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Record for Stinginess
August 31, 2014 permalink
The Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto is awarding scholarships to more than a hundred students. The total amount awarded is approximately $100,000. The figures are inexact, but our calculations give a daily rate spread over four years of higher education of $0.68. This is below the previous record of $1.37 for a CAS bursary established three years ago by the same Toronto CCAS. Based on your editor's current bills for a university education, the actual cost is closer to $100 per day.
Youth-in-Care to Receive Scholarships
Fund Helps Youth-in-Care Realize Dream of Post-Secondary Education
TORONTO, Aug. 25, 2014 /CNW/ - On Wednesday, August 27, 2014, more than 100 current and former youth-in-care of the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto (CCAS) will receive approximately $100,000 in scholarships from the Hope for Children Fund, paving the way to a college or university degree and the promise of new career opportunities.
Twenty-one-year-old Sheldon is a Hope for Children Fund Scholarship recipient studying Child and Youth Work at Sheridan College. "There's no question that as a former youth in care, I face a much bigger financial load than my friends," says Sheldon. "I don't have the option of living at home or relying on family for help with internet or phone bills. My life's goal is to help kids develop a sense of purpose and a better sense of who they are. By giving me some financial breathing room, the Hope for Children Fund scholarship has allowed me to pursue my education, while working part-time to pay the bills."
While more than half of Canadian 20-24-year-olds live with their parents, under provincial legislation youth aging out of care must leave their foster or group home at age 18. While some youth are able to maintain relationships with their former foster parents, many youth seeking to complete their schooling deal with the competing pressures of finding and sustaining decent, affordable housing, budgeting for utilities, groceries, clothing, tuition and text books and holding down part-time jobs. As a result, youth aging out of care struggle with their schooling and take longer to complete both high school and post-secondary education.
"We are so proud of the youth we support through the scholarship program," says Kara Spedding, Manager, Hope for Children Fund. "Many of these young people face emotional and financial pressures that their peers have not had to deal with. Most juggle multiple jobs while studying full-time, yet still go on to be great successes once they've completed their studies. For these reasons, the accomplishments of the youth we support are truly awe inspiring," added Ms. Spedding.
Since 1986, the Hope for Children Fund has awarded more than $2.5 million in scholarships and special achievement grants supporting nearly 1,000 students in their educational pursuits.
Scholarship Event Details:
Hope for Children Scholarship Event
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 5:00 p.m.
The Bram & Bluma Appel Salon at the
Toronto Reference Library
789 Yonge Street, 2nd Floor
About Hope for Children Fund:
The Hope for Children Fund supports the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto (CCAS) by raising funds for education and poverty relief programs for children, youth and families who receive services from CCAS. We believe by investing in our children and youth, and by helping families through difficult times, we can transform our community. To learn more about Hope for Children Fund, please visit: www.hopeforchildren.ca
- 81 per cent of Ontario youth graduate high school, while youth in care have a graduation rate of 44 per cent. (Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies [OACAS], Child Welfare Report 2011)
Ontario Children's Aid Societies recommend that Ministry policy be changed to allow youth to stay in foster or group home care until they finish high school, and they have had the chance to acquire the skills they need to succeed on their own. (OACAS, Child Welfare Report 2011)
SOURCE Catholic Children's Aid Society Of Toronto
August 31, 2014 permalink
When Stephanie Pool was napping her toddler wandered out of the home. A neighbor found the child and called Canandaigua New York police. Stephanie got a ticket for endangering the welfare of a child.
Maybe mom should have locked the child in the home. But parents get busted for locking in children. Mom should never sleep.
Sleeping mother arrested after child found wandering
A Canandaigua woman faces charges after police say they found her two-year-old child wandering near her home.
Investigators say 33-year-old Stephanie Pool was sleeping when her child was found on a neighbor’s porch on Chapin Street in Canandaigua around 11:45 a.m. on August 20.
Canandaigua Police say Pool fell asleep inside her home, and that her child got out of the house through an unlocked back door. The child was not hurt.
Pool was issued an appearance ticket for endangering the welfare of a child.
Don't Take My Child
August 29, 2014 permalink
On July 15 Britain's ITV broadcast the program Don't Take My Child. It exposed the abuses of Britain's system of snatching children under pretext of protection. A review by Christopher Booker is enclosed. Booker notes the irony that family-friendly conservative politicians are great supporters of the system of family destruction. Link to our copy of the video. It mentions the case of Lucy Allan.
Under 'family friendly’ Tories, yet more children go into care
Too many children are removed from families for no justifiable reason, often because of government policies
It was curiously timely that David Cameron’s promise last week to put “the family” at the heart of all of his government’s policies should have coincided with the release of figures showing that last month the number of applications by social workers to take children into “care” was the highest on record. Up 18 per cent on the figure for July last year, many of these 1,013 applications covered more than one child, bringing the number of children being removed from their families in England alone in the past year to nearly 30,000.
What Mr Cameron may not be aware of is the immense groundswell of concern that far too many of these children are now being removed from their parents for no justifiable reason, thanks not least to the policies of his own government. Among the growing mountain of evidence for this was a powerful documentary, Don’t Take My Child, broadcast in ITV’s Exposure series on July 15 (which can still be seen via a link on the Forced Adoption website). This included interviews with several experts, including a former High Court judge, a top barrister for children, and a very senior social worker, all making the same point: that instead of trying to support families as they used to, too many social workers now seem bent on tearing them apart, not least to meet this government’s drive to see more children adopted.
The documentary opens with a terrifying sequence showing a newborn baby being snatched from its distraught parents by Staffordshire social workers and police. Much of what follows recounts the equally harrowing ordeals of other parents, only now free to speak about their experiences because, very unusually, they eventually managed to get their children back. Particularly telling is the story of Lucy Allan, a prospective parliamentary candidate for Mr Cameron’s Conservative Party, who describes the Kafkaesque nightmare that unfolded when her son was seized by Wandsworth social workers for reasons eventually found to be wholly baseless.
But what gives this documentary unprecedented authority is that these first-hand examples of how sadly the system has become corrupted from its original laudable aims are punctuated by interviews with some of the most senior experts from within the system itself. Sir Mark Hedley, a recently retired family court judge, emphasises that the shift from trying to give parents help to the almost routine removal of their children, has been “a major policy change”. He is echoed by Bridget Robb, head of the British Association of Social Workers, who says that “this government is much harsher than previous governments” in favouring the removal of children rather than giving help to “birth parents”, and “that is new”. Martha Cover, chair of the Association of Lawyers for Children, makes the same charge: that we are “moving away rather rapidly” from “giving support” towards “having children placed for adoption”, pointing out that Britain is now second only to the US in the proportion of children being “removed from their natural family and placed for adoption against their wishes”.
But the irony is that, despite our education ministry’s new passion for adoption, volubly championed by Michael Gove when he was Education Secretary (and who was successfully adopted himself), the number of children being adopted still remains ridiculously small: around 4,000 a year, compared with the 28,000 children who have this year been taken into care. This leaves an additional 24,000 children haplessly in state “care”, the cost of which alone, according to a new report from the Audit Commission, now averages £50,000 a year for each child. And this is not even to mention the unimaginable unhappiness inflicted on the tens of thousands of families who wrongly fall foul of this weirdly inhuman system.
In 2010, Mr Cameron told the House of Commons: “It is right to judge a society on how it cares for its most vulnerable, especially our children. So should not our legacy to future generations be to do all we can to make sure that the lessons learnt from these appalling events are learnt and applied so that such terrible mistakes will never be made again.” He was apologising for the horrifying scandal whereby, half a century ago, 130,000 children were secretly torn from their families, to be shipped abroad to a miserable new life in Australia and elsewhere. Little does he realise that a similar national scandal is unfolding right now – for which much of the blame lies with his own government.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
August 29, 2014 permalink
Radley Balko found that in Houston grand juries, an institution intended to protect citizens from unjustified prosecution, are staffed by policemen or friends of policemen. The story appears here because of the case of Alfred Dewayne Brown, accused of participating in a robbery in which a policeman was killed. When exculpatory witness Ericka Jean Dockery provided an alibi, grand juror/policeman James Koteras threatened the witness.
Koteras at one point tells Dockery that unless she changes her story, her children will be “taken by Child Protective Services, and you’re going to the penitentiary and you won’t see your kids for a long time.”
Dockery changed her story and Brown was convicted.
Exclusive: Houston cop who threatened, harassed grand jury witness served on at least nine other grand juries
On Friday, I posted an in-depth look at some of the problems the grand jury system in Harris County, Texas (home to Houston). I have since obtained some court documents that seem to confirm the most serious accusations from the system’s toughest critics.
First, a quick review: My Friday post was based on a series of columns by Lisa Falkenberg at the Houston Chronicle exposing how a grand jury verbally abused and threatened a witness into changing her story in a 2003 murder investigation. On July 25, Falkenberg revealed that the foreman of the grand jury was a longtime Houston police officer named James Koteras. This is already a problem. Grand juries are supposed to be citizen panels that protect us from unfounded allegations by police and prosecutors. At least that’s the theory. To have cops serving on grand juries chips away at that buffer. But that’s really only where the problem begins.
The case Falkenberg has been covering is the investigation of Alfred Dewayne Brown, who was accused (and eventually convicted) of murdering a Houston police officer. To have a cop on that grand jury is quite a bit worse. Falkenberg also found that another member of the jury was the executive director of a benevolence organization for police and fireman.
My post took a broader look at the Harris County grand jury system, and found that cops have routinely served on Houston grand juries. So have probation officers, corrections officers, and other members of law enforcement in the criminal justice system. Moreover, critics allege that the “key-man” system that many Harris County judges use to pick grand jurors selects for law enforcement officials and their friends, family, and acquaintances. Critics say it’s too easily manipulated, and results in grand juries continually picked from the same pool of people — cops, retired cops, friends and family of cops, and older, whiter, wealthier, more conservative people who both have the time and money to serve, and are familiar enough with the system to even know to volunteer to serve on a grand jury in the first place.
Adding to the problem, grand jury members are invited to go on police ride-alongs, are given free time at police shooting ranges, and are invited to participate in 3D shooting simulators designed to make them empathetic with police officers. Those same grand jurors are then asked to assess the validity and credibility of the police officers who testify before them, not just in routine investigations, but in investigations of the killing of police officers, alleged abuse by police officers, police shootings, or police corruption.
The documents I’ve obtained this week show that Senior Officer James Koteras not only served on the grand jury that indicted Brown, he has served on at least nine other grand juries between 1989 and 2011. He served as foreman at least one other time, and as assistant foreman at least twice. According to Falkenberg, Koteras was an active duty Houston police officer until 2008. Grand jury lists are sometimes sealed (though not always), and courts aren’t always forthcoming with them. So my source has been unable to access any beyond 2011, but it’s possible that Koteras has served on additional grand juries since then.
The transcripts of grand jury proceedings are also typically sealed, but the transcripts in the Alfred Dewayne Brown case were released as part of his petition for a new trial. Brown stood accused of participating in an armed robbery in which one of the assailants shot and killed Houston police officer Charles R. Clark. Ericka Jean Dockery was Brown’s girlfriend at the time. She was also his alibi. Brown claimed that he was staying at her apartment the morning of the crime. He also said that after she left for work that morning, he called her at her office while he was still in her apartment.
Dockery initially verified Brown’s alibi. But after aggressive questioning, led by Koteras, she changed her story, and became a key witness for the prosecution. Koteras at one point tells Dockery that unless she changes her story, her children will be “taken by Child Protective Services, and you’re going to the penitentiary and you won’t see your kids for a long time.” Falkenberg adds in her July 25 column:
He’s the one who tries to get Dockery to subscribe to the implausible theory that it was someone else – not her boyfriend, Alfred Dewayne Brown – sleeping on her couch just before the murder at a check cashing store, even though she insisted again and again she knew it was Brown by his build, his tennis shoes, and the color of the shirt she bought him.
At one point, Koteras shows a familiarity with Assistant District Attorney Dan Rizzo that reveals a rather cozy relationship.
“Hey, Dan,” the foreman calls to the prosecutor. “What are the punishments for perjury and aggravated perjury?”
“It’s up to 10 years,” Rizzo responds.
“In prison. OK,” the foreman says.
“Oh no,” says another grand juror as if on cue, echoing other commentary that reads at times like a Greek chorus.
Dockery changed her story, and Brown was convicted and sentenced to death. Assistant District Attorney Dan Rizzo then filed felony perjury charges against her. There was no evidence indicating she was lying. The charges were based on the fact that Rizzo (now retired) and the Koteras-led grand jury didn’t believe her. Those charges were then leverage Rizzo could use to be sure she testified (or, if you want to be cynical, to be sure she testified the right way). After Brown’s conviction, Dockery retracted her testimony, and has since signed an affidavit indicating she felt pressured by the grand jury. Seven years after Brown’s conviction, evidence emerged showing that Dockery hadn’t lied. Phone records surfaced showing a call had been made from Dockery’s apartment to her office, just as Brown and Dockery had initially claimed. The records had been sitting in the garage of a Houston police officer.
Falkenberg interviewed three of the grand jurors who served with Koteras in 2003. Oddly, despite the transcripts, none of them remember any of their fellow grand jurors putting any pressure on Dockery, nor do they recall Koteras’ status as an active police officer affecting their investigations. One of the grand jurors, MaryAnne Montalbano, told Falkenberg, “We talked about it and all. If it affected him and he served any way, that’s not good.” According to the documents I’ve received, Montalbano also served with Koteras on a grand jury in 1992.
Falkenberg has also since interviewed lots of Houston judges and law enforcement officials who claim to be troubled by the way the Koteras grand jury treated Dockery, and by the fact that an active Houston police officer could serve on a grand jury investigating the death of another cop. Yet few of them see to see this as a product of a flawed system.
But these new revelations seem to confirm critics’ longstanding objections to the key-man system. Koteras was repeatedly chosen to serve on Harris County grand juries, including four since he served on the grand jury that interrogated Dockery and indicted Brown. Perversely, the very secrecy imposed on grand juries in order to protect citizens from reputation-ruining false allegations also prevented anyone outside the grand jury room from becoming aware of Koteras’s aggressive questioning of Dockery. And that allowed him to go on to serve on more grand juries. A protection for the accused has basically become a tool to tilt grand juries to favor police and prosecutors.
According to a public information officer at the Houston Police Department, the agency also continues to pay its officers their full salary while they serve on grand juries. Typically, a grand jury meets twice a week, from about 8 in the morning until early to mid-afternoon. Each grand jury term lasts three months. This means that Houston is paying police officers to both investigate crimes, and serve on the grand juries that then determine if those investigations merit criminal charges.
Other observations from the documents:
- The foreman of the 2004 grand jury was the now deceased Chester Massey, another retired Houston police officer.
- Koteras twice served on a grand jury for 339th District Court Judge Caprice Cosper, in November 2006 and November 2008. Four other people served on both of those grand juries. Koteras served as foreman for the 2006 session.
- In addition to Koteras, five other people served on both the November 2008 grand jury and on a February 2010 grand jury for 177th Circuit Court Judge Kevin Fine. Two of those people also served on the November 2006 grand jury , which means Koteras and those two others served together on grand juries in 2006, 2008, and 2010, in two different judicial districts.
In a city the size of Houston that sort of overlap can’t happen by chance. It can only happen in a system designed to select from a very shallow pool of potential grand jurors, or one where the selectors keep picking the same grand jurors for a particular reason.
Keep in mind, this is all from a review of only 10 grand juries spanning about 20 years on which James Koteras served as a member. Because of the unusual circumstances of the Brown case, we’re getting a tiny glimpse into a sliver of what happens in Houston grand jury rooms. But even here, we see evidence of law enforcement presence, selection from a shallow pool of jurors, and lots of repetition.
Grand juries in general have departed from the traditional idea that they’re supposed to protect us from unjust accusations. A recent Charlotte Observer article, for example, pointed out that in one four-hour session a Mecklenburg County, North Carolina grand jury heard 276 cases from prosecutors in just four hours — and issued 276 indictments. As the Observer pointed out, that isn’t just a perfect record, it’s a perfect record at the rate of one indictment every 52 seconds. Over two weeks, the grand jury heard 553 cases and issued 552 indictments. The only exception: a police officer accused of manslaughter.
But the Texas system — and the Harris County system in particular — seems particularly stacked against the accused. I ran these recent revelations by Jon Gould, a professor at the Department of Justice, Law & Criminology at American University who co-authored a 2011 report on grand juries for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “This is highly unusual, and highly troubling,” Gould says. “You don’t see this sort of thing anywhere else in the country.” Gould says it’s unusual to see a police officer on a grand jury at all in most states, much less repeatedly. “To see a police officer go after a witness like that is troubling. But to then see that he has served on 10 grand juries . . . I’ve never heard of anything like that.”
Yet it doesn’t seem at all unusual for Harris County. In my last post, Harris County District Attorney John Brewer said he saw nothing wrong with putting police officers on grand juries. District Judge Denise Collins, who oversaw the Brown case, told Falkenberg the same thing.
In my last post, I also spoke with Clay Conrad and Joseph Gutheinz, two Houston-area criminal defense attorneys who have criticized the grand jury system there. When told about these latest documents showing just how often Koteras has been reporting to the grand jury room, neither seems surprised. “It’s outrageous,” Conrad says “But no, it isn’t surprising.” Gutheniz adds, “Not only isn’t it surprising, I can assure you that he isn’t the only one.”
This week, Gutheinz sent a request to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, asking the agency to investigate whether the way grand juries are empaneled in Harris County violates the constitutional rights of those who are accused of crimes.
Finally, it’s worth pointing out again that this was a death penalty case. And it appears that Koteras’ presence on the grand jury helped secure a conviction that may not have otherwise occurred. And all of this is happening in the county that executes more people than any other county in America, and by a wide margin. As of last year, Harris County had executed 116 people since 1976. Dallas County was second with 50. Gould points out that until only recently, Harris County judges also appointed attorneys for indigent defendants, including in capital cases. That system too was criticized for being too opaque and riddled with cronyism.
As of now, Alfred Dewayne Brown is still waiting to hear from a Texas appellate court about whether he’ll get a new trial.
Radley Balko blogs about criminal justice, the drug war and civil liberties for The Washington Post. He is the author of the book "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces."
Source: Washington Post
Mom Doesn't Need to Know about Daughter's Cancer
August 28, 2014 permalink
Mariah Mikayla Brazell is the mother of two toddler children, Skylar Lacey Faith and Jasper, who have been in custody of Georgia DCFS for two years. When DCFS has given the family things to do to enable return of the children, all chores have been completed. But instead of reuniting the family, DCFS has added more hoops to jump. When Mariah started to notice bruising on Skylar, but not on Jasper, she spent three months requesting medical attention for the girl. When that finally happened earlier this month, caseworker Ashley Parker called to say that Skylar had cancer, then hung up without allowing questions. Social workers routinely boss mom with rude language. When the first family lawyer was ineffective, he was fired and replaced by another, who refuses to return phone calls.
The full story is on a Facebook video or a local copy (mp4). The mother's Facebook page is Mj Alyeeha Brazell. Mariah's father died when she was 17 years old, leaving her as a single mom with two children. Mariah's mother naively thought DCFS was a charity and got them involved in the care of her grandchildren. Mariah is now the wife of Jesse James Brazell.
August 27, 2014 permalink
British parents John and Jacque Courtnage have lost their two sons, ages six and eight, to adoption. MP John Hemming says the lawyers for the parents colluded with social workers to conceal exculpatory evidence. The family ordeal began when the parents took their baby to a hospital to examine a lump on his head. The parents characterize their lives without their children as living bereavement.
Legal aid lawyer, secret court and social workers ‘colluded’ to adopt boys
TWO YOUNG children were taken from their distraught mother and placed for adoption because her own legal aid lawyers “colluded” with social workers, according to an MP’s extraordinary allegation in Parliament.
In a highly unusual accusation, John Hemming said lawyers for Jacque Courtnage colluded with Derbyshire County Council to prevent her analysing a document he believes would have cleared her of abuse allegations.
She and her husband have lost their two sons, now aged six and eight, for ever after a court ruled on the balance of probabilities they were responsible for harming their youngest when he was a baby.
They have never been arrested nor charged with any criminal offence due to lack of evidence.
Their heartbreaking story emerged in a Commons debate two months ago when Mr Hemming used Parliamentary privilege to name the mother and to make accusations against her lawyers and Derbyshire County Council.
He says the parents are the victims of a miscarriage of justice in the secret family court system.
The Lib Dem MP believes lawyers representing families on legal aid have a conflict of interest if they also do work for local authorities.
Mrs Courtnage, a 45-year-old accountant and her husband John, 47, an engineer, only discovered the potentially significant evidence nine months after a judge ruled their children should be taken from them.
They found it among their son’s medical records, which they secured after making a request to his hospital under the Data Protection Act as part of their own probe to discover the “truth”.
The evidence was an alternative diagnosis from a leading hospital consultant saying their son’s head injury had been caused by a fissure, a birth defect that weakened the skull bone.
Until then, Mr Hemming said, they had only been aware of the fracture diagnosis put forward by other experts and used by the council in its arguments before the court.
The children are now with an adoptive family and banned from any contact with their real parents.
Mrs Courtnage, who is not allowed to talk to the media about her case, told Mr Hemming: “Our children are our very existence and without them with us and being unable to touch them is like a living hell. Just talking about our boys reduces us to tears.
“The saying of a living bereavement is very apt and one we live daily. We have no grave to mourn at.”
She also told the MP about an incident when she was sitting in her car at traffic lights. “I was watching a little boy of around five years old waiting with his mum at the bus stop.
“He was bored and was trying to entertain her with his amusing antics.
He looked over to me and smiled and it was then that I realised that I had tears streaming down my face. I would never experience this with my own sons.
“We are angry at what has been done to us but words cannot begin to describe the contempt we have for what this has done to our darling sons.”
The couple’s “living hell” started in 2008 when Mrs Courtnage became concerned by a swelling on her baby boy’s head. She took him to the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham where medics debated the X-ray results.
While two consultants made separate diagnoses of a fissure, others argued a fracture, a conclusion eventually accepted as the official version.
The diagnoses, together with evidence suggesting leg injuries to the child, were sent to Derbyshire County Council which then gave them to Mrs Courtnage’s lawyer.
However, Mr Hemming said the fissure argument was never highlighted to Mrs Courtnage and she did not see it among the 500 other documents in the large court bundles.
He told the Commons in September: “I have for some time been worried about what I was told by a social worker some years ago, which is that at times the legal aid-funded solicitors for parents conspire with local authority staff in order to ensure that the parents lose.
“One example where that appears to have happened is that of Jacque and John Courtnage, whose two sons were taken into care because one had a lump on his head.
The doctors were not sure whether it was because of a fracture or a fissure.
“The child was neurologically sound, which implies a fissure, but the parents did not see the evidence that it could have been a fissure until after the court had decided in 2010 that it was a fracture, and the question was never considered in any court judgment.
“A court order on October 30, 2008, had said that all evidence should be provided to the parents. That did not happen.
“The hospital provided Derbyshire County Council with the information in December 2008 but this did not get to the parents until after the finding of fact hearing of 2010, when they made a subject access request.
“The question is whether the council colluded with the parents’ solicitors.”
The MP said in the debate that he and Mrs Courtnage had asked the solicitors about the issue. He said a solicitor had denied the allegation but refused to give a “detailed response”.
He said in the Commons that, to him, meant the lawyers “colluded with Derbyshire County Council to keep this evidence from the parents”.
Mrs Courtnage tried to raise the fissure diagnosis before an appeal judge in September 2011.
However, due to an administrative mistake by court officials, the case was heard in her absence and the potentially vital pieces of paper were never presented to the judge.
She has recently decided to try to reopen the appeal under civil procedure rules.
A spokesman for Derbyshire County Council said: “We would strenuously reject any suggestion of collusion.
“The judge had before him all the child’s medical records including all those received from the Queen’s Medical Centre and the issue as to whether the child had a fissure or a fracture was fully brought before the court.
“The court had evidence from experts including a consultant paediatric radiologist and consultant neuroradiologist.
These experts were appointed independently by the solicitor acting on behalf of the child.
The child also had the benefit of a children’s guardian appointed by the court to represent his best interests.
“We are confident that the actions we took were the right ones and that the decision taken by the court was the right one.”
Source: Express (UK)
Ritual Satanic Abuse Victim Released
August 26, 2014 permalink
In North Carolina Michael Alan Parker has served 20 years in jail for a ritual satanic abuse conviction. He is finally being released.
Judge orders Henderson County man freed after 20 years
A judge on Monday dismissed all charges and vacated the sentence of a man who has spent more than 20 years in prison on convictions of multiple sex crimes against three children.
Michael Alan Parker dropped his head and wept as Judge Marvin Pope announced his decision in Buncombe County Superior Court. Parker's lawyer, Sean Devereux, expects him to be released Tuesday from Craggy Correctional Center
"I'm elated that justice has been finally served," said Parker's brother, Larry Wayne Parker Sr.
Devereux said Parker, 57, was convicted during the satanic ritual abuse frenzy of the late 1980s and early '90s and not a single accusation of satanic ritual sexual abuse has proven to be true. All of the defendants originally imprisoned have had their convictions overturned, and Parker may be the last one, Devereux said.
"There is absolutely no doubt in my mind as to Michael's innocence," Devereux said.
Henderson County District Attorney Greg Newman objected to Parker's release but respected Pope's decision.
"We believe that this defendant did something to this kid," Newman said. "I think the question of what he did has been raised, and I think there's a legitimate issue there. So we may never know for sure. This happened a long time ago."
On Feb. 8, 1993, at a specially called term, a Henderson County grand jury returned true bills of indictment, charging Parker and eight others with the ritual abuse of Parker's three children. Parker was charged with eight counts of first-degree sex offense and four counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor. He was convicted on all 12 charges in January 1994 and sentenced to eight consecutive terms of life imprisonment for the first-degree sex offenses and an additional 40 years on the indecent liberties convictions.
Devereux made a motion for appropriate belief based on numerous grounds, including: the ineffective assistance of trial counsel; newly discovered medical evidence; new evidence from Parker's former co-defendant; newly discovered evidence regarding child testimony; recantation of one of his children's testimony; the state failed to disclose exculpatory evidence regarding a bomb scare during Parker's trial; ineffective assistance of appellate counsel; and cumulative error.
"From the shape-shifting stories of the Parker children — stories encouraged and manipulated by adults with a variety of interests in the outcome — to the inaccurate and unchallenged expert testimony, to the illusory 'bomb scare,' to the evangelistic rantings of the prosecution, the trial of Michael Alan Parker was an affront to everything North Carolinians want to believe about our criminal justice system," Devereux's motion stated. "The outcome remains a stain on that system."
Newman acknowledged that advancements have been made in the medical profession, specifically in forensic interviewing and medical examination on sexual assault cases. Dr. Cynthia Brown of Mission Children's Center was one of the expert opinions involved, Newman said. She reviewed medical testimony that happened in the trial.
"There were procedures and opinions from these doctors a number of years ago that were the trial held today, the medical findings then would not indicate abuse if given today," Newman said.
Theresa Newman, a Duke law professor (and no relation to Greg Newman), worked with Devereux on the case, which the attorney said he has been handling for about 12 years.
Pope was assigned to handle the case and the hearing was in Buncombe County on Monday, although it was a Henderson County case. Neither Devereux nor Newman was involved with the case initially, and Newman said he became familiar with the case after he started as district attorney last year.
"I feel that a Henderson County jury, 21-plus years ago, reached a verdict, and I don't know — no one knows — what evidence they found to be significant. We don't know whether it was medical proof, we don't know whether it was the testimony of the kid. We don't know exactly. Only those 12 people know," Newman said.
"My position has been that they reached that verdict. The Court of Appeals has said the trial was conducted properly and they upheld the conviction. And I saw nothing that would cause me to take a different position."
Parker Sr., of Spartanburg, S.C., and his son, Larry Wayne Parker Jr., have visited Michael Parker over the years. Parker Sr. said he always told his brother to "Keep the faith."
A year ago, Devereux said Parker was offered a deal that would've vacated the convictions and allowed him to leave prison based on time served if he pleaded guilty to some of the offenses.
"He wouldn't do that," Devereux said. "He stayed in another year — and potentially stayed in forever. He's a pretty courageous guy."
Source: Asheville Citizen-Times
Kobe in Danger
August 24, 2014 permalink
A boy held in foster care by Highland Shores CAS has an injury that goes beyond an innocent bruise. CAS is rarely candid about the reasons for an injury to a foster child. The mother wants the child relocated to a safer foster home.
Petitioning Highland Shores Children's Aid Society Belleville Ontario
Remove any children in the foster home that this little boy is in. Have a third party investigation involving child abuse experts. Justice for Kobe!
Kobe is a friends one year old boy. He is in a foster home. Kobe has come to visits with his mom with signs of physical abuse. Such as a bruised and swollen ear and two days later comes with a nasty burn on his face that the foster parents claim happened from him grabbing a travel mug of hot coffee. The foster parents claimed he seen a "nurse" for his ear and told CAS this is normal. As for the burn the mom is not sure if he was seen at all!
This child needs to be moved out of this foster home. A proper investigation done and if warranted then charges laid for child abuse on this helpless baby.
There are so many children in the care of CAS that are being physically abused and even murdered. I do not want to see the latter happen to Kobe!
Please help me to help this innocent child and make CAS more accountable!
Father Attacks Social Workers
August 22, 2014 permalink
An unnamed Brantford man has been charged with assault for attacking two social workers in his home.
Father assaults two Brant Family and Children's Services workers
A 24-year-old father has been charged with assault after acting violently towards two Brant Family and Children's Services workers.
The two workers went to a Fifth Avenue home to speak to the parents there about parenting issues, police said.
According to police, the father became violent and tossed a table towards one of the workers while toppling the other's chair.
Brantford police charged the man with two counts of assault against the workers.
Source: Metroland (Toronto Star)
Foster Boy Kills Hamilton Teenager
August 22, 2014 permalink
According to the CBC, Jesse Clarke was one member of a mob of teenagers harassing Brodie Nicholls. Nicholls killed Clarke. Nicholls lived with a foster mother, though at age 18 he may have aged out of care.
Jesse Clarke's death caused by armed conflict: accused's foster mom
Family preparing funeral arrangements for 14-year-old
A group of armed young men gathered outside the home of the man accused of killing Jesse Clarke just before the fight that ended the 14-year-old's life began, say the accused’s foster mother and neighbours.
Brodie Nicholls, 18, faces a second-degree murder charge in connection with the stabbing.
According to his foster mother, Charmaine Miller, and neighbours in the east-end area where the stabbing happened Monday night, at least a dozen young males showed up at Miller’s home around 9:45 p.m. Monday evening armed with metal pipes and bats. There was no indication that Clarke was one of the males who was armed.
Miller told CBC Hamilton that a group of young men approached her home around 9:40 p.m. Monday and started yelling.
“They said if my kids didn’t come out, they were going to stab me,” Miller said.
The group had been at her house in the past, she says – but she would not say why, just that they had a “beef” with her children.
Miller says the group wouldn’t leave, and started throwing things at her and her house.
A neighbour told CBC Hamilton she saw three men strike Nicholls, the accused, with pipes.
“They hit him in the neck, arms and ribs with a steel bar,” Miller said.
Nicholls had a large abrasion on his neck Tuesday afternoon when he appeared in court.
Another neighbour – who declined to give her name over fear for her own children’s safety – said she saw the armed group outside the home around 9:45 p.m. and heard Miller yelling that she was on the phone with the police.
“She was yelling, ‘Get away from our house, I’m already on the phone with the cops,’” the neighbour said. “They started beating on the kid, Brodie.”
According to Hamilton police logs, officers received a disturbance call on Lincoln Street at 9:48 p.m. ET. According to a statement released Tuesday, police said they received a call about the disturbance just before 10 p.m.
Hamilton police Det.-Sgt. Matt Kavanagh did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
According to neighbours, at some point, the altercation moved from Lincoln Street to Gordon Street, and that’s where Clarke was stabbed. The remnants of tattered police tape could be seen attached to a front step on Gordon Street Wednesday morning. Neighbours say that’s one of the places where police found blood on the street.
'He would never hurt anybody,' brother says
Jesse's older brother, Cody Clarke, told CBC Hamilton from outside his family home that his brother was about to move back in with his family on Gage Avenue North just before he was killed. He had been living with his girlfriend, but they broke up and he moved in with his mother, Clarke said. He wasn’t happy, so he was preparing to move back with his father, brother and stepmother.
“He never should’ve left at all,” Cody Clarke said. “If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have been out with those people.”
“He started running with people thinking he was all cool. I don’t know. But I know my brother, and he wouldn’t hurt anybody for any reason.”
The Clarke family has been overwhelmed with messages of support from the community, he said. A vigil was held outside their home Wednesday night, and a memorial has been built on a pole at Barton and Lincoln, close to where the teen was stabbed. His brother says the vigil was a difficult thing to deal with.
“It helped, but it hurt at the same time,” he said. “Seeing how many people were here for my brother crushed me.
“I don’t know how I’m getting through it. Time keeps going and thoughts keep coming and it just hurts.”
'Wrong group of kids,' friend says
Close family friend Melissa Mercuri organized the tribute to Jesse Clarke that now sits on Lincoln Street. She told CBC Hamilton she’ll never forget him.
“The kid had the biggest heart. So warm. So loving. His smile was pure affection,” she said. “He was just a big goofball.”
The 14-year-old's death was just a case of someone being at the wrong place at the wrong time, she said.
“He had a rough time this last little bit. It was just the wrong place, the wrong time, the wrong group of kids.
“I think he was just there to represent or be in the crowd.”
Funeral arrangements are still being organized, Mercuri says, but she expects the community will once again be there to mourn someone who died senselessly.
“He never got to have a kid or grandkids. Even to have a steady girlfriend and be loved,” she said.
“My heart just breaks for him.”
Here is a sad note from Ontario's child advocate Irwin Elman:
I learn about the death of children in my mandate through the media. A ridiculous situation. This morning I read this article. I will ask for a briefing but learn nothing more than what is printed here. I will ask for an Inquest and will probably have that request denied and even if an Inquest is held it will be held several years since criminal proceedings have to take place.
I have questions like all of you. How does this happen? How can we make sure it does not happen again to a child we have made such a commitment to as a Province through the CAS?
Source: Facebook, Irwin Elman
The provincial officer responsible for the welfare of children is kept in the dark, just like everyone else.
August 22, 2014 permalink
Add Brandon Howard Daniel in Alabama to the long list of social workers who coerced a mother into a sex act with the threat of removing her children.
Former DHR case worker forced sex acts 'in return for not taking her kids,' woman claims in lawsuit
ALABASTER, Alabama – A former Department of Human Resources case worker who faces criminal charges in a sexual assault investigation has now been named by the alleged victim in a civil lawsuit.
Brandon Howard Daniel, 29, was arrested last August and charged with soliciting for the purpose of influencing official action, indecent exposure, harassment and theft of property. He is out on bond on the charges.
A lawsuit filed Monday on behalf of an Alabaster woman names Daniel, along with his supervisor Rasheda Gulley and Kim Mashego, the director of the Shelby County DHR office.
A DHR spokesman said the organization does not comment on pending litigation.
The criminal charges against Daniel stem from complaints made by a female DHR client who contacted police and reported inappropriate sexual contact during a home visit.
According to the lawsuit, on Aug. 12, 2013, Daniel became involved in a Child Protective Services case with the woman's family. A week later, Daniel showed up at the woman's home without an appointment and demanded that he be allowed to "inspect the house." The next day, Aug. 21, Daniel returned and demanded to "inspect the bedroom," the suit states.
Daniel threatened to remove the woman's children from her home before demanding "something in return for not taking her kids." He then forced her to perform sexual acts with him, the woman claims in the lawsuit.
Gulley and Mashego "failed to properly hire, train and supervise" Daniel and "negligently and wantonly" allowed him to violate the law while performing official DHR business.
The woman is seeking punitive damages from each of the three people named in the suit.
Daniel worked as a Birmingham police officer from 2009 until he resigned in March 2013. He had worked at the Shelby County DHR office for just six months before his arrest.
At least a dozen officers carried out a search warrant at the DHR offices in Columbiana on Alabama 70. They spent several hours inside the building, which was temporarily shut down by the search.
Alabaster police chief Curtis Rigney said Mashego cooperated with investigators during the search, but DHR attorneys refused to let detectives inside the building.
Source: Alabama Media Group
Foster Deaths in Newfoundland
August 20, 2014 permalink
The CBC has found that during the last five years 26 children died in Newfoundland while under provincial care. That is a high rate for a province with only 514 thousand people. Here is a copy of the disclosure (pdf) to the CBC. The Child/Youth Death Review Protocol is provided in the clear, but in reports relating to actual deaths everything of significance is redacted. Newfoundland and Labrador's child and youth advocate, Carol Chafe, was unaware of most of the deaths.
26 children died while under province's protection since 2009
Child and youth advocate pushing for legislative change to be notified of deaths
Documents obtained by CBC News under Access to Information have revealed that more than two dozen children under the province's protection have died since the formation of the Newfoundland and Labrador Child, Youth and Family Services department in 2009.
According to the documents, 26 children and youth under the age of 18 have died while under the province's care — a number that has Carol Chafe, Newfoundland and Labrador's child and youth advocate, concerned.
Chafe said she knew about six of the deaths, but only learned of the other 20 when approached by CBC News.
In care - 3
Protective Intervention - 18
Youth Services - 3
Youth Corrections - 2
Cause of death
Medical event/condition - 8
Accidental - 12
Suicide - 6
"I was aware of some of the deaths but not all of them, but now that you have made that known to me, I have made a formal request for information on all of those cases," she said.
Of the 26 youth who died, three of the cases were children in foster care, 18 were receiving some form of protective intervention, three were involved with youth services, and the remaining two were with youth corrections.
Eight of the deaths were cited as being caused by a medical event or condition, 12 were accidental, and the remaining six were labelled as suicides.
CBC News requested an interview with Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services Sandy Collins. His communications director said he is unavailable for an interview until later in the week.
Chafe said she will look into each of the case files in order to determine if a further investigation on her part is warranted.
'An absolute farce'
Few details about the nature of the deaths is revealed in the 10 case files released by the Child, Youth and Family Services department. Much of the information provided is blacked out, with government stating the information is redacted to protect the children and families involved.
Liberal opposition member Dale Kirby says the government is protecting itself by hiding this information from the child and youth advocate.
"That government would release this, it's an absolute farce," said Kirby. "Government is very clearly in this instance protecting itself."
Kirby said he isn't suggesting government make personal and private information open to the public, but said government is "hiding behind black ink."
He added these kinds of incidents should be disclosed to the child and youth advocate automatically, rather than needing to be sought out.
"Why is the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador hiding from the child and youth advocate? That makes absolutely no sense, and that was not what was supposed to happen when that office was set up," said Kirby.
Pushing for legislative change
Chafe said the province isn't required to notify her about the death or critical incident involving a child or youth under the department's care, a rule she wants changed so she's aware of the incidents rather than finding out through the media.
"I think all the deaths should be reported to me, and/or any critical incidents of children and youth receiving government services, because then I can determine if there's something I need to look into further," she said.
"It doesn't necessarily mean when it does occur that it is something wrong that occurred, but as the representative for children and youth, I am the one that should have a look at that as an independent body to determine if it requires further investigation, or if there was something done that could be changed and prevented from happening again, which is the whole point when I do investigations."
Chafe said she hopes the revelation of the 26 deaths will help speed up the legislative change she's looking for.
Caught in a Lie
Bill Miller, father of the late Chancey Miller, who died after she was taken by child protectors in Newfoundland, draws attention to statements by Family Services Minister Charlene Johnson. The enclosed article published on October 30, 2012 quotes her:
In an e-mail to CBC News late Tuesday afternoon, Family Services Minister Charlene Johnson said no children have died because they were in care since the department was created in 2009.
She indicated that two children who were in care did die as a result of health and/or medical issues.
A year after daughter's death, family awaits answers
Parents of 3-year-old girl feel shut out by government officials in quest for more information
The parents of a three-year-old girl who died while under the care of the province say they are still not getting all the answers they deserve about her death.
Chancey Miller was in the care of the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services when she died last September.
After a year of asking questions, the Millers still don't know exactly what happened to their little girl.
"She can never come back home," Maryann Miller, Chancey’s mother, told CBC News.
"They took away my last days with my daughter. Even if it was her last days. I just don't know. Would she have been fine with me? I don't know."
Chancey was born with a heart problem. When she was just two months old, she travelled with her father to Halifax to get a pacemaker to help her heart beat properly.
Last year, provincial officials decided to take Chancey into temporary care. The family acknowledges there were problems, but they were hopeful of getting her back.
The child was put in a group home in August. Around the same time, tests showed further problems with her heart.
"They really didn't give me any answers," Maryann Miller said.
"They did all kinds of blood work, then they said she had to go to Toronto to get another pacemaker, and we'd be up there for six weeks and then I'd come back home with her."
But that didn't happen. Two weeks after surgery, doctors said Chancey was well enough to be discharged but not well enough to go home with her mother.
Chancey was placed in a foster home outside of Toronto and Maryann says she was told she had to go home without her daughter.
"Her last words [were], ‘Mom, I'll be so happy when I see you again,’ " Miller said.
But, Maryann never did see her little girl again.
"Two workers came [to] my house and brought me a box of tissues and they told me Chancey died, actually, from an infection from an operation," she said.
For Maryann, that didn't make sense. She had weekly calls with the hospital. There was no mention of an infection.
"They were saying she was fine," Miller said.
But she wasn't fine. Documents obtained by CBC News show that the day before Chancey died, the foster mother rushed her to the hospital. She was having abdominal cramps and throwing up.
The doctors said she'd be OK, and sent her back to the foster home.
Around 7:20 a.m. the next morning, the foster mother found Chancey dead in her crib.
Search for answers
Now the Millers want answers.
They want to know why Chancey was released from the hospital given her heart problems.
They want to know why they weren't told their daughter had been brought to the hospital.
And they want to know why they weren't given the opportunity to be with their little girl when she took her last breath.
"They won't give me the information on a child that does not need protection anymore," father Bill Miller said.
"She is dead. She don't need no protection anymore. She don't need protection from anybody. Not me, not her, not you, not anybody. But yet, I can't get the information about her. Why she died, how she died."
Brian Wentzell is the family's lawyer. He's helping them find the answers they're searching for.
"There should be an automatic, at the cost of Child, Youth and Family Services, the complete disclosure to the family of all medical files related to this child or any child in a situation such as this," Wentzell said.
The lawyer says all files in the department should be disclosed to the family. They should then be given an opportunity to ask questions — and get answers.
The Department of Child, Youth and Family Services declined CBC News interview requests, saying it is policy not to comment on individual cases.
In an e-mail to CBC News late Tuesday afternoon, Family Services Minister Charlene Johnson said no children have died because they were in care since the department was created in 2009.
She indicated that two children who were in care did die as a result of health and/or medical issues.
In general, Johnson said, if departmental officials identify the possibility that something they did or didn’t do led directly to the harm of a child, further steps would be taken to investigate the situation.
If the department then determines it should have acted differently, the minister noted, the parent or parents would be notified.
Serious health condition
Chancey had a serious health condition and, according to the coroner's report, that's ultimately what killed her.
But Wentzell says an inquiry is the only way to make sure, if something was done wrong, it doesn't happen again.
Maryann Miller knows getting answers won't bring her daughter back, but it will help her deal with the loss of losing her child and the guilt of not being there to say goodbye.
"I love her," she said. "I'll be so happy when I see her."
The heavily redacted report released to the CBC shows five deaths in 2010, seven in 2011 and seven in 2012.
Addendum: In September the province upped the number of dead children to 35. How many more still to come?
Incoming premier to review child death reporting
Incoming premier Paul Davis says he’s not convinced a new law is required to inform the child and youth advocate whenever children receiving protective care die.
But Davis says he’ll review any request from Carol Chafe to change how such deaths are reported.
“I’m not sure legislation is necessary, but I’d want to consider all the facts before I make that decision,” he said Thursday in an interview.
Since June, Chafe has called for new legislation to ensure she’s promptly told of any death or critical incident involving children and youth so she can follow up.
Chafe has relied in the past on media reports or complaints to learn of such incidents. She is now writing to Davis to press for new legislation to compel government departments to notify her.
Liberal and NDP opposition parties support the move, as did Steve Kent and John Ottenheimer, both of whom ran against Davis for the leadership of the governing Progressive Conservatives.
Davis won at a convention Sept. 13 and will be sworn in as premier today.
Chafe said in an interview she was unaware of most of the 35 deaths since 2009 that the province confirmed through an access to information request. She is reviewing those files on top of six other investigations, including four deaths, now underway.
The 35 cases involved children and youth, from infants to the age of 21, receiving various government services. Their deaths were blamed on medical issues, accidental causes or suicide.
Sandy Collins, the minister of child, youth and family services, said of 33 deaths reported as part of the access request, all but three clients lived with their families. Those three were in provincial custody, but died in hospital of medical conditions, not in foster homes, he explained.
Two more deaths since early August involved another child who was living with parents, and a youth who had signed a voluntary agreement for help with housing and life skills shortly before dying, the department confirmed Thursday.
Chafe said those are the only two deaths she has learned of directly from the government since she took the job in 2010.
The province has revamped its child welfare laws, protocols and training while adding more staff in recent years.
But Chafe has repeatedly pointed out communication breakdowns, lax documentation and policy breaches that have let down vulnerable children who needed help.
The heavily redacted documents released as part of the access to information request hint at more of the same.
Partially blacked out records refer to missing risk assessments and failure to comply with mandated management systems.
A lack of national data makes it tough to assess how the rate of deaths under protective care in Newfoundland and Labrador compares to other provinces.
No one is keeping track across the country, said Nico Trocme, director of McGill University’s School of Social Work in Montreal. Moreover, provinces and territories have not agreed on a single method for recording deaths, he said.
“A number of us have been encouraging provinces to do that, but there really isn’t a structure in place.”
Trocme said it’s vital that all child deaths involving government services be systematically assessed by an independent panel of pediatric and other experts.
Davis said Newfoundland and Labrador’s new child death review committee will look into cases provided by the chief medical examiner involving children younger than 19. The panel includes the examiner as well as pediatric and social work specialists.
But some cases may escape its scrutiny, said the department of Child, Youth and Family Services. That’s because the chief medical examiner reviews deaths of children who die while in the custody of a manager under the Children and Youth Care and Protection Act — but not necessarily those receiving government services who died while living with a parent or guardian.
Andrew Parsons, the Liberal critic for child, youth and family services, said Chafe needs new legislation to alert her to deaths as well as critical incidents such as sexual abuse.
“We see anything that’s going to strengthen her ability to do her job as the advocate for children and youth as a must. Yet the premier doesn’t see it as necessary,” he said. “It’s reprehensible, really.”
Source: Telegram (St John's)
The news from Newfoundland prompted the CBC's Jill Dempsey to interview Ontario's child advocate Irwin Elman. He can find out no more about child fatalities than what he reads in the press and social media. Local copy of interview (mp3)
CBC News learned this week that since 2009, 26 children in Newfoundland have died while in the care of social services. Here in Ontario, that number is much higher. Guest host Jill Dempsey spoke with Irwin Elman. He is Ontario's Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth.
Foster Girl Murdered
August 19, 2014 permalink
Police in Winnipeg have pulled the body of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine from the Red River. After running away from foster care she was murdered, then tied up in a way she could not have done herself. The police were not looking for her. They dragged up her body while looking for someone else.
Girl, 15, found in bag in Red River; police seek tips on slaying
Winnipeg police recover body of 15-year-old girl from Red River near Alexander Docks
Winnipeg police have released the identity of a girl found dead in the Red River Sunday afternoon.
Tina Fontaine, 15, was reported missing on Aug. 9. Her body was found in the Red River near the Alexander Docks at about 1:30 p.m., more than a week after she was reported missing.
Police are treating Fontaine’s death as a homicide.
“It’s obvious this child didn’t put herself in the river in that condition,” said homicide investigator Sgt. John O’Donovan. “She’s definitely been exploited and taken advantage of.”
Fontaine was last seen in downtown Winnipeg on Aug. 8 wearing a white skirt, blue jacket and pink-and-white runners. She stood five-feet-three-inches tall and weighed about 100 pounds.
O'Donovan said the teen was known to spend time near Portage Place.
“She frequented mainly the central area. [She] frequented places like Portage Place and the streets adjacent to that, parallel to that, around Portage Avenue,” he said. “She frequented the central area in general.”
Fontaine, of Sagkeeng First Nation, had only been in Winnipeg for a month before her disappearance.
“She's a petite little thing — just turned 15, barely in the city for a little over a month,” O’Donovan said. “And she’s definitely been exploited and taken advantage of and murdered.”
Fontaine was in the care of a Child and Family Services agency when she went missing, according to police. She had run away from her foster home before, including once in July of this year.
“We know that she was in care and that she was rebelling in that care she was in. She was running away and had a history of that, but obviously she was in danger doing that,” O’Donovan said. “At 15 I’m sure she didn’t realize the danger she was putting herself in.”
Police said she was found wrapped in a bag, in "a condition she couldn’t have put herself in,” O’Donovan said.
“She’s a child. This is a child that has been murdered … Society should be horrified,” he said. “That’s why we’re asking for people to come forward. And that's why we're asking for people to help us and to come forward with anything they know about this child.”
O’Donovan said police can confirm she was alive on the morning of Aug. 9, but “anything further than that we would love to hear from people on.”
Anyone with information can contact police at 204-986-6508 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-8477.
“It's an upsetting case here because we have a child here who is dead, plus we don't know when she died,” O’Donovan said. “We want to get it to the general public for their help.”
Police said Fontaine's body was discovered while police were looking for another — a man who had been seen struggling in the water near the Forks on Friday.
“The circumstances surrounding it are rather unique in that our dive unit was out there looking, you know, for somebody else,” said Const. Eric Hofley. “Unfortunately, the second body was located and recovered.”
Addendum: The social services system is safe. The report on the death of Tina Fontaine will be kept secret.
Report about murdered teen Tina Fontaine to be kept secret
The public may never know what exact role Child and Family Services played in Tina Fontaine’s life or her death.
WINNIPEG—Investigations are underway to determine whether Manitoba’s social services failed a 15-year-old aboriginal girl who ran away from foster care and was found dead in the Red River.
But the public may never know what exact role Child and Family Services played in Tina Fontaine’s life or her death.
The province’s children’s advocate automatically investigates whenever a child dies while in care, but the reviews are not made public. Child welfare authorities have also begun their own internal review but that is also confidential.
Ainsley Krone with the advocate’s office said Wednesday a final report will go to the Manitoba medical examiner, the ombudsman and the minister of family services.
To us, Tina Fontaine just another missing native kid: Mallick
“Under our current legislation, we don’t release it publicly,” said Krone, the advocate’s manager of communications, research and public education. “It’s the ombudsman’s office that has the responsibility for tracking the progress of recommendations that we make.”
Fontaine’s body was found on Sunday wrapped in a bag in the Red River after she ran away from her Winnipeg foster home where she had been for less than a month. Police are treating the case as a homicide.
The teen’s death touched a nerve in Winnipeg where more than 1,000 people gathered for a vigil Tuesday night to remember Fontaine and Faron Hall, the so-called “homeless hero” whose body was pulled from the same river where he saved two people from drowning several years ago.
Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross said she can’t talk about the specifics of Fontaine’s case but said the teen’s death is heartbreaking.
“This is a young woman that had a bright future waiting for her and it was stolen,” she said. “That is devastating for all of us.”
Fontaine’s case is being reviewed at several levels to see if there are lessons that can be drawn, Irvin-Ross said. The government is also looking at ways to make the children’s advocate’s recommendations public, she added.
But, she said, it’s tricky.
“It’s trying to find that balance between confidentiality and protecting the identity of families and children, but also making sure that we are sharing information with Manitobans.”
Despite countless reviews, inquests and inquiries, Manitoba continues to have a tragic history of children who have died while in the care of social services.
The murder of 5-year-old Phoenix Sinclair by her mother and stepfather in 2005 prompted major changes to the system and a doubling of the social services budget. It also spawned one of the most expensive inquiries in the province’s history that produced 62 recommendations.
The office of the children’s advocate still investigates about 160 child deaths each year.
Opposition critic Ian Wishart said it takes an inquest or an inquiry for the public to hear details about the failings of social services. There are still many unanswered questions in Fontaine’s case, he said.
“She had been moved within the last month to a new foster home. Whether or not there were enough supports there is one of the things we’re wondering about,” Wishart said. “She had apparently run away several times and, of course, the last time was with the most unfortunate of results.”
Police spent Wednesday canvassing the downtown area where Fontaine was last seen Aug. 8. Officers would like anyone who may have seen Fontaine or knows what happened to her to contact police.
The teen’s death has prompted renewed calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. At a Liberal party meeting in Edmonton on Wednesday, Leader Justin Trudeau said the entire aboriginal community across Canada has been affected by Fontaine’s death.
“It comes on a compounded loss of so many missing and murdered over the years, which is why the Liberal party has always been unequivocal that we need a full, national inquiry into the missing and murdered aboriginal women,” he said.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair tweeted that he was “disgusted and saddened by this story out of Winnipeg.”
“Enough talk,” he wrote. “We need action and an inquiry, now.”
National Chief Ghislain Picard of the Assembly of First Nations said an inquiry would be an important first step.
“We cannot allow violence to continue, particularly against some of the most vulnerable,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “First Nations demand immediate and concrete steps to better ensure the safety and security of indigenous women and girls in this country.”
The federal government has repeatedly rejected an inquiry. Justice Minister Peter MacKay did so again Tuesday when he said in a statement that it’s “time to take action, not study the issue.”
Source: Toronto Star
Puppy Saves Girl
August 15, 2014 permalink
Today there is some good news. A girl lost in the Siberian wilderness has been found. But it was not a social worker that came to the rescue. Three-year-old Karina Chikitova was saved when the family puppy kept her warm for eleven days, then led the family to her location.
Little Girl Survives 11 Days in Forest Thanks to Family Dog
A 3-year-old girl managed to survive alone in the Russian wilderness for 11 days by picking berries and drinking river water, thanks to a series of heroic endeavors by the family dog.
Little Karina Chikitova disappeared on July 29 from her home in the village of Olom in the Sakha republic. She was believed to have wandered into the forest in pursuit of her father, who was unaware his daughter was following him, The Siberian Times reported.
Four days passed before the girl's mother was able to contact her husband, at which point she discovered to her despair that their daughter was not in his care.
Fortunately, Karina's loyal puppy had traipsed into the forest alongside her, and would soon save the day.
The toddler slept among the tall grasses of the taiga each night, making it especially difficult for search helicopters to locate her. Although temperatures in the area sunk to an average of 6 degrees Celsius each night, rescuers believe that Karina was able to keep warm at night by curling up with the dog.
She sustained herself during the day by eating berries and drinking river water, The Siberian Times reported.
About 100 people were involved in search efforts for Karina, though hope was nearly lost when her puppy emerged alone from the forest ten days later.
"That was the moment when our hearts sank, because we thought at least with her dog Karina had chances to survive," Afanasy Nikolayev, a spokesman for the Sakha republic rescue service, said in comments carried by The Siberian Times.
However, with the puppy's help, rescuers managed to retrace the dog's steps, leading them back to Chikitova.
Chikitova was discovered without any shoes, miraculously having suffered only mosquito bites and minor scratches during the fretful ordeal.
Source: Moscow Times
Girl Attacks Group Home Staff
August 12, 2014 permalink
A 16-year-old girl has attacked a staff member at a Peterborough Ontario group home. There are no details and no background information on the accused girl.
Teen attacks staff at Peterborough group home
16-year-old girl now facing assault charge
PETERBOROUGH -- A teenage girl has been arrested after allegedly attacking a staff member at a Peterborough group home.
Peterborough-Lakefield police report that on Aug. 8, the teenage girl had become upset with staff and held up an X-Acto knife. The girl allegedly later assaulted one of the staff members, including throwing a cup.
The 16-year-old is charged with assault. She was released from custody and appears in court on Aug. 25.
Source: Metroland/MyKawartha (Toronto Star)
Foster Child Muzzled
August 11, 2014 permalink
Earlier fixcas reported on the Cook family in Texas. When their adopted son, infected with HIV before adoption, died, Texas child protectors seized their entire family. Recently son Justin Cook posted a video telling the story of his abuse in foster care. A Texas judge has ordered the family to remove the video. The original is gone, but here is a local copy (mp4) found by Breitbart.
Texas Judge Orders Removal of YouTube Video Exposing Abuse in Foster Care System
HOUSTON, Texas -- In a continuing cover-up by Child Protective Services (“CPS’) in Texas, Judge Keith Dean this week ordered the removal of a YouTube video produced by a 13-year-old boy that exposes the sexual and physical abuse that he and his brother endured while in CPS foster care. The video also reveals the 377-day nightmare suffered by him and his six siblings after they were ripped from their loving family and placed in four different foster care facilities out of county. The mother told Breitbart Texas “they are trying to rake this abuse under the rug.” Breitbart Texas has procured the YouTube video from a source outside the family.
The YouTube video shows the young teenage boy holding homemade signs that convey the story of what CPS caseworkers, and the CPS foster care system, has done to his family. One sign says “I was beatened [sic] and sexually assaulted on a day to day basis while my Social Worker did Nothing.” He holds another sign saying “My abuse goes uninvestigated.”
Breitbart Texas talked to the mother Angel Linthicum Cook in early July and reported about the atrocities suffered by this family. Cook and two of her sons had just testified at a Texas Sunset Advisory Commission hearing. The Commission was meeting to hear testimony about TDFPS (Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, “CPS”) abuses and other problems.
Legislators on the Commission were shocked by the Cooks’ testimony and promised to address the abuses by CPS and CPS caseworkers. Rep. Harold V. Dutton, Jr., said it was the worst thing he has heard or seen in state government during his 30 years as a State Representative. He said during the hearing that he had “never heard a story so bad, so egregious, that it just almost incites a rage in me. This is government at its worse.”
Cook and her sons testified again in late July but she says the CPS abuses remain uninvestigated. She told the Commission that she was testifying to expose illegal and unethical abuses by CPS caseworkers in withholding evidence, lying under oath, and falsifying documents.
There was a hearing this week in the CPS custody case. The judge assigned to the case, Judge Keith Dean of Dallas County, ordered Mrs. Cook to take down the YouTube video. He made her take it down while she was standing in the courtroom. Cook told Breitbart Texas that the CPS worker and the ad litem had angrily discussed the video while in the hallway but were very careful about was said on the court record. The Judge had signed an order whereby she could be held in contempt if she did not remove it. Breitbart Texas has obtained a copy of the Judge’s Order.
Mrs. Cook testified during the last hearing at the Texas Sunset Commission that her son was beaten, held down, and sexually abused while in foster care. Photos of her son’s injuries appear on her Facebook page. She also testified that her seven-year-old son cries when someone knocks on the door, and he and her four-year-old cry if she is out of their sight. They beg her not to take them to daycare. The Judge ordered the Cooks to put their two youngest children in daycare saying they had too many children to take care of.
The trouble with CPS started when their youngest son Buddy, died in March 2013 because he had HIV. The Cooks had adopted Buddy and his younger sister after their biological mother left the children with the Cooks. She was hiding from CPS from two different states. Photos on Mrs. Cook’s Facebook page show the scars, bruises, and cuts on the boy when he was left with them. It was the Cooks that notified CPS that the mother had left the children in their care.
The biological mother of the boy, Amanda Lunsford, was later found incompetent to stand trial for allowing eight men to sexually assault Buddy. Lunsford had also left her six-week-old daughter in the tent for three days. Lunsford has had three more children since she was found incompetent to stand trial.
CPS took the Cooks’ seven children on the same day that Buddy died. Mrs. Cook has told authorities, members of the Sunset Commission, Breitbart Texas, and others that the CPS caseworker lied and withheld evidence about Buddy’s HIV status and the biological mother’s CPS history from law enforcement and the Coroner. Mr. and Mrs. Cook were arrested for Injury to a Child by Omission. Although the charges were dropped in December of 2013, CPS kept the children for four more months. The agency still will not relinquish legal custody.
Under Texas law, CPS and the Judge have until October to terminate the Cooks’ parental rights or the case must be dismissed. Even though the children are back in the Cooks’ care after they have been exonerated from any wrongdoing, CPS still has legal custody of the children. CPS is expected to dismiss its case against the Cooks in October. The Cooks have spent over $140,000.00 defending themselves and protecting their family from CPS.
Jim Black, a CPS watchdog from Humble, Texas, said that “anytime a TDFPS employee fails to follow the guidelines, statutes, and rules set forth by the State, they are actually insubordinate to their employer, the people of Texas. When it comes to statutes, in many cases that insubordination results in down-right criminal behavior. Moreover, what we have is the fox guarding the henhouse. Texas needs another entity in charge of CPS internal investigations. Right now it is the Office of the Inspector General of the same agency.”
Lana Shadwick is a 22-year lawyer who has been a family court associate judge, CPS lawyer, and prosecutor. Follow her @LanaShadwick2
Addendum: On October 6, 2014 the family was freed from CPS. Criminal charges had been dismissed earlier.
Cleburne family freed of CPS supervision after 18 months
After 18 months and over $200,000 spent, the David and Angel Cook have their seven children back. Cook family freed from CPS supervision
CLEBURNE -- In less than five minutes, David and Angel Cook's 18-month nightmare with Child Protective Services was over.
On Monday, the agency formally relinquished guardianship over their seven children. CPS had removed their children for more than a year after accusing them of starving to death their four-year-old adopted son, Buddy.
"I don't understand how this is justice. But for us, for now it is because our kids are home," Angel Cook said.
The Cooks contend they were victimized by CPS caseworkers, who they accuse of withholding crucial medical information that led to a homicide ruling in Buddy's death, of misrepresenting what they and their children said during the investigation, and finally, of failing to protect their children while in foster care.
The Cooks' long nightmare began in March 2013 when Buddy died at their Cleburne home. The Cooks were charged with first injury to a child, a first degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. Their seven children – including then 14-month-old Wesley – were placed in foster care.
The Johnson County District Attorney's Office dropped the charges after the medical examiner who performed the autopsy came forward saying he believed that Buddy died of natural causes, not from something the Cooks did or did not do. The pathologist told News 8 that he believes Buddy had a metabolic issue that caused his body not to properly process nutrients.
The children returned home last April under a mediated agreement, but they remained under CPS supervision.
On Monday, CPS formally relinquished guardianship over David and Angel Cook's seven children. CPS had removed their children for more than a year after accusing them of starving to death their four-year-old adopted son, Buddy.
The family and all of its seven children came to the Johnson County court today for that final hearing. Friends and family came to show their support.
CPS officials had told the family that there was no need for a hearing but the Cooks wanted their day in court.
"The department has prepared an order to dismiss," said an attorney representing CPS. "All parties have signed off on it and here it is for your approval."
Judge Keith Dean took the order, signed and said that it was immediately effective.
"Good luck," the judge told the Cooks.
And with that, CPS was out of their lives.
The CPS attorney left out a side door and was not available for comment.
Patrick Barkman, an attorney representing the Cooks, says this is often how these cases end.
"These cases are always tough," he said. "Any time you have the kids removed from you, that's really rough on the family and it's especially rough here because the little boy had died and they didn't ever have any time to mourn him or go through the normal grieving process because they had to slip right into fighting a very serious criminal case and then this case as well."
The Cooks say the battle to stay out of jail and to keep their children has cost them more than $200,000.
"We're the same family [we were] 18 months ago, just one less person, and so for them to automatically say, 'Oh, you're a safe parent.' Why wasn't I 18 months ago?" Angel Cook said. "We lost everything."
She says that, had CPS officials just listened, unimaginable damage to their family could have been avoided.
David Cook said he's just "relieved" that the case was over.
The Cooks say several of their children were abused and neglected while in the foster care system and they are still fighting to have someone held accountable for that.
"My kids returned completely different kids and none of it can be given back," Angel Cook said. "My kids lost their innocence in state care."
They also plan to sue CPS and they want the case workers involved in their case to lose their jobs. They're also seeking an administrative hearing to overturn the CPS finding alleging that they were culpable in Buddy's death.
Barkman, their attorney, says he's been inspired by the Cooks' tenacity.
"I personally have been inspired by how tough these people are, how determined they are and how they held their family together," Barkman said.
Addendum: Shitty-Ass Kids
Kent Boxberger of Blogtalk tracked down the foster parent for the Cook children, Greg Green. In a phone call Green makes vile and repugnant comments about the Cook family. Boxberger put the program on YouTube. Here is an audio only copy (mp3).
Gays and Lesbians Needed
August 9, 2014 permalink
After children's aid takes a child from his parents, where do they want him to go? To gays and lesbians. The CBC reports.
Children's Aid Society puts out call for lesbian, gay parents
Windsor, Ont., campaign urges gays, lesbians to become adoptive or foster parents
The Children's Aid Society in Windsor-Essex is trying to entice more gay and lesbian people to become adoptive or foster parents.
The aid society has partnered with Windsor Pride to try to tap into what it calls an underutilized demographic.
The first information session for the recruitment campaign is Wednesday evening in Windsor.
Local lesbian and gay individuals who currently care for adopted or foster children will join children's aid workers in speaking to the public about their experience.
Among them will be Kelly O'Rourke, who, along with her female partner, adopted the baby of a distant relative.
That child is now seven years old, and the couple recently adopted a second child, a five-year-old boy.
"He feels like he has got a place that he'll be forever," O'Rourke told CBC News.
"We're his forever family, and that means so much for a child ... We are now a family that he can call his, and it's really, really important that we all take a look and realize that this opportunity is open to all of us, and we can all help these kids."
Criteria the same for all parents
While the aid society is targeting gay and lesbian families, it says all potential parents must meet specific criteria.
"They all have to have the ability to raise a child to adulthood that biologically is not connected to you, the ability to keep the child safe — just all the things that you need to have and the skills you need to have as a parent irregardless of your race, creed, colour or sexual orientation," said Bev Thomson, an adoption recruiter with the aid society. "It's still the same."
The information meeting begins at 7 p.m. at 422 Pelissier St.
Opening the Courts
August 9, 2014 permalink
A rally has been scheduled for the Opening of the Courts ceremony on September 9.
The 2014 Ontario Canada Opening of Courts Ceremony Protest
Toronto 2014 opening of the courts ceremony date has been announced. Mark the Tues. Sept. 9, 2014 on your calendar and feel welcomed to attend.
This will be our fourth year doing this one. They've been doing it for over 60 years. we began in 2011. many of your most active and committed CCWers will be there.
- Monday, July 21, 2014 8:21 PM
- "Warwick Jane (JUD)" <Jane.Warwick@ontario.ca>
- Opening of Courts 2014
In response to your request for information on the Annual Ceremony to Mark the Opening of Courts for Ontario - 2014, attached is a link to relevant information on the Ontario Courts website.http://www.ontariocourts.ca/coa/en/ps/ocs/annual-ceremony.htm
Please note there is no reserved seating for members of the public.
Ontario Court of Justice
Annual Ceremony to Mark the Opening of the Courts for Ontario - 2014
The Honourable George R. Strathy, Chief Justice of Ontario, the Honourable Heather J. Smith, Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice, the Honourable Annemarie E. Bonkalo, Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, and the Law Society of Upper Canada are pleased to advise that the ceremony to mark the Opening of the Courts for Ontario will be held on Tuesday, September 9, 2014.
The Ceremony will take place at 3:30 p.m. in Courtroom 6-1 of the Toronto Court House at 361 University Avenue.
Teen Mother Escapes Abortion, Charged with Crime
August 5, 2014 permalink
Teenager Breanna LaSean Ross had been forced by her family to abort a previous pregnancy. She decided to keep her 2013 pregnancy a secret so it could run to term. When the baby was born without medical assistance, the mother was impaired from the loss of two pints of blood. The groggy mom put the baby in a bag and passed out. She woke up with the baby in a hospital.
Do you think Ross is the hero in the story? Florida doesn't. Authorities have charged her with felony child neglect.
Police: Brevard teen gives birth, hides baby under sink
A 19-year-old girl was arrested Saturday after Palm Bay police say she gave birth to a child in a bathroom, then placed the baby in a grocery bag and hid it underneath a sink.
Police found the child alive.
A police document shows Breanna LaSean Ross was 18 years old when she gave birth in January. She told police she hid her pregnancy because previously, her mother and the mother of her baby's father forced her into having an abortion. She thought they would make her do the same with this pregnancy.
She told police she woke up on Jan. 31 with stomach pains. After struggling to use the restroom, she gave birth to a baby girl. She cleaned up, put the baby under the sink and passed out.
Emergency personnel took her to Palm Bay Hospital due to excessive bleeding. A doctor told police Ross appeared to be in a "clear state of mind," but was overwhelmed about telling anyone she was pregnant.
The doctor told police she had lost about two pints of blood and could have had clouded judgement or a diminished capacity to make decisions.
Another doctor said the baby weighed 5 pounds, 13.3 ounces. There were concerns the baby's kidneys weren't working correctly, but the doctor was confident she would recover.
Police weren't sure if there was probable cause that Ross's actions rose to the level of a crime. They sent the paperwork to the State Attorney's Office to see if she should be arrested.
Court records show Ross was charged with one count of felony child neglect on Saturday, about six months after the birth.
Source: Florida Today
August 2, 2014 permalink
What kind of foster parent is safer for a child? One with HIV, or one free of communicable diseases? In Nevada, political correctness has trumped safety as the state now permits HIV infected couples to become foster parents.
In another story of same-sex adoption, baby Kadillak (Anna) Poe-Jones died after being left in a hot car for two hours by her foster dad Seth Jackson. Since this has become a high-profile case, Phyllis Gilmore, secretary of the Kansas Department for Children and Families, has issued a statement out of the script. She blames the foster parent, and marijuana, sidestepping responsibility for placing a baby with a negligent couple. Quoting her statement: "Since 2001, there have been two fatalities in foster care as a result of maltreatment. The last death by maltreatment in foster care was in 2006." Since 2001 our record of foster deaths in Kansas includes:
Nevada revises foster care regulations to remove exclusion of people with HIV
LAS VEGAS — The Nevada Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) on Thursday revised its regulations concerning licensing prospective foster parents to remove a requirement that foster parents be free of a list of communicable diseases that included HIV.
The revised regulations allow for DCFS to require a physical or psychological examination, but only if there is reason to believe a foster parent may not be physically or emotionally capable of meeting the needs of a foster child, or there is a legitimate reason to believe the health of the foster child may be in jeopardy.
Last year, Lambda Legal submitted a petition to DCFS on behalf of a married same-sex couple who were told the HIV status of one spouse precluded their serving as foster parents.
The petition, joined by Aid for AIDS Nevada (AFAN) and Children’s Advocacy Alliance (CAA), called for DCFS to remove immediately HIV and AIDS from the list of communicable diseases that prevent an individual or couple from receiving a foster care license and to consider removal of other diseases that also are not transmitted via household contact.
In response, DCFS decided to remove any reference to communicable diseases from the regulations pertaining to foster care and instead to require that “| ach foster parent must be in sufficiently good physical and mental health, and be physically and emotionally capable, to provide the necessary care to children.”
“This change in the Nevada Administrative Code expands the pool of loving homes willing and able to take in foster children,” said Scott Schoettes, Senior Attorney and HIV Project National Director for Lambda Legal.
“Nevada DCFS recognized that its exclusion of people living with HIV from being foster parents was unsupported by medical science and discriminatory, and we are gratified that the department moved so quickly to update its regulations,” said Schoettes.
Source: LGBTQ Nation
DCF statement on the new information in Kan. hot car death
TOPEKA – In response to Friday’s information made public in Sedgwick County court, regarding the death of the 10-month-old baby, Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Phyllis Gilmore offers the following statement:
“Should the allegations prove to be true, I am appalled that a precious, helpless child suffered such an unthinkable death while her foster parent was allegedly using drugs. We expect parents to protect and care for their children. We expect even more of our foster parents. They have a duty to put the children in their care before themselves always and provide a loving, safe environment. This incident is a rare exception to the otherwise strong record of foster care safety in Kansas. Drug use is not tolerated among our foster parents.”
DCF continues its investigation into the tragedy. Foster homes sponsored by TFI are in the process of being inspected. Presently, no serious concerns have been discovered. We anticipate lifting the moratorium on placements with TFI soon, upon the completion of the inspections if no issues arise. TFI is licensed to sponsor 621 foster homes in Kansas. TFI was a former foster care contractor. Its contract with DCF was not renewed in 2013. It serves as a subcontractor of foster care services to St. Francis and KVC.
Since 2001, there have been two fatalities in foster care as a result of maltreatment. The last death by maltreatment in foster care was in 2006.
Source: Salina Post
Addendum: Thirty-two months in jail for foster dad Seth Jackson. As usual in this kind of case, no months in jail for the social workers who placed baby Kadillak Poe-Jones with the absent-minded caretaker.
Foster father gets 32 months for hot-car death
WICHITA, Kansas — Seth Jackson, 29, the foster father charged with leaving a 10-month-old child to die inside a hot car last July has been sentenced to 32 months in prison with 24 months supervision after his release.
Jackson testified Friday morning, saying he was “a broken man, pleading here for my life.”
A large crowd turned up for Jackson’s sentencing hearing Friday. Jackson plead guilty in November of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Kadillak Poe-Jones, who died of hyperthermia after she was left in the hot car for over two hours.
Prosecutors asked for 32 months saying “everything [the girl] could ever be is gone because of the defendant. Jackson’s defense argued for probation saying it was a tragedy but prison was not the answer stating “he has accepted responsibility”.
Judge David Dahl said he believes Jackson’s actions were unintentional but not accidental stating that doing drugs, drinking and driving are not accidental actions. “I believe that probation is not warranted. I believe that probation is not appropriate.
Jackson has 14 days to appeal his sentence.
Wanna See Your Kid?
July 30, 2014 permalink
Kentucky social worker Chad Albert Buckley forced a parent to sell him drugs as a condition of child visitation.
Social worker accused of using child as bargaining chip to buy drugs
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A social worker is behind bars Wednesday after police say he used a child as a bargaining chip to buy prescription drugs from the child's parent.
According to court documents, social worker Chad Buckley, 39, made an agreement with the parent of a child he was assigned to buy Oxycontin pills for a discounted price and visits with the child.
Documents say the original offer was four pills at $25 per pill, but Buckley only paid $30 cash, a $25 gas card, and an in-home visit with the child.
Buckley was arrested at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday night and is being charged with conspiracy to traffic a controlled substance, first degree official misconduct, and bribery of a public servant.
License to Steal
July 30, 2014 permalink
South Carolina social worker Nicole Murray forgot that her license to steal only applied to children. She and partner Matthew Kline have been arrested for burglary.
South Carolina DSS worker among two charged in Carolina Forest burglary
An employee with the S.C. Department of Social Services has been charged in connection with a recent burglary in the Carolina Forest area, according to police records.
Nicole Marie Murray, 28, of Carolina Forest, was charged with burglary, second degree.
Murray was booked at J. Reuben Long Detention Center at 11:59 a.m. July 23. Bond was set at $5,000, according to Horry County jail records, and she remained behind bars as of press time.
An official with DSS authorized to speak about Murray’s employment history couldn’t be reached for comment.
According to an Horry County police report, Murray was driving a vehicle with state tags and she identified herself as an employee with Child Protective Services, which operates under DSS.
A call to Murray’s work number refers callers needing immediate assistance to contact her supervisor, who’s also named as a witness in the police report.
Also charged was Matthew Franklin Kline, of Conway. Kline is identified in arrest warrants as Murray’s boyfriend. Kline has been charged with burglary, second degree and obtaining signature or property by false pretenses, under $2,000. He was booked at 1:20 p.m. July 21.
Bond was set at $30,000 for the burglary charge and $2,500 for the second charge, and he was released three days later, jail records show.
According to arrest warrants, the charges are in connection with a home burglary that occurred July 21 in the 2000 block of Haystack Way in Carolina Forest.
The victim, 26, said he came home at about noon July 21 to find a male suspect fleeing his yard toward an unoccupied car. The suspect entered the vehicle, which according to the warrant was a Honda Civic registered to Murray. Inside the car were TVs taken from the victim’s home and other property, the warrant states.
Before discovering the burglary, Murray met the victim in front of his home. She was driving a Dodge Stratus with state tags, the warrant states.
An incident report said the woman identified herself as an employee of Child Protective Services, and then began asking the victim about a person who she thought was living in his home.
According to the report and arrest warrant, the questioning appeared to be a diversionary tactic.
“The victim felt Murray was intentionally trying to divert him/delay his entry to the home by asking him a barrage of questions claiming she was working a case,” the warrant states.
The warrant added that before Murray arrived, he heard a horn honk several times and thought it was her warning the suspect.
According to the police report, the victim entered the house and the woman drove off. Once inside he noticed a TV in the living room was missing and the back glass door was shattered, the report said.
The victim then heard a car alarm and went outside. He spotted a male suspect exit the car and walk toward Coopers Court, according to the report.
He continued following the suspect and called a 911 dispatcher, who told him to stop following the suspect until officers arrived, the report continued.
Police detained the suspect a short time later. The victim was able to positively identify the suspect and recover his stolen property.
According to the report, the suspect took two TV sets, a Macbook laptop, an iPod, an $8,000 diamond ring, a $1,200 yellow ring and various other items of jewelry.
A supplemental report states that neither police nor Murray’s supervisor could reach her by phone the morning of the burglary.
The woman also failed to show for up a meeting, and her supervisor feared initially that she may have been in danger, the report said. Police checked on Murray’s house and found that the back door was open and unsecure.
After performing a protective sweep, the male suspect later identified in police records as Kline was sitting on a bed in a bonus room, the report continued.
Murray told police when she left for work at 9 a.m., her boyfriend and her car were both gone. She said in the report that she had a bad feeling about it and drove around looking for him.
According to the report, Murray said she found the car parked along Carolina Farms Boulevard and began talking to someone who was outside. Murray said in the report that she didn’t think her boyfriend was there, so she left.
The report said she returned a short time later and found police cars at her house. Fearing something bad had happened, she went to the Carolina Forest Library and called her supervisor.
Source: My Horry News
July 28, 2014 permalink
Mother Penny Lynne reports on an investigation into her family by children's aid. The investigation occurred because a vengeful (former) family member called CAS. No children were taken. Even though there was no apprehension, it was a bad experience for Penny. The intrusive questioning by the social worker forced her to recall demons from her past.
I'm a stay-at-home mom, I have two beautiful boys. My husband works out of town, is only at home on weekends! But late in May (a family member decided that she would call children's aid on me. She hates me and knows the only way to hurt me is though my children, so what better than to call CAS on me) so as I was getting ready to take my youngest to the park I get a knock on my door! This lady looked at me and asked me if I was Penny. I said YES then went to say that she went to my son's school and talked to him (without any knowledge of that from myself). Well I wear my emotion on sleeve and I started shaking asking why are you here and what do you want, crying! She asked me to settle down and that she has some questions about beating my son cause I did not want to go to his track and field meet. I let her in my house and she sat down. I explained to her that I have never nor will I ever hit my boys! And it's not that I did not want to go to the track and field, I had my youngest at home and he would never sit still and and I had doc appointment that day and that me and my son talk about it and I changed my appointment and that I'm gonna go now! She ask to go though my house. She looked in my room, in my fridge etc!! Now I base my life around my sons and home! She told me she is going to have to talk to my husband and when would be the best time to call him? (I SAID NOW AND DO IT IN FRONT OF ME SO DIALLED THE NUMBER). Of course our stories are the same, people who hide nothing have nothing to hide. I just wanted her to go I was so upset! She then made me sign a form that she want to talk to the doctor and dentist. I signed it. She asked me a lot of awful questions (I have a past but it was never anything with drugs. I was in abusive relationship eleven years ago but I work hard and I created a beautiful life for myself. But no matter what you can't hide from your past, I know that I was just hoping to forget about it! So the case was open shut they closed the next day I should be happy right (I AM I WAS NEVER WORRIED ABOUT MY CHILDREN BEING TAKEN) but I can't move from this experience, I feel as if my life and everything I work so hard at every day has been raped and then on top of that past demons have resurfaced. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of this! This family member is no longer a family member! But I just feel so violated! And also this caseworker never even parked in my driveway, she parked down the street! WHY?
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
Alberta Foster Secrecy Loosened
July 25, 2014 permalink
The province of Alberta has proclaimed a new law allowing parents of dead foster children to identify themselves and their lost children. The Edmonton Journal has profiles of one child, Phoenix Majestic Omeasoo, who died in foster care on January 17, 2010. In another enclosed article, the CBC has named Kyleigh Tiara Crier and Nevaeh Michaud (misspelled by CBC), who died of a drug overdose on January 5, 2014.
Province lifts ban on naming children who die in foster care
Names, faces of children who die in care can now be made public
EDMONTON - Four years after her baby suffocated to death in a collapsed bassinet while in foster care, Toni Omeasoo is free to publicly speak her daughter’s name for the first time.
Phoenix Majestic Omeasoo.
She can show you a photograph of her daughter’s sweet baby mohawk, her chubby cheeks, her pretty brown eyes.
She can do this because the Alberta government has quashed the publication ban that made it illegal to name or share photographs of children who have died inside the province’s foster care system.
“I want people to know what happened to her, I want her to be remembered,” Omeasoo said through tears Wednesday. “She is not forgotten, and there are people who care about what happened to my family.
“Maybe it will change something for another mother.”
At a meeting Wednesday afternoon, the Progressive Conservative cabinet proclaimed a new law that allows families and caregivers to speak publicly about the death of a child whenever they choose to do so.
Media outlets are now free to publish the names, photographs and stories of the children’s’ lives, unless a judge grants a publication ban in an individual case.
The new law comes into effect eight months after a joint Edmonton Journal-Calgary Herald investigation revealed the province dramatically under-reported the number of children who have died in care and failed to monitor implementation of recommendations to prevent similar deaths.
The series examined the province’s publication ban, which was passed in 2004 with little legislative debate. The government said it protected the privacy of families grieving after the loss of a child; critics said it protected the child welfare system from meaningful scrutiny of its worst failures.
“We’ve taken a very significant step to increase openness and transparency in the child welfare system,” Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar said. “We have freed the system and those involved in the system from the burden of secrecy.”
He said each child matters and the stories of their short lives and tragic deaths “must be told.”
“We all need to learn from their stories, we need to make our system better and make our society better as a result of their stories,” Bhullar said.
“It is the right thing to do.”
It remains illegal in Alberta to publish identifying information about a living child who is receiving child welfare services from the province.
Families of children who have died in care still have the right to request a publication ban, but it is no longer automatic and they must go to court to ask a judge to put the publication ban in place.
NDP critic Rachel Notley said she is still concerned the ministry will use a section of the new law to place publication bans on the name of every child, recreating the effect of the old law. She also said the government has “disrespected” the committee process by proclaiming the law before regulations are in place.
“Overall, though, I do believe that if the government were to come to the table sincerely to resolve those two problems, the overall impact of lifting the publication ban will increase accountability and transparency,” Notley said.
“That’s a very good thing.”
Source: Edmonton Journal
Parents can now name Alberta children who died in care
Bill 11 approved, lifting automatic publication ban on children who died in provincial care
Kyleigh Tiara Crier hanged herself in the closet of her Edmonton group home in April after changing her Facebook cover page to a black and white image of a casket.
“Now, everyone loves me,” the caption read.
CBC News reported on the death of the 15-year-old but could not give her name or publish her picture under Alberta law, despite the wishes of her mother, Crystal.
“There’s a lot of kids who died in care and nobody knows about” it, Crystal Crier said.
Now, for the first time, CBC News can show the picture and reveal the name of the teen who struggled with depression, suicidal thoughts and addictions.
Publication ban lifted
On Wednesday, the Alberta cabinet approved Bill 11, which lifts the automatic publication ban on children “who have come to the attention” of the director of children services.
It means that any of these children can now be identified with the consent of their parents.
"When a child in our province dies and that family says, 'I want to scream at the top of the roof top about an injustice that has happened', they have that right," Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar told CBC News. "I want our children in care to have that same right."
Under the old Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, parents had to go to court for the right to speak about their children who died in foster or government care.
They can still keep their children’s name confidential but they have to ask a judge for a publication ban.
"Our intention in this is to empower families and those closest to children," Bhullar said.
'Stand behind a face, and not a shadow'
Navaeh Michaud was eight-years-old when she died of a drug overdose while in provincial care. An autopsy report said the young girl's medication was not locked in a drug cabinet as it was supposed to be and concluded she died of a drug overdose.
Her mother, Desiree Michaud, has been fighting to have her name and her daughter Navaeh's published. Having both names made public is a moment she has long been waiting for.
"You have no idea what a relief that is," she said. "To know that people can now stand behind a face, and not a shadow.
"I've heard that a lot of families have gone through what I've gone through. I hope that fighting as hard as I have so far has given them strength to come forward themselves about their little ones who have maybe been abused, beaten or had a suspicious death."
Crier's mother Crystal called the approval of Bill 11 a "burden off my shoulders."
"I cried happy tears," she said. "I didn't cry because I was sad. I was happy."
Long journey ahead
Michaud said it's still not easy to speak about her daughter in the past tense.
"She was the most warmhearted, kind, loving fun child. She just brought light to everybody's life."
Navaeh's name is heaven spelled backwards, because Michaud said "she was my little piece of heaven."
"I want people to know who this little girl was," Michaud said. "See her face and that beautiful little smile. See what somebody or something decided to take away from this world."
The Edmonton Journal included a list of 28 dead children, 16 of them in foster care. Fixcas previously had articles on:
- Mya Shiningstar Bird, three months, died while in government care. Early reports suggest she may have died of a cardiac arrest. Neither the results of the autopsy nor the results of the RCMP investigation were known when the ministry file was closed. Her parents are suing the province for $1 million.
- Samantha Martin was 13 when she died in December, 2006. Born with a rare genetic disorder, Tetrasomy 18 p, she was surrendered by her parents at birth for special medical foster care. Instead, a fatality inquiry found that the child was denied food by her foster family, that caseworkers consistently failed to visit as scheduled, and that she was not receiving regular medical care. Her parents fought to regain custody. The girl died five months later, in their care.
- Aminat Magomadova, 14, was strangled by her mother with a scarf. Her family had been screened by child welfare authorities three thimes but caseworkers concluded the family was connected with services and the girl's mother was able to protect her. The mother's manslaughter conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeal; another court found her too sick for a retrial.
- Kyleigh Crier, 15, hanged herself from a closet bar rod in an Edmonton group home. She was known to be suicidal, but the facility where she was staying did not have break-away closet bar rods – this despite a 2000 fatality inquiry report into a similar death, in which the judge recommended that all homes for children known to be suicidal be equipped with break-away closet bar rods. Before she died, she changed the banner on her Facebook page, posting a photo of a coffin with the words: “Now, everyone loves me.”
- Vanessa Christie, 17, was strangled and tossed in the North Saskatchewan River by her ex-boyfriend, Ronish Sailesh Chandra, 28, who was sentenced to 14 years for the crime. The government never revealed the teen was well known to child welfare authorities: She had been subject to 16 screenings, 12 investigations - including one as a parent, one emergency apprehension, two temporary guardianship orders and secure treatment orders. Her file was closed three months before she died. A review found that “earlier intervention with this family may have helped to increase the impact of child protection services. There were four years of missed opportunity.”
- Aaron Grey, 16, shown here in a photo held by his mother Diane Auger, was found frozen to death outside a house party in Grande Prairie in 2001, after going AWOL from his group home. He had been in care since three months old, and had 32 placements.
- Korvette Crier, 2, was killed by her foster mother in 1999, after being placed in an unlicenced foster home. The foster mother pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
- Delonna Victoria Sullivan was apprehended on Apr. 5, 2011 and died six days later. Hospital and autopsy records show the baby was in an unsafe sleeping environment and that she had been dosed with Tylenol and cough medicine, despite government warnings that cough syrup should not be given to children under six.
- Lloyd Swampy-Stamp, 17, in care since birth, died shortly before his 18th birthday, when he jumped out of a social worker’s vehicle and ran into highway traffic. It was unclear whether this was a suicide or the result of a drug-induced psychosis.
- Hazel-Ann Coombs was born to an 18-year-old mother who had herself been in care since age 11, and who had a history of mental illness and addiction. Two weeks before her death, a caseworker visited and saw no reason to take Hazel from her family. On July 4, 2001, her mother bashed her against a bedroom wall. She was charged with second-degree murder and eventually convicted of manslaughter.
- On Nov. 14, 2011, Meika Dawn Jordan, 6, died from multiple blunt-force trauma along with third-degree burns to her hand and palm, while in the care of her father and stepmother. They were later charged with first-degree murder, and the case remains before the courts.
- Justine Cochrane, 15, was found dead beside a gravel road on the Sunchild First Nation reserve in March 2011. Police initially believed she had frozen to death, but the medical examiner determined she had been killed. Nobody was charged in connection with her death: RCMP believe the man responsible for her death committed suicide shortly thereafter, but the case remains open. No internal review was conducted and no recommendations were made to prevent similar deaths. The girl had been a ward of the state her whole life: She first came into care when she was three months old and became a permanent ward when she was three.
- Caleb Merchant, 1, died from cranial trauma sustained while in the care of his foster parents on Nov. 26, 2005. His foster father, Raymond Douglas Loyer, was charged with second-degree murder and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Loyer had been convicted of assault causing bodily harm in 1987, but had neglected to mention he was originally charged with attempted murder, and had been tried on charges of manslaughter. A fatality inquiry recommended that a foster parent known to have a violent history be required to consent to the release of the law enforcement investigative file.
- Fourteen-month-old Elizabeth Velasquez died by asphyxiation in 2010 after multiple interventions by Children’s Services, including trips to the hospital where several broken bones were revealed. The child’s grandparents alerted Children’s Services about their concerns in the months before the child died, but the child was never apprehended. The police considered the case a homicide, but nobody was ever charged in connection with the baby’s death. The child’s paternal grandparents took their story public, and the ministry convened an unprecdented, one-of-a-kind panel to look into her death. The panel review resulted in 11 recommendations.
- Shylee Kasokeo was 21 months old when she died in the care of her foster mother, who was charged with manslaughter but acquitted at trial. Initial reports suggest the toddler died from shaken baby syndrome, but conflicting expert testimony at the trial failed to identify precisely how the toddler died.
- Kerry Crowchild’s first documented suicide attempt was at nine years old, and while he had multiple risk factors for suicide - including the recent suicide of a close friend - he was never given preventive services. He had just become a father when, on June 13, 2005, he had an argument with his girlfriend and hanged himself. He was 16.
- From left, Caleb and Gabriel Cardinal were six and three when their father injected them with morphine and then strangled them to death on Dec. 19, 2010. He told police he couldn’t bear to lose custody. Cardinal pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 25 years. Their mother, Andrea Badger, has sued the province for more than $1 million.
- Nina-Louise Courtepatte, 13, was lured from West Edmonton Mall to a golf course where she was sexually assaulted and murdered by a group of people, five of whom were charged and convicted in connection with her death. Internal ministry records show her family was subject to multiple child welfare investigations, all of which were closed, in part because caseworkers made mistakes in assessing risk. Nina was subject to a psychological evaluation before she died, but her file was closed before the results were known. Ministry records say “if the results of the assessment had been considered in evaluating the family’s needs for services, it would have been difficult not to consider (Nina) a child in need of intervention.”
- Jordan D. Quinney , 4, died in 1998 of a “violent, prolonged assault”. His mother’s boyfriend was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in prison. The boyfriend had previously been convicted of assaulting Jordan, who was removed from his mother’s custody but later returned.
- At 15, Alexandra Jacko Peche was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning on Nov. 20, 2003. Her body was found in a car that was parked in a garage; she was found with a 51-year-old man and a crack pipe. She had battled addictions for much of her life and had recently called a case worker for help: She weighed 91 pounds, had been diagnosed with STDs, a bleeding ulcer, anemia and dehydration. She had secured a space at treatment centre and was waiting to get in when she ran away again. She was found dead one month later.
- Toni Omeasoo snuggles her daughter, Phoenix, shortly before the baby died in a collapsed bassinet on Jan. 17, 2010, aged 6 months. The foster home had no crib, contrary to child welfare policy.
- Kiara Jade Boysis-Nepoose was 13 months old when she died from untreated pneumonia in her foster home. A request for a bed was denied, so she was sleeping on the floor. Kiara’s mother had previously sent a letter to the foster mother asking her to take the baby to the hospital because she was sick, but the child never saw a doctor. A fatality inquiry report found that “an ordinary reasonable caregiver with average education would have sought medical intervention for a child with symptoms of pneumonia serious enough to cause her death.”
- Eight-year-old Nevaeh died in her sleep at her group home on Jan. 5 2014, with a fatal concentration of prescription sleep aid in her system. An autopsy report concluded Nevaeh’s death could have been caused by “a medication dispensing error with excess medication possibly administered.” Edmonton police are investigating the death as suspicious.
- Seventeen-year-old Bradley Michael Welton, diagnosed with schizophrenia, and homeless, died in Cagary, after having been robbed, beaten and stabbed. He had been in and out of the care of his father and foster homes since age 13.
- Carla Firingstoney, 16, died by suicide on March 11, 2006. She hanged herself in the same home where her brother had hanged himself two years earlier; she found his body. She had been in and out of provincial care since birth, and her mother died when she was 10. The internal review of her death found she “should have been considered at high risk of suicide; however, discussion on this and precautions with her caregiver were not documented on the file.”
- Emilia Elizebeth Matwiy, four months, died in 2007 of shaken baby syndrome on July 31, 2007. Her mother’s boyfriend was convicted of manslaughter in 2012. An internal review revealed the young family had come to the attention of child welfare authorities weeks earlier when the baby was rushed to hospital having nearly drowned in a bathing accident. The file was marked a priority, but casworkers neither visited the family nor spoke with the doctor. They called the baby’s mother, but she declined assistance and the file was closed.
- At 10 months old, Jarius Cabry drowned in a bathtub in his foster home in Hobbema. After Jarius’ death, his siblings were returned to his family for the funeral and elected officials refused to return them to the foster family because it was non-aboriginal - even though the biological parents were not confident in their ability to care for the children.
- Alex Fekete, 3, and his mother Blagica, were murdered in Red Deer in 2003 by Alex’s father, Josif Fekete, who then shot and killed himself. The family had repeatedly come to the attention of child welfare authorities and the day before the killings, Blagica called a caseworker and pleaded for help, saying the boy’s father was threatening to kill them and the police wouldn’t help. Caseworkers have had the power to apply for restraining orders since 1999, but the review revealed neither the caseworker nor her supervisors knew how.
Source: Edmonton Journal
Addendum: Here is a video tribute to Kyleigh Crier (mp4).
Soo Man Charged for Threatening CAS Worker
July 19, 2014 permalink
In Sault Ste Marie Ontario Jeremy Bjorna objected to the conduct of CAS workers. A week later police charged him with a crime. The article does not give the man's connection, if any, with CAS.
Jeremy accused of harassing Children's Aid workers
SAULT STE. MARIE POLICE SERVICE
On the 11 July 2014 Children’s Aid Society workers were performing their duties when they were allegedly threatened and criminally harassed by a male who objected to what they were doing.
The man was located by the City Police on the 18 July 2014 and charged accordingly.
Jeremy Bjorna (age 36) will be appearing in court on the 25 August 2014 at 9 a.m. to answer to the charges.
Addendum: Jeremy Bjornaa is on Facebook. A post of his dated July 20 gives some of his side of the story. CAS has custody of his children. The real news on this incident will be on Facebook, as long as there is no publication ban.
I can't wrap my head around how corrupt this city is they kidnapped my kids put one boy in a group home with the kids who have raped him four years ago and my two youngest are in a foster home and this morning I video taped my babies crying, pleading with me to take them home saying the foster mom made Kingston eat soap and squeezed Legion's arm until he was screaming in pain and crying and CAS called us after we got home to tell us we can't have more visits because it's to upsetting for the boys and that I need to check myself in to a mental institution before they will ever consider allowing my poor Niki to see them ever again and I was on my absolute best behavior so I could comfort and convenience the boys everything is ok we play bingo and board games.
Source: Facebook, Jeremy Bjornaa
Financial Chaos at Chatham-Kent Children's Services
July 18, 2014 permalink
Last year Mike Stephens resigned as executive director of Chatham-Kent Children's Services. Rose Whyte-Bray has used a freedom of information request to provide fixcas with a ministry review completed earlier in the month of Mr Stephens' resignation.
The document is Expenditure Management Review of Chatham-Kent Children's Services, by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services dated August 2013. We have it as a photocopy (pdf) or a web page. According to the press, it is the product of a ministry review conducted in the spring of 2013 of records from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2013.
The review team consisted of professionals from the ministry. No parents or former foster children were part of the team. Richard Wexler says that audits of child protection agencies rarely go beyond the filing cabinet. This review was close to that pattern, though it did include interviews with senior staff. Front-line workers, parents and children were not approached.
The report is positive about the board of directors, "including representation from the police force, the judiciary, school boards/education, business, foster parents, health care and other community services." Most of the directors receive pay from tax funds, the members from business are an afterthought. The judiciary member is most likely a judge. Approval from a judge is required for most CAS interventions in the life of a family. Does this judge disclose his board membership when hearing a case?
The report says:
The Board receives regular service and financial data reports from management, and Board members report that they have good access to data and information to inform their decision-making. However, what remained unclear was whether members received appropriate and relevant information to allow them to assess the effectiveness of management in running the organization and meeting strategic goals.
This is bureaucratic speak for "management keeps the board in the dark". The report goes on to say, in more bureaucratese, that the board does not do a good job of overseeing management.
The audit that did not go beyond the filing cabinet found lots of problems even there. When the review team announced a sample of files, CAS staff worked all weekend to clean up those files for the investigators. The records were routinely out of compliance with provincial child protection standards.
Under Service Delivery Challenges the report comments on delays caused by litigation, a large number of cases. It is the CAS policy to hold cases at investigation pending resolution of the court case. This policy is contrary to child protection standards, which require investigations to be completed within 30 to 60 days.
Under Financial Review the report found a long list of areas where financial controls were inadequate. While the agency was subjected to ministry-imposed budget cuts, staff salaries continued to increase. Signatures on documents for travel expenses were there as a requirement, not as a control. Expenditures for roofing HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning), snow removal, volunteer drivers and mortgage payments all were subject to criticism for improper controls. When CAS provides multiple services to a family, rules require that family to be counted once, but the report found CKCS was counting the same family repeatedly.
The guarded wording of the report suggests that executive director Mike Stephens could have benefited personally from travel expense over-imbursement, duplicate payments for travel expenses and a retirement stipend (█████) paid several years before his expected retirement. The amount was redacted from the report, but appeared in the press as $32,000.
The Chatham Voice reported on the financial chaos at CKCS. The Chatham Daily News reported on a directive to CKCS from Joanne Brown, Regional Program Manager, South West Region Ministry of Children and Youth Services. That letter is at the end our our copy of the report linked above. Expand for four newspaper articles.
Boss’ salary goes up as jobs go down
The local children’s aid service is seeing its budget head south while its top manager’s salary has gone north.
The Chatham-Kent Children’s Services (CKCS) budget is being reduced 2% per for the next five years, resulting in layoffs this fiscal year for 12 staff members, according to CKCS CEO Mike Stephens, whose own salary jumped more than $32,000 from 2010-2012.
For 2013-2014, the agency will receive in excess of $21.2 million in funding for child protection from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, down from last year’s budget of $21.6 million. According to ministry officials in Toronto, the CKCS also required a one-time funding bail out last year of $406,738 to cover an in-year shortfall for child protection.
In comparison, Stephens’ salary increased by 22% in two years to $179,488, as reported in the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act, also known as the sunshine list, which requires publicly funded agencies to report any salaries over $100,000. Stephens is joined by eight other CKCS managers on the list, however those salary increases in the same period were no more than 9%. In fact, two managers’ salaries – manager of legal services and director of corporate services, were cut by approximately $4,000.
According to ministry senior media relations and issues co-ordinator Courtney Battistone, 85% of the CKCS budget comes from the province, and the board of directors sets executive salaries and compensation independent of the province.
CKCS board chair Monica Bacic, when asked for an explanation of Stephens’ salary increase, was tight-lipped on the matter.
“Further to our discussion this morning with regard to the salary of our CEO, the information was provided to the public as required by the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act. Anything beyond that is considered personal information and there is no further comment,” Bacic said in a text message.
This information comes on the heels of a press release from Bacic on Aug. 29 announcing the sudden retirement of Stephens after 13 years with CKCS. While his retirement is effective Oct. 11 of this year, Stephens’ autoreply on his e-mail indicates he will be on holiday until his retirement date.
Bacic, in the release, said the board will begin searching for his replacement immediately and will be announcing an interim CEO shortly.
According to the ministry, officials “routinely conduct on-site reviews of children’s aid societies to better understand cost drivers and opportunities for efficiencies.” This year, the CKCS was one of the agencies chosen for an expenditure management review, and as a result of the findings in the review, the ministry:
- Shared the findings with the board of directors;
- issued a set of service and financial directives to the society;
- is working with the board to identify areas of improvement, including financial accountability; and
- hired a consultant to help CKCS enhance its service delivery model.
The details of the directives are not being made public.
The CKCS, according to Stephens, has approximately 300 staff, of which about 125 are child protection workers.
Source: Chatham Voice
C-K Children’s Services CEO receives retirement allowance during pay freeze
The outgoing Chatham-Kent Children’s Services CEO is leaving with a retiring allowance paid to him while the province had restraint measures in place freezing management salaries.
According to a memo widely distributed to CKCS staff on March 24, 2012, CEO Mike Stephens advised staff his Ontario Public Sector Salary Disclosure figure, also known as the sunshine club, would be higher than the previous year, despite the provisions of Bill 16.
The province enacted Bill 16 in 2010 to freeze public sector and broader public sector employee management salaries for two years to try and deal with the provincial debt load.
During that two-year period from 2010-2012, Stephen’s salary increased more than $32,000, according to the list.
“In my employment contract, I have agreed to be available for 12 months following my retirement to act as a mentor and advisor for whomever the board chooses to replace me with,” Stephens stated in the memo. “In exchange for that service, the board has agreed to pay me a retirement stipend. This is not an uncommon practice.”
In the memo, Stephens explained why he received the cash before his actual retirement.
“Last fiscal year, the agency had a surplus and the board elected to pay me a portion of those retirement stipend dollars, thus reducing our fiscal liability in the year I actually retire just in case we are back to a deficit or break even in that year,” he stated.
Stephens said in the memo he checked with a third party lawyer and the agency auditor to make sure the move was “ethical and legal” and went ahead with the payment. He added the stipend was to be put on his T4 slip as a retirement allowance but was instead reported as income, thus showing up in the public salary disclosure.
He also said in his memo that if he were to leave the agency because of any reason other than retirement, he had to return the funds.
According to Section 24 of Bill 16, the 0% increase came into effect March 24, 2010 and was in force until March 31, 2012. Subsection 12 indicates that Bill 16 “prevails over any provision of a compensation plan and, if there is a conflict between this Act and a compensation plan, the compensation plan is inoperative to the extent of the conflict.”
When asked about Stephen’s salary, Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) spokesperson Gloria Bacci-Puhl said the CKCS is a not-for-profit organization with an independent board of directors.
“Each children’s aid society is responsible for staffing decisions, including executive management compensation. The ministry does not negotiate executive compensation rates for broader public service providers.”
Board chair Monica Bacic did not want to comment on the memo, saying that Stephens’s employment contract was a private matter between him and the board.
Several attempts to reach Stephens for comment were unsuccessful.
Chatham-Kent Essex MPP Rick Nicholls said he could not comment on the board’s rationale regarding Stephen’s salary but he believes accountability is important, especially for the government and the agencies it funds.
“We are about accountability and we should hold government to a higher level of accountability,” he said. “When people know they are being held accountable, they operate at a higher level. That’s why I was happy to support Bill 42 at second reading.”
Bill 42, The Ombudsman Amendment Act (children’s aid societies), was introduced in April of this year, the seventh time opposition parties have tried to get legislation in place that would allow the Ombudsman to deal with complaints against children’s aid societies in Ontario. The Bill did not pass second reading.
Ontario is the only province to not have Ombudsman oversight of children’s aid societies, and according to the office of the Ombudsman website, 2,541 complaints against children’s aid agencies were received in 2012 – complaints the office has no authority to investigate.
Ontario is also the only province in Canada that has volunteer boards of directors running the agencies, instead of the province.
“Locally, CKCS has good, caring, compassionate staff and the caseloads get the care and attention they deserve,” Nicholls said.
He said he is getting weekly reports on the situation at the CKCS after a MCYS review found several issues of non-compliance with the Child and Family Services Act and Broader Public Sector directives related to that Act, and will be keeping on top of it.
Source: Chatham Voice
Province issues order to Chatham-Kent Children's Services to fine tune the way it operates
The Ministry of Children and Youth Services has ordered the Chatham-Kent Children's Services to fine tune the way it operates, including how management and staff document child protection cases, are repaid for expenses and obtain public services.
The Chatham Daily News has received copies of correspondence from the provincial ministry to CKCS dated May 27 and Aug. 16, 2013, in which several directives for change were ordered.
"The consultant began on-site work on behalf of the ministry on Aug. 28, 2013 and continues to provide enhanced oversight and monitoring of society operations and records," Courtney Battistone, spokesperson for MCYS told The Daily News.
The directives resulted from a ministry review in the spring of CKCS data from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2013.
In the May correspondence, signed by a regional program manager, the ministry issued five directives under section 20.1 of the Child and Family Services Act.
"There directives have been issued to support the society to meet legislative and regulatory requirements related to child protection standards and services to children eligible for or in receipt of child protection services," Joanne Brown stated in the correspondence.
Brown further directed CKCS to submit weekly written reports to a ministry regional office program supervisor to advise the status of compliance with the directives.
Among the orders, the CKCS is directed to confirm policy and procedures are developed and implemented that "ensures all child protection documentation includes the child protection worker's plan and schedule to see child(ren) and family members face-to-face when providing services on an ongoing basis."
The CKCS must also ensure protection plans are reviewed regularly by a supervisor and comply with Child Protection Standards in Ontario (as of February 2007) for direct contact with families in their home once per month or more frequent visits in cases with high or very high risk ratings.
The ministry ordered written confirmation that all child protection workers and supervisors review the entire protection standards and supervisors receive clinical supervision training from an Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies' approved trainer within 90 days.
The ministry also directed the CKCS to work co-operatively with a provincial representative tasked to assess the organization's compliance with the directives through on-site meetings with staff and file reviews.
Seven additional directives added in August include orders to comply with the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act.
Specific compliance to the Broader Public Sector Expenses Directive, Broader Public Sector Perquisites Directive and the Broader Public Sector Procurement Directive, in delivering child welfare services are also cited in the August directive.
The CKCS is ordered to revise its expenses rules related to travel, meals and hospitality, plus institute a control process and provide documentation the new policies are taught to staff, approved by its board of directors and posted on the child welfare organization's public website.
The board is further directed to recover overpayments in expenses paid to staff.
As of press time Thursday, The Daily News was still waiting for comment from the board of directors requested on Wednesday.
However, Battistone confirmed the ministry directed the CKCS to look into the issue and determine overpayments.
"We can confirm that CKCS has demonstrated to the ministry that they are in compliance with all directives issued on May 27, 2013 and the 30-day directives issued on Aug. 16, 2013," Battistone added.
As part of its regular business and accountability relationship, the ministry reviews service and financial data for all 46 children's aid societies across the province on a quarterly basis.
In addition, the ministry routinely conducts on-site reviews of children's aid societies to better understand cost drivers and identify opportunities for efficiencies.
In 2012-13, the ministry committed to expenditure management reviews of selected children's aid societies, one of which was CKCS.
Source: Chatham Daily News
CKCS board president calls organization's recent performance unacceptable
The board of directors of the Chatham-Kent Children's Services wants answers.
Many questions concerning the operation of the CKCS have surfaced following a Ministry of Children's and Youth Services investigation.
"The board is concerned that it took a ministry investigation to bring these matters to our attention," Monica Bacic, CKCS board president told The Chatham Daily News.
"They should have been caught internally, and the board should have been informed," Bacic added.
The MCYS issued 12 directives in May and August following an audit of the organization's records between April 1, 2010 and Mar. 31, 2013.
The directives included how management and staff document child protection cases, are repaid for expenses and obtain public services.
Bacic said the ministry review identified $5,800 in overpayments to 13 people related to travel, meals and hospitality.
"We will share complete information when we have that, but in the meantime we have already begun to recover overpayments .... and will recover funds by payroll deduction if necessary," Bacic said.
The board has until Oct. 14 to satisfy the ministry the overpayments have been collected.
Bacic said the expenses relating to travel, meals and hospitality were paid without original receipts submitted.
"The receipts were lost or photocopied," she said.
A ministry spokesperson told The Daily News last week, CKCS is meeting its directives set out to support its legislative and regulatory requirements.
"The ministry review and these directives have been a healthy wake-up call," Bacic said.
"Everyone in the organization has a responsibility to ensure that they learn from this and improve accordingly," she added.
Bacic said the society utilized several checks and balances to process expense claims and it was not the responsibility of any one person.
"The ministry's concerns were broad based ... policies have been clarified and revised (and) staff training will be completed over the next three weeks," Bacic said.
The Daily News has also learned Bonnie Wightman, senior director of service, is acting CEO while Mike Stephens is on vacation until his official retirement on Oct. 11.
Wightman is also approved as a local director for the purposes of the Children and Family Services Act and has been instrumental in these capacities many times over the past years.
The board has also struck a recruitment committee to seek an interim executive director for the agency.
"New leadership provides an excellent opportunity to strengthen the organization," Bacic said.
The board president is hoping all staff will look beyond the directives and focus on their core mandate, "to ensure they are protecting children to the very best of their ability."
A spokesperson for the MCYS said the ministry reviews service and financial data for all 46 children's aid societies across Ontario on a quarterly basis.
In 2012-2013, the ministry committed to expenditure management reviews of selected societies, one of which was CKCS, Courtney Battistone said.
Source: Chatham Daily News
Addendem: A year after the departure of Mike Stephens the press reports that the Chatham-Kent finances are back in balance.
Children’s Services Balances The Books
Chatham-Kent Children’s Services is operating with a balanced budget of $20.5-million this year, following dozens of layoffs and the closure of its group home.
The organization has permanently laid off 26 employees and altered its services to accommodate the extra work load while still servicing those in need. In April, a total of 17 people were temporarily laid off. CKCS has also closed its group home and its Victoria Park facility where its Supervised Access Program was run. The buildings, located on King St. and Murray St., will be put up for sale in the coming weeks.
“We have made some permanent layoffs that haven’t been filled. Those were right from senior management positions right down to support staff positions,” says Executive Director of Chatham-Kent Children’s Services Stephen Doig, who notes the organization has seen a 2% decrease in funding from the province for the last two years in a row. “It’s roughly half-a-million dollars less than what we had last year.”
Doig says all remaining staff is moving into the Grand Ave. W facility. The money made from the sale of the group home and the Victoria Park facility will be used for infrastructure upgrades at that site.
It is expected the province will reduce funding to the agency by 2% for the next two years.
In 2012, a total of nine employees at Chatham-Kent Children’s Services made over $100,000.
Source: Blackburn Radio
Foster/Adoptive Child Burned to Death near Barrie
July 16, 2014 permalink
Ten-year-old Tyrese Sutherland was found burned to death near Barrie Ontario on July 4. He was recently adopted by his long-term foster parents. Tyrese's adoptive brother and foster/adoptive father also died in a suspected murder/suicide. Two articles from the Toronto Star are enclosed.
Three bodies found in burned car near Barrie confirmed as Mississauga father and sons
Samuel Masih and his two young sons were found dead in a burned-out car near Barrie, autopsy results proved.
For days the family of a Mississauga father and his two young sons waited for word of their whereabouts. For days they followed the news of a grisly find in a burned-out car near Barrie.
On Wednesday, police confirmed the connection they had deeply feared: The three bodies found in the wreckage are those of Samuel Masih, 36, and sons Tyrese Sutherland, 10, and Santosh, 4.
The charred remains were discovered early Friday morning on a dead-end country road a few hundred metres from a drive-in movie theatre northeast of Barrie.
The Ontario Provincial Police are not looking for suspects in the deaths.
“We’re satisfied that the person responsible for the other two deaths perished in the vehicle as well,” said Sgt. Peter Leon of the OPP.
“With respect to cause of death, that’s something the OPP normally doesn’t speak to,” Leon said. “We won’t be in a position to speak to that due to the ongoing nature of our investigation.”
Autopsies on the remains began Tuesday morning, but the release of the coroner’s findings was delayed until late Wednesday afternoon due to difficulty identifying the badly burned remains.
On Tuesday afternoon, OPP investigators were knocking on doors interviewing neighbours about the family’s history in the area and their recent behaviour, according to one resident who spoke with the police.
Several Mississauga neighbours told the Star the couple had been experiencing marital problems and were preparing for a divorce.
By Tuesday evening, family members and friends were arriving at a West Toronto home, bringing condolences and plates of food. Neither family nor friends at the home would speak with the Star about Masih or the two boys.
Police released only the name of the deceased father Wednesday. The names of the children were confirmed through neighbours and family friends.
Masih and his two sons were reported missing around 1:30 a.m. Friday. His wife, Brintha Shanmugalingam, told police she had last heard from him at 4 p.m. on Thursday, when he said he was taking the boys to a movie.
The burning vehicle was discovered on Holick Rd. around 5:40 a.m. Friday, just a few hundred metres from a drive-in move theatre. A passing motorist noticed the fire.
Police at the scene said the vehicle had been so thoroughly engulfed by the flames that they could not identify the make or model.
The family has lived on Riel Dr. in Mississauga for about five years, neighbours said. Shanmugalingam’s mother lived with them. They previously lived near the village of Trout Creek, about 50 km south of North Bay, on a property Masih still owns and has rented out for the past few years.
While living in Trout Creek, the couple adopted Tyrese, their eldest son. A man who lived next to them, Gary Toogood, said they periodically took in children in need of care. He described Masih as soft-spoken, stable and close to his family.
“I know that he was involved in social work, at least that was my understanding,” Toogood told the Star. “I know that they took care of the occasional child that was sort of neglected.”
“From what I knew of the man, he was a kind, gentle soul.”
On Shanmugalingam’s Facebook account, since taken down, there were photo collages of the family. One showed a trip to a Universal Studios theme park, with the children in facepaint and posing with Dr. Seuss mascots. Another showed a birthday party, with Tyrese cutting the cake for his younger brother.
A classmate of Tyrese at the nearby Bishop Scalabrini Catholic School said Tyrese had recently complained his parents were getting a divorce and he would have to choose which parent to live with.
Ghufran Ahmed remembered his neighbours across the street as a “very regular” family who mostly kept to themselves — not uncommon in a neighbourhood where “everyone is in their own shell,” he said.
“You’d never say that something was out of place with them,” Ahmed said.
Rev. Shahid Kamal is the pastor at the Evangelical Asian Church Toronto, a church Masih had regularly attended when he first moved to Mississauga.
“He was a good man, a nice man, and all this — had a smile on his face,” Kamal told the Star. “When he was attending the church he was very regular and even he was setting up the sound system and these different activities.”
Kamal said the church will host funeral services for the three family members once the arrangements are made.
In one of Ahmed’s last memories of Masih, the father was fixing his son’s basketball hoop after it was damaged in this winter’s ice storm. Other times, Masih would be cutting the lawn while the children rode their bikes in the driveway.
The OPP are still asking for the public’s assistance in their investigation.
“We are appealing to the public, asking them if anybody observed any activity that may be out of nature, out of place, on either July 3 or 4, to certainly give the OPP a call,” Leon said, referring to the car found on Holick Rd.
Source: Toronto Star
Boy in burned-out car had been adopted months before
Tyrese Sutherland lived as a foster child for years before finally finding a permanent family of his own.
His adoption by foster parents Samuel Masih and Brintha Shanmugalingam was finalized just this spring, the Star has learned. On July 4, he was found dead in a burned-out car on a country road near Barrie, with the charred remains of his adoptive father and 4-year-old brother Santosh.
The Ontario Provincial Police are keeping the cause of death secret, but said they are “satisfied that the person responsible for the other two deaths perished in the vehicle as well.” The investigation is ongoing.
Sutherland had lived with the family for years as a foster child, but the private foster care agency that placed him said its visits ended in March, when his adoption was finalized by the Peel Children’s Aid Society.
His death will trigger a review process with the Chief Coroner’s Office that kicks in whenever a child dies within a year of having contact with a children’s aid society.
Cheryl Mahyr, coroner’s office spokesperson, couldn’t speak to this specific case, but said that typically, “the death investigations of children who were in care take a long time to conclude.” In such cases, the coroner’s office has three weeks to call for an internal CAS review, which can take up to 90 days. After that, the coroner can consider an inquest.
The Peel CAS, which has jurisdiction for the Mississauga home where Tyrese lived, would not discuss either Tyrese or Masih.
“We could never confirm whether a child was adopted,” spokesperson Lucie Baistrocchi said. Several friends and neighbours of the family have told the Star about the adoption.
Pat Convery, executive director of the Adoption Council of Ontario, had no information about Tyrese, but said she can’t recall a case where a death happened so quickly after placement.
“Everybody, I’m sure, is looking at this,” she said. “They’re looking for anything missed. Is there something that should have been seen before this child was placed for adoption?”
Convery said that, based on what she’s seen before, if Tyrese had died while in foster care the case would be almost guaranteed to trigger an inquest. “But even if he’s been with the family (for years), you want a review,” she said. “The field would want it, the adoption field. You want to know what happened.”
Tyrese began his foster care with Masih and Shanmugalingam while they were living in Trout Creek, a village 50 kilometres south of North Bay. They had purchased a house there in 2006.
“I did meet both (Masih) and his wife when they were first thinking about starting to be foster parents,” said Bob Connor, executive director of Connor Homes, the foster agency. “We thought they would make excellent foster parents, and they were.”
Connor said his agency uses the same foster-home assessment program that each CAS in the province does, and that supervisors check in with families weekly by phone and monthly in person.
After he heard Masih and the boys had been found dead, Connor said he reviewed the meeting notes his staff took with the family until the foster care situation ended. “There was nothing remarkable in them,” he said.
The couple had even flown Tyrese to Australia in the past year at their own expense so he could see a specialist about his eczema.
Peel police have said they hadn’t been called to the house prior to the missing persons report.
In the days after Masih and the boys were reported missing, several neighbours told the Star there had been recent marital problems. A classmate said Tyrese had talked of having to choose which parent he was going to live with.
Connor said the news of the deaths hit him hard. “It’s anger, it’s hurt, frustration,” he said. “You think of all the times that people were in the home … they’re checking out to see how things are and whether plans are being followed through with. And to ensure that people are safe.
“And then out of the blue, really, something happens which is unpredictable, unthought of, unheard of. It’s indescribable.”
Source: Toronto Star
July 14, 2014 permalink
Alfredine Linda Plourde has scheduled a meeting in Hamilton on Thursday July 17. Gordon Carruthers will be guest speaker.
Alfredine Linda Plourde
A meeting has been scheduled for Monday, July21, 2014 at the Pavilion Food Court at 7:00 p.m. Your attendance, your input and advice are vital to the success of protecting our children under the Child Protective Services.
As the founder of Protecting Canadian Children, I ask for your participation in our meeting, and to offer your input regarding a positive outcome for the welfare and protection of children under the system. Please bring a friend!
Our special guest speaker will be Gordon Carruthers from Jarvis, Ontario, who has generously assisted us this summer with the promotion of E-bike ticket sales.
Date: Thursday July 17, 2014
Location: Pavilion Food Court
1275 Barton St.E,
I am looking forward of meeting with you all.
Thank you for the support
Alfredine (Linda) Plourde
Best Way to Keep Your Child - Emigrate
July 13, 2014 permalink
The Daily Mirror has a brief portrait of Ian Josephs, a financially independent Briton who has helped dozens of mothers escape from child protectors by fleeing abroad.
Millionaire helping pregnant women flee UK to avoid babies taken into care
Ian Josephs has spent over £30,000 helping 200 to avoid having their newborns taken away by social services
A multi-millionaire is helping pregnant women whose babies are deemed at risk to flee the UK.
Ian Josephs has spent over £30,000 helping 200 to avoid having their newborns taken away by social services.
He pays for their fares to a new life and offers them free legal advice, even paying for lawyers in some cases.
Around 50 have fled to Ireland on his money while another 150 went to France, Spain and Italy.
Forced adoption opponent Mr Josephs, who runs a language business and has a law degree, has defended his decision to fund their escape, despite many already having children in care.
He said: “Social services have moved away from giving families support and are now too quick to take children away.
“I know what I do is controversial. People ask how I know the people I’ve helped don’t go on to do something wicked, but my reply is that even killers are entitled to lawyers.
“These woman are entitled to a fair chance to keep their children if they have not been convicted of any crime of cruelty and aren’t on drink or drugs.”
Is it right to help pregnant mums flee UK to avoid babies taken into care?
The dad of seven set up a website and receives “around a thousand” calls a year from mothers.
Britain is the only EU country allowing forced adoption. Last year, 1,860 children were adopted without parental consent.
Mr Josephs, 82, features in an ITV documentary on Tuesday. He is shown advising a woman called Mary with previous mental health issues who has two children in care and is expecting another.
Mary, who now raises her child in France, said: “The social services here are helpful and supportive, the opposite of the UK.”
Mr Josephs says he ploughs through piles of documents before agreeing to help.
He said: “Adoption shouldn’t go ahead if a mother is begging to get her child back. They should be given a fair chance.
“Social services used to only take children away if a parent was convicted of cruelty. Now social workers are feared and hated.
But one GP who works with social services said: “People think they are right to help a mother but they do not have all the background to a case.
The documentary, which shows secret filming of social workers and police taking a child away, also features retired Court of Protection Judge, Sir Mark Hedley who claims there is “increased pressure” on social workers to intervene because of cases like Baby P.
Source: Daily Mirror
Freedom for Children's Aid Information
July 11, 2014 permalink
Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian wants to add children's aid societies to the agencies covered by freedom of information legislation. In her annual report for 2013 released on June 17 there is just one paragraph on children's aid on page 12:
Children’s Aid Societies
In my 2004, 2009, and 2012 Annual Reports I recommended that Children’s Aid Societies, which provide services for some of our most vulnerable citizens – children and youth in government care, be brought under FIPPA. I am disheartened by the complete lack of action to ensure transparency and accountability by these organizations that received significant public funding. As part of the modernization of the Acts, I call on the government to finally address this glaring omission and ensure that Children’s Aid Societies are added to the list of institutions covered.
A news report is enclosed, here is a local copy of her report Freedon & Liberty (pdf).
Cavoukian says access to information legislation must be modernized
Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner says it is “imperative” that the government undertake a comprehensive review of the legislation surrounding access to information in order to “modernize it” and bring it it line with the realities of the 21st century.
In her annual report released on Tuesday morning at Queen’s Park, Dr. Ann Cavoukian says that improvements in technology and data collection have made both the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) outdated and in need of an update.
“When the Acts were originally being debated, legislators could not have envisioned the vast opportunities and challenges that have arisen through the explosive growth of the internet, the web, and now, the world of big data,” Cavoukian writes. “As a result, they no longer reflect the realities of access to information and the protection of privacy by public institutions in the information age.”
The FIPPA and MFIPPA both outline the process for obtaining government records and dictate what types of documents the public has right to access and what information can be withheld.
In her report, Cavoukian says the government must revise the acts to include stronger enforcement powers and penalties for non-compliance, stronger reporting requirements as well as new systems and incentives for the proactive disclosure of information.
“Let’s push the data out and not wait for people to go hunting for it through Freedom of Information requests,” Cavoukian told reporters at Queen’s Park.
More consequences for poor record keeping
Over the last year there have been several organizations that have been taken to task by various watchdogs for poor record keeping.
Most recently, City of Toronto Auditor-General Jeffrey Griffiths released a scathing report accusing the board of the Sony Centre of awarding renovation contracts without competition and keeping insufficient records of those contracts.
In her report, Cavoukian said the expectations for record keeping “must be raised” if the government is to remain transparent and accountable.
“My office and our freedom of information legislation can only serve the public effectively if appropriate records are kept and key decisions are fully documented,” Cavoukian writes. “The challenge we face is that there are currently no consequences for poor records management practices or the wilful destruction of records, and I feel that this must be changed.”
Cavoukian says in order to improve record keeping government employees should be legislated to document business-related activates and key decisions, and every institution subject to FIPPA or MFIPPA must put in place “reasonable measures” to retain records that are subject to or may be subject to an access to information request.
Cavoukian also says that the province must make it an offence under FIPPA and MFIPPA to destroy or alter any records that are subject to or may be subject to an access to information request.
Other highlights of the report:
- A record 55,760 Freedom of Information requests were filed in 2013, up six per cent from the year before.
- Almost 55 per cent (29,937) were filed by members of the public and not journalists.
- The Toronto Police Service received more requests than any other municipal institution with 5,246.
- The Ministry of the Environment received more requests than any other provincial institution with 7,434.
- The City of Toronto received 2,790 requests while the City of Brampton was second with 1,432.
- Provincial ministries, agencies and institutions had a 86.5 per cent 30-day compliance rate with requests while municipal governments had a 77.2 per cent 30-day compliance rate.
Thanks to Chris Carter for finding this item.
Judge Cannot Repair Family
July 11, 2014 permalink
Christopher Booker reports on the fate of the Musa family. After they were stripped of their six children, the parents were both sentenced to seven years in jail. The family is now beyond repair because mother Gloria Musa has been injured by other inmates. The name Musa can be published because of a recent court decision. The judge was severely critical of the actions of Haringey council, but admitted he was powerless to correct their past misconduct. Booker commented on the Musa case before: .
Judge slams Haringey council over my most shocking family case ever
Haringey went 'behind my back', says Mr Justice Holman over forced break-up of family
Of all the scores of cases I have followed over the past five years where families have been torn apart by social workers and the courts, one has stood out as more shocking and harrowing than any. From 2010 on, when five children were removed from a Nigerian couple, Mr and Mrs Musa, and then a sixth was violently wrested from Mrs Musa’s arms by six police and three social workers when she was lying helpless on a hospital bed breastfeeding the baby to which she had just given birth, I wrote about this case in heavily redacted form more than any other (a seventh child was later also taken from her at birth). I can only now name both Haringey council (of “Baby P” fame) and the Musas, thanks to three very remarkable recent High Court judgments by Mr Justice Holman, which he ordered to be published on the Bailii court website, specifically allowing both the council and the parents to be identified.
Holman only came into this case at the end of a four-year long saga that had already been before more than half a dozen other High Court judges. What he had to decide was whether, as an earlier judge had ruled they must be, the five older children, now in different foster homes, should be allowed to maintain contact with the two youngest (who have been sent for adoption and whom Haringey wishes to be given new names). Holman discovered, first, that Haringey had secretly and blatantly disobeyed that earlier ruling, by last year breaking off the children’s contact for several months until, in December, they were allowed to meet for a final “goodbye session”.
Holman repeatedly expressed his astonishment that the council had knowingly broken a court order in this way. But he was then even more astonished to discover that Haringey had managed to get the court website to remove the very judgment he had ordered to be published. In his own words, Haringey had, “gone completely behind my back”, to persuade “Bailii to remove from the public website” the judgment that he had “deliberately placed” there, “pursuant to the practice direction of the President of the Family Division” (Lord Justice Munby, who has been valiantly striving to open up the family courts to “the glare of publicity”).
Again and again in his forensically argued judgments, Holman condemned Haringey for having deceitfully broken both procedures and the law, expressing his “grave concern” at what the council had been doing. While he very reluctantly concluded that, following that illegal “goodbye session”, it was probably not practical to undo the damage, he ended one judgment by saying, “On that incredibly melancholy note, and with the utmost despair on my part, I draw the present hearing to a close.”
But Holman was careful to say that he was not familiar with all the earlier stages of this case, although he knew that it has been widely referred to on the internet and has aroused huge public concern in Nigeria. Had he in fact known all of what Haringey and the courts have done to this family since 2010, he would have been utterly appalled. Right from the start, the children were initially removed from their parents on allegations so implausible that the council eventually had to drop them and come up with new ones, quite different. After many more tragic twists and turns to the story, the parents ended up, following a very odd criminal trial, being given long prison sentences,
The children who, in the early days, were constantly pleading to be allowed to come home, have, for four years, been kept unhappily in foster care, where they are now condemned to remain. Mrs Musa, whom I knew as a smartly dressed, capable and obviously devoted mother, has been reduced by her beatings in prison to a physical wreck.
If, one day, the full story of the fate of this family can be told, it will be seen as a truly major scandal. Haringey’s bid to have Holman’s judgment suppressed was only the latest instance of an official cover-up that has so far been terrifyingly successful. Last Thursday, by another, very different judge, the council was finally given almost everything over those poor children’s future it had asked for.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
July 9, 2014 permalink
Over a decade after he was starved to death by his CAS appointed foster parents, Jeffrey Baldwin is back in the news. DC Entertainment has refused a request to put Superman, one of Jeffrey's heroes, on his memorial.
Jeffrey Baldwin Memorial: DC Entertainment Says No To Superman Logo
TORONTO - DC Entertainment is refusing to allow the Superman logo to adorn a memorial statue of a Toronto boy who loved the superhero during his short life before his grandparents starved him to death.
A coroner's inquest last winter into the death of five-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin caught the attention of an Ottawa man, who was moved by Jeffrey's plight and wanted to pay tribute to the boy.
Todd Boyce raised money for a statue of Jeffrey and recruited Ontario artist Ruth Abernethy — known for a Glenn Gould bronze statue on a bench on Front Street in Toronto and a bronze of Oscar Peterson outside the National Arts Centre in Ottawa — to design it.
Boyce wanted to see Jeffrey depicted in a Superman costume, harkening back to inquest testimony from Jeffrey's father.
Before his teenage parents lost custody of Jeffrey to his maternal grandparents the little boy was very energetic and loved the superhero, Richard Baldwin testified.
"He wanted to fly," Baldwin said. "He tried jumping off the chair. We had to make him stop. He dressed up (as Superman) for Halloween one year…He was so excited. I have that picture at home hanging on my wall. He was our little man of steel."
But DC Entertainment — home to the comic book superhero — will not grant Boyce permission to use the Superman logo on the statue.
"It was important for me because I really felt I wanted to capture the photograph of Jeffrey wearing his Superman costume and have it as close to that as possible," Boyce said.
"Basically they didn't want to have the character of Superman associated with child abuse. They weren't comfortable with that."
Boyce said he was angry and emotional when he first learned of their refusal, but after subsequent conversations with people at the company and their lawyers, he softened his stance.
"(I) realized that the most important thing is to have a fitting monument for Jeffrey, that it's about him," Boyce said. "To be fair to DC I don't think they wanted to say no. I think they gave it serious thought."
DC Entertainment would not comment.
Boyce said the design will be changed to have a "J" on the chest rather than the "S" of the Superman logo. The model of the statue is complete — except for the letter change — and is just now waiting for it to be cast in bronze. Boyce is hoping for a September unveiling and dedication.
One of Jeffrey's sisters has chosen a poem to be engraved on a bench that will be part of the memorial, Boyce said. It begins with the line "I wish heaven had a phone so I could hear your voice again."
She requested a Hot Wheels car also be incorporated and Boyce said the foundry will bronze a little car and mount it above the poem.
Jeffrey wasted away to the weight of a baby, locked in his cold, urine- and feces-stained bedroom in the Toronto home of his grandmother, his Catholic Children's Aid Society-approved guardian.
He died on Nov. 30, 2002, weeks shy of his sixth birthday, and during the coroner's inquest that concluded earlier this year, Jeffrey's plight caught the attention of Boyce, a father of four and government IT worker. He raised money for the project online.
Jeffrey's grandparents — who were convicted of second-degree murder in 2006 — had custody of Jeffrey and his three siblings. Two of them were treated relatively well, the inquest heard, but one of his sisters was subjected to the same conditions. The difference between Jeffrey and his sister was that she was allowed to go to school — the daily snack she received there likely saved her life, the inquest heard.
Source: Huffington Post
Note: On July 9 DC Entertainment changed its position, and will permit the Superman memorial.
Both Sides of Mouth
July 8, 2014 permalink
While the province of Alberta, through its minister Manmeet Bhullar, proclaims openness regarding deaths in provincial care, the concealment of foster deaths continues. A recent report says that thirty nine vulnerable children, including eight foster children, died in 2013-14, but gives no details. Since there are no names, the press cannot follow up with its own investigation.
Province releases few details about two dozen vulnerable children who died in 2013-14
Minister says information will be posted online
EDMONTON - The province revealed Monday that two dozen vulnerable children died and 10 more were seriously injured in 2013-14, but the annual report reveals almost no information about how or why they died.
The yearly report, published by Human Services, says the manner of death has yet to be determined in 17 cases of children who died after having come to the attention of the ministry.
Of the remaining seven cases, one was ruled a suicide, one was accidental, four were due to medical causes and one was undetermined — the term typically applied to babies who died while sleeping.
Of those who died, eight were in foster care, 13 were in parental care and three were over 18 and receiving services.
The ministry provided no further details about the deaths.
Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar said his ministry is in the process of collecting and publishing consolidated information about the deaths and injuries online, where it can be updated more frequently.
“Between the Child and Youth Advocate, the Medical Examiner, the department and the Quality Assurance Council, my expectation is that every death will be looked at, reviewed, and there will be findings out of each one,” Bhullar said.
“Right now you can get bits and pieces of information in a wide range of places,” he said, so he plans to publish the raw data, findings, recommendations and government responses in one place online.
“All of this information should be in one spot, and it should happen on a timely basis — not just annually,” he said.
In the annual report released Monday, the ministry also revealed 10 children known to the ministry were seriously injured in 2013-14.
Six of those children were in foster care: One was injured in a vehicle collision, one attempted suicide, two were stabbed in the community, one was assaulted by a caregiver and one was accidentally burned.
Three of the children were in parental care when they were injured: Two were injured in suspected assaults, and one suffered medical neglect.
The annual report comes seven months after the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald published the six-part Fatal Care series, which detailed in part the government’s dramatic under-reporting of deaths in care over the past decade.
Source: Edmonton Journal
Foster Father Guilty
July 3, 2014 permalink
Former Cameron Ontario foster father Richard Fildey has been convicted of several crimes against one of his wards. Earlier article mentioning Fildey.
Former foster father convicted
PICTON - A former Children's Aid foster parent in Prince Edward County has been convicted of sex crimes against a foster child.
Richard Fildey, 46, of Cameron, Ont. was found guilty of sexual assault, touching a person under the age of 16 for sexual purpose and sexual exploitation by Justice Wolf Tausendfreund in Picton court Thursday.
Charges laid against Fildey in 2012 stem from incidents involving an 8-year-old foster girl that occurred in Bloomfield from 2003 to 2004.
Tausendfreund is scheduled to sentence Fildey in Belleville court on Tuesday, Aug. 19.
Prince Edward OPP Const. Kim Guthrie said back in November 2012 those charged – Fildey and three others – are no longer foster parents and charges stem from their time serving the Children's Aid Society of Prince Edward.
The historical cases involve three female complainants and allegations of sexual assault and child pornography dating back more than a decade.
Source: Belleville Intelligencer
Addendum: On August 19 Fildey was sentenced to 30 months behind bars, and his name is on the national sex offender registry for life.
Mom Adopts HIV Child
July 1, 2014 permalink
Buddy Cook died on March 22, 2013. He had been adopted by Angel and David Cook after abuse by his real parents, distant relatives of Mr Cook. The abuse included infection with HIV. A Texas social worker failed to check Buddy's medical records and instead accused the parents of causing the death through malnutrition. They seized the other adopted child and six natural children from the family, placing them in foster care for a year. A news article from the time of the seizure is enclosed. The story spread around the world as that of neglectful parents starving one of their children.
Recent testimony before the Texas Sunset Commission gives the Cook family side of the story. It is on YouTube with a local copy (mp4). Though Mrs Cook has nine brothers and sisters, the social worker lied under oath to say that there was no extended family. The children were placed in foster care for 377 days with strangers. When returned, three of them were victims of sexual abuse. Two of the children joined in testifying that they never suffered abuse by their parents, only in foster care. The family spent $126,000 during the year to get their children returned.
John Shafer has posted many more videos of testimony of parents before the same Texas commission.
Affidavit: Cleburne boy, 4, appeared malnourished at time of death
A 4-year-old Cleburne boy appeared to be "skin and bones" when he was found dead at home last week, and his adoptive parents had failed to seek medical attention, according to court documents released Thursday.
Buddy Cook appears to have died from dehydration and malnutrition, although a final ruling is pending further tests, according to a petition and affidavits filed by Child Protective Services investigators seeking the removal of Buddy’s seven siblings from their home.
The children are in foster care as the investigation continues.
The documents paint a horrific picture of Buddy’s life prior to his adoption and outline emotional and behavorial issues that he had reportedly been experiencing since.
CPS investigators accused Buddy’s adoptive parents, Angel and David Cook, of endangering the physical or emotional well-being of their children, who are from 1 to 12 years old.
"Based on the children’s statements, their vulnerability and the parents’ inablity to provide an explanation for the condition that Buddy Cook was found in, it is the department’s recommendation that if these children were allowed to live in the home with their parents ... they would be placed in eminent harm," the document reads.
But a family friend who sometimes cares for the children told investigators that they always appeared healthy and appropriately clean.
The friend said that she had seen Angel Cook tape gloves onto Buddy’s hands to prevent him from hurting himself and that Buddy had to be placed in a high chair for up to three hours before he would eat.
Buddy’s siblings gave varying accounts about their home life, according to the documents. Two reported being bathed just once a week.
Some said they were never denied food as punishment, while another said he and Buddy were sent to bed without dinner and were spanked with a belt if they left their room without permission.
The affidavit notes that the Cooks’ home was clean and had ample food.
Buddy was pronounced dead at his home in the 500 block of Odell Street about 11:20 a.m. March 22. A CPS investigator wrote that his eyes and cheeks were sunken and that he was emaciated."
She saw bruises on his wrists and marks on his face and legs, the affidavit says.
An autopsy, however, determined that Buddy had food and water in his stomach and that his bowel was full, "all indicating intake of food and water."
The autopsy also found that he had no fractures, nor external injuries indicative of abuse, and that the injuries to his face were consistent with a fall.
Buddy weighed 31 pounds, about six pounds below the average weight for a child his age.
His adoptive parents told investigators that he was the product of an incestuous relationship and that he had been sexually abused by his biological mother and several men.
The Cooks said that they took in Buddy and his sister and that the adoption was finalized eight or nine months ago.
Buddy came to them with serious problems, they said.
He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, reactive attachment disorder and a sexually transmitted disease. He banged his head on things, sat in the corner rocking back and forth, and picked at the walls, or his own skin.
Usually, the Cooks said, they had to feed him with a spoon to get him to eat.
CPS has no record of previous contact with the Cook family in Texas. The documents say there is a "significant history" regarding Buddy and his sister out of Oklahoma, where they lived with their biological parents.
Officials are seeking records from Oklahoma and New Mexico, where Buddy had also lived before moving in with the Cooks.
Medical records from Cook Children’s Medical Center indicate that Buddy received an extensive examination in April 2011, "which reveal a child that had severe behavioral issues relating to abuse and neglect by his biological parents," the documents state.
David Cook told investigators that Buddy recently had begun refusing to eat or drink but ate his own feces. His parents were feeding him Ensure because he was losing weight.
The couple discussed taking Buddy to the doctor or the hospital for another evaluation, the documents say.
"Mr. Cook expressed he was concerned about Buddy’s weight, yet could not provide any answer as to why Buddy was not taken to the doctor or hospital regarding his weigh loss," the affidavit states.
Angel Cook told CPS that on the night before he death, Buddy threw up before and after dinner but had no fever. She said she put him to bed early after he said he was tired.
The next day, she heard him moan twice in his room and found him with his eyes open but not focused, prompting her to call 911.
An 11-year-old sibling told investigators he "heard a lot of noises coming from Buddy’s bedroom like groans and banging and that the groaning only lasted 45 seconds," the affidavit states.
"He stated Buddy was probably banging because he couldn’t breathe."
The brother said that when he and his mother went to check on Buddy, they found him not breathing.
Angel Cook told the investigator that she had intended to take Buddy to the doctor on the day he died.
She said she had not taken him earlier because she was waiting for him to get over his stomach bug.
When Buddy Cook had last seen a doctor is unclear.
Angel Cook said she had last taken the boy in June, when he received shots and it was noted that he was underweight.
CPS is still accessing Buddy’s complete medical records. The affidavit notes the boy was seen by his doctor in September 2011 for a follow-up visit regarding his behavior and speech.
At that time, he weighed 32 pounds.
"We’re still investigating," said Marissa Gonzales, a CPS spokeswoman. "We’re taking everything we’re told and we’re double-checking to see if it’s accurate. Hopefully, that’s going to give us a picture of what was going on with this family."
Source: Ft Worth Star-Telegram