, 2013 permalink
Reason is America's leading journal of libertarian opinion. This week they are calling for transparency for child protective services. The article focuses on the cases of Sammy Nikolayev and Deanna (Fogarty-) Hardwick. The video mentioned in the article is on YouTube and a local copy (mp4).
"They Kidnapped our Child": Why CPS Needs Transparency Now
In April 2013, police officers and a social worker from Sacramento County's Child Protective Services entered the home of Anna and Alex Nikolayev and took their baby, Sammy, away from them. They had no warrant.
"What they'd done was, basically, kidnapped our child with the help of police," says Alex Nikolayev. The young, first-time parents were not notified of where Sammy was being taken and wouldn't find out for a full 24 hours. According to the Nikolayevs, the dispute stemmed from the parents' desire to obtain a second medical opinion before subjecting Sammy to major heart surgery.
The Nikolayev's story made national headlines thanks to footage from a camcorder Anna Nikolayev set up on the kitchen table. It also caught the attention of California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, who spearheaded an audit of the agency.
"The secrecy by which CPS operates is a massive problem," says Donnelly. "Because when you have secrecy and unchecked power, you have a recipe for corruption and abuse."
The secrecy surrounding CPS stems from the nature of California's juvenile dependency courts which only allow limited press access and seal all court records. While media and other interested parties can petition the court to open the records, this can be a lengthy process and by no means guarantees results. ReasonTV petitioned the court to open the records in the Nikolayev's case and, almost two months later, we have still not received a ruling from the judge.
While the closed nature of juvenile dependency courts is intended to protect the privacy of minors, the effect is an opaque system in which social workers present evidence to judges under the cloak of "confidentiality." Only in extreme or unusual cases - such as when parents release clandestine footage of their child being forcefully removed from their home without a warrant - do CPS stories tend to capture the public's attention.
Another example of a case that garnered some media attention is that of Deanna Hardwick, a mother who lost custody of her children for six and a half years. She successfully fought back and sued Orange County CPS after jurors found that social workers "lied, falsified evidence, and suppressed exculpatory evidence" and "did so with malice." Orange County ended up paying out almost $11 million in damages.
"The system is set up in a way that it's encouraged to remove the children from the protective parent," says Hardwick. "Because it generates a lot of funding."
The issue of funding is one that many critics of CPS are quick to raise, most prominently and frequently by the late Georgia state senator Nancy Schaefer. While the funding incentives for any government agency can be complicated and seemingly impossible to divine, Orange County Social Services Agency Director Michael Riley, who oversees Orange County CPS, testified in a deposition related to Hardwick's case that putting more children into the foster system theoretically could boost the agency's budget.
"Let's say you spend ten dollars a year. So, then, for the following year, your base then would be ten dollars," says Riley. The lawyer questioning Riley then points out that failure to use the entire base would result in a lowering of the base for the next year. He then asks Riley if the funding stream is tied to how many children they bring into Orange County's children's home, Orangewood.
"It's tied to the number of children we have in the foster system," says Riley.
ReasonTV reached out to both Sacramento County and Orange County Social Services Agencies in the production of this story, and representatives from both organization were happy to talk with us. However, because of the closed dependency courts, neither representative would comment on the details of specific cases. The absurdity of this charade reached such heights that Sherri Heller, who runs Sacramento County's Health and Human Services, told us that she could not even confirm nor deny that Sacramento County CPS was even involved in the Nikolayev case, despite widespread reporting and video evidence that it was.
And it's not just parents and children who suffer from the secrecy. CPS workers and their managers say they are not happy about the situation either and feel that more openness and transparency would help them to communicate their side of the story clearly.
"Most of us in this field are eager for the public to understand what happened and why," says Heller. "It is a source of great dismay to us when we are accused of hiding behind the confidentiality law."
In the immediate wake of the Nikolayev case, parents gathered in Sacramento to support the audit and testify in front of the audit committee. The audit is set to proceed in the next few months, and the auditor will choose three county agencies to examine. But for parents like Deanna Hardwick, who's experienced the power of this agency first-hand, a state-level audit is just the beginning of a broader movement towards transparency and accountability.
"Once the American people are able to be made aware that this is going on, I think that will be a real step forward towards making sure that there's accountability and making sure that the agency is working towards keeping families together rather than separating them," says Hardwick.
Watch the video above to learn more about Hardwick, the Nikolayevs, and the fight to bring transparency to Child Protective Services.
About 10 minutes.
No Goatsmilk Allowed
August 11, 2013 permalink
Alorah Gellerson had trouble breastfeeding her baby, so she put him on goatsmilk. The baby thrived, but Maine DHHS is using goatsmilk as a reason to threaten her family. Here is a copy of the video (mp4).
Baby's mother in trouble with state over homemade goat's milk formula
BROOKLIN, ME (WABI/WWW/CNN) - Alorah Gellerson loves her three-month-old son.
"He's a really good baby. He's always happy. He likes to eat," she said.
But what baby Carson eats has caused a lot of trouble for this 17-year-old mother.
When the baby didn't take to breastfeeding, Gellerson started feeding him homemade goat milk formula.
"Oh, he loved it," Gellerson said. "We put celery juice in it, and he just loves that, and it worked really well with his body, and he grew like a weed."
But when her doctor reported this to the Department of Health and Human Services, things got messy.
"She came in and threatened to take him away and put him in foster care until I complied to go to the doctor and get him seen."
Gellerson, who receives state benefits, says she has complied with all of the mandates from DHHS, including numerous doctor visits, an overnight hospital stay, and even switched over to store-bought formula to please them. But she says the state is still not dropping it.
"It's so frustrating. My daughter is a great mother. The baby has a great dad, too, and they love this baby very much, and they would never do anything to hurt him. And if we thought the formula was harming him, we would not do that," said Tania Allen, Gellerson's mother.
DHHS said they had no one available to speak, instead directing reporters to websites for procedures they follow, like one from the USDA, which says goat milk is not recommended for infants because of inadequate quantities of certain vitamins.
"I am aware that there is some push back from a lot of community organizations toward parents who take that approach," Jack Forbush, The Osteopathic Center for Family Medicine in Hampden, said. "I don't know what's really driving it other than perhaps some different cultural belief system. I've got plenty of kids in my practice that have been given goat's milk, for example, and they're growing and developing fine."
"I hope this all goes away. It's been so terrible and hard on us. We're just trying to live our lives and they keep bothering us. I just want it to be all over," Gellerson said.
Addendum: On September 12, the day fifty people attended a rally in Bangor supporting the mother, Maine DHHS dropped their case against Gellerson.
Lost and Found
August 10, 2013 permalink
A news story last week sought public help in finding missing teenager Malachi Reeves. There was no mention of his home or family. Off-the-internet news today reports he has been found. Again, there is no mention of his home or family. He sounds like a runaway from foster care who was recaptured by police.
Police still searching for missing Oakville teen
Malachi Reeves last seen in Burlington July 15 — Halton police
Halton police continue to ask for the public’s help in their search for an Oakville teen who reportedly went missing in Burlington nearly three weeks ago.
Malachi Reeves, aged 14, is described as being 6-feet tall with a thin build, black hair, brown eyes and weighing approximately 150 lbs.
The youth was last seen wearing a black T-shirt, shorts and running shoes.
Reeves went missing on Monday, July 15.
An appeal was issued to the public for assistance in finding him July 23.
That appeal was, as of press deadlines yesterday, still in effect, said police. However, they also said it’s believed Reeves is in the Oakville area.
It was reported an officer spoke with a person claiming to be Reeves on the phone as recently as last week, but said authorities need to speak with the teen in person to ensure his well-being.
Anyone with information about Reeves’ whereabouts is urged to contact the on-duty staff sergeant in Oakville at 905-825-4747, ext. 2210.
Source: Inside Halton
August 8, 2013 permalink
A Massachusetts man says that as a boy his adoptive mother Linda Mayotte forced him into sex. She counters that he was the aggressor and raped her. His sister is exchanging accusations with adoptive father Joseph Mayotte. There is no way to know which of the four versions is correct, but it is certain that this adoption was not a success.
Woman accused of rape claims adopted son raped her
Linda Mayotte had tears in her eyes as she told a jury on Tuesday that she was repeatedly raped by her adopted son, not the other way around.
Mayotte, 49, of 67 Laura Lane, is on trial in Worcester Superior Court along with her husband, Joseph Mayotte, 50, of the same address, as they stand accused of raping their two adopted children.
Both face 26 charges, including multiple counts of statutory rape of a child, rape of a child aggravated by age, indecent assault on a child and incest, among others.
Linda Mayotte testified that her 13-year-old son, adopted from Kazakhstan along with his 8-year-old sister in 2004, began being sexually aggressive toward her in 2005. Earlier in the trial, the now 21-year-old testified she was the one who sexually abused him.
"He wanted me, he wanted to control me," Mayotte said. She said he began by brushing up against her and exposing himself to her, then escalated to asking her to perform sex acts on him. “He stopped asking and started demanding.”
She said eventually she stopped saying no.
"Why bother? It wasn't going to do a damn thing," Mayotte said.
Her defense attorney, Laurel Singer, showed pictures of the boy from the time in question to the jury, revealing him to be taller and heavier than Linda Mayotte.
Mayotte testified she was too scared to tell anyone about the abuse because he had threatened to go to police and say she was raping him.
"We're here, aren't we? This is what I was afraid of," she said. She also said she was worried her other children would be taken away if he was to go to police.
Mayotte testified her son only stopped sexually assaulting her when he found out she was pregnant in 2007. Both sides stipulated earlier in the trial that he was the father of her child.
In 2009, her son reported the abuse to police after Linda Mayotte went to police about jewelry he admittedly stole from her.
At that time, the adopted daughter reported being sexually abused by Joseph Mayotte for nearly five years, from 2004 through 2009. She had previously told friends about the abuse in 2007.
Assistant District Attorney Cheryl Riddle questioned why Linda Mayotte didn't tell her husband, other family members, police, doctors or social workers about the rape she's alleging now.
“You never told anyone in this ‘vast support network’ that your adopted son was raping you?” Riddle asked and Mayotte said no.
Riddle also noted many inconsistencies between Linda Mayotte’s first telling of the alleged rape to police, a video of which was shown earlier in the trial, and her testimony Tuesday.
“None of that was in your statement to Lt. (Tim) LaBrie,” the officer who took Mayotte’s statement, said Riddle.
Contact Lindsay Corcoran at 508-634-7582 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @LacorcMDN.
Source: Milford Daily News
No Sunshine for Baby
August 8, 2013 permalink
Social services are beating the drums to make sunburn a pretext for removing children from their families. But lack of sun could induce vitamin D deficiency, another reason to snatch children.
Parents of sunburnt children 'should be referred to social services'
Children who get severely sunburnt should be referred to social services, according to campaigners.
They insist parents are guilty of "neglect" if they allow kids to get so badly burned they need to be taken to hospital.
Last week a four-week-old was referred to hospital with sunburn.
The skin cancer and burns charities say that in cases where health staff have concerns they should report children's injuries to social workers.
Meanwhile Superdrug, the chemist chain, recommended that the VAT be taken off sunscreen so it is more affordable for parents to make the right decision.
Parents groups agreed that awareness should be raised so that parents protect children in hot weather.
But they said that parents must also be made aware of the risk of rickets and other conditions caused by vitamin D deficiency caused by lack of sunlight.
Earlier this year a six-year-old was diagnosed with rickets because of lack of sunlight and doctors have warned middle class children are at risk if they are not outdoors enough.
Mumsnet, the online forum, has discussed both issues with some commentators saying there is "no excuse" for failing to put on sunscreen.
Dozens of hospitals across the country have reported a rise in the number of severe sunburn cases among children during the recent heatwave.
Last week a four-week-old baby was among 10 children admitted to the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, West Sussex with severe sunburn.
Leigh Smith, chair of Melanoma Action and Support Scotland, warned that prolonged unprotected exposure to the sun could have fatal consequences.
"I'm not surprised to hear that children are being taken to A&E wards," she said.
"It's very serious. These parents have tripled their children's chances of getting skin cancer.
"Malignant melanoma is the most common cancer in young adults aged 15-34 in the UK and it happens from getting sunburnt.
"We also need to make sure schools are protecting children from sunburn while they are there. As far as I'm concerned it is a child protection issue.
"It's not sexual abuse and you're not hurting them there and then but you're making their vaccination programmes and the money spent on their education pointless if they get melanoma and die from it.”
Should parents of severely sunburned children be 'referred to social services'?
Pat Wade, founder of charity Burned Children's Club, failing to put on sunscreen is neglect.
"The agony these children can suffer is horrendous.
"With all the advice out there children should not be getting burned. It's neglect.
"In effect you're abusing that child because you're not looking after it properly.
"You can buy sun cream for as little as £1 a bottle. Even if you don't have a lot of money you should be able to protect your child.
"If a child comes into an A&E ward after abuse you phone social services."
Steve Gray, Superdrug health director, said the current 20 per cent tax on sunscreen should be axed.
"Skin cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the UK, but the VAT on nicotine patches is 5 per cent. Are the Government saying that lung cancer is more important than skin cancer?” he asked.
The Government is due to discuss updating child neglect laws to include emotional and psychological abuse.
Mark Williams MP is bringing forward a Private Members Bill on the issue.
But the Department of Health said sunburn would be a matter of advice, rather than statutory law.
Online forums for mums have been discussing the need to raise awareness of using sunscreen.
Mumsnet also discussed the problem that schools will not apply sunscreen because of the risk of allergic reaction, so parents have to send in written permission to ensure children are safe.
At the same time mothers have been discussing the problem of rickets. Chris Head, 6, was diagnosed with rickets earlier this year due to a lack of sunlight after his mother admitted using a lot of high factor sunscreen.
Professor Nick Clarke, a paediatric surgeon at Southampton University, has warned that it was a “growing problem” as children are outdoors less than ever before and sunshine is practically their only source of vitamin D.
The Mumsnet feeds discussed the need for parents to be given more information on both issues in order to protect children from dangerous amounts of sun, while allowing enough time outdoors to maintain vitamin D levels.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Best Interest of the Girl
August 7, 2013 permalink
Connecticut is building a secure facility for girls to prevent them from running away. Instead of bars, they could consider leaving families alone. Girls living with mom and dad rarely need bars to keep them home.
DCF Plans Secure Facility For Girls At Risk Of Running Away
The state Department of Children and Families will establish a locked treatment center for teenage girls in its care who are at risk of running away, DCF officials said Tuesday.
The facility could open next year. DCF has identified at least nine girls as potential residents, including one who was among five from the state recently recovered by the FBI during a nationwide sex-trafficking sweep that led to 150 arrests.
The agency is renovating a building at the former Riverview Hospital. DCF Commissioner Joette Katz said Tuesday that the facility would house 10 to 12 girls ages 13 to 18 who are likely to run away from state treatment centers and end up in a potentially dangerous environment.
"Some of these girls have been adjudicated delinquents and they need to be treated in a facility that can meet their needs," Katz said. "Some of the girls have long-standing traumatic issues and they run. They have no reason to trust anyone, so they run."
The girl who was rescued in the sexual trafficking sweep had been in DCF care in the southern part of the state. The department declined to identify the type of DCF setting she was in. Two others among the five had previously been in DCF care.
The plan will transform one building at the Albert J. Solnit Center on River Road into a secure treatment center with classrooms. On average, girls would stay about six months, and the center will be supervised by the director of the nearby Connecticut Juvenile Training School, a similar but much larger facility for boys.
Services will include counseling, substance abuse treatment, education, recreation and other types of therapy, DCF said.
Riverview Hospital was the only state-run children's psychiatric hospital in New England and one of only 10 in the United States. Riverview had long been criticized for treatment costs that amount to $585,000 a year per child, and is viewed by some advocates as a holdover from the so-called institutional era. It was reorganized as the Solnit Center with a greater emphasis on therapy a couple of years ago.
Depending on a renovation schedule and funding, the facility could open in spring 2014. Renovations and security improvements are expected to cost a few million dollars, said Katz.
Katz said a small number of girls need to receive psychiatric care in a secure facility until they are substantially participating in a state program. As they become more involved with a treatment plan, they become less likely to run away and end up in dangerous situations, she said.
"In my opinion we have a long-standing gap in services for what we call at-risk girls," Katz said. "Right now there are about 160 girls in the state who we have identified as having been victims of sex trafficking. And those are just the ones we know about."
"I wish I didn't need to fill these beds, but I could fill them tomorrow," Katz said.
Acting Child Advocate Mickey Kramer said Tuesday the facility seems to be addressing a deficiency in treatment for a small population of teenagers.
"This is an old discussion that has been going on for a long time," Kramer said. "What we have for years been struggling with in the state is an adequate continuum of services that starts much younger than having girls become locked up."
She said any concerns from her office have more to do with how the facility would affect the availability of state resources rather than with the state's specific plan.
"We still need to build up a lot better capacity in the community," Kramer said. "We have to figure out what are we not doing right for these girls."
In the past decade, DCF has placed girls in privately run locked facilities or placed them in programs outside the state.
"Historically a lot of these girls were sent out of the state, which was both more costly and not good for them in terms of reunions with their families," Katz said.
Services for a child in state custody typically cost about $350 a day, but out-of-state costs can reach $550 a day.
Katz said the state views the locked treatment center as one step in the many levels of services provided to teenage girls.
"This is part of a continuum of services," she said. "If you can get these girls stabilized to the point they can build some trust, the need for the locked facility diminishes. They can be transferred out to one of our private facilities that are not locked when we don't have to worry about them running away."
Source: Hartford Courant
Out of the Frying Pan Into the Pot
August 6, 2013 permalink
Child protectors took two-year-old Alexandria Hill when they discovered that her parents smoked marijuana while the toddler was sleeping. Hill's foster mom, Sherill Small, killed the girl by slamming her head.
In this commentary by Alex Jones, YouTube and local copy (mp4), Alex points out that the real killer is not the foster mom, but the social services system that took the girl from her parents. And Alex missed the most outrageous fact: after removing the girl from parents for smoking pot, social workers placed her with foster parents convicted of marijuana offenses. Two articles are enclosed.
Sherill Small, Foster Mother, Charged In Murder Of 2-Year-Old Texas Girl
A Texas foster mother has been accused of murdering a 2-year-old girl placed in her care.
Sherill Small called 911 the evening of July 29 and reported that the child, Alexandria Hill, had stopped breathing. The girl was taken to a Rockdale area hospital, where she remained in a coma until she was taken off life support Wednesday.
Rockdale Police Chief Thomas Harris told KWTX that Small tried to hide what caused the girl's injuries, but the truth soon came out.
"Initially the story was [that] the child was running backwards and fell," Harris told the station. "You don't get these types of injuries from a 2-year-old child running backwards and falling."
Doctors said she had brain hemorrhaging and retinal hemorrhaging in both eyes. Small later told police that she has shaken the girl and accidentally let her go. She was arrested on Aug. 1.
The victim's father, Joshua Hill, told KXAN that his daughter was placed in foster care "because her mother and I smoked pot at the time." An examination of court records by the station revealed that the girl's mother had a medical condition that did not allow her to be left alone with the child.
In a separate interview with KVUE, Hill said he and his wife only used marijuana while their daughter was asleep, and that she never came to harm while in their care.
“We never hurt our daughter. She was never sick, she was never in the hospital, and she never had any issues until she went into state care,” Hill told the station.
Hill said that his daughter moved in with Small after he and his wife complained that a previous home wasn't safe.
"She would come to visitation with bruises on her, and mold and mildew in her bag," Hill said.
According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Small was a licensed foster parent through the foster care agency Texas Mentor, and gained custody of the girl in January. As part of her licensing, Small was required to undergo training through Texas Mentor.
TDFPS spokeswoman told KXAN that Small's foster care record included "one allegation of a previous foster child in her care that had bruising and lead poisoning, but no deficiencies were found."
Source: Huffington Post
Despite criminal background, foster parent still qualified
AUSTIN -- Monday afternoon friends and family said goodbye to a two-year-old girl police say died by the hands of her foster mother.
Alex Hill's biological parents took her off life support last week after the girl’s foster mother, Sherill Small, admitted to fatally injuring her.
We’re learning more about Alex's foster father Clemon Small. He's not charged with her death, but he does have a criminal history that includes multiple marijuana drug charges and suspended driver licenses.
Despite his background, the Department of Family and Protective Services says minor drug charges 10 years or older do not disqualify potential foster parents.
Police say Mrs. Small said she wanted to foster more children to earn extra income. Texas Mentor, the adoption agency that placed Alex, said it pays its foster families up to $600 a month to take care of children.
Austin child welfare attorney Tracy Harting says foster parents are a mix of families who genuinely care and families who do use the system as an income.
"The state, at least historically, tried to weed those out by saying that foster parents had to have another source of income in the house, so they were not relying solely on fostering in order to make ends meet,” said Harting.
According to court records, a state investigator discovered Alex's biological mother, Mary Sweeny, suffered from seizures and a doctor determined, "she is not allowed to drive or be alone with Alexandria."
Her biological father, Joshua Hill, admitted one time to "smoking marijuana in the house when his daughter was upstairs sleeping."
The state also said he could not allow Alex to live with him at his parents because the "paternal grandfather is a registered sexual offender," for an offense that happened more than 20 years ago.
Child Protectors Persecute Pagans
August 4, 2013 permalink
A Pagan family in England has lost their children after social workers called their faith witchcraft.
Bedfordshire kids taken by social services over card game, claim parents
A PAGAN couple claim a game of dungeons and dragons led social services to take their kids away after the authority equated it with ‘witchcraft’.
The Bedfordshire pair, who cannot be named in order to protect the identity of their two daughters, say they have been persecuted for their beliefs and claim social services accused them of ‘devil worship’.
They are due to appear in court for the custody of the children in September after they were taken into foster care around 18 months ago.
The father of the two children said: “This is going back to the middle ages when Pagans were being scrutinised by Christians.
“There’s no evidence linking the game with witchcraft and I’m confused because I think it was part of the reason for taking the kids.
“I think if we said we were Christian or any other religion they probably would have treated us differently and we would have got more respect.
“How is Paganism different to any other religion? I think they are discriminating against us.”
He added: “I feel heartbroken, I’ve sunk and my family is in complete tatters.
“I’m not looking for a war, I’m just looking for our children back.”
The couple have had access to their kids once a week since social services took them away.
A Central Bedfordshire Council spokesman said: “Any decision to remove a child or children from their parents, is not one that we take lightly.
“We have to follow a strict set of procedures, put in place by the government, which consider a wide range of factors, before a final decision is taken by the court.
“A child or children would not be taken into the care of a local authority solely on the basis of their parents religious beliefs or hobbies.
“We cannot comment on individual cases, but residents can be assured that protecting children and having their best interests at heart continues to be our absolute priority.”
Source: Bedfordshire On Sunday
Pembroke Rally (Again)
August 3, 2013 permalink
Just two days after a rally for accountability in Pembroke, another group conducted a second rally for the same cause.
Support Bill 42 to give Ombudsman’s office power of scrutiny
Efforts to build support for Bill 42, which would bring agencies such as Children’s Aid Societies under the scrutiny of the Ontario Ombudsman, continued in Pembroke on Friday.
About a dozen or so members of the Kingston and Quinte Citizens for Accountability, along with members of the public, held a floating picket around the city, as they tried to get their message out for the need of oversight and accountability for CAS organizations.
After starting at the the corner of Pembroke Street West and Crandall Street by the West End Mall in the morning, the group relocated at 1 p.m. to Shamrock Park in the downtown core, then marched from there to the Renfrew County Family and Children’s Services offices on Mary Street.
Curtis Jade Kingston, one of the rally organizers, is a child and family justice advocate who works out of Belleville. He’s part of both the Citizens for Accountability and Canada Court Watch, which are both calling for greater oversight and accountability of Children’s Aid Societies.
“Most here are in support of Bill 42 (Ombudsman Amendment Act - Children’s Aid Societies - 2013), which would give the Ombudsman oversight over them,” he said. The provincial watchdog fields about 2,000 complaints about the conduct of CAS offices across the province annually, but is unable to do anything about it as it doesn’t have the mandate.
Kingston said few people realize Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario are not directly run by the province but are operated by a local board of volunteer directors independent from the province.
He said Ontario is the only province in Canada which doesn’t directly run its child protection services, something which he and others feel has to change. It is also the only province which doesn’t permit the public access to their own CAS records created by the front-line child protection authorities about them, and has allowed CAS’s child protection to not be required to register with a professional college, such as the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Services Workers.
He said the work that Children’s Aid Societies does is important, and the majority of foster parents and workers are top notch and do good work.
“We’re not against them,” he said. “We’re simply trying to have accountable for when things go wrong.”
Kingston said passing legislation to give the Ombudsman the authority to give them oversight won’t solve all of their problems, but it will help.
“This is not the end of the road by any means,” he said, “but it is a major step in the right direction.”
A message was left with Arijana Tomicic, executive director of Renfrew County FCS for comment, but as of press time no response was received.
If passed, the Ombudsman Amendment Act would give the provincial watchdog oversight into the functions of agencies such as Family and Children’s Services, municipalities, universities, schools, and hospitals, (often called the MUSH sector), as well as police services and long- term care homes.
Stephen Uhler is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist
Source: Pembroke Daily Observer
Source: Facebook, Curtis Kingston
Ken Reid posted a picture of the whole team near the St Columbkille Cathedral, 162 Pembroke St East.
Source: Facebook, Ken Reid
Back to Foster Care
August 3, 2013 permalink
Staples in London Ontario is supporting children's aid. Customers can make cash donations or purchase back-to-school kits. The article is unclear about the kits, but best guess is when a customer buys a kit it is sent to CAS for a foster child. We can say nothing about the fate of donated cash, but in the past CAS has sold donated items to foster children for cash. London area customers wishing to support intact families can buy their supplies at Walmart.
Staples launches back to school campaign for children and youth
Each year, there are thousands of children and youth whose parents are unable to provide the essential supplies they require for returning to school in September.
Staples, through a partnership with the Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex and the Thames Valley District School Board Foundation, announced that as of Sunday (July 14) customers can now purchase back to school kits or make cash donations of any amount to make a difference for children and youth in the community.
Kits will be available at all Staples locations in London. Customers and local residents are encouraged to support this campaign and make the return to school an enjoyable day for all students.
“Back to school is an exciting time for children, and we want to ensure they have the resources in hand for a successful school year,” said Elizabeth Almeida, co-ordinator of development for the Children’s Aid Society.
Rob Jamieson, general manager of the Staples Richmond Street location added, “By purchasing a back to school kit for a child or youth in need, Staples customers can enable them to feel included, and not at a disadvantage relative to their classmates.”
On Saturday, Aug. 24, the Staples store at 1737 Richmond St. N. will host a barbecue fundraiser, with the proceeds going to purchase back to school kits.
“Thank you to Staples and the London community for supporting this initiative in the past,” Almeida said, “and we look forward to another successful Back to School Campaign for our children and youth this year.”
Source: Metroland/London Community News
August 3, 2013 permalink
An Ontario mother dining out with two of her children was approached by a waitress who was their former foster mother and aspiring adopter. A later post discloses that the waitress is the wife of a policeman.
Ralxa Begooshka I took my two youngest out to eat at one of our favourite restaurants this evening. A few minutes after our main course was delivered, by a waitress who recognized us from a previous visit (but wasn't our waitress tonight, just helping out), a woman came up to our table and asked if she could sit down. I had no clue who she was, but wasn't sure if it was the waitress who had just delivered our food. She went on to say, "It's okay. I work here." So I said okay. I figured maybe she was going to do a customer satisfaction survey or something. She started talking to my 6 year old and I, asking polite, but somewhat personal questions about his school/daycare and made a comment asking if it was the same one as before and what I do for a living and how I am and after a few minutes I was like she's acting like she really knows who we are and I have no clue who she is. So I asked, "Are you the one who served us our food?" She said, "No. I got off about 15 minutes ago." So I'm like, "I'm sorry, but do we know you?" She said, "I'm (her name)." I still didn't really recognize her, but she went on to point to my boys and say, "They used to live with me." Suddenly, I'm like WTF!?! On the inside of course. I calmly said, "I thought you were a teacher?" She said, "Oh I am. I just do this as well." I've been fighting to sever the relationship between my kids who are still in care and this woman and she has the nerve to come up to us? This woman started calling my baby a different name, she walked around telling people she was in the process of adopting my children as soon as they were taken from me!!! So now I am going to have to avoid the restaurant. There are others in the city where we live, but this is the one near us, when they live total opposite end of town, another reason why I had no idea who she was. I also only met the woman a couple of times and I think she has dyed her hair since then as well. Nothing I can really do about it. Just needed to vent and figured this was a good place to do it...
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
August 2, 2013 permalink
A dozen opponents of British Columbia MCFD rallied in Kamloops.
Angry parents protest against ministry
About a dozen individuals with angry claims against the Ministry of Children and Family Development protested on a busy street corner in North Kamloops on Monday.
"They're control freaks. They just hate to lose," said Carey Oryniak, whose grandchildren were taken away.
He and the rest of the protesters from Kamloops and Calgary all claim to have been lied about, lied to, dismissed and ignored over issues pertaining to their children's care.
"I'm the first one to say, we've made mistakes," said Kamloops resident Paula Ciardullo, who founded MCFD Unjustified out of frustration over her grandson's case. "Why can't they?"
Ciardullo said she's taken to recording all interactions with case workers and ministry employees after hearing so many denials and back tracking of previous statements.
"There's no accountability," she said.
The most prominent member of the group was Calgary's Velvet Martin of Protecting Canadian Children. Martin was the force behind Samantha's Law, which was named after her daughter, Samantha Martin, who died of a heart attack while in foster care in December 2006 at the age of 13.
As directed by representatives of the ministry, Samantha was in care strictly as a means to access funding and services for a disability created by her rare chromosome disorder.
The law named after her was enacted in 2008 and amends the Alberta Family Support for Children with Disabilities Act to challenge archaic laws inhibiting the rights of people with disabilities and their families.
But Alberta is the only province so far to do so.
During her campaign, Martin said she came across so many parents with so many stories of abuse of power at the ministry level that she decided not to stop fighting.
She's been featured in news media reports from Toronto to Vancouver and has no intention of stopping until the law becomes federal.
Protester Blake Newton's two children were also taken away and he says he's appealing the case to the Supreme Court.
"It's (an attempt to) control everything," said Newton in summing up his take on the ministry.
His friend Zygmunt Janiewicz joined the protest in support. He was incensed by what he's learned about the case - part of which involved him as a court appointed interpreter to Newton's Polish girlfriend.
And he was intent on spreading the word.
"I fought communism (in Poland) I can fight fascism here," said Janiewicz.
Source: Kamloops Daily News
Baby Snatching is Dangerous
August 2, 2013 permalink
Most parents will do whatever is necessary to protect their children, including the use of force. Otherwise peaceable parents can become violent when their children are in danger. For police that makes snatching children more dangerous than arresting common criminals. An enclosed article discusses the dangers to police and social workers in Alaska. As usual in this kind of story, the suggested remedy is more security, not less child snatching. Parents outraged at the confiscation of their children are now treated as terrorists.
After threats at Anchorage headquarters, state Office of Children's Services revamps security
Being a social worker is often a thankless job, and sometimes it can be a dangerous one, too. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services tasks the Office of Children’s Services with handling child abuse allegations and dealing with a deluge of children who fall through Alaska’s cracks. Most often, people do not deal with the agency by choice. Some have had children taken from their home by the agency. Most are angry about the situation. Some are angry enough to get violent.
Currently, the Anchorage office, the agency's largest, is the only one with its own private security guards, but the Office of Children’s Services is looking at ways to increase security at its five regional offices throughout Alaska.
The need for security was on full display at the agency’s Anchorage regional office on July 23. That’s when Anchorage Police said a husband and wife forced the OCS office to evacuate and close early -- hurling insults, hate, and even spittle toward workers.
Jason Kesanen, 42, is now facing an arrest warrant charging him with making terroristic threats. According to Anchorage police, Kesanen told an OCS employee he was going to “kill you, bitch, and everyone else who works here.” Kesanen was gone when officers arrived, but his wife, 20-year-old Amber Lynn Gilbert, was in the parking lot, and she was arrested -- also charged with making terroristic threats. Neither Gilbert nor Kesanen followed through on their threats that day.
“Our new security officers were critical in keeping everyone safe during the incident, and were able to assist APD in arresting (Gilbert),” said OCS spokesperson Susan Morgan.
The Alaska Legislature appropriated $490,000 to pay for security at the Anchorage regional office after two menacing incidents in a single day last year. The first left an OCS worker rattled after a gun was pointed at her face. The second left an Anchorage woman dead, her husband in jail, and the couple’s children in the care of the state.
It also made certain that Dec. 12, 2012, would not soon be forgotten by the agency’s Anchorage office.
During the lunch hour, a female OCS worker was stopped at an intersection in midtown Anchorage when she looked up to see her car surrounded by two or three armed men, one of whom pointed a gun in her face, according to Anchorage police. The unidentified worker was rattled, but was able to drive away from the incident after the gunmen -- apparently uncertain whether she was the person they were after -- retreated back to their blue sedan and sped off. The car the unidentified OCS worker was driving was not her own, and the agency believed the gunmen may have mistaken it for another worker’s car.
Later that evening, Anchorage police said, a soldier stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson threatened to shoot, “everyone (at the Anchorage office) with an AK-47” if they did not return his daughter.
Anchorage police said David Matthew Lopez’s daughter was taken into custody by OCS earlier that day after evidence of abuse was found. Just minutes after OCS reported his threat, police got a 911 call from Lopez claiming he had shot his wife because she had their daughter taken away.
When officers responded to the couple’s home, they found Sara Lopez near death, suffering from a gunshot wound to her head. She died a short time later, and Lopez was charged with her murder. When police searched the home on Oklahoma Street, they found many weapons -- including an AK-47.
The next day, OCS began a statewide review of security at its offices, and asked the Alaska Legislature for money to pay for security in Anchorage. “The work our staff does is often difficult, but that doesn’t mean they should have to face threats, intimidation, and assault,” Morgan said.
The result of that December day, other than the ongoing security review, has been the addition of two former police officers to guard the front door of the Anchorage regional office, which, like most throughout the state, already has a locked door and a receptionist sitting behind safety glass. Morgan said it's difficult to say exactly how many threats are leveled at Anchorage office staff. Anchorage police said its officers respond to two or three assault or serious threat calls there each year.
“That’s only the ones where a report was generated, and of course, many less serious threats are resolved or go unreported,” said police spokeswoman Dani Myren.
As for the rest of the state, threats like the ones that have closed the Anchorage office or sent workers home early are rare, according to OCS. “But the Anchorage incidents have caused us to look at how we handle security everywhere,” Morgan said.
Source: Alaska Dispatch
In Iowa, mother Erica Dawn Nichols threatened her social worker.
Woman Threatens to Kill Social Worker in Ames
A Des Moines woman was arrested on harassment charges for threats she made in 2012.
A Des Moines woman was arrested on first-degree harassment charges Monday, for threatening to kill a social worker during the summer of 2012.
Erica Dawn Nichols, 45, threatened a social worker on multiple occasions in June and July of 2012, according to complaints.
She left two threatening voice mails for the social worker in June 2012, including one in which she said, “If one freckle on my son's knee were ever arranged, I will kill you because you're evil,” complaints said.
She also called the same social worker in July 2012 and said “I'm coming after you. I'm going to kill you,” complaints said.
A warrant for the woman's arrest was filed in 2012 and she was arrested on the charges July 29. First-degree harassment is an aggravated misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison.
Source: Ames Patch
Limited Disclosure in Britain
August 2, 2013 permalink
The British court system has promulgated new rules for publication of family court cases. The process will still be closed and parents will still be enjoined from speaking, unless specifically authorized by the court. Only the judge's opinion, without names of the parties, will be published. Christopher Booker expresses the view that the changes will do little to expose the abuses. In a second article, Sue Reid takes a more positive view of the changes.
In the view of fixcas, as long as the combination of the social services system and the courts can get its hands on large amounts of money (appropriated funds, father's child support payments, pensioner's assets) they will continue to do so and will continue to keep the public in the dark about their acts.
New family court guidelines won’t improve a rotten system for children
Lord Justice Munby's proposals won't change the fact that far too many children are taken into care for no good reason
Excitable coverage was given last week to new draft guidelines issued by Sir James Munby, the judge in charge of our family courts, which it was claimed would be a groundbreaking move towards lifting the blanket of secrecy that has allowed our “child protection” system to become such a national scandal. The welcome given to Lord Justice Munby’s draft guidelines to answer “the charge that we have a system of secret and unaccountable justice” – entitled “Transparency in the Family Courts (and Court of Protection)” – came from two opposing directions. On one side, two newspapers proclaimed it as a victory for their own campaigns to open up our family courts to greater public scrutiny. On the other was one of the chief cheerleaders for the system, Sir Martin Narey, now Michael Gove’s chief adviser on childcare, who wrote an article for The Times, “Family courts don’t take enough children into care”. The new “transparency”, he argued, would enable the public to see how desperately needed is the vital work our courts and social workers are doing.
All Lord Justice Munby is proposing, however, is that all judgments in these cases should be published, unless a judge finds “compelling reasons” otherwise. Just how confusing his proposals are can be seen from comparing section 21, where he says that “public authorities and expert witnesses should be named” in all published judgments, with section 24, which says “no person other than advocates or solicitors instructing them may be identified by name or location”. So, no naming of those “expert witnesses” or local authorities.
Far more important than this seemingly glaring contradiction, however, is that all Lord Justice Munby is saying is that the outside world should be allowed to see more judgments – still entirely at the discretion of the judge. To anyone familiar with the peculiar workings of these courts, this will leave 95 per cent of what is so shocking about what goes on in them as secret as ever. Still completely hidden will be the way all the normal rules of British justice can be suspended: as in allowing judges to accept damning hearsay evidence, however absurd, without it being put to any proper test; as in how parents whose children have been taken from them are too often not allowed to challenge untruths or the tendentious opinions of “hired gun” psychologists, who may not even be qualified; as in how too many parents find themselves facing the cruellest ordeal of their lives being treated by judges and all present like criminals, without being given any proper opportunity to plead their case.
Almost nothing of the ruthlessly enforced blanket of secrecy that has allowed our family courts to become so corrupted will be affected in any way by Lord Justice Munby’s proposals. Even the judgments he wants to see published cannot be properly understood by an outsider unaware of all that has gone on in the courtroom, and how what may well be a shockingly one-sided and selective judgment was arrived at. In words I have quoted before from a disillusioned family court barrister, who spent 10 years defending in vain the right of hundreds of families to stay together, the system is so rigged against the families that it is like “seeing lambs led to the slaughter”.
One of the more unfortunate consequences of the secrecy that hides the workings of this system from public view is that it makes it so easy for its defenders, such as Sir Martin Narey, formerly head of Barnardo’s, one of the largest beneficiaries of our lucrative fostering and adoption industry, to claim, as he did again last week, that only in “a very small minority” of cases are “children wrongly taken away by the authorities”. On the contrary, all the evidence suggests to those who follow these matters closely, such as John Hemming MP, of Justice for Families, or Ian Josephs, who advises thousands of families through his Forced Adoption website, is that, since the number of children being yearly taken into state care in England and Wales has soared to nearly 30,000, those being removed from their families for no good reason now run into many thousands.
Sir Martin last week told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that it was “a myth” that “social workers and local authorities intervene unnecessarily to take children into care”. He went on to say dismissively that this “myth” had arisen only through “misunderstandings” over “attachment theory” (ie, that there is some kind of special bond between children and their parents); over “the human rights of parents” (ie, Articles 6, 8 and 10 of the Convention on Human Rights that guarantee “a fair trial”, “respect for family life” and “freedom of speech”); and “the myth that care can make things worse”.
Not the least terrifying feature of the system Sir Martin so blindly defends is the mountain of evidence to show that children taken into care can too often be subjected to physical and emotional abuse far worse than anything alleged against the parents from whom they have been removed. Of course, where fostering and adoption are genuinely necessary and work, they are admirable and can save children from a life of misery and neglect. But too often the very reverse is the case. On the very day Sir Martin was being deferentially interviewed by the Today programme, I received two more handwritten letters, smuggled out to her family from her foster home, by a bright 13-year-old girl who has now, for quite ridiculous reasons, been in state care for more than two years.
In one she wrote: “I miss you sooo much and I love you even more, I’m so sad and I don’t want to live any more, I can’t take it any more, I have so many scars, I’m so scared, Daddy, please help me! I’m so sorry I’m so scared. I should be brave!” In the second letter she writes: “I’m so scared, my heart is shattered to pieces. I love you infinity itself, and miss you infinity itself.” This is an articulate, utterly distraught girl, who was never harmed by her family, who has been repeatedly ill-treated in foster care and who has been repeatedly refused her right under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to put her own case to a court.
Her story is just a tiny part of the reality of what goes on behind that wall of secrecy that our child-protection system has erected – way beyond anything it is authorised to do by Parliament – not to protect the children, but simply to protect itself. Lord Justice Munby’s guidelines will do not a jot or tittle to change it.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
For years I fought against secret courts breaking up families. At last there's hope
For a long time now, thousands of British families of every class and background have been secretly torn apart by this country’s child protection system in one of the biggest scandals of our age.
Children have been dragged off by the State into the care system and, despite the pleas of their parents, often given to adoptive families.
This has been happening increasingly frequently in a process overseen by a network of Family Courts, which operate in secrecy in every town and city in the land, violating the principle of openness which has underpinned British justice for centuries.
As a result of the decisions of these courts, as many as 12,000 children and babies are forcibly taken into care in England each year, the equivalent of 230 or so every single week.
Some are newborns seized by social workers (invariably, flanked by police) in the hospital ward while the mother is breast-feeding or having her first cuddle with her baby.
Many children are removed on the basis of flimsy accusations by social workers: that the parent might shout at the child when he or she becomes a teenager (potential emotional abuse); that the mother has taken a sickly child to the doctor too often (fabricated illness syndrome); or — extraordinarily — simply because the mother has been in the care system herself or suffered depression as a teenager.
In one appalling case in a quiet corner of England, a middle-class mother is currently being threatened with having her children forcibly adopted after she was raped by her husband, who was imprisoned for his crime a few weeks ago.
Social workers say that, despite the fact that her husband has been sentenced to six years and the couple are about to divorce, the wife allowed herself to be raped and therefore cannot protect their children in the family’s home.
It is bad enough that such cruel decisions are being made at all. The fact they are happening in courts where rulings are made in secret is chilling.
Of course, the family courts have an unenviable job — often asked to rule on the most challenging of cases. And some of the parents appearing before them are certainly cruel to their children and ill-equipped to raise a family.
Equally, too many mistakes have been made in a system which can be stacked against the innocent. And the reality is that without transparency, no one will know the truth.
A parent who publicly talks about the hearings (even to a neighbour over the garden fence) or gives documents from the case to their MP, risks prison for contempt — and many have been incarcerated for such ‘crimes’.
And it is not just British parents who have suffered at the hands of secret family courts.
Two weeks ago, representatives of 34 countries, including four ambassadors, gathered at the House of Commons to voice their grave concern to a sympathetic MP, John Hemming, over the astonishing rate that children of foreign families living in the UK are being taken into foster care or sent for adoption.
And last Friday, foreign parents marched to Downing Street to protest about the 6,500 children born here to overseas families who have been taken into care.
Now, after a decade-long campaign against the secrecy of the family courts by this newspaper, there has been a landmark decision by Lord Justice Munby, the most senior family judge in England and Wales.
The veil is to be lifted and light shone onto the 95,000 hearings held each year which decide the lives of so many children.
For the first time, judges’ written reports (or judgments) on custody battles, care orders and the question of whether a child should be re-homed will be published after each hearing — though not including the families’ names — unless there are ‘compelling reasons’ not to do so.
Parents found innocent (or even those who believe their children have been wrongly removed) will be able to apply to speak publicly and tell their story when the hearing is over.
Local councils running the child protection teams forcibly adopting or putting children in care will have to be named in the published judgments.
Also, the medical ‘experts’ hired at a cost of many thousands of pounds by the councils to produce psychological or health reports on the families, will lose their anonymity.
Many of these experts have long ago given up their ‘day jobs’ in the NHS or private practice to live off their lucrative court work. Sometimes, they produce a report on a family without even meeting them.
And what of the social workers? They are accused by campaigners of distorting evidence against parents to make a stronger case to take children for adoption, thereby winning brownie points with their council bosses. With more openness in the courts, it will be harder for a rogue social worker to push his or her own agenda based on fiction or fabrication.
The new guidance will also extend to cases which affect the welfare of vulnerable adults in the equally shadowy Court of Protection.
Here, life-or-death decisions such as whether to turn off a life-support machine or whether a woman should be forced to take contraception, are also made by a judge in closed hearings. And those who speak publicly about the case are also threatened with imprisonment.
The UK is the only country in Europe to allow adoption against the will of parents — except ‘possibly Portugal’, according to Baroness Hale, Britain’s most senior female judge, who spoke on the issue in the House of Lords.
In extreme cases of abuse on the Continent, children are given to long-term foster carers or placed in a specialist children’s unit, but the whole ethos is to support troubled families and try to keep them together.
In contrast, parents in Britain — most of whom are never convicted of a crime — are punished with what amounts to a life sentence by losing their children.
Yet despite the huge number of children seized here, a fifth never go to an adoptive family — there are simply not enough to go round. They spend their childhoods inside the care system, living either in children’s homes or with frequently changing foster parents.
While this new guidance is an important step in helping to redress some of these wrongs, there is one crucial area it does not address. In the criminal courts, the accused is presumed innocent until found guilty by a jury. In the family courts, this cornerstone of justice does not exist. Guilt is decided on the balance of probabilities.
Campaigners want to see this changed. As one family court lawyer told me recently: ‘Parents accused of harming their children would rather face a criminal trial with a jury, and have their guilt or otherwise decided on proper evidence given under oath, than take their chances in the family court, where it is a complete lottery as to whether you lose your child or not.’
Jean Robinson, a director of the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services, who has witnessed scores of babies being taken from their mothers by social workers at birth, says the system is stacked against the innocent.
‘This same group of child protection “professionals” go round the courts,’ she explained. ‘The council social workers know the so-called medical experts and are paying them to give evidence to bolster their case. The judges know them all. It is far too cosy and secretive.’
Lord Justice Munby has rightly declared his determination to alter the public’s view that these family hearings are ‘a system of unaccountable justice’.
His changes — currently in draft but expected to be implemented imminently — are long overdue.
Too many innocent parents are still being dragged through these closed trials with no one to hear their voices.
But the truth is that nothing will turn back the clock for the generations of children who will never know, or have long ago forgotten, what a happy family life means.
Source: Daily Mail
August 1, 2013 permalink
A foster girl in Abbotsford British Columbia was so unhappy that she set fire to her group home.
Youth in custody after Abbotsford group home damaged in suspicious fire
Abbotsford Police took a youth into custody after a suspicious fire started at a group home on Sunday afternoon.
Const. Ian MacDonald said that police were called out to a residence on Sentinel Drive near Gladys Avenue around 3 p.m.
"There was nothing extraordinary about the call that brought us there in the first instance," said MacDonald.
"But when a female youth exited her room along with billowing smoke, that was pretty extraordinary."
Officers called the fire department and evacuated the house and took the young woman, who is under 18, and suspected of starting the fire into custody, said MacDonald.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development is now involved as are Fraser Health mental health services, he added.
The house is not habitable and Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service inspectors and Abbotsford police were on scene examining the house Monday morning.
Most of the damage was to the home was confined to the main floor, said AFRS.
Source: Abbotsford Times
Social Worker Speaks
August 1, 2013 permalink
A British social worker suggests her profession should improve its public image by use of social media to present an honest picture.
Of course, if the public had an honest picture of social work, they would demand thorough reform or abolition. The profession can flourish only because of the misperceptions fostered by the media. Instead of using social media to manipulate their image, social workers should alter the operation of their profession to be less damaging to families and children.
Social workers should use social media to challenge public perceptions
Presenting an honest picture of what we do is essential for countering media negativity and restoring public confidence
Whenever social media is discussed in the context of social work, it mainly conjures up images of confidentiality breaches and disciplinary hearings. In May, a social worker made the news after being dismissed for describing a case on Facebook, in which three children were put in to care, as a "career high". It was a thoughtless mistake and it cost her her career. [ That was the case of Siobhan Condon. ]
As a student social worker, I was very aware of the risks associated with talking publicly about my job on the internet. I was also aware of other students who had been removed from the course due to comments they had made online. Facebook, blogging and Twitter were to be feared. Of course, dismissal is sometimes necessary when the comments are discriminatory or a breach of service user confidentiality. However, it is important to recognise the potential of social media to do good and to use it to our advantage.
The largely negative portrayal of social workers in mainstream media has a palpable effect on the confidence of practitioners. When the public see a social worker on TV show EastEnders unfairly and without query removing a child from Lola, a capable mother, it's no surprise that their understanding of our role is warped. The damaging consequences should not be underestimated. [ Link to EastEnders. ]
A child protection colleague of mine had to attend a service user's house for an initial assessment. When she arrived she found a young mother in floods of hysterical tears, panicking about the prospect of her child being taken from her "like Lola's was". My colleague was incensed that an inaccurate portrayal had invoked so much fear in someone she was there to support.
Challenging these negative portrayals and presenting an honest picture of what we do is essential for restoring confidence in our profession. The media is central in shaping public perception and, subsequently, in shaping local and national policy. While it may not be possible for every social worker to represent their profession on prime-time television, it is possible for every social worker to have an online blog and a Twitter account.
Online blogging has the potential to be to our generation what pamphleteering was to the Reformation. Pamphleteering played a central role in allowing Martin Luther to challenge the hegemony of the Roman Catholic Church, eventually leading to the Protestant Reformation. A blog is a forum where an individual can discuss any topic they like – and in a nation where 33m people use the internet daily, it is possible to reach a huge audience within seconds.
I began blogging for two reasons: firstly, as a form of stress relief, to offload my thoughts and feelings about different elements of my practice and connect with other social workers to discuss these problems. My blogging acted as a form of international supervision. Secondly, I wanted my friends and family to understand the reality of what I do. If every social worker were to have a blog, we could begin to lead the dialogue surrounding our profession. There are already a number of successful bloggers, such as the Masked AMHP, who are actively clarifying the complexity of social work.
Furthermore, if we engage with each other on forums such as Twitter, we can create a large information-sharing and supervision network. In his book Cognitive Surplus, Clay Shirky argues that "by turning us from passive consumers into active producers and sharers of content, the internet is creating a better, more democratic world".
How refreshing it would be to attend an initial assessment and have a service user respond: "I was looking forward to your visit. I saw a post on Facebook about all the ways you can help me." Is this too idealistic of me? I don't think so. But it requires that we as social workers do not continue to let others define our job role. We must make our voices heard.
Source: Guardian (UK)
Hasketts Meet NDP Leadership
August 1, 2013 permalink
On July 31 Neil and Tabatha Haskett had lunch with NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Olivia Chow.
Source: Facebook, Neil Haskett
August 1, 2013 permalink
A rally for accountability took place in Pembroke yesterday.
LOCAL ADVOCATES FOR OVERSIGHT INTO CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETIES AND MUSH SECTOR HOLD RALLY IN PEMBROKE
A rally was held earlier today (Wed. July 31) in support of the Ontario Ombudsman having oversight into the actions of municipalities, universities, school boards, hospitals and Children's Aid Societies across the province. It was organized by Candace Villneff who has held rallies like this one over that last few years. This is just one of many rallies being held across the province pushing for support of Bill 93. Villneff says her and other advocates like her want the ombudsman to be able to take a look into issues like the deaths of foster children and how people are being treated in long-term care homes.
She adds that a lot of what the MUSH sector covers affects every single one of us at some point in our lives. As it stands right now the Ombudsman of Ontario's authority with respect to the MUSH sector is the most limited in Canada. Another rally by another group is being held on Friday (Aug. 2) at various locations throughout Pembroke.
Source: Pembroke Today
The story should have referred to bill 42 instead of 93.
Another report in the press.
Support building for private member's bill to give Ontario Ombudsman purview over Children's Aid Societies 0
Efforts to build support for a private member’s bill to bring bodies such as Children’s Aid Societies under the scrutiny of the Ontario Ombudsman have reached Pembroke.
If passed, the Ombudsman Amendment Act would give the provincial watchdog oversight into the functions of agencies such as Family and Children’s Services, municipalities, universities, schools, and hospitals, (often called the MUSH sector), as well as police services and long- term care homes.
On Wednesday, nearly a dozen people assembled outside the FCS offices on 77 Mary Street to bring attention to this effort to bring oversight and accountability into the conduct of such agencies.
Candice Villeneuve, who organized the picket, said she wanted to bring more of a focus on the importance of how children will benefit from the Ombudsman oversight bill in a respectful and quiet way.
“This is about informing the people of Pembroke about it,” she said, and explaining why it is so important to get some oversight over these agencies.
“This affects all of us personally.”
Villeneuve said there are a lot of places within the MUSH sector which hit home for her, including the school board and FCS, as well as long-term care homes.
“These all touch me personally,” she said, so it is important to her this bill passes.
“If that means holding signs all day, I will.”
Villeneuve said she knows FSC workers are overworked and stretched thin with their caseloads, but feels the system should be rebuilt, adding more people, more training, more services and more programs for parents, especially those who are just starting out and may be running into problems.
A larger rally, organized by Canada Court Watch, is being held in front of the Pembroke Courthouse on Friday around noon, and is also in support of the private member’s bill. The group has been at the forefront of public protests and a campaign to demand greater accountability into the conduct and operation of Children’s Aid Societies and their employees.
Source: Pembroke Daily Observer
Unharmed Family Charged
July 31, 2013 permalink
A mother left two children and two dogs in the car while she ran into a store in Port Perry Ontario. She returned with another child and drove away with three unharmed children and two unharmed dogs. She was the mother of one of the children, the report does not give her relationship to the other two. A bystander followed her and alerted police. The mother has been charged with a crime. Ambiguous wording in the news article means that children's aid may have been notified, placing her family in permanent jeopardy.
Another Durham parent charged with leaving child in car
DURHAM -- Another parent has been charged with leaving a child unattended in a hot car.
Durham police were called at about 5:35 p.m. Wednesday by a witness who said she’d seen a child and two dogs left inside a car in the parking lot of a Port Perry fast food restaurant. The windows were down and the engine was off but the car was in direct sunlight and temperatures were extremely high, police said.
A woman returned to the vehicle with another child and drove off before police arrived but the witness followed and updated cops on her whereabouts. When officers did stop the car on Scugog Street they determined the children, aged six and eight, were in good health, as were the dogs.
The woman, a parent of one of the children, cooperated with cops and admitted she’d left the children unattended.
An Oshawa woman, 43, was issued two summonses under the Child and Family Services Act for leaving a child under 16 unattended.
The incident occurred the day after a woman in Pickering was charged for leaving her two kids, aged nine and three months, in a running car with the air conditioning on in a plaza parking lot.
That woman also was charged under the Child and Family Services Act.
Source: Metroland/Durham Region
July 31, 2013 permalink
Sometimes adoption is just a way for a couple to buy a sex-toy at the store. That is about what happened when same-sex partners Mark J Newton and Peter Troung adopted a newborn boy.
Man gets 40 years for trafficking adopted son to pedophiles
An Australian man was sentenced to 40 years in prison for trafficking his son to pedophiles around the world.
Police said it appeared the boy, now eight, was adopted for the sole purpose of sexually exploiting him, according to media reports.
Mark J. Newton, 42, pleaded guilty Friday in Indiana court. Prosecutors accepted a plea because evidence was too graphic to show a jury.
Newton, a U.S. and Australian citizen, and his long-time partner, Australian Peter Troung, 36, were arrested in 2011 after New Zealand police discovered the boy was used in child pornography, the reports said.
Police raided the couple's homes in Cairns, Australia, and in California, and found evidence of the boy's lifetime of abuse.
Troung has been convicted but not sentenced.
The couple took the child to countries including the U.S., Australia, France and Germany where he was abused by numerous men, media reported.
The judge said the boy's abuse began as early as two weeks old after the couple "bought" him for US$8,000 from a Russian woman.
Source: Toronto Sun
Support for Ombudsman
July 31, 2013 permalink
Sarah Campbell, the MPP for Kenora—Rainy River (NDP) has added her voice to the support for ombudsman oversight of CAS. She says: "Since being elected, I have received more emails, letters, petitions and phone calls regarding Ombudsman oversight for Children’s Aid Societies than any other issue."
Extending Ombudsman Oversight Makes Sense
KENORA – Politics - This past week, our province’s Ombudsman released his annual report. Established in 1975, the Ombudsman is an independent officer of the legislature whose job is to investigate complaints against government services.
Dealing with more than 18,000 complaints a year, our current Ombudsman, Andre Marin, is one of the most respected civil servants in this province and it is for that reason that when he speaks out about an issue, politicians on all sides generally take note.
Extended Powers to Ombudsman
His annual reports are not only insightful, but offer a very important look into how the government is accomplishing, or falling short of, their goals,in addition to pointing out problems with government services and programs before they become crises.
While widely respected by all sides, one failing of the Ombudsman’s office is that there are certain programs and services that he does not currently have the ability to review. Popularly known as the “MUSH” sector, the Ombudsman’s office does not currently have the power to review decisions of municipalities (although his office has recently been granted power to look into closed-door meetings), universities, school boards, hospital and long-term care homes, children’s aid societies and police. While most of these organizations have their own boards, some elected, some appointed, it does not mean they are immune to mistakes in judgement, and for that reason, Mr. Marin has been pushing for his oversight to be extended to cover these organizations.
As Mr. Marin noted in his report, the failure to provide him with the power to review these cases has forced him to turn away 2,541 complaints in the last year alone – more than 10 per cent of the individuals who have approached his office looking for help. While that alone is a significant number, it’s important to note that that’s just the individuals who were turned away, which could be far fewer than those actually experiencing problems.
Locally, I know that there is strong support for such an initiative. Since being elected, I have received more emails, letters, petitions and phone calls regarding Ombudsman oversight for Children’s Aid Societies than any other issue. At the same time, I have helped many across our region who have been frustrated by decisions made by municipalities, school and hospital boards. While these organizations have their own elected officials, their decisions often receive less scrutiny than decisions made at the provincial and federal level. Many of the problems people experience with these organizations are highly localized, and often often affect a limited number of people, albeit with a significant impact.
At the same time, Ombudsman oversight of these organizations has the potential to shed the light on provincial funding shortfalls, or legislation that is imposed on these boards that does not fit northern realities.
It is for these reasons that I strongly support Mr. Marin’s push, and was pleased to support Private Members’ Bills and other initiatives that sought this much needed coverage.
About the author
Sarah Campbell is a Canadian politician, who was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in the 2011 election. She represents the electoral district of Kenora—Rainy River as a member of the Ontario New Democratic Party caucus
Source: Net News Ledger
July 31, 2013 permalink
Two of Ontario's children's aid societies, London and Huron-Perth, are pleading poverty. Meanwhile, the Children's Aid Foundation is acting as benefactor in the dedication of a new playground in Toronto's Treverton Park.
London's Children's Aid Society losing cash, staff as its workload grows
London’s child welfare agency may be the only one in Ontario with a rising workload, but its staffing is being slashed and budget cut, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union said Friday.
The London and Middlesex Children’s Aid Society, facing a $4.6-million budget shortfall this year, will lay off 13 full-time staff, 27 part-timers (equal to 3.5 full-time staff) and 10 supervisors, said Karen Cudmore, president of OPSEU Local 116, which represents about 400 workers at the agency.
“It’s very serious. We’re not going to be able to deliver service at the level we should,” Cudmore said Friday.
“This will result in more kids going into care.”
The cuts will filter down to reduce the number of child and youth workers who work with families to keep kids at home and out of foster care.
“We always try to keep the child in the home.” Cudmore said. “This is brutal.”
Layoff notices will start to be issued in August and people will be off the job by mid September, she said.
The London CAS is helping more than 2,200 kids in their homes. Five years ago, the total was 1,581 — a increase of more than 600 and a statistic unique to the city.
“We’re not experiencing the reduction in numbers other cities are,” Cudmore said.
Jane Fitzgerald, executive director of the CAS, said the agency has to make difficult choices to adjust to a shrinking budget.
The agency’s focus is preserving the jobs of child protection workers who work with children in care, she said.
“We have had to take a hard look at efficiencies while still providing levels of service.
“In doing this we believe we can continue to provide services.”
The CAS has a $70.8-million budget this year, but that has to be reduced to $55 million by 2017-18. New provincial guidelines state the CAS has to have a balanced budget, Fitzgerald said.
The CAS has 840 children in care, largely foster care.
“We have been hard hit by the recession,” Fitzgerald said. “This is a tremendous challenge for our agency. We aren’t seeing the need in the community lessen.”
The CAS will implement a new model in the fall of how it will operate with less money, Fitzgerald said.
A CAS release Friday said the cuts will mean 15.5 full-time positions and up to 11 additional child and youth worker positions will be cut.
There will be “further analysis and possibly more restructuring to meet our required budget obligations, including an overall 10% budget reduction, over the next five years,” it stated.
Other programs that teach life skills to teens in need, from banking to grocery shopping, will also be cut, Cudmore said.
“Some of these youth may have mental health issues. They need some hand holding to make it on their own. We know these kids, we are like their parents and it’s difficult for them.”
Last year, OPSEU also raised an alarm over the fact about 10% of youth in care here, about 85 kids, were being sent to other communities, as far away as Niagara Falls, to get specialized care not offered here.
Also, CAS last year closed the last of its six group homes, moving kids to other community services, such as Western Area Youth Services, or in the community on their own.
Sunshine list grows for CAS execs
Amid its program and staff cuts, the list of local CAS executives paid more than $100,000 a year grows.
Executive director Jane Fitzgerald made $212,717 in 2012, a 14% hike from 2011.
Meanwhile, wages for unionized workers have been frozen for two years.
A total of 22 CAS executives made more than $100,000 last year, according to an annual provincial list of public officials paid $100,000 or more.
In 2011, that total was 19 — meaning three executives saw salaries rise over the same year there was a wage freeze for staff. “For our members, it’s a huge issue. We have taken zeroes,” said Karen Cudmore of the union for CAS workers.
Fitzgerald said she took a two-year salary freeze in preceding years and the 14% bump was only partly salary increase, the rest a vacation payout. Managers also had their salaries frozen, and any salary increases were caused by vacation payout, she said.
CAS of London and Middlesex by numbers
- 840 children in care, such as foster homes
- about 400 staff
- 2,200 families served annually
- 7,600 calls for help annually
- Target: $55 million, 2018
- 2012-13: $70.8 million
- 2006-07: $58.4 million
Number of kids CAS helps in its homes
- 2008-09: 1,581
- 2009-10: 1,583
- 2010-11: 1,634
- 2011-12: 1,786
- 2012-13: 1,864
- 2013-14: 2,200
Source: London Free Press
FUNDING CUT AT CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY
Funding has been cut to many Children's Aid Societies and as a result, the Huron Perth Society is forced to cut some of their services. Employee Lynn Gauthier Baxter explains they've taken a 2.6% decrease over the next five years, which will affect their employees and reflect on some of their programs.
She says residents should be connecting with their local MPP's and asking them to bring it up to the provincial government about restoring the Child Protection funding which has been lost.
Source: Exeter Today
City of Toronto
City of Toronto to celebrate enhancements to Treverton Park
Councillor Paul Ainslie (Ward 43 Scarborough East), Chair of the Parks and Environment Committee, and Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37 Scarborough Centre) will join children from a Scarborough community at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the building of a new playground in Treverton Park.
- Wednesday, July 31
- 2 p.m.
- Treverton Park, 843 Kennedy Rd.
Sponsor representatives from ING Direct, Sinking Ship Entertainment/Giver TV, the Children's Aid Foundation and the Scarborough Branch of the Children's Aid Society of Toronto will also participate in the event.
The new playground was made possible through donations provided by Sinking Ship Entertainment/Giver TV and its partner ING Direct, and by the Children's Aid Foundation. The entertainment company is donating playground equipment and supplies valued at $50,000, supported by a $40,000 contribution from ING Direct. The Children's Aid Foundation provided a $60,000 donation, for a total project value of $110,000.
Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. Toronto's government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Parks, Forestry and Recreation
Source: City of Toronto
A Facebook comment gives a reason for CAS to resist layoffs.
Lee Bolton I heard CAS helps the laid off workers gain employment elsewhere once they lay them off. A lot of families report that their former CAS worker is now their Ontario Works worker. I guess it's likely safer for CAS to help them get a new job than take a chance at pissing them off and having them reveal some private information about the corruption going on inside those walls. Kudos though to the workers that secretly slip advocates sensitive information and documentation. It's caring people like you that have helped expose the CAS.
July 28, 2013 permalink
Police have seized (rescued in their terminology) a baby from a man who resisted. The news story does not give the man's relationship to the baby, but the video story says the police were acting on behalf of children's aid. The man/father was injured in the incident, the baby is unharmed.
Police rescue baby from barricaded man
Ottawa Police have rescued a baby after a five hour stand-off with a man who barricaded himself inside a home east of downtown.
Police responded to a home on Noranda Avenue, in the Montreal Road area.
Police say they were helping "an outside agency" with a call about 12:30, when the man refused to come out.
Noranda Avenue was blocked by emergency officials for much of the afternoon.
There were loud bangs outside the home and moments later emergency officials left the house with the baby in arms.
The baby is uninjured.
Police arrested the man who was limping and helped into an ambulance.
Seriously? Rescued the baby from what? What was the emergency that this baby was taken from the father? I have to agree, with the last post, I would do the same thing if strangers came to try to take my child!
The baby in uninjured and fine. Of course the baby is fine it was with its father. What would any of you do if this random people showed up at your door and told you to hand over your baby to them? Won't tell you why just that you can go to court in 5 days. They pull this crap on innocent families by the hundreds every year. They hide behind confidentiality so one knows the truth about what is really happening. These people are power hungry beyond anything I have seen. At one rally two CAS workers came out and had the adocity to say "we can do what ever we want and there is nothing you can do to stop us". Well YES there is. Call your MPP's and demand ombudsman oversight of this complete out of control bunch of lunatics. The Children's Aid Society are not what they profess to be to the public. Demand Ombudsman oversight by telling your MPP you want them to vote for bill 42. If the CAS is such a great bunch of people with nothing to hide then why are they fighting so hard not to have oversight? It's time the public saw the truth about this oprganization once and for all.
Stealing Foreign Children
July 20, 2013 permalink
Christopher Booker points out that Britain is developing a reputation for stealing the children of foreigners.
Our 'child protection’ system is an international scandal
Children of foreign families resident in the UK are being seized by social workers on an astonishing scale
A remarkable meeting recently took place at the House of Commons, organised by John Hemming, the only MP who for years has been battling on behalf of those thousands of families being torn apart each year, for no good reason, by our weirdly dysfunctional “child protection” system. The meeting was attended by representatives of no fewer than 34 countries, including four ambassadors, all concerned by the astonishing scale on which the children of foreign families resident in the UK are being seized by social workers to be taken into foster care or sent for adoption. One estimate suggests that these now include no fewer than 6,500 of the 67,000 children currently in state “care” in England, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds a year.
One particular concern of many of those attending from 14 European countries was that, far too often, the seizing of their children appears to be in breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, enshrining in law the right to respect for family life. So outraged last year was the Slovak government at the treatment of two small Slovak boys that it threatened to haul the UK government before the European Court of Human Rights. For once, the social workers were eventually ordered by the Court of Appeal to allow their mother to take them back to Bratislava.
Another concern of the meeting was the consistent failure of our social workers to notify the embassies that their nationals had been taken into care (as Mr Hemming explained, this is illegal), or then to allow them to have any contact with the children. Yet the social workers are quite happy to make last-minute demands of the embassies that they provide detailed information on the families. “Between us and the British authorities,” said one speaker, “there is only one-way traffic.” A further common complaint was that the lawyers provided by local authorities to represent the families in court seem all too often to be hand in glove with “the system”, colluding to have the seized children kept in care.
I have reported here more than a dozen such stories of foreign children being removed from their parents for what appeared to be quite bizarre reasons, such as the French mother whose children were snatched from her when she was only visiting London for a brief holiday. Another case involved a German mother, who only escaped with her son back to Germany in the nick of time after she had admitted that she was a bit depressed to a stranger, who promptly reported her to social services. On Friday I heard from a Russian mother, who has worked here for years, that although social workers had at last allowed her 16-year-old daughter to return to live with her after two years in foster care, the foster carer is still being paid £500 a week for looking after the girl.
What is clear is that the state of Britain’s “child protection” system is rapidly becoming viewed by other countries as an international scandal. They cannot understand how our system can be allowed to behave in such an inhuman and corrupt fashion. But apart from the admirable Mr Hemming, scarcely a single other politician seems to know or care.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Protection Gone Wrong
July 19, 2013 permalink
Niagara resident Shawn Michael Dunn was convicted last year of sexual offenses. Well-meaning community members distributed flyers warning of his presence, but cited the wrong address. The innocent residents at that address now fear for their safety. A comment by Vern Beck is below.
Vernon Beck This news report only shows the importance of advocates doing their research first before they act. The wrong action can do more harm than good to the movement for accountability.
Also, advocates should always remember that our efforts as citizens are about making the CAS and the court system accountable and transparent. Personal attacks on private individuals is more about a personal agenda and is not a very good demonstration of promoting accountability in Ontario for the benefit of all children and families.
Hopefully, those with that organization in St. Catherines will rethink their strategy and get back to focusing on making the system accountable. Their hearts may be in the right place but they have to remain focused on the goal of accountability.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Pedophile poster points to wrong address
ST. CATHARINES, Ont. - A family is living in fear of retribution after their home was targeted in a poster campaign inaccurately claiming a sex offender is living there.
"It's scary," said the Bolton Ave. homeowner, who didn't want her name used.
"It's literally just blossomed into this huge, huge thing that isn't even true."
But one of the men who handed out flyers warning residents Shawn Michael Dunn is living in the house stands by them.
"If we had to do this whole thing again, we wouldn't hesitate doing it," said the resident, who said he distributed the flyers with members of the Ontario Coalition for Accountability.
Two to 300 hundred of the flyers, titled "Attention Residents, For your protection," were distributed last Thursday on the woman's street and two blocks of surrounding areas, posted to telephone poles and at the nearby public pool.
They state Dunn is living at a Bolton Ave. address -- an address that belongs to a friend, not him.
"I think it's terrible. They're picking on people that don't deserve it," Dunn told QMI Agency, adding he's worried about his friends and family who have been threatened since his release from jail earlier this month.
"If anybody is angry, they should be angry with me, not my friends or family or people who know me."
Dunn said people don't know his whole story and he understands their fears.
"I know I did things wrong, but now I can look forward, do my best," he said. "I was found guilty and I've got to do my best to look past that and get my life in order."
Dunn, 44, was found guilty in March 2012 of two counts of sexual assault, assault by choking and sexual interference. The case involved allegations by two women, now in their 30s, who had separate sexual relationships with Dunn in the 1980s.
He was then convicted in May 2012 of sexual exploitation, sexual interference and two counts of sexual assault related to incidents in 2006 and 2010 involving two girls ages 10 and 14.
He was sentenced in Nov. 5 to 54 months in custody minus pre-sentence custody time served.
"There was never any intention of him going to Bolton Ave.," said Det. Const. Steve Canton, in charge of the Niagara Regional Police sex-offender registry.
Canton said he's prohibited by provincial law from disclosing information about the whereabouts of people on the sex-offender registry. But, he said, police were aware Dunn was getting out and knew where he was going, and had no issue with the location.
"His location is well known. It is a safe location, the public is safe," he said.
Police do occasionally release information about sex offenders if they are deemed a high risk to re-offend, which Dunn was not.
In this case, Canton said, a friend of Dunn's is being taunted because of misinformation.
The man who handed out the flyers, who spoke on anonymity for fear he'll be in trouble with police, said he and three others acted on a tip Dunn was seen at the residence.
He said if there's a convicted sex-offender in the neighbourhood, parents should be aware.
"We're not going to tolerate him in our community. We don't want him here," he said. "We're going to make it uncomfortable for him to stay."
The woman living in the house since December 2009 said she's afraid -- not of her friend Dunn, but of the people targeting her house. Her address has been shared dozens of times on Facebook, at the local pool and with neighbours. People won't speak to her. Her children ages 12, 15 and 22 are scared they'll be followed.
"My children are afraid. I'm afraid," she said. "He doesn't live here."
Source: Toronto Sun
July 16, 2013 permalink
Groups want CAS oversight
KINGSTON - The agency tasked with safeguarding children was in the sights of a coalition of protest groups Tuesday afternoon.
About 25 members of Idle No More, the Kingston Coalition Against Poverty (KCAP), the Kingston and Quinte Area Citizens for Accountability and End the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) gathered on the lawn in front of the Division Street offices of the Family and Children's Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington.
The groups were protesting a number of issues they have with the agency, including what they say is a lack of accountability and oversight, abnormally high numbers of First Nations children in care and policies that target children in families in poverty.
“Children's Aid Societies are not held accountable to anyone. You can't call up an organization to investigate them,” said Curtis Kingston of the Kingston and Quinte Area Citizens for Accountability.
“What we're doing now is trying to promote ombudsman oversight,” he said.
“Ontario is the only province in the country that does not allow the ombudsman to investigate schools, hospitals, long-term care facilities, universities and police services.”
The organization is circulating a petition in support of Bill 42, Ontario New Democratic MPP Monique Taylor's private member's bill which would give the Ontario ombudsman more authority over child welfare organizations.
Beth Newell of Idle No More said the placing of native children with non-native foster families is one of the biggest issues facing First Nations in Canada.
“This might, to some, not seem like a big thing but the impacts are massive,” Newell said.
“It is considered an act of genocide under the Geneva Convention.”
“The CAS tends to target low income families and families obviously living in poverty,” said Aimee Van Vlack, president of KPAC.
“The CAS goes into these homes where they accuse people of not having enough food but their rates of disability or Ontario Works aren't high enough that they can't actually afford enough food so they rely on food banks.”
Van Vlack said money spent on foster families should be reallocated to better support families living in poverty.
Source: Kingston Whig-Standard
Ombudsman's Push for MUSH
July 16, 2013 permalink
Ontario's ombudsman André Marin has released his annual report. Once again he lacks the power to look into children's aid societies, and once again he comments on the need to expand his powers.
Give us a “C” – children’s aid societies
The province of Ontario is the legal guardian to more than 8,300 children and youth connected to child protection services, which are delivered by 46 independent, non-profit organizations run by locally elected boards of directors. Protection of children is a grave responsibility, and one that everywhere else in Canada is carried out by government. Ontario’s system is unique.
Since 2005, my Office has received 3,550 complaints and inquiries about children’s aid societies. Ontario’s children’s aid societies receive provincial funds in excess of $1.4 billion each year, but since they are considered private agencies, they fall outside of my mandate.
Media stories chronicling the deaths and abuse suffered by children involved with Ontario’s child protection system have inspired advocacy groups and successive parliamentarians to call for Ombudsman oversight of children’s aid societies. Since April 2005, some 60 petitions and 7 private member’s bills have been tabled in the Legislative Assembly to this effect. Support for Ombudsman involvement in this area is strong, as evidenced by NDP MPP Monique Taylor’s Bill 42, the Ombudsman Amendment Act (Children’s Aid Societies), 2013, passing second reading in April 2013.
Within the child welfare community, the possibility of Ombudsman oversight is a live issue. This was evident this year, when our Office was asked to do a presentation for the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies on what Ombudsman oversight might mean for them.
The argument against Ombudsman oversight of children’s aid societies has always been feeble. None of the existing oversight mechanisms – the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, the Child and Family Services Review Board, the courts, the Office of the Chief Coroner and the Pediatric Death Review Committee – provide for broad-based investigation into systemic and individual issues of fairness and administration. What’s more, the latter two only become involved after a child dies.
Admittedly, Ombudsman oversight is not a cure-all. But it is a powerful and proven method for promoting accountability and transparency. As we do for hundreds of other provincial organizations, my Office can act as an early warning system, proactively monitor complaint trends, expose systemic flaws and obtain speedy resolutions, before a crisis hits. This important resource should not be barred to children and youth in care, their families, and concerned members of the public.
“ I know it’s too late for me, but I want future generations to be protected.... There are too many kids being abused and nobody is being held accountable for it. The Ombudsman should be able to investigate this. ”
— Former CAS ward who was abused by foster father, quoted in the Toronto Sun, March 21, 2013
Children’s aid societies in Ontario also face serious financial pressures, and there is growing recognition that the system requires an overhaul. In recognition of the public funding that they receive, they are already subject to financial monitoring by the Auditor General. The time is ripe to make them accountable to the Ombudsman as well, to give vulnerable children in care and their families the same access to independent oversight as those involved with provincial agencies.
Children’s Aid Societies
This year, the Ombudsman received 472 complaints and inquiries about children’s aid societies across the province. These came from youth in care, parents, grandparents and other people concerned about failures to investigate neglect and abuse, inadequate or biased investigations, problematic child apprehensions, staff misconduct and harassment, lack of information, and denial of access to children in care. In one case, a mother alleged her child was sexally abused by an older foster sibling. Several people also questioned the qualifications of children’s aid society employees who operate without registration as social workers.
Unique in Canada, child welfare services in Ontario are delivered by private agencies. Everywhere else, child protection is administered directly by government. Other ombudsmen have been able to assist families with concerns about child protection. For instance, in March 2013, the Manitoba Ombudsman’s Office released a report emphasizing the importance of risk assessment and case planning in the child welfare system. In Quebec, in 2011-2012, after a child was hospitalized with injuries allegedly caused by his parents, the Ombudsman’s intervention led to enhanced screening to identify neglect and abuse.
In Ontario, defenders of the status quo routinely refer to existing mechanisms to review children’s aid societies, such as the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, the Child and Family Services Review Board, the courts, the Office of the Chief Coroner, and the Pediatric Death Review Committee. However, none of these bodies has the Ontario Ombudsman’s broad statutory powers allowing for independent investigation of individual and systemic allegations of maladministration.
While the Child and Family Services Review Board received authority to consider complaints about children’s aid societies in 2006, only those “seeking or receiving service” can request its assistance, leaving many relatives and concerned community members with no recourse. The Board is also restricted to considering procedural issues, such as whether a children’s aid society provided reasons for its actions, listened to parents’ concerns about services, or responded to a complaint. It cannot investigate or consider systemic issues involving staff conduct or practices, or address substantive matters relating to child apprehension or failure to investigate allegations of abuse. And its remedies are limited to ordering that a children’s aid society respond or provide reasons.
In 2012-2013, we received 4 complaints about the Child and Family Services Review Board, including concerns about its jurisdictional limitations.
“ [The Ombudsman] is a stellar investigator and has enormous integrity. His office is there for citizens as a mechanism to sort out problems with governments. He does not invent such problems, but tries to address them with recommendations. CAS oversight is long overdue, in some cases it is a matter of life and death. ”
— Anne Patterson, letter to London Free Press, March 23, 2013
Children in Van Diemen's Land
July 16, 2013 permalink
Australia knows what to do with its unwanted children: put them in a detention centre at Pontville, Van Diemen's Land where some of them are driven toward suicide.
Asylum seeker children attempting suicide at Pontville 'prison'
Child and teenage asylum seekers have attempted suicide and self-harm while being held at the Pontville detention centre in Tasmania.
Pontville is what the Immigration Department calls an "alternative place of detention" and it currently holds about 337 asylum seekers - all of them children and teenagers.
This morning, the Department confirmed that two 11-year-old boys are being detained with family members at the centre, north of Hobart.
Children's Commissioner Megan Mitchell visited Pontville last month and met with 200 of the children and teenagers.
She told ABC's AM program she has serious concerns for their mental health.
Ms Mitchell says many of them are anxious and depressed and there have been incidents of self-harm.
Pontville: key points
- Former Defence site near Hobart, now an "alternative place of detention"
- It holds 337 unaccompanied minors aged between 11 and 17
- Detainees say there are 20 people to a dorm
- Detainees earn points by attending school, participating in centre-run activities
- Children's Commissioner says detainees have attempted suicide, self-harm
- Some children hospitalised over mental health issues
- Immigration Department says children spend average of 45 days in Pontville
"They're developmentally quite vulnerable at that age and it would be a much better situation if they could be in a community detention setting where it's a more normalised environment and they have some freedom to come and go," she said.
Ms Mitchell says some of the children have been hospitalised because of mental health issues.
Call for children to live in community
She says the Government should try to place the children into community detention or allow them to stay with relatives already in the community.
"There are host families within the Australian context that have put up their hand as I understand it to host young people, and also some of these young people have relatives in the Australian community," she said.
"And for [the children and relatives] it's very hard to understand why they can't live with them while their claims are processed."
Ms Mitchell admits there will still be issues with children kept in community-based detention.
"But I would say there's a lot more hope and opportunity for those children, and they are on a much better trajectory than those children that are in the detention facility," she said.
Immigration Minister Tony Burke has signed off on releases for 18 of the centre's detainees.
Ms Mitchell cited quotes from several children she met during her visit to Pontville last month.
"Even if you make this place heaven it is not enough for us because we feel like we are in a cage. We feel people see us like animals in a cage," one child said.
"We stay up all night and sleep all day. We don't want to go to school because it upsets us to see others free," said another.
"At school people stare and laugh at us which makes us feel sad," a third child said.
A fourth child said the detainees felt pressure from their families.
"At 3am if you come here you will see people walking around like crazy because they can't sleep," the child said. "They are going crazy so people cut themselves."
Former teen detainee likens Pontville to prison
Audio: Teen asylum seeker describes detention ordeal (AM) local copy (mp3).
A 16-year-old boy from Afghanistan who spent the past two months at Pontville has told AM conditions at the centre are like a prison.
He said he felt disappointed and hopeless when he was there.
"Mentally, it makes you crazy. You find a lot of problems in there. Please don't keep the boys a lot there - don't keep them long in detention centre," he said.
He says teenagers slept in bunk beds in dorms with 20 people in the room.
He says every teenager had a locker and staff also had a key so they could search the lockers.
"The second key, that copy key, [was with] the officer and every week they'd come and search the lockers," he said.
The teen says he would earn points by attending school, which he could use to buy things like phone cards or sweets from the canteen.
"If you go to school you get the points, if you don't, you don't get the points," he said.
A spokesman from the Department of Immigration says the point system exists across the network and that every detainee gets a weekly allocation of 25 points.
Detainees separated into classes with different teachers
Children inside the Pontville centre attend several schools in Hobart, but the Afghan boy told AM that asylum seekers are separated into separate classes with different teachers from their Australian counterparts.
The Immigration Department says it is working to integrate asylum seekers into the broader school community.
The Afghan teen is now living in the community in a group home with other asylum seekers.
"I'm feeling better because now I'm free. I can study, I'm going to proper school, and I can see my future, that it's very bright," he said.
The Immigration Department says the average amount of time that detainees spend at Pontville is 45 days.
Source: ABC News (Australia)
Rent or Kids
July 14, 2013 permalink
A British landlord has an updated version of "pay your rent or I will take your furniture." Now it's "pay your rent or I will take your children."
For the gallery mentioned in the text, refer to the source website.
PAY THE RENT – OR IT’S YOUR KIDS
A Cornish council worker threatened to set ‘social care’ – the department that fosters and adopts children – on the families of her tenants unless they paid her rents.
Danielle Curtis blackmailed a young father of two, his pregnant partner, and their housemate, also a full-time father, in a furious row over rent on her allegedly ‘rundown’ bungalow in Redruth, Cornwall.
The 33 year old from Helston branded her three hard working tenants ‘retards’ and stormed: “Pay the £300 today between you or I will start court, social care, and housing benefit.”
In another post the council worker threatened: “I can access exactly how much benefits you get. I work for Cornwall council. Pay up today else I will start court proceedings and it won’t be pleasant. Pay £300 today and I will leave you alone.”
‘Social Care’ is the name the council give to the department that takes children from their parents, sells them for fostering or gives them up for adoption.
Danielle works in that division. Although her tenants claim she boasted of being a ‘senior social worker’ she’s said to work in a relatively minor administrative role.
CCN has seen Danielle’s Facebook messages to her tenants in full and is publishing the key exchanges (see above).
In the sickening notes she brags that ‘a policeman would laugh’ if any of them dared to complain she was abusing her council post, by checking on their benefit payments and informing on them and their families to ‘social care’.
In one PM she tells father of two Ian: “Fine – court, housing benefit, and contacting social care it is. Remember you chose the hard way.”
And again in a final message before refusing to answer Ian’s repeated questions as to why she is invoking ‘social care’ in a personal dispute over rent payments she posts: “Pay the £300 today between you or it goes back to the full amount and I will start court, social care, and housing benefit. Pay or that’s it.”
Ian told CCN: “We couldn’t believe it when she threatened our children. I just couldn’t believe it. When I thought of my little boy and girl…it was unbelievable.
“None of us have ever had anything to do with social services or ‘social care’. Neither Kerry or I claim housing benefit.
“It was absolutely shocking. Danielle was clearly threatening to send social services after our children unless we paid our rent.
“I think she’s evil. Mentally ill. There’s no other word for it.”
The 26 year old customer service advisor went on “I have two young children aged 5 and 2. I am an exceptionally caring Father. Neither I or my ex has ever involved the authorities in anything to do with what we rightly regard as our personal family lives.
“Nor as far as I’m aware has any one else ever contacted any ‘social care’ authorities about any of the three of us or any of our children, nor would they have cause to.
“We’re very independent people, and we both work hard in our jobs. I love my children dearly and Kerry is a very sensible mother to be.
“Our council worker landladys threat against our families was totally out of the blue and terrifying and shocking in equal measure.
“Up to then she had just harrassed and bullied us, while making boasts of being a ‘senior social worker’. But when she threatened to set ‘social care’ on us – I was mortified – I kept asking her what she meant, but she kept just repeating the threat.
“I find it astonishing, and terrifying, that people like that are trusted with children, trusted by the public to interfere with vulnerable families and take children from their homes.
“My partner Kerry is in a state of severe distress since Danielle made these threats to us. I just hope she will be okay through her pregnancy.
“Danielle Curtis is clearly not fit to hold any position of power. The council must do what the police force would if a landlady police officer threatened to arrest someone for not paying her her rent. People like that are not fit to hold any official post.
“You have to wonder, and worry, about what sort of person is working in Cornwall’s childrens social services.
“If a council worker feels they can threaten the children of a tenant in a row over money outside of work – what harm are they doing to vulnerable families they come into contact with professionally?”
Danielle, Kerry and Lee’s landlady nightmare began when they met Danielle as she moonlighted in the evenings for a legal firm in Pool Innovation Centre by Heartlands. The company sell financial advice.
When the pals got together and decided to split rent on a home, Danielle mentioned her £800 a month excluding bills bungalow in South Downs.
The friends stumped up a £500 deposit and started paying the rent and bills three ways. But they had trouble with their landlady over late repairs, a leaking roof, and poor conditions from the outset.
Ian recalled: “We let the house in April. Every time it rained the water poured over the front and back doors because the guttering wasn’t done. The front door had no handle.
“There was a built in fridge freezer – that didn’t work. She said it would be done within a couple of weeks, it wasn’t done. The bath leaked. She never sorted that out.
“The sink in the bathroom was blocked and would fill up – the roof leaked. It took her three-four weeks to do that and I had to go on all the time. It was an absolute pain.
“She kept saying she was going to sort that out – it’s still not done now.
“I was taking days off to meet builders who didn’t turn up; then one day a rat appeared in the back garden, something we couldn’t afford to deal with and which Danielle wouldn’t – it all just got to a point where nothing was getting fixed and we were paying all this rent.
“We always paid scrupulously – then one month, I was £100 behind; from that day on, each week before the end of the month, she would be on to us demanding the rent and threatening legal action.
“Frankly Danielle made it very difficult for us to stay. But she wouldn’t allow us to leave when I tried to give notice – she claimed we were bound by our six month tenancy. So in the end we took the decision ourselves.
“My girlfriend and her Mum went up there cleaned the place top to bottom.Then we approached Danielle with a fait accompli.
“We said we’d left – so she turned round and said she wanted £2,400. We disputed this – so she changed her story again and said – alright – as long as you give us three hundred quid.
“She said we had lost the £500 deposit because we had left before the end of the six months.”
“It was at this point she said if we didn’t give up the deposit and pay the extra £300 there would be ‘consequences’. She sent us messages saying she would go to court, contact housing benefit and approach social care.
“I just couldn’t believe it when she wrote that she would approach ‘social care’. What did she mean?
“She also emailed Lee and said she would use the council computers to find out how much benefit he was getting – it’s a ridiculous open abuse of power. She didn’t seem to think twice about it.”
Here’s the full transcript of the corrupt social workers threats. The screenshots are in the gallery above.
I need it as soon as possible and to know your decision about the rent idea – if I get the £300 ASAP then we shall leave it there if not I will start court
ok will get bk to you asap
Thanks please do
£300 needs to be paid otherwise I will be forced to start court proceedings.
The back door key needs to be returned.
The wardrobe, bed and chair will be disposed of tomorrow if you don’t collect it by lunchtime tomorrow
the back door key is in the black letter box as wasnt sure where to put it
Thanks for the key. So we doing £300 or not as if not I will start court stuff tomorrow?
ive spoken to lee and you are threatening usl with black mail thats the final straw as far as im concerned take us to court and i will seek legal advise i would also like all contact stopped from you unless through a soliceter if this doesnt happen i will report you for harasment
No not threatening at all you need to pay or I will start the court proceedings. Report me for harassment as a policeman would laugh because I have every right to contact regarding my money if you do not pay I will take it to court good luck with that sort it out or not the choice is yours
yh you have that right but not threatening to use ur position as a socail worker to get information for ur own benifit which we have proof of in messages
Nope I’m talking about housing benefit you retard which I am entitled to know about as its fraud that its not been paid. Bottom line pay the £300 which is more than fair and we will have no more contact again. If you don’t do it today I will start the court proceedings and provide evidence of the state the house has been left in its simple? If you’re not going to pay its fine It will just cost you all in the long run a hell of a lot more it’s you that are in the wrong and the law unfortunately doesn’t let people get away with it. Your choice?
hahahha resorted to name calling now fine take us to court also can i have the referance number for the goverment scheme you put the deposit in as my soliceter said if you havent put it in one then the tenency would be void anyway
Are you actually joking me??? Fine court housing benefit and contacting social care it is. Remember you chose the hard way in this long and expensive process now. I’ve tried to give you your deposit back as am saying you only need to pay £300 for julys rent and that I would take this as your months notice but no you couldn’t accept my generosity and pay me my money. You are both very silly. If the money isn’t in my account by today then you leave me no choice
what are you saying about socail care what that got to do with anything
Just pay you money and the condition of the house and court and everything else will be dropped
im still confused about the socail care situation as that got nothing to do with anything
I’m still confused at the state you’ve left my house in and you not paying your rent pay the £300 if you don’t you know the consequences
would like you to explain what you ment by contacting social care
Would you like to explain to me why you haven’t paid your rent and left my house in a mess and a half!!! Just bloody pay and I won’t take this any further.
take it as far as you want i think i have a good case of my own danielle what do you mean by your going to get in contact with social care
Just pay and I will never bother you or go down the legal route
no as ive spoken to c.a.b and you havent got a leg to stand on since you didnt protect our deposit
Your deposit is completely irrelevant but I did anyway as it was through a company. You lost your deposit because you’ve not paid your rent, broken your tenancy, and caused mess and damage to the property – all three counts you have no leg to stand on now just for the love of god pay and then we can be done. That’s more than fair and then technically I’m giving your deposit back anyway! This isn’t rocket science just pay
can i have the company name and reference number then
Can I have my rent then??? Seriously! Why would I give you anything after what you have done to me. Pay the £300 today between you or it goes back to the full amount and I will start court, social care, and housing benefit. Pay or that’s it. I won’t be replying anymore if the money is not there by today that will be what will happen. End of.
what you mean social care ??????
I’m not replying anymore until I get my money”
In the messages to young Dad Lee Hole she says:
I can access exactly how much benefits you get I work for Cornwall council and I know you’ve had your housing benefit and not paid me. You need to speak to Ian and all pay up today else I will start court proceedings and it won’t be pleasant and will cost u loads in the long run. Pay £300 today and I will leave you alone
It wont be today danielle! Ive not really spoken to ian or kerry since the weekend, and if u have checked on your little system, you will no for a fact that none of keiras benefits are in my name as of yet! Im speaking to my solicitor today as im sure your not allowed to look at my information for your own benefit!
I’ve not looked just saying I can its not about Kiera’s benefits its about my housing benefit and they tell me that anyway. It’s fraud! There’s no reason it can’t be today and if its not I will start the court process. No I can contact them you need to sort it today else I will get your housing benefit stopped and paid to me for the full amount from now for how much you really owe me.”
CCN sent the Portfolio Holder for ‘Children and Young People’, Cllr Andrew Wallis, a detailed query on this story as soon as it broke.
He replied: “At present I cannot comment until the claims have been investigated. I am sure you understand why.”
We messaged back: “I’m afraid we don’t understand why, neither will our readers, please could you briefly explain for them.”
When we phoned Danielle she first denied threatening Ian and his family, but then said she had used the words ‘social care’.
She then refused to answer the question as to why she ever mentioned ‘social care’ and referred us to a closed solicitors office before putting the phone down.
Here’s a full audio recording of the conversation.
local copy (mp3).
Campaigning MP John Hemming, who fights Social Services corruption, said: “Sadly vindictive behaviour from some of the employees of Childrens Services is quite common.
“Parents can lose their children to adoption on the basis of false allegations. The council should investigate the behaviour of this employee, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for this to happen.”
We’ve forwarded screenshots of Danielle’s threats to Devon and Cornwall police, and to the council.
If you’ve been a victim of Cornwall’s notoriously corrupt Social Services department we will publish your story. Contact us.
Source: Cornwall Community News
July 13, 2013 permalink
Alfred Lang has been accused of sexual offenses against Hamilton Ontario foster children. As usual with sexual offenses, the accusations are vague enough that they could be anything from asking for a kiss to forcible rape. Mr Lang was 72-74 years old at the time of the incidents, over the age limit for the worst offenses.
Hamilton man charged with assaulting two foster kids
A visitor of a Hamilton foster home has been charged with sexually assaulting two young children.
Alfred Lang, 82, has been charged with two counts of sexual assault and two counts of invitation to sexual touching dating back to 2003 and 2005.
The charges came after a joint investigation by Hamilton Police and the Catholic Children's Aid Society into that specific home. Lang – who did not live in the home – was not a foster parent. He was never sanctioned to be a foster parent, police said.
The foster home no longer has children placed in the home. CCAS Director David Shea said this was the case before the charges were laid, and that no children were removed due to the investigation.
Shea would not say how many foster children have been placed in the home since 2003. Police believe there may have been more victims.
"I cannot comment at all on the case," Shea said Friday.
"We're making sure everybody's taken care of on our end but I really can't comment."
Lang was scheduled to have a bail hearing Friday afternoon.
Anyone with information on Lang or the home is asked to contact Detective Scott Moore, Hamilton Police Service Sexual Assault Unit at 905-546-4614.
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Health Board Helps Hamilton CAS
July 12, 2013 permalink
A difficult-to-understand article draws sympathy for Hamilton children's aid and the Board of Health over recent funding cuts. It seems to be aimed at readers naive enough to think that children's aid helps children.
Pilot program aims to cover gap in aid funding
Board of health initiative will run for three months
Hamilton's board of health has agreed to a three-month pilot project in a bid to keep providing medical services to the city's cash-strapped children's aid societies.
Recent provincial funding cuts to children's aid meant the city's agencies could no longer afford to second public health staff to assist in health clinic and in-community care.
In response, the board of public health will roll out the pilot project. The program will provide public health nurses to the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton and Catholic Children's Aid Society of Hamilton, and will operate under a new model with fewer workers. Although the specifics will change, public health nurses will continue to work with the agencies to ensure the highest need children are assessed.
The pilot program was announced at a board of health meeting on Thursday. Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton's medical officer of health, said she's concerned with the current state of support for the children's aid societies.
"Hamilton is the best place to raise children," Dr. Richardson said, adding that the department approached a handful of non-profit organizations for funding alternatives but were not successful. "We're doing everything we can."
Public health decided to fund the pilot project by finding savings within their own budget.
"We'll be assessing the program at the end of three months for any gaps in the system," Dr. Richardson said. Public health services will provide a full report on the pilot program to the board of health in October.
On May 8, the province announced it would cut $4.7 million from the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton's annual $50 million budget over the next four years. As a result, 70 staff members lost their jobs.
At the same time, Dominic Verticchio, executive director, said they are developing a strategic plan to find an estimated $350,000 annually (through donors and businesses) to keep open their medical clinic that treats more than 600 children. As of today the clinic is slated to close its doors for good in October.
"It's been very difficult on our staff and poses a lot of anxiety. But we are still able to provide quality service to the community," he said. "There's going to be further reduction in provincial funding allocation in the next three years, so that's concerning for years to come."
David Shea, director of communications for the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Hamilton, said since the May announcement they have lost 10 staff members but no direct services have been affected.
Source: Hamilton Spectator
Social Worker Assassinated
July 11, 2013 permalink
New Orleans social worker Ashley Qualls was assassinated while walking home from one of her three jobs.
Slain social worker wanted to make city a better place
NEW ORLEANS -- Family, friends and classmates of a social worker who graduated from Tulane University gathered Wednesday night in Treme to honor her memory.
Ashley Qualls, 25, was shot and killed Tuesday morning on the neutral ground near N. Roman and Esplande Avenue walking home from work.
“I can’t feel,” said Victoria Royal, Qualls’ best friend. “I don’t know what happened. It’s very hard for me.”
At a candlelight vigil, friends and family tried to comfort each other on the Esplanade Avenue neutral ground where the 25-year-old was gunned down. They’re attempting to make sense of her senseless death.
“This is a girl who was just trying to serve the poor, and if we can’t protect those helping the poor, how can we protect the poor who are disenfranchised?” said Chris Gross, who organized the vigil.
Friends say Qualls, who worked three jobs to help support her siblings, had moved to New Orleans from South Carolina in search of better opportunities.
“She was a prominent social justice proponent and she wanted to change New Orleans,” Royal said.
Just after midnight Monday, Qualls was walking to her Uptown to save money when, according to police, witnesses heard screaming and spotted three men on bicycles riding from the scene.
Police say Qualls was found lying on her back. She died at the scene.
“We need to take our city back,” said Treme resident David Dillard. “That’s what need to happen.”
This memorial marked the spot where the young woman died. It quickly glowed bright with candles and Qualls’ signature shoe, which still brings smiles to the faces of those who knew her at Tulane University’s School of Social Work.
“Her hiking through the school in those high heel stiletto heels,” said Tulane University Social Work Dean Dr. Ronald Marks.
Qualls was described by friends as a hard working, loving woman, taken too soon from a world she’d hoped to make better.
“She didn’t deserve that,” Royal said. “This is not the way she should have left here.”
The NOPD is investigating this latest murder. So far, no arrests have been made.
A fund has been set up to help Qualls' family cover the costs of returning her to South Carolina for burial. Click here if you’d like to help.
Children's Raid Society
July 10, 2013 permalink
Charles Adler interviewed a mother victimized by children's aid. He refers to the predatory agency as the children's raid society. Watch it on Sun News Network or a local copy (mp4) captured by Pat Niagara. The unnamed mother reports that CAS workers defied an order to show up in court and that her legal aid lawyer is an absolute ****.
Addendum: A similar story from London Ontario may be about the same mother interviewed by Charles Adler. The AM980 site includes an extensive set of reader comments.
London Mother Fights Children's Aid Society for Custody of Daughter
The London Children's Aid Society is facing some serious accusations from a local mother, who claims the agency has resorted to lying, posturing, and empty threats to keep her daughter away from her.
The woman, who's been fighting since last October to bring the child home, is calling on the province to step in and provide more oversight after the CAS falsely accused her of abusing her daughter.
The woman says her daughter started getting bullied at her new school, but instead of acknowledging it, the school accused her of abuse at home.
That's when the CAS became involved, and wanting to cooperate with the agency, the mother says she signed a 'voluntary service agreement' with Children's Aid.
Instead of using the document to provide assistance and support for the child, the mother believes CAS used it, and other bureaucratic red tape, to seize her daughter.
"I tried to cooperate for the longest time because I thought 'all I want to do is get my daughter back home'. But then, when they started pulling all of these dirty tricks behind my back, and doing things to my daughter, and my daughter showing up with bruises and my daughter being sick and they're refusing her medical care, I started to get really frustrated and angry," she said.
The CAS is an incorporated, not-for-profit agency governed by volunteer boards and funded by the provincial government. Complaints about the CAS are currently handled by the Child and Family Services Review Board. However, its recommendations don't have to be followed by the 53 Children's Aid Societies in Ontario.
The woman says Ontario is the only province that doesn't have government oversight for Children's Aid Societies, and that needs to stop.
The mother admits in trying to get her daughter back, she's had some difficulty navigating the courts, but she'll keep fighting until her daughter is back home.
She hasn't been able to visit her daughter since early April, and says her daughter believes she's dead. She's even tried to drop off gifts for her, but claims CAS took them away from her.
"I even tried to bring the book 'I'll Love You Forever' by Robert Munsch to her, because we've read it every night as part of our stories and bedtime ritual with the blankies. I tried to bring it to her to a visit, so she could take it and have it to read every night, even though I wasn't there, and they took it away from her. They waited until she was asleep, they went into her locked closet, and they took the book away. They said it was inappropriate," she said.
AM980 has contacted the Children's Aid Society, but they couldn't comment on the case.
Source: AM980 News
Neil Haskett recorded a phone-in segment with Craig Needles on July 11, 2013. Neil is also one of the callers.
July 9, 2013 permalink
Several cars of a runaway train exploded in Lac-Mégantic Quebec devastating the centre of the small town. Fifty people are missing, so far 13 bodies have been found. Twenty five social workers have descended on the town. We hope they are there to assist the community, but fear from experience that they will add to the misery.
Lac-Mégantic death toll rises to 13
LAC-MÉGANTIC - Eight new bodies have been found in search efforts at the scene of the Lac-Megantic train derailment Monday, bringing the official number of deaths to 13.
Spokespeople on site also announced at the evening news conference that the number of people missing in the disaster has risen to 50.
Sgt. Benoit Richard confirmed the SQ are still looking for the other 37 bodies.
As firefighters are giving investigators more access to the scene, police say they are discovering more remains. Parts of the blast site remain too dangerous for investigators to probe, but they anticipate finding more bodies as they get closer to the centre of the crash.
A forensics bone specialist has also been called in to help with the investigation. Only three bodies have been identified.
Richard Vaillancourt said that 25 social workers were available in Lac-Mégantic, and that the challenge for survivors of the explosion is a lack of closure about the missing and the dead.
"Without any closure their grief is in a state of suspension," said Vaillancourt. "They won't truly begin the grieving process until they know for sure their loved ones are dead. This could take a long time."
Police said that out of respect for the families of those reported missing they would not say where the bodies had been found.
At a 5 p.m. news conference coroner's office spokesperson Geneviève Guilbeault urged families of the missing to present themselves at their makeshift office and said they should bring personal items that could contain the missing person's DNA, such as baseball caps, toothbrushes, razors and combs.
The only other information given at the news conference was that the total number of buildings destroyed has also risen to 40, painting a clearer picture of the devastation.
Federal Transport Minister Denis Lebel said a Transport Canada inspector had inspected the train's locomotive the night before the derailment and had found no problems.
At an evening news conference Lebel said his thoughts and sympathies are with residents of Lac-Mégantic during this time of crisis and the difficult hours, days and weeks ahead.
Source: Montreal Gazette
July 9, 2013 permalink
Sarah and Brian Kersey spent years conceiving a baby with the help of fertility treatments. When their baby boy Ethan had a medical problem the two parents, both medical professionals, took him to the hospital where they soon entered the twilight zone. Instead of examining the baby for medical problems, the hospital examined the parents for child abuse. Their boy was lost for eight months.
Tacoma parents lose baby for 8 months after trip to ER
TACOMA, Wash. —
The Kerseys have no criminal history and are trained medical professionals. But when the Tacoma couple brought their sick baby, Ethan, to the hospital, they lost custody for eight months because of what they say was a medical mistake.
They gave KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Chris Legeros an unflinching look at what happened when they were wrongly accused of abusing their son.
Sarah and Brian Kersey wanted a baby so badly they went through fertility treatments and suffered two miscarriages before Ethan was born.
“(It was the) best day of my life. He was finally here. He was healthy. He was beautiful,” said Sarah.
Ten weeks later, they took Ethan to Mary Bridge Children's Hospital because he was feverish and not eating well.
But they quickly realized staffers were inspecting them just as much as Ethan -- suspicious the Kerseys were abusing their son.
“It really hit me, and I was like, ‘this is crazy. I feel like I’m in a twilight zone – what’s going on?’” said Sarah.
“I felt confused, betrayed,” said Brian.
Doctors were worried mostly about red marks on Ethan's face and a red lesion under his tongue.
“They called them unexplained intentional injuries. That was the diagnosis they gave him,” said Sarah.
Soon, they were joined in the hospital by police officers, Child Protective Services and Mary Bridge's child abuse specialist, Dr. Yolanda Duralde.
And five days after bringing Ethan to the hospital, he was removed from the Kerseys' care and placed with Sarah's brother while the dependency action played out in juvenile court.
“I can't explain how the Kerseys and why the Kerseys were treated the way they were in this case,” said Kersey family attorney Liza Burke.
Burke believes CPS relied too heavily on Dr. Duralde's findings.
She says Duralde misdiagnosed Ethan's birthmarks as bruises and the scratch under his tongue as intentional trauma.
“The system has tremendous concern for children and the system can make mistakes,” said Burke.
Sarah is a nurse and Brian a certified nursing assistant. They wanted a second opinion, so they hired medical experts.
Their expert found the redness under Ethan's tongue was probably caused by sucking his fingers.
“And I had just cut his nails a few days before, so little baby nails are very sharp,” said Sarah.
From the very beginning, social workers noted in case files the couple was "appropriately concerned" and "bonded" with their baby.
The Kerseys even voluntarily took polygraph tests and passed.
“It’s not fair. It’s not fair that we had to have our lives turned upside down like this,” said Sarah.
The emotional toll was tremendous.
“I felt like my entire insides were ripped out,” said Brian.
After eight months of legal wrangling, red-tape and monitored visits with their son, a judge ruled the Kerseys are "good parents"-- but the courtroom win has not left them feeling like winners.
“We’re hoping that a system that’s broken can have an opportunity to fix itself so this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” said Brian.
KIRO 7 asked CPS to speak with them, and the Kerseys signed an authorization form allowing their entire file to be released, but CPS did not agree to an interview.
Mary Bridge only sent a statement saying in part it has a duty to report potential abuse and that, "It is the responsibility of Child Protective Services to determine whether any abuse" occurred.
Ten Alberta Foster Deaths
July 9, 2013 permalink
Alberta Human Services minister Dave Hancock says that in the year ending March 31, 2013 ten children died in provincial care. Based on past experience, numbers like this have low credibility.
Ten children died, 21 suffered injuries in care in Alberta: report
Ten children died, 21 suffered injuries in care in Alberta: report
EDMONTON - Alberta’s Human Services department says 10 children in government care died in 2012-13.
Another 21 children under the province’s protection suffered serious injuries that needed an overnight stay in hospital in the 12-month period that ended on March 31, 2013.
The department reported those statistics in its 2012-13 annual report released at the end of June, along with brief descriptions of the causes.
“Two of these deaths were due to pre-existing medical conditions (cerebral palsy and complications from premature birth), three were due to suicide, two were the result of accidents (drowning and motor vehicle accident), one was classified as a homicide, one is still pending determination by the medical examiner and one cause of death was classified as undetermined,” the report says.
This is the second year that the province has provided a more complete picture of the number of deaths of children receiving protective services. In the past, the government only reported deaths it confirmed were the result of a serious accident or homicide.
That approach came under intense criticism, as some families, advocates and opposition MLAs demanded a more accurate picture of what happened to children under the age of 18 in government care.
Human Services minister Dave Hancock said Monday he believes the annual report, with its brief summaries of the causes behind injuries or deaths, is now more open and honest.
“Every incident we have to learn from,” Hancock said. “We have to understand whether something could have been done.”
In 2011-12, Human Services said there were about 8,700 Alberta children in care at any one time. That annual report detailed 11 deaths, including five attributed to medical conditions, two to fatal injuries and four others where the cause of death could not be determined or were still pending when the report was written.
Hancock said there were 8,283 children in care as of March 31, 2013.
Though the 2012-13 report offers a brief explanation for all deaths of children and youth removed from their homes, Human Services says it will no longer report on the percentage of children receiving protective services who received an injury that sent them to hospital or who died.
The 2011-12 report noted the department’s target was zero deaths or serious injuries, “the highest possible standard for practice.” It reported 0.14 per cent of children and youth in care suffered an injury that lead to hospitalization or death. That compared to the 0.49 per cent rate among the general population in 2009-10.
The 2012-13 report says the measurement was removed from the ministry’s business plan, “but a commitment was made to continue to publicly report all injuries and deaths of children and youth in care, regardless of cause.”
Hancock said the goal of zero deaths and injuries remains, even if it is not stated in the annual report.
“It goes without saying the target in the area of serious injury and death is zero serious injuries and zero deaths. That’s a given for anyone working in the child welfare system,” Hancock said.
But other opposition MLAs said they have questions about the decision to remove some of the statistics tied to these tragic deaths and serious injuries.
“It’s an indicator as to whether or not what you’re doing is working,” Wildrose Human Services critic Jeff Wilson said. “They’re really reducing the number of litmus tests they will execute on themselves. It’s an accountability measure.”
NDP MLA Deron Bilous said the government also should be including more information about the number of children in care from aboriginal backgrounds since they make up a disproportionate number of the children in care.
“I’d be curious to know of the 10 children lost last year, what are their backgrounds?” said Bilous. “This information used to be pulled out and I find it interesting that this year they didn’t.”
Liberal MLA David Swann said MLAs from all parties need more details about the number of children in care who are harmed so they can perform their job as a check and balance on the system and ask appropriate questions of the Children and Youth Advocate, who became an independent officer of the Legislature last year.
“We know most of these are preventable, said Swann, who serves as Liberal critic in the area.
“If one identifies the level of risk and particular type of risk and puts in place approaches that will either reduce the interpersonal conflict that might be there or the environmental risks that they’re putting themselves in or the psychiatric-psychological risk that needs to be identified earlier,” he said. “All those are at least theoretically preventable. If we’re not looking carefully at those circumstances, we’re not doing a job.”
Hancock said much of the work currently being tackled by his department, such as adopting the Children First Act and developing new policy framework, are all connected to improving the conditions of children under government protection and helping families prevent crisis in the first place.
“This is our mission,” Hancock said. “The premier has indicated that protecting vulnerable people and supporting early childhood development is one of our goals. There is a huge amount of effort being put into this area.”
Of the 21 injuries reported in 2012-13, two children were injured by cars, one child suffered an accidental abdominal injury and another received a head injury fighting with a sibling.
The province also reported that five children went to hospital after suicide attempts, two children went to hospital with self-inflicted injuries not c onnected with suicide attempts, and three were admitted due to intoxication. Another five children had accidental bone fractures.
Two children suffered head injuries. One of the head injuries was the result of an assault by an unknown person, while another was connected to a pre-existing medical condition, according to the report.
Alberta’s Child and Youth Advocate and the Council for Quality Assurance were notified of the 10 deaths as well as the two head injuries.
Advocate Del Graff exercised his office’s new powers to investigate and publicly report on the circumstances of a death in care for the first time last week, releasing the office’s first investigative review. The report, called “Remembering Brian” examined the circumstances around a 16-year-old Métis boy’s suicide in the summer of 2012, one month after he was placed under a permanent guardianship order. The report included six recommendations.
Tim Chander, a spokesman for the Child Advocate’s Office, said he expects the office to release investigative reports on deaths of two other children in 2012-13 by the end of the year.
Source: Edmonton Journal
July 8, 2013 permalink
Downtown petition drive seeks expansion of Ontario Ombudsman’s powers (with video)
With bullhorn in hand, it was eyes as much as ears Curtis Kingston was trying to open as his small group of about a half dozen activists sought signatures downtown Monday in support of Bill 42.
The bill would give Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin the authority to investigate complaints against the so-called MUSH sector of government that includes municipalities, universities, hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, police and the province’s Children Aid Societies.
Bill 42 passed second reading this spring with third reading scheduled for early October.
“What harm would having extra oversight have?” said Kingston, who had gathered 150 signatures in just over an hour.
“All we’re asking for is more accountability. Most people are very supportive of that.”
The gathering featured representatives of Canada Court Watch, the Ontario Coalition for Accountability and the Kingston and Quinte Citizens for Accountability.
Kingston, founder of the Quinte and Kingston group and member of the Ontario Coalition, planned to present Monday’s petitions to the local offices of Minister of Children and Youth Services Teresa Piruzza (L — Windsor West) and MPP Taras Natyshak (NDP — Essex) later Monday.
“We’re hoping to get four or five hundred signatures and we’ll easily do that having got 150 already,” said Kingston, who has helped organize about 10 such petition drives annually in recent years.
“The Ontario Coalition has collected between 15,000 and 20,000 since we started this (eight years ago).”
Kingston said not only does Marin support Bill 42, but it’s a rare piece of legislation that has also broken down the partisan walls at Queen’s Park.
“Every NDP and Conservative MPP voted for this bill at second reading,” said Kingston, a regular visitor to the city with his Windsor-born wife. “We’re optimistic it’ll pass third reading this time.”
Premier Kathleen Wynne has come out against expanding the ombudsman’s powers and the Liberals voted against Bill 42, claiming there are already bodies in place monitoring the MUSH sector.
Marin is the only ombudsman in the country who currently has no power to investigate complaints against the MUSH sector, which accounts for more than half of all provincial government spending.
Marin on average receives 2,000 complaints a year on the MUSH sector or about 14 per cent of submissions he receives annually.
Kingston said the response on the streets of Windsor was gratifying.
The small but noisy gathering drew a steady stream of petition signees. Signatures were often accompanied by stories of personal struggle within the system.
“Having more oversight would just help me emotionally knowing more about my babies,” said 31-year-old Trisha Sigouin, who has three children in the CAS system.
“It would be nice if there was someone I could go to for help to look into things.”
Brendan, who signed the petition but preferred not to give his last name, simplified his argument in favour of expanding the ombudsman’s powers.
“It’s a matter of basic fairness,” the 31-year-old said. “I’m on Ontario Works and the 15th of every month I have to report and explain everything I do because I’m receiving government money.
“Hospitals, school boards, the CAS, nursing homes, they also receive government money. Why is it OK to have someone with oversight over me, but the ombudsman can’t investigate complaints against these institutions?
“Anyone or anything receiving government support should be subject to accountability on how that money is being spent.”
Kevin Bessette, who went through the CAS system as a child growing up in Kirkland Lake, said more openness offers a sense of empowerment to those feeling overwhelmed by the system and makes financial sense.
“Look at all the government waste recently,” said the 29-year-old Bessette after signing the petition.
“The province doesn’t have any money. An ombudsman could stop these scandals or prevent them and then there might be more money around for programs to help people.”
Source: Windsor Star
Seventeen-Year Cover Up
July 8, 2013 permalink
The 1996 Jillings report detailed abuse in children's homes in North Wales in the 1970s and 1980s. It was suppressed for seventeen years, and even now its pages are heavily redacted. The reason? Insurers feared compensation and libel claims. The offenses included buggery, assault, cruelty and a dozen deaths.
Jillings Report: Abuse 'still not being tackled' at childrens' homes in Wales, 17 years after report was suppressed
Supressed account finds 'appalling' and 'extensive' history of abuse in North Wales in the 1970s and 80s
Campaigners have warned that the authorities are still failing to tackle the epidemic of child abuse in Britain following the publication of a suppressed report into “bestial” cruelty carried out at children’s homes in North Wales in the 1970s and 80s.
Survivors groups said valuable years had been lost following a decision by the now defunct Clwyd County Council to shelve the 1996 Jillings report which reveals how attempts to expose the scale of the scandal were constrained by police, social services and other agencies.
The two year inquiry uncovered an “appalling” and “extensive” history of child abuse – including buggery, assault, and cruelty - dating back two decades and culminating with a series of paedophile trials centring on the Bryn Estyn children's home in Wrexham.
But its conclusions were suppressed for the past 17 years after fears by insurers that it could open the floodgates to compensation and libel claims.
Although finally made public following Freedom of Information requests by The Independent and others, the 300-page report is heavily redacted to blank out the names of any individuals suspected of wrongdoing.
Peter Saunders of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood said: “We hear from survivors that there are still perpetrators who are out there. They have been known about for a long time and they are still around.
“Abuse persists because of secrecy, fear, and failure to act or bring the truth out. Unless there is a very good reason, there is no excuse for the redaction of this report. It should be open and out there.”
A statement issued on behalf of six Welsh councils said the report did not name any suspected abuser who was unknown to the police.
Malcolm King, then chair of the council’s social services committee, said it was time for a Royal Commission to examine child abuse in Britain following this and other high profile cases including the Jimmy Savile affair.
“It is the same old, same old. It is the same lawyers and the same sort of everything that wants to suppress the truth.
“All sorts of legal reasons are made up for that but I don’t buy it. If we can’t tell the truth about what happened 30, 40 or 50 years ago then what hope is there for telling the about today?” he said.
At least 12 young people are believed to have died as a result of the abuse they suffered whilst staying in the children’s homes.
Yet despite 10 previous internal inquiries the abuse continued.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said recent abuse scandals in Oxford and Rochdale showed lessons still needed to be learnt. "While some things have improved - particularly for those in care - there is a depressing realisation that in some areas nothing has moved on,” he said.
A council letter written to the Chief Constable of North Wales Police in 1991 included the names of eight convicted sex offenders and dozens of suspects.
The report said council employees and even serving police officers from the time could have been named as potential perpetrators of assaults by witnesses in 3,755 statements taken as part of what was described as the biggest police investigation into child abuse ever held in the UK.
At least 24 victims were identified. But the panel expressed concern that there was “no mechanism to ensure that independent investigations are conducted of allegations against former and serving police officers and that the police authorities handling of investigations can in some circumstances avoid public scrutiny.”
The authors said they considered abandoning their inquiry after being refused access to files and were obstructed by staff that declined to be interviewed. Documents were disordered, undated and unsigned. North Wales Police refused to hand over 130 boxes of files on the grounds they were sub-judice, it was claimed.
The report led by John Jillings, the former director of social services for Derbyshire, was carried out four years before the judicial inquiry ordered by the Welsh secretary William Hague – following revelations by The Independent - under Sir Ronald Waterhouse QC reached similar conclusions.
Mr Jillings said staff meted out severe punishments to disturbed youngsters. "The treatment of children was bestial really; they weren't treated like human beings, by some members of staff at any rate,” he said.
Demands to finally publish the original inquiry findings were made at the height of the row over the BBC Newsnight report which made false child abuse allegations against former Tory Treasurer Lord McAlpine.
A new police inquiry is underway after 140 people came forward alleging historic abuse as a result of publicity surrounding the case.
The report said it was unable to cast light on the enduring suggestion that well known public figures were part of a wider paedophile ring operating in North Wales.
Source: Independent (UK)
Addendum: A journalist who has an unredacted copy of the full report tells the whole truth. Every page of every copy was stamped with a serial number, so copies leaked to journalists could, after requisitioning with a subpoena, be traced back to the whistleblower. British foster homes were infiltrated by pedophiles from the 1970s. Children were caned despite Welsh Office guidance to the contrary. Runaways were forcibly returned. Victims reported organized child prostitution. A dozen children died, even in the unredacted report they are identified only by numbers. A whistleblower was fired while those looking the other way got promoted. Convicted pedophile David John Gillison was prominent in the local Campaign for Homosexual Equality.
The truth behind the child abuse cover-ups
The report that first exposed child abuse in North Wales care homes has finally been published. But, says Eileen Fairweather, damning details have still been left out
Seventeen years ago, a nervous-sounding woman rang and asked me to publicise a top-secret report. She was not the whistleblower, she explained, but a go-between. She would not give me her name: “It’s safer if you don’t know.”
That secret report revealed the extensive rape and savage beating of countless children in North Wales children’s homes. It was titled “Child Abuse: An independent investigation commissioned by Clwyd County Council, period 1974-1995”. Last week, John Jillings’s report on the Clwyd scandal was finally published. But Flintshire county council – successor to Clwyd – has heavily censored it. I dug out the original and discovered, unsurprisingly, that the cover-up continues.
The cloak-and-dagger way I obtained the redacted report speaks volumes about how those struggling to expose Britain’s child abuse rings were intimidated and derided. Few then believed children’s allegations that people in power, including politicians and senior police, were involved. I was myself incredulous when first asked in 1990 to investigate a social worker. Weren’t care professionals all kind?
It was a baptism by fire, as one investigation rapidly led to another, and I realised that paedophiles had comprehensively infiltrated Britain’s children’s homes since the 1970s.
Back in 1996, only a handful of local politicians and officials were allowed a copy of Jillings’s report. They were told – by police, insurers and the council – that they risked their careers, arrest and being personally sued if a word reached the media. The uncensored Jillings report includes these chilling threats.
Every report had a number, imprinted as a large watermark on every page. Any journalist who quoted it would supposedly be ordered by the courts to produce their copy or photocopy or face jail, and the watermark would expose their source.
My caller said apologetically I must write out the report by hand. I was also told to share it widely with other reporters. Journalists need exclusives, but the rationale was sound: “If all the media cover this, there won’t be a witch-hunt.”
I collected the report from a safe 'drop’ point. It took me three exhausting days, holed up alone in a poky room in a B&B, to scribble out hundreds of pages. I fed to different newspapers and broadcasters different extracts suggested by my source. I only produced one article, and later a programme for HTV, under my name.
At least one paper and a news channel independently acquired the report: clearly, others whistle-blew. The coverage was widespread, and the whistleblowers’ drip-feed strategy worked: no one was arrested or sued.
Clamour mounted, and the Government announced a public inquiry. Yet surely, no further inquiries were needed: instead, police could have acted on the evidence already given to them by hundreds of victims and concerned staff, kicked-in doors and arrested suspected perpetrators.
The late judge, Sir Ronald Waterhouse, took evidence over three years, and in 2000 produced a report, “Lost in Care”. His tribunal had cost millions and ultimately achieved little, other than fat fees for lawyers. It amplified the horrors described by Jillings but it did not lead to arrests or managers being disciplined or struck off.
Jillings – the retired former director of Derbyshire social services – and his team, Prof Jane Tunstall and Gerrilyn Smith, had been commissioned after several former workers at Clwyd care homes were prosecuted in the early 1990s for abuse. But victims described many more abusers, and alleged organised child prostitution.
Last autumn Rod Richards – a former Welsh Conservatives leader, who has recently joined UKIP – revealed that the late Sir Peter Morrison MP, a close aide to Mrs Thatcher, was implicated in the North Wales care scandal. Did this limit the political will to act?
Flintshire county council says it has redacted much of the Jillings Report on the advice of Operation Pallial, which in April confirmed it is examining 76 new allegations of abuse in 18 North Wales care homes between 1963 and 1992.
North Wales Chief Constable Mark Polin has warned abusers: “If you believe that the passage of time will reduce the resolve of Operation Pallial or any police force to identify people still alive who have caused harm to others and bring them to justice, you are sorely mistaken. Offenders should quite rightly have to look over their shoulders for the rest of their lives.”
Mrs Justice Macur is also examining the evidence excluded from the Waterhouse inquiry. Following a key arrest, I am cautiously hopeful that, this time, police mean business.
The authorities had issued such stern libel threats to Jillings’s panel that it only named a few of the accused staff who were allowed to resign unpunished. But he exposed the excuses of the jobsworths who allowed sadists to control these terrible homes. This is the real censored dynamite in the report.
The whited-out paragraphs in the redacted version help minimise the breathtaking incompetence and laziness of ''the suits’’ – those in the Welsh Office, the Social Services Inspectorate, the local council and welfare directors.
Some cuts are not even indicated. Jillings wrote that one Bryn Estyn boss – allowed to take early retirement following grave concerns – caned children “despite Welsh Office guidance to the contrary”. In the redacted version, at section 8.6.4, the key words “Welsh Office” have vanished.
So many looked the other way, despite desperate children and a lone, brave social worker begging for years for action. Shamefully, the whistleblower Alison Taylor’s name is also redacted from the online version of Jillings. This heroine was sacked. But those who looked the other way were promoted, moved to senior child welfare roles elsewhere or retired on enhanced benefits – like many alleged abusers.
Jillings, in the non-redacted report, reveals that one head of a home who allegedly cruelly beat boys even had a post secured for him by Clwyd at an exotic holiday destination abroad. Might some who failed to act now be investigated for neglect or conspiracy? When does inertia become criminal?
Many children ran away, but police returned them, weeping, to their abusers. At Bryn Estyn – famously described by Jillings as “the Colditz of residential care” – one boy was crammed into a laundry basket, the lid tied shut and tossed into a swimming pool. Other children saved him from drowning.
Jillings also describes ''M’’, a 15-year-old girl. Three men were eventually convicted of unlawful sex with her at her foster home. They tied her to a wooden pole, dragged her upstairs and half-drowned her in a cold bath. Yet managers claimed the sex was consensual. The uncensored version exposes concerns that she was prostituted. Such subtle redactions make it harder for people to join the dots.
In May 1997, after the Jillings report, a key member of Clwyd’s fostering panel was imprisoned for abuse. Roger Saint had been appointed despite his known history of abuse.
Other redacted details concern Unit Five, where older boys routinely abused younger ones. It was feared that they violently “broke in” recruits for a paedophile ring. But managers said the sex was consensual.
The redacted version also conceals the fact that David John Gillison, imprisoned in 1987 for three years for gross indecency against a boy in care, was prominent in the local Campaign for Homosexual Equality. Why conceal that? Paedophiles in other child-care scandals have similarly hijacked the banner of gay rights – to the detriment of both children and ordinary, decent gay men.
I earlier exposed a similar scandal at Islington children’s homes, where paedophile staff cynically accused anyone raising concerns of “homophobia”.
The redacted version has also removed the fact that a former Bryn Estyn head was arrested for abuse but the charge dropped. Yet Mat Arnold was long dead, so why was this cut? Jillings later – seemingly randomly – mentions that Arnold died of an unspecified blood disease. Later he notes his concern that the abusers put their victims at risk of sexually related diseases. Did he fear that Arnold died of Aids – and is that still too politically incorrect to mention?
I later exposed Mark Trotter, a Hackney social worker who died of Aids after abusing boys in care. His council believed him an Aids martyr and covered up his abuse.
The real martyrs are the care children who killed themselves or died violently. Jillings lists 12. He called them R1, R2, etc, with just a few poignant lines about their deaths by hanging or falling from heights. My hand ached after I wrote out that report, and so did my heart.
I later learnt of four other abused boys who died tragically or mysteriously. I rang the secretariat of the Waterhouse tribunal and asked if it would examine the deaths of these 16 boys. The official said no and, when I asked why not, became supercilious. If they’re dead, he snapped, they can’t give evidence – can they?
I slammed down the phone and wept.
Back in 1996, my sole news story about Jillings’s report appeared in a Sunday paper. It had been severely cut. I understood why – I had focused on something key but “dry”, namely the insurers’ role in suppressing the report. But I felt I had failed these hurt children and my distress infected a weekend with old friends.
Even they seemingly thought I was exaggerating the scale of the scandal. I glumly trailed round a stately home’s garden with them and shut up. One, a psychoanalyst, wrote me a sweet, implicit apology after the Jimmy Savile revelations and said she and colleagues had since been inundated with people painfully disclosing long-hidden abuse. She thanked me for helping make the unbelievable believable.
I have sometimes thought of those who escaped the Holocaust during the war, but no one believed their stories. This has been a hard journalistic beat to tread. Yet I am not one of the victims of Britain’s holocaust of children, just a witness, a reporter. Dear God, please, this time, let us not fail them.
Eileen Fairweather is an award-winning journalist whose investigations over 20 years have helped expose several paedophile rings
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Radioactive Foster Children
July 8, 2013 permalink
Charlie Dyer grew up institutionalized. In 1954 he was invited to join a science club where he would get, among other benefits, lots of oatmeal. The oatmeal was radioactive, part of a science experiment. A new book Against Their Will details this and many other experiments on foster children of the time.
New book documents Cold War experiments on kids
PHILADELPHIA — A half century later, Charlie Dyer still vividly remembers the day he was picked to join the "Fernald Science Club."
It was 1954 and at 14, he had already spent nearly half his life in a succession of Massachusetts institutions that unflinchingly labeled kids like him "morons." But his new place, the Fernald State School in Waltham, seemed like it might be different.
"They picked some of the oldest guys and asked us if we wanted to be in this club," Dyer, 72, said in an interview from his home in Watertown, Mass. "We all got together and decided, why not? We'll get time off the grounds."
The boys were promised presents, outings to the seashore, trips to Fenway Park and extra helpings of oatmeal.
"It was like Christmas," Dyer recalled. "Red Sox games, parties. I got a Mickey Mouse watch that I still have."
It took decades before Dyer learned that he and the boys he still considers brothers were little more than guinea pigs. A state task force in 1994 found Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists fed the unwitting boys radioactive oatmeal and milk for a Quaker Oats nutrition study.
His story is one of many told in a new book, "Against Their Will," the result of five years of gathering data from medical and university libraries and archives, medical journals and records from many of the now-shuttered state hospitals and orphanages where experiments were conducted.
"We thought something wasn't right, but we didn't know," Dyer said. "They were using the kids who they were supposed to be helping."
The authors interviewed nearly a dozen former test subjects, along with relatives of test subjects, medical researchers and historians.
"These are throwaway, unwanted, damaged people," said Allen Hornblum, one of the book's authors. "You had the best and the brightest minds doing this stuff, doing it very cavalierly and doing it exclusively to the most vulnerable."
While researching his 1998 book "Acres of Skin" about medical experiments on inmates in Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia, Hornblum came across documentation about similar experiments conducted on children and even infants.
Thousands of children warehoused in overcrowded orphanages and facilities for "feebleminded" children underwent spinal taps, lobotomies and electric shock. They were also exposed to viruses, radioactive and hazardous chemicals and were administered psychotropic drugs.
Often lacking legal or family advocates, they were treated in the decades after World War II as cheap and abundant raw material for trials that proved lucrative for scientists who conducted the tests and for the institutions housing the kids.
"I think people are going to be shocked," he said. "These aren't inmates ... these are children who are having these things done to them."
While disenfranchised children were used as human guinea pigs during the American eugenics fervor of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Hornblum said, the practice rose along with Cold War fears of nuclear and biological threats from the Soviet Union and a booming pharmaceutical industry.
In one of the most egregious cases in the book, more than 90 children as young as 6 were given large twice-daily doses of LSD — some for a year or more — as an experimental treatment for schizophrenia and autism at Creedmoor State Hospital in the New York City borough of Queens in the 1960s.
On New York's Staten Island from the 1950s to the early 1970s, mentally disabled children at the Willowbrook State School — famously called a "snake pit" by Sen. Robert Kennedy after a 1965 visit — were intentionally infected with viral hepatitis by feeding them an extract made from the feces of infected patients.
In dozens of orphanages and sanitariums, children were exposed to hepatitis, meningitis, ringworm, influenza, measles, mumps and polio in the name of medical advancement. Dietary experiments induced severe vitamin and mineral deficiencies to observe the effect on the children's health.
"All of this information was out there. It was just a matter of someone pulling it together and giving it context," said co-author Judith Newman, a psychologist and Penn State associate professor who teaches a course on medical ethics.
Attitudes about medical research were different then, and many prominent researchers of the era felt it was legitimate to experiment on people who did not have full rights in society — prisoners, mental patients, poor blacks, orphans — in the quest for finding cures of deadly infectious diseases.
Ethical guideposts from the Hippocratic oath to the Nuremberg code were also trumped by misguided patriotism, veneration of doctors, eugenics ideologies and the financial and career benefits for people and places that conducted and published such large clinical studies, Newman said. It wasn't until the late 1970s that the federal government issued a report outlining principles and guidelines strictly limiting the use of children in medical research.
"The last few years working on this book have been very sad," she said. "The hope is that it gives voice to those thousands of children — how many thousand we don't even know."
Dyer, a retired truck driver, makes ends meet with yard sales and odd jobs. He and about 30 former "Fernald Science Club" boys filed a class-action lawsuit that settled out of court in 1998; Dyer says they ended up with around $30,000 apiece.
What bothers him most is that the "feebleminded" diagnosis from his childhood remains part of his medical records.
"We went to court to try to get it changed," he said. "We just didn't have any schooling; they didn't teach us to read. I learned a lot of things on my own when I got out of there."
Source: Ft Wayne News-Sentinel
July 6, 2013 permalink
The Child Advocacy Centre Niagara touts itself as a safe place for children and youth to speak to trained professionals. Given its association with partners including Niagara Regional Police Service, Family and Children’s Services Niagara, CACN Family Advocate, Family Counselling Centre Niagara and medical professionals, it looks like a place that facilitates separation of children from their families by force of arms. Children and youth should act with caution before approaching this agency.
Child Advocacy Centre Niagara – A Safe Place To Tell Your Secrets
(A Foreword from Niagara At Large – Unfortunately, one of the most serious problems facing some of our children in this country today, along with poverty and hunger, is physical and sexual abuse. Fortunately in this region, we have an organization in Niagara, Ontario called the Child Advocacy Centre Niagara, celebrating its fifth anniversary this 2013, here to help address it. NAL is therefore pleased to post this CACN story.)
Submitted To NAL by Antonietta Petrella
For children and youth who are victims of child abuse, there is a safe place in the Niagara Region where they can speak to trained professionals.
Child Advocacy Centre Niagara (CACN) is a safe place to tell your secrets for children and youth who have been physically abused, sexually abused, become the targets of internet luring or were the unwilling witness of violence. Approaching its five year anniversary this fall, CACN has served more than 1,400 children and youth, and their families, from across the Niagara Region, helping them to cope with the life altering impact of child abuse.
At CACN, a caring team of professionals work together for the best interests of the children in a child-friendly setting that offers privacy and support. CACN’s partners include Niagara Regional Police Service, Family and Children’s Services Niagara, CACN Family Advocate, Family Counselling Centre Niagara, and medical professionals.
When a child arrives at the Centre, the child is accompanied by non-offending family members or caregivers. The child is able to provide the details of their abuse in a private, comfortable environment that respects their vulnerability and offers caring support. A video recorded forensic interview happens only when the child is ready. These interviews aid in the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators. After the interviews, follow-up counselling for children and non-offending family members is provided.
CACN is the first dedicated facility of its kind in Canada where multidisciplinary services are coordinated in the best interest of the child. The Centre’s approach to child abuse investigation is recognized as evidence based, and a best practice model. CACN receives no fixed government funding and depends on community support and fundraising to continue serving the children and youth of Niagara’s twelve municipalities.
Advocacy centres have a real impact that is measurable not just in terms of benefits to victims and their families, but also in dollars. Research by the National Children’s Alliance in the United States confirms that an investigation into a child abuse case in a community with a child advocacy centre is 45% less expensive than in a community without one.
For more information about Child Advocacy Centre Niagara, or to donate, please visit www.cacniagara.org .
Antonietta Petrella is a Niagara, Ontario resident, the author of this post, a fundraiser and administrative assistant for the Child Advocacy Centre Niagara.
One Response to Child Advocacy Centre Niagara – A Safe Place To Tell Your Secrets
This is a great read. . In fact I think it is delightful if what has been described here is all true and forthright.
One problem I see is that there is virtually no third party accountability of the organizations mentioned above. With over 612 children who have died in Ontario Foster Care in a period of five years with no third party investigation ( ie the Ombudsman of Ontario) or even the review of the old grand jury system we have a problem people. Justice is firmly in the hands of the few who will defend children at all costs personally and professionally. When I hear or read the word “trained professionals” it scares the daylights out of me as the so called trained professionals act in their own self interest and not necessarily in the interest of children. We do not have a Charter of Rights for Victims, we have a Charter of Rights for criminals and all professionals must provide those rights to criminals with little or no rights for victims.
Will this amazing sounding service actually help? We will never really know since the only information we will ever hear about this amazing sounding institution are the people who provide public relations services for the Child Advocacy Centre Niagara. I hope this great sounding institute is successful but I have no reason to believe it will operate in the interest of Children. I mean no disrespect to the French Family who have loaned their good name to support for this institution but we as society must put children first, Always!
Source: Niagara At Large
Black Babies Cost Less to Adopt
July 6, 2013 permalink
The NPR reporter is clueless about the cause of the price differential. She cites altruistic reasons, suggesting that a lower black price will get more families interested in adoption across racial lines. The fees, she says, cover administrative costs and sometimes costs for the real mother. Prices quoted by the adoptive mother in the program are $35k plus expenses for a white baby, $18k for a black baby and $24k-26k for a mixed race baby. Previous articles on fixcas support a similar black/white price differential    .
Since reporters remain ignorant of the basics of markets, fixcas provides a primer on pricing in the expand block.
The supply of a product in the marketplace depends on price. When a low price is offered, suppliers are willing to provide only small quantities. For example, at a low price, coal suppliers will mine only the small amount of coal near the surface that can be produced easily. When a higher price prevails, it makes sense to dig further into the ground where there is more coal to be found. Economists represent this fact with a graph. In the reverse of usual mathematical practice, they put the price on the vertical axis and the quantity provided at that price on the horizontal axis. An example is the blue curve in the chart below.
Source: Wikipedia, Supply and demand
Demand also varies in response to price. A high price for a product will scare off a lot of buyers, so they are willing to buy only a small quantity. But a drop in price will bring out more buyers, so the demand goes up. That is represented by lower red curve, D1, in the diagram.
Where the two curves meet suppliers and consumers are willing to trade the same quantity at the same price. That is the price the market finds, P1 in the diagram.
What happens when the demand increases for some reason? That is shown by the second demand curve, D2. Now the market will find a new price, P2, higher than the old one. A change in the supply curve (not shown) can also alter price. An increase in the supply (shifting the blue supply curve down and to the right) will lower the price point.
Back to the babies. In the USA, white people have higher status than black people, enhancing the demand to adopt white babies. So the demand curve for white babies resembles D2 while black babies are on D1. The white price is higher. The supply is also affected by the higher birth rate among blacks, lowering the black price for that reason as well.
The adoption industry is engaging in a big game of pretend: pretending the money changing hands during adoption is for legal and administrative fees, when the facts show that the racial price differential is the work of market forces.
July 6, 2013 permalink
Need a lawyer to defend your family? Kathryn Smithen practices family law in her own firm in Toronto. She knows the legal system from the inside through her years of experience. Her résumé includes:
She was called to the bar in 2011 when the law society decided she was of good character. You can reach her through her website, Kathryn L Smithen. According to Anne Jarvis in the Windsor Star, Smithen is only one of many practicing Ontario lawyers with a criminal past.
Kidnappers and con artists: Lawyers with criminal records
A man who spent more than three years in prison for cocaine trafficking, a woman with at least 38 fraud convictions and a teacher who lost his licence after pleading guilty to criminal harassment involving a 15-year-old student – they’re all lawyers in Ontario.
The Law Society of Upper Canada has granted legal licences to at least five people with criminal histories in the last five years.
Fraud, theft of money, theft of credit cards and altering or forging documents – Kathryn Smithen has at least 38 convictions over 14 years, until 1993, when she was finally jailed for 18 months.
She stole from employers and was fired for cause five times. She paid the first and last month’s rent and then simply stayed until she was evicted. When she applied for her legal licence, she had two civil judgments against her for fraud and several judgments outstanding. She had also declared bankruptcy twice.
When she disclosed her checkered past on her application to the law society, it triggered an investigation, which revealed more problems, some as recent as 2005. She had made misrepresentations to Immigration Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency, a court and on a rental application. She had also posed as a landlord to get credit information on her ex-husband and his wife to use in court against her former spouse. And she had worked as an escort on and off for nine years.
“If you just looked at the optics of my case, you would immediately say no, right? Go away. This is laughable,” Smithen, 51, admitted in an interview.
Yet now she’s a lawyer, called to the bar in 2011 and practising family law in her own firm in Toronto. Two conditions on her practice, that she cannot have sole control over a trust account and that another lawyer must act as her mentor, expired this month.
Some of Smithen’s clients know her past. Some don’t.
“I don’t go openly tell them,” she said. “If somebody asks me – and frequently they do, this is an Internet savvy age – I try to deal with it frankly.”
One client hired her recently because of her background, she said.
“Because of what I’ve been able to achieve,” she said. “It really impressed him.”
Another potential client wanted to hire her – until she saw her criminal record.
“It made her feel very uncomfortable, and I suggested to her that maybe I’m not the right lawyer for you,” Smithen said. “I respect her. That’s her choice.”
Smithen, who went back to school and earned a journalism degree from Ryerson University in 2002 and a law degree from York University’s Osgoode Hall in 2008, said she deserves her licence.
“I turned my life around,” she said. “I changed everything about the way I was living. And I didn’t feel I should be defined indefinitely by the poorer choices of my life.
“The biggest strength of my case,” she said, “was I absolutely took responsibility for everything. I didn’t make any excuses. I didn’t try to hoodwink anybody. I basically laid it all on the line and said this is me, this is what I’ve done.”
A law society panel, two lawyers and a chartered accountant from Sudbury, that presided over a hearing to determine if Smithen should be admitted to the bar, agreed.
“We were all horrified at the record she had,” said panel chairman James Caskey, a London lawyer.
But he said, “we were convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that this was someone who had turned their life around. They had seen the very definite error of their ways, and they had redeemed themselves completely. We were satisfied on the balance of probabilities that she ought to be granted a licence and that she would be a contributing and very good practising lawyer that would bring credit to the profession.”
The judicial system is about more than punishing the offender and protecting the public, said Caskey. It’s also about rehabilitating people so they can return to society.
“It’s very important we rehabilitate people through our judicial process,” he said. “The law society mirrors that very concept: you must consider the rehabilitative capabilities.”
But not everyone agreed with the panel. When the judge who presided over a matrimonial case involving Smithen in 2005 later saw her articling for a law firm, she was so concerned that she sent her decision in the case, which criticized both Smithen and her ex-husband, to the law society. Janice Duggan, the lawyer who represented the law society at Smithen’s hearing, told the panel that Smithen’s conduct was “so egregious that it could not be overlooked,” according to the panel’s decision, which is a public document. She had been jailed only after being given so many chances at rehabilitation that the court could no longer condone her behaviour. She had filed appeals and applications for pardons – “hardly a sign of remorse.” She still owed a lot of money – more than $339,000 at the time of her application – and only started repaying debts that she knew would be an impediment to a legal licence.
“There are people admitted (to the bar) who legitimately cause the public to ask whether that is the right outcome,” says Alice Woolley, law professor at the University of Calgary and a leading researcher on law society hearings like Smithen’s.
She cited Smithen.
“It’s legitimate to say a person who has been convicted of numerous criminal offences ought not to occupy the role of lawyer,” she said.
Canada does an “appalling” job of screening potential lawyers, Woolley said. One of the conditions for obtaining a legal licence in Canada is being of “good character.” Yet this is only vaguely defined. Most law societies – Manitoba and Nova Scotia are exceptions – don’t even conduct criminal record checks on applicants. In Ontario, the Law Society of Upper Canada relies on applicants to complete a questionnaire asking if they’ve ever been convicted of a criminal offence, disobeyed a court order, had a civil judgment against them, been fired for cause, censured by their professional organization or been bankrupt.
Answering yes to any of these can trigger a hearing like Smithen’s to determine whether the applicant is of good character. The point of the hearings, usually presided over by a lawyer, a paralegal and a member of the public, is to protect the public and ensure public confidence in the legal profession and the law society, which regulates the profession.
But the hearings are “incoherent,” “unfair” and don’t really protect the public, says Woolley.
Applicants have been excluded for conduct that isn’t even a crime, she said. They’ve been denied licences based on charges that were never tried in court, hearsay evidence and incomplete reports. She cited an applicant who was excluded for a hit-and-run accident with minor damage, another for writing a defamatory letter in a fight on a condo board (after a four-year fight, he was finally admitted) and another for a plagiarized thesis. Yet, an applicant who bribed a public official, the teacher whose licence was revoked, the man imprisoned for cocaine trafficking and Smithen, “who had a truly remarkable criminal record,” Woolley wrote in the Canadian Journal of Administrative Law and Practice, were all admitted.
“The outcome in any particular case does not correlate with the severity of the applicant’s past misconduct,” she wrote.
“I don’t think it gives the public any confidence,” she said in an interview.
What seems to matter most is whether applicants confess their misconduct and say they’re sorry.
“It’s about constructing a story that people from the law society find appealing,” she said. “Have you got a good story about redemption? Essentially, you would be better off to lie and say you did something bad and you’re sorry even if you didn’t do it than to maintain your innocence of alleged misconduct.”
Hardly anyone is precluded from the bar anyway, Woolley said. Only six applicants in Canada are believed to have been denied licences on the basis of character in the last six years. Only seven applicants in Ontario have been denied based on character in the last 24 years.
The Federation of Law Societies of Canada, which is developing national standards for admission to the legal profession, is considering replacing the idea of good character with “suitability,” including attributes such as “honesty, integrity and candour.” It’s an attempt to implement “consistent requirements that are clearly defined and defensible,” says federation president Gerald Tremblay. Factors like respect for the rule of law and financial responsibility would be used to assess suitability.
That’s better, says Woolley, but it’s still vague and subjective.
Woolley recommends simply admitting everyone with a law degree who has passed the bar exam. But that’s not likely. Many professions consider members’ character, says Tremblay.
If law societies continue screening applicants, says Woolley, they should clearly outline who can and can not become a lawyer. For example, people who have been convicted of an indictable offence and have not received a pardon can not become lawyers.
“If you’re going to exclude people, exclude them based on what they did, not on how you assess them when you hear them testify,” she said. “We know what they did, but your assessment of their testimony is very unreliable. I could tell you a story. You could think I’m a liar or I’m telling the truth, but you don’t really know.”
Blanket rules might be arbitrary, she said, “but it would be fair and would send a message to the public that people convicted of really bad crimes don’t get to be lawyers.”
Source: Windsor Star
Trafficking in Children and Cannabis
July 5, 2013 permalink
English social worker Kirsty Watson was caught delivering 100 kilograms of cannabis resin in her car. Cannabis resin (hashish) is extracted from the trichomes of marijuana plants. The quantity carried by Watson required starting with tons of plant growth.
Social worker caught delivering £500,000 of cannabis
A social worker was caught delivering £500,000 of cannabis in her car after driving from Lancashire to Scotland.
Kirsty Watson, 24, of Thorntrees Avenue, Lea, Preston, was stopped by police in Dunfermline, Fife, with 100kg of cannabis resin in the back of her vehicle.
Watson later admitted being concerned in the supply of the Class B drug, when she appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh.
Advocate depute Adrian Cottam told the court that police had received information that a delivery of drugs was to made from England, and Watson was found with boxes of cannabis.
Watson said that when drug squad detectives moved in on her and her co-accused at Townhill Country Park, in Dunfermline, she was “shocked”.
She told a court: “I said, ‘There’s no drugs in the back of the car. Check.’
“‘At the time I believed it was money.’”
Watson claimed that she believed she was moving a large amount of money from illegal activity.
She said she was to be paid £500 for the delivery. She would also get petrol money.
Watson said she was a social worker in Lancashire at the time she acted as a drugs courier in May last year, but she had since lost her job.
She said “a mutual friend” had contacted her and asked her if she could move some money for Mohammed Nurien, who she had met the previous month at a bar in Manchester.
She said she had met up with Nurien at a new housing estate with an Audi car parked outside the apartment block. He had retrieved boxes from the building and put them into her car.
Watson told the court that she had been put in “a difficult situation financially”.
She was asked why she had agreed to carry out the delivery and replied: “Because I was stupid.”
Nurien, of Hillbrae Road, Manchester, was found guilty of being concerned in the supply of cannabis resin between May 20 and 27 last year by a jury at the end of a trial yesterday.
Fish and chip shop owner Sean Murphy, 42, of Littlehorn Foot, Crombie, Fife, also earlier admitted being concerned in the supply of cannabis.
A co-accused, electrician Craig Maxwell, 29, of Arthur Street, Dunfermline, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of the Class B drug amphetamine.
The judge remanded all four in custody and called for background reports ahead of sentencing later this month.
Lady Stacey said that she must consider jail sentences given the value and amount of drugs involved in the case.
Source: Lancashire Evening Post
July 5, 2013 permalink
The forty children seized from Mennonites near Gladstone Manitoba will remain in custody following a court hearing. Fixcas research has shown the community to be Westbourne Manitoba, about 20 kilometers east of Gladstone. Two of the men charged are Enos Bauman, 54, and his son Cleason Bauman, 29.
Judge denies bid to have kids returned to parents
BRANDON -- About 40 Mennonite children remain in the care of provincial Child and Family Services after a lawyer made an unsuccessful bid to get some of them home.
Paul Walsh argued that the child welfare agency failed to follow the Child and Family Services Act, so the children should be returned to their Old Order Mennonite parents.
"The best place for the 18 children, every last one of the children of my clients — some who are being breast-fed, some who are under two, some of who have health issues — would be best served if they were returned to my clients," Walsh said in a southern Manitoba courtroom on Wednesday.
Walsh represents five of 10 families said to have had children apprehended.
Their names, and the name of their "horse-and-buggy" community, can’t be printed due to a court-ordered publication ban.
The children from the parents represented by Walsh are only 18 of about 40 children who remain in CFS care in the wake of allegations of physical abuse at the Mennonite community.
Walsh, a former CFS lawyer who has worked on child protection cases for 20 years, said this is the only case he’s aware of in Canada in which all the children of an identifiable group have been apprehended en masse.
The need for such a widespread seizure of children is now being questioned.
The mass apprehension of children by CFS is the result of allegations of physical abuse against children from the community of 14 homes clustered within a seven-kilometre radius.
Before the children were removed, the population of the Manitoba community was 80 to 90 people.
Ten adult community members now reportedly face charges of assault and assault with a weapon as a result of an RCMP investigation. At this point, details of the allegations can only be gleaned from court documents.
When the first two men to be charged appeared in court in March it was initially alleged that seven children, aged seven to 14 years, were assaulted.
Two further accused appeared in court last month, raising the number of children alleged to have been assaulted to 13.
It’s alleged that children were assaulted multiple times as a form of "discipline" with such objects as a leather strap, cattle prod, a whip and a board.
Last summer, a number of children started to exhibit "extreme" behaviour. They were defiant and acting inappropriately. It was only later that the adults learned the source of what they believed to be the problem.
A number of children came forward with allegations that they had been sexually abused by their father.
One source said that the allegations of sexual abuse against children were more widespread — it included children from three families, and the accused also included three women.
The Mennonite community tried to handle the matter internally before turning to the RCMP.
Ultimately, though, the accused father denied the allegations and was never charged. Instead, the RCMP investigation led to charges against other community members said to have disciplined the children.
Before the crisis, 53 children lived in the community. The 11 children of the father originally accused of abuse had been staying at the homes of other community members but CFS removed them, returned them to their parents and they now reportedly live in Ontario.
In January and June, the remaining 42 children were apprehended from the community by CFS.
However, a source said one teen ran away from his CFS placement back to his Mennonite home and was allowed to stay.
Another 13-year-old boy also ran away from his placement and remains missing. He’s been in contact with community members but they don’t know where he is.
That leaves only one to two children in the community.
In another twist to the case, two women from the community are said to be on the run. They apparently fled in the belief they were about to be charged.
In court on Wednesday, Walsh made a bid to get 18 of the Mennonite children — nine years old and younger — home.
Eight of their parents were present in the gallery — five men in black jackets and pants, and three women in full-length dresses and white bonnets.
Walsh asked Judge Heather Pullan to dismiss an application by CFS of Central Manitoba for a hearing to determine whether the children are in need of protection.
That hearing could determine temporary or permanent guardianship — whether that’s with the parents, another person, or the agency.
Walsh argued the CFS application failed to meet the standards of the CFS Act, should be declared null and his clients’ children should be returned to their parents.
CFS hadn’t specified the times and conditions for allowing the parents access to their children as required by the act, Walsh said.
Only one set of parents of the five families he represents has had a visit with their children within the last month, he said.
The agency’s lawyer, Chad Schaan, said there was difficulty initially reaching or speaking with some of the parents, but access — at least for parents who haven’t been charged — is supervised on a weekly basis at a home at the community.
"The agency is doing what it can," Schaan said, adding that he’d written to Walsh to inform him of details of access.
Walsh also argued that he hadn’t received proper particulars that outline the grounds being used to show the children are in need of protection.
Schaan said Walsh has been provided with detailed particulars and more are on the way, and argued the application shouldn’t be dismissed.
While Pullan expressed concern with CFS’s application — including concerns about the parents’ access to the children — she said those concerns can be remedied and declined to declare it null.
A further hearing date has been tentatively set for August, but in the meantime the case has been scheduled for later this month to discuss issues surrounding the case.
The 40 Mennonite children in CFS care are said to be living in homes across Manitoba with Mennonites from other communities.
Source: Winnipeg Free Press
Addendum: A new article claims that help is coming to the community, but their children are still gone with no signs of imminent return.
Manitoba Mennonite community gets help after 40 kids seized
Restoration team in place for 'mutual education,' Family Services executive says
Provincial officials in Manitoba are working together to help families involved in a massive seizure of children from a Mennonite community in rural Manitoba.
“This is a very unique and challenging situation,” said Jay Rodgers, chief executive of Manitoba Child and Family Services.
Dozens of children were seized earlier this year after multiple assault charges were laid against 13 adults in the community.
Court documents allege some of the assaults involved a strap and a cattle prod. The children seized range in age from less than a year old to 17.
Now Family Services officials are working to find placements for the children and helping families to create safe environments.
A restoration team has been formed that includes members of the community where the children were seized, as well as child welfare workers.
“The restoration team has come together as a way of trying to build a relationship between child and family services system and this community,” said Rodgers.
He said part of doing that is working with adults in the community to bridge the gap between their traditional beliefs and modern standards. He said child-welfare workers are helping the adults “to understand the laws that we have to work under in Manitoba and what’s acceptable and not acceptable discipline of kids.”
Rodgers said the process is about mutual education. “I think the community members have to understand that better from our perspective, and as a service system, we have to understand better from their perspective, their history and their culture.”
Former Mennonite Central Committee executive director Peter Rempel is also on the restoration team. He said the community reached out to him for help when RCMP began investigating the use of corporal punishment in some of the homes.
Rempel said RCMP was originally called into the community to look into another matter, but ended up focusing on the use of corporal punishment.
He said Family Services “started apprehending children because of the corporal punishment aspect of it.”
Rempel added: “That’s the point they called me and said strange things are happening here, which we don’t understand, and so I’ve worked with them since then.”
Rempel was first in contact with the community years ago when they first arrived to Manitoba from another province. He was with the MCC at the time.
“There is a profound and deep desire to — I’d almost say — do what it takes to have the children returned,” said Rempel. “They came to me and said we need some resources to help us rework things.”
Rempel helped to pull together resources for the families to address Family Services' concerns about child safety. Counsellors have worked with some of the community members already, and parenting courses have been introduced.
“We are basically trying to do some educating and encouraging, and in some ways, maybe helping translate what Child and Family Services looks for,” he said. “We will work at what steps the community can go through to address the concerns about safety of their children and work towards having the children returned.”
About 40 children remain in Family Services' care. Rodgers said children will only be returned when the agency determines they will be safe.
“The mandate of child and family services under provincial legislation — under our laws — is to keep kids safe,” he said.
Addendum: A hearing took place on September 4. Lawyers are making positive statements but the article shows little real progress in reuniting the families.
Manitoba Mennonite parents closer to getting children back
Some members of a rural Manitoba Mennonite community at the centre of child-abuse allegations are one step closer to being reunited with their children.
A number of children were removed from the private community by child and family services (CFS) officials in June after 13 adults were charged with multiple counts of assault.
The charges are based on allegations of children being struck with cattle prods, whips and leather straps between July 2011 and Jan. 31 of this year.
All but one child was taken from the Mennonite community and placed in foster care. Since then, their parents and community leaders have been in talks with CFS officials towards having the children returned.
Following a court hearing on Wednesday afternoon, a lawyer for five of the Mennonite families said he believes all of his clients' children will be brought home once child-welfare concerns are addressed.
Step in the right direction, says lawyer
Paul Walsh told reporters outside court that the latest development is a step in the right direction.
At the same time, he said he believes the process has taken too long, even though all of his clients have already agreed to conditions laid out by CFS officials.
Those conditions were listed in a CFS letter sent to the Mennonite community in July and include:
- Only spanking children on their buttocks with their hands.
- Not to leave marks or injuries on the children from disciplining them.
- Having children disciplined only by their parents, not by teachers or pastors.
Some of the family members, who spoke publicly for the first time outside court, told reporters that they love their children and it's been an extremely difficult summer, and they would do anything to have their children home.
The family members also said they are worried their children are losing touch with their Mennonite beliefs.
A court-ordered publication ban means neither the Mennonite community nor the people charged can be named in order to protect the identities of the alleged victims.
One mother says her son celebrated his first birthday on Tuesday but she wasn't allowed to see him.
CFS officials have said they will meet with each family to discuss child-welfare concerns before the children are brought back to the community.
Addendum: One mother, identified as a foster mother later on, has pleaded guilty to a crime. She may be the foster mother from hell, as portrayed in the article. Or if her own children are part of the apprehension, she may be the victim of an offer such as plead guilty or you will never see your children again.
The allegations against the community elders appear strikingly similar to the actions of social workers in other families.
Children were questioned by community elders and other adults -- often with leading questions or with specific hints -- about alleged sexual improprieties within their families, the Crown said.
When the children didn't remember things they were supposed to remember, or would falsely admit to the improprieties, violence would follow.
As of April 2014, thirty of the children are still in CFS care.
Kids shocked with cattle prod
Sins of religious community in court
Incidents of horrific physical abuse of children in a rural Manitoba community were revealed in a Winnipeg courtroom late last month.
During the case of an Old Order Mennonite community member -- a woman who pleaded guilty to abuse charges -- the Crown said "counselling sessions" were held in which children were spanked, kicked, strapped and shocked with a cattle prod for perceived wrongdoing.
One girl was strapped and shocked for not eating quickly enough, and sometimes shocked for as little as the look on her face, court was told.
"The backdrop of it is actually tremendous physical violence with respect to the children," Crown attorney Adam Bergen said in late March, when the woman from the religious community entered guilty pleas to assault charges.
Neither she nor her community can be identified due to ongoing court proceedings and a publication ban.
An estimated 80 to 90 people -- more than half of them children -- lived in the community when allegations of abuse came to light. The community still used horse and buggies and abided by traditions dating back to the 19th century.
About 16 adults were charged with offences such as assault and assault with a weapon. Most were allegedly committed on a number of children from July 2011 to January 2013.
At one point, there were at least 13 victims.
There might have been more, court documents allege.
The 57-year-old woman who pleaded guilty admitted to two counts of assault with a weapon against two girls who were placed in her home after they were removed from their own.
At the time, one girl was 10 or 11 years old, and the other was between six and eight years old.
The woman's sentencing will be at a later date.
Bergen said the trouble within the community surrounded allegations of sexual improprieties among the parents and children of two families.
Those seen as community elders and other adults would hold counselling sessions in an effort to gain information about whether sexual abuse was taking place within families.
Violent methods of extracting information were used, the Crown said.
"Underlying all of this seems to be this sort of hyper-vigilance over any sexual thoughts on behalf of the children, and so that is what the counselling is geared toward," Bergen said.
Those allegations of sexual abuse -- repeated to police by children from those families -- were later all recanted or dismissed by police as untrue, Bergen said. It's how those unfounded sexual allegations were drawn from the children that forms the basis for the accusations of physical abuse, he said.
In a previous hearing, court heard the police investigation included physical examinations of the children.
Children were questioned by community elders and other adults -- often with leading questions or with specific hints -- about alleged sexual improprieties within their families, the Crown said.
When the children didn't remember things they were supposed to remember, or would falsely admit to the improprieties, violence would follow.
"The cattle prod is used for large animals and it's basically got an on-off switch and it's described by all the children as incredibly painful," Bergen said.
Due to the allegations of physical abuse, Child and Family Services apprehended all of the children in waves during February and June of 2013.
At one point, 42 children were in CFS care but community members have worked with CFS toward their return home. So far, about a dozen have been returned and 30 are still in CFS care.
Seven community members remain charged.
Charges against six of them were stayed.
Source: Winnipeg Free Press
Addendum: A Mennonite man who hid a child for three months has been fined $50,000.
Old Order Mennonite fined $50K for abducting boy from CFS
A male member of an Old Order Mennonite community that was thrust into the spotlight after all of its children were seized by child welfare authorities amidst allegations of severe physical abuse was fined $50,000 Wednesday after admitting to helping hide one of the children for several months.
Neither the man or his southern Manitoba community can be identified by name.
The 31-year-old man pleaded guilty to assisting in removing a child from his community, knowing he was in care. The fine, jointly recommended by the Crown and defence, is the maximum allowed for the Child and Family Services Act offence. Additional charges of child abduction and obstruction of justice were stayed by the Crown.
The boy disappeared May 26, 2013 and wasn’t located until late August.
Court heard the man helped hide the boy at a number of community homes before he was relocated to a home in Saskatchewan and repeatedly told CFS and police he knew nothing of his whereabouts.
“This kind of interference on the heels of a horrible situation ... absolutely has to be denounced,” said Judge Margaret Wiebe. “You sent a strong message to your community and to (the boy) that police shouldn’t be trusted and CFS shouldn’t be trusted.”
Crown attorney Nicole Roch said the man and other community members hid the boy and other children so they couldn’t provide police statements regarding allegations of sexual and physical abuse.
“All of the children that were interfered with ... were all children that had not provided statements to police,” Roch said. “The Crown’s view is that the purpose of interfering with these children was to ensure ... (their) allegations never saw a courtroom and never saw the light of day.”
Defence lawyer Ted Mariash argued the man was aware the boy was unhappy and “struggling” in his foster placement and only wanted to help him. The boy “came to my client in an extreme state of need and my client acted accordingly,” Mariash said.
More than a dozen adult community members were arrested and all of the community’s children were taken into care last year after allegations surfaced that the children had been subjected to severe physical abuse, including being shocked with a cattle prod.
Residents established the community just eight years ago after breaking from their home community in Ontario. Old Order Mennonite communities are traditionally patriarchal, with ultimate authority residing in the hands of church leaders. Community members eschew modern technology and electricity and drive a horse and buggy to get around.
Most of the residents have dealt with their charges by way of peace bonds. The community’s former de-facto leader Enos Bauman remains before the court.
Bauman held no position within the church but wielded great authority in the community, court heard.
Allegations of wrongdoing first came to light in the summer of 2012 when a community resident “escaped to Ontario” and reported he had been sexually abused by Bauman, Roch said.
Police investigated and a number of boys who had been living with Bauman and his wife reported Bauman had used a cattle prod on them as a disciplinary measure against masturbation.
In a victim impact statement, the boy at the centre of Wednesday’s hearing said he is struggling to trust his community and his parents.
The boy remains in foster care “and has expressed significant concerns about returning to his community,” Roch said.
Source: Winnipeg Sun
Addendum: An unnamed man, probably Cleason Bauman, has pleaded guilty.
Man from western Manitoba Mennonite community pleads guilty to child abuse charges
A member of a western Manitoba Mennonite community has pleaded guilty to numerous incidents of child abuse over a three year span.
The 31-year-old accused, who can't be named to protect the identity of the victims, appeared in a Winnipeg courtroom Tuesday.
He admitted to five counts of assault with a weapon for incidents involving a leather strap and an iron fire poker.
He admitted to a single count of assault for repeated spankings of a sixth victim.
All of the attacks occurred between 2010 and 2013 against children between the ages of seven and 13.
The accused will be sentenced later this year following completion of several court-ordered reports. He remains free on bail.
Police say the assaults were carried out as a form of discipline at the community in western Manitoba.
In general, Old Order Mennonites have a lifestyle that rejects certain technologies.
They don't use computers or the Internet, for example, and don't believe in having their photos taken. Some Old Order Mennonites live without telephones and electricity and use horses to pull farm machinery.
Source: Winnipeg Free Press
Carter on Trial
July 4, 2013 permalink
Chris Carter facing personation with intent, disobeying court order charges
The trial of a Canada Court Watch activist with sights on revamping the jurisdiction of Ontario's children's aid societies started in a Chatham courtroom on a respectfully combative note Wednesday.
Armed with shopping bags filled with files, Chris Carter, 46, is defending himself on a charge of personation with intent and one count of disobeying a court order.
Carter opened his remarks questioning why a different judge than he's had in previous court dates was presiding over his trial.
The accused then moved to have a publication ban, that prevents the publication of evidence until the trial is over, quashed.
Justice Paul Kowalyshyn went over court procedures to assist the accused and after reviewing Carter's verbal comments, agreed to hear his motion to dismiss the publication ban, before the commencement of his trial.
Carter was unsuccessful on both matters and the Crown called its first witness to give evidence-in-chief during the afternoon of what was supposed to be a one-day trial.
In previous publications, The Chatham Daily News reported Carter was charged in February 2012 for an incident on Feb. 6 at the Chatham-Kent Children's Services office.
He was arrested near where a group of protesters gathered on Grand Avenue during a demonstration rally organized by Canada Court Watch.
Carter had stated earlier that he aims to turn the minor charges against him into an opportunity to bring Ontario's child-protection system under the microscope.
Carter told court he expects to call a number of witnesses in his defence and will need two more days in court.
Source: Chatham Daily News
Addendum: Another delay.
Trial for court activist continues
The trial of a Canada Court Watch activist with sights on revamping the jurisdiction of Ontario's children's aid societies will continue next Thursday.
Chris Carter, 46, is defending himself on a charge of personation with intent and one count of disobeying a court order.
In previous publications, The Chatham Daily News reported Carter was charged in February 2012 for an incident on Feb. 6 at the Chatham-Kent Children's Services office.
He was arrested near where a group of protesters gathered on Grand Avenue West during a demonstration rally organized by Canada Court Watch.
Carter had stated earlier that he aims to turn the minor charges against him into an opportunity to bring Ontario's child protection system under the microscope.
He said Ontario is the only province in which the provincial ombudsman has no authority to investigate complaints against children's aid societies.
Carter said more than 1,200 people signed a petition in Chatham asking that the authority of the provincial ombudsman be expanded to include complaint investigations involving children's services.
Source: Chatham Daily News
Addendum: Chris Carter appeared in court on January 10, 2014. The Chatham Daily News reported it the next day in the print edition, but not on the internet.
Judge dismisses court activist Carter's motions
An Ontario Court judge dismissed several motions entered by a Canada Court Watch activist in Chatham court Friday.
Christopher Carter, 46, has stated during his trial on charges of personation with intent and one count of disobeying a court order that he wishes to turn the offences against him into an opportunity to bring Ontario's child protection system under the microscope.
The judge ruled the motions were overly broad and had no relevance to the criminal proceedings.
"Third-party records cannot be turned into evidence gathering tools for defence," Justice Paul Kowalyshyn said.
Carter, who is self-represented, was seeking documents from Chatham-Kent Children's Services, the Chatham-Kent Police Service, Waterloo Regional Police and many other agencies that may or may not have had discussions about him.
The judge did make an order for the court to receive two-and-a-half pages of notes and an e-mailed document made by a child-care worker about Carter by Jan. 24 and a decision would be made by Feb, 5 whether the documents could be given to the defendant.
The trial was set to resume on Apr. 22.
Source: private communication
Wrong Way Child Protection
July 4, 2013 permalink
A drunk man got behind the wheel of a pickup truck with three children in the vehicle. He drove the wrong way on highway 407 for eight kilometers before he was stopped by police. Only good luck prevented several child deaths from this incident. The driver is in jail and the children were placed in foster homes. He has been assigned to other work and children's aid was notified.
Why does this driver get treated with kid gloves? He is Bob McKean, fire chief of Clearview Ontario, too high up on the social pecking order for the treatment handed out to everyone else.
Clearview fire chief charged in wrong-way, impaired driving incident
Clearview’s fire chief is facing a number of charges after allegedly driving the wrong way on Highway 407 while impaired and with his three kids in his truck Saturday night.
The OPP say 38-year-old Bob McKean was driving his Ford F150 pickup truck eastbound in the westbound lanes on Highway 407 near Milton at about 10:45 p.m. Saturday, June 29, 2013.
After meeting with Clearview Township CAO Susan McKenzie and the town’s human resources staff, Mayor Ken Ferguson says McKean will stay on the job as chief, but will be assigned to desk duties. He has been chief since May 2010.
Ferguson tells CTV Barrie that Deputy Chief Colin Shewell will take over fire and emergency-related duties.
“The chief will continue to fulfill his responsibilities … for the Township of Clearview,” Ferguson says, adding the town will continue to support McKean and allow the legal process to proceed. “The Township is confident that the interest of the public in the Township’s fire protection services and its operations will not be adversely affected."
McKean reportedly called McKenzie Sunday evening, who then phoned the mayor. The three then met.
The Clearview Fire Department has 100 firefighters with three full-time employees – the chief, the deputy chief and an administrative assistant.
Rob Cooper spoke with the fire chief at noon today. The chief says he does not want to speak today.
Police say a number of motorists called Saturday night to say the truck almost hit multiple vehicles head-on. McKean reportedly drove about eight kilometres in the wrong direction on the highway.
An OPP cruiser spotted the truck and eventually brought it to a stop. Police say there were three young children in the truck at the time.
McKean faces charges of impaired driving and dangerous driving. He faces a court date in Milton July 22, 2013. The Children’s Aid Society has been notified by police.
The mayor says McKean will now work out of the Stayner Emergency Hub and Fire Administration Centre on Highway 26.
False Reporter Spanked
July 3, 2013 permalink
A woman in Cornwall Ontario has been charged with mischief for filing a false report of child abuse. In the past, false reports have been rife while legal controls on their spread have been absent.
City woman accused of filing false CAS report
A Cornwall woman is facing harassment and mischief charges after allegedly filing a false report with the local Children's Aid Society. Cornwall police arrested the 22-year-old suspect yesterday after they say she contacted the CAS office on Sunday night around 11:30 p.m. She allegedly told CAS workers a female was at home drunk and could not take care of her six-year-old child. Police checked it out and proved it was a false allegation. The 22-year-old is facing public mischief and criminal harassment charges and will be in a Cornwall court in August.
Source: Cornwall Daily
Kiddie Arrested for Kiddie Porn
July 3, 2013 permalink
A teenaged girl has been arrested after using her cell phone to photograph herself and another teenager engaged in oral sex.
The days are gone when child pornography meant a dirty old man photographing little girls. Now the victims of laws intended to protect children are those same children themselves.
Girl, 15, Faces Child Porn Rap For iPhone Pic
Cops: Young Floridian displayed illicit image to several classmates
JULY 2--A 15-year-old Florida girl was arrested yesterday on a child pornography charge for allegedly showing several classmates a photo on her iPhone depicting “two juveniles engaged in oral sex,” police report.
The girl admitted to “taking the pornographic photo,” according to a complaint affidavit filed by the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. The document, sworn by a detective, does not identify the juveniles in the photo, though a sheriff’s spokesperson said that the teen herself is one of the minors depicted.
On May 21, the iPhone was seized from the girl “during class” by an employee of Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel who “observed a picture of two juveniles engaged in oral sex.”
In subsequent interviews, “five witnesses” told a deputy that they “had been shown the child pornography by the defendant.” The girl later reportedly copped to taking the photo and possessing it on her white iPhone.
The teenager was arrested yesterday afternoon at her Land O’ Lakes home and charged with a felony child porn count. The girl, whose name TSG has redacted from the complaint, is pictured in the above blurred photo. The complaint notes that the girl, who turned 15 last month, has a tattoo of a cross inked on her neck.
The day after her phone was taken, the girl sent a message from her Twitter account to a friend about the incident. The girl, who apparently had traveled to Europe, seemed unconcerned in the May 22 tweet about the iPhone seizure: “the school took my phone, long story and im in Ireland lmaoooooo.” (1 page)
Source: The Smoking Gun
Creepy Social Worker
July 2, 2013 permalink
A family has informed Vern Beck of a CAS worker stalking their son. The worker's efforts go beyond investigation and resemble a pedophile grooming a prospect. He follows their son into the washrooms and invites him out for swimming. He has taken other children out for pizza.
CAS is the perfect career for pedophiles. They get easy access to children, and are protected from legal repercussions by statutory immunity.
A day in the life of an advocate: Below is a letter sent by parents to the local school board in response to a particular CAS worker in their son's school. Seems that this male worker liked going into the children's washrooms while on official CAS business at the school...........
Attached, please find a letter sent to the Children’s Aid Society and copied to various other parties.
As outlined in our letter, we feel that our family has been harassed by CAS, specifically a worker by the name of Mr. Xxxxxxxxx Xxxxx, for some time. The CAS up till now has refused to respond to correspondence to their office since early this year. Numerous requests have been made for them to tell us what concerns they have for our children but to date they remain silent. They have refused to respond not only to our requests for information but also to third party agencies who have come to the assistance of our family.
Recently, our son told us that Mr. Xxxxxxxxx Xxxxx interrogated him at your school without our knowledge or permission. Mr. Xxxxxxxxx Xxxxx asked our son to provide information which could have easily been obtained by appropriate contact with our family, rather than through our son at school.
I have also heard through my son that Mr. Xxxxxxxxx Xxxxx has been spotted inside of the children’s washrooms at the school. I have also heard through other parents that Mr. Xxxxxxxxx Xxxxx has taken some of the young children out for pizza. Last year Mr. Xxxxxxxxx Xxxxx asked if he could take our boys swimming. It seems highly unusual to my wife and I, for a Children’s Aid Society worker to be going to such great lengths to personally involve himself with these young children at your school and it makes me wonder if he is doing this with the full knowledge and understanding of the parents. From what I could surmise based on his contact with our son, his purpose was to spy on our family and I wonder just how may other families are being spied upon through his activities at your school. I certainly have not heard of social workers being given the run of the school in other communities. I have also heard that Mr. Xxxxxxxxx Xxxxx has an “office” at your school. As I have not heard of CAS agencies having offices at public schools, it makes me wonder if this is a formal arrangement between the school board and the Children’s Aid and does the CAS reimburse the school board for use of this space? My wife and I have decided to join up as voting members of the CAS and will be making inquiries about this in the near future through their Board of Directors.
In light of what we feel have been the sneaky and underhanded tactics of Mr. Xxxxxxxxx Xxxxx, my wife and I verily believe that Mr. Xxxxxxxxx Xxxxx may be acting outside of his authority as social worker with the CAS and that he may be operating outside of guidelines issues by the Government under applicable legislation. There is no court order that gives Mr. Xxxxxxxxx Xxxxx the authority to interrogate our children and to date he has refuse to provide us with proper information to support why he continues to intrude into our family the way he does.
I have made contact with other families in the community and it seems that other families are experiencing similar problems with Mr. Xxxxxxxxx Xxxxx intruding into their lives as well. I am beginning to wonder if there is a pattern to all of this with the school being the place where he gathers his information about families in our community.
At this time we would ask that you not allow Mr. Xxxxxxxxx Xxxxx to interview our children without our knowledge and permission. We may be looking into legal remedies should he continue to harass our family as he has done. To protect the school I would also suggest that you review the whole arrangement with Mr. Xxxxxxxxx Xxxxx at your school and see if it meets the formal approval of the Board of Education. As parents in the community, we feel uneasy that our school board would allow a worker of the CAS such privileges in the school without some formal understanding with the parents. Schools are supposed to be a place where both children and teachers feel safe from the prying eyes of social workers. We shall be directing our concerns to the Board of Education at some time in the near future.
Should you have any questions, then please contact us. I would also request that you confirm in writing with us that you will not allow Mr. Xxxxxxxxx Xxxxx to interrogate our children without the parents being informed first. I can also put you in touch with third party agencies who will also be happy to provide copies of correspondence to the CAS which to date has not been responded to.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Mom and Dad NOT
July 1, 2013 permalink
Vern Beck reports on child compelled to address his foster parents as mom and dad.
As part of my research as an advocate, I recently interviewed a child on video who told me that he was being forced by the CAS workers and his foster parents to call the foster parents "mom" and "dad" when he knew who his real mom and dad were and loved his real mom and dad very much. The child said that it distressed him that he had to call his foster parents mom and dad. He also stated that he knew that if he did not comply he would be punished
The child had regular overnight access with his real parents and his only wish was to go back home. I visited the parents home and met the parents and they were fine couple with a good clean home. The father had a good job and they were very capable of caring for the child. There had been problems many years ago with the mother but all issues had been resolved however once the issues with mom were resolved the CAS refused to return the child back to mom and dad. The child said that he hated being in foster care so much so that he was smashing holes in the walls of the foster home out of frustration of wanting to go back home with his parents. The response by CAS was to prescribe drugs to the child.
During some research for resources I ran across a 123 page handbook for foster parents published in April of 2009 by the Louisiana Office of Community Services. In this government published foster parent guidebook on page 10 it states to foster parents, “Requiring the child to call you mom or dad may be stressful for the child due to his emotional attachment to his parents”. Certainly what this foster parent guide says supports what this child has disclosed to me.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch