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Respect for Foster Parents
October 30, 2014 permalink
The Edmonton Journal publishes an op-ed by foster parent advocate Janet Ryan-Newell, filled with imaginary facts and statistics. In the enclosed copy comments are interspersed in red.
Opinion: Stories of deaths of children 'in care' rarely tell whole story
Foster parents deserve our respect
My family has fostered since 1997.
In 2002, we cared for a two-month-old sick baby who been found on the floor of a crack house who nearly died from whooping cough. Despite being cared for in a neonatal unit with us by his side, had this baby died, the media would have labelled him “another infant (who) died in foster care.”
If the baby had died in foster care in 2002, it is unlikely the press would have found out about it at all. Social services in Alberta has kept information on foster failures tightly bottled up. Only in July 2014 was the record of foster deaths partially opened. As shown by a more recent case, the province is acting quickly to slam the door shut on further disclosures.
My family has shared our lives with many children who had been neglected and abused. We adopted two sisters, ages 9 and 11, and our daughters are now excellent mothers to our four grandchildren.
I am also a psychologist and director of an agency where I am privileged to work with intelligent, loving and qualified foster parents who open themselves up to the joy and heartache of working with hurting children. I am increasingly frustrated by the distortions presented in the media regarding the deaths of children in “care of the system,” simplistically called kids in foster care.
I do not want to minimize the very deep pain for any family who has lost a child. In my experience, families of children in care are moving through serious life circumstances, and overwhelmingly love their children.
A few families, as suggested by the author, are "moving through serious life circumstances". A lot more are not. Social workers snatch children for frivolous reasons and place them in foster care. Bewildered parents are faced with the impossible task of proving that they are not abusive to their own children.
I wish to highlight that foster parents are an increasingly marginalized population who cannot speak out in their own defence. Although foster parents are an absolutely critical resource to the well-being of many of the children in care, they are increasingly demonized by the media.
This complaint is absolutely true. The same laws that muzzle parents also muzzle foster parents. And while parents enjoy some sympathy when they speak out publicly in defiance of confidentiality laws, foster parents get no such leeway.
Data without context is simplistic and harmful.
When a media article or photograph is sensationalized and not contextualized, it is falsely presented as the truth. Our confidentiality directives prevent the release of information that provides context and understanding to each tragedy.
In 17 years of service to more than 4,000 children in care, our agency has had one death: A baby born with health complications succumbed to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In Alberta, “undetermined death” is now used for those previously labelled SIDS.
In the resultant investigations, the foster parents were scrutinized for having swaddled the baby (as directed by the doctor) and for bed sharing. Using this term suggests that the child slept with the parents, but the infant actually slept in a cot beside the parents’ bed. When the infant had not woken for her night feedings, the foster mother picked up the infant, who she laid on top of her bed. When we challenged calling this bed sharing, the investigators indicated that use of this term would advance policy development. The footnote defines bed sharing as a sleeping arrangement where an infant shares the same sleeping surface with another person. Co-sleeping refers to an infant sleeping within arm’s reach, but not on the same sleeping surface.
Since this, we have had caregivers directed to lie down on the floor with the baby for night feedings — to avoid bed sharing. These literal interpretations will not prevent a SIDS death.
The loss of this infant devastated a loving, skilled foster family. The impact of any loss is indelible for everyone involved.
What does the data really say?
The mortality rate of children in care is actually lower than those who are not in care. Because the stories of children who weren’t in care are contextualized and birth parents are accorded more respect, these deaths do not make for lurid sensationalism, and are rarely published.
Foster mortality is lower? All research suggests the contrary. Fixcas has found that foster care is ten times as deadly as parental care. If there is any serious basis for the lower foster mortality assertion, fixcas wants to hear about it.
A review of Alberta statistics identifies that 82 per cent of deaths in care were due to pre-existing medical conditions, illness, SIDS and accidents, including vehicle collisions. The term “in care” is often misunderstood, it includes children in a foster home (54 per cent); in their own family home (30 per cent); or in alternate placements (16 per cent — kinship care, secure services, group homes, hospital, or living independently).
The author does not cite a specific research document, so the reply has to be general. When coroners publish reports on child deaths, they typically report only the facts supporting their own conclusions. For example, they attribute baby deaths to co-sleeping with mother. Other reports suggest that normal mothers do not smother their children while sleeping, only mothers on drugs do so. Can we check? No, the coroners do not release information, such as names, that allow for testing of their theories.
Fixcas has tried for years to get accurate information on the proportion of deaths under CAS watch that occur in foster care, but there is nothing better than a well-informed statistical estimate. It would be nice to know the source of the breakdown of Alberta deaths, 54% foster, 30% family and 15% kinship et al.
Each death of a child is a tragedy. But the assumption that all deaths of children in care were the result of neglect or abuse, and weren’t adequately investigated — is wholly incorrect.
Full information matters.
The series of Journal articles on “children who died in care” has caused further demoralization of our current caregivers, and negatively impacts the recruitment of new caregivers.
It is time for foster parents to be acknowledged as an invaluable, essential service. Family-based care is critically important to the attachment and emotional health needs of children. Accordingly, the media must recognize its negative impact on foster families and children in care. Instead of sensationalizing tragedy, efforts could be made to acknowledge the many successful foster families who support children to overcome trauma and to reach for more promising futures.
Source: Edmonton Journal
Contrary to the theme of the article, foster parents are not the prime target of criticism in child protection. Real power is exercised by social workers, and they are the source of most of the problems.
Trick or Treat
October 30, 2014 permalink
Truth about Child Protection
October 29, 2014 permalink
An Irish study reports the truth about child protection, in contrast with most of the self-serving studies and press releases from social services. Most child protection cases are against single parents (almost all single mothers) and one in six parents suffers from a a cognitive or mental disability. Only a tenth of the cases involved married parents.
Most parents in child care court cases are not married and raising children alone
That’s according to a report launched by the Child Care Law Reporting Project.
A FAMILY COURT to handle child care orders is needed as soon as possible, according to the second Interim Report from the Child Care Law Reporting Project.
The report examined 486 cases from September of last year until July 2014. The cases involved 864 children – just over 20% of all children in court-ordered care.
It found that nearly one in three of the children involved had special needs while one in four cases involved a parent from an ethnic minority.
It also discovered that the vast majority of parents were single or separated and parenting alone – 90% of parents were unmarried and one in 6 suffer from cognitive or mental disability.
The Director of the report, Carol Coulter, says the cases are not given the attention they need or deserve in most Irish courts.
She pointed out that in most courts outside Dublin child care cases are heard on the general family law day, when there can be up to 70 or 80 cases on the list.
In one case the judge refused long-term care orders for a number of children, granting short orders instead and saying he would give the younger children back to the mother, despite the fact that a doctor gave compelling evidence of severe physical abuse.
“But the courts alone are not the answer to the problems of vulnerable families. Society as a whole must take responsibility for supporting them so that taking children into care is a last resort – albeit one that is necessary in certain circumstances.”
Coulter added that, “The disproportionate representation of non-Irish parents in the child care courts makes an urgent case for a renewed focus on integration policies, ensuring that those coming to our shores understand what is expected of them as parents.”
Source: The Journal (Ireland)
Former CAS Ward Runs for Mayor
October 28, 2014 permalink
In yesterday's municipal elections former CAS ward Gordie Merton ran for mayor of Gravenhurst. The vote count was:
|Nominated Candidate||Total Votes||Percentage %|
Stuck with Braces
October 25, 2014 permalink
A girl in Irish foster care had braces put on her teeth. Now they cannot be removed because her legal parent, the foster care system, refuses to pay. They claim a former foster mother arranged for the braces.
Girl in care has not had braces taken off due to unpaid bill
Teenager in care of the Child and Family Agency should have had braces taken off three months ago
A teenager in the care of the Child and Family Agency has not had her braces removed because of a dispute over paying the orthodontist, the Dublin District Family Court heard yesterday.
The girl should have had her braces taken off three months ago, but the orthodontist refused to carry out the procedure because the bill had not been paid, Judge Colin Daly was told.
As part of a court review of the care of the girl and her siblings, a solicitor for the agency said the orthodontic work had been arranged for the teenager by her foster mother, but that placement had subsequently broken down and the girl no longer lived with her.
The girl had been moved to a residential unit and the foster mother had not settled the bill, the solicitor said.
He said the agency had now received approval from management to pay the bill and was anxious to resolve matters, but he did not know how quickly the braces could be removed.
The solicitor for the girl’s court-appointed guardian said he was concerned the teenager’s braces had not been taken off. She had been wearing them for three months without needing them, he said.
The court was also told the girl wanted to go home to her mother, but the agency and her guardian believed it was not in her best interests.
Judge Daly asked whether the orthodontist had confirmed the girl did not need any further treatment and was told the practitioner had confirmed that.
He completed the review of the case, but ordered it should be brought back before the court if the teenager’s braces were not removed by the end of the month. “It is an unnecessary trespass on her person that should be remedied,” he said.
Source: Irish Times
Social Workers Diagnose Abuse Instead of Genetic Disease
October 25, 2014 permalink
Texas parents Ricardo Victorino Jr and Sabrina Vera had their infant son Jaiden seized by CPS when he fractured his femur (thigh). The parents have also been charged with criminal child abuse. Investigation has determined that the boy suffers from a bone condition, Ehler-Danlos syndrome, inherited from his unsuspecting mother. One irony - the mother is a former CPS caseworker.
Couple say genetic disease is cause of child's injuries, not abuse
LA PRYOR — A mother of a 6-month-old says the state is wrongly accusing her of child abuse, although a doctor has confirmed her son suffers from a rare genetic disease that makes him prone to broken bones.
Ehler-Danlos syndrome, or EDS, can cause weak bones in infants and leave them vulnerable to fractures, even with normal handling, says Dr. Golder Wilson, a Dallas geneticist who's scheduled to testify at a court hearing today on behalf of the mother, Sabrina Vera.
Vera is charged with felony injury to a child and her son, Jaiden, was removed by Child Protective Services.
Vera, 26, and her partner, Jaiden's father, Ricardo Victorino, 30, were bewildered about their son's injuries until they learned about the disease.
Wilson diagnosed Jaiden with EDS after examining him last month, finding telltale symptoms — eye discoloration, hyper-flexibility and unusually stretchy skin.
There are at least two other families in Texas who have gone through ordeals strikingly similar to what the La Pryor couple are experiencing — mysterious bone fractures in their babies, allegations of child abuse followed by criminal charges of injury to a child.
In both cases, the charges later were dropped after the children were diagnosed with EDS by Wilson. Both families appeared on Katie Couric's talk show in 2013 to tell their stories and spread the word about EDS.
Vera hopes the charges will be dropped in her case as well, and she can bring her son home.
In June, when Jaiden was 2 months old, Vera and Victorino noticed one of his legs looked swollen and floppy.
The baby had cried a lot ever since they brought him home from the hospital, where he'd spent a month in intensive care for aspirating meconium, an infant's first stool, during delivery. But this was different.
“Every time we'd touch his knee, he'd cry out,” Victorino said.
So the couple rushed him to a hospital in Uvalde. There, an X-ray showed Jaiden had a fractured thigh bone.
The baby was taken to University Hospital in San Antonio. Scans done there and at the Center for Miracles revealed bone fractures all over his body.
CPS was called in, and the verdict was swift: Jaiden was a victim of child abuse.
“It's been a living, breathing nightmare every since,” Vera said.
Child Protective Services declined to comment on the case, spokeswoman Mary Walker said Tuesday.
Vera and her mother were recently diagnosed with moderate forms of EDS by Wilson. Vera had no idea her own hyper-flexibility — to demonstrate, she can pull her thumb down until it touches her forearm — put her son at risk for fractures.
Ironically, Vera was employed for 21/2 years by CPS as a caseworker in the foster care system before her arrest.
The problem, said Wilson, is that many in the legal, medical and child welfare communities don't know about the disease and how it can masquerade as child abuse.
At least seven families in the U.S. have become ensnared in the legal system because their children have EDS, he said.
“There are some real injustices happening because of gaps in medical knowledge,” he said.
Dennis Moreno, Vera's attorney, said CPS is fighting the EDS diagnosis.
Vera said that when the X-rays came back showing the fractures in her son's body, the idea he'd been abused was a foregone conclusion on the part of hospital personnel and CPS.
“Everyone looked at us like we were monsters,” she said, sitting in her modest but immaculate home in La Pryor, where pictures of Jaiden decorate a living room wall and the cheery nursery, decorated with drawings of giraffes.
When CPS first removed Jaiden, he was placed with Vera's mother, and the couple only could see him with supervision three days a week. After a court hearing, Vera was arrested and put in jail for six days, with a $50,000 bond. After she was released, she could only see Jaiden for one hour a week at CPS headquarters in San Antonio.
Vera's mother came across the online video of the Katie Couric show, as well as a Dallas TV station report on EDS.
“We thought, maybe this is the answer,” Vera said.
They were able to have then 5-month-old Jaiden examined by Wilson in his Dallas office, who used something called the Beighton scale to diagnose the baby.
The blood test for EDA examines all 23,000 genes implicated in the connective tissue disorder spectrum, Wilson said. Jaiden's test won't be available for five months, but even a negative response won't discount the fact he has EDS.
“There are still genes the sequencing doesn't cover, so you could miss the mutation,” he said. “You have to look at a group of genes. ... That's the fallacy that the courts or CPS are falling into, aided and abetted by geneticists, saying, 'Well, if it's not medical, it must be abuse.'”
He said that spiral fractures — such as the one in Jaiden's femur — are traditionally seen as a sign of abuse, because they involve a twisting, not a simple break.
“But that fact is these bones are really soft in these babies,” Wilson said. “You can cause that twist just by the way you grab the ankles and lift to change a diaper.”
That Jaiden hasn't experienced any more fractures since being removed from his home doesn't prove Vera's guilt, Wilson added. A number of things could account for that — more careful handling in light of his disease, or increased muscle resistance that develops simply because he's growing.
Many adults and babies with EDS also have vitamin D deficiency, he said; as Jaiden eats and drinks milk, his muscles will grow stronger.
Other than her one-hour visit with her son once a week, Vera only gets to see the pictures her mother texts her.
“I miss him, every single day,” she said, standing next to his empty crib, tears in her eyes. “We're speaking out now just so this doesn't happen to another family.”
Source: San Antonio Express News
But the judge sided with CPS, keeping the baby away from mom and dad.
Judge rules that infant must stay away from parents
CRYSTAL CITY — A district court judge in Zavala County apparently wasn't swayed by the argument that a genetic tissue disease caused multiple bone fractures in then-2-month-old Jaiden Victorino.
Judge Amado Abascal granted the request of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services that the now-6-month-old be placed under the care of the state and not be returned to his parents, at least for the time being.
A lawyer for the state argued that it was likely abuse, not a connective tissue disease called EDS, that accounted for the fractures to the child's thigh, ribs and elsewhere in June.
“Placing the child back at home at this time is contrary to the child's welfare,” the judge said.
Jaiden will remain with his maternal grandmother, Dora Mirelez, while his parents, Sabrina Vera, 26, and Ricardo Victorino, 30, of La Pryor, undergo psychological evaluations, parenting classes, counseling and other services.
They will be allowed a supervised visit with their son one hour a week in the Uvalde office of Child Protective Services, where, oddly enough, Vera was a foster care caseworker until she went on maternity leave.
Vera has been identified by CPS as the alleged abuser and is charged with second-degree injury to a child.
She has steadfastly denied that she injured Jaiden.
The couple contend that, based on the findings of a Dallas geneticist, Jaiden has Ehler-Danlos syndrome, which can cause weak bones in infants and leave them vulnerable to fractures, even with normal handling.
Dr. Golder Wilson, the geneticist who specializes in EDS, testified by phone Wednesday on behalf of Vera. He also found that Vera and her mother have a moderate form of EDS.
The couple had an in-depth $9,000 gene-sequencing test performed on Jaiden, the results of which should be available in January or February. It may provide definitive proof of whether he has EDS.
The state argued that there was no evidence that Jaiden had many of the classic symptoms of EDS or that the disorder played a role in his injuries.
The attorney said in her closing argument that Jaiden suffered no apparent fractures in his three weeks in the neo-natal intensive care unit. Jaiden needed care immediately after his birth for aspirating meconium, an infant's first stool, during delivery.
Nor did Jaiden have any injuries in the first five weeks under his parents' care or in the care of his grandmother after CPS stepped in, officials testified.
His fractures apparently happened only in one period in June. This served to implicate his parents in committing physical abuse, in particular Vera, CPS concluded.
A polygraph test that Vera reportedly failed was not introduced in court.
In testimony, state investigators repeatedly mentioned Vera's seeming lack of emotion when Jaiden was in the hospital after the femur fracture was discovered and that she didn't pick him up for more than seven hours.
Vera's attorney said he was surprised that Wilson's testimony didn't convince the judge that Jaiden hadn't been abused.
“Other counties have summarily dismissed findings of abuse when medical evidence of EDS was presented, but for whatever reason, this judge decided not to,” Dennis Moreno said. “He had to rule what he thinks is the best interest of the child.”
The judge set another hearing for Dec. 10 to see if the parents are in compliance with the required services.
The couple said they will do “whatever it takes” to get their son back.
“We're just going to go forward,” Victorino said after the ruling.
Moreno said he plans to submit the medical evidence about EDS to the Zavala County district attorney's office. “I expect her charges will be dismissed,” he said.
Source: San Antonio Express-News
Social Worker Ruined for Loving Son
October 25, 2014 permalink
When social worker Heather Skinner's son was sentenced to prison, she communicated with him by text messages. For this communication she was convicted of a crime. A consequence of legal intervention in her family was the breakup of her marriage to the boy's father. In addition, she has been suspended from the profession of social work, making her jobless. All for loving her son. Social work is not a trade for people with normal parental instincts.
An article from the social worker advocacy website Community Care is enclosed. Link to the Health and Care Professions Council website for the hearing that suspended her.
Social worker who texted son in prison suspended by the HCPC
A Merton social worker has been suspended from the HCPC register for sending texts to her son who was scared about serving time
A social worker found guilty of texting her son who was serving time in prison has been suspended from the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) register.
The social worker, who was employed by the London Borough of Merton, was convicted in March this year of ‘causing transmission of an image or sound from inside a prison for simultaneous reception outside’ and sentenced to a 15 month suspended sentence. Mobile phones are not permitted to offenders serving their sentences in prison.
As a result of replying to a series of texts from her son about how frightened he was in prison, the social worker in question was dismissed from her job on grounds of gross misconduct. She subsequently separated from her partner with whom she had brought up the son.
Her partner was found guilty of an additional charge of conspiracy to supply the son with a mobile phone.
The social worker had no knowledge of any conspiracy to supply phones to inmates in the prison and the judge found she had been “motivated by concern for her son and not by a means to supply mobile telephones to the prison inmates.”
The panel recognised that the social worker felt deep remorse, shame and embarrassment for her actions and that she had a clean record of conduct previously. However given the gravity of the situation, and the length of the criminal sentence, it was seen as inappropriate to allow her to continue to practise while she was subject to a suspended court sentence.
Her line of work should have meant she was aware that her actions were illegal and inappropriate.
The panel said: “[she] acted without consideration of the consequences of her actions and thereby brought the profession of social work into disrepute by her illegal acts, which should have been known to her.
“The conviction demonstrated that the registrant’s actions at the time were rash, reckless and done without thought as to the consequences for herself and her son, as well as for her profession.”
The social worker has been suspended from the register for 12 months.
Source: Community Care
Alberta Foster Children Die Under Publication Ban
October 24, 2014 permalink
A two-year-old boy in Alberta foster care has died. The news report is sketchy because: "Four days after his death, the boy's family applied for and was granted a Calgary provincial court publication ban on his name and that of his four young siblings." This family may be one that prefers to keep its tragedies private. Or the social services system may have twisted their arms. Many of the purportedly voluntary acts of parents involved with social services are anything but voluntary.
In another article Global News reported a four-year-old foster girl dying on September 27.
And in a third article the Edmonton Sun reports two children dying in Maskwacis. Because of the vagueness of the articles, there is no way to be sure whether the total number of foster deaths is two or three.
Police investigating death of 2-year-old in provincial care
CALGARY ─ Another young child has died in provincial care in Alberta, QMI Agency has learned.
Tsuu T'ina First Nation police are investigating the death of a two-year-old boy who was a ward of the province when he died Sept. 25 at Alberta Children's Hospital.
Sources tell QMI Agency the child's mother is being investigated by police, but hasn't been charged.
The child may have suffered from some sort of assault, sources said.
Lisa Shankaruk, with Alberta Human Services, confirmed the boy's death and said an investigation may take place.
"We can confirm a child who was two (years old) died in care in Calgary," she said.
"Human Services will be looking at the situation and we've committed to releasing the results of any investigation publicly."
Four days after his death, the boy's family applied for and was granted a Calgary provincial court publication ban on his name and that of his four young siblings.
Shankaruk couldn't say who had custody of the child when he died, citing privacy legislation.
Tsuu T'ina spokesman Peter Manywounds, speaking on behalf of the nation's police department, would not comment on the case Tuesday.
Early this year the province disclosed 741 children who'd had some involvement in child welfare had died between Jan. 1, 1999 and Sept. 30, 2013.
The toll was made public after it was revealed 145 kids died over the same period while under provincial care and only 56 were publicly reported.
New legislation was drafted over the summer that lifts the long-standing publication ban on deaths of children who were wards of the province, allowing family members to talk about the tragedies publicly.
Under the same Bill 11, families with children in care can apply for a publication ban before the courts if they choose.
Source: Sun News Network
4-year-old girl dies following accident in Maskwacis
EDMONTON — Alberta RCMP is investigating after a four-year-old girl died after an accident in Maskwacis.
The girl was recently brought to Edmonton after she was injured while playing outside with other children in Maskwacis, formerly known as Hobbema, said Sgt. Josée Valiquette.
She said the RCMP stepped in because of the seriousness of the girl’s injuries. The girl died in Edmonton Saturday.
Alberta Human Services, which oversees social-based services such as foster care, family care and child support services, has confirmed the child was receiving its services.
Source: Global News
Maskwacis youth second minor to die in child welfare custody
Two children involved with child welfare have died in one week, with the recent death of a youth in Maskwacis leaving a community grieving.
“This community is hurting in a lot of areas, and there’s a lot of people fighting to bring the positives out,” said Brent Dueck, a watch supervisor with the Maskwacis RCMP detachment. “Anytime something tragic like this happens, it’s a blow to everybody concerned.”
RCMP were called to a home in Maskwacis — formerly known as Hobbema — at around 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 2, after family members discovered the youth dead in their basement.
Details are sparse as the case is under a publication ban through the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, at the request of the youth’s family, but local RCMP say the death is not suspicious.
This latest death comes just days after a two-year-old ward of the province died at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary on Sept. 25.
Sources told the Sun that the mother is the focus of a police probe, but has not been charged. Sources also said the child may have suffered some kind of an assault.
The Tsuu T’ina First Nation police are investigating and Alberta Human Services has committed to publicly releasing results from their own investigation.
Earlier this year, the province revealed that 741 children who had some kind of child welfare intervention died between Jan. 1, 1999 and Sept. 30, 2013. During that time, 145 children died while under provincial care.
Source: Edmonton Sun
October 24, 2014 permalink
Should white parents foster or adopt black children? Here is a new reason for caution. Black foster child DeShawn Currie went into his white foster parents' home in North Carolina by himself. A neighbor thought he was a burglar and called the police. When police arrived, they saw only pictures of white people in the home, so they handcuffed and pepper-sprayed Currie. Inter-racial fostering is not safe in a community where the neighbors and cops are racist.
Wake Co. teen confused for burglar, pepper sprayed in own home
FUQUAY-VARINA, N.C. -
Police in Fuquay-Varina pepper sprayed a teenager in his own home after a neighbor reported him as burglar.
18-year-old DeShawn Currie let himself in the house on England Avenue on Monday afternoon after school. He said when he heard noises downstairs he looked out of his upstairs window, saw police cars in the driveway and went downstairs to figure out what was going on.
Fuquay-Varina Police said in a written statement that a neighbor has reported a possible burglary at the house. Officers responded, found a door ajar and went inside.
"I came downstairs to see what was going on, and there go the police, inside the house, guns drawn," Currie explained.
Currie said he tried to explain that he, his foster parents Rickey and Stacy Tyler, and their three young children had moved to Fuquay-Varina over the summer, so some neighbors may not recognize him. He said he tried to explain that the recent move was the reason his identification did not match the home's address.
Then an officer pointed out pictures on the fireplace mantel, Currie said. The pictures show the Tylers' three biological children. The Tylers are white. Currie is African-American.
“He was like how can you tell me you stay here when all the kids in the picture are white?” Currie recalled. “Right then I really started to get mad.”
Currie admits that the situation got heated and eventually led to officers putting him in handcuffs. He also admitted that at least twice he jerked his hand from the officer trying to handcuff him because he thought the officer was being too aggressive.
“Mr. Currie became very volatile, profane and threatened physical violence toward the police officer,” said the town's Public Information Officer Susan Weis in a written statement. “In an effort to calm Mr. Currie, the police officer asked him several times to have a seat, which he refused. Mr. Currie became increasingly belligerent and profane and the police officer attempted to restrain Mr. Currie with handcuffs to insure the police officer's and Mr. Currie's safety. Mr. Currie then struck the police officer's left arm knocking the handcuffs to the floor.”
The officer then used the pepper spray. Currie said he was on the ground being handcuffed when the officer used a second blast of spray on him.
Stacy Tyler arrived home to find Currie still handcuffed in the back of an ambulance. She said the whole ordeal has been hard for her entire family.
“My five year-old didn't understand why they hated him and wanted to hurt him,” Tyler said. “My husband had nightmares the whole first night about having to fight the police off from being in the wrong house."
She and Currie said they have worked hard to build a family since the Tyler's began fostering Currie last year. They were hurt by the thought that other people would assume they could not be family.
"That didn't necessarily take [that work] all away, but it damaged things," Tyler said as she explained how the incident made Currie second guess if he belonged with the Tylers.
Currie and his foster parents met with Fuquay-Varina police on Tuesday. They said the department is doing an internal investigation, but they do not expect to ever hear if an officer is disciplined because a police captain said it would be a private personnel matter.
“The family has complained during these discussions about the use of pepper spray. Race was never mentioned as a concern during these discussions. Nonetheless, Mr. Currie has made several remarks about race to the media after the event,” the town's written statement said. “The Fuquay-Varina Police Department does not engage in nor does it condone racial profiling. At no time during this event was race a factor. The Fuquay-Varina Police Department responded to a call from a concerned resident of England Avenue who had not previously seen Mr. Currie at this home.”
No charges were filed against Currie.
Tyler and Currie said the neighbor has apologized for not recognizing Currie and prompting the police response.
October 24, 2014 permalink
In Utah of 960 foster children old enough to qualify for a driving permit, only 15 have one. It's one more way foster kids fall behind.
Obtaining driver's license a rite of passage that eludes most teens in Utah foster care system
SALT LAKE CITY — Like any teenager, Sam Carling needed wheels.
But when he was old enough to obtain a driving permit, he was in foster care. Foster families weren't willing to assume the liability of young driver so none would give their consent for him to get a license.
"Mostly, I got around paying people to drive me," he said. Carling estimates he spent about $500 over three years just for rides.
Carling, who is 19 and was recently adopted, said he finally got a driver's license after leaving state custody.
Like any teenager, getting a driver's license is an important rite of passage to youths in the state's foster care system. But it is a goal that eludes the vast majority of them.
Of 960 youths ages 16 and older in foster care, just 15 have their driver's licenses, Jennifer Larson, adolescent services program administrator for the Division of Child and Family Services, told state lawmakers Thursday.
"Yes, it's a rite of passage, but it's also a major piece of ID," Larson said, addressing members of the Child Welfare Legislative Oversight Panel at the state Capitol.
Members of the state Youth Council, made up of youths in the state's foster care system, consider the issue a high priority, Carling said.
Obtaining a form of identification is important as teens who age out of foster care apply to colleges, open bank accounts or go to medical visits.
"I think it's a good way for kids to get independent," said Carling, who will soon serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Milwaukee.
Some lawmakers said it is understandable, given the limited stipends foster parents receive to help cover the cost of children they care for, that they would be unable, and perhaps unwilling, to cover the cost of automobile insurance for teen drivers.
"I’m trying to protect the foster parents out there. We pay them nothing, and we expect the world from them," said Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden.
Larson said members of the Youth Council understand that insuring teenagers is expensive, but they wonder if some mechanism could be developed so it is an earned privilege for those who maintain a 3.0 grade-point average or higher, regularly attend school and meet other conduct standards.
DCFS is meeting with state risk managers as well the private insurance industry to get a handle on costs and whether teens in foster care have comparable driving records to their peers.
"I don’t see the state buying a full-coverage policy for 16-year-olds," Christensen said.
Perhaps there are other options, said Rep. Johnny Anderson, R-Taylorsville.
"Maybe the kid can get a job and get their own insurance," Anderson said. "Maybe we can create a system where the (foster) parents can make the ultimate decision."
The issue is, obviously, still in the talking stages, Larson said.
"Is this something we can take on as a liability for the division?" she asked.
Source: Deseret News
October 24, 2014 permalink
After Rana L Cooper adopted a daughter in Pennsylvania the girl was subject to a reign of terror too horrible to summarize. Expand for details.
Abusive Mother Tried To Sew Daughter's Mouth Shut: Cops
Pennsylvania authorities have arrested a 46-year-old woman on a litany of charges, accusing her of trying to sew her 16-year-old daughter's mouth shut and eat cat litter, among other horrific acts.
Rana L. Cooper, a mother of seven children, has been the focus of an investigation that began at least six months ago. In a criminal complaint obtained by The Huffington Post, Cpl. Robert Copechal of the Pennsylvania State Police details a long list of abuses the teen suffered at the hands of her mother.
Authorities allege that the abuse may have started as soon as the child was adopted in 2008. Cooper's husband, the adoptive father, was allegedly aware of at least some of the abuse.
WARNING: GRAPHIC DETAILS OF ABUSE
The teenage victim told authorities that Cooper would not allow her to eat, drink, or even use the restroom until "points" were earned by cleaning the home. The victim alleged that because of this rule, she often soiled herself and did not drink for days.
The only time the girl could eat was after the rest of the family had already eaten, according to police. On multiple occasions, Cooper allegedly forced food into the chid's mouth, inducing vomiting. In one instance, the suspect allegedly forced the child to eat cat litter. On another occasion, the victim told police Cooper would force her to "go into the bathroom and scrape her finger around the rim of the toilet and eat what was on her finger."
The criminal complaint details more than a dozen instances of abuse. Cops allege that the mother once tried to sew the child's mouth shut with a needle and thread, stopping only after piercing the child's lower lip with a needle. Cooper often threatened to cut out the child's tongue, police said.
If the victim did not listen to her parents, Cooper would forcefully jam a Q-tip into the teenager's ear, causing it to bleed and leaving her partially deaf, the complaint reads. Cooper also allegedly attempted to gouge out the child's eyes.
"Child states that mother was in her face and she closed her eyes tightly," Copechal wrote in the report. "Child stated that mother took her finger and pushed in child's eyes causing broken blood vessels in child's eyes."
Cooper allegedly hit the child numerous times with a hair brush, spit on her, and forced her to eat toothpaste. The child told police that she was allowed to eat once a day.
The police document also states:
Mother choked the child two times until child blacked out. Last time happened about a month before child was removed.
The child stated that father was present when mother was choking her. Child stated that father told mother to stop however mother did not. Child stated that father proceeded to just stand there and watch as mother continued to choke child.
The child's father, 51-year-old Richard Cooper, told his wife he wanted a separation from her on Easter two years ago. Police said the mother blamed her adopted daughter for this. As punishment, Rana Cooper allegedly grabbed the girl by her neck and twisted it, then bit the child's nose until it bled before slamming her onto the ground and punching her in the face.
In July, the victim told police her mother struck her in the face with a metal belt buckle, causing her eye to swell and become discolored.
One of the suspect's seven children, 24-year-old Ronnie Cooper, told local station KDKA, that the allegations were all false.
“Nothing, none of that happened,” Ronnie Cooper said. “Like, I’m here every day, like, none of these [allegations] are true.”
In September, Rana Cooper admitted to police that she once submerged her daughter's head under water "for approximately 3-10 seconds," according to the complaint.
Cooper now faces charges including recklessly endangering another person, simple assault, and endangering the welfare of a child. District court officials told the Star Tribune that Cooper does not have a lawyer on file.
HuffPost Crime called the Cooper residence, but no one in the family was willing to speak. Richard Cooper is not currently facing charges.
Rana Cooper has a preliminary hearing set for Nov. 6.
The child no longer lives with the Cooper family.
Source: Huffington Post
Same-Sex Marriage and Adoption
October 24, 2014 permalink
In Virginia same-sex couples are cutting the nine-month wait imposted on opposite-sex couples. Just five days after legalization of same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption has been legalized.
‘I am going to adopt my son!’ Same-sex couples can now legally adopt in Virginia
RICHMOND, Va. — Five days after same-sex marriage became legal in Virginia, same-sex couples were told they could now legally adopt children. The Virginia Department of Social Services informed local social services offices of the change on Friday.
“Now that same-sex marriage in Virginia is officially legal, we owe it to all Virginians to ensure that every couple is treated equally under all of our laws, no matter whom they love,” Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said in a written statement. “This historic decision opened the door to marriage equality, and now it is my sincerest hope that it will also open more doors for Virginia children who need loving families.”
Under Virginia law, a “married couple or an unmarried individual shall be eligible to receive placement of a child for purposes of adoption.”
In the hours after same-sex marriage became legal in Virginia on Monday, adoption agencies and courts were unsure what to do. A clerk with Chesterfield County said the paperwork had not been updated and guidelines had not been issued by the state.
“We are waiting from licensing on how to proceed,” Faith Kallman, with Jewish Family Services (JFS), said. She added while JFS had assisted same-sex couples in adopting in the past, they could only make one parent the legal guardian under Virginia law.
Today’s announcement from the state comes as a relief to couples looking to officially expand their families.
“I am going to adopt my son,” Shirley Lesser Monday after she married her longtime partner India.
October 24, 2014 permalink
Muskoka Family, Youth and Child Services will be merging with Simcoe Children’s Aid. The target date is April 1, 2015.
Muskoka children’s aid to merge with Simcoe
MUSKOKA – Family, Youth and Child Services is working toward amalgamation with Simcoe Children’s Aid.
Bonnie Greer, board president for the Muskoka agency, said provincial funding reductions have forced the aid organization to merge with its neighbour, despite previous staff cuts and increased service efficiencies.
“We still second guess ourselves, but we know in our hearts that this is the right move for the children and families of Muskoka,” said Greer.
She said the agency was the smallest in the province and ministry-funding cuts threw it into a financial deficit.
She said the board reduced the number of staff, combined services and partnered with other social services for cost efficiencies, but it was not enough.
The boards of directors for both the Muskoka and Simcoe agencies have since completed feasibility studies on the risks and benefits of merging. The results were in favour of amalgamation.
Greer said how Muskoka would be affected by the merger was an important part of the discussions with the Simcoe board.
“We knew we were in trouble, but we didn’t want to give up our Muskoka identity and we didn’t want to take services elsewhere,” she said.
The Muskoka agency not only provides child protection services, but also children’s mental health and youth justice programs.
Greer said the board was adamant that it wants to continue to offer those unique services, as well as others, including its walk-in clinic.
She said no cuts to services in Muskoka had been identified.
“We have a lot of very unique services in Muskoka that we will not give up,” she said. “We want to take the best from Simcoe, Simcoe wants to take the best from us, and make a super agency that serves clients well.”
A joint board steering committee has chosen April 1, 2015, as the target date for combining the boards. The new board will then work toward amalgamating the operations of both organizations.
Greer said Muskoka clients would see little change next year.
“The operations will take two to three years to transition,” she said.
Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka served 1,101 families and completed 472 investigations in 2013-14. The children’s mental health program served 707 clients that fiscal year.
Source: Metroland (Toronto Star) Muskoka Region
Addendum: It's done. The new agency is Simcoe Muskoka Child, Youth and Family Services.
Simcoe County and Muskoka child welfare agencies amalgamate
Child welfare agencies in Simcoe and Muskoka are amalgamating under one name: Simcoe Muskoka Child, Youth and Family Services.
This agency replaces Simcoe Children’s Aid and Family, Youth and Child Services of Muskoka.
“Muskoka, on its own was not sustainable, but I believe that joining the two agencies will provide strengthened services to this region across both jurisdictions,” said executive director, Susan Carmichael.
Carmichael has led Simcoe Children’s Aid for the past four years and will head the new organization.
Amalgamation work has begun and will be a “methodical and careful process guided by stakeholder needs, best practice and with a strong infrastructure,” states a media release from Simcoe Children’s Aid.
The new board of directors will complete a strategic plan for Simcoe Muskoka Child, Youth and Family Services and then a full rebranding will take place.
As of today, the name has changed and a new governing board of directors is in place, but “in every other respect things will remain business as usual,” states the release.
Muskoka’s location provides children’s mental health and youth justice services. These services will remain in place in that area.
Contact information and office locations remain the same.
And staffing, foster parents and unions have not been impacted, states the release.
Service will remain consistent as well, it said.
Source: Metroland / Muskoka Region
Loving a Foster Boy
October 24, 2014 permalink
What does it take to get a social worker convicted of a crime? Loving her foster child. Kara Brumley is awaiting sentencing in West Virginia for sex with her sixteen-year-old ward.
WV Child Protective Services Worker Pleads Guilty To Charges
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A West Virginia Child Protective Services worker accused of having sex with a 16-year-old boy pleaded guilty to charges on Wednesday in Kanawha Circuit Court.
Kara Brumley pleaded guilty to two counts of felony abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian or person in position of trust, which carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years for each offense or fine of not less than $500 or not more than $5,000 or both.
She is accused of having sexual intercourse with a minor that she was working with as a social worker between April and May 2014.
Brumley told authorities she was closer to the 16-year-old boy than any of her other clients.
Brumley will be sentenced at 9 a.m. Nov. 21.
Emasculated Parents Held Responsible
October 24, 2014 permalink
Now that the law has stripped parents of all meaningful authority over their children, a court in Georgia has ruled that Sandra and Michael Athearn are responsible for their son's misconduct on Facebook. Teenager Dustin Athearn opened a Facebook account in the name of Alexandria Boston and used it to post unfavorable information about her. When parents Amy and Christopher Boston wanted to confront the offender, a school refused to disclose the family name for confidentiality reasons. The Facebook remained active for eleven months.
This dispute could have been resolved in days had both sets of parents been able to communicate with each other while having real authority over their children.
Parents May Be Liable for What Their Kids Post on Facebook, Court Rules
Parents can be held liable for what their kids post on Facebook, a Georgia appellate court ruled in a decision that lawyers said marked a legal precedent on the issue of parental responsibility over their children’s online activity.
The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that the parents of a seventh-grade student may be negligent for failing to get their son to delete a fake Facebook profile that allegedly defamed a female classmate.
The trouble started in 2011 when, with the help of another student, the boy constructed a Facebook profile pretending to be the girl. He used a “Fat Face” app to make her look obese and posted profane and sexually explicit comments on the page depicting her as racist and promiscuous, according to court documents.
When the girl found out about it, she told her parents who then complained to the school’s principal. The school punished the boy with two days of in-school suspension and alerted his parents, who grounded him for a week.
But for the next 11 months, according to the appeals court opinion, the page stayed up. It wasn’t deleted until Facebook deactivated the account at the urging of the girl’s parents, the opinion said. The girl’s lawyer says the child’s parents didn’t immediately confront the boy’s parents because their school refused to identify the culprit for confidentiality reasons.
“Given that the false and offensive statements remained on display, and continued to reach readers, for an additional eleven months, we conclude that a jury could find that the [parents'] negligence proximately caused some part of the injury [the girl] sustained from [the boy's] actions (and inactions),” wrote Judge John J. Ellington in the opinion, which was handed down Oct. 10. He was joined by two other judges on the panel.
The appeals court, though, agreed with a trial court’s dismissal of another part of the lawsuit that sought to hold the parents responsible for allowing the page to be posted in the first place.
Atlanta litigator Edgar S. Mangiafico Jr., who defended the boy’s parents, told Law Blog that the court’s decision was marred by inconsistencies and said he would appeal the ruling to the Georgia Supreme Court.
Mr. Mangiafico said when he was researching the question of parental liability with respect to cyberbullying, he couldn’t find any case in which a court found parents negligent for failing to supervise their kids’ computer use.
Natalie Woodward, an Atlanta attorney who represented the girl, said she also believed the outcome was a novel one.
The ruling shows, she told Law Blog, that in “certain circumstances, when what is being said about a child is untrue and once the parents know about it, then liability is triggered.”
Source: Wall Street Journal
October 24, 2014 permalink
Dozens of people participated in a rally in Edmonton on October 16 for children who have died in foster care.
Another picture shows the rally circle.
Source: Edmonton Journal
Abused Baby Tooth
October 24, 2014 permalink
While helping her son Oskar pull a T-shirt over his head, mother Natalya Shianok knocked out a loose baby tooth. A few days later he did not come home from school. Norwegian authorities had snatched the boy for his protection.
Norway authorities remove child from parents over lost tooth
Norwegian authorities have snatched away a Russian couple’s young son after he shared the story of a missing baby tooth with his classmates. The parents are accused of child abuse.
The boy’s grandfather, Gennady Sharkikov, recounted the disturbing incident to LifeNews. On October 8, five-year-old Oscar Shianok did not come home. Norwegian Child Welfare Services (CWS) picked the child up from school and placed him into protective custody.
According to Oskar’s parents, Natalya and Sergey Shianok, a few days before his removal, Oscar had told his classmates that his mother accidently yanked out one of his baby teeth. Natalya explains that she was helping him pull a T-shirt over his head and accidently knocked out an already-loose tooth.
The CWS report claims his mother was abusive and deliberately knocked the tooth out.
Natalya and Sergey came to Norway from Russia looking for work and a better life for themselves and their two children. The parents quickly found employment and settled into a quiet life in Troms, a medium sized city in the north.
Natalya says that the family reached out to the Norwegian police for help, but were told that the missing tooth story was evidence of abuse and grounds for removing the boy from their custody. Police then began to ask leading questions about their younger daughter, Aleksandra.
The family left Norway in distress and returned to Murmansk, Russia.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it would take action after the family reached out for help. Oskar’s grandfather contacted the Russia’s Children’s Rights Commissioner, Pavel Astakhov, who is now working alongside the Russian embassy in Norway to reunite the boy with his parents.
“For the moment Oskar remains in the care of a Norwegian foster family, and his mother has no idea where,” says Igor Lapitsky, head of the Russian consulate in Norway, reports RadioVesti.ru.
Irina Bergset, the director of Russian Mothers, an NGO which strives to curb foreign adoption of Russian children, explained that such situations are not unusual in Norway.
“In accordance with local laws, it’s as if Russian citizenship is null and void. They’ve declared everyone who happens to be on Norwegian territory a resident, and all the children to be property of Norway,” she explained.
CWS has attracted media attention and criticism for its overzealous invasion of noncitizens’ family lives in the past. In a high-profile case in 2012, CWS took two kids away from an Indian family amid criticism from human rights activists and the international press. It was only after diplomatic intervention that the children were sent back to India to live with an uncle.
Berit Aarset, head of Human Rights Alert Norway referred to the contentious custody removal as “kidnapping.”
Similarly, in 2013 CWS took a newborn baby away from a Nigerian couple claiming the mother was mentally ill and was not making an emotional connection with the baby because she did not make enough eye contact with the child.
Addendum: Russian Children's Rights Commissioner, Pavel Astakhov is bringing the treatment of Russian children in Norway to the attention of the United Nations.
Moscow, UN to Discuss Confiscation of Children From Russian Families in Norway
MOSCOW, November 1 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Children's Rights Commissioner, Pavel Astakhov and a United Nations Special Representative, are set to discuss the confiscation of children from Russian parents living abroad by the countries' local authorities, following recent incidences of children being taken away in Norway, the ombudsman’s website reported Saturday.
“On November 12, Pavel Astakhov, will meet a Special Representative of the General-Secretary in Minsk, during the meeting they will discuss the recent cases of confiscation of children from Russian families living abroad,” the report stated.
On Saturday, Astakhov reported on his Twitter another case of a child taken away from a Russian family in Norway, following a prior case reported earlier this month.
In the most recent case, the Norwegian Child Welfare Services (CWS) accompanied by police went to the home a Russian family living in the east of Norway, and confiscated a 6-year old girl, according to Astakhov’s statement.
“There was a disturbing message received from Norway, that yesterday [Friday] evening, yet another 6-year old Russian girl was taken away from a Russian family on groundless basis,” Astakhov wrote on his Twitter account.
“There is a disturbing situation surrounding Russian families, whose children are being taken away by Norwegian authorities,” Astakhov added in a separate statement on Instagram.
The prior incident took place in the city of Tromso. On October 8, five-year-old Oscar Shianok was picked from school by the CWS and placed into protective custody claiming that the mother forcefully “yanked” out one of his loose baby tooth. The mother however explained that the incident happened accidentally while she was helping him undress.
Based on past incidents, the CWS has been criticized for targeting children of non-citizen families. According to a report by RT, in 2012 the CWS took away two kids from an Indian family, while in 2013, they took away a newborn from a Nigerian couple.
Source: RIA Novosti
Germany Forcibly Adopts Turkish Children
October 23, 2014 permalink
Turks living in Germany are complaining that Germany seizes children for baseless reasons, then places them for adoption with German families.
TURKS PROTEST ADOPTION OF CHILDREN BY GERMAN FAMILIES
DÜSSELDORF — A Turkish nongovernmental organization is spearheading a protest in Germany's Düsseldorf against the adoption of Turkish children by German families.
Activists from the Umut Yıldızı (Star of Hope) Association and Turkish citizens in Germany joined the sit-in strike outside Landtag, the representative assembly of North Rhine-Westphalia. They are voicing their concerns about a practice the Jugendamt (Youth Office) allegedly engages in, where they settle children from troublesome or unstable families with German foster parents even in the case of "baseless" complaints towards the biological family of the child.
Speaking on the 25th day of the protest, Kamil Altay, director of Umut Yıldızı, said thousands of children were removed from their families every year and "raised in a lifestyle foreign to their own values."
He said they filed petitions to 16 federal state assemblies and the German parliament on the issue and only 11 of them replied that their petition would be assessed. In response, Altay said it was "welcoming" to receive such a response.
Altay said Jugendamt officials registered children from Turkish families as German citizens in their database and placed those children with German families. "They are not accommodated with their relatives. They are not allowed to speak Turkish," he claimed. He said that his association assists families with the legal process to take back the children and offer psychological assistance to children.
Under a law implemented in 2012, putting children up for adoption was facilitated by making the slightest problem, such as a brawl at school or complaint about a family by a therapist the child was made to visit, a reason enough to remove them from their biological parents, according to Altay.
"First and foremost, we want this practice of removing children from their families in cases of baseless allegations, to be changed. There are 600 Jugendamts across Germany and every office has a different view regarding when to remove a child from his or her family. We want a nationwide standard to prevent differing views of different agencies," he said.
Altay says 600,000 children were placed under protective custody since 1995 and they have no concrete figure about how many of them are Turkish children. "They are recorded as German nationals even if they are from Turkish families with no mention of their ethnic background. This seriously disturbs us because they do not care about the culture and values of Turks," he said.
He claimed that their protest received broad support from Germans. "German citizens have problems too on haphazard removal of children from their families. For instance, Sabine, whose child was taken from her, joined our protest here," he said.
Though no concrete figure is available regarding the number, Turkish activists say about 5,000 Turkish children have been removed from their biological parents and placed in German foster homes, much to the chagrin of families who claim their children are then raised as Christians. The Turkish government is stepping up efforts to restrict this number as it plans to encourage Turkish families living abroad to adopt Turkish children to preserve their cultural identity.
Turkey's Family and Social Policies Ministry is attempting to popularize the concept of foster families among Turkish families living in Europe in order to reduce the number of Turkish children adopted by non-Turkish or non-Muslim families.
Preserving the cultural and religious identity of the Turkish community abroad is what underlies Turkey's struggle to keep children with Turkish families. The government mobilized diplomatic efforts last year after the story of 9-year-old Yunus made headlines. The Turkish boy was adopted by a lesbian couple in the Netherlands, causing public outcry in Turkey.
Source: Daily Sabah
More Ontario Legal Aid
October 23, 2014 permalink
Legal Aid is increasing the amount of time their lawyers can spend with clients on child protection cases.
Before getting excited that this will protect families, remember that legal aid lawyers and CAS serve the same paymaster. In the past this has meant incentives to get the client to plead guilty in criminal matters. In child protection the added time may be used to convince parents to part with their children  .
Families facing child protection proceedings to get more time with their legal aid lawyers
TORONTO, Oct. 20, 2014 /CNW/ - Starting Nov. 3, 2014, Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) will provide more time for lawyers to help clients who are involved in a court proceeding with a child protection agency. Clients and their lawyers may use this additional time to address legal issues by taking steps such as: bringing forward motions, participating in settlement negotiations and conducting in-depth file reviews – all of which support earlier resolution and avoid unnecessary trials. The increased hours for child protection matters is one of a number of programs that LAO is developing with the use of $30 million in additional provincial funding for family law and community legal clinics.
"I applaud the work Legal Aid Ontario is doing to strengthen the family law services it provides. Improving the delivery and scope of family law services is a vital step toward building a more holistic family justice system in Ontario."
"LAO is pleased to expand services for one of LAO's highest priority client groups. Parents who have had their children taken away are among the most vulnerable clients who appear at family court."
- LAO's family law strategy aims to reduce the number of families who go to court without a lawyer and to provide families with holistic and integrated services.
- Each year, LAO allocates approximately $70 million to family law services to help more than 125,000 low-income Ontarians.
- These family law services include summary legal advice, mediation, assistance from lawyers at family law information centres and family law service centres, settlement conferences and representation by private practice lawyers.
SOURCE Legal Aid Ontario
For further information: Josephine Li, Communications advisor, Phone: 416-979-2352 ext. 6015, Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
How to Deal with a Knock on the Door from CAS
October 23, 2014 permalink
Lenore Skenazy spoke to former CPS social worker Carlos Morales. He has changed sides and now gives advice to parents on protection from CPS. It is hard to top Lenore's comments, so they are included below. Carlos Morales' book is Legally Kidnapped: The Case Against Child Protective Services, on website legallykidnapped.net. Here is a local copy of his video trailer (mp4). Do not confuse Morales with the more brash Patrick Rafferty at legallykidnapped.com.
What to Know about Child Protective Services
Hi Readers! The other day I spoke with Carlos Morales. a former investigator with Child Protective Services who grew disillusioned with the agency (to put it mildly) and is now president and founder of Child Protective Services Victim Support, the host of the Truth Over Comfort Podcast, and a committed legal advocate for family reunification.
In other words, he helps families trying to counter the power of CPS, in and out of court. His pursuit of a radical overhaul for child protection programs has led him to university lecture halls, television and radio studios, and the pages of a variety of publications. He also just published a book, Legally Kidnapped: The Case Against Child Protective Services (http://www.legallykidnapped.net/) , which he’s making free to download this week! (Offer ends Oct. 24.)
While I appreciate CPS stepping in when children are truly abused — we all want kids to be safe — from where I’m perched, I hear about the oversteps. And while I don’t want to make it seem as if every parent is in constant danger from CPS any more than every child is in danger from a predator, I do get questions from parents about how to deal with CPS if it comes knocking. So I asked Carlos to write up some basic tips. Here they are and here’s his book’s trailer. (Cue the scary music — literally. It has a scary music soundtrack.) – L
HOW TO DEAL WITH A KNOCK ON THE DOOR FROM CPS, by CARLOS MORALES
It’s no secret that Child Protective Services sometimes oversteps its bounds. Think of the stories we’ve heard of them going after parents who simply allow their kids to play outside or sit in a car for 5 minutes. There have been cases of similar overreach for the last decade. As a result, Lenore asked me to write up a small piece explaining how to protect your family from the agency. So here they are:
Educate Your Friends and Neighbors About Your Parenting Practices.
This has been consistent message among parents of Free-Range Kids. Have conversations with your friends and neighbors about your parenting practices, how much safer the world is for kids, and how preparing your children for questioning can be really helpful.
Download the Free-Range Kids membership card for kids.
Here it is. It can be very helpful in some cases.
Teach Your Kids to Clam Up
Tell your child never talk to a CPS investigator alone.
Know Who CPS Investigators Are
CPS Investigators are government bureaucrats with two months’ training and a tendency to overblow everything. These can be dangerous people, and they should be treated as such. Some will try to catch people off guard in order to get the “truth” out of parents and children. They may use intimidation, harassment or manipulation, because they believe that they are the hero and you are the enemy.
What To Do if They Come to Your Home
Record every interaction between yourself and CPS. It is important to always know your rights. A CPS investigator is not allowed to barge into your home unless they have a warrant – you’re protected by the 4th Amendment. Here are just a few suggestions which are presented much thoroughly in the book:
- Do not allow CPS investigators into your home.
- Ask the investigator exactly what the case is about.
- Only answer questions which are relevant to the case.
- Do not admit to any prior wrongdoings which could incriminate you.
- Try not to contradict any statements that you make.
- Do not sign any legal paperwork unless told to by an attorney.
- Do not take any drug tests unless court mandated (some children have been removed from homes because the parents smoke pot).
- Most of all: Do not assume that if you tell them everything that they’ll be “nice to you.”
If at any point you feel that you cannot answer any of these questions or are becoming too overwhelmed, remember to stay calm during the entire process. If it looks as though you may need to go to court, always hire a private family court attorney. Going to court alone is bringing a spark to a gun fight.
The reason for every one of these suggestions is explained at length in my book. For more information and limited time free access to the book, go to legallykidnapped.net. And good luck! — C.M.
Source: Free-Range Kids
Child Protectors Dump Abusive Boy
October 23, 2014 permalink
Washington state DSHS dumped a twelve-year-old boy who was a known sexual abuser of children on unsuspecting adopters Trish and Steven.
Foster parents sue after they discover adopted son’s past
Foster parents who adopted a 12-year-old boy in 2013 and later found out he had molested their other children, are suing the Department of Social and Health Services.
The boy, whom the adoptive parents say is now convicted of child molestation, lives with his adoptive father’s parents in a separate house they pay for, because he is not allowed to be with his siblings who are victims.
The parents’ lawsuit was moved to federal court this week and alleges their social worker and the state failed to inform them of crucial reports about their adopted son.
Trish and Steven, who did not want to use their last names, now have seven children: four biological and three adopted.
By March 2013, they had adopted their three children who were previously in their foster care. But two months later, Trish said they discovered their 8-year-old biological son was making sexual gestures.
He told Trish that was what his oldest brother, the recently adopted boy, had done to him.
“I was getting scared,” Trish said. “Then he said, he does this to our other one too. I lost it. I was crying.”
After discussions with their other children, they verified all of them had experienced the same thing. While she said she had often talked to them about not letting adults touch them inappropriately, the children told her they thought it was OK, because their brother was not an adult.
Trish said she was not informed of the child’s previous incidents.
“I also found there was a safety plan put in place for him in another home, where he wasn't even supposed to be in the same room as younger children,” Trish said.
Steven said after they immediately called DSHS, the department began an investigation on them.
DSHS would not share that investigation with KIRO 7. But a spokesperson sent this statement about the lawsuit:
“We are working with our partners in the Office of Attorney General to review this lawsuit filing. At this point, it contains allegations that will be proven or disproven in court, and we do not intend to try the case in the media.”
KIRO 7 found a memo included in the lawsuit sent from the state’s Office of the Children and Family’s Ombuds to Trish in March 2014. It stated that the “decision to place and maintain this youth in your home was unreasonable."
Another memo from 2002, sent from the assistant secretary of children’s administration to DSHS children’s administration staff, stated they had two tort claims costing the department more than t$2 million.
She wrote that “the errors are inexcusable” and “failure to share pertinent history…is unacceptable".
“Not only did the state fail us, they failed him,” Trish said.
Trish and Steven told KIRO 7 they want to see the state take accountability for this, even as they stay committed to helping their adopted son.
“Throwing him away his not an option. We're still trying to do everything we can,” Steven said.
Prince Edward County Foster Claims Settled
October 23, 2014 permalink
Highland Shores CAS has settled claims with three former foster children. Because the news is vague, there is no way to be sure, but it seems to be the case filed in August 2013.
Three CAS cases settled
Three former County foster children have reached out-of-court settlements with the Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society for damages stemming from sexual abuse sustained while they were in the society’s care.
An order dismissing further action against the child welfare agency has been approved by a judge at the Prince Edward County superior court where the lawsuit was filed in April 2013. Court staff confirmed only three of the five cases have been settled to date, leaving two outstanding plaintiffs.
Confidentiality provisions restrict the plaintiffs’ Belleville lawyer, John Bonn, from divulging details on the dollar amount of the compensation dispensed.
“It’s an order of the court dismissing the action on behalf of three of the plaintiffs, as against the children’s aid society,” Bonn said of the settlement. “They have resolved matters to their mutual satisfaction.”
Bonn added “there was no trial in this matter. They can’t talk about the terms of the resolution because there are confidentiality provisions in effect.”
When it was filed in 2013, the civil suits totalled $14 million ($2.8 million per plaintiff).
Each plaintiff initially claimed $350,000 for pain and suffering, in addition to $1 million each for loss of future earnings and another $1 million for punitive damages. They sought $100,000 in future care costs, plus $100,000 for special damages and $250,000 for aggravated damages.
Two outstanding plaintiffs will be addressed shortly, Bonn said.
“We continue to work on those,” he said. “We intend to mediate those.”
The suit directed at the CAS also targets four former foster parents, two are now serving prison terms for sexual abuse of children placed in their care. A third convicted predator’s case is now before the Ontario Court of Appeal.
“Like most of these issues, they’re difficult all the way through and deal with unpleasant issues, but the fact that we’ve been able to reach some form of agreement means that each side is able to live with it at some level,” Bonn said Tuesday.
Bonn filed the claims on behalf of the five female plaintiffs, now in their late teens and early 20s.
“With litigation done, it would bring an end to this piece of their involvement with the CAS,” Bonn said.
All complainants listed claim the Prince Edward County CAS (PECCAS) is liable for the abuse each of them suffered while in the care of PECCAS.
The County society is now part of the newly-amalgamated Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society, which also spans the societies of Hastings and Northumberland counties.
Mark Kartusch, the society’s executive director, was also tight-lipped about the settlement.
“I can’t disclose any of the details,” he said Tuesday. “However, we do hope this helps these youths move forward.”
Kartusch wouldn’t go as far as viewing the settlements as a form of closure for the plaintiffs.
“How does one ever have closure?” he said. “We believe in these young people and their future and want to support them in that.”
Before the 2013 merger, PECCAS was subjected to an extensive government probe which revealed a bevy of damning findings.
The investigation led by the Ministry of Child and Youth Services in Dec. 2011 - following a rash of child sex abuse charges against County foster parents - showed the agency was rife with significant internal conflicts recklessly placing vulnerable children in homes not properly screened and some cases not screened at all for months.
Kartusch said the agency has found better footing since the findings triggered amalgamation.
“I think we’re moving forward but will not forget the past,” he said.
Some concerns linger.
“I’m concerned that this may cause people to lose confidence in fostering or foster families,” he said, adding few bad apples aren’t representative of the whole bunch.
The 2013 statement of claims alleged “PECCAS is responsible, in fact and in law, for its own negligence and breaches of its statutory and fiduciary duties as well as for the negligence and breaches of duty committed by its servants, agents and employees,” states the claim, a copy of which was obtained by The Intelligencer in April 2013.
One statement of claim states, “PECCAS caused (the plaintiffs) permanent and extensive injuries and losses” ranging from alcohol and substance abuse to inability to trust, impairment of mental health, nightmares of abuse, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.
“They (plaintiffs) have incurred medical expenses and will continue to require therapy and medical attention,” the 2013 statement of claim adds.
Two of the former foster parents initially targeted in the claim were Walter Joseph Holm, 46, and his wife, Janet Holm, 49.
They pleaded guilty to several charges, including possession of child pornography, sexual assault and invitation to sexual touching and were sentenced in November 2011 to four- and three-year prison terms respectively.
Three of the five plaintiffs, now ages 21, 23, and 19, are linked to the Holms. It’s not known if they were the three of five now concluded.
Justice Geoff Griffin blasted the Holms for turning their home into a “sexual cult” while fostering 25 teenagers over the course of nine years.
The three plaintiffs further implied that PECCAS was “vicariously liable for the actions” of the Holms.
Source: Belleville Intelligencer
Teenaged Son Surrendered
October 5, 2014 permalink
A Guelph Ontario family has been compelled to surrender custody of their teenaged son as the only way to get treatment for his problems. The boy is now a crown ward. To add insult to injury, the parents cannot tell their story in public because mentioning their own names would identify their son.
Ontario ombudsman André Marin issued a report Between a Rock and a Hard Place in 2005 detailing the dilemma of parents compelled to relinquish custody of their children to get special treatment. In nine years, the child protection system has not corrected the problem. When children with special needs do come under state control, they sometimes get no special care, but neglectful care delivered at high cost to the taxpayers. Samantha Martin was surrendered by her mother as a newborn and returned at age 13, so maltreated in care that she died a few months later.
Guelph couple surrender son to state for FASD services
The parents of two children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder say they had to give up parental rights to their 14-year-old son because the government would not support the boy's special needs.
The Guelph couple cannot be named, as doing so would identify their youngest son, who is now a Crown ward.
The boy's mother says she and her husband adopted their son when he was three-weeks-old and found out that he had FASD when he was a toddler.
"We thought that we would get help," she recalls. "We thought that once we could show everybody that there was an actual, legitimate problem, that services would be here to help us."
Instead, she says service agencies told the couple that their son's diagnosis did not qualify him for provincial supports.
Parents say life became unbearable
As the boy grew older, his parents say he became more volatile and prone to violent outbursts.
"He would flip his dresser just like a piece of paper," the boy's father said. "I don't know how he could, but I guess his adrenaline would kick in and give him an amazing amount of strength."
Things got so bad that the couple says they had their home booby trapped, so that they would know where their son was in the house.
"You love them to pieces, but sometimes their behaviours made you kind of hate them at the same time," says the boy's father, adding that life had become almost unbearable for him and his wife.
Desperate for help, the boy's parents went to their local Children's Aid Society, but were told, once again, that their son didn't qualify for provincial supports.
"They bluntly told us that there's really no help out there for us unless he became a crown ward," says the boys mother. So, on March 4, 2014, the couple went to court and surrendered their 14-year-old son to the state.
"It was almost like experiencing a death," says the boy's mother. "There was such a sense of loss, because you don't become a parent thinking that you're going to have to give up your child in order to get services."
After he became a Crown ward, the boy was placed with a foster family. His parents say he will soon be moved into a group home, which is what they were asking for all along.
Agency says families have no other options
Family and Children's Services of Guelph and Wellington County cannot comment on specific cases in its jurisdiction; however, children's services director Sheila Markle says no family should have to give up custody of their child in order to get services.
"A family's need for resources and supports for their child is not a reason to involve child welfare, but the reality is that services and supports for some populations of kids--particularly kids with FASD--are not necessarily as robust as they need to be to help families cope."
Because there are not adequate services available for families who have children with FASD, Markle says parents are running out of options.
"If parents are saying they can't do it anymore, then sometimes we have to get involved."
Markle says that when a family gives up their parental rights to a child, it triggers a protection issue under the Child and Family Services Act, which allows children's welfare agencies to step in and care for the child.
Cover Our Butt
October 4, 2014 permalink
Instead of "How do we cover our butt?", the policy of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services should be "How do we do better for our children?", says Ontario child advocate Irwin Elman. The comment came up after the ministry censored a document titled: “Issues Management Plan — Inquest Into the Death of JB.” Neither the Toronto Star nor the child advocate are able to see the uncensored document.
The parts of the briefing notes that were not censored shed some light on the ministry’s reaction to the inquest, which include the creation of a “JB Inquest Management Strategy,” with the participation of at least five separate departments that worked on legal and communication issues, including regularly monitoring media coverage of the inquest.
The records also contain prepared media lines for communications staff, organized under subtitles such as “If asked why the Ministry didn’t seek standing” and “If asked why the Minister or Ministry wasn’t present.”
Queen’s Park secretive about how it dealt with fallout from Jeffrey Baldwin inquest
Ministry should have a plan to “do better for our children,” not a “cover our butt” plan, says children’s advocate after the Star obtained heavily censored government documents related to inquest into 5-year-old’s death.
The Ministry of Children and Youth Services is keeping secret key information on how it planned to handle the fallout of the coroner’s inquest looking into the death of 5-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin.
Briefing notes obtained by the Star related to the 2013-14 inquest include a document titled “Issues Management Plan — Inquest Into the Death of JB.” The information under subtitles such as “Concerns/Issues,” “Communications Objective(s)” and “Approach and Tactics” has been censored.
Irwin Elman, the provincial advocate for children and youth, and opposition critics told the Star the public has a right to know the secret details, saying they could offer insight into the ministry’s approach to coroner’s inquests and its thinking on how to improve the child protection system.
“The way things get attention often, in ministries, is whether it’s going to become an issue for the party in power,” said Elman. “Yet this is the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. This should be a ‘How do we do better for our children?’ plan, not a ‘How do we cover our butt?’ plan.”
“I think advice to the government, where it’s obviously about the child protection system, is something that we should all be able to hear,” said MPP Monique Taylor, the NDP’s children and youth services critic. “I’d be interested in seeing that portion, and I would commit to going to the minister and asking what exactly is in it.”
The Star obtained the documents through a freedom of information request. The ministry justified redacting some material by saying it was advice to the government and exempt under access to information laws.
Ministry spokesman David Mullock said Friday that redaction decisions are made by the ministry’s freedom of information staff and do not go to the minister’s office for approval.
The Star is appealing that decision to the information and privacy commissioner.
Jeffrey Baldwin died of starvation at the hands of his grandparents, Norman Kidman and Elva Bottineau, in 2002 after being placed in their care by the Catholic Children’s Aid Society. The CCAS has said it did not check its own files on Kidman and Bottineau before placing Jeffrey in their care, where he was kept inside a locked bedroom with almost no access to a toilet. He weighed 21 pounds when he died.
Bottineau and Kidman, who already had separate convictions for assault on their own children, were convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in 2006.
The ministry was criticized for not seeking standing at the coroner’s inquest, despite the fact that it is ultimately responsible for the province’s child protection system. In fact, 49 of the inquest jury’s 104 non-binding recommendations were relevant to the ministry, including one that called on it to seek standing in future inquests dealing with the deaths of children in care.
The coroner’s counsel sent the ministry a letter in January 2013 asking if it wanted to seek standing at the inquest, but was told in August it would not.
At inquests, parties with standing can question witnesses. Jeffrey’s own grandmother and murderer sought standing about halfway through the proceedings, and spent one day on the witness stand.
Mullock said the ministry believed “the parties who had standing at the inquest were well positioned to present the relevant information and explore all issues.”
The ministry has said in the past that its staff was present in the inquest audience each day, and that it did send one witness to testify, although other parties with standing, including Elman, have complained the witness was not an upper-level civil servant and failed to answer many of their questions.
The parts of the briefing notes that were not censored shed some light on the ministry’s reaction to the inquest, which include the creation of a “JB Inquest Management Strategy,” with the participation of at least five separate departments that worked on legal and communication issues, including regularly monitoring media coverage of the inquest.
The records also contain prepared media lines for communications staff, organized under subtitles such as “If asked why the Ministry didn’t seek standing” and “If asked why the Minister or Ministry wasn’t present.”
The answers provided are exactly like those given by Mullock on Friday, as well as by then children and youth services minister Teresa Piruzza, who spoke to the Star after the inquest concluded in February and who did not attend the proceedings.
The ministry’s response to the Baldwin inquest has also left critics wondering if it will be any different when another inquest looking into a horrific child death begins, likely early next year.
Katelynn Sampson was 7 years old when she died in 2008, after being repeatedly beaten by her guardians, crack addicts who had been awarded custody by a family court judge. Donna Irving and boyfriend Warren Johnson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
An inquest examining the circumstances of her death was announced two years ago. When asked if the ministry would seek standing there, Mullock would say only that a date has not yet been set for the inquest.
MPP Jim McDonell, children and youth services critic for the Progressive Conservatives, said there’s no question the ministry should be actively involved.
“If you’re really interested in getting to the bottom of things and making changes, you have to get involved and be there and question those witnesses about their own experiences,” he said. “That opportunity (with the Baldwin inquest) is missed now, and I hope they don’t do the same with Katelynn Sampson, or it will be another important learning experience gone.”
Source: Toronto Star
Fixcas has a copy of the coroner's jury recommendations for JB, Jeffrey Baldwin.
Elman explains his comment on Facebook:
Perhaps an incendiary comment but...I was referring to the 19000 plus serious occurrence reports the Ministry of Children and Youth receives every year re children in residential care. The ones that get noticed in my mind, that get to the top of the pile are those that might make it to the public. Then an "issue management plan" is created. We have asked for 3 months of serious occurrence reports to be sent to us. At this point they will be redacted. We will try to analyze them nevertheless. When Bill 8 passes we will move forward.
Source: Facebook, Irwin Elman
Police Threaten to Remove Baby
October 4, 2014 permalink
Andre Stockett and his two-week-old son were passengers in a car driven by his wife when they were stopped for no apparent reason by the Sandusky Ohio police. The police changed their reason for the stop from driving without a license to driving without headlights (on a bright sunny day). When Andre was ordered out of the car, he assessed that as the black husband of a white wife, his life was in danger and refused to comply. The police resorted to threats to induce compliance. At 4:12 and 5:22 in the video police say the baby will be delivered to child services.
Addendum: Following the arrest of Andre Stockett and driver Kathryn Said aka Kathryn Denslow at the end of the video, both were charged with crimes. In late November all charges were dropped. Officer Christopher Denny was not fired, but retrained, and will be returning to patrol duty.
October 4, 2014 permalink
In the past fixcas has noted the astonishingly small amounts of the bursaries awarded to foster children to support their higher education    . Now British Columbia has achieved the ultimate in small bursary size: zero. The province will reduce other benefits paid to a foster student by the amount of any bursary received.
College bursary money benefiting B.C., not former foster care students
Child advocate: ‘I want this fixed’
After mounting a successful campaign to provide free post-secondary tuition for foster children, B.C.’s child advocate was appalled to learn the province may claw back the equivalent amount from other support funding it gives these vulnerable youth.
“I didn’t do this campaign around tuition waivers for (the Ministry of Children and Family Development) to come in and claw it back. This is the wrong thinking,” said Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth.
In at least one case, a $1,300 college bursary was awarded to an 18-year-old foster child, but the Ministry of Children and Family Development deducted the same amount from money they were giving the teen to pay for her tuition. The ministry argued the bursary should be used for her tuition, so felt it was appropriate to recoup the money.
But Turpel-Lafond said the whole idea behind convincing post-secondary schools to provide bursaries or waive tuition was to give an extra boost to foster children, who statistically face dire academic, employment and poverty outcomes.
Seven B.C. institutions have stepped up so far, all of them offering youth-in-care funds for this semester. But Turpel-Lafond said she heard from many young people this summer who were awarded a bursary or tuition waiver but faced some sort of bureaucratic roadblock from the ministry.
“This is the type of petty, clawback mentality that is not associated with success. It’s traumatizing. It’s embarrassing. It’s unfortunate,” she said.
“And I expect it to be fixed.”
The 18-year-old student, who cannot be identified because she is a foster child, had hoped the bursary money would help her pay for other expenses that come with expensive post-secondary education.
“The whole point of universities doing this is basically to lessen the load of the financial burden of kids in care. It was not for the ministry to freeload and deduct the money from kids in care,” she said in an interview.
The ministry, however, takes the position that it is acceptable to deduct the $1,300 bursary from what it was planning to pay for her $1,750 first-semester tuition because, as a foster child, her day-to-day shelter and food needs are already being covered. In this case, the ministry has also paid almost $300 toward the cost of her books.
The ministry sent The Sun an email explaining its policies. It declined, however, to provide someone to interview on the optics of this college-funded bursary saving the provincial government money — while leaving the foster child not one cent further ahead.
When the girl’s college announced its youth-in-care assistance program earlier this year, it said bursaries worth $200,000 would be given annually to cover tuition and student fees to help “break down the financial barriers these students face accessing the post-secondary system.”
Turpel-Lafond said it would have been decent to let the teen, who has faced an uphill battle just to reach college, keep the bursary for other expenses, such as tutoring, a healthy meal on campus, or school supplies.
“We are dealing with a small amount of money, like $1,000. Why can she not use that money to deal with some needed self care?”
The Ministry of Children and Family Development offers two programs to help youth older than 19, who have aged out of the foster care system, attend school. But Turpel-Lafond fears the bursaries and tuition waivers could be deducted from those meagre payments as well.
“We’ve seen the risk of that,” she said. “What I’m concerned about is the ministry thinking that their future will be a diminished responsibility to these young people.”
The ministry did not directly respond to questions about whether financial aid from these seven post-secondary institutions would be subtracted from the ministry’s education programs for those over 19.
Instead, it said the bursaries and tuition waivers are “to work in tandem” with existing government support. But it also said such support is based on need, and that factors such as income available to the applicant — including scholarships, grants and bursaries — “may affect final funding assessments.” (The Ministry of Children and Family Development italicized these words in the statement given to The Sun.)
The two programs to help youth after age 19 — when they no longer receive any support from the foster care system — are limited by budget and timelines:
- The Youth Education and Assistance Fund offers four annual bursaries of up to $5,500 for tuition, books, fees or living expenses, while studying at designated schools, up to age 24.
- Agreements with Young Adults funds living expenses for up to 24 months up to age 24 for attending school, learning job skills, or completing rehabilitation. On average, a person receives about $1,000 a month, but the entire program is capped at $5 million annually.
While only a low percentage of foster children complete high school, the 18-year-old interviewed by The Sun has a transcript full of As. She hopes speaking out about what happened to her bursary will prompt change and allow future students to keep the money, regardless of what they are collecting from the government.
“If you look at the stats on foster kids, it’s not that great. A lot don’t graduate, are incarcerated, on drugs,” the girl said. “The number that go to post-secondary is minuscule, so it wouldn’t cost the ministry that much (to let the students keep the bursary money).”
The girl has saved money by renting her textbooks for $300, instead of buying them for $900, but is still worried about being able to afford other expenses while she pursues her full-time course load in sciences.
Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo was the first institution to waive tuition for former foster children in 2013. Since then, six additional post-secondary institutions either waived tuition or offered bursaries to current or former youth in care: the University of Victoria, UBC, SFU, Langara College, BCIT and Nicola Valley Institute of Technology.
Source: Vancouver Sun
Voting for a False Accuser
October 3, 2014 permalink
Child protection has become an issue in the election for governor of Massachusetts. Martha Coakley, who has been the state attorney general since 2007, is the Democratic candidate. An attack ad (YouTube, or local copy mp4) alludes to a Massachusetts foster care panic by mentioning 50 abused, neglected or dead children. It further says Coakley defended DCF (against Children's Rights Inc), opposed reform and silenced children's advocates. Muzzling parents and their supporters is universal in child protection. As for the suit, these suits are really a form of collusion between adversaries   .
Mrs Coakley does not come to the campaign with clean hands. She participated in keeping Gerald Amirault in jail for 18 years for satanic abuse of children, a crime that never happened.
An article on the current controversy is enclosed, followed by Dorothy Rabinowitz reporting on Martha Coakley's involvement in the Amirault convictions.
Baker: Child welfare issues raised by ad deserve debate
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, OCT. 2, 2014…..After Martha Coakley demanded that Charlie Baker repudiate an outside group’s new ad accusing the attorney general of failing to protect children, the Republican gubernatorial nominee on Thursday objected to the ad’s “tone,” but stopped short of calling for it to be removed from the airwaves.
Baker called a press conference in South Boston to respond to Coakley’s characterization of the new ad as “disgusting” and “misleading,” and her call earlier in the day for him to disavow the ad.
The ominously filmed and narrated ad, with darkened images of a child’s teddy bear and an empty playground, alleges Coakley knew about mismanagement at the Department of Children and Families that resulted in the abuse, neglect and death of more than 50 children under state supervision.
The ad, run by the Commonwealth Future super PAC and paid for by the Republican Governors Association, goes on to criticize Coakley for defending the state against a lawsuit filed by a national child advocacy group alleging mismanagement in the DCF foster care system.
“I don’t like the tone of the ad. It reminds me of the tone of a lot of the ads that have been run against me,” Baker said. “But I think the issue that’s raised by the ad, which has to do with the attorney general’s decision four years ago to fight the lawsuit that was filed by Children’s Rights, which raised very significant systemic problems at the Department of Children and Families, is a decision worth discussing.”
Coakley earlier in the day said she welcomed a debate with Baker on the issue of child welfare, but said the ad misrepresented her record. She went on to defend the decision to fight the lawsuit, which is still pending, suggesting the national group’s attorneys were seeking to profit from its lawsuit and offering a “one-size-fits-all” solution for Massachusetts that wouldn’t work.
A spokeswoman for Commonwealth Future declined to comment on the dust-up stirred by the ad, saying the ad speaks for itself.
Baker said he respected Coakley’s long career in public service, which includes a stint as chief of the child abuse unit in the Middlesex District Attorney’s office, but said he was disturbed by the allegations made by the advocacy group in the lawsuit against the Patrick administration.
“I think the attorney general certainly had an opportunity to recommend moving toward settlement and toward fixing what was broken in the agency,” Baker said.
Nearly choking up as he spoke, Baker encouraged everyone to read the briefs filed in the case.
“As a father of three kids, I’m telling you, that brief was really something,” Baker said. “It doesn’t anger me. It makes me sad. It’s case after case after case of kids who have been ping-ponged and pin-balled all over our child welfare system in really disturbing and difficult and troubling ways.”
Asked repeatedly whether he would call on Commonwealth Future, led by former Romney administration official and Scott Brown campaign manager Beth Lindstrom, to pull the ad, Baker reiterated his trouble with the tone of the ad, but would not go further.
“The attorney general has about as much control over these independent groups as I have over them and we should all remember that the first negative ad of this race was run by an independent group that started running a negative ad against me literally the same week they made a major donation to the Coakley campaign,” Baker said. “What I can control is my own message and my own campaign and I plan to continue to do that.”
The National Association of Government Employees super PAC ran an anti-Baker ad back in April kicking off the television ad wars. A senior Baker aide also pointed to an ad run by a labor and Democratic Governors Association-funded super PAC accusing Baker of profiting at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, where he was CEO, while raising premiums as an example of the negative attacks Baker has endured.
“I’m sure many of the ads that have been run against me share similar circumstances,” Baker said.
A U.S. District Court judge dismissed the lawsuit brought by Children’s Rights at one point in the proceeding, but not before bemoaning the situation in Massachusetts where he determined a lack of adequate funding had put children at risk.
Coakley and her campaign said that Baker, while serving in the Weld and Cellucci administrations, oversaw a budget that failed to adequately invest in child welfare leading to higher caseloads in the 1990s than exist today.
Baker sidestepped questions about funding for DCF during his time in state government, but said he was proud of the work he did on community-based adoption and implementing recommendations of a foster care commission convened during his tenure.
Source: WWLP citing State House News Service
Martha Coakley's Convictions
The role played by the U.S. Senate candidate in a notorious sex case raises questions about her judgment.
The story of the Amiraults of Massachusetts, and of the prosecution that had turned the lives of this thriving American family to dust, was well known to the world by the year 2001. It was well known, especially, to District Attorney Martha Coakley, who had by then arrived to take a final, conspicuous, role in a case so notorious as to assure that the Amiraults' name would be known around the globe.
The Amiraults were a busy, confident trio, grateful in the way of people who have found success after a life of hardship. Violet had reared her son Gerald and daughter Cheryl with help from welfare, and then set out to educate herself. The result was the triumph of her life—the Fells Acres school—whose every detail Violet scrutinized relentlessly. Not for nothing was the pre-school deemed by far the best in the area, with a long waiting list for admission.
All of it would end in 1984, with accusations of sexual assault and an ever-growing list of parents signing their children on to the case. Newspaper and television reports blared a sensational story about a female school principal, in her 60s, who had daily terrorized and sexually assaulted the pupils in her care, using sharp objects as her weapon. So too had Violet's daughter Cheryl, a 28-year old teacher at the school.
But from the beginning, prosecutors cast Gerald as chief predator—his gender qualifying him, in their view, as the best choice for the role. It was that role, the man in the family, that would determine his sentence, his treatment, and, to the end, his prosecution-inspired image as a pervert too dangerous to go free.
The accusations against the Amiraults might well rank as the most astounding ever to be credited in an American courtroom, but for the fact that roughly the same charges were brought by eager prosecutors chasing a similar headline—making cases all across the country in the 1980s. Those which the Amiraults' prosecutors brought had nevertheless, unforgettable features: so much testimony, so madly preposterous, and so solemnly put forth by the state. The testimony had been extracted from children, cajoled and led by tireless interrogators.
Gerald, it was alleged, had plunged a wide-blade butcher knife into the rectum of a 4-year-old boy, which he then had trouble removing. When a teacher in the school saw him in action with the knife, she asked him what he was doing, and then told him not to do it again, a child said. On this testimony, Gerald was convicted of a rape which had, miraculously, left no mark or other injury. Violet had tied a boy to a tree in front of the school one bright afternoon, in full view of everyone, and had assaulted him anally with a stick, and then with "a magic wand." She would be convicted of these charges. Cheryl had cut the leg off a squirrel.
Other than such testimony, the prosecutors had no shred of physical or other proof that could remotely pass as evidence of abuse. But they did have the power of their challenge to jurors: Convict the Amiraults to make sure the battle against child abuse went forward. Convict, so as not to reject the children who had bravely come forward with charges.
Gerald was sent to prison for 30 to 40 years, his mother and sister sentenced to eight to 20 years. The prosecutors celebrated what they called, at the time "a model, multidisciplinary prosecution." Gerald's wife, Patricia, and their three children—the family unfailingly devoted to him—went on with their lives. They spoke to him nightly and cherished such hope as they could find, that he would be restored to them.
Hope arrived in 1995, when Judge Robert Barton ordered a new trial for the women. Violet, now 72, and Cheryl had been imprisoned eight years. This toughest of judges, appalled as he came to know the facts of the case, ordered the women released at once. Judge Barton—known as Black Bart for the long sentences he gave criminals—did not thereafter trouble to conceal his contempt for the prosecutors. They would, he warned, do all in their power to hold on to Gerald, a prediction to prove altogether accurate.
No less outraged, Superior Court Judge Isaac Borenstein presided over a widely publicized hearings into the case resulting in findings that all the children's testimony was tainted. He said that "Every trick in the book had been used to get the children to say what the investigators wanted." The Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly—which had never in its 27 year history taken an editorial position on a case—published a scathing one directed at the prosecutors "who seemed unwilling to admit they might have sent innocent people to jail for crimes that had never occurred."
It was clear, when Martha Coakley took over as the new Middlesex County district attorney in 1999, that public opinion was running sharply against the prosecutors in the case. Violet Amirault was now gone. Ill and penniless after her release, she had been hounded to the end by prosecutors who succeeded in getting the Supreme Judicial Court to void the women's reversals of conviction. She lay waiting all the last days of her life, suitcase packed, for the expected court order to send her back to prison. Violet would die of cancer before any order came in September 1997.
That left Cheryl alone, facing rearrest. In the face of the increasing furor surrounding the case, Ms. Coakley agreed to revise and revoke her sentence to time served—but certain things had to be clear, she told the press. Cheryl's case, and that of Gerald, she explained, had nothing to do with one another—a startling proposition given the horrific abuse charges, identical in nature, of which all three of the Amiraults had been convicted.
No matter: When women were involved in such cases, the district attorney explained, it was usually because of the presence of "a primary male offender." According to Ms. Coakley's scenario, it was Gerald who had dragged his mother and sister along. Every statement she made now about Gerald reflected the same view, and the determination that he never go free. No one better exemplified the mindset and will of the prosecutors who originally had brought this case.
Before agreeing to revise Cheryl's sentence to time served, Ms. Coakley asked the Amiraults' attorney, James Sultan, to pledge—in exchange—that he would stop representing Gerald and undertake no further legal action on his behalf. She had evidently concluded that with Sultan gone—Sultan, whose mastery of the case was complete—any further effort by Gerald to win freedom would be doomed. Mr. Sultan, of course, refused.
In 2000, the Massachusetts Governor's Board of Pardons and Paroles met to consider a commutation of Gerald's sentence. After nine months of investigation, the board, reputed to be the toughest in the country, voted 5-0, with one abstention, to commute his sentence. Still more newsworthy was an added statement, signed by a majority of the board, which pointed to the lack of evidence against the Amiraults, and the "extraordinary if not bizarre allegations" on which they had been convicted.
Editorials in every major and minor paper in the state applauded the Board's findings. District Attorney Coakley was not idle either, and quickly set about organizing the parents and children in the case, bringing them to meetings with Acting Gov. Jane Swift, to persuade her to reject the board's ruling. Ms. Coakley also worked the press, setting up a special interview so that the now adult accusers could tell reporters, once more, of the tortures they had suffered at the hands of the Amiraults, and of their panic at the prospect of Gerald going free.
On Feb. 20, 2002, six months after the Board of Pardons issued its findings, the governor denied Gerald's commutation.
Gerald Amirault spent nearly two years more in prison before being granted parole in 2004. He would be released, with conditions not quite approximating that of a free man. He was declared a level three sex offender—among the consequences of his refusal, like that of his mother and sister, to "take responsibility" by confessing his crimes. He is required to wear, at all times, an electronic tracking device; to report, in a notebook, each time he leaves the house and returns; to obey a curfew confining him to his home between 11:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. He may not travel at all through certain areas (presumably those where his alleged victims live). He can, under these circumstances, find no regular employment.
The Amirault family is nonetheless grateful that they are together again.
Attorney General Martha Coakley—who had proven so dedicated a representative of the system that had brought the Amirault family to ruin, and who had fought so relentlessly to preserve their case—has recently expressed her view of this episode. Questioned about the Amiraults in the course of her current race for the U.S. Senate, she told reporters of her firm belief that the evidence against the Amiraults was "formidable" and that she was entirely convinced "those children were abused at day care center by the three defendants."
What does this say about her candidacy? (Ms. Coakley declined to be interviewed.) If the current attorney general of Massachusetts actually believes, as no serious citizen does, the preposterous charges that caused the Amiraults to be thrown into prison—the butcher knife rape with no blood, the public tree-tying episode, the mutilated squirrel and the rest—that is powerful testimony to the mind and capacities of this aspirant to a Senate seat. It is little short of wonderful to hear now of Ms. Coakley's concern for the rights of terror suspects at Guantanamo—her urgent call for the protection of the right to the presumption of innocence.
If the sound of ghostly laughter is heard in Massachusetts these days as this campaign rolls on, with Martha Coakley self-portrayed as the guardian of justice and civil liberties, there is good reason.
Ms. Rabinowitz, a member of the Journal's editorial board, is the author of "No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusations, False Witness And Other Terrors Our Times" (Free Press, 2003).
Source: Wall Street Journal
Forgetting Dead Children
October 3, 2014 permalink
A legislative audit in South Carolina has disclosed that child deaths under watch of state child protectors (DSS) disappear from criminal investigations and from statistical reports. The reports of child deaths given to the legislature are false. The journalist writes of homes under DSS watch, without mentioning that many are foster homes.
Previous analysis by fixcas has shown that throughout the USA, reports of fatalities in foster homes are understated. The South Carolina report suggests that foster care deaths escape prosecution and even statistical reporting.
Audit: Excessive Caseloads, Unreported Child Deaths
152 Child Deaths Went Unreported to SLED
Columbia, SC (WLTX) - A number of policy changes regarding child fatality investigations and child maltreatment cases have happened in the weeks leading up to the release of an audit of the South Carolina Department of Social Services.
Those policy changes have occurred not only at DSS, but also at the State Law Enforcement Division, Department of Health and Environmental Control and Department of Public Safety.
The state's Legislative Audit Council released the long awaited audit of DSS Friday after a 2012 request from Rep. Jenny Horne (R-Summerville).
It's not the first time the LAC has audited DSS. The agency, which is required to have one lawyer and one accountant on it's council, audited DSS in 1985 and again in 2006.
The audit confirms months of reporting by News19 that DSS frontline caseworkers had too many cases and the system for investigating allegations of abuse failed in some instances.
The audit, "found areas in critical need of improvement without with the department will be less able to make significant progress in protecting children from abuse and neglect."
The starting salary for a DSS caseworker is $30,582 according to the report.
The turnover rate for child welfare workers in child protective services and foster care increased more than 12% from 2011 to 2013, the report says.
However, in it's report to the Association of Children and Families, the audit says DSS reported inaccurate turnover rates including employees that worked outside of the child protective fields in their count.
Right now, DSS caseworkers are not required to have college degrees in social work or a behavior science and standards for training those workers are "unclear" the audit said. New hires are also not required to have previous relevant experience.
"DSS does not maintain central records of the training and certification received by caseworkers, nor does it maintain central records of continuing education," the audit said.
In it's response, DSS says it's identified a Learning Management System that it will implement to track certification and training.
Starting November 1, the agency says it's increasing salaries for ti's child welfare caseworkers and supervisors. It's also creating new "caseworker assistant" and "lead worker" positions to give employees growth opportunities.
DSS has reported to the Senate DSS Oversight Committee and the public that fatalities with prior agency involvement have declined since 2009 but auditors say lapses in reporting mean that may not be true.
"The number of child fatalities which met the criteria for reporting to SLED that were not correctly reported is shocking," said Dr. Susan Luberoff, State Child Fatality Advisory Committee Chair.
The LAC found 152 child fatalities in South Carolina between 2009 and 2013 where SLED did not have a report from county coroners and therefor child death data released by DSS could be compromised.
"We found that child fatality data reported to the General Assembly and the public regarding child maltreatment deaths, particularly those with prior DSS involvement, is not reliable," the audit says.
The audit suggests reporting failures could originate in county coroner's offices. Between 2009 and 2013, the audit says 104 fatalities were not reported by the coroner to SLED as required by state law. In 48 more, coroners say fatalities were reported but SLED has no record in it's database.
"It is not possible from this analysis to conclude that deaths with DSS involvement have declined," the report says.
SLED Chief Mark Keel says going forward, county coroners will receive an email from SLED acknowledging a receipt of a child fatatlity and that on other submissions (fax or mail) coroners should confirm their submission is received.
In response to the report, South Carolina's Department of Health And Environmental Control says they will work collaborate with SLED on child deaths:
In June of 2014, SLED requested that DHEC begin providing statistical information to SLED related to death certificates in which coroners note suspicious deaths to use as a check on the information currently provided by coroners.
Since that time, DHEC and SLED have been working cooperatively to establish a system which will allow SLED to cross-reference information received from coroners to ensure coroners are reporting suspicious child fatalities in accordance with statutory requirements.
Keel also says he's adding 4 new positions to the SLED's Department of Child Fatalities.
DSS says they'll now prepare written reports when an investigation suggests child abuse or neglect was involved in a fatality and are working with the South Carolina General Assembly to increase the amount of information that can be legally released.
The Senate DSS Oversight Committee meets Friday morning and is scheduled to discuss the audit and plans developed by DSS over the past two weeks to fill vacant caseworker positions before 2015.
Source: WLTX News
Children's Aid Worker Threats
October 2, 2014 permalink
A video shows the methods CAS uses to get bogus voluntary agreements from parents.
Published on Sep 30, 2014
"Its just gonna happen"
Children's aide worker threatening to take my son away over refusing chemo as they wouldn't allow a second opinion or option.
Link to a local copy (mp4).
Social workers are denying the father a chance to pursue an alternative to dangerous chemo treatment for his daughter. At least three times in the short recording workers threaten the father:
There is no personal identification in the video, but it resembles the case of Aiden Pedersen
Brits Seize Latvian Girl
October 2, 2014 permalink
British social workers have taken the daughter of Laila Brice. The Latvian government has been watching the case for three years and has expressed an interest in protecting the family by having the case transferred to the courts in their native Latvia. A comment by John Hemming and a press release from the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs are enclosed.
Statement by Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in respect of UK Family Court case
This statement shows that the Latvians are taking action in respect of a case in England. There is a conference in Prague tomorrow about the problems in England (such a conference would be in contempt of court here because it would talk about cases). Sadly as a result of the Russians pulling out of the Council of Europe the report into English family law has been held back. It remains, however, that international concerns about England continue.
Source: John Hemming blog
Information on the Case of Laila Brice’s Daughter
On 27 August, the “Central Family Court” of the United Kingdom held a hearing in the case of the adoption of the daughter of a Latvian citizen, Laila Brice.
The Ambassador of Latvia to the UK, Andris Teikmanis attended the hearing as an observer. The Embassy is satisfied with the court’s decision to refer the case to Her Majesty’s High Court of Justice, which has the competence, inter alia, to refer the case to a Latvian court.
The Embassy of Latvia in the UK in association with the Latvian Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia has been monitoring the case of Laila Brice’s daughter since 2011 and has on several occasions applied to British social services requesting information on the manner in which the child’s mother could regain custody of her daughter. The Latvian authorities have been informed that Laila Brice’s daughter, who is a “minor”, has been placed in the care of British social services, and decisions in this case were made taking into account the child’s interests.
The Embassy of Latvia in London and the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice of Latvia have provided Laila Brice with advice on the actions required for regaining custody in the UK or for transferring the case to the competent Latvian authorities
Press and Information Division: (371) 6 7016272 Fax (371) 67828121
K.Valdemara street 3, Riga LV-1395
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia
Efforts to free the girl from British social services continue into March 2015.
Latvia complains to UK parliament over forced adoptions
Letter to speaker centres on case of six-year-old in London removed from her Latvian mother after claims of neglect and says social services breached international law
Latvia’s parliament has formally complained to the House of Commons that children of Latvian descent are being illegally and forcibly adopted by British families.
The extraordinary intervention by foreign MPs in the way social services take children into care comes as the Baltic state has been granted permission to give evidence during an appeal over the case of a six-year-old girl who has been removed from her mother. It is due to be heard this month.
Other eastern European countries have also raised concerns about British adoption procedures, sometimes in cases where children have been born to mothers who have been trafficked into the country for the purposes of prostitution. In one case, Nigeria also expressed concern.
The child at the centre of Latvia’s intervention was first put into care in 2012 after being found at home alone, aged 21 months. Both her parents are Latvian; her father remains in their homeland.
The mother, according to an earlier judgment, had previously been found drunk, walking barefoot with her daughter in a buggy in the middle of a road in the south London borough of Merton.
The mother disputes the local authority’s assessments and the allegation that she was inebriated; she is now challenging the adoption of her child. Her lawyers have complained that the six-year-old was put in non-Russian speaking foster care which has delayed her language development.
The child’s mother wants to have the case transferred to Latvia, to have her daughter returned to her and to be allowed to maintain contact in the meantime. She argues that “forced adoptions” are not permitted in Latvia and that decisions about her have been made “behind closed doors”. Her supporters have argued that she deserves a second chance.
The Latvian parliamentary letter was sent last month to John Bercow MP, the Speaker of the Commons. It was signed by the chair of the human rights committee and the deputy chair of the the social and employment committee of the Saeima – Latvia’s national assembly.
There is “insufficient cross-border cooperation,” the letter states, “in relation to the UK’s national procedure of placing Latvian citizens up for adoption without parental consent”.
The Lavtians said they were aware of “several cases in which UK authorities have acknowledged that obligations [to inform other countries] … stipulated by international treaties and EU legislation have not been fulfilled”.
The Saeima representatives also complained of cases where British officials had “failed to examine the option of involving Latvian counterparts in order to ensure, wherever possible, placing a child in the custody of family members or relatives in Latvia”.
Failure to do so was a breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, they said, which recommended preserving a child’s “belonging to his/her national identity and cultural background”.
In the case of the six-year-old, according to the Latvian politicians, social services had breached both international and EU law. It was “unacceptable that between 2010 and 2014, UK authorities failed to inform” Latvia about decisions in regard to this “underage Latvian citizen”.
The Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, who campaigns on family law issues, met the Latvian justice minster last week. Hemming told the Guardian: “The Latvians are concerned because we are taking Latvian children and they are quite happy to look after them themselves.
“When a foreign national is taken under state control, the embassy are supposed to be notified straight away and that applies to children being taken into care.
“An application has been made to the court of appeal in this case and permission has been granted to appeal. The Latvian [government] has been allowed to be party to it. The Latvians are saying there’s a systematic problem in England and Wales. Other eastern European countries say so, too. It’s significant … that a foreign parliament has [alleged] that our parliament is not doing its job.”
The president of the family division, Sir James Munby, has commented on the sharp rise in care proceedings involving children from other European countries. He has called for transparency and openness between UK courts and foreign consular officials, with a presumption that they should be permitted to be present at private hearings.
Frances Orchover, a barrister specialising in family cases, said: “Given the increasing numbers of children from eastern Europe that come into the care system, it is unsurprising that the parents and family members will turn to their own governments and representatives when they run out of appeals here. If they do so during the currency of the proceedings they will usually be invited to speak or intervene to make representations.”
A spokesperson at the Department for Education, which is responsible for adoption policy, said: “The decision to remove a child from their family rests with the courts, who are independent and outside of government. UK law, which is compatible with EU law and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, is crystal clear that this should only happen when they are sure children are suffering or likely to suffer significant harm.
“When considering placements for children in care, local authorities have a duty to first consider care by family and friends, including those living outside the UK.”
Alexandra Conroy Harris, legal consultant to British Association of Fostering and Adoption, said: “[These claims have] often involved families from eastern European countries. There have been cases where the local authorities have decided that the children’s interests require adoption, and the parents … have gone to the media in their country of origin to build up support for the family and campaign against the British system of adoption without parental consent.
“In some of those cases the overseas authorities have sought to intervene in the court cases in England. There is a European treaty, known as Brussels II, which governs the circumstances in which the courts in one state can act in respect of children from another state.
“In several of these cases the English courts have accepted jurisdiction over a child without objection from the child’s country of origin at the initial stages, but the country of origin has tried to intervene later when it becomes clear that adoption is a possibility and public opinion in that country, or a request from the parents, pushes them to act.”
Last year more than 5,000 children were adopted in England and Wales.
Source: Guardian (UK)
Child Kidnapped by Fake Social Worker
September 30, 2014 permalink
In North Carolina Jeanette Medleycott-Lopez, an ordained minister with a degree in criminal justice, has been accused of kidnapping a child under pretense of being a social worker. There is no word of the fate of the abducted child.
Outreach founder charged with child abduction
A community outreach founder — whose website says the woman is an ordained minister with a degree in criminal justice — appeared in court Tuesday, accused of impersonating a social worker and abducting a 3-year-old girl from the child’s father, according to court documents.
Jeanette Medleycott-Lopez, 43, of Poodle Lane in Holly Ridge was charged Friday by Onslow County Sheriff’s Office with misdemeanor impersonation of law enforcement and abduction of children.
Warrants list a Hubert address for the complainant.
Medleycott-Lopez — whose name also appears as “Jeanette Lopez” in other court documents — is accused of telling the child’s father that she was a Department of Social Services worker and Guardian Ad Litem court advocate for children, according to warrants.
“And (she) threatened to call law enforcement if (he) didn’t give his 3-year-old daughter to her,” according to warrants.
The date of offense was May 22, according to court documents.
Contact information for the child’s father could not be found.
Guardian Ad Litem District Administrator Rusty Brown told The Daily News that he cannot confirm or deny whether Medleycott-Lopez “has any past experience” with the organization.
“It is a volunteer position and she is not a volunteer with this program,” Brown said of Medleycott-Lopez.
State law defines child abduction as unlawfully taking custody — possibly by persuasion — of a child “who is at least four years younger than the person to leave any person, agency, or institution lawfully entitled to the child’s custody,” according to N.C. General Statutes.
Medleycott-Lopez indicated she was a “student-volunteer ... at community outreach,” is responsible for five dependents and receives $2,096 monthly in food stamps and Social Security, according to an affidavit of indigency.
Medleycott-Lopez was released Monday on $50,000 bond unsecured, according to documents for appearance bond and pretrial release.
Court documents list multiple phone numbers for Medleycott-Lopez and while one of the numbers — posted multiple times — is to The Daily News’ circulation department, a number listed in an affidavit for indigency reached an answering service with a woman’s welcoming, recorded voice.
“Hi. You’ve reached Jeanette at Mama J’s Helping Hand,” the woman says in the voicemail in reference to a community outreach organization based in Sneads Ferry. The voicemail later signs off, “Thank you and have a blessed day.”
A similar voice is recorded on the greeting at the answering service for the number listed at Mama J’s Helping Hand, “a local community outreach program. ... We specialize in feeding and clothing families in need,” according to the organization’s website, MamaJsHelpingHand.com.
The organization is “solely based on donations” and accepts food, clothing, household goods and money, according to the website, which claims the woman is an ordained minister who leads support groups for domestic violence and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Jacksonville attorney Janine Dunn was appointed to represent Medleycott-Lopez, according to an order of assignment or denial.
Medleycott-Lopez’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 20 in Onslow County District Court.
Source: Daily News (Jacksonville NC)
The next day, her side.
Woman accused of impersonating DSS worker responds to allegations
ONSLOW COUNTY -
An Onslow County woman accused of impersonating a DSS worker to abduct a 3-year-old child issued a statement Wednesday, saying she never claimed to be with DSS and doesn't understand the charges against her.
Jeanette L . Medleycott-Lopez, 43, of Holly Ridge, was arrested by the Onslow County Sheriff's Office on Monday. She is charged with abduction of children (felony) and impersonating law enforcement (misdemeanor), according to warrants.
The warrants say Medleycott-Lopez allegedly approached Jonathan Davis, of Hubert, on May 22 and claimed she was a DSS worker and a court advocate for children. Medleycott-Lopez threatened to call law enforcement if Davis didn't give his 3-year-old daughter to her, the warrants state.
But Medleycott-Lopez said the allegations are false. She issued the following statement Wednesday:
"I truly do not understand why I have been charged with these crimes. I run an outreach program. It is my calling and my life's work to help people.
"This all started when a young mother contacted me and my program, Mama J's Helping Hand, trying to get help for herself and her children. She said she feared for the safety of her oldest child, who was staying with her father. The father was refusing to return the child to her. She asked me to help her have the father return the child to her.
"I told her we would try to help but we would have to call Child Protective Services. She agreed, and the mother and I went to the father's house. I told the father I was with Mama J's Helping Hands, gave him my card with the Mama J's information on it, and explained we were there to have the child returned to her mother. After talking with him, he turned the child over to her mother and we returned to Sneads Ferry.
"From there, I called Child Protective Services and turned the matter over to them.
And please, I want it understood that at NO TIME did I ever represent to anyone that I was from DSS or that I was a social worker. I do not know why these charges were taken out against me, but I am confident this is all a misunderstanding and once my side is explained in detail, this will all work out."
On Tuesday, the father of the 3-year-old girl gave NewsChannel 12 his account of what happened. Davis said Medleycott-Lopez was accompanied by the mother of his child when they knocked on his door. Davis said he believed Medleycott-Lopez when she claimed to be a DSS worker. Davis said he then handed his 3-year-old daughter to the two women.
Davis said he knew his daughter's mother was planning to leave the area, so he called DSS to find out how to legally get his daughter back. But an official told him DSS never took his child, Davis recalled.
The DSS then contacted law enforcement, Davis told NewsChannel 12.
Davis said when he was in court, he saw that his 3-year-old daughter was with another family-- one he did not recognize. Davis told NewsChannel 12 he believes his child was put up for adoption without him knowing, and that the girl had been under the care of the other family since May. Davis also claimed his child's mother and the suspect received money for the adoption.
Davis has since been reunited with his 3-year-old daughter. The Onslow County Sheriff's Office has not confirmed Davis' account of what happened.
Medleycott-Lopez posted a $50,000 bond and appeared in Onslow County District Court Tuesday morning.
OACAS Lobby Reports
September 30, 2014 permalink
The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies (OACAS) is a lobbying organization and as such is subject the the laws regulating lobbying. FOI researcher Chris Carter has obtained twelve pages of reports on the OACAS (pdf). There is a seven page report prepared by the OACAS itself and a five page report from the Office of the Integrity Commissioner.
Here are the OACAS plans for its $8,719,817 of government funding for the current year (2014):
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
September 30, 2014 permalink
Lawyer John P Schuman advises Ontario parents to speak to CAS workers when the workers are protecting children. The same parents should remain silent when CAS workers are investigating a crime. As for children, parents cannot prevent CAS workers from interviewing them at school. The parents do not even have a right to be present in person or through their lawyer. The child however has a right to have his own lawyer present.
Schuman does not say how a parent can speak and remain silent at the same time. And how many young children have the knowledge to ask for a lawyer when questioned? Getting a lawyer for a child increases the likelihood of family destruction, since frequently the child's lawyer sides with the CAS.
Can a Children's Aid Society Interview my Children without my consent? Should I speak to the CAS?
Yes. In Ontario, a Children’s Aid Society has the right to interview children without their parents’ consent during the course of a child protection investigation (an investigation into abuse or neglect). The Ministry of Children and Youth Services included interviewing children in the standards for the proper conduct of child protection investigations. Decisions in Ontario’s Child Protection Courts then said that functions of children’s aid societies under s. 15(4) the Child and Family Services Act must conducted in a manner consistent with those standards, which means the Act requires interviews of children. Since the standards say that children should be interviewed in the absence of the adults under investigation, that means the children’s aid society must interview children alone. The school cannot stop the CAS from interviewing a child either. There may be issues as to whether a particular CAS worker is qualified to interview a child with specific special needs. However, refusing to let a child speak to a CAS worker only makes it look like you are trying to hide something and you are afraid that the child may tell the CAS that you are abusing him or her.
Children are allowed to have a lawyer present while being interviewed. However, it is the child’s right to have the assistance of a lawyer not the parent’s right to have the child have a lawyer. It must be the child who seeks out and retains the lawyer, not the parent. When a parent intervenes to get a child the lawyer, that also looks like the parent trying to interfere with the child protection investigation to hide something. In short, if a parent sends a lawyer into the interview with the child, that looks bad to both the children’s aid society and the judge.
Whether you speak to a CAS worker yourself is a more complicated matter - and you really need to consult with a lawyer who does child protection law. If you do not cooperate with the CAS, that will be held against you. However, if the concerns are that you did something contrary to the Criminal Code, then you also have a right not to speak to the CAS because the CAS worker will tell the police every thing you say. If you are charged, you statements may be used against you in criminal court. If you do not speak, your refusal to speak to the CAS may be used against you in child protection court and make it difficult for you to get your kids back if the CAS takes them. This is a very difficult situation to be in. Child protection lawyers (the small number of family lawyers who do Children's Aid Society cases) can give you a lot of valuable advice, specific to your situation, to try to keep you out of trouble.
Another good reason to speak to child protection lawyer right away is that there is a big advantage to having a lawyer ready to fight back right away if the Children's Aid Society does take your kids, or starts court proceedings, or asks you to sign an agreement permitting the agency to be in your life.
John Schuman is a Certified Specialist in Family Law who has done children’s aid society cases for more than 15 years, acting for parents, children’s aid societies and native “bands” (the term in the Child and Family Services Act for First Nations.
Source: John P. Schuman
September 29, 2014 permalink
A British paper reports on social services ignoring fathers when caring for children. In other areas, fixcas has noted wide variation in the handling of fathers. Sometimes child protectors bring an absent father back into the picture as a means of weakening the position of the mother.
'Culture of not talking' with fathers
Social services have apologised for failing to tell fathers about their children's welfare
SOCIAL services have apologised for a culture of failing to tell fathers about their children’s welfare.
A father, whose seven-year-old daughter lives with her mother, complained that East Sussex Social Services failed to notify him about his child’s welfare and that social workers had shown bias towards her mother.
After an internal investigation, officials admitted there had been a “considerable delay” in contacting the father and there was “a culture of staff not talking to dads” which was accepted as “poor practise”.
Children’s Services investigated the girl’s welfare after police were called to deal with her mother on a number of occasions.
But social services did not contact her father for almost two months, by which time the girl had been interviewed and an assessment made about her welfare.
The father, who The Argus is not naming to protect his daughter’s identity, said: “My complaint was upheld and they made a clear admission that they have a culture of not talking to fathers.
“I was not listened to and there must be thousands more non-resident fathers dealing with East Sussex Social Services in that same situation.
“They began an assessment about my daughter that I had no idea about.
“They made an assessment on my daughter based on untrue claims made by her mother that they didn’t ask me about.
“They were really biased against me and she made allegations they didn’t even give me the chance to respond to.”
A review of the father’s case last year found the assessment “fails to record the father’s view in any detail and contains factual errors and inconsistencies in testimonies”.
A spokeswoman for the council said: “In every assessment and investigation, our focus is the safety of the child or children and we will continue to work with parents to ensure their protection.”
Source: The Argus (Brighton)
September 29, 2014 permalink
Colorado child protectors found the sure way to protect baby Angel Lanee Place from their parents' marijuana use: they placed her in a home where she was killed. Remember, in Colorado recreational use of marijuana is legal. The same thing happened to Alexandra Hill in Texas. The girl's middle name is Lanee, though most journalists use Lane.
11 Month Old CO Baby, Angel Lane Place, Removed for Marijuana, Killed in Foster Care
Sep 24, 2014
A foster mom taking care of an infant who was less than a year old has admitted to accidentally dropping her on September 12th and shaking her while holding her by the throat on September 15th. She is married to the brother of the infant’s biological mother and was in the process of adopting her when the infant was killed.
According to reports of the statements made by Sydney Danielle White to police, she does not know how long she shook the infant, who would not stop crying. White only stopped the assault when her own 2-year-old son entered the room and told her to stop. She then allegedly put Angel down to sleep. Angel, however, wouldn’t wake up and then became still on the right side of her body. She was taken to St. Mary’s hospital on September 16th and then taken by air to Denver Children’s Hospital, where she died after being taken off of life support on September 17th, 2014.
Angel Lane Place had been removed from her parents’ home because they were fighting and her father, Theodore Place, admitted to smoking marijuana to human services.
Both the biological mother, Tierra Place, and the biological father were under the impression that Angel was safe, that the home had been adequately screened, and that Angel was developing in a healthy manner. Tierra says her brother checked in with her every day, and she thought her daughter was safe. In speaking with the local ABC outlet CALL7, she expressed her pain at having her daughter die while not in her custody. “This is like losing her twice. I don’t know how someone could possibly do that to a baby…Inside I know she is walking with God.”
Not only should those wanting to foster and adopt be carefully screened, removing children from their parents should be a last step only used in cases of actual danger to the child. Angel Lane Place had parents who fought and a father who uses marijuana. Statistically, that meant he was less likely to be physically abusive, despite the adults’ fighting.
Especially considering that Colorado has legalized cannabis for all adult recreational use, the fact that the father’s marijuana use was even part of the decision to remove Angel Lane Place from her biological parents is disturbing. Given how the case developed, it is very questionable that this infant was removed from home and then placed with a young woman not old enough to legally be a Colorado foster mother (White is 20 and the law says foster parents must be 21 or older with a secure income).
May the family members who loved Angel Lane Place find peace after lying her to rest yesterday. No more children should be placed in a position where their life is in danger just because of their parent’s recreational or medical decisions.
September 28, 2014 permalink
Child protectors regularly attack homeschoolers. Here is a brief statement from Teresa Bowden currently under pressure from Renfrew CAS. After that the HSLDA reports on the experience of parents Lane and Susan Funkhouser in Virginia who resorted to temporary homeschooling while their children were sick. Social workers accused the family of Munchausen's and put the children in care, where one received a broken ankle and exposure to tuberculosis.
Thank you for the add. I am single disabled mother with a teen that has medical needs as well. Renfrew CAS is taking me back to curt again for the second time. I find it mind boggling that without any actual proof they can take away a parent's basic rights. They do not like that I home school and have had the judge order my son back into main stream schooling against his will. In a custody battle a child his age would be allowed to choose what parent he would want to live with but here he has no say what so ever. They have done nothing but damage both my son and myself. In Ottawa this would never have happened. In Ottawa CAS left us alone, made sure I had a PSW FREE, made sure I had transportation FREE to appointments and such. Out here they just want to tell me how to be a parent and remind me that people think I am a bad parent. It is getting to the point I am willing to lose the money put into my house and just pick up and go back to the city
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
Virginia, August 14, 2014
Social Workers Snatch Sick Kids
HSLDA Seeks Justice for Mom Accused of Faking Her Kids’ Illness
When parents have a sick child, the last thing they should have to worry about is being falsely accused of child abuse. Unfortunately, this appears to be a more and more frequent pattern in the United States.
HSLDA is undertaking a new case that reveals a very troubling example of this problem. Any of us could be this family. We could be the parents falsely accused of abuse. We could be the ones who have our children removed from us at the very moment when they most need us—when they are genuinely ill.
Lane Funkhouser, his wife Susan, and their two children (whom we will call James and Kat) were all very sick. They went to their family doctor, who was unable to diagnose the problem.
Because the children were not getting better, their attendance at public school became an issue. So Lane and Susan decided that they would homeschool James and Kat while they searched for a diagnosis and treatment.
School officials filed truancy charges against the family, which were quickly dismissed. But, as a result of these charges, the family became embroiled with a social worker named Michael Austin, an investigator for the Clarke County, Virginia, Department of Social Services (DSS).
Austin is not a doctor. He is not a nurse. He is not a psychologist. He is not a medical professional of any stripe.
But Austin determined that Susan was suffering from Munchausen syndrome by proxy. This outdated term refers to a psychological disorder in which a parent contends that her child is ill to draw attention to herself. It is extremely rare, and it requires a proper diagnosis by a qualified professional.
There’s one thing we know for sure about this case: laboratory results showed that the children were actually sick with difficult-to-treat illnesses, and it was not the result of Munchausen by proxy.
By the time Austin made his “diagnosis,” the family had found a doctor who determined what was actually going on. The children had a combination of strep, a parasite, and a bacterial infection called Clostridium difficile (C. diff.)—a condition that kills over 14,000 Americans each year. There were positive lab results showing that the children had C. diff. And the doctor prescribed treatment for the children for these illnesses.
The doctor told the family to go to the hospital for treatment of C. diff. They went to Rockingham Memorial Hospital where they were treated and told to return if their symptoms got worse.
In the meantime, we believe Austin had shared his Munchausen theory with the hospital staff and other DSS workers.
Frankly, the hospital staff should have known better. They had a diagnosis from a licensed doctor and valid lab results. But they listened instead to an inventive social worker who was utterly unqualified to be making a diagnosis of any kind.
On July 25, 2012, Shenandoah County social workers removed James and Kat Funkhouser from their home. Lane and Susan were cooperative, thinking the social workers were simply helping transport the children to the hospital for additional treatment. But that’s not what happened.
The social workers brought James and Kat to the emergency room, where—surprise!—they were diagnosed with C. diff. and prescribed medication.
Despite the fact that the plain medical facts were staring them in the face, the social workers from this neighboring county decided to pursue Austin’s theory. Rather than taking the children back home to their parents for rest and recovery, they put the children in foster care.
A week later, the social workers showed up in court to defend their decision to take away the Funkhouser children. Even though they now had medical confirmation that the children were actually sick and that Susan wasn’t just making up stories to get attention, the judge allowed them to continue the investigation and keep the children in foster care.
Meanwhile, in the foster care children’s home, James and Kat were interrogated repeatedly by employees of the home, who insisted that their parents didn’t love them and that they were never going home, and then tried to get them to give information about how their parents had neglected them.
James and Kat had no such information to give, of course. Inexplicably, the Shenandoah County investigators themselves never talked to the children.
While in the home, which included foster children who had violent criminal and drug histories, James injured his ankle. When he reported it to the staff, they told him it was nothing serious and refused to take him to a doctor.
On August 29, Shenandoah County DSS finally released James and Kat after being ordered by the court to do so. Their parents immediately took James to a doctor to check out his ankle. It turned out that his ankle was broken, not just sprained, and had been left untreated for three weeks. And it turned out that the Funkhouser children had been exposed to tuberculosis while at the children’s home, so to compound all their other health problems, they were put on a regimen of anti-tuberculosis drugs for a year.
About a month later, Shenandoah County DSS decided that the initial allegations about Munchausen by proxy were unfounded. On October 16, Lane and Susan received a letter telling them the investigation was closed.
But then in court on November 7, the attorney for Shenandoah County argued that the family still needed court supervision. Thankfully the judge disagreed.
He looked at the medical evidence, some from the Funkhousers’ doctor and some from the court’s own medical investigator. These facts decimated DSS’ claim of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. The judge dismissed the petition, and James and Kat Funkhouser were home free.
Well, except that they had to receive several months of counseling to recover from the trauma of being suddenly taken from their parents and held in a frightening home for five weeks.
Parents shouldn’t be afraid to keep looking for medical answers. Taking sick children to doctors until they get a proper diagnosis is good parenting. But too often, looking for the right doctor elicits suspicion from social service investigators and medical staff.
HSLDA is hearing about more and more cases where children are being taken away from their families because doctors disagree about their medical treatment. And we can’t take all these cases on.
But we’re taking the Funkhouser case.
HSLDA is fighting for Lane, Susan, James, and Kat because we are sick and tired of seeing parental rights eroded in virtually every area of parenting, including medical and educational decisions. We believe that parents honestly seeking the best treatment for their children should not be punished by irresponsible allegations of child neglect.
We are suing Michael Austin, the Shenandoah County caseworkers, and the employees of the children’s home for their negligence and misconduct. When government workers steamroll parents and children, as they did in this case, the government needs a sharp reminder that families have rights.
But HSLDA’s membership dues aren’t sufficient to fund cases like this one. We are representing the Funkhousers because we believe our members and supporters will identify with the Funkhousers and join us in standing up for them.
You Can Help
Your tax-deductible gifts to the Homeschool Freedom Fund of the Home School Foundation will make it possible for us to take this case to court and try to establish a precedent that will protect all parents.
When the government tramples on one family’s rights, all of us are at risk. But when we stand together, we can fight back for freedom and for truth.
Thank you for your continuing generosity in this case and throughout HSLDA’s history. Please consider supporting the Homeschool Freedom Fund, and please pray for us! We need and are grateful for your ongoing support in prayer.
Connecticut is blaming homeschooling for the Sandy Hook School massacre.
Commission: Evaluate some home-schooled kids for emotional issues
HARTFORD -- Parents who home-school children with significant emotional, social or behavioral problems would have to file progress reports prepared by special education program teams, under a proposal being considered by the governor's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission.
Commission members acknowledged Tuesday that the proposal, contained in a tentative section of the panel's final report, could be controversial and prompt opposition from parents of home-schooled children across the state.
But the commission, which is preparing its final report to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, said tighter scrutiny of home-schoolers may be needed to prevent an incident such as the December 2012 slaughter of 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. The murders were carried out by Adam Lanza, a disturbed 20-year-old who had been home-schooled by his mother, Nancy Lanza, whom he also shot to death on the morning of his murder spree.
The draft proposal was contained in a summary prepared for the 16-member commission of educators, local and state officials and behavioral experts and discussed by University of Connecticut Professor Susan Schmeiser.
Under the proposal, home-schooled children with behavioral and emotional disabilities would have to have individualized education plans approved by the special education director of the local public school district. Allowing for the continued home-schooling of such children would be predicated on the individualized plans and "adequate progress" documented in mandatory annual reports.
"Given the individuals involved in the tragedy that formed the basis of this commission, I think we have thought this issue out at some length and we believe it is very germane and that the actual facts leading up to this incident support the notion of the risk in not addressing social and emotional learning needs of children who may have significant needs in that area who are home-schooled," said commissioner member Dr. Harold I. Schwartz, psychiatrist-in-chief at Hartford Hospital's Institute of Living.
As many as 5,000 children or more are home-schooled in the state. Their parents may voluntarily take advantage of school-based programs, including diagnosis and services, but they are not required to.
"Parents may want to get their back up and say, `You can't make me do that if I am home-schooling,' " said Patricia Keavney-Maruco, a commission member who is on the state Board of Education.
Source: Connecticut Post
Prostitution, Drugs, Runaway, Ambulance, Hospital, Homicide
September 26, 2014 permalink
The headline lists some of the experiences of Manitoba teenagers housed in Winnipeg hotels as reported by the CBC.
Teens in CFS care in Winnipeg Hotels say they've seen prostitution, drugs
Average number of Manitoba children and youth put up in hotels has spiked in recent years
Manitoba's Child and Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross says more has to be done to keep children in care from being placed in hotels on an emergency basis.
Child welfare authorities place dozens of teenagers in Winnipeg hotels every day, and some teens have told CBC News they have witnessed prostitution and drug use during their stays.
Irvin-Ross responded to a CBC report Friday that as many as 80 teens are put up in hotels, and some are free to come and go as they please.
The minister mentioned the story of one girl in care who said she was exposed to drugs and prostitution while staying in a hotel.
"That's concerning and we will certainly work with the youth and find them places of safety in the community,” said Irvin-Ross. “We don't want children in hotels and that is our focus.”
The latest numbers the provincial government posted online show an average of 65 children and youth in hotels in March of this year. That number has spiked. From 2007 to May 2012, the monthly averages were zero to 17.
Irvin-Ross said money could be better spent on counsellors, more foster care and programs to help families in crisis.
"That is why we are doing foster parent recruitment, that's why we are working with families, to hope that children don't come into care," said Irvin-Ross. "Placing children in hotels is not our priority."
She also said that in some cases, hotels are used during the interim because finding foster parents for larger family groups can take longer.
"In some instances we have to rely on hotels if it's a large sibling group, because it takes a little bit longer to find a foster home placement."
Social workers absent, says teen
In many cases at the hotels, no Child and Family Services (CFS) social workers are on hand, and care is left to contract workers from a company called Complete Care.
"Well, sometimes there would be other hotel rooms open through johns and hookers and other older people, I guess.… They're just there to drink or party," said an 18-year-old CBC News is calling "Katrina," who was in ministry care in a hotel.
"You could do it in your own hotel room because the workers, they would go and have breakfast or lunch or supper with the other workers in a different room. So they weren't really watching you as they should have been," she told CBC News.
The provincial Child and Family Services Department paid Complete Care $8,368,207 in 2013. That's up from $5,925,854 in 2012.
Complete Care workers fill in when regular ministry staff call in sick or there is a shortage.
Tina Fontaine allowed to leave hotel
Tina Fontaine was taken to hospital by ambulance on Aug. 8 after the 15-year-old was found passed out in a back lane off Ellice Avenue.
A Complete Care worker later checked in Fontaine at the Best Western Charterhouse Hotel, but Fontaine did not spend the night there. She was allowed to leave the hotel.
Fontaine was reported missing on Aug. 9, and her body was recovered from the Red River on Aug. 17. Winnipeg police are treating her death as a homicide, but no arrests have been made to date.
"I think they should have put her somewhere where they would have kept her safe, not somebody that's not going to watch her," said Lana Fontaine, Tina's aunt.
"Child and Family [Services] sure isn't going to be watching her. Nobody in a hotel is watching her. So both places are not safe."
CBC News was told that workers keep a log book and mark down what the children were last seen wearing, and if they do not return for their nightly curfew they are reported missing. That's what happened with Tina Fontaine.
Katrina, who had befriended Fontaine days before she went missing, said teens in care in hotels can come and go as they please.
"You're free to walk out at any time. All they'll do is write down what you're wearing…. You can boss them around a lot. If you tell them to go to bed, they'll go to bed," she said.
"We could do whatever we wanted because no one was forcing us to go to school. So there was a lot of problems."
She added, "The person who placed us in the hotel, she would call a lot and make all these rules saying if we're going to hang out with our friends, we'd have to go off the property. You can't hang out in rooms. You can't smoke in rooms. Can't do drugs in rooms. We had to respect our staff."
Introduced to drugs
Fifteen-year-old "Katy" said she has been introduced to a variety of illicit drugs at a hotel within the past few months, while under care.
"If I wasn't in care, I probably wouldn't have known what any of those drugs were, honestly," she said.
Katy said she constantly runs away from her placements, including earlier this week.
She said she has been in three hotels and 10 group homes in the past four months alone.
"I'd say it's hard. It takes a toll on you because you find some place and you think you're comfortable. And then the next thing you know, you're getting moved again and it keeps happening," she said.
"We give up hope."
In a statement to CBC News, a provincial government spokesperson said officials only use hotels when there is no other option.
"Our first priority is the safety of children in care and we are committed to eliminating the use of hotels, except under exceptional circumstance, or when there are no other viable options available," the spokesperson wrote.
Manitoba government's full response
In an email, a government spokesperson for Child and Family Services responded to questions put forward by CBC News:
CBC News: Why are CFS kids still in hotels at all? Is there no other room for them anywhere else?
CFS: Our first priority is the safety of children in care and we are committed to eliminating the use of hotels, except under exceptional circumstance, or when there are no other viable options available.
It is a policy that there will be adult supervision of all children placed in hotels. This supervision is provided by adult support staff. A protocol allows children to be placed in hotels temporarily, but only under very limited circumstances:
- A community crisis requiring emergency placement such as flood or fire;
- If a sibling group is taken into care and there is no other suitable place they can be placed together, in a hotel; and
- Health or mental health issues requiring a child be placed with no other children and such a placement is not available elsewhere.
All hotel placements must be approved by a Child and Family Services authority or designate. Manitoba has worked to bring hotel use numbers down, for example with improvements to foster parent programs:
- Increased funding for foster parents 9 times and also increased special needs funding by 150 per cent.
- Reinstated the Manitoba Foster Family Network, a new investment of $555,000 annually.
- Launched a foster family recruitment campaign, which increased foster and emergency beds by over 3,000 to more than 12,400 beds.
- Provided specialized training to foster parents and workers throughout the province.
- More than 750 new families began fostering children last year, for a total of about 4,800 foster families across the province. We have increased the basic child maintenance rate increase by almost 25 per cent over the last five years.
- Increased number of emergency foster beds available to the Emergency Placement Registry from 84 to over 150, meaning greater capacity for staff who work with child services agencies to arrange long-term placements between foster families and children-in-care.
- Passed "Gage's Law" to reinforce that child safety is the highest priority when placing children.
Statistics on CFS placements in hotels
Below are the Manitoba Child and Family Services Department's numbers on CFS placements in hotels. These statistics and others can be found on the department's website.
Saskatchewan Social Worker Stabbed
September 26, 2014 permalink
An unidentified Regina social worker has been stabbed. Client Colleen Piapot, age 21, sought out the worker at her home for the attack. Assistant Deputy Minister of Disability of Programs Bob Wihlidal says: “For example, for income assistance, we have about 65,000 client interactions every month and since 2012, so the past two and a half years, there have been 38 incidents of violence and those were threats of violence.” Income assistance is not the kind of interaction that gets a social worker stabbed.
Stabbing of Regina social worker highlights risks of the job
REGINA – More details are emerging about a stabbing that sent one woman to hospital and another behind bars facing attempted murder charges.
The victim of the attack on September 17th was a 49-year-old social worker in Regina.
According to the owner of The Mercury Café & Grill, Chris Plumb, the victim sought help at his café just before 10:00 p.m.
“We’re sitting here, having drinks on the patio for a private birthday party and a woman came from down the road holding her arms,” he recalled. “We didn’t realize until she got here that she was asking for help.”
Plumb says he and his staff helped the woman while they waited for police and emergency crews to arrive.
“She was in a panic, right. She was a little traumatized at the time when she came in,” he added. “Once we got a look at her you could tell she’d been stabbed. Numerous times, at least five from what I could tell.”
EMS brought the woman to hospital with serious injuries and police later located and arrested Colleen Piapot.
The 21-year-old is now facing attempted murder charges.
The woman was a social worker and according to Plumb told staff at the café she’d been attacked at her home by a client.
“Something went south and the client got mad, grabbed a butcher knife and started swinging,” he recounted.
The social services ministry doesn’t comment on a particular case, but Assistant Deputy Minister of Disability of Programs Bob Wihlidal, said protocols are in place regarding a client visiting a social worker’s residence.
“Yes there would be protocols and policies in place around relationships between clients and workers,” he added. “No, I wouldn’t say workers do work out of their houses.”
Wihlidal adds that safety is a top priority and while the risks for employees is a reality, violent interactions are relatively rare.
“For example, for income assistance, we have about 65,000 client interactions every month and since 2012, so the past two and a half years, there have been 38 incidents of violence and those were threats of violence.”
Bob Bymoen is the president of the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union and said the attack is a reminder about the risks social workers face on the job.
He added more needs to be done to ensure employee’s safety.
“The ministry does have some policies and protocols, there is some trainings, but as budgets get strained, training is get difficult,” he explained. “That’s why one of the things I’ve asked the government on behalf of the employees over the years is more opportunities for training.”
All reported violent incident are reviewed, but Plumb says he’s just grateful he and his staff were there to help when the outcome could have turned out a lot worse.
“She came to the right place where people do care and want to help.”
Piapot’s next court date is set for October 1st.
Source: Global News
Addendum: Two weeks after the stabbing there is an unusual twist. The lady accused of attempted murder was a former foster child and the stabbing victim was her social worker.
Stabbing case in Regina involves social worker and former client
A stabbing case before the courts in Regina has taken an unusual turn with an allegation that the victim and alleged stabber were involved in an inappropriate relationship.
Colleen Piapot, 21, appeared in court Wednesday on a charge of attempted murder. Piapot is accused of stabbing a long-time social worker multiple times. She was arrested on Sept. 17 when, according to police, a 49-year-old woman was taken to hospital with stab wounds following an incident that took place in Regina's Cathedral neighbourhood.
Outside of provincial court Wednesday, Piapot's sister Terrilyn told CBC News that she and Colleen were once clients of the social worker.
"She used to be our social worker when we were young kids and we were in foster care," Terrilyn Piapot, the older of the two women, said outside court. "I guess Colleen has kept a relationship with her all of our lives."
She also claimed that the relationship involved some questionable activities, saying the social worker gave her sister money, food and alcohol.
Colleen Piapot's next court appearance was set for later in October.
There was no immediate information available on the condition of the injured woman.
A confidential source has confirmed to CBC News that an investigation has begun in the ministry of social services, looking into the allegations.
On Wednesday, officials from the province declined to comment on the case noting the matter was before the courts.
In a statement officials said that staff in the social services ministry "are required to conduct themselves in a professional and ethical manner. Any allegation of staff misconduct is treated very seriously and thoroughly investigated."
The government added that when allegations of misconduct do arise such cases are investigated and would include the employee's union.
Kids Lose Parents over Child Porn
September 25, 2014 permalink
In the arrest of 59 people charged with child pornography 14 children were separated from their families. The police describe the separation with the word "rescue". There is no report of what the children themselves call the separation.
14 rescued in child-porn busts: OPP
TORONTO - Ontario Provincial Police have charged 59 people in a massive child-porn investigation.
Police are providing an update on the “massive” province-wide probe that targeted Internet child exploitation.
A total of 245 charges have been after the 97 search warrants were executed.
The charges include making child pornography and sexual assault.
A total of 14 underage victims were rescued during the investigation.
Source: Toronto Sun
Disempowered Parents Charged
September 24, 2014 permalink
When a Missouri schoolboy threatened to bring a gun to school, his parents Robert Allen McGrane and Sarah Elizabeth McGrane were charged with felonies.
What would have happened if the parents had tried to stop the boy's threats by punishing his misbehavior? They most likely would have been punished themselves or lost their son. Parents are being penalized for actions over which they have no legal control.
Child threatens violence, parents arrested
Investigators find unsanitary home environment, lack of healthcare
A child’s threats to bring a gun to school led to charges being filed against his parents for allegations of neglect and abuse.
Robert Allen McGrane, 27, of Desloge, has been charged with the Class C felony of abuse or neglect of a child. His bond was set at $15,000. Sarah Elizabeth McGrane, 27, has been charged with the Class C felony of endangering the welfare of a child. Her bond was also set at $15,000.
According to court records a social worker, a Children’s Division employee and members of the Desloge Police investigated after an elementary school-aged boy threatened to bring a gun to school and shoot and stab people.
The Children’s Division worker had previously met with the parents in what she deemed as an unproductive meeting. The child had been removed from a regular classroom setting for threats of violence.
“It was determined by members of the school and (the Children’s Division worker) that the child needed immediate medical attention due to the behavior he was displaying,” a probable cause statement reads. “(The child) was displaying extreme signs of mental illness and neither parents wanted to seek medical treatment for their child …”
When police talked to the child it was determined that the child also had signs of physical abuse.
Investigators searched the McGranes’ house and found that the home had bugs, no hot water, not enough beds, no working toilet and evidence of drug abuse.
When questioned, Robert McGrane admitted to investigators that he abused Percocets. He admitted causing injuries to the boy by physically lifting the boy up by the hips and placing him in a chair; striking the boy’s head on the arm chair. He said the child’s mother was present and witnessed it.
He said other sores were from a skin disorder. He admitted they failed to provide medical attention for the boy. He also admitted to having anger issues.
Source: Daily Journal Online, Park Hills Missouri
Multinational Foster Care
September 24, 2014 permalink
A group called KeyAssets has a website soliciting foster parents in Ontario. Below we enclose three pages, two giving the stories of the founders, the last offering $75 per day tax-feee to Ontario foster parents. This sum is about double the payments that foster parents have reported to fixcas.
The same group is operating in Australia and New Zealand. Founders Jan and Jim do not give their surnames or nationality on the Canadian site, but the New Zealand webpage names them as Jim Cockburn and Jan Rees. Fostering is a lucrative enough business to attract a multinational corporation masquerading as a mom-and-pop business.
Meet our founders Jan and Jim. They founded Key Assets’ sister company FCA, in 1994, back in the days when Friends had only just hit our television screens and smart phones were still a daydream.
Jan and Jim had already been a foster carer and social worker, so they knew more than a thing or two about fostering. They were passionate about it too and were keen to make an even bigger difference to the lives of children who are fostered. So, what did they do? They found a small office in the leafy English countryside and started their own fostering agency; FCA.
That was almost 20 years ago and we’ve been placing children with loving foster carers ever since. We’ve come a long way since those early days and we’re now part of the Core Assets Group, offering a wide range of services to children and families.
Our fashion and hairstyles may have changed over the years, but our values have stayed the same. Jan and Jim are still the centre of our family. Our commitment to changing the lives of children and youth is stronger than ever. And our foster carers are still at the heart of everything we do.
Key Assets Canada began in 2009 in Southern Ontario as part of Jim and Jan’s vision to make a difference in the lives of children all over the world – and that’s just what we are doing, one child at a time!
Source: KeyAssets Canada
Key Assets New Zealand is part of the Core Assets Group, an international organisation which provides an extensive portfolio of social care services for children and young people, including foster care.
We’re founder led by Jim Cockburn (Executive Chairman) and Jan Rees (non-Executive Director) and closely managed by a Board of Directors whose wide range of skills, knowledge and experience, guide our organisation towards healthy growth without compromising our visions and values.
Key Assets is led by Angie Simpson and Wayne Ferguson who are responsible for bringing forward our core aspirations whilst maintaining the highest standard of service delivery. Angie and Wayne oversee the general running of Key Assets and provide programme/service management and planning oversight.
Our ever-expanding international portfolio of services is fully audited by the Group’s global Auditor to ensure sound governance and the highest professional standards in all its entities.
Our operating structure reflects our culture, with a short and simple chain between strategy and service delivery. Its systems and internal controls throughout the organisation ensure that we comply with statutory, regulatory and internal policies and procedures.
Source: KeyAssets New Zealand
Payments and allowances
Fostering is a fantastic career and our carers deserve to be rewarded for their hard work. That’s why we offer generous and competitive fostering allowances.
Our allowances take into account the demands of foster care and the significance of the role you play in a child or youth’s life. They payments are designed to help you cover the cost of looking after the child in your care.
We don’t just reward you financially though. At Key Assets we offer unrivalled levels of support and training to all of our foster carers.
How much will I receive?
You will receive a total of $75 per day while a foster child is in your care. This amount covers the child’s expenses as well as the carer’s allowance. Generally one third ($25) of the daily allowance will be spent on the foster child.
What expenses will I be responsible to pay for from this allowance?
The fostering allowance takes into account the costs of living with a foster child. Some of these costs include:
- Household bills
- Everyday living
You know the needs of the child placed with you best, so you will have some flexibility around how this allowance is spent on the foster child each week. It is however, mandatory that you establish a savings account for the foster child and make ongoing payments to this.
Will I be taxed on the allowance I receive?
No, you will not be taxed on this amount.
Source: KeyAssets Canada
Parents Squabble, Lose Daughter
September 24, 2014 permalink
When parents Josh and Amanda Harris had an argument in a park, they left separately each believing the other took their 4-year-old daughter Zayshia. The girl was picked up by Kansas police and the parents have to fight to get her back from foster care.
Girl, 4, found wandering at Wyandotte County Lake playground
KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -
The parents of a 4-year-old girl found wandering at Wyandotte County Lake say they made a significant mistake and will never put their daughter at risk again.
Zayshia Harris remains with a foster family as authorities sort it all out, including by interviewing other family members. The couple still has custody of their other four children.
"It was just an accident that turned into a nightmare," said Josh Harris, the girl's father.
After the Wyandotte County Sheriff's Office went public Sunday afternoon with news that the girl had gone unclaimed for more than 12 hours, the mother contacted authorities. The mother then went to the sheriff's office headquarters Sunday afternoon where detectives questioned her.
The couple said in an exclusive interview with KCTV5 that a fight between them led to a miscommunication. Each parent thought the other had Zayshia.
The child was found in the playground area near the front entrance. Parkgoers alerted a deputy on routine patrol that the girl was alone at the playground at dusk. The deputy then took control of the girl after the parents couldn't be located.
Lt. Kelli Bailiff of the Wyandotte County Sheriff's Office said the little girl told deputies her name, and she said she lives in the Kansas City, KS, area.
The child was taken to the hospital to be checked out. She's fine physically and is now in protective custody, Bailiff said.
"She's safe, and she's doing well," Bailiff told KCTV5.
Authorities are interviewing family friends and relatives to verify the couple's separate accounts including where each was Saturday night.
KCTV5 spoke to Josh and Amanda Harris. They live in a KCK neighborhood with their five children. They were having marital problems when they headed to the lake on Saturday with some friends, and Josh and Amanda Harris took separate vehicles.
They say the spat continued at the lake, and they barely spoke to each other. When it was time to depart, each thought that Zayshia was leaving with the other parent. Amanda Harris went to a relative's house, where she spent the night. She didn't talk to her husband so she didn't know her daughter was missing. Josh Harris thought his youngest daughter was with his wife.
"We were giving each other time to cool off," Josh Harris said.
And then a relative saw the girl's face on KCTV5's Facebook page and alerted Amanda Harris. Panicked, she called her husband.
"So I called her dad screaming and crying and trying to see where she was. Then that's when he starts screaming, 'She's with you. She's with you.' And we just kept screaming and yelling," Amanda Harris recalled.
She then quickly called police and learned that their daughter was in foster care.
The couple readily admits they learned valuable lessons about relationships and parenting this weekend, and are quite relieved that their little girl is OK. Josh Harris says he will sleep on the couch if needed after a fight, and Amanda Harris said she will always check on her kids.
"My daughter is going with me from now on. If someone needs a ride, I'm sorry, but my girls are staying in my car," Amanda Harris said.
"From now on, when there's an argument, I'm sleeping on the couch, and you can have the bedroom," Josh Harris told his wife.
Deputies didn't immediately alert the public because they hoped a family member would contact authorities to report her missing. When more than 12 hours had passed and no one had come forward to claim the little girl, Bailiff alerted the media.
Wyandotte County Sheriff Don Ash thanked the media for their help and in getting the child's mother located. He said the woman saw her daughter on the news and then contacted deputies.
"Detectives are interviewing her to determine how this could come about," Ash said. "Obviously the 4-year-old didn't get out here by herself. Obviously somebody brought her."
A judge will determine later this week whether the child is returned to the care of her parents, Ash said. Until then, she remains in protective care.
"It's just something that, unfortunately, could have happened to anyone. Now we're just hoping to get our daughter back and be happy tomorrow," Josh Harris said.
"It's been hell," Amanda Harris said.
The lake is off 94th Street and Leavenworth Road in western Wyandotte County.
Those enjoying the lake Sunday afternoon were horrified by the situation and were grateful something awful didn't happen to the child who could have wandered into the lake.
One issue that will concern authorities is Amanda Harris' story has changed since Sunday. She said it's changed because she's had additional time to reflect on what happened, and that a female relative was suppose to be watching the 4-year-old girl.
Tiffany Simsheuser, Amanda Harris' stepsister, said Amanda Harris agreed to give her and her daughter a ride. She said two of Amanda Harris' children were with them. She said the rest of the children were suppose to be with Amanda Harris' stepmother.
"Amanda and Josh both know they are in the wrong for what happened," Simsheuser said. "They are not trying to put the blame off or act like they didn't do anything wrong. But at the same time, they are very loving parents."
She said the family is heartbroken that they couldn't get their daughter back on Monday.
"Every time I speak to her she is in tears," Simsheuser said.
A social worker visited the Harris home on Monday.
"They know that Zayshia's safer back home than wherever she's sitting at so they want her back home," Simsheuser said.
Source: WSMV Nashville
No One Responsible for Rape by State
September 24, 2014 permalink
In an extraordinary incident in Wisconsin social worker Peter J Nelsen forced himself sexually on mother Theola Nealy with the threat of removing her children. When she got pregnant, the state took her two children into care, and they have not been returned. When Nealy gave birth to Nelsen's daughter Melina, that girl was taken and placed with Nelsen. Nealy sued Nelsen and the state of Wisconsin for damages. The state of Wisconsin opposed the suit. But Nelsen, who has switched careers and is now a janitor without assets, put up no defense. A jury has ruled that the taxpayers of the state of Wisconsin are not financially responsible for damages to Nealy but assessed $1.5 million against Nelsen. In the end Theola Nealy was raped with the power of the state and there are no meaningful consequences for anyone.
Woman impregnated by her social worker gets $1.5 million in damages
A federal jury ruled Wednesday that the state of Wisconsin is not financially liable for a Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare social worker who impregnated an emotionally troubled woman he had investigated for child maltreatment.
However, the jury awarded Theola Nealy $500,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages. The defendant, Peter Nelsen, is responsible for the entire amount but the state is not financially liable for his behavior.
Nealy had sought $15 million in damages.
Nelsen has admitted that he was assigned by the bureau in July 2007 to investigate an allegation that Nealy had abused or neglected her two young children. The former social worker now works as a janitor and has few resources.
Nelsen has admitted he had sex with her several times in the fall of that year. Nealy testified on Tuesday that she did not want to have sex with Nelsen but did so because she was afraid he would place her children in foster care.
Nealy discovered she was pregnant in November 2007. She testified that Nelsen threatened to remove her two children if she did not have an abortion. Nelsen denied he made such a threat.
Nealy refused to have an abortion, and the bureau removed both children. They have never been returned.
Nealy gave birth to a daughter on Aug. 19, 2008. Nelsen controlled her contact with the child. Nealy testified on Tuesday that she was afraid she would lose custody of the child if she told anyone what had happened.
In the spring of 2009, Nealy told both a bureau caseworker and a W-2 worker about Nelsen. The W-2 worker, not the bureau caseworker, told bureau officials about Nelsen.
Rather than fire Nelsen, the bureau accepted his letter of resignation on April 2009. Nelsen's resignation was treated as a termination and he was denied unemployment benefits.
Nelsen retained placement of the baby and was eventually awarded full custody of the child.
Nealy's attorney, Joy Bertrand, argued that Nelsen used his position with the bureau to manipulate Nealy into having sex with him and to gain access to their daughter. He did these things, she argued, within the scope of his employment, making the state liable for damages.
But Monica A. Burkert-Brist, an assistant attorney general, argued that Nelsen's abuse of Nealy was well out of his scope of employment. Though despicable, he and he alone was responsible for damages.
Source: Journal Sentinel
A later edit corrected the award to $1.05 million.
Help Bring Thor Home
September 23, 2014 permalink
Karen Plumridge is trying rescue her son from CAS.
My son Thorin and I miss each other very much. He has been living for almost two years in southern Ontario at a treatment facility and unfortunately it seems now he will not be returning back to his hometown and family in Northern Ontario. For this reason I liquidated whatever possible, sold off possessions, drained my bank account, and borrowed money in order to pay for transcripts and legal fees for an appeal. The rest of the money was to relocate as close as possible to him. As soon as I moved here I was informed that they were considering moving him.. again. Whether they do or not it is clear it will take funds to keep pursuing having my parental rights to DIRECT HIS CARE restored, the Northern Travel grant program, for instance. It is my only wish (and his too) that by this summer he will be visiting me at my home a few times a week, and I am seeing a lot more of him in his community, until he is slowly integrated back into my home with whatever community supports there are available down there. I would be grateful for any help from anyone. Thank you, from my son and I.
Source: Go Get Funding
There is also a Facebook for this family, Help Bring Thor Home.
Alberta Sued for Letting Foster Girls Die
September 21, 2014 permalink
Two mothers are suing Alberta after their daughters Kyleigh Crier and Nevaeh Michaud died while in foster care.
Mothers sue government after daughters die in care
EDMONTON - Two mothers whose daughters died while in government care claim the deaths were due to negligence and have each sued the province for $682,000.
Statements of claim filed by Crystal Crier and Desiree Michaud allege specific negligence at the care homes where their daughters died and systemic provincial issues within the “opaque, secretive and deficient system for investigating the deaths of children in care that fails to collect, track and implement changes to prevent further deaths from occurring.”
In April 2014, Kyleigh Crier, 15, hanged herself from a closet bar rod at Crossroads House, an Edmonton group home licensed under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act. Her body wasn’t discovered by staff for 12 hours.
Before her death, the suit claims, Crossroads staff knew the teenager was in trouble. Kyleigh Crier told her mother she was being bullied at Crossroads and Crystal Crier then approached staff and “requested they intervene to protect” her daughter.
“The defendants were aware that Kyleigh had distinct behavioural and mental health issues that required specialized care,” the suit states. “Kyleigh had a history of engaging in self-harm conduct, including cutting.”
Before she died, she changed the banner on her Facebook page, posting a photo of a coffin with the words: “Now, everyone loves me.”
In 2001, the suit points out, a fatality inquiry into the death of another child in care resulted in a recommendation that provincial group homes use breakaway closet bar rods to prevent such deaths. Crossroads had no such breakaway rods.
Crossroads “did not have the proper procedures and policies to provide for her safety and care,” the claim states.
Crystal Crier is also claiming damages for events after her daughter’s death, including the province’s initial refusal to release the body and a blanket publication ban that ensured she was “prohibited by law from publicly grieving or identifying that Kyleigh had died, compounding the injuries she suffered from the loss of her daughter.”
Eight-year-old Nevaeh Michaud, 8, died in her sleep at the Ayesha’s Light group home on Jan. 5, 2014. The girl was found unresponsive around 8 p.m. and was pronounced dead at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital. Her cause of death, the claim states, was a fatal concentration of sedative prescribed to the girl to help her sleep.
The lawsuit alleges that group home staff failed to properly store and dispense the sedative to the eight-year-old.
“The defendants were aware that Nevaeh had global development delays,” the suit states. “Her cognitive abilities and functioning were below what is considered normal for a child her age.”
Desiree Michaud’s lawsuit states that the treatment of her after the girl’s death was “malicious and oppressive, representing a marked departure from the ordinary standards of decent behaviour.”
In July, the provincial government overturned a publication ban that made it illegal to publish the names and pictures of children and teens who died while receiving child welfare services, even if their families wanted to go public.
The ban was overturned 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.
Statements of claim contain allegations not proven in court.
Source: Edmonton Journal
Escape from CAS
September 19, 2014 permalink
After most members of Lev Tahor fled to Guatemala, some were still being held in Ontario. On August 28 two teenaged Lev Tahor girls living in Spurgeon's Villa north of Chatham were discovered to be missing. The Chatham Daily News says that a week ago they fled to upstate New York where they were reunited with their father. Chatham children's aid will say nothing, the Chatham police report only that the girls are safe. It is unknown whether the girls are free to rejoin their community in Guatemala or whether Chatham CAS is trying to get them forcibly returned.
Lev Tahor girls were under care of CKCS
Two teenage girls who are members of the ultra-orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor have fled from foster care while under the care of the Chatham-Kent Children's Services.
Chatham-Kent police released a statement to The Chatham Daily News Friday that is it aware of the situation and that the girls are safe, but noted further information would have to come from CKCS, because it is their investigation.
Bonnie Wightman, CKCS senior director of service, said in written release that any child who is placed in the care of a children's aid society is generally done so through the Child and Family Services Act.
“The Act also mandates client confidentiality and privacy for any family that we are involved with so Chatham-Kent Children's Services is unable to provide you with any specifics concerning any children who may or may not be in our care,” Wightman said.
The Daily News has also tried to reach members of Lev Tahor.
According to media reports, the two girls, aged 15 and 17, fled to upstate New York last Friday where they were reunited with their father. They found refuge with an American lawyer and have been supported by Children's Services Niagara County.
Approximately 200 members of Lev Tahor arrived in Chatham-Kent last November after packing up the community in Ste. Agathe, Que., and leaving in the night after months of investigation by Quebec child protection authorities over allegations of neglect and child abuse.
QMI Agency reported in late August that about 60 members who had fled to Guatemala, were on the move again.
It was confirmed by CKCS that the last members of the group had left Spurgeon's Villa, the quiet rural enclave of duplexes north of Chatham, where they had been living.
“We went on a routine visit Thursday morning (Aug. 28) and discovered no one from Lev Tahor in any of the units they had rented,” said CKCS executive director Stephen Doig in a previous interview.
He noted their departure was unexpected, adding they left personal possessions and furniture behind.
Source: Chatham Daily News
46-year-old Dead Baby Found
September 19, 2014 permalink
When Marion Coombs was nineteen years old she gave birth to a baby in Alberta. Just after the birth she was told her baby had died. 46 years later she was astonished to hear from her son, Andrew Allan. He had traced his mother after Alberta opened its adoption records. Marion was one more victim of the dead baby scam.
N.L. mom reunited with Alberta son she thought was dead
Marion Coombs, Andrew Allan reunited after Alberta opens adoption records
CBC News Posted: Sep 16, 2014 8:19 AM NT Last Updated: Sep 16, 2014 2:38 PM NT
A Newfoundland woman has been reunited with the son she put up for adoption, 46 years after she was told he had died.
"It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life," said Marion Coombs, who gave birth to a boy when she was 19 and living in Alberta.
Unable to provide the life for him that she wanted, she agreed to adoption — her pain compounded by the fact that soon after making her decision, hospital staff told her he had not survived.
"I used to think, 'if only I could have held him. If only I could have had a picture of him,' " Coombs told CBC News.
Her grief lingered for almost five decades — until Alberta opened up its adoption records, and she received a letter from Andrew Allan, who had gone searching for his mother.
Allan had a happy childhood, but had always felt something was missing.
"[I had been] wondering who I was, and not understanding and feeling like I was lost. I dreamt that someone was going to come and find me, that it was a mistake," he said in an interview.
Now 46 and engaged, Allan, who lives in St. Albert, had been eager to know his roots. His fiancée, Heidi-Ann Wild, encouraged him to do something about it.
"Heidi-Ann put me on to the adoption agency. We filled out some paper work and at that point decided we'll take it as it comes," he said.
Letter arrived out the blue
He found out about Coombs, who had moved to the small community of Heart's Desire, in eastern Newfoundland, a few years ago.
When Allan's letter arrived at her home — it had only been sent to her name, with no address other than the name of the town — Coombs was shocked.
"I thought, 'Oh my God, somebody is playing such a cruel joke on me.' It was just mind-boggling. This can't be," she said.
Relieved to learn it was no prank, Coombs made contact with Allan. They were reunited in person on the Labour Day weekend, when her son came to her home.
"For the first time in my life, I got to hold my son on my knee," she said. "It was like a burden was lifted off me, and I could not let him go."
Another reunion planned
They speak each Thursday by phone, and plan another reunion later this fall, this time in Alberta.
Coombs said she marvels at the fact that she and her son had lived for years in the same province, and not that far away from each other.
"To think when I was in Alberta, he was maybe 10 kilometres away from me," she said. "We must have crossed paths hundreds of times."
Allan said the reunion was the moment of a lifetime.
"I felt like I was complete again, you know. I finally felt right," he said.
Coombs said she thinks back to her initial sorrow, of not having had the chance to hold her infant son and then being told that he had died.
"Sometimes I get angry [about] what happened," she said.
"But, I got to put all that in the past now and live for the future and live for my sons and grandchildren," she said. "Don't even look back. It's too painful. At least I got him now."
Let Adoptees Die
September 19, 2014 permalink
Patricia Carter was adopted as an infant, now at age 48 she is a mother. Her oldest son Sheffield has had medical problems that she suspects are from her genetic heritage. Patricia herself is also a recent breast-cancer patient. The Canadian medical system refuses to give her certain tests without a family history. Batshaw Youth and Family Services has none of the required medical information about her parents. Patricia could find the required medical information if she could hire a detective to trace her birth parents, starting from their names. Batshaw has the names of both parents, but will not provide them. So Patricia and her children are left with inherited medical problems that that cannot treat or even find out about.
Link (mp3) to local copy of CBC Daybreak audio.
Quebec's closed adoption laws challenged by B.C. woman
Patricia Carter, adopted in Montreal in 1966, says she has right to know her roots, medical history
Patricia Carter has been searching for her birth parents for 20 years.
Born as Manon at Montreal's Catherine Booth maternity hospital on May 30, 1966, Carter was hospitalized for several months as an infant before being picked up by adoptive mother Reatha and father Allison and whisked away to Europe. She grew up with three adoptive older brothers and no knowledge of her pre-adoption life.
She eventually moved to Nanaimo, B.C., and had her own family — a husband and two sons.
When her two-year-old son Sheffield had a mysterious seizure, Carter thought it would be good to know more about her medical history.
"I wasn’t exactly the healthiest child, either. I had various conditions and given the fact that a lot of conditions can be passed on to your children, I thought it was in the best interest of my family to track down what information I could," she told CBC's Daybreak.
Little did she know she would be embarking on a journey through Quebec’s closed adoption laws — a system a longtime adoption rights advocate called "archaic."
Sealed adoption records
Carter’s lack of medical history knowledge reared its head again more recently, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year.
She said she asked one of her oncologists for a genetic test to see if she carried a particular mutated gene. She told Daybreak host Mike Finnerty that knowing the result of that would have influenced her decision on treatment options.
However, medical protocol dictated that unless she could prove at least one immediate member of her biological family had the gene, they would not do the test.
She has since recovered but, she said, she always wonders about what could have been.
According to Quebec law, adoption services can provide adopted children with their medical history — if they have it.
In Carter’s case, Batshaw Youth and Family Services did not.
She found that out when she filled out a form and mailed it in along with a $450 fee to perform a search. Her social worker said there was a lot of information in her file she could never know under Quebec’s current adoption laws.
Carter, who is now 48, said she understands Quebec’s concerns over protecting the identity of people who gave their children up for adoption, even if she doesn’t agree with it.
"It’s a right to be able to know where you came from and who your family is," Carter said.
Times have changed, but Quebec has not
Caroline Fortin knows cases like Carter’s all too well.
She is the president and coordinator of non-profit adoption rights organization Mouvement Retrouvailles.
Quebec has archaic laws and we need to bring them up to date, Fortin said.
"Why hide this information from people who are 40, 50, 60 years old?" she asked. "It’s their right to know their deepest roots."
Fortin said Quebec is behind the times — not to mention other provinces — when it comes to unsealing adoption records. Societal conditions have changed dramatically, she said, and parents who gave their children up because of the pressures of religion, family and social acceptance may feel differently about being contacted now.
"It’s easier in Ontario, in British Columbia. Manitoba is working on changing the law. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia… So in Quebec, it’s very hard without the consent of the person and if the person you are looking for is dead, it’s not possible to have any information."
CBC Daybreak reached out to the justice ministry for some answers. A spokesperson sent back a statement saying that a new bill is in the works after a Parti Québécois-drafted bill died on the order paper when the government changed hands. "It would have revised how adoption records are accessed."
The justice ministry spokesperson said the new bill is expected to be presented at the National Assembly this fall.
Batshaw, for its part, sent a list of what information can be disclosed regarding Quebec adoptions. See the document embedded below.
Carter is cautiously optimistic about the justice ministry’s statement about changing the law this fall. She and Fortin said other provinces have unsealed adoption records without incident, and Quebec needs to follow suit.
"I would urge Quebec to do the right thing and open our records," Carter said.
Kristen French Remembered
September 19, 2014 permalink
The Child Advocacy Centre Niagara has renamed itself the Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre Niagara. Under its old name, it has been in these columns twice before,  . Both times fixcas warned that the organization is a honeypot, luring children with a false promise of confidentiality into the family destruction system. A still earlier article from the Niagara Falls Review suggested that David Gill was affiliated with both Niagara Family and Children's Services (FACS) and the Child Advocacy Centre. Today's article says: "The centre streamlines Niagara child abuse investigations by bringing Niagara Regional Police detectives, Family and Children's Services workers and other agencies under one roof."
Canadians were appalled when schoolgirl Kristen Dawn French was murdered in 1992 by serial killers Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. Placing her name on an institution that forcibly separates parents and children will make the name Kristen French reviled by large numbers of clients who have been drawn into the facility. This is not the way to honor the memory of an innocent girl.
Kristen French honoured with centre renaming 19
Donna French has to believe that, in her daughter's worse moments, there were pieces of her very core Kristen French never lost.
Her courage. Her dignity. Her faith.
And it is those qualities she hopes children who come to Niagara's only child advocacy centre will find within themselves in seeing Kristen French's name on the front lawn.
"What happened to Kristen was something so horrible it is beyond what any parent could even conceive of," French said Tuesday afternoon afternoon. "But she never lost her courage or her faith. And while it is a sad state of affairs that we even need an advocacy centre, it is important we have a place where children can feel safe and I hope this children will see Kristen and find strength."
The centre celebrated it's sixth anniversary Tuesday by renaming the centre the Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre Niagara.
Kristen French was a 15-year-old Holy Cross Secondary School student when she was abducted by Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka and killed in 1992.
Her father, Doug French and former Niagara Regional Police deputy chief Frank Parkhouse spear headed the initial fundraising drive to open the centre.
During a brief service to honor Kristen French and rename the centre, Parkhouse said Doug French used to sit as the chairman of the board of directors for the centre until his retirement.
"Even after he retired you still saw him coming to the centre to do some painting or check on how things were going," said Parkhouse.
The centre streamlines Niagara child abuse investigations by bringing Niagara Regional Police detectives, Family and Children's Services workers and other agencies under one roof. Child victims can tell their stories once or twice in a child-friendly environment, instead of doing interviews over and over again with various strangers.
The children who come to the centre are victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse, Internet exploitation or are witnesses to violence.
Janet Hardy, the centre's executive director, said the centre has facilitated more than 1,700 interview with suspected abused children in its six years.
She said renaming the centre after Kristen French is about giving hope to the children who come there, but also serves as a reminder as to why the centre is necessary.
"There is a spectrum of child abuse, and Kristen was a victim of the most extreme form," she said. "Obviously, other children are abused, and it is still serious, but not as extreme. We think it is important for people to know just how bad it gets."
After the new sign on the front lawn of Forster Street centre was unveiled, Donna and Doug French joined family, friends and centre staff in releasing balloons in Kristen French's memory.
Source: St Catharines Standard
Arresting Parents Who Let Kids Play Outside
September 19, 2014 permalink
The Onion parodies arresting parents for letting their children play outside. But following the enclosed spoof are two real cases from Texas and Florida.
Should Parents Who Let Kids Play Outside Unsupervised Be Arrested?
Yes, it’s completely irresponsible for parents to encourage their kids to be independent. No, but maybe the police could abduct their kid for a couple days just to scare them straight. Yes, if only for the look on the kids’ faces. Absolutely not. I only support it when people get arrested for things that could never happen to me. Yes, it’s much more responsible to leave your children unsupervised at home. No way. When I was a kid, we played outside by ourselves and everyone except Brian came home just fine. Of course. You can never have too many reasons to arrest people who can’t afford child care.
Source: The Onion
Child Services to Mom Who Did Nothing Wrong: 'Just Don't Let Your Kids Play Outside'
Children's book author Kari Anne Roy was recently visited by the Austin police and Child Protective Services for allowing her son Isaac, age 6, to do the unthinkable: Play outside, up her street, unsupervised.
He'd been out there for about 10 minutes when Roy's doorbell rang. She opened it to find her son —and a woman she didn't know. As Roy wrote on her blog HaikuMama last week, the mystery woman asked: "Is this your son?"
I nodded, still trying to figure out what was happening.
"He said this was his house. I brought him home." She was wearing dark glasses. I couldn't see her eyes, couldn't gauge her expression.
"Yes. He was all the way down there, with no adult." She motioned to a park bench about 150 yards from my house. A bench that is visible from my front porch. A bench where he had been playing with my 8-year-old daughter, and where he decided to stay and play when she brought our dog home from the walk they'd gone on.
"You brought him home... from playing outside?" I continued to be baffled.
And then the woman smiled condescendingly, explained that he was OUTSIDE. And he was ALONE. And she was RETURNING HIM SAFELY. To stay INSIDE. With an ADULT. I thanked her for her concern, quickly shut the door and tried to figure out what just happened.
What happened? The usual. A busybody saw that rarest of sights—a child playing outside without a security detail—and wanted to teach his parents a lesson. Roy might not have given the incident a whole lot more thought except that shortly afterward, her doorbell rang again.
This time it was a policewoman. "She wanted to know if my son had been lost and how long he'd been gone," Roy told me by phone. She also took Roy's I.D. and the names of her kids.
That night Isaac cried when he went to bed and couldn't immediately fall asleep. "He thought someone was going to call the police because it was past bedtime and he was still awake."
free-range-kidsAs it turns out, he was almost right. About a week later, an investigator from Child Protective Services came to the house and interrogated each of Roy's three children separately, without their parents, about their upbringing.
"She asked my 12 year old if he had ever done drugs or alcohol. She asked my 8-year-old daughter if she had ever seen movies with people's private parts, so my daughter, who didn't know that things like that exist, does now," says Roy. "Thank you, CPS."
It was only last week, about a month after it all began, that the case was officially closed. That's when Roy felt safe enough to write about it. But safe is a relative term. In her last conversation with the CPS investigator, who actually seemed to be on her side, Roy asked, "What do I do now?"
Replied the investigator, "You just don't let them play outside."
There you have it. You are free to raise your children as you like, except if you want to actually give them a childhood. Fail to incarcerate your child and you could face incarceration yourself.
Lenore Skenazy is a public speaker and creator of the book and blog Free-Range Kids.
On The Front Lines
VICTORY: Florida Officials Drop Prosecution of Mom Arrested, Handcuffed, Searched & Jailed for Allowing Her 7-Year-Old Son to Visit Playground Alone
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. —Florida officials have agreed not to pursue the prosecution of a Florida mother who was arrested and charged with child neglect for allowing her 7-year-old son to visit a neighborhood playground located a half mile from their house. In doing so, the state has effectively put an end to the criminal case against Nicole Gainey. Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute, along with Miami-based criminal defense lawyer Brian H. Bieber, a partner at GrayRobinson, P.A., worked with state prosecutors to achieve a mutually agreeable resolution of the matter that resulted in the charges against Gainey being dropped. In addition to being charged with a third-degree criminal felony charge that carries with it a fine of up to $5,000 and 5 years in jail, Gainey was interrogated, arrested and handcuffed in front of her son, and transported to the local jail where she was physically searched, fingerprinted, photographed and held for seven hours.
“What this incident shows is that keeping young people safe and a parent’s ability to know what’s appropriate for their children are not mutually exclusive goals,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. “All is not lost as long as there are government officials willing to work through issues in a reasonable manner, exhibiting compassion and common sense and recognizing that there are better ways to deal with concerns about child safety than criminalizing parents. When all is said and done, however, what we really need is for the government to stop acting as if it can do a better job of managing our lives than we can, and that holds true whether you’re talking about child rearing, health care or the surveillance state.”
Nicole Gainey, a resident of Port St. Lucie, Fla., was arrested on Saturday, July 26, 2014, after allowing her 7-year-old son Dominic to walk by himself from their house to a popular neighborhood playground located a half mile away. According to Gainey, Dominic normally rides his bike (which was out of commission that day due to a flat tire) to Sportsmans’ Park, which is located along the same stretch of road as a fire station, community pool, library, church and a daycare. Dominic also rides his bike along that same route when going to school, which is two miles away, without anyone raising any concerns. As usual, Dominic carried a cell phone with him in order to check in with his mom. According to the 7-year-old, someone asked him where his mom was when he was walking past the pool. Police officers were called, went to the park, questioned Dominic, and then drove him home in their car, without alerting his mother that there was a concern or that they had picked up her son. Upon arriving at Gainey’s home, officers questioned the single mother about her son’s whereabouts, without informing her that they had picked him up. The police then arrested Gainey, charged her with neglect, and took her to the local jail, where she was physically searched, fingerprinted, photographed and held for seven hours and then forced to pay almost $4000 in bond in order to return to her family. Gainey’s son was allowed to stay with her boyfriend in lieu of going to foster care.
In coming to Gainey’s defense, Rutherford Institute attorneys argued that parents have every right to make their own determinations about when their children are mature enough and responsible enough to be permitted to safely play outside by themselves, wait in the car by themselves or walk to a neighborhood park unsupervised. Affiliate attorneys Brian H. Bieber of GrayRobinson, P.A., and Robert A. McGlynn, Jr., P.A. assisted The Rutherford Institute in its defense of Gainey.
Source: Rutherford Institute
Addendum: Mother Nicole Gainey told Lenore Skenazy what the invervention did to her son.
Dear Lenore: I am the mother that got arrested July 26 for letting my son son walk to the park that is closer than his school by himself, and since my arrest our lives have changed for the worse.
My son was 7 at the time, now he’s 8. He walked to our neighborhood park half mile from my home on a Saturday afternoon about 4 p m for an hour. He had his own cell phone, he had been going there all that summer, and some nosy busybody at the community pool that’s on the way called the cops, due to him looking too young to be by himself.
So then the police picked up my son at the playground and placed him in the cop car while they went to talk to the people at the pool. Then they came to my home and never told me he was in back of the car, and arrested me. It wasn’t until they were putting me in the back of the car that I found out that my son was in there this whole time, like he was a criminal.
As he got out & walked past me he tells me, “I’m sorry mommy. I wanted to go play at the park” — thinking it was his fault. Since then, the charge was not filed but I can not get a job anywhere, I think due to this, and I am struggling very bad. Also my son used to be a carefree outgoing little boy. Everything has changed.
Thank you for sharing my story when it happened. A lot of readers were on my side. Well, I was wondering if you will put my Go Fund Me link on your page. If anyone can help even a small bit, my children and I will be very grateful. Please tap to donate. – Nicole
Source: Free Range Kids
Don't Deal Drugs with Baby
September 19, 2014 permalink
Alberta police have separated a mother from her newborn boy after catching her in a drug deal. The article does not say whether she was buying or selling.
Lethbridge woman arrested with newborn for allegedly selling cocaine
Police south of Calgary say they’ve arrested a woman dealing cocaine from her vehicle in the company of her newborn boy.
Staff Sgt. Rod Klassen of the Alberta Law Enforcement Team (ALERT) say cops were alarmed to see the 24-year-old Lethbridge woman trafficking crack and powdered cocaine in Claresholm on Tuesday and aborted their investigation to secure the infant’s safety.
The boy is less than a month old, he added.
“It was an investigation into drug trafficking, we observed the child being taken along and obviously, we couldn’t stand by and see that happen,” he said.
“It’s obviously disturbing ... the drug world can be extremely dangerous, anything can happen.”
Following the arrest in the town 110 km south of Calgary, provincial child welfare officials were consulted and the child was placed in the care of a member of the woman’s family, said Klassen.
When police swooped down, the woman was accompanied by a 17-year-old female suspect who they believe was also involved in drug trafficking.
ALERT says it seized 85 grams of individually-wrapped drugs worth $9,000, along with drug paraphernalia that included scales.
The woman, who’s not being named in order to protect the identity of her child, is charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of a controlled substance.
“We’re also pursuing a charge under the Drug Endangered Child Act,” said Klassen.
The woman was released Wednesday on bail conditions and is to appear in Lethbridge court Oct. 3.
Klassen said police had little choice but to prematurely end their investigation.
“We had to weigh that and we felt the child’s safety was more important than anything we could get from the future of the investigation,” he said.
The 17-year-old is charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking, possession of a controlled substance and possession of proceeds of crime.
Source: Calgary Sun
Ontario Adoption Brush-off
September 18, 2014 permalink
Lori Niles-Hoffman tells of her frustration in trying to do a public service by adopting a child in Ontario. She tried adopting a young child, age 4, and an older child. In both cases she got the brush-off. In common with other frustrated adopters, she falsely attributes her failure to bureaucratic incompetence. For a full opinion on the adoption brush-off, refer the the article on prospective British adopter Claudia Connell. A similar frustration was in another British article by Judith Woods.
The two preceding links show that, contrary to the claim by Lori Niles, Britain is not a nirvana for adopters. The bill 42 mentioned in the article died in May when the last Ontario legislature was prorogued. The website AdoptOntario requires a password to look at the biographies of the children.
Lori Niles: Want to adopt a child in Ontario? Good luck with the paperwork
October will mark two years since our decision to pursue adoption. How many of the 30,000 waiting children could have found families by now?
The Honourable Governor General David Johnston has declared an “adoption crisis” in Canada, with nearly 30,000 children waiting for permanent homes, approximately 8,000 of those children being in Ontario.
I heartily applaud any efforts to encourage adoption as a method to grow families, but the crisis is not about recruiting more adoptive parents. AdoptOntario, the provincial database of waiting children and parents, boasts 20,000 registered families, yet only a fraction of these ever adopt. The real adoption crisis is that a bloated and broken system is preventing the timely match of waiting families with children in need.
My husband and I started our adoption journey more than two years ago. Our story began with a phone call to our local Children’s Aid Society (CAS). Despite our willingness to adopt an older child, I was told that due to our cultural background and lack of parenting experience, we would not likely meet the unique needs of any child at CAS.
We decided to pay for a private homestudy with a licensed social worker. The process took just over a year and included classroom courses, dozens of interviews, criminal record checks, and plenty of bureaucracy. In February 2014, the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services deemed us “AdoptReady” and our homestudy valid for two years.
While pursuing international adoption, we also continued the process in Ontario. In May, 2014 we went to the Adoption Resource Exchange (ARE), a biannual forum where profiles of children from across the province are made available for viewing by potential families. It is a way for families to apply for children outside of their CAS regions, as families are normally restricted to registering only with their local CAS.
After reviewing many profiles, we sent an “Expression of Interest” form through AdoptOntario for two children we felt would be a good match. One was four years old and the other a young adolescent. After four months, we had not heard any news and I contacted each CAS.
My first inquiry about the younger child was passed from colleague to colleague, each claiming that the other was responsible for the file. After repeated follow-up calls, I uncovered that 14 families had expressed interest in this child, yet the file had not been touched for months. The longer a young child stays in foster care, the harder it is for healthy attachment to begin. Four months to a four-year-old is a long time.
My inquiry into the progress on the older child also came to a dead end. The Children’s Aid Society said they never received our Expression of Interest. I followed up with AdoptOntario, which verified that it indeed had been sent. I provided the email confirmation to the CAS workers, yet they insisted they had no record. Since there is no independent oversight of CAS, there was nothing further we could do. We hope this child was matched with a suitable family whose file didn’t fall down the rabbit hole.
Determined not to be discouraged, we approached our local CAS again, hoping our completed homestudy would help us. The homestudy was designed by the Ministry of Children and Youth services to be portable across public, private and international adoptions. Yet in my phone conversation with the CAS contact, I found out that our private homestudy would need to be updated with a series of CAS interviews, which could add another six months of waiting, and that intake meetings for parents happen only periodically.
We had just missed the May meeting, so now we are waiting for the October intake meeting. If all goes well, and we are accepted by our local CAS, it will be 15 months since we became AdoptReady. And that’s only when the potential matching process with children will start, which could take anything from months to years.
October will mark two years since our decision to pursue adoption. But adoption is not about us. It’s about putting children first. How much of our time waiting for bureaucracy to catch up could have been spent caring for a waiting child? How many thousands of other parents are in the same situation? How many of the 30,000 waiting children could have found families by now?
It would be nice to think that our anecdotal experience is an exception. But I write a blog chronicling our adoption journey, and hear from a lot of other frustrated waiting parents. It would be easy to lose faith just based on the number of people who have told me they have given up or are thinking about it.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Years ago, the adoption system in England was similarly inefficient and slow. Now the adoption approval process typically takes only six months. Likewise, there is oversight and accountability for adoption. Ontario is the only province in Canada where Children’s Aid Societies are not overseen by an ombudsman. This means no incentive to improve or answer for errors. New legislation, Bill 42, represents an attempt to grant this power, but it is stuck in the weeds at Queen’s Park.
It is time for Ontario to look across the pond for inspiration and best practices. In fact, Ontario identified many issues with the adoption system in a government report years ago but never acted on the recommendations.
The Governor General’s plea for more adoptive parents is well-intentioned and idealistic. In Ontario, though, success will not come from more prospective parents. Success will come only from a government that stops being afraid of changing the inefficient CAS system and starts acting on behalf of the waiting children. This would be truly putting children first.
Source: National Post
Addendum: The slow-poke adoption system takes years to place a child, but it responded just 19 hours after the posting of Kayla's vita.
- Pat Convery <email@example.com>
- "firstname.lastname@example.org" <email@example.com>
- Security Breach of Profile from AdoptOntario
- Date sent:
- Sat, 20 Sep 2014 19:12:36 +0000
- Copies to:
- Mary Henry <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Dear Mr. McQuaid
I am contacting you today to request that you immediately remove the child profile that you copied from the AdoptOntario Waiting Children site. When you signed into the site you accepted a EULA that specifically states that this activity is not allowed.
On Friday September 19th, Mary Henry, Manager of the AdoptOntario program asked you to remove the profile from your blog. You indicated that you would not do this and it is my understanding that the profile is still on your blog site. As a result we have informed ENOM Abuse department and lodged a formal complaint against your site. We have also contacted our legal counsel and will escalate this matter in any way necessary until we know that the profile is removed.
The reason we have this level of security is to be sensitive to the privacy and security of children. I am aware of your concerns about the Children's Aid Society management and operation in Ontario and find it surprising that you would knowingly engage in activity that is as concerning as the practices of CASs that you speak strongly against.
Note that I am not asking you refrain from your advocacy against Children's Aid Societies. You are antitled to express your opinions in your blog post. My only concern is that the child's profile be removed and you refrain from behaviour that is against the EULA of our AdoptOntario site.
I am also happy to meet with you directly to discuss any concerns you have about AdoptOntario as a program and our role in supporting adoption of Ontario children.
Adoption Council of Ontario
36 Eglinton Avenue West, #202
Toronto, Ontario M4R 1A1
t: 1-877-236-7820 ext.2666
The information on this website is provided for information purposes only and is targeted to residents of Ontario who are interested in adoption. AdoptOntario, a program of the Adoption Council of Ontario (ACO), endeavours to provide up to date and reliable information for this website but cannot be responsible for content that is provided by third parties. As the information is not intended to provide legal or other advice you should not act or rely on any information on the website without seeking the appropriate professional guidance and advice. Changes are made periodically to the Site and may be made at any time without notice.
You can visit our website to read information without telling us who you are or revealing any personal information, unless you wish to enter a password protected area. We will then collect personal information from you when you apply for a password to view children, or via the open-text message functionality incorporated in our Contact Us webscreen. Please read our Privacy Statement regarding the protection of personal information.
You agree not to use this Site for any unlawful purpose. You also agree not to impersonate any person in your use of the Site or in the sending of any e-mail to an address listed on the Site. If you violate any of these terms, your permission to use the information automatically terminates and you must immediately destroy any copies you have made of the information.
No information contained within the Site may be reproduced or re-published without the written consent of the Adoption Council of Ontario. If you wish to reproduce or distribute information in the Site send an e-mail to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, address and a description of the purpose of your intended distribution and the information you would like to distribute.
AdoptOntario respects the privacy of all users of this website, as well as the children featured on it. We are committed to protecting all of the personal information that we collect.
By using this Site you are agreeing to the terms of this privacy statement and consenting to the collection, use and/or disclosure of personal information for the purposes outlined herein. If you do not agree to the terms of this privacy statement, you should discontinue your use of this Site and not provide us with any personal information.
Through this Site, AdoptOntario collects personal information as provided by you. By collecting this information AdoptOntario hopes to deliver to you a timely service and response. However, you always have the choice of whether to provide us with any information. This personal information will be used only for the purposes for which you provide it and will not be shared with anyone else without your express permission.
AdoptOntario recognizes that your privacy is important. However, as Internet e-mail is vulnerable to interception and forging, privacy cannot be ensured. We will not be responsible for any damages you or any third party may suffer as a result of the transmission of confidential information that you make to us through the Internet, or that you expressly or implicitly authorize us to make, or for any errors or any changes made to any transmitted information.
When personal information is collected from you through this Site, it may be used for one or more of the following purposes:
- Issuing a password for the password protected section of this Site
- Contacting you to provide you with AdoptOntario-related services
- Contacting you for feedback and surveying your needs in connection with your use of the Site
- Reporting aggregate numbers (non-identifying only) regarding Site usage, numbers registered, and other related information and reports to funders and sponsors, and evaluating the effectiveness of AdoptOntario and this Site
In providing information about children awaiting adoptive placement, utmost care is taken to protect their privacy and confidentiality. Pseudonyms for children are used, and no information about a child is placed on the site without the consent of the Child's Agency and, where appropriate, the consent of the child himself.
Access to children's information is available only through a password. The use of the password is time-limited and authorization is determined by AdoptOntario. All password holders are expected to maintain the confidentiality of their passwords and user accounts, and are responsible for all activities related to it.
This Site contains links to other web sites which are provided as references to help you identify and locate other Internet resources that may be of interest and not as an endorsement of the content, products, services or organizations involved. We are not responsible for the content of linked third party Sites and do not make any representations or warranties regarding the content or accuracy of materials on such third party Sites or regarding the privacy practices of such Sites.
You may provide hyperlinks to this Site provided that
- you notify us by sending an e-mail to email@example.com
- you do not remove or obscure any portion of the Site
- you discontinue providing hyperlinks to this Site if notified by AdoptOntario or the Adoption Council of Ontario.
Source: Adopt Ontario
Within a few more days the AdoptOntario account of Robert McQuaid, opened on December 22, 2012, was revoked.
Addendum: A sidebar was attached to this article showing one of the girls shamelessly advertised for adoption with her picture and a vita written by a social worker. It was removed on October 5 following a complaint to the webhost for fixcas (pdf). Under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act in the USA, a complainant can send a letter to a webhost and the poster, fixcas, must either hire a legal defense within 48 hours or remove the material. Fixcas has no revenue stream and cannot justify expending the cost of defense. AdoptOntario did not incur the cost of retaining a lawyer to draft a letter.
This is the third time fixcas has received a complaint of this kind claiming copyright infringement. None of them have been about an artistic work sold by or for an artist as his means of earning a living. All have been used to suppress copies of tools used in the process of intervention in the lives of families. A law providing little protection to real artists is an effective tool to suppress criticism.
Addendum: For the curious, link to a copy of the disputed sidebar hosted outside the United States.
Adoption Subsidies for Rejected Children
September 17, 2014 permalink
In New York city several parents have kicked out their adopted teenagers while continuing to collect the adoption subsidy. In cases where the rejected child has entered foster care the city makes no attempt to collect child support from the adoptive parent. It just doubles up paying both the foster and adoptive parent.
Discarded children still bring in subsidy checks for the adoptive parents who tossed them aside
Hundreds of adoptive parents in New York City who've sent their children to live elsewhere continue to get monthly government subsidies of up to $1,700 per child. They can continue receiving the checks until the child turns 21 years old.
They gave up on their “hard-to-place" adopted kids — but not on the government check intended for the discarded kids’ care.
Hundreds of adoptive parents across the five boroughs who've sent their children to live elsewhere are continuing to pull in monthly checks of up to $1,700 per child while the city, state and feds look the other way, the Daily News has learned.
Because of a confusing tangle of bureaucratic rules and a lack of city oversight, the parents can continue receiving the government subsidies for months, and even years, until the child turns 21.
"It's crazy," Jahad Ritchens, 21, said of the payments that had been going to his adoptive mom, Cequasia Ritchens, for almost six years after she kicked him out. "I'm living out here on the street and she's getting all this money. It's like I don't matter to no one."
It also means that taxpayers are often double-paying for the kids' care — first to the absentee parent, then anywhere from $29,000 to $123,000 a year per child for foster care.
"For the state and the city to do nothing ... is an abuse of the taxpayer, of the system, of the problem that subsidy was meant to address," said retired Brooklyn Family Court Judge Paul Grosvenor.
He now serves as a judicial hearing officer overseeing a special court to assist children in foster care who will never return to their parents. And he said he deals with "hundreds" of cases a year where adoptive parents keep the subsidy after letting their children go.
"In some instances, it's a windfall," Grosvenor said. "The parents place this child (in foster care). They have no intent of ever being involved with the child again — they're essentially walking away — but they're still receiving this monthly subsidy."
Using a combination of city, state and federal funds, the city Administration for Children's Services sent $294 million in checks last fiscal year to help cover parenting costs for 22,686 children, according to records obtained via a Freedom of Information Law request.
The agency told The News it does not know how many parents are receiving subsidies for children no longer in their care.
The subsidy was the result of an act of Congress in 1980 designed to encourage parents to adopt "hard-to-place" children from foster care.
Desinee Smith, 18, was one of those kids.
Children's Services removed her from her birth mother's custody when she was just two weeks old.
"My mom kept having kids and ACS kept taking them away," she said.
Her first foster mother died of cancer when she was 5. After spending two years with another relative, she was adopted by a woman named Tanika Quashie — the daughter of her late foster mother.
They moved from Staten Island to East New York, Brooklyn, in 2004, where Smith said she was miserable.
"I was bullied and tortured at school," she said, and went to live with her biological sister in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, when she was 9.
Quashie showed up several months later to bring her back.
"Tanika didn't want to give up the money," Smith said.
She lived with Quashie and her kids until she was 13, when Quashie sent her up to Syracuse to stay with another relative. Smith said Quashie sent the relative half of her subsidy check, and kept the other half for herself.
Smith said she had to fend for herself upstate. Her guardian wouldn't buy her clothes or food, or even take her to the doctor or dentist, and "I was doing things I shouldn't have been doing," she said.
"I ... beat up half the kids up there. I done everything in my power to get sent back to Brooklyn. My mind wasn't right," she said. "I was wild."
She ran away from Syracuse early last year, stayed for a while with her brother in Brooklyn, then enrolled in a federal Job Corps program in Delaware to earn her GED and build career skills.
Smith filed for welfare in June, because she said Quashie hasn't been sending her any money — even though the two have lived apart for five years.
"Forget the wants. The needs — (Quashie's) not doing any of that," said her brother, Rodney Brown. "She hasn't been doing my sister right."
Smith said her adoptive mom gave her $600 four months ago but nothing since. Now the soft-spoken Smith — like hundreds of other discarded children in the city — has found herself in the heart-wrenching position of having to sue for child support from the parent who tossed her aside.
Unless Smith's child support lawsuit is successful, Quashie, who did not return requests for comment, could continue getting checks for another three years.
"I'm tired of it. She's not sending me any money. She's just keeping the whole check," she said.
Smith has to take legal action on her own, because the city won't do anything to fix the problem.
While other cities in the state, including Albany, will sue reneging parents to force them to turn over the child support, New York City tells children that they must navigate the complicated process on their own.
“(ACS) should be going after every adoptive parent for child support," court referee Tamara Schwartz told city lawyers at a hearing last December for an adopted child whose mother had returned her to foster care. "They go after parents (who receive) public assistance. They should be doing that for foster care."
It's unclear how many other children and young adults are in Smith's position.
Records show 5% of the 35,877 children adopted through the subsidized program between 1993 and 2003 were voluntarily sent to foster care. The rate of return for children adopted after 2003 is less than 2% — but that number will likely climb as these children reach their teenage years and become more difficult to care for. And the percentage does not take into account the untold number of children who are simply kicked out, or sent to live with friends or relatives, instead of back to the official foster care system.
Unless the adoptive parent voluntarily terminates their parental rights or sends a letter to Children's Services relinquishing the check, the parent will continue getting the monthly checks until the child turns 21.
The city could also move to terminate parental rights if the child has spent the last 15 of 22 months in foster care. But Judge Bryanne Hamill — who recently retired after serving as the inaugural hearing officer for a court dedicated to foster children — said the city never did this for teenagers, who are unlikely to get readopted.
Hamill said she saw frequent abuse and waste in the system. One woman built a home in Florida with her subsidy check. Another adopted a 5-year-old boy with severe mental health issues and kept him in a residential treatment program — completely covered by Medicaid — for 10 years. When the treatment center recommended he be discharged into the mother's home, she refused and voluntarily placed him in foster care.
Hamill said the woman admitted in court that she had never paid for the boy's care. Still, the city did not terminate the subsidy, which she continued to receive until the child turned 21.
Hamill said she never saw a parent willingly terminate the subsidy.
"In most cases I saw," Hamill said, "the adoptive parent was giving nothing to the child. Nothing. Or sometimes they would maybe buy them a pair of shoes."
In the spring of 2012, Hamill met with the state Office of Children and Family Services to alert officials there to the problem.
Hamill said state officials asked her and other judges to start writing orders informing the city and state that an adopted child had been voluntarily placed in foster care so they could launch an investigation into each case. But when The News requested copies of the orders, both the state and city said they had no record of ever receiving them — even though Schwartz, the referee, told The News she continues to send the orders to this day.
Federal rules give states the power to end the subsidy if they determine adoptive parents are no longer providing financial support to their children. But a rep for the state said terminating the subsidy is the responsibility of the city, not the state.
And the city says the state and federal governments have advised the city against investigating these cases to determine if the parents are providing support — apparently to avoid frightening prospective parents away.
The amount of money the parents spend on the kids is up to them. A spokesman for ACS said federal rules prevent the city from setting a minimum of support that parents are obligated to provide.
That means a parent could spend just $1 a month on an adopted child and still collect the subsidy, according to Dawn Post, an attorney with the Children's Law Center, who has written extensively about what she terms "broken adoptions."
"I respect the right of adoptive families to have privacy from unwarranted government intrusion, but I care even more about the well-being of their children," Post said.
Jahad Ritchens said he hasn't lived steadily with his adoptive mother, Cequasia Ritchens, since he was 15, when he started bouncing around between the homes of friends and relatives, jail, and the streets.
But Cequasia continued to collect a monthly subsidy of $1,200 that she started getting when she legally adopted Jahad at age 9.
Jahad, who was removed from his birth mother's home just days after his fifth birthday, was bounced around between three different foster homes, and says he was abused in each one.
One "would beat us with wet rags and extension cords. She burned us with cigarettes," he said.
He said life with Cequasia, his aunt, was far from happy.
"She never paid attention to me. I got jumped by other kids and she wouldn't do nothing. Her boyfriend hit me, too," he said, before getting too choked up to continue. "It wasn't a place for a human to live."
He admits he wasn't easy to raise. He was arrested over two dozen times in his teens.
"I was getting everything from the street," he said. "It made me feel powerful. You thought you were better than me, but I could bring you down to my level. All the pain I could muster, I brought down on other people."
He did time on Rikers Island, where, he said, "I became a beast."
He said Cequasia never visited him in lockup, and that in the years since he's been out of her care, she'd sometimes send him money, and sometimes not.
Cequasia told The News, "That's a lie. I've been giving him that money for years. It's his word against mine."
He tried to get the subsidy to Cequasia cut off, but a city social worker, in the presence of The News, told him in January that his adoptive mother would have to voluntarily give up the money.
"Legally, the city cannot stop that check," the social worker said.
Jahad sued Ritchens for support, and shortly before his 21st birthday in May, a city magistrate awarded him $1,617.50 for the last month remaining on the subsidy and two months of a 17% income deduction from Cequasia's salary, according to his lawyer.
Jahad said he hopes the money will turn his life around.
In other cases, the government is paying the adoptive parent a subsidy, while also paying foster homes or agencies to care for the same child at the same time.
Janiya Reid and her older brother Thomas had nowhere to go when their birth mother died in 1999. Janiya was 2; Thomas was 9. Placed in foster care, they were soon assigned to Elizabeth Hampton, a home health care aide.
One year later, Hampton adopted Janiya, but not Thomas. Hampton said the boy skipped school, got into fights, and wouldn't respect her rules. She decided to send him back to foster care, and the city stopped sending the monthly checks she had received for him as a foster parent.
As Janiya grew older, she started getting into trouble, too. "I tried to show those children love," Hampton said, "but they wouldn't let nobody in."
Hampton said Janiya stayed out all week, refusing to come back to their apartment in a Coney Island public housing development.
"I couldn't deal with it," said Hampton, who is now 59. "I lost my job running back and forth to get her out of trouble."
Janiya said Hampton was "rude, disrespectful, and verbally abusive."
"It was like she didn't really care about me," Janiya said. "I think maybe she took me in for the money."
Hampton disputed that, saying that the money, while it helped, didn't cover the cost of raising Janiya.
In June 2012, Hampton sent Janiya to live with other relatives. But that didn't work out, either. The next year, Hampton voluntarily placed Janiya in foster care, which is legal in New York when parents feel they can no longer care for a child.
"She stayed with every family member and no one wanted to be bothered with her," said Hampton.
Meanwhile, Hampton continued to receive a monthly check of $821, half of which she sent to Janiya in foster care. The rest, she testified in court, she needed for rent.
"The adoptive mother shouldn't be receiving any subsidy at this time since the child is not in her care," said referee Schwartz, who presided over Janiya's case, at a hearing at the Manhattan Family Court last November.
City lawyers told Schwartz they had no power to cut off the monthly check to Hampton, a transcript shows.
That meant the city was now paying twice for her care, a frustrated Schwartz pointed out: one payment going to Hampton and another to a short-term stay facility in the East Village where the city had temporarily placed Janiya.
Under pressure from Schwartz, Hampton eventually agreed to send a notarized letter to the city stating that she would give up the subsidy.
The subsidy was terminated, a year and a half after Janiya had left her home. During that time, Hampton had collected around $14,000 from the city.
When she went to turn in the letter to ACS, Hampton told The News, officials there said she didn't have to give up the subsidy if she didn't want to.
Janiya now lives an upstate foster care facility.
It's unclear exactly how many double-payment cases there are. The city keeps tabs on the number of adopted kids who are returned for placement — there were 2,050 between 1993 and 2011, the last year of available data — but said it doesn't know how many are unofficially shipped off to other homes or even living on the streets.
Some lawyers and adoptive parents contacted by The News said that the adoptive parents sometimes move into larger apartments with their kids because of the subsidy, and that terminating the payments outright might cause the parents financial duress.
But because the payments don't follow the children, it can also cause hardship for the people actually caring for the kids.
Christian Robles, 26, works nights as a security supervisor. During the day, Robles takes care of his three teenage siblings — ages 15, 16 and 17 — who share a three-bedroom apartment with him and two other relatives in the South Bronx. Money and space are tight.
The children have only been living with him since late December. That's when they ran away from their adoptive mother, Sharlott Sutton, who is also their cousin.
"It was Christmastime and I have a girlfriend, so I was already a little behind financially when they got here," Robles said. "But they needed food, MetroCards, beds, clothes, school supplies, a phone."
Sutton, who lives in Staten Island, didn't offer to help out, even though she receives a total monthly subsidy check of $2,300 for the three children, Robles said.
Robles, his three siblings, and Sutton met with a social worker in early January to discuss where the children should live. During the meeting, Sutton agreed to let the children live with Robles, who filed for legal guardianship — but ACS wouldn't transfer the subsidy over to him. "The adoption subsidy cannot be transferred to a guardian/custodian as long as the adoptive parents are living," an ACS employee wrote to his attorney.
In April, a judge allowed Robles to become the children's guardian. "This is another sad case of an adoption not working out," Michael Katz, the judge, told Robles at a court hearing. "But it seems to me you're trying to provide a good home."
Sutton didn't come to that hearing, or any of the three before it, said Robles' lawyer. Although Sutton did not terminate her parental rights, Robles said that under pressure, she started voluntarily sending him the subsidy checks in May. But she is not required to do so and could stop at any time.
Robles believes ACS failed his family by letting Sutton keep the subsidy. "This should be automatic," Robles said. "I shouldn't be jumping through these hoops."
Robles wants to move his siblings to a bigger apartment where the family will have more room. And he doesn't want them to worry about finances. "I don't want them asking me, 'Hey, are you getting the subsidy yet?'" Robles said. "Asking me if they can have an extra plate of food or if they should go shovel snow for money."
"That's what I'm here for," he added. "To take care of them."
Source: New York Daily News
September 16, 2014 permalink
What action can get a judge removed from office?
The only correct answer is d. Arkansas judge Michael Maggio, writing under screen name geauxjudge, disclosed that actress Charlize Theron had adopted a baby. That got him off the bench.
Judge Dismissed For Leaking Information About Charlize Theron Adoption
LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Sept 11 (Reuters) - An Arkansas state judge who acknowledged posting on the Internet confidential information regarding an adoption by actress Charlize Theron was removed from office on Thursday by the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Circuit Judge Michael Maggio of Conway, Arkansas, admitted using a pseudonym to disclose information on the adoption, which apparently occurred in January 2012 and was handled by another judge in the same city.
The Academy Award Winning actress in May 2012 held several interviews where she said she was the proud mother a healthy boy named Jackson, who she adopted.
Adoption proceedings are sealed under Arkansas law.
"This court concludes that immediate removal is the just and proper sanction for the judge's conduct," the Supreme Court's order stated.
Maggio was suspended from all duties in March but allowed to retain his title and continue receiving his $140,000 annual salary pending further review by the Arkansas Judicial Discipline Commission.
But the Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the commission's recommendation that Maggio be allowed to remain on suspension and be paid until his elected term ends in January.
It also barred him from holding any other judgeship in Arkansas.
Maggio had been the only announced candidate for a seat on the Arkansas Court of Appeals but abandoned his campaign when his Internet postings were revealed.
Writing as "geauxjudge" on a sports website devoted to athletics at Louisiana State University, his alma mater, Maggio also offered advice on evading drunk driving citations and suggested sympathy for husbands caught in extramarital affairs. (Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Sandra Maler)
Source: Huffington Post
Source: Above the Law
Aiden to get Chemo
September 16, 2014 permalink
A family has been forced by CAS to submit to chemo therapy for their 18-month-old son. The family wanted to use hemp oil treatment instead. Earlier stories identified the parents as Marco Pedersen and Erica O'Laney. The boy is Aiden.
CAS has probably saved Aiden's life through this intervention. But the press never prints the more numerous stories of parents accused of medical neglect for refusing to administer psychotropic drugs to their children.
Father denied say in son's cancer treatment after fighting chemo
Father doesn't want son's leukemia to be treated with chemotherapy
An Ottawa father has been denied a say in his 18-month-old son's leukemia treatment after he wanted to use hemp oil instead of chemotherapy.
"My fear is that his body is not going to take well to [chemotherapy], and he's only an 18-month little boy," the 23-year-old father told CBC News Monday.
"His body isn't even developed yet, so what happens if this chemo doesn't take well? That's why I was asking for the other ways first."
The man and his 20-year-old wife found out last week that their son has leukemia. The parents and their son can't be identified due to the provisions of the Child and Family Services Act.
Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario were quick to recommend chemotherapy, but the boy's parents were reluctant. CHEO eventually called the Children's Aid Society after the parents refused to consent to the chemo treatment.
Wife eventually did give consent
The boy's father wants to use a hemp oil treatment instead. It's something he learned about from his father, who lived next to a man named Rick Simpson, who claims to make a hemp oil that cures cancer and other illnesses.
"If you'd seen what I [saw] in that room with those oncologists and social workers, threatening to steal their son and put him in care and force this treatment upon him without even looking at the science," the boy's grandfather said.
"This violation is not just on my son's rights, it's on every other parents' rights in this country. A parent has the right, and he had the right as a parent, to want a second opinion. That's only the most educated thing to do."
The boy's mother eventually authorized the chemotherapy treatment and the boy is receiving it.
Still, the boy's father said he plans to keep fighting for the right to seek alternative treatment.
Cannabinoids better for supportive, not alternative care, doctor says
Dr. Robert Klaassen, an expert in child blood diseases and cancers at CHEO, said chemotherapy is backed up by decades of research, and that it's important to begin treatment as soon as possible, especially with children.
He said cannibanoids can be helpful in supportive care, especially to fight nausea and help children gain weight, but are not an alternative to traditional treatment.
"I really don't know anything about the efficacy of hemp oil for cancer treatment. We know that we use a lot of cannabinoids for supportive care, and I prescribe it a lot for many of my patients to help them," Klaassen said.
"Quite frankly it's a godsend, so it's not like we shy away from it. But it's really there for supportive care, it's not there for treating the cancers themselves."
An earlier version of this story identified the family involved. Their names have been removed due to a provision of the Child and Family Services Act, which prevents the subjects of Children's Aid Society hearings from being identified.
Secret Law is Not Law
September 16, 2014 permalink
Controversy over American enforcement of secret laws led the Electronic Frontier Foundation to unearth a United Nations covenant on the subject. Under international human rights law, secret “law” doesn’t even qualify as “law” at all.
[regarding the law of speech]
25. For the purposes of paragraph 3, a norm, to be characterized as a “law”, must be formulated with sufficient precision to enable an individual to regulate his or her conduct accordingly and it must be made accessible to the public. A law may not confer unfettered discretion for the restriction of freedom of expression on those charged with its execution. Laws must provide sufficient guidance to those charged with their execution to enable them to ascertain what sorts of expression are properly restricted and what sorts are not.
Source: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
What about child protection law? In Ontario, child protectors operate under authority of the Child and Family Services Act, a published law. So far so good. It is in Section 37 that the act defines a child in need of protection. These are the legal reasons to separate a child from his family. The wording contains vague phrases such as "there is a risk that the child is likely to suffer emotional harm" and "the child has been abandoned". Does abandonment mean dad running off with the secretary and failing to feed the child? Or just mom running into a store for five minutes while leaving her child in the car? After a few years of accumulated decisions, the public could examine cases to find out what courts actually decide. But the administration of that law is entirely secret. Social workers keep their records under lock and key, as do courthouses that store records of protection cases. At hearings, the public is excluded, and only rarely can a journalist view the process. The restriction on reporting the names of parties, a restriction extending even to the parties themselves, keeps child protection stories out of the media. In practice, secrecy prevents parents from knowing what actions they need to take to keep their children out of foster care, thereby disqualifying child protection as law: "Laws must provide sufficient guidance to those charged with their execution to enable them to ascertain what sorts of expression are properly restricted and what sorts are not."
Social Workers Abused and Attacked
September 16, 2014 permalink
In Great Britain social workers were subject to abuse or violence 20,254 times in one year, 55 times per day. A good measure of the amount of mayhem they cause.
British social workers faced an estimated 20,500 incidents of abuse and violence in 2013/14
Figures gathered by Community Care show that the average council recorded 98 incidents of violence and abuse towards social workers and social care staff in 2013/14
Social workers and social care staff in British local authorities faced an estimated 20,000-plus incidents of violence and abuse in the line of work, figures gathered by Community Care reveal.
A Freedom of Information request answered by 131 councils in England, Scotland and Wales reveals that there were 12,880 recorded incidents of abuse and violence towards social services staff during 2013/14.
This equates to an average of 98 incidents per council, suggesting that there were 20,254 incidents recorded by all 206 English, Scottish and Welsh councils in 2013/14.
However, in line with Community Care’s requests for this data in previous years, the number of recorded incidents varies wildly between local authorities.
Some councils, including Wokingham and St Helens, recorded fewer than 10 incidents while others, including Leeds and Dorset, reported more than 300 cases of abuse and violence against their staff.
This is despite 85% of the 446 social work and social care staff surveyed earlier this year by Community Care said they had experienced violence or verbal abuse in their work during the past year, suggesting that the quality of monitoring of such events remains inconsistent across the country.
Despite this the findings suggest that the number of incidents being recorded by councils is declining.
In 2010/11 the figures collected by Community Care suggested that the average council recorded 148 incidents of violence or abuse towards social services staff but this fell to 135 in 2011/12 and 119 in 2012/13 and has now dipped to 98 in 2013/14.
Source: Community Care
Most Valuable Player Accused
September 13, 2014 permalink
Minnesota Vikings football player Adrian Peterson has been indicted for child abuse after hitting his son with a switch. The incident occurred while the boy was visiting Peterson. The boy's mother, separated from Peterson, reported the abuse to police and child protectors.
Adrian Peterson Indicted For Child Abuse, Will Not Play Sunday
September 12, 2014 6:05 PM
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A warrant was issued Friday for the arrest of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson after a grand jury in Texas indicted him for reckless or negligent injury to a child.
Peterson will not play in Sunday’s game at TCF Bank Stadium against the New England Patriots. On Friday afternoon, the Vikings said Peterson had been deactivated. That’s different from a suspension, as Peterson will be still be paid as officials investigate.
Peterson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said the star running back would travel to Texas Friday night to post bond as soon as it can be arranged.
Sports Radio 610 in Houston obtained a draft of the police report which says Peterson admitted that he did, in his words, “whoop” one of his children last May while the child was visiting him at his home near Houston.
The punishment happened after Peterson’s son pushed another of Peterson’s children off of a motorbike video game, the report says.
During a Skype session with his mom back in Minnesota, the 4-year-old boy asked if he could tell her something. According to the report, Peterson said, “Go ahead and tell her and show her what happened.”
The boy said he got a whooping with a switch — a wooden rod or tree branch used for punishment.
When the boy returned to his mother in Eden Prairie, Minn., she took him to a doctor.
The doctor told investigators that the boy had a number of lacerations on his thighs, along with bruise-like marks on his lower back and buttocks and cuts on his hand.
The police report says the doctor described some of the marks as open wounds and termed it “child abuse.” Another examiner agreed, calling the cuts “extensive.”
Photographs obtained from the Houston police report show pictures of the injuries.
Another picture shows Peterson demonstrating the kind of switch he used.
The police report also includes text messages between Peterson and the boy’s mother. First he texted to her: “You will be mad at me about his leg.” Later, he texted: “He got about five more pops than normal. He didn’t drop one tear! … He’s tough as nails.”
In further text messages, Peterson allegedly said, “Never do I go overboard! But all my kids will know, hey daddy has the biggie heart but don’t play no games when it comes to acting right.”
When investigators questioned Peterson, they say he told them he regarded it as a normal spanking and not excessive. He told investigators, “To be honest with you, I feel very confident with my actions because I know my intent,” and when asked if he would reconsider using switches in the future, said he would never “eliminate whooping my kids … because I know how being spanked has helped me in my life.”
A grand jury seated earlier this summer decided not to charge Peterson, but a second grand jury indicted him on Thursday.
On Friday, Peterson told WCCO-TV’s Mike Max that he didn’t think he’d face another indictment. The day’s developments caught him by surprise.
If Peterson is convicted, he could face up to two years in prison.
Peterson’s attorney issued this statement Friday afternoon:
“This indictment follows Adrian’s full cooperation with authorities who have been looking into this matter. Adrian is a loving father who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son. He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced growing up in east Texas. Adrian has never hidden from what happened. He has cooperated fully with authorities and voluntarily testified before the grand jury for several hours. Adrian will address the charges with the same respect and responsiveness he has brought to this inquiry from its beginning. It is important to remember that Adrian never intended to harm his son and deeply regrets the unintentional injury.”
The NFL recently unveiled a domestic-violence policy, which stipulates a six-game suspension for a first offense but allows for steeper penalties if children are involved.
The indictment against Peterson comes on the heels of another story involving an NFL running back and serious allegations.
On Monday, the league indefinitely suspended Ravens running back Ray Rice after video was published showing the player punching his soon-to-be wife and knocking her out cold.
Following his first pro season, in which he set an NFL record for most rushing yards in a single game (296), Peterson was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He was then awarded the MVP award for his performance in the Pro Bowl and became only the fifth player in NFL history to have more than 3,000 yards through his first two seasons. In 2010, he became the fifth fastest player to run for 5,000 yards, doing so in his 51st game.
In 2012, Peterson became the sixth fastest player to reach 8,000 rushing yards, ending the season with 2,097 rushing yards, just nine yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson's single season all-time record. Peterson amassed 2,314 all-purpose yards from scrimmage in 2012, tying Marcus Allen for the eighth-highest total ever. For his efforts, he received the NFL MVP Award and the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award for the 2012 NFL season. Peterson also achieved the #1 spot on the NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2013. During the 2013 season, Peterson became the third fastest player to reach 10,000 rushing yards in NFL history.
During a 1692 witch hunt in Salem Massachusetts dozens of people, mostly women, were accused. Nineteen died by hanging. The courts relied on spectral evidence, some of it provided by pre-teen girls. As the witch hunt progressed, the girls became emboldened to accuse higher-ups in the community, who then came under the same scrutiny. The witch hunt came to an end with an accusation against the wife of the governor, a lady of unquestioned integrity. That accusation was enough to shock the community back to its senses, and ignore the rantings of the girls.
With the accusation of Adrian Peterson the child protection witch hunt is advancing to a new level. Peterson is a high-performing public figure with many fans, fans drawn not from caring philanthropists but from macho dominators. The Peterson accusation, and more to come, could start the process in which the public at large begins to question the rantings of the social services system.
Addendum: Within a day there is a photo (jpg) on twitter favorable to Peterson. A fan dressed in a Peterson jersey wields a switch.
The press is unanimous in condemning Peterson. But the Minnisota Vikings, responding to fans rather than the politically correct press, reinstated Peterson on September 15, even over the objections of Minnesota governor Mark Dayton.
Continuing Alberta Secrecy on Foster Deaths
September 13, 2014 permalink
Alberta recently revised its law mandating secrecy on deaths of foster children, and several names were published. But according to Alberta opposition member Rachel Notley, foster deaths will go back to being secret under provisions of the new law. Anyone (including a government minister) can apply for a secrecy order, and once granted it will muzzle press organs not party to the court action.
Alberta kids who die in foster care will still be nameless, faceless: critics
EDMONTON - Most children who die in care will remain nameless and faceless because the Human Services ministry will quietly pursue publication bans under a complex new law, critics alleged Friday.
NDP leadership candidate Rachel Notley said the ministry’s new internal policy undermines the government’s promise to provide more transparency and accountability in the child welfare system.
“They promised they would be transparent about the deaths of children in care, but yesterday they took a major step backward,” Notley said in a statement. “Transparency has been lost.”
Earlier this year, Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar overturned Alberta’s draconian publication ban that prevented media from publishing the names and photos of children who died in provincial care, even if their families wanted their identities made public.
Under the new law, families and news outlets may identify children who have died in care using both a name and photograph, unless a judge grants a publication ban.
Before granting the ban, a judge must consider the deceased child’s wishes (if known) and the best interests of his or her living siblings, as well as the public interest.
Anyone — including the child’s biological family or the ministry — can apply for an ex-parte ban, which means there is no requirement to notify the media or others who might fight against a ban.
On Thursday, at a meeting of the standing committee on families and communities, assistant deputy minister Mark Hattori explained the ministry’s internal policy will require government to notify families, First Nations and the media — even though it’s not required by law.
Typically, he said that if a child is still in the care of his or her parents at the time of death, the province will leave it up to the parents to determine if there should be a publication ban.
However, if the child is in the care of the province — either in foster care, kinship care or in a group home — the province is more likely to apply for a publication ban, particularly when the deceased child has siblings, which is the case in roughly 62 per cent of deaths.
He said these bans would be “for the right reasons.”
“The bans, or the provision for the (ministry) to apply for a ban, would be the exception rather than the rule,” Hattori told the standing committee.
“The decision regarding any application is a matter for the court to make a decision on, and not for the director to independently put in place,” Hattori said.
“Our preliminary assessment of past cases using these considerations suggests that applications by the director will be rare.”
Source: Edmonton Journal
Social Worker Punched
September 13, 2014 permalink
While a social worker was removing her child, Tina Esquilin punched her.
Monticello woman punched Child Protective Services worker in face, cops say
MONTICELLO — A Monticello woman was arrested and charged with assault, a felony, after punching a Child Protective Services worker in the face, police said.
Monticello police were assisting a female employee of the Sullivan County Child Protective Services Unit in removing a child from a home on Osborne Street on Tuesday, when Tina Esquilin, 26, arrived at the home and began arguing with the worker, police said. Esquilin then lunged across a room and punched the CPS worker in the face, police said.
Police immediately arrested Esquilin. She was arraigned in Monticello Village Court and sent to Sullivan County Jail on $1,000 bail.
Source: Middletown Times Herald-Record
September 12, 2014 permalink
Fixcas has had many stories of parents who got in trouble with child protectors for failing to follow doctor's orders. A mother known only as YN is in trouble because she DID follow doctor's orders. She took prescription methadone during pregnancy. The state of New Jersey put her on its register of child abusers for harming her child during pregnancy.
New Jersey mother fights for removal from abuse registry over prescribed methadone use during pregnancy
Woman in appeals after being found culpable of abuse and neglect of unborn baby despite being supervised by doctor
A mother in New Jersey is fighting to have her name removed from the child abuse register after she was found culpable of abuse and neglect of her unborn baby because she took methadone during pregnancy, even though the treatment was prescribed and supervised by a doctor.
The woman, identified only as YN in court documents, has protested the abuse finding to the New Jersey supreme court, the highest judicial panel in the state. On Monday the court’s six justices considered the legal arguments behind her censure.
YN’s case is being seen as the latest battleground in the growing trend towards penalizing women for the outcomes of their pregnancies. At most extreme, women in states such as Indiana and Mississippi have been charged with fetal murder after they lost their babies.
YN has not been criminally charged, and her case has been heard under the civil court system. But her presence on the child abuse register still has potentially devastating consequences, as it could prevent her finding a job and make it more difficult for her to care for her son.
After a full-term pregnancy, YN gave birth to a vigorous boy on 18 February 2011. But soon afterwards the baby, referred to as PAC, began displaying symptoms of methadone withdrawal and was diagnosed as having neonatal abstinence syndrome.
YN was struggling with addiction of opioid painkillers at the time she learned that she was pregnant, and was advised by a physician to undergo opioid substitution therapy by which she would switch to a closely-regulated dose of methadone. Such a course, known as methadone maintenance treatment or MMT has been described as the “gold standard” for pregnant women wrestling with painkiller addiction – an epidemic problem in the US.
Doctors have been advising pregnant women with addiction problems to use methadone since the early 1970s, as it is widely recognized to be less dangerous for the foetus than stopping all opioid consumption which can lead to “cold turkey” for the mother and severe withdrawal or even miscarriage for the unborn child. The World Health Organisation has called it “the most appropriate treatment”; the US federal government says MMT “is safe for the baby”; and even New Jersey’s own department of human services advocates methadone maintenance in such circumstances.
YN followed her doctor’s treatment plan for methadone for the final six weeks of her pregnancy. It is not unusual for babies to suffer withdrawal symptoms from the drug after birth, though PAC endured particularly severe neonatal abstinence syndrome and had to be given oral doses of morphine from which he was gradually weaned over a period of 39 days.
The mother was reported to New Jersey’s child protection agency which found she had committed abuse and neglect. In June last year, the state’s appeal court upheld the finding, ruling that the harm PAC suffered from withdrawal was enough in itself to justify putting YN on the child abuse register.
“The fact that [YN] obtained the methadone from a legal source does not preclude our consideration of the harm it caused to the newborn. Where there is evidence of actual impairment, it is immaterial whether the drugs taken were from a legal or illicit source,” the appeal court judges ruled.
A coalition of 76 groups and experts in child health, maternal and fetal rights and addiction treatment, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have joined to protest the appeal court ruling and YN’s censure for abuse and neglect. In a brief to the supreme court justices, the parties argue that the finding of abuse and neglect was “based upon myths, stereotypes and prejudices” and had failed to take on board “evidence-based research or scientific evidence” on the benefits of methadone treatment under proper medical supervision.
At the hearing on Monday, the supreme court justices restricted themselves to one specific legal question: could a pregnant woman be found culpable of abuse and neglect on the basis that the methadone she used under a drug treatment programme caused harm to the newborn child.
Clara Licata, a lawyer representing YN, told the court that her client had been advised “that she should not withdraw [from painkillers] abruptly on her own and the only reasonable course of action was to take methadone in a medical setting.”
Licata added: “There is a risk in second-guessing a woman’s decision during pregnancy. The fear is that people will look back over the pregnancy and question the mother’s reasonableness: did she sleep too much or too little? Did she exercise too much or too little?”
In its argument to the supreme court, the state of New Jersey argued that YN had a six-year history of drug use and had taken illegal street drugs for most of her pregnancy. It said it was right that YN was kept on the abuse register, given all the factors in the case, to safeguard her child.
Sara Ainsworth of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women told the Guardian that it was inappropriate for child protection agencies to intervene in cases where pregnant women with addiction problems had sought medical treatment. “If we are going to start policing pregnant women for their babies’ condition at birth then we are entering a very dangerous world – not only her medical decisions but all her decisions are subject to being labeled neglect or abuse.”
Source: Guardian (UK)
Riot Squad Grabs Sleeping Children
September 12, 2014 permalink
Australia's National Indigenous Television (NITV) has reconstructed a raid in which a family was awakened at gunpoint to have their children seized. The highly traumatized children taken on January 15 were returned to their family over five months later. Fixcas has a local copy (flv, 82 megabytes) of the video.
Police in riot gear removing Aboriginal children at 'gunpoint'
EXCLUSIVE: Disturbing footage showing police in riot gear storming a home in NSW to forcibly remove indigenous children from their parents has been obtained by National Indigenous TV news.
The Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) and New South Wales police raided the home to remove multiple children from the one family. The children have now been returned to their parents.
The footage and images provided to NITV News show police dressed in riot gear enter a home at around 6.30am earlier this year.
The parents, who were asleep when the raid began, have told NITV News they awoke to find guns pointed at them and that they were then handcuffed by police as the children were forcibly removed in front of them.
It is alleged the children's aunt and grandfather were also handcuffed and detained by police during the raid.
New South Wales Police has confirmed the raid occurred but said no charges were laid.
The children were placed in temporary foster care, but are now back with their parents.
The New South Wales Greens are calling for answers as to why such heavy handed force was used in the removal of these children.
MLC David Shoebridge says the children remain traumatised and the process and its impact on the children needs to be investigated.
"(This is a) deeply troubling story of a family that's been woken soon after dawn," he said.
"[Police armed with] shields, helmets, assault rifles, the mother and father taken from their beds, shaken from their beds, handcuffed naked, children marched out at gunpoint."
A spokesperson for the Minister for Family and Community Services, Gabrielle Upton said the riot police were present for the protection of caseworkers.
“The Department of Family and Community Services has a very good working relationship with NSW police.
“NSW police provide critical protection in often very complex and difficult child protection matters.”
“Police only attend a child protection issue after a stringent risk assessment."
NSW police provided the following statement:
'About 6am on Wednesday 15 January 2014 police from Moree Local Area Command assisted Family and Community Services officers in the execution of a warrant issued by the local court.
'This was a local operation and did not involve specialist commands like the TOU. (tactical operations unit)
'Children aged between one and 13 who had been identified as being at risk were removed from a home ... by FACS.
'Police attended to prevent any breach of the peace or public order incident.
'One man was detained in handcuffs for a short period. No charges were laid.'
Source: SBS / NITV
Opening of the Courts
September 10, 2014 permalink
The Opening of the Courts took place yesterday in Toronto. In the past the schedule started with a two-hour church service, then a ceremony at the University Avenue courthouse. This year the church service was skipped. There is no way to know whether judges are pulling back from protesters or whether they recognize that their practices are ungodly. The transcript of a speech by chief justice Heather Forster Smith was posted online. In her words:
Our court has supported Family Rules initiatives to streamline and simplify family proceedings, particularly early financial disclosure
The protesters outside were not demanding court streamlining. They were objecting to the routine separation of parents and children by force of arms. Early financial disclosure is the process in which lawyers shamelessly probe the resources of the litigants to find out how much money there is to divvy up. Later in her remarks the judge noted the requirement for more security, without noticing any connection to judicial policies.
The remarks of judge Smith are enclosed.
Opening of the Courts
Remarks of Chief Justice Heather Smith
Superior Court of Justice
Opening of the Courts
Toronto, September 9, 2014
Lieutenant Governor Onley, Chief Justices, Associate Chief Justices, judicial colleagues, Madam Attorney, representative of the federal Minister of Justice, Madam Treasurer, members of the Bar, distinguished guests and members of the public:
I extend a very warm welcome to everyone here, marking the beginning of a new court year. It is a pleasure at this Opening of the Courts to be on the dais with two pivotal figures in the Ontario justice system. They are at divergent points in their respective, inspiring, judicial careers. Justice Strathy is fresh to his new responsibilities as Chief Justice of Ontario, having already distinguished himself as a strong and respected trial and appellate judge. Nostalgically, Chief Justice Bonkalo will soon be completing her term on the Ontario Court of Justice, having been an effective advocate for continuous improvement of Ontario’s justice system. I want to extend my congratulations and very best wishes to both of them.
Before my annual update, I want to highlight the changes to our court’s own executive since last year. We are delighted to have welcomed four outstanding new members to RSJ Council:
- Justice Michelle Fuerst, appointed RSJ for the Central East Region last October;
- Justice Geoffrey Morawetz, appointed RSJ for the Toronto Region in December;
- Justice George Czutrin, appointed Senior Family Judge of our Court in December; and
- Justice Robbie Gordon, appointed RSJ for the Northeast Region in January of this year.
On a court as large as ours, we will always experience judicial vacancies. In the past, the federal Minister of Justice filled these vacancies in a timely manner. Regrettably, this year is quite different. Today we have 20 outstanding vacancies on our court that have been accumulating since October 2013. An additional 10 vacancies will arise by the end of this year – 9 of them family judges.
We advised the Minister almost one year ago about this significant number of looming family vacancies. If not filled promptly, we will have a total of 30 judicial vacancies by the end of 2014.
The seamless filling of judicial vacancies is critical to meeting our court’s obligation to Ontarians – children and families in particular. I urge the Minister of Justice to act with dispatch to fill our court’s outstanding vacancies. I also trust and expect that new appointees to the Family Court branch will have the family expertise and skills to step confidently into their new role.
In family proceedings, on very positive note, the Attorney General and I have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to fund per diem payments for Dispute Resolution Officers (DROs) at all existing DRO sites. Except in Toronto, the experienced family lawyers who serve as DROs have generously provided their valuable services to litigants pro bono. The Ministry expects to complete the new DRO empanelment process and begin payment to all DROs at these locations as of January 2015.
I sincerely thank you, Madam Attorney, and Senior Family Justice Czutrin, for supporting this essential program. And through you, Madam Treasurer, I thank every member of the bar who has served as a DRO during the pilot phase.
Child Prioritization and NAC Implementation
Next, we continue to meet our priority objective of improving processes and outcomes for families in crisis and children at risk. This initiative reinforces and implements the National Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters’ report and recommendations. Senior Family Justice Czutrin, in particular, has worked diligently to develop scheduling best practices for family cases, which we will implement for our 2015 court schedules. These best practices will ensure that every event in a family proceeding is timely, meaningful and moves the case forward. We will also complete our development of best practices for child protection proceedings.
Our court has supported Family Rules initiatives to streamline and simplify family proceedings, particularly early financial disclosure. We also undertook a multi-pronged approach to raise the profile of family law and child protection matters among our future lawyers. We reached out to law school deans to expand their family curricula and include a family clinical component. We collaborated with the Ontario Court of Justice and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) to expand the Walsh Family Law Moot to include a new negotiation moot for 2015. Both aspects of the moot are named for the Honourable George Walsh – a former judge of this court, and former “dean” of the family law Bar. We have committed our court to his philosophy of “resolution where possible; if not, timely adjudication”.
Turning to civil matters, I am absolutely delighted to report that the first phase of the GTA Civil Justice Review, led by RSJ Morawetz, has yielded results that are nothing short of outstanding – particularly for Toronto. Last year’s unacceptable wait times for civil long motions and long trials are now “history”!
The proof is in the Toronto numbers: a year ago, the delay to a short civil motion was more than four months and the delay to a long civil motion was approximately 11 months. Justice Morawetz advises, and I am grateful and delighted to report, that both short and long civil motions are now available in a few short weeks. A year ago, the delay to certain long civil trials, such as a complex class action or commercial trial, was up to 22 months. Today, any long civil trial is available in six months or less.
When the Bar organizations spoke last year, we listened. RSJ Morawetz sought the Bar’s collaboration and the sound advice of his GTA judicial colleagues in tackling the core problems. New approaches were devised. New practice directions were developed to eliminate counterproductive booking practices and other inefficient procedures. Our real challenge for the coming year is to sustain these exceptional results – a goal that will be virtually impossible without a full judicial complement.
I extend my personal thanks to the organizations and individuals who joined our efforts and were open to change. Their meaningful participation is in the very best traditions of the Bar. I am confident that Phase Two of the Civil Justice Review, which includes a review of Masters’ proceedings, will identify strategies to create even greater efficiencies.
Additionally, this year Associate Chief Justice Frank Marrocco led a project to identify Rules of Civil Procedure that could be easily streamlined. This included amending the notice provisions and timelines to dismiss unprosecuted civil actions. These amendments were approved at the June Civil Rules Committee meeting.
The timeliness of our criminal proceedings continues to be monitored closely and managed astutely by each RSJ. Our judicial scheduling efforts are seriously hampered, however, by our large number of outstanding judicial vacancies and the critical lack of criminal jury courtrooms in key locations.
First Nations representation on juries and the larger issues identified by the Honourable Frank Iacobucci in his report remain a grave concern for our court. The Honourable Erv Stach is my representative on the Ministry’s committee tasked with implementing the report and recommendations. With the committee’s and others’ efforts, we hope we will turn the corner on this issue in the coming year.
I remain tremendously proud of the quality and timeliness of the over 10,000 judgments and endorsements issued by our court each year. This achievement is to the resounding credit of the more than 300 dedicated judges who serve on this court.
While we celebrate this year’s hard work and success we must also confront a number of looming challenges. Here I speak of the court’s severely deficient facilities in the exploding communities west of Toronto. They lack the facilities required to discharge our court’s core functions – criminal jury courtrooms, jury assembly rooms, and settlement conference rooms.
There were agreed, approved and funded plans for an immediate short-term solution to the dire criminal facility shortages in Brampton, Barrie and Newmarket. The interim modular solutions for Barrie and Newmarket are already on site and almost complete. Inconceivably, the Ministry appears to have unilaterally abandoned the interim modular solution for Brampton. Instead, the Ministry is now considering a more permanent facility that will take years to deliver.
This startling change of plan can only result in continued and worsening delays for criminal jury trials. I have spoken with the Attorney General, personally, about the imperative to revive the original “immediate” Brampton modular solution. Promised three years ago, it was to have been delivered by now.
I also advised the Attorney General about the deplorable condition of the Milton courthouse and our clear need for new facilities there. We hope that the Attorney General and the Minister for Infrastructure Ontario will recognize this pressing priority and will deliver a timely solution to the untenable situation in Milton.
The security of the public, staff, counsel and judges at our courthouses has weighed on everyone’s mind in the aftermath of the Brampton shooting. Our court’s Local Administrative Judges have worked to establish local court security committees at all 50 Superior Court locations across the province. Those committees are now established, have held meetings, and are developing the local court security plans required by the Police Services Act.
Like many court facilities throughout the province, Toronto has its own unique set of security issues. Chief of Police Bill Blair responded promptly to our concerns and some new security features are already in place in the Superior Court’s “Osgoode Precinct”. Others will be part of a pending holistic review.
Without doubt, we still have work to do! I assure you I will not compromise in meeting our shared objective to have timely and appropriate responses to any courthouse security issue.
Each year, challenges are resolved and new challenges present. The one constant is our court’s commitment to continuous improvement. Setting our priorities each year, and reflecting on our results at the Opening of the Courts, is an excellent exercise towards that goal. It also reenergizes and renews us to address the remaining very real challenges
Our court’s prime responsibility is to deliver meaningful, accessible and affordable justice. Today, we celebrate our successes. Tomorrow we will turn our minds to the challenges at hand.
This post is also available in: French
Source: Ontario Courts
Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham
September 5, 2014 permalink
Last month Britain was scandalized by the release of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham 1997 - 2013, Alexis Jay OBE (pdf, 153 pages). Over a thousand minors purportedly in state care were victims of sexual exploitation. The story is too large to cover on fixcas, for a quick summary refer to wikipedia. An analysis by Christopher Booker is enclosed.
Rotherham: the real scandal is much wider
There will be more tragedies unless politicians face the truth
Barely credible though we have all found the avalanche of revelations about what had been going on in Rotherham for 16 years, they reflect only one part of what has become the most horrifying scandal in modern Britain. As was documented in Easy Meat, a report earlier this year from the Law and Freedom Foundation, similar tragedies have long been unfolding in towns and cities across the land, where, with the full connivance of social workers and the police, the criminal abuse of underage girls, many in state “care”, has been organised by largely Pakistani gangs of men on an industrial scale. It has then been systematically covered up by the very people who have allowed and even encouraged this to happen: council officials, police and politicians.
If this report is right in criticising how blame has too often in the past been ascribed just to “Asians”, it is itself too casual in blaming Islam or even Pakistanis in general. Part of the problem is that many of the culprits are of Pashtun tribal stock from Kashmir, regarded as “trouble” even by many Muslims and Pakistanis.
But this particular tragedy is only one of three different legs making up a very much larger scandal. This is how our politicians have allowed our entire “child protection” system to career off the rails. The second leg of this scandal can be seen in all those familiar horror stories in which some child, such as Baby P, has eventually met with an awful death, despite social workers, police and other agencies having long known of the child’s maltreatment without taking any action. How many times have we then seen some semi-whitewashing report, urging that “lessons must be learnt”, and leaving the dysfunctional system to carry on much as before?
The third leg of this scandal, which I have long been writing about in this column, is how, rather than failing to intervene when necessary, the social workers, with full support from the police and the courts, are now also taking record numbers of children into state “care” for what too often appear to be inadequate or even blatantly fabricated reasons. This can be just as much a crime against humanity and a travesty of justice as what we’ve been learning about in Rotherham; not least because, as I hear in new cases every week, children unhappily removed from loving families are often subjected, while in “care”, to abuse that is much worse than anything alleged against their parents.
When, last week, I was asked by my editor “how can we hope to see this mess cleared up?”, I could only reply pessimistically that the whole culture of our “child protection” system has become so corrupted that it is hard to see how it can ever be returned to some semblance of decency and humanity. The “good” social workers of old have largely been driven out, to be replaced by heartless, jargon-spouting zealots who are the last people who should be involved in the life of any family. Few things have shocked me more than the way the police have become such unquestioning accomplices of this cruel system. There may be a glimmer of hope in the realisation by Lord Justice Munby, our top family court judge, that some start can be made on clearing out the Augean stables by exposing more of the work of those ultra-secretive courts to public scrutiny.
However, the ultimate responsibility for all this must lie with the politicians whose laws set up this system, but who have since turned their backs on how the system has made such a mockery of the high-minded intent that lay behind those laws.
Two years ago I reported on how Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP for Rochdale, disclosed in the Commons something of the horrors that had been going on in his constituency, where social workers had encouraged the mass-rape of underage girls in “care”, on the grounds that it was merely their “life choice” to become prostitutes. Not one of the many MPs who spoke in that long debate, including two ministers, picked up on what he had said, as, one after another, they applauded a new government move to speed up the number of children being taken into “care”.
Until a great many more MPs are prepared to join Mr Danczuk and the admirable John Hemming in getting seriously engaged with this issue, this terrifying tragedy, in all its different manifestations, will continue.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Addendum: Christopher Booker comments again:
Rotherham is yet another massive failure by our social workers
Warnings from local youth workers had been ignored for years
Among the few people who come out well from the scarcely believable mass-child abuse scandal in Rotherham are Louise Casey, the author of last week’s chilling report, and Sarah Champion, the town’s Labour MP, who rightly described the report as revealing “a new horror on every page”.
Pretty much everyone else in this dismal saga couldn’t have come out worse, from the councillors “in denial” to the police.
What might have merited rather more coverage, however, was the terrifying part played by the social workers in Rotherham, who had been ignoring warnings from local “youth workers” since 2002.
Casey describes how these workers seemed interested only in abuse allegedly taking place within families in the town. They were not concerned by the far worse crimes perpetrated on 1,400 girls by gangs of outsiders.
But even Casey does not focus on how many of these girls were in council “care” (according to earlier reports as many as a third), making the council directly responsible for them.
It was a similar story in Rochdale, Oxford and elsewhere: in the wholesale degradation of our “child protection” system, these horror stories now rank alongside those of “Baby P” and Victoria Climbié as examples of social workers failing to intervene when their intervention was cried out for.
Just as tragic, though, are those cases in which social workers fail in precisely the opposite direction – when they use their power to wrench thousands of children from their parents every year for no good reason at all (often for the children to be abused in “care” to a far worse degree than anything allegedly done by the parents).
One day this scandal will be recognised for being just as horrifying as those that have provoked some of the most shocking headlines of recent years.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Compulsory Bad Medicine
September 1, 2014 permalink
Ashya King was treated in England for brain cancer. When parents Brett and Naghemeh King were unsatisfied with radiation prescribed for their son, they requested proton beam treatment for Ashya. British doctors refused to provide the treatment and instead threatened the parents with a protection order banning them from contact with Ashya. The parents fled with Ashya to Spain. There they have been arrested and Ashya is being treated in a Spanish hospital.
Here is a local copy (mp4) of the family video mentioned in the article. Bias alert! The first half of the Guardian story tells only the social services viewpoint.
Parents arrested as missing Ashya King found by police in Spain
Ashya sent to hospital after father posts video online complaining about NHS treatment for his son's brain tumour
The international hunt for Ashya King, the missing five-year-old boy with a brain tumour, came to a dramatic end on Saturday night when his parents were arrested in Spain and their son was taken from them and sent to a local hospital for urgent medical treatment.
Brett and Naghemeh King, 45, were spotted in their Hyundai people carrier around 10pm by police in Velez Malaga, a town an hour to the east of Marbella. The couple, who were being held under an international arrest warrant on suspicion of neglect, had checked into a hostel about 14 miles away in Benajaraf on the Costa del Sol where they had left their six other children.
Ashya had been removed from Southampton general hospital by his parents against medical advice last week. He was last seen with the rest of his family on a ferry travelling from Portsmouth to Cherbourg on Thursday afternoon. At a press conference on Saturday night, the assistant chief constable of Hampshire, Chris Shead, said: "Just before 9pm UK time [Spanish police] found Ashya. They stopped the vehicle that we've been circulating the details of and in the vehicle was Ashya's parents and Ashya. We don't have many details as to Ashya's condition in this time but we do know he was showing no visible signs of distress."
Shead added that the parents had been arrested and taken to a police station. "There are no winners in this situation," he said. "This must be a very distressing time for Ashya's family. Thankfully we have found Ashya. Our number one aim has been to ensure he gets the welfare he needs. We've immediately contacted Southampton General Hospital to make sure they have the details of Ashya's medical team in Spain. Tomorrow morning we will be sending a team of police to Malaga and they will continue the investigation."
In a YouTube video posted by Ashya's eldest brother, Naveed, earlier in the night, Brett King spoke for 10 minutes explaining the couple's decision to take their son out of hospital and seek medical help abroad. He complained about the "trial and error" treatment Ashya had been receiving on the NHS and called for the hunt to be called off, saying the family had become "refugees almost" and asked that they be left in peace. Sitting on a bed with his son lying limply in his lap in a nappy and T-shirt, King, 51, said: "We've been labelled as kidnappers, putting [Ashya's] life at risk, neglect."
He then pointed to food supplements at the side of the bed, connected to Ashya by tubes. "There's been a lot of talk about this machine, as you see it's all plugged in. We've got loads of these feeds, we've got iron supplements and Calpol," he said. "As you can see there's nothing wrong with him, he's very happy actually, since we took him out of hospital he's been smiling a lot more."
Online comments to the video were overwhelmingly supportive of the Kings, with people asking police to treat them with "compassion and understanding".
King said in the video that Ashya's health deteriorated after initial successful treatment to remove his tumour and they argued with doctors over next steps. The Kings wanted a specific type of cancer treatment called proton beam treatment that is not available on the NHS. Brett King said: "We asked the NHS if we could please go to America, to Switzerland, or another country to get proton beam, because it's so much better for children with brain cancer. It zones in on the area, whereby normal radiation passes right through his head and comes out the other side and destroys everything in his head. They looked at me straight in the face and said with his cancer – which is called medulloblastoma – it would have no benefit whatsoever."
King said the hospital threatened to take out an emergency protection order that would have banned them from coming on to the ward. "After that I realised I can't speak to the oncologist at all, because if I actually ask anything or give any doubt I wasn't in full accord with them, they were going to get a protection order which meant in his deepest, darkest hour [we] wouldn't be there to look after him. That's such a cruel system.
"We decided to try and sort it out ourselves but now we're refugees almost. We can't do anything. The police are after us. The things we want to do to raise the money to pay for the proton beam, they've prevented it now. So my son is being treated and he's doing fine. We're very happy with his progress. We're not neglecting him. He has everything he had in hospital. Speak to the nurses, have they seen him move as much as this? I'm not coming back to England if I cannot give him the treatment I want."
On Saturday afternoon, Hampshire police said they had "positive information" that the Kings' car had been seen in Spain, where they own a villa in Marbella. Spanish police visited the villa but there had been no sign of the family, fuelling fears about Ashya's condition.
His last operation had been seven days ago. Police had warned that his battery-operated feeding system was likely to have expired and feared that his health would deteriorate rapidly unless he received medical care.
Appeals for help in finding Ashya had been made in Italian, French and Spanish. Interpol sent out a missing persons alert to each of its 190 member countries.
A family friend said earlier that Ashya's family had run away in desperation: "This is my mother's friend, she has run away in desperation because they cannot accept that there is nothing that can be done for their son and want to look for help abroad," Katie Fletcher wrote on Hampshire police's Facebook page.
"Please don't judge. They are a very sweet, loving family and I can only believe they are doing this because they want to help their son."
Naveed first posted a YouTube video on 23 July speaking about his sibling's illness. "Everyone is sending their love now," he said. "We love you so much and we want to see you very soon and I love you so much and can't wait to see you."
The Office of Public Information for Jehovah's Witnesses, who refuse blood transfusions on religious grounds, confirmed that Ashya's parents were followers of the religious movement.
A spokesman said there was "absolutely no indication" that the family's decision to remove their son from hospital was "motivated by any religious convictions".
Brett King's mother, Patricia, said her son was "the most caring and wonderful father you could ever have".
Legal experts said it was unlikely that the Kings had committed an offence by taking Ashya out of hospital. Professor Penney Lewis, of King's College London, said: "There has never been a case where parents have done something like this and they have been prosecuted."
Shead said the six-and-a-half-hour gap between Ashya being taken from hospital and police being called would be considered "further down the line".
University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, which is in charge of Southampton general hospital, said Ashya was allowed to leave the ward under his parents' supervision and hospital staff raised the alarm when the length of his absence became a cause of concern.
Source: Guardian (UK)
Here is an opinion from Spiked.
Ashya King: parents are more trustworthy than the state
Officialdom’s war on parental authority created this travesty of justice.
For the past week, the British public has watched in horror as the British state tore a dying child from his family. On Saturday, Brett and Naghmeh King were arrested for removing their son Ashya, who has a brain tumour, from Southampton General Hospital and fleeing abroad. Only today are the family set to be reunited. For decades, defenders of the legal framework around children have boasted of its abilities to manage a child’s ‘best interests’. Yet on Saturday afternoon, a five-year-old child with a brain tumour was removed from the only people with whom he is familiar and thrust into an alien environment while his parents were locked in prison. Whatever the eventual outcome of this case, we can say with certainty that no legal system which claims to be concerned with the ‘interests of the child’ should have allowed this to happen.
While the decision-making processes of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Hampshire police will no doubt be analysed in minute detail in the coming weeks, with statement after statement delivered to explain why certain decisions were made and who will be held accountable, it is important to remember that no one person or organisation can be held solely responsible. Rather, what happened was the logical climax of a series of trends in criminal and family law, which have disregarded the authority and autonomy of parents in favour of official intervention at any cost.
Yesterday, the CPS finally withdrew the European arrest warrants which had been issued for the Kings. It said in a statement that ‘the necessary element of wilful neglect to support a charge of child cruelty had not been made out’. While the CPS was discovering that its original case for the warrants was complete nonsense, the Kings had been arrested and detained in Spain and Ashya had been taken into protective custody. He had already been made a permanent ward of the court the day after he was taken from hospital, meaning, effectively, that his parents had already lost all of their rights to care for him.
All the facts will not be known for some time. However, on the basis of what has been released by the CPS so far, it is clear that assumptions were made throughout that the Kings were wilfully neglecting their child, notwithstanding that no direct evidence appears to exist to support these assumptions.
The Kings were sought under a warrant which alleged the offence of child cruelty under Section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. The offence is committed where a person over the age of 16 with the responsibility for a child under that age ‘wilfully… neglects’ that child. The act gives examples of neglect, including ‘where a parent… fails to provide adequate medical aid’.
A CPS lawyer, looking at the evidence provided by Hampshire police, would have had to resolve several issues. First, was there sufficient evidence to prosecute the offence of child cruelty? And secondly, was it in the public interest to pursue a prosecution? If the CPS decided that both of these tests had been passed, then it would have drafted an application for a warrant and submitted it to the magistrate. The magistrate would then decide whether to grant it.
According to the CPS’s own statement, the evidence used to obtain the warrant was ‘that [Ashya] required round-the-clock nursing care to manage his recovery, including to manage the feeding tube which was keeping him alive and hydrated’. It goes on to say that ‘it was evident that Mr and Mrs King did not have the necessary training to remove it’, which could have placed Ashya’s life in danger. It was also evident, according to the statement, that ‘the King family did not have any of the specialist nutrition that Ashya needed’, and that ‘the feeding tube required charge from a battery which was running out and for which the parents had not taken the power supply’.
This evidence was not enough on its own to seal the King’s fate. What was needed was a vital additional component, one which exposed the heart of this disastrous case and the rotten heart of contemporary law around children - namely, a powerful assumption on behalf of those enacting the law that the state knew what was best for Ashya over and above his parents. And it was this which carried forward a prosecution that most Britons seem to have looked upon as outrageous.
Right from the off, those involved in investigating this case assumed the worst about Ashya’s parents. They assumed that the Kings would take on the job of changing their son’s feeding tube without properly understanding how it was done; they assumed that the Kings fled the country with none of the specialist nutrition required for Ashya’s care; and they assumed that the Kings would have failed to find a means of charging the battery which powered Ashya’s feeding tube. In other words, it was assumed that they were out to neglect their child through their removal of him from the care of the state.
These assumptions have been shown to be resoundingly false. The Kings had ordered specialist nutrition for Ashya; they had managed to charge the feeding tube using a car battery; and they had no difficulties in changing his feeding tube. Further medical evidence revealed that the ‘risk to Ashya’s life was not as serious as had been originally thought’. In other words, the authorities assumed the worst, and the worst turned out to be wrong.
So who is to blame for the clumsy, dangerous and authoritarian assumptions which underlie the decision-making processes at work in this case? Of course, the CPS and the police bear much responsibility for failing to ask even the most basic questions about those they were prosecuting. But their assumptions were not born in a vacuum. This case is a snapshot of the current climate around child protection, in which it is too easily assumed that state care is better than parent care.
It was only two years ago that the then education secretary Michael Gove decried how ‘the rights of biological parents’ are allowing children to ‘endure a life of soiled nappies and scummy baths’. This he blamed on the state intervening ‘too late’. In 2011, the Family Justice Review, which went on to influence the drafting of the new Children’s and Families Act 2014, concluded that local authorities were too often ‘distrusted’ in their child-protection work and the courts should be ‘quicker’ to grant them parental control in place of parents. The act itself was said by the Department of Education to have as its ‘overriding goal’ the more efficient removal of children from ‘problem families’. It enshrined in law a 26-week limit to care proceedings, which led to children being forcefully adopted. There has, in recent years, been a clear trajectory towards overriding parents’ rights in favour of having children removed from homes more ‘efficiently’.
But it is not just the state which is gung-ho about the abolition of parents’ rights. The children’s charity Barnardo’s has consistently argued for a limit to care proceedings to ensure that ‘neglected’ children can be adopted quicker. The NSPCC launch campaign after campaign rallying behind state authority over the rights of parents. When Ashya’s parents struck out and asserted their own judgement over that of the state, they offended a core value at the heart of both government and the child-protection industry: that the state knows what’s best for kids. For the government, and those involved in advocating greater child protection, the rights of parents are often treated as mere legal obstacles to be overcome in the process of intervention.
What is needed following the Ashya King case is a fundamental shift in culture away from assuming the worst about parents. If anyone deserves the blame for what happened to the Kings, it is the interventionist politicians and child-advocacy groups, which consistently encourage state bodies to ignore the judgement of parents. We should stop assuming that any act of defiance against state intrusion in favour of parental judgement is an act of neglect. We should learn from the Kings’ example that often such defiance can demonstrate compassion, love and an unapologetic commitment to a child’s welfare.
Luke Gittos is law editor at spiked, a solicitor practising criminal law and convenor of the London Legal Salon.