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Bogus Social Worker
April 27, 2014 permalink
A family in Gloucestershire England was visited by a fake social worker who examined their infant son. The bogus social worker asked to carry out checks and listened to the boy's heartbeat with a stethoscope.
Life would be harder for impostors if all persons exercising police power, including social workers, dressed in police uniforms.
Bogus social worker examines baby in Gloucestershire
Police warn parents to be vigilant after incident involving young woman with fake ID badge calling at a home
Police have urged parents to be vigilant after a bogus social worker called at a house and examined a baby.
The woman, who claimed she was from Gloucestershire social services, was carrying a false ID badge and a black zip-up folder.
She visited a mother in Deerhurst Place in Quedgeley, Gloucestershire, and told her there were concerns for the welfare of her four-month-old son.
The bogus social worker asked to carry out checks and listened to the boy's heartbeat with a stethoscope during the incident, which took place at 2pm on Wednesday.
Detective Inspector Andy Dangerfield, of Gloucestershire police, said: "We don't know what the motivation for this was but clearly it is very concerning. Our inquiries are ongoing. We have visited houses in the area to warn local people and would urge everyone to be vigilant.
"Remember, do not accept people into your house unless you are 100% sure you know who they are. You can always tell them to stay outside until you have made your own inquiries and if you are suspicious in any way, then call police.
"We have liaised with our partners at Gloucestershire social care services and they have alerted their staff to this incident." The woman is described as white with "slightly tanned skin", in her late 20s or early 30s, between 5ft 6ins and 5ft 7ins tall, with dark shoulder-length bobbed hair.
She had freckles on the left side of her face and wore a black trouser suit with a cream v-neck blouse with frills at the front.
Dangerfield asked anyone with information about the woman to contact the force on 101.
Gloucestershire county council said: "When a social worker calls at your house you will be shown an ID badge, and the reasons for the visit will be explained to you."
Source: Guardian (UK)
Alberta Secret Suicide
April 26, 2014 permalink
An Alberta foster girl named only as KC has died by suicide. Her mother wants her name published, but in a second enclosed article the province refused a request from the CBC to lift the publication ban. If this girl is mentioned again, fixcas will identify her with the pseudonym KC Maskwacis.
Teen dies by suicide in Edmonton group home
No break-away closet bar despite judicial recommendations in similar death
MASKWACIS - The mournful heartbeat of traditional Cree drum songs haunted a Maskwacis community hall Friday as the mother of a dead teenage girl bent over her daughter’s body, placed her forehead on the girl’s chest, and wept.
An elder used a white feather to sweep curling wisps of sweetgrass smoke over the girl, who looked as if she was sleeping. Her grey coffin was decorated with simple cedar boughs. Guests brought roses.
KC was 15 years old, a ward of the province, a troubled young woman who cut her arms, struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and repeatedly tried to kill herself, her family said.
On April 21, 2014 she hanged herself from a closet bar in her Edmonton group home, sometime in the early afternoon. Her body was found 12 hours later.
Like all children who die in foster care, she must remain nameless and faceless by law, but her family wants her story told.
KC’s aunt said caseworkers convinced the family the best way to help KC was to give her over to the province.
“When my sister signed the permanent guardianship order, they said KC would get the help that she needed. My sister believed them,” the aunt said.
“I was there. My sister pleaded and she cried. They promised her. They said they would help KC, but they didn’t.”
The aunt says the family wants to know why KC was left unsupervised, and for so long.
“It was no secret that KC was suicidal,” the aunt said. “She had 50 or 100 cuts on her arms.”
Aboriginal kids are more likely to be in foster care, more likely to die in care, and more likely to die by suicide.
The Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research reports that suicide rates among children in care are nearly triple those of children who are not in care.
Aboriginal children make up about nine per cent of the Alberta child population and account for 58 per cent of children in care, and the mortality rate for aboriginal children in care is 111 per 100,000, compared to 71 per 100,000 of non-aboriginal children in care.
KC’s death is not unique; the circumstances of her suicide appear almost identical to those of a 17-year-old aboriginal boy named DED-B. Like KC, he was known to be suicidal, and like KC, he hanged himself in an Edmonton group home.
A fatality inquiry was held, and a Provincial Court Judge said facilities for suicidal youth should have break-away closet bars that cannot support their weight in the event of a suicide attempt.
DED-B died in 2000, nearly 14 years ago; it is not known why the recommendation was not implemented at KC’s group home by 2014.
“I feel the system has failed my family,” the girl’s aunt said. “I think there should be a public inquiry.”
She said KC’s mother went to the group home to collect her daughter’s things, but had to fight to keep the girl’s diaries, which told the dark story of her descent into depression.
Youth worker Mark Cherrington said the diaries will be crucial to giving KC a voice, and figuring what went wrong in the days leading to her death.
“These are Anne Frank diaries — daily, detailed writing from a young woman in crisis,” Cherrington said. “And she just hung there, for hours. Then they shut down the group home, because everyone was traumatized, but there were no other appropriate facilities for the kids to go to.”
Community leaders said governments need to provide resources to help stop the suicide crisis among aboriginal teens.
“What’s going through my mind today is the turmoil and the agony the young lady experienced in trying to get her situation resolved through the child welfare jungle, and to be heard,” said Marilyn Buffalo, past-president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada and a citizen of the Samson Cree Nation, who attended the funeral.
“The solution is for us to completely overhaul the child welfare system. The federal government has a fiduciary responsibility, and they cannot wash their hands and walk away.
“This child was a Treaty Indian, her mother is a Treaty Indian, and with that comes responsibilities that they have to look after these people.”
“It’s quite obvious, from all the evidence, that she was crying out for help.”
Source: Edmonton Journal
Identity of teen who died in provincial care to stay secret
Director of children's services bound by current law to protect identity
The name of teen who died while living in an Edmonton group home this week will not be made public despite her mother's wishes and a new bill which would allow such requests.
Eldon Block, the provincial director in charge of The Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, rejected CBC's request Friday to lift the publication ban.
The publication ban of the identity of children in care is automatic and extends beyond a child's death.
Block called the 15-year-old girl's death "an extremely sad situation," saying in an email, "I assure you that my colleagues and I mourn the loss of every child and, like you, want to see better outcomes for Alberta's children."
According to the current law, the director can lift a publication ban only if he believes it's in the best interests of the child or necessary for the proper administration of justice.
Block concluded this case does not meet those criteria.
The girl's mother told CBC News she wanted her daughter's name and face to be made public.
"There shouldn't be (a) publication ban. I have a problem with it, because there's a lot of kids who died in care and nobody knows about."
Today family and friends grieved the teen at her funeral in Maskwacis south of Edmonton.
An amendment to the act that would permit a child's identity to be made public if the family so desires is in second reading at the Alberta Legislature.
Addendum: After a change in the law, the CBC named the dead girl as Kyleigh Tiara Crier.
Anonymous Backs Justina
April 25, 2014 permalink
The group Anonymous has taken up the cause of Justina Pelletier. In a mainfesto posted last month on YouTube (local copy, mp4) they demand release for Justina to her family and dismissal of Dr Alice Newton. It also has harsh words for judge Joseph Johnston. This week Boston Children's Hospital has come under cyber attack.
Hacker group Anonymous targets Children’s Hospital
The infamous computer hacker network known as Anonymous threatened to attack Boston Children’s Hospital over the child custody case involving Justina Pelletier last month, just a few weeks before the medical center’s website was subjected to numerous cyberassaults.
Although there is no direct evidence linking Anonymous to the attacks this week against Children’s, cybersecurity specialists said the incident bore the hallmarks of the mysterious network of Internet agitators who cripple a target’s Internet operations with a barrage of traffic.
Anonymous has made its interest in the case clear. Several weeks ago, the group claimed responsibility for an attack on the website of Wayside Youth and Family Support Network, the Framingham residential facility where 15-year old Justina has been living since January under state custody.
After the more recent attack on Children’s, some patients and medical personnel could not use their online accounts to check appointments, test results, and other case information after the hospital shut down those Web pages.
The threats from Anonymous are the latest to emerge against Children’s Hospital and Wayside in the emotional child custody case that began more than a year ago in Massachusetts and has since become a national controversy involving conservative Christian activists and civil libertarians.
Anonymous launched its campaign on Justina’s behalf in March, with a video on YouTube and a separate manifesto that threatened Children’s and the physician, Dr. Alice Newton, who brought medical child-abuse charges against the girl’s parents.
“To the Boston Children’s Hospital why do you employ people that clearly do not put patients first?” the manifesto read. “We demand that you terminate Alice W. Newton from her employment or you to shall feel the full unbridled wrath of Anonymous. Test us and you shall fail.”
Justina’s mother, Linda Pelletier, said Thursday that she did not know about the cyberattacks on her daughter’s behalf and does not condone them.
“I think the whole thing has gotten out of control,” Pelletier said. “I don’t know who Anonymous is. I just want my daughter home.”
Newton, who at the time was head of the child abuse prevention unit at Children’s, did not respond to requests for comment. Children’s Hospital said it has notified law enforcement authorities about the cyber attacks.
Massachusetts State Police are also investigating threats made toward staff members at the state Department of Children and Families who were involved in Justina’s case.
In 2013, the Pelletier family brought Justina to Children’s for treatment of severe intestinal problems and other issues. But Children’s physicians concluded Pelletier’s problems were primarily psychiatric and that her parents were pushing for unnecessary medical interventions.
The hospital filed medical child abuse charges, which were ultimately supported by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. Then on March 25, a Juvenile Court judge, Joseph Johnston, issued an opinion that was harshly critical of the parents’ behavior over the prior year, saying they had not cooperated with Justina’s health care providers and were verbally abusive to staff.
Johnston concluded the parents were unfit to care for their child’s complex medical and psychiatric needs and gave permanent custody of Justina to the state.
Lawyers for Justina’s parents say they plan to contest the judge’s ruling.
Justina’s parents, who live in West Hartford, Conn., have insisted their daughter suffers from mitochondrial disorder, a group of genetic ailments that affect how cells produce energy, often causing problems with the gut, brain, and muscles.
Anonymous is best known for taking on big corporations such as Mastercard and Visa and pursuing politically motivated attacks by successfully striking against the FBI or CIA. It often intervenes in high-publicity cases when it feels an individual is being persecuted by an institution.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was attacked by a group claiming to be Anonymous that was protesting the case of Aaron Swartz, the online activist who committed suicide while being prosecuted on charges he allegedly downloaded millions of archived documents illegally.
Though flooding sites with traffic is a relatively simple task for skilled technicians, Anonymous conducts its attacks with theatrical flourish. The video launching the campaign for Justina, for example, features scenes from a street protest with an unidentified man who wears the Guy Fawkes mask made famous by the 2005 movie “V for Vendetta.”
Gabriella Coleman, a McGill University professor who has studied Anonymous, describes it as a “protest ensemble” that uses the Guy Fawkes mask as a symbol of its members’ anti-authority or populist tenets.
The mask also symbolizes the group’s shadowy identity. Individual members rarely speak to the news media or discuss the group’s actions or targets. Over the past few years, however, the group has been hit by the arrest of about 100 members around the world, Coleman said. As a result, she said, Anonymous has become quieter about its activities.
While Anonymous has not taken responsibility for the Children’s cyberattack, Coleman said it does appear to be their handiwork. “It’s not a far jump to think they would have gone after a hospital,” she said.
In the material it disseminated on the Pelletier case, Anonymous listed the Internet address of Children’s Hospital’s website and information about the type of computer servers the hospital uses. The attacks began sometime over the weekend, but on Thursday the hospital’s main website remained in operation; other Web pages that are used by Children’s patients and outside medical staff were offline.
Hospital officials said little about the attacks but reiterated that no patient data were compromised.
In a memo sent to Children’s employees Monday, chief executive Sandra Fenwick said the hospital had been the victim of “multiple attacks, designed to bring the site down by overwhelming its capacity.”
Fenwick also said that the hospital “received a direct, credible threat against our internal network, including staff and patient information,” and that it had reported the threat to law enforcement.
The attack against Wayside appears to have been launched in late March, according to a Twitter account that claims to be connected to Anonymous. The Twitter account first called for volunteers to help deluge the Wayside website with traffic and followed with another message crowing about the attack.
In a statement on Thursday, Wayside said it had “experienced some limited disruptions” of its website.
“Though we do not know the source, we are dismayed and concerned that someone would try to disrupt the important work we do with hundreds of children and families in various community and home settings,” Wayside said.
Source: Boston Globe
Make Mom Homeless!
April 24, 2014 permalink
Teenaged mother Amber Rodgers lost her first daughter when CAS took her from the delivery room and placed her for adoption. Now Amber is pregnant again and CAS is trying to force her out of her parents' home. She cannot afford her own place, and CAS will not tolerate her moving in with a roommate. This mother-to-be is being forced into homelessness. The excuse is that her father smokes and has cancer.
Among the god-like powers granted to CAS workers, there is no authority over unborn children.
Hi my names Amber am 19 weeks pregnant and I am 18 yrs old and in a very difficult situation. CAS is trying to tell me I am not allowed to live at home with my parents with my child when my home is very stable and safe. They said I have to have my own place in five months but I cannot find a place in my budget when my budget is $600-700. There are no places in my area in my budget. I can only have a place with an roommate and I'm being told I can only have an roommate for five months till I give birth. Is CAS allowed to do that? Are they allowed to apprehend your child in the hospital without any proof of being unfit?
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
April 23, 2014 permalink
Marley Greiner aka Bastardette comments of the business of Florida lawyer Lauren Feingold. She separates mothers from their babies using rationalization, empathy and caring in place of the past generation's strong-arm tactics. Once the mother has signed off, the empathy ends and typically the adopters never let her see her child again. Following the article is a comment from a reader duped out of her child.
From Strong-Arms to Soft Shoulders: Strategies in baby grabbing
We hear a lot about women in the past being strong-armed out of their newborns by social workers, adoption agencies, doctors, clergy, disgruntled grandparents, and lawyers. Such thuggery is, in theory, a thing of the past and frowned upon today since it doesn’t fit the warm and fuzzy “gift of adoption” narrative that caring “adoption professionals” like to pander.
Today, the strong-arm has been replaced by the soft shoulder: the duping of vulnerable women (and sometimes men), out of their children through industry constructed “rationalization,” “empathy,” and “caring” techniques framed as self-empowerment, selflessness, and a weird kind of motherly generosity. That is, giving your kid up for adoption is kinda feelgood. The old white feminist line about helping other women become mothers. Sisterhood is powerful!
Oh! And guilt! How could you hurt that lovely, loving waiting couple by keeping your child.
Usually the agents of family discord and divide spewing this incredible line do their dirty work behind closed doors while showing their smiley faces to the public and their pap clients who want to believe that the adoption process is as pristine as a baby’s soul. In practical terms, not even the most avaricious adoption industrialist wants to be seen as a greedy child grabber, especially in this day of perpetual adoption scandals, lawsuits, and agency shut downs..
But meet Lauren Feingold, Esq. who runs a “boutique adoption practice” in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. She limits her practice to a few clients a year, and she doesn’t care what you think of her.
Feingold’s webpage: assures paps that her manipulative strategies all but guarantee that “birthmothers” won’t change their minds and selfishly pull their kids–or rather paps’ kids– from the adoption spammer.. Really, how could they with all the “bonding” going on
I’m tempted to highlight the most audacious parts of her strategy statement posted below, but that would mean highlighting the entire statement. Instead I’l let you pick and chose your own favorite offense. My favorite is the bonding process between mom and adoptive parents. If they bond hard enough, will lthey adopt mom, too?
Dear Adoptive Parents:
As you know, one of the most difficult aspects of private placement adoption is the fact that birth mothers can change their minds after the birth of the baby. To overcome this hurdle, Lauren Feingold, Esq and her staff do everything possible to strengthen the birth mother’s level of commitment. Lauren and her staff use various strategies to emphasize the miracle of adoption to birth mothers not only in the beginning of the process but throughout their entire journey. Social work/counseling, bonding with the family, and close contact and hand-holding during pregnancy buttress the birth mother’s convinction that her original decision was not only correct, but self-less and admirable
Each of the four birth mothers who recently placed their babies for adoption benefited from daily communication with their social worker. The licensed clinical social worker focused her counseling on assisting the birth mother in processing her grief prior to the placement in the way that was the most comfortable for her. The social worker also aided them to further understand their own personal reasons for placing their babies for adoption. During those critical moments when their emotions were intense both immediately prior to birth and after the birth, the social worker helped the birth mother to validate their personal reasons for placing for adoption and assisted them in remaining focused on the Intended Adoption Plan they had formed with the adoptive family.
Further strategies were utilized with each of these women. Lauren happily and humbly prides herself on these strategies, including the strategy that allows each woman to bond with her chosen adoptive family during her pregnancy. Each woman bonded successfully through the help of communication with the adoptive family through text, telephone, and in-person meetings. The birth moms got to know, understand, and value their chosen adoptive families. This bonding enabled them to feel that their unplanned pregnancies were indeed purposeful. Moreover, the bonding enabled the birth mothers to feel that by placing for adoption, they were fulfilling G-d’s plan to place their babies with these incredible families. Furthermore, as a result of the communication facilitated by Lauren and her team the birth mothers were able to feel a sense of peace about their decisions to place for adoption, as well as a peace about the adoptive families who had found their way into these mother’s hearts.
Finally, Lauren and her staff provided the birth mother with constant hand-holding and care. Lauren and her staff made themselves available to these women to talk on the phone daily, monitor their comfort levels, assess their needs, and provide emotional support for their mental well-being. Lauren was also there to constantly remind these selfless and courageous women that their decisions to place for adoption and the care and love they were showing their babies was nothing short of miraculous.
Conclusively, all of the above strategies, and, of course, G-d’s hand, contributed to the successful outcome of these placements. Lauren encourages her waiting adoptive families to know and feel in their hearts that their babies are on their way!
Of course, all this hovering and clucking is unethical, and in some states would be illegal. Lawyers in Massachusetts, for instance, can’t do placements. Not that bad things can’t and don’t happen there, but the state has at least put a modicum of effort into its adoption practices to keep them on the up and up. But we’re speaking of Florida now, one of the largest adoption mills in the country.
As for directed counseling…
I suppose we should be grateful to Attorney Feingold for baring her guts to expose baby grabbing slight of hand. Who could reject the caring touch of Lauren Feingold and her team of cleptos? Especially when they are being led by G-d. How much do you want to bet the hover in the delivery room?
Feingold’s self-described “boutique practice reeks of elitism and class privilege. For those less upscale folks that cross her doorstep, however, she offers financial assistance, payment plans, fundraising and grant help. Couldn’t that money be used to help women keep their children?
But I digress!
For detailed instructions on how to grab a baby read The Missing Piece: Adoption Counseling in Pregnancy Resource Centers and here.)
Addenda: I”m not sure how we could trust anyone who quotes Jimi Hendrix in English and Spanish, but refers to him as “Jimmy”.
Palm beach county, my home!!! I was privileged to be manipulated, I mean, cared for my a huge adoption, Christian, agency GIANT, Bethany Christian services, worldwide, but for me, based out of Orlando. My couselor told me she would, and did, “both, immediately prior to birth and after the birth, the social worker helped the birth mother to validate their personal reasons for placing for adoption and assisted them in remaining focused on the Intended Adoption Plan they had formed with the adoptive family.”!!! I was also told how, “they would experience loss again, that they were up all night worrying I wouldn’t sign,” because of didn’t want to, and that “they were feeling guilty over taking my baby from me”!!! Whaaaaaaat?? Guilty, hell, the only guilt was the trip they put on me…. these people refused to give me the openness I begged for, after signing, because somehow I was given two “good faith agreements”, neither with full openness I asked for!!!!! They quickly slammed the door, in my face, after I poured my soul, cautiously and carefully, walking on eggshells, to them!!!!! They copy and pasted the semi open agreement, in my face after apologizing, “we’re sorry but, this is all we feel comfortable doing”!!!! They aren’t guilt over shiiiiii?!! They faked that openness I so often spoke of, up until they got her…. Nothing has changed, Is the truth, I am proof that these people are still liars, theives and far from G-dly people!!!!
Source: Bastardette (Marley Greiner)
Falsely Accused Father Cleared and Compensated
April 23, 2014 permalink
When British social worker Suzi Smith falsely accused single father Jonathan Coupland of sexually abusing his daughter Jessica, he was arrested and publicly humiliated. Later Smith retracted the allegation. She has been fired and Mr Coupland has been awarded £86,000 damages from Cafcass.
Custody battle father's £86,000 payout after
social worker falsely accused him of abusing his daughter
A father was arrested and banned from seeing his daughter after a social worker falsely accused him of abusing the little girl.
Jonathan Coupland, 53, was handcuffed in front of his neighbours, thrown in a cell and interrogated for ten hours after Suzi Smith claimed she saw him sexually assaulting his daughter Jessica, then six.
The social worker is said to have made the allegation in a fit of pique after the single father criticised the way she was handling a custody battle with his former partner.
Mrs Smith, 53, later retracted her claims and Mr Coupland has been paid £86,000 damages by her employer, the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass).
The public body - accountable to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and funded by his department - has sacked Mrs Smith and apologised to Mr Coupland.
But furious about his ordeal, the father-of-one has taken the matter to court, pushing for Mrs Smith to be prosecuted for misconduct in a public office.
He is also taking action against the police for false arrest and false imprisonment.
Last night, he told the Daily Mail: ‘I was manhandled by three policemen and dragged out of my house in handcuffs.
‘It was humiliating. My neighbours saw and parents at Jessica’s school turned on me.
‘It was a completely false story of lies but my daughter could have been fostered and I could now be in a paedophile wing of a major prison because of this social worker. I won’t rest until she faces justice for what she has done.’
Former painter and decorator Mr Coupland has raised his eight-year-old daughter alone. Jessica’s Thai mother, Kajchi Jiraekkaphob is an illegal immigrant.
He was granted custody shortly after Jessica was born in December 2005 but Miss Jiraekkaphob fought him through the courts for seven and a half years.
Cafcass worker Mrs Smith became involved in January 2012, when she visited the family at home in Spalding, Lincolnshire.
Mr Coupland claims her initial report, read out during a custody hearing the following week, was glowing. But four months later, she reported Mr Coupland to the police, saying she saw him touch his daughter inappropriately.
Mr Coupland believes she did this because he had accused her of acting unprofessionally by contacting one of his character witnesses during the custody proceedings – and he had asked for her to be removed from the case.
The father was arrested at his home a week later, on suspicion of sexual assault. He was handcuffed and dragged into a police car in front of neighbours, put into cells and interrogated for around ten hours.
His daughter was visited at her school by social services and interviewed by police.
Officers told Mr Coupland that Jessica would be put into temporary care but he begged them to allow her to stay with her grandmother. He was bailed but told he could not contact his daughter at his mother’s home.
A day later, police said they were taking no further action against him as Mrs Smith had retracted her allegation. He reported the social worker to police and she was interviewed, but the CPS decided not to take action against her.
Mr Coupland, who has finally seen off custody challenges from his former partner, plans to contest the decision not to prosecute Mrs Smith at the High Court.
She was sacked by Cafcass, the largest employer of social workers in England, for gross misconduct, but only left work six months after making the false allegation.
Mr Coupland said: ‘In the meantime she was still working in the courts, affecting children’s lives... It is disturbing that this person is paid to look after the welfare of children. She has done the opposite and got away with it.’
He said he is still viewed with suspicion by other parents at his daughter’s school and that many will not allow Jessica to visit their children at home.
‘Friends have turned on me... I’m still being treated like I’m a paedophile,’ he added.
‘I thought the law in this country was “innocent until proven guilty” but I feel like I have been branded guilty until I prove myself innocent. It will be that way until Suzi Smith is taken to court and proven to be a liar.’
Mrs Smith confirmed yesterday that she was dismissed by Cafcass six months after making her allegation against Mr Coupland.
She added: ‘Jon Coupland is a very complicated individual who I believe feels a great injustice has been done to him.’
A Cafcass spokesman said of the incident: ‘We regret that on this occasion our practice procedures were not followed.’
An internal investigation by Lincolnshire Police found its officers were justified in arresting Mr Coupland.
Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Storey said police were ‘duty bound to investigate’ Mrs Smith’s allegation, adding: ‘It later transpired that the allegation was not as originally reported to us. The male was released without charge.’
Source: Daily Mail
Mom Fights City Hall
April 22, 2014 permalink
Oklahoma mother Heather Bazzle gave up her fourth child Max for adoption by Lance and Darcy Norick. Lance is the son of former Oklahoma City Mayor Ron Norick. Now that the adoptive parents have divorced, she wants her son back.
Biological mother wants adopted son back from powerful family
OKLAHOMA CITY – A metro mother claims she was deceived into giving away her baby boy last year and is now fighting a powerful family to regain custody.
Heather Bazzle says she gave up her child to a stable family in September out of pure love for him.
Before the adoption was finalized, she learned the adoptive couple was getting a divorce.
Before Bazzle’s child, Max, was born, she decided she couldn’t support a fourth child.
She remembers thinking, “How am I going to give this child everything I can?”
So she met with an adoption attorney, who recommended placing the child with a couple in Arizona, Lance and Darcy Norick.
Lance’s father is former Oklahoma City Mayor, Ron Norick.
Bazzle said, “They seemed like the perfect people.”
The Norick’s were there for the birth and Max was eventually handed over.
But Bazzle now calls it a “failed adoption” because the adoptive parents have filed for divorce.
She eventually filed an application for emergency custody and now wants her child back, for good, because she believes the couple misrepresented themselves.
“That’s my baby. I love him,” Bazzle said. “I’m trying to do what’s best for him, and even though I may have made a mistake placing him for adoption, I feel like God’s giving me a chance now to fix that and to be there for him.”
But adoption attorney Jim Ikard says a judge is very specific with biological mothers during the adoption process.
“(The judge asks) you understand that forever is a long time?” Ikard said. “(The mothers say) Yes, I do.”
Ikard said biological parents who want their children back have to prove there was fraud.
First they have to prove what is in the “best interests” of the child, but they already told a judge they weren’t that option.
“And so the question gets to be, if you don’t like this couple, it’s not a matter of you getting the child back. It’s finding another couple,” Ikard said.
Bazzle said, “I don’t feel like I can give my son to anybody and trust anybody with him anymore.”
Ikard said adoption “home studies” of prospective parents are very thorough, so fraud is hard to prove for a biological parent.
Court documents show former Mayor Norick was granted temporary guardianship of the child because he’s able to travel between Oklahoma and Arizona with the baby as this legal fight continues.
Jeremiah Oliver Found
April 21, 2014 permalink
For several months Massachusetts has been undergoing a foster care panic (pdf), touched off by the disappearance of five-year-old Jeremiah Oliver. Blame has focused on failure of child protection to adequately supervise his family. One area not examined in the panic is the actions of family courts on broken families. Who protects a child better, the father or stepfather? The courts elbowed father Jose Oliver out of the life of his children with a restraining order. The children lived with their mother and new boyfriend Alberto Sierra. Most news articles, including the one enclosed, don't even mention the father. Those that do concentrate on his past run-ins with the law over drugs.
When reading the enclosed article, remember that the Child Welfare League of America is really the social worker's trade association.
Body Found By Side Of Highway Identified As Jeremiah Oliver, Missing Massachusetts Boy
WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — The body of a small boy apparently cast off the side of a highway has been confirmed as a missing 5-year-old, authorities said Saturday.
The body found Friday off Interstate 190 has been positively identified as Jeremiah Oliver, Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said. No charges were immediately announced related to Jeremiah's death.
He was last seen by relatives in September but wasn't reported missing until December. Authorities had said they feared the Fitchburg boy was dead.
Early said in a statement Saturday that the autopsy report is not complete. The investigation is continuing, he said.
"It appears to be a homicide," the prosecutor said at a news conference Friday.
Early said the body was found at about 9 a.m. Friday by a police search team about 40 feet off I-190 near Sterling, which is about 12 miles from Fitchburg. He said it was wrapped in blanket-like material and packed in material that resembled a suitcase.
He would not say what led authorities to the location or how long the body may have been there. He said the site is near an area that is regularly mowed on the side of the highway but would not have been visible to passing cars.
Jeremiah's mother, Elsa Oliver, 28, pleaded not guilty in March to charges including kidnapping, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and reckless endangerment. Her boyfriend, Alberto Sierra, 23, pleaded not guilty to similar charges.
The family was being monitored by state social workers since 2011. And after Jeremiah's disappearance, their case led to intense scrutiny of the state Department of Children and Families.
Three employees of the agency — a social worker, a supervisor and an area manager — were fired after an internal investigation. Officials said the social worker had not made required monthly visits to the family.
The governor asked the Child Welfare League of America to review DCF but resisted calls from some lawmakers to fire Olga Roche, the agency's commissioner.
In a statement Saturday, Patrick expressed his sadness over the boy's death. And in a separate statement on behalf of the department, Roche said, "We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Jeremiah Oliver." She said the department continues to oversee the care of Jeremiah's siblings.
In an initial report filed by the Child Welfare League last month, it recommended that Massachusetts take a number of steps to shore up its child welfare system, including boosting staffing levels to reduce social worker caseload.
A separate report from the state's Child Advocate, Gail Garinger, suggested that state social workers missed nearly one in five home visits during a recent 12-month period, though state officials said the figure was likely overstated.
Roche assured state legislators in January that DCF had accounted for the safety of all other young children in its care.
Oliver and Sierra, who were indicted by a Worcester County grand jury, are both being held on bail — $100,000 for Oliver and $250,000 for Sierra.
Three other people have been charged with interfering with a criminal investigation and misleading police in connection with the case.
Source: Huffington Post
Advice from Jesus
April 20, 2014 permalink
Vern Beck spent two hours speaking to a suicidal mother driven from prospertiy to homelessness by Canada's rapacious family destruction system. Her own lawyers profited $300,000 on the resale of her home.
April 19, 2014 at 5:59am
I generally do not encourage religious conversation on the Canada Court Watch site but one religious quote seems to ring so true with so many of the callers to Canada Court Watch over the many years. Countless children and their families over the years have complained about lawyers not doing a good job and abandoning their cases when they ran out of money. Many complain how overly aggressive lawyers make up lies in court. While there are some good lawyers too many know what is going on but continue to promote the break up of families in the name of profit for the legal industry.
Just today, I got a 2 hour call from a mother contemplating suicide because of what her lawyer and the CAS lawyers had done to destroy her and her child. She was once a highly respected medical professional who was now destroyed because of the family court system. According to this mother, during her family breakup, the lawyers involved forced sale of the family home and then the same lawyers bought and then resold the home for a $300,000 profit over six months. This once respected professional mother is now homeless.
It seems that the evils of those who practice law were predicted by the Son of God himself. The family court system is indeed ushering in dark times for children, families and Canada as a free and democratic nation.
Jesus replied, "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Family Lawyer Sentenced
April 18, 2014 permalink
Danielle Ross was the sole guardian ad litem for Lackawanna county Pennsylvania. When a child got involved in a custody case arising out of child protection or divorce, she represented the child. She has just been sentenced to a year in prison. For failure to faithfully represent her clients? No chance of that. It was for failure to cut Uncle Sam in on her $200,000 take. The bounty came from stealing both children and money from parents.
Attorney sentenced to one year in prison for tax evasion
She was applauded and vilified for representing children in child custody disputes, but in the end it was Danielle Ross' dishonesty about her income that led a judge to sentence her Wednesday to one year in prison.
The sentence, imposed by Senior U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo, was within federal sentencing guidelines, which called for 10 to 16 months in prison. But it was much harsher than the probationary term Mrs. Ross sought for her guilty plea to a tax evasion charge.
Judge Caputo received more than a dozen letters regarding Mrs. Ross, who from 2008 to February 2013 served as Lackawanna County's guardian ad litem - a court-appointed attorney who represents the interests of children in custody disputes. Most were from supporters, who portrayed her as a dedicated attorney who valiantly fought for the best interest of children. Others were from parents, who accused her of riding roughshod over their rights, forcing them to agree to unreasonable demands if they wanted to see their children.
While he reviewed the letters, Judge Caputo stressed the sentence was not a reflection of Mrs. Ross' performance in the family court system, but his desire to ensure just punishment and to deter others.
"Tax evasion is a serious offense. It's an act of dishonesty, plain and simple," the judge said. "My decision is to sentence you to 12 months. I think that is severe enough to get not only your attention, but the attention of anyone else who might commit this crime."
Mrs. Ross, 37, of Jermyn, pleaded guilty in December to one count of attempted tax evasion. Federal prosecutors said she failed to report more than $200,000 in payments she received in 2009 and 2010 from parents who were required to hire her to review their custody cases, resulting in a tax loss of $63,124. Her husband, Walter Pietralczyk Jr., pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return and is awaiting sentencing.
About two dozens spectators, including Mrs. Ross' supporters and critics, attended the sentencing at the federal courthouse in Wilkes-Barre. The case drew significant media and public attention based on complaints by parents that led to a state investigation into the county's guardian ad litem program 2011. The probe found multiple deficiencies, but no criminal wrongdoing. A grand jury investigation later uncovered the federal tax evasion.
Mrs. Ross, who wept through parts of the sentencing hearing, showed no reaction as her sentence was read. Her voice barely audible, she apologized to the court minutes before the judge issued his ruling, saying she regretted her actions and vowed never to repeat them.
Her attorney, David Solfanelli, sought probation or a sentence of home confinement, noting she is the mother of two daughters, 12 and 8, and that the crime was an anomaly in an otherwise exemplary life.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Olshefski opposed the request, saying a prison sentence was warranted because Mrs. Ross was an attorney in a position of trust, which she violated.
Ms. Olshefski also noted Mrs. Ross initially denied responsibility, placing blame for the filing of the false tax return on her husband. The government originally did not plan to charge Mr. Pietralczyk, but was forced to do so after learning her defense was to blame him, Ms. Olshefski said.
While acknowledging Mrs. Ross' accomplishments, Judge Caputo said he found no extraordinary circumstances that warranted a departure from sentencing guidelines.
"Because someone lives a good life does not buy them the right to file a false tax return," the judge said.
The sentence drew a mixed response from courtroom spectators.
Katharine E. Wiener, a Kingston attorney who attended law school with Mrs. Ross, said she thought the sentence was excessive.
"I understand the judge is trying to deter other people, but she is not a murderer," Ms. Wiener said. "She is trying to move on with her life and correct her mistakes."
Bruce Levine, who claims Mrs. Ross unjustly denied him access to his children for more than a year, said he felt the sentence was justified. Mr. Levine said he assisted the investigation by providing financial documents to investigators.
"She ripped the soul from my family. She stole my money and stole my children," he said. "I'm satisfied to the extent she is going to prison and can no longer work with children."
In addition to the prison term, Mrs. Ross was ordered to pay $63,124 in restitution. She was directed to report to prison on May 12. She declined comment as she left the courthouse.
Source: Scranton Times-Tribune
April 18, 2014 permalink
Father DH filed an application with the Child and Family Services Review Board (CFSRB) on March 27, 2011. According to a lawsuit he filed in February 2013, CAS responded by filing a child protection application four days later. The application was supported by affidavits attesting to injuries to his daughter that never occurred. The suit does not say where the girl was placed, but she "suffered immeasurably as a result of numerous interviews, unqualified therapy and being forced to denigrate the plaintiffs". She "suffers from parental alienation and now requires psychotherapy with a qualified practitioner". CAS showed lack of confidence in their case when they dismissed their own application on December 22.
The statement of claim is DH et al plaintiffs vs Family Youth and Child Services of Muskoka et al (pdf). The outcome of the CFSRB complaint is at D.H. v. Family, Youth And Child Services Of Muskoka. In complying with the CFSRB order, Muskoka CAS supplied an affidavit already part of the record, leading to this reprimand from the CFSRB.
There is no lawyer on the suit representing the plaintiff DH, but Muskoka has brought on the lawfirm of Lerners LLP. Suits of this kind generally follow the plot line of the classic movie Bambi meets Godzilla, YouTube and local copy (mp4), with the unrepresented Bambi meeting the high-powered lawfirm's Godzilla.
Addendum: There is much more to this litigation. Any additional material will appear on a page for DH vs FYCS of Muskoka.
Winnipeg Foster Death
April 18, 2014 permalink
Matias De Antonio died in Winnipeg foster care on March 27, just 31 days after his birth. The family has received few answers on the reasons for apprehension or cause of death. The boy's father was refused a visa to enter Canada for the funeral.
Baby dies while under care of CFS
Minutes after a baby's funeral took place, a family from Colombia demanded answers from Child and Family Services about why the infant died in its care -- and why the baby was seized in the first place.
Matias De Antonio, who was born on Feb. 24, died March 27, about a month after being placed in the custody of CFS.
Now Matias's family in Winnipeg, including his 20-year-old mother, grandmother, aunts and uncles, want to know what happened to the child.
"These people have to stop doing things like this," De Antonio's uncle, Carlos Burgos, said Wednesday in a Fort Richmond apartment shortly after the baby's funeral at the St. Vital Cemetery.
"I want people who don't know how to do their job to pay for this. This should not happen to another family."
Burgos said CFS hasn't told the family much, but it does know the baby died from a lack of oxygen to the brain.
Burgos said Maria Herrera, his sister and Matias's mother -- who was allowed to see her baby three times a week for two hours -- had just seen him when a CFS worker put him in a car seat and drove him 38 minutes away to a foster home. When the worker went to take Matias out of the car, the baby was blue.
Burgos said he doesn't understand why, with so many family members of his sister living in Winnipeg, CFS made the decision to take the baby away in the first place. He said the baby's father was refused a visa to allow him to come to the funeral from Colombia.
"My mother is here. (My sister's sister) has twins who are five -- she could have looked after them," he said.
"We all came here in 2008. We love Canada. It's an amazing country.
"This should not have happened to us."
In a statement, a representative of the province's Family Services Department said they are restricted from speaking about individual cases because of provisions in the Child and Family Services Act.
The representative said the Manitoba Children's Advocate reviews deaths of children in care while the province's chief medical examiner has the power to call an inquest if it is felt one is needed.
Ainsley Krone, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Children's Advocate, said any information their office finds or any recommendations made will not be made public.
Krone said the office will send any reports to the family services minister, the chief medical examiner and the province's ombudsman.
"We would look at the services delivered and whether they met the needs of the family and to see if there are any gaps," she said.
"The system should always be looking at improving itself."
Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross said Wednesday she also was unable to discuss specifics of the case under CFS rules.
Irvin-Ross said the children's advocate will investigate the death and report back to government and various CFS agencies.
Once the government knows more information, "We will be able to provide some insight to the family about their horrible loss," she said.
The minister said she learned of the infant's death last week. She expressed her condolences to the family. "I want to tell Manitobans that we're going to learn from this tragedy and that it is important that when we get the recommendations from the children's advocate that we put them in place and that we continue to build a better child-welfare system that supports families and protects children."
Progressive Conservative Family Services critic Ian Wishart said the family deserves to get answers from the government on what happened.
"Right now they're being left in limbo," Wishart said Wednesday after raising the incident in the legislature.
"They still don't know any details on cause of death. They frankly still don't know why the child was taken from them in the first place," he said.
Wishart said the infant had only been in care of CFS for three weeks. He said the family had been "making every effort" to satisfy child-welfare authorities they were fit to take back the child when they learned of his death.
Source: Winnipeg Free Press
Addendum: Two months later the family has no answers, not even after a meeting with the family services minister. Child protectors keep him in the dark, just like everyone else. A rally opposing CFS took place in Winnipeg on May 27.
Winnipeg parents of baby who died in CFS care still without answers
Two months after a baby died in foster care the family is still no closer to finding out why.
Child and Family Services seized Matias de Antonio two days after he was born in February.
"They destroyed my life and my husband's life and all my family and I want justice," said Maria Burgos, Matias' mother.
The baby died from a lack of oxygen to the brain on March 27.
The mother got to see her son for one hour that day at a CFS office.
When she left, the boy was put in a car seat, covered in a blanket and then driven for 38 minutes on its was to a foster home.
By the time they arrived, the child was blue and later died.
The baby's mother and uncle, Carlos Burgos, met with the family services minister Tuesday but got no new answers.
"We don't even know why the baby was apprehended in the first place, so it's super frustrating," said Burgos.
A medical report into the baby's death stated the death was not intentional, but doesn't offer any other insight into what happened.
According to the report the infant was "thriving and feeding well prior to the incident."
"The driver reported hearing the infant crying once or twice during the trip," the report states.
The vehicle stopped at a Costco store, where the boy was found "blue, not breathing and unresponsive," though he had "no external signs of trauma."
The boy's death comes only months after the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry concluded.
People upset with CFS gathered to show support for Matias outside the Law Courts in downtown Winnipeg Tuesday.
The protestors want CFS reformed, as does the family of Matias.
Secret Alberta Death
April 18, 2014 permalink
A boy identified only as NW died in Alberta foster care on December 29, 2010. The cause of death was sudden infant death syndrome (crib death). A judge has examined the case and issued nine recommendations for avoiding crib death.
While Manmeet Bhullar makes headlines promising openness regarding foster deaths, actual practice is to maintain extreme secrecy. The province hides the name of the dead boy, his date of birth and place of residence. An earlier report made six recommendations, but those are also confidential.
If this case comes up again, we will identify the child with the pseudonym Napping Willie.
Judge makes nine recommendations in fatality report about baby boy who died in foster care
EDMONTON - A provincial court judge has attributed the death of a 15-week-old foster boy to sudden infant death syndrome, making no mention of an internal review that found the baby was neglected and supervision was an issue.
The boy, known only as N.W., died in Dec. 2010 after his foster mother fed him a bottle of milk and placed him on his side for a nap at 3:30 p.m. When the foster mother returned to check on him four hours later, the boy was dead.
Provincial court Judge Fern LeReferend raised no concerns about the four-hour nap, but issued nine recommendations related to the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome, which accounts for one in three foster care deaths in Alberta.
“All infants in foster care experience high levels of toxic stress,” LeReverend wrote in a three-page fatality inquiry report released Wednesday. “High levels of toxic stress cause physical and mental abnormalities, symptoms of which frequently go undiagnosed.”
In part, LeReverend recommended caseworkers obtain extensive medical histories for infants who are brought into care, with a view to better understanding what stressors may be affecting the child. The names of doctors who treat the child should be recorded and caseworkers, foster parents and biological parents should be kept fully apprised of medical concerns.
The province should “require foster parents to keep all medical appointments” and should appoint a physician “to keep abreast of the latest studies and research involving sudden unexpected infant death, and provide that information along with infant care recommendations to all designated physicians and case workers and foster parents,” LeReverend wrote.
He also said caregivers should work to reduce the stress of infants in care.
“Provide a consistent schedule and level of caregiving,” she wrote. “This is particularly important when the infant has several different caregivers.”
Internal records obtained by the Edmonton Journal show the baby was an aboriginal boy in the care of Edmonton and Area Child and Family Service, Region 6.
After his death, the region’s Placement Resource Team (PRAT) investigated his death, in part because the three-month-old baby had been left alone for four hours.
The review determined that allegations of neglect were founded.
“The PRAT assessment determined that the allegation of neglect related to failing to provide a child with the necessities of life was unfounded,” the report said.
“However, supervision was noted to be an ongoing issue. ... Thus, the allegation of neglect, being unwilling to provide the child with adequate care or supervision, was determined to be founded.”
The report said the PRAT assessment addressed the concerns arising from the (internal system) summary, notably the number of screenings and the length of time between checks of the baby.
The report included six recommendations, but the government has not made those recommendations public.
Source: Edmonton Journal
Addendum: In July 2014 the boy's name was revealed as Nicolai Winfield.
Lev Tahor Children Not Sent to Quebec
April 16, 2014 permalink
An Ontario appellate court has overturned a ruling and allowed Lev Tahor children to remain in Ontario. A judge in Chatham had earlier ordered the children forcibly returned to Quebec.
Court allows Lev Tahor children to remain near sect in Ontario
TORONTO (JTA) — The haredi Orthodox sect Lev Tahor has successfully appealed a ruling to place 14 children in foster care in Quebec.
The decision, delivered April 15 by an Ontario court, gives Lev Tahor, whose memebers fled Quebec for Ontario, a rare legal victory. It allows the 14 children named in a Quebec removal order to remain near the sect in Ontario.
The Ontario Superior Court overturned a lower court decision that upheld a Quebec order to place the children in foster care in Quebec. The lower court had delayed enforcement of the ruling to give the Lev Tahor parents 30 days in which to appeal.
Removing the children to Quebec “would be contrary to [their] best interests,” the higher court ruled, saying such a move would have “disastrous emotional and psychological ramifications for them.”
However, the judge said she had “grave concern about the health and welfare of these children and their protection.”
Seven of the 14 children named in the Quebec order are now in foster care in Ontario. They and their parents fled Canada last month but were forcibly returned from Trinidad and Tobago after a Canadian court ordered an emergency seizure order. Six Lev Tahor children remain in Guatemala, where officials have agreed to monitor their activities but have stressed that they and their parents entered the country legally.
The 200-member Lev Tahor community has been under constant scrutiny since settling in rural Ontario last fall when they fled from north of Montreal just before the children could be seized by child protection services. There have been allegations of poor hygiene, underage marriages, forced ingestion of drugs and physical abuse.
The community has denied all allegations, saying they are victims of a religious smear campaign.
The case will now go back to a lower court in Ontario to determine whether the children are in need of ongoing protection.
Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Addendum: Over the next four months the problem gradually faded away as, one by one, Lev Tahor members relocated to Guatemala.
Lev Tahor, ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect, quietly moves to Guatemala
Of the 200 sect members, only half a dozen families remain in Chatham, Ont.
Most of the members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor have moved from Canada to Guatemala amid allegations of child abuse.
Of the nearly 200 members of the sect, a half-dozen families remain in Chatham, Ont., where the group has been based since November 2013. The members left in Canada include some of those who have been involved in a custody dispute with the region's children's services authorities for several months.
Radio-Canada's sources said the bulk of the families began leaving Canada one by one starting in June to join some of the members involved in the custody battle who had left for Guatemala in March.
The sect picked up and moved to Chatham from Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, Que., last November after Quebec's youth protective services (known by its French acronym, the DPJ) initiated steps to remove 14 of the children. One of the children was a mother to a young child herself.
Case workers at the DPJ's department in nearby St-Jérôme, Que., alleged that some of the children experienced physical punishment, had poor hygiene and were not being educated according to the province's curriculum.
At Quebec's urging, Chatham-Kent Children's Services picked up where the DPJ left off.
Families left Canada in March
In February, an Ontario judge upheld a Quebec ruling that ordered the 13 children who were part of the original group involved in the dispute with DPJ but did not include the young mother to be surrendered to child welfare authorities.
The sect appealed the decision.
In March, 12 of the children involved in the custody dispute and six adults left Canada on two separate flights: one group of nine flying through Mexico City, and the other group of nine travelling through Trinidad and Tobago.
The group travelling through Trinidad and Tobago were intercepted by immigration authorities and returned to Canada. The group travelling through Mexico City arrived safely in Guatemala, where they remain.
The young mother and her child were stopped at the Calgary airport and returned to Ontario, as well.
In April, Lev Tahor members won their appeal of the February ruling ordering the return of the children to Quebec.
Representatives of Lev Tahor have always vigorously denied all allegations of child abuse.
Habeas Corpus for Justina
April 16, 2014 permalink
Pelletiers' Attorneys File Request To Have Justina Returned
A judge decided Tuesday to give custody of Justina Pelletier to the state of Massachusetts. FOX CT's Beau Berman has more.
Attorneys for the parents of Justina Pelletier have filed a request that the 15-year-old girl be released from the custody of Massachusetts and returned to her family.
"Massachusetts DCF has no right to hold Justina captive," said Mat Staver, attorney for the Pelletiers, in a press release. "This is unacceptable. Justina needs to return home,"
Attorneys for the Pelletiers, who live in West Hartford, said they filed the habeas corpus Monday with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. They argue that Massachusetts Department of Children and Families has no authority to hold Justina and is violating the rights of Lou and Linda Pelletier, Justina's parents.
Justina has been in the custody of the state of Massachusetts since February 2013, shortly after she was admitted to Boston Children's Hospital to see her doctor, who had recently transferred from Tufts. Instead of her physician, other doctors treated her and disagreed with the family that Justina's symptoms — including weakness, headaches and abdominal pain — were caused by mitochondrial disease, a diagnosis she received at Tufts Medical Center in 2011.
Doctors at Boston Children's, however, said they believed her symptoms were psychologically induced Justina was diagnosed with somatoform disorder, a mental disorder. Boston Children's officials reported their suspicions of medical child abuse, and the state has since refused to release Justina to her parents.
Last month, Judge Joseph Johnston ruled in Massachusetts juvenile court that Justina was to remain the custody of Massachusetts.
The teen has been at Wayside Youth & Family Support Network since late January, and responsibility for her medical care has been returned to Tufts.
Source: Hartford Courant
April 16, 2014 permalink
When Pennsylvania teenager Christian Aaron True Stanfield was repeatedly bullied at school he used his iPad to record the harassment. When the school found out, Stanfield was compelled to erase the recording. He was threatened with a charge of felony wiretapping and found guilty of disorderly conduct. The school did not bother the bullies. After the story got into the press, legal advocates have offered to help him appeal. Nothing can be done about the bullies because the evidence against them has been destroyed.
Exclusive: Special Ed. Student Records Audio Proof of Bullying, Threatened With Charges of Felony Wiretapping
A South Fayette High School sophomore claims to have been bullied all year at his new school located in McDonald, Pennsylvania. In February, the student made an audio recording of one bullying incident during his special education math class. Instead of questioning the students whose voices were recorded, school administrators threatened to charge him with felony wiretapping before eventually agreeing to reduce the charge to disorderly conduct. On Wednesday, March 19, the student, whose name we have agreed to not include in this story, was found guilty of disorderly conduct by District Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet.
Before the defendant was able to give a statement, McGraw said, “Normally, if there is — I certainly have a big problem with any kind of bullying at school. But normally, you know, I would expect a parent would let the school know about it, because it’s not tolerated. I know that, and that you guys [school administrators] would handle that, you know. To go to this extreme, you know, it was the only alternative or something like that, but you weren’t made aware of that and that was kind of what I was curious about. Because it’s not tolerated, but you need to go through — let the school handle it. And I know from experience with South Fayette School that, you know, it always is. And if there is a problem and it continues, then it is usually brought in front of me.” (emphasis added)
The student and his mother, Shea Love, testified before the magistrate that the boy has been repeatedly shoved and tripped at school, and that a fellow student had even attempted to burn him with a cigarette lighter. The defendant is, according to school records, a well-behaved student with no history of disciplinary action. He was, however, previously diagnosed with a comprehension delay disorder, which is a slower processing speed for information than is normal, ADHD, and an anxiety disorder. He says the bullying treatment is especially harsh and academically disruptive during his special education math class, in which students with behavioral problems are also placed. On February 11, after doing research on several anti-bullying websites, he used his school approved personal iPad to make a seven-minute audio recording of his classroom experience. He played the recording at home for his mother. Outraged, Love, a former Air Force Morse code operator, transcribed the audio before calling school administrators.
According to Love, as the teacher is heard attempting to help her son with a math problem, a student says, “You should pull his pants down!” Another student replies, “No, man. Imagine how bad that (c**t) smells! No one wants to smell that (t**t).” As the recording continues, the teacher instructs the classroom that they may only talk if it pertains to math. Shortly thereafter, a loud noise is heard on the recording, which her son explained was a book being slammed down next to him after a student pretended to hit him in the head with it. When the teacher yells, the student exclaims, “What? I was just trying to scare him!” A group of boys are heard laughing.
The school board’s bullying policy pledges no retribution for reporting suspected bullying. Its policy for abuse of electronic devices is disciplinary action and/or confiscation of the device pending a conference with the parent. South Fayette High School’s policy guidebook on the discipline of disabled students states, “Students with disabilities who engage in inappropriate behavior shall be disciplined in accordance with their Individualized Education Program (IEP), positive behavior support plan in place, each building’s Code of Conduct, and Board policy.”
The School’s Response: “Could Be Charged With Felony Wiretapping”
Love says that upon fielding her complaint, Principal Scott Milburn called South Fayette Township police Lieutenant Robert Kurta to the school to interrogate her son in the presence of Associate Principal Aaron Skrbin and Dean of Students Joseph Silhanek. The defendant testified before Judge McGraw-Desmet that he was forced to play the audio for the group and then delete it. Love says by the time she arrived at the school, her son was surrounded by school officials and the police officer and was visibly distraught. She says
Milburn defended the teacher’s response to the classroom disturbance.
Kurta testified before the magistrate that Milburn requested his presence at the school on February 12 at 8:20 a.m. The officer said, “He believed he had a wiretapping incident.” Upon his arrival, Kurta said Milburn advised him that Silhanek fielded a call that morning from Love notifying him “that she planted a recording device in her son’s backpack to record the activities in one of his classes.” According to Kurta’s testimony, after Milburn consulted with the school district’s attorney, he advised reporting the incident to the police and treating it as a crime. The officer then admitted he did not hear the audio file in question or do an investigation into the recording, presumably because the student was ordered to erase it prior to his arrival at the school. Silhanek testified, “Mr. Milburn asked (the defendant) to delete it (the recording) after we heard it and (the defendant) complied.” The defendant clarified that the recording was still on his iPad when Lt. Kurta arrived at the school. He said of the recording, “Mr. Milburn told me to delete it, and I just felt, like, really pressured to do it. I didn’t want to. I just think that it wasn’t really right. Like, I’m getting prosecuted for trying to seek help…If I had known it was illegal, I wouldn’t have done it.”
Love testified, “ I didn’t believe it (the bullying) was as bad as what it was. And when I heard the recording, I flipped out. He did not want me to say anything to anybody, but I wanted to be able to say something because what I heard was not right. It was not okay.”
In his defense, the student testified as to why he made the recording. “I wanted her (Love) to understand what I went through. Like, it wasn’t like I was overexaggerating it. I wasn’t lying. It was really happening. I was really having things like books slammed upside my head. I wanted it to stop. I just felt like nothing was being done.” Love testified that she was aware of the bullying but, “I did not tell him to record. I did hear the recording. …I’ve emailed her (the special education teacher) several times on this incident with other kids.”
Kurta said, “After I left the school, I wasn’t sure what charge to file so I contacted the district attorney’s office. This would fall under a wiretapping violation, which is a felony.” He later answered as to why he thought the disorderly conduct charge applied to this case by saying, “Because his (the student’s) actions — he engaged in actions which served no legitimate purpose.” He then read the statute as, “Creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by acts which serve no legitimate purpose.”
Love’s attorney stated during the March 19 proceeding, “I’m not so sure that there wasn’t a crime committed by that evidence being destroyed. There’s no recording here that anybody’s introduced into evidence.” He continued in his closing arguments, “We’ve shown that there’s a legitimate purpose for the recording. And there’s no physically offensive or hazardous condition that was created by this recording. I don’t see how a recording of students that are bullying my client could be physically offensive or dangerous to anyone, other than potentially the people that are bullying my client.”
Disorderly conduct is defined in Pennsylvania as “the intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof” such as by engaging in “fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior, unreasonable noise, obscene language, obscene gestures,” or creating “a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor.”
Convicted of Disorderly Conduct
While Love’s son was never officially charged with felony wiretapping, the magistrate pronounced him guilty of disorderly conduct. This occurred after the administrators gave the student a Saturday detention to serve and he completed it as asked.
The 15-year-old defendant, whose favorite class is Civics, plans to appeal the conviction. His next court appearance is April 29 in Pittsburgh. When asked if she was afraid of retaliation by school officials or harassment by the police, Love said, “I refuse to be threatened. I just want my son to have a chance to bloom and not fall so far behind in a totally disruptive environment.”
The school immediately removed Love’s son from the special education math class. The students whose voices were caught on tape remain enrolled.
Transcripts of the court proceedings were made by a court stenographer hired by the defense team. The school will not comment on the matter.
Source: Ben Swann
Exclusive UPDATE: Mother of Special Ed. Pennsylvania Bullied Teen Speaks Out as They Battle Court Conviction
For the first time, since her teen son was convicted of disorderly conduct for recording bullies in his classroom, Shea Love, the mother of that student, is speaking out.
Benswann.com is the first media outlet in the country to reveal that student to you, after he was bullied at South Fayette High School in McDonald, Pennsylvania and then punished for speaking up.
Christian Aaron True Stanfield, a sophomore, claims to have been bullied for months in his first year at South Fayette High School. On February 11, he made an audio recording of one bullying incident during his special education math class. Stanfield used his school approved iPad to make a seven-minute audio recording of the incident. Instead of questioning the students whose voices were recorded, school administrators threatened to charge him with felony wiretapping. Our original story was first reported here, where we have detailed that bullying incident.
“Christian chose the most responsible route possible for a student who felt he had no power and no voice in order to change the negative environment that he was forced to be in every day. If we are ever going to change the culture of violence in our schools, we need to look at Christian’s actions not criminally, but rather as a profound cultural step in the right direction for kids who don’t feel they are being heard,” says Christian’s mother Shea Love.
As we reported, Christian’s actions were treated criminally, however, after his mother contacted the school. Shea listened to the recording before contacting administrators. The recording included repeated abusive and vulgar language from students as Christian was receiving help from a math teacher. After Christian’s mother heard it, she called the school at 8:00 a.m. on February 12 and spoke with Dean of Students Joseph Silhanek. Principal Milburn immediately consulted with the school’s attorney on the matter before calling the police. When Shea Love arrived at the school at approximately 10:20 a.m., she found her 15-year-old son visibly distraught in a wooden chair in the middle of the room, surrounded by school administrators and the police. She was advised over the phone at 10:00 a.m. that her son had committed a crime and was being questioned.
“Christian had the courage to be vulnerable as a whistleblower in order to create change where it was desperately needed. The school’s zero tolerance response (to electronics use) is the very type of action that creates the dangerous situations we have in our school today. Some of our children are choosing anger and deadly outbursts in order to be heard,” said Shea Love.
Instead of punishing the bullying students who were recorded on his iPad, it was Christian who served a Saturday detention for making the recording. Then, he was required to appear in front of a magistrate judge on charges of disorderly conduct. Stanfield’s mother said the school’s attorney was present at the March trial but refused to state his entire name to the court reporter. “When she asked him about his identity, he said that he was not involved,” Love said. “The court reporter asked him for his name and he just barked that his name was Wolfe.”
During the hearing, Lt. Robert Kurta testified that he consulted with the Allegheny District Attorney’s office before following up on the case, saying, “I made the decision to file a citation, summary citation, locally to be heard by our magistrate because I believe that he (Stanfield) committed a crime and that there should be some — he should in some way answer for it.”
Originally, Lt. Kurta indicated that Christian could be charged with a wiretapping felony. For clarification, law enforcement officers do not have the authority to charge anyone with a crime. When asked why the wiretapping charge was not officially made, Kurta testified, “That violation is a felony, and had I filed a felony charge against your client, and had he been adjudicated delinquent through juvenile court, that’s a record…”
On Wednesday, March 19, District Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet opened the trial by stating that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was charging Christian Stanfield with disorderly conduct. The accused never entered a plea, but McGraw-Desmet found him guilty and ordered that he pay a fine.
“Christian’s willingness to advocate in a non-violent manner should be championed as a turning point. If Mr. Milburn and the South Fayette school district really want to do the right thing, they would recognize that their zero-tolerance policies and overemphasis on academics and athletics have practically eliminated social and emotional functioning from school culture. They should make it a top priority to use this incident as a catalyst for social and emotional change in the district and pioneer the way for other districts to follow.
“Mr. Milburn, will you stand by Christian’s side in court April 29 or will you still be looking down at him from the other side?” asked Shea Love.
Christian Stanfield is preparing a statement of his own to give on April 29, the day of his appeal hearing. Ben Swann will have the exclusive story.
Source: Ben Swann
Culture of Fear
April 15, 2014 permalink
Lenore Skenazy has posted a letter showing that danger of interference with child care is not restricted to professionals. The culture of fear regarding child abuse has turned the general public into hazards for all parents. Shaken Mom was restraing her toddler to protect him from traffic when a passerby noticed and objected. Soon the mother and son were surrounded by a crowd and the police seized the boy and took the mother to the psych ward.
A Toddler Melts Down, A Busybody Calls 911, Cops Arrive, Guns Drawn, And Then…
Dear Free-Range Kids: When my son, now 15, was about a week shy of his fourth birthday, I ran out to pick him up from his preschool, located four short blocks from home, with just my keys and no purse, something I had done many, many times before. (I know — stupid. No ID. REALLY stupid.) I picked him up, and in the course of walking home, he decided he was going to have a meltdown because he wanted to walk down a street that would have taken us far out of our way, and I was in a hurry to get back, so I said “no, not today.”
Well, he proceeded to try and run down the street he wanted to take, screaming and crying, and almost ran headlong into oncoming traffic because he was so worked up that he wasn’t paying attention to anything. I grabbed at him to keep him from going into the street and caught the hood of his jacket and yanked him back to me, whereupon he screamed louder. Out of nowhere, a woman materialized, yelling, “I saw the whole thing! She’s beating that child! I was across the street and down the block and I saw the whole thing! Call the cops!”
A crowd began to gather, screaming at me and telling me what a lousy mother I was, which of course terrified my son, and he clung to me, but he was still sobbing and crying. I yelled at the crowd to please leave us alone, couldn’t they tell that my son was upset, that I wanted to calm him down and go home, but they kept converging and screaming and flinging invectives at me — it was terrifying. I sat down on the sidewalk and cuddled my son to me, and he began to calm down…until three police cars and no fewer than TWELVE cops, guns drawn, descended upon us, wrenched my screaming child from my arms (at this point he was struggling to get back to me and yelling, “Mommy! Mommy! I want Mommy!”), tackled me, HANDCUFFED ME behind my back and forced me to await the arrival of a city ambulance.
A man in the crowd did take pity on me and let me use his phone to call my husband at work (which HE had to hold up to my ear, since they would not undo the handcuffs), but the cops would barely let me speak to him and it was hardly enough time to let me tell him what was happening. They would not tell me where my child was, and of course since I had no ID on me (I have NEVER done that again, lemme tell ya! Stupid!), they apparently branded me a crazy woman who was trying to beat and abduct a child. The ambulance came, and they hustled me into the back (all the while refusing to tell me where my son was) and took me to the PSYCH WARD at the hospital, where they kept me for several hours in a room locked from the outside and refused to let my husband (who had arrived by that time) in to see me, though apparently he had gotten enough information to track down our son, who had been taken to the precinct and was being guarded by a detective. We found out much later that he had been “examined” for physical and sexual abuse PRIOR to my husband’s arrival — which I believe is illegal. They did let me call my therapist, who, thank God, answered the phone — but it was all she could do to get them to release me to my husband. Fortunately, they HAD released my son to him instead of slapping him into foster care — I shudder to think what would have happened if not.
We were eventually allowed to go home, but I was contacted several days later by a worker from Child Protective Services, who said he was required to visit us, unannounced, every couple of months for a year to be sure that our son was not being abused. The first night he came to see us, I had a chicken roasting in the oven and even offered to feed him if he wanted. What he WAS required to do was look at our son’s bedroom to be sure he was being cared for (he had a big bed with lots of stuffed animals and shelves full of games and books, which I actually think surprised the guy, given what he was probably used to seeing in his work), examine our son physically to be sure there was no evidence of abuse, and ask him some very pointed questions about whether Mommy or Daddy ever did nasty things to him. (He was FOUR, for God’s sake!! Admittedly a precocious and highly intelligent four, but holy crap…the continual insinuations of sexual abuse turned my stomach!)
Anyway, of course no signs of any kind of abuse were ever found — but we lived for SEVEN YEARS with the threat of having him taken away from us, because that is how long these cases stay open on the books. We worried about every bump, every bruise, every argument we had — because of course he was also smart enough to know that he could hold it over us and threaten to “tell at school” if we had an argument, not understanding what the consequences would be if someone believed that we had hit or abused him, or if someone at school noticed a bruise or scrape on his body and thought we had inflicted it.
I swear to you: all I ever did was grab my kid’s coat and yank him back to prevent him from flinging himself into traffic because he was screaming himself blind. He was four, he was having a meltdown. But a bunch of total strangers who were “down the block and across the street but who saw the whole thing” and called the cops as a result could have totally and utterly destroyed our family and ruined my son’s future. He was, and is, a smart, beautiful, charming, talented boy; he has gone to gifted programs throughout school and currently attends a magnet high school, and he has nothing but promise ahead of him. But the actions of one “well-meaning” stranger who thought that a mother struggling with a screeching four-year-old was her business and that she had to “protect” the child, and who was able to draw a crowd around her, could have ripped a family apart and destroyed that child forever.
We are lucky — truly lucky — that eventually cooler heads did prevail and he was allowed to come back to us immediately. I know that in some cases, this does not happen, and it’s a nightmare for the family to get the child back, sometimes going on for years. But let me tell you that I TOTALLY understand the fear of the mom who wrote to you when she said she was afraid that the woman who yelled at her outside the post office had called the police and that they were going to track her down…because I LIVED something like that. It is, quite possibly, the most terrifying thing that can happen to a parent. And I must ask when it became everyone ELSE’S business regarding how to be a good parent to one’s own child. It’s hard to be any kind of a parent these days, especially Free-Range, but we MUST stick to our convictions and raise our kids as we, their parents, see fit.
Thank God for this blog. – Shaken Mom
Source: Free-Range Kids
Million Dollar Boy Can't Go Home
April 13, 2014 permalink
Teenager JLW is held in foster care against his will, 350 kilometers from his mother, stepfather and brother. Children's aid will not answer his questions and the boy is not sure that his lawyer is still working on his case. Read his statement on Vern Beck' Facebook post or a local copy (pdf). According to Mr Beck,
- I estimate a half million tax dollars have been needlessly spent by CAS when this boy has had a good home to go to for years.
- The parents would include other information but all issues have been dealt with 5 years ago, even the CAS have admitted this. They just kept the kid even when there were no risks to the child. It was all about money..
- The boy is a Crown Ward already.and has been for 7 years. He wants home now. His home is safe and stable and has been for the past 5 years and he has been having weekend visits for years.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
April 13, 2014 permalink
Enclosed is an example of the dirty tricks that are routine in litigation against persons not represented by a lawyer. Copies of documents filed with the court are not served on the adverse party days in advance of the hearing, but are often handed to them a few minutes ahead of time, or as in the enclosed incident, not at all. Without professional help or expertise, naive litigants are helpless in the face of deliberate misconduct by opposing counsel.
Is it LAWFUL for CAS to shove an order through chambers in less than 15 minutes WITHOUT serving other parties? (the parents) CAS served papers for an order to be passed WITHOUT serving papers to parents. CAS gives excuse about not serving papers by telling the Court they could not get a hold of parents (when in fact there is an answering machine at parents home, e-mail access and parents were home 90% of the time anyway) so.. Judge goes ahead and pushes order through anyway because CAS exaggerates makes circumstances appear as if there was this extreme risk so order MUST be rubber stamped. The affidavit ( instead of being a normal 5 pager) is a 50-75+ pages - something ridiculous. A TORONTO LAWYER, after looking at it said, it was very wrong and would not normally be acceptable in a Toronto court. He said it was all "Padding" and far too long mentioning things that are not necessary. A motion for an order he said should only need to be short. CAS finally serves papers to parents 3 days later , AFTER shoving order through showing a date for the paresnts to appear in court.... 3 days EARLIER!!! (and they get served on a Friday , so parents can not get representation easily and since the order went through anyway, it was too late... so .. Is it LAWFUL for CAS to shove an order through chambers in less than 15 minutes WITHOUT serving other parties? (the parents)
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Family and Career Destruction
April 12, 2014 permalink
Christopher Booker reports on a mother ruined by the courts when her lawyer broke confidence to give a misconstrued version of her remarks to child protectors. She is separated from her daughter and a criminal conviction prevents her from earning a living in her previous profession.
If 'emotional abuse’ is to be a crime, who is guilty here?
A mother's misunderstood comment led to her being jailed and her daughter put into a care home
Each time I investigate a new instance of how crazily our “child protection” system has gone off the rails, I wonder how any story could be as bad. To paraphrase the opening lines of Anna Karenina, “all happy families are alike, but each unhappy family that has fallen into the clutches of this system experiences how corrupted it has become in its own way”.
This week’s example is that of a mother and daughter who lived happily together in the middle of one of the most beautiful areas of countryside in Britain. The mother held a responsible job, requiring professional qualifications; the girl enjoyed riding, swimming and gymnastics, and was a year ahead of her age at school. The only shadow on this idyll was that the mother took up with a new partner, who one day hit her so badly before running away that she called the police. Thanks to her full co-operation, he handed himself in and was sent to prison.
By now, however, the social workers had been called in, removing the child into foster care, under a Police Protection Order. When this expired, the mother quite legally took her daughter back. But the social workers now obtained an interim care order, to take her back into foster care for a full “assessment”. This seemed so uncalled for that 500 neighbours and friends signed a petition to say that it would be hard to find a child more happily cared for than she was by her mother.
One day, visiting her daughter, the mother was disturbed to see marks on the girl’s arm that could only have been caused by physical ill-treatment in her foster home. The girl’s grandmother, a respected retired teacher in her seventies, was so concerned that she reported the injury to the social workers, who brushed it aside. Next day, the two women, still shocked at the social workers’ refusal to take any action, visited a young trainee solicitor on a quite different matter: to arrange for a charge on the mother’s property to fund the building of a new house in the grandmother’s garden.
During the interview, the mother mentioned their concern over what had happened to her daughter, saying casually that the social workers’ dismissive response was the kind of thing that had prompted so many other parents to snatch their children from care, to flee with them abroad. She had absolutely no intention of following suit. But the young solicitor, completely misunderstanding what she had heard, reported this confidential conversation to the social workers. She suggested that the purpose of raising the money must have been not to pay for the grandmother’s building work, but to finance the mother’s flight abroad with her child. The following day, the two women were arrested and charged with “conspiracy” to abduct the girl.
They faced a criminal trial before a judge who had only just moved over from the family courts. Not a shred of evidence was produced to support the charge, other than the solicitor’s statement. Despite evidence from both the mother and the builder that this was an absurd misunderstanding, the judge seemed to prefer the case put by the social workers and police. When the bemused jury came to an inconclusive verdict, she insisted that they come up with a verdict of 10 to two. The mother was given 18 months, the 76-year-old grandmother, formerly a department head at the school where she worked for 40 years, was also jailed, but let out after two weeks.
When the mother was released, she learnt that her daughter had been removed to a new care home, according to the former foster carer “kicking and screaming, 'I want my mammy’ ”. This week there is to be a new hearing, into an application by the mother to be reunited with her daughter. The little girl, apparently longing to come home, is represented by an “advocate” who has only once met her. But the social workers are leaning heavily on the fact that her mother now has a criminal record (which, incidentally, disqualifies her from doing her old work).
To anyone looking at all sides of this story, it is hard not to conclude that something terrible has happened. The mother believes that she made only two serious mistakes: first by contacting the police, which got the social workers involved in the first place; second, by making those casual remarks, which were so grievously misinterpreted, causing her to be sent to prison. There are now MPs calling for the “emotional abuse” of children to be made a criminal offence. But in this case, as in so many others, we must ask: who is really guilty of the emotional abuse of this bewildered and unhappy child, for nearly two years robbed of the loving home where she longs to be?
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Less is More
April 11, 2014 permalink
The Conference Board of Canada has produced a report Success For All: Investing in the Future of Canadian Children in Care. It shows a list of ways in which graduates of foster care fail to reach the level of other Canadians. For example, lifetime earnings of foster children are $326,000 less than those of other Canadians. The headline of the abstract expresses the peculiar logic of social services that this deficit is a reason to spend more on foster care. What about spending less, so that more children remain with mom and dad and avoid the hazards of foster care entirely?
Members of the public cannot read the full report, but the press release is enclosed.
News Release 14-84
Helping Children in Foster Care Succeed Makes Social and Economic Sense
OTTAWA, April 7, 2014 - Improving support for children in foster care would increase their lifetime earnings by hundreds of thousands of dollars, and save governments in social assistance payments and spending on other public services, according to a new Conference Board of Canada report released today.
The report, Success For All: Investing in the Future of Canadian Children in Care, estimates that former foster children will earn about $326,000 less income over their lifespan compared with children not involved in the child welfare system in Canada. This disparity is largely due to less education -- primarily lower levels of high-school graduation. Over a 10 year period, the cost to the economy of not changing this situation could total an estimated $8 billion through lost productivity.
- Most youth leaving the child welfare system fail to graduate from high school, and many live with poorly treated mental health problems.
- A child exiting the child welfare system at the age of 19 will earn about $326,000 less income over his or her lifespan, compared with the average Canadian.
- The number of children in care in Canada, relative to its population, is far higher than in the U.S. and the gap has widened over time.
In addition, as a consequence of higher rates of unemployment and lower earnings than the national average, governments in Canada make higher social assistance payments and collect lower tax revenues, totaling a cumulative $126,000 per former foster child. If governments were to invest that money in initiatives to help improve the education and mental health of children in care, the long term social and economic benefits could ultimately outweigh that initial cost.
"There is a compelling humanitarian and economic case for tackling this issue. We know that most youth leaving the child welfare system fail to graduate from high school, and many live with poorly treated mental health problems," said Louis Thériault, Executive Director, Economic Initiatives.
"While these issues have been identified in the past, we've now been able to pinpoint the actual financial costs. Taking on these issues not only has the potential to benefit the overall Canadian economy; even more importantly, many foster children could have a better chance at participating more fully in society."
A report by the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, for example, found that only 44 per cent of former foster children graduate from high school compared with 81 per cent for the general population. Former foster children also enroll in post-secondary institutions at around half the rate of the general population. In addition, children in care have a much greater prevalence of mental health problems.
Success For All: Investing in the Future of Canadian Children in Care identifies the serious economic ramifications of not tackling these problem and suggests that governments, businesses, and the general public all have a role to play in helping children in foster care lead more productive lives.
Currently, Canada's welfare system is fragmented. One solution proposed is to undertake a coordinated effort among provinces, led by the federal government. Governments could help implement a comprehensive and cohesive strategy, including targeted investments in improving education and mental health. In addition, there is a need for comparable and consistent national data on children both while in care and after they leave the system. This would also require the cooperation of all levels of government.
Businesses could facilitate the integration of former foster children into the labour market by offering children in care greater opportunities for skills training and employment. This could be achieved by working with child welfare agencies or through public-private partnerships.
The general public could play a role in helping children in foster care by being aware of the special needs of children in care, support ideas to improve their circumstances, and generally assist in integrating foster children into the community.
Success For All: Investing in the Future of Canadian Children in Care is publically available from our e-Library.
For more information contact
Associate Director, Communications
Source: Conference Board of Canada
Addendum: Here is a copy of the report Investing in the Future of Canadian Children in Care (pdf).
Foster Care for Truants!
April 11, 2014 permalink
University of Windsor student Nicole Powers wants CAS to intervene in cases of truancy. She points out that "Truancy is the number one risk factor for later criminal activity and juvenile delinquency." Sorry Miss Powers, foster care entails even more risk of failure in later life, that is, for foster graduates lucky enough to survive into later life.
Posters present practicum placement projects
Truancy is a serious problem in Ontario, says Nicole Powers, but children’s aid societies across the province are not mandated to deal with it.
A student in the Master of Social Work/Juris Doctor program, she recommends that the Child and Family Services Act be amended to empower Children’s Aid Societies to intervene when students miss school.
“Truancy is the number one risk factor for later criminal activity and juvenile delinquency,” says Powers. “The Ministry of Children and Youth Services has set a goal to ensure every person graduates from secondary school. Changing the act is a way to achieve that goal.”
Powers was one of dozens of graduate students in social work presenting projects based on their practicum experiences, Friday in the CAW Student Centre. Her placement with the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society was “eye-opening,” she says.
“I chose this agency because I will be articling with the Office of the Children’s Lawyer (under Ontario’s attorney general),” says Powers. “I thought it would be a good idea to get some background on what children’s aid societies do.”
Although the public perception is that children’s aid societies “take people’s kids away,” she says she learned that it offers many supports to help families cope with challenges.
Social professor Connie Kvarfordt says that educational experience is the key reason why the graduate program places students with community agencies.
“The practicum bridges the gap between academic knowledge and real life,” she says. “It’s a great learning experience that will inform their professional practice.”
The students are required to identify possible funding sources for any recommendations they make, Dr. Kvarfordt says, and presenting their research in the poster display develops yet another skill—the ability to explain their work to the public.
Engage in community partnerships
Pursue strengths in research and graduate education
Arts and Social Sciences
— Published on Apr 7th, 2014
Source: University of Windsor
CAS Assessed $1.4 Million
April 11, 2014 permalink
When a manipulative and erratic mother of three separated from her husband London-Middlesex CAS took her side. It led to a 154 day trial. CAS ignored warnings from her teenaged son that she was an abusive alcoholic. At the end, the judge said the CAS "did not live up to (its) statutory duty to investigate thoroughly and objectively" and imposed two million dollars in costs, $1.4 million against CAS. While this ought to teach them a lesson, they will just pass the bill on to the taxpayers.
London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society slapped with record court costs of $1.4 million
The London area’s child-welfare agency has been hit with record court costs of $1.4 million, for failing to protect three boys caught in a marathon trial the judge says was marked by a manipulative mother and a father falsely cast as an abusive monster.
In a just-released written decision, the judge also ordered the mother — whom he said “manipulated the court by misrepresenting the facts in order to gain an advantage” — to pay $604,478.36, or 30% of the more than $2 million court costs.
The 154-day trial, over three years, was known in court halls as “the trial that never ends.” It helped build a huge backlog in London family court cases last fall, forcing officials to prioritize child-protection cases over divorce trials.
In a scathing indictment of the London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society, Superior Court Justice John Harper wrote the CAS “did not live up to (its) statutory duty to investigate thoroughly and objectively” in the case, and instead accepted the mother’s warped version as the truth. The $1.4 million is believed to be the largest financial penalty ever dished out to a child-protection agency in Ontario.
The cash-strapped CAS made headlines last fall when it couldn’t balance its books.
Spokesperson Michelle Bacon said the agency hadn’t reviewed the decision yet.
“Once we have, we will be considering our response,” she said.
The judge ruled in the case last fall, dismissing the CAS child-protection application and granting a divorce and awarding custody of the kids to the father.
But not until this week were the costs dished out.
“This started as a snowball of an allegation of unspecified emotional abuse that was flagged and assessed as high risk and it came crashing down on this family like an unstoppable avalanche,” Harper wrote.
The CAS applied for a court order in September 2010 to protect the three boys, aged 15, 12 and 5, months after the parents separated. But the judge found the CAS became “a lead advocate” for the mother, the driving force behind the trial. Her “multiple problems” included substance abuse and “manipulations and false claims.”
“(The CAS) had the statutory duty to investigate these claims through a thorough, objective and professional manner and they did not do so,” the judge said.
The family’s identity is protected by court order.
The erratic mother went from claiming her husband emotionally abused her, to claiming he was a sexual abuser and murderer who used his eldest child “as a gun in his hands to try to kill the mother of these three children.” Harper wrote.
Recordings, text messages and e-mails showed the woman to be erratic, verbally abusive to her sons, often drunk and having at least two extra-marital affairs.
In the middle were the three boys, who boomeranged between the parents. They repeatedly tried to alert the CAS to their mother’s violence, alcoholism and manipulation, only to see the agency side with her.
The case spilled into the criminal courts, with the mother alleging her oldest son had tried to kill her. But a charge of attempted murder against the son never got past a preliminary hearing after the mother testified. Instead, the Crown accepted a plea to assault by the son for “excessive self-defence” from his mother.
The judge dismissed the mother’s ever-shifting evidence. The agency, Harper said, tried to squelch any evidence that went against its theory the mother was a victim. A supervisor, responsible for providing lawyers in the case with CAS information, removed 475 pages of notes, records, e-mails and summaries from the file.
At trial, it was revealed the mandatory document-sharing was running a year behind.
Notes in the file referred to the mother as the “Society’s client.”
Meetings were held to discuss how to protect her and case workers from the father.
The mother also made a “most wanted poster” put up in her workplace and in her youngest son’s school file that had photos of her husband and oldest son with the words, “if you see these men, call the police they have a history of violence.”
Neither father nor son was convicted of any crime until the son’s self-defence plea. Harper found the sons were in more need of protection from their mother than father.
Trial by numbers
154: Days it lasted
$2,014,927.86: Total court costs
$1.4M: Amount CAS ordered to pay
$604,478: Amount mother ordered to pay
WHAT ELSE THE JUDGE WROTE:
About the mother:
Serious credibility problems “drove the case to the extreme it became.”
About the father:
Fortunate had help “to dig out from under the avalanche thrust upon him.”
About the children:
“What did survive were the scars to the children . . .”
About the CAS:
“Acted in bad faith.”
“This was exacerbated by the actions of the Society, some police officers, some women’s groups, a school board and her employers . . . many of whom accepted without any level of scrutiny the (woman’s) self-reports.”
Source: London Free Press
Political leaders react.
Lying mom case prompts calls for children’s aid oversight
LONDON, Ontario - Ontario's opposition critics have pounced on a judge's scathing indictment of the London area's Children's Aid Society as proof the province's child-welfare system needs drastic change.
The London-Middlesex CAS was slapped with a $1.4-million court bill and harsh words from a judge this week for failing to properly investigate a mother's warped version of events in a divorce and custody battle, even when three children tried to alert authorities of the woman's violence, alcoholism and manipulation.
"It is definitely evidence why we need independent oversight over the Children's Aid Society," Monique Taylor, the NDP's child and youth services critic, said Friday.
"We definitely know that these things go on. To my knowledge, it's the first time a judge has come out with this type of language with his thoughts on what went on in this case."
The Conservatives repeated calls for a review of the system, stopping short of agreeing with the NDP that the ombudsman should be given the power to oversee the child-welfare system.
"The whole children's area needs to be reviewed and (it should be decided) what is working and isn't working and make the changes that ensure children are always the first priority," PC child and youth services critic Bill Walker said.
"It certainly didn't seem there was a lot of thorough investigation done on all sides of the issue (in the London case). They took one side and pushed that. There needs to be a check and balance in that process," Walker said.
The London-Middlesex CAS was also put under review in the fall because it couldn't balance its books.
"The $1.4 million - where's that coming from? This is a major problem," Taylor said.
Taylor has tried twice to get legislation passed giving the ombudsman power to investigate Children's Aid Societies, with the latest bill blocked by the Liberals.
"Every ombudsman since this office was established in 1975 has called for oversight of Children's Aid Societies," Linda Williamson, spokeswoman for the ombudsman's office, said Friday.
"Ontario is the only province whose ombudsman does not have some oversight of the child-protection system, and we get hundreds of complaints every year about CASs that we have to turn away."
In response to questions about the case, a spokesman for Children and Youth Services Minister Teresa Piruzza said the Liberals have introduced legislation to strengthen oversight of CASs.
"This legislation would, if passed, provide the provincial advocate for children and youth with new investigative powers, like those of the Ontario ombudsman, to investigate matters relating to children and youth involved in the child-protection system," Neil Zacharjewicz said in an e-mail.
The NDP isn't sure how oversight from the provincial advocate would work, Taylor said.
"Nobody in this province has been calling on the provincial advocate to have oversight on the Children's Aid Society. People have been calling on the ombudsman for many, many years to have this oversight."
Source: Sun News
CAS will appeal.
When plain folks like us appeal a $1.4 million judgment, we have to post the money before a court will hear the case. We also have to comply with non-monetary trial court orders during the appellate case. Appeals like this don't cause hardship for CAS, beyond the cost of typing the legal documents and sending them to the courthouse. In the case now under appeal the trial court ordered three children placed with their father. The article does not indicate where the children will go during the CAS appeal, but it would not be surprising if CAS kept them from their dad.
CAS vows to appeal ruling of ‘bad faith’
The London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society (CAS) will appeal court decisions in which it was slammed for acting “in bad faith” during a marathon custody battle and was billed $1.4 million for court costs.
The agency also stands by its decision to seek child protection from the father of three children — a decision that was dismissed by a judge after an unprecedented 154-day divorce and custody battle trial that was spread over three years — executive director Jane Fitzgerald said Monday.
“We don’t make these decisions lightly and we take into consideration the opinions of other professionals and in this case we did so,” said Fitzgerald, referring to consultations with police, women’s groups and school officials.
“We stand by our decision to seek a child protection application in this matter.”
Last week, Superior Court Justice John Harper slapped the CAS with a $1.4-million court bill and had harsh words for the agency, saying it failed to properly investigate a mother’s version of events in a divorce and custody battle, even when three children tried to alert authorities of the woman’s violence, alcoholism and manipulation.
Fitzgerald said the society was compelled to respond to the accusations.
“Quite frankly, we are concerned the public would think we are making serious decisions about a child and family without doing our diligence,” she said.
She said length of the custody trial was “unprecedented in our experience” and CAS evidence only took 15 of the 154 days.
The original decision dismissing the CAS protection order was handed down in September. At that point, the agency filed a notice of appeal, but was waiting to see the cost of the court bill — in case it was small.
“One of our considerations is that we are not adding in additional costs,” Fitzgerald said.
But the notice was filed in the “wrong court,” she said, so lawyers are preparing a new notice of appeal.
Monday afternoon, the CAS issued a news release saying it was “deeply concerned” with Harper’s decision.
“The most recent judgment regarding court costs is equally stunning and unprecedented,” the statement said.
Source: London Free Press
Barbara Kay comments.
Barbara Kay: Children’s aid societies gone rogue
In a rare victory for common sense, a judge has pointedly rebuked a CAS for its appalling conduct.
It was called “the trial that never ends.” A custody battle, in which the London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society (CAS) became the cynosure of a London court’s ire, took place over 154 days, causing a huge backlog in other cases. It’s a tawdry tale, but it speaks to an untreated cancer in the child-services domain that cries out for chemotherapy.
The story began in 2010 when the London-Middlesex CAS applied for a court order to protect three boys, aged 15, 12 and 5, after a parental separation (the family name cannot be divulged). The mother had made multiple accusations demonizing the father: that he emotionally abused her; that he was a sexual abuser; and that he was a murderer who used the oldest boy “as a gun in his hands to try to kill the mother of these three children,” in words from Judge John Harper’s decision.
The mother was, to put it mildly — confirmed by recordings, e-mails and text messages — unreliable and manipulative. The three boys repeatedly alerted the CAS to their mother’s violence, alcoholism and sexual indiscretions. Yet the CAS blithely ignored all evidence to the contrary of their own settled conviction that the mother deserved their support.
Finally the mother accused her oldest son of trying to kill her, which brought the family into criminal court. Yet after a preliminary hearing, and ever-shifting testimony from the mother, the Crown reduced the charge to “excessive self-defence.”
Judge Harper assigned two-thirds of the court costs to the CAS — a record $1.4 million — and $604,500 to the mother. He had scathing words for the CAS, whom he charged with becoming “a lead advocate” for the mother and the driving force for the trial. He said that the agency went to great lengths to smother any evidence that countered their theory that the mother was the victim, overlooking her ever-shifting narratives, with their notes referring to her as the “Society’s client.”
It was revealed at trial that mandatory document-sharing was running a year late, and that one CAS supervisor, tasked with providing information to lawyers, had removed 475 pages of notes, records, summaries and emails from the file. (This, by the way, is a criminal offence, although to my knowledge the supervisor has not been charged.) Judge Harper also noted that meetings were held to discuss how to protect the mother and case workers from the father.
Judge Harper wrote that that the father was lucky to “dig out from under the avalanche thrust upon him,” and that “the scars to the children” were permanent. In summary, “This was exacerbated by the actions of the Society, some police officers, some women’s groups, a school board and her employers … many of whom accepted without any level of scrutiny the (woman’s) self-reports.”
This case may be shocking to readers who have not been exposed to the systemic abuses that run rampant throughout child-protection services, but it is not shocking at all to long-time critics, only one more heartbreaking story revealing the gender bias, amateurism and power-tripping that flourishes for lack of a checks-and-balance system that protects child and parent victims from arbitrary actions like those recorded in this trial.
What is shocking to me about this case is that the CAS’s depthless pockets for protective litigation services weren’t enough to stave off justice. I receive on average a CAS horror story a week — mostly well-documented narratives from fathers similarly victimized by mother-supportive CAS case workers — and these dads just don’t have the money or the strategic cunning (sadly needed) to go up against the CAS behemoth. I have followed the stories of several men — smart, disciplined, determined to remain fully engaged with their children, and convinced that their airtight cases of professional misconduct would right the wrongs they had suffered — and one by one seen them stymied at every turn by a circling of the CAS wagons in defence of the mothers.
CAS workers cannot be sued if they have acted “in good faith.” In the Middlesex-London case, Judge Harper noted that the CAS had “acted in bad faith.” Sadly, they act in bad faith all the time. Getting nailed for it is the exception.
Everyone knows the child-services stable needs a good mucking-out, but no political party in power will seize the shovel. Suppose this case were gender-reversed. If an alcoholic, abusive father had custody of the children; if the children begged their case workers for help; and if the case workers rebuffed them in order to protect the father: would it not act as a wake-up call?
Source: National Post
Addendum: Carole Lynn comments, with links to the court decisions.
- Carole Lynn <carole.lynn92 at yahoo.ca>
- "firstname.lastname@example.org" <rtmq at fixcas.com>
- Sun, 23 Nov 2014 19:44:45 +0000 (UTC)
- Continuing Efforts: CAS London/Middlesex Come Clean!
We got official transcripts of Justice Harper's indictments against CAS, To read you need a strong drink and a strong stomach. Reads like a gothic novel. Names are there as well as agencies and services. Only clients names are vetted. Read all the gory details.
The following email was forwarded to executive members of the local Western Branch of OAPSW as well as relevant faculty members at King's College. Although Justice Harper's scathing indictment is primarily focused on the London based Children's Aid Society his criticisms are launched against social work practice in general. Copies also sent to OACAS and Ministry. Local CAS Board
We identify the major "players" identified and seek to have issues of concern identified and corrected if necessary. We believe that any apparent institutional silence is professionally unacceptable. Our modest efforts to have both OAPSW as well as King's College become more vocal in advocating for professional social work standards and addressing issues identified by Justice Harper could ensure such a silence does not continue.
I am writing as representative of a small group of Ontario based activists seeking increased transparency and accountability in child welfare practises throughout the province. I am specifically addressing my concerns to you because you represent OAPSW in this region where a precedent setting family case recently unfolded which brought about a Superior Court Judge's scathing criticism and indictment against social work in general but as practised in child welfare in particular. This tragic and horrific family case unfolded in your region.
As reported by LFP Jane Sims in April, 2014 the Children's Aid Society London/Middlesex was accused of serious bad faith and unprofessional social work practises related to an extremely high conflict custody dispute and a subsequent equally contentious child protection application made by the Society regarding three children in the family. As Sims reports "the London area’s child-welfare agency has been hit with record court costs of $1.4 million, for failing to protect three boys caught in a marathon trial the judge says was marked by a manipulative mother and a father falsely cast as an abusive monster. In a just-released written decision, the judge also ordered the mother — whom he said “manipulated the court by misrepresenting the facts in order to gain an advantage” — to pay $604,478.36, or 30% of the more than $2 million court costs. The 154-day trial, over three years, was known in court halls as “the trial that never ends.” It helped build a huge backlog in London family court cases last fall, forcing officials to prioritize child-protection cases over divorce trials. In a scathing indictment of the London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society, Superior Court Justice John Harper wrote the CAS “did not live up to (its) statutory duty to investigate thoroughly and objectively” in the case, and instead accepted the mother’s warped version as the truth. The $1.4 million is believed to be the largest financial penalty ever dished out to a child-protection agency in Ontario." Justice Harper's indictment are stinging words against the profession. The detailed trial transcript and summary of events can be accessed here. Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex v. C.D.B., 2013 ONSC 5556 (CanLII)
The gist of the indictment involves child welfare social work staff and managers assuming an inherited and biased narrative regarding the family with which they were dealing. The agency abandoned proper independent and objective evidence gathering. It abandoned the professional standards of the social work profession to which it supposedly adheres. The agency attended the identified family needs with an extraordinary measure of bad faith and abandoned any allegiance to due process. They had prejudged the family in an extremely biased manner. They had adopted, without sufficient scrutiny or evidence, a community narrative which generally assumed the mother and children potential victims of a highly manipulative and potentially homicidal father. Justice Harper's viewpoint was entirely contradictory of the narrative presented by child welfare staff. He viewed the mother as extremely manipulative and that the local child welfare staff contributed not only to mother's increasing allegations of the father's alleged potential for violence and increasingly controlling manner but also was responsible for marginalizing the father to an outrageous degree. Harper was eventually to deny and condemn the Children's Aid Society's protection application and awarded full custody to the father. The local Children's Aid Society was not the only agency rebuked by Justice Harper. A Strathroy based women's resource centre and Strathroy town police were also subject to harsh and condemning criticism. The London based Centre for Children and Families in the Justice System was also singled out for particular criticism. The Centre and the psychologist director had been designated as the court approved providers of the custody and access assessment requested in reference to the highly contentious family matter. The final report was eventually found unacceptable to the court as being an editorialized work with no professional credibility or reliability. The full report regarding expert witnesses and reliable testimony in custody and access assessments is written in the context of findings from the Goudge Commission and in light of previous expert opinions in reference to forensic paediatric findings,is found here. Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex v. C.D.B., 2013 ONSC 2858 (CanLII)
Some of the professional social workers identified in court transcripts were members of OAPSW and several identified were members of the College. The fact that even some professionals mentioned are actually part time faculty at Kings brings the importance of the indictment very close to home. One could not be blamed for believing that the court findings would be of particular interest to both King's College as well as OAPSW members. For many years Kings College School of Social Work and local child welfare authorities have enjoyed a comfortable if not a somewhat symbiotic relationship. Since the establishment of the school, King's College has placed a substantial number of social work students in various internship positions at the Children's Aid Society London/Middlesex. Many employees at the local CAS have gone on to assume positions at the college. It remains curious as to how many students and faculty at King's College are aware of Justice Harper's castigation against what he considers the abandonment of professional standards of practice. More deeply concerning is his insistence that such poor standards only exacerbated a deeply rooted and ideologically based "bad faith." Many of these same professional social workers so severely criticized received their academic training at Kings College.
The community silence to this precedent setting case has been overwhelming. Although the Society's Board of Directors, the Ministry of Children and Youth, OACAS and King's College School of Social Work have all been informed of these serious and scandalous references to dubious social work practice, not a word has been advanced in the cause of social work advocacy. No individual professional or a collateral based service organization has advanced any rebuttal to Justice Harper's unhampered criticism.
Not one professional practitioner (that I am aware) has made a single effort to make a rebuttal of Justice Harper's condemnation. One would have thought that given the professional social work resources in this community, that some retort, academic or lay, would have been undertaken. In fairness, the Society made a legal application to challenge not only the courts findings but also the awards of costs. Recently, however, this attempt at an appeal was rejected and further financial costs of several thousand dollars was made against the Society. The full financial costs made against the Society are reported here. Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex v. C.D.B., 2014 ONSC 1414 (CanLII)
Perhaps OAPSW especially the Western Division may wish to advocate and possibly challenge and rebut some of Justice Harper's extreme claims against the profession. Although our bias has been somewhat directed toward child welfare practises in Ontario, we recognize that Justice Harper's indictment against the profession needs a credible and researched response. He is not omnipotent and requires an intellectual challenge from those in or representing the social work profession. I believe OAPSW put together a programme earlier in the year regarding "high risk" families. I am not certain that all the presenters were as unbiased as Justice Harper would have preferred. Did this particular case slip by the radar? Perhaps the publicity in reference to this case was made public after your workshop was completed. A modest suggestion would be to put on another OAPSW sponsored workshop where all aspects of this exceptional case are discussed and dissected in the context of previous exploration regarding high risk cases. It is apparent that Justice Harper had strong views as to what and who exacerbated the poisonous and destructive narrative which prevailed in this case. Efforts to educate regarding values and standards could assist social workers in raising the bar in respect to their understanding and adherence of the same by maintaining their professionalism social work. It also may assist in viewing professional nuances of the same. Any serious response from OAPSW or King's College School of Social Work will also assist us in addressing the degree of culpability that the managers and administrators of the Children's Aid Society, London/Middlesex need to assume regarding this controversial and tragic family matter.
Thank you for the interest and hopeful concern.
Carole Lynn has joined with several others in Toronto and London seeking increased accountability and transparency in provincial child welfare. They are also committed to exposing the hypocrisy and contradictions of ideological organizations such as the London-based Centre For Research and Education Violence Against Women and Children.
Source: email from Carole Lynn
April 8, 2014 permalink
British Columbia father Frederick Philip Shupe has been jailed for two months for threatening an unnamed social worker. He was frustrated because social workers had ultimate control over every aspect of his children’s interactions with him.
To understand the frustration listen to British Columbia social worker Rhonda Bailey in another case on YouTube or a local copy (mp4). Mr Shupe found himself unable to follow the advice of a family lawyer: the best attitude toward social workers in child protection matters is “obsequious fawning".
Two months in jail for threatening social workers
A father of three who threatened a social worker and admitted to fantasies of holding a workplace hostage was sentenced to two months jail on Friday, Feb. 14.
The threats by Frederick Philip Shupe “destroyed the sense of peace and security of the victims and destroyed the atmosphere of the workplace,” said provincial court Judge Mayland McKimm.
In a victim impact statement, a social worker with Secwepemc Child and Family Services said she feels unsafe in her own home after the threats and had to tell her young child “someone wants to hurt mommy.”
Shupe was convicted at trial of two counts of uttering threats.
In one instance, he left a message on a social worker’s voicemail stating: “I will . . . haunt you until you die.”
In another instance, he confided to a probation officer he wanted to tie up social workers, hold them hostage and set traps for police when they came to free them.
While the phone message started out evenhanded, by the end McKimm characterized it as “intense, screaming and incredibly frightening.
“He was spiralling out of control.”
The defence argued unsuccessfully Shupe should serve a conditional sentence in the community.
McKimm said Shupe’s criminal record, including assault, robbery and multiple impaired and dangerous-driving convictions, makes jail necessary.
He also said a message needs to be given to those who intimidate social workers concerned for the safety of children, workers who showed Shupe “extraordinary tolerance.”
Shupe was also handed 12 months probation and a 10-year firearms ban.
At his sentence hearing, Shupe told McKimm he was driven by frustration at bureaucrats with ultimate control over every aspect of his children’s interactions with him.
He said he was once told by a social worker at Secwepemc Child and Family Services he was not to approach his children and their mother if he saw them in a public place.
“If I see my children anywhere in a public place, I’ll hug and kiss them and tell them I love them,” he told McKimm.
The hearing provided an insight into the complex factors courts and social workers must face in child protection — including driven and volatile parents.
Campbell called the 45-year-old man his “own worst enemy” during his interactions with bureaucrats over access to his children.
Crown lawyer Neil Flanagan called him “rude, aggressive and intimidating” — so much so the social agency’s offices were placed in a lockdown.
“He’s created a situation where it’s impossible to contact directly with Secwepemc Child and Family.
“Can you understand that?” Flanagan asked Shupe.
“Can you absorb that and change your behaviour?”
Campbell said Shupe has been sober for 11 months.
“He’s worked hard, as hard as any client I’ve had to keep his life on track,” said Campbell, adding Shupe is locked in a battle of wills with social workers — a battle he cannot win but nonetheless continues.
“This is a situation where he’s reduced to 20-minute supervised calls with his children,” Campbell said.
The lawyer, who has extensive family-court experience, said he advises clients their best attitude toward social workers in child protection matters is “obsequious fawning.
“As soon as you get on their bad side, you’re doomed.”
In one instance, social workers refused to let Shupe’s children eat lunch with him at the New Life Mission, where he resides and is undergoing a treatment program.
“They [social workers] deal with way too many cases and have way too few resources,” McKimm said, adding while the rule against the children’s lunch at the Mission may be “absurd,” Shupe has to live with their rules.
“Why would he do that it they’ve told him not to do it?” he asked during the hearing.
Campbell also presented letters of support, including one from a psychiatrist who diagnosed Shupe with post-traumatic stress syndrome. He is on medication for his mental health.
Lawyers said Shupe’s problems began when he voluntarily agreed his three children could go into ministry care after officials found his home was not clean enough.
He argued he was working full-time in forestry and was overtaxed at the time and also drinking.
Shupe was convicted in 2011 of an assault on a son from another relationship in a dispute over a computer.
He was jailed 60 days.
Flanagan said letters and threatening behaviour to social workers began after his release from jail in 2011.
[First comment only. For more, click source link.]
What the headline fails to divulge is skewed perspective: Philip Shupe, a father who feared for the safety of his children and alienation, responded in a manner most in keeping with appropriate parental emotional reaction; to protect his offspring from harm. (He is in reality, a good man, a gentle one who loves his children very, very much.)
Source: Kamloops This Week
Excommunication for Marriage
April 4, 2014 permalink
Mozilla CEO resigns, opposition to gay marriage drew fire
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Mozilla Chief Executive Brendan Eich has stepped down, the company said on Thursday, after an online dating service urged a boycott of the company's web browser because of a donation Eich made to opponents of gay marriage.
The software company came under fire for appointing Eich as CEO last month. In 2008, he gave money to oppose the legalization of gay marriage in California, a hot-button issue especially at a company that boasts about its policy of inclusiveness and diversity.
"We didn't act like you'd expect Mozilla to act," wrote Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker in a blog post. "We didn't move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We're sorry."
The next step for Mozilla's leadership "is still being discussed," she added, with more information to come next week.
"Brendan Eich is a good friend of 20 years, and has made a profound contribution to the Web and to the entire world," venture capitalist Marc Andreessen tweeted.
Eich donated $1,000 in 2008 in support of California's Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in the state until it was struck down by the Supreme Court in June.
His resignation came days after OkCupid.com, the popular online dating site, called for a boycott of Mozilla Firefox to protest the world's No. 2 Web browser naming a gay marriage opponent as chief executive.
On Monday, OkCupid sent a message to visitors who accessed the website through Firefox, suggesting they use browsers such as Microsoft Corp's Internet Explorer or Google Inc's Chrome.
"Mozilla's new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples," the message said. "We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid."
Source: Reuters hosted at Yahoo
Masquerading as CAS Workers
April 4, 2014 permalink
On April 2 six adult members of Lev Tahor were arrested and five children went into care of Chatham-Kent children's aid. The children were returned to Lev Tahor later the same day. Meanwhile, the six children and three adults who escaped to Guatemala have been granted three months leave to stay in the country (and seek permanency). Two news articles are enclosed along with Facebook comments by Lev Tahor friend and visitor Lee Bolton.
Six Lev Tahor members arrested
Guidy Mamann, a Toronto lawyer representing the Lev Tahor, told the CKReview this afternoon that a total of six adult members of the Lev Tahor were arrested in the raid today in Chatham. An unspecified number of children were temporarily placed with Chatham-Kent Children’s Services (CKCS), however, according to Mamann the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) requested the children be returned to suitable members of the community. CKCS complied and at around 5 p.m. all the children were back living with the Lev Tahor.
Mamann said none of the arrests were criminal or connected to any child abuse claims. Those subject to arrest had over-stayed their visa and face a pending immigration hearing to resolve their status in Canada.
The arrest warrants were for seven Lev Tahor adults. Five of those adults were found within the community today. A sweep of the community by CBSA was conducted to ensure everyone had proper immigration status. One person not listed on the warrant was arrested by CBSA for over-staying a visa and two are still at large. The Lev Tahor members under arrest may be released by the CBSA within 48 hours on their own recognizance, if not then they will appear before an immigration judge to decide if they can be trusted upon their release.
Children of two families were subject to being placed under the guardianship of the CKCS. Temporarily some of the children were removed and taken to the CKCS building. “After the kids were grabbed we brought to the attention of CBSA that the children have a grandparent in the village,” said Mamann. “The CBSA director let the CKCS know and asked for the children to be placed within the community. CKCS confirmed they interviewed the grandmother for one family and she was deemed suitable to take the children. For the second family the wife was placed under arrest and the husband was not in the village. CKCS were asked to take care of the children. CBSA, understanding the preciousness of the children, asked CAS to find someone else. Again CAS did find someone suitable and those children were returned. No children were left with CKCS.” Mamann said he wished to commend the CBSA for working towards having the children returned and his heart would have been broken if the children were taken by CKCS.
“These people came to Canada to have a peaceful life. Their mistake was settling in Quebec where their rights to home schooling is far more restricted than in Ontario”, Mamann said. “In Quebec they have a mandatory curriculum that forces teaching French and evolution, or sexual topics that do not agree with Lev Tahor’s beliefs.” Such regulations do not exist in Ontario, leading Mamann to suggest the Lev Tahor would have been better off moving to Ontario first. “I have never heard in my life of a Jewish community who abuses their children,” Mamann added. “If the parents are deported then the children would go with their parents, at their parents discretion, even if they were born in Canada.”
What a heart breaking scene today on highway 40. Kids violently apprehended by the Nazis masquerading as "child protection workers" and now 5 innocent children traumatized beyond belief. All the while the Nazis had a smug look on their ugly motherfucking faces. Apparently some of the local police and immigration thought this was a feel good party...laughing and hamming it up on our tax dollar while children and families were being torn apart and forever changed. FUCKERS! So much more I'd like to say but we'll let the pictures and videos tell the entire story in due time.
They denied them a lot of rights. First one, denied them legal counsel. not once but twice. CAS has also stated in the court transcript that they don't believe some of the families understand English very well and therefor may not have understood they couldn't leave the country, but yet CAS SHOWED UP THERE TODAY WITHOUT AN INTERPRETER AND MADE THEM SIGN AGREEMENTS obviously without their lawyer present. The[y] told the families if they don't sign them, they wouldn't return the five children they apprehended today.
Source: Facebook, Lee Bolton
Children of two families were subject to being placed under the guardianship of the CKCS. Temporarily some of the children were removed and taken to the CKCS building. “After the kids were grabbed we brought to the attention of CBSA that the children have a grandparent in the village,” said Mamann. “The CBSA director let the CKCS know and asked for the children to be placed within the community. CKCS confirmed they interviewed the grandmother for one family and she was deemed suitable to take the children. For the second family the wife was placed under arrest and the husband was not in the village. CKCS were asked to take care of the children. CBSA, understanding the preciousness of the children, asked CAS to find someone else. Again CAS did find someone suitable and those children were returned. No children were left with CKCS.” Mamann said he wished to commend the CBSA for working towards having the children returned and his heart would have been broken if the children were taken by CKCS.
It was disgusting Fran....brought adults including a reporter to tears. Thankfully the immigration have some compassion and common sense where the fucking NAZIs masquerading as cas workers don't.
On a good note, all the children have been returned. One member has gone back to the States to apply for the proper visa. Two adults have been returned and three being held for a hearing tomorrow. The really sick part is, they were working with Immigration to get all their papers in order. It's not something they had any control over. Once your visa expires you have to reapply, which is what the appointment was for on March 17th but got cancelled and a swoop and scoop occurred instead. DISGUSTING!
The other suspicious point is, the Border agents were using pictures that the Nazis (masquerading as CAS workers) had taken of the Lev Tahor when they first arrived with their permission. But yet the Nazis (masquerading as CAS workers) claim and swear they didn't give the Border Agents those pictures.
I was so proud of those boys out there yesterday! Screaming and pointing their fingers at Garnet Eskritt and Jen Hart and calling them SS, Nazis and saying "shame on you", they stood their ground and locked the stupid fucking Nazis (masquerading as CAS workers) out of the school and their place of worship. It was great.
That community has more guts, heart, strength and loyalty to their right of freedom than all of Chatham Kent combined. We could learn a little somethin something from them.
Source: Facebook, Lee Bolton
Lee Bolton That's nothing. They were blatantly denied their right to legal counsel. The lawyer was four feet away from one of the people they arrested and the border agents wouldn't allow him to speak with him. They stated that he needed to have it in writing. hahahahahahaha
Source: Facebook, Lee Bolton
Lev Tahor members in Guatemala can stay up to 3 months
Embassy visit in Guatemala City no longer a condition of stay in Central American country
The Lev Tahor family that left Canada for Guatemala in early March is allowed to stay there with no special conditions — for now.
Uriel Goldman, the spokesman for the Lev Tahor group living in Chatham, Ont., confirmed Wednesday that the family no longer has to go to the Canadian embassy in Guatemala City as a condition of its stay in Central America.
The family is now permitted to stay in the country for up to three months, as stipulated by the Guatemala’s immigration and visa rules.
The group of three adults and six children landed in Guatemala on March 4 after they left their homes in Chatham, Ont., amid a custody battle between members of Lev Tahor and Chatham-Kent Children’s Services.
The family entered Guatemala via a transfer in Mexico City, while another group connecting through Trinidad and Tobago got stopped and sent back to Canada.
A previous judgment rendered by a Guatemalan court prevented Canadian and local authorities from seizing the children on an existing order from Canada. Judge Mariela de Leon ruled there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a removal order.
Originally settled in Quebec, the entire sect fled the province in November while in the midst of a custody battle with Quebec's Youth Protection Services.
Members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect are expected back in a Chatham court regarding the custody issue on April 4.
Another article gives the whereabouts of the Lev Tahor children who fled Ontario last month. Six returned from Trinidad are in foster care, two have returned from Calgary and six remain in Guatemala.
When a work of art is in dispute, a sheriff can put it in safekeeping while lawyers argue over ownership. Judges, including Chatham judge Lynda Templeton, covet the same safekeeping of children before their court. Courts refuse to recognize that it is impossible to lock children away during litigation without harming them.
Justice Lynda Templeton delivers a message through parents to the sect’s leaders, saying they can’t be trusted
CHATHAM - A judge tore a strip Friday off a runaway ultra-orthodox Jewish family that fled Canada before a child protection hearing, warning she “can’t trust you will not take off again.”
Superior Court Justice Lynda Templeton told the parents to tell Lev Tahor leaders who are making the Jewish sect’s decisions to stop interfering with their children’s legal rights.
“The conduct of the community has not raised any trust that you will remain in the jurisdiction of this court,” she told the parents at an appeal hearing. “I can guarantee you will obtain fair hearings, but you must allow the court to do its work.”
It’s the second time an Ontario judge has given the group a legal smackdown for flouting court orders and pulling up stakes.
Fourteen children from two families were ordered into temporary foster care in Quebec.
The family before Templeton, its six kids now in foster care under an emergency order she made last month, were hauled back to Canada from Trinidad after taking off just days before a March 5 court date.
Two others, a 17-year-old mother and her baby, were returned from Calgary.
Another family with six kids remains in Guatemala, where they fled, in immigration limbo.
Taking off has become Lev Tahor’s signature move.
The group of more than 200 fled Ste. Agathe-des-Monts, Que., last November, as a child welfare investigation closed in, settling near Chatham. Their late-night exodus came amid allegations — not proven in court — of child neglect and abuse by the anti-Zionist sect, including of forced marriages of girls as young as 14, and providing limited schooling.
Local authorities won a bid to enforce the Quebec order in February, when another Chatham judge — Justice Stephen Fuerth — said the group’s actions had “placed these children at further risk of harm.”
He ordered the affected members to stay put during an appeal period.
Blacked-out portions of Templeton’s emergency order to seize the 14 children, which the media were allowed to review Friday, show the families had told child welfare officials they were aware of the March 5 court date and would be there. But on March 4, they had disappeared.
Templeton was told one family was in Trinidad, another had flown to Mexico City and then Guatemala.
The young mother and her child were believed to have crossed into the U.S. through Buffalo.
Templeton, hearing Lev Tahor’s appeal Friday of Fuerth’s order as the parents listened through a Hebrew translator, said her biggest concern is parental accountability. “Flight and departure are very serious concerns,” she said.
Parents, she said, have both moral and legal obligations to their kids in Canada — and that applies to everyone.
It’s imperative the families stay in the jurisdiction, as the court orders, she said.
“To me your children are not Lev Tahor children — they’re just children” with the same rights as any others, she said.
And, she added, the allegations are that “the parents are not fulfilling their legal obligations.”
She said it’s “frustrating” the group’s leadership seems to rule, regardless of the court’s goal to protect kids and families.
“No matter what the leaders say, I’m not interested,” she said, adding that must be made “abundantly clear” to Lev Tahor leaders.
“Have I made myself clear?” she said.
Templeton ordered the local child-welfare agency to arrange supervised access to the children starting this weekend.
“That access has to be supervised,” she said, citing the parents’ conduct and their group’s leadership.
Tuesday: Case returns to a Chatham court to deal with parental access to the kids.
Wednesday: In Chatham, group’s appeal continues of decision upholding child-seizure order.
Unclear: When appeal decision will be made.
To the judge’s remarks Friday:
“For me, they were making kind of a mockery of justice in trying to leave Ontario.”
— Denis Baraby, Quebec youth protection official
— Uriel Goldman, a Lev Tahor leader
Source: Chatham Daily News
Addendum: The Lev Tahor children in custody will be denied a Passover visit with their family.
Lev Tahor children denied Passover visit
An Ontario Court of Justice Judge has denied the request for two Lev Tahor children to return to the community for Passover, citing concerns over a flight risk presented by the community leader who would host them.
CHATHAM, ONT.—An Ontario Court of Justice judge has denied a request for two Lev Tahor children to spend Passover with members of the community, citing a concern over flight risk raised by the lawyer for Chatham-Kent Children’s Services.
William Sullivan, the lawyer representing two children who were apprehended and placed in foster care, said the family of Mayer Rosner, a community leader in the controversial ultra-orthodox Jewish sect, was willing to host them for three days during Passover.
“They are prepared to come here, participate in Passover, and if ordered, to return,” said Sullivan of the two children. “I said to my children clients when I saw them on Sunday, I said I want you to be the engineers of building this small bridge. I want you to, if this court was to permit you, to come to Chatham to spend Passover on the days that I’ve mentioned … to show the court that you will respect it.”
But Loree Hodgson-Harris, lawyer for CKCS, alleged Rosner played a role in the flight of the families that prompted the emergency order.
“Mayer Rosner is one of the community leaders that the society has concerns with,” said Hodgson-Harris, who said she was not given enough time to fully respond to the request. “The circumstances of this case involve parents fleeing the jurisdiction in the face of a court order. The evidence will be that it was with the assistance of the community leaders and in particular Mayer Rosner. The long and the short of it is that it’s much more complicated than the girls spending a few days in the community.”
Justice Lucy Glenn ruled that the two children could have access to the other children in care in Toronto and visits from their parents, but would not be returned to the community for Passover.
Glenn also ordered that the parents of the children be allowed eight hours per week of supervised visits. Chatham-Kent Children’s Services agreed to pay part of the cost required for the parents to travel to Toronto where the children are in care.
Glenn refused to release any of the documents filed with the court Tuesday. It’s not known exactly what the record contains, but one element filed by a lawyer for some of the children is an affidavit from a “clinical investigator.” A lawyer for the Toronto Star will fight for access to the court record Wednesday.
The two girls are part of a group of eight children apprehended after a March 5 emergency order. The court found that 14 children were taken out of the region of Chatham-Kent contrary to an order that they remain. Eight of the children were apprehended and placed with Jewish families in Toronto, while six remain in Guatemala with their parents.
The identities of the children and their parents are protected by a publication ban.
Child protection authorities in Quebec have documented allegations of abuse, underage marriage and a substandard education regime in the sect. The group fled Quebec en masse ahead of an order for the removal of 14 children to foster care. An Ontario court upheld that order, but allowed a 30-day stay for the families to appeal. On the day that appeal was scheduled to be held, it was discovered the children had been removed from Chatham-Kent.
The sect has categorically denied any allegations of abuse and says the Quebec case was solely related to its religious-only education.
The appeal hearing is scheduled to resume Wednesday.
Source: Toronto Star
April 3, 2014 permalink
In addition to re-homing, Illinois has another way to get rid of an adopted child, called a lockout. Parents check the child into a hospital and do not return. Lucky parents avoid arrest when the state classifies it as a no-fault dependency. Send this musical accompanyment to an mp3 player while reading the enclosed article.
Parents take drastic measure to get care for son
(Reuters) - Within months of bringing him home, Sheila Trznadel knew that the boy she and her husband had adopted from Ukraine needed more help than her family could offer or afford.
The 7 year old was violent and never showed remorse. He switched on the gas oven in the Trznadels' Darien, Illinois home. He hid matches in his room, stashed scissors under his bed, and told his parents he wanted to kill the family. One doctor who treated him said the child exhibited traits of a psychopath.
His parents had sought help from their adoption agency, social workers, and lawmakers, but they quickly realized their options were few. If they continued to raise the boy, they believed they were risking the safety of their other children. They also couldn't afford the boy's treatment.
As a consequence, the Trznadels took a drastic step: They left their son in a hospital and told Illinois officials they would not take him back until he received the care he needed. The move is called a lockout, and it's not without risk. Most states consider it a crime - either child abandonment or neglect. The Trznadels hired a lawyer and offered authorities evidence to support their decision, including a psychiatric evaluation of the boy.
"I want people to understand how serious these situations are," says Sheila Trznadel, 37, whose son, now 10, is now a ward of the state. "It's not his fault. He is an innocent child," Trznadel says. "But the system is failing us, and it's failing him."
Over the last decade, 627 parents in Illinois have relinquished their children to obtain mental health services. In 2001, a report by the Government Accountability Office found about 3,700 children in 19 states entered the child welfare system within a single year.
Child welfare agencies say the system was not built to take children with severe mental health issues simply because the parents cannot afford to pay for such care. "We see this as a public policy issue," says Karen Hawkins, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. "It's the lack of resources for community mental health funding for children. That is the context to which we're all working."
When the Trznadels adopted their son in 2011, they knew little about his past. At the orphanage, the boy behaved strangely. He was hyperactive and sometimes defecated in his pants. Workers there said he was simply nervous.
After returning to the United States, the Trznadels say they realized the boy's problems were much more severe. He urinated on the furniture in their home and dumped paint into drawers of clothing. More than once, he told the family, "I'm gonna kill all you guys," Sheila recalls. "We didn't sleep. Someone was always awake to watch him."
The boy was diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome. He told doctors that he endured abuse in the orphanage. To help her son, Sheila searched the Internet, lobbied politicians, and took the boy to specialists for extensive psychological evaluations. He cycled through medications, including one that made him suicidal.
In 2012, Trznadels started sending him to a local hospital for short-term psychiatric care. "Our other kids were scared," Sheila says. "We were trying to give him a good home, and in doing so, we were giving our other children a home in lockdown."
For the Trznadels, costs swelled after the boy spent a month in a psychiatric hospital. Sheila works at a lab, and her husband, Doug, works for a chemical company. The hospital bill was $113,000, an amount they cannot afford.
The adoption agency the Trznadels used, Partners for Adoption, referred them to a social worker and suggested they seek help from the state of Illinois. The agency, which went out of business in 2012, wrote that it had not selected the child; instead, the family was offered the boy by orphanage officials in Ukraine.
In July 2012, the Trznadels left their son at the hospital, relinquishing custody to the state and forcing child welfare authorities to admit him into a residential treatment facility.
In a letter to the state's Department of Children and Family Services, the psychiatrist wrote that "even at a young age, [the boy] displays hallmarks of psychopathy. He is unable to foresee the consequences of his action, he lacks guilt or remorse for any harm his actions might have caused."
The psychiatrist also wrote that it may not be advisable for the Trznadels to keep the boy, "because of the potential harm he would do to his family."
The state agreed to a "no-fault dependency," meaning the child lacked proper medical care through no fault of the parent. "The family has to fail before they get the support that they need. That's the way the system is set up," says Linda Spears, vice president of policy and public affairs at the Child Welfare League of America, a non-profit advocacy group.
Like other states, Illinois does have some resources available for adoptive families, but the programs are limited. Grants can defray the cost of some services for children with severe mental illnesses. But in fiscal year 2012, just 15 families received money from Illinois' Individual Care Grants; almost 87 percent of completed applications were denied, according to the program's annual report.
In February, the Illinois legislature introduced a bill to allow the state to temporarily assume custody of kids for the purpose of accessing mental health treatment. The bill is directed at families with children who have a serious mental illness, emotional disturbance, or developmental disability and would prohibit the state from forcing families to terminate their parental right. A state House of Representatives' committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill today.
Child welfare workers are trying to transfer the boy out of the treatment facility and back into the Trznadel's home or into foster care, Sheila says. The Trznadels don't think he is ready, and a judge agreed, granting the boy another six months in residential treatment under the care of the state. The case will be re-evaluated in April.
British Forced Adoption
April 3, 2014 permalink
British father Terence Steele is appealing the forced adoption of his two-year-old daughter.
Sutton dad takes forced adoption campaign to European Parliament
A dad has taken his campaign to end forced adoptions to the European Parliament.
Sutton man Terence Steele, 42, had his two-year-old daughter taken away from him earlier this year but believes the process by which she was taken away was flawed.
He has launched a campaign to get European law changed to give more rights to parents in cases where children could be taken away by the authorities and, earlier this month, led a delegation of people from all over the continent to deliver a 10,000 signature petition.
Mr Steele, of Brunswick Road, said: "We're trying to force the UK to abolish forced adoption. My daughter has been taken away against her wishes.
"I feel like the process is not weighted in favour of the people it affects.
"What we want is for the EU to force the UK Parliament to launch an investigation into local authorities' practices. These are already happening in other European countries like Denmark.
"If there are good reasons why parents shouldn't be able to look after their kids then they need to be backed up by medical evidence."
During his trip to Brussels he appeared on Russian and Latvian TV to talk about the protest and said he hoped the attention would spur the UK into acting.
Mr Steele last saw his daughter in January to say a final goodbye. He added: "It was horrible. I screamed the place down."
He said his situation is not isolated and that since he found himself battling for custody of his child he has found that many more people are in a similar position, prompting his campaign.
Mr Steele said: "It's happening all over the place, it's terrible."
Source: This is Local London
April 1, 2014 permalink
Tori O'Hanley lost her daughter after relying on a promise from a CAS worker in New Liskeard. It is hard to think of a case in which a CAS worker has kept a promise to a parent.
I have a question which I am not to sure on what to do as I started keeping to myself, cause everything I say and everything I do children's aid use it against me but I started not caring cause my daughter means the world to me and I will do anything to have her back home where she belongs....
I got involved with CAS in January 2012 to present. They ended up taking my daughter May 28th 2012. and in November 2012 they told me if I agreed to the 6 months I will have my daughter back when it is done. So I believed them and it never happened once my 6 months were done they requested for another 6 months...
I have been fighting it in court since it went back May 28 2013 to now to have my daughter home. And the last time I went to court in February 2014 the judge order for a children's lawyer to be involved..
and every since a children's lawyer was to be involved Childrens aid are requesting for my mother to have full custody of my daughter...
I have done everything CAS asked me to do plus more and apparently that still isnt good enough....
What else can I do or where can I go to get help to fight children's aid in court to have my daughter return home where she belongs.
Please anyone help me im getting desperate!!!
I'm in New Liskeard Ontario and my daughter is 2 years old and I already met my daughters lawyer Nd she told me she doesn't work for me or CAS or my lawyer or any body except for the child.
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
April 1, 2014 permalink
An article on a South Dakota lawsuit gives a picture of the sham hearings that occur behind closed doors in family court. Parent and children are separated in hearings run at breakneck speed. While the separations are purportedly temporary, the hoops required to undo the temporary custody are onerous and families are not often reunited.
South Dakota v. Native American Parents: Why Are Children Being Separated From Their Families in Pennington County?
On reservations that have been described as “chaos” and “a swirling hell,” child welfare officials could have good intentions, but their efforts are still in clear violation of the Indian Children Welfare Act of 1978.
A precedent-setting federal lawsuit over the rights of Indian parents and tribes in South Dakota began with courthouse eavesdropping. Dana Hanna, a Rapid City attorney, was early for his case in Pennington County one day in October 2011. He was preoccupied preparing his own materials as he waited in the county courtroom, but couldn’t help overhearing the proceeding in progress. Something was off. What Hanna saw seemed to be a custody hearing, with two Indian parents before county officials, but if it was that kind of hearing, this one ended way too quickly.
Hanna recalled that the parents’ hearing had just two curt parts: the prosecutor giving an ultra-brief statement, and the judge perfunctorily asking the parents if they had anything to say. The parents asked the court to return their children, but the hearing rolled on, granting the county Department of Social Services custody for no fewer than 60 days. Only after approving the removal of the children did the judge set an “advice of rights” hearing date for the parents—for two months later.
Pennington County has been taking Native American parents’ children just as predecessors in government took Indian children from their families: “under color of law.” From the late-19th through the mid-20th century, thousands of Indian children were taken from their homes for “assimilation.” Some were funneled into boarding schools designed to strip them of individual and cultural identity (cutting hair, mandating uniforms, prohibiting Indian languages), while others were placed with non-Indian families. Until the late 1970s, states moved one-quarter to one-third of Indian children to different families, often with federal support.
Congress passed the Indian Children Welfare Act (ICWA) in 1978 to end overzealous removal practices and establish new, special protections. The legislation established criteria for removing Indian children, enshrined protections for Indian parental rights, and determined that in cases of foster care and adoption, Indian children should be offered first to family members, then tribe members, then other Indians, before being made eligible for adoption by non-Indian families.
When Hanna investigated, he found that South Dakota’s state attorney’s office, several judges, and social services officials appeared to be working together to skirt ICWA and due process protections against the removal of Native American children without justification. Some children had been taken after reports or referrals against the parents; others had been removed simply for being with a parent placed under arrest.
Indian parents in Pennington County were being forced into an “informal” version of a custody hearing, like the one Hanna witnessed, rather than a full evidentiary hearing, to which parents are legally entitled within 48 hours of a child’s removal. Social services officials have been rigging these informal hearings: they have submitted secret petitions and bypassed requirements meant to keep families intact; they have convinced prosecutors to argue for their recommendations uncritically; and they have had judges rubber-stamp removals. The county has placed 90 percent of children with non-Native foster families, another flagrant violation of ICWA.
Parents who lose custody receive a “plan” to complete before they can so much as try to get their children back. Requirements include parenting classes and substance abuse assessments, among other prescriptions. If a parent fails on a single element, the child remains in foster care, and if a child spends 15 of 22 consecutive months in foster care, parents’ rights may be terminated altogether.
NO ONE SEEMS TO know exactly why Pennington County began rushing Indian child removal and custody proceedings. B.J. Jones, who runs the Tribal Justice Institute at the University of North Dakota and sits on multiple tribal courts, thinks officials probably had good intentions, wanting to protect children.
Author Ian Frazier, who wrote about one of the tribes affected, the Oglala Sioux, in On the Rez, says of their reservation, Pine Ridge, “there’s so much chaos there.” He calls the problem of alcoholism on the reservation “swirling hell.” When I ask what he recalls of children on the reservation, Frazier tells me that he remembers seeing “woebegone kids trailing after parents.” Eighty-five percent of families on Pine Ridge are affected by alcohol abuse, and a quarter of children are born with fetal alcohol disorder.
Against this woeful backdrop, known to South Dakotans but perhaps not the rest of the country, one might imagine social services workers, attorneys, and judges swayed by a mix of legitimate and exaggerated concerns. Perhaps some thought the informal hearing and multi-month delay would be a lifeline for parents with substance abuse issues, keeping them out of the system and their children safe until they could get clean. Maybe officials wanted more time to gather information.
But even the most charitable interpretations of Pennington County’s actions fall short: If this “informal” process was meant to help parents afflicted by addiction, why has it been applied so indiscriminately? Whatever ends the officials sought, the means by which they’ve attempted to reach them are spurious at best, and largely indefensible.
HANNA SPENT 18 MONTHS challenging flimsy custody hearings on behalf of Native parents in state courts. In October 2012, he was defeated at the South Dakota Supreme Court, which ruled that the ICWA protections don’t apply to temporary or emergency custody hearings. Then he teamed up with American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney Stephen Pevar, a senior staff counsel who’s also taught federal Indian law at the University of Denver and the University of Connecticut.
Hanna and Pevar filed a federal lawsuit in March 2013 on behalf of two tribes whose families have been affected, the Oglala Sioux and Rosebud Sioux, and three mothers whose children were taken. Their argument that the county violated the ICWA and their right to due process was somewhat of a gamble: Federal courts defer to state supreme courts where it concerns state implementation of federal law. Normally the South Dakota Supreme Court ruling permitting rushed hearings would stand until that state court revisited it or the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case. But U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Viken denied motions to dismiss.
Before becoming a federal district court judge, Viken served as a federal public defender for both Dakotas and an assistant U.S. attorney in South Dakota. Perhaps enforcing federal laws or defending those who violated them made him especially sensitive to alleged willful disregard for federal law on the part of a county. Whatever the reason, Viken did something extraordinary: He not only let the case proceed but granted the Indian tribes standing to sue under ICWA and ruled that Indian parents could sue as a class, two landmark firsts.
B.J. Jones expected traditional deference to state courts to trump the substance of the challenge. Jones’ only explanation for Viken’s decision is this: Faced with a “process so outrageous,” the judge just couldn’t defer to the state court. That thought heartens Jones and allies. Only Pevar, perhaps, was unsurprised by the late January rulings. “We definitely expected the case to go this far,” he insists.
What began with a chance encounter in a county courtroom could lead to a groundbreaking trial in the district court for South Dakota. All parties will have representation; none will risk being rushed or squashed. Far from being hidden, the claims are in print, on file, and even online. The plaintiffs have achieved a fundamental victory even before trial: This case has created precedent that substantially improves the chances that cases like this one will proceed elsewhere, giving voice to Native American parents around the country.
Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza is a writer and former political consultant currently attending Yale Law School. She co-authored 40 More Years with James Carville and served as deputy national press secretary for the Democratic National Committee during the 2008 election.
Source: Pacific Standard (magazine)
OACAS Comments on Bill 42
March 31, 2014 permalink
Pending bill 42 before the Ontario legislature would extend the powers of the provincial ombudsman to children's aid societies. The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies has published its OACAS Submission to Standing Committee on Government Agencies, Bill 42, Ombudsman Amendment Act (Children’s Aid Societies), 2013 (pdf, local copy). It starts with a recitation of the existing, and ineffective, network of oversight over children's aid societies and ends with the suggestion that Ontario needs not an ombudsman, but another one of those government policy reviews, presumably conducted entirely by people benefiting from the current system. But in between, it makes some arguments that deserve discussion.
Other provinces have ombudsman oversight of child protection. The OACAS says:
While OACAS acknowledges the limited investigative authority among existing complaints entities, Ontario cannot be compared with other provinces and territories with respect to Ombudsman oversight. Child protection services in those jurisdictions are delivered directly by government, and all government services fall within scope of Ombudsman oversight. This argument ignores the unique child protection service delivery model in Ontario.
Contrary to what the OACAS says, this unusual organization is a reason for more oversight, not less. Look in history books for the horrible abuses that ensue when police power is execised for private gain. Example: tax farming.
Further, OACAS suggests that Bill 42, as drafted, does not promote the paramount purpose of the Child and Family Services Act. The most common complaints made about CASs to the Ontario Ombudsman (despite his Office having no mandate to address these complaints) relate to adult concerns. They include failure to investigate abuse allegations, inadequate/biased investigations, problematic apprehensions of children and lack of information for families.
The tunnel vision focused only on children causes children's aid to destroy useful institutions, such as marriage. These matters are an urgent reason for bringing the ombudsman into the picture.
A new layer of oversight may also impose an obligation on child protection workers to respond to more investigations, which would mean less time with the children and families whose safety and wellbeing depend on their services.
Years of reporting here have shown that Ontario's children's aid societies are the biggest single danger to the province's children. Here are a few past summaries        . Some oversight diverting them from their own abuses is needed.
Comply with Law
Go Directly to Jail
March 31, 2014 permalink
Christopher Booker reports on a mother whose children ran away from foster care to be with their older brother. She did what she was legally required to do and notified the police. How did the judge thank her? He put her in jail for six months. Earlier article.
Family courts: Six months in prison for a woman who was careful to do the 'right' thing
The latest instalment of a curious story speaks volumes about the murky workings of Britain's child-care system
Two years ago, I reported the curious case of a mother threatened with prison because social workers discovered that her 17-year-old son had been chatting on Facebook with his younger teenage sisters. The sisters were very unhappily in foster care, not for anything done to them at home, but for their own safety, because they had been physically threatened by a gang on the estate where they lived. Even though the mother had not broken an order forbidding her to contact them herself, Judge Rundell refused to accept that she had not encouraged her son to do so. He gave her a six-month suspended prison sentence; also, astonishingly, banning her from entering the entire county where her daughters are kept.
The girls recently published on Facebook that the younger one had been sexually abused by an adult. When her complaints about this were not heeded, her sister was bullied by other inmates of the home for standing up for her (a video shows her being dragged against barbed wire, leaving horrible marks on her back). The girls became so desperate that they ran away, to the flat where their brother now lives.
When he rang to tell his mother what had happened, she immediately rang the police, who agreed to inform the social workers. But next day, imagining the girls had left, she went to her son’s flat, to find the police and social workers only just arriving. Her daughters were crying that they didn’t want to be taken back. The son recorded the police telling her to go in to “give them a cuddle”. The social workers were recorded telling her that, if she left, “no further action will be taken”, which she did. Yet next day she was told she would be summoned for breaking the court order.
When she was back before Judge Rundell last week, I am told, he refused to accept her evidence as to what had happened. He sentenced her to six months in prison and prohibited her from any contact with her daughters for two more years, even though their only wish is to come home.
So, having never been accused of harming them in any way, she is now in jail.
As I say, this is a very curious story, which tells us much about how our “child care” system too often works in practice.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
CAS Bomb Threat
March 28, 2014 permalink
Ottawa CAS was evacuated for ninety minutes because of a bomb threat.
Bomb threat at Children's Aid Society
Kids and staff evacuated
The Ottawa Police Service were investigating a bomb threat at the Children's Aid Society (CAS) headquarters located at 1602 Telesat Ct., just off Blair Rd, Friday afternoon.
The call came in as a bomb threat at 11:42 a.m., said Constable Chuck Benoit.
"There had been an incident reported that there was a bomb in the building so we immediately evacuated and the police assessed the situation and it was a total false alarm," said executive director of the CAS Barbara MacKinnon.
MacKinnon said it was about an hour and a half before Ottawa Police and the bomb squad gave staff the all-clear to return back into the building.
"No one was at risk," she said, noting that there is a protocol in place for these types of situations. "We were able to move everyone out of the building quickly. It's primarily staff that work out of this building, but there was just a few children who were here for visits with their parents and so they were immediately taken back home."
MacKinnon says in her 11 years at the CAS, this was the first time they had faced a bomb threat.
"We were fairly confident that it was not, in fact, a viable threat but we took a very cautious approach to it."
The CAS is non-profit community organization funded by the Government of Ontario, legally mandated to protect children and youth from abuse and neglect.
Source: Orléans Star
No Bail for Foster Kids
March 27, 2014 permalink
When a teenager is arrested, mom and dad come to bail him out. But when a teenaged foster child is arrested, the parent is the social services agency. Nobody shows up with bail. Selina Garcia sat in jail for weeks following a scuffle on a school bus, even after a judge ordered her release.
North Carolina foster teen languishes in adult jail for school incident
County guardians haven't picked her up two weeks after judge freed her
Did a foster-care teen need to be arrested by school police this month for alleged battery on a school bus? And then jailed for more than two weeks with adults long after a judge ordered her released?
The questions swirling around Selina Garcia, 17, of Raleigh, N.C. are part of a broader national debate over treatment of foster kids and the role of school police. Garcia is still confined to an adult jail because no one from the Wake County, N.C., social services department has come to get her. She was arrested on March 7 by a school resource officer after allegedly striking another student on a bus during an altercation. A judge freed her on March 10 pending a court appearance scheduled for Thursday.
Part of the problem is that Garcia is both an adult and a minor in North Carolina. Once they’re 16, youths in the state are put automatically into the adult legal system if charged with crimes, including misdemeanors. A 17-year-old, however, is still a minor under the state’s social services system. As a foster child, Garcia can only be released from jail and into the custody of the county, which is her legal guardian.
The twisted case exemplifies a systemic failure on the part of adults who are tasked with helping foster children — some of society’s most vulnerable kids — as well as an urgent need to review the role of school police in Wake County, according to Jennifer Story, an attorney with Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Advocates for Children’s Services.
“You cannot use jail as a boarding house for foster children,” said Story, who has been representing Garcia in efforts to obtain individual learning services for the teen from the Wake County School District.
Story also said that Garcia’s arrest by school police — a discretionary act on the part of an officer — illustrates the “unintended consequences” of funneling students into a legal system for incidents that might be better handled by school staff. Garcia is being held with adults accused of a range of crimes, and the jail is an unsavory environment for a girl who has struggled since a small child with abuse, Story said.
Spokeswoman Sarah Williamson-Baker said the county cannot give out information about individual clients. In a statement, she said: “When a child in our custody is arrested, we assess the individual circumstances and whether it is safe and appropriate for the child to return to the previous placement. If not, we attempt to secure a new placement and supporting services that meet the child's needs for treatment and are consistent with the safety of the child and the public.”
Stella Shelton, interim chief of communications for the Wake County School District, also said that she can’t discuss, due to privacy restrictions, a student’s case. She said the district, like other districts nationally, grapples with how to handle disruptions on campus.
“I’d have to leave that to the school resource officer's judgment,” Shelton said, commenting on whether it was appropriate to have Garcia arrested for an incident on a school bus.
In January, Legal Aid of North Carolina and other groups filed a civil rights complaint against the Wake County School District and a number of law-enforcement agencies that supply officers to campuses there. The district has been disproportionately suspending ethnic minority students for minor misbehavior and referring such students to law enforcement, alleges the complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division.
Garcia, who is black and Latina, is a high school senior who suffered years of abuse as a small child in another state, according to Story. The girl was placed with a family member in North Carolina. She said Garcia wants to disclose what has happened to her; fellow students have rallied to her defense and appealed to the county’s Board of Education this month to help free her, as local TV and other media have reported.
A couple of years ago Garcia entered the Wake County foster-care system and has been transferred from group homes to individual homes and among three different high schools in less than two years, Story said. Garcia gets no counseling at school, Story said. And since January, Story said, the teen has been cut off from the counseling she was previously receiving as a foster child because she was placed in an individual home that’s far from town and has been provided no transportation.
That’s been tough on the teen because she had finally built some trust with the counselor, Story said.
On March 7, Garcia got into an altercation with another girl on a school bus. Story says Garcia has been bullied at school by other kids. The school system won’t comment on Garcia’s individual history. The Raleigh Police Department — which assigns school resource officers to schools — says that Garcia struck the other girl multiple times but that the other girl did not suffer serious injuries.
A school resource officer, according to Story, made a judgment call to arrest Garcia for simple battery. The teen was charged before for making threats to a teacher at school, Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said. Police records show she was given a ticket in connection for an alleged altercation at school previously. Because Garcia is older than 15, she was booked and taken to the Wake County Detention Center and placed among adult women.
“I urged him to let me pick her up,” Story said, explaining a conversation with the police officer who arrested Garcia after the bus incident.
Story said that the officer told her he felt that Garcia needed “to learn a lesson.” In the meantime, the school district convened a meeting, Story said, to review the bus incident. School officials originally labeled the teen’s infraction as a “level two” out of five levels of misbehavior, with five being the most serious on the scale. A level-two punishment is a maximum of five days suspension. But the review concluded that Garcia’s behavior stemmed from “underlying trauma” and that she should not be suspended at all as punishment.
Yet she remained jailed.
“All she has been doing in jail is writing,” Story said. “When I go to see her in jail she hands me wads of paper.” Story said shelters are available where Garcia could be placed instead of keeping her in jail.
On Tuesday, Wake County students and parents joined students from other states to visit federal officials in Washington, D.C. to discuss concerns about school discipline policies they complain are criminalizing kids for schoolyard fights and other misbehavior better handled with in-school counseling sessions that get to the root of conflicts.
The event was organized by the Dignity in Schools Campaign. The group met with federal education and justice officials to urge that more be done to get schools to adopt unprecedented Federal School Discipline Guidance released by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice in January.
Source: Center for Public Integrity
Justina Pelletier Becomes Permanent Ward
March 27, 2014 permalink
An order by judge Joseph P Johnston (pdf) has made Justina Pelletier a permanent ward of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. In logic out of Alice in Wonderland the judge cited lack of interest by Connecticut DCF as a reason for keeping Justina in custody. Maybe Connecticut thought the parents were competent to care for her. From the order:
... efforts by the MA DCF to locate a suitable placement Justina were significantly hampered by the parents. While Justina was at Children's Hospital, the parents were verbally abusive to Justina's hospital providers. Family members of other patients complained that Justina's parents stated their children were kidnapped by Children's Hospital. The parents threatened to have hospital personnel's licenses revoked. They threatened to call the F.B.I. They called hospital personnel and claimed the hospital was punishing and killing Justina. Efforts by hospital clinicians to work with the parents were futile and never went anywhere.
In today's world, parents are supposed to be submissive. Instead of addressing them as kidnappers or Nazis, the child snatchers should be addressed in respectful terms such as esteemed social worker or your honor.
The shaded text suggests Judge Johnston's opinion may have more to do with punishing the parents than protecting the child. The girl, an active figure-skater before going into custody, is a medical decline, insensitive below her waist.
A Boston Globe article is enclosed.
Mass. granted permanent custody of Justina Pelletier
Pelletier’s parents rebuked over handling of case, abusive manner with officials
A long-running child custody case took a dramatic turn Tuesday, when a Massachusetts juvenile court judge awarded permanent custody of teenager Justina Pelletier to the state Department of Children and Families.
The ruling by Judge Joseph Johnston means the 15-year-old will probably stay in state custody until her 18th birthday unless her parents can prove they are fit to care for their child.
The judge’s four-page decision, which was provided to the Globe, was remarkable for its detail and forcefulness. Johnston faulted Connecticut’s child protection agency for its failure to get involved in a case involving a child from its state, and faulted Pelletier’s parents for their verbally abusive manner and haphazard decision-making that he says has sabotaged plans to move their daughter closer to home.
Johnston wrote that the parents called Boston Children’s Hospital personnel Nazis “and claimed the hospital was punishing and killing Justina. Efforts by hospital clinicians to work with the parents were futile and never went anywhere.”
More recently, he wrote, “there has not been any progress by the parents. Rather, the parents . . . continue to engage in very concerning conduct that does not give this court any confidence they will comply with conditions of custody.” He noted that because of allegations that Justina’s father, Lou Pelletier, threatened a state social worker assigned to the case, the worker had to be reassigned.
In his ruling, Johnston, for the first time publicly, stated his belief that Pelletier suffers from “a persistent and severe Somatic Symptom Disorder,” a psychiatric diagnosis that doctors at Children’s reached in early 2013 when the girl was brought there because she had difficulty walking and eating. The parents objected to that diagnosis, leading to accusations of medical child abuse and setting off a monthslong battle over her care.
The Rev. Patrick Mahoney, of the Washington, D.C.-based Christian Defense Coalition, who has become the parents’ spokesman, said Tuesday that Lou and Linda Pelletier are “outraged” by the decision.
“There is no reason Justina should not be returned immediately back to the parents,” he said. Mahoney said the parents, who live in West Hartford, Conn., believe that their daughter is being “treated as a pawn and piece of property.”
The parents’ lawyer, Philip Moran, wrote in an e-mail to the Globe that the parents are too emotional to describe what their next steps will be, but may have more to say Wednesday.
“The decision is obviously devastating to the parents and according to them to Justina herself,” Moran wrote.
While the Department of Children and Families has had temporary custody of Justina since February 2013, the judge’s decision to award permanent custody gives the agency more confidence to make placement decisions with less fear of a quick change in custody. Though offering no timetable, agency spokeswoman Mary-Leah Assad issued a statement saying its goal continues to be “finding a solution that would allow her to return to Connecticut.” Pelletier is living at a residential facility in Framingham, Wayside Youth and Family Support Network.
“The department is exploring all options that will allow Justina to return to her home state where she has the support of her friends, family, school and community,” Assad wrote.
The judge’s ruling reinforces his earlier decision that the state child protection agency met its burden, during closed-door juvenile court hearings late last year, of proving the Pelletiers were unfit to handle their child’s complex needs and should not be restored custody of their child.
The legal burden now largely shifts to the parents to prove, with new evidence, that they are fit caregivers and deserve a new chance to regain custody. The parents are allowed to submit new information to the judge at most once every six months.
The judge made his custody order retroactive to Dec. 20, so a review could occur as soon as early summer.
Johnston also denied a request by lawyer Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel in Florida to help represent the parents. Staver said he plans to take part in a plan to appeal Tuesday’s ruling on legal grounds, a process that he hopes might reverse the custody decision earlier than the summer.
In tone, Johnston’s ruling made it appear he had lost patience after trying for months to carefully orchestrate a resolution to a case that has drawn nationwide media attention.
Lou Pelletier has taken part in numerous national media interviews to condemn the Department of Children and Families and the judge and call for the return of his daughter. Since the start of the year, several conservative Christian organizations have gotten involved in defending the parents, seeing the case as an example of government interference in the sanctity of parental rights, and have instigated massive phone and letter-writing campaigns to the judge and other state officials.
Johnston wrote that the parents had repeatedly “impeded progress” in resolving the case. “Instead of engaging in quality visits with Justina, the parents use profanity directed at MA DCF personnel in Justina’s presence,” he said. “There is absolutely no meaningful dialogue by the parents to work towards reunification.”
Back in December, the judge suspended a decision over permanent custody while hoping to broker a compromise. He appointed a court investigator to advise him and come up with possible solutions.
At a hearing in February, the judge wrote, the parents agreed to a deal where Justina would be moved to a Connecticut program under the temporary custody of that state’s child-protection agency. But a month later, through Staver, they informed another lawyer in the case that they would accept no state oversight and would agree only to their daughter’s returning home.
Previous efforts to find a residential treatment center for Justina in Connecticut have failed, largely due to the reluctance of many providers to get involved in a high-profile controversy. One facility in Connecticut that had tentatively agreed to accept Justina last year balked after her father threatened to sue it.
Tuesday’s decision came in response to a motion, presented by the girl’s court-appointed lawyer and the lawyers for her parents, which called for the parents to be awarded “conditional custody” of their daughter.
The Department of Children and Families took emergency custody of the teen on Valentine’s Day 2013 after a diagnostic dispute arose between some doctors at Tufts Medical Center and Boston Children’s Hospital over the causes of her medical problems, including difficulty eating and walking.
Tufts doctors had been treating Pelletier for mitochondrial disease, a group of rare genetic disorders affecting cellular energy production, but physicians at Children’s concluded that her symptoms were largely psychiatric in origin. Her parents rejected the new diagnosis, and when they tried to move the girl back to Tufts, the Children’s team notified the state that it suspected the parents of medical child abuse.
Pelletier remained at Children’s for almost a year, most of the time in a locked psychiatric ward. Johnston wrote that the girl was ready to leave the hospital in June 2013 but could not be discharged because Massachusetts child-protection officials’ efforts to find a suitable placement “were significantly hampered by the parents.”
It was not until late January that she was moved to the Framingham facility.
Mahoney, the parents’ spokesman, said they are troubled that their daughter has yet to be seen by physicians at Tufts. Department of Children and Families officials said Pelletier’s visits at Tufts will take place soon, now that the parents “reached an agreement” with Tufts over a number of issues.
Source: Boston Globe
Addendum: On March 29 star lawyer Alan Dershowitz announced that he is joining the defense team for Justina.
March 26, 2014 permalink
This item is for people taken in by the claim parents love adopted children just as much as the real thing. Stacey Conner was the mother of a mixed family of real and adoptive kids. What does a real mother do when her kids get into a fight? She looks for a way to keep the peace. What did Stacey do when her kids got into a fight? She got rid of one by re-homing.
Why One Mother Gave Back Her Adopted Son
Stacey Conner, a 41-year-old mom and former attorney from Spokane, Wash., dreamed of having a large family with biological and adopted kids. "The world is a big place with a lot of children in it; we wanted to bring some of those into our family, to give our love to kids without it," she says. After she volunteered in an orphanage in poverty-torn Haiti in 2005, Conner and her husband, Matt, a pharmacist, decided to adopt two children. But the process was so slow that by October 2006, when they brought home their (unrelated) 5-year-old Haitian son and 1-year-old Haitian daughter, Conner had given birth to a son, who was 1. "Having an instant multicultural family was magical," Conner says, "for about two weeks."
Her older son, whom she calls J here, "engaged every person he met -- he literally crawled into the laps of strangers," says Conner. "But if I said 'It's time to go' or anything that asserted I was in control, he'd rage, bang and scream for hours." Very quickly, Conner had a sinking feeling she tried to push away. "I was committing the worst maternal sin: I felt like I loved one child less than the others."
Related: 9 Things Never to Say to a Woman Who Doesn't Want Kids
Within two months, J started pinching his siblings, and Conner was not only ashamed, but also afraid. "When he hurt them, it provoked an anger in me I didn't know I had," she says. "I worried I'd lose it and spank him."
She broke down in front of her husband, who worked all day and hadn't witnessed the worst of J's behavior. Matt tried to reassure her that it was just a rough transition and started spending more one-on-one time with J after work. But things didn't get any better, and by early spring, J had escalated from pinching his siblings to hitting them. Aside from her social worker, Conner met with a therapist specializing in attachment disorder, a broad term used to describe an inability to build meaningful bonds. One form of the disorder can develop when a small child feels repeatedly abandoned or powerless -- things it's not hard to imagine a kid in an orphanage might experience. When Conner got pregnant again, the therapist explained that it was too much to expect a boy who had already been through so much to be a responsible older brother, and that ideally J needed to be either the only child or the youngest in a family. "I felt like the expert was telling me that since I had babies, it would be best to find J another home," says Conner. But as difficult as the situation was, she shrank from that possibility, saying, "Forget it. He's my son!"
Instead, she tried an earlier suggestion from the social worker, doing "24-hour eyes-on parenting" -- basically, not letting J out of her sight. This went on for two months, until one afternoon when J began throwing a ball at the ceiling. "I said no," Conner recalls, "but he wouldn't stop. So I took it away." J went into a wild, screaming tantrum, unintentionally hitting Conner's nose with the back of his head: "I was bleeding heavily, sitting on the rug, crying. My two little ones were hiding behind a chair, crying. And it hit me: This is a domestic violence situation; if their dad had done this, I would take our children somewhere safe."
At that instant, Conner faced a hard truth: "Forget love. Right then, I didn't even like J," she says. "In his short little life, he'd had a ton of loss. But it was clear to me that I was pushing him away to keep the smaller children safe. I couldn't handle the idea of them being hurt. I could see that always putting the other kids' safety above meeting J's needs was creating a barrier between us. It was a painful situation."
That night, she told Matt she thought they should find a new home for J: "We cried and cried. But he trusted my judgment."
Conner began working with an adoption agency that did "secondary placements" -- relocating kids when adoptions went awry -- searching for a home where J would be the only or youngest child. "He had to be the sole focus, to be attended to and soothed," she says.
The Conners were sent photos and information from potential adopters. One was of a promising Midwest couple with grown biological kids and adopted teens who wanted to adopt a young boy. One day, when J seemed calm and happy, Conner and her husband asked if he might want to go live with a new family. "He was instantly open to it," Conner says. "We put their photo on the refrigerator, and he'd say, 'That's my new mom. That's my new sister.' "
Eight months after the Conners had brought J and their daughter from Haiti to Spokane, his new parents arrived in town. Conner's therapist warned her that J likely wouldn't weep or protest when he left. Indeed, he just walked away (and by all accounts is thriving with his new family). "I was cut apart," Conner says. "But we were all so relieved to have some peace."
The other children adjusted seamlessly to life without their older brother. But everyone else was puzzled. Neighbors who'd seen J riding his bike asked, "Where's your son?" When Conner would answer that he'd been adopted by another family, "I'd get the most horrified stares, so I'd keep walking. And I didn't tell many out-of-town friends or extended family for months." In Spokane, the Conners were the subject of unflattering gossip: "At one point, Matt was introduced to someone who said, 'Oh, right -- the family that dumped that kid.' "
That was seven years ago. "That's a long, long time to cry," Conner says. "But last year, we finally felt ready to take what we'd learned and become a foster family." The couple candidly told social workers what had happened with J: "I think our knowing exactly what we could and couldn't handle worked in our favor. Our rule is that we will only take children younger than our own." Last October, the Conners got their first placement -- a 3-month-old boy. "It will be so painful when he has to leave," Conner admits. "But I've learned that starting life with the experience of love is good. Now I know when and how I can give it."
Source: Yahoo / Good Housekeeping
Parents Punished for Video Recording
March 25, 2014 permalink
Scott Rolick and wife Sara lost their daughter Stevie after grandpa was caught selling drugs. CPS kept the girl even after tests proved the parents to be drug-free. When the parents video-recorded their daughter, CPS responded by changing the visits to supervised. Not for the protection of the child, but as punishment for the parents. In an embedded YouTube video (local copy mp4), CPS supervisor Carmin Franko asserts that it is illegal for parents to video-record their child on visitation. Parents have been photographing their own children since the introduction of the Daguerreotype in 1839. We never knew until now it was illegal.
California CPS Goes After Father Who Recorded Them After His Daughter Was Wrongfully Taken Away
37-year-old Scott Rolick is fighting back against California Child Protective Services after he says they wrongly took his daughter away, placed her in a lice-infested, abusive, and unsafe foster home, and made up lies in their reports to make it more difficult for him to get her back.
The situation began when the father of Rolick’s wife Sara was busted for selling drugs miles away from the home. Sara’s father had been living with the couple and their young daughter, so when police searched the home and found a small amount of drugs that the 70-year-old had kept there, they immediately investigated to see if Scott and Sara were involved. Both were given drugs tests, which they passed, and were found to be completely innocent, but CPS still took their daughter Stevie out of the home and placed her with a foster family. Sara’s father no longer lives with them, and despite being cleared of any wrongdoing on the couple’s part, CPS refuses to place Stevie back with her parents.
According to reports, CPS documents claim that Scott and Sara were arrested and found to have been using drugs, but in reality, those allegations are false. CPS told Rolick that in order to help his own case and get his daughter back, he has to take parenting classes and attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Understandably, Rolick has refused this, so CPS will still not give Stevie back to her parents.
Scott decided to take matters into his own hands, and began filming interactions with CPS workers. The first video, posted below, is a recording of a CPS worker, and the second is a recording of CPS supervisor Carmin Franko reprimanding Rolick for recording a CPS worker in the first place. Franko claims that it is illegal to record a government agent, and now, CPS is going after the father.
As punishment for recording the worker, CPS is relinquishing visitation rights from Rolick, saying that he can only see his daughter if it is supervised.
Despite backlash from CPS and more troubles that lie ahead, Rolick says that he’ll continue to fight the agency because it’s the right thing to do.
“I’ll go to jail for this because it needs to be exposed,” said Rolick.
It doesn’t appear that CPS has made a statement regarding this case, and as of the latest update, Stevie is still living in the abusive foster home.
Source: Opposing Views
Addendum: Robert Franklin comments.
Child Protective Services Outrage in Ventura County, California
There’s more heavy-handedness on the part of California Child Protective Services, this time in Ventura. CPS in the Golden State has demonstrated time and again its willingness to play the role of state thug and this looks to be no exception.
It wasn’t long ago that I posted a series of pieces on a couple of Russian immigrants who had their infant son taken from them because they had the audacity to disagree with doctors at one hospital about his course of care. Never mind that another doctor at a Kaiser clinic told them the treatment recommended by hospital personnel was unnecessary. Those parents weren’t pretending to practice medicine; they were following one doctor’s advice that contradicted that of another doctor. For that, the police barged into their house without a warrant, snatched their son and left. It took them weeks to get the boy back and only then were they able to do so with the assistance of multiple media outlets and at least one state congressman.
The case of Scott Rolick and his wife Sara is even worse, though (Opposing Views, 3/25/14). In the first case, at least CPS could point to a doctor who said the child needed treatment the parents weren’t providing. That gave the agency a peg on which to hang its hat. It’s got nothing here.
It seems that Scott and Sara and their five-year-old daughter Stevie were peacefully living their lives and allowing his father, who is 70 to live with them. Unknown to them, the old man was peddling drugs miles away from their home. He was caught, arrested and charged. Somehow that got the attention of CPS who showed up at the Rolick’s home to investigate. They found some minor amounts of pot, but Scott and Sara said it wasn’t theirs and, in any case, they don’t imbibe. They voluntarily underwent drug tests and passed, so, end of story, right?
Wrong. CPS had its foot in the door and it wasn’t leaving. Despite the fact that there was no evidence whatsoever of either child abuse or neglect by anyone, and despite the fact that Scott’s father no longer lived there, CPS took Stevie and put her in foster care.
Now, as we know, foster care can be no picnic for a little kid, and that’s how it’s turned out for Stevie. Apparently the place is infested with lice so that all the children’s toys need to be wrapped in plastic. Into the bargain, there are older kids in the home who’ve been aggressive with the little girl.
But that’s not all. In an effort to prove the conditions under which Stevie is living – conditions that CPS apparently prefers to those in the Rolick’s home, that’s so agreeable to children that neighbors call it “the playground of the neighborhood” – Scott took a video of the foster home. He also videotaped CPS caseworkers interacting with him.
And that, my friends, proved to be a mistake. CPS painted a large target on Scott Rolick and went to work. First, caseworker Christy Byrne wrote a report for the Rolick’s file that Scott, a veteran of two tours of duty in Iraq, and his wife had been arrested and charged with possession of a narcotic. That was an outright lie, but it’s there in the file to this day.
Adding one outrage to another, CPS decided that, since Scott had been arrested and charged (which he hadn’t been), he must attend a parenting class, a class for drug abusers and AA meetings. Understandably, Scott has refused.
But CPS wasn’t finished. They claimed Scott’s videotaping caseworkers was also a criminal violation and called the police. Now, it’s clear that, in at least two federal circuits of the United States, We the People have the right to videotape the police in action and therefore the actions of other public employees as well during the course of their official duties. That includes CPS caseworkers. Now, those circuits are the First and Seventh, and California is part of the Ninth Circuit, so just what the law is there is anyone’s guess at this point.
Still, the videotaping is what’s really irritated CPS. They’re used to doing their deeds in secrecy and Scott’s idea that, being public employees, the public is entitled to know what they’re doing is too dangerous to tolerate. So they’ve rushed off to court and gotten a restraining order, so none of us can see what Scott wants us to.
And of course Stevie is still in foster “care.” Have the Rolick’s done a single thing to suggest they’re a danger to her? No. Is there a shred of evidence of neglect? Not one. So what’s she doing in a filthy and dangerous foster home? She’s paying for her parents’ assertion of their parental rights, that’s what. CPS is abetting the abuse of a child because her parents cling to the bizarre notion that they have not only parental rights but civil rights, among them the right to be free from undue governmental intrusion into their private lives.
And we can't have that. All of us need to be aware that CPS is, if not as big a thug as the Stasi, close to it. They hold not only the power to enter our homes and lives on the slimmest of pretexts, but the far more awesome power to take our children from us for literally no reason. CPS, in its worst incarnation, is raw, terrifying governmental power, operating in secret and on the presumption of guilt.
And of course it’s all encouraged by money from Washington. Make no mistake, Ventura County CPS has its eye on Stevie Rolick. She’s cute, she’s healthy (at least for now) and she comes from a good home. That means she scores high on any test for adoptability. Plenty of adoptive parents would love to get a child like her. And if CPS can manage to convince a judge that the Rolicks are unfit parents, that’s exactly what’ll happen. If it does, the feds will send a check to the State of California that will in turn send one to Ventura County.
All that nonsense about Scott and Sara having been arrested and charged with possession of a narcotic is aimed at exactly that. The same is true of the CPS demand that Scott take a variety of drug and alcohol classes. If he agrees, they can point to that as “proof” of his being a suspicious character. After all, his father was busted for selling drugs and he used to live with Scott. If he refuses, he’s obviously not serious about becoming a better dad. Such is the frame-up in progress.
In short, he and Sara are just where CPS wants them – damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
Let’s hope that they get their little girl back soon. And let’s hope she’s healthy and in one piece when and if they do. But in the meantime let’s not forget that, right there in Ventura County, there are children who are being beaten, starved, hooked on drugs and ignored. And when the next one of them dies or is discovered battered, broken and bruised, CPS employees will rush before television cameras to explain that they’re overburdened with cases, how they just didn’t have the time to properly monitor little Andy or Jenny’s case.
Source: National Parents Organization
European Parliament Watches Child Snatching
March 23, 2014 permalink
Christopher Booker follows up on the Antonova family. After Dutch social workers seized their children and stored them for two years under conditions little better than a warehouse, the family showed the video of the abduction to the European parliament. Child protectors have twice ignored appellate court orders to return the children.
MEPs must investigate this child-snatching scandal
Social workers who take away children is one of the most disturbing human rights scandals of our time
Last June, under the heading “Dutch social workers catch the English disease”, I reported the extraordinary case of the 11-year-old Antonovs twins: a Russian-Latvian brother and sister forcibly snatched by Dutch social workers from their mother and older brother Ilja, primarily on the grounds that at home they spoke Russian, not Dutch. A chilling video of the twins being carried kicking and screaming to a police van is on YouTube (“Kidnap of children from their mother by Dutch social services”), recording a scene not dissimilar to ones that unfold here in Britain, many times every week.
Last Wednesday in Brussels, this video, shown to a roomful of visibly shocked MEPs and officials, was the highlight of a day-long hearing by the European Parliament’s committee of petitions into the way thousands of children in EU countries are each year being removed from their families for absurd reasons. Ilja Antonovs told the story of how his brother and sister are being kept miserably in a “living facility” run by a private company, Jeugdzorg, at a cost to Dutch taxpayers of £65,000 a year for each child. Twice the Dutch appeal court has ordered the return of the twins to their family, but each time this has been overruled by a lower “children’s court”.
Among the witnesses in Brussels, for 23 petitioners from eight countries, was the Association of McKenzie Friends, led by Sabine McNeill, congratulated by the committee for her “flawless” presentation. The committee has already been angered by the European Commission’s refusal to investigate such abuses: EC officials repeated on Wednesday that upholding human rights is solely a matter for national authorities.
The committee resolved that its members will carry out further inquiries in Britain and Holland, two countries where such abuses are most evident. It will then press for a full European Parliament debate on one of the most disturbing human rights scandals of our time.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Parental Love Deemed Conspiracy
March 22, 2014 permalink
British child protectors seized five children from Carla and José Pedro. When the family complained to the European Parliament in Brussels, the British authorities knew how to react — they arrested the parents for conspiracy. Two news reports are enclosed. News services based in Portugal use real names for this family. The Pedro family has its own blog.
UPDATE: Portuguese immigrants caught up in UK adoption scandal
Portuguese immigrants were in Brussels this week fighting for children they claim were seized by UK authorities running a high-level adoption scandal.
And as the shocking news accelerated through international media, police were reported to have arrested the Portuguese parents of five children - accusing them of attempted kidnap.
The situation follows worrying reports of a scheme said to involve judges, lawyers and social workers effectively ‘kidnapping’ 4500 children every year to “feed the adoption industry”.
On Wednesday, Carla and José Pedro joined 30 other foreign immigrant couples to petition to European Parliament.
“You can hardly believe this story”, Victims Unite activist Sabine McNeill told the European parliament on Wednesday March 20.
“The cases related during a three-hour audience shocked euro MPs”, affirmed Correio da Manhã newspaper. “The denouncements point to the existence of a scheme in the UK involving lawyers, social workers and judges to take children from good parents - the majority immigrants - and put them up for adoption, with the objective of feeding the industry surrounding adoptions”.
“It’s all done for profit!” accused one grandfather in the delegation.
In its own report, SIC TV showed the parents and family members later going to the British Embassy where they attempted to deliver a dossier on the scandal.
According to the report “neither the British embassy nor the British consulate would receive them”.
Said Susana Frexes reporting for SIC, the Euro Parliament does not have the power to force the UK authorities to do anything, but the hope of families is that it can at least push for change.
Euro MP Angelika Werthmann explained it is “very much a Human Rights issue”: “The Human Rights of the child need to be heard”.
Carla and José Pedro, campaigning every way they can for the children that were forcibly taken from them over a year ago, have now reportedly been arrested in their hometown of Grantham, Lincolnshire - on suspicion of attempting to kidnap their own children.
The news reported by Público and picked up by other media instantly came via Sabine McNeill. It is developing rapidly, and we will bring updates throughout the day.
Carla and José, both 43, told SIC television that they wanted their case to be transferred to social services in Portugal, as they are confident that if it is, they will then win parental custody back. All their children are reported to have Portuguese nationality.
The couple’s nightmare began in April 2013 after their eldest son, a child with mental problems, complained at school that his father had beaten him.
It was an accusation that the boy later retracted many times, but it was enough for social workers to arrive on the Pedro’s doorstep in Grantham,Lincolnshire, and remove all five children - aged from 3 to 14 - on the same day.
José Pedro was also taken into police custody, but released hours later “due to lack of evidence”, writes Correio da Manhã.
Originally told their children would be removed for only 72 hours, the Pedros have been without them ever since.
They now see their children only once every two months for an hour in the company of social workers, writes Público newspaper.
“They cry. They are thin, and they want to come home”, Carla told SIC’s television team.
The two youngest have been put up for adoption against the parents’ wishes and their eldest daughter has since threatened to kill herself if she loses her little siblings, Público adds.
It is a tragedy considering both parents say they never beat their children - and the reason given by the UK courts for not returning them was “the risk of future emotional damage”.
As Euro MP Angelika Werthmann pointed out, the emotional damage of separation is plain for all to see.
It now remains to be seen what happens to these children, and those of all the other families (Russians, Lithuanians and Latvians) who petitioned Brussels on Wednesday March 20.
The Facebook site Stolen Children of the UK, which is quoted in CM as saying the forced adoption scheme affects 4500 children every year, warns families: “Love your family today, because tomorrow the Government might take them away”.
Now, there is the added spectacle of parents taken into custody as this high-profile case goes viral.
Source: Portugal Resident
Portuguese couple arrested in UK for conspiring to abduct own children from social care
A Portuguese couple living in the UK has been arrested along with two other people for conspiring to abduct “a number of identified children” – believed to be their own children who were placed in UK state care last year – after accusing the British authorities of unjustly taking them. Portugal’s State Secretary for Communities is considering taking action.
Carla and José Pedro, who have been living in Grantham, Lincolnshire, for the past 11 years, had their five children removed from them by local social services last April.
The move came after their eldest son, who suffers from learning disabilities and hyperactivity, told a social worker assigned to help him at school that his father had hit him.
Originally from Almeirim near Santarém, Central Portugal, the couple claims they were told on the day the authorities came to take the children that they were being placed into care for just 72 hours, but the youngsters were never brought home.
A long court battle ensued in which the couple had to face social services in the British legal system.
Eight months later, in December, a family court ruled that the two youngest children, aged three and five, should be put up for adoption, while the older three, aged 12 to 14, were to be placed in foster care until they turn 21.
This morning (Friday, 21 March) reports emerged that a couple believed to be Carla and José Pedro had been arrested by Lincolnshire police for “conspiring to abduct” the children.
They were arrested in a police sting named Operation Shamrock.
In an statement sent to The Portugal News, a spokesperson for the force confirmed: “At approximately 7am today four people were arrested at two separate addresses in Grantham on suspicion of conspiring to abduct a number of identified children who are currently in the care of the local authority.
“The four people arrested are a husband and wife aged 43 years and 36 years respectively from Grantham, a female aged 35 years from Grantham and a 43-year-old man from Grantham. The four are currently in custody at Grantham Police Station where they will be interviewed.”
DS Claire Hammond said: “The children concerned are related to a number of the people in custody; they are unharmed and remain in the care of the local authority who we are working closely with on this investigation.”
In comments to Portuguese newspaper Público, the State Secretary for Communities José Cesário said: “Even though British law is being carried out”, the case is becoming in need of “an attentive and meticulous legal analysis.”
Only then will Portugal decide if it should “take action with the British authorities.”
And, he added, “according to what we know of the case, the reasons that the Family Court invoked are not very solid.”
The five children were taken by social services from the family home on 23 April; the eldest boy and seven-year-old girl are living with separate families but in the same town, in Skegness. The eldest girl, who is 12, is living with a foster family in Stanford with the two youngest children who have been put up for adoption.
Their mother, Carla Pedro, says she is authorised to see them for an hour, once every two months.
Speaking to Portuguese newspaper Público, Carla Pedro says that when she does see her children “they cry and say they want to come home.”
Mrs. Pedro claims her children were taken from her and her husband due to “a future risk of emotional damage.”
“Smacking children is not allowed in the UK but we never smacked them. We punished them. Either way, my son later said that he had lied when he accused his father of hitting him” because days earlier the couple had grounded the teen after a phone call from the school headmaster because of his bad behaviour.
A blog page (www.pedrofamily.wordpress.com) set up to fight the Pedro’s corner by a representative for the family accuses Lincoln County Council of having “snatched” the five children without paperwork.
Mrs. Pedro also maintains the children were taken from their home without any formal paperwork.
The family is being represented by Sabine Kurjo McNeill, who claims to work for the voluntary public interest advocacy association McKenzie Friends, which assists a litigant in person in a common law court.
Ms. McNeill has posted extensively about the case on the Pedro Family blog. A post from earlier today seemed to confirm it was in fact Mrs. and Mr. Pedro who had been arrested.
“Phone call from Grantham Police Station at 8.51am: the Pedros are arrested for abducting their four children”, she wrote.
Ms. McNeill also offered to represent the Pedros following their arrest.
McKenzie Friends do not need to be legally qualified; litigants in person are entitled to have assistance, lay or professional, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
As a result of the case a petition was created – the ‘Abolish Adoptions without Parental Consent’ petition, which gathered 3,397 signatures – and was handed to European Parliament in Brussels earlier this week, on Wednesday 19 March, along with around a dozen similar complaints from families of various nationalities.
According to the Pedro Family blog page, the couple moved to the UK from Portugal with their then two children in 2003 after José lost his job as forklift driver due to the general economic downturn. In Grantham, he had a job as a driver but later became unemployed.
A spokesperson for child services at Lincolnshire County Council told The Portugal News that he was aware of the case but due to confidentiality restrictions he could not give details nor comment on individual cases.
Source: Portugal News
Father Arrested for Kidnapping Teenaged Son
March 21, 2014 permalink
Father James Powell has been arrested for taking his sixteen-year-old son Austin Powell from a foster home in Oklahoma to Michigan. The son was old enough that he ought to be considered competent to decide for himself where he wants to live, but Oklahoma is still asking for extradition of the accused father.
Father charged with kidnapping
DA to seek city man’s return on charges
Kidnapping charges have been filed against a Muskogee man who authorities say removed his teenage son from a foster home.
James Powell, 48, is being held on $500,000 bond in the Huron County Jail in Michigan, a jail representative said Thursday.
Austin Powell, 16, who was living with Merinda Corbett, a cousin and his foster parent, was reportedly taken Saturday from Corbett’s home by James Powell, Austin Powell’s father. James Powell’s custodial rights were restricted to supervised visitation, authorities said.
Austin Powell returned to Muskogee on Wednesday. Rae Lea Spears, an investigator with the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office, said representatives from the Department of Human Services picked Powell up in Bad Axe, Mich.
When Austin Powell was reported missing, law enforcers said they were concerned about the boy’s health because he did not have the medication he needed.
Powell has received medical care and appears to be in good health.
“Everything’s good,” Spears said.
Austin Powell and James Powell were found by authorities in Bad Axe, Mich., Tuesday afternoon, and James Powell was arrested.
Muskogee County District Attorney Larry Moore said his office should know by this afternoon whether Powell will waive extradition. If he does, a representative with the Muskogee County Sheriff’s Office will travel to Michigan to pick him up within the next 10 days.
If James Powell fights extradition, the district attorney’s office will request a governor’s warrant to bring him to Muskogee County, Moore said. That process could take up to 90 days, he said.
The search for Austin Powell was conducted in several states and also included searches on the Internet, Spears said.
“The family gave us information on a friend of the father,” Spears said.
With that information, investigators searched the Internet for addresses and phone numbers. They contacted officials in two other municipalities in Michigan who helped in the search before officers in Bad Axe found the pair.
Source: Muskogee Phoenix
Quebec Foster Suicide
March 21, 2014 permalink
Last July a Quebec judge ordered teenager Guillaume Crépeau-Bonnier into DPJ custody to receive psychological services. He never got any psychological care. On March 9 he hanged himself. When a DPJ employee conveyed condolences to mother Karine Bonnier, he tried to get her to sign a letter excusing the agency from responsibility for the death.
Suicide dans un centre jeunesse
Plusieurs questions demeurent sans réponses pour la mère de Guillaume Crépeau-Bonnier
Isabelle Maher, Journal de Montréal, Publié le: mardi 18 mars 2014, 19H26 | Mise à jour: mercredi 19 mars 2014, 13H21
Un adolescent de 15 ans s’est enlevé la vie alors qu’il séjournait dans un centre jeunesse des Laurentides où il était en attente d’un suivi psychologique qu’il n’aurait jamais reçu.
Le 18 juillet dernier, un juge de la Cour du Québec avait pourtant ordonné que Guillaume Crépeau-Bonnier reçoive des «services psychologiques», ce qui n’a pas été fait regrette aujourd’hui sa mère.
Karine Bonnier s’interroge également sur le travail de la Direction de la protection de la jeunesse (DPJ).
«Je ne comprends pas. La DPJ devait protéger mon fils. On est pas supposé le retrouver mort», tranche calmement Mme Bonnier.
La mère du jeune Guillaume Crépeau-Bonnier avoue avoir de la difficulté à obtenir des réponses à ses questions sur les circonstances entourant la mort de son fils, survenue le 9 mars dernier au centre jeunesse Huberdeau, dans les Laurentides.
«Mon fils n’a laissé aucune lettre. On me dit qu’il se serait pendu dans la douche à l’aide d’une ceinture. C’est un autre jeune qui l’aurait découvert», déplore-t-elle.
Avant de séjourner au centre Huberdeau, Guillaume avait vécu dans cinq familles d’accueil.
L’adolescent fuguait à la moindre occasion, comme ce fut le cas la veille de sa mort. Guillaume était très en colère contre son père et moi, confie sa mère.
«Il ne voulait pas mourir. Il était révolté, mais pas suicidaire», affirme la femme de 35 ans.
En attente de soins psychologiques
Un employé de la DPJ a contacté les parents de Guillaume pour leur offrir ses condoléances.
«On me demande de rédiger une lettre les dégageant de toute responsabilité. Je pense qu’ils se protègent. Mais moi je les tiens responsable de ne pas avoir fait leur travail», dénonce Madame Bonnier.
Lundi dernier, elle dit avoir été rencontrée par la travailleuse sociale responsable du dossier de Guillaume.
«Elle m’a dit que la semaine prédécent sa mort, mon fils aurait dit à trois reprises qu’il voulait mourir mais qu’on ne l’a pas pris au sérieux. Il n’y a pas eu de mesures de sécurité pour le protéger», rapporte Madame Bonnier.
«Je suis démolie. J’essaie de me montrer forte, mais je n’arrive plus à dormir. Ce n’est pas clair comment c’est arrivé exactement et j’aimerais savoir», conclut-elle.
La Sûreté du Québec et le Bureau du coroner ont ouvert une enquête sur la mort de l’adolescent.
«Nous offrons nos condoléances...»
Le jour de la mort de Guillaume Crépeau-Bonnier, deux éducatrices étaient présentes dans l’unité où il logeait.
C’est essentiellement la seule information qu’ont accepté de dévoiler les responsables de la DPJ des Laurentides sur la mort tragique de l’adolescent de 15 ans.
Avait-on enclenché un protocole de protection pour prévenir le suicide du jeune qui avait clairement verbalisé son souhait de mourir?
Avait-on sécurisé son milieu de vie au centre Huberdeau?
Guillaume a-t-il reçu les soins psychologiques tels que demandés par un juge de la Cour du Québec?
Ces questions demeureront pour l’instant sans réponse.
«C’est des détails qui serviront à l’analyse de la situation à l’interne. L’idée ce n’est pas d’en faire un débat public», a répondu Julien Martin, directeur du service clientèle des centres jeunesse des Laurentides.
Prévention du suicide
Au cours des prochaines semaines, les intervenants concernés recevront un suivi psychologique, nous a-t-on assurés.
«Nous sommes excessivement malheureux et tristes d’avoir perdu un jeune. Il y a enquête. Si des correctifs doivent être apportés, soyez assurés qu’ils le seront», s’est contenté de répondre Monsieur Martin.
«Nous offrons nos condoléances à la famille et aux proches», a-t-il tenu à ajouter.
Depuis 2002, un protocole d'intervention et de prévention des suicides a été mis en place dans tous les centres jeunesse du Québec, à la suite de recommandations d'un coroner.
Source: Journal de Montréal
Student Punished for Saving Life
March 21, 2014 permalink
When sixth-grader Adrionna Harris saw another student cutting himself with a razorblade, she took the blade from him and threw it away. Virginia Beach school officials suspended her for ten days and wanted her expelled. Only public outrage when the story hit the internet got her reinstated.
Record cleared for student involved in razor incident
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach sixth grader who came to the aid of a classmate who was cutting his arm returned to school Friday with a clean record after initially facing expulsion for her actions.
Last Thursday at Bayside Middle School, Adrionna Harris took a razor from the student, threw it away and convinced him what he was doing wasn’t right.
She thought she was doing the right thing, so Friday she told the school administration what happened. The way school officials responded led to a question of if the school’s zero tolerance policy went too far.
Instead of getting praise from the school administration, Adrionna got a 10 day suspension with recommendation for expulsion.
The interesting thing — the only reason Adrionna got suspended was because she admitted what happened. The alleged weapon was thrown away, and it was her word alone that led to her suspension.
“I was shocked and surprised. I was very shocked that a student would get suspended for saving another child,” said Rachael Harris, Adrionna’s mother. “The school system over-reached absolutely.”
The school’s own details of the event state Adrionna reported the student had a razorblade. She admitted taking it from the student then throwing the blade away.
“I took the razorblade, and then I threw it away immediately … I didn’t carry it around the school … I didn’t use it against anyone … I threw it away,” she told 10 On Your Side.
“I felt she did the right thing,” said Rachael Harris. “Under the circumstances, she thought he would bleed out, as he was cutting himself, and there was no teacher in sight. It was a 911 situation, and there wasn’t time to find a teacher.”
We asked Adrionna if she would do the same thing again, knowing she would get suspended for holding the blade.
“Even if I got in trouble, it didn’t matter because I was helping him … I would do it again even if I got suspended, yes,” she said.
Most frustrating to the Harris family is they feel like they were ignored — none of their calls were returned about the incident until 10 On Your Side got involved. WAVY.com made calls and went to the school. We called school board members, who didn’t want to comment, but calls finally came in to the Harris family.
“It is amazing. They are listening to us now … she should be back in school tomorrow and that would be fair,” said Rachael Harris.
Wednesday night, Virginia Beach City Public Schools agreed to move Adrionna’s suspension hearing, which was supposed to be in ten days, to Thursday.
The Harris family arrived early for the meeting at the Laskin Road School Annex, and they had a feeling in the meeting things might go their way. It was a rough start because the first thing that greeted them was a letter stating the expulsion recommendation was off the table, but Adrionna still faced long-term suspension.
“Everyone seemed positive. They said they are going to take good care of my daughter,” said Adrian Harris, Adrionna’s father.
After the meeting, there was hope that the long-term suspension would be nixed, and late Thursday afternoon, Principal Paula Johnson called the family and told them Adrionna could return to school Friday.
“We are very happy about this, but we still are fighting to make sure none of this appears on her record,” Mr. Harris said Thursday. WAVY News’ Andy Fox learned Friday her record would be cleared.
Virginia Beach City Public Schools has been pummeled in social media for suspending Adrionna in the first place. During the meeting, Mr. Harris said it was clear the school system is tired of the negative reaction against them because of what people perceive as unfair treatment of Adrionna.
“They definitely want it to be over with. They don’t want 10 On Your Side spotlighting this issue. They are over it, and so are we,” Harris said.
Montreal Children Seized
March 20, 2014 permalink
An unnamed Montreal mother has had two of her four children seized and adopted.
Mother pleads for return of special needs kids
MONTREAL - A mother in the Laurentians is pleading with provincial bureaucrats for the return of her two adopted special needs children.
The family, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, consists of four children ranging from seven to 23 years of age.
Two of the four - an 11-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy - were adopted as newborns and have Downs Syndrome and autism.
Authorities came to their school last September and took them away, effectively ending their time with the family.
Some who know the mother, including their family doctor, share her shock.
“She's completely dedicated to these children,” said Dr. Barry Breger. “I've said many times that she's an angel sent from heaven to take care of these children. She absolutely loves these children. These are her children.”
The issue began when a former helper reported to authorities that the mother used excessive control on the kids, including having them on a dairy-free, gluten-free diet.
The family has attempted legal recourse but it’s a tough-go in the courts, according to their lawyer.
“The law provides that the department of youth protection must make a case in front of the courts, it's up to them to make the proof,” said lawyer Politimi Karounis. “What actually happens is, God forbid youth protection sets their sights on you, you are guilty until you prove your innocence.”
The mother says that the nine months without two of her four children has been painful.
Youth protection authorities from the Laurentians were not permitted to comment on the case.
The Montreal office, however, explained the rules of the procedure.
“We speak to the children, we speak to the parents, we speak to the caregivers, we speak to whoever is in that child's life who can give us information about the specific allegations,” said Madeleine Berard of Batshaw.
Meanwhile the mother, who has worked as a foster mother for 25 years and has a MA in Special Education, fears that her autistic son is deteriorating in his foster family.
“I haven't even had the chance to speak to him once on a telephone and it's been two weeks. Not once to see him or touch him or to touch his little cheek to tell him that I love him,” said the mother of her son.
Source: CTV Montreal
March 20, 2014 permalink
Impatient child protectors can't wait until a baby is born. Mothers are being prosecuted for pre-natal maltreatment. While there are many kinds of abuse alleged, the most common is recreational drugs. Pro Publica highlights the case of Rennie Gibbs. Her daughter Samiya was strangled by an umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, but an alert prosecutor found traces of a cocaine metabolite in her blood tests.
Rennie Gibbs’s daughter, Samiya, was a month premature when she simultaneously entered the world and left it, never taking a breath. To experts who later examined the medical record, the stillborn infant’s most likely cause of death was also the most obvious: the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck.
But within days of Samiya’s delivery in November 2006, Steven Hayne, Mississippi’s de facto medical examiner at the time, came to a different conclusion. Autopsy tests had turned up traces of a cocaine byproduct in Samiya’s blood, and Hayne declared her death a homicide, caused by “cocaine toxicity.”
In early 2007, a Lowndes County grand jury indicted Gibbs, a 16-year-old black teen, for “depraved heart murder” — defined under Mississippi law as an act “eminently dangerous to others…regardless of human life.” By smoking crack during her pregnancy, the indictment said, Gibbs had “unlawfully, willfully, and feloniously” caused the death of her baby. The maximum sentence: life in prison.
Seven years and much legal wrangling later, Gibbs could finally go on trial this spring — part of a wave of “fetal harm” cases across the country in recent years that pit the rights of the mother against what lawmakers, health care workers, prosecutors, judges, jurors, and others view as the rights of the unborn child.
A judge is said to be likely to decide this week if the case should move forward or be dismissed. Assuming it continues, whether Gibbs becomes the first woman ever convicted by a Mississippi jury for the loss of her pregnancy could turn on a fundamental question that has received surprisingly little scrutiny so far by the courts: Is there scientific proof that cocaine can cause lasting damage to a child exposed in the womb, or are the conclusions reached by Hayne and prosecutors based on faulty analysis and junk science?
The case intersects a number of divisive and difficult issues — the criminal justice system’s often disproportionate treatment of poor people of color, especially in drug prosecutions; the backlash to Roe v. Wade and the conservative push to establish “personhood” for fetuses as part of a broad-based strategy to weaken abortion laws. A wild card in the case — Mississippi’s history of using sometimes dubious forensic evidence to win criminal convictions over many years — could end up playing a central role.
Prosecutors argue that the state has a responsibility to protect children from the dangerous actions of their parents. Saying Gibbs should not be tried for murder is like saying that “every drug addict who robs or steals to obtain money for drugs should not be held accountable for their actions because of their addiction,” the state attorney general’s office wrote in a brief to the Mississippi Supreme Court.
But some civil libertarians and women’s rights advocates worry that if Gibbs is convicted, the precedent could inspire more prosecutions of Mississippi women and girls for everything from miscarriage to abortion — and that African Americans, who suffer twice as many stillbirths as whites, would be affected the most.
Mississippi has one of has one of the worst records for maternal and infant health in the U.S., as well as some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease and among the most restrictive policies on abortion. Many of the factors that have been linked to prenatal and infant mortality — poverty, poor nutrition, lack of access to healthcare, pollution, smoking, stress — are rampant there.
“It’s tremendously, tremendously frightening, this case,” said Oleta Fitzgerald, southern regional director for the Children’s Defense Fund, an advocacy and research organization, in Jackson. “There’s real fear for young women whose babies are dying early who [lack the resources to] defend themselves and their actions.”
Those who share such worries point to a report last year by the New York–based National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) that documented hundreds of cases around the country in which women have been detained, arrested and sometimes convicted — on charges as serious as murder — for doing things while pregnant that authorities viewed as dangerous or harmful to their unborn child.
The definition of fetal harm in such cases has been broad: An Indiana woman who attempted suicide while pregnant spent a year in jail before murder charges were dropped last year; an Iowa woman was arrested and jailed after falling down the stairs and suffering a miscarriage; a New Jersey woman who refused to sign a preauthorization for a cesarean section didn’t end up needing the operation, yet was charged with child endangerment and lost custody of her baby. But the vast majority of cases have involved women suspected of using illegal drugs. Those women have been disproportionately young, low-income and African American.
Lynn Paltrow, the executive director of NAPW, said that decisions to arrest and charge women often have political and moral overtones and are mostly based on unproved or discredited notions about the effects of prenatal drug exposure.
The U.S. Supreme Court has established stringent rules limiting the use of unproved science in legal proceedings, but these often fall by the wayside in fetal harm cases, Paltrow said. She said that women are typically convicted based on evidence that would be demolished by lawyers with the time and resources to effectively refute it in court – lawyers, say, for pharmaceutical companies whose drugs are challenged in court as being unsafe.
“If a pregnant, drug-using woman were a corporation, her case wouldn’t even get to trial because the rules of evidence require that there be science to prove causation,” Paltrow said.
The quality of the science is very much an issue in the Gibbs case.In a motion to throw out Hayne’s autopsy report, defense lawyers have claimed that that the medical examiner misinterpreted toxicology results and failed to explore alternative causes of death.
Those claims are not the first time Hayne’s work has come under attack. Indeed, Hayne — who effectively served as Mississippi’s statewide medical examiner from the late 1980s to 2008, eventually performing 80 to 90 percent of the autopsies in the state annually — has been a hugely influential and controversial figure in the criminal justice system there for years.
In litigation (much of it by the Mississippi Innocence Project) and news reports (many of them by Radley Balko, now of the Washington Post), defense lawyers and other medical examiners have accused Hayne of being sloppy, exaggerating his credentials, and leaping to conclusions that sometimes had no basis in science. At least four murder convictions based on Hayne’s evidence — one involving an innocent man sentenced to death for the killing of a three-year-old girl — have been overturned since 2007.
Despite having failed to complete his certification test by the American Board of Pathology, Hayne not only practiced for two decades in Mississippi and nearby states, but by his own estimate he performed as many as 1,800 autopsies a year (the National Association of Medical Examiners recommends that a single doctor conduct no more than 250). Mississippi stopped hiring Hayne in 2008, but he continues to testify in cases that he handled before then.
In their court filing, Gibbs’s lawyers cited a capital murder conviction of a 14-year-old boy that the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned because of what it called "scientifically unfounded" testimony by Hayne. That case involved both the prosecutor and the judge handling the Gibbs prosecution. (To read more about Hayne, go here, here, and here.)
Prosecutors have yet to respond to the filing by Gibbs’s lawyers, and they did not return a telephone call from ProPublica seeking comment. But they have vigorously defended Hayne in other cases where his methods and conclusions have been called into question.
Hayne also didn’t respond to a request for an interview.
Michael V. Cory Jr., a Jackson attorney, represented Hayne in a defamation suit against the Innocence Project, which had criticized his work and record. The national organization paid Hayne $100,000 as part of a settlement in that case. Cory said many of the claims against Hayne are unfounded.
“Given the number of autopsies he’s performed, there’s certainly going to be some errors,” Cory said in an interview last week. “But a lot of the criticisms don’t turn out to be fair. Just because he’s been criticized in some cases doesn’t mean there’s any inherent unreliability in his findings. Certainly Dr. Hayne would want the truth to come out.”
Gibbs’s lawyers would not provide many specifics about her background or the events leading up to her baby’s death. The records make this much clear: Gibbs, pregnant at 15, tested positive three times for marijuana and or cocaine during her pregnancy. She then missed several doctor’s appointments.
In November 2006, 36 weeks into her pregnancy, Gibbs ended up in the emergency room at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Columbus, where “fetal demise” was diagnosed and labor was induced. A urine test on Gibbs again detected the presence of cocaine and marijuana. By the day after Samiya’s delivery, Hayne had noted that the probable cause of death was homicide.
Gibbs’s lawyers spent the first several years trying to persuade the Mississippi Supreme Court to throw out the murder charge. (Gibbs, now 23, has been out on bail for much of the time.) They filed their motion to exclude Hayne’s testimony last year.
Expert witnesses hired by the defense claim that the toxicology results didn’t actually support Hayne’s findings. Although Samiya’s blood showed traces of benzoylecgonine, a cocaine byproduct, cocaine itself was “not detected,” according to the lab that did the tests. Kimberly Collins, a forensic pathologist in Atlanta associated with Emory University, said in an affidavit: “It is impossible to conclude from the very small amount of benzoylecgonine that the stillbirth was caused by cocaine toxicity.” Two other defense experts concurred.
The experts maintain that there were other problems with the findings as well. Hayne, they say, did not order tests to rule out infection or fetal abnormality, two common causes of stillbirth. Hayne said that Gibbs’s placenta was normal, but closer examination, the defense experts assert, showed the presence of blood clots — a sign that the baby’s oxygen supply had been cut off. (In a 2011 study by a consortium of researchers around the U.S., 24 percent of stillbirths were caused by blood clots or other placenta abnormalities.)
The experts said cocaine has been linked to one kind of devastating outcome — placenta abruption (when the placenta pulls away from the uterus), which can lead to stillbirth. That was not present in Samiya’s death.
In Gibbs’s case, the evidence pointed to “umbilical cord compression” as the likeliest explanation for Samiya’s death, the defense experts said.
At the same time, Gibbs’s attorneys are challenging the very notion that cocaine exposure in utero causes widespread fetal mortality or serious, long-lasting harm in children. The idea dates back to the 1980s and ‘90s, when the crack epidemic led to fears about a generation of developmentally impaired “crack babies.” And it has gained a kind of credence over the years as OB/GYNs, parenting sites, and many others have urged women to avoid all kinds of substances during pregnancy — everything from tobacco and wine to raw-milk cheese, sushi and hair dye.
But the concerns about cocaine have proven to be “wildly overstated,” said Deborah A. Frank, a pediatrician and researcher at Boston University School of Medicine who has participated in numerous studies on the topic over the past two decades.
“There is no consistent association between cocaine use during pregnancy and serious fetal harms, birth defects, or serious long-term physical or developmental impairments,” Frank wrote in an affidavit. “There is no convincing evidence that prenatal cocaine exposure is more strongly associated with fetal harm or developmental deficits than exposure to legal substances, like tobacco and alcohol, or many other factors.”
Frank and other researchers said they have been trying to set the record straight for years, but their arguments have rarely had a hearing in court, Paltrow said. Defense lawyers — often public defenders — don’t have the resources to hire experts to challenge prosecutors, and they may not even realize what the science actually says. It’s not unusual for women to plead guilty in such cases to avoid the risk of losing at trial — and getting a longer sentence. (Indeed, at least two mississippi women are believed to have pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the early 2000s, Gibbs' lawyers said.)
“For a whole host of reasons, women should not be prosecuted for this sort of thing,” said Robert McDuff, one of Gibbs’ lawyers. “But if they are going to be, it needs to be based on scientific research and analysis that is more reliable than what we have now.”
Cory, Hayne’s lawyer who also does criminal defense work, acknowledged that, “In the criminal justice system, where the stakes are higher, the resources are not there to challenge the science. The judge, who is the gatekeeper, has to use the information they have. You get some crazy results in criminal cases. Science where there is no consensus gets admitted as if there was consensus.”
Gibbs’ attorneys are hopeful that the judge in their case may yet throw out the depraved-heart murder charge. Meanwhile, one thing the evidence does suggest: “Incarceration or the threat of incarceration have proved to be ineffective in reducing the incidence of alcohol or drug abuse,” the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women wrote in 2011.
Moreover, the committee determined, pregnant women who fear the legal system avoid or emotionally disengage from prenatal care — the very thing that might help assure that they give birth to healthy babies.
“Drug enforcement policies that deter women from seeking prenatal care are contrary to the welfare of the mother and fetus,” it said.
Source: Pro Publica
Morinville Foster Mother Acquitted
March 19, 2014 permalink
Morinville woman found not guilty in death of foster child
A Morinville woman was found not guilty in the manslaughter of a 20-month-old foster child that died in her care in March 2010.
Christine Laverdiere, 38, was acquitted of the charges in an Edmonton courtroom Wednesday afternoon.
She was accused of homicide after the toddler - whose identity is protected under a publication ban - suffered a seizure in her Morinville home. The child died at the Stollery Children's Hospital two days later.
The Crown's position stated that injuries to the child's brain found in autopsy, were inflicted by Laverdiere.
In her decision, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Mary Moreau cited evidence presented by expert forensic pathologists that cast doubt on the claims. They noted the child's brain bleeds could have been caused by vomit blocking the child's airway before, during or after seizure, an extended oxygen deprived state and prolonged resuscitation efforts.
"I am left with reasonable doubt as to whether (the child) died as a result of non-accidental abusive head trauma caused by Ms. Laverdiere," said Moreau.
Laverdiere did not wish to comment on the decision.
Source: St Albert Gazette
Morinville foster mother found not guilty of manslaughter in the death of toddler in her care
Emotions ran high in court Wednesday as a Morinville foster mother accused of causing the death of a toddler in her care was found not guilty of manslaughter.
Shortly after Court of Queen's Bench Justice Mary Moreau read out her decision, the grandfather of the 21-month-old deceased loudly said "No" twice and then stated "God will get her." Another relative swore at the acquitted foster mom and called her a "murderer."
Meanwhile, Christine Laverdiere, 38, tearfully embraced her husband and other relatives and a large group of her supporters cried with relief and hugged each other.
Medical experts testified for both Crown and defence and Moreau ruled that she was left with a reasonable doubt in the case because she was not able to dismiss the defence expert's theory regarding the injuries found at autopsy.
Pediatric pathologist Dr. Janice Ophoven testified at trial that the injuries were a result of a combination of vomit blocking the child's airways following a seizure, a lack of oxygen to her brain and prolonged resuscitation efforts.
Moreau said the fact the child had bleeding in the brain and retinal hemorrhaging made the scenario "very suspicious" for abusive head trauma as the evidence did not point strongly to a prior traumatic event or to an opportunity for someone else to have caused the injuries.
However, the judge said when she considered the defence expert evidence, Laverdiere's history as a foster parent and her statements to 911 operators and emergency responders, she was "left with a reasonable doubt as to whether (the child) died as a result of non-accidental abusive head trauma caused by Ms. Laverdiere."
Earlier in the trial, Alberta Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Anny Sauvageau testified the toddler suffered an "abusive head injury" which led her to conclude the girl was the victim of either a "violent shaking," an impact to the head or a combination of both.
According to agreed facts, Laverdiere and her husband had been foster parents for two years and the deceased child had been placed with them on Jan. 25, 2010.
The victim stopped breathing about 4 p.m. on March 1, 2010, and Laverdiere called 911. Paramedics found the child in full cardiac arrest and continued resuscitation efforts until she was placed on life support in hospital.
She was taken off life support two days later.
Court has heard Laverdiere told police the girl had been sitting on the floor drinking juice when she heard a thud and then found her having a seizure.
In a police interview, Laverdiere admitted she picked the girl up and "forcefully" sat her down on the floor while trying to get her to drink and then gave her a "little push," causing her to fall and hit her head on the floor.
However, Moreau ruled the incriminating statement was inadmissable because police had violated her Charter rights to have a lawyer and to remain silent.
Source: Edmonton Sun
Judge Calls for Record Disclosure
March 19, 2014 permalink
British judge James Munby has called for court records of child protection to be made available to the children when they reach adulthood.
The judge has recognized a small part of the problem. The agency records on a foster child are kept confidential even after adulthood. John Dunn fought unsuccessfully to get copies of his own foster records in Ontario. Because the lives of foster or adoptive children are often irregular, it is sometimes impossible for them to prove they are the child involved in some official record. Your editor, for example, has never been able to get a copy of his birth certificate through official sources. Only making foster and adoption records public, allowing anyone to search them, will enable the adult subjects of care proceedings to find their own records.
Children separated from their families by courts must know why
Britain's most senior family judge says children who are separated from their families must be able to access a record of the court's secret ruling when they grow up
Children separated from their parents in secret family court judgments must be able to find out the reasons for the court's decisions when they grow up, the most senior family judge has said.
Sir James Munby, the President of the Family Division, said it was “great concern” that the judgments of all family court judges were not routinely transcribed and published.
This is a “major issue” for the children affected by judgments, he said, who are then unable to find out at a later date why a judge came to a decision that may have affected the course of the rest of their life.
He said that there was a “pressing need” for a “definitive record” for concerned parties to refer to if future contentions over the judgment occur.
Sir James added: “More importantly, in future years: five years, ten years, twenty years, thirty years or fifty years into the future, a child who may, for example, be subject of adoption proceedings, is able to see what the judge actually said.”
“My focus immediately is on transparency, disclosure into the public arena but there is an equally important need for the judgements to be made available for the families. That of course has cost implications.”
The change is the next move in a push by Sir James for “greater transparency” in the family court system.
In January the senior judge issued guidance to the family courts and the Court of Protection that more decisions by judges should be published in an effort to bring about "an immediate and significant change in practice in relation to the publication of judgments".
The guidance means that judges now have to provide "compelling reasons" to prevent judgments being released, with local authorities and expert witnesses involved in care cases being generally named — although the anonymity of children and vulnerable adults will be protected.
Hundreds of decisions on parental access to children and care orders were also published in a move to end the secrecy of family courts.
The move came following sustained criticism from fathers' groups and MPs that the family courts lack transparency, with 95,000 hearings in private every year. In recent years several secret care cases have been exposed by the Court of Appeal after "disgraceful" decisions by local authorities.
Speaking at the Justice select committee Sir James said that the January guidance was “merely a start” and that he planned to issue further missives following consultation.
He plans to tell courts to increase the categories of court documents available to journalists, extend the number of judgements that will be published on an mandatory basis and apply the new transparency rules to circuit judges as well as those in the High Court, he said.
Sir James said January’s guidance was already having a “visible affect” on secrecy within the family court system with many more judgments now available to the public.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Compassion, not Punishment, for Mothers
March 19, 2014 permalink
Academy award winning actress Patty Duke pleads for compassion for abusive mothers such as herself.
Guest: Compassion and hope for parents who abuse
Parents who hurt their children aren’t all monsters, writes guest columnist Patty Duke. She knows because she was one of them.
PARENTS who hurt their children aren’t all monsters. I know. I was one of them.
The physical abuse I inflicted on my two sons, Sean and Mac, was bad enough. Rage-filled spankings. An angry backhand across the face. Smacks with a wooden spoon wherever I could land them.
But the emotional abuse was even worse. A sweet and loving mommy one minute, a snide and belittling banshee the next. My poor boys never knew if I was going to kiss them or kick them.
After each incident, I was filled with self-loathing. I swore I’d never do it again. But I did, even though I loved my children with all my heart.
But my head was another story. I was unknowingly living with undiagnosed manic depression, now known as bipolar disorder.
The fact that I’d been physically and emotionally abused as a child myself didn’t help. My father was an alcoholic. My mother suffered from chronic depression — so severe that she literally gave me away to live with my theatrical managers when I was only 8 years old. I remember wondering, “What did I do wrong?”
And my managers abused me, too. I never had a childhood. I just had acting jobs. And I was never allowed to go to friends’ houses where I might have seen what positive parenting looked like.
The chemical imbalance in my brain made it difficult to ask for help. I didn’t think I was acting crazy. I thought everyone else was. But finally, when I was in my 30s, a psychiatrist witnessed me in a manic episode and made the diagnosis that saved my life.
That diagnosis, and the medication and therapy that followed, also saved my relationship with my children. They forgave me. It took a lot longer for me to forgive myself. Eventually, I came to accept that while my mental illness was no excuse for my behavior, it was an explanation.
Because of what I put my kids through, I have compassion for other parents who do the same.
I’m not a Pollyanna. I know that there are real monsters who do unforgivable things to children. But I believe the majority of parents truly want to love and care for their kids. Mental illness, addiction or poor parenting role models stand in the way.
The foster-care system steps in to protect children. But states and communities should also step in with resources to help parents get the mental-health services or addiction treatment they need and to teach them how to be good parents.
When loving but flawed parents can safely be reunited with their children, families and society benefit. And when we go the extra mile to help parents, we break the cycle of abuse and neglect that can carry on for generations — just like it did for me.
We can all help by not only reporting abuse to authorities when we see it, but also by reaching out to struggling parents instead of judging them. Learn about parenting resources in your community and don’t hesitate to recommend them or use them yourself.
Finally, join me in being an advocate for early intervention for children who need mental-health services. I knew something was wrong with me from the time I was 5 years old. Others did, too. But no one helped.
I will never forget the bad things I’ve done, but I live in the now and am grateful that modern science can give me a normal, fulfilling life. I want other parents to know that there is hope for them, too, if they are willing to face their demons and seek out the help that’s available to them.
Academy Award-winning actress Patty Duke will speak at Childhaven’s fundraising luncheon on March 11 in Seattle. She lives in Idaho.
Source: Seattle Times
Boy Goes Back to Dad
March 13, 2014 permalink
A Barrie mother and eight-year-old child cooperated to steal $1,500 worth of power tools from a store. Police charged the mother and alerted CAS. It looks like CAS did the right thing and sent the boy back to his father.
Child allegedly pushes cart full of stolen power tools to waiting Barrie taxi
The Children’s Aid Society was called Sunday afternoon after an eight-year-old child allegedly pushed $1,500 worth of power tools out of a Bayfield Street store.
Barrie Police said a 34-year-old woman distracted cashier staff while the child pushed the tools outside to a waiting taxi. The woman — who is already facing a similar theft charge — was charged again and held for a bail hearing.
Police said the taxi took the children home to their father.
Source: Barrie Advance
Bread is Dangerous During Pregnancy
March 13, 2014 permalink
When Rachael Devore gave birth she was subjected to a social worker inquisition during two months of weekly home inspections. The agency acted because Rachael's drug test showed the results of eating bread baked with poppy seeds.
Woman sues UPMC over undisclosed pregnancy drug test
Rachael Devore expected a stressful few weeks after the birth of her first child.
But when a UPMC social worker accused Devore, 31, of Brighton Heights of taking drugs during her pregnancy, triggering threats to take the baby away, she said her first two months of motherhood turned into a nightmare.
“The whole approach was just deplorable,” Devore said. “Having a baby is supposed to be such a beautiful experience, such a great experience. It's not fair, and it's not OK for someone to take that away.”
Devore sued UPMC on Tuesday, claiming the hospital giant drug-tested her and her newborn without consent and shared inaccurate results with county social workers.
UPMC spokeswoman Gloria Kreps declined comment.
The Supreme Court ruled against the practice of hospitals testing pregnant women for drugs without their consent in 2001. The court said testing pregnant women violated the Constitution's Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches.
Devore said nurses tested her urine for drugs when she went to Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC in Oakland to give birth on June 24. The test results produced a “false positive,” Devore said, because she recently ate bread with poppy seeds. Poppy seeds are derived from the same plant as opium.
Even though nurses didn't test Devore's blood for drugs, and her daughter, Emmalyn, tested negative for drugs, a UPMC social worker asked about Devore's alleged drug use, according to the civil complaint filed in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.
The social worker referred Devore to Allegheny County Children, Youth and Family Services, though there was “no reason to suspect or believe that (the child) had been the victim or was in danger of being abused,” the complaint states.
CYF social workers inspected Devore's home and checked on Emmalyn during weekly visits for two months, Devore said.
When the visits ended, CYF didn't confirm the case was closed, the complaint says.
Margaret S. Coleman, Devore's attorney, said hospitals shouldn't test expectant mothers for drugs without consent, nor should they share test results with other agencies unless a child's health is at risk.
Last year, Lawrence County CYF paid $143,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed by a woman whose 3-day-old daughter was taken from her. That woman, according to court records, ate a poppy seed bagel before she went into labor.
Devore said she doesn't want other women to go through her ordeal.
“I'm not advocating to say that some women shouldn't be tested if it's warranted, but in my case, there was nothing that warranted it,” she said.
Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Bubble Wrapped Kids
March 11, 2014 permalink
Lenore Skenazy, founder of Free Range Kids, spoke at the Cato Institute on March 6. Here is a local copy of her talk (mp3). The problems of family law do not begin with legislators or social workers, but with an over-protective culture that shields children from any risk, no matter how small. In doing so, it prevents children from learning self-sufficency and encourages busybody interference in the relationship of parents and children.
March 11, 2014 permalink
Nature may abhor a vacuum, but it seems lawyers also abhor arenas of life untouched by their professional advice or air-quote helpfulness, which goes a long way to helping explain the $50 billion a year cottage industry in contentious divorce. A back-stiffening look at this sprawling problem—somewhat unsurprisingly unique to the United States in terms of its cost—director Joe Sorge’s documentary Divorce Corp. makes a persuasive case for the reform of family law court, and in particular an attempted decoupling of money from issues regarding parental custody and visitation rights.
Narrated by Dr. Drew Pinsky, Divorce Corp. unfolds as a methodological case study, and a shrewd takedown of a legal system in which more money passes through family law court than all others combined. Using their increasingly dexterous talents to manipulate a system of at least partially manufactured dissent, lawyers have driven up the national average in divorce fees to a bewildering $50,000, which is more money than a lot of folks make in a year. Litigants, we’re told and shown, are little more than grist for the mill.
Certainly any divorce is painful, and shot through with all sorts of private and very personal difficulties, shortcomings (real or perceived), anger and shame. That is a universal truth. Using a variety of interview subjects, though, Sorge’s film shows both how the American system of marital separation and annulment incentivizes conflict and, even more damningly, how basic mechanisms of fairness and indeed certain Constitutional rights (trial by jury, having the right to a lawyer if you are unable to afford one) that exist in criminal and civil courts do not exist in family law.
Divorce Corp. traces the evolution of the divorce-as-business boom back to then-California governor Ronald Reagan’s introduction of a “no-fault” dissolution law in 1969, a concept which quickly spread to the overwhelming majority of other states. Divorces became easier to secure and less of a social stigma, but also more complicated in terms of how to divide assets. Following the money, then, big law firms—almost none of whom were interested in divorce in the 1950s through the ’70s—insinuated their way into the process.
The film sometimes fails to delve quite deep enough; when it segues into the touchy subject of child custody evaluation, it alights briefly upon the failings of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality inventory, and the lack of formal training standards for such court-mandated professionals before bounding into more salacious anecdotal material, including stories of bribes and the take of Dr. Joseph Kenan, a California analyst with all sorts of explicit Facebook photos detailing a drug-fueled lifestyle of anonymous sex. In its home stretch, Divorce Corp. more rigorously compares the American system to that of Scandinavia , which has a comparable divorce rate but also has alimony limits and fixed monthly stipends for child rearing that remove the incentives for lengthy court battles surrounding custody.
Mostly, though, Divorce Corp. connects because has a deep bench of compelling and sympathetic interviewees from a wide variety of backgrounds. (The best character may be private investigator John Nazarian, an ex-cop who expresses disgust at the system while admitting to feeding his family off of the enterprise.) It also highlights in infuriating fashion the problems inherent in a system wherein attorneys in family court cannot be sued for libel, malicious prosecution or over-litigation, and jury-and-executioner judges who, dependent on campaign contributions for reelection, are not subject to conflict-of-interest oversight or review.
In an attempt to give his movie some stylistic pop, Sorge uses a number of placeholder reenactments in an attempt to dramatize some interviewee’s stories, and a couple of rudimentary animated segments to illustrate the difficulties involved in appealing a ruling or filing a motion against what might be a rogue judge. These are understandable if relatively uninspired choices. More effective is moody music, by composers Andy Sorge and Chris McClure, which underscores the undertow of an adversarial system glazed, in dispiritingly typical American fashion, with more needless antagonism.
Director: Joe Sorge
Writers: Joe Sorge, Philip Sternberg, James Scurlock, Blake Harjes
Narrated by: Dr. Drew Pinsky
Release Date: Jan. 10, 2014
The inevitable DVD of "Divorce Corp" will make an ideal gift for anyone who's been through a painful, expensive split-up. Directed by Joseph Sorge, whose web site offers a tie-in book, it's billed as "A shocking exposé of the inner workings of the $50 billion a year U.S. family law industry" that "shines a bright light on the appalling waste, and shameless collusive practices seen daily in family courts."
Those intensifiers should tell you what you're in for. "Divorce Corp" is less a nuanced documentary than a cry of rage. It's easy to imagine people who've shelled out a small fortune during a contested divorce, with or without kids underfoot, watching this film while nodding their heads and muttering, "Amen. Stick it to 'em."
Although it sometimes wanders off the righteous path to recount a depressing or perverse anecdote at length—such as the tale of a ridiculously expensive child custody evaluator who bragged of drug use and unprotected group sex on Facebook—for the most part it's a stylistically bland work. "Divorce Corp" is directed and edited at roughly the same level of imagination as a network newsmagazine story: talking head, talking head, talking head, cut to a chart, exterior shot of a courthouse, cut to another chart, talking head, capped by a segue along the lines of, "And if you think that's shocking, wait'll you hear this."
Any wit it exhibits is of the slow-twisting-of-the-knife variety. A sequence that picks apart the undefined legal phrase "the best interest of the child" is scored to a section of "March of the Sugarplum Fairies." Animated re-creations of witnesses' stories contain odd moments of caricature, as when a faceless stick figure representing a child custody evaluator takes a parent's hard-earned money and bolts like a cartoon swindler trying to make the next train out of town.
That said, I'd be shocked if anyone involved with "Divorce Corp" gave the briefest thought to making an artistic statement. This picture is just a statement, period—something like, "Divorce in the United States is needlessly complicated, expensive, unfair, and sometimes corrupt. Won't someone do something about it, for pity's sake?"
The damning facts and figures keep piling up, along with horror stories that give them human faces. The average contested divorce in the United State of America costs $50,000. Lawyers on both sides of a case crank out redundant paperwork, unnecessary motions and pointless letters because they get paid by the hour. Costs climb so high that soon-to-be-former spouses have to sell cars, houses and other possessions to pay legal fees, and sometimes judges pre-emptively denude their net worth by placing liens on their property. Nobody involved wants to end what this movie calls "the revenue stream." Judges are officially or unofficially in bed with lawyers for both spouses, as well as the various experts they assign to cases. It's a mutual backscratching thing. If the judge takes care of these people today, once the judge retires the recipients of largesse will take care of him, perhaps by hiring him to serve as a mediator or consultant.
Adding incompetence to corruption, the family court system is a steaming mess. Its various sections aren't governed by constitutional edicts that other institutions must follow. Power-tripping judges can indulge God complexes by lashing out against plaintiffs who protest their decisions. At one point the film tells of a man who wrote about his experiences in family court online and was ordered to delete his blog by the judge overseeing his divorce. This is but one of many examples the film gives of judges behaving like old-time ward bosses or petty gangsters. There are no stories in "Divorce Corp" of fair judges or decent lawyers or government employees who are good at their jobs, and little analysis of the larger systemic problems that might account for some of the horror stories. It's not that kind of film.
The fact that "Divorce Corp" is railing against targets that it's safe to hate (cold-hearted and anonymous institutions, incompetent evaluators, sleazy lawyers, corrupt or petty judges) gives it darkly exhilarating quality. If you want to let off steam, it's cheaper to go out into a field and scream your head off than to buy a ticket to see it; but then you wouldn't have the pleasure of seeing prominent lawyer Gloria Allred admit on camera that the goal of most attorneys in divorce cases is to "paper the other side until they can't take it anymore." If this movie were a person, it would be the kind of person you'd avoid because you fear he might explode one day and you'd rather not be there when it happens.
Addendum: On April 13, 2014 the move was posted to YouTube
Foster Alumni Speak
March 10, 2014 permalink
Four recent graduates, Chris Nobles, Jen Hope, Sharanda Crews and Dashun Jackson, tell their experiences being prescribed psychotropic drugs in foster care. The appearance of this story in the influential Wall Street Journal is more evidence that opinion is changing on the care of children. The second diagram in the article shows that foster children get drugged at four times the rate of other children.
Drugged as Children, Foster-Care Alumni Speak Out
Use of Powerful Antipsychotics on Youths in Such Homes Comes Under Greater Scrutiny
MECHANICSBURG, PA.—As a teenager in foster care, Chris Nobles was on a steady diet of psychiatric drugs—an antidepressant, an anti-seizure medicine and a powerful antipsychotic.
"It felt like having a very heavy blanket pressed against my mind," he recalls.
Mr. Nobles became a ward of the state of Pennsylvania at age 15, and for nearly three years, he says, doctors treated his depression and bouts of uncontrollable anger with the drugs.
Now 23 years old, Mr. Nobles lives on his own and doesn't take any medication. ("Not even a Nyquil," he says.) He has a full-time job training foster-care case workers and dates a woman from his hometown. And he has joined a wave of foster-care alumni across the nation sounding the alarm about how freely psychiatric drugs, including strong antipsychotics, are doled out to kids.
Mr. Nobles and others like him have become forceful voices in the growing debate over how such children are medicated. The past decade and a half has seen an upsurge in strong antipsychotic drugs prescribed for children in Medicaid and foster care. The inspector general of Health and Human Services, the federal agency that oversees Medicaid payments, has launched an inquiry into such prescriptions. And the American Psychiatric Association has warned against the drugs' overuse.
Now, with roughly 20,000 young people being emancipated from foster care each year, many are anxious to speak out.
Several states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Arkansas, have created youth advisory boards made up of current and former foster care kids who weigh in on issues surrounding the system, including the use of psychiatric medicines.
And last spring, the Senate Finance Committee invited former foster children to Washington to a roundtable discussion on psychiatric drugs.
"We used to have to beg to have young people at the table," says Celeste Bodner, founder of Foster Club, an Oregon-based organization that works with foster youth and alumni. "These young people know…that meds alone aren't the answer—it doesn't take care of the demons."
Overseen by state and local governments, foster care provides temporary placement for minors unable to remain in their own homes. They can live in individual foster homes, in group homes, or other institutional settings. Nationwide, there were approximately 400,000 children in foster care in 2012, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Antipsychotics, drugs dispensed for a broad array of diagnoses, have ignited a wave of debate—most recently over their use in poor children and the billions that they cost the Medicaid and Medicare systems annually.
Most scrutiny centers on a new class of antipsychotics sold under such brand names as Abilify, Seroquel, Risperdal and Zyprexa.
Based on 2009 data from Medicaid and private insurers, Stephen Crystal, a professor of health-services research at Rutgers University, estimates that 12% to 13% of kids in foster care take these medicines. That compares with about 2% for children on Medicaid but not in foster care and about 1% for those with private insurance.
While originally hailed as safer and more tolerable than predecessor drugs such as Thorazine and Haldol, the newer generation of antipsychotics, often called atypicals, has spawned a growing body of research about potential side effects. These, say researchers, can include sudden and severe weight gain, increased risk for diabetes and movement disorders.
Atypicals, with their strong sedative powers, were originally intended for the narrow segment of adults with psychotic conditions like schizophrenia. The Food and Drug Administration only sanctions their use for kids diagnosed with schizophrenia and conditions such as bipolar disorder and irritability associated with autism. But physicians can also prescribe these medicines "off label" to combat behavioral issues in children—some as young as two years old.
Some doctors stress that the drugs are helpful in treating children with certain aggression and behavior illnesses. Yet many are concerned that the use of antipsychotic drugs, particularly among those in custodial care, has gone too far.
According to Prof. Crystal's research, the largest diagnostic groups receiving the drugs in foster-care in 2009 were those with disruptive-behavioral disorders and attention-deficit/hyperactive disorders.
"These diagnoses involve difficulty focusing attention or controlling behavior—but that is different from not being in touch with reality," a key element of psychosis, he says.
To be sure, some doctors see considerable value in the use of antipsychotics on children in custodial care. Dr. Christoph Correll, professor of psychiatry at Hofstra University's Zucker Hillside Hospital, maintains that antipsychotics can effectively combat the violent, aggressive behavior some foster kids display. The drugs "generally work fast, which is often desired when kids are at risk of being suspended from school for their behaviors," says Dr. Correll. "In these situations, having to wait for a therapy appointment is not an option."
The popularity of such drugs helps to account for their blockbuster sales. In 2011, antipsychotics rang up $18.5 billion in U.S. revenues, according IMS Health, rising from $12.9 billion in 2007. Sales dipped in 2012 as cheaper generics came on the market.
Of all prescription drugs sold in the U.S., Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co.'s Abilify boasts the biggest sales by dollar, ringing up $5.87 billion in sales in 2012, according to IMS Health.
Manufacturers all say they strongly encourage doctors to adhere to the FDA's prescription guidelines. A spokesman for Otsuka says the company "never promotes use in pediatric patients" beyond the FDA guidelines. A spokesman for AstraZeneca AZN.LN +0.11% PLC, maker of Seroquel, said the drug is safe and effective "when used in accordance with the FDA-approved indications." A spokesman for Eli Lilly LLY +0.53% & Co., maker of Zyprexa, said it was committed to "promoting our medications only for approved uses and within the scope of prescribing information approved by the FDA." Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., a unit of Johnson & Johnson JNJ +0.14% that makes Risperdal, said in a statement: "Because children in foster care are particularly vulnerable to mental health problems, we support the creation of policies to protect their interests."
In September, the American Psychiatric Association urged its members to prescribe antipsychotics only to kids with serious psychotic disorders. Last year, the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched a probe in five large states to review use of the drugs among minor Medicaid recipients.
That's where the chorus of foster-care alum is chiming in.
Jen Hope, a 26-year-old foster care alumna who lives near Detroit, was part of the group chosen to share her experiences with the Senate committee.
Ms. Hope rattled off a list of some of the medications she took on and off over the years: antipsychotics Abilify and Seroquel as well as three antidepressants, a drug for attention deficit disorder and an anticonvulsant.
"Was this really necessary?" she asked during her appearance.
Ms. Hope, a college student and single parent, acknowledges that she struggled with serious emotional issues. But she is also critical of the way her problems were diagnosed and treated. At various points, she says, doctors said she suffered from depression, attention deficit disorder and bipolar disorder.
"How do you develop as a person and find out who you are when you have been given all these diagnoses?" she asks.
Stories like hers are prompting introspection in the medical community. "There is a consistent story here—it may not be 100%, memories are tricky—but they are saying what we really need to think about," says Dr. Glenn Saxe, chairman of child and adolescent psychiatry at New York University-Langone Medical Center. The recurrent message, he says, is "anger at not being treated well…by psychiatrists who don't even ask questions, and then give them a medicine."
Prescribing the drugs "seems too easy, too convenient," adds Dr. Gail Edelsohn, a psychiatrist at Community Care Behavioral Health Organization, a nonprofit managed-care company in Pittsburgh. "First, understand what is triggering the aggression."
Recollections from foster alumni are highly nuanced—and not all are entirely negative. Twenty-year-old Sharanda Crews, of Jonesboro, Ark., says the medications she took as a foster kid, including Seroquel, did some good. Diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder, "I was always fidgeting," she says, describing herself as the type of child who would be "bouncing off the walls." Seroquel calmed her down, she says. But Ms. Crews, who remains in foster care under a state program that covers wards until age 21, says it also left her feeling as if "I were watching someone else live my life."
Efficacy issues aside, potential side effects are a concern. These can include obesity, elevated blood-sugar levels, and possible increased risk for diabetes, says Prof. Crystal of Rutgers. Perhaps an even greater threat, he says, are the "unknown unknowns," such as the impact these drugs may have on brain development in young children. While no relevant studies have been performed to date, "the younger the child, the more concerned you are," he says.
Dr. Correll of Zucker Hillside Hospital in Queens, New York, has spent years researching side effects of atypical antipsychotics. One 2009 report, studying 272 children and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that most subjects gained as much as 10 to 20 pounds after only 11 weeks on the drugs. A control group that didn't receive antipsychotics showed no significant weight changes.
The leading atypical makers cite the risk of weight gain in their literature and encourage doctors to monitor patients' weight.
Dr. Correll, who has received funding from several makers of antipsychotics, says it is impossible to know whether taking antipsychotic drugs as a child ultimately increases the risk of premature death. That, he says, is "the million dollar question."
Some states have taken action. In Nevada, the state Legislature in 2011 passed a Foster Care Bill of Rights that gives foster kids the right to refuse medicine that "makes you feel bad," according to language in the law crafted for young people. In Texas, doctors are now required to check in with the state before prescribing antipsychotics to any child under three.
A key proponent of the Nevada measure was Dashun Jackson. Mr. Jackson, age 21, worked with other foster-care kids to help enact the bill. The 2011 law comes in two versions—one for adolescents, and another written in language even a young child can understand.
Mr. Jackson recalls his own yearning to say "no" when he was growing up. He entered the foster-care system at 14 after leaving what he says was an abusive home.
Foster care brought its own torments. He says he spent years on Seroquel, the antipsychotic, as well as the antidepressant Prozac. Seroquel would help him sleep at night, he recalls, while Prozac revved him up. The overall effect was so jarring he struggled to stay focused in school. "It was like I was in class but I wasn't in class," he says.
Mr. Jackson, who shared some of his medical records with the Journal, says he would skip his medicines for days. "I didn't like what they were doing. I was emotionless; I couldn't feel," he says.
When Mr. Jackson turned 18, he placed himself under the care of a doctor who weaned him off the medicines. For a change, he says, he was heartened that someone in the psychiatric establishment made an effort to help him out of a fog.
Raymond Giddens, a licensed social worker who ran the group home where Mr. Jackson lived for several years, says the young man had serious emotional issues. The medications, he believes, "helped him more than hindered him."
Yet Mr. Giddens is also critical of the treatment Mr. Jackson received. He confirms that psychiatrists rarely tried to explore what was triggering the young man's distress. "We were with them for five minutes, and they were putting him on medication," Mr. Giddens says. "They didn't talk to Dashun."
Lisa Ruiz-Lee, director of the Clark County Dept. of Family Services, the agency in charge of foster care in the Las Vegas area, says Nevada had made several reforms in recent years to put more emphasis on kids' mental health care. "But there is still more to be done," she says.
Mr. Nobles, the Pennsylvania foster-alum-turned activist, recounts his time in foster care as a blur of institutional and quasi-institutional homes, and, of course, medication. He says his drug regimen included Abilify, Zoloft and Depakote, an anti-seizure drug. The medicines didn't necessarily work, he contends—either to control his anger or quell his sadness.
"They would have given me a billion milligrams of whatever, and I still would have known that I was unadoptable," says Mr. Nobles, who shared some of his medical records with the Journal. He entered the foster-care system when he was almost an adult, at 15.
"I am a large, 6-foot-2 black male—who would take the risk?" he says.
Visits to psychiatrists seemed to bring him little relief. "Fifteen minutes was very generous," he says of his brief sessions with clinicians, echoing a complaint common among foster kids.
"How are you feeling?'" Mr. Nobles remembers being asked. "I would say 'good,' and I was on the meds and I would say 'bad,' and I was on the meds."
Recalling those days recently, over a hamburger lunch at a Friendly's in Mechanicsburg, Pa., Mr. Nobles said that being on the drugs turned him off to the medical system. He now tries avoiding doctors altogether.
The drugs, he says, didn't even prevent his occasional angry outbursts.
One day, he says, he threw a chair at a classmate. He missed but hit a teacher who, mercifully, he says, didn't press charges. Looking back, he believes the medicines "didn't save me from almost ruining my life."
Still, he knows he is among the lucky. A study led by the University of Chicago on foster alumni in Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa found that by age 26, fewer than half, 47%, were employed; most of those who worked earned less than $12 an hour. Many had been homeless at some point.
These days, Mr. Nobles has a job helping train caseworkers at a center run by the University of Pittsburgh's School of Social Work.
In one training exercise, Mr. Nobles likes to tell students the story of Daniel, who enters the system as an adolescent, is plagued by anger issues and outbursts and wades through a raft of diagnoses and medicines. Mr. Nobles asks his pupils what they think could be done to help Daniel.
As he goes around the room, the answers generally suggest that "Daniel" is a tough, maybe even a hopeless, case.
Finally, he admits, "That Daniel is me."
Corrections & Amplifications
Jen Hope told a U.S. Senate committee that she felt she had been overmedicated in foster care. A caption accompanying an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Ms. Hope found the drugs helpful. Also, Lisa Ruiz-Lee is director of the Clark County Dept. of Family Services, the agency in charge of foster care in the Las Vegas area. An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified her as Lisa Ruiz-Jackson.
Source: Wall Street Journal
March 9, 2014 permalink
When teacher Renee Luise Oettershagen saw an eight-year-old girl throwing a banana in a garbage can, she retrieved it and forced the girl to eat it. The teacher has been suspended.
Children's aid has been notified. Janice Robinson, executive director of Haldimand and Norfolk CAS, says her agency is looking into the case. If the family is lucky, CAS will take no action. If they act, parents Jordan Stewart and David Tank will be facing the ordeal of getting their daughter back from a foster home.
Teacher off the job following 'rotten banana' incident
The teacher accused of making an eight-year-old girl eat food that had been thrown in the garbage is off the job at Ecole Sainte Marie until further notice.
Thursday, a spokesperson for the French-language school in Simcoe said Renee Luise Oettershagen “will not be present at the school” pending “resolution of the matter, be it disciplinary or other.”
“The (school board) is of the opinion that the teacher’s actions reflect poor judgment on her part,” Mikale-Andree Joly, spokesperson for the French-language school board in Toronto, said Thursday in an email. “Although the teacher has apologized, her behaviour is unacceptable and does not meet (the board’s) standards in terms of professional ethics as expected from all of its teaching staff. The (board) regrets this incident has taken place and sends its sincere apologies to (the girl) and her family.”
Parents Jordan Stewart and David Tank, of Port Dover, were alarmed last week when they learned that Oettershagen, a Grade 3 substitute teacher from Burlington, retrieved an aging banana from the trash can at Ecole Sainte Marie and made the eight-year-old eat it in front of the class. The girl reported Wednesday that the banana was “rotten.”
Oettershagen reportedly did the same thing on other occasions with sandwiches the girl had thrown in the trash.
The sandwiches were part of the school’s occasional lunch program. The girl threw hers out because she didn’t like lettuce. The girl’s family reports Oettershagen had retrieved the sandwiches, removed the lettuce, and made the eight-year-old eat them in front of the class. The reason given was to teach the students that food should not be wasted.
The girl’s family responded last week by pulling the eight-year-old and a younger daughter from Ecole Sainte Marie. The Children’s Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk has also got involved.
The school board responsible for the affairs of Ecole Sainte Marie is the Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud in Toronto. As a gesture of goodwill, the board has offered to supply a private tutor for the girls while the board resolves the matter.
Once the banana incident came to light, the girl’s family learned that Oettershagen has a disciplinary hearing pending before the Ontario College of Teachers. Last year, allegations of “professional misconduct” and incompetence were brought against the teacher. According to the college’s website, a time and date for the hearing have yet to be determined.
Stewart has spoken to a board superintendent about the matter. She says the official told her that Ecole Sainte Marie was not aware of the college’s concerns about Oettershagen’s performance in Halton Region before she was hired in Simcoe.
In light of the board’s response, Stewart and Tank are prepared to send their children back to Ecole Sainte Marie. Stewart says their decision depends on whether the staffing situation there has been rectified to their satisfaction.
“I adore that school,” she said. “There are a ton of good teachers there. They need to figure out how that one bad teacher got in. Once they get this situation cleaned up, yes, I would be thrilled to re-enroll my kids. One rotten banana doesn’t spoil the whole bunch.”
The Reformer is withholding the identity of the eight-year-old girl at the family’s request. A phone message inviting comment was left with Oettershagen on Thursday. An email was sent as well. There was no reply as of press time.
Source: Simcoe Reformer
Lev Tahor Children Escape Canada
March 7, 2014 permalink
Members of Lev Tahor and their children have fled to the Caribbean to avoid the threat of forcible return to foster care in Quebec. Six have reached their destination in Guatemala, but Canadian authorities have found nine more on a stopover in Trinidad and are making efforts to get them returned to Canada.
In later news, police in Chatham are keeping a close watch on Lev Tahor to monitor children leaving their premises. Lee Bolton, who is quoted in an enclosed story, reported on Facebook being stopped by police when coming back from a visit with Lev Tahor. In still later news, authorities in Ontario and Quebec are moving for court authority to take all the remaining Lev Tahor children into immediate custody. Three news articles are enclosed.
Canadian judge calls for law enforcement agencies to apprehend Lev Tahor children
TORONTO (JTA) — A Canadian judge has ordered child protection officials to use law enforcement agencies to apprehend 14 children in the haredi Orthodox sect Lev Tahor after most of them fled the country.
On Wednesday, the judge was supposed to hear an appeal of an earlier ruling to seize the children and return them to Quebec to be placed in foster care. No members of Lev Tahor showed up, and reports surfaced that several sect members had fled to Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago.
The judge ordered child protection officials in Chatham-Kent, Ontario to use the resources of local, provincial and federal police, and the Canada Border Services Agency, to locate the children and return them to Canada to be placed in the temporary care of Chatham-Kent Children’s Services. The order applies to three families.
Police said that 12 of the children under the order have left the country. The location of the other two remains unknown.
Earlier this week, authorities in Trinidad and Tobago stopped nine sect members of the sect — three adults and six children — at the airport as they were en route to Guatemala. They were offered a flight back to Toronto but refused, insisting they go to Guatemala.
According to a report in Trinidad media, the nine are “not detained” and neither are they deemed “fugitives.” They were stopped because of “inconsistencies” in their answers to questions and have hired a local lawyer, the report said. They remain at the airport, having spurned offers of a hotel.
Canadian embassy officials met Thursday with authorities from Trinidad’s security ministry, which handles immigration.
Another six children are already in Guatemala, reported the Montreal Gazette.
In an interview Thursday with the Gazette, Canadian youth protection official Denis Baraby said he’s concerned the remaining members of Lev Tahor are planning another exodus and that the rest of the children have to be seized soon.
“I think the community is preparing a mass move,” Baraby said. “If we want to protect the children that are in the community, we need to start working on the exit of the 114 other children.”
Some 250 members of Lev Tahor fled Quebec in November just ahead of a court order to seize 14 children and place them in foster care. Authorities said they had evidence of physical abuse, neglect, underage marriage and the forced ingestion of drugs.
The Lev Tahor settled in southwest Ontario, where the Quebec order was upheld last month. The affected families were told not to leave Canada pending the appeal. Baraby said the adults who took the children out of the country could be charged with kidnapping.
Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Police keep watch Wednesday at the ultra-orthodox Lev Tahor enclave north of Chatham
CHATHAM - They’re gone, again.
Just a month after a judge raked them over the coals for high-tailing it out of Quebec as the law closed in, some members of an Jewish sect who fled to Chatham have skipped the country — in defiance of the judge’s order — to keep their kids from being seized by child-welfare authorities.
Thirteen kids and their parents, members of the ultra-orthodox Lev Tahor, fled for the Caribbean, and possibly Central America, just as their appeal of an order allowing local children’s aid workers to take the kids back to Quebec and into foster care was to be argued here Wednesday.
The kids are at the centre of allegations — not proven in court, and which the group denies — of neglect and abuse, including of forced marriages of girls as young as 14.
By day’s end Wednesday, another Chatham judge ordered the kids be apprehended.
But the group members took off, despite last month’s order the three families stay in Chatham-Kent until a 30-day appeal period expired.
Nine Lev Tahor members — six kids and three adults — were reportedly being held by immigration authorities at an airport in Trinidad and Tobago.
A call to that country’s immigration department Wednesday was not returned.
It was unclear where the remaining seven children are.
“The children are on a trip, on a vacation,” Lev Tahor spokesperson Nachman Helbrans said when it became clear no one from the group would attend Wednesday’s Chatham court hearing.
Later, referencing the court’s action, Helbrans said the group is being persecuted for its religious beliefs.
“No one can believe this is happening in Canada, but we will not replace our Torah for a maple leaf,” he said.
Helbrans said the group left the country to wait to see if the Quebec order would be enforced, with the possibility they might not return if the order is enforced. He wouldn’t say where everyone was, but confirmed all the families named in a Quebec child protection order had left the rural enclave of duplexes the group has been renting near Chatham since it fled Quebec last fall.
Later, he said the detainees had a lawyer in Trinidad arguing for their release and claimed he didn’t know where the others were.
He said Trinidad and Tobago wasn’t their final destination — that they planned to go to Central America.
“They are fighting injustice now,” he said.
At the courthouse, the appeal was put on hold until April 4.
But Superior Court Justice Lynda Templeton, after hearing an emergency motion in a closed court, ordered the kids be apprehended.
With the Lev Tahor members now-shows in court, the local child-welfare agency began alerting border agencies across Ontario to “request assistance if necessary,” said Shelley Thibert of Chatham-Kent Children’s Services.
Back at their enclave, where about 200 members of Lev Tahor settled last fall after fleeing Ste. Agathe-des-Monts, Que., in the dead of night, no one was talking.
The few who would, boys and men dressed in the group’s conservative garb, said there was no one to speak.
Nearby, a Chatham-Kent police cruiser stayed parked.
Seen at the settlement was Lee Bolton of Canada Court Watch, a citizen’s watchdog focused on children’s aid cases. She said she didn’t know what was going on, but called herself “a friend” of the group.
Two men in suits knocked on one woman’s door at 8 a.m., a neighbour who doesn’t belong to the Jewish sect, asking if she knew where her neighbours were, she said.
Last month, in Chatham, Justice Stephen Fuerth rebuked Lev Tahor for fleeing Quebec as child-welfare authorities investigated, The group’s “unilateral actions,” he said, “placed these children at further risk of harm.”
Helbrans said the families won’t return to Ontario by their “own will.”
As for the rest of the group “we don’t have any reason, for now, to leave Ontario,” he said.
- Ultra-orthodox Jewish sect
- Led by controversial rabbi who did U.S. prison time for kidnapping
- Dubbed “Jewish Taliban” for deep religious beliefs, modest dress, closed society
- Accused of forcing marriages of young teens to older men, beating and neglecting their children and poor educational programs — allegations the group denies
- Fled to Chatham from Quebec last fall, as Quebec officials began a court proceeding based on a child-welfare probe.
- Quebec officials went to the group’s home north of Montreal last Nov. 18, only to find most members — and the kids — gone
- Nov. 20, 2013: Parents tell a judge their children were gone to Ontario
- Nov. 27: Quebec court orders the kids taken into 30-day foster care
- Feb. 3, 2014: Chatham judge agrees local officials can apprehend the kids. He gives the group 30 days to appeaal.
Source: Chatham Daily News
UPDATED: Removal of 127 Lev Tahor children sought
Quebec and Ontario’s child protection services will ask for the removal of all 127 of the children from the Lev Tahor community, Postmedia News has learned.
The 250-member community moved en masse to Chatham from Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, Que., in November ahead of youth court dates in Quebec. But 13 children were ordered to be placed in foster care in a Feb. 3 judgment that upheld a Nov. 27 ruling in Quebec. Youth protection officials have alleged neglect, child abuse and squalid living conditions.
On Wednesday, when the appeal of the Ontario order was set to be heard in Chatham, it was discovered that all 13 children had left the country.
In an interview Thursday, Denis Baraby, the director of Quebec’s Department of Youth Protection for the Laurentians region, said he’s concerned the group is planning another exodus.
“I think the community is preparing a mass move,” Baraby said. “If we want to protect the children that are in the community, we need to start working on the exit of the 114 other children.”
The judge in Chatham on Wednesday night ordered that the 13 children who’ve left the country be apprehended and returned to Canada, where they’ll be placed in the custody of Chatham-Kent Children’s Services.
On Wednesday morning, a group of nine members of the community were found at the airport in Trinidad and Tobago. They had flown from Toronto and were in the process of buying tickets for a flight to Guatemala, when local authorities intercepted them. Among the nine were six children who had been ordered into foster care. Another six children are already in Guatemala, while a six-month-old baby is with her 17-year-old mother in New York, according to Baraby.
Marcia Hope, director of communications for the Ministry of National Security in Trinidad and Tobago, said three adults and six children were stopped trying to pass through Trinidad on the way to Guatemala. But she bristled at the suggestion her country is detaining the families.
“Detained is a strong word,” Hope said Thursday. “I wouldn’t use the word detained. We follow an international protocol and we are just basically working with the Canadian authorities to sort out how we treat these individuals.”
She said those families have rented hotel rooms.
“They refused our accommodation to put them in a hotel,” Hope said. “They refused and they decided they’re going to retain a lawyer.”
She said those group members are still fighting, through their lawyer, to go to Guatemala.
Lev Tahor leader Uriel Goldman, who has repeatedly said no children are neglected in his community, claimed he didn’t know the families were headed to Guatemala.
He also said he doesn’t know why they chose to go there. Lev Tahor doesn’t have a community in Guatemala, Goldman said.
Lev Tahor says its members are being held there against their will.
“They are holding them for two days with no reason,” Goldman said. “Obviously there is political pressure right now.
“The game against the community is still going on. A lot of political pressure. Someone wants to get this community down. It’s obvious now.”
Canadian authorities are working to bring the children in Trinidad and Guatemala back to Canada. Baraby said police and Crown prosecutors are preparing to lay charges against the guardians of the children who took them out of the country. He said because they defied a court order issued from youth court, they could be charged with kidnapping.
If that happens, the international Hague Convention treaty would make it fairly straightforward for the families to be returned, explained Howard Barza, a Montreal family lawyer. Both Guatemala and Trinidad respect the convention, which secures the prompt return of children wrongfully removed or retained.
As for the 114 children still in Canada, Baraby said authorities need to act quickly.
“We don’t want them all to leave in the middle of the night to go to Guatemala,” he said. “It will be a bit late to act at that point.
“We want a regular surveillance of the community, but my colleagues in Ontario will have to take certain measures in order to give more powers to police to prevent people from leaving.”
A spokesperson for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said the children will be placed in homes in Toronto while they go through court proceedings. The appeal that was to be held Wednesday has been rescheduled for next month.
“This will be for a short time until the Quebec order (is evaluated by an Ontario judge),” said David Ouellette, director of public affairs for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
The centre has helped identify families in Montreal that could accommodate the children and their unique needs.
They have strict dietary restrictions, and most speak only Yiddish.
If all the children are ordered by a judge to be removed from the community, Ouellette said there is a plan to welcome them all.
“There is a contingency plan, because this isn’t the first time this possibility has been raised. But I can’t discuss that contingency. Obviously, it would no longer involve families.”
He said the children would be placed somewhere in the Laurentians.
Source: Windsor Star
Addendum: On March 8 the Lev Tahor children in Trinidad were put on a plane retuning them to Canada.
Lev Tahor sect members on the run sent back to Canada
Ultra-orthodox Jewish sect has been under investigation for its treatment of children
Nine members of the ultra-orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor who fled Canada earlier this week have been put on a plane to Toronto, CBC has learned.
The members, three adults and six children, left just before a judge was to rule on an appeal of an order to send 13 children into foster care in Quebec.
They were detained in Trinidad and Tobago.
The community had been under investigation for a wide range of issues, including hygiene and the treatment of children. In court-filed affidavits, police also say they are investigating allegations of child abuse and under-age marriages.
The community has denied all allegations of mistreatment.
It's believed other members subject to the order have fled to Guatemala. The nine who were detained in Trinidad had planned to legally challenge any attempt to send them back to Canada.
The next day a seventeen-year-old mother and her baby were apprehended at the Calgary airport. A news article and comment by Lee Bolton are enclosed.
Lev Tahor Jewish sect follower with infant apprehended at Calgary airport
A teenage girl and her baby who belong to the ultraorthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor were apprehended at the Calgary International Airport Sunday afternoon.
The 17-year-old and her five-month-old daughter were the subject of an emergency child welfare order issued by an Ontario judge, said Calgary Police Const. Laura Bailly. Both are now in the custody of Chatham-Kent Children’s Services, who assisted airport unit officers with the apprehension around 3:30 p.m.
Bailly could not say where the two were travelling from or what their final destination was. She said they will be returned to Toronto
The incident took place one day after six Lev Tahor children and three adults returned to Toronto after being stopped by immigration officials in Trinidad and Tobago. Police and child-protection authorities from Canada flew to Trinidad on Friday after receiving legal clearance to return the group.
Those children are now also in the care of child welfare authorities, while the adults are being processed by the Canada Border Services Agency.
Lev Tahor, which means “pure heart” in Hebrew, is an extreme religious sect which came to Canada in 2005. The community has come under investigation for issues including hygiene, children’s health and allegations that some girls are being married off as teenagers.
The group has denied all allegations of mistreatment.
A Quebec court originally ordered late last year that 14 Lev Tahor children be placed in foster care after the community of about 200 people left their homes in Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, Que., in the middle of the night, days after a child welfare agency started a court case against a couple of the families.
The community settled in Chatham, Ont., where a judge found last month that their move from Quebec was made to avoid the custody proceeding there. He ordered that 13 Lev Tahor children be turned over to child protection authorities in Quebec.
Police said Thursday that most of the children have left the country.
Source: Calgary Herald
Lee Bolton She's the one I worried most about. She shouldn't have even been on the order in the first place. It's her parents and another couple that were being sought for apprehension in Quebec to begin with. But due to herl being in her parents care when this investigation first started they left her on the order. She got married after she turned 16 and moved to her own apartment with her husband. They had a child and the Quebec DYP left her on the order and so that automatically put HER baby under the order. She went to court and got removed from the order ...but they wouldn't take the baby off it. Quebec wants as many as they can get.
I'm not sure why she went to Calgary...she would have been safer to stay at someone's house right here in Chatham.
Source: Facebook, Lee Bolton
One of the children forcibly returned to Canada has started a hunger strike. Note the contrast between the diligence of Canadian authorities in repatriating Lev Tahor children with inaction in the case of Edyta Watkins née Ustaszewska who fled from Canada to Poland with two children of her husband Stephen Watkins in defiance of the courts.
Lev Tahor Kids On Hunger Strike
A Lev Tahor spokesperson says children in custody of Chatham-Kent Children`s Services are refusing to eat until they are returned to their families.
A teenage girl has been admitted to The Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto after being brought back to Canada from Trinidad and Tobago. The community is on high alert in Chatham-Kent as youth protection authorities search for another six children from the ultra-orthodox Jewish sect.
There are concerns the group is planning a mass exodus from Chatham-Kent. Packed SUVs, vans and trailers sit at the ready in the community, but boys are still attending school and prayer continues.
“Unfortunately, history repeats itself and we’re now standing in Berlin 1939, where the only option was to go to the gas chambers,” says Lev Tahor Spokesman Uriel Goldman, who denies all allegations of forced marriages, abuse and neglect. “They’ve been watching us for two years and couldn’t find anything wrong, just allegations. Leave us alone, unless you have concrete evidence of wrongdoing.”
Chatham-Kent Children`s Services issued an emergency order to apprehend all 14 Lev Tahor children, currently at the centre of a custody battle, after they vanished last week.
Two have since been apprehended at the Calgary International Airport, while another six were stopped in Trinidad and Tobago and sent back to Canada. It is believed the other six are in Guatemala and will be returned with the help of the OPP, RCMP and CBSA.
Source: Blackburn Radio
Addendum: The teenaged mother who fled to Calgary has been reunited with her child. The father is still forbidden to see his child.
One Lev Tahor Child Released
Chatham-Kent Children’s Services is releasing one Lev Tahor infant from foster care, but with strict conditions.
The child will be placed in the care of her 17-year-old mother. The father is banned from seeing the child until further notice from the court.
Justice Paul Kowalyshyn told the the mother there will be “very, very specific terms of supervision.” However, details of the terms and conditions were not released by the court.
The infant and its mother were taken into custody at the Calgary Airport. They fled Ontario after a judge ruled 14 Lev Tahor children would be sent back to Quebec and placed in foster care.
The custody hearing for another six children from the ultra-orthodox Jewish sect will take place next week. Those six children were discovered in Trinidad and Tobago after they fled the country last month. A judge issued an emergency apprehension order for the children, who were also taken into custody and placed in foster homes in the Toronto area.
A superior court judge then overturned the ruling forcing the children back to Quebec, stating it would be best if they stayed in Ontario. The sect continues to deny all allegations of child brides, forced marriages, abuse and neglect.
Source: Blackburn Radio
Addendum: On May 7 a consent agreement was reached allowing four of the six children who fled to Trinidad to get out of foster care and back to their parents. The full terms of the consent remain confidential. Other reports suggest that the parents of the two remaining Trinidad returnees are now in Guatemala, possibly leaving them with the dilemma of keeping some of their children safe in Guatemala, or returning to Canada in an effort to get the last two out of foster care.
Lev Tahor family reunited with 4 children in foster care
CHATHAM, Ont. — A Lev Tahor couple was "very happy and relieved" Wednesday when a temporary order on consent between them and the local children's services agency will allow them to be reunited with their four children.
But Marnelle Dragila, counsel for the parents, would not divulge conditions of the order, which goes into effect on Thursday.
The family, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, was separated when their children were among those who fled Canada in early March, just days before a judge was to decide whether they should be sent back to Quebec as part of a child-welfare probe.
The couple's four children have been living in foster homes in the Toronto area.
About 200 members of the ultra-orthodox Jewish sect left their homes near Montreal in November 2013 to settle in Chatham, where community leaders hoped Ontario's education regulations would be less strict and allow their religious home-schooling.
They also hoped to evade Quebec authorities, who maintain allegations of child neglect and abuse, which have not been proven in court.
Ontario Court Justice Paul Kowalyshyn on Wednesday lauded the parents, their counsel and lawyers for the children and Chatham-Kent Children's Services after reviewing their motion.
"I compliment all parties and counsel in court for the appropriate, thorough and well-thought-out consent," Kowalyshyn said.
The judge urged all parties to continue their "notable spirit of co-operation."
Terms of the order were not read into court records.
While the judge allowed media to be present for what was to be a temporary care and custody hearing, Kowalyshyn made it clear media was to have no access to court files or documents relating to the matter.
Nor will media be allowed to attend the follow-up settlement conference on Aug. 7.
In previous published reports, six children of two families were intercepted in Trinidad and Tobago and returned to foster homes in the Toronto area.
Another six children are believed to be living with Lev Tahor members in Guatemala.
A baby was returned to her Lev Tahor mother under provisions reached in court last week.
Source: Toronto Sun
Fearing the Bogeyman
March 7, 2014 permalink
Scholar David Pimentel has produced a paper Fearing The Bogeyman: How The Legal System’s Overreaction to Perceived Danger Threatens Families and Children. It supports the view that the greatest danger to children is not stranger abduction or the hazards of children walking or playing alone but separation from their families in the cause of child protection.
Figures quoted in the paper show that the risk of child seizure by social services is a thousand times higher than by strangers. Irrational fears of stranger abduction (only a hundred cases annually in the US) prevent children from walking to school, traveling instead in the most dangerous place for children, inside a moving vehicle. Pimentel points out that risk can never be eliminated. All that can be done is trade one risk for another. Rational parents make tradeoffs giving an acceptably low risk. But as long as any risk, no matter how small, is justification for intervention, all children can be taken.
Pimentel's suggested improvement is that child protection agencies should cooperate with parents and offer support, instead of seizing children. With the current structures, cooperation will fail for the reason that sheep cannot cooperate with wolves. Correction requires getting children's services outside the aegis of legal immunities and appropriated funds. Social workers need to change from dominators to counselors, and the privileges and immunities now granted to social workers, judges and psychiatrists need to be vested instead with parents.
Expand for the abstract, the full paper is at Fearing the Bogeyman (pdf).
In the last generation, American parenting norms have shifted dramatically, reflecting a near obsession with child safety and especially the risk of stranger abduction. A growing body of literature shows, however, that the threats to children are more imagined than real, and that the effort to protect children from these “bogeymen” may be doing more harm than good. Advocates of “Free-Range” parenting argue that giving children a long leash can help them learn responsibility, explore the world outside, get physical exercise, and develop self-sufficiency. But the State, usually acting through Child Protective Services (CPS), is likely to second-guess parents’ judgments on such issues, and enforce the overprotective and arguably harmful norms. Researchers and policymakers agree that CPS intervenes in far too many cases, traumatizing families by “removing” children and being slow to reunite such families even after a removal is found to have been unwarranted. Indeed, a child who is not being maltreated at home is far more likely — by multiple orders of magnitude — to be seized by CPS than by a kidnapper. Thus CPS, in the name of child safety, becomes the bogeyman, the child-snatcher parents should fear.
The problems are traceable to the vague statutes — starting with the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974 — that fail to accommodate the risk-management decisions parents must routinely make or to respect parental discretion. In effect, these statutes give CPS broad power to intervene in families that eschew the overprotection craze, and deny Free Range parents the latitude to trust their own parenting instincts, or to defend their families from government intrusion. Moreover, CPS faces strong incentives to make removal and foster care a remedy of first resort even when it is unclear that a child is endangered at all.
The statutes should be redrafted in a way that (1) recognizes parenting as an exercise in risk management, using a “grossly disproportionate” standard for risk assessments, and (2) protects parents’ discretion in making those judgment calls by employing an “abuse of discretion” standard for interventions. At the same time CPS’s incentives should be restructured to discourage unwarranted interventions and to enable caseworkers to devote energies and resources to keeping children safe within their own families, rather than coercing conformity by threatening removal. Until such changes are made, Free Range parents, and all parents, will be intimidated into adhering to these stifling, overprotective norms, to the detriment of society, of families, and of the children themselves.
David Pimentel is Visiting Associate Professor of Law, Ohio Northern University.
Ombudsman's Power Extended
Children's Aid Excluded
March 6, 2014 permalink
Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne has announced plans to expand the ombudsman's powers to handle complaints about municipalities, universities and school boards. The most complained-about agencies, children's aid societies, will remain outside of his jurisdiction. Instead, the legislation will hand that responsibility over the the provincial child advocate, an office that has been ineffective so far. Our guess is that the government will allow bill 42 (   ) to die.
The case of Chris York, posted earlier today, shows how ineffective oversight is when fragmented among separate fiefdoms.
A news report and an announcement from ombudsman André Marin are enclosed.
Ontario ombudsman to be given powers to investigate school boards, municipalities
TORONTO -- Ontario will take a "huge leap' with proposed legislation to expand the powers of the ombudsman to provide oversight of municipalities, universities and school boards, Ombudsman Andre Marin said Thursday.
Those three sectors get over $30 billion a year in direct provincial funding with virtually no oversight on how they spend it, said Marin.
"It's going to allow Queen's Park to follow the money," he said. "The oversight of municipalities will include all the different boards within the cities, for example the police services board, so it's going to be a huge leap in jurisdiction."
Marin said his office has had to turn away about 2,000 complaints a year because it had no jurisdiction over those areas, leaving people with virtually nowhere to turn.
The bill would also give Ontario's children's advocate new powers to deal with complaints about children's aid societies, and create a new patient ombudsman for hospitals, long-term care homes and community care access centres.
Marin, who has long pushed for the authority to investigate the so-called MUSH sector -- municipalities, universities, school boards and hospitals -- said he didn't think a separate patient Ombudsman was the right way to go. He wanted his office to handle those duties.
"We'll call it the MUS sector, because we lost the H," quipped Marin. "The patient ombudsman unfortunately reports to the bowels of the bureaucracy, not to the minister, not to the legislative assembly." As an independent officer of the legislature, Marin reports directly to the legislative assembly.
However, Marin did welcome the fact the government is moving to give patients with complaints about the health-care sector somewhere to turn.
"At long last, Ontario is poised to rectify the accident of history that left millions of citizens with nowhere to complain about the public bodies that touched their lives most closely," he said.
Government Services Minister John Milloy said the Liberals decided it would be best not to give the ombudsman additional powers to provide oversight for hospitals, long-term care homes and children in custody of the state.
"There was a feeling that a sector-specific ombudsperson who could look into that whole range of issues, who would have the expertise to look into health-care issues was the way to go," he said. "The same with the children's aid societies, to give it to an officer of parliament, the child advocate."
Premier Kathleen Wynne said the bill would also force MPPs to post their expenses online and give government the power to impose caps on salaries of public sector executives, including hospital CEOs and officials at Hydro One, Ontario Power Generation and the LCBO.
"I came into this office, just over a year ago, saying I was going to do government differently, that we were going to open up and be more transparent, and that is what we're doing," she said.
There's no details yet on what sort of salary caps the Liberals would impose, but Wynne said it would be done on a sector by sector basis, with differing limits on total compensation packages.
"This legislation will pave the way for those hard caps to be put in place," she said.
The Opposition said the Liberals had 10 years to be open and transparent, but instead tried to cover up their decisions to cancel two gas plants prior to the 2011 election at a cost of $1.1 billion, and have no credibility on accountability.
"This is the most corrupt government possibly in the history of Ontario," said Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak. "If you actually want transparency and accountability in government, then change the government."
Wynne rejected accusations the bill was simply crass political opportunism because the Liberals know it stands little chance of being approved before a vote on the spring budget, which could trigger a provincial election.
"I can't predict what the outcome of the introduction of the budget is going to be, but I expect that there should be all-party support for this," she said. "The politics of election or not, that is a separate issue from doing government in a way that is accountable to the people of Ontario."
Another measure in the bill, which Wynne said would be introduced in a few weeks, would clarify the rules for keeping government documents so they aren't destroyed in an attempt to avoid freedom of information requests.
Police are currently investigating the deletion of emails by officials in former premier Dalton McGuinty's office related to the Liberals' $1.1 billion decision to cancel two gas plants prior to the 2011 election. There is also another police investigation into financial irregularities at the province's Ornge air ambulance service.
Newsroom / Press Releases / 2014 /
Ontario Ombudsman oversight to be expanded to MUSH sector Marin welcomes historic move to provide scrutiny of municipalities, school boards, hospitals and more
(TORONTO – March 6, 2014) Ontario Ombudsman André Marin today welcomed the provincial government’s announcement that it will extend his office’s mandate into the “MUSH sector” – the vast, provincially-funded broader public sector comprising municipalities, universities, school boards and hospitals, as well as long-term care homes, children’s aid societies and police.
The changes will allow citizens to complain about government-funded organizations that have historically been immune to the Ombudsman’s independent scrutiny.
The bill would empower the Ombudsman to investigate public complaints about municipalities, universities and school boards. It also creates a new Patient Ombudsman for complaints about hospitals and long-term care homes, and gives the existing Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth the power to investigate children’s aid societies.
“At long last, Ontario is poised to rectify the accident of history that left millions of citizens with nowhere to complain about the public bodies that touched their lives most closely,” Mr. Marin said. “If this bill passes, it will finally open the MUSH sector to the same kind of independent investigative scrutiny given to every other aspect of the provincial government.”
Because the Ombudsman reports not to government but to the Legislative Assembly as a whole, the change is an assurance of greater transparency for all MPPs and the public, Mr. Marin stressed. “The Ombudsman and other officers of the Legislature serve as checks and balances on government, ensuring that it – in all its complexity – is functioning efficiently and with the confidence of its citizens,” he said. “Ensuring the MUSH sector is subject to the same checks and balances is simply good for democracy, period.”
Ontario’s first Ombudsman, Arthur Maloney, called for the MUSH sector to be subject to his office’s scrutiny in a report published in March 1979, and his successors have reiterated this position. Since Mr. Marin’s appointment in 2005, his office has received than 20,000 complaints about MUSH sector bodies, even though the public is aware that they can’t be investigated.
These have included concerns about corruption in municipal government, mistreatment of patients in hospitals and long-term care homes, school board policies on bullying, deaths of children in CAS care, and unfairness to university students. Wherever possible, Ombudsman staff refer complainants to other appropriate authorities.
The new legislation comes in the wake of years of public demonstrations, rallies and calls to expand Ombudsman oversight to all or part of the MUSH sector. Since 2005, there have been more than 130 petitions and 15 private member’s bills tabled in the legislature to this effect, supported by members of all parties.
Ontario is the last province in Canada to open its MUSH sector to Ombudsman oversight. All other provinces have moved to extend the jurisdiction of their ombudsmen to hospitals, long-term care and child protection.
“If these measures are implemented, Ontario will go from being dead last in Canada to one of the leaders in MUSH sector scrutiny,” said Mr. Marin, whose office was consulted in the final stages of drafting the bill. “I look forward to seeing this bill come before the Legislature. It is a strong step toward a more democratic, accountable and open Ontario.”
The Ontario Ombudsman’s office handles about 20,000 public complaints per year, has 80 staff and a budget of just over $11 million. It resolves individual complaints quickly wherever possible and also investigates broad systemic issues affecting large numbers of people. The Ombudsman’s recommendations are not binding, but have been overwhelmingly accepted by government. Ombudsman investigations since 2005 have sparked widespread reforms, including better screening of newborn babies, improved security for lottery players, more transparent property tax assessment, more compensation for crime victims and fairer drug funding policies.
Source: Ombudsman Ontario
Family Safety in North Cyprus
March 6, 2014 permalink
North Cyprus, a territory created by Turkish military intervention in 1974, is recognized only by Turkey. Consequently, it has no extradition treaties with other countries and provides a refuge for parents to raise their children when menaced by child protection agencies. The case of parents Yunus Chhatbar and Safiya Reheman is enclosed.
Couple fled as they feared son would be taken away
A young couple fled abroad fearing social workers were trying to take their son away and put him up for adoption, a court has heard.
Yunus Chhatbar and Safiya Reheman flew to Northern Cyprus last October as they feared Leicester City Council officials wanted to take away their son, Abdurrahman, now nine months old.
After they left their home in Northfields, the couple were at the centre of an international alert with their names and photos placed on the missing persons' section of the Interpol website.
A hearing of the Family Division of the High Court in London, called for by the city council, took place on Friday.
At the hearing, Mr Chhatbar, 29, told the judge via videolink that they had bought a "one-way ticket" to Northern Cyprus, which has broken away from Cyprus and has no extradition treaty with Britain.
The couple renew their 90-day visitors' visas by going to the border with Cyprus and getting their papers stamped without leaving the safety of Northern Cyprus. They can carry on doing this indefinitely, they say.
Social workers argue that Abdurrahman, known as Momo, must be returned to the UK, where he is still "habitually resident" because of his parents' social and family links.
The judge, Mr Justice Mostyn, said the couple, who met two years ago, could be breaking the law by refusing to bring their child back.
Financial adviser Mr Chhatbar and travel agent Miss Reheman, 19, fled after a relative made an allegation to social services that Mr Chhatbar had a violent past.
It is a claim the couple vigorously deny.
Speaking from Northern Cyprus, Miss Reheman said: "The social workers said that if I stayed with Yunus they would take our newborn son into care and get him adopted in less than four months.
"I was scared they would take Momo so we decided to make the move to Northern Cyprus.
"A few days later, the social services found out we had gone. They went to the family court and were granted orders to recover Momo, and make him a ward of court without our knowledge.
"It means the state officially became his 'parents' and we were being treated like our own baby's abductors.
"We were horrified when we found out our son's picture was plastered all over the Interpol website alongside criminals, terrorists and murderers who are on the run.
"We have been forced to live like fugitives, but we cannot let them take our son."
Mr Chhatbar said: "We want to settle here so Momo is safe with us forever."
Another hearing is scheduled for April.
Source: Leicester Mercury
Two-pronged CAS Assault
March 6, 2014 permalink
When falling behind in its legal struggle with Chris York's family, CAS decided on a two part coordinated operation. While his wife was visiting CAS, she was forcibly detained. Simultaneously another CAS party, with a police escort, planned to enter the family home while both parents were gone. The plan went awry only because CAS unexpectedly found Chris at home. His full report is enclosed.
This case shows the limitations of the current oversight system. Chris York cannot complain to the police, they only refer him to children's aid. Children's aid will not give relief, they planned and carried out this nefarious scheme. The child advocate cannot look into it, because no children were touched. The provincial ombudsman is the only one who could look into the whole operation, but he is forbidden to look at CAS cases.
Chris York UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE:
So the CAS has now resorted to desperation. They came to my home today trying to pull a fast one. They knew my wife was at the CAS office for a visit with the grand child and thought (THOUGHT THAT IS) that I was not home. Police staked out my home watching for us to leave and at 11 am when they thought the coast was clear they swooped down on my home trying to get inside. They got a surprise when I answered the door. They were not expecting me to be home as they said oh we thought you were at work. They clearly know nothing about me. They demanded entry and told me if I did not comply the CFSA allowed them to force entry to get in my home. I recorded all of this of course. I asked if they were there to apprehend they stated no but they came with 2 cops and 2 workers of course we all know what they were here for. Once they stated no I told them to leave they refused stating again the CFSA gives them the authority to force entry to inspect my home which I know it does not. Due to back and neck problems I was told if I did not comply they were going to force entry past me and I had three young children here at the time. I was forced to comply with police entry out of fear of injury and traumatizing of my children. I caught it all on video. CAS still did not enter only the one officer did by force without a warrant stating they do not need one. They did not do any welfare check and only searched my home for locks on doors against my will. What I did not know that was also taking place at this time is the CAS was forcibly confining my wife at their office by locking her in a room with no windows and not allowing her out until they left my home. We tried to report this crime also and police refuse to investigate it stating that our complaint is about a service by the CAS and that we must file a complaint to them. Forcible confinement is not a service that CAS provides and in fact is a criminal act. Complaints have been made to the OIPRD and the lawyer is aware as he was called while they were here and he is furious. Motions to the court are coming as well as a civil suit. Evidence is now being stored off site to ensure its security. Criminal charges are going to be pending and lawsuits are coming.
Clearly they are desperate and know they have nothing going into the care and custody hearing for the grand daughter and apprehending my children will be their only chance at beating me in court. Apprehending my kids would show valid reason why the grand daughter cant be placed in our care.
I'm still not backing down I still will not bend and make no mistake I'm mad as hell and I am FIGHTING BACK HARDER THEN EVER BEFORE
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
March 6, 2014 permalink
Toddler Faith Murray has been suspended from daycare in Ottawa for smuggling in a cheese sandwich. The daycare management fears cheese could kill.
Daycare suspends 2-year-old over cheese sandwich
OTTAWA -- A daycare near Ottawa is taking a zero-tolerance hardline on food allergies.
On Monday, the Centre de l'enfant aux 4 Vente daycare in Barrhaven suspended two-year old Faith Murray for three days for bringing a processed cheese sandwich in a sealed ziplock bag onto the property.
The daycare, which looks after 148 children aged 18 months to 12 years has a strict no-food-from-outside policy due to the number of children with food allergies it looks after.
Penalties range from a three-day suspension for dairy to immediate termination for anything containing nuts.
Daycare director Deb Ducharme says she understands the consequences are difficult on parents but has to hold the line because some of the children have life-threatening sensitivities.
"We need to ensure their well-being and safety. Most parents are comfortable with our rules because it creates a safe environment for their children," she said.
The toddler's father, Randy Murray, is considering pulling Faith and her older brother Michael out of the daycare and putting his freelance graphic artist career on hold so he can care for them.
Foster Loan Shark
March 5, 2014 permalink
When British foster mom Sandra Lowe needed more money she resorted to loan sharking. She kept the money flowing with regular threats against her clients. No word on how she treated the foster kids.
Foster carer who led a double life as a loan shark has been jailed
Sandra Lowe, 51, was sentenced to three years behind bars after being found guilty of 16 illegal money lending charges
A foster mum who doubled as a loan shark raking in hundreds of thousands of pounds has been jailed.
Sandra Lowe, 51, known as ‘Dawn’, took out bank loans and credit cards to run the illegal money lending business over a seven year period from 2005.
A court heard she did not set interest rates and kept no records, instead asking for regular weekly repayments with her victims often having no idea how much they owed.
One, who is estimated to have borrowed around £70,000 from Lowe, had paid more than £145,000 back when the business was rumbled in 2012.
A judge said she would have kept them paying ‘almost indefinitely’ had she not been arrested.
The court heard she sent a text message to one victim saying: “I ain’t going to be 160 quid down this week, sort it out and don’t force me to do something I don’t want to.”
She also ran an unregistered catalogue business, where she would buy household goods and sell them on for a ‘commission’, Simon Mortimer, prosecuting said.
The court was told that the exact scale of the business was uncertain but between June 2006 and June 2012 around £300,000 passed through her bank accounts.
Lowe, of Arnott Crescent, Hulme, denied being all charges, but was last month found guilty of 16 counts of running a consumer credit business without a licence by a jury.
She was cleared of one charge of blackmail.
Her barrister said she had not lived an ‘extravagent' lifestyle as a result of the business, living in a modest house and driving a modest car.
Patrick Harris, defending, also said she had also done charity work and transformed a number of youngsters lives through her fostering.
He said: “There are a significant number of children she has fostered, who have gone on to lead extremely productive lives - obtaining university degrees and employment.”
However, she was sentenced to three years behind bars.
Judge Martin Rudland told her: “You exploited those who were vulnerable and you targeted those who you quickly began to value as the most profitable.
“This took place over a length period of time and became a way of life for you.
“You were not averse to applying pressure in the form of threats to your victims.”
Source: Manchester Evening News
March 5, 2014 permalink
When a fire-alarm went off in her school, fourteen-year-old Kayona Hagen-Tietz was in the swimming pool. She did not have time to get dressed before she was sent outdoors to a temperature of -5°F and wind chill of -25°F (-21°/-32°C). Weather that cold is life-threatening to a person nearly naked. Teachers refused to take the girl to a warm place, such as the inside a car or a neighboring school, because it was contrary to regulations. She shivered for ten minutes before a teacher let her into her car.
It is common sense that saving a life takes precedence over following rules. The actions of school staff show that there is a deficit of common sense among professionals who take responsibility for children.
Teen: Teachers Made Me Stand Outside In Wet Bathing Suit, Barefoot
She Says She Got Frostbite After Standing Outside For 10 Minutes During A Fire Alarm.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – A ninth-grader says she has frostbite after standing outside for 10 minutes in a wet bathing suit during a fire alarm.
It happened around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at Como Park High School in St. Paul. Fourteen-year-old Kayona Hagen-Tietz says she was in the school’s pool when the fire alarm went off.
While other students had gotten out earlier and were able to put on dry clothes, Hagen-Tietz said she was rushed out with just her towel.
On Wednesday morning, the temperature was 5 below, and the wind chill was 25 below.
“So the alarm went off, and I thought it was like just a drill, like: Do I have to go outside?” Hagen-Tietz said. “And then he was like no, we usually don’t have fake ones in the winter.”
Hagen-Tietz says she and the another student were rushed out by the teacher. Her classmate had clothes by the pool, hers were in her locker. So she grabber her towel and went outside.
“As soon as they’d seen her outside in her swimsuit, soaking wet and barefoot, they should have done something,” said Eva Tietz, Hagen-Tietz’s mother.
A teacher eventually gave Hagen-Tietz a jacket, and one of her friends gave her a sweatshirt to wrap around her feet.
But due to school policy, she wasn’t allowed to sit in a faculty-member’s car.
“We kind of huddled up and made a circle around me, and the other kids who were cold,” Hagen-Tietz said.
Eventually, a teacher did get permission to allow Hagen-Tietz and her classmate to sit inside her car.
But by that time Hagen-Tietz had already stood barefoot and wet for 10 minutes in some of the coldest conditions of the year.
Hagen-Tietz mom then picked her up and took her to the doctor, who determined she has frostbite on her feet.
“If I had a fire and brought my children out in that condition, you know, I’m sure I would be charged in some way or another if I didn’t instantly bring them into a neighbor’s house or someplace else,” Tietz said. “The ultimate goal is to keep them safe and protect your children, and, in this instance, they did a really poor job.”
In a statement, St. Paul Public School officials said they continue to work with the St. Paul Fire Marshal to regularly review these procedures, including cold weather modifications, and they will make any changes based on their recommendations.
Hagen-Tietz said the first half of her pool class is water aerobics, and the last half is free time. She said some of the kids cut out of free time early to get dressed. Hagen-Tietz stayed in the pool to use the diving board, because it only takes her about 10 minutes to get dressed.
Home Births on the Rise
March 4, 2014 permalink
According the the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, home births are increasing. The proportion of out-of-hospital births decreased throughout the twentieth century, reaching a minimum in 2004. Since then it has increased, led by increasing numbers of white mothers.
The report classifies home birth by ethnicity and risk factors, but does not mention any reasons for the choice of home vs hospital. One factor is that babies born at home are less likely to get immediately snatched by social workers.
Indian Outsmarts White Man
March 2, 2014 permalink
For aboriginals multi-generational hassles with children's aid are commonplace. As part of her family's half-century struggle, Frontenac children's aid referred mother Donna Lynn Neil for a parenting capacity assessment by psychologist Dr Robert C Rowe of Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston. The mother turned the tables on the doctor by questioning him. The result was that CAS gave up on the assessment, as shown in an exchange of three letters (pdf). The mother's final warning is to avoid assessments by Dr Robert Rowe. Expand to see her comments.
"Been dealing with CAS so long and so hard, that I have PTSD. Then to top it off, that stupid worker called me and asked if I would keep the case open on a voluntary basis until the beginning of April...well, you know what I told her to do! Anyways, here are the letters.
The first one is from Dr. Rowe's office. When I was told that I was to go for this assessment, I went down that day and "interviewed" him. I asked him how much experience he had....his reply: "I'm qualified to do this assessment". then I asked him who was paying for it: "The court". Who pays the court for it: "I choose not to answer". I then told him I was of Aboriginal ancestry and live a very Aboriginal lifestyle, and I wanted to know his view on a few things. I asked him what his opinion is on Sage: "It's used for cooking. What does he think of the sweat lodge as a tool for healing: "It serves no beneficial purpose". I told him I work with a lot of animal parts and materials in my business: "Having dead animal parts around is a sign of mental illness, and should be investigated further". At this point, I informed him that he wasn't the right assessor for me, and that I would prefer someone who was more aboriginal friendly. He told me, and I quote "Whatever, I'm still qualified to do this assessment".
I then went home, called CAS, told the worker that I am still agreeable to the assessment, however, they would have to bring in someone who was culturally aware when it comes to Aboriginal Lifestyle and culture. As the worker has been here a number of times, she knows exactly how we live. She even included a picture of my son in complete regalia in the court papers, which the judge favourably commented on, said it was a great picture. The worker went and spoke to her supervisor, called me back, and said that they were not in a financial position to bring in another assessor, and that they had decided that the assessment was no longer necessary. Keep in mind here that my son had only been out of the house for two days, and had been living at home for two years under CAS supervision. I think they just do this to me because I fight them at every turn and help out other parents.
Ok, so the three papers I'm enclosing....The first one is from Dr. Rowe's office. It contains the court file number on it, which is important. When I was in court on February 20th, and it was at approx. 10:27 am, the CAS lawyer asked that the court reverse the order for the assessment. She stated that after consulting with Dr. Rowe, he felt that he could not continue with the assessment because I was Aboriginal and The Society no longer felt the assessment was necessary.
The other two letters are from my son's OCL Lawyer and the CAS Lawyer. I think the only information that needs to be blacked out is anything to do with my son. I would leave the court number. I really hope this helps other parents.
Chris, I've been dealing with these morons for over thirty years, and my mom has been dealing with them since 1957. No sense getting older if you can't get wiser. That was a good one, the best one was how I got my son back from them in the first place. That was a direct result of recording and sending a transcript with a copy of the recording to CAS. Caught them with their pants down, proved their was no protection concerns, and had him back in my custody.
Hopefully, with these letters, a lot of people can exclude having their assessment done by this doctor. Another family who had an assessment done by him were told they were drunken Indians based on the fact that the father admitted to experimenting with alcohol when he was a teenager. If he can be excluded from assessing me based on cultural insensitivity, then it should work for others. I'm curious if this would also work for other ethnicity's, and for other assessors. I know one lawyer, XXXX XXXXXX, (name suppressed at author's request) is using my information to try and have an assessment done by this doctor excluded. There was a previous assessment done in that case by another assessor, and it was positive, so, CAS goes and forces the family into another one with this yoyo, and it came back not so good. I'll let you know how it turns out."
Source: private communication
Foster Parent Accused (Maybe)
March 2, 2014 permalink
Shawn Gartlan, president of the Woodville Minor Hockey Association, has been charged with possession of child pornography. The item appears here only because of a reader comment:
Alexandra Stuart • February 7, 2014
Shawn Gartlan is a foster parent with CAS ward children placed with him. The news is not mentioning that. CAS has not shut him down.
Since anyone can post a reader comment, this cannot be regarded as definite news, and child pornography can be anything from innocent pictures (breastfeeding, tot in the bathtub) to highly perverse images.
WOODVILLE - The president of the Woodville Minor Hockey Association faces child pornography charges after police executed a search warrant at a Woodville home and business Wednesday.
City of Kawartha Lakes OPP, along the OPP’s child sexual exploitation unit and the technical unit, seized three computers that police say contained images of child sexual abuse.
Shawn Gartlan, 50, was charged with three counts of possession of child pornography and two counts of making child pornography available.
He is to appear in a Lindsay court Thursday.
He is listed as the 2013-14 president of the Woodville Minor Hockey Association and has been an executive in past years.
Woodville is northwest of Lindsay.
Source: Peterborough Examiner
Alberta to End Secret Child Deaths
March 1, 2014 permalink
In an editorial published this Wednesday Alberta newspapers urged Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar to repeal the ban on publishing information about children who die in foster care, including their names. Today minister Bhullar publishes his own opinion in which he promised to grant the request.
We note the long tradition of higher-ups in the social services system making a public statement while doing the opposite in private. The law may not be amended at all, or an amendment may be enacted allowing publication but with onerous exceptions that can hardly ever be met. Or, as we all hope, the minister may keep his word and allow the world to know who dies in foster care and how.
Editorial: An open letter to Minister Bhullar
We urge Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar to amend Alberta legislation to give grieving families the right to speak the name of their children in care, or show their photos, in public.
Earlier this month, Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar invited us to the Alberta legislature to discuss the province’s publication ban regarding children in care. During this discussion, he asked for our input on this legislation, what might be done to amend it, and why. Here is our reply.
We thank you for asking for our thoughts on the province’s ban on publishing the identities of children in care.
Following our joint Fatal Care investigation last fall, you took over one of the government’s most complex and challenging portfolios, and we applaud your efforts to date in lifting some of the veil of secrecy within the system.
We believe that the government has a right and a responsibility to protect the children in its care.
We respect in principle existing laws such as those regarding young offenders. But we also believe that Albertans deserve a more accountable, more transparent child death-review system.
As the spring session nears, we urge your government to lift its publication ban on children who have died in care, or who have died following prior contact with the ministry.
Our current legislation does not allow grieving families to speak their child’s name in public, or show their photos. They must fight the government in court for that right.
Our child advocate is also bound by this law, resorting to death reviews with pseudonyms, initials, carefully obscured facts. An Alberta judge has called it “dehumanizing.”
We urge you to amend this legislation so that — as in the majority of provinces of this nation — anyone who suffers the loss of a child has the right to make the public aware of what has happened.
Why is this so important?
Because Alberta’s children should not be dying faceless and nameless.
Because it counters the groundless stigma and shame unfairly cast upon those within our child-welfare system.
Because — most critically — publication bans shroud the truth, and shelter the system from public scrutiny. Society must learn from its mistakes, and do all it can to prevent future deaths.
The law was supposed to be there to protect children in care, but for children who have died, that protection only stifles caregivers, families and authorities, and ultimately hampers investigations.
We urge you to restore to those children the only power they have left: Their stories.
Respectfully, the editorial boards of the Edmonton Journal and the Calgary Herald
Source: Edmonton Journal
Opinion: Minister vows to lift ban on naming children who die in care
Empowering those who matter most
EDMONTON - Earlier this week, the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald published an open letter to me detailing their concerns with, and hopes for, the province’s laws that govern what information can be shared about the tragic deaths of children under the care of Alberta Human Services.
The editorials noted that Alberta’s current legislation “does not allow grieving families to speak their child’s name in public, or show their photos.” The papers’ editorial staff called on me to lift the publication ban on children who have died in care or who have died following prior contact with the ministry.
As I have said publicly, I believe we must empower those who are closest to these children to speak or not to speak; it is their right as human beings. If we don’t have the right to speak up about justice as human beings then we have taken away too much.
Therefore, in order to increase greater transparency and restore the rights of children and those closest to them, I will introduce legislation to amend the publication ban.
I believe it is a basic right of each and every one of us to express grief publicly. At the same time, however, families and the children themselves should be able to protect privacy in a period of tremendous sadness. This decision is not one for the government to make, it is one for them to make in the best interests of the child.
Almost immediately after Premier Redford appointed me Minister of Human Services, I made the decision to share all of the data on the deaths of children over the past 14 years. I have made it a priority to investigate and improve the level and quality of information available to experts and the public on children who have passed away while under the care of the province or who have had prior contact with Human Services. I believe that we need to honour each child, learn from each and every one of them and by doing so we will develop a culture of continuous improvement.
As Minister, I am committed to driving real change.
We launched a five-point plan in early January to enhance information sharing, address the root causes that bring children into care, and support collaborative research to improve services to children and their families.
As part of that plan, the government brought experts, policy-makers, aboriginal representatives and those with lived experience in the system together at a roundtable. Over two days, we discussed how to best investigate and review the death of a child and how to strike a balance between transparency and privacy.
My goal is to create a system that is accountable and transparent with a foundation of continuous improvement, not fear. Families should feel comfortable to reach out to the system for help and they should know that there are supports available to them; they are not in this alone.
It is sometimes easy to forget that the child intervention system is a system of human beings working with other human beings in extremely difficult situations. I want staff to be able to work without fear so they can make the best decisions possible when dealing with what are often heart-wrenching situations.
We have made progress, but our journey has just begun.
We have a duty to always make our system better and we have a duty to ensure that every child has the opportunity to live their greatness.
Greatness is not limited for those living in ideal situations. The children involved in our system have the right to experience and live their greatness. That is my focus; that is my goal and that is my hope.
We are all in this together.
Manmeet S. Bhullar is the Alberta minister of human services
Source: Edmonton Journal