Press one of the expand buttons to see the full text of an article. Later press collapse to revert to the original form. The buttons below expand or collapse all articles.
Grandma Apologizes for Hugging Granddaughter
December 31, 2014 permalink
Britain is now safer from the danger of grannies hugging their grandchildren. Grandmother Kathleen Danby, sentenced to three months in jail for hugging her granddaughter, had her sentence reduced to time served after purging her contempt with an apology to the court. The court wanted her to stay away because the girl was a ward of Derbyshire County Council. A news item is enclosed, followed by John Hemmings comments on his efforts to assist in getting grandma back home.
Jailed grandmother tells of ordeal
A 72-year-old woman jailed for hugging her granddaughter in breach of a court order has been freed by a judge - but branded her ordeal "humiliating".
Kathleen Danby apologised to the court paving the way for a reduction in the three-month jail sentence, handed down earlier this year at Birmingham's Court of Protection, to be cut to time already served.
However, outside court the defiant pensioner described a lengthy ordeal which had seen her arrested and "bundled" from a Ken Dodd show in Liverpool on Sunday, before being driven on a 200-mile trip between court and prison.
Wearing a large red coat, Mrs Danby said she was finding it "difficult" to believe the lengths the authorities had gone to bring her before the family court today.
In April, a judge sentenced her to prison in her absence after watching CCTV evidence of Mrs Danby greeting the teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, with a hug outside a pub.
But reducing the sentence of Mrs Danby, of Kirkwall on the island of Orkney, Judge Sally Dowding told the pensioner "I am satisfied she fully appreciates the difficulties of her position and what she must do, and I am confident she will comply in future."
Contempt of court proceedings were brought by Derbyshire County Council, which is responsible for looking after Mrs Danby's now 19-year-old granddaughter.
The local authority had alleged the pensioner was in breach of court orders made in September 2013, and January and April 2014.
Those orders banned the frail Mrs Danby from any communication, save a single supervised monthly phonecall, or visiting the granddaughter's home town, college, or going within 100m of the girl.
In court, Mrs Danby's solicitor Sarah Huntbach said her client "sincerely apologised" for being in the town where her granddaughter now lives, explaining she was only there "to meet a friend".
It was, she added, while stood outside a pub her granddaughter - who has a learning disability and emotional difficulties, approached her and they embraced.
"She did not intend or want to be in breach of these (court) orders, or dishonour the court in any way", said Mrs Huntbach.
Mrs Danby denied intentionally going to meet her granddaughter, but "apologised for any nuisance that has arisen as a consequence".
Judge Dowding said it was "very sad" Mrs Danby had "failed to comply" with the court orders, which evidence showed had had "a detrimental effect" on the granddaughter's behaviour, "with consequences serious and profound".
However, she said it was Mrs Danby's right "to purge her contempt" before the court.
The spirited pensioner has been in custody since her arrest on Sunday in Liverpool, where she had been enjoying a performance by the comedian Ken Dodd.
She was escorted in to court by four security officers, and wearing handcuffs, but smiled and seemed unflustered as she walked into Court 11A.
Mrs Dowding said she noted the judgment of Judge Martin Cardinal, in April, who had been satisfied Mrs Danby "had engineered a meeting" with the granddaughter - named during proceedings as B, despite Mrs Danby's explanation.
"There is very clear evidence these events brought about a detriment in B's behaviour and the consequences were serious and profound," added Mrs Dowding.
She said it had never been the case the local authority was "seeking to isolate the child from her family", pointing out that the granddaughter's maternal family "have regular contact".
The judge added "the door is now open to Mrs Danby to seek, at any stage, to enter into constructive dialogue with the local authority - but must understand the granddaughter's needs".
Mrs Dowding said otherwise, the pensioner had the options of applying for a contact order or to vary or discharge the orders she has breached.
Outside court, Mrs Danby said she had been put through "a humiliating ordeal".
Asked if she had been scared in jail however, she laughed, replying: "No, I wasn't scared.
"I don't scare easily."
She described how the day after her arrest she was taken to the Birmingham court but claimed "nobody knew what was going on", when she arrived with security officers.
"I was sat there for three hours, wasting time," said Mrs Danby.
"Then a lady came from the court and said 'Mrs Danby wasn't supposed to be taken here, she was supposed to be taken to (HMP) Foston Hall (in Derby)'.
"So, this is then a 200-mile journey, so they took me in a rickety old van, while I was suffering a loss of sleep."
At the all-women prison, she was allocated a cell and claimed the medication she needs to treat her liver disease was taken off her because it could not initially be identified.
"It is very difficult because I cannot believe they'll go to these lengths to pursue a 72-year-old woman who's got a liver disease, just in order to keep control over my granddaughter, which is what they're trying to do.
"I can't tell you anymore about my granddaughter."
Asked about what her views were on the county council's decision to apply for contempt of court proceedings, she replied: "You really don't want to know - there aren't words to describe what I think of Derbyshire County Council."
MP John Hemming, who is calling for family law to be reformed and is chairman of the Justice for Families Campaign Group, was at court supporting Mrs Danby.
The Liberal Democrat member for Birmingham Yardley was made aware of her case by political party colleague Alistair Carmichael, as she is a resident of his Orkney and Shetland constituency.
Mr Hemming said her case was one among many, affecting families up and down the country.
"You've got this poor old granny being traipsed around in handcuffs because she hugged her granddaughter," he said.
"It is ordinary people subject to an abuse of power, and there's many more of these cases going on.
"These are the strange sorts of things that happen in this country."
Source: Yahoo News
Kathleen Danby and the Court of Protection
The Court had the sense to allow Mrs Danby to purge her contempt today and be released. G4S, however, decided that the court order was not enough and they needed permission from the prison service. In the mean time her handbag had been left in Derbyshire and her suitcase left in a hotel in Liverpool. Her tickets had run out to return to Orkney yesterday and she was dumped by the system in Birmingham. Luckily the Daily Mail have agreed to help her get home.
Even if the original court orders on contact had reliable expert evidence and the conclusion of the court on only hearing one side of the argument was right (about both of which issues there are questions). Derbyshire County Council have serious questions to ask as to where the public interest was in spending the money to get her dragged out of a Ken Dodd concert to be taken around the country.
Because she was not contactable yesterday or today, it was impossible to ensure she had legal representation. I was prepared, therefore, to act as her McKenzie friend today, but in fact a solicitor was found at the last minute.
It remains, however, that the system as a whole has treated a particular grandparent very badly this holiday period and she is owed a number of apologies starting with Derbyshire County Council.
As I say in this story: "It is ordinary people subject to an abuse of power, and there's many more of these cases going on. These are the strange sorts of things that happen in this country."
Source: John Hemming blog
Christopher Booker comments.
The most sinister court in Britain strikes yet again
The shadowy Court of Protection's treatment of a 72-year-old grandmother is a national scandal, says Christopher Booker
It was appropriate that 2014 should end as it began, with two stories exposing more disturbingly than ever the shadowy workings of the most sinister and secretive court in our judicial system.
A year ago it was the case, first revealed in this column, of the visiting Italian woman secretly ordered by the Court of Protection, without her knowledge, to be subjected to a caesarean section, so that her baby could be handed over to Essex social workers.
Last week it was the case, which I reported here in June, of Kathleen Danby, a 72-year-old grandmother, who was finally arrested in a Liverpool theatre after the Court of Protection had secretly sentenced her, in her absence, to three months in prison, for hugging her granddaughter.
This 19-year-old girl, said to have a mental age of nine, was taken into “care” by Derbyshire social workers in 2007, after her father had been seen roughly grabbing her and taking her to safety when she ran out into a busy road during a temper tantrum.
For this he was also imprisoned, as he was twice more – once just for waving at his daughter when he saw her passing in a taxi. The girl ran away from care 170 times because the only two people she wanted to see were her father and her grandmother, Mrs Danby, who was only allowed brief telephone contact with her once a month, strictly monitored by a social worker.
Last April, after Mrs Danby and her granddaughter had been recorded on CCTV illicitly hugging each other in a car park, Judge Martin Cardinal, in the Court of Protection, punished her, in her absence, by giving her a three-month sentence, saying, “I am sure this grandmother needs restraint”. But Derbyshire police were unable to arrest her because she lives in Orkney, outside their jurisdiction.
Last weekend, however, the police learnt that Mrs Danby planned to attend a performance by Ken Dodd in Liverpool. They called in their Merseyside colleagues, who summoned Mrs Danby out of the theatre just as the performance was about to begin. This tiny 72-year-old woman was then held overnight in a scruffy police cell, without food or access to the medication she needed for a liver complaint. She was not allowed to tell anyone where she was, or given access to a lawyer.
After a sleepless night, Mrs Danby was bundled into a police van (so roughly that her resulting bruising was later photographed) and taken away for two more nights and days in a prison run by G4S, with her family now desperate to know where she was. Only after they managed to contact John Hemming MP and another newspaper, which publicised her plight, was she brought to court on Wednesday and, at the last minute, given a lawyer, who was handed a three-inch-thick file on her case outside the courtroom.
Mrs Danby was led into court in handcuffs and only permitted to visit the lavatory handcuffed to a policewoman. Thanks to her promise not to repeat her “offence” – not to mention the media interest and the presence of Mr Hemming – the judge agreed that she had “purged her contempt”, allowing her to walk free from the court. But she had no money, her handbag was back at the prison, her luggage still in her Liverpool hotel – and her return ticket back to Orkney had run out. Only thanks to outside help was she able to collect her belongings and return safely home.
All this raises so many serious question marks over Mrs Danby’s treatment that one scarcely knows where to begin. The government website makes clear that anyone arrested has the right to tell someone where they are, and the right to free legal advice. They have the right to food and to any medical help required. None of these rights, it seems, was observed. “Guidance on the Use of Handcuffs”, on the website of the Association of Police Officers, makes it equally clear that “any application of the use of force to the person of another is an assault. The use of handcuffs amounts to such an assault and is unlawful unless it can be justified.” How does this equate to the treatment of a frail old woman who is less than five feet tall? In none of these instances does it appear that Mrs Danby’s rights were properly respected.
This is all profoundly worrying in itself, and we have two MPs already promising to raise these issues in Parliament – Mr Hemming and Mrs Danby’s own MP, Alistair Carmichael. But a much wider concern it raises again is the quite extraordinary powers given to the judges in this mysterious Court of Protection when it was set up by the Labour government in 2005. Only in the past year or two, thanks to the valiant efforts of Lord Justice Munby to lift something of the suffocating veil of secrecy surrounding the workings of this court, has it begun to come to light just how far it seems able to stand all the basic principles of British justice on their head.
It was this, for instance, that allowed us to know that Judge Martin Cardinal, the same man who secretly sentenced Mrs Danby to three months in prison, had earlier similarly jailed in secret Wanda Maddocks. She was the 50-year-old woman he had found guilty of contempt of court for removing her desperately unhappy father from the council care home where he was being so ill-treated that she feared for his life. Even now, although too many such horror stories continue in the shadows, it is only occasionally that they can emerge to public view.
But just as worrying as the role of the Court of Protection is the astonishing part played right across our “family justice” system by the police. When the police show themselves willing to behave as they so routinely do in such cases, to whom can we look to enforce the law?
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Year in Review
December 30, 2014 permalink
Here is a recap of the more important child protection stories of the year.
In March premier Kathleen Wynne announced plans to extend the ombudsman's oversight to cover the MUSH sector, but excluding children's aid societies. Instead, CAS oversight was to fall to the provincial child advocate . In May the premier dissolved the legislature in anticipation of a defeat on the budget, killing bill 42 . The new legislature elected on June 12 had a Liberal majority, ending any possibility of giving the ombudsman CAS oversight . The government proposed bill 8, giving weakened oversight powers to the child advocate, and the legislature enacted it on December 2 .
This year Quebec tried to get the children returned. Courts ruled for return, then were overruled. Some of the children fled to the Caribbean. Six made it safely to Guatemala, but nine others nabbed in Trinidad were returned to Canada. Following many more incidents, the entire group fled Canada.         .
The absence of more recent news suggests that Canada has abandoned efforts to keep these children under CAS control.
This year it became a high-profile case. Massachusetts completed the child-snatching by making her a permanent ward, but she was eventually returned after a year in care. Justina, who did figure skating before being seized, came home in a wheel chair        .
Then in July the province proclaimed a law allowing parents to speak the name of dead foster children. The press instantly published dozens of names. .
But the disclosures have so far been limited to deaths occurring before the new law. Later deaths are concealed, except for a web page When a child receiving services dies that discloses only the age, sex and date of deaths in foster care       .
For another kind of reminiscence, here are ten absurd news items collected by Lenore Skenazy.
Here Are 10 Outrageous 'Zero Tolerance' Follies of 2014
Are your children safe at school? That depends on if you're worried about bullies or administrators. Here are 10 of the most infamous "zero tolerance" punishments handed down to kids—and even some adults—this year.
- Student, 13, shares lunch, gets detention
A 13-year-old boy at Weaverville Elementary School in California shared his school lunch (a chicken burrito) with a hungry friend. For this, he got detention. Superintendent Tom Barnett explained, "Because of safety and liability we cannot allow students to actually exchange meals.”
- Sunscreen not allowed on field trip—kids might drink it
A San Antonio, Texas, school forbid students to bring sunscreen on a field trip. Why? According to spokeswoman Aubrey Chancellor, "We can’t allow toxic things to be in our schools.” The children, "could possibly have an allergic reaction (or) they could ingest it. It’s really a dangerous situation.”
- Kindergarten cancels its year-end show to allow more time for college prep
A letter home from the Harley Avenue Primary School in Elwood, New York, read, in part: "The reason for eliminating the Kindergarten show is simple. We are responsible for preparing children for college and career with valuable lifelong skills and know that we can best do that by having them become strong readers, writers, coworkers and problem solvers."
- Teacher suspended on weapons charge for demonstrating carpentry tools
A second grade teacher at Chicago's Washington Irving Elementary School was suspended for four days without pay for bringing screwdrivers, wrenches and other shop tools to class, and demonstrating how to use them. These are dangerous items.
- School bus driver loses job for keeping kids warm when bus breaks down
This one's in Canada! On a day when the windchill dipped to -34 Fahrenehit, school bus driver Kendra Lindon's bus broke down. Knowing it could take a long time for a replacement to arrive—and that kids would be waiting outside till it did—she picked up the few children on her route (including her son) in her SUV. A neighbor noticed two kids sitting in the cargo hold without seat belts and called the bus company. She was promptly fired.
- 79-year-old substitute teacher fired for having student-friends on Facebook
Carol Thebarge was a substitute teacher at Stevens High School in Claremont, New Hampshire, for nine years and was friends with about 250 current students on Facebook. She was told to unfriend them or lose her job. She chose to lose her job. Superintendent Middleton McGoodwin told the press, "She’s loved by many, but that doesn’t give you allowance to ignore a protocol designed to protect all.”
- Student suspended for slicing apple with knife during health food demonstration
Da'von Shaw, a Bedford, Ohio, high school student, brought apples and craisins to school for a "healthy eating" presentation. When he took out a knife to slice an apple, his teacher told him he was not allowed to use it. He immediately handed it over to her. Case closed? Nope. Later that day he was suspended for a week because he brought a weapon to school.
- School goes on lockdown when mom fails to sign-in
The mother of a special needs child in Walnut Grove, Missouri, raced to school when she got a "frantic" call from her kid'steacher. After she was buzzed into the building, she ran straight to his room, thereby committing the cardinal sin of not signing in. The school went into lockdown. Cops arrived and took the mom to the police station, where she was charged with trespassing.
- Girl in wet bathing suit forced to stand outside... in February... in Minnesota... due to school policy
After the fire alarm went off in Como Park High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, everyone evacuated, including Kayona Hagen-Tietza, 14, who had been swimming in the gym pool and didn't have time to change. School policy forbids teachers from having students in the car, so she stood outside, barefoot, for 10 minutes in 5-degree weather until a teacher obtained "permission" to let her sit in her car just this once.
- Student suspended for twirling pencil, subjected to five-hour evaluation
Ethan Chaplin, 13, was twirling his pencil, which made the child sitting behind him feel "threatened or uncomfortable." That's all it took for the Vernon, New Jersey, school to send Chaplin for a 5-hour physical and psych evaluation. His urine was tested and blood drawn. “We never know what’s percolating in the mind of children, okay?" the superintendent, Charles Maranzano, said. "When they demonstrate behaviors that raise red flags, we must do our duty.”
And a very Happy New Year to everyone who goes to school, works at a school, or is suspended from school for a sandwich swap, monkey wrench, or pencil twirl!
Lenore Skenazy is host of the reality show “World’s Worst Mom” on the Discovery Life Channel, starting Jan. 22. She is also a public speaker and founder of the book and blog Free-Range Kids.
December 30, 2014 permalink
Delaware social worker Gregory J Bunkley has been suspended after demanding sex from a mother as a condition of letting her keep her children.
Caseworker arrested for sexual extortion
A case worker with the state Division of Family Services surrendered to Harrington police on charges he used his position to coerce a client to engage in sex, police said.
Gregory J. Bunkley, 52, of Dover, was charged with felony sexual extortion and official misconduct, a misdemeanor, Sgt. Adam Gillespie said.
In August, a woman came forward and reported that she was “intimidated and coerced into performing sexual acts” on Bunkley.
The woman told police that she feared that if she did not cooperate, Bunkley would use his authority with Family Services to take her children away from her, Gillespie said.
The five month investigation resulted in a warrant being issued for Bunkley’s arrest.
He surrendered to police Tuesday.
According to Family Services spokesman Joseph Smack, Bunkley was suspended Tuesday without pay. He had been employed by the state agency since 2005.
The investigation is continuing, Gillespie said.
Bunkley was committed to Sussex Correctional Institution after failing to post $7,000 secured bail.
Anyone with further information about Bunkley is asked to call Sgt. Adam Gillespie at (302) 398-4493 or Delaware Crime Stoppers at (800) TIP-3333.
Source: News Journal
Caring for Your Own Child is Trafficking
December 30, 2014 permalink
Aman Sood and Bhavna Bajaj are legal residents of Canada, but cannot bring their three-year-old son into the country because of a law preventing child trafficking. As is customary in this kind of snafu, the persons responsible refuse to comment, hiding behind privacy laws.
Immigration law that split young family prevents child trafficking, government says
Ottawa couple makes public plea to ministry to allow young son to join them in Canada
The immigration law that is preventing an Ottawa couple with permanent residency from sponsoring their three-year-old son to join them in Canada is in place to prevent fraud and child trafficking, a spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada told CBC News.
Bhavna Bajaj and Aman Sood made a public plea to the ministry to allow their son Daksh, who is in India, to join them in Canada.
Bajaj told CBC News she was pregnant when she and her husband applied for permanent residency in 2011. By the time the Canadian government accepted their application last year, the couple had a son.
The couple said an immigration consultant advised them to sponsor their son after they arrived in Canada but once they landed they were told they had broken the law.
A spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada told CBC News on Sunday that he could not disclose information about this particular case due to privacy laws but spoke generally about the application process.
"Applicants are expected to abide by attestations they have made to officers regarding their application as they land in Canada," spokesman Kevin Menard wrote in an email. "The policy that requires applicants to disclose all of their family members in their application before landing in Canada helps CIC prevent immigration fraud and child trafficking."
He also said that applicants are expected to disclose if the circumstances in their original application change.
"In general, if someone has a baby before applying to immigrate to Canada, they are expected to disclose that," he said.
"Upon their arrival in Canada, they are expected to be forthright and truthful in their attestations — this includes any information regarding dependants. There are several stages at which people can and should divulge such information. As part of the law, any dependent that is not listed in the application at the time of becoming a permanent resident, can’t be sponsored in the future."
The couple told CBC News on Friday that they made an honest mistake when they did not disclose the pregnancy. They have asked Minister of Citizen and Immigration Chris Alexander to allow their son to come to Canada under humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
"We are crying every day, craving for our child," Sood said.
"There's a big void in my whole life. Like, what should I do without him?" Bajaj said. "I need my kid over here ... I just want his future to be with me."
False Reporter Charged
December 30, 2014 permalink
In Florida Jessica Elizabeth Combee has been charged with felonies for filing 28 false reports of child abuse. The state DCF investigated the reports, harassing two targeted families. In a police interview Combee said her motive was “to create havoc.” In most places there is no penalty for false reporting of child abuse, but Florida is an exception.
Let's correct the record. Jessica Combee did not create havoc. Florida DCF did. In a rational system, investigators would soon recognize a deranged reporter and ignore further accusations. Instead, in the current irrational system every report, no matter how clearly delusional, becomes an ordeal for a family.
HOLMES COUNTY Woman charged with filing 28 false child abuse reports
A Holmes County woman is facing felony charges after allegedly making dozens of false child abuse claims, according to the Bonifay Police Department.
BPD began investigating in October, after “numerous unfounded reports” of child abuse and/or neglect were filed with the Florida Abuse Registry, alleging abuse in two separate households. The criminal investigation was requested by the local Florida Department of Children and Families Child Protective Investigative Unit.
The reports began in August, with the Registry fielding multiple reports on some days.
DCF provided information that led to subpoenas for records from two internet providers. That information helped identify a suspect: Jessica Elizabeth Combee, 38, of Westville, who, according to law enforcement, has connections to both households that were implicated in the false claims.
Combee was subsequently arrested and charged with 28 counts of “False Report(s) of Child Abuse,” a third-degree felony. She was taken to the Holmes County Jail, where she was held on a $28,000 bond.
In law enforcement’s interview of Combee, she reportedly said her motive for filing the reports was, “to create havoc.”
“This is just one example of how people use the ‘system’ to carry out their agenda against whomever they felt has done them wrong,” Bonifay Police Chief Chris Wells said in the release.
“The time and effort spent by law enforcement and DCF investigating these false reports could have been better used helping others who were really in need. I hope that this case will get the attention of others who might think twice before reporting something they know to be untruthful.”
Wells went on to thank the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office for its assistance in the investigation and in executing the arrest warrant.
Source: Jackson County Floridan
Children's Rights Inc / Mississippi DHS Share Jackpot
December 30, 2014 permalink
Children's Rights Inc is an organization that sues state foster care agencies ostensibly for the benefit of foster children, actually in collusion with the agencies. The enclosed article gives the outcome of their action in Mississippi. The state legislature is being asked for $12 million more for the Mississippi Department of Human Services to settle the suit. Not mentioned in the article, as part of every settlement Children's Rights Inc gets a share of the cash award.
Agency seeks $12 million more for foster care reforms
DHS to seek $12 million more next budget year to continue with reforms mandated by the settlement of decade-old federal lawsuit over how the state care for children in the foster care system.
The Mississippi Department of Human Services is seeking an additional $12 million next budget year to continue with reforms mandated by the settlement of a decade-old federal lawsuit over how the state cares for abused and neglected children in the state’s foster care system.
This week, the state and Children’s Rights, the New York-based children advocacy group that filed the federal lawsuit, filed in federal court an agreement setting forth the steps the state will take over the next several years to implement the requirements under the modified settlement agreement.
Children’s Rights filed the 2004 lawsuit that resulted in the 2008 agreement. The lawsuit alleged caseworkers were poorly trained and overworked and the state had a shortage of safe foster homes. Some of the state’s 3,500 foster children have been sexually abused and denied adequate medical care, the lawsuit said.
The class action, known as Olivia Y. v. Barbour, cited dangerously high caseloads, untrained caseworkers, a shortage of foster homes, and a widespread failure to provide basic health care services. A modified settlement agreement, approved in 2012, contained an action plan to address the state’s consistent failure to meet court-ordered performance standards.
However, Children’s Rights said an independent monitor determined the state was making some progress, but moving too slow in meeting goals outlined in the settlement.
The monitor was unable to make any findings about performance in approximately one third of the 33 statewide requirements because of concerns about data reliability or completeness. In the 23 areas where performance could be assessed, the Department of Human Services Division of Family and Children Services only met or exceeded portions of 10 of the requirements.
“It is deeply concerning that, ten years into this effort, the agency’s capacity issues remain profound and progress has been so limited,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, an attorney with Children’s Rights.
Mississippi has improved its data management practices, and for the first time is able to accurately report on some aspects of its performance. However, the state has not been able to produce reliable data on caseworker caseloads statewide, a critical safety measure that indicates whether a state has the capacity to effectively supervise and ensure the well-being of all children in its care, according to Children’s Rights.
During state budget hearings, Mississippi Department of Human Services Executive Director Rickey Berry said the state needs to spend an additional $12 million to meet requirements of the lawsuit.
He also said the state has seen an increase of 450 children in foster care in the past year, with many of the children entering foster care because of drug use by their biological parents.
The state had a vacancy of about 150 social workers, Berry said.
Highlights of the agreement signed Tuesday:
- •The state will complete by May 15, 2015 a written strategy for executing performance-based contracts with foster care placement providers.
- •By June 15, 2015, the state will provide the independent monitor with the scope of services that will be included in a request for proposals for emergency shelter providers.
- •By Aug. 1, 2015, the state will issue a request for proposals for emergency shelter providers.
- •By Oct. 1, 2015, the state will provide the independent court monitor with a scope of services that will be included in request for proposals for regular group home providers, therapeutic group home providers and therapeutic resource home providers.
- •By Dec. 1, 2015, the state will sign performance-based contracts with emergency shelter providers.
- •By March 1, 2016, the state will sign performance-based contracts with group home providers, therapeutic group home providers and therapeutic resource home providers.
Source: Clarion Ledger
Police Searching for Missing Boy Can't See Confidential Records
December 27, 2014 permalink
What is more important, finding a missing child or protecting confidentiality? In New York State last week five-year-old foster boy Kenneth White was missing. Police looking for the boy asked to see records of family history. They were refused on grounds of confidentiality. The records would have shown mental health counseling for Brenda VanAlstyne, the boy's aunt and foster mother. The boy was eventually found dead.
Laws blocked cops from reviewing Family Court records in 5-year-old's death
Albany County sheriff seeks child protective law change after Knox case
In the tense hours after a young Knox woman claimed last week that two masked men had kidnapped her 5-year-old cousin, police investigators were prohibited from accessing confidential child-protective services records that would have provided reams of background on the boy's troubled family.
Instead, police were informed by child protective services officials in both Albany and Montgomery county, where the boy's mother lives, that health privacy laws prevented the agencies from releasing any information on the family's history. Among the information withheld from the investigators was that there had been court-ordered mental health counseling for an aunt, Brenda VanAlstyne, who was one of the missing boy's caretakers.
Her 19-year-old daughter later was charged with killing the child.
During the initial hours, as the young woman's story started to unravel, police were left to sift through finger-pointing allegations from the boy's apparently dysfunctional family, including one lead that his estranged father may have taken him.
Police investigators, who were almost immediately suspicious of the kidnapping claim made by 19-year-old Tiffany VanAlstyne, said CPS workers told them that in order to access the child-protective records on the boy's biological family, a deputy or an investigator would need to report the alleged kidnapping to a state child-abuse hotline. That would have allowed the department to receive a case number and gain access to at least some of the CPS records.
But that plan failed when the CPS Hotline's legal department contacted sheriff's investigators and said the state agency could not open a case because of a "lack of concrete information regarding the parents of Kenneth White being suspects in this case," according to a sheriff's memorandum that documented the exchange.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple on Wednesday confirmed that he had discussed the matter with the county attorney and intends to meet with state legislators early next month to see if the law can be changed.
"We had more than enough probable cause to get those records," Apple said, adding the CPS background information could have been invaluable to investigators who were picking apart the 19-year-old woman's account that she had been overpowered by two masked men she claimed kidnapped the boy.
Hours later, a police dog directed officers to a culvert across the road from the family's trailer where the body of Kenneth White was found tucked under snow. He had been strangled and bludgeoned, according to police, and Tiffany VanAlstyne allegedly confessed to attacking the boy in a fit of rage.
Tom Marcelle, the county attorney, said he discussed the CPS records issue with the sheriff on Tuesday.
"It is kind of the wall the state has set up," Marcelle said, referring to privacy protections of CPS records, including medical information. Marcelle said that even law enforcement agencies will generally need a court order to get access to the confidential files. "In the case of a murder investigation or a missing kid ... it's cumbersome," he added. "When a kid goes missing it's different from a misdemeanor but the state's going to have to balance those privacy issues with the exigent circumstances."
At Tiffany VanAlstyne's arraignment last week, Brenda VanAlstyne said her daughter has bipolar disorder but had never been violent. Tiffany VanAlstyne also disclosed her condition when the town justice arraigning her asked if she took any medication.
"It was an impediment not to have facts about this family from CPS," the sheriff said. "It certainly would have allowed us to focus in another area sooner than we did. We may have been able to focus earlier than we did. We had nothing. The family members were all throwing mud on each other and we couldn't separate fact from fiction."
Tiffany VanAlstyne is being held at Albany County jail without bail pending a grand jury review of the case.
Source: Albany Times Union
December 27, 2014 permalink
A sixteen-year-old girl found a way to get out of her California group home. She fell in love with one of her workers. In August Denisse Lisbeth Romero quit her job and eloped with her lesbian client/lover. Authorities chased the two into Mexico. The girl was forcibly returned, and eventually Romero was arrested. The social services system supports same-sex love and marriage, but makes an exception when funding for foster care is in jeopardy. That kind of love is criminal.
Former Group Home Worker Accused Of Running Off With Teenage Girl To Mexico
CAMARILLO (CBSLA.com) — Police say a woman who worked at a children’s group home in Camarillo is in custody after twice running away with teenage girl who lived at the home.
Denisse Lisbeth Romero, 27, was arrested Monday after Ventura County Sheriff’s investigators found her hiding in the closet of a family members’ home in the 1900 block of Ginger Street in Oxnard, following an investigation that spanned several states and into Mexico, where the teenage victim was previously rescued, authorities said.
Romero, who is being held on $250,000 bail, faces charges of child stealing and sexual assault of a minor. She is scheduled to make her next court appearance on Jan. 6.
Investigators say Romero was working as a staff member in August at the Camarillo Children’s Learning Center, where the 16-year-old victim was a resident. Romero and the girl began a romantic relationship, sheriff’s officials said, leading to the girl running away from the home and Romero quitting the same day.
Investigators found evidence the pair left California and ended up in Oklahoma City, Okla., where they were nearly captured. They were then found in Texas, where the girl was taken into custody by the San Antonio Police Department. Investigators say evidence suggested Romero fled to Mexico.
The girl was returned to another group home in late August, but ran away the day after she arrived, authorities said. According to investigators, evidence suggested the girl ran away to Mexico, where she reunited with Romero. The pair apparently drove around Mexico and eventually moved into an apartment together in Ensenada.
Ventura County sheriff’s investigators contacted the FBI, who contacted members with the Mexican government. Mexican authorities located Romero and the girl, who was taken into protective custody, but Romero remained free because there was no formal extradition agreement in place, sheriff’s officials said.
The girl was returned to her legal guardian on Dec. 3.
Source: KCAL-TV / KCBS-TV
Shaken Family Syndrome
December 27, 2014 permalink
Twins Arianna and Dominick were born prematurely in March. Dominick was normal, but Arianna had continuing problems that mother Cassaundra Brown reported to her doctor. The doctor paid little attention until Arianna had a seizure that nearly killed her in July. Illinois child protectors took custody of both twins, alleging shaken baby syndrome.
Parents Warnell Ludington and Cassaundra Brown are health care professionals who have lost their jobs since the child abuse allegations. Their future careers are in jeopardy.
Another Medical Kidnap in Illinois: Infant Twins Seized from Parents over Medical Dispute
Cassaundra Brown is heartbroken because she is missing her twins’ first Christmas. Instead of watching 9 month old Arianna and Dominick delight in the Christmas lights and new toys and pretty bows, she and Warnell Ludington are caught in desperate fight for their babies with DCFS, the child protective services department in Illinois, over what they believe in their hearts is a misdiagnosis.
The crux of the twins’ removal from their parents allegedly lies in an accusation of Shaken Baby Syndrome, a diagnosis which is surrounded by growing skepticism by medical experts, and which does not take into account Arianna’s history of medical complications since her birth. Though the parents have reportedly not been charged with any crime, their children have been seized by the state; and they are only permitted to see them for two hours per week.
Separated from Infants During First Christmas
Their visit this week was cancelled because the foster parents are out of town for the Christmas holidays.
This foster home is allegedly the twins’ fourth foster home in five months.
Their parents are grieving because they are “missing out on every first,” and just want their babies back.
Premature Twins born to Mother not Expected to Conceive due to Health Conditions
Their story began when Cassaundra and Army Reserve Sergeant Warnell Ludington, both mental health counselors, met at their job at Northern Illinois Academy, a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility, and fell in love.
Cassie “always wanted twins,” but her own health history had led her doctors to conclude that she would never bear children. She suffers from terminal Systemic Lupus E and anemia, among other illnesses, and has a family history of bone density issues. When she and Warnell found out that they were expecting twins, they were ecstatic. Cassaundra told us that it was a dream come true.
The twins were born five weeks prematurely on March 14, 2014. Cassaundra later found out that they had been diagnosed with IUGR, Intrauterine Growth Retardation, prompting the doctors to call for a c-section. Dominick is the larger of twins, and was born without incident. He went right away to his mother’s arms.
Arianna was born next and was pulled by her feet out from under her mother’s ribs. According to both her mother and father, she screamed right away, and then was silent. She was quickly given oxygen and taken to the NICU. It would be 12 hours before her mother would see her.
After their births, Dominick was fairly healthy, but his smaller twin sister has experienced a number of issues right from the start. According to their maternal grandmother, Jackie Heard, Dominick has always been “happy as a lark,” while “all Arianna did was scream early on.” Her parents say that she did not like lying on her back or stomach and would scream in pain. Early photographs show that she often cried when she was on her back, even when held in that position.
Vitamin D Deficiency and 7 Vaccines Given on One Day
Both babies were reportedly born with a Vitamin D deficiency and abnormal blood counts, which the parents report they only learned months later when they got the babies’ records.
Records show that both babies received the recommended vaccinations. At birth, Dominick received the standard Vitamin K shot, but Arianna did not, even though they were preemies.
She also had feeding issues, beginning in her time in the NICU. Communication within the hospital was confusing. The NICU staff said that Arianna could not be given her mother’s milk, because of the medications that Cassaundra took for her illnesses. At the same time, she breastfed Dominick in their room with full approval from the staff. Doctors changed Arianna’s formula four times, and she was diagnosed with GERD, and had difficulty with bowel movements and gas, as well as lots of choking and throwing up.
Cassaundra reports that Arianna often shook her head from side to side, and that she told the doctor that she believed something was wrong with her eyes. Numerous times during Arianna’s first few months, Cassie and Warnell report that she brought concerns to her pediatrician, Dr. Kleinfeld, only to be assured that it was simply normal feeding problems and that it was all OK. The parents report to Health Impact News that they did not believe that everything was fine.
Emergency Room Visit
The babies were sick in late June, but it was on July 7 that the family’s world turned upside down.
Warnell cared for the babies while Cassaundra was at work that afternoon. The twins were in the living room, alternating their fussy periods, while Warnell went to the kitchen to prepare a bottle. He reports hearing a “blood-curdling scream” from the living room, and he ran to to Arianna. He says that she spit up, but it was different from usual.
She appeared to have a seizure and then went limp, with shallow breathing. He immediately began CPR but she was unresponsive. He loaded the babies into the car seats for the harried three minute drive to the hospital. He placed Arianna’s seat in the front so that he could maintain two-finger chest compressions during the drive. Twice on the way, he had to slam on the brakes.
In the emergency room at Rush Copley Hospital, she finally became responsive. The doctors ran tests and found that there was bleeding on the brain as well as healing fractures on ribs 6 and 7.
Cassaundra arrived at the hospital to be told that Warnell was accused of Shaken Baby Syndrome, and that Arianna was to be flown by helicopter to Loyola Children’s Hospital.
Child Protection Services Take Custody of Children
The family was devastated when both twins were taken into DCFS custody on July 10.
Cassaundra believes that if the doctors had listened to her as they expressed concerns about Arianna’s health, they wouldn’t be in this situation. She felt in her heart that something was wrong, but her concerns were dismissed.
There is a family history of osteopenia, or low bone density, on her side. According to researcher Waney Squire, in his study entitled Shaken Baby Syndrome, prematurity itself predisposes to osteopenia. Though Cassie’s medications were modified after she learned that she was pregnant, she was prescribed some before that time that are contraindicated in pregnancy. Despite Arianna’s screams of pain when she was on her back, no x-rays were ever done until the July 7 admission to the hospital.
Shaken Baby Syndrome: A Controversial Diagnosis Under Fire
Shaken Baby Syndrome as a diagnosis has come under recent fire, even among medical experts. Emily Bazelon writes in the New York Times, and PubMed confirms, that the experiments conducted that form the basis for the diagnosis were done on monkeys, not babies, who were not actually shaken, but subjected to such high velocity impacts that they cannot cannot even occur with shaking. According to the study which challenges the diagnosis of Shaken Baby Syndrome, “These forces, if present, would invariably cause neck trauma, which is conspicuously absent in most babies allegedly injured by shaking.”
Hospital records show no reports of any neck injury in Arianna.
According to law professor Deborah Tuerkheimer, a federal judge has condemned the diagnosis of Shaken Baby Syndrome as being “more an article of faith than a proposition of science.” (See: Finally, a Judge Calls Shaken Baby Diagnosis an “Article of Faith” And frees Jennifer Del Prete, who was sentenced for murder 10 years ago.)
Twins Now Have no Emotional Stability Since Being Placed in Foster Care
Since DCFS has seized custody of the twins, there has reportedly been no stability. They are currently in the fourth foster home since they were taken from their parents, and none of the homes have been with relatives, despite the federal law that relative placement should receive priority.
What kind of emotional damage is potentially happening to these babies?
Many childcare experts teach that bonding and attachment are crucial components of emotional health. Any time a child is separated from the biological parents, there is trauma caused to the child. How much greater is that trauma when children are shifted from pillar to post, with no continuity of care?
Carla Hartley, director of Ancient Art Midwifery Institute, tells Health Impact News that such treatment inevitably leads to “confusion.” According to Hartley:
The babies’ grandmother, Jackie, reports that the twins light up when they see their parents, even though it is only for a mere two hours per week. She said that Arianna screams hysterically when her mom and dad start putting their coats on them and putting them in their car seats to leave. Dominick doesn’t react as passionately, but he is still sad. However, she says that the social worker told the family that the babies only cry because they are being taken away from their toys, an observation that doesn’t coincide with reality or scientific research.
Jackie says that she doesn’t get to see them as much as Cassaundra and Warnell, but they still recognize her voice and know who she is. This is consistent with evidence from pre- and perinatal psychology which shows that babies later recognize the voices of those they heard frequently while they were still in the womb. They heard Jackie’s voice often both before and after they were born.
Parents Lose Jobs and Potential Careers
Both she and Warnell lost their jobs as mental health counselors two months after their babies were taken, because of being in the midst of a DCFS case. Warnell, who served in Kuwait during his decade long military career, is currently in a Master’s program in clinical psychology, but the accusations by DCFS have not only taken his beloved children. They also jeopardize his future career.
Their lives have become a nightmare, all because of what they say is a misdiagnosis. They have repeatedly asked for tests to be done that would prove that this is a misdiagnosis, but have reportedly faced resistance and delays at every turn.
By all accounts, Arianna and Dominick are loved and wanted by their parents. Jackie grew passionate as she spoke of how much they all love her grandbabies, telling me, “She ain’t hurt that baby, and that boy ain’t hurt that baby!” She is completely convinced of their innocence. According to her, “our babies have been kidnapped by the state of Illinois.” Cassaundra says that she is “shocked – we don’t understand any of this.” She says that she cries every day for her children. She knows that she isn’t promised forever, because of her health, but she pleads, “Give me today!”
Family Wants Public Awareness and Support
The adjudicatory hearing, or trial, is set for mid-March, and has already been rescheduled three times.
The family has a Facebook page set up for supporters to learn more: Twins Medically Kidnapped By DCFS. They ask for people to pray.
The Governor of Illinois is Pat Quinn. Contact him here.
The State Senator for the Family is Linda Holmes. Contact her here.
The State Representative for the Family is Stephanie A Kifowit. Contact her here.
Ask local media in Chicago to also cover this story.
Source: Medical Kidnap
Social Worker Sells Prostitutes
December 27, 2014 permalink
Dale Richard Aymont was a senior consultant to Manitoba Child and Family Services, an agency that looks over our shoulders to determine whether we are good parents. He had a sideline: selling the services of prostitutes. One woman says Aymont kept her working by threatening her with violence and on one occasion physically assaulted her.
More human trafficking charges against former CFS worker
A 43-year-old man who worked for Child and Family Services and in human resources for a local media outlet is facing more human trafficking charges.
Winnipeg police said Dale Richard Aymont forced at least three women to work in the sex trade in Brandon from March to Oct. 14, 2014. The first charge of human trafficking came in November, the second in December.
The first known victim, a 25-year-old female, came to police and said she was forced by Aymont to work as an escort. Aymont allegedly advertised, for a fee, the sexual services of the woman. During that time, he also allegedly threatened the victim with violence and on one occasion physically assaulted her.
As the investigation continued, two additional adult female victims came forward to police.
Sources confirmed that Aymont was a human resource consultant with a Winnipeg media outlet for a short time before leaving the position.
Prior to that, his profile on LinkedIn shows he worked for Child and Family Services as a senior consultant from 2011-13.
Brandon police said they had no record of Aymont until this June, when they received several calls involving him regarding minor incidents. He was later charged with possession of crystal meth on July 6.
A 2013 blog post, purportedly written by Aymont, said modern Canadians find themselves in a "moral quagmire" when pondering the decriminalization of prostitution.
"Can the modern sex trade and modern morality co-exist?" he asked in the post.
Aymont is in custody and has been charged with human trafficking, two counts of assault, robbery, uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm, living on the avails of prostitution, materially benefiting from human trafficking and overcoming resistance by attempting to choke, suffocate or strangle another person for his further alleged involvement.
Source: Winnipeg Sun
Experimenting on Children
December 27, 2014 permalink
Institutions in Scotland used orphans and foster children to test drugs. According to a survivor top-secret military facility Porton Down expanded its use of children to include electric shocks and lobotomies.
Scots orphans used in ‘military experiments’
HOLYROOD’S child abuse inquiry will hear claims that British military scientists conducted drug tests on orphans in Scottish mental hospitals.
The allegations centre on at least four institutions where thousands of children are said to have been experimented upon in conditions described as “like something out of Auschwitz”.
It is alleged that Porton Down, the top secret military facility in Wiltshire, was involved in trialling drugs for use in the Cold War on youngsters who were regarded as “feeble-minded”.
One survivor told this newspaper he has obtained written and video evidence that he will pass to the public inquiry into historical abuse of children in care when it begins next year.
The man, now in his 50s, has been advised by lawyers to conceal his identity for his own safety until his full submission can be lodged at the inquiry announced by Scottish Education Secretary Angela Constance.
However, he was willing to divulge some of his intended testimony about the treatment he and others suffered.
He said: “Six and seven year olds were tied to racks and given electric shocks.
"I was incarcerated with orderlies armed with rubber coshes.
"We were imprisoned, experimented upon, lobotomies, you name it, they did it.
“I was there, I saw it with my own eyes.
"I was classed as a misfit, a mental oddity, made a ward of court.
"My mother was killed and I became an orphan, so they took it upon themselves to have me experimented upon.”
Lennox Castle Hospital, near Lennoxtown, East Dunbartonshire, is one of four Scottish institutions alleged to have been involved.
The witness believes there may have been as many as 3,500 children who were involved in the Porton Down testing programme over the years.
He said: “They were using orphans to experiment with drugs for the Cold War.
"The drug programme ran from 1948 to 1982.
"I believe this happened throughout the UK but I’m referring to Scotland.
“I have this evidence, on paper and on film, and I will hand it to the public inquiry.
"It was like something out of Auschwitz and people will be full of revulsion when they learn the state allowed this to happen.”
Lennox Castle Hospital, which closed in 2002 and is now the site of Celtic FC’s training ground, was home to children and adults with learning difficulties or conditions such as Down’s syndrome, as well as truants, unmarried mothers and wayward teenagers.
Some patients were sent there as children, often for the most trivial reasons, and ended up spending decades locked up.
Conditions improved after a series of damning reports and investigations, including a 1986 World in Action TV documentary which led to questions in the House of Commons.
Last night, Professor Ulf Schmidt of the University of Kent, Britain’s leading expert on human experimentation at Porton Down, said he had never heard of a drug trial programme involving orphans.
He added: “That is not to say these experiments didn’t happen, but I would be very cautious in dealing with these allegations.
"Some stories have appeared and reappeared over the past 50 years, including a similar one about drug testing and euthanasia involving elderly people that was eventually shown to be false.”
Six years ago hundreds of veterans who ‘volunteered’ to take part in tests at Porton Down were offered £3million in compensation.
They were exposed to nerve agents, such as sarin gas, and hallucinogens, such as LSD.
In the most infamous case, from 1953, Ronald Maddison took part in a trial of what he believed was a cold remedy, but died within an hour of having sarin dabbed on his arm.
Other Porton Down experiments included spraying bacteria over the south coast of England and dropping cancer-causing particles from planes.
And Gruinard Island in Wester Ross had to be sealed off for almost 50 years after it was contaminated with anthrax during the Second World War.
Porton Down is the home of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, an agency of the Ministry of Defence.
A spokeswoman said: “We are not aware of any tests involving children at Portown Down and have seen absolutely no evidence to back up these claims.”
Source: Daily Express
Man Innocent and Shunned
December 27, 2014 permalink
Robert Ireland's life is in ruins. The former policeman and former foster father became the subject of a false allegation by his foster girl, the same girl who made accusations against three other men. The police did not think the allegations were worthy of prosecution. But the fake accusation was reported on Ireland's police check. It used to take a criminal act to ruin a man. Now all it takes is suspicion.
Girl’s discredited story of sex assault cost dad chance at job
Robert Ireland's foster daughter made allegations of sexual assault against him, never leading to a charge or conviction. His recent application for a transit job ended after the allegations appeared on his police check
It was a stunning allegation from the mouth of his little girl.
Robert Ireland’s foster daughter, whom he cared for in his seaside B.C. home for nearly a decade, made allegations of sexual assault against him shortly after she left in 2012, when she was in her early teens.
Her claim, investigated by police, never led to a charge or conviction. But it remains on his record, continues to undermine his ability to work and support his family and has changed the former police officer’s life for good.
“I was devastated,” says Ireland, 64, a married father of one daughter, another adopted girl and former foster parent to several children over the years, including the accuser and her brother.
“This was my daughter. I loved her. I never thought I’d ever be accused of anything by her. I was a basket case for six months after.
“I’m close to all my kids. I’d take them on ski trips and to Disneyland. I loved bringing them up in the world and seeing a difference.
“Her allegations are completely untrue.”
Because the RCMP routinely release “non-conviction” records as part of employment background checks, Ireland’s recent application for a position with a provincial transit company suddenly ended after the unproven allegations appeared on his police check.
The girl’s allegations in 2012 also led to Ireland and his wife losing their foster parenting contract, which removed the accuser’s brother and another foster child from their home. They have not been able to serve as foster parents since.
A Star investigation has found three other men were similarly accused of sexual assault by the same girl.
An ongoing Star investigation has detailed how the routine release of police-held information about innocent Canadianshas ended careers, undermined job prospects and forced students out of university and college programs.
The information has also ended up in the country’s criminal records database, which is accessed by U.S. border officials, who have used it to restrict the travel of Canadians.
In some cases, even mental health calls to 911 have appeared in police checks on people crossing the border or seeking employment in vulnerable sectors such as hospitals and daycares, the Star investigation found.
Among the four men who have had their lives affected by sexual assault allegations from Ireland’s foster daughter is another former foster father. In 2005, B.C. Supreme Court heard allegations from her that the man “took her into his bedroom and sexually assaulted her” on two occasions between March and May of 2002, according to the court ruling.
The man, who is identified in the court record only as M.B. to protect the identity of the girl, denied the allegations and “spoke of his love for her then and now,” the ruling reads.
M.B. was found not guilty of the allegations.
“It was a traumatic experience,” M.B. said in an interview this week. “It almost ruined my life. It hasn’t gone away after all of these years. And the worst part is that we lost communication with foster kids who had been in our home for years and we loved.”
He says his regular trips to the U.S. for his job require him to carry documentation detailing the charges and acquittal.
“It’s embarrassing to have to talk about what I was accused of. It never goes away.”
His wife said in an interview the girl’s allegations “destroyed our lives. Ten years later, just talking about it leaves us shaking. We loved her and still love her. But whenever an allegation like that comes up, people assume you’re guilty.”
Three years ago, while still in Ireland’s care, the girl made allegations of sexual improprieties against her school bus driver.
“She accused him of inappropriate conduct, that he was coming on to her,” says Randy Gould, who runs the local school bus company where she attended school. “There were lots of other kids on the bus at the time.”
Gould says he didn’t believe his driver, a man in his 50s, had assaulted the teen. But he had to fire him.
“When someone gets accused, the guy is tainted. That’s the shame of it all. The truth did not matter when it came to him. For a school bus company, it’s a nail in the coffin.
“I had to take him off the run. It cost him his job. It affected his marriage. The look on his face, it would make you cry. I was sick about it myself.”
The girl also made similar allegations against a former boyfriend shortly after she left Ireland’s home, say Ireland and the girl’s brother, who spoke with the Star on the condition of anonymity.
The man who was the target of those allegations declined comment.
In Ireland’s case, the allegations landed with equal parts personal devastation and professional peril. He agreed to be interviewed by the local RCMP detachment following the allegations, and four months later, the case was closed.
The girl’s brother, who also lived with Ireland and his wife, said he believes none of her allegations.
“She is troubled,” he said in an interview, adding that his sister was happy in the Ireland home until the last several months, when she began causing arguments.
“There’s no way the things she said actually happened. The dates and times make no sense. I was there. I never saw anything like this. And she has a pattern of doing this every time she feels like a she’s losing her connection with a man.”
The brother returned to Ireland’s home, several months after he was removed by child protection services, to live informally with his foster family. He’s studying in Vancouver, but he still calls Ireland “Dad.”
Last year, Ireland applied for a job as a bus driver with the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority. He took a driver’s exam, paid for a medical, had extensive interviews and provided several employment references.
Those written references from his former employers are unanimously positive. One describes him as a hard worker with “good attention to detail” and concludes that Ireland was “committed to his job and to his foster children. I trust him.”
Another is a “glowing review,” the transit authority recruiter noted. A third former employer described him as “very intelligent,” “good demeanour” and “good guy,” and a fourth described Ireland as “my right hand man.”
Among the employment application forms he filled out was one that asks the question: “Do you have a Criminal Record for which you have not received a pardon?”
Ireland circled “No.”
“I used to be a police officer,” he told the Star. “I don’t have a criminal record at all. I’ve never had any problem with the police.”
The final stage of the application, he was told, was a criminal record check.
“Nobody ever told me I had this record. I was at the police station getting it and the clerk says, ‘You know you have a non-conviction record? You have to tell your employer about it.’ I said, ‘What? You’ve got to be kidding me.’ I was shocked.”
He was then forced to hand the record over to the transit authority.
“The whole mood of the employer changed, as I had to reveal what this meant and they had to contact the RCMP to confirm. I was shocked that I had to reveal the circumstances of this case to someone who I didn’t even know.”
Shortly after that, Ireland says he was eliminated as a candidate for the job.
A spokesperson with Trans Link refused to comment for this story.
In response to his complaint about the record disclosure, a July 16 RCMP letter confirmed the force, as a matter of policy, discloses a wide range of records in police checks, including “dispositions of non-conviction.”
The force has repeatedly refused to purge the record, Ireland says.
RCMP officials did not reply to requests for comment.
“This is quite outrageous as I am a good person, and have never been in trouble with the law before. This violates my Charter rights, human rights and privacy rights.”
He has a complaint filed before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal where he is representing himself because he can’t afford a lawyer. He is also considering representing himself in a civil suit.
His finances have been hit because of his now limited employment options, he says.
“I’m living on credit cards. We had our bill up to $50,000 and we had to pull out some money from the mortgage, which saved us,” says Ireland, who remains unemployed.
Two weeks ago, Ontario’s provincial minister of community safety and correctional Services told the Star his government will table legislation in the new year detailing for the first time what information police can — and cannot — disclose to employers, volunteer agencies and academic institutions about Ontarians who have not been convicted of a crime.
But that law will not affect the RCMP and police forces outside Ontario. There is a patchwork of policies and lots of discretion among individual forces about what they can release.
“This is a national issue and police services across the country have radically different practices,” says Abby Deshman, a lawyer and director with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. “I’m hopeful that Ontario will set a leadership example, but it has to be followed through by the federal government or individual provinces.”
Today, Ireland helps out with the soap business owned by his wife, who has multiple sclerosis. He says the unproven allegations have left his family financially ruined.
Since May of 2012, the family has had no income except for his wife’s disability pension. They’re living on retirement savings.
And they miss the rewards and challenges of raising foster children.
“I’ve been devastated by this. Police should never have this power.”
Source: Toronto Star
December 27, 2014 permalink
Welfare-cheats have been caught stealing $23 million in Oregon. No, not single mothers, but the offices of the state Department of Human Services. DHS can get away with an excuse not available to the rest of us — blaming their computer system, OR-Kids.
Tech flaws cause $23 million in false child-welfare claims
Glitches raise more questions about state software investments
SALEM — Oregon has repaid more than $23 million in federal funding, after flawed software caused the state’s child-welfare system to claim money for which it was ineligible.
Managers at the state Department of Human Services were aware of defects in the OR-Kids information system when they decided to go live with it in August 2011, but they forged ahead anyway, according to an audit report released by the Secretary of State’s office last Thursday. Three years later, DHS has identified hundreds of unresolved problems with the software and still allows the system to retroactively claim federal reimbursement for services provided more than two years ago, which is beyond the federal limit.
In a written response to the audit, DHS Director Erinn Kelley-Siel defended OR-Kids as a key investment that centralized child-welfare program data that previously was spread across paper files and seven separate computer systems.
“Everyone who works in a large organization knows that complex technology systems have challenges,” Kelley-Siel wrote. “However, the OR-Kids system provides essential technical support for child safety and related business operations for the Oregon Department of Human Services.”
Kelley-Siel was unavailable to answer questions about the audit findings last Thursday, an agency spokesman said.
The OR-Kids system processes payments to services providers in the child-welfare system, but also tracks provider certification, adoption cases, eligibility for government-funded services and case management. DHS had an average of 8,500 children in foster care in 2012 and received 67,500 reports of child abuse or neglect that year, more than 6,300 of which the agency determined were founded.
Similar to other recent state technology projects, the OR-Kids system ran into delays and cost overruns even before it launched. The state contract with company CGI Technologies and Solutions, Inc. was not supposed to exceed $29.6 million, but the final cost of the contract reached $40 million, according to the audit report. DHS’ total cost for the project was $74 million. OR-Kids went live in August 2011, more than a year later than planned, and DHS began to receive complaints that foster parents were not receiving payments and child-welfare managers could not access important data.
OR-Kids was a crucial investment for Oregon, which needed new software to comply with reporting standards to receive federal money for child-welfare programs. The state child-welfare program’s previous system relied upon several mainframe computers and other databases and spreadsheets, and it did not meet federal reporting requirements, according to the audit report.
DHS also indicated to state auditors that it had another goal: to “maximize state revenue by increasing the amount of federal funds used towards the cost of ongoing care,” according to the audit report.
The OR-Kids system automates payment adjustments that previously were handled manually. For example, it evaluates whether children in the system are eligible for federally subsidized programs, and in cases where DHS already paid for services with state general funds, OR-Kids may request federal reimbursement. Flaws in this system ultimately caused DHS to obtain approximately $23.9 million “from federal programs to which it was not entitled,” and OR-Kids understated by $11 million the amount of general fund and other money DHS should have spent on child-welfare programs.
The audit looked only at financial controls in the OR-Kids system, in an effort to assist state and federal compliance auditors. The Secretary of State’s Office did not examine how the state and private vendor developed and implemented the software system, nor did it evaluate how well the system performed case management functions. However, the auditors did write that DHS had a list of more than 290 unresolved problems related to data quality and other issues as of June.
Auditors also discovered two instances when human error caused the system to generate huge overpayments to contractors. In July 2013, a state employee intended to pay a service provider approximately $324 but because the employee incorrectly entered information into the system, it generated a payment of $1.7 million. A supervisor approved the payment, which was sent to the provider, but ultimately recovered by DHS. The same scenario occurred at a different DHS branch office in April, and the agency again sent an overpayment of at least $1.7 million, according to the audit report.
State Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, said the audit was a good first step, but the issue deserves broader review.
“I appreciate the secretary of state looking into the child welfare system from a fiscal perspective,” Johnson said. “I look forward to a performance audit sometime in the near future as well.”
Johnson is a member of the Legislature’s powerful Joint Ways and Means Committee, which writes budget bills. She predicted that news of OR-Kids’ problems will only add to lawmakers’ skepticism about major state technology projects, following the failure of Oregon’s health insurance exchange and other problems with expensive computer systems.
“Based on the heightened level of scrutiny following the Cover Oregon debacle, agencies are going to have to make much more detailed, comprehensive and substantiated requests for information technology investments,” Johnson said. “The Legislature, based on my observation of (the interim session this week), has an exponentially heightened interest in making sure we are not party to another catastrophic failure like Cover Oregon.”
The problems disclosed in the audit were not a surprise to Janet Arenz, who closely followed implementation of the software in her role as executive director of the Alliance of Children’s Programs. The group represents 47 organizations that serve children around the state, from therapeutic foster care providers for children with severe emotional and behavioral issues, to addictions recovery. In recent years, Arenz requested an audit of OR-Kids in meetings with staff at the Secretary of State’s Office, Oregon Department of Administrative Services and state lawmakers.
“The problems with OR-Kids, which lasted over two years for providers contracting with DHS, was one of the most difficult and, in some cases, devastating challenges faced by children’s service providers,” Arenz said. For example, some service providers struggled to meet payroll obligations and took out personal loans while they waited for DHS to resolve payment errors in OR-Kids.
Source: Portland Tribune
Blowing Up DHS
December 27, 2014 permalink
In Oklahoma mother-of-three Brenda Gross was so unhappy with treatment by her caseworker she resorted to threats against the Department of Human Services (DHS). In her own words, “I will blow that whole motherfucking building up.”
OKC Woman Accused Of Making Bomb Threats Against DHS
OKLAHOMA CITY -
Oklahoma City police arrested a woman who is accused of threatening to kill an employee of the Department of Human Services (DHS,) and making threats to blow up a DHS building.
According to police, at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Officers responded to the report of someone making a bomb threat inside a DHS building, located at 1115 S.E.66th Street.
Officers spoke with a DHS employee, who is the caseworker for the suspect, 50-year-old Brenda Gross. The caseworker said he was on the phone with Gross when she started threatening him.
The caseworker told police that he had been working with Gross since May, and this was not the first time Gross had threatened him. He said Gross is difficult to work with. When he has to tell her that she doesn't qualify for certain benefits, she would threaten to kill him or blow up the building.
Gross reportedly said to the caseworker, “You know what. You m*****f*****. I'm just going to come up there and blow your f****** head off.” She also said, “I will blow that whole m*****f****** building up.”
According to police, two employees were working at the front desk when Gross started making those comments on the phone. There were other clients and children present in the lobby area when Gross made those comments.
Gross was arrested and booked into the Oklahoma County Jail on complaints of making a bomb threat or conveying information known to be false, telephoning a bomb threat, and threatening to perform an act of violence. She is being held on $36,000 bond.
Gross' three young children were with her during the incident. Police said they were released to Gross's grandmother.
Psychiatrist Diagnoses Santa
December 23, 2014 permalink
Edging Out Parents
December 23, 2014 permalink
Two articles, neither a child protection case, show how the bureaucracy is gradually edging parents out of the lives of their children. The first from Scotland reports that when teachers discover students engaging in sexual activity, their state-appointed guardian will be notified, but not the parents. In the second from Virginia, a family reports that when their son Brian Christ developed a drug problem at university, the school followed the law and did not notify the parents. The boy died.
'State guardians' instead of parents informed about under age sex
The Scottish Government issues guidance to schools stating teachers should tell the SNP's planned network of 'named persons' instead of parents about concerns they have about children's welfare.
Teachers whose under age pupils admit having sex should consider informing the SNP’s planned network of “state guardians” instead of parents, under controversial new guidance issued to Scotland’s schools.
The Scottish Government document advises teachers they should contact the youngster’s “named person” if a pupil tells them about sexual behaviour that raises a “child protection concern”.
Any other information that raises the possibility the pupil’s welfare is at risk must also be passed to the named person, according to the advice, which makes no mention of telling mothers or fathers.
The guidance was issued to prepare for the introduction of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act, which assigns every child under 18 a state guardian regardless of their background.
It also takes into account the legalisation of gay marriage by arguing that sex education should be taught using “gender neutral” language.
Teachers must include homosexual relationships in the curriculum and older children may be allowed to overrule their parents’ religious or moral objections, it states.
However, the sections on the state guardian plans prompted the largest backlash last night, with campaigners and Conservatives arguing they demonstrated the extent to which parents were being marginalised.
Under the Act, which was passed by MSPs in February and is due to come into force in 2016, the NHS will appoint a health worker to act as a "named person" for every child until the age of five.
The responsibility will then pass to councils until the child reaches 18, with teachers expected to be asked to take on the role.
The measure is designed to ensure potential cases of sexual abuse or developmental difficulties are spotted and acted upon at an early stage.
However, it is being challenged in the courts by the No To Named Persons (NO2NP) campaign group on the grounds it breaches data protection laws and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Liz Smith, Scottish Tory young people spokesman, said: “Parents will be extremely concerned to see formal government guidance which prioritises the role of a named person over their own.”
A spokesman for N02NP said: “How can a professional with potentially hundreds of kids to keep an eye on be given priority over the people that care about children the most – their own parents? Parents aren’t mentioned at all in the entire section on confidentiality in this guidance.”
The guidance on relationships, sexual health and parenthood (RSHP) advises teachers to consider “very carefully” their course of action if a child discloses that under age sex has taken place.
“If there is judged to be a risk to the child’s well-being, staff should inform the child’s Named Person,” it says.
It also states: “Where a teacher receives information which affects or is likely to affect the well-being of a child or young person, relevant information must be shared as appropriate with the child’s Named Person.”
The teacher is advised to take into account the child’s views on whether the information should remain confidential and explain the reasons for sharing it with the state guardian if the youngster disagrees.
Councils should consider the objections of any teacher who opposes the sex education programme but it should continue regardless, the document also states.
Teachers and schools are forbidden from promoting or endorsing heterosexual relationships over homosexual ones and they must “acknowledge” the legalisation of gay marriage.
They must also balance the role of the Internet in forming healthy new relationships with the potential for online grooming and child sexual exploitation.
Parents should be regularly consulted about the content of sex education lessons and those who object have the right to withdraw their child if "alternative positive educational provision" can be provided.
But secondary pupils should have the right to overrule their parents if they are deemed to have the necessary “maturity, understanding and experience.”
The Scottish Government has also advised that the RSHP programme should run throughout the curriculum and said it will be impossible for children to be withdrawn from all lessons where sex and relationships will potentially be discussed.
A Scottish Government spokesman said the “vast majority” of children will continue to get the support they need from their families.
But he added: “If concerns about a pupil are raised with the teacher who is their named person they will respect the young person’s wishes for confidentially if possible, while encouraging them to seek whatever support is appropriate, including from their families.”
Source: Telegraph (UK)
We paid a heavy price for our son’s privacy
TONY CHRIST: The loss of Brian is something his mother and I will take to the grave.
Ten years ago — on Dec. 15, 2004 — we lost our only son, Brian, to a drug overdose.
Brian had high SAT scores in high school. He was an Eagle Scout, a black belt in karate and a nice kid. His mother and I went down to get his electrical engineering degree from the University of Virginia posthumously.
The head of the department told me almost tearfully, “Mr. Christ, we are not allowed to call the parents” in response to my question as to why we weren’t notified when he wasn’t going to class. Federal laws on privacy ensure that parents will not be told when their children are in trouble after their 18th birthday.
The guidance professors used to provide as a matter of course have been eviscerated from colleges and universities. Government privacy requirements attached to funding for higher education for the last 20 years have driven a wedge into what historically had been the domain of the family.
Everyone at school knew Brian was not attending class and was partying with different groups daily except the two people who would have been there 24/7 to do what was needed: mom and dad.
When Brian came home for Thanksgiving his senior year, I was concerned and took him to my doctor, a respected physician who had taught at Yale. After Brian died, the doctor apologized, telling me federal HIPAA restrictions on privacy had prevented him from telling me he had found drugs in Brian’s system at the time Brian was alive.
This was precisely the reason I had brought him for a physical. College records we uncovered years after Brian died documented secretive drug abuse from his freshman year through his senior year, but federal law had kept us from knowing.
It gets worse.
First, what is loco parentis and why would the government want to eliminate it from our social fabric? “In loco parentis” is Latin for “in the place of the parent.” Socially, it meant society would provide parenting for children and young adults when needed, if parents were not present.
It was not a law; it was a social norm. It was just done. Teachers taught and were granted the authority of in loco parentis. It was accepted in all methods of K–12 and higher education, public and private.
America’s educational system was peerless in the world for decades, but now we lead the world in out-of-classroom expense, while placing a paltry 25th among 32 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries in mathematics on the Program for International Student Assessment test.
Today, classroom teachers have lost their traditional authority, are managed by program directors who don’t teach and are driven by well-intended federal programs such as Common Core that do nothing to change the decline, even while dramatically increasing costs.
Independent of personality or method, classroom teachers determined and then acted with full authority of the parent. Could the evisceration of adult authority by the federal government explain much of the decline in our public education, as well as the decline in marriage and the dramatic increases in single-parent families?
Fifty years ago, 5 percent of white families, 16 percent of blacks and 7 percent overall were single-parent. Today, after 50 years of government intervention and numerous entitlement programs that weakened the family, the numbers are horrific: 28 percent of whites, 54 percent of Hispanics, 74 percent of blacks and 41 percent of children overall live in single-parent families, confirming the perverse effects of government programs and the resulting destruction of many families.
Clearly, some kids emerge from the education process and do not suffer our experience. As a person who has been licensed in insurance, I realize the importance of privacy in medical records.
But the loss of Brian is something his mother and I will take to the grave.
The weakening and destruction of the American family, as evidenced by increased single-parent families and decline in public-education achievement, along with dramatic increases in family costs and the loss of in loco parentis, have disrupted the nurturing nest which supported our unalienable birthrights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
These changes place the future of our kids in peril and should be of major concern to all parents.
Tony Christ lives in Ocean City and Falls Church, Va.
Source: Delmarva Daily Times
Sign This or We Take Your Kids
December 23, 2014 permalink
Maryland social workers tried to threaten mother Danielle Meitiv for letting her children, ages six and ten, play together in a park two blocks away while mom stayed home. She actually looked up the law and found they were mis-reading it. The workers went away. But six weeks later when mom was out of town, dad dropped the kids off at the park. When they were walking home, someone called police. This time social workers gave dad an ultimatum: sign an agreement with CPS or we take the kids right now. Incredibly, for the Loudermilk family a court ruled that this kind of offer is not coercive.
Law Says One Thing, Child Services Says Another: Don't Let Your Kid Outside
The government loves your kids more than you do. Or so it seems to believe. How else to explain a government worker visiting a Maryland mom and threatening her with a fine and jail time for letting her kids play outside? Here's a letter she wrote me describing the terrible child abuse she committed:
I thought you might find this interesting: I was just visited by two representatives of Montgomery County Child Welfare Services because a "helpful" neighbor called them about my children who were at the park on Monday afternoon 10/27 without an adult.
These reps told me that Maryland law prohibits me from allowing my six-year old to go to the park, which is two blocks away in a residential neighborhood, with her 10-year old brother but no adult.
This is not true.
She actually dug up the Family Law statute (5-801):
"A person who is charged with the care of a child under the age of 8 years may not allow the child to be locked or confined in a dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle while the person charged is absent and the dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle is out of the sight of the person charged unless the person charged provides a reliable person at least 13 years old to remain with the child to protect the child."
And so, she continued in her note to me:
The way I see it, "locked or confined in a dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle" does NOT include a neighborhood park and this statute does not preclude me from sending my six-year old there with her brother. Therefore, I will continue to do so.
Then this ballsy mom called up the child services rep to point out the difference between "playing outside" and "locked or confined." The rep actually called back to tell her that:
...[J]udges have interpreted the law to include parks—in spite of the fact that the language is VERY clear about enclosed spaces—so a cop could charge us $500, or a judge could give us 30 days in jail, if my daughter is without supervision at the park.
The mom wants her children to have fresh air, fun, exercise and independence. She trusts her kids, her neighborhood, and her own parenting. The state, apparently, does not. And it believes things would be better for the children if mom was locked up in jail for a month.
I will keep you posted as to what happens next.
Lenore Skenazy is host of the reality show “World’s Worst Mom” on the Discovery Life Channel, starting Jan. 22. She is also a public speaker and founder of the book and blog Free-Range Kids.
CPS Threatens Dad: Let Your Kids Play Outside and We'll Take Them Away
I received an update from the Maryland mom of two who was contacted by Montgomery Country Child Welfare Service in November after she let her kids, ages 6 and 10, play at the park two blocks from home by themselves. She was cited for allowing a child under age 8 "to be locked or confined in a dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle while the person charged is absent."
The CPS worker decided "confined in a dwelling" was the same thing as "outside in a park."
The higher ups at child services agreed that this was insane, and the case was closed—until this week. As the mom wrote in an email to me:
It seemed that we had called their bluff and they were going to leave us alone. Not for long. This past Saturday, while I was out of town, my husband dropped my kids off at a park about 1 mile from our house and said they could walk home together. They got 1/2 way when someone called the police.
"Shots Will Be Fired"
The kids were picked up in a patrol car and brought home. The policewoman asked to see my husband's ID. When he refused, she said she was going to call for back-up. He said he would get his ID and went to go upstairs. She said - in front of the kids - that if he came down with anything else, "shots would be fired."
At this point 10 yr old. called me crying, saying that the police were there and that Daddy was going to be arrested. My husband stepped outside to continue the conversation away from the kids. When he disagreed with one of the officers about the dangers that walking alone posed to the kids, she actually asked him: "Don't you watch TV?" (The answer was no). They took notes and left.
"Sign This or We Take Your Kids"
Two hours later someone from Child Welfare showed up with a temporary plan, which they wanted my husband to sign, stating that he would not leave the children unsupervised until Monday when someone from their office could contact him.
She called the police, saying that if he didn't sign they would take the kids away right then.
This is outrageous. We refuse to deprive our children of critical opportunities tofree-range-kids develop responsibility and independence, and have no intention of fundamentally changing our parenting to accommodate this kind of paranoia and bullying, but it's not going to be easy. We are now waiting for the call from Child Welfare and looking for someone who can give us legal advice on these issues in Maryland.
I have to admit when I read stories on your site and elsewhere about CPS threatening to take kids away, I never thought it could happen to us. I'll keep you posted.
Best, Danielle Meitiv
I'll keep you posted, too, readers. Since when are children not supposed to play outside on their own? And what gives the state the right to take them from their parents when they do?
Lenore Skenazy is host of the reality show “World’s Worst Mom” on the Discovery Life Channel, starting Jan. 22. She is also a public speaker and founder of the book and blog Free-Range Kids.
Addendum: As of January 14, 2015 CPS is still terrifying the family.
Child Services Still Hounding Couple Who Let Their Kids Play Outside
The latest from a family threatened by CPS.
Kid with ramFrancisco GoyaYou may recall the story last month of a family threatened by the authorities for letting their kids walk outside. Here's the latest from the mom, Danielle Meitiv, who is hoping the rest of the media takes note. I hope so, too.
Meitiv explains via email:
Dear Reason: On Monday, a Montgomery County child protective services worker went to my children's school and interviewed them without my knowledge or consent. Why?
Because last month we'd let them walk home from the park by themselves. It's a mile away. They are 6 and 10. We live in suburban Maryland. Let me recap the story and then tell you where we're at.
On a Saturday afternoon in December, my husband, Alexander, gave our kids permission to walk home from the local playground. I was out of town at the time. When they'd walked about halfway, a Montgomery County Police patrol car pulled up. A "helpful" neighbor had called 911 to report unaccompanied children walking outside. Our kids were brought home in a police cruiser.
At the door the police officer asked to see my husband's ID, but did not explain why. When he refused, she called for backup.
A total of six patrol cars showed up.
Alexander then agreed to get his ID and went to go upstairs. The officer said—in front of the kids—that if he came down with anything else, "shots would be fired." She proceeded to follow him upstairs, and when he said she had no right to do so without a warrant, she insisted that she did.
Our 10 yr. old called me crying and saying that the police were there and that Daddy was going to be arrested. Alexander stepped outside to continue the conversation away from the kids. When he disagreed with one of the officers about the dangers that walking alone posed to children, she asked him: "Don't you realize how dangerous the world is? Don't you watch TV?" They took notes and left.
Two hours later a CPS worker arrived with a “temporary safety plan,” which she told my husband to sign. It stated that he would not leave the children unsupervised at any time before Monday morning, when someone from their office could contact him. He refused to sign it. She informed him that if he didn’t, she would instruct the police to take the children away immediately. He signed.
free-range-kidsWe were then contacted by a CPS social worker named W. Don Thorne who made an appointment for us to come to his office on Friday, Jan. 9. A little while later he called back saying that he needed to come to us, so that he could see our house. We told him we would meet with him at his office, not our home. He said he would speak with his supervisor and call us back.
On Monday, Mr. Thorne showed up at our door unannounced, accompanied by a police officer. He insisted that he had the right to come into our house without a warrant. I said that I was invoking my Fourth Amendment rights against unwarranted search, and would not let him in, but repeated my willingness to go to his office to answer questions. Then I noticed that he had a visitor’s sticker from my children’s elementary school on his jacket. Had he been to my children's school to interview them?!
He didn't answer that question and they quickly left. I have since learned that he visited my children’s school and spoke to my children without my knowledge or consent.
We do not know what actions CPS will take next.
We are frightened and confused. We are good parents, educated professionals, and our children are happy, healthy, well-adjusted, and academically successful.
As difficult as it is for us to believe, all of these events occurred as the result of allowing our children to walk along public streets in the middle of the afternoon without our supervision.
My husband grew up in the former Soviet Union. Now he wonders if we have to just go along with whatever the authorities want us to do. I keep reminding him that we have RIGHTS in this country and that neither the police nor the bureaucrats can arbitrarily dismiss them.
Addendum: The press is paying serious attention to the Meitiv case. Here is a February 13 op-ed.
When letting your kids out of your sight becomes a crime
We all want what is best for our children. We want them to be happy and successful, and we want to protect them from harm. But what if we are protecting them from extremely remote threats while ignoring the things that most endanger their well-being? What if police and child welfare officials, the experts whom we empower to protect our children, are pursuing phantom problems while neglecting those who are truly at risk?
One recent Saturday afternoon, six police officers and five patrol cars came to my home in Silver Spring. They demanded identification from my husband and entered our home despite not having a warrant to do so. The reason for this show of force? We had allowed our children to walk home from a neighborhood park by themselves.
A few hours later, a Montgomery County Child Protective Services (CPS) social worker coerced my husband into signing a “temporary safety plan” for our children by threatening to take the children “right now” — a threat she backed up with a call to the police. In the weeks that followed, another worker from the agency appeared at our door with the police and insisted that he did not need a warrant to enter our home. He also interviewed our children at school without our knowledge or permission.
When did Americans decide that allowing our kids to be out of sight was a crime?
Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of young children being outside without adult supervision. We’re not always comfortable with it, either. We think, however, that giving them an opportunity to learn to make their way in the world independently is the best way to prepare them for adulthood — and that it is safe for them to do so.
Although our fears may tell us one thing about the world, the facts say something quite different. Crime rates across the United States are as low as they’ve been in my lifetime. Stranger abduction, the bogeyman of most parental fears, has always been exceedingly rare. Far more hazardous are the obesity risks and idleness we subject children to if we do not allow them to run outside and play.
Fear, too, takes a toll. I wasn’t there when the police brought my children home in a patrol car, but my 10-year-old called me, sobbing that “Daddy is getting arrested.” The incident gave my daughter nightmares. My son told us that the social worker who questioned him asked, “What would you do if someone grabbed you?,” and suggested that he tell us that he doesn’t want to go off on his own anymore because it’s dangerous and that there are “bad guys waiting to grab you.” This is how adults teach children to be afraid even when they are not in danger.
We are not the only parents in this position. Last summer, Debra Harrell of North Augusta, S.C., spent 17 days in jail because she let her 9-year-old daughter play at a park while she was working. In Port St. Lucie, Fla., Nicole Gainey was arrested and charged with neglect because her 7-year-old was playing unsupervised at a nearby playground, and Ashley Richardson of Winter Haven, Fla., was jailed when she left her four kids, ages 6 to 8, to play at a park while she shopped at the local food bank.
The problem with these cases, and ours, was not that police stopped to check on the children involved; that’s what we want officers to do if they have concerns about a child’s welfare. The problem is that, once it was determined that involved parents had already judged their children to be safe, the authorities didn’t move along. Instead they turned to heavyhanded legal and bureaucratic remedies that did far more harm than good.
Nationwide, providers of social services are burdened with overflowing workloads and backlogs of hundreds of cases. So why are they wasting time with us? Even if CPS is mandated to follow up on every call, why aren’t there objective, rational criteria to determine which situations warrant attention? As long as the trigger for an investigation is “child left unsupervised,” these workers will run themselves ragged and waste precious resources investigating families like ours while neglecting children who really need their help.
CPS’s work is vital and necessary, but the pendulum has swung too far. We need to take back the streets and parks for our children. We need to refuse to allow ourselves to be ruled by fear or allow our government to overrule decisions that parents make about what is best for their children. Overpolicing parents in this way does not make children safer; it disrupts families and makes our kids fearful, anxious and unhealthy. We also need to support groups such as the National Association of Parents, which fights for the constitutional rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit, as long as the children are not harmed.
And whether through the legislatures or the courts, neglect laws need to be redefined to safeguard parents’ discretion to make reasonable risk-management judgments for their children, including the decision to allow them the freedom and independence that was the norm a generation ago and is still essential to their development and well-being.
Source: Washington Post
One Cut, Three Children Taken
December 20, 2014 permalink
When baby Creedance got a cut on his tongue, parents Molly Bowling and Michael Becker could not understand how it came about. They took him to the hospital, leaving Molly's two other children with grandparents. Doctors alerted CPS, which kept the parents away from their children that same evening. The next Monday South Dakota CPS seized all three children.
Parents Find Injury to Baby After Daycare, Doctor Visit Results in CPS Removing all 3 Children
A South Dakota couple still can’t figure it out. All they know is their three children, all under 3 years old, have been taken away for reasons they cannot fully explain because it makes no sense to them. They also have no idea how to get their children back from Child Protective Services (CPS).
They did what any other parent would do, and for that, Molly Bowling and Michael Becker report they had their children taken away from them.
How Seeking Simple Medical Help Led to a Family Nightmare
On Black Friday, November 28, Molly reports that she got off work at 4 pm from WalMart, where she works as a cashier. She went home to help her boyfriend’s mother Joyce set the table and fold clothes. Then she and Michael went to the daycare at 5 to pick up the baby, 2 1/2 month old Creedance, and her other two children from a previous relationship – Noah, who is almost 2, and Robin, who will be 3 in March. It was much like any other typical evening.
The baby fell asleep in the car, but woke up crying when they started to unbuckle him from his car seat. Molly assumed he was hungry, since the daycare last fed him at 2:45. She prepared a bottle for him, and Michael tried to feed him. Creedance remained fussy and wouldn’t take the bottle, so Michael changed his diaper and Creedance fell asleep again.
The family ate dinner with Michael’s parents. When the baby woke up around 8 pm, they tried to feed him again, but he wanted no part of it. While he was crying, Michael says he noticed something odd on the baby’s tongue and told Molly and his mother to look. His tongue appeared to be cut, straight across, about an inch back.
Molly said that she started to freak out, wondering what in the world could have happened at daycare. Michael’s mother tried to calm her and recommended that they call his doctor. The doctor instructed Molly and Michael to take Creedance to the emergency room at Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Robin and Noah stayed home with their grandparents.
When they got to the hospital, the parents explained they had no idea what had happened, but the baby’s tongue was cut and he wouldn’t take his bottle. The doctor checked the baby, and told the couple he was calling Children’s Voice, a child abuse nonprofit.
They were fine with that, because they couldn’t figure out what could have happened to the baby. Molly and Michael both report they assumed something must have happened at the daycare. They were concerned because he wasn’t eating. There were no other marks on Creedance except the cut on his tongue.
“It all happened so fast,” reports Michael Becker. “Next thing I know, we’re being questioned by CPS and detectives.”
They were told Creedance needed to stay overnight at the hospital to make sure he was feeding well, which seemed reasonable to them at the time. Molly reports the only treatment they did at the hospital was give him a dose of Tylenol.
According to the children’s grandmother, the police and CPS came to the house and looked in on the toddlers as they slept in their rooms. The authorities allegedly told the family that the home appeared safe and the children could stay with the grandparents. Molly and Michael were told they would have to sleep elsewhere, so they went to a nearby hotel, without their babies.
On Monday, they were instructed to take Robin and Noah to be examined by a doctor from Children’s Voice. The children are described by their family as happy and healthy, a picture which is supported by numerous photos and videos of the family. The doctor allegedly said they appeared fine, showing no signs of abuse.
Molly and Michael were again questioned separately by the police, who were described as trying to play them against each other. Michael reports that after they asked him the same question for the fifth time, he asked for a lawyer. According to Molly, “everything came downhill after that.”
Warrant-less Entry to Home and Removal of Children
That is when authorities showed up again at Michael’s parents’ home, demanding to take the children. When Joyce asked if they had a warrant, she reports they told her, “We don’t need one for this,” because it was about the kids.
The reason the authorities gave for taking custody of the children was that it was unsafe for the children to be there. No further reason has been given to date.
When Molly asked about the daycare, she was told the police had spoken with two people at the daycare center; and they said the baby was acting fine. Detectives reportedly viewed some video footage from the daycare; thus the center was ruled out. However, a former employee of the daycare company allegedly told the couple that there are plenty of places in the facility the cameras do not pick up.
To this day, Molly and Michael have only seen their babies once since their seizure by CPS. Michael reports that the baby now has a “horrendous cough” since being in CPS custody, and Molly says that his little face is all scratched up. She never let that happen because she kept his nails clipped. That doesn’t appear to be happening now. Robin is “not herself” and had diarrhea.
The family is devastated and confused. When baby Creedance was just 12 days old, Molly wrote on her Facebook page: “I couldn’t be more happier with my life, yes it’s hard with 3 kids under 3 but they are my everything – it’s amazing how much they change me:)” Now, she tells me that she is very sad because, “everything I do reminds me of my kids.”
Michael says he “thought taking him to the hospital was the right thing to do.” Yet now, “we’re being looked at as though we beat a 2 month old.”
They had one court hearing on December 2, at which the judge put a 14 day hold on the children. According to the parents, there were no charges given “because they don’t have evidence.” The 14 days were up on Tuesday, December 16, but there is still no word on the next court date.
They have tried to find answers; but they say no one tells them what is going on. They “call and call and call” with no answer, except that CPS says they are going to keep the kids “a little bit longer.” They have no court date, and have no idea what to do next. The hardest thing is that they still won’t let them see their babies.
According to Michael, “this is insane.” They have racked their brains trying to figure out how the baby got a cut on his tongue. The only thing they can come up with is that maybe someone at daycare pulled the bottle out of his mouth too hard, because Creedance has a very strong suction, or perhaps a hair got in his mouth and wrapped around his tongue and cut it. They really are stumped, but they believe it must have been an accident somehow. Michael told me it doesn’t even make sense to him that someone would purposely hold a baby’s tongue and slice it. Everyone in the family reports that they saw no sign of bleeding. No blood was on his car seat, clothing, bassinet, or bottle.
Molly reportedly told the CPS social worker that the cut on his tongue didn’t happen at the house. The worker told her they have ruled everyone else out, so they “know” it happened at the house. In frustration, Molly says that she told her, “Prove it,” because she knew she couldn’t prove something that didn’t happen. The CPS social worker’s alleged response was chilling:
“We don’t have to prove it.”
The parents say the caseworker’s name is Breanna Gearhart.
CPS: An Agency with Unlimited Power and No Accountability?
It is frightening to think that Child Protective Services can snatch children away from parents without proof. Babies need their parents. Infants cannot comprehend the separation from their mothers; and research shows that such separation is deeply traumatic for them emotionally, even when justified. One must ask, how is it justified to take children away from parents for nothing more than an isolated accidental injury?
Molly reports that CPS had been called on her once before, a year ago. At that time, a hospital wanted to run a test on Robin’s heart that Molly was not convinced was necessary. After CPS showed up, Molly agreed to allow the test. The test showed there was nothing wrong with Robin.
Family Needs Support
The family has a Facebook group set up for supporters – Bring Bowling’s & Becker Babies Back. Molly and Michael are heartbroken, confused and asking for help. They admit that the cut on the baby’s tongue is strange, but they don’t have an answer. They also don’t know what they need to do to get their children back, because no one has told them.
According to the South Dakota state government website, Governor Dennis Daugaard boasts a legislative record before becoming governor that “was particularly focused on protecting children and helping the disabled.” He now actively “promotes South Dakota as a great place to expand existing businesses and to locate new businesses.”
It would seem that these goals are not furthered when parents can have their children seized by the state for simply taking their child to the hospital to check out an injury.
Governor Daugaard’s office phone number is 605.773.3212. You can also email him here.
Source: Medical Kidnap
Hide Your Children
December 19, 2014 permalink
Parents in Abercynon Wales have been ordered to keep school pictures off the internet. The real reason is left to the end of the article. There are children in school under court orders. The administrators fear that bereft parents may discover the whereabouts of their children through posted pictures.
Think about it. The child protection regime requires abusive parents to hide their children. It also requires non-abusive parents to hide their children.
Father 'furious' after being asked to remove a video of daughter's school nativity from Facebook
But Rhondda Cynon Taf council said parents were asked before the play started not to distribute photography of the play on social media
A father said he is furious after his partner was asked to remove a video of their daughter performing in a school nativity play from Facebook.
Douglas Holmes said his four-year-old daughter Emmi-Rai had her nativity play at Ysnyboeth Primary School in Abercynon on Monday and played the role of the inn keeper.
His partner filmed the play and uploaded the video to Facebook.
But Mr Holmes, 30, said the next day she was asked by a teacher in the school - who appeared in the video - to take it down.
He said: “My partner doesn’t usually post videos on Facebook. But some parents couldn’t go to the play because of work. A friend of ours couldn’t make it and we managed to catch her daughter in our video so she posted the video.
“She wasn’t offending anybody but she was asked to remove it.
“We have removed it just in case they decided to take any further action.
“I was very angry when she came back from the school and told me they wanted her to take it down from her personal profile. We should be allowed to share our daughter’s experience with other people if we want to.”
A spokesman for Rhondda Cynon Taf Council said its schools do not want to spoil parents’ enjoyment of special occasions such as Christmas concerts but there are occasions when – particularly during an age of widespread social media – that the protection of children is necessary.
He said: “Schools should receive the written permission of all of their parents to allow filming or photography of their children in school.
“If just one parent or carer objects to group photography, then the headteacher does not allow it to happen. At Ynysboeth Primary School a significant number of parents or carers specifically requested that their children’s images do not appear on social media.
“The headteacher made it clear to the audience that photography was allowed, but not for distribution on social media. Unfortunately a minority ignored those wishes and published them anyway.
“There are children in our schools who are protected by means of court orders and under no circumstances can the identity or location of these children be revealed. To do so could expose them to unacceptable risk.”
He added: “The local authority and schools work closely with adoptive and foster carers to ensure the well-being and safeguarding of their children and that is why headteachers may find it necessary to ban photography or film in such an event. This is a decision we fully support for the benefit of the child/children in question.”
Source: Wales Online
Audio accompanyment (mp3) by Tom Little.
California Child Protectors Sued
December 19, 2014 permalink
Two California lawyers have started a class-action lawsuit on behalf of child AA against the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services and several of its workers. The suit alleges that the department engages in a pattern of seizing children without cause. The relief requested is monetary damages and an injunction preventing abduction of more children.
No matter how true the allegations, this kind of suit cannot provide relief beyond the individual families involved. The bills for monetary awards are passed on to the taxpayers and don't change agency behavior. And a court cannot stop child snatching with an injunction because child protectors are empowered by law to take children under pretense of protection.
Mom Fights Riverside Co.'s Seizure of Baby
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) - Riverside County took a newborn baby from her mother without a reason or a warrant - and it makes a habit of it, the mother and baby claim in a federal class action.
Lead plaintiff A.A., the baby, sued Riverside County, Juvenile Dependency Investigator Karla Torres, Torres' supervisor Felicia M. Butler, and all similarly situated county social workers and investigators, in the Dec. 12 lawsuit.
Plaintiffs' attorney Shawn McMillan told Courthouse News that his firm, which specializes in civil rights cases against child protection agencies, "uncovered an alarming trend" about a year ago during discovery for other cases.
"County child welfare agencies regularly subvert the constitutional rights of parents and children by seizing children from their parents when there is no danger to the child, and in fact no need to seize the child at all," McMillan said.
"The class action is designed to address a procedural problem. They [Riverside County social workers] as a matter of course don't get warrants before seizing kids. Deficient policies, deficient training and deficient supervision all lead to civil rights violations on a regular basis," McMillan said.
"This lawsuit is designed to address the problem."
The 27-page lawsuit claims that A.A. is one of thousands of children wrongfully taken from her mother by county social workers.
"In February 2013, when she was three days old, plaintiff A.A. was snatched by an employee of the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services literally from the breast of her mother as they lay in the hospital recuperating from a successful, safe delivery," the complaint states.
A.A. "was healthy and in no danger whatever; her mother has no history of drug, alcohol, or tobacco use nor any history of psychiatric treatment," according to the lawsuit.
The county "had unlawfully seized (A.A.'s) four siblings months before and sent them into foster care," the complaint states. It claims "thousands of other children" have been seized by Riverside County employees "without any sort of warrant and without any risk of serious injury."
According to the lawsuit, Tonita Rogers gave birth to A.A. by Caesarean section and spent the next few days recuperating and bonding with her baby. Rogers says she was "healthy and fully capable of taking care" of her baby.
Three days later, Torres came to Rogers's hospital room at around 2:45 p.m. and saw that she was recovering well and that A.A. was healthy, according to the complaint.
"Despite these facts, and solely because there had been an earlier dependency petition filed regarding plaintiffs' siblings, Torres seized the newborn baby plaintiff from her mother's care and custody," the complaint states.
Rogers claims that Torres "did not bother to seek a warrant," which would have taken about two hours, nor did she seek an ex parte petition for non-custodial removal before taking the baby.
McMillan told Courthouse News that A.A. was returned to her mother 5 to 10 days later. He said that many of the seized children are out of their mother's care for a year or more.
He said that around half of his firm's cases involve African-American children like A.A., and that "a large portion" are from lower-income families.
But McMillan said that white and upper-class parents were not "immune" to the problem and that some of his cases involve "medical doctors and investment bankers."
McMillan said the social workers find the children they seize via two statewide databases: the CWS/CMS system and the Child Abuse Central Index. Anyone reported as being involved in suspected child abuse is likely to be in one or both systems, he said.
"If you appear on one of them, you have an immediate black mark against you. The CWS/CMS system is largely kept a secret so that children, as they age into adulthood, and parents may not even know they are listed," McMillan said. "In any event, the databases are largely accessible to hospital and social workers and the like."
The plaintiffs claim that Riverside County social workers know or should know that taking children from their families without a warrant is illegal and violates their civil rights. The county itself "turned a blind eye" to what its social workers do, and failed to train them on "child abuse and dependency type investigations and court proceedings," the complaint states.
"The real problem here is that the county itself is at fault for not adequately training its workers and supervising them," McMillan said. "In addition, the county has failed - for years, if not decades, to implement any policies or procedures to protect the 4th Amendment rights of children and the 14th Amendment rights of parents in circumstances similar to those presented in the present lawsuit."
McMillan said that the constitutional violations are "a direct result of the deficient polices and practices of the county. For this reason, we anticipate that the discovery process will reveal the individually named workers were each involved in dozens, if not hundreds of unwarranted child seizures."
According to the lawsuit, Riverside County "never investigates or disciplines its social workers," including Torres, who take children without reason.
McMillan said he has sued Riverside County on behalf of a child seized without a warrant before. He said the county unofficially promised to fix the problem, but apparently never did.
The county did not return requests for comment Monday.
A.A. seeks class certification, an injunction and compensatory, statutory and punitive damages for civil rights violations.
McMillan said that an injunction to stop the county from taking any more children is the most important thing.
"Riverside is a test bed. The idea is to see what happens and to what extent we can establish accountability," he said. "This has the potential to affect the entire state."
McMillan, of San Diego, is assisted by co-counsel Mark Daniel Ankcorn, of Del Mar.
Source: Courthouse News Service
Dad Arrested for Losing Temper with CAS Workers
December 19, 2014 permalink
Police in Cornwall Ontario arrested a man apparently angry at the intervention in his family by CAS workers.
Police called after CAS case boils over
CORNWALL – A Cornwall man is facing a number of charges including threats and assault after a Children’s Aid Society case quickly went south.
Police say CAS workers went to an Alice Street home on Wednesday to deal with a case.
While they were there, a man at the address clenched his fist at one of the workers and threatened to burn her car, according to city police.
The accused then spat at an officer.
The unidentified man, 30, was arrested and charged with assault, threats and assaulting police.
Source: Cornwall Newswatch
Pistol Packin' Mama
December 18, 2014 permalink
Mother Yolanda Trice fired gunshots into a Tennessee Department of Children’s Services building.
Mom arrested after gunshots fired at DCS building
A mother upset about her child being placed into state foster care is in jail after police say she fired several gunshots into a Department of Children’s Services building.
The bright white winter jacket worn by the shooter on Dec. 10 led Metro police to 30-year-old Yolanda Trice, who was arrested Monday, according to a Davidson County affidavit. Trice is charged with reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon.
Several people were inside the DCS building at 900 Second Ave. N. when the shooting began around 8:50 p.m., the affidavit stated. One bullet went through the door, sailed past a seated staff member and landed in the hallway near other workers. A gunshot also was fired into a parked vehicle belonging to a DCS caseworker.
On the day of the shooting, police say, Trice became upset and started cursing at the caseworker who told Trice that her child was going to be placed into foster care. The baby was in Centennial Hospital at the time.
An employee at the nearby Stock Yard restaurant witnessed the shooting and identified Trice by her white coat in surveillance photos from the hospital.
Trice is being held on a $25,000 bond.
Source: The Tennessean
Audio (mp3) by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters.
December 17, 2014 permalink
The Windsor-Essex Children's Aid Society is pleading for donations for the Christmas season. The society lacks the funds to help 250 needy families. The photograph shows their modern facility in the background. Disposing of the building at a market value of a hundred million dollars could provide $400,000 per needy family. Just a thought.
CAS Needs More Christmas Sponsors
The Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society says a record number of families have come forward requesting help this Christmas, so it’s looking for more sponsors.
Public Relations and Fund Development Manager Mike Clark says 834 families have applied for help, compared with 751 last year. Right now, the agency has more than 560 families sponsored. “So, we’re looking at a lack right now of about 250, 260 families that still need support.”
Sponsors will receive a profile of the family they are helping along with a list of things they will need this season. Young children typically need clothes and toys, while older children ask for scarves, mitts, boots, hygiene products and gift cards. Adults usually request household items.
Even if you don’t have time to shop, Clark says a family can be helped out with a $300 donation.
Those interested in helping can call the Children’s Aid Society at 519-252-1171 ext. 3236.
Source: Blackburn Radio
December 17, 2014 permalink
Someone slashed the tires of 36 state vehicles parked at the Child Protection and Permanency office in Atlantic City New Jersey. Showing how clueless child protection workers are, Debbie McGowan and Tomaro Pilgrim are wondering why someone would slash the tires.
36 state vehicles have tires slashed in Atlantic City
ATLANTIC CITY -
"It's messed up, it's just a waste of time really."
Like many others, Debbie McGowan and Tomaro Pilgrim are wondering why someone would slash the tires of 36 state vehicles as they sat behind the Child Protection and Permanency office on Atlantic Avenue.
"I just think people need to find better things to do with their time, focus it in a more positive direction. So many people need help, there's so many other things they could do besides slitting tires," said McGowan.
"I'm not justifying it at all but some people may feel like they don't have options and that's what they do," said Pilgrim.
Police say the slashed tires were discovered Sunday morning. 36 of the 37 state vehicles parked in the lot were damaged, with a total of 74 tires slashed.
"So what we're doing now is the investigators went down there trying to do some interviews, see if there's any surveillance coverage in the area, and that's where we're at right now. At this point we don't have any suspect information to release but the case is on- going," said Sgt. Monica McMenamin with the Atlantic City Police Department.
Police say no threats were made against Child Protection and Permanency, but they will be looking into why someone would only target state vehicles.
"I'm sure it does make it difficult for anybody that doesn't have the vehicle to use for daily use at their disposal so certainly we'd like to get a response to this as soon as possible," said Sgt. McMenamin.
Until these questions are answered, people will be left to wonder who would target an organization whose goal is to protect children.
"A lot of anger and frustration and people make the wrong choices, not knowing how to handle things or trying to handle things and not getting the result they want," said McGowan.
Anyone with any information is encouraged to contact the Atlantic City Police Department by calling 609-347-5780
Big (and Meaningless) Verdict
December 17, 2014 permalink
A jury in Oregon has awarded $4.1 for two girls abused while in foster care. The abuse was committed by foster mother Kimberly Janelle Vollmer, a low-functioning woman with a record of past child abuse. The girls, identified only as ES and NE, were two and four years old at the time of the abuse last year and remain in the custody of Oregon DHS, though with a different foster mother. The verdict, which sounds like a victory for abused children, will come from the taxpayers and go into a trust fund which Oregon DHS will have a decade to consume on the girls' behalf.
Portland jury awards record sum against DHS: $4.1M to girls who said foster mom molested them
A Portland jury on Friday awarded the largest sum ever levied against the Oregon Department of Human Services for failing to protect children: $4.1 million to two girls who said they were molested by their Portland foster mom, who had been reported to a child-abuse hotline seven times before state child-welfare workers intervened.
During a two-week trial in Multnomah County Circuit Court, attorneys for the girls said that the state failed to protect the then 2- and 4-year-olds from Kimberly Janelle Vollmer, who never should have been certified as a foster parent.
DHS approved Vollmer, then 31, as a foster parent in January 2011, even though she had a borderline low IQ of about 70; had been hospitalized in 2005 on a psychiatric hold for five days because she’d purposely cut her arms and her face; and had been fired from a job as an adult caregiver because of repeated medical negligence, the girls' attorneys said.
Even though Vollmer originally was supposed to care for three foster kids at most, DHS let her house as many as eight children at a time, the girls' lawyers said.
After deliberating for three hours, the jury gave the girls every dollar their attorneys asked for: $2 million for each child's pain and suffering, and $50,000 apiece to cover years, if not decades, of counseling.
“We only hope the Department of Human Services and the Oregon Legislature will hear and respond to the jury’s message, and do what needs to be done to ensure these vulnerable children are placed in safe foster homes,” said Portland attorney Josh Lamborn, who represented one of the girls, who was identified only as E.S. in the lawsuit.
Portland attorney Erin Olson represented the other girl, identified as N.E.
A state spokeswoman did not return requests seeking comment on Saturday.
The next largest payout by DHS for crimes committed in a child-welfare case was $3.75 million. In 2007, a Gresham man so violently shook his 2-year-old foster daughter that he blinded her in one eye and caused irreversible brain damage. The money given to the girl, Stephanie Kuntupis, was a settlement, not a jury verdict.
During the trial of E.S. and N.E., attorneys for DHS contended that the child-protection agency couldn’t have known of the terrible abuses taking place under Vollmer’s roof.
Vollmer lived in both North and Northeast Portland in the roughly two years she worked as a foster parent.
During that time, DHS received seven calls to its child-abuse hotline, Lamborn said. Some of the calls pertained to unexplained blood in the diaper of a different foster child. Another call was made by an employee of a medical clinic, who reported seeing Vollmer slap one of her foster children so hard the child fell to the floor.
“They closed it at screening,” Lamborn said of the agency’s query into the reported slap. “They called her on the phone, and she denied it, and they believed her.”
DHS finally intervened in January 2013, after 4-year-old N.E. was singing at church but suddenly stopped. She was crying, and the pastor’s wife asked her why.
N.E. said nothing was wrong, but the pastor’s wife noticed what looked like a handprint on the girl’s face. The pastor took a look and noticed blood in the corner of the girl’s mouth. The girl reluctantly told the pastor that Vollmer hit her.
At CARES Northwest, an organization that assesses children for possible abuse, N.E. told investigators that her foster mom hit her and the other children.
The girl also said her foster mother had stuck her fingers inside of her, Lamborn said, but an exam turned up no physical evidence of sexual abuse.
Vollmer was criminally charged for the incident that left the handprint on N.E.’s face, and she pleaded guilty in Multnomah County Circuit Court to third-degree assault. She was sentenced to three days in jail, and three years of probation.
At the time of Vollmer’s sentencing in July 2013, a prosecutor said he couldn't comment on the possibility of filing charges against Vollmer tied to any sex crimes.
There also was some evidence that Vollmer had physically and sexually abused E.S., said Lamborn, the girl's attorney. A few months after E.S. was removed from Vollmer’s home, she told her new foster mom that she’d been sexually abused.
A medical exam at CARES Northwest found evidence of the abuse, although the girl didn’t say anything about sexual abuse to an investigator, Lamborn said. But she did say Vollmer had struck her in the face.
Lamborn said even though the girl was barely 3 years old at the time of the CARES Northwest assessment, she was “extremely verbal” and exceptionally bright. Tests showed she has an IQ of 115.
Lamborn said he and Olson, the other attorney, found red flag after red flag in their investigations of Vollmer’s life before she was allowed to become a foster parent. Vollmer indicated some of her problems on her DHS application. Others, she omitted, Lamborn said.
But the now-retired employee who certified Vollmer as a foster parent failed to do a thorough investigation by, for example, checking the Portland Police Bureau's data system, the girls' lawyers said. Doing so would have turned up police reports about Vollmer's 2005 hospitalization for cutting herself, and reports about a friend who'd called police in 2006 saying Vollmer was missing and reportedly expressing suicidal thoughts, they said.
No DHS employees were disciplined for lapses that allowed Vollmer to become a foster parent and allowed her to commit sexual, physical and psychological abuse of her foster children, the girls' attorneys said.
The jury's award will go into funds for E.S. and N.E., and a court-appointed representative will monitor how it is spent.
Since leaving Vollmer's home, the girls have been adopted by different families. They are both living in "safe and loving homes," Lamborn said.
Source: The Oregonion
Drugged to Forget
December 16, 2014 permalink
Russia's children's ombudsman reports that after Elena Polushkina lost her son to child protectors in Helsinki he was drugged to make him forget his birth family.
Russian Teen Likely Force-fed Drugs After Removal From Family: Ombudsman
Russian Children's Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov stated that a boy, taken from his Russian family in Finland, is possibly being forced to take psychoactive drugs.
MOSCOW, December 15 (Sputnik) — A boy, taken from his Russian family in Finland, is possibly being forced to take psychoactive drugs, Russian Children's Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov stated Monday, based on information provided by the child's mother.
"The mother, Elena Polushkina, informed us that her son Vitaly is now being heavily sedated, to make him forget about his [birth] family entirely. According to Polushkina, the situation for Vitaly is extremely dangerous as he is being heavily brainwashed with psychoactive drugs," Astakhov wrote on his Instagram page.
Later on Monday during a press briefing the ombudsman emphasized that the refusal of the Finnish authorities to appoint a guardian from among the child's relatives is a violation of Finnish law and of bilateral agreements between Russia and Finland.
Finnish human rights activist Johan Backman said Sunday that the reasons behind for the Finish social services decisions are not clear.
"The reasons for Finnish authorities' action are once again unknown. Social workers refer to the fact that the Russian mother is too emotional and loves her child too much," Backman said.
Social workers in Finland removed a fourteen-year-old boy from the care of his Russian mother living in Finland and handed him over to a German foster family in Helsinki. At the end of last week, a court gave the boy's mother, Elena Polushkina, a final ruling on the removal of her son from the Russian family and his transfer to an orphanage.
More than 50 Russian mothers been the subject of by decisions made by the Finnish guardianship services over the past three years, according to the Russian Children's Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov.
A similar incident occurred in Finland in November 2014. Finnish social services took a girl away from her Russian mother Alexandra Fomina, who was residing in Vantaa, Finland and placed the child with a foster family. The girl was returned to her mother after several meetings with Finnish social services and intervention by Russian diplomats.
Lay Advocate Disallowed
December 16, 2014 permalink
A judge has denied Rhonda Nordlander the right to be represented in family court by Vernon Beck. Mr Beck, who has appeared in these columns many times        , is one of the founders of Canada Court Watch and an expert on family law, though not triained as a lawyer. Fixcas will express no opinion on whether representation by Mr Beck is better or worse than representation by a lawyer. But he is certainly better than going to court unrepresented.
In driving out Mr Beck, the court is not serving the interest of the litigant, but of the lawyers union. The bar has spared no expense to eliminate competition from para-legals such as Harry Kopyto       , and laymen such as Mr Beck. At the same time they have restricted the number of admissions to the bar to less than the number of active cases, ensuring a lawyer shortage that will keep their prices high.
Judge denies self-rep’s choice of agent
An Ontario Superior Court judge has denied a self-represented litigant’s motion to be represented by a non-lawyer agent saying her request is “a perfect example of how unreliable the Internet is as a source for legal information.”
In a case that illustrates the desperation of self-represented litigants in family courts, Rhonda Nordlander, also known as Rhonda Nordlander-Nalli in court documents, asked the court to allow her to be represented for free by a person who dubs himself “a family justice advocate.”
Nordlander is fighting for access and custody of her children. She says she has become impecunious since attempting to resolve her issues in the courts but does not qualify for legal aid.
For her representation motion, Nordlander partly relied on a web page that said a court may allow non-lawyer agents to represent litigants unless the agent has been shown to be incompetent, is in trouble with the law, or would damage the fairness of the proceedings.
“The webpage extract is a perfect example of how unreliable the Internet is as a source of information,” Justice Jamie Trimble said. “The unattributed, anonymous statement of law this [website] provides and on which Ms. Nalli relies, like so much on the Internet, should not be accepted blindly or uncritically.
“This ‘advice’ is just wrong,” he added.
Nordlander had also relied on R. v. Romanowicz to point out that non-lawyer agents could represent people with courts’ approval. But the judge rejected that argument, saying, “In my view, since the Criminal Code specifically allows agents to act in summary convictions, the case has no application to the issue before me.”
Trimble said in some circumstances, family courts may approve of an agent if the person is “a subject to a binding code of ethics that reinforces professional, ethical conduct and sanctions departure from it.”
The agent would also have to be bound in law by confidentiality laws and carry liability insurance, the judge said, adding Nordlander did not present proof of any of this.
Vernon Beck, the agent Nordlander wanted to be represented by, is the founder of an organization called Canada Court Watch. He says for 20 years, he’s provided information and support to families caught up in the system for free and has previously been granted approval by a court to represent a 16-year-old pregnant girl in a child protection matter.
If people choose to be represented by a non-lawyer, they should be allowed to, he tells Legal Feeds.
“People have that right to make informed choices. Once we start using the law to take away their informed choices, we are taking away people’s freedoms,” says Beck. “We should not have legislation taking away people’s right to free choice. It’s a very fundamental right that people have. Many people would agree that the Law Society [of Upper Canada] has become a monopoly.”
Trimble said he had “great sympathy” for Nordlander’s situation but she has failed to meet “the legal and evidentiary burden to be met in order to convince the court to exercise its discretion under [Family Law] Rule 4(1)(c).”
For her part, Nordlander says the case is being compromised by her self-representation and she is at her wits’ end.
“I wanted somebody to speak for me because it’s too emotional for me,” she says. “I get a lot of anxiety from court,” she adds, noting she’s now looking for lawyer who would help her pro bono.
Source: Canadian Lawyer Magazine
Escape From Sarnia CAS
December 15, 2014 permalink
Mother Stephanie Hardy and her three-year-old son Matthew Chopp are missing from Sarnia. The police report enclosed is brief and requires reading between the lines. She "needs to be located to check on her and her son’s wellbeing". That most likely means she is being pursued by children's aid.
MISSING FEMALE AND CHILD
The Sarnia Police Service is requesting the public’s assistance in locating a missing 32 year old female “Stephanie HARDY” and her 3 year old son “Matthew CHOPP” from the Sarnia area. Both HARDY and CHOPP have been missing since Thursday December 11, 2014 and needs to be located to check on her and her son’s wellbeing.
HARDY may be operating or travelling in a Motor Vehicle: 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, blue in color, Ontario Plates “BVSF145″.
If anyone comes across “HARDY and CHOPP” or has any information in regards to their where abouts, please contact the Sarnia Police Service immediately at 519-344-8861 Ext:#5200.
Staff Sergeant Paul Mamak #123
Sarnia Police Service
B Platoon – Community Response Division
Tel: 519-344-8861 x 6123
Source: Sarnia Police
Saved From Cross-Dressing
December 15, 2014 permalink
Christle Prado punished her bed-wetting ten-year-old son by dressing him as a girl. In other circumstances social services are the champions of diverse sexuality. But Florida DCF has taken Prado's son and his siblings.
What is the punishment for bed wetting in foster care? Former foster child John Dunn was punished by having his head forced into a toilet until he nearly drowned.
Florida mom forced bed-wetting son to wear dress: cops
Christle Prado and her live-in landlord, Keith Driscoll, dressed the boy, 10, in a blue princess gown and posted the humiliating pictures on Facebook, relatives say. The mother and roommate face felony child abuse charges.
A Florida mom and her live-in landlord forced her son to wear a dress as punishment for wetting the bed, authorities said.
The two marched the crying 10-year-old outside in a low-cut blue princess gown so his friends could see, the child’s disgusted grandmother said.
“I’m mad,” grandmother Sherry Morden told WKMG-TV. “What right do you have doing this to your kids or allowing anybody to do this to your kids?”
Christle Prado, 34, of Winter Garden and her landlord, 26-year-old Keith Driscoll, were arrested Thursday on felony child abuse charges.
The boy’s uncle called police after spotting a photo of his nephew on Facebook.
The child is standing in a doorway with a lavender bow in his hair and tears streaming down his face in the humiliating pic.
“This puts so much abuse on a child,” Winter Garden Lt. Scott Allen told WESH. “It’s not fair for them to live like that.”
Prado admitted photographing her son and posting the pics online, authorities said.
She told investigators she was “frustrated” and turned to Driscoll for help after the boy urinated on himself several times, according to an affidavit obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.
The bizarre discipline was Driscoll’s idea, the mother said, and she “went along with it because she did not want to cause problems and ruin her living situation,” the affidavit said.
The boy has a medical condition, and the bed wetting wasn’t his fault, grandmother said.
Morden now has custody of the child and Prado’s other two kids, WKMG-TV reported.
“It will get better,” Morden told the child during an interview with WKMG-TV. “I promise.”
Source: New York Daily News
Canada's Press Wakes Up
December 14, 2014 permalink
After years without serious investigative reporting on Ontario's children's aid societies, two of Canada's newspapers are launching separate series on the topic. The Toronto Star is running Society's Children while simultaneously the National Post is going with Canada's child-welfare crisis. Follow the links for the articles and fixcas notes.
Child With No Name
December 14, 2014 permalink
Christopher Booker follows up on the case of the unnamed baby. British child protectors employed a so-called independent expert, actually a professional witness, to produce a report justifying permanently separating parents and children.
'Baby with no name’ judge defends the biased system
There has been a huge increase in the number of children being removed from their parents on grounds of 'emotional abuse', reports Christopher Booker.
Among the many serious puzzles raised by the peculiar workings of our “child protection” system, three continually recur. One is a huge increase in the number of children now being removed from their parents on grounds of “emotional abuse”. This has been by far the biggest contributor to the explosion in the numbers of children taken into care since the “Baby P” scandal in 2008, rising by 92 per cent. And most have not been for actual emotional abuse but simply for the possible “risk” of such abuse happening in the future. A second charge against parents which comes up too often is their failure to “co-operate with professionals”, such as the social workers who are tearing their family apart. A third, used to justify 90 per cent of child removals, is the role of those “independent” psychologists hired by social workers to report that the parents suffer from such vague conditions as “borderline personality disorder”, or “narcissism”, leading them to “put their own interests above those of the children”.
All three points formed the substance of a recent judgment in the Court of Appeal, in the very unhappy case I reported last May of “the baby with no name”. In 2006, the mother lost her child, by a man who walked out on her, after a psychologist reported that she suffered “intellectual impairment”, making her unfit to bring up the child on her own. When she happily married a devout British-born Hindu, producing two sons, Hertfordshire social workers again intervened – much to the growing impatience of her husband, a “lovely, peaceable man” who held a £90,000-a-year job as a senior manager.
Everyone agreed, as an earlier judge found, that the children were “thriving”, that the parents were devoted to them and had done them no harm. But the same psychologist again found the mother not fully fit to look after her boys and said there might therefore be a “risk” of future harm. When the social workers removed the children, relations between them and the father grew so fraught that, when he accused one of them outside a courtroom of lying, and the social worker pushed him, he took a defensive swing at the man’s head and was fined £430 for assault. The father then refused to allow his baby to go through a traditional temple naming ceremony because, in defiance of Hindu rules, the social workers insisted on being present.
When Lord Justice Ryder heard the parents’ appeal, he eventually, after eight weeks, came up with a judgment that surprised many of those present through the hearing. It was “a misapprehension of the law”, he said, that children should not be taken from their parents for only the “risk” of future emotional abuse. Anyway, the father had already abused his children, both by hitting a social worker in his older son’s presence (even though the boy had been yards away at the time), and then by refusing to allow the younger boy to be named.
Ryder emphasised that the father had shown no ability to “co-operate” with the social workers who had removed his children. He finally wished to make clear that the psychologist who had twice found so damagingly against the mother was genuinely independent – this was after it emerged that she was retained by Hertfordshire for up to 20 hours a week, 46 weeks of the year (for which the going rate can be up to £80,000). It was a mere oversight that this woman had been described in council documents as “Dr”, when she was nothing of the kind.
And, although the parents had wished the mother to be assessed by another psychologist, who found her quite capable of parenting, the lower courts had been within their right to appoint the expert the council wanted.
Thus on all three points, Lord Justice Ryder upheld the current system in a way that will have won plaudits from social workers and family lawyers across the land. Whether the review of his judgment hoped for by the parents, and their advisers from John Hemming MP’s Families for Justice, will agree, it remains to be seen.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Fake Social Worker
December 13, 2014 permalink
In Indiana a woman claiming to be a social worker showed up at the home of April Faulkner demanding custody of her two children. April shut the door in her face and kept her children.
Greenfield Police say woman impersonated DCS worker
GREENFIELD, Ind. -
Police are issuing a crime alert for parents after a Hancock County mother says a woman showed up and demanded custody of the mother's two children. The woman claimed to be with the Department of Child Protective Services.
It all unfolded earlier this week in a quiet residential community right off of Indiana 9, down Douglas Street in Greenfield.
Police say a young mother answered her door to a woman who identified herself as "Miranda" with the Department of Child Services; but as it turns out, there isn't a woman by that name with the department.
April Faulkner and her one-year-old daughter Aaliyah are all smiles after the scary visit from what police call a CPS impersonator.
"She was dressed to the T, very professional in a suit jacket and her hair was in a ponytail she said her name is Miranda and she had these piercing green eyes," Faulkner said.
April says that's what stood out the most. She ended up shutting the door in her face, after trusting what she calls a mother's intuition.
"Her eyes were almost the thing that set me off and I just knew there was something not right about her," Faulkner said.
She called the department, which told her there isn't an active case against the mother of two. Neighbors describe this is a safe and quiet community.
"I'm always cautious when opening my door, but it is usually men I am more cautious off. I don't think I would have been as cautious if a woman had been knocking on my door, but I will be from now on," neighbor Christina Coe said.
Police say to always ask for identification from anyone who comes knocking, especially when they claim to be from CPS.
"The protocol is for them to always have a police officer with them, and they should always have identification indicating where they are working and who they are," said Major Derek Towle with the Greenfield Police Department.
As for April, she can't stop thinking about the "what ifs" -- especially when it comes to her four-year-old son Karson, who can't walk.
"He is on oxygen at night and has sleep apnea so what if I had given her my kids he would have died," Faulkner said.
The suspect in this case, or "Miranda," is described as a woman standing 5'5" tall with an average build and her hair in a ponytail and driving away in a white sporty car.
If you have any information yours to call the Greenfield Police Department at (317) 477-4410.
Source: WTHR Indianapolis
HSLDA Opposes Medical Kidnap
December 11, 2014 permalink
The Home School Legal Defense Association is defending the family of Vanessa Wilson. Her four-year-old diabetic daughter was taken into custody on the opinion of a social worker, though within a day California CPS had three opinions by doctors showing the the girl was well cared for. CPS would not return the girl for 50 days.
Medical Kidnappings Must Stop!
We have all seen the stories of children being taken away from their parents because a doctor doesn’t agree with the family doctor’s medical treatments. These are not cases of medical neglect. They are arrogant abuses of power.
Today, HSLDA has filed a lawsuit against an even more outrageous abuse of power inflicted on a homeschooling mom, Vanessa Wilson.
Doctors were Ignored
On April 3, 2014, a child protective services (CPS) worker seized Vanessa’s 4-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son on allegations of medical neglect. Her evidence? The CPS worker, who had adult type 2 diabetes, looked at some archived results in the daughter’s blood glucose meter and—based solely on her own, personal experience with diabetes—determined that the readings were “dangerously high.”
No medical records were reviewed. No doctor was called.
Convinced of her own medical expertise, the CPS worker—who had two other caseworkers, a casework supervisor, and an armed police officer with her—removed the 4-year-old diabetic daughter from Vanessa upon threat of arrest. The CPS worker also removed Vanessa’s 7-year-old son, who was perfectly healthy.
Think this is outrageous? It only gets worse.
Vanessa’s daughter had been diagnosed only months before with new-onset type 1 juvenile diabetes. There is a significant difference between adult type 2 diabetes and type 1 juvenile diabetes. Since her diagnosis, Vanessa’s daughter had been under the regular care of a pediatrician, who had absolutely no concerns about Vanessa’s ability to care for her daughter. In fact, the blood sugar levels that the CPS worker thought were “dangerous” were perfectly appropriate for the daughter.
Donate to the Homeschool Freedom Fund.
We know this because the caseworkers took the girl to the hospital. There, at the request of the caseworkers, doctors with the requisite knowledge, training, skill, and medical licenses (all of which the CPS workers lacked) performed a hemoglobin A1C test. This is a long-range test that measures the average blood sugar level of the patient over the preceding three months.
On April 4, 2014—the day after the children were taken from Vanessa’s home—these doctors concluded that the girl’s medical condition and blood sugar levels were stable. They also found that the daughter’s diabetes had actually improved since her original diagnosis in January.
Did this cause the CPS workers to relent?
Not even after a second doctor agreed on April 6 that the girl’s overall medical condition and blood sugar levels were stable, and that there was no medical reason why the girl could not be discharged from the hospital immediately.
Suppressing the Evidence
In spite of the clear medical evidence, the CPS workers kept the daughter in custody. On April 8, they went to a detention hearing before a Superior Court judge and asked the judge to keep the children separated from Vanessa. The CPS workers claimed that the daughter’s health had been seriously neglected. But they said absolutely nothing about what the doctors at the hospital had actually found.
What’s more, the lawyer for the State of California continued to argue that this girl was at risk when the CPS worker took her, citing only the inaccurate medical information that the worker had provided.
The silence of the CPS workers and prosecutor is inexcusable. Under California law, when CPS workers ask a doctor to examine a child for evidence of abuse or neglect, they have a statutory duty to disclose the results of that examination to the court and to the parents. Similarly, the Ninth Circuit has held that the United States Constitution places an affirmative duty on the prosecutor to find out what evidence has been discovered that might exonerate the parents, and to disclose it to all parties—especially to the court.
Both the CPS workers and the attorney utterly failed to follow these standards. The State of California’s officials knew the truth, but they remained silent. The court was kept in the dark.
And then the situation got worse.
Refusal to Hear Medical Testimony
HSLDA had an experienced local lawyer, Rex Lowe, appear before the judge to represent Vanessa. Lowe had a medical expert ready to testify during this hearing to explain to the judge that the girl’s blood sugar levels were perfectly appropriate and posed no reason for concern.
But the judge absolutely refused to allow any medical testimony.
Relying solely on the medical opinion of the CPS worker, the judge allowed CPS to keep custody of both the daughter and the son—even though no one ever argued, much less proved, that the son’s health was at risk.
The situation dragged on. Both children remained in CPS’s custody until yet another hearing was held 20 days later. During this time, the CPS workers enrolled the son in public school because they distrusted Vanessa’s home education philosophy. Not a shred of evidence was presented to the court to show that Vanessa had failed to educate her children.
And, yes, as you may have suspected, the injustice became even more blatant.
At the second hearing, HSLDA had two doctors standing by to testify that the girl was not at any medical risk. The two doctors—a pediatrician and an endocrinologist—had personally observed the daughter at the hospital. They were prepared to testify not only that she had not been in any danger at the time she was removed from her home, but also that her diabetes had actually improved while under Vanessa’s care.
Yet once again, the judge refused to allow any such testimony.
And once again, the prosecutor continued to sit silently, withholding the evidence of the state’s own medical evaluation by a qualified doctor, which showed that the girl was fine. Two additional CPS workers were brought into the case at this second hearing. They, too, kept both Vanessa and the court in the dark.
Vanessa’s legal team became suspicious when the family’s pediatrician mentioned that she had examined the daughter at the state’s request the day after CPS took custody. CPS never disclosed any records or reports to the team. Finally, Lowe was able to obtain the girl’s medical records directly from the hospital after an almost four-week delay.
Shocked, Lowe confronted the prosecutor with his discovery that the state had been hiding not one, not two, but three favorable medical examinations—undertaken at the request of CPS by their own licensed doctors—which all confirmed that on the day after Vanessa’s children were removed, CPS knew there was no medical reason to continue detaining them.
The prosecutor promptly dismissed the petition. But the damage had already been done. Vanessa’s 7-year-old son had been held in custody for a total of 29 days. Vanessa’s 4-year-old daughter had been held in custody for 50 days.
All this happened because government agents, who had the knowledge, power, and duty to act, chose to do nothing.
Protecting our Rights
HSLDA is fighting back with a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of this family. You can read the full complaint here.
This civil rights challenge is, first and foremost, for Vanessa and her family. But it is also for every American homeschooler. We cannot stand by when government agents treat any of our families in this outrageous manner.
In a larger sense, this lawsuit is for all American parents. Child welfare personnel and members of the medical profession do important services for our communities. However, this does not give them the power or right to seize children on the basis of preference and conjecture, rather than evidence and real science.
A New York statute says it well: If parents are seeking lawful medical treatment from a licensed practitioner, the government cannot remove the child without convincing evidence of serious harm to the child. That is a wise standard to follow.
In Vanessa’s case, the medical evidence was forbidden by the judge and withheld by the prosecutor. We cannot afford to let this sort of misbehavior pass by unchallenged. It is a threat to our families, our rule of law, and our cherished rights.
This must end. Will you help us with the costs of defending Vanessa and her children?
Baby Unharmed by Car Thief
December 11, 2014 permalink
There have been countless stories of mothers arrested for running into a store while leaving a child in the car. Sometimes child protectors, fearing danger in everyday acts, step in and take the baby. Yesterday there was a real crime.
A mother, unnamed by police but driving a car with Quebec license plates, filled up at a Mississauga gas bar and went in to pay, leaving her nine-month-old baby in a car seat. A thief stole the car. As soon as the thief realized he had taken a baby, he parked it across the street from the gas bar and fled. A building superintendent matched a car described on television with one in his parking lot and alerted police. The baby was recovered within an hour screaming, but unharmed.
So even in the rare case where a real criminal shows up while mom is running into a store, no harm comes to the child.
Baby boy found safe after car stolen from Mississauga gas station
TORONTO – A nine-month-old baby boy has been found safe after a car he was in was reported stolen from a Mississauga area gas station Wednesday morning.
Police say the owner of the vehicle had gone inside a Shell gas station located in the Malton neighbourhood at Rexwood and Derry Road around 9 a.m. when the car was stolen.
The vehicle, a grey Honda CRV, was seen traveling westbound on Derry Road.
But the car was found abandoned in an apartment complex a short distance away with the baby inside shortly before 10 a.m.
Derek Dorio, the superintendent of the building where the baby was found, called 911 to tell police. He said he saw the description of the van on television and noticed a similar van outside of the building.
“The van was out back of my building, so I ran out back, I opened the door and the baby was there. I called 911,” he said. “I was shocked. The baby was screaming, his car seat was almost tilted, he was lying on his side. He was screaming his head. The stereo was blaring.”
He said the car was only there approximately 40 minutes and didn’t see the suspect run away from the car. He noticed the car, he said, because it was parked in an odd place.
Police say the infant is in good health.
There’s no word yet on any suspects.
Source: Global News
Foster Care is Hazardous to Your Health
December 11, 2014 permalink
To the many failings of foster care research has added a new one: foster graduates suffer from poor health. It comes from a study in the journal Pediatrics, Health Outcomes in Young Adults From Foster Care and Economically Diverse Backgrounds. The health deficit of foster children is more than can be accounted for by the poverty of their origins.
Study shows former foster kids face higher risk of future health problems
According to a new study from the journal Pediatrics, adults who were raised in the foster-care system are more likely to have chronic-health problems than those not from foster backgrounds, even after controlling for economic security.
It has long been recognized that foster kids have high rates of health problems as children, but this study is the first to ask what happens when those kids reach adulthood. It considered cardiovascular risk factors and other chronic problems, and it compared three groups of young adults: those formerly in foster care, those from the general public with economically insecure backgrounds, and those from the general public with economically secure backgrounds. The results were graduated among the three groups, from foster care, to economic insecurity, to economic security.
In the paper, the authors explain why their findings are not surprising:
Foster youth are often exposed to poverty and many other adverse childhood experiences including abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and parental substance use, and many undergo frequent placement and school changes while in foster care. Several theories exist regarding the effects of chronic and early exposures to adversity, all of which suggest that the more stressors to which one is exposed, the higher the likelihood of a chronic physical or mental health condition later in life.
However, because these theories regarding adversity haven’t yet been adequately investigated, this study has important implications. Scientific evidence could influence policy-makers to address this problem, perhaps by continuing Medicaid access for former foster kids or granting it to those far below the poverty line, or by offering continued support from the foster-care system into young adulthood. Provisions for the first two changes were made in the Affordable Care Act, and the federal government does offer incentives for states to continue foster care until age 21, but due to technicalities and state-level laws, these benefits are not widely accessible.
The authors also offer a discussion on how the quality of medical care impacts foster youth:
Our access indicators suggest that former foster youth do not perceive a lack of needed medical care during young adulthood; previous analyses reveal that foster youth also perceive similar or higher rates of access to medical care compared with general population youth while they are still in care. However, it is important to note that access to “needed care” does not equate to access to high-quality, evidence-based care…. there is little reason to believe these problems improve as foster youth become young adults facing homelessness, unemployment, and other issues known to affect quality of health care.
Policies and programs may need to be tailored to the unique life experiences of foster youth to have maximal effect, for example, including individualized strategies to promote the formation of trusting relationships with health care and allied providers. Support to maintain these relationships across placement changes may also be beneficial.
The work was conducted by researchers from Seattle Children’s Hospital & Research Institute, the University of Washington School of Medicine, and the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration.
Source: Stanford Medicine
Children Returned After Publicity Barrage
December 11, 2014 permalink
Cleave and Erica May Rengo have three children including twins, Morna Kai Grace and Daniel Clemente, delivered through home birth October second. Shortly after the birth of the twins the state sent workers suggesting a hospital check for the twins and prescribing steroid creams for the eczema of the older boy Levi. The parents refused to follow orders and the state took all three children into custody. The story appeared initially on the website Medical Kidnap, then spread to the mainstream press. In December a court ordered the children reunited with the parents, but still subject to state supervision. The parents did not want to send their babies to a hospital where they could be exposed to infectious diseases. During a month and a half in foster care, Levi has acquired pneumonia. Two articles are enclosed.
The parents are not married according to the laws of the state of Washington. (The state continues to call the wife Erica May Carey). Instead, they took their vows before God. There may be a lot more such couples in the future, conscientious objectors opting out of civil marriage in favor of God. The civil marriage contract can be breached by either party at any time, using the courts to turn the life of the other party into a nightmare. Worse yet, that kind of marriage contract provides no respect at all for the bond between parent and child. The religious marriage is for mutual support of the partners until death, and makes it their right, duty and privilege to produce and care for their own children.
Couple fights for custody of children after home birth
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Erica May Carey and Cleave Rengo haven't applied for a Washington state marriage license, but they said their vows before God.
"We just prayed and invited God to bless our relationship so we'd have a family built on a firm foundation," Rengo said.
They'd only known each other a matter of hours before they decided to spend their lives together. Soon after, they conceived their first son.
Almost immediately after his birth, Carey was pregnant again. This time, the couple's Christian beliefs influenced their decision to have an unassisted home birth.
"I've done a lot of research about other women who have done it and they said the spiritual experience was so much more wholesome," Carey said. "It was just us. We wanted to preserve that sanctity and sacredness in our birth."
To preserve the sacred space of her womb, Carey never even had an ultrasound. It wasn't until immediately after the birth of their second son that the couple realized a twin daughter was on the way.
"I said, 'Erica look!' and she looked at her belly. There was an outline of a small baby in her belly. That's when I discovered we were having twins," Cleave remembered.
The young couple now had three children, all under the age of one year. Erica breastfed all three. Soon after, however, paramedics showed up when someone reported the birth.
According to Carey and Rengo, the paramedics suggested taking the newborns to the hospital for a check up, but they refused, worrying about the twins' health with fragile immune systems among patients fighting disease.
The next day, CPS showed up for the first of several visits.
Officers noticed the 10-month-old's eczema, the couple says, which they treated with natural remedies like probiotics and coconut oil.
They say CPS pushed them to switch to steroid creams, which the couple refused as well.
"It's a very harsh treatment and can have very negative side effects. It can cause damage to bones, the muscular system and liver," Carey said.
"They wanted the authority in my household. I told them, 'I'm a Christian and God gave me the authority in my household'," Rengo said.
Soon after, CPS took all 3 children.
In a petition filed Tuesday, the couple's attorney calls the seizure "unlawful, unconscionable, and inexcusable." Though there were calls to the home about domestic issues prior to the children's birth, the petition claims no evidence of "clear and present danger," rather that CPS is trying to impose their standards of "proper parenting."
Except now, as the petition continues, the couple's oldest son not only has eczema, he is also "suffering from pneumonia" while in state custody.
"That's our flesh and blood," Carey said.
Rengo and Carey missed their son's first birthday last week, and they see their children only once a week.
"Every time it's like torment to my soul when they pull them away from my breasts," Carey cried. "Those are my babies. They're our children. They have no right to them."
DSHS sent the following statement to KING 5:
"Due to confidentiality, we cannot discuss details, except to say that a court determined a child's safety required removal from the home.
No policy of Children's Administration would allow a child to be taken due to a home birth. A home birth is not in any way a child safety risk factor in the view of Children's Administration."
Source: KING-TV Seattle
Judge returns kids to Bellingham parents
Three Bellingham children taken from their parents will be allowed to go back home, but they are still under state protection. Alison Morrow reports. KING
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Three Bellingham children taken from their parents by CPS are now home, but they are still under state protection.
Erica May Carey and Cleave Rengo appeared in court on Friday. Within an hour after the judge's ruling, they picked up their 1-year-old son and 8-week-old twins from the Bellingham CPS office.
"It's amazing," Carey cried. "There were times I was overwhelmed with doubt."
The state's case against the couple focused on domestic calls to police and their medical choices.
The judge called the couple's home "chaotic" and "unstable." He ordered both parents to seek counseling as part of the conditions of the children's return.
Two of those concerns over medical choices for their children include the couple's refusal to take their newborn twins to the hospital after paramedics had recommended a checkup immediately after the babies' unassisted home birth. The couple also stopped using a recommended formula for the children to gain weight and instead went back to using breast milk.
"They projectile vomited that formula and it made them very sick. It's not meant for babies, it's meant for cows," said Erica May Carey in court.
"If I had the choice, we would have chosen to keep them inside the house due to the sensitivity of the newborn baby to outside contaminants," said Cleave Rengo in court.
The couple attributes many of their choices to their Christian beliefs, including their decision to have an unassisted home birth for their twins as well as using probiotics, coconut oil and other natural remedies to treat their 10-month-old son's eczema instead of the recommended steroid cream.
The wife says she made several calls to police about the couple's arguments believing they could help find mediation.
The state has said it would not take children from a home because of a home birth.
It has been about a month and a half since the children have been living with their parents. The couple missed the one-year birthday of their oldest son. Now their attorney says that son, who was diagnosed with eczema and is now in state custody, is also suffering from pneumonia.
While the state attorney's office confirmed in court that CPS originally visited the couple's home when they refused a paramedic's recommendation to have a hospital check-up for the newborns, the judge said his decision to keep the kids under state shelter care had nothing to do with home birth or the use of natural remedies. His biggest concern is what he called an unstable, chaotic home environment.
The parents have been ordered to see counselors and follow other instructions to care for their kids.
"I definitely want to be a better parent," Rengo said.
Source: KING-TV Seattle
Addendum: Continued harassment by CPS caused the family to flee on January 27, 2015.
Bellingham family flees CPS order
Letters from DSHS have remained untouched for days on a Bellingham counter. Bassinets nearby are empty, and the grandfather of the missing babies has left his Bible open ever since.
"I'm more concerned as time goes by," Bruce Rengo said.
Rengo hasn't seen his son, daughter-in-law or 3 grandchildren since Tuesday. The couple had a scheduled visit from CPS that morning, he says, but 30-minutes before, packed the car and said they planned to visit a friend.
"I should've paid better attention to the fact they packed pretty heavily," Rengo remembered.
He never heard from them again. CPS obtained a pick-up order the next day, giving them the right to seize the kids immediately
Now, Bellingham Police are looking for them.
According to Rengo, his son, Cleave, and daughter-in-law, Erica May Carey, fought a lot. Police were called 3 times last week. The couple was stressed, he says, with 3 kids one year and younger. He believes weighed heavily on the court's decision to seize the kids in late October.
The couple blamed CPS for disapproving of their unassisted home birth and natural health treatments. They gained national attention from groups that supported their medical decisions.
About 6-weeks after, a judge returned the kids to their parents under a shelter care order. CPS agents would regularly visit Cleave and Erica, who also had to attend several classes on parenting. Cleave was also ordered to attend anger management and domestic violence classes.
Rengo says the couple did not follow through with court orders and feared they'd soon lose their children again.
Though DSHS would not comment specifically on the case, officers are concerned the children are in danger of neglect or abuse.
"I'm frustrated. Distraught. I'm worried about my family," Rengo said.
Rengo worries the couple has no money, no plan, and not enough food for the children. He hopes they return soon.
"Come home. Come here," he said. "Turn the children over to CPS. That's the best they can do right now."
After fleeing to California the children were forcibly returned to Washington.
In this and other similar cases, police sidestep extradition laws by bringing no process against the family. They simply informally remove the children, compelling the parents to return to a court in a foreign jurisdiction.
Missing Bellingham parents caught in California
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- California Highway Patrol confirms that the parents of three Bellingham children involved in a child welfare case were located in Aptos, Calif.
Cleave Rengo, 23, and Erica Carey, 29, were found near Rio Del Mar, where they had been spotted earlier in the week. According to CHP Sgt. Grant Boles, Child Protective Services was also on scene and have taken custody of the three children.
Carey was arrested after head-butting and kicking an officer, but Rengo was not arrested.
"She head-butted one of our sergeants and kicked a sheriff's deputy," CHP Officer Brad Sadek told KSBW.
Rio Del Mar is south of San Francisco.
Washington state's CPS says Rengo, Carey and their young children disappeared in late January during a dispute with the agency.
Earlier, the children were temporarily removed due to state concerns over a chaotic home life, including repeated contacts with law enforcement, the infant twins being underweight and whether the children were receiving adequate medical care. After a hearing, a court commissioner returned the children to their parents Dec. 5, saying he was giving the parents a second chance but warning them to cooperate with CPS.
Rengo's father, Bruce Rengo, lived with the couple and said he last saw them January 27 when they said they planned to visit a friend. They packed the car and never returned.
On Jan. 28, CPS obtained a court order to place the Rengo children in protective custody.
Sources close to the couple say the family left Bellingham with very little money, gas, or food, and that they received donations along their 1,000 mile route to Santa Cruz County.
"My Facebook, my e-mail, my cell phone - it all started going off," said Billy Fisher.
Fisher has never met the Rengo family personally, but he's been involved with raising support for their case. He shares a similar story, described on his website, Fight4Lilly.
The toddler spent 307 days in foster care because of what he calls unfounded allegations made by his ex-wife. Since then, he's become an outspoken advocate for better defining CPS authority.
"You have your kids taken away from you, it's a fight or flight," FIsher said.
In the Rengo case, the flight rallied CPS critics. Online comments on several websites ranged from, "Run and don't look back,"
"Is there an underground network where they can be safe? I hope there is!" and "Has a fund for the family (not the legal team) been set up?"
During Fisher's custody battle, complete strangers donated thousands of dollars to support his fight to bring Lilly home. He believes it's likely that the Rengo case sparked a similar rally cry of CPS critics.
"These people are out there to help these families they feel are being abused by the government," he said.
Rengo supporters claim CPS got involved after the couple's unassisted home birth. They used natural remedies like probiotics and coconut oil on their son's eczema.
How exactly the Rengo family made it across three states with three kids and very few resources may surprise family, but it doesn't surprise Fisher.
"People wanted to send them money and house them," he said. "Everybody's upset they got caught because everybody was hoping they'd never be found."
Teenager Seized on False Medical Diagnoses
December 9, 2014 permalink
Marc (Marcky) Herrman, who was born prematurely and nearly died in his incubator, has never been in excellent health. In 2009 Marcky's family fled to Canada to escape German persecution of home schoolers. Three years later they took ailing Marcky to Alberta Children's Hospital. His medical history since then has been one of repeated erroneous diagnoses:
Three steps into this list child protectors took over and revoked parental custody. While he was being treated for the eating disorder Marcky was forced to eat large quantities of cheese and milk. It took doctors a year to acknowledge that he was lactose intolerant. The last diagnosis, retard, will be the pretext for holding him as an incompetent adult next year when he reaches age 18.
Medically Kidnapped Teenager In Canada Pleads To Be Returned To His Family
Marc Herrmann is a teenage boy who desperately wants to go home to his family who loves him, but apparently he cannot. The 17-year-old feels he is trapped in what he sees as a cruel system that won’t let him go, and now he is crying out for help. He says he is just “A child in Canada,” who has no voice, who feels like no one is listening.
Teen Speaks Out: Sees Himself as a “Medical Lab Rat”
Marcky, as he is known by those who love him, is not just experiencing normal teenage angst. This is apparently so much more than that. He has allegedly experienced horrendous trauma, not at the hands of his parents, but at the hands of a broken system via Alberta Health Services and Child and Family Services. After a couple of alleged wrong diagnoses, and complications from treatments, he is now in the custody of the Child Protective system in Calgary, Canada, with no end in sight for him.
He says he is tired of being a medical lab rat for research projects to which neither he nor his parents ever agreed. He has been sending messages written in the third person that have been posted on a Facebook page created by friends of his, called “A child in Canada.” Despite the possible risks to himself in coming forward with his story, he says he is ready for his story to be told. He wants somebody to listen and just let him go home to his family.
Being Persecuted in Germany for Homeschooling
Marc and his identical twin were born prematurely in Germany, and faced a number of health issues. Marcky was the sicker of the two babies. It was his mother’s tireless advocacy that ultimately made the difference in his survival. The standard practice in that German hospital, as in many facilities, was to separate the twins in two different incubators. Patricia Herrmann, who grew up in Burma before marrying her German husband, Gottfried, strongly believed that the babies needed to be together. It was only after the doctors had given up hope for Marc, and with prayerful intervention from an elderly priest, that the doctors agreed to put the twins together. It worked like a miracle, and Marcky got better. The boys came home.
Their health was still delicate, however. Marc’s lungs functioned at only a 10 to 20% capacity, and he has a number of health issues, including being lactose intolerant. The Herrmanns are a close-knit, devoutly Christian family. Largely because of Marc’s health, they made the decision to homeschool the twins. They had a lung specialist’s recommendation to do so after he prescribed oxygen machines for Marcky.
According to Dr. Wilfred Saldanha, Patricia’s brother, “Pat and Gottfried have one main passion in life: to do the very best for their children … [they] have done absolutely everything in their power to make life better for them.”
However, families do not have the freedom to choose homeschooling in Germany, even for health or religious reasons, and they often face persecution and even seizure of their children by the government. Because of that fear, the Herrmanns left Germany and arrived in Canada in 2007 as refugees.
They were safe, they thought.
They were apparently wrong.
Living in Canada as a Refugee with Health Problems
In 2012, Marc’s health, which had never been good, suddenly took a turn for the worse. On November 20, 2012, his uninsured parents took him to Alberta Children’s Hospital because his eyes were crossing. He grew weaker while they waited in the emergency room. After a series of tests, he was diagnosed with Miller Fisher Syndrome, which is a variant of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. According to Right Diagnosis, the standard treatment is IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin), which was started immediately.
Miller Fisher was allegedly a misdiagnosis, however, and the side effects of the IVIG treatment were reported to be significant. Marc began to experience high blood pressure, fever, nausea, rashes, and sensitivity to light.
He was then allegedly diagnosed with Wernicke’s encephalopathy. He got to the point where he couldn’t even walk, and was discharged a few days later in a wheelchair. He began fainting and losing weight, but the Herrmann’s report that the doctor wasn’t concerned, saying that it was a part of the Wernicke’s.
Despite several months of follow-up by the same physician, Marc was still losing weight, no matter how much he ate. They returned to the hospital in September of 2013, very concerned about the weight loss and a low heart rate. They learned that the Wernicke’s was again allegedly a misdiagnosis. They just wanted to figure out what was actually wrong and asked to transfer to a different hospital for a second opinion.
Social Service Agency Seizes Custody for Seeking a Second Medical Opinion
That is when Child and Family Services (CSFA) allegedly took over and seized custody, citing that Marc’s parents were neglectful and caused his weight loss. The doctor who had misdiagnosed him twice was allowed to stay on his case, and reportedly changed the diagnosis to EDNOS – Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.
Marc was reportedly sent for treatment at the Eating Disorder Program in Unit 26 of the Foothills Medical Centre, which is part of the Alberta Health Services. He was eventually placed in foster care.
Marc Becomes Subject of Medical Research
According to messages that were sent to family and friends by Marc, once the state took over his care, he was subjected to a number of questionable practices. He was allegedly entered into research studies without his or his parents’ consent. Marc, a vegan by choice, was put on a high-calorie diet and told that he was not lactose intolerant. He was compelled to eat large amounts of cheese and drink lots of milk. When he had severe stomach pain and bloating from the dairy products and huge volume of food, he says that “no one cared.” It was after almost a year that the doctors allegedly acknowledged that Marc was, indeed, lactose intolerant, just as he and his parents had said.
To date, no one has reportedly discovered why Marc continues to have weight loss problems. The Eating Disorder Team has retracted their diagnosis of the eating disorder, changing it to yet another illness called ARFID, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, allegedly never even running tests to see if there is a physiological basis for his symptoms.
Persecuted for Christian Beliefs?
While he was in treatment, Marc reportedly put up Bible verses on the walls in his room in Unit 26. Those were allegedly removed by the staff. Marc was allegedly told that he didn’t have approval for them and that they “contradict the treatment plan.”
He was allegedly told that his Christian mother was a bad influence because she was always talking about God. Patricia Herrmann reports that Marcky has long supported ministries like In Touch Ministries with Charles Stanley, and others, with his own money. For that, Marc has been ridiculed and even allegedly been called mentally ill because he believes in God. His parents have allegedly been called crazy by the CFSA because they believe in miracles, including the one that saved Marcky’s life as an infant.
Isolated from Family and Friends
Marc has been denied access to a phone or to the internet, where he wanted to research the various diagnoses and treatments to which he was being subjected. He has also sought to research the various medications that he has been given. A teenage boy has been taken away from his friends and family, and kept away from his twin brother and older sister. He hasn’t seen his parents alone for a year. When he does see them, he is forbidden to hug them.
He also has not been permitted to attend school for the past year.
Labeled as “Retard” – State to Retain Custody After Age 18
Marc is fluent in two languages, and his writings, albeit with spelling and grammatical errors, reveal a deeply philosophical, intelligent young man. Despite this, at some point during his captivity, he underwent an assessment that allegedly has labelled him as “Retard.” Because of this diagnosis, he may not be free to leave state custody when he turns 18 in a few months, because he would become a ward of the Office of the Public Guardian indefinitely. The state has allegedly already made application to be his Public Guardian and had a representative present at Marc’s latest hearing.
Physician Uncle is Concerned
His uncle is a physician in the United States, and has followed Marc’s health reports since his birth. But he has been denied access to any of the medical and psychological records since CFSA took custody, even though he has the full consent of Marc’s parents. When he traveled to Canada for a visit last summer, Dr. Saldanha was only allowed a supervised visit with his nephew, and was forbidden to speak with him about his medical status, CFSA, or the foster home. When Health Impact News spoke with Dr. Saldanha, he expressed great concern about the well-being of his nephew. He says that, “up to this day, I do not know what exactly is going on with [Marc] and what the real concerns and reasons from the Canadian authorities are” which are keeping Marc in state custody and away from his family. He believes that Marc belongs with the parents who love him.
Canadian Foster Care System Criticized for Deaths
Canada’s foster care system has come under sharp criticism in recent years. The Edmonton Journal published a series of articles exposing the fact that 741 children in the Alberta, Canada, child welfare system died between 1999 and 2013. As recently as July 2014, it was illegal for parents to name or post pictures of their own children who died within the system. Canadians apparently do not speak freely about alleged abuses within the CFSA system. There are rumors that speaking out may be very dangerous.
Cost of Legal Fees Prohibitive
That is why it is remarkable that Marc Herrmann is speaking out now and sharing his story publicly, in the strong hope that people will stand up for him, and others like him.
During the most recent hearing on November 12, CFSA was allegedly awarded permanent guardianship. The cost for his parents to appeal the decision is prohibitively high in Canada, and even then, justice is allegedly elusive in this particular family court. Families are required to pay 50 cents per word for the transcript of the hearing before an appeal can be filed. There are more than 2,000 pages in the transcript. The deadline for appeal is December 12.
Marc’s Public Statement for Help
Marc cannot do anything to get himself free, and he is pleading for help. This is his letter to all of us:
To Whom It May Concern:
This is Marcky Herrmann (Marc Herrmann)
It has been a really long time and there has been little to no justice for my Family!
All the good positives was ignored and My family and I were not listend to.
I have no life anymore , no phone , no friends because of all the ‘restrictions’ to the so called “safety” of CFS. They dont let me talk to anyone bassicly..
I feel like im in prison I WANT TO GO HOME I WANT TO GO BACK TO MY FAMILY.
I want to go home I want to be with my family
I do not want to be in care , in Foster care or in Child and Family Services care.
They have done nothing but try to rip me and my family apart.
My mom and dad are good parents and know me better than anyone else.
I want to go home and i want to be with my family.
I do not deserve to be or want to be in Foster Care.
Foster care is not my home.. Home is my home with my Family i grew up with that i love and care about.. I am very sad about not being at home this is my life this is my body anhd i want to treat my body the way i want to treat it.. I want to be healthy and my parents know how to make me healthy.
But were never given a chance because of the lies and minuplations by Child and Family Services..
Please i need this court appealed , the judge did not make the right desicion and i need to be with my parents. i want to be with my parents.
I have never had any unsupervised contact even with mom and dad even though all is fine. All the accusations and assumeations by CFS are lies! and If mom and dad wouldve beeen allowed to be part in taking part in Doctor appointsments and stuff .. My life is not nromal anymore I am sad and I want to be with my family.
and EVEYRTHING with me and my family is positive.. I feel like we do not have any privacy! I am not even allowed to have my phone or anything .. I HAVE NO LIFE NO FREEDOM IM NOT IN THE PLACE WHERE I WANT TO BE I WANT TO GO AND LIVE HOME Please do something about this! MY SOCIAL WORKER DID NOT DO ANYTHING TO HELP ME AND MY FAMILY.
Here are some people that may be contacted about Marc’s story. International phone rates apply from the US.
Family Court Judge Larochelle 403-297-3937
Human Services Minister Heather Klimchuck 780-455-7979. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org and she has a Facebook page and Twitter account @HeatherKlimchuck.
Human Services Associate Minister Naresh Bhardwaj has a Twitter account @MLA_Bhardwaj.
Office of the Public Guardian 888-357-9339 or 877-427-4525
Randolph Scott, a lawyer with the Department of Justice, Calgary Alberta, tried to gag Medically Kidnapped:
From: Randolph Scott, Barrister & Solicitor, Department of Justice, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
This posting lists the names, numbers and twitter accounts of numerous professionals. Most worrisome is the posting and contact information of the hearing judge — Judge LaRochelle as well as the name and contact information of the Alberta Minister of Health.
We are insisting this information be removed — it is posted without the consent and authorization of those named. The wording in the story: “…may be contacted…” implies that those named are inviting contact. They are not.
It is the writer’s view that posting this information is inviting unwanted contact that could lead to harrassment and possible harm to those named.
Thusly, we are insisting this information be removed immediately. We look forward to your earliest confirmation that this will be dealt with in an expedited manner.
Addendum: Escape from Canada!
Medically Kidnapped Teen and Family Escape Canada: Speak Out on Abuses
It was a day that they were terrified would never come. The Herrmann family has escaped from Canada and has been reunited in Germany! Teenager Marc Herrmann was slated to stay within the system for the rest of his life after he was taken from his family in late 2013 over allegations of medical neglect. He was misdiagnosed several times, institutionalized, then placed in foster care, despite the urgent pleas of Marc and his family.
After he was falsely labeled as “retarded,” a hearing was scheduled on his 18th birthday to turn him over to the custody of the Canadian Office of Public Guardians. A man whom the family had never met was reportedly waiting in the wings to assume guardianship. Because his parents are German citizens, they were told that there was no way that they could be guardians over their own son. Marc says that he was told repeatedly that if he did not comply with numerous threats, he would never see his family again.
Today, after public outcry and intervention from the German Embassy, the Herrmann family is together again, and safely out of reach of the system that the Herrmanns insist is rife with corruption. They are in Germany. With the help of the German Embassy, they have escaped.
German Family Moves to Canada to Homeschool
The family immigrated to Canada in 2007 in order to homeschool the twins, Marc (affectionately known as Marcky) and Nathan. They were born very prematurely, and Marcky’s health issues led their parents, Gottfried and Patricia, to seek to educate them at home, away from the risk of germs and infection in the public school system. Because of difficulties with homeschooling in Germany, the family journeyed to Canada, in order to do what they felt was best for their children. The boy’s older sister remained in their homeland to raise her own family.
The twins loved their new home, embracing the creativity and freedom to pursue their interests, until Marc began experiencing health problems in late 2012. There was an incorrect diagnosis along with a treatment protocol that was not appropriate for what was wrong. There were serious complications from the IVIG treatment, and he began losing weight. The doctor assured them that this was normal. It wasn’t.
When his parents sought further medical care, Canada’s Child and Family Services (CFSA) stepped in and seized custody of Marc. He then spent time in an Eating Disorder Clinic and subsequently in foster care, where he says that he suffered greatly.
Marc Decides to Speak Out
Marcky felt hopeless in state care. He and his family tried everything they could to get back together. After it looked to them that there was little hope of returning home to the family he loves deeply, he began writing and reaching out. The boy labeled as a “retard” in the attempt to imprison him indefinitely in the system writes eloquently of the love of his family, and of the cruelty of the injustices that he faced. Many of his writings have been posted on a Facebook page set up by supporters of the Herrmann family, called A child in Canada. He spoke out about the treatment he was receiving, crying out for someone, anyone, to hear the cries of children trapped in the system.
His family reached out to Health Impact News, and Marc made the courageous decision to take his story to the public. His mother reports that one person within the system confided that Marcky’s brave actions in breaking the silence are opening doors for other children trapped within the system. Marc has been hailed by one supporter as a “little Hero who has opened many doors where Canada has hidden their corruption.”
After Health Impact News published Marcky’s story, which included the contact information for the Family Court Judge and some of the Human Services officials, the Barrister & Solicitor from the Department of Justice in Calgary, Alberta, contacted Health Impact News demanding thet we take down their contact names. However, their contact info was a matter of public record, accessible to anyone on the Internet. (See: Canadian Solicitor General Wants to Restrict Freedom of the Press in the U.S. Regarding Medical Kidnapping.)
Two Babies Lost to Motherisk
December 9, 2014 permalink
Christine Rupert is a mother who lost her two children because of the tests performed by Motherisk.
Hair drug tests: A mother’s anguish over losing her girls
An unknown number of parents lost their children based, in part, on the Sick Kids’ hair drug tests now under review. Christine Rupert is one of them.
The last time Christine Rupert saw her daughters was in a dingy church basement in Kitchener, surrounded by awkward and emotional reunions between other parents and their kids.
It was September 2008. Molly, a tentative 18-month-old with fine brown hair and wide eyes, sat as if glued to her mom’s lap. Emily, 6 months, mainly snoozed in her car seat.
Both girls, whose names have been changed to protect their identities, were removed at birth because of their mom’s suspected cocaine use, though both newborns tested negative for drugs. They remained in foster care based, primarily, on hair tests that showed Rupert was a heavy cocaine user — a finding she fiercely denied and was going to great lengths to disprove.
Rupert acknowledged she had previously done cocaine recreationally, at parties, a few times a year. However, she was adamant she had not taken the drug since fall 2006, and had always been a good mom to her kids, including two older sons and a brother she took in as her own.
The two-hour visits were supervised by the Children’s Aid Society, and always unfolded the same way. Molly might loosen her grip enough to play with a toy or eat a snack, but when it was time to say goodbye again, she would start wailing.
Rupert waited until the girls were out of sight before she let her own tears flow. It always felt as if she was losing them for the first time.
By the time the case was decided, Rupert had produced nearly 70 clean urine tests, cut ties with an abusive ex, and had ample money and space to care for the girls. But in April 2009, a judge made both Molly and Emily wards of the province. They were adopted by separate families, without access to their mom.
The main reason the judge gave for his decision: Positive cocaine hair test results from the Motherisk laboratory at the Hospital for Sick Children.
Child protection cases are inherently messy. Using their best judgment, children’s aid workers make life-changing decisions for families based on real and perceived risks to kids in circumstances that often fall short of typical, middle-class expectations.
Until recently, Motherisk’s hair drug and alcohol tests have been accepted without challenge as evidence of parental substance abuse in Ontario courts, where they are seen as a rare, quantifiable measure in a sea of intangibles, which family lawyers say can easily tip the scales.
In November, amid an ongoing Star investigation into the reliability of Motherisk’s analysis, the province appointed retired Court of Appeal Justice Susan Lang to probe five years’ worth of hair drug tests performed by the lab. The independent review is a first step that could lead to a much larger inquiry into individual cases.
Lang is specifically investigating hair drug tests from 2005 to 2010, before Motherisk started analyzing samples using a technique widely regarded as the gold standard, to determine whether the results were used appropriately in child protection and criminal proceedings.
During this period, an unknown number of parents lost their kids based, in some part, on Motherisk’s hair drug tests.
Christine Rupert is one of them.
Strict privacy rules, intended to protect the kids involved, prevent children’s aid societies from discussing specific cases and anyone except the parties involved from accessing related court files.
But the copies of court documents Rupert provided for this story — including affidavits from children’s aid workers, drug test results and the final judgment — state that the battle over her daughters began in September 2006, when she was in the early stages of her pregnancy with Molly, her first girl.
The hospital in Kitchener alerted Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region after Rupert was brought in for treatment upon “passing out in a car,” according to the 2009 judgment. She tested positive for cocaine.
Rupert, who disputes many of the claims children’s aid and the court outlined in the documents, says she fainted during a heated fight with Molly’s father, John.
She says the last time she did cocaine was at a party, before she realized she was pregnant — a fact she says she shared with children’s aid. But she says John, whose name has been changed, was a heavy user. She believes her exposure to him may have played a role in the positive test.
Their relationship, which was on-and-off by that point, was her first real exposure to hard drugs, she says. He had violent mood swings, and physically overpowered her on several occasions.
It was a rare rough patch for Rupert, 44, who had spent the bulk of her adult years as a hard-working single mom, juggling multiple jobs to provide for her two boys and younger brother.
But as soon as she found out she was pregnant with Molly “she was straight as a judge,” says her brother, Mike Ouimet. She gave up drinking and smoking, Ouimet says, but remained concerned about the effects of the cocaine she used before she knew about the baby. “She was pretty torn up about that,” he says.
According to a letter to Rupert’s lawyer from a drug-testing consultant who testified at court, she started submitting to urine drug screening in December 2006, and tested negative for drugs throughout the pregnancy. (The negative urine screens during this period are also noted in the 2009 judgment.)
Motherisk’s first documented involvement in the case was when Molly was born in the spring of 2007. The lab tested the baby’s hair and first stool for drugs. Both tests came back clean.
However, Molly was apprehended at birth, according to the judgment, “when the mother would not sign a temporary care agreement” so she could “attend for drug treatment and secure housing.”
Rupert says she did not need drug treatment because she was not using drugs. She had the means to rent a place but had moved into Anselma House, a crisis centre for abused women, where she says children’s aid told her she had to stay “or they would take the baby.”
The discrepancy, she says, is an example of how the Children’s Aid Society refused to consider evidence that did not support their suspicions.
“They nailed me to the flipping wall,” she says. “I had nowhere to go.”
She says she rented an apartment but stayed at Anselma House, in large part to convince children’s aid that she was not using drugs and was protected from John, and kept fighting to get Molly back. (In an affidavit filed in court, a children’s aid worker confirmed he visited her at a two-bedroom townhouse later that year.)
The first hair drug screen mentioned in the documents was performed in June 2007 at the request of children’s aid, through Life Labs, then called MDS, and came back positive for cocaine. Subsequent hair drug tests conducted through Life Labs in October, January and February were positive for cocaine, but the concentrations varied widely.
As a result of the January 2008 hair test results, the society amended its protection application for Molly to seek to make her a Crown ward with no access to her mom “for the purpose of meeting her need for permanency through her being adopted,” according to a worker’s affidavit.
Rupert, who consistently maintained she was not doing drugs, was determined to prove the tests wrong. She soon enlisted the help of Motherisk, which she believed would prove her case.
The positive hair tests baffled Rupert, whose 70 urine tests had come back clean for drugs in all but one instance over the course of several years.
In early 2008, she did some research and learned that because hair grows at about one centimetre per month, the hair matrix can be tested in one-month segments, to reveal historical drug use.
Motherisk performed these segmented hair tests, and she hoped the results would disprove what was coming back from Life Labs.
The pressure, meanwhile, had ratcheted up: Rupert was due to give birth again in the spring.
“As soon as she found out she was pregnant, it was like a quest for her. She was going to be able to keep (the baby),” her brother recalls.
On Feb. 5 and April 18, 2008, by her choice and at her expense, she submitted hair samples to both Life Labs and Motherisk, so two independent facilities could test her hair.
All the tests came back positive for cocaine, with varying concentrations between the medium and high ranges.
It is not clear if the tests were conducted independently. Life Labs spokesman Mitchell Toker told the Star in an email that, from 2007 to 2009, his company collected samples and sent them either to Motherisk or another lab for “testing and analysis,” depending on how the request was made.
He said he could not discuss the specifics of the case and none of the documents the Star obtained, including the 2009 judgment, mention a connection between Life Labs and Motherisk, which declined to comment for this story.
When Emily was born, Rupert says she refused pain medication, believing it could taint future drug tests.
But despite dozens of clean urine tests — she tested positive once, before she was pregnant with Emily — the newborn was taken from her, “due to the results of the hair screens,” the 2009 judgment states.
Documents in Christine Rupert's home related to the removal of her children by Children's Aid Society.
Like her sister, Emily’s hair and first stool tested negative for drugs, according to Motherisk’s analysis. And like her sister, she remained in foster care anyway.
“Christine was literally incoherent for about a week,” her brother says. “She was in her room, pretty much just sobbing uncontrollably.”
Two crucial, largely unanswered questions in Rupert’s case are how her hair was tested for cocaine, and the reliability of those tests.
The province decided to probe Motherisk after the Star reported on questions surrounding the accuracy of the type of hair drug test the lab performed in 2005 and presented in a 2009 criminal case. The Court of Appeal tossed the cocaine-related convictions in that case in October, after fresh expert evidence criticized Motherisk’s hair tests as “preliminary.”
Although forensic standards stipulate hair tests presented in court must be confirmed with a gold-standard test, Sick Kids has said Motherisk did not start using the confirmatory test until 2010, casting doubt over at least five years of analysis.
However, in a letter to the children’s aid worker in Rupert’s case during her final hearing, Motherisk manager Joey Gareri stated that a sample collected in January 2009 had been tested with one of the gold-standard tests “as pertinent to the case history involved with this client.”
It appears that test was done at U.S. Drug Testing Laboratories in Des Plaines, Ill., which Gareri referred to as “Motherisk’s reference laboratory.” Gareri also stated that several samples identified during the court proceedings “had not previously been confirmed with secondary analysis.”
One of those samples did not have enough hair remaining for further testing, he said. In the other case, he said the amount of hair was “borderline sufficient and successful analysis may not be possible.” The outcome of that effort is not known.
Gareri said the analysis performed on the hair sample from January 2009 showed “significant cocaine exposure” during the previous six-month period.
“The result falls into the ‘high’ range of exposure, indicating it is about the 75th percentile for positive cocaine findings in our laboratory’s client population,” he said.
Toker said he “cannot speak to how hair samples were analyzed” through Life Labs.
Although Emily’s hair tested negative for cocaine at birth, it tested positive for the drug six weeks later and again in October 2008. (Molly’s hair never tested positive.)
Rupert, whose urine screens continued to be clean throughout this period when she never had custody of her daughter, wondered if perhaps the baby had somehow been exposed to the drug at the group access centre, where supervised visits were held with other parents.
At the hearing, Gareri testified that if the mother didn’t do cocaine until the final days of her pregnancy, it was possible for the baby’s first stool and hair samples to test negative, but there could be “a positive result on more hair that grew out from the scalp following the birth.”
About six months before her final hearing, Rupert’s visits with the girls at an access centre stopped, following an emotional breakdown in fall 2008.
A letter to her lawyer from children’s aid stated that visits were being temporarily suspended until she recovered. In an affidavit, a children’s aid worker said he was advised in November 2008 that Rupert “wished to have no contact” with him. She says she later tried to resume visits, but children’s aid told her lawyer to hold off until court proceedings were through.
Rupert says the breakdown was due to the anxiety of trying for years to prove her innocence.
“They kept saying, ‘Stop doing drugs.’ I kept saying, ‘I’m not on fricking drugs. Somebody please help me,’” she recalls. “I kept going back for these stupid tests. But these stupid tests kept coming back worse. I was digging a hole.”
Karen Spencer, the acting director of Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region, said she could not respond to specific questions about the case, but in general, said hair drug tests are “one factor out of many factors” that are considered in child protection cases.
“We would never made a decision to apprehend children or take parents’ rights away — to make kids Crown wards — based on a positive hair test alone,” she said. “It really is based on the parents’ ability to safely care for their children.”
Spencer also said it is relatively rare for the agency to use drug screens in child protection matters. She said she has no plans to discontinue the relationship with Motherisk in light of the review, or any concerns about past cases that may have relied on the lab’s analysis.
The judge that made Molly and Emily Crown wards cited several factors in his decision, including the “emotional breakdown” and the recent lack of contact with the girls, which he claimed Rupert initiated “to meet her own emotional needs.”
“To abandon them completely indicates that she could not really have been concerned about the care they were receiving in their foster homes,” he wrote.
However, he said he believed she had overcome other challenges, including ending all involvement with their father, and taking “appropriate steps to ensure her safety from him.” The judge said he had “no doubt” she had “appropriate accommodation” for the girls and the “appropriate furnishings to meet their needs.”
From the time Rupert had Molly, reasons children’s aid cited for seeking protective custody did not include observations of visible impairment or drug use, according to the documents obtained by the Star.
International experts, a British high court and a U.S. government department have raised questions about the reliability of hair drug and alcohol tests in general, as the Star has previously reported, but it does not appear doubts about the effects of hair products, colour or other concerns were considered in this case.
Despite Rupert's insistence she had not done cocaine since fall 2006, the positive drug hair tests remained the major sticking point.
Gareri and another expert (who Rupert called) testified that the levels of cocaine in her hair could not have been caused by passive exposure unless she were living in a crack house or processing cocaine daily, which there was “no evidence” she was doing, the judgment states. Hair tests, unlike urine tests, could not be falsified, they said.
“The difficulty with her plan is whether the children can be protected from harm in her care. I find they cannot,” the judge wrote. “Ms Rupert is either using cocaine, is accidentally ingesting cocaine regularly or is in an environment regularly that is producing high amounts of cocaine.”
The girls, the judge noted, were “both thriving and are adoptable.”
“Any access order to Ms Rupert . . . would impair the girls’ opportunity for adoption,” he wrote. “They are very young and should not spend a moment more in temporary care, but should become part of a permanent family home.”
On a recent afternoon, Rupert sat at her dining room table in Bracebridge, sipping coffee and flipping through old photos of her daughters.
For the purposes of the visit, she had hauled out all of her files from storage, which fill about a dozen bankers’ boxes.
After she lost the girls for good, she had to leave Kitchener, because she couldn’t stop looking for them, in the faces of the babies in strollers at the grocery store, in cars, on the streets.
“I wasn’t having a normal day-to-day life,” she says. “I couldn’t function.”
When she heard about the province’s review, she started to cry.
“This wrecked my life,” she says. “The girls — I don’t even know where they are. I don’t even know if they’re OK.”
It is difficult to think about where to place her hope if the review leads to a larger inquiry — if a court decides she was right all along.
“I can’t say that I would go back in and remove them from where they are now. Does the selfish person in me want to? Oh yeah. But the loving mother in me also says that I can’t disrupt their lives even more than what’s already happened,” she says. “I don’t even know what the answer is.”
Source: Toronto Star
Family Raped by ACS
December 9, 2014 permalink
A lawsuit says battered drug addict Joanna Bernal went to New York's Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) for help with her family of three children. Instead of helping, worker George Alejandro kept her sedated with prescription drugs and got her pregnant. He tried to induce an abortion, but the baby survived. In a later encounter with ACS, psychologist Juanita Guerra tried to hypnotize the grandmother. When she refused, Gurrra had the children placed in an abusive foster home.
Are these accusations the truth or the delusions of a woman on drugs? Borrowing a phrase from their own jargon, the accusations are "consistent with social work practice".
Suit reveals wild abuse claims against Children’s Services
A family desperately seeking help from the city Administration for Children’s Services endured years of abuse from the agency’s workers — including a counselor who impregnated one member and a cruel hypnotist who wouldn’t take no for an answer, a new lawsuit charges.
Queens mom of three Joanna Bernal was battered and drug-addled when she sought help from ACS-contracted counselor George Alejandro, the $20 million suit says. But instead of aiding Bernal, Alejandro allegedly kept her sedated with prescription meds and exploited her sexually.
“George is a very, very bad man,” Joanna’s sister Diana told The Post. “He abused her. He got her pregnant. Then he tried to take the baby out of her.”
When Bernal became pregnant, the court papers say, Alejandro told her she needed to abort the child and took her to a hotel to “to rip the baby from her insides.”
She bled so heavily afterward that Alejandro got nervous and rushed her to Jamaica Hospital, the suit charges. Doctors were able to save her and she gave birth to a healthy girl.
Alejandro denied to The Post on Sunday that he fathered the child and that he attempted to abort it himself.
“No way. I’m a Christian,” he said. “I don’t know if you know what that means. We believe in pro-life.”
Years later, the family sought help once again from another ACS contractor, psychologist Juanita Guerra, who tried to force the grandmother into a hypnotism, the suit claims.
She resisted, and Guerra moved to take the children out of the home in retaliation, according to the lawsuit. The kids were transferred to a foster home, where one was sexually abused by another child in the home, the suit says.
Guerra did not respond to a request for comment.
ACS said it is “committed to protecting” the city’s children, and “will review this matter.”
Source: New York Post
Judge Reverses His Own Gag Order
December 6, 2014 permalink
When the Connecticut Law Tribune wanted to print an article on a civil case involving a juvenile, a judge issued a gag order preventing publication. Nothing unusual so far. But when the journal decided to appeal the decision, the judge vacated his own order, leaving it free to publish the story.
Judge Lifts His Order Barring CT Law Tribune From Publishing Story
NEW BRITAIN — A Superior Court judge lifted his own ruling Wednesday that prohibited the Connecticut Law Tribune from publishing a story about a child protection case, saying the order no longer made sense because information about the case had already been published by other media outlets.
"If we don't get a ruling from the Supreme Court that clarifies what the rules on prior restraint are in Connecticut or even clarity that this prior restraint wasn't OK under federal law, then what is going to stop this judge or any trial court judge in the future from issuing a similar order without that clarity?" said Sandra Staub, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut.
Wednesday's order followed an emergency hearing Frazzini held Monday in Superior Court in New Britain about his decision and a move last Friday by the state Supreme Court to transfer the Law Tribune's appeal of Frazzini's order "to itself." Last week, Daniel J. Klau, the attorney representing the Law Tribune, filed a motion asking the state's appellate court to stay Frazzini's order.
That prior restraint order — which Frazzini issued orally from the bench and later explained in a 17-page ruling that was unsealed late Wednesday — was sharply criticized by free-speech advocates but lauded by those who argue that privacy issues in child protection cases trump First Amendment rights.
Late Wednesday, the state Supreme Court ordered all parties in the case to file written briefs by Dec. 10 that explain why the appeal should not be dismissed as moot in light of Frazzini's reversal of the prior restraint and his decision not to put a stay on that reversal, Klau said.
"The Supreme Court should hear the case and issue a decision that explains clearly that the First Amendment does not allow what Judge Frazzini did in this case, so no judge does something similar," Klau said.
The Law Tribune's appeal is supported by a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, two open government organizations, three media organizations and more than a dozen media outlets, including the Hartford Courant.
The attorney for the mother involved in the family case, Steven Dembo, who requested the injunction, did not return a call Wednesday seeking comment.
Dembo Monday had urged Frazzini not to vacate his ruling, saying the court needed to follow state laws regarding the privacy of juveniles in court to ensure that no further information was published about the case. The father wants his children removed from the custody of the state Department of Children and Families and has filed documents in court that have since gone public.
In juvenile cases in Connecticut, judges have the discretion to allow only certain participants to attend court proceedings. State law says the court "may, for the child's safety and protection and for good cause shown, prohibit any person or representative of any agency, entity or association, including a representative of the news media, who is present in court from further disclosing any information that would identify the child, the custodian or caretaker of the child or the members of the child's family" involved in the hearing.
Klau had objected to the mother's motion, saying a prior restraint on the publication was a violation of the First Amendment. Prior restraint orders are often found to be unconstitutional. A widely recognized exception is in cases that involve national security.
In issuing the prior restraint, Frazzini said in his decision that he weighed the confidentiality of juvenile records and proceedings and protecting the identity of children in the case against the Law Tribune's right to publish their story, Klau said.
Frazzini decided that the confidentiality of the children and the potential for harm to them if their names were made public outweighed the First Amendment rights of the Law Tribune to publish, Klau said.
But after his ruling, news outlets wrote about the child protection case and in some cases, published a document related to the case that was once made public but was later sealed.
At Monday's hearing, Frazzini questioned his initial ruling, asking attorneys on both sides of the issue whether his order still protected the interests of those he set out to protect in the first place since information about the case has been published.
Though widespread news coverage related to the child protection case has focused on the judge's controversial ruling, some stories have included details about the case and identified the family members involved.
Frazzini said Wednesday that the the order served no particular purpose any longer, given what had already been published and how widespread the story had become, Klau said.
Klau said it was unclear late Wednesday when the Law Tribune would publish the story.
William V. Dunlap, a professor of constitutional law at Quinnipiac University School of Law, said he expected Frazzini's prior restraint order to be reversed by Frazzini himself or a higher court because it was so "patently unconstitutional."
Frazzini "probably would prefer just to settle it now and not have it go up on appeal, but the parties involved and the press in general have an interest in getting a broader decision on it," Dunlap said.
Source: Hartford Courant
Alberta Bureaucrat Resigns in Frustration
December 6, 2014 permalink
Dr Lionel Dibden has resigned as chair of Alberta's Council for Quality Assurance. With the diplomatic restraint of a professional public servant he said: “Regrettably, I feel that under my direction the council has been unable to fulfil its mandate effectively and I am no longer able to hold the position.” And: “I have experienced frustrations, which have in part contributed to my decision to leave the role.”
Before resignation he advocated for “fully transparent,” “comprehensive and robust” internal quality assurance investigation after every single death or serious injury of a child whose life was touched by the intervention system. He did not get it. Research by fixcas has shown that in the US, official statistics on foster child deaths are misrepresented to absurdly low levels. There is no comparable research for Canada, not because Canadian numbers are more accurate, but because so little Canadian information is published that no such analysis is possible. With Dr Dibden's resignation the tradition of concealing deaths in foster care can continue.
Attempts to improve child death reviews thwarted, documents say
Respected pediatrician quits council in frustration
EDMONTON - A high-profile pediatrician and child abuse expert has resigned from a government council after efforts to improve Alberta’s internal child death investigation process were rejected by ministry officials.
In a resignation letter dated Nov. 27, Dr. Lionel Dibden stepped down as chair of the Council for Quality Assurance, a quasi-independent expert committee with a mandate to help strengthen the province’s child intervention services. The council also has the power to convene expert panels.
“Regrettably, I feel that under my direction the council has been unable to fulfil its mandate effectively and I am no longer able to hold the position,” Dibden wrote in the letter.
“I have experienced frustrations, which have in part contributed to my decision to leave the role,” Dibden added when reached Tuesday evening.
“That’s no surprise to anybody.”
Internal government documents obtained separately by the Journal show the council recommended government conduct a “fully transparent,” “comprehensive and robust” internal quality assurance investigation after every single death or serious injury of a child whose life was touched by the intervention system.
The council insisted that “failure to respect these guiding principles will be seen by many as a way to reduce accountability and potential learnings from an incident.
“The integrity of the process may easily be brought into question,” the council said.
Yet sources close to the council say the ministry maintains that some deaths — such as those of medically fragile children — do not merit review. Further, ministry officials believe there is no need to conduct an investigation when the Child and Youth Advocate or the Fatality Review Board are reviewing the case — even though the advocate and the courts have substantively different objectives than an internal review.
Barring a thorough review of every case, the council said the government ought to publicly explain why the ministry decided for or against a review — another recommendation that was rejected.
The council also said reviews should include the child’s entire experience in the system, insisting a limited scope would “damage the integrity of the process.” The ministry elected instead to limit case reviews to the two-year period preceding a child’s death or serious injury.
Finally, the ministry has failed to establish two expert panels called by the council nearly one year ago.
Human Services Minister Heather Klimchuk dodged questions about Dibden’s resignation and what it says about the ministry’s ongoing rejection of the council’s recommendations. She thanked Dibden for his service and said she has laid out new expectations for the council, but did not elaborate except to say “it will become very clear soon.”
“I’m still working through the process with them, so it’s early days,” Klimchuk said.
Acting chair Donna Wallace declined to comment on the leaked documents, but lamented Dibden’s departure as chair.
“We’ve lost a very strong leader of our council, who had enormous valuable experience, well-respected in his field and in government,” she said.
“It’s a huge loss for the council, a huge loss for the government, and it’s a loss for all the vulnerable children who are in care.”
Source: Edmonton Journal
The New Dark Ages
December 6, 2014 permalink
Lenore Skenazy writes in Time on the absurdity of today's over-protective culture towards children.
The Cult of Kiddie Danger
We think we are enlightened in this quest to keep kids safe. Actually, we have entered a new Dark Ages, fearing evil all around us.
The Richland, WA, school district is phasing out swings on its playgrounds. As the district’s spokesman recently told KEPR TV: “It’s just really a safety issue. Swings have been determined to be the most unsafe of all the playground equipment on a playground.”
Ah yes, those dangling doom machines. All they sow is death and despair.
But while this sounds like yet another example of how liability concerns are killing childhood (seen a see-saw anywhere in the last 20 years? A slide higher than your neck?), it’s deeper than that. Insurance underwriters are merely the high priests of what has become our new American religion: the Cult of Kiddie Danger. It is founded on the unshakable belief that our kids are in constant danger from everyone and everything.
The devout pray like this: “Oh Lord, show me the way my child is in deathly danger from __________, that I may cast it out.” And then they fill in the blank with anything we might have hitherto considered allowing our children to eat, watch, visit, touch, or do, e.g., “Sleep over at a friend’s,” “Microwave the macaroni in a plastic dish,” or even, “Play outside, unsupervised.”
The Cult’s dogma is taught diligently unto our children who are not allowed to use Chapstick unless it is administered by the school nurse, nor sunscreen, lest they quaff it and die of poisoning, nor, for the same reason, soft soap in pre-k. It doesn’t matter that these fears are wildly at odds with reality. They are religious beliefs, not rational ones.
What’s more, this is a state religion, so the teachings are enforced by the cops and courts. Those who step outside the orthodoxy face punishment swift and merciless.
You can’t step outside at all, in fact. Americans are not allowed to believe any public place is safe for their children, ever, without constant supervision. Trust is taboo.
The logical under-current is illogical, as it’s based on a hapless understanding of basic statistics. How many children are kidnapped by strangers in a year? About one in 1.5 million — those are incredibly great odds. But odds don’t matter when we’re evangelizing about a vision of death and destruction.
That’s why, last winter, when a New Jersey mom left her sleeping 18-month-old in the car for 5-10 minutes while she ran an errand at an upscale shopping mall, she returned to find herself under arrest. Though the child was completely fine — he seems to have slept through the whole “incident” — the mom was found guilty of abuse or negligence. An appeals court of three judges upheld this conviction with the comment, “We need not describe at any length the parade of horribles that could have attended [the child’s] neglect.”
In other words: The judges need not spell out their Boschian fantasies. If an authority can envision something “horrible” happening — and even turn that adjective into a noun — it doesn’t matter how farfetched any actual scenario is. (In fact, the danger of dragging your child across the parking lot is larger than letting him wait in the car a few minutes.) Anyone doubting constant danger is a heretic. The mom is now excommunicated — that is, she’s on the New Jersey Child Abuse Registry. Good luck to her if she hoped to work with kids, at least while the case makes its way to the New Jersey Supreme Court.
And if you can stand to hear another one of these, a similar case concerns a Chicagoland mom who let her young son wait in the car for less than five minutes this September while she, too, ran an errand. An onlooker alerted the authorities, which brought not only the police but also the paramedics, who proceeded to examine the child as if he had been in grave danger. Sure, it’s the same grave danger any of us face when sitting in traffic — four minutes in an unmoving car. But magically, because the mom was not directly supervising the child, it transmogrified into a near-death experience.
Zero Tolerance laws are another code of the Cult, stemming from the same belief that while the danger to a child might seem minimal to the point of non-existent, to true believers it looms large and immediate. And so children have been suspended around the country for a plastic gun the size of a toothpick, a Lego gun the size of a quarter, and the infamous “gun” made out of a Pop Tart. And by “made” I mean “bitten into the shape of, by a 7 year old.”
How can we explain any of this hysteria if not by religious fervor? To see danger where there is none is no longer considered crazy, it’s a mission. Many authorities seem to believe the more danger they can imagine, the holier they are. In a letter home to parents, the principal at the Pop-Tart school wrote, “While no physical threats were made and no one [was] harmed, the student had to be removed from the classroom.”
Had to? Because…he had a Pop Tart? Or because the boy with the pastry pistol was magically dangerous, like a witch with her cat?
In a society that believes children are in constant danger, the Good Samaritans are often terrible people. So, recently, when a woman in Austin noticed a 6-year-old playing outside, she asked him where he lived, walked him home (it was just down the hill), and chastised the mom — Kari Anne Roy — for not being careful enough.
Then this Samaritan called the Inquisitors. Er…cops.
An officer showed up at Roy’s doorstep and despite the fact that the crime rate today is at a 50-year low, a CPS investigator was also dispatched to interview all three of Roy’s children. She asked Roy’s 8-year-old if her parents had ever shown her 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 almost seven years ago that I let my nine-year-old ride the subway alone and wrote a newspaper column about it. The result? A media firestorm. Back then I thought my crime, in the eyes of the public, was putting my child in danger.
But gradually I’ve come to realize my real crime was that I publicly disavowed the state religion. Talk show host after talk show host tried to get me to recant, asking: “How would you have felt if he didn’t come home?”
I could have sobbed and fainted, claiming it had been only a momentary lapse when I’d trusted my son in the world. Instead I said, “I wasn’t thinking that way. If I did, I could never let him do anything.”
Today it is a sin — and sometimes a crime — NOT to imagine your children dead the moment we take your eyes off them. The moment they skip to school with a Chapstick, wait in the car a minute, or play at the park.
We think we are enlightened in this quest to keep kids completely safe. Actually, we have entered a new Dark Ages, fearing evil all around us.
If we want the right to raise our kids rationally, even optimistically, it’s time to call the Cult of Kiddie Danger what it is: mass hysteria aided and abetted by the authorities. But as earlier holy books so succinctly instructed us, there is a better way to live.
Lenore Skenazy is a public speaker and founder of the book and blog Free-Range kids. Her show “World’s Worst Mom” airs on Discovery/TLC international. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.
CAS Forcibly Separates Parents
December 5, 2014 permalink
The Midland Mirror has a CAS story sympathetic to the impacted family, though with names altered. The father has been forced out of the family and has to sleep in a friend's truck. The mother has to care for their two children alone.
Penetanguishene couple fighting Children’s Aid Society order
Man says past drug addiction, mental problems no reason to keep him from kids
* Editor's Note: The names of the family members have been changed to protect the identity of the children *
PENETANGUISHENE – Tim Lansing is not allowed to see his children.
Within the last year, the 31-year-old Penetanguishene man had a mental breakdown, was addicted to drugs, and spent time in jail and mental-health facilities.
He also underwent rehabilitation treatment and completed programs for substance abuse and is now drug-free.
But the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) of Simcoe County will not allow him to see his two children – something he and his wife, Angela Baker, 27, are fighting.
“I’m not scared of him. I don’t hate him. He’s the father of my kids,” Baker said. “We’re not bad people.”
CAS could not release specifics regarding their case for privacy reasons. A spokesperson could only speak in general terms about the organization’s policies.
Lansing is also not allowed to be in their shared home while the children are there, so he is sleeping in a friend’s truck. He said he has spent $500 on gas from running the engine overnight for heat.
The couple said they believe the CAS is focusing too much on him and not their children, and they want him to be allowed to come home.
The trouble began in March when Lansing had what Baker describes as a “mental breakdown.”
He said he became hooked on crushed Ritalin, which he compared to cocaine, and started to become depressed and paranoid.
“I was just so high all the time,” said Lansing. “She saw the snowball effect.”
Baker said he was always pacing and trying to explain things to her, but it came out half-baked like he had already run through part of the conversation in his head. When she would walk away in frustration, he grabbed her face to make her listen.
“It became intimidating,” she said.
Baker said she explained to children Sharon, 6, and David, 4, that “daddy was sick in the head.”
Baker knew he needed help, so she called 911 one day to get him to a hospital for a mental-health assessment. Police arrived and arrested him after she explained what had been going on at their home.
Lansing said he was only taken to a doctor after he repeatedly smashed his head into the plastic partition in the police car until he bled.
“Otherwise I would be going to jail,” he said. “They arrested me in front of my daughter’s school at 3 p.m.”
Lansing was taken to Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care, where he stayed for six weeks. He said he was diagnosed with “major depressive disorder,” commonly referred to as depression.
He was charged and taken to Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene. He later went to a facility in Brockville, where he completed several rehabilitation programs. When he got out, he lived at a friend’s house for about a month and then went home.
“There was no issue. The kids were extremely happy because they hadn’t seen their dad in six months,” said Baker.
An anonymous person alerted the CAS Lansing was back home, she said. Once the organization became involved, she said, she tried calling their caseworker several times, but could almost never reach him.
CAS arranged a meeting with the couple and several community supports, but Lansing said he felt “judged.”
Baker said they were told they could be with their children separately, but not together as a couple. Now, she said, the CAS has banned Lansing from seeing his kids at all.
This has presented problems for the couple, as Baker does not have a job and the family lives off Lansing’s disability cheque. He has the only driver’s licence and vehicle in the household.
When one of their kids was sick recently, Lansing had to pick up the medication and quickly drop it off. Otherwise, Baker would have had to take a cab to a pharmacy – a cost they cannot afford.
‘It’s like living two lives,” said Lansing.
Anne Burgess, communications co-ordinator for the Simcoe County CAS, said she could not comment on Lansing and Baker’s case.
“Every file is different. We look at what strengths (families have) and work with (them) to protect children,” she said. “We work with families very closely. We only work with children through their parents.”
Burgess said the organization refers families as needed to community services, including for mental-health issues, and to shelters for housing.
Children are typically taken out of a home in severe situations where there is a “concern of harm,” she said, but “we like children to see their parents.”
“Often, when parents are separated, there are reasons they can’t be together,” she said.
If parents have a problem with their caseworker, a team of supervisors becomes involved. It is “fairly rare” for a family to get a new caseworker, Burgess said.
The CAS has a “full complaint process” that begins internally, she added. It can go from caseworker and supervisors to the organization’s executive director and a review panel of board members. If issues cannot be resolved, a complaint can be filed with the provincial Child and Family Services Review Board.
“Ideally, we want to work with families,” Burgess said. “We don’t want to have a confrontational situation with them.”
Source: Metroland/Midland Mirror
December 5, 2014 permalink
Karyn Bower's granddaughter Meghan may be spending Christmas alone in foster care if a pending appeal for home leave is turned down.
A meeting was held at CAS today. It was to determine whether or not my grand daughter will be able to leave the group home and come spend Christmas with her family. This would be the first Christmas she is away from all of us. Her therapist at the home tells me that most of the kids go to family at Christmas and if she can't come home she would be sitting there with some volunteers ( not even staff she knows) alone at Christmas. Then she would get to feel the hurt when the other kids come back and talk about the Christmas they had with their families. In light of our conversations, the phone calls and a good visit , Meghan's therapist is recommending she be allowed to come home. My worker is the one putting up resistance. I have no idea what they have to gain, and it will be me who does the 4 hours of driving on Boxing day to bring her home. Things are not going to go well if they hurt her like this , this Christmas.
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
December 5, 2014 permalink
The latest pretext for snatching a baby — checking out of the maternity ward early. Tiffany Langwell took her baby girl home twelve hours after birth. She was no novice, she had alreadry raised two of her children from an earlier marriage. But the next day California CPS showed up to remove her newborn. Back at the hospital inept workers made eight attemps to catheterize the baby for a urine test before giving up. The baby was returned to her mother a week later, but only after social workers compelled father David Hodek to leave the home.
This Mom Checked Her Newborn Out of the Hospital Early, The Next Day Her Baby Was Taken Away
Tiffany Langwell was thrilled to find out she was pregnant again at the age of 38. She had two children from her first marriage — a 15-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy. After separating from their father, she had reconnected with a high school boyfriend, David Hodek, and they had gotten engaged. In August of this year, their baby girl was born healthy, at 8 pounds, with bright blue eyes and a full head of downy hair. Langwell and Hodek had what they describe as a blissful first night home.
The next day, a representative of the child welfare agency in Riverside County, California, took the infant into protective custody.
Unhappy stories about child welfare agencies typically focus on instances of their failure to protect a child from harm at the hands of its parents, as in the recent Colton Turner case in Texas, in which three Child Protective Services (CPS) workers were fired after a boy left in his mother's care died. These stories raise the question of why more wasn't done to prevent such tragedies. What we don't hear about as often are the cases in which parents and their lawyers say social workers have done too much.
Langwell recently moved into a new house, across the street from her mother. It's a one-story, three-bedroom house in the Palm Springs region, surrounded by palm trees and breathtaking hills. She has a gap between her front teeth, dark red, shoulder-length hair, and she wears jeans and a stretchy shirt over her athletic frame. While nursing her baby, Langwell sits on her couch, surrounded by a bassinet, ExerSaucer, and Pack 'n Play. She describes her daughter's first week as a living nightmare.
Langwell had been having contractions for two days when she told her fiancé at 11:30 p.m. that it was time to head to Desert Regional Medical Center, which she'd chosen because it allowed rooming-in and she didn't want the baby to leave her side. Once there, she asked for an epidural, but by the time everything was in place for her to receive one, it was too late. She delivered the baby naturally at 2:34 a.m., and around noon was put in a room with two other new mothers and their babies, including one who Langwell says kept talking loudly on her cellphone.
Later that afternoon, Langwell decided to check out and go home. Langwell said the baby was breastfeeding well and was healthy, and she preferred to take her home early "AMA" (against medical advice) so they could all get some sleep. When she left, a member of the hospital's staff called and reported her to the county's child welfare agency.
"Desert Regional Medical Center takes very seriously its commitment to the health of mothers and infants in our care," Richard A. Ramhoff, the hospital's marketing director, told Cosmopolitan.com, after saying that the hospital could not comment specifically on Langwell's case. "As mandated by state law, the hospital calls the County of Riverside Department of Public Social Services hotline when staff believe the situation warrants a referral. This reporting is not done lightly. Our staff reviews the details of each situation individually before fulfilling our responsibility to refer a case to child protective services for further review."
According to the child welfare agency's report, a hospital staff member described Langwell as "hostile" and suggested that her behavior was "consistent with someone with substance abuse issues." (According to a representative from the county's child welfare department, the majority of the cases they see are neglect cases, and most of those are related to substance abuse.) The staff member said the couple and Hodek's mother seemed shaky and had rapid jaw movement, and that Langwell put two pill bottles in her bag. Langwell says the only pills she had in her bag were her iron supplements. She says she was severely sleep-deprived from her two days in labor and upset that she never got her epidural, and that her fiancé and his mother can be abrasive and were also exhausted, but beyond that, she doesn't know what about the trio's behavior could have sent up a red flag. "I never cussed anyone out or anything," she says.
The report notes that Langwell refused a drug test. Langwell remembers being offered a drug test while in labor and says her response was, "How much does the test cost?" Langwell, a former bank teller, has been unemployed since January, and her fiancé, a former medic and water-park manager, is also unemployed. He says he was injured on the job some years ago and received a settlement.
A child welfare agent came to the house the next day to check on the baby. The home had a security fence, and Langwell and Hodek did not hear the knocking at the gate, which was some distance from the front of the house. The agent called the police. When Langwell eventually appeared at the security gate, she saw two police officers and the welfare agent, who told her that the hospital had alerted the agency when she checked out early. Langwell refused to let the police and welfare agent inside the house but brought the baby out so they could see that she was OK. The agent noted in her report that the baby had good coloring. Langwell submitted to an on-the-spot drug test, but according to the report, the test was inconclusive, because her saliva sample was too thick — "which may have had something to do with the fact that I had just given birth and it was 110 degrees," Langwell says bitterly.
The agent returned later that day with a warrant to take the baby — just to the hospital for a full exam, Langwell and Hodek initially thought. Langwell insisted on riding along in the car with the baby. Hodek and his mother followed behind. Hodek says hospital workers then attempted to catheterize the baby to procure a urine sample for a drug test. "I've worked as a medic and seen a lot of terrible things, but this I can hardly even talk about," Hodek says. "They tried eight times to catheterize my one-day-old baby." Hodek's mother covered her own head with a blanket to try to block out the baby's screaming. The hospital couldn't comment on particulars of Langwell's case, but according to the welfare report, "The hospital was unable to secure a urine sample from the infant."
Langwell and Hodek thought at that point that the baby was coming home with them, but the caseworker said the baby was being placed into protective foster care. Langwell, who now understood they thought she was on drugs, says she fell to her knees in the hospital. "Drug test me right now!" she said. "I can prove I'm not on drugs!" According to the agent's report, Hodek, who is 6-foot-4, seemed to be under the influence and became "hostile." He denies the first charge, but not the second. "Was I hostile?" he says. "Sure. They were taking my baby girl."
Langwell describes the seven days that followed as the worst of her life. "They took my baby from me. I sat there for a week and just cried," she says. "Some days I didn't get dressed. I didn't eat. I made myself eat one meal a day to keep up my strength and to keep my milk supply up." She and Hodek stayed in constant touch with the agency, trying to get the baby back, and attended a hearing at which she learned that the court had appointed separate lawyers for Langwell and her baby. She pumped regularly, and the caseworker picked up the milk. Langwell says she thought, "If she can't have my arms, she can have my milk." But according to the report, her caseworker told her that the milk would be kept frozen until the mother produced a negative drug test.
Langwell's mother, Jean Cinq-Mars, says that week was "heartbreaking" and describes her daughter as "a wonderful mom." When her two older children came home from a vacation with their father, they were confused about why the baby wasn't there. "We were running through the house looking for her," says Langwell's teenage daughter. Langwell's son reports that he was "really mad that they took [his] sister." Both say they are fond of Hodek and excited about the new baby. After a few days, Langwell says, "It was almost like being pregnant and giving birth had been a dream, like it wasn't real."
Sara Ainsworth, the director of legal advocacy for the group National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), says Langwell's story is an example of how the behavior of new mothers, especially poor ones, and especially those of whom drug use is suspected, can come under intense scrutiny. In a 2011 statement, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists wrote, "A disturbing trend in legal actions and policies is the criminalization of substance abuse during pregnancy." Ainsworth says Langwell's story is also an especially vivid example of how traumatic CPS involvement can be to a new mother.
"We often see the extremely problematic 'If you test positive for a drug, we're going to take the baby' cases," Ainsworth says, "but this is a next step: 'If we think you used a drug because of your poverty or your conduct, then we're going to step in.'" As described in a recent New York Times op-ed, NAPW has documented hundreds of cases in which pregnant women have been charged with crimes based on the rationale that "fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses are persons or at least have separate rights that must be protected by the state." In July, Tennessee began enforcing a new law under which women can be prosecuted for assault if they use drugs during pregnancy. Since December 2013, Alabama has formally accepted the judicial interpretation of the word "child" in its child abuse law to also mean "fetus." As a result, in that state, there have been some 130 arrests of pregnant women and new mothers in the past 12 months.
New mothers suspected of drug use do not face criminal justice or child welfare involvement only in conservative Southern states. In September, the New Jersey Supreme Court in Trenton heard the case of Y.N., a new mother who was charged with child abuse when it was found that she had taken oxycodone and methadone during her pregnancy. "You have laws in conservative states that you're not going to see pass in more liberal ones," says Ainsworth, "but child welfare is operating under the radar." Ainsworth says there are no good numbers, but that anecdotally, NAPW has seen a surge in both criminal prosecution and child welfare involvement for new mothers.
While arrest is generally considered a more extreme response, child removal can prove at least as upsetting to a family. According to the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, cases like Langwell's are not uncommon. According to one of the group's position papers, "Contrary to the common stereotype, most parents who lose their children to foster care are neither brutally abusive nor hopelessly addicted. Far more common are cases in which a family's poverty has been confused with child 'neglect.'" The group's rough estimate is that half the children in foster care on any given day could be safely in their own homes if the right kind of help were available to their families.
During that first week of her baby's life, in the course of the phone calls and appointments with the caseworker, Langwell was given a criminal background check and a hair follicle drug test (which can determine if someone has used any drugs in the prior 30 to 90 days). Eventually, there was another court date and Langwell's baby was returned to her. Langwell never met the foster mother with whom the baby spent her first week. "They just handed us back the baby by the parking lot," says Cinq-Mars, Langwell's mother. "'Here's your baby,' like, 'Here's that thing you ordered.'"
"It's legalized kidnapping," Langwell says. "I thought it was some horrible joke. You are guilty until you prove your innocence. Who cares that they slandered my name? But they took my daughter for the first week of her life and put her with a stranger." Ironically, among the paperwork Langwell has received from the court are several pages about baby care that included a section titled "Bonding." The paperwork also includes a mention of Langwell's hair follicle drug test results: negative.
"Getting her back was the happiest thing," Langwell says, "but sad too, because her dad had to move out." (According to the caseworker's report, Langwell said Hodek lives in Los Angeles, but she says the caseworker misunderstood her.) The agency has yet to complete its investigation of the baby's father, who revealed to investigators that he takes prescription medication for his work injury and for anxiety. When the caseworker asked about his criminal history, Hodek admitted to a petty theft conviction. Court documents in the child welfare case list several additional arrests from his past, including two for drug possession. He now lives in a motel and is allowed to see the baby twice a week for an hour at a time, in a CPS meeting room. In the meantime, he scrolls through photos of his daughter on his phone and makes an effort to comply with CPS's directives, which include going to therapy and getting new prescriptions for his medication. (He says the pills he has now were prescribed two years ago.) "When you're dangling someone's child on the end of the hook, you'll do or say anything," Hodek says. "'I stole the Lindberg baby! I was on the grassy knoll! Now can I see my baby? Every day that goes by I'm missing more firsts." Langwell says she's been told Hodek may be permitted to move back home this spring if he complies with all the agency's requirements.
Now at home with her mother, sister, and brother, the baby, who is calm and smiley, is already sitting up in her purple Bumbo chair, ignoring Baby Einstein videos to gaze at her mother's face, and laughing in the car seat when her siblings tickle her feet. Cramming groceries into her already-stuffed freezer, Langwell says, "You know what's funny? They [the welfare agency] were here two weeks ago for a house check and said they needed to make sure there was enough food for 24 hours. I said, 'I shop at Costco. I can barely fit anything else in my fridge. I have two weeks' worth of barbecue sauce alone.' They also made me undress the baby all the way to show that she didn't have any bruises. I said, 'Couldn't you have thought of that a few minutes ago when I was changing her diaper?'" She doesn't know how much longer the monthly checks will last.
When I approached the child welfare agent who made the removal in Langwell's case at the Riverside County office, she said that confidentiality regulations prohibited her from discussing specific cases, but Jennie Pettet, assistant director of the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services, Children's Services Division, did speak to Cosmopolitan.com about the county's child removal process.
"The Juvenile Court upholds approximately 98 percent of our actions to remove children from their homes based on evidence presented," Pettet says, meaning that in about 2 percent of the cases where a removal has occurred, the judge will return the child to the home of a parent. She explained that "a lot goes into the decision to remove," including the social worker's risk and safety assessment, consultation with a supervisor, and — in cases like Langwell's, where a warrant is needed — a judge's sign-off. According to Pettet, there is a "global assessment," and no single issue — drug use, leaving the hospital early — would be considered in and of itself sufficient to warrant removal. "We work closely with families to prevent removal of a child whenever possible," she says.
And yet, Ainsworth of NAPW says Langwell's case is emblematic of something she sees happening with increasing frequency around the country. "Women — even women in more politically liberal states like California and even women who have broken no laws — can find themselves trapped in this kind of nightmare scenario," Ainsworth says. "This really could happen to you, and it's really unfair even if it doesn't happen to you."
Ada Calhoun is a 2014 Alicia Patterson fellow.
Strategic Timing Keeps Girl from Dad
December 4, 2014 permalink
The girl wants to return to her father, her good parent. On November 19 she was in court on an application brought by Toronto's Catholic CAS through its worker Karen Saligman. Her children's lawyer did not show, so the girl tried to address the judge herself.
107. A child in care has a right to be consulted and to express his or her views, to the extent that is practical given the child’s level of understanding, whenever significant decisions concerning the child are made, including decisions with respect to medical treatment, education or training or work programs and religion and decisions with respect to the child’s discharge from the placement or transfer to another residential placement. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 107; 2009, c. 2, s. 10.
Source: Child and Family Services Act
Instead of speaking, she was silenced by judge Roselyn Zisman, herself a former CAS lawyer. This hearing date was strategically selected by CAS to be eight days before the girl's sixteenth birthday. That way she lost the protection of another legal provision:
43. (1)In this section, “parent” includes, (a) an approved agency that has custody of the child, ...
Warrant to apprehend runaway child
(2) A justice of the peace may issue a warrant authorizing a peace officer or child protection worker to apprehend a child if the justice of the peace is satisfied on the basis of the sworn information of a parent of the child that, (a) the child is under the age of sixteen years; ...
Source: Child and Family Services Act
The court has ordered the girl into CAS custody, and issued a restraining order against her father. Now if she runs away and rejoins her dad, he will be arrested. As she left the courtroom police asked whether she intended to cooperate with social workers. When she refused she was humiliated as police paraded her through two public buildings in handcuffs.
On November 27, her sixteenth birthday, she took advantage of the law exempting her from apprension as a runaway, and left foster care. The affidavit does not say where she is now, but even after age sixteen she is prevented from returning to her father through CAS strategic timing.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Addendum: In an additional document (pdf) the same girl says legal aid staff at the 47 Sheppard Ave East courthouse refused to notarize her affidavit. Her document includes a photo of a court staffer.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Blameless Mother Loses Children for Six Months
December 3, 2014 permalink
Milwaukee mother Natisha Street disagreed with a social worker's assessment of her ability to care for her children and took her case to a jury. The jury ruled in her favor, and the family was reunified. But even being ruled in the right, she lost her children for six months.
Child taken from mother for 6 months
MILWAUKEE -- Natisha Street appreciates every hug from her son, Samuel. The 9 year-old is back home now. But for six months Street was denied the right to talk to and even see her son.
“The state came between us unnecessarily,” Street said.
In April the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare suddenly called Street.
“We got a complaint stating you didn’t want your kid and that you’re threatening to shoot him or leave him in a park, I said are you serious,” explained Street.
BMCW removed Sam from school and placed him in foster care for six months.
“I missed her and I knew she missed me,” Samuel Street said.
Records show the boy’s teacher made a complaint to BMCW. His mother said that complaint came the same day she and the teacher had disagreement over the phone.
“She called him a name and I went off on her. I did not cuss her out,” Street said.
A judge denied the I-Team access to review this particular case. But this mother copped every notice, appeal and complaint. She provided us a chance to review the case file. In a petition filed by the BMCW for protection it stated the following: Her son was “profoundly fearful of home situation.” It went on to say Ms. Street “attempted to give Samuel then 5 years old up for adoption. It concluded by saying “Without CPS intervention there will likely result in severe harm or death.”
Street denied all of the allegations. She refused to admit to any of the claims which lead to six months of no visits, no conversations or any contact with her son. She decided to fight and racked up $12,000 in attorney fees to prove BMCW did not do a thorough investigation.
“This is the first time I've ever experienced a mother really not having any contact with her child until a jury said this is wrong,” said Thomas Kurzynski, Street’s attorney.
Kurzynski said it wasn’t until after a three and half day trial, a jury answered one question looming for six months.
“Is this child in need of protective services? They answered no,” Kurzynski said.
“Certainly there were mistakes made,” said State Senator Nikiya Harris Dodd.
Harris Dodd sits on the BMCW Partnership Council. This council was created when the state took over the county run agency. It’s designed to provide oversight but can only advise the bureau on what it should do.
“We're tired of the excuses that you're doing all you can, we need you to do more,” explained Harris Dodd.
That’s why Harris Dodd has called for an audit to investigate BMCW.
“We need to hold them accountable. So you don't have another incident like Natisha's situation,” Harris Dodd said.
But it goes beyond this mother and son. Earlier this year, the BMCW’s director resigned abruptly, after sending a scathing letter about unmet safety concerns and excessive workloads for case managers.
Soon after it was revealed the agency had close to 3,000 backlogged cases. The Department of Children and Families Secretary downplayed the problem in the summer.
“Paperwork is not a crisis,” said Eloise Anderson, a DCF Secretary.
Despite Street’s case being closed, BMCW refused to speak about what happened. A spokesperson cited confidentiality laws. When asked about who the bureau answers to, the spokesperson said, “I think we answer to the legislation every day.”
But Harris Dodd disagrees.
“I’m the elected official, I’m the one they have to answer to and I still don’t get information I need,” explained Harris Dodd.
BMCW said it has reduced the backlogged cases by 60 percent to more than 1,100 cases. As for the audit, BMCW was last audited in 2006. Many of the issues raised then are still being worked on currently.
Social Worker Punched
December 2, 2014 permalink
A social worker in Newfoundland was attacked at the St John's airport. A union spokesman says: "It's not uncommon — in fact, it's far more regular than we would like." The union is calling not for less oppressive policies, but for more security.
Social worker punched by CYFS client at airport
The president of Newfoundland and Labrador's largest union is raising a red flag over an assault on a Child, Youth and Family Services worker last week.
Carol Furlong, president of NAPE, said the social worker was punched and knocked to the ground by a client. The incident happened at the airport in St. John's, as the client was being transferred out of province.
Furlong said there were police present at the time, as well as a manager, as part of the precautions being taken. However, the worker still was assaulted.
The worker was taken to hospital and was later released.
A Monday statement from NAPE comes one week after a girl, 13, was arrested and charged with assaulting a social worker.
Furlong said Monday it isn't unusual for union members in this setting to be faced with violence or threats of violence, but that doesn't make it OK.
"We're very concerned that social workers often go for home visits on their own. We had dealt with that some time ago and thought there had been some action taken on that, but we're very concerned about it," she said.
"It's not uncommon — in fact, it's far more regular than we would like."
Policies not enough
Furlong added there was one incident where a worker at the office noticed someone, who turned out to be a client, crawling around in the vent, and the building had to be shut down. The individual's intentions were unclear, Furlong said.
She added there seems to be some sort of disconnect between people and the situations social workers, and other workers, are actually faced with.
"There's such aggression, and it's almost like there's a licence for people to speak to people in a violent kind of fashion and to execute physical measures on people," said Furlong.
"We've seen people now who have been injured — physically assaulted — by clients, by patients, by members of the general public, and it's done sometimes with impunity. It's almost like there's an acceptance of it and we're saying, there is no acceptance of that."
Furlong said it isn't enough for employers to just have policies in place to deal with these kinds of situations; employers need to follow up and review policies to ensure appropriate safety measures are in place before something happens.
She added NAPE will be reaching out to employers to ensure protocols are in place in volatile workplaces.
Orphan Train Rider Speaks
December 2, 2014 permalink
Mary Law rode an orphan train in the 1928 and was adopted in Iowa at age three. Mary has noting but praise for the family that adopted her. Unlike many of today's adoptees, the identity of her birth mother and siblings was never concealed from her.
Muscatine woman recalls journey on orphan train
MUSCATINE, Iowa — In the late 1800s and early 1900s, hundreds of thousands of children were sent on trains from the east coast to the Midwest to be placed with rural families.
These children — typically 14 years old or younger — were orphans, partial orphans, children who had been given up by their families, children who had been "recruited" or children who had been taken away from homes declared unfit. The trains they traveled on came to be called "Orphan Trains."
Mary Law of Muscatine was one of those children.
The idea of sending children west originated at the New York Children's Aid Society, where Mary was sent west from.
Mary's story is on the forefront of her and her family's minds since she and her children — Janet Tumey, Jeff Law, Joyce Lawrence and Joanne McKee — recently connected with author Clark Kidder.
Kidder wrote "Emily's Story: The Brave Journey of an Orphan Train Rider," which is the story of his grandmother's experience. The connection is special to them, as is the upcoming documentary about Orphan Train riders, which will air on Iowa Public Television at 7 tonight, Dec. 1.
Born as Rosemarie Roat in Geneva, New York, in June of 1925, she was rechristened Mary Lou Eichmeier by the couple — Frank and Anna Eichmeier — who adopted her almost three years later.
"My mother evidently had a friend with that name, Mary Lou," Mary explained.
Mary was only two years old when she rode the orphan train with her older brothers Frank, who acted as her caretaker on the train; Harry, and Charles in April of 1928. She was adopted by the Eichmeiers, along with Charles, in Kearney, Nebraska.
Their brothers Frank and Harry were never adopted, although they did end up with families whose names they then assumed. Frank had some trouble being placed with a family, running away from one or two before finding the family he would stay with.
"A lot of boys were adopted to be farm hands," Mary said, explaining that some families viewed the children as a labor source rather than an addition to the family. Fortunately for Mary and Charles, the Eichmeiers were not such a couple.
"They were wonderful parents," she said. "I couldn't have asked for anything better."
"My dad was a wonderful person," she added. "He was so kind. He used to take hold of my hand and we'd do a lot of walking, we'd do a lot of things together. And my mother, she was very good — she was the boss of the house — but she was a good person."
Even after they moved the family away to Muscatine, where Anna grew up, Mary and her family kept in touch with Frank's and Harry's families as well, spending time together during vacations, Mary's daughter Janet recalled, although the families weren't always in such close contact over the years. However, Mary went to both Frank's and Harry's funerals and said she considered her relationships with them to be close.
"They were nice. I loved them," she said. "It was nice that we kept in touch."
In a trip she made to the New York Children's Aid Society with her late husband Emery, Mary learned that the Society still had records of her, although what she discovered was sometimes conflicting.
Some documentation about how Mary came to be sent west on a train indicates that her biological mother gave her up, while other documentation shows that Mary was taken from her biological mother, Janet explained.
Mary also received a picture of her biological mother, which Janet remembered Mary had for a time refused to even look at.
"'That’s not my mother, [Mary said]. 'That’s the woman that gave birth to me. That’s not my mother,'" Janet recalled hearing Mary say.
Mary knew from a young age that she was adopted.
"[Being adopted] didn't bother me because [Frank and Anna] were good parents," Mary said. "I had lots of love. I guess that's what it takes. So I never had any bad feelings."
Kidder's book is available at amazon.com.
Source: Muscatine Journal
December 2, 2014 permalink
Ontario's parents are still faced with the dilemma of surrendering their children for treatment, or getting no treatment. Dr Nicole Desmarais of Sudbury is the latest example. André Marin reported on this eight years ago in Between a Rock and a Hard Place.
Give him up to get him help: Sudbury mom's terrible choice
Surrending her son to the state only option for treatment
A Sudbury woman is being forced to surrender her parental rights to her severely mentally ill son so he can get the care and therapy he needs to give him a chance at a normal life.
Dr. Nicole Desmarais, a family physician in Greater Sudbury, says the boy – whom she adopted from Serbia five years ago when he was four – is scheduled to come home Dec. 5 from a residential placement in southern Ontario. She has been told if she doesn't make him a Crown Ward, she will have to rely on care in the community.
But because of his severe needs and violent behaviour, there's nowhere in Sudbury that can – or will – offer her respite or give him the intensive treatment he needs.
“I should not have to give up the rights to my child for him to receive the care that he needs,” she said, in an interview Sunday at her home. “It's crazy … Who else is going to stand up for him?”
In June, she launched a $10-million lawsuit against the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services in an attempt to get her son treatment without having to give him up to the state. But the court system moves slowly, and now she faces a Friday deadline.
“We're up against Goliath,” she said.
Violent and self-destructive
Desmarais's son suffers from a severe case of reactive detachment disorder, a condition where the brain fails to develop in key areas because they are not cared for properly as babies and don't form the normal emotional bonds. He also has complex developmental trauma disorder, which results from prolonged abuse or neglect at a young age.
In her son's case, he is extremely violent and self-destructive. He has attacked her other children, the children of family and friends, caregivers, pets and has harmed himself. In one of the more extreme cases – and there are many – he was found strangling a two-year-old with a cord.
“(The baby) was already turning blue when we found him,” Desmarais said. “When we asked him about it, he told us how great it was.”
He has threatened to kill his siblings – and has attacked them at different times – as well as her new partner, who still has three dislocated ribs as the result of one of the boy's outbursts. Her son has hidden broken glass in his sibling's beds, molested other children, stolen knives and other weapons, hurt family pets, killed the pet of a caregiver – the list goes on.
He has been assessed a total of 23 times, something Desmarais says has been repeatedly required by different social services agencies she has dealt with in trying to get help. There is a place – Bayfield Treatment Centres – that can offer the sort of intervention that would give him a fighting chance to recover.
With proper treatment, she said, there's a reasonable chance he will learn to stop his behaviour and learn to channel the aggression in positive ways. The earlier he is in treatment, the better chance he has to get better.
But it would be costly. He requires the care of two workers at all times, and his treatment would last at least two years, and cost about $1,000 a day. In a report on her son, Dr. Umesh Jain, from Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, said Bayfield is the only centre he's aware of that can help. Desmarais's son, he wrote, is on the high-end of the risk scale.
“In fact, of all the children I see, it probably represents one per cent of the highly dysfunctional children that are out there,” Jain said in his report. “If he does not receive (appropriate intervention and treatment), particularly as he enters adolescence, he will definitely be a high-risk candidate to society.
“Even now, he is a legitimate threat to others … For all intents and purposes, (he) is an out of control wildcat.”
Jain recommended the boy receive one to two years of treatment at Bayfield, but likely needs longer than that. He also criticized government policies that require Desmarais to surrender her child in order for him to get treatment.
“Frankly, this is a systems issue,” he wrote. “It is (her son) who is suffering, because he's not getting the interventions that are necessary.”
When Desmarais and her ex-husband took in the boy, it was the fourth child they had adopted internationally. Before they travelled to Serbia to pick him up, they were told he had some medical challenges, but was otherwise thriving.
“But we were misled,” she said.
Her son lived on the street with his mother until she abandoned him at six months. He underwent several surgeries for a kidney problem, and lived in an institution for 3 ½ years where he spent days locked in a room, left alone in a crib or tied to a mattress on the floor. Later, he shared a room with two other disturbed children, isolated and living in deplorable conditions.
Despite his obvious issues, Desmarais and her husband agreed to take him home – although she admits she had second thoughts. But her other adopted children – two from China, one from Georgia – overcame their challenges and are now thriving. If we love him enough, she thought, he will recover.
“And we couldn't leave him there,” she said. “When you see the conditions for yourself – I mean, you wouldn't treat an animal that way.
“It was a very difficult decision. But he was only four and we thought we could make a difference.”
He was non-verbal at first, but a few months after he started school in Canada, he was already speaking French, so he was clearly intelligent. But his violent and antisocial behaviour escalated, and included urinating everywhere and smearing feces on walls, in addition to violent attacks on everyone but Desmarais herself.
“He's good with me,” she said. “I help regulate him ... But he was becoming more and more aggressive.”
'He deserves better'
The strains of raising him contributed to the end of her marriage, and the problem behaviour escalated. He has said he plans to kill his siblings and his mother's new partner, and has even said the order in which he was going to do it. At one point, he held a knife to her partner's throat and said, “This time is practise. Next time, it's for real.”
He has been in residential institutions numerous times for assessments, and each time he was returned with promises of respite help. But his problems are so severe, they can no longer get help in Sudbury because her son is too dangerous.
During one of his live-in assessments, he was allowed to come home for Halloween. They found him covered in bruises and rug burns, a result from having to be restrained during his violent outbursts.
“He is unmanageable,” she was told by staff at the facility. “You need to give him up and make him a Crown ward. It's the only way he's going to get the treatment he deserves.”
She was told Nov. 25 that he was coming home Dec. 5, which means she'll have to make a decision by then. That's when she decided to go public with her story, because she's faced with an impossible decision: take him back, even though he's a clear threat to her other children; or surrender her rights as a parent to the little boy she loves, despite all that has happened.
“I can't take him home because he's going to kill one of my other kids,” she said.
Giving up her rights to him, Desmarais said, and severing the bond with him will cause more damage, since his underlying condition is connected to not forming a bond with his birth mother and being severely neglected as a baby. And despite his behaviour, she said her other children love him and talk with him regularly on Skype.
“We tell them he has an illness – that he's sick,” she said. “This kid has lived nothing but trauma and abandonment for his whole life. He deserves better than that.”
An underlying issue, she said, is the way mental-health is treated in Ontario, as opposed to physical health. The province would never dream of forcing a family to surrender a child who is physically sick, she said.
“The system is wrong,” she said. “If this was leukemia, the government would be willing to pay for it. But but because it's a mental illness ...”
And on a personal level, she said it would be devastating to give up her son.
“It would be losing one of your children,” she said. “No one in their right mind would fight so hard for so long for someone if they didn't love them.
“You should not have to give up the rights to your child for them to get the help that they need … How can that be possible?”
Source: Northern Life
November 30, 2014 permalink
Vern Beck has released part of an affidavit of a foster boy. The boy says:
The foster mother’s dog was not trained and was allowed to just poop on the floor. I took a couple of photos with my cell phone and below are two photo of the dog poop in two different locations in the house.
The photos are in the affidavit (pdf).
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Social Worker Thinks He is God
November 29, 2014 permalink
British social worker Neil Swaby demanded that a client treat Him like God. He is not the first self-deified social worker. In Dufferin, Jennifer Foster boasted to a client "We have as much power as God", inspiring the title of a documentary by Esther Buckareff.
'Social worker told us to treat him like God', couple claim
Grandparents say social worker was determined to have their grandchild, 3, adopted rather than live with them
A social worker who was determined to have a three-year-old boy adopted rather than being cared for by his grandparents told them they should treat him like “God”, it has been claimed.
The couple, who cannot be named, said they were accused of defiance because they challenged North East Lincolnshire social services department’s plans to have the boy adopted instead of remaining within his wider family.
A judge took the unusual step of publicly naming social workers involved in the case who he said had presented “visibly biased” evidence in court in a failed attempt to bolster the council’s case that the boy should be adopted.
The boy’s mother has died and his father is not able to care for him but the grandparents, who are already raising an older sibling, went to court to fight to be able to care for him.
In a judgment published online, Judge Simon Jack dismissed the evidence of the social workers Neil Swaby and Rachel Olley as unreliable, accusing them of having “grossly overstated” suggestions of drinking and domestic violence in the family to back up what they had already decided should be done.
He added that some of the evidence of a third social worker, Peter Nelson, also “smacks of the same bias”.
The judge dismissed the council’s application for a final care order, which would have enabled it to begin the process of placing the boy for adoption, ruling that the department’s case had been “wholly undermined”.
He ruled instead that the boy should be cared for by the grandparents, adding: “I have never, in over 10 years of hearing care cases taken the view, as I did in this case, that the local authority’s witnesses were visibly biased in their attempts to support the local authority’s case.
“It is very unfortunate and I hope I shall never see that again.”
Social workers representatives warned that the decision to name the individual social workers would heap further pressure on the already embattled profession and put others off considering a career in the field.
But the boy’s grandparents praised the judge and questioned why anyone so severely criticised should have their identity specially protected. The grandmother told BBC Radio 4 :“When he was about six weeks old we were informed by a social worker that if he had his way he would put him up for adoption and he didn’t care how long it took,” she said.
“I asked him why and he said: “We’ve got our reasons’ .”
She went on to say that she had clashed with Mr Swaby in particular.
“He told me I defied him and I said: “Who do you think you are? God?” she said. “He said: ‘In this situation, yes — get used to it, your grandson will go up for adoption’ .”
Cathy Ashley, chief executive of Family Rights Group, said: “This ruling puts a spotlight on fears that family members are being too readily discounted in caring for children who are unable to live with their parents.
“This may well reflect the Government’s focus on adoption, as well as local authorities facing both growing pressure in terms of case load and the speeding up of the process itself.
“It is crucial that children are able to be safely raised by loving family members where possible, and this necessitates that family members receive a fair hearing.”
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Aside: Where do we put people who think they are Napoleon (mp3) ?
Twice Fleeing Scotland
November 29, 2014 permalink
Five years ago Scottish social workers intervened to prevent the marriage of Mark McDougall and Kerry Robertson, claiming the pregnant Kerry lacked the capacity to understand the marriage declaration. The couple fled to Ireland where they were married and gave birth to two children. This year they moved their family back to their homeland. Notwithstanding the demonstrated capacity of the parents in exile, social workers seized both children. Reunification will depend on the decision of a children's panel. The again-pregnant mother has fled back to Ireland with her husband.
On November 27 John Hemming spoke in the British parliament on the difficulty of investigating wrongdoing within social services and mentioned the McDougall family. Fixcas has earlier articles on the McDougalls:  .
Parents flee again after 'vindictive proceedings’
Fife social workers have torn a family apart and turned loving parents into refugees, says Christopher Booker.
Last week I reported on two 11‑year-old twins who, after nearly three years of hell in “care”, were joyfully reunited with their family after a Dutch judge made clear why the children should never have been removed in the first place.
Less cheering, alas, is the news on another, not dissimilar case, mentioned in Parliament last week, which I was hoping to report had come to a similarly happy ending.
Five years ago, Mark and Kerry McDougall made headlines in Scotland when, two days before their marriage by a bishop in their local cathedral, Fife social workers intervened to halt the wedding – on the grounds that Kerry, who had mild learning difficulties, was “unfit” to be a mother. The couple escaped to Ireland where they married, built a new life and had two sons, fully supported by friendly Irish social workers, who found Kerry to be a perfectly capable mother. This year, however, they wanted to move back to be near their Scottish families.
As John Hemming MP said in Parliament last week, no sooner had they returned than the social workers moved to seize the children, and a lengthy court battle ensued.
Although, as I have reported before, the Fife social workers eventually got their way and took the boys very unhappily into “care”, all the indications were that they would be returned home. But now, to the astonishment of the family’s capable legal team, the boys still remain in care, for their future to be decided by a “children’s panel”.
Also last week came a further twist. Kerry, having discovered that she was again pregnant, went for a medical check. This was immediately reported to the social workers. Terrified that they might then lose their third child, the couple on Wednesday again fled to Ireland. Reporting this in the Commons, Mr Hemming, who has long been following their case with concern, named the parents and regretted that they appeared to have been “on the receiving end of vindictive proceedings”.
The family’s lawyers now plan further action. I hope it may soon be possible to report a happier outcome to a case that many expert observers have found very disturbing.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Addendum: A longer article on the family. Before returning to Scotland, Scottish social workers assured the family that there was no plan to seize their children. This incident, and many others, demonstrate that promises by social workers are worthless.
Loving mother forced to flee with unborn child because authorities claim she's 'too dumb to be a mum'
Social workers placed Kerry McDougall and husband Mark's two sons with a foster family and fear their new baby will also be taken from them if they return home
Proud Kerry McDougall is looking forward to the birth of her third son – but fears she may have a tough battle to keep him.
Kerry, 22, deemed by social workers to be “too dumb” to be a mum, has left her home and her two young sons 200 miles away in the hope of preventing her new baby being taken into care at birth.
She and husband Mark say leaving Sean, five and William, three, with the foster family they had been handed to was “the hardest thing”.
But Kerry added: “They’d already been taken from us. The social workers think because I can’t spell long words I’m incapable of love or caring for children.
“I can’t describe how it feels to know your children are somewhere else and are unhappy. I just have to trust one day we’ll get them back.”
The couple fear that if they return home when their son is born they will almost certainly lose him too. Born with a cleft palate, Kerry could not speak properly until she was six.
Her learning difficulties were termed “mild to moderate” by specialists. And she admits her reading and writing are not as good as many adults.
But her difficulties are largely academic. She cooks, and looks after the Belfast terrace house she has now made home – and is determined to have a career.
She is shy and speaks slowly but it’s clear that despite her mild speech problems, Kerry is kind and switched on. She rattles off her sons’ dates of birth and reads, then files the household bills.
The young Scottish mum even used to have a voluntary position as a childcare assistant for Fife council but had to leave when she first fled in 2010, when she was pregnant with Sean.
Kerry claims the couple were “tricked and trapped” by social services into returning to Scotland, where the two boys were taken from them last June.
She said: “It’s been proven time and time again that we’re good parents. Our children were happy and healthy.
“We’d been living happily in southern Ireland for three years and the authorities there thought we were good parents.
"We were led to believe that was proof enough for us to be left alone if we moved back. But Fife social services betrayed us.”
The couple had gathered up a few belongings and left for Ireland after social workers in Fife ordered registrars not to let Kerry’s wedding to Mark go ahead – with 48 hours’ notice – saying she lacked the mental capacity to marry.
And they were told their first child would be taken into care within hours of his birth, and could be put up for adoption.
Instead Sean was born in Waterford in the Irish Republic, followed two years later by brother William.
Social workers there monitored the family and, they say, had declared Kerry and Mark, 31, to be fit parents.
Kerry said: “We moved to Ireland because we knew we’d have a better chance of keeping the boys – they don’t have forced adoption.
“When we got there, the social workers monitoring us couldn’t understand why Fife had such a problem.
“They gradually withdrew their involvement and then left us alone to look after our boys. We were happy and healthy – all of us. Mark had a job and I would take the boys out every day, to the park, swimming, or for walks.
“Come rain or shine, we got our wellies on and went jumping in puddles. Life was everything we wanted, except we weren’t back home.”
Missing their families, the young parents contacted Fife social services and asked if they could go back without fear of losing their family now they had proved themselves. The answer, they claim, was a resounding yes.
And when hard-working Mark was offered a well paid job at Amazon in Fife, they decided to test the water.
But in what they claim was a devastating betrayal they were confronted again the day they moved back and the boys were put on the “at risk” register.
They say social services began to hound the family, in what MP John Hemmings later said had the appearance of a “vindictive settling of scores”.
Social workers claimed Kerry should not be alone with the children for longer than two hours, which she admits she did not adhere to.
And after sending a letter stating the child protection unit was withdrawing involvement last June, the boys were taken away days later.
The authorities maintain their decision was for the safety of the children.
Kerry, who says she watched her boys kick and scream as they were dragged off, said: “I felt I was letting them down because there was nothing I could do.
“I did my best to be a good mum. I never smoked, drank or did drugs. They were always clean, never hungry and were happy, happy boys. It wasn’t enough.
“For weeks before they were taken Sean begged for us to move so the social workers couldn’t take him away. I feel we failed him by not doing so sooner.”
At one meeting, four social workers claimed Mark had intimidated them and he was arrested for a breach of the peace.
He was cleared months later after CCTV footage showed no such incident.
But while on bail, he was under orders to keep away from the social workers in question – yet he claims child services scheduled access visits at the office where they worked. He is still awaiting a court hearing for allegedly breaking bail conditions.
The couple decided their only hope to get Sean and William home was to have a third child, moving back to Ireland to again prove they were capable parents.
Kerry said: “The Irish authorities have promised to help and we have to trust them because we have no one else on our side.”
Mark admitted: “I’ve been low – there have been times I didn’t think I could go on.
“The only thing that keeps me going is being with Kerry, and hoping we’ll get the boys back where they belong.”
As they try to plan their future, the couple can only cherish the hundreds of photos of their times as a happy family.
Kerry said: “Sometimes they’re hard to look at because they make it even harder to understand how this happened.
“But they make me smile, too, and remind me why we can never stop fighting.”
MP John Hemming's view
It’s clear to me that Fife social services have acted vindictively against this young family.
They were living happily in Ireland and Mark and Kerry were considered to be suitable parents.
There has never been an incident to suggest they are not suitable parents.
Taking any child into care is extremely disruptive and traumatic and it should be done only when essential for the safety and well being of the child.
Fife social services' view
We are not legally in a position to give details of individual cases which might help to give a fuller picture of the situation.
However, we do not recognise the description of our involvement as presented by the family.
Social workers do not have the authority to remove children from their parents. This is granted by a court or by the children’s hearing system.
Social work services try to support families to stay together wherever possible.
Belfast social services' view
Due to issues of confidentiality Belfast Health and Social Care Trust cannot comment on individual cases.
We do everything we can to ensure the safety of children and try to keep families together wherever suitable and possible.
The judge's view
Responsibility for the care of the children has been moved by Dunfermline Sheriff Court from Fife to Dundee City Council.
The judge ruled this was, to remove any problems which may arise from social workers being biased against the family due to historical events.
The parents' view
We’ve never done anything to put our children at risk of cruelty or neglect. We love them and have only ever wanted the best for them. That is to be with us.
We have been made to make a decision no parent should have to make – to chose between our two sons and our unborn baby.
We will fight until we are back together as a family.
Source: Daily Mirror (UK)
Addendum: In March 2015 Kerry delivered her son Patrick three months premature by emergency Cesarean section in Belfast.
Families Hate CAS
November 28, 2014 permalink
A report titled CAS Workers at Risk shows just how much animosity CAS clients have for social workers. Without speaking to a single affected parent or child, the researchers surveyed CAS employees, asking questions about the levels of client violence (including threats) experienced on the job. One chart tells the story.
Social workers characterize themselves as a helping profession. The results show instead that it is a policing profession.
Consistent with a wide range of prior research, child protection workers were found to experience a very high level of violence (assault/attempted assault, threats, stalking, and verbal or written abuse) -- levels which many researchers have suggested are only exceeded by the police.
Source: page ii
In 194 pages of discussion of child protection, there is only one instance of the word mother and no instances of father.
The report makes 46 recommendations. All but one are for more security or improved reporting. The exception is:
5. More thorough and consistent information about the rights of clients, the role of the Children’s Aid Society and the authority of CAS workers should be provided to clients upon initial contact and to all others who are touched by the Children's Aid system in order to achieve better understanding and reduce risks.
In a related vein, additional mechanisms should be created to obtain client input to CAS processes, and the mechanism for complaints reviewed, to ensure that client issues and concerns are dealt with thoroughly and in a transparent manner.
Source: page 42
Telling parents their rights at the outset might be an improvement, though the current list of parental rights under the Child and Family Services Act would be of little help.
Conspicuous by their absence are any suggestions to reduce hostility from families by a change of attitude, a switch to providing genuine help instead of bullying parents with the threat of child seizure.
The report prepared by SPR Associated Inc is available on the OACAS website as CAS Workers at Risk or as a local copy (pdf) The researchers sent questionnaires to over 5,800 of Ontario's estimated 8,665 CAS employees. In its own press release the OACAS uses the report to plead with the government to increase security for CAS employees. local copy (pdf).
Short-Changing the Child Advocate
November 28, 2014 permalink
The government of Ontario is expanding the oversight powers of the provincial ombudsman, André Marin, over several areas, not including children's aid societies. Instead, bill 8 is giving that authority to the provincial child advocate. But according the the current advocate, Irwin Elman, the powers in the proposed bill are inadequate for the protection of all of Ontario's children. Quoting the Toronto Star: "Under the proposed legislation, the advocate would only have the right to compel information during a formal investigation, and then only in cases involving Children’s Aid. In all other areas of his mandate, the advocate would continue to have no more right to information than what is currently available to the general public under Access to Information laws and through the media, Elman notes."
Link to the text of the bill Bill 8, Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014, or read a local copy (pdf). The parts of interest in child protection are:
The Toronto Star outlines the dispute.
Ontario’s Child Advocate demands more power to probe abuse
Proposed new investigative powers fall short of protecting the province’s most vulnerable children and youth, says Irwin Elman.
Ontario’s official child advocate says proposed legislation giving him ombudsman-like authority to investigate Children’s Aid Societies falls short of protecting all of the province’s most vulnerable kids.
“All of the children and youth in (my) mandate are equally vulnerable . . . not just those who have been placed in the care of a Children’s Aid Society,” Irwin Elman says in his submission to the standing committee reviewing the Kathleen Wynne government’s sweeping new accountability law.
Those in Elman’s mandate currently left out of the legislation include young people involved with youth justice, mental health, developmental services, children’s treatment centres, residential schools for deaf, blind and severely disabled children, as well as First Nations children and those with special needs.
The advocate’s office also needs the power to compel information from all relevant sources when a young person makes a complaint, including the authority to question government or agency staff and the right to enter related premises, Elman says in his submission to be delivered Wednesday.
Under the proposed legislation, the advocate would only have the right to compel information during a formal investigation, and then only in cases involving Children’s Aid. In all other areas of his mandate, the advocate would continue to have no more right to information than what is currently available to the general public under Access to Information laws and through the media, Elman notes.
“The ability to require governments, service providers, institutions and public bodies to provide information is a critical component of the effective and independent discharge of the mandate of the provincial advocate,” he says.
“By granting these significant powers, the legislature will enable the provincial advocate to better protect children and youth and to hold institutions to account,” he adds.
Elman illustrates “the gravity of the situation” by highlighting the cases of several children under his mandate that he has been powerless to help, including a 10-year-old boy in a group home who was put in physical restraints 108 times in 13-months without generating any concern from government or Children’s Aid officials.
Likewise, he has been unable obtain any information about the sexual assault of a 12-year-old autistic boy in a children’s mental health facility, beyond what was reported in the media last year. Nor was he able to get a briefing from the provincial Coroner or Children’s Aid officials about a recently adopted foster child who was found dead in the car of his adoptive father last July.
Elman, the province’s first independent advocate for children and youth, has been pushing for more access to information about children in his mandate, especially those who die in care, since he was first appointed in 2009.
Elman is also seeking whistleblower protection for employees of service providers who report concerns.
Without the changes, the provincial advocate would be the only officer of the legislature — and the only child and youth advocate in Canada — lacking these powers, Elman argues.
“As a general rule, the status, rights and privileges of legislative officers ought to be equal,” he says.
Ontario’s ombudsman, auditor general, chief electoral officer and commissioners for information and privacy, environment, integrity and French language services all have powers to investigate anything within their mandates and to compel disclosure of any relevant information, Elman notes.
The proposed amendments would put Ontario’s child advocate on an equal footing with the other independent officers of the legislature as well as other advocate offices across Canada, Elman says.
The changes would enable him to “better protect children and youth, hold institutions to account, and more powerfully elevate the voices of young people in the province,” he adds.
In its submission Monday, the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, which represents 44 of the province’s 46 societies, also urged the government to broaden the advocate’s investigative powers and to give him the same authority to compel information as the ombudsman.
Source: Toronto Star
Mr Elman himself posted to Facebook:
The caution in my optimism was well served. I am entirely disappointed in potential Amendments to Bill 8 the government is considering.
They continue to resist granting my Office access to information including deaths of children other than those connected to a CAS and no other investigatory powers other than what is proposed.
They continue to sit with systems on this issue and not with children
Source: Facebook, Irwin Elman
There is more detail in Elman's press release:
Bill 8 must provide the same protection to all vulnerable children and youth in Ontario, says Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
TORONTO, Nov. 26, 2014 /CNW/ - The Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth is calling on the government to protect all vulnerable children and youth under his mandate by making changes to Bill 8, Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, 2014. Bill 8 passed second reading on November 18th and is currently before the Standing Committee on General Government for public hearings this week.
"While I welcome new powers to investigate serious incidents and concerns involving children and youth under the care of the children's aid society or a licensed home where a children's aid society is the placing agent, the bill fails to provide the same level of protection to other vulnerable children and youth in the province," said Provincial Advocate Irwin Elman speaking to a legislative committee in Toronto.
If passed, the bill would make Ontario's Provincial Advocate the only child and youth advocate in Canada with limited jurisdictional powers for conducting investigations. Further, the Provincial Advocate would have less authority and tools to carry out his mandate compared with the other six independent Officers of the Legislature.
"Every year, my Office receives an average of 4,000 calls from children, youth and their families with concerns about their care. Access to information is critical for looking into these concerns. Currently, as the Provincial Advocate, I lack the power to compel a government employee or a service provider to share information. This makes it very difficult to carry out my job and look into concerns involving the treatment of children and youth," said Elman.
Recommendations proposed by the Provincial Advocate to the Standing Committee on General Government to strengthen Bill 8 are as follows:
- Investigate complaints from vulnerable children and youth in all areas of the Advocate's mandate – not just in children's aid society or residential licensee where a children's aid society is a placing agent;
- Ensure accountability by enabling the Advocate's Office to obtain information in the course of its duties, specifically when it reviews complaints or conducts reviews under the Act;
- Provide whistleblower protection for service providers who make reports to the Provincial Advocate. Whistleblower protection under the Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006 covers only employees within the Ontario Public Services and does not extend to employees who work in transfer payment agencies; and
- Enable the Provincial Advocate to communicate Coroner's recommendations where such information is already publicly available.
"The bill fails to protect employees who work in agencies who wish to report a serious incident to the Advocate," continued Elman. "We must create a safe environment where any employee can come forward with concerns involving the treatment and safety of a child or youth."
"These changes are necessary to ensure that all vulnerable children and youth are treated equally and offered the same level of protection and that the Provincial Advocate has the necessary tools to hold organizations to account," said Elman.
About the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
The Office of the Provincial Advocate reports directly to the Legislature and provides an independent voice for children and youth, including children with special needs and First Nations children. The advocates receive and respond to concerns from children, youth and families who are seeking or receiving services under the Child and Family Services Act and the Education Act (Provincial and Demonstration Schools). The Provincial Advocate may identify systemic problems involving children, conduct reviews and provide education and advice on the issue of advocacy and the rights of children.
The Office is guided by the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and has a strong commitment to youth involvement.
"While the proposed changes are a significant step forward, we encourage the government to move toward international norms and national best practices so that any child or youth entitled to any service provided in Ontario can have recourse to investigation and advocacy support from the Provincial Child and Youth Advocate in a timely, child-sensitive way. Vulnerable children need access to simple and appropriate advocacy support with a focus on their best interests to navigate complex systems and support good outcomes."
—Marv Bernstein, Chief Policy Adviser, UNICEF Canada
"OACAS believes the scope of investigative powers should mirror the full scope of advocacy services provided by the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth (PACY). PACY should be able to investigate matters pertaining to all children for whom the Office has an advocacy mandate. Children and youth receiving other provincial services, as well as those placed in residential settings by non-CAS agencies, should be equally eligible to access PACY's investigative functions."
—Mary Ballantyne, Executive Director of OACAS
SOURCE Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
For further information: Media Contact: Eva Lannon & Associates, email@example.com or 416.300.9721
Neil Haskett has issued a call to arms on Facebook:
**Before making any other posts** We've got a troubling post from the Child Advocate, Irwin Elman that after a meeting with the MCYS, the Liberals do not intend to make any amendments to Bill 8. This means there will be no accountability of CAS!!
Until Monday please make this a priority for all the great families being torn apart and more importantly, the safety of kids in care.
We hate to play hardball on the wall but many of us have spent 7 days a week here for over 8 years and this is our last chance for a very long time.
If necessary, the wall will be locked from any further posts.
Please email the Minster, (Hon Tracy MacCharles) and the Liberals below demanding they accept the proposed changes to CAS by the Child Advocate and the Ombudsman.
Hon, Tracy MacCharles
Ministry of Children and Youth Services
56 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2S3
Grant Crack, MPP
Chair, Standing Committee on General Government
Joe Dickson, MPP
Vice-Chair, Standing Committee on General Government
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
Addendum: In a 140 minute session on December 2 the government with the support of the Liberal party enacted the legislation as proposed. The ombudsman will not get authority to look at children's aid societies and the child advocate's authority remains severely restricted.
Alberta Foster Suicide
November 27, 2014 permalink
Alberta's Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff has released 15-YEAR-OLD TONY – An Investigative Review, available in a local copy (pdf). It is about a boy without a name, Tony is only a pseudonym. He hanged himself. Graff does not say when or where, only that it was somewhere in Alberta in the autumn of 2012. A news report from the CBC continues to keep him anonymous.
In a second enclosed report the Edmonton Journal dignified him with a name, Tyrell Darc Skylar Raine, and location, Slave Lake Alberta. The boy was put on the path to suicide with prescriptions for psychotropic drugs, Celexa, Seroquel, Zyprexa and Risperidone along with the anti-seizure medication Topamax.
Child Advocate calls on province to take 'meaningful action'
Del Graff calls for action after investigating suicide of a 15-year-old aboriginal boy
Alberta’s Child Advocate is calling on the province to take “swift, decisive and meaningful action” after conducting an investigation into the death of a 15-year-old aboriginal boy in government care.
The boy — referred to in the report by Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff as “Tony” — was found unresponsive in 2012, hanging in the playground beside his group home. He died in hospital two days later.
“Although attempts were made to keep Tony connected to his family, and his First Nation community, it was not enough,” Graff wrote.
Graff made three recommendations in his report, including that the Ministry of Human Services require a suicide risk inventory be completed for all young people in its care — at all times, and not just at the point of crisis.
"It is the only way that change will happen.”
‘Always smiling and joking’
Tony first entered government care when he was 10-years-old.
“Many remembered him as a ‘cute kid’ who was always smiling and joking,” the report said. “He loved sports, rap music, drawing and camping in the bush.”
The boy suffered from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Although he experienced academic delays, the report said younger children looked up to him. He was even the president of the student council in junior high school.
Over his five years in care, he was moved 13 times and had eight different caseworkers. The report says he tried to harm himself at least four times and that “it was apparent that his intent was getting stronger.”
When he was 13-years-old, Tony was placed closer to his home community so he could have more contact with his family. However, the report says that within two weeks he had damaged property, left without permission and threatened staff.
At age 14, his grandfather — with whom Tony lived with before being placed in government care — was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Tony began running away from the home shortly after. A week after he turned 15, he assaulted a staff member. He was arrested and held in custody overnight.
Tony was last seen leaving the group home with a shoelace in hand after an argument with his girlfriend. He was found hanging in the playground shortly after.
'Intervention system must change'
Graff’s investigation found there are systemic issues hampering the child intervention process.
“Tony’s experiences and his death by suicide contains a clear and compelling message that the child intervention system must change,” Graff wrote. “There are other young people like Tony. We must not wait any longer.”
The report said the government must ensure aboriginal children in care maintain relationships with their families. In this case, Graff said Tony did better in placements that "connected him to his culture and shared traditional teachings with him."
Graff also said that while Tony had made several improvements throughout his time in government care, the gains could have continued if information had been shared between care providers.
"A direct dialogue between a child's previous and future caregivers would enable those who are going to care for a child to benefit from the insights and experiences of those familiar with the child," Graff wrote.
Teen suicide report urges systemic change
Tyrell Darc Skylar Raine was just 15 years old when he walked out of the White Buffalo Healing Centre, tied a shoelace to a piece of playground equipment, and hanged himself.
Two young residents found him there and he was rushed to a hospital in Slave Lake, then airlifted to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. He could not be saved.
On Wednesday, Child and Youth Advocate Del Graff published an investigative report into Raine’s death, and issued three recommendations to prevent similar deaths in future.
He said front-line caregivers must do more to encourage meaningful relationships in the lives of aboriginal children in care and that they must do a better job of sharing information about what works with each child. He also said suicide risk assessments should be required on a regular, ongoing basis — not just when a child is in crisis.
Raine’s suicide, he said, “was not an isolated, impulsive event.
“During his last four years, he attempted suicide at least four times. … Caregivers informed caseworkers of his suicide attempts. Looking at these incidents together reveals a pattern of attempts following periods of stress and uncertainty.”
Graff’s report — which uses the pseudonym “Tony” instead of the boy’s real name — paints a heartbreaking picture of a young man who was losing his beloved grandfather to a terminal illness while being moved to 13 different homes over five years.
He was on three drugs to control violent outbursts associated with exposure to alcohol in the womb and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
After he died, workers found his writings, which revealed suicidal thoughts.
Human Services Minister Heather Klimchuk stopped short of saying the province would formally accept the recommendations.
“With respect to these recommendations, of course we’re going to look at them and most definitely get back to the advocate,” Klimchuk said.
“An investigation means we can look for outcomes together. It’s not about assigning blame, its about working together. … My sense is they’re very valid recommendations.”
Wildrose critic Jeff Wilson said the report “highlights the need for this government to start implementing and tracking recommendations (Graff) has been making.
“Whatever they’re doing, it quite frankly isn’t working,” Wilson said.
Tyrell Raine’s mother, Rosanne Tracy Raine, said while she’s happy the report might prevent future deaths, losing her son has been “very, very hard.
“I would not wish that upon any other mother ... it’s the hardest thing I ever went through,” she said Wednesday.
The last time she spoke to her boy was four days before his death. They argued because he wasn’t taking his medication, but she called him the next morning.
“I said everything is OK, things will be fine. I still love you.”
She never spoke to him again.
Source: Edmonton Journal
Parents Don't Need to Know About Daughter's Death
November 27, 2014 permalink
The mother of Australian foster teenager Karmah Jayne Hall found out about her daughter's suicide only from a posting on Facebook. That is bad enough, but when she called for confirmation, the foster agency and Family and Community Services both refused.
Foster care tragedy: Karmah Jayne Hall's family learnt of her death on Facebook
The biological family of a 14-year-old girl who took her own life while in foster care have told of their anguish about learning of her death via Facebook.
The family of Karmah Jayne Hall, who suicided at her foster parents' property in Sydney's north-west, claim authorities failed to inform them of her death in September.
They told the ABC they were also shocked to discover Karmah's foster father had been investigated over allegations he abused a 12-year-old girl in his care. The NSW Ombudsman cleared the man of the allegations, made five years ago.
Karmah was removed from her biological parents when she was 11 months old due to family violence and had lived with the same foster family in Kenthurst since.
Her mother, Donna Rathborne, had regular contact visits with her daughter who went missing on September 2 and was found in a shed on the foster family's property three days later. Ms Rathborne said she was stunned to hear about her daughter's death on Facebook.
"My daughter Kate rang me and said, 'Mum, I've just seen on Facebook - Rest In Peace, Karmah," Ms Rathborne told the ABC.
"I inboxed the young boy and he said, 'I'm in Cairns and my mother just told me that Karmah committed suicide'.
"I said, 'No that's not right. It's just not right'."
Ms Rathborne said she rang the foster agency, Wesley Dalmar, and Family and Community Services, which both refused to confirm the death.
Her daughter Kate then contacted the principal of Karmah's school, Galston High, who confirmed the family's worst fears.
The report comes a day after the NSW Auditor-General found that Family and Community Services is only reviewing the placements of half the foster children in its direct care.
Police are preparing a report for the coroner.
Source: The Age
November 26, 2014 permalink
A Breitbart-London article shows the professions that attract students with the highest IQ: physics, astronomy, philosophy, mathematics, engineering, computer science. And the lowest IQ profession? Social work.
Scientific Proof That Public Debate Is Dominated By Stupid People
Have you ever picked up a newspaper, read a story about the teaching unions and thought: how on earth did these people get into positions of influence? Why is everyone so stupid? Well, you're not alone. And, if a graph that landed on my desk yesterday is right, there's a scientific basis for your frustration: you're probably a lot smarter than they are.
The chart, created by data scientist Randy Olson in June, shows the average IQ of US college majors in various subjects. The data is plotted against gender too, but we'll come to that can of worms in a minute. Physics, engineering, philosophy and computer science are the hardest subjects with the smartest students. Social work, health and education scoop up the dregs. ("Gender Studies" doesn't even make the cut.)
But hang on. Social workers, teachers, the NHS... aren't these all the groups we're relentlessly told to "listen and believe" and whose tweets and impassioned blog posts kick off media storms on a near-daily basis? The BBC, the Guardian and the Labour Party treats these professions as somehow sacred. They're our proud, hard-working backbone, protectors of the people, brave morally unimpeachable trustees of the nation. So they are allowed disproportionately large voices in our debates and awarded undeservedly privileged status in our national culture.
Yet aren't these same groups the ones so hopelessly incompetent that they're snatching babies from perfectly fit parents, allowing children to graduate dumb as boxes of frogs and killing off our elderly relatives in filthy, haphazardly run hospital wards? If only nurses put as much effort into keeping their patients alive as they do into strike action and marches against the evil Tories.
The truth is, compared to every other profession, these are some of the least intelligent people in society and thus to anyone with any common sense the last people who should be invited on TV and given national newspaper blogs to talk about serious issues. Yet up pops the Guardian with a sob story from a nurse about how hard she works and that's supposed to affect how we believe the NHS should be run.
And just look at the way power works these days on social media. Remember Dr Matt Taylor, the hero scientist who landed a probe on a comet? His achievement was totally overshadowed by feminist critics who picked on him for wearing a saucy but totally harmless shirt and abused him on Twitter for being a "sexist." The bulk of the criticism came from the sort of people I just described.
And when you look, too, at risible enterprises such as the Everyday Sexism project, you see a pattern emerge: dig down into individual tweets and you invariably see "nurse," "teacher," "social worker" or something similar in the bio. Why are we allowing people so obviously ruled by emotion instead of reason to chart the course of national debate?
It's galling because the smartest members of our society are rarely heard from. Physicists and mathematicians aren't always the most camera-friendly of people, though they are the ones who move human civilisation forward. What we consider news these days seems more concerned with gender pronouns than it does scientific progress. When was the last time you saw a scientist on Newsnight? Can you even remember one?
Of course, there are all sorts of reasons some people don't like IQ as a measure of intelligence. Some people say it's biased against women and non-white test subjects. And we should note that the scores above are inferences from SAT scores and not specially-tested students. But IQ remains one of the most accurate gauges we have of a person's future success and earning potential in today's economy. And it's a pretty solid indicator of their reasoning skills, too.
Now let's consider gender. It's not accurate to say, based on the data above, that "women are thicker," although I know that's what you'll have been wondering. But if it's true, as some claim, that there are similar numbers of men and women in each percentile of IQ, why do we see the graph above? If the smartest women aren't learning how to land probes on asteroids or unlocking the secrets of the universe with maths, what are they doing? Where are they?
The best guess from feminists trying to explain away graphs like the one above is that those unmarked subjects in the middle of the graph—history, foreign languages, English, law—attract roughly equal numbers of male and female students but that the women studying those subjects are a lot cleverer than the boys. The problem is, many of the jobs these degrees lead to, in lawyers' offices and research organisations, don't have much purchase on the media. So we only ever hear from thick birds.
But women and men aren't equally distributed in IQ quartiles. So that explanation doesn't hold water. Here's an infamous graph that makes for uncomfortable reading for Women's Studies professors and other academic champions of "equality." This data is uncontroverted, but not uncontroversial: Larry Summers got fired from the presidency of Harvard University just for alluding to it.
What this chart shows is that women tend to fall around the "average" IQ compared to men, who are more often outliers. That is to say, more of the very smartest and very stupidest people are men, while women tend to cluster around the mean. There are vanishingly few women who score over 130 on an IQ test and are classified as having "very superior intelligence." Make of that what you will.
What will be frustrating to many readers is how little heed is paid to the smartest among us, who, if we only listened more often to them and stopped running them down as autistic geeks, video game freaks and oddball science professors, might have better ideas than the "education experts" and social workers who currently dominate discourse in the public square about how society ought to be organised.
It's not as simple as: we need more men on TV. But perhaps we should learn to be less needlessly sensitive to superficial irrelevancies such as the sex organs of the speaker, and concentrate on what they're saying, how smart they are and what they do. It's not too much to ask that the media should want to get the best possible people in front of the nation to explain complex concepts and explain their ramifications.
November 26, 2014 permalink
Alabama social worker Bari Joy Williams was caught driving with a five-year-old girl while smoking a crack pipe. The relationship of the child to the driver was not disclosed.
Social worker charged with smoking crack while driving on I-65 with child in car
HOOVER, Alabama - A manager of a Birmingham substance abuse treatment center faces charges after authorities said she was driving down I-65 smoking a crack pipe with a young child in her car.
Bari Joy Williams, 44, of Gardendale, is charged with chemical endangerment of a child, unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, said Hoover police Capt. Gregg Rector. Williams was arrested Nov. 20, and released from the county jail after posting $12,500 bond, records show.
Police and court records provide this account of what happened: About 2:30 p.m. last Thursday, a man called police to report a woman driving erratically on Interstate 65 southbound and told police he thought the driver was smoking crack cocaine while she was driving. The caller told police there was a child in the car.
Officers on patrol found the car and followed it to a parking lot in the 1500 block of Montgomery Highway. The officer walked up to the car and saw Williams holding a crack pipe in her right hand. The bottom part of the pipe was wrapped in a washcloth to prevent lip burns.
The officer knocked on the window, and the woman inside tried to hide the pipe. Once she rolled down the window, the officer said the "smell of burnt crack cocaine was overwhelming."
Williams got out of the car and began yelling that she was a social worker and the pipe belonged to her husband. A search of her car turned up a small amount of crack cocaine.
She later told police she was having family problems and relapsed. The 5-year-old girl in the car with her was taken into the custody of the Department of Human Resources.
Williams told police she was the substance abuse director for Olivia's House, according to court records. Efforts to reach Williams and Olivia House officials for comment were unsuccessful. A woman who answered the phone at the center said Williams was the clinical manager there.
Court records show Williams is set to make a court appearance on Wednesday.
Source: Birmingham News
November 26, 2014 permalink
Milwaukee child protectors (DCF) thought a mother could not protect her own children, so they were taken into foster care. DCF protected the children so well that an eleven-year-old girl became pregnant. The father-to-be was the teenaged grandson of the foster mother. DCF returned the pregnant girl to her mother, who arranged for an abortion.
11-year-old Milwaukee girl sexually assaulted in foster care
An 11-year-old girl placed in foster care for her safety wound up sexually assaulted and pregnant.
Last December, a mom got a stunning phone call from an urgent care clinic.
“They were at urgent care because my daughter had been complaining about sore throat. She had been really sick," said the mom, who WISN 12 News is not identifying to protect the daughter. “She said, ’Well, your daughter's pregnant.’ I said, ‘What?’”
The woman on the other end of the phone was the foster mother the state tasked with caring for her 11-year-old daughter.
“They took my children away from me, saying I couldn't protect them. Then, she's placed in a home where something horrific like that was able to happen,” the mom said. “I didn't know what to think. I didn't know which way to turn. I felt like my world was just coming down.”
State records show the state removed the 11-year-old from her home on Milwaukee's north side after allegations her mom abused her.
It moved her to live with a foster parent trained to supervise kids with special behavioral needs. It was there prosecutors said the girl was sexually assaulted by that foster mom's 16-year-old grandson. WISN 12 News has learned he has special needs as well.
“We took a child from a home where she was being physically abused, and put her in a home where she's now being sexually abused,” state Rep. LaTonya Johnson said.
Johnson sits on the Committee on Children and Families. She questioned why the girl was in that foster home. State records show two complaints against the foster mother.
The one in 2008 was deemed unfounded. In 2013, the Wisconsin Department of Child and Families reported that "concerns existed related to the level of supervision provided by the treatment foster parent for the child.” DCF said it addressed the concerns with the foster parent.
“To me, that's an immediate red flag,” Johnson said.
DCF left the girl with the foster mom. Four months later, the 11-year-old was pregnant.
As required by law, DCF posted a report of this so-called "egregious incident."
When WISN 12 News asked for details, DCF said state law requires that "All reports be confidential" including "any document relating to the investigation, assessment and disposition of a report."
“They tell you very little what the department did as a result. It doesn't tell you anything about whether the department messed up. If they dropped the ball. If they made the wrong call,” Johnson said. “They claim that it's for the privacy and protection of the child.”
Johnson said the laws actually protect DCF.
“We're protecting them from having to take the heat,” Johnson said.
“I couldn't imagine that. She's still a baby herself,” the mom said.
After the sexual assault, the state returned the 11-year-old to her mom's custody, and together they faced the difficult decision to terminate the pregnancy.
“I didn't want her to have the baby and have the baby be a constant reminder of what happened to her,” the mom said.
She's speaking out in hopes no other family has to go through this.
“I'm quite sure I'm not the only person they failed, and I'm quite sure I'm not the last person they're going to fail,” the mom said.
Last year, DCF reported 34 incidents considered "egregious" in Milwaukee County, including death. So far this year, there have been 15.
The 16-year-old boy was charged with sexual assault but was never tried. The court found him mentally incompetent to stand trial.
The biological mom was never charged with abusing the girl and went through parenting classes. She's relieved to have her daughter home.
If you'd like to see the reports DCF makes public on egregious incidents in Milwaukee County and statewide, click here.
Source: WISN-TV Milwaukee
Two Newfoundland Foster Teens Charged
November 26, 2014 permalink
Two Newfoundland teenagers in foster care are in the news. A thirteen-year-old girl has assaulted a social worker. In a separate incident, another teenaged girl was in a disturbance at a group home in Conception Bay South
Teen assaults social worker, another causes disturbance
The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary arrested a 13-year-old girl Monday afternoon for assaulting a social worker.
The girl was turned over to her parents and will appear in court at a later date.
On Monday night in a separate incident, the RNC charged another teenage girl with mischief after a disturbance at a group home in Conception Bay South.
The 16-year-old was held for court.
Both teens were receiving some kind of government care.
Family Reunited After 32 Months
November 25, 2014 permalink
Christopher Booker reports on the reunification of a Russian-Latvian family living in Holland. The Antonova children are returning from 32 months separation after a judge ruled that they should never have been removed in the first place.
This case illustrates the futility and irrelevance of the court process in child protection. When a family has been wronged, the courts take so long to get things corrected that the family suffers irreparable damage. This abuse cannot be corrected until the interlocutory rules are changed. Children should stay with their parents until after an evidentiary hearing demonstrates that there is a need for child removal.
Twins returned to family after 32 months of hell spent in 'care’
A Dutch case of children kidnapped by the state mirrors what is being done on an unprecedented scale to so many families in Britain, says Christopher Booker.
Anyone wishing to see just how shocking the behaviour of our “child protection” system can be should watch an utterly chilling video on YouTube (see below: “Kidnap of children from their mother by Dutch social services…”). It shows 11-year-old twins screaming in protest as they are seized by social workers and carried off by a mob of policemen, from the loving home they have now not seen for nearly three years.
Although they belong to a Russian-Latvian family resident for years in Holland, it is a scene re-enacted every day in Britain, thanks to a system that the Dutch children’s minister said in 2009 should be an “inspiration” to social workers in his own country. Having reported on this awful story more than once before, I now write about it again because this very day, in the town of Nijmegen, those children will be rushing joyfully into the arms of their mother and their brother Ilja Antonovs (who shot the film) – because last week, a judge ruled that the children should never have been removed in the first place.
I have followed this case because, in so many ways, it mirrors what is being done on an unprecedented scale to so many families in Britain – except that here it is usually not possible to report on them in anything like such graphic detail. This is due to the suffocating secrecy surrounding what our social workers and family courts get up to. As so often in Britain, the Dutch case involves the system colluding with a dysfunctional and absent father to remove children from their family on quite ludicrous grounds, the chief of them being merely that, when at home, the children spoke Russian, not Dutch.
Since March 2012, their mother and Ilja, now 26, have fought an extraordinary battle through the courts, with the aid of two capable and committed lawyers, to get the twins freed from the “living facility” where they were placed by the social workers, at a yearly cost to Dutch taxpayers of €80,000 (£60,000) for each child. Twice the Dutch court of appeal ruled that the children, who were utterly miserable, deprived of their phones, forbidden to watch television or read newspapers, and generally mistreated, should be returned home – only on each occasion for this to be overturned by a judge in a lower, family court. The case has attracted considerable publicity in Russia and Latvia, and even, after it was reported here, in leading Dutch newspapers.
Finally, one judge asked for an assessment of all the family by an independent psychologist. She could not have produced a more favourable report, or been more coruscating about the conduct of the social workers. She was particularly contemptuous of their absurd claim that the only reason for holding the children so long was the mother’s failure to “co-operate with professionals”, an excuse only too familiar here in Britain.
The children, the psychologist found, had been traumatised by the whole experience, as by the quite unnecessary placing of the girl in a “special needs” school, and they should be freed to return home immediately. Last Monday, the judge agreed, and today the family will be reunited.
The real hero of this story is Ilja, who has twice had to miss his place at St Andrews University because of his need to fight for his family, for humanity, for justice and for truth. His tireless efforts to get publicity for his family’s plight on one occasion landed him in prison, on another forced him to flee abroad. I only hope St Andrews will now recognise what an impressive young man he is, as at long last, he hopes to take up his promised place there.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Advocate Gets CAS to Investigate Abusive Foster Home
November 22, 2014 permalink
Vern Beck found child abuse in a foster home in which CAS failed to alert police about reports of abuse. A day after he posted the story on Facebook, police showed up to interview foster children and action is underway by CAS to have the home closed.
Within the past 15 minutes I finished a video recorded interview with a boy who described how his CAS foster father sexually assaulted him while the boy was bathing in the bathtub. The boy describes that the CAS foster father did this while the foster mother was out of the house.
In addition the CAS workers have become aware of this from other children in the home but as of tonight have not called the police nor have taken the other foster children out of the home. It seems that the CAS workers (unregistered) are trying to prevent a police investigation into sexual abuse of young boys in this home.
I will be contacting the police and the CAS workers to let them know that I have the boy's disclosure video recorded and that full police investigation is required. The boy also states on the video that he does not trust the CAS workers and that the only person he trusts to reveal this information to is myself.
Tragically, many children have lost all faith in CAS workers who as we all know are not registered with the Ontario College of Social Workers.
Vernon Beck An update to this story: 24 hours after I interviewed a boy who alleged he was being sexually abused in a CAS foster home, police came to interview the boy as well. The police interviewed the other boys in the CAS foster home and found that they reported being sexually abused as well. Another CAS foster home will be shut down. More details to follow.
Vernon Beck I already got the boy returned after I had previously videotaped him and contacted the CAS early in the summer The boy was a Crown Ward for over 8 years. Once CAS was notified of my previous interview, they made arrangements to have him returned to his good home where he belonged all along. This sexual abuse came to light after the boy had been returned to his parents in spite of the CAS wanting to keep the kid in the abuse home as long as they could. The kid was a cash cow to the CAS.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
Be Careful Calling Poison Control
November 22, 2014 permalink
Parents now need fear calling poison control when their child ingests a possibly toxic substance. An anonymous mother found her baby chewing ant bait. She is worried poison control will alert CPS.
Will poison control call CPS on me?
Ok, so just now I was getting ready in the bathroom with the baby (he's 10 months) he crawled behind the toilet and got an ant bait and was chewing on it. He didn't appear to ingest anything. (We put it there before he was born and didn't realize it was there).
I called poison control. She said he should be fine. But she asked for my address, will she call CPS? I'm worried.
I know it's horrible. I'm crying feeling like the worst mother in the world.
I actually crawled on my hands and knees to baby proof my house. We have outlet covers, latches on the cabinets, dressers mounted to the walls, we threw away all of the other ant baits and somehow missed this one. It's my roommate's bathroom and I rarely use it. (Hence why I don't clean it regularly.)
Social Worker Forced Entry
November 21, 2014 permalink
When a CPS worker returned to the home of Laura and Jason Hagan for a follow-up visit, the parents refused to let them in without court authority. The worker called for police help. While their three children were watching, police repeatedly pepper sprayed and tasered the parents and the family dog, continuing their assault even after being alerted of Jason's recent hospital visit for chest pains. Police charges of resisting arrest were dismissed by the local court, and the parents are now suing the police officers.
Parents Tasered, Sprayed, Handcuffed—as Kids Watch
Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:
On November 14, 2014, Home School Legal Defense Association filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against Chief Sheriff’s Deputy David Glidden and Sheriff Darren White of the sheriff’s department of Nodaway County, Missouri. The suit charges Glidden and White with unlawfully forcing their way into the home of HSLDA members Laura and Jason Hagan on September 30, 2011, in violation of their Fourth Amendment rights.
A child protective services (CPS) caseworker had been inside the home several days earlier to investigate a report of a messy house and had returned for a follow-up visit. When Jason and Laura declined to allow her inside she summoned Glidden and White.
When Deputy Glidden arrived at the Hagans’ home he demanded to be allowed inside. Jason opened the door and told Glidden that he could not enter unless he had a court order.
Glidden said he would enter anyway.
At the Front Door
As Jason turned to go back inside, Glidden sprayed him with pepper spray—first at the back of his head and then directly in his face. Glidden also sprayed Laura, who fell to the floor. Glidden then turned to Jason, who was still standing, and shot him in the back with his Taser. As Jason fell, Laura closed the front door. Glidden triggered the Taser three more times through the closed door.
Sheriff White joined Glidden on the front porch. Together they forced open the door and found Laura and Jason lying on the floor. Glidden sprayed Laura in the face a second time while White sprayed Jason and tried to turn him over onto his stomach.
Laura shouted to the officers that Jason had been taken to the emergency room earlier in the week for chest pains. White nevertheless continued attempting to turn Jason over and sprayed him a third time when he was unsuccessful. The officers also sprayed the Hagans’ dog with chemical agent and threatened to shoot it if it didn’t stop barking.
Finally, the officers handcuffed and arrested Laura and Jason and charged them with resisting arrest and child endangerment.
All of this took place in front of the Hagans’ three young children, who were then taken to the emergency room to be evaluated for exposure to pepper spray.
No Child-Welfare Exception to the Fourth Amendment
At Jason and Laura’s trial, the judge determined that White and Glidden had violated the Fourth Amendment when they forcibly entered the Hagans’ home without a warrant. “The State has not offered sufficient, if indeed any, evidence of an exception that would justify a warrantless entry,” the judge wrote in his ruling. The case against Laura and Jason was dismissed.
HSLDA is representing the Hagans in a lawsuit against the two officers who attacked Jason and Laura and terrified their three young children in their own home.
The Fourth Amendment strikes a carefully crafted balance between a family’s right to privacy and the government’s need to enforce the law. In most situations, government agents cannot simply force their way into a home. Instead, they must explain to a neutral magistrate why they need to enter the home, and they must provide real evidence to support that need. This rule applies to all government agents. Court after court has agreed that there is no social services exception to the Fourth Amendment.
All too often, law enforcement officers and child-welfare workers act as if the Fourth Amendment does not apply to CPS investigations. They are wrong. The Fourth Amendment is a legal shield that protects people from exactly the kind of mistreatment the Hagans endured.
HSLDA is firmly committed to protecting the front door against unlawful invasions. As the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said in HSLDA’s seminal Fourth Amendment case Calabretta v. Floyd, “The government’s interest in the welfare of children embraces not only protecting children from physical abuse, but also protecting children’s interest in the privacy and dignity of their homes and in the lawfully exercised authority of their parents.”
The court added, “The reasonable expectation of privacy of individuals in their homes includes the interests of both parents and children in not having government officials coerce entry in violation of the Fourth Amendment and humiliate the parents in front of the children.”
High Cost to Children
According to Doriane L. Coleman, a Duke University law professor, ignoring the Fourth Amendment rights of families during CPS investigations comes at a high cost to the very children government agents are supposed to be protecting. In her aptly-named article, Storming the Castle to Save the Children: The Ironic Costs of a Child-welfare Exception to the Fourth Amendment, Professor Coleman says that home investigations “epitomize deep intrusion[s] in both symbolic and actual respects.” They can shatter the innocence of even the youngest of children, causing a broad range of emotional responses, including “trauma, anxiety, fear, shame, guilt, stigmatization, powerlessness, self-doubt, depression, and isolation.” (47 William and Mary Law Review 444 (2005)).
All of this makes Fourth Amendment litigation a serious matter. It is a crucial part of defending our civil liberties. When HSLDA takes cases like the Hagans’, we do not intend to show disrespect for law enforcement officers. We know that they have a difficult job.
But there are rules, and they exist for a reason.
Law enforcement can only work if our officers follow the laws themselves. If we stand by and allow law enforcement to flagrantly disregard our Fourth Amendment rights, those rights will be eroded and eventually ignored. And real parents and real children will continue to be harmed.
Cases like this one don’t just protect the rights of one family. They protect the rights of everyone.
Would you please consider standing with Laura and Jason Hagan by supporting the HSLDA’s Homeschool Freedom Fund? Your tax-deductible donation will be used to pursue this and other civil-rights cases.
Thank you for all you do to support homeschooling and parental freedoms.
HSLDA Senior Counsel
Alberta Reverts to Foster Death Secrecy
November 20, 2014 permalink
Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley says that regulations approved by the legislature without discussion amount to undoing the legislation opening records of provincial foster deaths.
Alberta NDP leader slams Tories’ publication ban rules
EDMONTON - In a searing minority report, NDP Leader Rachel Notley said a Tory-dominated committee flouted 12 expert opinions and ignored opposition pleas to reconsider new rules governing publication bans for children who die in provincial care.
Notley said the committee passed a regulation written by Alberta Human Services “with barely any deliberation,” despite expert concerns from the Child and Youth Advocate, the Privacy Commissioner, several child advocacy groups and the Canadian Media Lawyers Association (CMLA).
In the three-page report, Notley says the committee was “careless” and the resulting regulations “effectively reinstate the publication ban and further reduce transparency and accountability in the ... death review process.”
“Both the process and the regulations as passed are deficient and do a disservice to the children in government care and to the public interest in improving conditions for them,” Notley wrote.
Early in 2014, the province repealed a sweeping publication ban that prevented media from publishing the names of children who died in provincial care, replacing it with a law that allowed families, government and others to apply for a ban when required. That application process is ex-parte, which means it can be done by going before a judge without notifying anyone.
This means the government can apply for a ban without notifying family members, and anyone can apply for a ban without notifying the media.
“The Supreme Court of Canada has explicitly stated that publication bans must be exceptional and that the removal of notice requirements ... is a ‘significant step backward’ in Alberta law,” Notley wrote, citing the submission from the CMLA.
“Several of the government’s own appointees and acknowledged subject experts noted that the use of an ex-parte process ... will create imbalances in application,” explaining that court applications are easier for government lawyers to navigate than vulnerable families who have lost children in care.
Further, Notley said the new guidelines governing when the province will seek a ban means “virtually all children who die in the care of this government will remain subject to a publication ban.”
Human Services Minister Heather Klimchuk said she is aware of the report but hasn’t read it, and that she has no plans to reopen the legislation. However, she said she will look at the concerns about ex-parte applications.
“If that’s something I need to look at, I will look at that,” she said. “As the new minister, these are issues that are very important to me. All I know is that as of late, we have not applied for any publication bans.
“I can assure you they’re only used for very good reason.”
Source: Edmonton Journal
Reform Cuts Half of British Adoptions
November 20, 2014 permalink
After Judge Munby handed down a judgment requiring social workers to do their job properly, adoptions in Britain have dropped by 51 percent. Christopher Booker also reports that Peter Lewis, the man in charge when Jonas Stadden died in foster care, is collecting annual pay of £318,000 for a four day week.
Adoptions collapse after judge denounces 'sloppy’ social workers
The Government’s flagship adoptions policy lies in ruins
Scarcely a day goes by now without more public evidence of disquiet at how lamentably our “child protection” system has gone off the rails. On Tuesday, for the second time, parents convinced that their children had been wrongly removed from them went to Brussels to appear before a sympathetic committee of the European Parliament. This time they were protesting at the ruthless pressures brought on them by social workers for daring to put their case to the MEPs. It prompted one committee member, Tatyana Zdanoka, to say: “In my experience the UK is unique in Europe for the secrecy of its family courts and for the threats and bullying by authorities of parents who want to speak out about their treatment.”
In Somerset, where I live, there has been some stir over the sacking of a second director of our county’s children’s services department, in advance of yet another Ofsted report giving it the lowest possible rating of “inadequate”.
Peter Lewis, who came from Haringey, where he replaced Sharon Shoesmith after her sacking over the “Baby P” scandal, was revealed last summer to be earning £318,000 for working a four-day week. Yet this was the man at the top last winter when I reported one of the most tragic cases I have ever covered. This was the death in his council’s “care” of a much-loved little Down’s syndrome boy, Jonas Stadden, when our county coroner refused to hold an inquest on the truly appalling circumstances surrounding the way the child died (see my articles in January: “A mother’s diary records the death of a boy in care” and “Parents 'numb with grief” as inquest is refused”).
And now we have startling evidence of how an excoriatory landmark judgment last year by the head of the Family Division, Lord Justice Munby, has blown a mighty hole in the Government’s flagship policy that requires many more of the 68,000 children in state care in England and Wales to be placed for adoption, and all within a maximum of 26 weeks. Emphasising yet again how sending a child for adoption is one of the most draconian decisions anyone can take, Munby ruled in the case of “Re: B-S” that the “sloppy practices” of too many of those involved in the child protection system “must stop”. The inadequate “reasoning put forward in support of the case for adoption” by local authorities, and also by “too many judgments”, he said, was “nothing new”. “But it is time,” he warned, “to call a halt.”
Now we can see the results of Munby’s judgment in the latest figures showing that, between April and June this year, the number of “placements” for adoption fell from the same period in 2013 by a staggering 51 per cent. The Government’s flagship policy lies in ruins: all because the social workers and judges have been told on the highest authority to start doing their job properly.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Missing Boys in Peterborough
November 19, 2014 permalink
Levi Moore, 13, and Connor Bolton, 10, are missing in Peterborough. Since there is no mention of family in the news, they could be escaped foster children.
Two boys remain missing
Two runaway boys were still missing late Tuesday night, a day after Peterborough police revealed their disappearance.
Const. Peter Sejrup said the boys, aged 13 and 10, were still listed as missing as of late Tuesday night .
Levi Moore is 13, white, 5'2" and 100 pounds with brown hair and prominent eyebrows. He was wearing an orange Philadelphia Flyers jersey, black pants and a black bicycle helmet, police said, and was riding a black and red Supercycle bicycle.
Connor Bolton is 10, aboriginal, 4'5" and 80 pounds with dyed red hair. He was wearing a camoflague coat, black pants, a red DC ball cap and a black/brown bicycle helmet. He was riding a blue and white Dirt Jumper bicycle.
The boys were last seen unday at about 11:10 a.m. in the area of the Walmart on Chemong Rd., police said.
Bolton was also seen at the Esso station/Macs convenience store at Hwy. 7 and Old Keene Rd. at about 2:30 a.m. Monday, police said.
The boys are believed to still be together, Sejrup said.
Anyone knowing their whereabouts can call city police at 705-876-1122 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.
Source: Peterborough Examiner
Nameless Baby Taken over Unadjudicated Allegations
November 18, 2014 permalink
A Montreal mother has lost her baby daughter to Batshaw Youth and Family Centres. She has spent two years jumping hoops for Batshaw. She did anger management with the therapy. The baby's grandmother tried to get custody, but Batshaw disqualified her. It seems grandma is herself a former foster child. Recently visits with the baby have been cut back because of allegations of abuse by a social worker. There is of course, no tribunal to adjudicate the allegations. As usual in this kind of case, Batshaw is mum. The family cannot mention their own name or the name of the baby in public.
Young mother fights to get her 4-year-old back from youth protection
MONTREAL – A 20-year-old mother of two will never forget the day her first-born daughter was taken away by youth protection in May of 2012.
“That was one of the worst days of my life when I lost her. Everything fell apart, and it’s been a fight ever since to get her back,” said the young mother who Global News can’t identity to protect the child’s identity.
The four-year-old girl was first placed in foster care over allegations of neglect and physical abuse between her biological parents. Her mother has been fighting to get custody for more than two years, and insists she’s done everything her social workers have requested.
“I did therapy. They said anger management, I did anger management with the therapy,” said the mother, “It’s false hope all the time, do this and then we’ll send her back and then, nothing!”
The child’s maternal grandmother has also attempted to get custody, but says she was denied due to her history with youth protection.
“I was also a DYP child, well what was called Ville Marie at the time. Because my children were in the DYP system they refused me to have my granddaughter.”
The mother says her weekly visits with her daughter have recently been reduced over allegations that the four-year-old was sexually assaulted by both her mother and her new 19 year-old boyfriend.
“To be accused, I’m her mother — that’s the last thing I would do to my daughter!”
Both the mother and boyfriend blame the social worker for what they call false accusations.
“I think he’s just stupid because he has no proof on it he’s just putting this stuff in her head,” said the 19-year-old, who is now no longer allowed to even see the four-year-old. The mother is hoping to increase her visitation rights but doubts she’ll get her daughter back anytime soon.
“There’s so many times I want to cry with her and I know I have to hold back the tears and tell her, ‘it’s ok, I’ll see you again in a few days or in a week at the next visit,’” she said.
Batshaw Youth and Family Centres has refused Global News’ request for an interview on this case. But we are told there is a specific process in place to investigate sexual and physical abuse allegations. The little girl’s family adamantly denies there was ever any sexual abuse.
“I think it’s all just pathetic, they’re looking for any way to try to keep my daughter in foster care,” her mother said.
The director of Head and Hands in NDG believes young parents are often victims of discrimination.
“We see a lot of cases like this,” said Jon McPhedran Waitzer. “Young parents by and large are labelled by pretty much everyone in their lives. And unfortunately sometimes the most so by the institutions that are there to support them as people who have made bad decisions and who are [going to] continue making bad decisions.”
There’s a new child in the picture since September. The young mother in question just gave birth to a second baby girl. But her family is still far from complete. She dreams of the day when she’ll have both her daughters at home.
“I just want youth protection to know that no matter how hard they try it’s not gonna work,” she said, “I’m never gonna give up on my daughter as long as it takes, she will come home!”
Source: Global News
DHS Dog Bites Boy
November 18, 2014 permalink
An Oklahoma family had their son taken into foster care a week age. There he was mauled by a dog. The family cannot say the boy's name in public. They cannot publish pictures of their injured child. The state DHS will not respond to questions about the incident, giving instead a paragraph from one of their manuals.
Child attacked by dog while in foster care, Oklahoma family demanding answers
SEMINOLE COUNTY, Okla. – A child is attacked by a dog while in foster care, now one Oklahoma family demands answers.
They feel like the state has let them down, but the Oklahoma DHS says this was just a terrible accident.
Just last month, the little one year old boy was the picture of happiness. But a picture taken this weekend shows nothing but pain.
His face scarred, with close to 20 stitches across his cheek.
“I want someone to pay for my grandson’s disfigurement,” said Tracy McNabb, the young man’s grandmother.
The little boy, whose name will remain anonymous, was taken by DHS last week and placed into a foster home.
“The person they were put in care with had a dog,” said Kathy Hudson, concerned family member. “The dog attacked him.”
“I’ve heard he had extensive face surgery, and many stitches,” said McNabb. “The system that is supposed to protect children, totally failed.”
Today, Oklahoma DHS showed KFOR their policy regarding foster home’s with pets:
Animal and household pet safety.
- Animals are in good health, do not show evidence of carrying disease and do not present a threat to the health, safety, or welfare of children.
- Documentation of current rabies vaccinations administered by a licensed veterinarian for dogs, cats, and other applicable pets is provided by the Bridge resource applicant or parent.
- When an animal bites a child, the Bridge resource applicant or parent contacts the assigned child welfare (CW) specialist immediately.
OK-DHS tells KFOR while they’re aware of the situation, this truly was an accident.
“My question is, what kind of care giver is that,” said Hudson. “Do you still trust them?”
According to the DHS, the child was placed into another foster home on Monday.
Social Worker Stabbed
November 17, 2014 permalink
A New Jersey social worker is on life support after being stabbed 21 times. No names are available.
Social worker stabbed 21 times in Camden office building
A New Jersey social worker is hospitalized after being stabbed repeatedly inside a state office building.
CAMDEN, N.J. (WPVI) --
A New Jersey social worker is hospitalized after being stabbed repeatedly inside a state office building.
The stabbing occurred around 1:30 p.m. Monday in an office building on the 100 block of Haddon Avenue.
Action News is told the woman, who is an employee with the Department of Children and Families, was stabbed 21 times in the incident.
"She was on top of her just stabbing her and stabbing her," Angel Moore explained.
Moore, of Camden, tells Action News that she was with her caseworker on the fourth floor of the state office building when the attack occurred.
She says it was that much more terrifying to see the attacker was someone she has known since childhood - someone Moore described as a person who has been dealing with mental issues for years.
"I know she's been through some stuff. She takes medication. I just talked to her mom, she has not been taking her medication," Moore said.
Witnesses we spoke with say the attacker simply pulled out a knife and started stabbing the employee repeatedly.
The victim was rushed to Cooper University Hospital for treatment. She underwent surgery and is now on life support.
Larry Randall, the victim's union representative, says this incident could have been avoided if this building was equipped with metal detectors.
Randall says, "It's almost appalling. Because if you think about what our members do ... you need to be protected when you're inside these buildings."
The attacker did run from the building, but police say a suspect has been arrested.
The names of the victim and suspect have not yet been released.
Source: WPVI-TV Philadelphia
The next day the attacker was named as Taisha Edwards. The social worker in critical condition is Leah R Coleman. The attack came two days after police were removed from child welfare offices.
Camden woman identified as attacker in child welfare worker stabbing
CAMDEN — The woman who brutally attacked a social worker on Monday with a knife — stabbing her more than 20 times, according to reports — has been identified as a city resident.
Taisha Edwards, 30, was charged with criminal attempted murder, aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a knife, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and unlawful possession of a weapon.
She is being held in the Camden County Jail on $500,000 bail. A court date has yet to be set, Andy McNeil, public information officer for the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, said.
Leah R. Coleman, 29, of Camden, who works with the Department of Children and Families, was reportedly stabbed multiple times shortly after 1 p.m. inside the state office building along Haddon Avenue.
Edwards was monitored by Coleman, police and union officials said.
Camden County officials said Coleman was in critical but stable condition as of Tuesday morning. She was transported to Cooper University Hospital in critical condition following the attack.
The attack comes two days after the departments of Children and Families and Human Services reorganized the Human Services police force and pulled all of its officers out of the children welfare offices to save money on overtime, a long-standing problem in the department.
New Jersey could respond to the attack by implementing more family-friendly policies, or by stepping up security. They chose the security option.
Following N.J. caseworker stabbing, Camden building will get armed guards and security officers
TRENTON — Armed guards and security officers with metal detector wands will be stationed inside a Camden office building following the violent attack Monday on a child welfare caseworker by a client she had been supervising, a top union official said today.
After a contentious and emotional morning meeting today between child welfare employees and Department of Children and Families Commissioner Allison Blake, the decision was made later in the day to install security and armed guards at the Haddon Avenue building, said Hetty Rosenstein, state area director for the Communications Workers of America.
Blake’s spokesman Ernest Landante did not return a call or email seeking comment. The department has not made any public statement since the attack.
But child welfare workers in Camden and across the state have asked for far more protection, Rosenstein said. The union filed a grievance Monday night demanding security guards and metal detectors for each of their county and local offices.
They also want the Christie administration to reconstitute the special Human Services Police unit that until Saturday had officers inside many offices, not for security purposes but in order to escort caseworkers to dangerous homes or help locate missing children. The child protection unit was disbanded to alleviate excessive overtime costs, according to the Department of Human Services, which oversees the 92-member police force.
“It should not take someone nearly stabbed to death to get security in every office,” Rosenstein said.
Taisha Edwards, 30 of Camden entered the building Monday at 1:10 p.m.and attacked Leah R. Coleman, 29, a caseworker for the Division of Children Protection and Permanency, with a steak knife, stabbing her multiple times, according to police. A fellow employee pulled Edwards off Coleman, who is in critical but stable condition at Cooper University Hospital, Camden, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
Coleman is “awake and smiling at times. It sounds like she is doing okay,” Rosenstein said. “She is not out of the woods yet.”
Edwards was charged with criminal attempted murder, aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a knife, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and unlawful Possession of a Weapon. She is being held at the Camden County Jail on $500,000 bail, according to a statement from Camden County Prosecutor Mary Eva Colalillo and Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson this morning.
The attack comes two days after the departments of Children and Families and Human Services reorganized the Human Services police force and disbanded a unit created a decade ago to improve working conditions at what was widely regarded as a mismanaged and under-funded child welfare system. Over the years, however, the overtime became a source of strife for officers not assigned to the child welfare unit, according to current and former state officials and officers. Beginning Saturday, police officers have been stationed at three state psychiatric hospitals spread out across the state and are dispatched wherever they are needed.
Since the assault, a Human Services spokeswoman has denied that Human Services police officers had ever been “stationed” inside the offices or were removed from them last week. But Rosenstein, as well as four other past and present child welfare employees and police officers who spoke to New Jersey Advance Media on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to speak to the press said officers reported to work at these offices every day.
Child welfare workers are “traumatized” by the attack on their colleague, Rosenstein said. “We’ve got petitions signed by thousands of workers” to bring the officers back, she added.
Addendum: Leah R Coleman was released from the hospital on December 1.
Adopting Stolen Children
November 17, 2014 permalink
Iowa held an adoption ceremony in which hundreds of families finalized their adoptions. But outside the courthouse some real parents reminded them that they were receiving stolen goods.
‘We Want Our Kids Back,’ Protestors Gather Outside Courthouse on Adoption Saturday
DES MOINES, Iowa – Hundreds of families made their adoptions final at the Polk County Courthouse during the “Adoption Saturday” event.
For some adoptive families it can take months even years for the state and or adoption agencies to make sure the home is suitable and stable for children to be adopted into. After three years of caring for her now son, Cayden, Julie Hess, says today was about giving Cayden a better life.
“They don`t have to worry about where they are gonna go the next day or the day after, its permanency for them.”
However there are some families not in favor of “Adoption Saturday.”
“I want them back. They should have never been taken from me,” says Jeanne Munson as she protest outside of the courthouse.
She says family members should be considered first before children of the state are adopted by what she calls “strangers.”
“They shouldn’t be taking these kids away from parents and grandparents and families that love them then putting them in a strange home,” says Munson.
Munson cared for her four young grandchildren until the Department of Human Services removed and separated them into different homes in 2009. The last time she saw all four of her grandchildren together was this summer.
Munson says the courts and the Department of Human Services did not take into consideration the children’s well – being under her care. Instead she says the state is corrupt by purposely trying to divide families and luring adoptive families with cash.
“That`s how they get people to adopt children and that`s how they get foster families to adopt children is by giving them a paycheck.”
For over a year, Munson and the other protestors have met with legislators to pass a bill allowing family members easier access to adopt relatives. Munson says, ” We want to make sure that families get the opportunity to adopt these children or take a guardianship over them before the state can get a hold of them.”
However, if it wasn’t for the state and other adoption agencies, Hess says there would be nothing worth celebrating on “Adoption Saturday.”
“He needs a safe environment for his young life. That`s what he needs.”
The group of protestors plan to meet with legislators next week.
They All Look the Same to Me
November 17, 2014 permalink
A social worker looking for a child in a Massachusetts school grabbed the wrong boy. Melissa Gauthier says her son Makya was taken in a mistake that could have been tragic.
Mom: DCF mix-up lands child in care of stranger
FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — The mother of a Fall River student said she is furious with the Massachusetts Department of Child and Family Services. She said a DCF worker mistakenly signed out her 8-year-old son from school on Friday.
According to Melissa Gauthier, a social worker was able to sign out a student from the office of William S. Green Elementary, then take her son, Makya, by the arm out the front door before realizing she had the wrong child.
Gauthier explained to a Boston TV news station that her son was told by the social worker she was there to take him to see his parents.
Aside from the mix-up, there was no reported harm and Makya was picked up and taken home by his father moments later.
But, for a mother, this is a mistake that could have had terrible consequences.
“I’m furious because God forbid that wasn’t a DCF worker. It’s scary for me, let alone my 8-year-old song who’s asking himself what happened to my Mom and Dad as he’s being taken out by his arm by a stranger. “
DCF reportedly told Gauthier they will investigate what happened.
Parents: Judge Could Replace YOU!
November 16, 2014 permalink
What do judges really think of parents? At a training seminar for juvenile court judges Maricopa county Arizona judge Mark Brain says what he thinks of parents. As recorded on YouTube or local copy (mp4) he says: "I could find better parents for every kid that we know, probably."
No Cursing Near Kids
November 16, 2014 permalink
In New Jersey cursing in front of a child is child abuse. The state supreme court is considering the constitutionality of the law applied to foster dad John Tate.
NJ Anti-Cursing Statute Under Free-Speech Attack
Lawyers representing a Morris County man and the American Civil Liberties Union are asking the New Jersey Supreme Court to upend a 70-year-old statute that allows for a finding of neglect if an adult habitually uses foul language in front of a minor.
The lawyers told the court Nov. 10 that the statute, N.J.S.A. 9:6-3, is unconstitutional as it runs afoul of the First Amendment. The statute says a non-parent can be found guilty of a fourth-degree crime and be subject to a finding of neglect if he or she habitually uses “profane, indecent or obscene language” around a minor in that adult’s care so as to debauch the child’s morals.
Defendant John Tate has long finished his sentence after pleading guilty to that crime more than five years ago, but he is now seeking permission to withdraw the plea.
“It’s hard to imagine that the use of a swear word could equal a felony,” said Tate’s attorney, Jersey City, N.J., solo Michael Pastacaldi. “It leads to an absurd result.”
The statute, he said, has to be declared unconstitutional.
Pastacaldi posited the hypothetical situation in which a father and son are at a hockey game. The father lets the expletives fly at a series of bad calls and he suddenly finds himself facing criminal charges.
That is not what the Legislature could have intended, Pastacaldi said, adding that life, and the use of language, has changed markedly since that statute was enacted.
“There is the right of a father to be frustrated in front of his child,” Pastacaldi said.
Justice Barry Albin noted that Tate did not specify what language he used when he pleaded guilty to the crime.
“I agree,” Pastacaldi said. “That’s why this court should not accept that plea.”
The judge who took the plea, Albin said, should have asked Tate to be more specific.
“That’s correct,” Pastacaldi said.
The ACLU’s attorney, C.J. Griffin, told the court that it should declare the statute unconstitutional as it is written.
“Curse words cannot be criminalized,” Griffin, of Pashman Stein in Hackensack, N.J., said.
Under questioning from Albin, Griffin conceded that there is no constitutional protection for obscene speech, but added that obscene is difficult to define.
Many parents, she said, curse at the television in front of their children or use off-color language when telling a joke. Under this statute, Griffin said, “that could lead to an 18-month prison term.” That’s the maximum penalty for a fourth-degree crime.
Chief Justice Stuart Rabner asked if the frequency of the use of bad language mattered, and Griffin replied that it did not.
“Is this a matter of public importance?” Rabner asked.
“Yes it is,” Griffin said, “because of the sentencing threat.”
Albin said a ruling in Tate’s favor would mean that the court would be saying that it was OK to use off-color language at home.
“You can’t let an unconstitutional statute stand,” Griffin said.
Assistant Morris County Prosecutor John McNamara Jr. acknowledged that the use of off-color language is more prevalent and accepted today than when the statute was enacted.
Former New York Yankee Bucky Dent “has a middle name in our house,” he noted. The light-hitting Dent hit a three-run home run to lead the Yankees to a 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox in the 1978 American League East tie-breaker game. Since then, he is commonly called Bucky F---ing Dent by Red Sox fans.
Nevertheless, McNamara pointed out that Tate was facing far more serious charges when he agreed to plead guilty to violating this statute.
“There were sufficient factual assertions that satisfied the judge,” he said. “Was it less than perfect? Should there have been a litany of terms? Perhaps. But there is still no basis to set it aside.”
Tate admitted to using language that could debauch the morals of a child, McNamara said. “He did admit to cursing.”
Tate originally was indicted in October 2003 on charges of first-degree sexual assault on a minor, second-degree endangering the welfare of a child and third-degree sexual contact with a child. If convicted, he could have been sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors alleged that he engaged in sexual acts with a 13-year-old boy between September and November 1999, when the youth was his foster son.
On June 4, 2009, prosecutors gave him a one-day offer to plead guilty to the statute now being challenged. He agreed to plead guilty and did so. Superior Court Judge Thomas Manahan sentenced Tate to 1,231 days in prison, which Tate had already served after he was originally indicted and was unable to post bail.
Tate attempted to withdraw his plea before being sentenced, Manahan rejected the motion and said Tate voluntarily had agreed to plead guilty. In March 2013, Appellate Division Judges Margaret Hayden and Joseph Lisa said they saw no reason to overturn Manahan’s ruling, and the Supreme Court then agreed to hear his appeal.
Source: New Jersey Law Journal
Motherisk Finds Woman Had 48 Drinks per Day
November 16, 2014 permalink
The controversy over Motherisk is expanding. Addenda to our previous Motherisk article show a defense posted by the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies. Not shown is an editorial in the Toronto Star calling for an investigation of Motherisk.
Now mother Yvonne Marchand has told her story, broadcast in emails to dozens of recipients including fixcas. Her test came out of a mom vs dad dispute in which she was required to provide a hair sample to Motherisk. Expand to read her transmission letter.
- ypm-1982 at hotmail.com
- rtmq at fixcas.com
- Motherisk Issues
- Thu, 13 Nov 2014 11:50:36 -0500
Three years ago I was in an extremely heated custody battle with my ex. He was very upset at the amount of child support he was ordered to pay me. Because of this he began making false allegations regarding me and alcohol consumption, the CCAS got involved and gave him my daughter.
The CCAS disregarded laws while dealing with me (i.e. I should have been before the courts within 5 days of apprehension; they did not let me see my daughter until I submitted to providing hair strand test from Motherisk, even though the visits would be monitored at an access center, and many more examples that I can provide as I fought them as hard as I could in court.)
I challenged the results of the hair strand test in court as I am sure (then and now) that they were false and/or inaccurate. I got help from another toxicology lab (Viagard - Harvey Tenenbaum, Research Director) and they agreed that the results could not be accurate. I lost at court as I was self-represented and did not know there was a need to or even how to qualify an expert. Marshall Matias, lawyer for CCAS would not let me question my expert and so the judge had no choice but to side with CCAS and Motherisk.
Both her father and CCAS objected to my having unsupervised visits but luckily the judge sided with me and I get to see my daughter six hours per week unsupervised. They refuse to give me overnights until I submit another hair strand test to Motherisk which I am not inclined to do as I dispute the results of both previous test they did on me.
Since I gave custody to her father, feeling that is the only way I could spend time with my daughter unsupervised, he has not taken care of her. He gave my daughter to his mother; I do not approve of this. Her mother lives in a neighborhood I don't think is appropriate (community housing at Jane and Woolner) when between her father and I we make over $120,000 per year. Her grandmother spanks her with a "spank spoon". She complains grandma has too many cockroaches. She has a poor diet (not well balanced), she has barely grown. Her behaviour at school is sometimes problematic. She wants to be with me because I have a beautiful Disney Princess bedroom waiting for her, at present she is in a one bedroom with grandma.
I do intend to go back and fight for custody someday, but am taking time to recover as losing my daughter whom I love so dearly has taken a very hard emotional toll on me. If there even the slight possibility of Motherisk having erred in some way on any of the tests they performed, be it drugs or alcohol, and no one cares enough to investigate the issue, it is a very serious injustice and anyone who is not willing to put in the time or effort should not be working in a government position where you are expected to represent the tax payers. You should not be turning a blind eye to this issue as it affects more than just a handful of cases and not only criminal cases.
Source: email from Yvonne Marchand
Mr Tenenbaum quibbled with the test results for cannabis. But for alcohol, he found that the reported level of use by the client averaged 48 drinks per day, a level that would have led to her death. In reality, Yvonne Marchand is an office worker who showed no signs of office drunkenness during the months in question.
Addendum: Rachel Mendleson continues to hammer at Motherisk in the Toronto Star. Family lawyers are advising their clients not to submit hair samples to Motherisk. If they do test samples, the same lawyers will probably challenge the reliability of the results.
Motherisk concerns a ‘wake-up call’ for family lawyers
The Family Lawyers Association says concerns about the reliability of the hair drug tests performed by the Motherisk lab at Sick Kids will compel lawyers to question expert evidence.
The Family Lawyers Association says the Hospital for Sick Children has “an obligation” to address the unanswered questions surrounding the hair-strand drug and alcohol testing performed by its Motherisk laboratory.
However, even if Sick Kids breaks its silence, the recent Court of Appeal decision that cast doubt on the science Motherisk presented in a 2009 trial will change the way child welfare cases play out in courts across the province, according to the association’s acting chair, Katharina Janczaruk.
“We want to know what has been going on. Frankly, given the amount of reliance we’ve placed in them, they have an obligation to account for it,” Janczaruk said. “But (does) this means that they provide an explanation and we can go on as we did before? I don’t think that’s right. This is a wake-up call.”
More than anything, she said, the case is a reminder that “expert evidence always needs to be challenged.”
In response to questions from the Star on Monday, Sick Kids spokeswoman Matet Nebres said only that the hospital is “reaching out to the Family Lawyers Association of Ontario directly.”
Meanwhile, at Queen’s Park, Ontario’s Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur reiterated that the government is “reviewing” the appeal court decision, but did not give a timeline for the review.
Despite concerns from family and criminal lawyers, a former family court judge, children’s aid societies and opposition critics in the legislature, Sick Kids has repeatedly defended the Motherisk laboratory program, which is valued “in the millions,” according to a recent estimate.
The hospital has not said how many child welfare and criminal cases have been influenced by the same type of analysis Motherisk provided in the case of Toronto mom Tamara Broomfield.
Motherisk no longer tests hair samples for cocaine with the technique that was used in the Broomfield case, according to Sick Kids. But the hospital has not said what type of test the lab currently uses, when it was implemented, or whether it is the technique that was identified in Broomfield’s appeal process as the “gold-standard.”
Until these questions are answered, Toronto family lawyer David Miller said he is “refusing” to allow his clients to submit to hair-strand drug testing at Motherisk.
“These results are being used to remove children from families,” Miller said. “When we are making decisions as fundamental and important as these, we should be using the gold-standard test.”
Broomfield, 31, was convicted of giving her toddler, Malique, a near-lethal dose of cocaine in 2005, based, in part, on testimony from Motherisk’s founder and director, Gideon Koren. Koren said that hair testing showed Malique had regularly ingested very high doses of cocaine for more than a year leading up to the 2005 overdose.
Broomfield’s cocaine-related convictions were overturned in October after fresh evidence was admitted from Craig Chatterton, deputy chief toxicologist in the office of the chief medical examiner in Edmonton. Chatterton criticized the technique Motherisk used to test Malique’s hair as “preliminary,” and said the lab did not seek confirmation with a gold-standard test.
A report from a third expert, Utah toxicologist Douglas Rollins, supported Motherisk’s analysis. Sick Kids has defended the technique used in the Broomfield case as “highly reliable,” based on cross-testing.
Miller predicted that concerns about the reliability of Motherisk’s hair testing “will become part of court cases.”
“The report from Dr. Chatterton — there were questions there that need answering,” he said. “I’m still waiting for the response from Motherisk.”
Tammy Law, another family lawyer in Toronto, said she has also stopped agreeing to have her clients’ hair tested at Motherisk, and will now look at hair-strand test results “with a lot more care.”
“I don’t think people are going to be so readily accepting of these tests anymore, particularly in cases where there is no other evidence … of addiction,” she said.
On Monday, MPP Jim McDonell, Progressive Conservative critic for children and youth services, said the province has had “enough time to come up with a solution,” and provide children’s aid societies with direction.
“This government has the ability to do that. They have access to the experts. It’s time that they use it,” McDonell said. “These are our most vulnerable. These are people who need help. We just need to take a stand.”
Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur said on Monday that the decision in the Broomfield case came after the appeal court “learned there was competing evidence” on the Motherisk test, but that the court “didn’t make any decision on the test, per se.”
“Sick Kids has a lot of confidence in the test. The trial judge is responsible to accept the evidence that is presented to him or her,” she said. “So, it’s up to the trial judge to make a ruling, not the attorney general.”
Asked about the concerns that have been raised by family lawyers, Meilleur said, “That’s why we are reviewing the decision of the court and the argument that was put forward.”
She said she did not know how soon the review would be completed, noting that there are three ministries involved, including the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
Last year, Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commission compelled Sick Kids to release information requested under Freedom of Information legislation that showed Motherisk conducted 23,604 drug and/or alcohol hair tests in 2011. Of those, 95 per cent were billed to public agencies, such as children’s aid societies. Each hair sample could be tested as many as 12 times, according to Sick Kids.
According to the 2013 decision, Motherisk said it was the “primary provider” in Canada of testing for long-term substance-abuse monitoring for social service agencies. The hospital said the program was valued “in the millions,” the decision states.
In light of the concerns surrounding Motherisk, Janczaruk said she reminded members in a newsletter Monday to “be vigilant” and “always ask questions” about expert evidence from the outset of child welfare cases.
“The thing about Motherisk, is that is has really been treated as sacred,” Janczaruk said. “This case indicates that that is an approach that is detrimental to the client.”
Sick Kids said last week that because cases of ingestion of cocaine in children are “extremely rare,” the hospital “has not initiated an extensive review of all hair-testing cases.” Koren and Sick Kids CEO Michael Apkon have declined multiple interview requests.
The Court of Appeal did not comment on how Broomfield’s son got the cocaine that resulted in the 2005 overdose, which left him with permanent brain damage. She has abandoned her appeals on other child-abuse convictions related to the boy.
Source: Toronto Star
Addendum: The province has responded to the press barrage by announcing a review of Motherisk.
Ontario launches review of hair drug tests performed at Sick Kids
Five years’ worth of Motherisk lab’s tests used in child-protection and criminal cases will get a closer look, after a Star investigation.
Queen’s Park will probe five years’ worth of hair drug tests performed by the Hospital for Sick Children, used in child protection and criminal cases, amid an ongoing Star investigation.
Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur said the independent review of Motherisk laboratory program at Sick Kids, led by retired Appeal Court Justice Susan Lang, is a “first step” that could spark a much larger inquiry.
Lang will specifically examine the “adequacy and reliability” of the hair testing method used by Motherisk between 2005 and 2010 in child protection and criminal proceedings, Meilleur said.
Children’s aid societies depend heavily on Motherisk’s hair tests, which are routinely accepted without challenge in courts across Ontario as evidence of parental substance abuse, and have influenced an unknown number of child custody decisions.
Cabinet decided Wednesday to launch the investigation, following a Court of Appeal decision that cast doubt over the evidence Motherisk presented in the trial of Toronto mother Tamara Broomfield.
Broomfield was found guilty in 2009 of giving her toddler a near-lethal dose of cocaine in 2005, based in part on Motherisk’s tests of the boy’s hair. Her cocaine convictions were tossed after fresh expert evidence criticized the tests as “preliminary.”
She served more than half of a seven-year prison sentence before she was released last year on bail, pending appeal, and lost custody of her son.
Meilleur said the retired judge’s review is the best way to ensure public confidence in the system.
“Part of the purpose of this review will be to determine whether additional reviews should be undertaken with respect to specific cases or classes of cases,” she said. “This is a first step. It may end there.”
Lang will submit a report to the province by next June 30, Meilleur said.
The attorney general said Lang, who was appointed to the bench in 1989 and named to the Court of Appeal for Ontario on 2004, is an expert in family law.
“We have no doubt she is the best person to do that,” Meilleur said.
Sick Kids spokeswoman Gwen Burrows said the hospital “welcomes the independent review” and is “confident that the questions which have been raised over the past few weeks will be addressed through this process.”
“Our teams look forward to working closely with Justice Lang throughout this review,” Burrows said in an email. “We will carefully consider any recommendations that may be made to improve processes associated with this complex and evolving area of analytical laboratory science.”
Toronto criminal lawyer Daniel Brown praised the province’s decision to launch the probe.
“The government has taken a huge step forward to address the concerns surrounding forensic hair testing raised in the Broomfield case,” said Brown, who tried in 2010 to get her trial judge to reopen her case to take another look at the scientific evidence.
“Moving forward, I hope that courts will exercise caution in relying on the results of hair-testing analysis without assurances that the science is an accurate indicator of alcohol or drug consumption,” he said.
The Motherisk review, which will be officially announced on Friday, is the latest in a series of high-profile inquiries into Sick Kids, dating back decades.
In October 2008, Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Stephen Goudge issued a report lambasting forensic pathology’s state of affairs in the wake of the inquiry into flawed child death investigations by former Sick Kids pediatric pathologist Charles Smith.
In 1984, then Justice Samuel Grange led a royal commission investigating a series of baby deaths at Sick Kids, but in the end, no one was held criminally responsible.
Calls for the province to examine past Motherisk cases have been mounting since the October appeal court decision in the Broomfield case.
At Broomfield’s trial, Motherisk founder and director Gideon Koren testified that tests of the boy’s hair showed he had regularly ingested very high doses of cocaine for more than a year leading up to a 2005 overdose.
The appeal court decision came after Craig Chatterton, deputy chief toxicologist in the office of the chief medical examiner in Edmonton, said the “gold-standard” technique was not used.
Chatterton, who gave his opinion as an independent consultant, also said the tests should have been conducted in a forensic lab, rather than in a clinical lab, like Motherisk.
Based on the conclusions Motherisk presented, Chatterton claimed it was “not possible” to determine whether the boy had ingested or been exposed to cocaine over an extended period.
Despite repeated requests, Sick Kids has not said how many other child welfare cases were influenced by the same type of analysis. The hospital has defended the reliability of its Motherisk program, as well as the test used in the Broomfield case.
Sick Kids has said Motherisk has been using the gold-standard technique to test hair for cocaine since 2010, and defends the technique used in 2005 in the Broomfield case as “highly reliable,” based on cross-testing.
That leaves a question hanging over at least five years of cases.
Motherisk performed more than 23,000 hair tests in 2011 — 95 per cent of which were billed to public agencies, such as children’s aid societies, according to documents related to a freedom of information request. (Sick Kids has said each hair sample could be tested up to 12 times.)
In late 2009, before Motherisk switched to the gold-standard technique, the lab told children’s aid societies in a newsletter that cocaine was “by far” the most common drug detected in the lab.
The Star investigation has revealed international experts, a British High Court and a U.S. government department have raised questions about the validity of the drug and alcohol hair tests in general.
Meilleur said the review would be limited to the hair drug tests Motherisk performed from 2005 to 2010, using the technique that was used in the Broomfield case, called “immunoassay.”
In defending the Motherisk program, Sick Kids has repeatedly pointed to a report written by Utah toxicologist Douglas Rollins, which was filed in court during Broomfield’s appeal process, and supported Motherisk’s analysis in the case as “valid and reliable.”
However, when Rollins was cross-examined by Broomfield’s lawyer, he conceded the analysis did not meet the international standards for evidence presented in court, according to a transcript of the proceeding, which did not exist before the Star ordered it earlier this month.
Rollins also acknowledged that the lab did not present the results as “unconfirmed,” contrary to forensic standards, and that he would expect a facility used for investigative purposes to be accredited as a forensic lab.
Motherisk is accredited as a clinical lab.
The appeal court ruling in the Broomfield case was issued after the Crown agreed that the fresh expert evidence should be admitted and Broomfield’s cocaine convictions tossed. It did not address the reliability of the Motherisk program.
Broomfield, meanwhile, has abandoned her appeals of other child-abuse convictions related to her son.
The boy, now 11, suffered permanent brain damage as a result of the 2005 cocaine overdose. The October decision did not say how he gained access to the drugs. After her son’s overdose, Broomfield told police that she had found drugs in her apartment building before, and recalled an instance when the boy had picked up a bag of crack in the building, court documents state.
Source: Toronto Star
No Forced Chemo
November 14, 2014 permalink
In September a Six Nations family removed their daughter, identified only as JJ, from chemo therapy for cancer, replacing it with traditional (placebo) medicine. McMaster Hospital tried to get Brant CAS to take the girl into their custody, but CAS declined. The matter has now been decided by judge Gethin Edward. His decision is to leave the girl in the custody of her parents.
Judge rejects application to take aboriginal girl from family for chemo
Court dismisses McMaster application, saying family has right to choose aboriginal medicine
An Ontario judge has dismissed an application to take an aboriginal girl from her family for chemotherapy.
The judge was deciding whether the Children’s Aid Society should intervene in the case of an aboriginal girl whose family removed her from chemotherapy at a Hamilton hospital in favour of traditional medicine. The girl has been undergoing treatment for leukemia in Florida.
Judge Gethin Edward has presided over the complicated and potentially precedent-setting Brantford, Ont., court case since it began on Sept. 25.
"I cannot find that J.J. is a child in need of protection when her substitute decision-maker has chosen to exercise her constitutionally protected right to pursue their traditional medicine over the Applicant's stated course of treatment of chemotherapy," Edward said, as he read his ruling aloud.
Edward, citing the testimony of two McMaster Children’s Hospital doctors, agreed the child wasn't capable of making her own medical decisions. But he found it was the mother’s aboriginal rights — which he called “integral” to the family’s way of life — allow her to choose traditional medicine for her daughter.
"In applying the foregoing reasons to the Applicant's section 40(4) application, I cannot find that J.J. is a child in need of protection when her substitute decision-maker has chosen to exercise her constitutionally protected right to pursue their traditional medicine over the Applicant's stated course of treatment of chemotherapy."
"The application is dismissed. This is not an appropriate case to consider cost."
"I wish to thank all counsel for their efforts in this very difficult case."
— Judge Gethin Edward
Hamilton Health Sciences doctors asked for the Children’s Aid Society to separate the girl from her family so she could resume chemotherapy. The girl’s doctors said she has a 90-95 per cent chance of survival on chemotherapy, but that they didn’t know of anyone who had survived Acute Lyphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) without the treatment.
Neither the girl nor her mother can be identified due to a publication ban.
The decision was met with applause from many in the courtroom, including members of the girl's family.
"It is dismissed. It is dismissed … aboriginal rights are upheld," said a family friend, in tears, as she called the girl's mother from inside the courtroom.
The girl’s mother was expected to make a statement on Saturday.
Lawyers representing Hamilton Health Sciences, as well as the doctors who treated the girl, left quietly after the verdict. Hospital officials said they would study the ruling before making a comment later Friday.
'This is monumental'
Outside the court, Six Nations Chief Ava Hill and New Credit First Nations Chief Bryan Laforme welcomed the ruling, saying it has broader effects across Canada.
"This is monumental," said Laforme. "It reaffirms our right to be Indian and to practise our medicines in the traditional way."
Hill said the mother is "overjoyed," with the news.
When asked about what specific treatment the girl is receiving now, Hill declined to say, adding that was between the family and the girl's traditional healer — which Hill said involves the same confidentiality of a doctor-patient relationship.
The mother, Hill said, "has the right to do whatever she wants to try and save her child."
Officials from the Brant County Children's Aid Society also welcomed Edward's ruling, saying it prevents the "trauma" of taking the girl away from her family while she was being treated.
Brant CAS executive director Andrew Koster said his organization's argument wasn't based on the relative merits of medical treatments, but on the fact that the case involved a loving mother who would have been separated from her daughter.
"This was going to be two years of chemo. Does that mean we were going to take this child away for two years? And suppose she didn't make it?" Koster said.
"I truly did not believe that we should be taking her into care," he said.
Family has 'difficult decisions' to make
Mark Handelman, the lawyer representing the Children's Aid Society, said this case should remind those involved in future medical cases that patients' values and traditions should always be considered.
"In treatment decisions, the values and beliefs and wishes have a clear place."
Handelman, an expert in bioethics, said the family hasn't completely ruled out chemotherapy if it becomes necessary.
"They have difficult decisions to make, and one can only hope that the right decisions are made."
Judge Edward reiterated that no one, including the doctors from McMaster Children’s Hospital who have called for legal intervention, has suggested that the girl's mother is negligent.
"Nobody is suggesting DH is anything but a caring, loving parent," he said in his ruling.
The girl and her family have not been present in court throughout the proceedings. Neither the patient nor her family can be identified because of a publication ban in the court case.
The girl’s mother has defended her decision to seek alternative cancer treatment at the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida, a centre that focuses on nutrition and naturopathic therapy.
In a letter to CBC News, she wrote, "I will not have my daughter treated with poison .… I have chosen treatment that will not compromise her well-being and quality of life."
The family paid the institute $18,000 for the treatment. In a video obtained by CBC News, institute director Brian Clement says his institute teaches people to "heal themselves" from cancer by eating raw, organic vegetables and having a positive attitude.
"We've had more people reverse cancer than any institute in the history of health care," he says.
Addendum: An opinion by Udo Schuklenk in the Globe and Mail criticises Judge Edward's decision.
Aboriginal or not, there is no parental right to harm your child
Udo Schuklenk is Ontario Research Chair in Bioethics and professor of philosophy at Queen’s University, and joint editor-in-chief of the journals Bioethics and Developing World Bioethics.
In what has been described as a precedent-setting case, Judge Gethin Edward of the Ontario Court of Justice ruled on Friday that aboriginal parents are well within their right to remove their child from hospital care and place it into an “alternative healing” outfit. In the case he was presiding over, the healing outfit is actually registered as a massage parlour in Florida. The “doctor” treating the child has no medical qualifications; his qualifications are from a mail-order degree-mill “university.”
The 11-year-old child suffers from childhood leukemia. Experts concur that chemotherapy offers a 95-per-cent likelihood of complete remission of the cancer. It is the gold standard of care under such circumstances. The family in question has decided instead to transfer the child to said alternative healing outfit. The Hamilton-based Children’s Aid Society decided not to intervene, because the parents were providing “care” to their child. Apparently to the Children’s Aid Society it didn’t matter at all what the evidence of success for the parental ’care’ was. It turns out that it is nonexistent. According to medical specialists, another aboriginal child also treated in said alternative-healing facility has since experienced a serious deterioration in her health because leukemia has returned with a vengeance. The family paid close to $20,000 for the non-treatment of their child by the Florida-based operator of said massage parlour.
It goes without saying that cases such as these are tragic. They point to a likely breakdown in communications between the health-care professionals and the families.
Judge Edward reportedly accepted much of the argument driving the family’s decision. He claimed that scientific evidence is apparently “completely foreign” to aboriginal people. He seems oblivious to this claim’s insult to the majority of aboriginal people who don’t take their children from hospital beds to Florida-based massage parlours. Or to aboriginal people working in universities and schools as science teachers. Judge Edward also harped on for quite some time about traditional methods of healing, conveniently ignoring that the Florida-based massage parlour isn’t a traditional aboriginal medicine outfit – it’s run by a white man who visited aboriginal communities, peddling his thoroughly Western wares to the gullible.
Here is a quote that is indicative of the judge’s thinking: “Maybe First Nations culture doesn’t require every child to be treated with chemotherapy and to survive for that culture to have value.” Apparently this is also what’s of greater importance to aboriginal leaders in this case. Six Nations Chief Ava Hill and New Credit First Nations Chief Bryan Laforme have been quoted as saying: “This is monumental, it reaffirms our right to be Indian and to practise our medicines in the traditional way.” The child in question clearly has been reduced to being a pawn in a greater political struggle.
To Judge Edward and Chiefs Hill and Laforme, child welfare is not what’s primarily at stake, but the survival of aboriginal society. A nice sentiment so long as you aren’t a vulnerable child desperately needing proven medical care. Surely, the ethically relevant question here is this: Should we, as a society, override parental care decisions for their children in cases where there is overwhelming evidence that they are harming their children irreversibly, or, as in our case, where the children would face high risk of death? Aboriginal communities need to ask themselves this very same question. It may well be that treaty rights entitle aboriginal parents to remove their children from hospitals and deliver them into the hands of quacks, but achieving this truly is a Pyrrhic victory.
Surely the children’s (objective) best (survival) interests trump parental best intentions, parental ignorance, parental fanaticism, parental scepticism with regard to mainstream medicine, etc. Hospitals routinely override parental decisions by Jehovah’s Witnesses who refuse life-preserving blood transfusions for their children. And they are right to do so.
There is no parental right to harm your children. Since when has the life of a child become so cheap that we leave it to misguided parents who wish to do as they see fit, evidence be damned?
The apparent “justification” here is that it is an aboriginal child. Let us all hope that this judgment won’t stand.
Source: Globe and Mail
This editorial is an example of why the social services system loves litigation over this kind of case, a child diverted to quack therapy by unsophisticated parents. In the case decided by judge Edward, an entirely possible outcome is the death of a girl who could have been saved by modern medicine.
There is no hint in the opinion that professor Schuklenk has spoken to any of the thousands of families prescribed psychotropic drugs for their children. Many parents recognize the harm from the drugs and refuse to administer them. Those parents are tagged with medical neglect and their children are removed to a setting where the drugs can be forcibly administered. The result is maladjusted adults who as children never learned to cope with normal emotions (the drugs keep them in the same mood all the time). It even produces substantial numbers of graduates with permanent brain damage from the side-effects of the drugs. And the legal justification for the tools used force the drugs into the children? An occasional misinformed parent who rejects modern medical technology.
Winnipeg School Terrifies Children with CFS Threat
November 14, 2014 permalink
When two students showed up at Winnipeg's Sister MacNamara School without winter clothing, teachers threatened each with a call to Child and Family Services (CFS). The reputation of CFS has spread even to ten-year-olds, and they were terrified.
Students say teachers threatened to call CFS on kids without winter coats
Parents want apology or will protest at the Sister MacNamara School next week
Two parents whose children came home from Sister MacNamara School upset Monday want an apology.
Pam George's 10-year-old son and Buffy Ferland's daughter in the same Grade 5 class say their children felt threatened after a teacher told them she'd call Child and Family Services if they didn't show up at school wearing proper winter clothing.
George said her son, Peter Parenteau, came home terrified and in tears Monday.
"My teacher was talking about people coming to school in sweaters and she said that's a reason to call CFS," he said.
"She said if we get into CFS care then it's going to be our fault."
Buffy Ferland's daughter who is in the same class came home with the same story.
"She said the teacher told her she's going to phone CFS if they don't wear jackets," she said.
Ferland said her daughter had a jacket but the next day she went shopping for boots.
"I got scared," she told CBC, adding the children were frightened too.
"The kids feel threatened," Ferland said. "My daughter didn't even want to go to school today."
George said she's now considering switching schools.
"I don't feel good about it," she said. "He's my son and I want him to feel safe. I want him to have that trust with the school."
The two parents said they met with the school's principal on Wednesday.
George said they were told the teacher did not threaten the children with CFS, but was telling them how to dress properly for the cold weather.
A spokesperson for the Winnipeg School Division confirmed in an email that CFS was discussed, but in the context that it is a support service to help families get what they need.
School trustee Mike Babinsky said the division has to make things right.
"I don't know if the teacher said that or didn't. Maybe it was taken out of context," he said. "Ultimately we'd like to make peace with the parents."
George and Ferland said they are waiting for that to happen.
They said they want an apology by Tuesday morning.
If they don't get one, they plan to protest outside the school Wednesday morning.
November 14, 2014 permalink
British MP John Hemming has taken up the issue of secret prisoners. From time to time courts, usually family courts, condemn someone to prison while keeping his identity secret. In Hemming's words: "people have been imprisoned for things that would not find public acceptance."
Secret Prisoners judgment comment
I am pleased with the judgment issued today from the court of appeal. My concern is to stop people being imprisoned in secret. This judgment is an important step towards that objective. There are three key things
Firstly, it recognises that a lot of people are still locked up without proper public scrutiny.
Secondly, it adds to guidance and reinforces guidance to stop this happening.
Thirdly, it ensures that there is an authority that can be used to find out who has been imprisoned if someone finds out that a secret jailing has happened.
It does not, however, as yet accept that a secret imprisonment in itself is cause for someone to be released. That is an issue that I will be looking at in more depth. It is, obviously, difficult to make an application to court for the imprisonment of someone in secret as it it is entirely secret no-one will know. Hence it is difficult to find authorities for this situation.
The problem as I see it is that people have been imprisoned for things that would not find public acceptance. To that extent were those imprisonments not secret they would be stopped. (Which, of course, is not all of the imprisonments, but some of them).
I would cite as an example the imprisonment of a grandmother for posting complaints on facebook. This happened in early 2013 in I think Wigan.
It remains, however, that the government do not seem concerned about this issue. They could easily establish a system to ensure that we know who has been imprisoned so we can check whether a public judgment is given. However, so far they have done very little - although they have reinstated the counting that was stopped.
Source: John Hemming blog
Normal Baby Seized
November 13, 2014 permalink
When Sarah Markham's baby was twelve days old he had lost ten percent of his body weight while breastfeeding. Sarah was jailed for child neglect and Florida child protectors seized baby Caleb. Five months later the mother has been reunited with her son, but criminal charges against her are still pending.
Maybe Florida child protectors and prosecutors should learn the basics of baby care. According to the American Pregnancy Association: "A 7%-10% loss is considered normal for the breastfed baby."
Vegan mother regains custody of infant taken away over formula
SEMINOLE COUNTY, FL (WFTV/CNN) - A mother and her infant were reunited on Wednesday after five months apart.
Sarah Markham lost custody of her son when he was just 12 days old because she refused a doctor's orders to seek medical treatment for the baby after he lost 10 percent of his birth weight.
She is vegan and believes in a holistic approach to healing.
"I'm just so excited ecstatic and about getting him back. This whole thing was a nightmare and I can go back to being a new mom and bonding with him. I am just very happy," Sarah Markham said.
Sarah Markham was put in jail, and her little boy was taken from her after the baby lost 10 percent of his body weight within his first two weeks of life.
Instead of following a doctor's orders to go straight to the hospital, she bought the boy vegan formula. He's been raised by his grandparents ever since.
"There's no case, there's no abuse, there's no neglect," Bo Markham, the boy's grandfather, said. "There's simply a doctor who has been challenged by a mother, and he didn't like it."
On Wednesday, a judge agreed, throwing out Seminole County Child Protective Services' claims that Sarah Markham is unfit to care for her son.
Attorney Mark O'Mara said he expects the same to happen to her criminal case. "My hopes is that they'll simply dismiss it and not go forward on this at all," he said.
As for Caleb, he's now 17 pounds, and he's still on the same diet.
"He's still on a soy formula," Sarah Markham said. "He's been on it. He likes it. He's doing well. He's growing healthy, and I can't ask for anything more."
Source: WHNS Greenville SC
Fear of CAS
November 13, 2014 permalink
Erick Ouellette has finished an ordeal with CAS. Now he has outfitted his home with surveillance equipment as protection against a future intervention.
Well, court is over. My son and my wife are finally coming home. My wife's own lawyer lies constantly about it. Assumed guilt implied. I couldn't convince the Judge to lift the supervised access. Wait till they find my new security system in my new apartment that turns on at the touch of a button, my wife will never have to deal with these monsters alone as everything will be recorded and I can watch it live over a network, try a pull a bad faith maneuver, please. Now that my wife and my son will be back, now it's time to fight back. No more he said she said between CAS and lawyers when we know better, divide and conquer. Not anymore, the offensive starts now.
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
CAS Alumnus Can't Eat Seafood
November 13, 2014 permalink
Shane Reely was adopted at age six. Now at age 23, he still bears the scars of abuse he suffered in CAS care before the adoption. He is unable to eat seafood because of his bad memories.
People really need to stop calling CAS for no actual reason. Save it for when kids actually need the help like holy cow I went through CAS and everyones like omg they help all kids. Well you know what they did to me? They got these people Rosa and Joe to lie on the stand to get me taken away from my biologicals, I came to this conclusion after talking to my biological mother I met back up with and a few other people. Oh, and not to mention once I was adopted they sold everything the owned in Canada adopted their last child in foster care timo to their family and moved to Spain, I got put into foster home after foster home. I went through four foster homes and guess what? I was abused in each one, one of them would dump buckets of cold water on me for fun and hose me down, Rosa and Joe would force feed me seafood and if I puked they'd hold their hand over my mouth till I reswallowed my puke. These are just the two most memorable abusive tactics I suffered from and they still affect me to this day, taste buds change but I will never be able to bring myself to try any seafood, not because I didn't like the taste when I was younger but because of the abuse with it. Thankfully at age 6 I did get adopted into an amazing family, Sandy Reely and Richard Reely, you don't have fb so I can't tag you dad and I'm very thankful they took me out of the abuse CAS put me into. If I could only bring myself to try a bite of lobster on my mom's birthday or mother's day just to see her smile but I can't. If you actually read this word up first time I'm going public about it. CAS is a corrupt organization. In the end I was helped but I was mentally scarred along the way because of them.
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
Gays and Lesbians Fight over Kids
November 12, 2014 permalink
Two couples, a pair of gay men and another pair of lesbian women, conceived two children through a sperm donation. The outcome was years of litigation over the children.
Sperm deal children ‘irredeemably marred’ by four-parent feud
Judge warns of trauma ‘unleashed’ by fallout from ‘known-donor fertilisation’ arrangement between former friends
Two young girls born through an informal sperm donation deal between a gay couple and a lesbian couple have been scarred for life by a bitter six-year feud after their two fathers and two mothers fell out, a judge has warned.
Mr Justice Cobb, said the girls, aged nine and 13, described by teachers as polite and highly intelligent, had seen their childhoods “irredeemably marred” by living through what was arguably the most “bruising and distressing” case he had ever been involved in.
The parents, who were also described as intelligent and sophisticated, had also paid a “high psychological price”, he said – particularly the girls’ biological mother who descended into serious mental health problems, which he said was undoubtedly worsened by the stress of the case.
But he said the emotional and psychological wreckage “illustrates all too clearly” the problems “unleashed” by such informal arrangements between friends or acquaintances.
Details of the case are disclosed in a lengthy judgment from the High Court Family Division published online as the judge ruled that the six-year contact dispute between the two couples must end because of the damage it was doing to their daughters.
It discloses that the couples, who are both separately in civil partnerships, ran up more than half a million pounds in legal costs in a case involving more than 30 separate court orders and a string of judges.
The judge ruled that the girls should remain living with the mothers – despite serious problems at home including domestic violence between the two women at times – because to move the children would have an even more “devastating” effect on them.
He ruled that the mothers would be supervised by social services and that the fathers would have contact with the younger daughter – known as B – but only write to the older girl – known as A – because she had become convinced she did not want to see them.
Imposing a resolution on the couples, he said: “The case illustrates all too clearly the immense difficulties which can be unleashed when families are created by known-donor fertilisation … Thoughtful and sophisticated people find themselves experiencing remarkable, unprecedented, emotional difficulty, with no easy way of out of it.
“A very high psychological price can be paid, and I believe has been paid in this case, by all concerned.”
The judgment details serious domestic problems between the women. The biological mother – known as M1 – was in and out of hospitals and clinics for mental health treatment and became heavily reliant on her partner, known as M2. But she was described as “controlling” and, at times “callous and uncaring” towards M1.
Although they provided the girls with a “vibrant” and “educational” environment, social workers said the women also built a “high-wall fortress” around them, excluding anyone who disagreed with them – including the two fathers.
But the judge said the fathers were also guilty of “raising the temperature” in the dispute, upping their demands and claiming that the girls’ treatment amounted to torture and even that their lives were at risk.
“It will be apparent from reading this, and my previous judgements, that the litigation has had a destructive effect on the parties," he said.
“I fear that the childhoods of A and B have been irredeemably marred by the ongoing court conflict.”
He added: “This litigation has become, on my assessment, as bruising and distressing an experience for these lay parties as any family law litigation in which I have been involved either as advocate or judge. “
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Baby Removed for Lack of Eye Contact
November 12, 2014 permalink
Nigerian mother Queen Agho lost her two-week-old son George because of lack of eye contact. No, fixcas did not make this up. A Norwegian woman is adopting the baby.
Nigeria: Norway Forcibly Adopts Nigerian Woman's Baby
A Nigerian in Norway, Ms. Queen Agho, is now permanently separated from her one-year-old son given the inability of the federal government to step in and prevent the illegal adoption.
The case, which has been on for about a year, saw the Norwegian Government forcibly taking custody of the child.
The forcible adoption was however contested by the mother of the child at an appeal which according to a family member, Mr. Kelvin Izekor, was frustrated.
The child, named George, it was said, has been given to a Norwegian lady for adoption on the excuse that the mother and child do not have emotional connection and lack eye contact.
Izekor noted that the Nigerian Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden which is overseeing affairs in Norway and the National Assembly had waded into the issue without any positive result.
He therefore appealed to the federal government to step in and assist in recovering the child from the foster parents.
Izekor, who narrated his niece's ordeal in Norway to THISDAY, stated that "Queen's ordeal started when she was delivered of a baby boy in Leirfjord, Norway on the 12th of April, 2013.
"And barely two weeks after the delivery, the baby was taken from her based on fictitious assumptions that she was mentally incapable of fending for the child by the Norwegian Child Welfare Authorities."
The Norwegian authorities according to him, also claimed that Queen was forcibly taken to a psychiatric home by the police and child welfare for the purpose of generating official evidence to substantiate their claims, a move which he said failed as the doctor confirmed her to be mentally fit.
Queen, according to her uncle, took her case to the Nigerian Embassy in Sweden and the embassy stepped in as it officially filed a complaint.
The embassy officially demanded the intervention of the Swedish government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Royal Kingdom of Norway.
In the official complaint (Note verbale) by the embassy dated 18 September, 2013, the embassy condemned the act, describing it as inhuman and infringement of most basic fundamental human rights and child's right to a family.
The embassy further bemoaned the increasing cases of arbitrary seizure of Nigerian children on very flimsy and unacceptable reasons. Part of the Note Verbale reads: "The embassy wishes to register its utmost displeasure with the manner in which, a nursing mother Ms Agho was treated. For such treatment to be meted out to a defenseless woman who had just put to bed with her first child is most inhuman and certainly is in breach of all human rights practices.
"The allegation that there was no connection between mother and child and lack of eye contact within the first two weeks of the baby's life seems to be in total contradiction of the reality of the mother's position.
"The embassy therefore wishes to seize this opportunity to draw the attention of the esteemed Royal Ministry to the increasing cases of arbitrary seizure of Nigerian children on very flimsy and unacceptable reasons. The decision to seize a suckling baby of two weeks and four days old from its mother and deprive the baby of the essential nutrients of breast milk and motherly love from its biological mother is indeed inhuman and an infringement of the mother's most basic fundamental human rights and child's right to a family life.
"The Embassy in the meantime wishes to request for the urgent intervention of the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a view towards returning Ms. Agho's child to its biological mother."
The Minority Whip, House of Representatives, Samson Osagie who brought the issue before the House last December was petitioned by Queen who happened to be his constituent. He asked for the intervention of the House, stressing that the case be "treated with utmost attention and dispatch it deserves as my constituent is a mother being deprived of the privilege of motherhood. The mother, Ms. Queen Agho wants her child back immediately."
The case has been referred to the Abike Dabiri-led Committee on Diaspora. Confirming the report, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri said the House is aware of the case and efforts are on to address the issue.
Dabiri-Erewa who spoke to THISDAY, explained that "we are aware of the case and we have gone far on it. In fact, we have met with the Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria and we would have met with the Child Support people from Norway two weeks ago.
"The meeting has to be rescheduled because of the strike by Lufthansa staff in Germany. Their flight was cancelled. We are looking towards another date for the meeting. But I can tell you we are on it."
When THISDAY contacted Queen in a telephone interview, she confirmed that the Norwegian Child Welfare Authorities have already taken away the baby "for adoption for a period of 18 years."
She also informed THISDAY that during the appeal, the Norwegian court vehemently rejected her witness' right to testify on the case, a situation that led to the forcible seizure of her baby. THISDAY also spoke with Queen's Norwegian husband, Rello. He confirmed the case, stating that notwithstanding the clean bill of health Queen received from the medical experts on her mental fitness, the authorities still went ahead to forcibly adopt the baby.
Queen, according to reports, had the pregnancy of the baby in Nigeria before travelling to Norway. Queen's family informed THISDAY that officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja have been dilly - dallying on the matter as no tangible efforts have been made by the ministry to hold Norway accountable.
Evil Corrupt Liars Kidnappers
November 12, 2014 permalink
Michael Borusiewicz asked the question:
If you had one word to describe child protection what would it be? (without swearing)
Source: Facebook, Luke's Army
The replies came from followers of Luke's Army, composed mostly of parents having experience with child protectors. After several hundred replies, the most popular term was evil, mentioned 24 times, followed by corrupt (21 times), liars (18) and kidnappers (14). Others appearing more than once were:
abomination abuse abusive assholes blind broken bullies child-stealers corruption cowards crap criminal criminals deceitful demonic dogs heartless hideous ignorant incompetent inconsistent inept insidious insipid joke maggots manipulators monsters murderers Nazis parasites pathetic predators putrid ridiculous Satan scum scumbags sick snakes terrorists thieves twisted two-faced uncaring unconstitutional useless vermin vile wankers
Expand for the terms appearing just once.
$$$$ $$$$$$$$$$$$$ @#$%* abusives accountable antiquated apathetic arrogant baby-stealers babysnatchers babystealers backwards baloney banshees bitches black blackballers bodysnatchers bollix bottom-feeders bottomdwellers brainwashed brainwashers breakers bullying callous cancer cancerrats cheats child-trafficking childabusers childnappers clandestine co-conspirators cockroaches cold cold-hearted commonpurpose con-artists contradictory contrived control corpulant corrupted corruptions counter-productive coverup cradle-snatches cradlesnatchers creepy crisis cronies crooked cruel dangerous dead deadly deceitful deceiving demoralized derogatory des-personne-malhonnête despicable destroyers destruction destructive devil devilish devils dirty disgrace dishonest draconian dumbasses dykes dysfunctional education enforcers engineering evil-bastards extortion fabricators failed failure failures false family-abattoir family-breakers farce fascist fascists fat fictional filth fraudulent frivolous germs gestapo great-pretenders greedy guardians heart-breakers heart-destroyers heartbreakers heartwrenching hemorrhoid HIV hopeless horrible illusion imbeciles immoral implicated inadequate incubus inexcusable infectious inhumane injustice insolent intimidating invasive irresponsible Jesus judgmental kid-abusers kiddynappers kidjackers kidnapping killers lie lifesuckers losing-team lost lovable loveless lying mafia makers malicious manipulating misery money mongrels murder murders nasty nefarious neglect negligent no-brainers non-existent numb overpowered oxygen-thieves oxymoron paedophiles parvenu-rapists passionate pedophiles perilous perjurers perverse power-trip predatory profit-sharing profitable provoking psychopaths racketeering racketeers rapers rats ridiculousness rigged rotten sadist sadistic satanic satanist scumsuckingbottomfeeders shady sheeple-herders sicko slanderous soul-destroying souless speechless spiteful stealers stealing-scum succubus sucking suicide swamp-rats tongues torture torturers traffickers trafficking tricksters trolls twunts tyranny ugly unbelievable underdeveloped underhanded uneducated unequipped unfair unnatural unprofessional unqualified unsatisfactory unstable unsupporting untrustworthy users villainous vipers vultures whack-jobs wicked wolves worthless wreckers
Most notable is the near absence of positive terms. If child protectors really served children, the list would contain terms such as helpful, polite, professional.
Harry Potter and the Orphanage
November 11, 2014 permalink
Lumos is an organization founded by Harry Potter author JK Rowling. From its website:
8 million children worldwide are living in institutions because they are poor, disabled or from an ethnic minority. This is a serious problem, on a massive scale, but there is a solution. Lumos works in partnership with governments, professionals and carers, communities, families and children, to transform outdated systems that drive families apart. Together with our partners we replace institutions with community based services that provide children with access to health, education and social care tailored to their individual needs. This supports families to provide the loving care their children need to develop to their full potential and build a positive future for themselves.
Source: About Lumos
The best introduction to Lumos is the TED talk by CEO Georgette Mulheir.
Of the 8 million children in orphanages over 90 percent have a living parent. In the three poorer European countries listed, the percentages are 98, 99 and 99 percent. For the more prosperous countries no figures are provided. Lumos naively suggests the foster care system of Australia as a more humane alternative.
The Lumos page titled The Problem has many essays on orphanages. One enclosed below reports on the scam of faux-orphanage operators borrowing children from real orphanages when auditors arrive.
Borrowing orphans to hide corruption
Georgette Mulheir's blog:
I read a fascinating article in The Guardian that brings home much of what is wrong with systems of institutionalising children: “Officials try to borrow orphans to hide failings” was a tale of corruption in local government in China, where officials were receiving money to run an ‘orphanage’, but were not actually looking after any children. When the service was to be inspected, they asked a local Buddhist temple to lend them the orphans in their care.
This may seem a bizarre and even laughable tale, but it highlights the economic drivers behind so-called ‘orphanages’. In many of the countries I have worked in, I have come across tales of manipulated data about children in institutions. Usually, institutions are funded according to the numbers of children resident, so managers or local officials will artificially inflate the numbers, inventing names, or providing incentives to local people officially to register their children as living in the institutions. In some countries, children in institutions receive free education. Poor families register their children as resident, in order to avoid paying for their education and the institution manager can claim funding for children who are not living there.
When efforts are made to begin reducing the numbers of children in care, managers who see their budgets reducing actively seek children to live in their institutions – persuading poor families to give up their children.
Institutionalisation harms the health and development of children and poverty should never be a reason for separating children from their families. But until such time as systems of care are established on the basis of meeting the needs and respecting the rights of individual children, economic drivers will commodify the care of children, exposing them harm, abuse and reduced life chances.
In many of the countries I have worked in, I have come across tales of manipulated data about children in institutions
Throughout the Lumos material, it is apparent that more prosperous countries suffer from the same problems. For example, in Canada almost all children in out-of-home care have a living parent. And the US and Canada keep about one percent of children in out-of-home care, a higher proportion than the 8 million in orphanages worldwide.
How Social Workers Generate Reports
November 10, 2014 permalink
Community Care reminds us of a social work practice: generating reports on clients by copy-and-paste from earlier cases. In the past fixcas has noted another short-cut for generating reports: having them written by a common author regardless of the identity of the worker signing the report or affidavit. This allows employment of a professional skilled in generating alarming reports irrespective of the circumstances of the individual case.
Social worker suspended for copying and pasting reports
A senior social worker who plagiarised assessments forms has been given a 12 month suspension
A senior social worker for a fostering agency has been suspended for a year for copying and pasting from another worker’s report on a different family.
The senior practitioner had responsibility for the recruitment, training and supervision of foster carers when she was found to have been keeping poor records, including plagiarising sections from another social worker’s report.
In a British Association of Adoption and Fostering form, the name of one family, Family B, appeared in the report on a second family, referred to as Family A. A routine monthly audit of her cases showed she had copied and pasted sections of Family B’s report into the assessment of Family A.
This rendered the assessment invalid.
In a statement to the Health and Care Professions (HCPC) conduct panel the social worker said she had been suffering from health problems and work-related stress. She said she had experienced a lack of support in coping with her workload.
In this she was backed up by Ruth Minott, one of her supervisors, who said she had observed a number of situations where the social worker was “not dealt with by senior colleagues in a professional manner, leaving her feeling unsupported and unvalued as practitioner”.
Minott described the social worker as “honest, trustworthy and supportive of both carers and as part of a team”.
The panel found the number of incomplete or inaccurate records, while careless rather than malicious, had the potential to put children at risk.
Source: Community Care
Getting Rid of Husband
November 9, 2014 permalink
Here is a routine case of forced separation of parents, a shotgun divorce.
Hello everyone! I have an important question to ask. Children's Aid is trying to put in an order to keep my husband away from my child. He is a good man, but people have made a lot of problems for him and ruined his reputation. So I'm wondering what can be done to prevent this from happening? So far we have put in an affidavit answering to the societies so-called "facts" and on top of that we have arranged to get his medical records proving there is nothing wrong with him.
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
November 8, 2014 permalink
The family of Julian and Thal Wendrow were taken in by the junk-science theory of facilitated communication. When their autistic daughter, through her facilitator, accused the parents of sexual abuse, their two children were placed in foster care and the father was jailed. A courtroom demonstration showed the facilitated communication to be a sham but prosecutor David Gorcyca continued the case. Fixcas has a copy of an ABC 20/20 program on the Wendrows.
The family has sued the police and the prosecutors. In earlier out-of-court settlements they got $3.75 million from West Bloomfield Police, the Walled Lake School District and the state of Michigan. Now a jury has awarded them another $3 million including $1 million to be paid by unrepentant prosecutor David Gorcyca.
Jury awards $3M to Wendrows in wrongful prosecution case
A federal jury today awarded $3 million in damages to a West Bloomfield couple, who were wrongly accused of sexually assaulting their severely autistic and mute daughter.
The verdict brings to a total of $6.75 million awarded to Julian and Thal Wendrow, who were arrested in late 2007 after their then 14-year-old daughter reportedly typed on a key board – with the help of a teacher's aide in Walled Lake District Schools – that her father had raped her over the weekend while her mother looked the other way.
The typing, a controversial method known as "facilitated communication," had been widely debunked in the last two decades. Research always found it was the aide guiding the disabled person's hand, either consciously or unconsciously.
Nevertheless, then Oakland County prosecutor David Gorcyca, his chief assistant, Deborah Carley, and assistant prosecutor Andrea Dean pressed on with the prosecution, even as news reports showed the method was unreliable.
Julian Wendrow, arrested in December 2007, spent 80 days in jail before prosecutors dropped the charges. Aislinn, their autistic daughter, and her brother, Ian, were placed in foster care for months before the case fell apart, when it was shown that the typing was a hoax and that the girl was not communicating at all.
Criminal defense attorneys representing the Wendrows at the time sought to test the method at a hearing in 48th District Court by asking the girl questions out of earshot of her facilitator. When they did, the girl couldn't answer a single question correctly. The lawyers used those non-answers as proof that the girl was incapable of communicating at all, much less typing out elaborate descriptions of assaults that were attributed to her using facilitated communication.
Other evidence also raised questions about the validity of the rape claims, including a physical examination of the girl, which showed her hymen was intact. The typed statements said the girl was coming forward because she feared going to hell for lying. But lawyers pointed out the Wendrows are Jewish and don't believe in the Christian concept of hell.
Ian, who received the largest part of the jury award, was interrogated for two hours by West Bloomfield police who told him they had videotape of his father assaulting his sister. Police never had such a tape and the claim was a lie that a psychologist would later testify left the boy traumatized. Jurors did watch a video showing Ian's interrogation, in which the boy, then 13, doubled over in tears.
The case drew national attention including a six-part Free Press series in 2011 and an hour-long segment on ABC's 20/20 program.
Jurors, in their verdict today, awarded $2 million to Ian, saying then assistant chief Carley violated his constitutional rights. Carley now heads the Children and Youth Services Division for the Michigan Attorney General's office.
The jury also awarded each Wendrow family member $250,000 apiece against former prosecutor David Gorcyca, saying he defamed the family when he insisted months after he left office, and a year after the case was dropped, that the Wendrows were in fact guilty of abusing their daughter. The jury awarded no damages related to Dean's conduct.
The county had spent about $660,000 on attorney fees and costs defending the case before the trial began and will decide whether to pay judgments or appeal the verdict.
Gorcyca, who left office in 2008 and now works as a defense attorney, defended his conduct and that of his former colleagues on the witness stand last week.
"I certainly think something happened," Gorcyca testified last week in U.S. District Court in Ann Arbor. "I believe some sort of sexual abuse occurred."
Deborah Gordon, who represented the Wendrows throughout the suit, said the verdict shows what really happened.
"We are very pleased with the message this sends to the community," Gordon said. "These defendants were reckless and caused this family enormous harm. And now this family has had its day in court."
Thal Wendrow, who spent several days in jail following her arrest, and months on electronic tether confined to the family home and unable to reach out to her children in foster care institutions, said the family finally had a chance to tell its story.
"Finally, our story has been heard," she said, as she and her family celebrated tonight. Her son, Ian, was not in the courtroom, instead in classes at Michigan State University. Her daughter was at home with Thal's mother.
The verdict gives the chance for the family to move forward, she said.
"We needed a jury, people in our community to hear what happened here. It was never about the money. It was about this injustice, and about making sure that people who are in power don't do this kind of thing to another family."
The defendant's attorney, Steve Potter, who had argued that the Wendrows brought their troubles on themselves by advocating facilitated communication for their daughter, and that prosecutors had acted "in good faith" in trying to protect a possible victim of sexual abuse, could not be reached for comment tonight.
The six women and two men on the jury declined to speak to attorneys following the verdict. They deliberated for a little more than a day before arriving at a verdict. The Wendrow family had sought $23 million in damages.
The other defendants, West Bloomfield Police, the Walled Lake School District and the state of Michigan, which allowed social workers to remove the children from the home, settled out of court for $3.75 million.
Source: Detroit Free Press
No-Fault Social Work
November 7, 2014 permalink
British MP Ann Coffey, herself a former social worker, has issued a report on sexual exploitation of children in greater Manchester. Christopher Booker found that nearly half of the police reports involved (foster) children in council care. Typically foster children comprise one percent of the child population. The Manchester numbers show that rate of abuse in foster care is nearly a hundred times the rate in parental care. Yet Mrs Coffey fails to notice that social work is not a remedy, but a cause, of child abuse.
There’s a glaring hole in Manchester sex abuse report
The report into sexual exploitation of children by the Labour MP Ann Coffey contains a glaring hole - the role of social workers
Advance publicity for that report on the sexual exploitation of children in Greater Manchester suggested that it might expose another scandal as great as Rotherham. Between January and September this year, it revealed, Manchester police had compiled 9,789 reports on “missing children”, of which 4,520 concerned “children looked after by the local authority”. But when we saw the report, by Ann Coffey, the Labour MP, it proved to be strangely thin. Certainly there were more harrowing accounts of teenage girls describing how they had been appallingly abused, and how the police had ignored their pleas for protection. But one soon became aware of a glaring hole in Ms Coffey’s account.
Nothing should have rung louder alarm bells than the fact that nearly half these police reports referred to children in council care. As in Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford and elsewhere, this looked like another massive failure of our “child protection” system – and of the social workers repeatedly revealed to have betrayed children entrusted to their care by the courts. But the report hardly touches on the social workers’ culpability. While I am sure it is irrelevant, it is nevertheless interesting to note that before becoming an MP, Ann Coffey was a council social worker, ending up with a job in Greater Manchester.
In the years I have been investigating how far our “child protection” system has strayed from its ideals, I have found few things more shocking than the extent to which children seized by social workers from their parents can often suffer far worse emotional and physical abuse in “care” than anything alleged as the reason for removing them. This is the darkest secret of all in how grievously our “child protection” system has gone off the rails. And, as this report confirms, it is a secret no one is more anxious to keep than those who operate that system, led by the social workers themselves.
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Blaming the Bassinet
November 7, 2014 permalink
Phoenix Majestic Omeasoo died in Alberta foster care on July 17, 2010 when her bassinet collapsed. Now judge John Henderson has released a report recommending improvements to bassinets. Just to be sure, Henderson exonerated the girl's social worker. Official reports, including this one, never suggest leaving children with parents as a safer form of care.
Report into Edmonton foster girl’s death makes bassinet recommendations
A judge’s fatality inquiry report into the death of a baby girl who died in an Edmonton foster home found her bassinet was not properly assembled and instructions on its use were not followed.
A crib had been purchased for Phoenix Majestic Omeasso, but a new custom-made mattress to fit the crib had not yet arrived when the bassinet collapsed on Jan. 17, 2010.
Province Court Judge John Henderson made just two recommendations — both about bassinet use — but declined to make any far-reaching recommendations about the supervision of foster children in a report released Wednesday.
Her foster mother found the girl unresponsive in a collapsed bassinet following a nap. Phoenix was a day shy of six months old.
Myrna Hayes, 64, and her husband, Richard Hayes, 55, cared for eight children in their home, including four adopted children (ages 16, 12, and twin eight-year-olds) and four foster children (ages seven, two, two, and five-month-old Phoenix).
Phoenix was placed in the home because her sibling, a two-year-old girl, was also a foster child there.
The eight children “presented special challenges” for the couple, wrote Henderson, and all suffered from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
One girl, 7, suffered from “very severe medical conditions” and required “virtually full-time attention,” and the oldest child, 16, was suicidal.
At the time of Phoenix’s death, Richard Hayes was at the hospital with the seven-year-old girl and his wife was in the home with the other seven children and a visiting child.
The judge wrote that the couple were “very devoted and loving foster parents,” who were “professional, skilled, dedicated and committed.”
He found that the number of high-needs children in the home “stretched the capacity” of the couple, but was not a factor that contributed to Phoenix’s death.
In 1988, another foster child in the couple’s care — a 3-1/2-year-old girl — died by drowning in a backyard swimming pool, but Henderson wrote that incident “is simply not relevant to this inquiry.”
The bassinet’s basket was not properly attached to the metal frame, which allowed the basket to be pulled forward on the frame without being restrained in any way, Henderson said.
He concluded Phoenix died by asphyxiation after her two-year-old sister pulled the foot portion of the bassinet basket and dislodged it from the stand.
That caused the head portion of the basket to fall, leading Phoenix to slide into a position that prevented normal breathing.
Henderson recommended a policy be developed by Alberta Human Services advising foster parents to use bassinets only in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions, and that foster care workers should be required to ensure bassinets are assembled properly.
He also recommended Human Services continue to research the use of bassinets by foster parents and prepare policies informing case workers of best practices.
The report noted the department banned bassinets for sleeping in 2011, but it was amended in 2012 after feedback from foster parents.
The case worker supervising the Hayes home also supervised 22 other homes, many of which had special needs children with a variety of medical issues.
The inquiry heard the normal case load for foster care case workers in Alberta may be as high as 33 homes, while a case load of 15 to 18 families — the number proposed by the Child Welfare League of America — would be “reasonable.”
But Henderson wrote a lack of supervision by the foster care case worker was not a factor in the death.
Source: Edmonton Journal
Advocacy Research for CAS
November 6, 2014 permalink
Advocacy research is conducted not to find the truth, but to support a predetermined conclusion. Catherine Frei has encountered an instance conducted by Ian DeGeer of Wilfrid Laurier University, a researcher with an extensive history and employment with the CAS. Catherine wished to participate in the study, and was welcomed until the researcher found that she had a bad experience with CAS currently before the courts and the CFSRB. The researcher dropped her immediately.
Hi there folks, I recently received an invitation to take part in a research study from the very university which I attend. The name of the project is: An Institutional Ethnography of the Family Violence Project. They want to hear from individuals who have received services from local counselling services, Police forced, Family and Children's Services (CAS), Community Action Program for Children, Crown Attorney's Office legal support, Victim Witness, Women's Crisis Services, Legal Aid, Credit Counselling and others ..... I am suspect about the motives of this study when I looked at the student completing their thesis and discovered that they have an extensive history and employment with the CAS. They were instrumental in amendments made to the risk assessments used by the CAS and various other collaborative efforts with other ..."Experts." I contacted them to indicate that I was interested in taking the survey (which they will pay you $30 btw) and there were a few exchanges back and forth until I mentioned that I have a CFSRB complaint at the moment and a pending lawsuit against the local agency - the correspondence ceased immediately! This is what I suspected would happen which then prompted me to contact the chair of the department to have a little sit down about my concerns which I will be doing tomorrow. I think that any woman/man that has something to say about this and would like to take part should contact Researcher, Ian DeGeer, Phd candidate at firstname.lastname@example.org or the faculty of social work at Wilfrid Laurier University, research project #4032. Hope to see people use their voice on this matter.
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
November 6, 2014 permalink
The Motherisk program of Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children may be returning unreliable test results, leading the the false conviction of mothers or the needless separation of mother and child.
Lawyer seeks ‘reassurance’ on Motherisk drug tests
Child protection lawyers are raising concerns about the reliability of the Sick Kids testing program after an appeal court tossed the cocaine convictions of a Toronto mother.
Toronto lawyers who regularly handle child protection cases involving hair-strand analysis from the Hospital for Sick Children say more information is needed about the reliability of the testing after a court of appeal tossed the 2009 cocaine convictions of a Toronto mother.
Lawyer Tammy Law said the Motherisk program at Sick Kids is the go-to place for hair-strand analysis in family law cases where drug use is in question. She wants “to be reassured” the laboratory’s testing can be trusted, she said.
“The stakes are so high,” said Law. “To potentially lose your kid, for fairness’ sake, it has to be accurate … You have to have faith in the result. If we don’t believe it, we have a huge problem.”
Sick Kids did not respond to a request on Tuesday for a comprehensive list of cases that have relied on the type of hair-sample analysis performed in the case of Toronto mother Tamara Broomfield, or say whether Motherisk is still using this technique.
Motherisk’s hair-strand drug tests are routinely submitted as evidence in courts across the province “almost without question,” according to Anthony Macri, a former lawyer for the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto who now runs a family law firm.
In the face of the appeal court decision, Macri said it is “incumbent” on the government to determine the “standard of reliability.
“It shouldn’t just be a question floating in the air. It shouldn’t just be up to lawyers like me to challenge it in every court for the next 20 years,” he said. “The government needs to get ahead of this ball.”
Several Toronto criminal defence lawyers are calling for a review of the cases that relied on Motherisk’s hair-strand analysis.
The concerns come after fresh scientific evidence prompted a court of appeal to overturn Broomfield’s 2009 cocaine convictions for giving her 2-year-old son, Malique, a near-lethal dose of the drug in 2005.
A 2005 cocaine overdose left Malique, now 11, with permanent brain damage. The court of appeal did not comment on how he got the drugs.
Broomfield was found guilty, in part, on the basis of hair-strand analysis presented by Gideon Koren, a prominent toxicologist and the founder and director of Motherisk. Koren testified in 2009 that an analysis of Malique’s hair revealed he had regularly ingested very high doses of cocaine for more than a year leading up to the 2005 overdose.
The appeal court threw out Broomfield’s cocaine convictions after Craig Chatterton, deputy chief toxicologist in the office of the chief medical examiner in Edmonton, criticized the way Motherisk prepared the hair sample, the methodology used to analyze it and the validity of the results.
Broomfield served more than half of her seven-year sentence before being released on bail last year, pending appeal. She has abandoned her appeals of convictions for failing to seek medical care for Malique’s broken wrist and for inflicting multiple rib fractures.
The Ministry of the Attorney General has not yet responded to questions about whether it will launch a review of the criminal cases involving Motherisk, or whether the Crown will continue to rely on the laboratory’s hair-strand analysis.
Tammy Law, who has also worked for the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, said lawyers like her, who depend on Motherisk’s testing, need answers.
“I want to understand the technique they use, why they think it’s reliable … whether there are other theories,” she said. “It’s a big black hole right now.”
In a report filed in court, Chatterton maintained it is “not possible” to conclude whether Malique ingested cocaine over an extended time period based on the type of analysis Motherisk conducted.
He said the testing Motherisk conducted is intended only to provide preliminary analytical results, that it was not performed in a forensic toxicology laboratory and that the “gold standard technique was not used.” He also pointed out that no hair sample was retained for independent analysis.
Koren, for his part, defended his choice of testing as “highly specific, valid and accurate” and said that at the time of the analysis, his lab used “the best clinical toxicological test available to us,” according to a report filed in court as part of the appeal process.
He said the test he used in the Broomfield case yields “results comparable” to the so-called gold-standard technique Chatterton referenced in his report, and dismissed Chatterton’s claims as “wrong and misleading.”
Both Koren and Sick Kids CEO Michael Apkon have declined multiple interview requests. In an email earlier this week, Apkon said, “It is not unusual for experts to disagree on matters before the courts,” and pointed out that there were three experts consulted in the Broomfield case during the appeal process.
A report by a toxicologist from Utah, who supports Motherisk’s analysis, was filed in court during the appeal process, along with reports from Chatterton and Koren.
A database of select Canadian court cases shows Motherisk’s hair sample tests were included as evidence in more than 15 child welfare cases and at least one other criminal case since 2009.
Source: Toronto Star
According to the Canadian Association of University Teachers, Dr Koren has engaged in some "childish, vindictive and dishonest" misbehaviors in the past.
Koren Reprimanded by Ontario College of Physicians & Surgeons
The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons has formally reprimanded University of Toronto professor of medicine Dr. Gideon Koren. He had written anonymous harassing letters about Dr. Nancy Olivieri and three colleagues during Olivieri's dispute with the Hospital for Sick Children, the University of Toronto and Apotex Inc. He then had lied repeatedly to conceal his responsibility. The college also cited him for additional misconduct, in research.
The penalty had been jointly proposed to the college discipline committee through prior agreement between counsel for Koren and counsel for the college. In its decision, the discipline committee said it was "deeply troubled by this case" and "seriously considered administering a more severe penalty" than that proposed to it, as it wished "to express unequivocally its condemnation of Dr. Koren's misconduct."
"It defies belief that an individual of Dr. Koren's professed character and integrity could author such vicious diatribes against his colleagues as he did in the 'poison pen letters'," the committee wrote in its decision.
The committee described Koren's actions as "childish, vindictive and dishonest" and noted that "only when confronted with irrefutable scientific evidence of his guilt did he admit he was the perpetrator" of the letter campaign.
Although Koren's lawyer said his client felt "extreme remorse," the committee pointed out that it "did not hear directly from Dr. Koren as to his remorse and the agreed statement of facts were silent on this issue."
The college's finding of research misconduct was in relation to a study on a drug to treat a blood disorder in children that Koren and Olivieri had once collaborated on. Olivieri identified risks that the drug was ineffective and caused liver damage, and voiced her concerns despite legal warnings from its maker, Apotex. Koren differed and, contrary to accepted norms, published an article on the drug using data from other researchers, including Olivieri, without their knowledge or consent.
The Koren case only came to the college's discipline committee after three of the victims of the anonymous letter campaign appealed the decision of the college's complaints committee not to refer the Koren matter for discipline. The independent appeal board agreed with Drs. Peter Durie, Brenda Gallie and Helen Chan, and ordered the college to forward the matter to the discipline committee.
The facts before the discipline committee on research misconduct were confined by the prior agreement between legal counsel to a public report University of Toronto dean of medicine David Naylor had made to his faculty council. Dean Naylor reported that Koren had violated university policy in publishing his article on Apotex's drug without the "consent, review or participation" by Olivieri and two others who had generated the data. Naylor directed Koren to arrange for the journal's editor to have the article deleted from the scientific record and to send appropriate personal letters of apology.
The discipline committee did not have before it the facts that Koren had violated additional university and international norms of conduct in this publication. In The Olivieri Report, the committee of inquiry found that in this publication, Koren failed to disclose Apotex's financial support for his research. He also failed to cite previous publications by Olivieri and others on risks of the drug, even though he was fully aware of this information.
In a recent journal article, the Report's authors, Jocelyn Downie, Patricia Baird and Jon Thompson note that in his statement to the faculty council, Naylor did not address the additional, serious aspects of research misconduct by Koren. They note that Koren had received hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from Apotex after the company had terminated the drug trials in its efforts to prevent Olivieri from disclosing risks to patients, as well as the hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding he had received during the trials.
They further note that Naylor's public statement did not address the fact that Koren had earlier appeared as senior author of conference abstracts favourable to the drug that had been drafted and coauthored by Apotex staff. His statement also did not address the fact that Koren had failed to disclose the source or purpose of a grant of $250,000 he had received from Apotex, in the same academic year the trials were terminated and the abstracts published at a conference where the company had tried through legal warnings to prevent Olivieri's participation.
The Olivieri Report found that, ever since Apotex's dispute with Olivieri over disclosure of risks of its drug began in 1996, the company has been relying on Koren's scientific opinions to defend its drug's reputation with regulatory agencies and in court actions. This reliance results in Koren's misconduct, addressed and unaddressed, continuing to be a matter of public interest.
Source: CAUT Bulletin
And Catherine Frei wrote to her MPP about her experience with Motherisk.
Here is the correspondence which I sent MPP Jim McDonell today regarding Motherisk, in light of the Toronto Star article today where had raises the concerns.
Hello Mr. McDonell,
First, I would like to thank you for standing up and addressing the concerns of test results produced by Motherisk at Sick Kids Hospital. Sadly, this very issue is one which I have raised numerous times over the past five years.
I myself was the victim of fraud by this very lab and I can tell you that there is plenty of evidence collected by parents across the province to support my claims. This evidence has been gathered by way of independent testing being done at other labs.
When my first test result came back I was suspect to the methods and/or motives behind the results of that test. I began doing witnessed urine screens, 7 panel tests, at my local methadone clinic. I have never been on methadone but it was suggested by my lawyer that I utilized this lab as they are the only ones which have an actual person accompany you to the washroom, as opposed to a camera which many of the lifelabs and various others use.
I had to sit in my living room and listen to a CAS worker accuse me of catheterizing myself and not accepting that my urine screens were valid. Dr. Ralph Stemeroff was the doctor in charge of this particular methadone clinic and has provided his expertise in many of the various courts, not just child protection cases .... criminal, civil and labour related issues as well. Despite the Children's Aid Societies claims in today's Toronto Star article that they are concerned about the tests, I am going to suggest that they were fully aware of the fraud taking place.
I say this because in the past I have made it a point to look at Dr. Gideon Koren's annual newsletters which he sends out to the societies, where he addressed them as "Dear Friends," and would continue on enthusiastically explaining all of his new testing and how excited he was of the upcoming year and how they would have an even better year than the last. Friday night just past, I spent upwards of six hours searching for those documents on the internet only to find that there is absolutely no trace of those newsletters anywhere. This itself, also supports the many claims by parents that the societies and Motherisk have worked together to perpetrate crimes against children and their families.
After the horrors of disgraced coroner Charles Smith, the questionable background and conduct of Gideon Koren, and the ongoing call from parents in this province for child protection reform and accountability, it is my belief that the province should be aggressively pursuing this matter as it is in the public's best interest to ensure that illegal means have not been used to profit off of the backs of innocent children and their families. I shudder to think of how many children have potentially been separated (some permanently) due to the results provided by this lab. The College of Physicians and Surgeons has an equally important role in ensuring that trust can be maintained by the public where this issue is concerned. Do they want a repeat of the horrors of Charles Smith? In my opinion (and it is shared by many) it is quite possible that hundreds if not thousands of families have already been victim to this labs faulty research and perverse incentives.
It is not surprising that the hospital and Koren are declining to comment on this issue. It is also not surprising that those annual newsletters have literally vanished from the internet after being easily accessible to the public for the past several years. I will thank you again for your efforts in shining light on an issue which warrants much review for the public's best interests to be maintained and safety from institutionalized abuses.
I am a university student and I am currently being stone-walled by the very school which I attend. I made requests to the ethics board of the social work department regarding research being done by a senior staff employee of the children's aid society completing his thesis. I in no uncertain terms made it clear that I had concerns that there was perhaps subversive lobbying taking place on behalf of the children's aid in yet another effort to extend legislative powers to the children's aid. As many are already aware, they have a shameful record of inadequately caring for this province's most vulnerable citizens.
I would like to thank you in advance for reviewing my correspondence to you today, and I eagerly await the outcome of the issues which you are so admirably addressing on behalf of Ontario citizens and their families. I sincerely thank you for your efforts.
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
Then another mother replied that in a case in which CAS accused her of drug abuse, the chain of custody for the hair sample went through the accusing CAS worker.
In fact, most CAS Workers cut the hair follicle off parent's or care giver's heads right at the CAS offices where it could easily be swapped with some one else's. This test is to be done at the Lab by a qualified lab technician. Tell me why CAS Workers are made to cut people's hairs like a technician? they are under qualified. Even made so many mistakes along the way. Even I was threatened to submit or else the CAS Worker told me she would place my grand daughter into Foster Care immediately if I don't submit right at the spot at that CAS Office. I got threatened and that's extortion in my books. I brought her home the same day I gave them my hair for testing and it went to Mother Risk and it came back clean. Of course it would be clean cause I told her I would get a second test done by a Doctor or another Lab. Even my Doctor told me he was shocked how they collected the samples, as it should not be on a paper, it should be in a plastic lab bag or container with a receipt given to the person. Of course probably money were exchanged to ensure dirty drug tests on other Families and that is why I suggest the others to go get a second opinion, get a second test done at the Life Labs.
Source: Facebook, Stop the CAS ...
The press is taking an interest in Motherisk, as shown by a message to Catherine Frei:
Okay, it is official, Rachel Mendleson from The Star contacted me this evening and anyone with questionable results from their hair follicle tests at Motherisk, or anyone that has had a CAS worker try and take the sample themselves at your home or at their office, could you please let us know? Thank you, it is a good sign that she had made contact so let's use this opportunity wisely
Source: Facebook, Coalition for Ombudsman Oversight